It would have been easy to hop on a plane or call a friend for a ride back home, but after the break-out at the prison, Beast Boy was sure he had earned himself a spot on the international most wanted list. Every agency of every country in the world would be looking for him, but more importantly, so would Robin. He had to travel inconspicuously, so unfortunately a 5000 mile flight from Paris to Jump City as a Great Snipe was his only option.
The bird could fly extremely long distances with great speed, the chief reason why he picked its form. Halfway through their journey though, he found it necessary to stop.
Beast Boy descended quickly into a nondescript field, taking care to set down Malchior before changing form and standing on his own two feet. He resisted the urge to let out a moan as he stretched. They couldn't stay long if they hoped to be back at the tower any time soon, but a few minutes of rest wouldn't hurt.
His animalistic senses picked up on the details around them. A small sliver of the setting sun hung on the skyline, casting a dim orange glow across the field. They had been traveling for over twenty four hours. Crickets chirped, owls hooted, and in the distance he could make out the distinct moo of cattle. The ground was cool and the grass was soft; a peaceful Midwestern scene.
At least it was until Malchior started talking.
"A rest at last. Perhaps now you can tell me where we're going," he snipped from a few feet away where Beast Boy had deposited him on the ground. He fought the urge to quip back at him. Malchior might be scum, but right now he was useful scum.
"Ah, so your whole little gang is in on this?" Beast Boy grit his teeth, but knew he had to tell the truth. It was going to come out eventually.
"Nope. Just me."
"Oh, wonderful. And I suppose the others are on vacation?"
"Well, what a surprise. You know I was assuming you had a plan but I get the distinct impression you're just making it up as we move along, aren't you?"
Beast Boy took a breath, trying to relieve some of the tension in his jaw. The last thing he needed was to fly the rest of the distance with a headache. Most of the stress was coming from the fact that Malchior was completely correct. He had no plan. He was acting on impulse. "Can you just do me a favor and stop talking?"
"You know, I'd love to," he started, an edge to his voice, "but after being kidnapped from prison by a so-called superhero and flown halfway around the world for some ambiguous, unnamed reason, I feel I'm owed some semblance of an explanation!"
"Fine!" Beast Boy shouted, moving a hand to his head as he stared up at the sky. "Fine." It was true, though he didn't want to admit it. He had to tell Malchior and it might as well be now. He sat up a bit to look at his traveling companion. He had sat his papery form down a few feet away, posture rigid and arms crossed.
"The first thing you need to know," he said slowly, "is that Raven... well, she's—"
"Dead," Malchior finished flatly. "I read all about it. Quite shocking news, to have a hero die so young and so... boringly. Who would have thought it would be the bullet of a gun that would finally smite the great Raven." Beast Boy figured Malchior caught sight of his expression, because he had the good sense to shut up.
"Let's get one thing clear," Beast Boy growled. "I don't like you. You don't like me. I don't have any plans to change that status, but right now I'm willing to help you get out of that damn book against my better judgment. The only way you'll get what you want is if you do what I ask and don't say another word about Raven."
"I hate to keep harping on this, but what exactly is it that you're asking?" Malchior looked him straight in the eye, standing his ground.
Beast Boy paused, searching for the words to explain and coming up with nothing but the stripped down truth. "I need your help to bring Raven back."
Malchior's brows rose. "Back from where? The dead?" He rolled his eyes and let out a dramatic sigh. "Oh you've got to be kidding me. Don't you know, magic doesn't work that way. I can't just bring her back to life. At least not the way you want her to be."
"Yes, you can. She said you could."
This gave him pause. "Did she say how? Because otherwise I'm afraid you're out of luck."
Beast Boy's ears rang. "But she said to find you. You have to know—"
"I don't," he enunciated. "If that's all she left you then there's nothing I can do to help."
Beast Boy leaned back on his arms, fighting the surge of emotion within him. This was supposed to be easy. He's supposed to know what to do... Raven said to find Malchior. She didn't leave any further instructions. Beast Boy sat there with his mouth slightly ajar, searching for something to say;
"Well, you have to come back and at least try," he commanded weakly.
