Disclaimer: Teen Titans isn't mine
It might be that I'm perpetually tired, but lately I've been making typos (which I don't normally do often) and since I don't proofread, revise, or have a beta I don't catch them before the story goes out. So... please tell me if you see anything particularly bothersome so I can fix it.
Raven looked up from her splayed position on her throne as Jinx entered the room, dressed in dark violet, drying her hair with a white towel. She approached the violet haired girl and looked at her, frowning, noticing the wet hair plastered to her face. Evidently, they had both just bathed.
"Aren't you going to be cold if you leave your hair like that?"
Raven looked up from her book, first to Jinx, then to one of the windows. She ran a hand through one of her shoulder length locks, and noticing that it had frozen over a little, frowned very slightly.
"A storm approaches. The worst in many decades."
"Um, what are you talking about?"
"A storm, girl, a storm."
"Like, what kind of storm? A real one or a battle?"
"Both. Though if I intervene, none shall be a problem."
"Oh, so you're talking about the outside world."
Raven nodded. "The two villages near us will be wiped out."
"Well not if you help them, right?"
There was a slight glimmer in the violet irises. "Yes..."
"You're going to help them, right?"
Raven frowned. "They are humans."
Jinx's brows furrowed at the implication of that statement. "But that doesn't mean they deserve to die!"
"It is not whether they deserve to or not. It is merely the force of nature. If they cannot withstand it, they will perish. If they can, they will not."
"Lady Raven!" Jinx snapped sharply, then winced as Raven turned to her, eyes dark. "My apologies." Sometimes, she remembered just how cold and powerful Raven could be, despite how close they seemed at other times.
"I have not meddled in human affairs in many years," the sorceress whispered softly. "They have always done fine by themselves."
"But what if they need us? I mean, yeah, they're only two small villages, but... well, every little bit counts, right?"
She studied the other woman, watching as her eyes flashed, dulled, then flashed again, exuding some sort of struggle within her mind. She wasn't exactly sure if Raven really was ambivalent about the whole matter, or what had happened to make her detest ordinary humans so much, but of course. there were many possibilities. It was just that Raven never talked about it. Actually, she rarely talked about anything, especially about anything pertaining to herself.
Raven looked up again and Jinx blushed, knowing that the other woman had sensed her thoughts. She rolled her eyes.
"If you are so insistent on it, fine. I am not against helping them."
Jinx frowned. "You are, you just aren't telling me why. You always try to get rid of me like this-"
"Perhaps you should take the hint then," Raven's voice was ice. "If you realized that-"
The pinkette paled a little. "I'm sorry, my lady. I should think before I talk."
"As long as you admit it," Raven's eyes remained fixated on her book, face smooth and impassive.
Jinx curtsied and left, not wanting to irritate her further.
It was cold outside, even to her, perhaps a danger sign of the oncoming storm that Raven had mentioned. Jinx shivered and wrapped her robe around her tighter, wandering through the freezing snow. It was uncomfortable, painful even, feeling the flecks of ice fall from the sky and prickle her skin, but she needed somewhere to think, somewhere, away from Raven's storm cloud.
Even though she had lived with the woman for years, she had yet to figure anything out about her, save for maybe a way to guess at her thoughts a little better than most people could. Reticent to an extreme, Raven rarely spoke at all and rarely showed any sort of expression on her face, not even the slightest hint of emotion at all. Maybe sometimes there could be something seen in her eyes, if one looked very closely, or in the change in tension on the faint lines of her face, but it was hard to tell what that something was.
There was always a hint of melancholy about her, but sometimes that melancholy was augmented by anger, or bitterness. Her stoic nature was not that of a tepid placidity, but instead a brooding, gloomy one. Undoubtedly, she had had a traumatizing past, but it was just that nobody knew exactly what that past happened to be.
But I know she's capable of caring! Otherwise, she wouldn't have taken me in, right? Lady Raven isn't as self centered as you might think when you first meet her. Actually, strike that. Raven wasn't self centered at all. It wasn't that she didn't care about other things, it was that she didn't care about anything at all. It might have just been a feeling, but Jinx felt like the dark sorceress didn't even care about her own life. Whether she lived or not didn't matter to her one bit.
Yes, that was the impression that she got when they had first met... Jinx closed her eyes, the images flowing through her mind.
