Chains of the Sacrifice
A massive gateway stretched across the ground as far as the eye could see. The frame was made from ancient wood, seamless in its construction and brimming with the memories of all who passed beneath it. The portcullis stood a thousand feet high, easily towering over the frail creature before it. The size seemed unnecessarily grandiose, as though it was made for those not of the mortal plain.
A shimmering mist of red lined the entire structure, but was unfocused, as if it held the truth just beyond reach.
The being rose and squinted, trying to form words from the writhing mass of crimson above it. The two violet eyes narrowed and split in half, becoming a quartet of regal orbs.
The mist cleared for a fraction of a second before the figure clasped delicate hands to its face, falling to the floor from the shock of advancing to a more powerful form.
The hands parted and light fell on its face, shining on two eyes once again. The mist thickened and was as incompressible as it was before. Noticing the shift in visibility, it stood up and braced itself, trying to see past the fog for a second time.
A small voice was heard, but from no visible source. It came from within the figure and it was the only one who heard it. "Use me. Use me and I will give you sight!"
Deciding to utilize the offer, the figure allowed the entity to take over, accepting the change that it was offering. The change happened slower this time. Not a sudden change of states, but a gradual shift into a better being. Two small slits cut themselves into the forehead and grew, widening and stretching into eyes of their own. The new eyes blinked twice, synching with the old ones and coming to terms with a new form of perception.
They were no longer balls of fluid and blood. They became objects of energy and magic, ancient and unchanging. Vision doubled and became focused beyond all reasoning. Four violet eyes that could focus on everything in sight at once, not restricted to have to look at a single object with clarity among a scenery of haze and assumed position.
Turning her newfound sight upon the once illegible wording, she found that the mist cleared and gave way to a terrible phrase that stretched across the frame of the gate.
Through me, you pass into the worlds of woe.
Through me, you pass into pain most eternal.
All hope abandon, ye who enter here.
Upon reading the inscription, the figure felt fatigue. Four eyes reverted into two and she sank to her knees.
As she was on the ground, a loud clang spread across the area, followed by a steady and even series of clacks, as if a chain was being drawn across a metal wheel. The portcullis shook furiously and slowly started to rise, revealing a massive horde of creatures and demons lying in wait.
As soon as there was enough room to pass beneath the large gate, the monsters rushed forwards with breath taking speed. The figure was soon surrounded by a snarling mob of fangs and claws, all clambering over themselves to get a glimpse of the new arrival.
Amidst the cacophony of roars, a single clap was heard and the sound died instantly. All of the creatures lowered their heads in reverence and the ones in front of her parted, making room for a woman cloaked in black.
The woman slowly strode through the throng of faithful followers, her hips swaying like the leaves of an oak. She spoke with a voice that carried on the wind and whispered with the promise of honesty. "Dearest Sister! I'm so glad you've come, we've heard so much about you!"
The kneeling girl raised her eyes to see the person addressing her. She walked barefooted against the uneven ground with seemingly impossible impunity and wore tight clothes that could barely contain the hourglass figure it encompassed. As the woman knelt down to talk intimately with the figure, she stared down at the figure with four demonic eyes that burned with passion. She had a human face, one that was recognized as the girl herself.
"You must be exhausted! I completely understand, taking such a journey takes so much out of you. Fear not, sibling. Rest and be free of your troubles." The woman placed a hand on the cheek of the figure on the ground, causing eyes to droop and strength to leave the body. As the figure was almost asleep, the woman spoke three words. "Welcome home, Raven."
A demon looked over all of his denizens and residents with malevolence. This had been his job for what felt like eternity and would be his job for the rest of eternity. Sharp claws dug into the wood of his throne, powerful screams filling the area as he did for a countless amount of times. He had always been partial to thrones, they were a sign of omnipotence and undisputed rule. This particular throne was one of his favorites, he could cause pain and suffering by lifting but a mere finger.
Demonic eyes saw all within his realm and he had been aware of an approaching messenger for a considerable amount of time now, biding the time until the information reached his ears. He rubbed his forehead, touching his ivory crown in the process. The antlers upon the crown were lopsided ever since his brief journey to Earth, a courtesy of Slade. He would have worn a different one, but it served as a reminder to never take things for granted.