"Oh really, I do?"
"Yes," Beast Boy insisted, gaining some composure. "It's the only way you can be free. Raven's the only one who can do it."
"Though I'm not an expert on sorcery during your time, I can almost guarantee that's not the case. There are many others..." Beast Boy was glaring at him, evidently harshly enough to get his message through. He rolled his eyes and let out an over-done sigh. "Fine," he conceded. "I'll go with you, even if only to confirm what I already know. I suppose I don't have much of a choice, do I?" he asked in a bittersweet tone.
Beast Boy turned up the corner of his lip. "None at all." Enjoying a few more moments of rest before the last leg of their journey, he took a deep breath of the crisp air, sending a small shiver down his spine. It was never this cold in Jump City. He stood up and wiped his hands on his pants, turning once more to Malchior. "Ready?"
When they finally arrived in Jump, the city lights were the only illumination in the dark morning. It was the time of year where fog was a common sight, though it was thin now. Beast boy knew it would be gone by the time the sun rose, which wasn't too far off. Thankfully, it gave them somewhat of a cover from curious eyes.
Beast Boy practically dropped Malchior and his book onto the roof of Titans' Tower. He changed from his bird form into himself in mid-air, collapsing on the ground and rolling over to lay flat on his back. Though he was exhausted, Malchior didn't give him long to rest. "What do we do now?"
Beast Boy rolled reluctantly to his side, using his right arm to help him stand. "We get inside. I have the code."
"I would hope so. Are your little friends going to be there to greet us?"
Beast Boy made it to the door in a few long strides, punching the right code into the pad next to the door with speed and accuracy. "I'm going to assume yes."
"Fantastic," Malchior muttered in reply. Beast Boy ignored him, throwing open the door and holding it for him while he found the hidden panel on the interior wall. He studied it for a minute, relief flooding through him.
"Well, it looks like we're alone." Finally, something's going my way.
He lead Malchior through the hallways, careful to keep an eye on him. He trusted him about as much as he trusted Cyborg to keep his tofu safe. Beast Boy had no idea what he was going to do, but he figured Raven's room was the best place to get one. He paused in front of her door for a moment, and to his credit Malchior didn't say anything about it. Pursing his lips, he walked forward and let the door swish open.
The room had the same thin layer of dust. By the looks of it, no one had been in since he had left. He could only guess where his team was, but Paris might have been a safe bet.
"Never thought I'd be back here again," Malchior muttered, drawing Beast Boy's attention back to him. He was examining the artifacts that covered her bookcases and tables.
"Don't touch anything," Beast Boy instructed as he moved towards the bed. The note was where he had left it, folded and dropped at the end. In hindsight, he probably shouldn't have left it there, but he was too overwhelmed at the time to think clearly. His current situation was evidence of that.
"Ahh, is this the love note she left you?" Malchior asked, coming up behind him. Instinctively, Beast Boy held it to his chest. Malchior rolled his obnoxiously heavily lashed eyes. "If I can't read what she wrote, how am I going to figure out what she wants me to do?" Beast Boy locked eyes with him, hating how right he was. He extended his hand, reluctantly offering the piece of paper.
Malchior scanned over it, his eyebrows raised in poorly-concealed amusement. "Well I was only half-joking when I called it a love note, but I see here I wasn't wrong. Who would have thought she would end up with you?"
"Oh, and you're such a charmer."
"I managed to charm our Raven, didn't I?" he asked cockily.
"She's not our Raven, she's my Raven, and let's not forget how that story ended: with her binding your ass to that book after you tried to incinerate her." Beast Boy huffed a sigh, realizing they were getting off-topic. "Do you see anything helpful?"
Malchior gave it another quick glance before shaking his head. "I see absolutely nothing except unfounded expectations. Really, why did she expect me to know?"
"Because you know her and you know her magic," Beast Boy snapped. "'I don't know' isn't a good enough answer. Think harder."
