A/N: So I've been rereading my old story Spellbinder because, as it turns out, people are still reading it 8 years later. And my reaction was thus: "People are still reading this?-!-?-! This is crap! Alright, the story itself is okay I guess but how does anyone get past the first few paragraphs without wanting to tear their eyes out and jump up and down on them?-!"
Obviously it's not as bad as all that. If it was it wouldn't have so many reviews. But I'm always going to be more critical of my own work than anyone else's so the smallest little thing is going to bother me.
I thought about completely rewriting it, but realized that if I did so I would, more or less, gut the thing and it'd be a completely different story. It'd also lose the tone of fluffy teenage fantasy that probably accounts for a decent sum of its readers…or so I'm guessing. So this is not the oh-so-originally named Spellbinder's rewrite, this is a whole new kettle of fish from the same mind all growed up. Well, mostly grown up…moderately grown up…I have a full-time job with benefits. Does that count?
So anyway, this is not Spellbinder, but I'll probably recycle certain elements from it. And then blatantly steal others from places that were not available in 2004.
Malchior: Fuss Ro DA!-!-!
(Me Gusta face)
Fair warning, though: I intend to age the Titans a little. Not a lot, but Robin is now Nightwing, Beast Boy is now Beast Man (or so he wishes), Starfire is…still Starfire since that's her actual name (or rather the English translation of her name, which I know is Koriand'r), Cyborg is pretty much the same, and Raven will probably maim the first person to try calling her anything else. I like my limbs where they are so that's not changing either.
On with the fic!
Warning: This chapter contains much funny. The other chapters not as much so don't get use to it. It also features a very silly villain – which could describe anyone on this show but I made him up anyway. Enjoy!
PS: (EDIT) Just fixing a few errors some people have helpfully pointed out to me. THANKS MUCH! Apparently I needed to add more description to Raven's new look. Also, does anyone know if it's suppose to be 'Tamaranean' or 'Tamaranian'? 'Cause I've seen it both ways and it's driving me nuts!
Just so we're clear: The "(8)" indicates the chapter is beginning or ending while the "(O)" indicates a break. I can't stand those line breaks that FF wants us to use. Blergh!
Chapter 1 – A Mysterious Prologue
Lights were blaring, sirens were screaming, and security guards – who definitely were not getting paid enough for this – were spouting cliché movie lines that probably wouldn't have worked even if this world wasn't overrun with ridiculously powered maniacs. They were turned to stone for their trouble. Feeling it was expected of him, the shadowy figure let out a hearty cackle that, due to his hay fever, ended up in a hearty hacking.
"Ugh, should have brought some cough drops." he muttered.
Target acquired and tucked neatly under his arm, the shadowy mysterious figure mysteriously flitted through the mysterious museum, dodging mysterious cameras and mysteriously sidestepping security guards who were mysteriously seeking the mysterious shadowy figure and I'll stop there before the adjective police arrest me for abusive usage. He made it out of the building with no more incidents, though tripping the alarm in the first place was a bit embarrassing. Oh well. What was the point of wearing an awesome costume if you weren't going to make a scene anyway?
He was about to make a clean getaway but paused in the distinct knowledge that he was forgetting something. What was it? Oh yeah! He back-tracked to the shadow of the museum's impressive countenance so that any invisible cameras could get a more dramatic angle and laughed, though shortly because he had to sneeze. Rotten hay fever. Anyway!
"You'll never catch me now! The ancient and powerful grimoire of…uh…" he checked the author's name, "Line, dot, small line, dot, big dot, slash, line, dot, small line…etcetera! Is mine!" he declared. "I am all powerful! Muahahaha—ach! Oh gawd!" he bent over double and heaved.
"Er...ahem, that's as far as you go!" a voice declared.
"Just—hack, wheeze—a minute—gasp!" he exclaimed. There was an awkward pause as he recovered. "Alright, I think I'm good. I do apologize. Seems not even my marvelous mysterious magic can combat the power of spring and all this infernal pollen. Anyway," he let out a dramatic gasp, "The Teen Titans?-!"