The messenger approached the base of the throne that his master was occupying and prostrated himself. "My lord Trigon, ruler of the nine worlds, destroyer of planets, conqueror of dimensions, slayer of souls, and master of Terror and Hate. I have a message for the leaders of Hell."
Trigon sat unmoving and spoke with a deep, gravelly tone that vibrated through every surface and object. "Speak."
The messenger lowered himself even lower to the ground. "I bring word of a new arrival to your most magnificent realm!"
The demon leaned forwards and gave the messenger a hard glare. "Souls are condemned here every second. What makes this one special?"
"My lord, This one is still alive. She came of her free will."
Trigon's hooves dug into the ground and his throat rumbled. "She?"
The messenger closed his eyes tightly. "She has come to us. The Gem."
The word calmed the fires and the waters in the world they resided in, giving a moment of rest to the suffering. Trigon stood upright and walked forwards, shaking the ground with every step. As he strode past the groveling messenger, he spoke one word. "Where?"
"The... The city's dungeon, my lord." Even though he was already in Hell, the messenger prayed to live through the next minute.
Trigon stopped in his tracks. "My daughter was put in the dungeons?" The messenger only whimpered in response. The demon's eyes glowed, summoning a portal through the floor beneath him. He teleported through it, leaving but a wisp of brimstone behind.
Raven jumped from the cot with a start. She remembered everything that happened and was shocked that she was still alive. She thought for sure that she would be sent to the deepest furnaces of Hell or just removed from existence. And a sister? She had three brothers that she knew of, but no sisters.
Then again, Demons were very promiscuous and lustful. It wouldn't be too far from the realm of possibility that he had daughters too. But how many?
Her thought processes were halted by the need to find out where she was. The fact that she was on a cot meant that it was not a bedroom, strictly speaking. The room was small and covered in black stone, without any visible windows. The door looked to be made of metal with a grate blocking a rectangular shaped hole cut into it. Clearly, she was a prisoner.
Her head sank as the situation reminded her of where she really was and what she really did. She betrayed her friends and performed one of the most archaic forms of magic possible, sacrificing herself to send a dragon to Hell and joined him.
The situation was harsh and placed her in a position that was even worse than when she became the portal and was responsible for the end of the world. Looking back on it, the last few months just seemed like a massive line of dominoes, all packed together.
Trigon had hatched an ingenious plan to re-enter the world, via use of an artificial meteor and a following eclipse. His plan was foiled by the Teen Titans once again, but not without a most terrible cost. Every superhero is willing to give their life to save others, but the world never seems the same without them.
Extenuating circumstanced caused both the team leader and the resident mechanic to lose their lives in service of their peers. The subsequent loss of proper leadership and direction proved to be hazardous when a destructive force was set loose on the world that only the survivors could stop.
Malchior, the last Dragon, lied and cheated his way out of his book and into their world once more, only this time he didn't return to his prison. He incapacitated Beastboy and... hurt her before disappearing into the world he had not seen for a millennia.
Discovering that the world was unruly and untamable, he set out to destroy the planet, rather than to enslave the species as most choose.
He almost succeeded too. Making use of the true purpose of the Lazarus Pits, he planned to destabilize the surface, transforming it into a massive ball of magma where nothing could survive.
Beastboy, Starfire, and herself travelled far to the end of the world, confronting the Dragon at the final stage of his plan. Unable to defeat Malchior at his prime, she chose to be a sacrifice, a substitute for the world. She summoned a portal to her ancestral home in the infernal dimensions and took him with her to Hell.
It was supposed to be the ultimate sacrifice, the most noble achievement. Every soul on Earth with a good heart would happily give up their own life to save the world from destruction.
The only trouble was, the act didn't seem quite so noble now. She doubted whether it was worth it or not. She was in Hell now. She would be punished for being half human, no matter who her father was. If anything, he would make everything worse for her, the rage of a father towards the daughter that foiled his plans of world domination twice.
She was contemplating all the terrible things that could happen to her when a shadowy figure looked into her room through the tight grate. The sound of several locks being removed filled the room and the door blocking the only entrance to the room swung open, revealing a woman on the other side.
