T H E . S O L D I E R . a n d . T H E . S O R C E R E S S

a chaptered story by insensato

disclaimer: teen titans will never be mine for the taking

Here we are with chapter three! Yep I have no excuse for updating so late. Sorry this chapter sucks, in case you haven't already noticed, I'm bad at writing scenes with lots of conversation. If it were up to me war would already be raging on and all but then it wouldn't have half the detail I'm plotting. Actually no... never mind hehehe. I mean it can't not be up to me.. I'm writing lol! So let's just accept my writing is bad and needs loads of improvement.

Spread-My-Wingz-And-Soar: it's gonna be a rob/rae but there might be a little twist ;)

RobRae5000: sorry if everyone's OOC... in the next few chapters prolly everyone is horribly ooc. some people can't take that but it's okay. btw i'm horrible at writing cyborg and speedy in case you didn't notice lol

angelus abyssi: you flatter me! i hope your fairy comes back so you can update all your wonderful fics

Novemberscorpion110388: yep queen diana is wonderwoman

Dark Forbidding: i think i pretty much gave up writing old-fashioned style :p

HeadGoddessofCynicism: just updated now didn't i xD

Dawn broke through the inky blackness of the night, as the sun began its ascent into its celestial throne. Slivers of light pierced through the slowly retreating clouds, casting shadows of sorts upon the landscape. It was quiet, as was befitting for the great kingdom of Gotham at such an early hour, save for the occasional whinnying of a horse or snatches of conversation between three men.

Richard Grayson, Roy Harper and Victor Stone were leaving the safe and respected confines of their homeland to travel into the dangerous unknown of Azarath. It was a mission many others were loathe to take, from the rumors that swirled over the desolateness of the fallen kingdom to the known viciousness of its king. But these three men were no cowards, and held Gotham high in their hearts, alongside friendship, family and fealty.

Their horses let out a collective whinny as they half-trotted, half-galloped down the well-worn roads. The prince led with his black stallion, Nightwing. Flanking the two were Roy and his roan horse Starfire on the left and Victor and his horse Bee on the right. They rode in a perfect V formation, their weapons at the ready though they had no worries nor fears for the first two-to-three days' worth of travel.

"We should have left later on," Roy lamented.

"The roads would be swarming with merchants and others then," Richard replied. "We would never make time."

The archer smiled. "But at least we would be leaving with feelings of glory and adoration, with the townsfolk cheering us brave men on--"

Victor snorted. "Roy Harper, it is just like you to be concerned with--"

"Let us not spoil the mood with trivial bickering," Richard interrupted. "After all, they'd only be cheering me on," he added with a grin. The other men roared with laughter and they rode on.

Hours later...

"We should break here for the night," Roy suggested, looking into the darkening horizon as Starfire drank water from a small cheerful brook. "There are many oak trees here to provide shelter, and I am sure we will be able to catch a deer."

"A deer is too much meat for us to handle," Victor pointed out. "Skinning it and preparing its flesh alone would take at least a day, and usually it's the womenfolk who do it. Men like us, we are--"

Richard rolled his eyes. "Yes, men like us are above such demeaning work. Perhaps we should catch some rabbits instead then."

"Or we could start on our rations," suggested Roy as he dismounted from his horse. The mare whinnied as he tethered her to a tree and he offered her a carrot which she gladly took.

"No, rations are for when we're nearing Azarath. God knows what lives in an area like that. Let us eat freshly-hunted meat while we can," Victor responded as he tied his bay gelding to a tree. "I'll go find some firewood."

"We should keep the fire small so that it is containable and does not attract attention," Richard advised as he walked Nightwing to cool down. "It does not matter that we are probably still a good two to three days' ride to Azarath. You never know what will happen or what's lurking out there."

Victor nodded and checked to make sure his dagger was strapped to his belt. "I will return soon. Do not roast the meat without me!"

Roy grinned. "My turn to hunt!"

"You're not going to waste time and make some small arrows right now, are you?" the prince asked annoyedly. "I do not see why you cannot use your regular arrows... it always takes you an hour to craft perhaps ten darts."

"I have always been known for my proficiency with the bow and the crafting of my arrows," Roy began smugly and stopped with a scowl when he realized Richard had thrown a pebble at him. "Ah you are just jealous of my skill."