Cue sudden and dramatic revelation of the teenage crime fighters. Starfire floating in the air with her eyes and fists pulsing with her emerald energy, Beast Boy crouched and menacing (or so he believes), Cyborg gleaming with his freshly-polished chassis, Raven hovering in the air with her white cloak billowing, and Nightwing standing with his arms crossed and looking far more awesome than he ever could as the traffic light known as Robin.
"You may have the upper hand when it comes to dramatic entrances – and you kind of outnumber me five to one – but make no mistake! In fact, tremble in fear for I am the powerful and mighty…um…uh…you know, to tell you the truth I haven't actually decided on a name yet. Can't think of one…but I will! And it will be awesome because I am a mighty sorcerer! Especially now that I have the ancient and therefore obviously powerful Grimoire of Lines and Dots! Behold my power! Bwahahahaha—ach! Huff, hurack—!" he bent over double again with another coughing fit.
The Titans looked at one another and then back at The Great Can't-Think-of-a-Name-Yet-But-It'll-Be-Awesome-Just-You-Wait-and-See. He was revealed to be a blond youth who might have looked quite ordinary if not for the deep violet opera cloak, the headband with a big gold sun ornament on the side, and the black eye-covering mask.
"Is this guy for real?" Cyborg asked.
Beast Boy leapt into the air as a tiger and launched himself at the villain. The Great Can't (for short) let out a high-pitched yep of surprise and cowered down into a crouch with his arms up over his head. The tiger's inertia caused him to sail over the mysterious sorcerer. He then landed hard on the fortunately soft grass…as a stone statue. The Great Can't looked up, and then stood up proudly. "Ha-ha! See?-! I am great and powerful and totally meant to do that! I shall turn you all to—oh crap!" he scrambled out of the way of Starfire's blasts and yipped when one of them caught him in the tail.
Raven flew to Beast Boy and began working her power over him. Fortunately the petrifaction spell was already wearing off and he broke out of it in the next few seconds. "Brrr! That was cold! Why was it so cold!-?" he exclaimed, shaking himself. He pushed his green hair back out of his face. "How did he do that?"
"Lots of power. No control." Raven said.
Proving her point, The Great Can't attempted to fly and might have escaped due to his incredible speed. Too bad he couldn't steer. He landed face-first in a tree, managed to peel his face off, said "Koala..." for some reason, and fell backwards into the grass. Amazingly he still managed to keep hold of the book.
The Titans gathered around him in a wide circle that was closing in.
"I suggest you give up now." Nightwing said.
"Can I play with your hair?" The Great Can't asked from his prone position on the grass.
Nightwing regarded Can't with that one-eye-bigger-than-the-other expression which is easier to portray with a zero, period, and little 'o' than it is to describe. But I did it anyway so go me! "Um, no." Nightwing answered.
The Great Can't whipped himself back into a standing position. This was an impressive feat since he should realistically have a few hundred broken bones and brain damage (that is to say, more brain damage). Isn't cartoon logic fun? "Then bear witness to the power of the Grimoire of Lines and Dots!" he declared, brandishing the large black book. Violet spellfire erupted from his hands and the book levitated high above him. The wind picked up and the force of the power began pushing the Titans back. They tensed for what was coming; all save Raven who wondered if she should warn the novice sorcerer – but had decided against it.
The Great and Mighty Can't-Think-of-a-Name-Yet-But-It'll-Be-Awesome-Just-You-Wait-and-See fainted dead away. The book, which didn't appear at all different or impressed, flopped down into the grass. Raven walked calmly over to it and picked it up just as the police cars began to arrive.
"Okay…what just happened?" Beast Boy asked blankly.
"He put all his power into the book instead of actually using it. Unfortunately for him it doesn't look like it can be used. Why does everyone make the assumption that just because something is magical that means it can do things?" she wondered, taking a better look at the strange tomb. It was a black book with some iron decoration. Each corner had a crescent moon facing the center and there was a circle on the front. Along the spine was a line of odd characters made up of lines and dots that were embossed in the iron binding. The book was eerily familiar, but she didn't quite remember ever seeing it before. She must have seen it in a dream. She'd been having some pretty weird ones lately. That was the trouble with prescience; more often than not you caught things that were too vague to be of any real use. She'd long ago learned to ignore her stray visions and focus on the here and now. Still, this book…
A man wearing plaid pajamas under a dark green trench coat and a frantic expression was running towards them. "Did you catch him? The book—" Despite how excited and upset the man obviously was, he didn't seem to be talking so much as modulating a long yawn that extended the odd vowel more than was strictly necessary. The pair of very round spectacles he was wearing didn't really need the assistance of his drawling voice to make him a bit ridiculous.
