PLEASE READ! DUE TO THE SHEER AMOUNT OF LENGTHY REVIEWS I'M RECEIVING FROM YOU GUYS I'm going to change my replying tactics. Unless your review contains a question or comment instrumental to the plot (for example all of those asking if Jinx will figure out Rae playing Robin's girlfriend) I'll reply via PM (the rest will still sit at the top of the page as usual) -. That means those of you who don't sign in (or don't have an account but still leave reviews) if you still want a reply, you'll have to remember to sign in! And yes, even those three worded "That was great!" reviews will still be replied to!
Oh, and say a big thank you to espacole for editing this for me! If there are any typos it's no longer my fault! xD
Oh yeah, I'm back in England! (yay) Hopefully posts should increase again, though I will be job hunting ect so no promises!
Deathnoteuser: I loved the wake up scene. Your spelling was...yeah, I'm not going to go there. The seven hells? I was under the impression that there were *nine* circles. It's been a while since I last read the Inferno though. Rather than worrying over Starfire, you'd think that Raven would worry over Jinx. After all, she does know that Raven is going to Gotham... Ahah, a dress is the best disguise for Raven, hmm?
Ahah me too! :P well if you TECHNICALLY want to break them all down, there are three inner circles to the heart of hell so yeah, whatever :P but as I said I was tired and sleepy and didn't even realise I'd quoted a number anyway (I took it out when I decided to go through and edit for a re-post) Ah but Jinx is at a disadvantage – she doesn't know what titans are going with Raven, how they're getting there, or what they're wearing. She'd have no reason to see Richard and his new bird and go "Holy shit!" other than perhaps the slight chance of facial recognition (slight because of their disguises)
nada129: Glad to see you updated and a great chapter it is raven in a dress I had to read that bit twice before it clicked nice work
Ahah just to see you hadn't misread it? :P
I'm a Lover not a Hater: So you've been drinking and writing at the same time, hmm you should do it more. :D But please do get someone to proofread your chapters. It's nothing too much but still yeah. And so the entire team knows now that Raven is dating someone. Man I hope you would write a scene where Raven or Amanda has to entertain some of the guesses, ha that be funny and creepy as hell to read.
It happens fairly often xD Ahah I have someone, don't worry! :P of course I'm going to write such a scene! It would be hilarious!
l OmegaInfinity l: Yes, you're thinking about it! That's good enough for me. I got my monthly dose of Rea/Jinx so my day has been made. Also, now they're in Gotham, so can we be expecting some of Bat's Rouges Gallery making an appearance? If so, I'll put in my two cents worth an suggest Ra's and/or Thalia al ghul. For some reason, I feel like they would work rather well in the story, given the story's theme. Also, Poison Ivy, mostly because... well, I'm curious on how Raven vs. Ivy would turn out.
Take as long as you need, my friend. So long you keep up the quality you have been, I can wait. Just... don't take TOO long, okay ;)
Ahah :'D Glad it made your day! Hmm… not sure yet, though I plans for some of the Gotham's villains in the future.
Angel981: awesome! awesome job! Bravo - I salute you! update soon
Glad you liked!
YuriPrince: Alright explanation time. Jinx's empty-hole of a stomach is really a food delivery process to the miniature Jinxes inside her. They work in groups, group 1 (or G1 for short) operate her reflexes, G3 operate her white blood cells and injurys, each emotion gits a group of its own, ect. The food is distributed among them evenly, so that they can go home to there lovely stay
at home Raven wives with dinner. Yep that's it. It's not like she has a fast metabolism or burn calories fast from her usage of her powers...yep those are just illogical.
Ahah I PERSONALLY like the 'hollow legs' explanation, but seriously, being that I myself eat as much as Cyborg yet stay in the 'underweight' category, SO MANY PEOPLE are like "Dude, how?" no matter how many times I explain my metabolism's hyperactive. I figure it's the same reaction most naturally skinny get.
Spikesagitta: Hmm what is Raven apologising for? And I wonder if Raven should have follow her advise to Robin and told Jinx before she see her on the tv.
You'll find out :) and Jinx is at a disadvantage – she doesn't know what Rae looks like or who how many titans she's going with – she'd have no reason to expect they would go in 'under cover' so unless she recognised Raven's face despite all the changes, I think the empath's pretty safe :)
Edokage: Funny that Raven is telling Robin about how his girlfriend will obviously discover his secret identity when she watches the news coming from Gotham, not realising that she should be more worried about her own girlfriend doing just that.
Looking forward to the next chapter.
Again read my response to the review above xD Jinx IS at a disadvantage!