Malchior narrowed his eyes and turned away from him, moving to look at the rest of the room. His head turned slowly, taking everything in until suddenly it stopped. Without a word, he started walking straight toward a podium with an open book.
Malchior brought a hand up to the book, scanning over the text. Beast Boy was right on his heels the entire way and stood behind him impatiently, trying to see what he was looking at. It was completely illegible, written in some archaic language.
"I'll be damned," Malchior breathed, causing Beast Boy's heart to clench.
"What?" he demanded, raising his voice when he didn't get a reply. "What does it say?"
"I have to say, your girl is quite clever." He stood up straight and turned away from the book, giving Beast Boy a look as he realized he was standing so close behind him. Beast Boy backed up a few steps, eager for Malchior to spit it out. "She's managed to separate her soul and her body. The spell she left here is to give corporeal form to a human spirit, given that the spirit has been contained in some form of talisman."
Beast Boy tried to catch up with Malchior's words, but they jumbled together into meaningless magical jargon. He must have caught Beast Boy's look, because he rolled his eyes and tried again.
"Your girlfriend bound her soul to an object so that when she died, her soul was safe," he clarified.
Understanding struck. "So it's like a horcrux!" Malchior drew his brows together.
"A horcrux. You know, like in Harry Potter how Voldemort put a piece of his soul into seven different things so that when he died, he could be brought back to life. There was the ring, the diary, the crown—"
"Are you trying to compare a work of fiction to genuine magic?" Malchior asked incredulously.
"Well, when that work of fiction is exactly like the real magic you're talking about, then yes," Beast Boy shot back.
"It's not even close to the same. You're not putting part of your soul in, you're putting in the entirety of it. And only one very gifted in soul separation such as Raven would be able to do it. In fact, I believe the origins of this spell are Azarathian, as I've never seen anything like it."
"Sound's pretty damn close to me," Beast Boy muttered, again not catching the nuances of Malchior's lecture on magic. He decided it would be best to get to business though. "So what is this thing we're looking for."
"I don't know."
"Well that's helpful. Let me just—"
"I don't know, but I'd be willing to bet that you do," he interrupted forcefully. "Now, it would have to be something with some magical quality, and it would have to be something she was holding or touching when she died. You were there when she was shot, what was she touching?"
Beast Boy shot him a look for his tactlessness, but furrowed his brow in concentration. "I don't know," he finally admitted. "She was just wearing her dress and shoes and stuff and holding onto me. We were dancing. I mean, she could have hidden something, right?"
"Possible, but unlikely. It wouldn't be something small."
"You should have seen her dress. You could fit another person under that thing." Malchior sighed and rubbed his temples, an odd gesture for a man made out of paper.
"If we ever get Raven out of this, remind me to thank her for the very specific clues she's left. They've really been a help," he grumbled.
"Look, I'm sorry, but I don't even know what a magical item is. What, are we talking about a wand?"
"Of course not! It could be almost anything. Charms, gemstones, significant artifacts—"
"Wait," Beast Boy breathed, emotions spiking once again as his brain worked. "There was a necklace. A necklace I gave her. It was Onyx. That's a gemstone, right? I mean I paid good money for it."
A look of satisfaction settled over Malchior's face. "Well, there we are. Hiding her soul in her lover's gift. How... romantic."
"Do you think that's it?"
"I would say so," he said, handing the note back to Beast Boy and moving away from the podium and towards the center of the room. "So, where is our prized piece of jewelry?"
As quickly as Beast Boy's heart had risen, it sank into the bottom of his stomach at the question. He could feel the color drain from his face as Malchior stared at him expectantly. "Well? Don't tell me you threw it out."
Beast Boy shook his head slowly as his stomach churned. "No. I know where it is," he said in a low voice.
"Are you going to share with the class?"
Beast Boy looked up to meet his eyes, communicating the severity in his eyes. "We can get it, it just won't be easy. The necklace is... well..."
"For heaven's sake, spit it out!" Beast Boy hardened his features and followed Malchior's instructions.
"I buried her with it."