"We have it. Are you in charge here?" Nightwing asked.
"I'm the curator, yes. Joshua Spander. I am so very pleased to meet you and infinitely pleased with your assistance! The book, is it badly damaged? Tell me the truth. Oh I can't look!"
"It's fine." Raven assured him, brushing some of the dirt off. "What sort of book is it?"
"The priceless sort. It was found in an excavation funded most generously by Wayne Enterprises and was entrusted to us not two months ago. The writing is like nothing we've ever seen before but we know it must be terribly old, and magical – though we're not sure what it does." he chattered as he, very gingerly, took the book from Raven. She couldn't help but wonder why he thought they should know all of this stuff. "Is it possible he might know? I mean, he must have tried to steal it for a reason…" he asked, looking down at The Great Can't.
"Not possible." Raven stated flatly.
"I say, you're a magic-user aren't you? Would you know?"
She also couldn't help but wonder why he liked his vowels so much.
Raven held her hands up, "I'm afraid that's not really my thing." she told him.
"Are you sure? The Museum of Unnatural History would be most grateful for any insight you might be able to give. We are very well-funded, you see." the curator told her earnestly.
"I don't get it..." The Great Can't mumbled as the police carried him away. "Ancient relics have to be powerful. It's a rule..." he chanted dizzily.
Raven looked at the book. There really was something familiar about it and that piqued her curiosity. If she could have a closer look then she might know where she'd seen it before. What's more, it could be anything. What if it was a tomb of ancient magic like the overpowered novice thought? What if it was a story so old it was from some unknown civilization that may have existed even before the Egyptians? It could be some sort of religious text or a record of kings.
She could take up a hobby, couldn't she?
"I…can't promise you I'll find anything but I guess I could come by later and take a closer look." she decided.
"Splendid! Here's my personal office number. Please call any time between the hours of nine and six!" he told her eagerly, handing her a small slip of paper.
She took it, looked at it, and then looked at him. "Why do you keep business cards in your pajama pockets?"
"For the 347th time!" shouted Beast B— "Man! It's Beast Man!-!-! What is so hard about this?-!"
"You're keeping count?" Raven asked, raising an eyebrow over her book.
"We're use to Beast Boy, man. Gonna take a while to get use to the change." said Cyborg. Most of his attention was on his game but this argument had been made so often in the past few months that he could participate automatically.
"So Robin can change to Nightwing overnight but it's gonna take me a year to swap out three rotten letters?-!"
"He did change his costume." Raven pointed out.
"I grew out my hair!-!-! Doesn't that count for something?-! Anyway I can't change my costume! Do you have any idea how hard it is to get hold of cloth that morphs into animal skin?" he demanded.
"It's not hard, just expensive. And you keep spending your pocket money." Raven said.
"Look," Cyborg began before Beast Boy could go on, "Tell you what, Grass Stain, I'll put your new name on all your personal information in the system so at least the computer will know it and maybe the rest of us can take the hint. Now will you let it go for now? This is a new game and I'm trying to enjoy it."
Beast Boy opened his mouth but a black hand materialized and grabbed his lips. "Let it go, Beast Man." Raven said carelessly. Beast Boy relaxed, though that was mostly due to the fact that she'd actually used his new name, and she let the black hand disappear. "We'll adjust eventually."
"Still don't see why it's taking so long…" the green man grumbled.
Nightwing walked into the living room. "Has anyone seen Starfire?" he questioned.
"Many times. Why do you ask?" Raven responded with her usual monotone.
"She's not in her room." Nightwing answered. "I don't think she's in the building. Did she tell any of you where she was going?"
