Does anyone know if antibiotics can make you feel sick? I should know by now, the amount of times I've been on them, but these are new ones, and I can't tell if it was my bad cooking last night for my tablets…
I was watching the Lion King while writing this. Such an emotional movie :( Oh yeah! Marriage Equality has finally been passed in England. YAY!
Discb: Screw learning I was just thinking terms of food. Excellent chapter once again.
Ahah. Well, glad you liked the chapter.
Mttmercado: curiouser and curiouser, i know jinx is still on the bad side, but to what will she gain from this? was she pist as finding out gizmo napped her with a missile? is he targeting raven? Hmmmmmmmmm
Hmm, indeed. I suppose all we can do is wait and see…
nada129: Poor jinx but she is right about targeting raven he dropped the bodie there for raven to find and that would suck great chapter :)
If only Raven would admit they're right! Glad you liked :)
Spikesagitta: I think this is where I make bad denial and coming out jokes! :p Raven is so in denial about the shadow guy targeting her.
Ahah xD She is in denial. Oh well.
DragoLord19D: WOOT! You're doin' some SERIOUS updatin'! That's AWESOME! I take it you FINALLY got a decent internet connection?
I am! That, and I'm house-sitting and ill at the moment, so I don't have much else to do.
Deathnoteuser: Oh man. Raven's doing that thing I used to when I was younger and throwing a blanket over herself thinking that no one can see her. Two updates in a single day? *grins deliriously* DON'T BE AN OSTRICH RAVEN!
Ahah she is. Sadly it doesn't work. I've tried it too.
Dak Hamee: Man ur really cranking these out like clockwork lately, nice, hehe Jinx u dodged a bullet there, u should probably thank Shadow boy for distracting ur angry lover... U know before he attacks u that is
I'm trying :P Aha yeah, she probably should. I mean, what a way to change the subject, huh?
TyrionGreywind: Hmmm, I really am going to have to read the original... I'm too curious for my own good! Man, why is Raven being so stubborn, and what does she have to hide? It said that somewhere in there and it drove me up the wall with questions about it, ha you're evil! And I like that you are playing with Raven's heritage, it adds a lot of depth, and what's up with the skin and fire thing? Is it just part of her herritage, like some sort of 'demon puberty'? I don'tknow, but I hope you update soon!
No! Don't you dare, damn it! Hmm I don't know. Maybe we'll find out. And I'm glad you like that. I enjoy playing around with her heritage myself. I don't think Raven even knows whats up with the fire thing. Maybe we'll find out!
FrenchHenry: New power unlocked! Mayhaps letting love, the very powerful but oh so confusing emotion, reign free a bit has good benefits. I'm enjoying the changes thus far, Jinx's scheming is more fleshed out and thus makes more sense. Thanks for all the updates.
Glad you're enjoying :P
Stormplains: Raaaaven, it sure looks like you're being targeted. Or at least fear-tacticed. Ahh, so much ahhhh. Just a few typos I spotted, but all are ignorable. I'm not one to type out exactly what they were. Man this story just gets more and more intense! So as to my excuse for my absence... Hem, well I started seeing someone and she's kinda been taking up my minimal free time. I can't believe i missed 3 updates though! Ack! Well caught up now so...
Keep writing strong.
I have been updating rather quickly ahah. You can always tell when I'm seeing someone, because my update rate really plummets :P
The body lay twisted and broken, her tangled black hair – too solid a colour to be natural – covering her face. Closer inspection revealed a centimetre of blonde roots, almost white against the black dye. Wrong time, wrong place, wrong colour. Somehow, it seemed to make everything so much worse. The crime scene photographed, Doctor Reinfields arrived on the scene, to inspect and then move the body back to his lab, where he would study it and perform an autopsy before writing up his report for the police. Raven already knew what it would say. Cause of death: Unknown.
Finding the empath stood near the body, Reinfields offered her a small, tight smile. "Well, I'm seeing you again earlier than I would have liked. You found the body?"
"The body found me." Raven replied dryly, before explaining. "Her killer dropped her into the alley as I passed in pursuit of a criminal."
Resting a black suitcase on the floor, he opened it and grabbed a pair of latex gloves, slipping them on before he began inspecting the girl limb by limb. "Has anyone identified her yet?"