Ineveraskedforthis: Seems like Raven would rather be anywhere but Gotham, while wearing a dress, while also pretending to date Robin. I'll just be here waiting for the inevitable explosion when she can't stand the dress and heels any longer. Seriously, how can you women do that to your feet?
Ahah xD Yeah it wouldn't be my ideal situation either! Personally, I don't wear heals all that often (I'm a Doctor Martin boots kinda gal) but on the occasions I do wear them damn do I get sick of them fast!
Dawsen: Excellent chapter! I'm super surprised that Raven was able to sit
through her makeover for so long.
Ahah patience is a virtue
Stormplains: Yay-ay! A new chapter. This was a nice end to my first week back at school. I must thank you for updating. Not too long this time. Plus I've been working hard on a paper due yesterday, finished of course but I couldn't find time to read. So I'm okay with lack of action chapters because it moves the plot along. And I'm very excited about Batman appearing. Very excited. So once again, I cannot wait patiently enough for the next chapter!
Keep writing strong.
My pleasure :) That's good to hear – I would hate to be boring people! I think you'll like this chapter though! Gah I hope I've written him well enough for you!
Faraway-R: And now I've finally caught up to it. Yay me.
SeaBreezer: I downloaded a FanFiction app onto my phone and I happened to run across your stories whilst sifting through the good and bad works on this pairing, and I have fallen in love with the tale. Your character work with everyone is spot on; I can see the interaction as though it were out of the show. The whole concept your story and how the plot has grown into an almost Noir type drama countering the steady growth of Raven and Jinx's relationship is fantastic. I'm eagerly awaiting your next update; although as everyone has mentioned the simple typos and grammatical errors are still there, but getting better. If you're interested in some assistance send me a message anytime.
Hello there then. Well I'm glad you like my story! Yes, sadly I think spelling will always be a problem for me (but isn't that why people have editors?!) I've found a beta for this story for now, but I'll keep that in mind!
TOkun92: I am loving this story more with every chapter. I love the way you made Raven 'chew out' Robin for the assumption; very realistic (I think; I've never seen any situation like that, so I can't really say). Can't wait for the next chapter. I'm wondering if Batman will look into her love life.
Ahah glad you liked!
Masato Nakajima: Finally caught up, and I have to say this story goes on my top ten list of all time favorites, and there are only four currently on that list, as I said in a previous review I have A.D.D. which means I have a short attention span and distracted easily. I usually can't read five to six chapters back to back unless it's (IMHO) this awesome, you have me hooked it's going to be torture waiting for more chapters.
Keep up the awesome work :D
Ahah yay! Awh glad you like it so much! Well then I hope this chapter was worth the wait!
Dak Hamee: Fuck spelling, if this ever gets published or anything like that then u hav permission to have a trained professional go over it with a fine toothed dictionary, but back to the matter at hand, lovely chapter great work, always love Alfred he is the greatest also I never noticed before but the shadow has many things in common with the slenderman other than general appearance , tall dark shady, powerful limbs, likes to steal young women, complete dick
I actually wrote the original Shadow a year before I learnt of Slender Man, but now you mention it! (I am a fan of the thing too, especially some of the games people have made! Love a good horror game!)
"I think I owe you an apology."
Raven paused to collect her words before saying, "My outburst outside was rude, childish and unnecessary. If I caused any offence, it wasn't my intension and I'm sorry."
Alfred watched the woman for a moment before offering her a small smile. "We all have our moments, Raven. I accept your apology though it wasn't needed. Now, can I interest you in something to drink? Some tea, perhaps?"
"That would be nice, thank you." Raven nodded after only a moment's hesitation.
She kept a studious eye on the man as he put down the knife he'd been holding and went to the large pantry located at the back of the kitchen, trying to figure out the butler, her curiosity aroused by the lack of emotions reaching her. As a rule Raven tried her best not to read people out of politeness, and did her best to ignore the undercurrent of emotions that constantly sought her out, but what she felt now wasn't the relaxed demeanour of her laidback teammate Cyborg, or even like Robin's determined focus that left little room for anything else. The only word Raven had to describe what she was picking up was 'reserved'. It was nothingness, though acontent nothingness, like the man had reached the very peak of enlightenment and Raven couldn't help but wonder if an empath would feel something similar from her, or perhaps something more… empty.
Alfred's gentle voice interrupted her thoughts. "How do you like your tea?"
"Only a drop of milk. No sugar." Her eyes drifted to the abandoned chopping board and the variety of vegetables waiting next to it, feeling the need to ask, "Would you like any help?"
"Thank you, but there's no need."