Raven looked up from her book and Cyborg paused his game. Starfire usually told someone if she was going out. It was kind of a rule – particularly for a Tamaranean who was still coming to grips with various facts about the world. The four Titans looked at one another. They knew she could handle herself well enough but…well, after the whole Brotherhood of Evil thing they didn't like not knowing each others' general location.
"I'll do a quick scan of the tower." Raven said, putting her book away. She stood up and closed her eyes. For a few moments the color drained out of the area as though they were viewing the world by way of a really old television set. It didn't last long, but those on the receiving end of this strange new power tended to get the uncomfortable feeling that there was some kind of physical thickness to the shadows. And then everything was back to normal. "She's in the basement." Raven announced. The Titans relaxed.
"What's she doing down there?" Nightwing wondered.
"Metabolizing her breakfast and making use of her respiratory system, among other things." Raven answered.
"Nice to see your sense of humor, such as it is. Let's go check it out."
"But my game—alright, alright, I'm coming."
Beast Boy and N—
"Even the narrator is against me! It's Man! Beast Man! Man!-!-!"
Ahem, and Nightwing weren't the only ones to grow out their hair. For some reason Raven had decided she wanted a change. She wasn't sure why; perhaps she was just following Robin/Nightwing's lead out of sheer habit. She wasn't changing her name or anything, but it was surprising just how much difference a few superficial changes to her hair and costume had made. She'd told herself she could always go back if she wanted. That'd been three months ago.
Three months ago a slightly haywire spell had grown her hair out to about mid-back by accident. She was about to cut it off again but a chance look in her vanity mirror made her pause. She thought, 'why not?' and left it as it was, reasoning that she could always cut it again if she really wanted to. But then she got use to it and decided she didn't want to. Everyone kept telling her how much it suited her and…well…for the first time in a long time she felt…pretty. So she'd kept it.
Then she'd made the other changes.
She and Starfire were growing same as Nightwing and Beast Boy/Man. Unlike Starfire, however, Raven wasn't very…confident. She wore the leotard because it was practical. But she was getting a bit more shape in these later years of her adolescence and so she'd decided to add a skirt for the sake of modesty. By some indefinable alchemy of fashion this had achieved the exact opposite effect. The skirt had needed to be short if it was going to stay practical and a short skirt with a leotard was…well, suffice it to say people didn't always keep in mind the fact that it was a leotard.
To make a long story short the end result was a black bodysuit, a black miniskirt, black boots with just a bit of heel to them, a white cloak, and – since she had to have some blue somewhere – she'd altered the pigments of her red gems so that they made a dramatic leap down the color spectrum and were now blue. It worked. Somehow the white-black contrast seemed suitable. She'd gotten enough complements on the new look from her teammates that she knew she'd made the right choices – though she imagined it took her a lot longer to figure the whole thing out than it might have done for Starfire.
Speaking of which…
The first impression Raven got when the Titans arrived in the basement was that some small and selective hurricane had just passed through, and was still going on.
"Starfire?" Nightwing called.
A face framed in bright red and rather messy hair popped up from one of the upturned piles. Green eyes were wide and wild. "Friends!" Starfire cried out. She seemed frazzled. "Thank X'hal you are here for I cannot find my lorvyak!"
"Is she just making these words up?" Beast Boy asked.
"Tamaranean is certainly an interesting language…" Raven mused diplomatically.
"Calm down, Star. You lost your what now?" Nightwing asked.
"My lorvyak! I cast it into this place of holding many things and now I cannot find it!" she cried out desperately. "I wish to give it to Galfore for the celebration of his firstborn child but it has been lost! You must help me find it!"
"There is an easier way." Raven said. The various bits of unused keepsakes lost color one by one as and floated up into the air. "What does this lorv-thing look like?" she asked.
"It is round and big like a ball kicked by feet. There are circles on it and it will say 'beep' many times!" Starfire answered excitedly. As Raven began to sort and, in the process, clean up the hundreds of things that Starfire had frantically scattered, Cyborg sidled over to their fearless leader.
"Nightwing, you got that look on your face. What's up, man?" he asked.
"Raven's powers. They've been getting...more potent." Nightwing answered a bit uneasily.
"So's her sense of humor. Besides, we're not the ones who ought to be worrying about it, right?"