It was a day like this one, wasn't it? It was really cold, that's what they were saying anyway, but I wasn't cold. I was never cold, since I was a little different from everyone. My parents tried to keep it hidden, but I guess that came back to haunt them. She took a deep breath, the memories bringing back lost emotions that she was not sure she wanted to feel. It was an accident. What kind of kid would murder her own parents? I remember being so mad at them because they were going to tell the church about why I was so different from anyone. That I had these weird powers that seemed only to be able to destroy things. She shuddered. She had heard stories of what the church did to sorceresses, even children that showed signs of any sort of power, and she did not want to imagine what they would have done to her. I'd imagine they were just frustrated that I kept accidentally breaking things with my powers and tired of keeping me hidden from the world, but seriously, even back then, I knew that calling the church was going to be bad. Really bad. She bit her lip. In her fit of anger, she must've released some of her powers by accident, because their home had come crashing down on them and it was only by a miracle that she lived through it, though she had been injured pretty badly. Her parents, however... it was an accident... I keep telling myself that, but I can't help but feel that I have their blood on my hands. Like, what are these powers good for if they can only hurt people? Allow a kid to kill her parents? They'd make me worthless, right?
Honestly, I'm glad that Raven took me in, or else I wouldn't have a purpose in living. A flood of images ran through her mind. She saw it – her parents' bodies, laying broken and bloodied beside her, the pink eyes wide with shock and guilt as she saw them. She remembered everyone rushing over, lamenting the horrible accident, but she was that weird girl, so the only help they gave her was a bit of food and a shabby shelter at the edge of the village. She lived alone, in the utmost poverty, for four years. It was only after a long time that one day, a lady in a white cloak passed through her village in the middle of winter, dressed in thin clothing, but apparently not cold at all. Her face had been shadowed by her hood, but there was something about the hard set to her mouth and the melancholic glimmer of her eyes that spoke of a sort of detachment from reality, not unlike the detachment she had felt, distant from life because she had no purpose in living.
She remembered Raven's words exactly. Actually, she remembered almost everything Raven said, simply because the woman said so little. You aren't cold. It hadn't been a question. She remembered nodding, rather uncomfortably, since Raven did appear to be rather scary after all, but then she had come closer and the larger than life aura around her had vanished, leaving nothing but her rather small physical form. Beneath the hood, her violet eyes had glimmered terrifyingly and she supposed Raven must've sensed her fear because she had drawn back her hood, revealing her face to the her. Would you like to come with me? She had nodded again, after all, what did she have to lose? Back then, she too, had not cared whether she would've lived or died. But now that she had a goal in mind, new things to learn...
Her cold body bloomed with life, and Jinx opened her eyes. Yeah. Now that I've got stuff to do, I can't give up, and I especially can't die. I need to prove to the world that my powers, any sorceress's powers can be used for good too, and not just evil. Though, Raven doesn't let me use them outside of Avalon. Says it's for my own safety. Jinx smiled slightly. Maybe she does care about me.
And as if on cue, a shadow appeared behind her, eyes glowing as its wings spread. "The storm is nearing."
Jinx took a deep breath, quelled her emotions so that Raven wouldn't get annoyed by them. "I thought there were two villages to guard."
Around her, suddenly, a flock of ravens gathered and circled her body like a cloak. Jinx took a couple steps back, slightly frightened by the display of sheer power, by the eerie flows of magic surrounding the sorceress and the birds circling her.
She had not encountered them too often, so she had never been completely certain if the ravens were one of Raven's creations, or if they were some sort of separate, magical entity, but now she was fairly certain of one thing, and that was that they were fairly powerful on their own, especially here in their own domain. Though, she knew, they would lose strength the further they strayed away from their home. But they were still plenty powerful by most standards.
Raven's eyes narrowed. "They will ward off the storm in the eastern village. We shall do battle in the western one, where our foe will strike."
"Someone's going to attack? You're sure it's gonna be there, right?"
The dark sorceress nodded slightly. "And remember, you are not to use your powers."
"Yes, I know that, my lady."
Raven frowned. She sensed that Jinx was suppressing a string of emotions inside her, but was not quite sure what the girl was feeling. I could pry further... but now is not the time for that. The winter wind is on our doorsteps. She drew her dark cloak around them and they disappeared.
Richard stared outside at the blizzard, listening to its howling winds creak against the walls of the castle at Camelot. It wasn't too bad here, but it seemed that further out, the winter storm was more intense, and what worried him that it seemed to be most tempestuous near an area where he remembered two villages lay. Judging by the ferocity of the winds, those villages wouldn't last very long at all. They'd all be buried under the snow, or swept away - and I can't do a thing about it, he gritted his teeth. What was worse was that there were other Titans were travelling through that area and they, too would be caught in the storm if they happened to be there at this moment. If they didn't find some sort of shelter...
"Richard," a hand found its way to his shoulder and he turned.
"Sir Victor," he extended his hand in greeting and they shook. "The Tamaranian princess is safe?"
"Yes," he turned his focus outside. "Any luck finding that sorceress?"
"None." Richard frowned and turned back outside.
Victor sighed, looking solemnly through the window. "There is nothing we can do. The people will have to fend for themselves. We can only lend our aid once the storm clears."