Raven smiled slightly, watching as he placed two jars – one containing loose tea leaves and the other ground coffee – on the work surface before filling a stove kettle with water and setting it to boil. "Good, because I'm a terrible cook."
"We all have our weaknesses." The man returned with a small smile of his own. "I wouldn't mind your company though, if you have the time – and if you don't mind listening to the ramblings of an old man."
"I was raised on the ramblings of men much older than you." She replied, and she wasn't in a rush to go anywhere; Raven felt something oddly soothing about his presence despite their earlier 'misunderstanding'.
He loaded a coffee machine and put it into action before preparing two of the cups for the tea. "All the more reason for you to be weary of us." Alfred replied humorously.
"For better or for worse, if it wasn't for those 'old men' I wouldn't be here today. Now, whatever 'grief' my leader may have given you in the past – and I know he would have at some point, it's who he is – I will not repeat." She studied him for a moment before saying bluntly, "You have something you wish to say – say it."
Alfred put everything down before turning to face the empath, giving her his full attention. "I have been here for Master Wayne right from the moment of his birth, and at times the only thing that kept me here was that boy. I've also been beside Batman since his creation, helping whenever I can, whether it is with injuries, research, or to offer a cool head to remind him who he is whenever he loses his way. I am fully aware of the reason behind your visit to Gotham, so I have to ask; is this wise, confronting this man on his own territory?"
She sighed – a tired and dejected sound that resonated from her very core – and somehow found herself opening up to the stranger. "The only wise thing to do when Sebastian or my Father is involved is to run in the opposite direction as fast as your legs can carry you, but we're out of time, and running has never been an option for me. So far this killer has been making all the first moves – it's about time we returned the favor."
"I'm sure, should you feel you require extra force, Batman wouldn't have any qualms about assisting you." Alfred turned as the kettle began to whistle, quickly removing it from the stove and filling the two cups.
"No – it's bad enough I've managed to drag the Titans and the people of Jump into this mess. Besides, if I do this I have to do it my own way and that means with people who can trust me to go the right thing. Not that I blame Batman – I wouldn't trust me either. We'll manage. We have to, for those missing girls."
The kitchen door opened before any more could be said, and Richard walked in, wearing a pair of nice jeans and a grey button-up shirt. He paused as he studied the empath, complimenting her on her appearance before asking the butler, "Is that coffee I smell?"
After finishing and handing over both their drinking the man pressingly asked if Richard had given the young woman a tour of the house yet and the pair took the hint, leaving the kitchen.
"Alfred is… something else." Raven muttered as she let her leader take her down the hallway and the man smiled in acknowledgement.
"That he is."
"So, exactly what are we supposed to do until Batman returns?"
"Well, there's the pool, or the library… I'm pretty sure he still has that full size snooker table lying around in one of these rooms, and there's the bar-"
"I was being serious." Raven cut him short, and Robin laughed.
"So was I. What do you think the rich do in their free time? Work?" His expression sobered slightly as he continued, "Though if you insist, I thought we might talk about exactly how you plan on getting Brother Blood to fess up." Robin led the empath into one of the building's many sitting rooms before dumping himself on of the sofas and fixing his gaze on Raven, taking a sip from his cup.
She shrugged, taking a seat on one of the other sofas. "Well, I'm planning to use his fear of Trigon – and of what I could be." Seeing his sceptical expression, Raven added, "I'm not proud of it, but under the right circumstances I do know how to manipulate people."
"I know – you've demonstrated that multiple times with Doctor Light."
"And I don't even know that low life, not like I know Sebastian. And since you didn't give me enough warning to 'request an audience' with him, he'll be somewhat unprepared."
"Okay." Richard frowned, "But say it doesn't work?"
"We still have several options. It would be a struggle to get him to succumb to my telepathy – he has a strong mind and a form of telepathy of his own – but there are a few abilities I don't use that I could tap into, and there's always the old fashioned way."
He stared at her disapprovingly. "We don't torture people Raven. Leave that to the bad guys. What are these other abilities?"
"My Father's idea of a joke." Raven muttered, before saying, "I could flood him with pride. Pride makes people boast; makes them arrogant, sloppy and weak. If we're lucky we could get him to admit to creating this 'shadow', but it's not an ability I'm keen to use. It is demonic, and any magic under that category is extremely harsh on the human body. Even though it's an innate ability it'd leave me violently sick for up to two weeks."
"Pride?" Robin asked, and his scepticism was clear.