"Go find some wood already," Richard grumbled, a smile tugging at the corner of his lips. The red-haired man snorted and began whittling away at some sticks.

The prince looked around as he began clearing the ground, brushing away any debris. Afterwards he collected some large rocks to border round the campfire and collected some smaller branches for kindling. As he finished, Victor returned with a large load of wood for the fire and set up the branches.

"You fool! You're still crafting those damn arrows," Victor groaned.

"Patience be with you," Roy laughed. "I shall fetch us three hares now," he said and left to go hunt.

"We still have at least a good three to five days of riding if we have the horses gallop," Richard commented from his seat on a log.

"I'd rather we save our asses and the horses' legs," Victor said. "We're only doing reconnaissance anyway, there's not much of a pressing time concern is there?"

A frown pulled at Richard's lips. "If King Trigon is indeed raising troops, we must survey the land as quickly as we can to prepare for war."

"We have sorcerers at the ready, do we not?"

"They're all arrogant bastards," Richard growled. He hated the "wizards," as the men preferred to call themselves. They were nothing more than self-centered show-offs who liked to intimidate. "Show them real war, and they would run and hide behind the castle walls with the excuse of preparation. It is real men like us, who would bear the brunt of war. They are not the heroes they parade themselves to be."

Victor raised a brow. "Such resentment you have."

The prince sighed. "They were responsible for the death of my parents."

"I do not need to know--"

"No, I suppose it is high time I confide in you... after all, you are my most trusted. Only my adopted parents and those bastards themselves know," Richard said quietly.

"Know what?" A new voice chipped in.

"Roy! Have you come with our meal?" Victor boomed, looking up at the archer.

"Of course I have. Four rabbits," he beamed. "But as you were saying Richard..."

"I was about to tell Victor why I despise the wizards."

"That so? Pray do tell," Roy said as he sat down and pulled out a knife to skin the rabbits.

"You speak with a tone expectant of something lewd," Richard noted before his tone became serious. "I was perhaps six or seven when they killed my parents. It was an accident," he said in a manner that clearly said it wasn't. "The wizards had put on a little exhibition to show their affinity with magic. They had barged into the armory to use weapons for their show. Everyone had cautioned them against such a thing, for the possibility of injury was too great, but the wizards mocked them and called them cowardly before continuing on. As they began causing spears and swords to fly about, doing stupid tricks, one of them lost control of a rapier he had been causing to spin and the rapier sunk into my mother's chest. My father let out a shout and was about to kill the man when the other fools also lost control. That day, those bumbling bastards killed fourteen people. They weren't trained nor experienced enough, and yet they felt confident enough to put on such a show."

"God... what happened to the wizards?" Roy asked in disbelief at the horror of such a story. And to witness the death of one's parents as well...

"They were tried. The judge, a modern thinker, called the whole affair 'a most grievous accident' and fined those men several thousand pounds. A pittance for the deaths of fourteen innocent people, who wanted only a bit of entertainment after a long day. Fortunately the king had a more sensible head and ordered their exile, for the queen was against capital punishment." Richard said, anger clouding his eyes. "But exile was better than a stupid fine. And even though the sorcerers of today are more prudent, they are still exhibitionists at heart."

Victor shook his head. "It is amazing the faith some have in magic. I find it too fickle to be trustworthy."

The prince chuckled bitterly. "And yet unfortunately half the court advisors believe so strongly in magic. Thank god the king has faith in the muscle of man and not some foolish mental play."

"Come, let us eat." Roy said, as he offered them the roasted meat. "Too much heavy thoughts drag down young hearts such as ours."

"We promise three hundred," the raspy voice of Blaze, ambassador of the kingdom of Firenze, boomed. Firenzian fighters were known for their affinity with fire magic. Their armor was red, symbolic of their power.

"Five hundred," added Quill, representative of the kingdom of Sharpe, whose soldiers were proficient with spears and arrows.

Another man stepped forward. Unlike the others, he had half his face masked in gold, adding to his mystery. His figure was cut impressively and mystery and danger oozed from his aura. In a low voice, he murmured, "I am the lieutenant, King Trigon's second, and I will take control of the men." The others did not disagree, almost as awed by him as they were Trigon.