Nightwing smirked. "You're right, of course." He didn't need to worry about Raven, he knew that. But something was bothering him. He wished he knew what. Sigh, this was going to bother him to no end, wasn't it? Perhaps he should just decide to firmly not worry about it until he had a definite reason to.
He looked up and around at all the floating objects in the cavernous basement. It was a huge place, buried far below the lake. It went even deeper and farther than the submarine bay. They'd discovered the caves only a year ago and, as was the nature of these things, had immediately begun to use them to store all those things that were cluttering up their rooms. That might have to change, though. Cyborg was talking like he wanted to start building stuff down here and Nightwing was all for that. But looking up at the way all their clutter filled the huge cavern when Raven used all three dimensions to set things aside made him wonder if that would be possible now.
Only Raven had neglected to add to the basement clutter. Being a magic-user she had something called sub-space. And it worked like this: matter and energy could not be created or destroyed unless reality itself got a bit silly about things. Space, however, was different. Space could be created and then turned inside-out so that it didn't get in the way. And then all you needed to do was make sure you kept the opening or key with you and that space would always be available. And then, of you wanted, you could also shove the space into a room or enclosed chamber of some sort. This meant that the dimensions of Raven's room were bigger on the inside than they were on the outside. That being said, her room was always recognizable whenever Cyborg's system pulled up an automated blueprint of the tower. It was the one were the light blue lines went all squiggly and the words 'logic error: restart universe and try again' flashed across it.
"Beep! Beep! Beep!"
"Oh glory be, Friend Raven!-!-! You have found my lorvyak!"
"Is that all it does?" Beast Boy asked, plucking the item out of the air so he could get a better look. Outside the grayscale quality of Raven's power it was pink with lots of orange rings drawn on it. Also, it wasn't actually beeping. It was saying 'beep' in a cheerful voice that promised 2 minutes of amusement and then a lifetime of contemplating suicide in the event that there was no off button.
"Is it not splendid? On my planet it says 'boyrp!', which is Tamaranean for 'beep'." Starfire told them, cuddling the strange ball. It was still saying 'beep'.
"Well, that had a point." Raven muttered to herself. She reorganized and replaced all the stuff that she had floating around them in seconds, erasing all signs of Hurricane Starfire. Then she left.
Nightwing looked around. It didn't seem possible, but somehow Raven had managed to sort and separate all their individual stuff. Starfire's things were along that wall, Beast Boy's in stuff had that area there, Nightwing's things were in the corner over there, and Cyborg had a sort of curved area near the door. It was definitely a lot more organized than it had been before. How had she done that? Was he absolutely sure it wasn't Raven he should be worrying about?
Then he felt silly. This only proved just how much control the sorceress had over her power. If he was to worry about anything then this wasn't it. She could obviously handle it so this was not an issue. Just a curiosity. He'd ask her about it later. Likely there was some ridiculously easy explanation that didn't occur to him simply because he wasn't a magic user and didn't know all that stuff.
Raven flipped idly through the channels on the television. It was 2:00 in the morning, she couldn't sleep, she had no new books to read, no old books she felt like rereading, no one else was awake, and she felt at once too restless to meditate yet too tired to really do anything. So here she was.
She paused at a late-night show that was interviewing some celebrity she didn't know from some TV show she didn't watch. The celebrity seemed to be complaining about how hard it was to find legitimate magic-users who weren't superheroes or villains. She changed the channel swiftly. Of course they're hard to find. The centuries have taught us not to advertise without a mask on.
Another channel was showing some old cartoon, there was some anime showing here, commercials, commercials, commercials, some news cast was complaining about how boring and redundant crop circles were becoming and was asking whoever was doing them to either stop or make them more interesting, someone was raving about how aliens don't really exist it's just a lie the government came up with to hide all their human testing results (some people are never satisfied), and another news channel was replaying some footage from Metropolis where The Justice League saved the day again. Raven decided to watch for a while, though in a way she didn't really see the point. In all honesty Starfire had much the same power as Superman. While she couldn't move quite as fast or see through solid objects she also didn't have any real weaknesses. But there was a difference. It took a certain kind of person and mind to think up all the ways in which that power could be used to the greatest advantage, and do so in the split-second time allotment of battle. The skill could be learned, and Starfire was learning, but this was the reason Nightwing – their only truly human member – was the leader.