"Titans Roy and Garth may be there too, escorting the Lady Karen here. Did you forget about that? Their lives are in danger."
Victor turned away. "I did not forget. But what do you propose we do? Charge out there and fight the wind itself? We are not wizards, Sir Richard. We do not have what it takes to battle the heavens."
Richard spun around abruptly and stalked past the blue armored knight. "I'm going to pray for them. And all of the people out there in that storm. May God have mercy on them should they fall to this storm."
"Hold on. There's a knight here that-"
"It can wait. Besides, you don't need me to induct him into the Titans. You should be able to figure out if he is suitable or not, Sir Victor. You are perfectly capable-"
"You are the most famed among us, Sir Richard, and many look at you as our leader. It would not be right without your approval."
Richard nodded curtly. "Then I shall see him after I am done."
"Mm, five minutes..."
"C'mon, Terra, it's barely dawn. Let me sleep in-"
"Wake up, you fool!" Victor grabbed the ear of the green skinned man and shouted in it, causing him to jump up, reaching for a nearby sword.
"What? Who's there? Enemies?"
The blue Titan put a hand over his face. "No, you idiot, I'm taking you to see Sir Richard, the most famous of us Titans."
Beast Boy scratched his head for a moment, looking around sleepily before it hit him. "Wait. I get to see Sir Richard? Wasn't he the one who defeated that giant rock monster in Caerlon? And the lightning monster in Bealton? And-"
"Yes, yes, now hurry up and get in your armor. He wants to see if you are suitable to be a Titan, or if you are merely an ordinary knight."
"Me? An ordinary knight?" He laughed. "I am no ordinary-"
"Yeah, yeah. Now hurry up before we decide to throw you outside into that storm."
"I fear no storm! The earth itself bows before my awesome might-"
"Then we'll force feed you meat."
Garfield paled. "Right then, sir. I shall be ready in five minutes!"
Five minutes later...
Richard turned as the green skinned knight came stumbling into the room, stuffing one foot into a metal boot before standing at attention, saluting him. "Hail, Sir Richard, Sir!"
The masked knight raised an eyebrow. "I can already see what you mean, Victor. He's... interesting. But at least he is on time." He paused, then spoke sharply. "Knight! What is your name?"
"Me? I am Sir Garfield, the Beast, mightiest knight in all the land. Um, except for you, great Sir Richard-"
He rolled his eyes. "Yes, yes. I already spoke with Terra Markov, whom you arrived with. She tells me you saved their land by defeating a dragon in combat."
"Erm, yes. I did defeat it. But I had help."
Richard frowned. "From who?"
"Some friends. A couple nobleladies, actually."
Victor laughed. "Hah! So this is the true nature of the brave Sir Garfield. Outdone by a couple of women-"
"Hey! I'd like to see you fight a dragon by yourself! Besides, I weakened it. That's why they were able to finish it off."
The frown did not leave Richard's face. "Did you see what kind of weaponry they used? Sorcery, perhaps?"
Garfield looked at him quizzically, put off slightly by the serious tone of his voice. "Um, no, I didn't. The dragon knocked me out of its lair and by the time I got back up, it was already vanquished."
"Oh, I see," he said softly. "So they might have been sorceresses."
"Maybe. What's the big deal?"
"Sorceresses are evil," Richard muttered coldly, and Victor nodded from behind him. "You know the edict decreed by the church, which is the word of God, correct? You know that sorceresses are to be purifiedfrom their sins, and if they refuse, they are to be burned so that their souls may reside in Hell with the devil for all of eternity."
"But they helped save people-"
"It does not matter what they do! They are evil, and they must be purified! Do you understand this?"
"Uh... y-yes, sir."
"Good. Now, I do not have a doubt as to this character of yours, knight, since you were brave enough to fight a dragon to protect those weaker than you. You have shown that you can be brave and compassionate. However, I would like to test your mettle in combat to see if you are truly worthy of being a Titan."
"So... I have to fight you?"
"Precisely," Richard walked over to a nearby weapons rack and grabbed a simple staff. "Why do you think I brought you to this training room?"
"Oh, good point. Um, what weapon should I use?"
"Any that you so please."
"But you're not wearing armor. What if I hurt you?"
"You need not be concerned with that."
Richard sighed. "If it so pleases you, you may wield a staff as well. Now, are you ready?"
Garfield nodded and raised the staff, watching the other knight carefully. They circled each other for a few moments, then Garfield struck first, leaping in, arms raised. Richard sidestepped the blow and swung his staff around quickly, slamming it against the green knight's armor.
"Lesson one. Don't be impatient."