Raven shook her head. "No. It's kind of hard when you can't see her face, and no one wanted to touch the body before you had arrived."
He nodded. "The girl's clothes are extremely stained. Her killer must have held her captive for… two weeks maybe? She'll be among the first reported missing, I'm sure. I'll send samples off to be analysed, but I'm pretty sure that it'll all be her own blood and sweat."
"Any idea on the time of death?" Raven inquired, and the Doctor grabbed the corpse's wrist and tried to move the joint, finding it still and unyielding.
"Rigor Mortis. For it to have set into her arm, I can estimate that she's been dead around… six hours, at least." He looked at the titan. "How long has it been since you found her?"
"An hour and a half, maybe? Two hours maximum."
Doctor Reinfields went back to studying the body. "She has lacerations on her wrists." He grabbed a tool from his case and measure the wounds. "Four centimetres long. Any longer, and the cut wouldn't have fit on her wrists." He moved the hair away from her face revealing wide, light blue eyes.
"I'll go find someone to compare the photos of the missing girls to the body." Raven told him, before turning away.
She instantly spotted Robin among all the cops due to the bright colours of his costume, and made her way over. She had been rather surprised by the number of cops that could be found milling around the crime scene. There was almost too many. A swarm. Finding her leader in some conversation about the killer with two other cops, Raven quickly interrupted, looking pointedly at the two policemen.
"Doctor Reinfields wants someone to identify the body."
After a moment's pause the older of the two sighed, and muttered, "I'll go find the photos." Before wandering off towards the street and the patrol cars.
When Raven continued to stare at the remaining cop, he coughed uncomfortable, before wandering off. She looked at Robin, "Her clothes are stained. Reinfields thinks she was held captive for a while. He estimated she's been dead for about six hours. That means she'd been dead for at least four hours before being dropped in the alley. Her wrists had been slit. He had enough time to drain her body before dumping her." Raven told him. "No marks to indicate that magic had been used, but I can't rule it out without properly inspecting the body."
"I'm really starting to think we're right in assuming the police found the first body before the Shadow wanted them to."
Raven nodded. "It would seem that way. Did you get Mammoth and Gizmo?" They're both on their way to jail. Should be almost there by now." Robin nodded.
"I'm… sorry I let Jinx go." Raven muttered. "The body dropped… she saw it too, and freaked out and… I didn't know she could run so fast. I should have gone after her, I know. It's not like the body was going anywhere, but it just seemed more important."
"We'll catch her another day." He shrugged, watching as the older cop walked back over, a frown on his face.
"She's not on our list." He sounded confused. "Does that mean she wasn't reported missing?"
"Check the reports of missing people that don't come under our list of people who match the killer's profile." Raven spoke up. "She wasn't a natural blonde."
The man nodded and hurried off.
"What?" Robin frowned.
"Her roots are blonde."
Her leader sighed unhappily. "That means he isn't picky. Damn it. Who know how many more people that's going to add to our 'missing' list."
Another cop wandered over, this one appearing to be particularly younger than the rest – a rookie – a pen and notepad clutched in his hands, staring intently at the empath. Reaching the two titans, he cleared his throat, before asking, "Mind if I ask for your statement, Miss..?"
"My name's Raven." She muttered, looking at her leader who simply smiled and asked the cop,
"You pull the short straw?"
Raven glared at her leader, before looking at the man and saying, "I'm not sure how much help I'm going to be, but let's get it over with."
"I'll be over with Doctor Reinfields." Robin told the empath, before wandering off.
"You're our only witness." His discomfort was easy to read, and it made Raven feel better about the situation.
"Well, a criminal known as Jinx was there, but I suppose you'd have to catch her first, and even then I doubt she'd talk unless you working it into some sort of deal. Anyway, I was in the bank with the team, stopping the H.I.V.E Five from pulling off a robbery when Jinx tried to make a run for it out the back door. I pursued her and had almost caught her when the body landed in the alleyway, surprising us both. Jinx ran off while I went over to the body. No, I didn't see whoever threw her off the roof, before you ask."
The cop finished scribbling down notes and tapped his pen on the page as he read through them. "Do you know what time that was?"