The woman stepped into the light and her face was clearly recognizable. It was the same face that the other woman had and that Raven herself wore. She could have sworn that it was the same person, the one who met her outside the gates and the one currently in the room, but her demeanor was harsher, less erotic and sensual.
Without warning, the woman grabbed her forcefully and led her outside of the cell she was being kept in. Unable to fight back, she followed the increasingly creepy looking version of herself along very long and winding corridors, slowly going up the levels of the very large structure she was in. Every door she passed contained creatures beyond imagination, monsters that were supposed to be myths and legends were visible and very much real.
She then noticed that the woman leading her was muttering to herself. Mostly nonsensical things, but the few words she could identify were less than kind.
"Where are you taking me?" Raven asked to the woman leading her along. When she didn't get an answer, she decided to ask something else. "Why did you bring me here?"
The woman whirled around and snarled. "Ignorant child! I wasn't the one to bring you." Her eyes flared with rage, unlike the other woman who appeared peaceful. "Your human side makes you weak." She scoffed. "You can't even see what is right in front of you." With that, she faced forwards and made it clear that there would be no more interruptions.
The dark stone that comprised the prison level changed to polished granite, workmanship that clearly took an uncounted number of years to make. The walk seemed to take forever, the stairs started to feel steeper by the second and her captor never slower her pace.
Eventually they reached the end of the lengthy hallway and halted in front of a massive door. The structure looked evil in every way possible, from the rusted frame to the blood-stained wood to the ornate handle. With a rough shove, the woman thrust Raven towards the door, jutting her chin to tell her to go through it.
Raven had a suspicious look on her face, but decided that she had no choice. She slowly walked to the large door and placed her hands on the handle. An intricate set of locking mechanisms withdrew and with a gut-wrenching sound, the door opened.
The room was considerably bigger than the door itself, but incredibly dark. The door closed behind her, leaving Raven in total darkness.
All of her emotions were in a state of perpetual fear towards the situation. All, that is, except for one.
Her Fury was quite enjoying the circumstances, feeling considerably more powerful in the abyssal plane rather than the mortal. It conveyed to Raven the need to be released, reasoning that if nothing else, it would allow her to see more clearly.
The change came quickly this time, feeling less foreign and more like a second nature. She was always taught to fear her demonic half. Always told that terrible things would happen if she embraced it, and it certainly could have been if the only emotion she could feel was unadultered Rage. Fury was more direct, more controlled, able to comprehend the situation without making rash decisions. She would be able to thrive in that form. To rule.
Her vision came to her and the surroundings became visible. The coliseum around her was enormous to the extreme. She had been in stadiums that were dwarfed by the size of it. The area appeared to be made for fighting, the floor was scuffled with muddy footprints and there were gouges in the ground from where weapons were plunged in and ripped out. Even though there was a thick layer of dust everywhere, it was clear that the entire arena was covered in blood splatters.
She was so concerned with the ground that she was unaware of the malevolent presence behind her. A deep voice rumbled through the chamber. "Daughter."
Raven whirled around to face the addresser. Her eyes rested upon quite possibly the last being that she wished to see in her life.
Trigon the Terrible, ruler of the Nine Hells, and her father. The most evil thing in all existence, responsible for the destruction of Azarath and Earth, until her friends rescued her and sent him back to Hell. He sat upon a magnificent throne overlooking the arena, leaning forwards to get a better look at his spawn, the one who bore the mark of Scath.
"Kneel." He demanded. Raven was in his world now and was forced to obey, falling to her knees in undeserved reverence. He sniffed the air twice and snarled. "Your blood is not pure. Have you been playing with that green pet of yours?"
Raven clutched at her chest, trying to calm the wrenching that came with remembering what happened with Him and what he did to her. She slowly shook her head.
Trigon narrowed his eyes at her, focusing his power to determine what happened to his daughter to make her so weak. A flash of images whirled in his mind, a library, a paper man, a ritual, and something incredibly familiar to him. Only one word could describe what was done to her. Only one word was necessary to convey the monstrous action.