Garfield stepped back, embarrassed. Had they actually been fighting, that might've been a deep wound in his side, or at least a painful impact blow. He regained his composure and they circled each other again, waiting for a moment to strike. Garfield jump in first again, and as he thought, Richard dodged the blow, but it was a feint and he stopped halfway, sliding to the left and sweeping at the knight's feet. Richard jumped and struck back, his staff meeting Garfield's own as they blocked each other's attacks. And then jumped back.
Richard appeared to be mildly impressed, but apparently was still not satisfied. He dove forward, pressing the assault, swinging the staff around with quick, powerful blows, careful not to leave any openings as he pushed the green knight back. Garfield defended valiantly and tried to counter attack, ducking under one swing and going for the other man's legs, but the other knight had suddenly moved to his right side and landed a blow on his shoulder.
"Lesson two, don't be impatient."
"I thought that was lesson one."
Richard smirked. "Actually, that's all three lessons. Don't be impatient. Whether it is attacking, countering, or stalling, do not be impatient."
Garfield gritted his teeth and readied himself again. This time they traded evenly, a blow for blow stall as they blocked each other's attacks. But eventually he began to tire and as sweat dripped from his forehead into his eyes, he failed to react in time to Richard's sweeping movement and was knocked to the ground, staff pointed at his throat. It was quickly replaced with a hand to help him up.
"Impressive," Victor said mildly. "Not many last so long against Sir Richard."
The masked knight smiled. "Indeed, he is fairly powerful. Though, not a Titan yet."
"Wait, what do you mean?" Garfield took off his helmet, wiping his face. "I thought that I was strong-"
"Strength alone does not make a Titan, Sir Garfield. You need to have courage in the face of unthinkable odds, wisdom beyond that of the wisest priest, and compassion for all people."
"Including sorceresses?" The green knight smirked.
Richard's eyes flashed. "Except them."
Garfield blinked. "But why? What do you have against them? It's not like-"
Victor held up his hand. "That's enough. The point is, you haven't done enough to prove to the people that you can be a Titan. Through your deeds, you must show them that you are worthy, then you may be inducted into the order. It is a very prestigious one after all, with very few members."
"But wait, how many members do you even have?"
"Now do you understand? It is not just anyone who can become a Titan. To even be considered is a great honor."
"Wait, so who are the seven? There's you, Sir Richard... hmm, I think I've heard of another one, Sir Roy? That's three."
Victor looked at Richard. "Shall I tell him? It is supposed to be kept secret-"
"It will be a test of his loyalty, then. With time, his deeds shall be known and he may be inducted into the order yet. Tell him."
The blue knight nodded. "Sir Garth, the Tempest, and," he smirked, "it may surprise you to know, but Lady Karen, the Bee, Lady Kori, the Firestar, and Lady Terra, your own companion, the Earth Warden."
Garfield's jaw dropped. "Terra? But-"
"You thought she was merely some damsel, hmm? No, women can be Titans as well, provided they prove their prowess in battle as well as the other traits necessary. You should feel lucky. It is on her word that you are even being considered." He leaned in close and looked at Garfield knowingly. "She seems to like you."
He blushed. "I- well, err, um, fine, so what am I supposed to do to be a Titan?"
"You named a few of my deeds," Richard approached him, "when you talked with Sir Victor. In your journeys, Terra has assured me, you have been compassionate and kind to those you have seen in need. But as of now, your great deeds number only one, that is the slaying of a dragon, and not even by your own power alone."
"So I need to do more of these 'great deeds'."
"And what counts as a great deed?"
"Slaying a sorceress, for example."
Garfield raised an eyebrow. "What do you have against sorceresses anyway? That's all you seem to talk about."
Richard turned away. "One of the accursed sorceresses from that infernal place called Avalon slew my parents."
It was silent for a moment, as the green knight sat there, somewhat stunned.
Of course, just because one sorceress did something bad didn't mean that all sorceresses were bad, but... it certainly could leave bad impressions. It certainly could leave the bitter, obsessive need for vengeance. For someone as brooding as Sir Richard, it could have been an unhealable wound.
Garfield took a deep breath.
"A place shrouded in mist, they say. Not many find it, fewer penetrate the mist itself, and yet fewer return from it. They say that it is empty now, but I know that is not true. I know, I saw her do it. That wretched sorceress-"
Mist... could it be? "What did she look like?"
Richard studied him carefully. "Why do you ask?"
Garfield struggled with himself for a moment. He hated lying, or hiding things from anyone, but he also didn't want to put Lucky - Jinx - in danger, even if she was a sorceress. After all, she had helped him, and she definitely didn't seem evil at all. She seemed pretty nice, from what he could tell. That other one, though, he wasn't sure about. The darkness about her...
He bit his lip. "I... may have stumbled upon it unknowingly."
He nodded. "It's hard to know for sure, but it was really misty. And there was this girl there, but she gave me food and let me stay the night, so I don't think she was a sorceress. If she was, wouldn't she have killed me on sight?"
