Titans Tower

One week later

Beast boy was standing just at the door leading into a room no one had been into for a week, there were just too many memories in it. He still had trouble accepting that she was gone and he was not the only one. The last week had been hectic to say the least as the Titans, along with Doctor Fate and all the honorary Titans they had been able to call in had cleared out all the remaining daemons. When the sweep up was done, it was discovered to everyone's great anger that Iron Mask had somehow slipped past them. The whole city was searched, from top to bottom, but no trace of him was found; he was long gone. Of course, many had asked where Raven was since no one had seen her. The Titans along with Doctor Fate and Batman, who of course had already sniffed out the truth, had held a meeting to determine what they should tell about Raven. Many people were still a little sore from when Superman was turned against Earth, and the news that another hero had gone rogue and tried to destroy an entire city would only fan the flames of discontent among anti-hero groups.

So it was decided that the truth about Raven would be buried and forgotten. Two days after her death, a cover story was presented to the media and fellow heroes. It pointed out Iron Mask as the perpetrator behind it all. Raven of course was given a hero's role in this story, it was explained that she had fought her way past Iron Mask and managed to close the portal to save everyone else, but the energy from the portal had been too strong and she had been dragged into it before it closed. She had been given a funeral worthy of an honored hero just three days ago. Many heroes had attended to bid farewell to a fellow comrade who they thought fell in the line of work, those that knew Raven even swearing on her gravestone that they would find Iron Mask and make him pay. As far as Beast boy knew, every hero was on the look-out for that madman, but he seemed to have been swallowed up by the earth. With the dust finally settled, only seven people knew the truth of what really happened on that fateful night. One of them being a hunted fugitive no one would ever believe and the others would take the secret to the grave.

Beast boy finally worked up the courage to open the door in front of him, marked with the word "Raven". Stepping inside, he found that nothing had changed in here. Everything was still where they were supposed to be and the usual smells that existed in her room were still lingering; the strange mix of burned candles, old books and herbal tea. If Beast boy did not know any better, he would fear that Raven would walk in any second now and threaten him with some painful treatment if he did not leave her room. Beast boy almost laughed at the idea, but it came out more like a sob.

"Beast boy?" a sweet and worried voice said from behind. He slowly turned around to see Starfire standing at the threshold. She looked at him with sad eyes, she too feeling sorrow for their lost friend.

"Robin is preparing dinner for us and sent me to find you" she explained. Something boiled over in Beast boy when she mentioned Robin. It was his fault, if he had not attacked her like he did, none of this would have happened. Raven would have been safely back with them and Mal'Bolough would have been gone. Robin has expressed that he was sorry it ended like this, but he had done what he had to do. Though to Beast boy, he had not sounded as sorry as he claimed to be. Beast boy wondered if he would ever be able to forgive him for what he did, but right now he was hungry and he would not say no to food. So with a small nod, he turned around and walked out of Raven's room. Before he closed the door, he cast one last sorrowful look inside.

"Goodbye Raven" he said as the door closed up.


Small village in northern Finland

One year later, Christmas

A snowstorm raged through the small village, driving many to seek shelters indoors. Though many of the men had instead of going home and spend time with their family searched their way to the local pub, where they were all currently singing and drinking to their hearts contents. A Christmas tree had been erected inside and there were even a few drunkards dancing around it. Everywhere spirits were high and joyous, save for in one corner where a hooded figure sat by himself. He had been there all day long, ordering drink after drink. Some of the customers were a little unnerved by this silent figure, but the owner did not care that much. He constantly bought drinks and he was causing no ruckus with anyone, that meant he was more than welcome to stay. A few of the other customers had tried to befriend him, but he had rudely dismissed them. Many assumed that he was either a loner or he was mourning something, so they left him alone, though some had tried to peek under that hood of his. None of them had managed to see anything. That was probably a good thing, since all that was under the hood was an iron mask.

Letting his gaze quickly wander over the crowd gathered in the pub, Iron Mask could not help but temporarily feel envious of these humans. They had no worries in life and they had loved ones in their lives. And what had Iron Mask? Only his immortality. It was during moments like these that he debated if he should just break the centuries old spell and simply pass on to whatever hell that was undoubtedly reserved for him. But those fleeting moments always passed before he knew it and he was back to his usual self. But even with his temporary surge of humanity gone, he still felt empty inside. He had felt it ever since he escaped Jump City. He had tried drowning those feelings in alcohol, even though he knew it would never work. This was not technically his body, it was just a flesh puppet that he controlled and it would never feel anything of any sort. As he downed another glass of whiskey, he wondered what this hollow feeling could be. He knew it was connected to Raven in some way since it began after her demise, but he could not figure out what it was. This had never happened to Iron Mask, he had worked for countless bosses and he had never cared about what happened to them. All he had done when they died was to collect his money and moved on to the next employer. With Raven it was different, he had not accepted a single job after his escape, had not worked for anyone else. He had just drifted across the world, staying away from any heroes that popped up everywhere.

He gave a humorless laugh as he thought of the heroes. They had been on him like bloodhounds for nearly a year now. Though they were still on the look-out for him, it seemed that most of the heat had passed and only the most stubborn were still actively searching for him. It did not matter to him whether they found him or not, it would make no difference. That hollow feeling would still remain and he would still have no idea what it was. A thought suddenly came to him, he had heard people talk about the concept of "love", of how two people being meant for each other and finding happiness together. Could that be what he was feeling? Could he be in love with Raven? The idea was completely foreign to him, it made no sense to his twisted mind. He had never experienced joy other when inflicting pain and suffering on others, so how could he possibly fall in love? Truthfully, Iron Mask had no idea. Maybe he was in love, maybe he was not. In the end, it did not matter, she was still gone. Deciding to put his brooding thoughts to rest for the evening, he poured up another glass for himself and raised it in salute to the empty spot in front of him.

"To you, ma patronne" he said before gulping down that glass too. Suddenly the door into the pub was kicked open, allowing the cold winds to flow inside. All songs stopped abruptly and the whole pub fell silent as they gazed at the figure standing at the doorway. He was dressed in black robes hiding all his features and a black hood. But what was worse was the dark and chilling aura that radiated from this creature. It wormed its way into all the patrons' minds, driving them to new heights of fear. On some instinctual level, each and every one of them knew that what they were looking at was not human. But none of them even dared to move a muscle, in fear of drawing this malevolent creature's attention. Ever so slowly, it began to advance into the pub with slow and calm steps. Every time it walked past a patron, that one would immediately take his chance and bolt as fast as possible out of the pub. Those that were too far away to slink past the creature instead rushed out the backdoor. Even the bartender lost his nerves, even with a shotgun in hand, and abandoned the pub. In the end there were only two people left in the pub; Iron Mask and the mysterious creature.

The creature walked up to Iron Mask's table, staring down on the undead madman. Iron Mask did not even acknowledge its presence. For several minutes, the creature did nothing but stand there and watch Iron Mask, who in turn did not even look at it. Finally, it glided into the seat opposite of Iron Mask, observing him carefully. Iron Mask had by now had enough of whatever this thing was and pulled back his hood and was about to give this creature a piece of his mind. But his words froze in his throat when he finally looked upon the creature. Understanding washed over Iron Mask and suddenly his future did not feel so bleak anymore. Without warning, he threw his head back and laughed in sadistic joy. And while he laughed the creature's right eye was temporarily exposed. It was all black save for a red glowing symbol etched into it; an eight pointed star with a snake eye in its center.