The Darkest Light

One

The Storm

A single candle sat beside Raven's bed, giving just enough light for her to read. It was almost dusk and thick black clouds had rolled over the city. After a few more minutes of reading, Raven sighed and put down her book; there was something eerie about the clouds, and for an instance she swore that they were blood red, but the next second they were black once more. Raven closed her eyes and got into a meditating position.

"Azerath Metrion Zinthos, Azerath Metrion Zinthos," she chanted continuously. Suddenly, a sharp pain tore through Raven's mind, and in agony she moaned loudly before dropping down. It felt as if though the very air in her room was saturated with darkness, and Raven struggled to gather her thoughts. A voice was calling in her head through the severe headache.

"Raven… Raven… Raven," it called softly. "Raven…"

"Stop!" Raven yelled to nothing. As it happened, Beast Boy was on the other side of the door and slid it open quickly.

"Raven, what is it?" he demanded.

Raven gritted her teeth before snapping, "Nothing, get out."

"But I heard you say—" Beast Boy began.

"I said GET OUT!" Raven yelled and pushed her hand forward. Beast Boy flew out of the room and the door shut. Immediately Raven felt bad, but the pain in her head overwhelmed her feelings. She struggled to get off her bed and look out to the dismal sky. She closed her eyes and breathed slowly. "Azerath Metrion Zinthos…" she said softly and repeatedly.

"Raven…" the voice said. "Raven…"

"Azerath Metrion Zinthos," she continued through the pain and through the voice.

"Raven, Raven, Raven, Raven," it called. "Raven… The time draws near…" it whispered. "Raven…"

"Azerath Metrion Zinthos!" Raven cried, and a shock wave pulsed through her body, knocking her to the ground, and simultaneously and fork of lightning fell from the sky and in an instant rain and sleet pounded against her window. Thunder and lightning rang through the sky. The next moment, Raven's headache receded and the voice vanished. She looked up and for an instant, a black dragon soared through the sky, and in the next instant, all that was there was the storm. She shook her head and got up, dusting off her clothes. "What's happening?" she thought, and decided she would leave her room.

She found Robin, Starfire and Cyborg watching TV and Beast Boy in the kitchen. She immediately headed for Beast Boy and sighed. "Look, I'm sorry, but I had a headache and… well I'm sorry, ok?" she said.

"Whatever, it's not the first time you've sent me flying out of your room and it won't be the last," he answered. "Now how about a tofu dog?" he smiled.

Raven grimaced, "I respect that you don't eat meat, but please respect I don't eat fake meat," and at that they both laughed. Raven blushed almost immediately and turned away, Beast Boy following. Raven took a seat on the big couch and Beast Boy sat next to Starfire on the other end of the couch.

"This storm looks bad," Robin looked outside.

"Yeah, I don't think we'll be going out tonight," Cyborg agreed.

"There is something about this storm that I do not like," Starfire admitted. "It seems… ominous."

"You're just overreacting Star, I think you've watched a few too many horror movies," Beast Boy smiled.

"No, she isn't," Raven spoke up. "This storm is just a façade to hide what's really happening. Something dark is about to take place, and this storm is only the beginning of it."

"Are you sure Raven?" Robin demanded, getting up.

"Yes."

"How do you know?" Cyborg asked.

"I just do," Raven replied, looking down. "When I was in my room, I saw the clouds turn red and a black dragon fly through the sky. They were only there for a second, but I was sure that I saw them," she said after a short pause.

"You might've been hallucinating," Beast Boy suggested. "You did say you had a headache."

"No," Raven said simply. "I'm sure that this storm isn't natural."

"I agree with you Raven," Starfire said.

"Only one way to find out," Robin smiled slightly.

"No Robin. Don't go out in it," Raven ordered. "If I'm right then the storm will still be here tomorrow when we wake up, I swear it," she added.

"Robin, you shouldn't go out. Listen to Raven, have you seen that lightning? Dude, it's insane!" Cyborg exclaimed.

"Hmm well as much as I hate waiting, I hate being struck by lightning more," Robin grinned. "OK, Raven, we'll wait until tomorrow, but for now," Robin yawned. "I'm going to sleep."

"Me too," the others except for Raven replied. Starfire was the last to leave besides Raven, and the mage stopped her.

"Star, can I ask a favor of you?" Raven asked.

"Of course Raven. What do you wish?" Starfire answered.

"Could I, um, sleep in your room for tonight?" Raven inquired sheepishly. "My room is…"

Starfire put up her hand. "Say no more, Raven. I can understand not wanting to sleep in a room like yours in a storm like this, and you may certainly sleep in my room for the night."

"Thanks, Star, thanks."

Raven looked around the desolate wasteland. The sky was blood red and the ground was dead. Enormous black birds screeched in the air and a great black dragon was perched upon a high cliff. Azerathian rats crawled on the ground, hissing at her maliciously. Shadows crept around her, making her wary.

"Why have you brought me here?" Raven demanded.

"Raven… Raven… Raven… The time draws near," the same voice that was in her head said.