Richard frowned. "This girl, what did she look like?"
"She, uh, looked pretty young. Kind of pale. She had pink hair-"
"Then that's not the one I'm talking about, even if she is a sorceress. The one that killed my parents had violet hair and violet eyes," he clenched a fist, fighting down the memories. "She was like the darkness itself... come to claim the lives of the innocent..."
"Oh. Well, who knows then." So it was the other one. He frowned. I guess I could imagine her killing people. Don't know much about her, but just from the way she acted... she seemed really... uncaring. But if I sell her out, then I'm selling Jinx out, and that wouldn't really be right either, right? I mean, it's not like they're running around killing people. They actually helped by taking that dragon away. Maybe they're not evil. But maybe they are. I wonder if there are any other sorceresses with violet eyes and powers of dark stuff.
"But it is a lead. You will have to show me this place of mist sometime."
"Err - o-of course. Can't say I'll be able to lead you to them for sure though. All that mist."
"Any clue will be enough. Sir Garfield," Richard addressed him.
He extended a hand. "I appreciate your help. Though I cannot name you Titan from merely this, it is a start. For now, you shall be one of the king's knights, a member of his personal guard."
"I- um- thanks?"
"It means that you're elite, stupid," Victor smiled. "Now you can look for a place to stay and call home instead of wandering around everywhere like other knights. And it's the best place too. Won't find anywhere cooler than Camelot."
"Sweet. Man, you guys don't know how excited I am to go and do great stuff with you. Fighting with Titans..."
"Yes, well, don't get too excited yet. Can't do anything until this snow clears."
"Oh yeah, true," Garfield looked outside the window, frowning as he saw the snow storm down from the sky. "Those poor people, stuck in that storm... we should pray for them. Hopefully they'll be safe."
"Then come with me. We can do that together. Richard?"
The masked knight stood still in front of the window, staring out at the winter storm, a hard set about his mouth. "I shall stay here alone."
He sensed them leave but did not turn to look, standing there for a long while, his face expressionless, save for a brooding furrow to his brows.
Darkness faded as a pair of figures emerged from a portal and landed on the outskirts of a small village. Raven's black cloak shifted to white as she stepped forward and they glided together through the snow to the center of the buildings, which were beginning to wobble with the intensity of the surrounding wind.
Jinx shivered, rubbing her arms, and looked at Raven. "Not cold?"
The sorceress did not reply. Focusing the flow of energy within her body, she murmured "Azarath Metrion Zinthos" under her breath and suddenly darkness appeared around her, spreading outward rapidly, repelling the snow and wind. In a vast semicircle, it surrounded the buildings in the immediate vicinity, then further, until it covered the whole village and the snow was stopped. She looked up, as if inspecting her work. Then, apparently satisfied, she stood there motionlessly, maintaining the barrier around the village.
It was not long before people began emerging from their homes, wondering at why the snow had stopped. Many of them, upon seeing the sheer blackness surrounding their village, ran back inside, terrified, but a few approached the two standing in the center of the village, wondering if they were the source of the magical barrier guarding them from the storm. Certainly they could sense that something was very ... off... about the one in the white cloak, with her hood shrouding her face, but she seemed so relaxed, so unperturbed that they wondered if she could even produce such a barrier so effortlessly. Even for a sorceress, that seemed impossible.
And then when some of them got near enough, they noticed that the other girl with her had pink hair and pink eyes, and some of them recognized her as the girl who sometimes sold fine cloths from time to time in their village. They waved at her but she seemed not to notice, preoccupied with staring at the figure in front of her, who was apparently deep in thought. Raven frowned and glanced at Jinx, who instantly knew she had found something.
"What is it? That... enemy you were talking about?"
Raven nodded. "He is hiding, though. Not from us. From someone else - ah."
The sorceress turned and gestured behind her, to where three people were approaching them. Jinx's eyes narrowed. They weren't scared like the other villagers were. No, they walked with purpose and authority, as if they were not to be challenged by anyone. Two of them wore armor, knights clearly, and the other was a lady with dark skin and dark hair, curled up into two balls on each side of her head.
Pretend like you don't know me. Raven's voice sounded in her head and she frowned.
Do not question me. I will handle this myself.
Raven rolled her eyes. You know well that I am perfectly capable of dealing with this alone.
"Fine," Jinx whispered, and backed away, pretending to accidentally bump into one of the knights.
She looked back, fake fear shining in her eyes. "I-I'm so sorry," she said in a tiny voice. "I was just-"
"It's fine, little lady. We'll take it from here," one of them said reassuringly, looking at her through his helmet.
Jinx frowned. He's wearing a mask... is it that Richard guy? No, his voice is different. I wonder, though...