Magic was much the same. A mage could be incredibly powerful and have hundreds of spells under her belt, but casting spells in a relaxed atmosphere when there was no real pressure besides that of the spell itself was infinitely different from casting something in the middle of battle. Most people just couldn't do the latter. And even when it came to those that could, it was always better to use active or natural powers rather than spells. The reason was this: A mind under pressure tends to either forget all the spells they currently have or will remember every single one of them and can't decide which to use. The more spells you have the more versatile you might be, but try figuring out what to use in a split-second battle situation where the wrong decision could cost you dearly. And guess what! You have hundreds of wrong decisions to choose from. It is nigh impossible – especially if you have a lot of spells memorized. The best method is to practice with a select few base spells that you are likely to use often and rely mostly on spellfire in whatever form comes easiest to you. This isn't easy. In truth, most of the world's magic-users didn't fight or do much more than treat it as a sort of hobby. Plenty of them couldn't use spellfire at all – a major drawback for a battle mage.
It was like computer programming. You could do a bit with just some general knowledge but you had to be pretty good to get any real notice.
More cartoons. Old ones. A commercial for a new game, some movie or other, and another bit about Superman's daring rescue (oh, so now it was just Superman and not the whole Justice League. Yeah, she knew how that worked). This cast was talking about reasons why the building might have collapsed. Apparently it was one of those old historical buildings that everyone thought would stand forever since it seemed so strong but it just broke down for no visible reason. Fortunately Superman must have been inside before it actually came down.
"Am I tired yet?" she asked herself grumpily as she flipped through more commercials.
She sighed and turned off the television. "I can't sleep." she answered. Nightwing sat down on the couch next to her.
"Any idea why?" he asked.
"Nope." she answered, staring up at the ceiling. "Sorry, did the TV wake you up?"
"Nature called in the middle of the night and I heard the noise. Did you have any weird dreams?" he asked.
"Well there was this big glowing eye but since I've just finished rereading Lord of the Rings that's probably nothing unusual. Superman was on the news. A building collapsed and he saved the day." she told him conversationally.
"Um, good?" he offered awkwardly. "Sure there's nothing going on?" he asked. "I notice you've been a bit more…powerful of late. I know you can handle it but I'm wondering if maybe there's a reason."
"Dunno. Maybe I'm going through a second puberty or something." she mused. He chuckled.
"Yeah, maybe. I don't know how this magic thing works. And it's not like you're a normal sorceress or anything. So…ah…I've been meaning to ask. Down in the basement you reorganized the entire mess. How did you know what crap belonged to who?"
"Karmic signatures. When something is owned by someone that something possesses a faint mark that sort of matches or describes their aura." she explained.
"Oh, right. What happens when something gets stolen? Does it then have the mark of the thief or is it still marked by the rightful owner?" he asked.
"Both, it's just that the person who's had it and has subscribed ownership to it the most recently has the strongest mark."
"So could you tell if something was stolen?"
"Not by aura marks, no. That sort of thing is a bit…deeper. Too deep for me." she said. She stood up. "I'm going to try meditating on the roof."
"Alright, let me know if you need anything."
"I will, thanks Ro-er-I mean, Nightwing. Sorry…"
Nightwing chuckled. "No problem. Old habits are hard to break."
A/N: Warner Bros. totally makes up all those Tamaran words. LET'S FOLLOW THE LEADER!-!-!
It's been a while since I've used this site. Turns out it still does not like multiple punctuation unless you are using ellipses. I can't handle this limitation which is why, as I'm sure you've noticed, I'm cheating with dashes. I wonder if FF realizes this is one of the reasons people seem to be turning to Live Journal more and more these days.
Coming up in the next chapter:
Romance is like peanuts. You can make it salty or not salty. And it comes out looking the same as it did going in. And I think that metaphor got away from me…
Don't you just hate it when the creative juices start flowing like mad and then you have this cat who's like, "Pet me NOW mortal!" and is smart enough to know that the best place to sit is in front of the computer monitor?