Raven lowered herself slowly, feeling relieved when her feet set down to the pavement. Reconstruction of this area hadn't begun yet, and she felt that she would go unnoticed here in the middle of the night. The aged structure in front of her still stood, despite the damage done a week ago. It had been purchased by the Wayne Foundation, heavily reinforced, and she knew that behind the simple stone facade there was a great deal of physical shielding. Nothing short of a human military effort could push past all the steel and concrete.
She, however, wasn't exactly human. She pressed her hand to the wall, and allowed her body to pass through the solid matter. Inside, the building was predictably dark and silent. Fittingly so. She allowed herself a momentary look around before setting herself to the task she had before her.
Raven walked slowly, but with determined steps. She knew the path well, despite having only walked it twice in her life. Each step echoed in the abandoned halls, the bare marble decoration of the place failing to muffle the sound in the least.
No spirit stopped her. No magical ward barred her way. No cryptic prophecy played out across the walls, no holy magic tried to destroy her as she invaded this temple. Still, the place thrummed with magic. How could it not? After what had happened, it would likely take decades for it to fade away.
With the first step onto the forgotten staircase that lead underground, she felt it. She had predicted this, as soon as the divination spell had placed her target here. She felt dread, yes, at being here. Revulsion at what she had allowed to happen. But there was something else, a calling. More than just the item she sought lay at the bottom of this pit, and it was calling to an inexorable part of her being.
Raven closed her eyes for a moment, repeating her calming mantra. Azerath, Metrion, Zinthos. Azerath, Metrion, Zinthos. Azerath, Metrion, Zinthos.
After a few moments, she felt capable of continuing. She walked the stairwell cautiously. Slowly. The damaged areas were difficult to traverse, requiring careful jumping and more than once causing her to trip or stumble. Still, she didn't trust her powers. Not here, not so soon.
The other Titans, her true friends, all of them... they didn't know she was here. They would likely never know. They would never have allowed this journey. Cyborg would have argued logically, and failing that, tried to restrain her. Starfire would have understood, but would have followed closely, glowing brightly with anger and resolve. Robin would have likely tied her down before letting her set foot in this place. Beastboy...
Lost in thought, she nearly missed the opening on her right. The darkness seemed to grow deeper there, in the blasted halls of this place. She couldn't turn back now, however.
This was insane. Possibly suicidal. Her footsteps continued echoing, each one seeming somehow louder and more intrusive on the tomb-like silence of the hallway. Why was she down here? It wasn't some rare or unique tome of knowledge she sought. No magical trinket, no spell components, though all three existed in force here. Her target was more personal. Useless to anyone else, but more important to her than any book short of Azar's.
She paused at the end of the hallway. The large room ahead of her loomed deeply black. She had never wanted to come back here. The pull of her ancestry was almost too strong to ignore anymore. Raven lifted her foot, and hesitantly took the first step over the threshold. It felt natural. It felt right, this is where she should be. This is where she should be going. This is the path she should be on.
It made her sick.
She looked upward, into the inky blackness of the room. It wasn't there anymore, of course. All that remained now was rubble, and the gaping pit in the floor. But it had been there, and the incessant thrumming of magic and... other... energies bore mute tribute to it. The Hand of Trigon. One week ago today, she had died in this room. Her life had ended. Yet, here she was.
Raven forced herself to continue. There was a natural, if anything about this place could be called natural, spiral pathway down into the pit. She was careful of her footing as she descended. She felt strange, caring so much about her safety, about her life. She had never been reckless, exactly, but in the past... when death had seemed certain, there was always a certain heroic resolve in her teammates, that she had never truly shared. Her mind had always had that small voice in the back that maybe, maybe if she died saving the world, maybe if the Titans failed on whatever small heroic task, they would be spared the future she was likely to bring.
Now, though, she had her entire life ahead of her. She didn't want any risk taken to shorten her time with her friends, on this beautiful world with all its irritating, stupid, plebeian, and completely wonderful people. She would never admit it, but after being freed from prophecy, she felt... hopeful. Happy.
But not here, and not now.
Each step brought her closer to what she sought, and each step brought both relief and yearning to move faster. Eventually, she reached the bottom of the pit, and stood on flat ground. Her gaze was forced to the heavy stone doors set into one wall of this cavern. The doors had been closed, sealed, by some human or... something else. That pull, that desire burned brightly within her.
The King had fallen. She had destroyed Him. She was His daughter, His heir. Was it not her right? Should she not step through that door and lay claim to her kingdom? Was it not better to reign in Hell than to serve in heaven?
It took herculean effort, it nearly took tearing her mind in two to pull her eyes from that door, from that future. Raven turned her back on the door and on her birthright, and felt as though a great burden was lifted. She took a deep breath, letting it out slowly. The fringes of the divination spell still lingered in her mind, and she allowed it to guide her as she dug through the rubble.
She shouldn't have come down here. This was idiocy, a more reckless action than any she had ever taken as a Titan.
She had only been given a few gifts in her lifetime. She never acted impressed, or touched, when she was given them. Beastboy had won her a stupid stuffed animal, some giant chicken, at a fair. She had thrown it to the ground when they chased after Starfire's assailant, but had returned for it later. It was hidden in her closet, but she would never throw it away. Starfire had gifted her a few Tamaranian texts, though she couldn't read them. They held a place of honor on her bookshelf. No one knew that she kept these things, but she did.
This gift was important, because it was from him. Her powers let him know how he felt. How he had always felt. She knew how she felt as well, she had even admitted it to herself over a year ago. But she had never acted on it, never allowed anyone else to know it. What good would it have done? She was fated to die, she was going to cause the destruction of the world, she was going to kill all of her friends. Starting some kind of romance would have been cruel. But somehow he had known anyway. He seemed to, at least. He was insightful like that, sometimes.
She hefted another fallen stone away, and then she saw it, that thin, reddish gleam. Half of the surface was blasted black from the fires and chaos of her own destruction. There was a deep gouge on the face of the metal, the shine of new surface glinting from underneath the dull patina that always formed on coins.
Raven gave one last glancing look at the door, as she turned back to the stairway and began her ascent. It held no power over her now. Her Father held no power over her now, and her life was finally her own. Maybe now she could find a way to talk to him. Maybe now she could allow herself hope for something more than slightly adversarial friendship.
As she carefully picked her way back up the long, winding path to the surface, Raven held the lucky penny in tightly in her hand, and allowed herself a small smile.