A quick warning: It gets a little bit gory near the end.
Raven pulled her cloak around her tightly as they quietly crept into the wizard's castle. Each light footstep they took echoed loudly in the silence of the dark entrance hall. A large staircase stood in the middle of the dim foyer, and dark entrances to hallways lined the walls. Fighting back a sudden wave of memories, both good and bad, Raven quickly took the lead. Without a word, she moved to the front of the group and led them down a narrow hallway off to the side.
After a moment, she stopped.
"It's too dark," she turned to her companions. She spoke in a voice that would have been almost inaudible if it weren't for the deafening silence. "I won't be able to see the stairs."
Balling her fist, Starfire lit up the hallway with the light of a green orb of power around her hand. Raven offered a small smile of thanks and they continued their trek.
Before long they came to a set of stairs, twisting downwards. The steps were steep, and no railings had been built. Slippery moss had grown over much of the neglected steps, and one wrong step could send any of them down the stairs. They found this out after Gar slipped, and let out a loud yelp of surprise that reverberated around them. He smiled sheepishly at Victor, who had caught him, and they continued their trip much slower and cautiously.
Raven and Starfire quickly realized that floating down with their powers was much easier, but the boys had no such luxury and had to continue with their dangerous descent by foot. Luckily, it wasn't long before they reached the bottom.
The dungeon was small. Six cells lined the walls, three on each side, and a wooden door at the far end of the cells closed off the torture chamber. The rank smell of death and mold assaulted their noses and a dripping sound seemed to be coming from somewhere.
Robin was the first to take a step forward from the bottom of the stairs. Nervously, the other four followed behind closely.
Starfire held her glowing hand up to each of the small cells as they came to them. The cells were small, made smaller due to the pits dug out in the back of each. The smells drifting out of the holes suggested they were used for relieving their bladders. There was nothing else in the first, second, or third cell except some mangy looking straw.
A shiver passed through the group at the sight of what appeared to be human bones piled up in on corner of the fourth. Exchanging sickened, and nervous glances, they moved on. The last two cells were the same as the first three with nothing but dirt and straw.
Reaching the door that lead to the torture chamber, the group stopped. Seeing no one was willing to look in, Victor straightened his shoulders determinedly. Moving over to the door, he cracked it open just enough to peer inside. He gulped nervously as he looked around at an impressive array of torture devices, but was relieved to see that none of them appeared to have been used, and Terrianna was nowhere in sight.
Closing the door, Victor turned to his friends and smiled weakly. Relief seeped through the group.
"So where do we look now?" Gar asked, voice cracking a little.
"We need to go back up the stairs to the main foyer," Raven replied, keeping her emotionless voice low. "There's a main staircase there that will take us up to the second level, and from there we can get to almost anywhere in the castle."
"So, from the second level we'll decide which tower to start with?" Robin confirmed.
Raven nodded, frowning. "I was almost hoping she would be down here in the dungeon; there are so many rooms she could be in, it could take all night or longer. And that's assuming we don't run into Malchior."
Gar frowned, "You mean, you wanted her to be down in this… this hell hole?"
Raven's face flushed beneath her hood. "No, of course not. I simply meant it would be easier if-"
"You know, it's rude to show up in another person's home unannounced."
The group spun around in surprise. Malchior, silver robes blowing in an unfelt wind, stood at the foot of the stairs with a scowl on his face.
"We're here to save princess Terrianna," Robin announced, crouching into a fighting stance.
"Who said she needs to be saved?" Malchior hissed back.
Robin narrowed his eyes, hearing the challenge in Malchior's tone of voice and taking it personally, and cried out for his team to attack. Without second thought, Starfire, Garfield and Victor surged forward with their leader.
Barely flinching, Malchior surrounded his fist with an icy blue glow, and prepared to defend himself and his love.
Terra paced her room nervously. Her soft carpet had gotten packed down and harder from her constant walking along one spot. Her hair, which she had clipped to the side that morning, now hung in her face after running her hands through it several times. Though the room was far enough from the dungeons that she couldn't hear the fighting, her turning stomach was convincing her that somewhere, Malchior needed her help. She just wasn't sure how she could.