"The alarm from the bank was triggered at ten, I think, so the body was thrown into the alley around… ten-thirty? Ten-forty five? I'm afraid I can't give you a better answer than that."
"No, that's fine." The cop told her. "Thank you."
He walked off, not gone for even a minute before Cyborg appeared beside her. "And I'd just dared to hope we'd seen our last body too."
"'We'd seen'?" Raven repeated with a small smile. "Correct me if I'm wrong, but Robin and I are the only two on the team who have seen all three bodies."
"You're the only two on the team to have seen any of the bodies." Cyborg corrected, "And I really don't feel like I'm missing out on much. This one as bad as the last body?"
"I'm not sure. On the one hand, no meat hooks and no intestines."
"That's always good."
"On the other hand, she was a natural blonde. She dyed her hair black." She informed him.
Cyborg winced, feeling sick. "Damn. Wrong colour, wrong time?"
"My thoughts exactly." Raven nodded in agreement, before saying, "At least we know he isn't picky about it having to be natural brunettes, but Robin's worried it'll increase the number of missing people that might be related to the case."
"I suppose, but… the poor girl." Cyborg shook his head. "You know – and don't yell at me for saying this – I think Robin might have a point. I mean, first it attacks you and leaves as soon as we arrive, and then he drops the third body right near you, for you to find… and not to mention their age and height. They all have similar length hair, and well, you're mother's brunette. Suppose Trigon hadn't been your father…"
"That's great and all, Cyborg, but the only people who know what my mother looks like – who my mother even is – are you guys, the Church of Blood, and everyone who lived in Azarath during my time there. You're not sending the Shadow after me, neither is Azarath, and I keep an eye on the Church of Blood. They haven't performed the number of human sacrifices needed to create something like the Shadow."
"The Church of Blood? The dudes who worship your dad, right? I dunno Rae, that's an awful lot of people." Cyborg frowned, before his eyes widened. "Hang on, did you say human sacrifice?"
Raven shrugged. "So long as they're keeping to members of the Church, I'll leave them to it. Hopefully they'll kill themselves off, but I'll never be so lucky."
"I'm not sure if I should laugh, or feel worried." Cyborg muttered uncomfortably.
"I'd intervene if they were killing people who hadn't already pledged their life to Scath, but as it is…" She pulled out her communicator and found her contacts list. Ignoring fellow Titans both on her team and around the world, she had seven contacts, and one of them was Jinx. The others were her 'acquaintances' Robin hadn't been too happy to hear about. She scrolled down the contacts until she found the name William Palmer, pressing the call button.
Like with Jinx, the top screen remained blank, the bottom showing a blank grid in light blue that could be activated to track the other communication device with the touch of a button. Cyborg raised his brow in question but remained quiet. Someone picked up on the other end, cutting short the dial tone.
"Now, this is an unexpected surprise, Raven."
"William." She acknowledged the man who answered curtly, her eyes watching the swarms of cops that searched the areas surrounding the body again and again, ignoring Cyborg.
"Since you never call for anything but business, how can I help you?"
"I need some information. Will you be home this afternoon?"
"I'll be bringing a friend." She warned him.
"Oh? Someone I know?"
"Perhaps, though not personally."
"I hope it doesn't break the rules of our rather… delicate arrangement." He replied, the comment sounding suspiciously like a threat.
"Then by all means, bring them along. I'll see you this afternoon."
Raven hung up, ignoring Cyborg's inquisitive look as she moved to find Robin. He was still with Doctor Reinfields, watching as he and a fellow doctor tried to get the body into a body bag, having trouble with the stiffened limbs. Seeing Raven, he turned to her, informing her,
"Reinfields also found cuts on her inner thighs, all places where main veins are close to the surface. He suspects the cuts were made after death, meaning they were only done to drain the body of blood. Cut her veins; leave her hanging for an hour or two… job done, especially if the blood would have failed to settle."
Raven nodded, before saying, "This afternoon. You said you wanted to be there."
He looked back at Reinfields to make sure he was still occupied before he started walking down the alleyway, expecting Raven to follow, out of earshot from the swarm of police. "You mean you've talked to one of your… acquaintances?"