He inhaled sharply, raising his posture to one that was nothing short of intimidating. He stood up and jumped down into the arena, falling in front of his daughter and making the ground quake from the weight. "Where is the one who did this to you?"
Raven's eyes closed and a single tear fell down her cheek. Her head rose and she spoke for herself. "He is here. After he was released, he tried to destroy the world and the only way to stop him was to bring him here. He will be punished."
Her father knelt down and placed a finger under her chin, raising her into a standing position. "He won't be. Not yet." His eyes glowed and a portal appeared below Raven, sucking them both through it.
Raven found herself standing on a lake. A massive lake that spanned the length of miles. There were ripples that displaced the surface, but they never moved. The water was clear as crystal, transparent all the way to the darkest depths. It occurred to her that the entire body of water was comprised of ice. And not just ice, but there were figures encased below. Shapes twisted into forms impossible by normal means.
Her father walked past her and turned around, beckoning her to go with him. Gazing down into the ice, she tried to see the faces of the figures, even though the chance of recognizing any of them was slim at best. Several men with disfigured faces were close enough to the surface to see clearly, but none were familiar. The color of gold glinted in the distance, so she walked towards it.
A woman could be seen completely encased in ice from the waist down with the rest of her body and hair splayed behind her. As Raven walked past, she turned her head to see the face the right way up and gasped. It was no woman, but a girl with golden locks of hair and the most vibrant sapphire eyes. It was Terra.
She knelt down beside her to see the girl being punished for everything she did. A small breath escaped the geomancer's lips, which alerted Raven to her awareness.
Trigon looked back to see his daughter poised over one of the damned. "Do you recognize this one, daughter?"
She nodded. "Her name was Terra and she used to be in the same team as us. I thought she was still alive."
"The girl has not yet been submerged." Trigon raised his head. "Ask her a question and she will be forced to tell you the truth."
Raven closed her eyes. There was so much to ask, so much that Terra needed to atone for. Only one question stood out among the others.
"Terra Markov, you've done terrible things to good people. Would you make the same choice if you could go back?"
Terra's eyes never moved, but her mouth tried to form words. It looked to be the same three movements over and over again, continually trying to answer. Her voice finally found itself and three words could be heard in a hoarse and shuddered whisper. "I... don't... know... "
Her business finished, Raven stood back up and walked to where Trigon was waiting. In the time it took her to reach her father, she never looked back once.
Following in his steps, they continued across the frozen lake, travelling for what seemed like miles. Icy waves grew in size, soon becoming larger than the great demon himself. As they passed a massive wave that froze while it was in the middle of crashing, Raven reached out to touch the falling surf.
Just before her fingers made contact, black energy enveloped her hand and forced it back to her side. "This is not ice. Just as the eternal fires can never be quenched, so too can a Cocytial lake never be melted. A single touch can render your body forfeit in an instant. God's final punishment for the worst sin anything can possibly commit."
Raven's mind wandered. What was the worst sin? What could possibly warrant an eternity of this? The agony of ice burning every cell in the body, the horror of being suspended in a space that had no visible end without the ability to move around, the jealousy to see others walk just out of reach, and humiliation of being twisted into forms impossible to do themselves.
He turned back around and continued to move forwards along the endless surface. Raven continued to follow her progenitor for hours, never tiring even the slightest. Something about Hell made her feel alive, the entire dimensional plane sustained her with a power that penetrated her very soul.
Trigon stopped walking and waited for Raven to join him. He stood before a cave that was cut into the ice, leading down into depths yet unknown to her.
They continued into the cave and immediately she could see that it wasn't a cave but a showcase. Dozens of men and women lined the walls, all frozen just behind the edge of the ice. Trigon saw her curiosity and began to talk.
"This is the deepest bowel of the Nine Hells, set aside for the worst offenders of man. The bodies of these have the blackest souls and the most corrupted spirits. Every one of these is a testament to the ultimate punishment, a gallery to be looked upon with disgust by those that rule Hell."
Raven looked at each of them in turn. "Who are they?"
Trigon slowed down enough to allow her to follow his movements. They were reaching the end of the tunnel and there were only a few figures left. He motioned to a couple of gentle-looking people poised in such a way that they were stabbing themselves in the back. "There rest Brutus and Cassius, those that betrayed Julius Caesar." Another man appeared to be doubled over and strangling himself. "Judas Iscariot. Perpetrator of an act so horrendous that his deeds will never be forgotten in planes both mortal and divine."