"What do I know about this kind of thing?" she muttered to herself. "What could I possibly do to help him?"
"Gar has plenty of help."
Terra spun around in surprise and froze. Raven stood by her door, staring at her with a blank face before continuing. "But you're not talking about Garfield, are you?"
"How did you get in here?" Terrianna asked, squaring her shoulder to try to appear nerveless and collected. "I locked that door."
"I stayed here once, in this room," Raven replied, a ghost of a smirk on her face as she reached for the outside handle of the door. "All you have to do is jiggle it a little and it unlocks."
"May I come in?" Raven asked politely. Terra nodded uncertainly and she entered the room. They stood in silence for a while. Terra fidgeted and looked around nervously, all the while feeling Raven's dark eyes drilling into her.
"Why do you love him?" Raven asked at last.
Surprised by the unexpected question, Terra instinctively became defensive. "Hey now, no need to beat around the bush."
Raven frowned, clearly not amused with the princess's sarcasm.
"Just answer the question," she responded, a hint of annoyance creeping into her monotone voice.
"I don't know why," Terra replied. "I just do! And it's none of your business! He loves me now- not you, so just… get over him!"
The sorceress raised an eyebrow and the corner of her lip curled up very slightly. "Is that what you think? That I'm here to fight you for him?"
"Well… why else wouldn't you be fighting with the rest of them?"
"Because I saw something in Malchior's eyes. I could sense it. You really aren't a prisoner. You're in love."
"S-so?" Terra stuttered, looking away. "So what does that matter? You came here to take me back, and that's what you're all going to do, isn't it?"
"Princess," Raven said. "Look at me."
Though it was evident that this was a command, Terra could hear a softness in Raven's tone that she hadn't heard before. She complied.
"Do you want to go back?"
Terra stared back, thinking for a couple minutes before finding and vocalizing her answer.
The sound of battle echoed around the main foyer as the group battled. They had managed to back Malchior out of the dungeon into the larger space where there was more room to maneuver, but now it seemed they weren't getting any further.
Letting out a ferocious war cry, Starfire hurled a large green orb of energy at the sorcerer, but he created a large, shimmering shield around himself before it had reached him. The shield vanished as soon as her bolt hit it, but it had done its job and Malchior was left unharmed.
He swiftly lifted his arm and then lowered it in a slicing motion directed at Starfire. A wave of icy blue magic hit her before she could react, and she fell from the spot she had been hovering in, thirty feet above the ground.
"Starfire!" Bending down, Robin pick up a sharp piece of broken tile and flung it towards the magician, running towards the fallen native as he did so.
Malchior narrowly dodged the shard, but was unprepared for Victor's fist, which crashed forcefully against the side of his face. Falling backwards, Malchior cried out at the unaccustomed pain.
"One point for the visiting team," Robin cheered, lifting up a dizzy Starfire. Victor grinned at Robin and swung his fist again as Malchior got to his feet. However, this time he was expecting it, and with a wave of his eerily glowing hand, Malchior sent Victor flying backwards before his attack could hit its mark.
Waving his hand again, he sent the large man towards Robin and Starfire. The three companions were thrown against a nearby wall painfully. As they wearily stood back up, they found that a cage of icy blue bars of magic was surrounding them.
"And three for home," Malchior quipped.
Roaring, Robin lunged forward, but was restrained by the magic cage.
"That was a cheap trick," growled a voice behind Malchior. Calmly, Malchior turned to face Garfield. The green knight gripped his sword tightly, a look of fierce determination on his face.
The Sorcerer smirked. "How so? I was outnumbered, wasn't I? I was merely evening things out."
Garfield faltered for a second, trying to come up with a response. "Yeah well… you suck."
Malchior bit back a laugh as the knight stuck his tongue out at him. Robin, Starfire and Victor groaned.
Suddenly, Malchior's robes began to billow, as if caught in some unfelt wind. Gar stepped back uncertainly, holding onto his sword even tighter until his knuckles had turned white from the effort. Slowly, the sorcerer's body was changing. Skin that had been smooth was suddenly scaly and black. Feet and hands turned into clawed fists. In a matter of seconds, Malchior completely transformed himself into a fierce looking dragon.