The trio strode forward and approached Raven, who did not even bother to turn to greet them. They waited patiently for a moment before speaking, wondering if they had drawn her attention.
"Sorceress. We would ask that you stand down and come with us. You know the law of the land. All who possess unnatural powers given to them by the devil are to be purified, so that you might join the one God in the afterlife, despite your sins."
Raven blinked, still not turning.
"Sorceress, do you hear us? Answer!"
It was still silent, save for the howling winds outside of the barrier. The other knight approached her and tried to grab her shoulder, but instantly he was thrown back by dark energy before he could reach her. Frowning, he withdrew and stood by the dark skinned woman, whispering into her ear.
"She is powerful, very powerful. What do we do?"
"Strong enough to take on all three of us?"
"I... don't know for sure. She might be hiding her true strength, or she may be wielding the full extent of her powers right now. I cannot say for sure."
"Then we should wait for an opportunity."
The knight cleared his throat. "Know that by defying us, sorceress, you defy the Titans of the Round Table, the King Bruce Wayne, and God himself. Should you continue to resist, God will not hesitate to smite you-"
"Then I shall wait," Raven whispered, more to herself than them. "If what you say is true, then God will smite me in a few minutes, hmm?"
"Calm yourself, Garth," the dark skinned woman said sharply. "Let her be." Her voice dropped to a whisper again. "Antagonizing her will not help us. I loathe to resort to such tactics, but if we must, a knife in the back will suffice-"
"That is usually considered dishonorable."
"Only when dealing with another honorable opponent," the other knight said. "With a sorceress, there is no honor or courage. Only treachery. And deceit. A villain is a villain."
And then suddenly, all three of them were aware that the sorceress was standing right behind them. "Instead of plotting on taking me down, perhaps you should return to your original search, Titans. Your quarry hides within this town, right under your very noses."
They backed away, startled, wondering how she had snuck up behind them so silently, wondering how she had even heard them above the howl of the tempest outside her barrier. How she knew about-
"Wait. How do you know about him?"
There was no reply. The knight with the mask gave off a noise of irritation. The sorceress's uncooperative nature was really beginning to irk him. "Speak! How do you know of the one we pursue?"
Raven turned, opening her eyes, and the three of them gasped. Her irises were pools of deep, stark, violet. They had all heard of Sir Richard's description of the sorceress that had slain his parents, the one with violet eyes and powers of darkness. Could it be..?
Garth bared his teeth and drew his sword, apparently prepared to charge forward, but he was stopped by his two companions. "No! Do not be blinded by your rage, Garth! You can't just charge in-"
"Who are you?!" He shouted at her. "What is your purpose in coming here?! How do you know about the sorcerer Slade?! Answer, sorceress!"
"My purpose?" She spoke slowly, sarcastically, gesturing to the barrier around her. "Saving this village from the storm, clearly."
"That's a lie! There's no way-"
"Be still, Garth," the other knight stopped him and walked forward slightly. "Sorceress. I am Sir Roy, the Speedy, best archer in all the land. Have you heard of me?" Of course, Raven did not reply. He did not expect any less. "Disregarding all previous questions, I wish to ask you... you say you know about this sorcerer that we pursue. If this is true, then perhaps you can lead us to him?"
"Roy! You're not seriously thinking of asking for her help-"
"I said be still! This works to our advantage too. He was our original target, right?"
Raven's lips twisted into a slight smirk. Darkness flared up all around her, looming, threatening. The two knights drew their swords, thinking she would attack, while the dark skinned lady drew back, reaching into her jacket, where a dagger was hidden. And still, without a single movement, back still turned to them, the sorceress gathered her power and scoured the village, then finding her target, engulfed him with her energy and teleported him in front of the three Titans.
"Welcome," she whispered, as the man suddenly seemed to wake up, looking around, slightly startled.
It was a strange man, wearing a black and orange mask over his face, only one eye showing, through the orange side, dressed in half metal, half cloth, as if it were an armor-robe combination. He was a fairly large man, though judging by his build, very agile as well, and judging by the tension in his body, ready to react to any attack that might come at him. Even with his face hidden by his mask, his surprise was clear, although he managed to recover quickly.
"Titans," he said calmly, as if he were in control of the situation. "I see you've found me." He shifted and took a glance at the white cloaked figure, whose back was turned to him. "And I see you've found a new friend."
"Slade," Roy frowned, pointing his sword at the man. "The king has decreed that you are to be executed-"
"For the murder of four hundred sixty seven citizens of Camelot, the abduction of two noblemen, destruction of royal property, attempted coup, the practice of sorcery... you get the point. You're going to be executed. Now, face your fate."
Slade chuckled quietly. "I don't think so, boy. You're not enough to take me down. None of you are. But, if you insist on trying, come right ahead."