She nodded. "Pride. The sin that leads to all others. A humble man does not feel greed. He does not lust after things. He does not feel wrathful when wronged nor does he envy others. He does not act the sloth and see himself above labour, and he is above gluttony, taking only what he needs and no more. Trust me; it's more effective than it sounds."
"And when you say it makes you violently sick, what are we talking about?"
"Mostly just vomiting and headaches, though after a day or two we're also talking dehydration and other related problems."
Robin stared at her for a moment before he shook his head. "Demons. You should come with a handbook."
"Agreed – sometimes I doubt I know myself any more than you do."
The leader of the titans laughed loudly, before enquiring, "How did you even figure out you could do that?"
"How does any developing infant learn?" She shrugged. "There's no spell, no chant. It's just a reflex. An outward push, like some sort of muscle. I became aware of it, and like a baby developing an awareness of its surroundings by testing everything with its mouth, I decided to try it out. The Monks didn't need to reprimand me, my body did it for them, and Mother Azar never let me forget."
"You never talk about your childhood at the temple." Robin noted, and Raven shrugged.
"What's to tell? I don't have any tales from an alien courtroom, or encounters with African wildlife."
"Neither does Cyborg, but I've heard him talk about his family several times."
"The titans are my family." She said bluntly, and the man smiled.
"And I don't think you'd hear any of us claim different, but you can have more than one family."
"The Monks and Mother Azar were my teachers."
"And your Mom?"
"It's… complicated." She scowled. "What happened to talking about Sebastian Blood?"
"I thought we'd discussed it – either you manipulate him into talking, or we go home without answers and waste a few valuable days."
"No pressure then." Raven muttered, before shaking her head and telling him confidently, "We will get answers before we leave."
Raven had left Robin's company not long after, and found herself in the manor's library, idly scanning some of the hundreds of books' spines, her mind on other things, namely Jinx. The empath rarely let herself be distracted, but she recognised there were some things that really needed to be addressed regarding their relationship, mainly when and how she was going to tell her teammates – her family – she was dating a known super-villain for going on two or three months. The empath knew It would be better coming from her than anyone else, and was honestly surprised they'd gotten this far without being caught but that had been before the titans had figured out she was dating. They were curious – a natural reaction – and what she had told Robin brought it all into perspective. Her team was her family, and if her and Jinx continued to travel in the direction they were, something needed to be said before she was forced to choose between them.
She felt like she was trying to tell them about Trigon all over again.
Raven tried to imagine how she would react if one of the boys turned around and introduced Kitten or Cheshire as their date, and she knew exactly how she'd react. The empath wouldn't do anything drastic per say, that wasn't her style, but she'd make sure to inform them on exactly how bad a choice they were making. She remembered how she'd reacted to Beast Boy's obsession with Terra, and that had been before she'd let on she was working for Slade and Raven had disliked her for being nothing more than a stranger with control issues in her territory. She could already hear her teammates' gasps, see their disappointed expressions, and it hurt.
And what would they say? That it was some sort of trap? That the thief probably had some ulterior motive? Telling them Jinx had planned to rip the team apart from the inside but had long decided against it didn't exactly sound encouraging, or give the Titans a reason not to intervene.
She sighed and pulled out a book at random, turning to the first page and frowning as the small print refused to register as words in her distracted mind.
"I never took you for being interested in mechanics."
Raven jumped at the sound of Bruce Wayne's voice and shut the book, spinning round to the room's door. The man wasn't stood all that far away from her, and the fact that he'd gotten so close unnoticed proved how distracted she was. He was dressed in a grey suit, the collar of his white shirt unbuttoned. The only evidence of a fight was his swollen bottom lip that he would no doubt pass off as an 'injury' from an overzealous lover or one of his newest hobbies.
She put the book back as she muttered, "Perhaps not as much as my teammate Cyborg, but I'm willing to learn and he's a patient teacher." Unable to see or feel Robin nearby, she asked, "Any trouble?"
"A riot broke out in Arkham. Nothing I couldn't manage." He studied the empath before saying, "I appreciate the discretion."
"And I appreciate your… willingness to have me here, all considering."
"Don't mistake my willingness for trust." Bruce Wayne replied, but smiled slightly, "Even if you do continue to go against the odds." He moved further into the room and took a seat on one of two plush sofas in the room. "I thought we might be able to talk about the Church of Blood and their leader, being that they're currently based in my city."
"They've been based in Gotham for close to ten decades now, but they have older churches elsewhere too." Raven muttered dryly before asking, "Have you spoken with Robin?"
"Not yet, no."