She nodded. "I told him I would be bringing a friend, and he was… okay with it. On one condition. You might not agree with what he practices, but that doesn't matter. If word gets out about him, it'll be us he blames, and it could lead to something that could have been so easily avoided. I made a deal with him because it was necessary. Fighting him isn't an option."
"Could you be any more cryptic?" Robin frowned.
Raven shrugged. "Probably."
"And speaking with this man will help us solve the case?"
Robin sighed, before saying, "If I can keep your secret, I'm sure I can keep this guy's."
Raven had refused when Robin had suggested they take the T-Car, and when the black receded from its hold around him, Robin found himself in someone's very large, very private, very well-manicured back yard. The back of the house in front of them looked more like a mansion, spreading out further than he could see and towering over them with at least four stories of white, gleaming stone, crawling with ivy and dotted with large windows.
"Are we still in Jump City?" Robin asked as he tried to recall if he'd ever seen such a house before in Jump.
Raven didn't answer, walking up to the large oak backdoors and knocking before taking a step back and patiently waiting. They Boy Wonder was starting to doubt this was even a backyard.
"So, who is this guy?"
"His name is William."
"The less I tell you, the better." Raven shook her head.
"What harm will knowing his name do? Exactly why does he practice, because you seem convinced the first thing I'm going to do is track this guy and… I don't know, harass him."
"He might decide to tell you, but I won't."
"Okay… so how did you meet him?"
"I could sense him, knew what he was, and knew it would be in our best interests if we didn't have to fight him." She answered, before offering him a small smile. "You don't know how lucky you are to have me on the team."
The door opened, revealing a tall man with short, greying hair, dressed impeccably in expensive looking grey suit-pants with a matching silk waistcoat over a while button-up shirt, his black dress shoes polished until they gleamed like mirrors. All he was missing was the tie.
"Raven." He politely smiled as he eyes found Robin. "And this must be the friend you mentioned. I thought it would be one of your teammates. Please, come on in."
Robin threw the empath a questioning look, but followed her into the house. It didn't really make sense to him, why Raven would know this man, or why someone like the man Raven described would greet them so politely. Or why he would invite them in his home at all.
"No doubt Miss Roth has told you all about me." William addressed Robin as he closed the door behind them.
'Roth'? "Actually, she's told me nothing but your first name." He answered, his irritation clear.
"I know the details of our agreement, William, word for word. To think you believe I would break it so foolishly…"
"I'm simply testing you, my dear." He shrugged as he began walking, expecting the two titans to follow him. "So Robin, how much do you know about Raven?"
He looked at the empath for some guidance and she shrugged. "You can't tell him anything he doesn't already know."
The leader of the titans gasped. "He knows? But you said he's nothing more than an acquaintance, and a dangerous one at that!"
"You think it's the Teen Titan that keeps him in line?"
William watched the exchange with amusement. "Well, at least that answers my question. Understand, Robin, that anything heard, said, or seen in this house, stays in the house. Raven has set up a nice little agreement that allows her, as a titan, to overlook my existence and… hobbies, while making me keep a low profile, although it has enough benefits to keep me happy with our arrangement."
"What benefits?" Robin frowned.
"Well, Raven and I often trade and buy books and artefacts from each other for one thing. She allows me – as her father's daughter – to live, for another thing." He glanced back, and noticing Robin's shocked expression, laughed. "Whether or not she would actually carry out her threat is another story, but I like life a little too much to test her."
"I'm here regarding the recent string of murders that have been happening in Jump City." Raven spoke up impatiently.
'Well that answers one of my questions.' Robin thought. 'We aren't in Jump City.'
"Those poor girls, yes. I saw on the news. You're not suggesting I had anything to do with it, are you?"
"No, we know who the killer is."
"Good. Then before we talk business, how about a cup of tea? I personally don't drink the stuff, but I know you are rather fond of it, Raven." He led them into a large room Robin had no other name for but a library. Roughly the size of the tower's common room, all four walls were hidden behind floor-to-ceiling bookshelves, all full, and more books were piled on the floor.
"How about we just get on with business." Raven replied somewhat forcefully, sitting down on one of two plush sofas William led them to, Robin taking the seat next to her. "I noticed an anomaly with the body of the first victim. The blood didn't settle."