Roy gritted his teeth and sheathed his sword, pulling the bow off his back and drawing an arrow. Slade smirked. "Ah yes, I remember. Your sword is just for show."
"Sure, I'll give you a show," the masked Titan replied smoothly, letting his arrow fly forward.
Slade caught it mid flight, between his fingers, and looked at it carefully for a minute, then toward Roy. "Did you really think that would hit me-" suddenly the arrow exploded and the area was covered in smoke.
"Thank you Victor," Roy smiled, but then his expression turned serious as Slade emerged from the smoke, wielding a staff of dark energy.
Jumping forward, he attacked, blocking the barrage of arrows that flew at him and swept downward, narrowly missing his target, then across Roy's body, again missing as the knight jumped. He spun back, sensing Garth approaching behind him and blocked the knight's sword, jumped aside, dodging another arrow, then faced the two of them warily.
The two Titans tensed, aware that their opponent was not one that would be easy to take down. Incidentally, sorcerers were very rare for whatever the reason, much rarer than sorceresses, and most were not terribly powerful in terms of magical prowess, but in Slade's case, that was more than compensated for by his speed and strength.
Indeed, as they clashed again, he outmaneuvered the both of them and landed a blow with the staff on Roy first, a painful impact to the ribs, then as Garth charged in, he ducked the sword swing and kicked him back. The staff shifted to two swords and fire spread across each of the blades, scorching the air around them as he swung them about. The two Titans faced him again, swords drawn, and attacked, meeting him blow for blow, block for block, but as they continued fighting, the fire from Slade's swords began to cut into their own, until at last their steel blades broke in half and cooled into jagged stumps.
Slade pressed the assault and even as Roy managed to grab a hold of one of his wrists, he kicked the knight back with a vicious blow, then felt something come in contact with his back. Garth's eyes widened in surprise as the remains of his sword did not even penetrate the leather that the sorcerer was wearing - even if it was broken, the edge should have been sharp enough to cut through cloth and skin alike.
"Enchanted armor," he frowned. "That's-"
"I'm a sorcerer. You didn't expect me to play fair, did you?" He kicked the knight back and walked toward him. "Ah, the wonders of enchanting. It allows you to create an armor as strong as normal armor, but as light as that of normal clothing. Do you know what kind of agility that allows you?"
And then his eye widened as he felt pain in his shoulder.
"Ah, the wonders of talking too much and showing your opponent weak spots in your armor."
Slade spun around quickly and leapt back as the dark skinned lady raised her dagger, trying to strike again. He clutched his shoulder, feeling it sting a little, but the wound had not penetrated deep, at least. His single visible eye narrowed.
"I underestimated you. I thought-"
"That because I was a woman, I would be unarmed? Guess again."
Slade chuckled. "No matter. One more ant won't make a difference. You're all going to die here."
"We'll see about that," Garth and Roy joined her, both looking a little battered but still standing, at least.
"Oh, really?" Suddenly, Slade raised a hand and fire formed in his palm.
Some sort of inscription was revealed on the ground below the three of them and it exploded, blasting them with intense fire. When the smoke cleared, it revealed three battered figures on the ground, all burnt badly, though he knew that if he allowed them to recover, they would still be a threat to him. Slade walked forward.
"Well, it was nice knowing you, Titans, and mystery lady, but I'm afraid this fight is over. See you in the afterlife."
Everyone's eyes widened as Slade formed some sort of odd, bluish fire in his hands and aimed it at them. Some of the villagers watching the fight looked away and Jinx tensed at her location hidden behind a building. As much as she didn't really like the Titans for being so hateful toward Raven... was it okay to just watch and let them die?
Too late. The fire rocketed down, but then darkness spread and blocked it, dissipating the attack. Slade frowned beneath the mask, turning toward the white cloaked figure that had still not moved. His eye narrowed and he advanced toward her aggressively, knowing she was the cause of it.
"What are you doing?!" He hissed at her. "You wield magic too, so you should understand! These bumbling idiots would have us dead, no matter what we do! They would destroy us without a second thought and kill all those we care about!"
"Like your son," Raven replied quietly.
Slade froze. "How do you know about that?"
Raven still did not turn. "Both of your sons, your daughter, and your wife. When they found out that you possessed these... powers, and still refused to turn yourself in, they killed your family in front of your eyes, did they not?"
He let out a low, dangerous growl. "You did not answer my question."
"So it is revenge you seek? Attacking the innocent doesn't seem like the right way to go about it, does it?"
"They killed my innocent family as well. Why should the people who follow the church be any different? An innocent life for an innocent life. Those who are responsible are never held responsible for it."
Raven laughed, but there was no mirth behind it. "You make a good point. No matter what, the guilty are never held accountable, not until everything is settled. But still," she said softly. "I cannot allow you to kill them."