She sighed, and seeing she wasn't going to get out of it told him, "They're not to be taken lightly. They're a cult of religious idiots, yes, but they're also a worldwide militant organisation with a living, breathing god. You can't become a priest without being apt in sorcery and blood magic, and they've managed to avoid bad press ever since the first priest – searching for Satan – stumbled across Trigon. I would like to advice you against doing this. The Church is not something one man can defeat, and while my father is alive the church will always be here. You'd have more luck destroying the League of Shadows."
"With some knowledge I can at least disrupt them." When Raven didn't speak, her cold hazel eyes silently asking him to drop the subject, he pointed out, "You came to the Justice League first."
"The Justice League." She nodded. "Martian Manhunter, Zatanna, Wonder Woman – people who could fight my father – fight me – on similar grounds. Not a human."
"She's a homo-magi."
"You're splitting hairs." The man grumbled.
"Not really. My father is a being of magic, as is your magician. That gives them similar grounding."
"And the titans?" Bruce asked. "Minus your Tameranian princess, they're all human."
"Because you gave me no choice!" She hissed, before looking away. "I tried to keep them out of it, right until the very end." She studied the view out of the room's large windows before looking back at the billionaire. "I keep a close eye on the Church and Sebastian, and I do my best to disrupt any big ideas they have."
"Like you did this one?" Bruce asked, and the empath recoiled from the harsh comment. "Robin told me you have evidence suggesting this 'shadow' was created by blood magic."
"And we have sources informing us they used homeless people – people off the radar – for the sacrifices. I had no way of knowing."
"Because you're on the other side of the country. I'm not. I'm here."
"You weren't 'here' seven years ago. Why is this any different?" Raven quickly snapped, before exiting the room.
The comment had been harsh, but she'd spoken the truth about not wanting anyone else caught up with the Church, and she hadn't seen any other way of putting an end to the conversation. She hadn't moved far down the corridor when she ran into Richard.
"What's wrong?" He quickly asked as he stopped her, concerned. "I heard raised voices."
"Your mentor is back. You'll find him in the library. If you'll excuse me..."
"Don't wander too far. No doubt diner will be ready soon." Robin quickly told the empath as she moved around him.
Raven hesitated for a moment, not really hungry and temped to make some excuse to miss dinner but eventually nodded. "Noted."
THE NEXT DAY
Robin hadn't quite known what to expect, but the thought of a demon-worshiping cult brought forth the images of black candles and stone alters in dark rooms from Hollywood horror movies. The church Raven led him to was anything but dark and unpleasant. While on the outside it retained the gothic features of most of Gotham's buildings, it looked cleaner, like they'd spent money on renovating it. The interior was a lot more modern with white marble floors and painted walls. Traditional religious themed stain glass windows had been replaced by modern masterpiece made from hundreds of panels of glass in different shades of red from the deepest of garnets to the palest of oranges. There were no alters that Robin could see, nothing but a raised platform where he supposed the priest stood during sermons. The place looked light and open and friendly and not at all like a cult.
A desk acted to separate the main church from the entrance and behind sat a woman with long blonde hair peeking out from under her red hood. They approached her, the young lady studying something on the screen of her PC as she began to say, "Good morning and welcome to the Church of Blood. Morning service doesn't start for another hour yet but…. You…"
She'd trailed off as she'd looked up, her pleasant smile slowly fading as she studied the two heroes in shock, her attention mostly drawn to the demon halfling.
"We're not here for the service, and we didn't book an appointment but I'm sure if you told Brother Blood Raven is here asking to see him, he'll be able to make the time." Raven spoke with such confidence, such authority, that Robin decided to finally acknowledge that the empath talking Brother Blood into confessing wasn't such a wild idea after all.
The woman didn't react at first, just continued to stare at the halfling in awe. Wanting to speed things along Robin loudly cleared his throat, having to fight down a laugh when the young woman jumped before quickly getting into gear, flustered. She hastily grabbed for the phone sat on her desk, almost dropping it as she raised it to her ear before pressing one of the buttons. She let her eyes slide back to the cloaked Titan as it rang.
Her lips began moving after a moment's pause. "Brother Blood, yes… it's… it's Raven, and she's asking to see you."
Whatever the reply had been, it sent her into overdrive and she quickly put the phone back before she stood and nervously smoothed out her robe of red. "Brother Blood will see you now. If you'd, ah, follow me…"
She scurried out from behind the desk and led them into the church, slipping between two of the neatly aligned oak pews and leading them towards a closed door on the right wall, flanked by two ceiling-to-floor stain glass windows, Raven just able to make out a corridor beyond them.
Robin let himself chuckle slightly as he moved closer to Raven and muttered, "I thought she was going to have a heart attack. I didn't realise your origins was such common knowledge."
