Fall from the Ninth Circle
Chapter Two: Amicitia?
March 15, 2005
Her eyes fluttered open slowly, then closed quickly again. What was this strange white light that filled her eyes? It was maddening and as powerful as the sun at dawn. She shifted slightly, trying to cover her face from the spears of luminescence, but it was to little avail. The white color penetrated everything, and made it impossible for her to find sanctuary in shade.
"Qua sum ego?" (Where am I?) She mumbled, holding her hand to her head. She twisted her body carefully, and let her eyes flutter open again. After taking a moment to adjust to the powerful light, she began looking around this new and obscure place.
Everything was white! Pure, unblemished white adorned the windowless walls and door; fluorescent lights gleamed above her head; her sheets were also a pure shade, soiled only a few times by small, brown streaks of days old blood.
She shifted slightly again, trying to adjust her weight carefully upon her wings. If one of them were broken, it would take far longer than a day or two for it to heal. As she tossed again, her sore eyes landed on several, sharp looking instruments and needles lying on a table beside her bed. They gleamed brightly and maliciously in the obtrusive white light above her.
Looking around further she saw even more instruments, boxes, fabric, and all sorts of strange items that looked very similar to the torture devices that were used in the Middle Ages. She snapped up into a sitting position, trying to ignore the throbbing pain in her spine and limbs, and only staring frightfully at the things adorning the room.
"Quis est totus is?" (What is all this?) She whispered cautiously, begging the world that these instruments were not meant for her. She had heard many horror tales of a witch or demon who escaped hell only to be caught by humans and dissected, as if they were merely a science experiment. She wished against all hope that this was not going to be her fate.
After deciding it was futile for her to sit there and wait for her demise, she thought she might as well inspect her newly healed body. She began to look over her limbs carefully, noting that there were squares of a white, gauzy material were attached to her by some strange adhesive. She tried to pull it off, but it yanked at her skin and made her whimper with a sharp pain.
"Devoveo…" She muttered, deciding to let well enough alone. It would not do well to aggravate these strange torture devices any more.
She took a deep breath and looked around again, trying to figure out where she was and what had happened. She remembered very little when she reached the gate. She could see her father chasing after her with Cerberus and his demons; she remembered running through the gate that her father could not pass through; she remembered the feel of real, fresh air on her face and in her lungs… and then: nothing. She blacked out and was left to lie on the mountainside. Left there to rot and die like the lowest class of insubordinate demons.
That seemed to be the center of her pathetic life. For millennia upon millennia she had been alone, never having anyone turn to her for help, or help her in return. No one wanted to turn to her, even if they could. She was far more powerful than a demon; far more powerful than anyone could ever perceive. And so, she was left friendless, helpless, lonely, and lost within the fiery circles of Hell. She had no one but Lucifer, Prince of Darkness and King of the Damned. And who was she?
Just as God, the Father, had Jesus… so to did Lucifer have a child. She was his offspring, and would one day be used to bring upon the apocalypse.
She was Raven, Princess of Darkness… heiress to the Inferno. She frightened all who looked upon her lowly greatness. This beautiful being, with hair and eyes the color of amethyst, skin as pale as midwinter snow, and a figure worthy of the term "Untouchable Temptress", this was the true "Devil's Advocate". She was a being that could end all creation.
There was a sudden, strange noise to her right and a door opened, revealing a brightly adorned male. Raven shifted uncomfortably for a moment before her eyes locked with those belonging to a very handsome young man. He stood far taller than she, with spiky, ebony hair, and long, muscular limbs. Pausing for a moment, he leaned against the doorframe and watched the woman on the bed, before deciding to walk into the sickeningly white room.
"Ah, I see you're awake." His voice was deep and sultry, as if he had taken speaking lessons from her father. As much as she hated to admit it, her father had a voice that could tempt even the most holy. Hearing a human possess a quality like that frightened her. The dark woman shrank back against the headboard on the bed she laid on, hoping he didn't take any more steps closer… who was he?
"How are you feeling?" he asked, stopping his steps as he noted her curling form. She seemed extremely frightened by his presence, and he wondered if something terrible had happened to her. After all, they found her buck naked in the woods, miles from any sort of civilization. "Are you okay? We found you, in our training ground on the mountain a few days ago… you were pretty beaten up. Is everything okay? I mean, you weren't raped or anything… Were you?"
She looked blankly at him for a moment before speaking. "Quisnam es vos?" (Who are you?) The girl asked, finally finding a wisp of her voice. Was this the being responsible for all this strange gauzy torture on her body? He looked kind enough, but Raven knew far better than to trust a strange human. Then again… she must have been here for days, so if he wanted to do something to her, wouldn't it be done by now?
"Excuse me?" The man approached her again, a confused look in his eyes.
"Operor vos narro Latin?" (Do you speak Latin?) The woman questioned quickly, shying away from the man again. He stopped and stared at her for a moment before speaking.
"I don't understand you…"
"Ego volo non…" (I suppose not). The woman sighed and shook her head, feeling very frustrated. No one used any of these strange, modern languages in Hell. Everything was spoken in Latin, and that was it. She looked at him for a moment and sighed again deeply. What was he speaking? It wasn't German, but it was close… it sounded a bit like Old English, but the words were far stranger. Modern English! That's what he was using!