Raven stared with interest at the most infamous man in all of history. Her eyes lingered for only a moment before moving forwards. She took three steps before noticing that her father had stopped in front of an empty space in the ice, a small room that had no occupant.
Trigon raised his hand and the room was covered in a black mist, the cold air deadening the sound of something being drawn inside and incarcerated.
The mist cleared and a being was seen thrashing around inside. A faint voice was heard from within. "Release me! I demand to be set free!"
Raven clasped a hand around her mouth as she recognized the owner of the voice, memories causing her to quake with Fear and Fury.
"I am the last Dragon! I am the last pure being! I have ruled over man and beast and I demand to be let out of this prison!"
His figure became fully visible to her just as he became aware that he was not alone. Her violet eyes met his pale blue and he started to shake his head.
"No, not you. Anybody but you, please. No. No. No." He repeated the denial several times over, hoping to rid himself of the demon who defeated him not two days past.
Trigon emitted a mighty roar, silencing the whimpering prisoner and letting all know of his anger towards the man who stole his daughter's innocence. Satisfied with his part to play, he turned to Raven who was staring at the Dragon with contempt and revulsion. "As the betrayer of the son of God is placed in the lowest circle of Hell, it is the only fitting place for the betrayer of the daughter of the devil."
Raven's form grew darker and rose, spawning tendrils of black energy that scoured the very ice she was surrounded by.
"He is yours, my daughter. Yours to do with as he deserves."
With that, Trigon departed in a wisp of fire, the portal carving a small circle in the frozen waste below. All that was left was Raven, Malchior, and a prison cell. Well, one more touch had to be added.
She thrust her hands in his direction, sending her powers forth through the icy window and covering the Dragon's body. The touch of her infernal powers electrocuted him with no mercy, using the increased power of being on her 'home turf' to her advantage.
Malchior spasmed violently against the force of her will and screamed in agony. His pain and suffering only fueled her further and a new onslaught of torture bore down on him.
Every yell was meant to pay for every second of doubt and uncertainty that he caused her. Every wail was meant to pay for every tear she shed for his actions. Every screech was meant to pay for the people she could never look at the same again, for the relationships that never grew, for the truths she never believed, and for the friends she could never appreciate.
All because of him.
All because of Malchior.
All because of what he did to her.
All because of how he took advantage of her.
All because he betrayed her.
This truly was the worst sin that a mortal could commit.
To meet someone.
To get them to like you.
To get them to trust you.
To be in a position of authority, of significance, and to abandon it for any reason or worse; for no reason at all.
She poured every ounce of emotion she could into him.
Fear. Hate. Malice. Anger. Disgust. Revulsion. Grief. Cruelty. Contempt. Helplessness. Powerlessness. Doubt. Frustration. Guilt. Shame. Despair. Terror. Panic. Dread. Fury.
At the end of it all, Malchior could do nothing but stare. He had been witness to all the horrors that a demon could conjure and the hurt that only the betrayed can know.
There was no way that she was satisfied with just that, but her Fury would never be quenched by anything. She halted her torture because the damage was done and he felt her pain, literally. Only one thing calmed her: he was at her mercy as he will be for all of eternity. He made her life Hell for the longest time. Now she would return the favor a thousand-fold.
The air in his chamber began to solidify, encasing the forlorn look of the dragon in ice forever.
His eyes stared at her with a terrible longing for release, but with the knowledge that he would never find it. His knees were bent down, kneeling in reverence to his new master. His arms froze behind his back in an involuntary act of obedience. His mouth open in a soundless wail of agony.
This was a good way to leave him. This was where he deserved to be. Rotting in the darkest and deepest parts of the Hells overlooked by someone who was disgusted by the very idea of his existence.
Raven left the last Dragon to his lamentations, intending to return on a regular basis to make him suffer for his sins. This was her Fury taking over, her demonic half emerging dominant, but she didn't care. She was in Hell and she would make damned sure that she would thrive.
To be continued.