"It isn't. There's a hierarchy within the church. Those in the robes are aware of Scath's true identity. The darker the robe the more involved within the cult they are, and the more they know." Raven muttered.
"Not in deep enough to get to communicate with my father, so she's just seen the first physical proof her 'god' exists. Let her freak out – I mean how would you react?"
The blonde let them down the narrow white corridor before coming to a stop in front of a nice oak door, knocking twice before walking away with one last glance at Raven. The empath turned and looked at her leader.
"Whatever happens in here, whatever's said, don't second guess me okay?"
"Okay. Don't worry – I trust you. Always have." Robin quickly nodded.
The door opened before any more could be said, and an aging Sebastian Blood waved them inside with a smile forced on his face. "Raven, what a surprise. My receptionist forgot to mention you'd brought a… friend."
Entering the office, Raven crossed the deep red carpet and took a seat in one of the chairs facing the desk, a picture of calm despite her churning anxiety. "I don't think I need to make any introductions, though the last time we met you were playing teacher." She watched the man move to sit behind his desk, not surprised when Robin decided to remain by the door. "You're looking better than the last time we met."
He looked down at his hands for a moment, "Our Lord is generous to those who serve him."
Raven smiled then, the expression cold. "No, he just has no use for cripples."
The comment was harsh, and Raven knew it was beneath her, but it got the intended reaction, and she felt sudden insecurity, heard his sharp intake of breath. She gave him chance to reply, but when he didn't, continued, "Right, enough with the games. I seem to be low on patience at the moment, and I think you knew I'd come here sooner or later."
"You mean you've finally decided to take your rightful position within the church?"
Raven frowned at the man, managing to look like a teacher scalding her student. "Perhaps you're going deaf with your old age because I'm sure I spoke clearly."
Brother Blood relaxed back in his seat as he calmly replied, "Then I'm afraid I don't know what you're referring to, Raven."
"Bullshit!" Both men looked at her in shock, but she pretended not to notice as she told him, "I have sources that all pointed me in your direction. Why is your petbothering me?"
"My pet?" He asked with a smile, trying to come across as amused even though Raven could feel his weariness.
"Yes. Your pet." She leant forward across the desk, her amethyst eyes turning crimson with a blink, a second pair opening higher up where her eyebrows should have sat, glowing eerily in the shadow cast by her hood. "I don't appreciate it running amuck through my territory." Her voice had taken on a deep, bone-chilling growl Robin could happily say he never wanted to hear again.
Sebastian Blood didn't seem fazed in the least. "Oh! You're talking about that serial killer currently hunting in Jump City! Why in Trigon's name would you assume he's mine?!"
"Why, in my father's name, would I not?" She replied tersely. "He has made it clear he's targeting me, he has referred to Trigon during conversation…. If you don't give me the answers I want to hear I can and will forcefully enter your mind and take the information myself."
Robin recalled the empath telling him she wasn't sure telepathy would work on the cult leader, but Sebastian hadn't received the same memo and he tensed slightly before telling Raven, "Wonder Boy over there wouldn't let you."
The leader of the titans shrugged, the movement catching Brother Blood's attention. "Actually, since there aren't any laws governing the use of telepathy, I couldn't care less."
It wasn't a response the man had expected or wanted to hear. "Then you're obviously unaware of the potential side-effect an unwilling participant can suffer from. It could destroy my mind, make me comatose."
"Oh, not you Sebastian." Raven smiled darkly as she stood and began to walk around the desk, her movements slow, seamless and full of the promise of pain. "It might hurt, perhaps leave you unconscious for a few hours, but even I'm willing to admit your mind's strong enough to withstand it. Now, shall we get started? I've always wondered what the mind of a delusional psychopath looks like."
Robin couldn't blame the man for scrambled out of his seat and moving to keep the desk between them. Raven could taste his fear and panic like rich toffee on her tongue, and as deep rooted feeling of pride and excitement rushed through her she struggled to ignore her instinct to chase after the priest. Instead she slid her hand across the back of the man's vacated chair and said, "Well, that was certainly a pointless exertion of energy. I can possess you if you'd prefer, but as Robin can attest, it can be quite an uncomfortable experience."
"Alright, what if I said a branch of the Church did create him?" Brother Blood finally said, holding his hand up as though it would ward the demi-demon off.
She adopted a slightly less intimidating stance, sitting down on the chair in one fluid motion, the move an unusually theatrical display of dominance. "That wasn't so hard, was it? So, the abomination running around my city is yours. Why? What in hell are you trying to achieve?"