"Who… who are you?" Her words were tentative as she spoke them, she had not needed to use English for centuries and trying to speak it was rather annoying for her. It was a pity that people considered Latin a "dead language" and no one spoke it fluently anymore; it was far easier for her to communicate that way than these new "modern" languages. She also spoke Sanskrit and Aramaic quite well, but no one used those languages anymore either.
"My name is Robin." The man said, looking at her carefully as his eyes darted around her body. She looked well enough, but she was still shrinking away from him and that made him quite curious. "You're not from around here, are you?"
She shook her head, amethyst locks twirling softly around her face. She was definitely beautiful, but there was something very strange about her. A dark power seemed to seep from every pore of her body and grow, until it filled the room with this strange, black energy.
"No." She responded in her strange accent. In habit, her fingers crept behind her back and began stroking the familiar, hollow bones of her wings. It was a comfort to know that the appendages were still there, ready to take flight incase anything happened to her. After a moment, she looked at the brightly adorned male questioningly, knowing full well that it was not normal for humans to walk around earth with wings. Yet, this man did not seem frightened of her. She wore pitch-black wings that could stretch the length of the room, but he was not afraid. Why was this?
"You… you are not afraid of me?" She asked, tilting her head to the side in question.
"Why? Because you have wings?" He cocked a slight smile, making Raven look at him strangely. "I've met stranger people than you; I have a friend who's from another planet, a friend who can turn into animals, and a friend who is half-human and half-machine. Trust me, seeing someone with wings isn't going to bother me." There was a pause as the room turned slightly cold, and he looked at her carefully for a moment, trying to decipher who she was and where she came from. She had wings, spoke Latin, and had the most bizarre, old-world accent when she spoke English.
"Who are you…?" he finally asked.
"I am… I am Raven," She responded carefully, feeling a little foolish at introducing herself. Why was this strange human asking her so many questions? Did he not know the power he was faced with? The evil she was associated with? Was it indeed true that her existence had faded from human memory?
"That is a very pretty name."
Raven sat there and stared blankly at him for a moment before shaking her head. "You are very foolish." She stated bluntly. She began peeling off the blanket to inspect her body further. This strange gauze was becoming very annoying to her, and it wasn't coming off without a fight either. This strange adhesive was making her skin itch, and she wanted it off!
Robin blushed and quickly turned away, making sure he faced the wall completely. "Maybe I should get Starfire in here. I'm sure she'd be more than happy to help you with your bandages."
"Oh… is that was this is?" She pulled at the adhesive gauze again and growled at the pain that came with the action. "I thought it was some sort of torture device…" She sighed slightly, and then turned her head to look at Robin's back. Raven looked down at herself and inspected her pale skin carefully. Why was he turned away from her? Was there something wrong? Perhaps it was because she was a very odd color compared to the rest of the human race. Yes, that must be it.
"I know I am of a strange color, does my appearance appall you so much?" She questioned calmly, her eyes never fleeting from his turned back.
"Um… no." Robin said, taking a few, tentative steps toward the door. There was a heartbeat of a pause, then he said, "But you're naked."
"And this is bad?" She asked innocently. For millennia she had gone without clothing. No one in her world ever worried about what was considered 'proper' by humans. In Hell there were no "rights" and "wrongs", things were just done. And clothing was not part of the way things were done.
Robin continued to stare at the wall, his face turning a deep crimson. He was unable to answer that question and instead just gazed at white. "I mean… well, people just don't go strutting around the opposite sex without clothes… well, I mean… there are circumstances… okay! I'm going to go get Star… She'll help you out." He bolted for the door, and then paused as his hand touched the handle. He stilled for a moment, biting his lip as he thought.
"You know…" He began softly and tentatively, "you are welcome to stay here as long as you need, Raven."
The woman was taken aback, and it took her several seconds before she could find the correct words to respond. "I… I welcome your hospitality, but I must decline your offer. You will not want me here once you discover who I am."
Robin opened the door. "We'll see…"
Raven stared after him, and then shook her head. He had no idea what he was dealing with. She was a ruler of Hell, daughter to Lucifer. It would not be wise to keep her here when she was fleeing from her father and his minions.
She prodded the gauze squares for a moment and looked toward the door. This was the first time she had experienced true human kindness. When she used to roam the earth centuries ago, she was often shunned, or people would run away from her. Some would even fall on their knees and beg for mercy. It was a horrible way to live, to have people throw themselves at your feet when all you wanted to do was stroll through the city and buy a pastry. Humans did have a penchant for making delicious foods.
It was odd to have him offer him home freely, without a single thought of what could happen, or what she might bring with her. It was unadulterated kindness, and it made Raven's insides churn slightly.
"You must be Raven," a bright cheery voice alerted the demon. She turned to face a tall, beautiful redhead with bright green eyes that seemed to constantly smile. "I am Starfire, or Koriand'r."
"Hello…" Raven forced the semblance of a smile and nodded politely.