"Then ask your question." He took a seat on the sofa opposite.
"Why? What would stop the blood from settling?"
"Tell me more about the case you're working on."
"It's official police business, William. You know I can't do that."
"Yet you've already shared classified information with me."
"William, the sooner you quit playing around, the sooner Robin and I will be out of your hair."
"You never did have much patience." He sighed. "Very well. By all means, the blood should have settled. You said it was just in one of the victims?"
"The other one had lost a large amount of blood from wounds." Raven nodded. "It was impossible to tell. The third body seemed to have been drained, but it was only found this morning, so I can't say."
"Well, from the top of my head, I can think of two reasons to explain it. How much do you know about Vaudun Magics?"
"That it's not all as bad as Hollywood makes out." Raven muttered drily, before shrugging. "Not much, but like every form of magic, it has its curses."
William nodded. "A particular curse involves calling forth the darker spirits, and asking them to trap the soul of an individual as they die so it can't travel to the afterlife, and forcing it back into the lifeless body. A form of punishment, the soul is trapped to feel and see and listen as their body decays. They can't move, but for some reason, it does upset the blood and keeps it from settling or drying out until the body has decayed enough that it leaks out. The cells have all long since died by then, but blood is blood, whether it's blue, red, or black."
"People do that?" Robin asked in horror.
"That and worse. In ancient practices, the priest or priestess would often find a Necromancer – if they had no such control over the truly darker magics themselves – and bring the body back to serve the community until it's decayed beyond use. Now days, the practice is considered too macabre and eye-catching to use."
"It never pays to dabble in any form of dark magic." Raven told her leader.
"I beg to differ. I think it pays very well." William smiled. "My soul, for a life of luxury? It's a small price to pay."
"You won't be saying that when you pass on." Raven told him, before asking, "The second explanation?"
"Good, old fashioned Blood Magic, of course, but you had guessed that, or you wouldn't have come here."
Raven nodded unhappily. "So, they were killed by a spell based on Blood Magic?"
"Well… not necessarily." William smiled, and Raven frowned.
"You know something. What?"
"I'd talk to Miss Shipman if I were you. I know you've met her before. She… might be able to explain it better than me."
Raven's frown darkened into a glare. "Cut the crap, William. If a spell didn't kill them, what did?"
"You have your father's temper."
"What has Cara told you?" She asked slowly, but with force.
"Why don't you take one of my books on Blood Magic?" William got to his feet and hastily moved towards one of the bookshelves. "You can keep it. A gift between old friends. You might find it useful."
"We aren't friends."
"I'd still recommend you see Miss Shipman." He said as he ran his fingers across the spines of the books, reading their titles.
"You know what it is, so why don't you just tell me?"
"Ah. Here it is." Pulling the book from the shelf, he walked back over to the sofas. "I would tell you, but if it got out that it was me… well, you know how it is."
"You're afraid of this murderer?" Raven asked sceptically.
"Well, I definitely wouldn't like him after my hide." He handed Raven the book. Bound in leather, it looked old and well read, the spine damaged from years of use. "No, it's someone else I'm worried about. But I'm sure Miss Shipman will answer that for you. Now, do take care of the book. It's fairly old, and one of my favourites. The author really did know what he was writing about. And while I think about it, I acquired another book you might be interested in. It's-"
"The only thing I'm interested in at the moment is stopping the murderer." Raven interrupted, getting to her feet, Robin copying her.
"Yes. Well, do be careful Raven. I would miss our little talks."
Raven didn't reply, the obsidian energy surrounding the two titans for a moment before it cleared, letting them see the common room of Titans Tower.
"Raven Roth?" Robin asked.
"Roth is my mother's last name." She shrugged, staring at the book in her hands.
"William practices Blood Magic, doesn't he?"
"Not as often as he used to, thanks to our agreement."
"And this 'Miss Shipman'?"
"Another acquaintance of mine." She answered.
"Well, at least we know it's definitely related to some kind of Blood Magic." Robin muttered. "It's a start. So are we going to see this woman he mentioned?"
"I suppose." Raven nodded. "Though it might not be for a day or two. She doesn't always answer her phone. I'll read this in the meantime; see if it is helpful or not."