"I said the church, not me." The priest clarified, straightening out his robes and managing to retain some dignity as he sat in the seat Raven had left. "We're a big group – I can't watch everyone."
The empath sighed impatiently. "Now now, Sebastian. I'm not going to give anyone your name; you know that, not the press or the law. Not there are any laws dictating the creation of such things, not yet – just about your methods."
He shrugged. "Like I said, we're a big group. We have more than one church."
Raven didn't like the answer, very much convinced it was his doing, but decided to humour him and idly flipped through the few sheets of paper on the desk as she nodded. "Let's say I believe you. Why would someone – someone deep within the church, considering they had access to one of your 'pits'- waste so much energy creating that thing? It's not easy to find sacrifices in the modern day and age without people noticing." Four red eyes looked up at him, gauging his reaction.
"It was, I have been told, a display of misplaced affection. Damien is – was – a valuable member of our church before his very unfortunate demise."
"You mean sacrifice. Was he willing, or did someone stab him in the back?"
"If I meant sacrifice, it is what I would have said." The man scowled.
"You didn't need to say it," Raven smiled bitterly.
A knock on the door interrupted them, and before Brother Blood could react, Raven called out without looking away from the priest.
"You can enter."
The man wasn't the only one in shock as Robin regarded her like she'd lost her mind. It had been a risky move being that no-one knew who was stood on the other side of the door, but Raven felt Brother Blood's spike of anger as the woman from the reception entered the room, and considered it worth the risk. The young lady's eyes instantly moved towards the desk, and she gasped upon seeing the four eyed demon, her gaze dropping to the floor as though just looking at the woman was a crime.
She didn't even bother looking for Brother Blood as she quietly announced, "The first few people for the service have begun to arrive."
Again Raven answered for the man, still watching him. "That's alright – we'll be done in a couple of minutes."
The man frowned as the receptionist quickly backed out of the room closed the door, asking, "Exactly what are you trying to prove?"
"Who said I'm trying to prove anything? I'm just having a little fun." Raven smiled and leaned back in the chair. "She seems like a nice girl."
"Woman, Raven. She's older than you. She's a runaway, much like your mother, and while I appreciate your sudden interest in the church if you want to talk to me about the followers we're going to have to do this another time."
"Alright then. You claim you didn't know about these people creating 'Damien' a new body until it was done. That means you know who did it. I'm sure you'll be able to write me a list of names, phone numbers and addresses. You are, after all, a respectable priest that keeps record of your more valuable contributors." The most valuable of which – the ones with access to the Pit – never really left their assigned Church unless on business, a fact that Raven knew well.
"And as a respectable Priest it's my job to exercise the confidentially my people expect." Brother Blood told her with a small smile.
She pursued her lips. "Alright, no names. How about records? You must have written an incident form? Taken note on the spell used?"
"You're still young – powerful, but young – and I would hate to stunt your growth by making your life too easy."
Raven quickly stood, seemed to grow a few more feet, the room darkening as she growled in a voice that seemed to echo and not belong to just her, but a hundred other people. "I am Raven; Daughter of Trigon the Terrible, The Gem, Conqueror of Earth and its residing dimension and the first heir to His title as Archfiend and all He rules over!" Her presence seemed to fill the room, and Robin shamelessly admitted he was close to being terrified and very happy he wasn't in Brother Blood's place. "You will treat me as such!"
The man regarded her wearily, otherwise seemed unaffected by her display, telling her calmly, "And with all due respect, Raven, but my loyalties rest with your Father until his unlikely demise. Until you rule this dimension in his name, you denounce any loyalty to Him – helping you would be a bad move for the Church and a sin against our Lord." Sebastian stood and walked towards Robin and the door. "May I walk you out?"
There was a pause before she shrank back to her normal height, the room lightening as the darkness retreated back within her being. Raven's amethyst eyes returned with a blink and she moved out from behind the desk towards her leader. "That's unnecessary."
"Well, if you ever decide you would like to discuss your position within the Church, you know where to find me." He opened the door for them but Raven stopped next to Robin, placing her hand on his shoulder before enveloping them both within the folds of her soul self.
When it cleared Robin found himself back in the Batcave and seeing no sign of the caped crusader turned to frown at Raven. "'Conqueror of Earth and its residing dimension''?"
The girl woman cringed slightly, but nodded. "Demon rules. Trigon came here and claimed it for his own, and then I defeated him, thus taking it for myself."
He didn't look happy about that, but nodded. "Better the devil you know, I suppose. I'm guessing that's how you're keeping Cara in line?"