"Slade, your selflessness will not go unnoticed. You will have first pick of the fallen kingdoms and my daughter's hand." King Trigon smirked and clapped his hands together. "Excellent. Your generous contributions bring the total of men to five thousand. There is no shadow of a doubt that we will crush the pathetic armies of Gotham and its little allies. The world shall be ours!"

Raven skulked away from behind the curtains, her fists clenched in anger. There was no hope for the Inner kingdoms if her father had already amassed five thousand men. From what she could recall, the most the Inner kingdoms could call up in response would be a few thousand. That would be no match for the ten thousand troops Trigon was sure to have within a few days' time. The offer of dividing up the Inner kingdoms, of their wealth, their women and their land, was too tempting to resist. Any who disagreed with Trigon would quickly change their mind... with some intense persuasion.

She had to act fast. Without a moment's hesitance she dashed towards her room. Grabbing a small satchel, she began packing what little she needed, her five most important books and Arella's old mirror. She also added two small daggers and a short sword, along with what little coins she had. There was no way she could get rations without incurring suspicion, she would have to make do with foraging and hunting.

She then murmured a little spell to seal the libraries from any with impure intentions. Slade's involvement in the war complicated things, not to mention the possibility of her betrothal to him. He was a frightening figure, and rumors that swirled over him were just as spine-tingling as the ones about her father.

She shuddered and glanced about her room one last time. The room that had been her prison for the past--

"Miss Raven?"

"Who goes there!" Raven snapped, whirling around.

"It is I, Jinx," the nineteen-year-old servant girl murmured. She was tall and terribly skinny from lack of nourishment. Her light pink hair fell limply round her hollow face. "Cook has me inform you dinner will be served well after sunset."

"Very well, now go," Raven urged. She didn't have time.

Jinx tilted her head. "What is wrong miss?"

"I'm fine, just tired. I feel a headache. Tell cook I am retiring to bed."

"You lie miss. It hurts me that you do not trust me," she said quietly. She was a good judge of character and quite sincere.

Raven bit her lip. Jinx, her maid and servant, was the only constant in her life aside from her domineering father and the suspicious Slade. The girl was so starkly honest, that the princess couldn't help but have second thoughts. Perhaps Jinx could accompany her? It would do a world of good for the girl, who was beaten for even the most minor issue, no matter her involvement.

"Jinx... what I am about tell you... you must not breathe a word to anyone alright?" Raven said at last, making her decision.

"I swear," the girl nodded.

"How would you like to go?"

"Go where miss?"

"Away. Far away."

"What for miss?"

"To get away from all this, to warn the Inner kingdoms..."

Jinx's dark pink eyes widened. "Miss, what you speak of is treason against the king!"

"Jinx, I need to know your answer," Raven hissed, preparing a memory adjustment spell in case she needed it. She couldn't have Jinx warn the others of her intentions. If she were caught, there would be hell to pay.

"I fear what may happen if we are caught. I am also ashamed to admit I fear more my daily beatings," Jinx murmured. "I will go where the princess goes."

Raven sighed with relief and banished the spell. "Is there anything you have to bring?"

"No miss," Jinx responded. "I own nothing, not even the rags on my back."

The princess nodded and went over to her wardrobe, pulling out a simple gray hooded cloak and handing it to the girl. "Here take this. It should be long enough to cover you from head to toe. Let us leave now. If we are lucky, no one will notice us til tomorrow at the earliest." With that Raven shut the door and locked it. She pulled up the quilt on her bed over the mass of clothes, to make it appear as if though someone were sleeping. She also made sure her hood covered her features. Then she looked about her room one last time. "Jinx."

"Yes miss?"

"What I am about to do may scare you. But you are not to make one sound, alright?" The servant nodded earnestly. "Azarath Metrion Zinthos!" A flash of black light enveloped the two girls, and true to her word, Jinx stayed quiet though her eyes betrayed her shock and fear.

Raven prayed the spell would bring them far enough from the castle so that if she was found missing, there would be enough time for them to get away. Her ideal destination would be the outskirts of the Romara village, farthest from the castle and near the Black Forest, aptly named.

Of course she should have checked to make sure there was no one in the corridors when Jinx had come in and she had explained what she was doing. But she was in a hurry. Such slips were liable to happen.

Blue eyes glittered with malice in the dimly lit hall as the figure pulled away from Raven's locked door. "Little birdie's flying the coop," the figure sang.