Yes, yes, I'm terrible. Even though I just updated my last story for the first time in over a year, I'm starting a new one. Sorry! But I hope that you guys will, at least, enjoy it. And no, this doesn't mean that I'm going to neglect the other one again - really, this is my way of doing the opposite. If I have multiple stories going at once, they will forcefully demand my attention and I won't be able to scamper off to the boring realm of real-life.

So, considering the fact that this idea entered my head approximately ten minutes before I started writing this, let's see how it goes, shall we?

Disclaimer: Teen Titans me no ownie. -sighs- Someday, you just wait.

Prologue

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She thrashed wildly as she tried to remove herself from the bruising grasp of the uniformed man that dragged her along like a rag doll. Biting, kicking, scratching, shrieking, she was pulled towards the castle that grew ever-nearer, and every step that he took to bring them closer, she grew a little more panicked.

Finally, a second man slapped her hard across the face - so hard, in fact, that she felt a headache coming on before the sting even registered. He smiled in grim satisfaction at the red mark that was already turning her otherwise pale face into a color that more closely resembled a newly-ripe tomato.

"Be a good little thing," he said, and a grin revealed teeth that were almost perfect, save the yellow-brown tinge of them. "Don't make me mark up your pretty little face any more than I have to."

It's a shame, she thought to herself. He could be considered handsome if he weren't so... not.

She glowered up at him, her large, violet eyes seeming to pierce straight through him like a blade through butter. The smile was wiped from his face immediately and he turned away without even realizing he had done so.

"Set me free at once!" the young woman demanded, not for the first time.

"Hush your mouth!" The first man's fingers tightened further as he spoke his first words to her. "I am of the King's Guard, and you will not address me in such a tone!"

"Spell 'address!'" she commanded, spitting at his feet.

A slap across the other side of her face was her punishment, but she didn't appear to pay much attention to it.

"You will treat us with respect," he growled, "or you'll never even make it to kiss His Grace's feet and beg for mercy - we'll torture and kill you right out here!"

"Do it, then," she challenged. "Be done with it. I'd rather die out in the open than in the home of a filthy fool of a monarch."

Abruptly, they stopped. The larger man let go of her arm and turned to face her, taking her chin in his hand. "I could crush your jaw from a simple squeeze," he said, meeting her vibrant eyes with his own dead, gray ones. "Another fucking word from your mouth, and that's what you'll get. Are we clear?"

She fought back tears but said nothing, jerking her head away and staring at the ground. He grumbled something under her breath and continued to "escort" her the final yards to the large doors. Though the castle itself was made of gray stone, the doors were made of a dark, ominous wood.

"Is His Majesty available?" asked her captor of the man who was clearly some sort of doorman once they were inside.

"Yes," he replied slowly, eying the girl. His obvious curiousity was ignored as she was hustled briskly across a pale marble floor to another set of doors - the throne room, she guessed, and was correct.

Just before going in, all but the guard holding her fell back. He placed his hand on her jaw again as if to remind her who was in power before he growled, "What is your name?"

She did not reply at first, but when he squeezed, she hissed out, "I am known as Raven!"

"Is that your name?"

"Break my jaw if you please - that's all of the information you'll get from me." Her gaze blistered with fierce determination, and he muttered an oath before yanking her inside.

A man adorn in a great crimson robe with golden detail along the edges remained with his back to them.

"Your Highness," the guard said softly.

"Marcus. What have you for me today?" The voice was surprisingly young - four or five years her senior, she estimated, which said very little considering the fact that she had recently come to nineteen years of age.

Marcus, as she now knew him to be named, fell instantly to one knee, though the king did not appear to be turning around any time soon. Raven was pulled to the floor beside him.

"This woman, here - Raven, she calls herself - was found giving 'pep' talks to fellow peasants and insulting the crown."

"Very well," said the young ruler, not teribly bothered. He waved his hand, still facing away from them, and said, "Send her to the gallows, then back on duty with you."

"Yes, Your Gra -"

He was cut off by the imploring voice of the woman as she shouted, "Spare me!"

Slowly, he turned, bright cerulean eyes assaulting her as he watched her face. "And why, pray tell, would I do that?" As he spoke, he couldn't help but note the peculiar, engaging color of her eyes, perfectly matched with black hair that reach to her mid-back and her skin like cream, despite the red blotches on either side of her face.

"Because," she murmured slowly, "something about me makes you think you should."

It was a long shot - she knew that. But she had to try; this was not a woman who gave up so easily.

She could not have possibly known that she was telling the truth.

The king watched her for several minutes, no one moving in the choking silence of the room. Finally, he broke it, directing his gaze at Marcus as he said, flatly, "Take her to the holding cell on the second floor - the one that used to be a guest room. Lock the door and stand guard outside."

Shock registered on the faithful servant's face. "What? But, milord, surely you can't mean to -"

"Do you dare defy my orders?" His tone was sharp, and Marcus's face visibly paled.

"No, of course not, Your Greatness." Pulling the captive up none too gently, he left to carry out his "assignment."

Raven, King Richard mused. Perhaps I do have some use for you.

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Well? Was it horrible? Decent? Please, review and tell me! I want to hear ideas, suspicions, critisism - anything and everything. Shall I continue? You decide!

Yours truely,

-~- Tears of Insanity