What appeared to be a smirk curled on the dragon's lips as Gar shook in fear, staring up at the giant lizard. "What's the matter?" his voice rumbled out of his elongated neck. "Afraid?"
Gulping, the knight clenched his jaw. Though his body still trembled a little, he wore an expression of determination on his face. "Of a fat old newt like you? Never."
Chuckling, the dragon spit out a short stream of flames. Yelping, Gar dodged it, but was still close enough that he could feel the heat of the fire soaking into his clothes.
"You should watch what you say to beings more powerful than yourself," Malchior generously advised.
"You should watch what you say to a guy who's love is on the line," Gar snapped back.
The dragon regarded him carefully, frowning a little.
"Your love? What do you mean by that?"
Garfield stopped, furrowing his brow as if just noticing what he had said. "I… I don't know. It just sort of came out."
"Who do you love?" The dragon snapped, blowing more flames toward Garfield. The green man dodged it and heedlessly began running forward, sword ready. He thrust his sword forward, aiming for the dragon's chest, but Malchior stepped back quickly and swiped at the knight. Garfield dodged it.
"Is it Terra?" Malchior hissed, narrowing his eyes.
Ignoring the question, Gar slashed again and this time hit the dragon. A short, but deep wound appeared on his chest. Screeching in pain, Malchior swung his fist at Gar once more, bit missed, unintentionally exposing more of his tender belly. The knight stabbed.
Malchior roared, though whether in pain, anger, or both, it was unclear. "You will not take her away from me!"
"I won't let you keep Raven!" Gar yelled back, pulling out his sword and stabbing once more. The dragon roared once more, clearly in pain this time, and fell to his knees, shifting into his human form once more.
"I don't care about Raven anymore," Malchior choked out through clenched teeth. Gar froze, staring at the bleeding sorcerer in confusion. "I love Terra. You cannot- Gah!" He placed a hand tightly over the wounds on his stomach, attempting to stop the blood long enough for him to decide what to do. He was weak now, and knew he only had a limited amount of energy to use on magic. Should he risk healing himself and having to fight the knight by hand?
Everyone looked towards the stairs to find Terrianna and Raven standing at the top, looking down at the scene before them. Picking up the bottom of her skirt, Terra ran down the stairs and crouched down next to her bleeding lover.
Gar looked at the couple in shock, then looked down at the blood-covered sword clutched in his hand.
"You… you love each other?" He gasped.
Terra nodded, tears streamed down her face, but she refused to sob. She didn't want to seem weak in front of Malchior. He had nearly died, all for her. How could she have let this happen?
Malchior slumped forward even more, leaning against Terra. The cage around Robin, Victor and Starfire disappeared as Malchior struggled for breath.
Raven descended the stairs and stood next to Gar, who was trembling again, this time in shock.
"I… I killed him," Gar whispered, looking up at Raven with wide eyes.
"You… have not… killed me," Malchior panted. "I still have some magic left. And… if I must… I will use it to heal myself. If only… long enough… to say goodbye to Terra- properly."
"Don't talk like that," Terra whimpered. "You're going to be fine. We're going to be together forever."
Malchior smiled sadly at her and tried to shake his head, but found it was too much effort.
"I'm sorry," Robin said after a moment of silence. "We didn't know you were in love. We thought we were saving her…"
"Not taking her away from the one she loves," Starfire finished.
"Apology accepted…" Malchior replied. "You… didn't know."
"It seems unfair," Victor spoke, looking down at the floor. If we had only stopped… tried to negotiate or something… we would have known and this wouldn't have happened."
Silence fell upon the room, no one sure what else to say or do, the only sound that of Malchior's labored breathing. Slowly, Raven stepped forward. Black magic surrounded her hand and a moment later, what appeared to be a carpet surrounded with the same magic floated into the foyer from another room.
Malchior looked at it wearily, at first unsure of what she was doing, but then a flicker of realization came into his eyes. He smiled and looked up at Terra.
"Do you… truly wish to be… with me… forever?" he asked. Terra nodded in response and he continued. "You… would never be able… to see your family… or friends again."