"What do you want!" Raven roared. As her voice rung through the air, the ground shook violently, and a crack opened up beneath her. Raven fell through, plummeting in a seemingly bottomless pit. Around her, voices taunted her, and shadows pulled at her. "Let go!" she tried to say, but nothing came from her voice. Above her the black dragon was diving, coming right upon her, and still the voices persisted. Then, just as the dragon was upon her, it vanished and she was in a dark room, and figures were moving around her.

Raven gasped. Starfire, Robin, Beast Boy and Robin were tied to steel boards on the wall, and around her she saw hundreds of superheroes on the walls of a huge dome. And then the figures stepped out. Raven fell to the floor. Slade, Control Freak, Blackfire, Brother Blood and Gizmo were circling around her, and their voices were that of the voice inside of her.

"Raven…"

"Raven…"

"Raven…"

"Raven…"

"Raven…"

"NO! Get away!" Raven cried, and tears of fire rolled down her cheeks. Then the villains' bodies convulsed and twisted, and they were contorted into shadows with four red eyes, and the shadows swirled around Raven, laughing at her and taunting her. "NO! This is just a dream! NO! NO! NO! AZERATH METRION ZINTHOS!" Raven roared, and a dome of magic surrounded her and vanquished the spirits, and Raven found herself moving through warps of time and space, relieved that she was out of that room. But as she came to a stop, she was in the exact same room, but only one figure was in it, and the figure was concealed by shadows.

It spoke, but its voice was not that of the one that was in Raven's head. It said: "Raven, the time has come."

His words pierced Raven like a knife as she recognized the voice. "No…" she moaned, and fell to the ground.

Raven jolted awake, sweat pouring down her body. Starfire was leaning over her and called to someone behind her, "She is awake!"

Raven's vision was blurred for a few seconds, and she realized it was because she was crying. She wiped the tears from her eyes and looked around her. The storm still raged outside, and she did not know if it was morning or evening. "W-what happened?" she asked, putting her head in her hand.

"You were having a dream," Cyborg said.

"More like a nightmare!" Beast Boy cried.

"Beast Boy, be quiet," Robin shot.

"Raven, you were tossing and turning and crying and sweating, and you were talking to yourself, saying things like no and get away. And then, you screamed your spell and the power went out for a second. It was horrible," Starfire explained.

"This storm is from Azerath," Raven said suddenly. "It's not safe for anyone but me, and I'm going out to investigate."

"Raven, no," Robin ordered. "It's noon, and the storm has been going on for far too long and it's just getting worse. I believe you now, it's not natural. That's why I can't let you go out into it."

"Robin, you don't understand," Raven got up. "Something is coming, and I'm the only one who can stop it."

"No, Raven. We're a team, and we fight together," Cyborg answered.

"If you don't let me go out there isn't going to be a world to fight for! Don't you understand?" Raven got up and clenched her hands into tight fists. "Now get out of the way and let me through."

"Raven, please do not go out," Starfire pleaded.

"Yeah Raven, at least let someone come with you," Beast Boy suggested.

"No, it's too dangerous for anyone else to come out with me, now let me through!" she cried. "Azerath Metrion Zinthos!" And in an instant, a black raven encompassed her and teleported her outside.

Huge gusts of wind blew against her and huge icy drops of sleet and rain pounded against her skin, but she held her levitation. "What do you want, Shadow?" she roared over the storm.

A voice boomed in the thunder and lightning. "Go away Raven, you know you don't have the power to stop me. Get away while you can or die."

"No! I will not let innocent people die because of the twisted plans of Azerathian maniacs like you!" Raven answered.

"Oh, Raven, you're hurting your brother's feelings," the voice answered. "Now, I'm going to ask you once more to leave this world or die. When this storm is over there will be enough suffering for me to enter your world, and you will find that I will not be defeated as easily as Father."

"You're sickening, Shadow. You summoned a storm just to cause enough pain to enter another world to be your victim? I've seen you work, when this storm passes it will be an eternal eclipse, and—"

"Now, Raven, you're spoiling my fun. Don't tell me my plans, you're taking the pleasure out of everything," the voice of Shadow boomed through the thunder. "But I'll tell you this because if you're as smart as I remember then you'll add the thrill of fight to my plan: the planet Earth has a great many people who have enormous wells of power, I believe humans call them Superheroes. I'm not going to tell you anymore, just to leave you hanging. This storm will remain for another day, so you have a day to get out."

"I'll never leave, Shadow! This earth has become my home, and I won't abandon it!"

"Blah, blah, blah Raven. Spare me the heroics. Get back to your tower and enjoy the time with your friends while you're still alive!" There was a great flash of lightning that blinded Raven for a few seconds, and when again she could see she was back in Starfire's room, and her friends were gathered around her.

What Shadow said was true: the storm raged on for another day, and what Raven said was true: when it subsided the sun was eclipsed and the earth was covered in darkness.

Far away from Titan's Tower, a thick concentration of shadows melded together and formed into a humanoid figure. A boy no older than eighteen formed from the darkness. He had shoulder length black hair and pale skin, and his eyes were golden and malicious. He wore a long black robe and cloak and shadows whirled around at his feet.

"Poor, poor Raven. I tried to warn her," Shadow smiled evilly. "But now she will have to pay just as dearly as the rest of this magic forsaken planet."

The first storm had passed, but the second storm had only just begun.