"I'm here to check your bandages…" She smiled brightly again, but was a little crestfallen at the lack of response. "Robin said he wants me to do it, because he said you were 'strutting' around naked trying to do it yourself."
"I did not move; so I don't see how I can 'strut'." Raven sighed and let her gaze drift toward the ceiling. "I am very confused by earth."
Starfire approached her with a bottle in her hand, but unlike Robin, she didn't stop her pursuit when Raven shrunk away. "I will not hurt you," She said calmly as she kneeled next to the dark woman on the bed. There was a heartbeat pause before the redhead sought answers again. "You are not from here either?" She asked as she soaked Raven's bandages in a foul smelling liquid, "Where are you from?" She lifted her head to look carefully into the darker woman's strange, cold eyes.
"Hell. The Inferno. Eternal Darkness." Raven watched the new woman closely, trying to decipher her initial reaction. But, if she knew what that place was, her face did not betray her. She seemed to have no idea of the evil that she came from. No, she just calmly went on peeling off the bandages without a single pin-prick. The skin underneath was completely healed and flawless. Her pale skin never looked more beautiful than it did at then; Raven loved to see it when she wasn't covered with ash or dirt. Hell was a nasty place when you got down to it.
"I have never heard of that planet," Starfire responded naively, her eyes taking on a relatively blank look. "I am very amazed that your people can heal so quickly. You have only been here a few days, and yet your skin shows no sign of puncture of burn."
Raven gave a small start at that information. "Was I beaten so badly?"
"Well, Beast Boy said it 'looked like you fought with a wolf, a tiger, and then took a nasty fall down the side of the mountain'. But I'm not quite sure what he meant by that. Could you please lie on your stomach?" Starfire's voice was strangely musical and rhythmic as she spoke. It soothed Raven greatly, like listening to the delicate sound of wind chimes.
"Who is this 'Beast Boy'?" The dark woman asked as she repositioned herself on her stomach.
"He is a member of the Titans. He has the amazing ability to turn into animals." Starfire continued to pull the gauze squares from Raven's pale back.
"Who are the Titans?"
Starfire paused for a moment, and her fingers hovered over another gauze square in surprise. Although Raven could not see her face, she could surmise that the redhead was regarding her strangely. Raven couldn't help but be ignorant; after all, she had not been on the face of earth for some centuries now. How was she to know if a bunch of strange people with powers had banded together? That was her father's job.
"We help protect this city from evil," Starfire responded ambiguously. The dark woman's body tensed immediately. She quickly sat up and faced the alien redhead. Her eyes were sad and grew darker as she gazed into her green eyes.
"Then I must go… for I am just as evil as those you fight." Raven shifted her feet over the side of the bed, but Starfire grabbed her hand quickly. The dark woman stopped and looked at the alien with the darkest, most pitiful, longing eyes she had ever seen. The woman looked lost, confused and… lonely. Just like the rest of the Titans, she seemed to have dark shadows that haunted her path for all eternity.
"What are you talking about? We saved you, we didn't fight you…" Starfire looked confused, hurt, insulted… she didn't want Raven to run away. She was just as hurt and scared as the rest of them… she wanted Raven to stay.
Raven shook her head and planted her feet on the floor in determination. Turning slightly, she looked into those endless, green eyes which belonged to an alien. "That doesn't make me any less of what I truly am."
Starfire squeezed her hand softly in reassurance. "It makes you more of someone we protect. Please, don't leave… at least stay here for a few days. You look like you have no where to go and no one to turn to."
Her words hit home to Raven, and her chest began to ache painfully, as if a hole had begun to form in its cavity. She looked at the redhead sadly and, after several long moments, finally nodded. What else was she to do? Where else was she supposed to go? She was running from her father, and his minions were the only things she could turn to on the surface of earth.
"I'll stay…" She whispered hoarsely.
Starfire smiled brightly, and then deeply embraced the darker woman. "You do not have to worry, friend. We are here to help you."
Raven felt very strange being hugged by this woman. Yes, her father loved her and showed affection towards her… but no one else had ever dared to embrace her. They all feared her and groveled whenever she walked in their direction. She was the woman set to bring upon the apocalypse, who wouldn't tremble in her wake?
But this woman….
This woman who had no idea where she came from; the evil she was associated with… she embraced her. Held her. Comforted her. This woman, Starfire, was going to be a light in the storm of Raven's past. She was going to be a hard rock to which she could cling to.
"Come… let us get you dressed." Starfire smiled even brighter as she pulled away from Raven. "We will find you something suitable to wear, and then you can meet my friends."
First of all, if you don't know, since FFnet is being a butthead, it's taking out my preferred page separators and I've replaced them with (MOO). Yes, I know the buttheads supply a page separator, but it's SO unsightly to have a big, gray line slicing up my text. And it's really annoying.
Also! There's a little bit of art that goes with this story (I'M PLUGGING MY WEBSITE!) So, if you wanna check it out, go to my FFnet profile page and hit the "homepage" button. It should take you right there!
I hope this chapter was up to your standards. Yes, I know it's moving rather slowly, but there isn't much I can do about that right now, so deal with it.
PLEASE REVIEW! I love it when you tell me about my story, that way I can make it good for you!