"I don't care," Terra replied, holding Malchior as close as she dared to with his wounds. "I would give them all up for you."
A small smile crossed Raven's face and the dark energy around the item she had called over disappeared and landed next to them. She stepped back. "You know what to do."
Malchior nodded. Using the last of his strength, he wrapped his arms around Terra and began to chant a spell. Everyone watched in awe as the couple and the item began to glow brightly. Though they watched for as long as they could, eventually they all had to shield their eyes. And then it was done.
The light died down and Malchior and Terra had left. All that remained was the tapestry Raven had brought over. On the tapestry, where a woman and man had once stood in front of a burning city, now stood two new people, embracing each other beneath a tree with a golden bird above them.
King Caldwell gazed up at the tapestry hanging on his wall, next to the picture of his brother. He wiped away a tear as he remembered the other day, when King Robin and his companions had returned. His beloved daughter was not with them.
They told him that though they had tried, Terra was now in a better place, and all that was left of her were memories and her face immortalized in stitches.
He didn't believe for a second that they were telling him the whole story, but as he looked at her beautiful face, so peaceful looking in the tapestry, he had to believe that whatever had happened, she was happier now than she ever had been.
A newly wedded couple, Robin and Starfire gazed around the room in front of them. King Caldwell sat at their table, eating without complaint, and even participating in friendly conversation with those around him. Noticing their wandering eyes, Garfield smiled at them before turning back to the woman he had been talking to all night, though she rarely said a word. She did smile sometimes though, and coming from Raven, that meant a lot.
"So, now that our adventure is done-"
"It's been over for six months now, Gar," Raven interrupted. He laughed a little and continued.
"Our adventure is done, and all the wedding preparations and festivities are done, what are you going to do? Will you go back home?"
Raven was silent for a moment, chewing on her food thoughtfully before swallowing and answering.
"I was thinking of finding a house closer to the castle. I don't have much money saved, but I'm sure I could find something. Maybe I could open a bookstore. I don't want to go back to being so alone as I was before."
Gar nodded. Victor had already decided that he wanted to rejoin the king's guards, and had been accepted and promoted exceptionally fast, so he would no longer be Raven's apprentice.
"Besides," she continued. "I've grown used to seeing my friends almost every day."
Gar grinned. "I'm one of those friends, right?"
Raven looked at him scornfully, "Why would you ask something like that?"
Before he had time to let his face fall, she continued. "Of course you are."
He laughed happily and she went back to eating her food.
"What are your plans?" she asked before eating another mouthful of her meal.
"Well… I was wondering…" he gulped and pushed a vegetable around his plate with his fork. "I mean… Caldweilla seems so far away now, far away from all my friends and everything. I was kind of wondering if I could maybe live with you?"
Raven raised an eyebrow and for a moment he was convinced that she was going to turn his idea down.
"People might talk," she informed him. "We're not married, and as far as they know, I won't be a sorceress with an apprentice."
"Let them talk," Gar grinned, impulsively reaching over and placing his hand on hers. She looked at it for a moment before turning her hand around and threading her fingers in his.
"All right," she agreed. "Let them talk."
And they continued eating.
Gasp! What's this?! I've finally updated! I certainly hope no one was eating fast food loaded with salt, or they might just have had a heart attack.
Seriously, I'm sorry it took so long. I was estimating about a week, but it actually took about a month. Gosh...
Anyway, I'm also sorry for that incredibly lame ending. Haha, like, wow... it's like I just gave up or something. Which is kind of true. I realized I had reached the end and got impatient. So, sorry 'bout that. But hopefully the rest of the chapter was acceptable. I did work hard on it. Action is not my forte when I'm writing, so I got stuck many times.
I've noticed that there was more Malchior/Terra than BB/Rae, which is kind of strange for me, but I really am happy with how it turned out. Everytime I finish a story it's like all the pride I've built up while working on it, that I never noticed before, suddenly comes pouring out and I feel so happy yet sad that it's over.
Thank you to everyone that has reviewed. I really appreciate every single one; they're what made me keep going.
So, until next time,