"More or less." She sighed, "I was hoping it would work with Blood to some extent."
"You still think he was involved?"
Raven nodded. "I'm almost certain he is." She removed her cloak in one fluid motion and moved towards the main computer system where she'd left her holo-ring on the desk. "I'm also certain that this 'Damien' died sacrificing himself for whatever task they're trying to achieve. Raising just any life essence is tricky, because you can't guarantee it's going to listen to you. Use one that's in on the plan…"
"So, was this successful or not?"
"Successful. We know the Shadow is from the church, which is what our aim was. The only problem is we don't know the spell, so I can't find the reversal. And we have a name – we might be able to use to it from him off." She slipped the holo-ring on, turning her hair blonde and eyes hazel, looking completely out of place in the leotard.
"I don't understand how anyone could willingly give up their life for something like that."
"It's a cult, Robin. A cult led by a very charismatic leader. It's pretty much the same as you giving up your life to save one of us – they're family, and they really do believe in what Sebastian tells them."
"But what about outside influences?" Robin shook his head. "I mean who the hell thinks worshiping demon is a good idea?"
"No one, to begin with. 'Scath' is viewed as the Saviour. It's not until you're officially initiated and given the red robe – at which point you remove everything but the Church from your life – that you're slowly introduced to Trigon and the true views of the Church. Arella didn't know what she was coupling with until she had no way of escaping."
Robin shrugged. "I still don't get it."
Raven smiled slightly. "I think it is something you have to personally experience to understand. The fact that you are not looking for faith – do not require faith to explain your life – helps you. Some people are more prone to fall foul of a cult that others. Sometimes I ask myself how Arella could have been so oblivious, but then I have an in-depth knowledge of the Church, and she had never even heard of it. She was on the streets and they gave her a home – who wouldn't say yes to that?"
The young man removed his mask. "Perhaps. So what's this 'position' of yours anyway?"
"As Trigon's strongest child and his heir – and let's not forget my convenient placement on Earth – I should be Trigon's voice for the Church. In other words, I'd say jump and they'd ask how high. All contact with Trigon would go through me. It's a strong position to have, especially if I wanted to derail the Church, but Sebastian wouldn't let me get there without me first proving my loyalty and I'd rather attack from the outside."
"He has made it very clear the church still lacks someone with the title 'Mother Mayhem'. As consort to the acting head priest, it is her job to help oversee the church, but to also provide the next priest, as it is a family-run operation. It would be one of the quickest ways of learning my loyalties; after all I'm definitely not desperate enough to destroy the church that I feel the need to do that."
"You're serious?" Her leader asked, before frowning, "He's cutting it kind of close isn't he, if this thing runs in the family? I mean he has to be in his sixties."
Raven shrugged. "That's not my problem."
The rest of the day moved by too quickly for Raven, who was all too aware of the party being held that night for Richard. It would put her acting skills to the test, and she spent most of the time running Amanda's profile through her head again and again.
It didn't take her even take her half an hour to get dressed for the occasion. The formal dress Starfire had packed for her was a floor length form hugging assemble in silk the same rich shade of brown as the skin of a hazelnut, backless with a halter neck style top that wrapped around her neck like a choker so she didn't have to worry about any sort of necklace. She did, for once, decide to wear earrings. Raven had never been a big fan of jewellery in any of its forms, but her mother had gotten the empath's ears pierced as a toddler, to the monks alarm – had the toddler decided it had hut, buildings could have collapsed. The earrings she'd brought with her were her mothers, and the delicate gold hoops with their diameter of 5cm glinted through the blonde hair, complimenting the dress nicely.
She met Richard in the grand hallway, and was quick to set ground rules. "You even attempt to kiss me anywhere other than the cheek and it is off. I don't want to stay the entire night so you better be good at excuses and you are not to leave me on my own at any point, understood?"
"Don't tell me you're afraid of a little socialising," He grinned.
"You have decided I'm a model – me, who knows next to nothing about fashion! I need you there to change the subject the instant anyone tries to ask 'what's in this season'."
Richard nodded. "I suppose I owe you that, at least."
"This brings me to the next thing. So long as she is free, when we get back to Jump I will be spending some time with my girlfriend for some much needed therapy. I thought it had been disturbing to discover I enjoy the company of women, but I was wrong. This is disturbing."
"But the case-"
"Isn't going anywhere until we find those hostages," Raven told him. "And you'll have some serious sucking up to do with Starfire anyway."
"He's setting some kind of trap for us." The leader of the Titans muttered unhappily. "You realise that, right?"
"I do, and we're just going to have to walk straight into it, because it's our only option."