"And why not?! They would kill you too, without a second thought!"
"They are no threat to me."
"That does not change the facts, sorceress. We are in the same boat. Surely you must have lost someone in the past to these pigs as well! Someone perfectly innocent, who had nothing to do with any of your abilities from the devil, so they call them, and yet they were still punished for being related to you. You must have lost something-"
Raven turned slightly. There was a dangerous, tense silence. Slade drew back, cloaking himself in fire, sensing the threatening aura from the woman. "I should just be rid of you now," she whispered. "You are merely a pest."
"You are a fool," he replied. "Even if you could be rid of me here, it would change nothing. People will still die. The land will still burn. And they will still hunt you." He paused. "And, don't think I'll be so easy to take down. You may be powerful, but I have a few tricks too."
Suddenly, fire burst out from beneath Raven and blasted upward, burning at her body. He snorted.
"Didn't see that coming, did you?" He waited patiently as the fires died away, and was shocked when he saw that she was completely unharmed - apparently, she hadn't even shielded herself, but for some reason, the fire just didn't affect her.
She turned toward him fully and there was a wicked gleam in her eyes, almost a demonic one, if he had to describe it.
"Fire, huh? I'll show you fire," she growled, and then flames burst out everywhere, an immense inferno of a multitude of colors, crimson, violet, gold, orange, azure, all swarming around the sorcerer in a rainbow sphere, blazing through his enchanted armor and into his body, burning apart skin, muscle, and bone alike. The difference in their powers was staggering – his had merely been a candlelight, and hers was like an ocean of mystic fire, a breathtaking, but absolutely deadly blaze of fire blasting into the sky.
It only lasted a moment – as quickly as they burst out, the flames vanished, leaving a thoroughly roasted man with nothing but his mask still attached to his face.
She glided over to him and stared down, like some dark goddess passing judgment upon him. But as he continued staring at her, there was an odd softness that he noticed in her shadowed eyes. She knelt down, staring into his one visible eye, but he got the feeling that she could see past his mask, see his real face that he had hidden away for years.
"You may think me cruel," she whispered, "but it's better this way. All you have to live for is revenge, and you suffer for it, whether you know it or not. It has consumed you, Sorcerer Slade."
"Do not speak," Raven rose up again, and darkness spread everywhere. "Be at peace."
When the black faded, his body was gone. The sorceress stared at the spot for a moment, then glided over to the three Titans, who were still struggling to get up. She extended a hand bathed in blue light toward the woman, knowing she would be the least likely to shove her away, and found that her suspicion was correct when her hand made contact with the center of her back with no sign of resistance. Slowly the burns faded, the pain dissolving away as Raven absorbed it into her own body. The dark sorceress gave off no sign of discomfort as all of the pain from the wounds entered her flesh, but perhaps the shadows beneath her eyes grew a little darker, perhaps her hand trembled a little, but nothing more than that. She was used to pain.
Cautiously, she withdrew her hand and moved over to one of the knights, Roy, she remembered his name, and extended a hand forward-
A sword flashed up and she caught it by its edge, frowning at it. A moment later, it was vaporized and she knelt, only to have the knight catch her wrist, bending downward. She rolled her eyes and encased his body in dark energy, forcing him to be still. Slipping her hand out of his grasp, she rubbed her sprained wrist for a moment before healing him as well, then moved over to the other Titan, Garth, and immobilized him as a precaution before doing the same. Absorbing his pain away, she then stood and let them all rise as well.
She closed her eyes, knowing that they would ask her that. "I am a healer," she muttered, "and though it may seem otherwise, that was what my entire upbringing was about. Taking care of others. So, as a healer, I heal those who need it. It's that simple."
"That's a lie!"
"You already said that a while back."
"And yet you're still lying."
Raven did not respond. She looked back at her barrier guarding the village, noticing that it was giving way before the tempestuous storm outside. Fueling some more energy into it, she restored its strength and looked down again.
"Your healing. How does it work?" The dark skinned lady - Karen, if I remember correctly - asked her, frowning. "And since when could sorceresses heal?"
"It is not without a price. I can heal most wounds, but the pain from it is taken into my own body as compensation."
"Impossible. There's no way you could feel all those burns without any sign of pain-"
"And yet I just did."
Garth gritted his teeth and grabbed his broken sword, marching toward her. "I grow tired of your lies, sorceress. You will answer our questions truthfully. Who are you? What are you doing here?-"
"And are you the one who killed Richard's parents?" She spoke quietly before he could. He grimaced at her, pure fury etched on his face.
"So it was."
"Perhaps. Perhaps not. I am merely asking the question for you."
"Enough!" Roy joined his friend and approached her. But as he tried to grab her, his hand was thrown back by dark energy, as he should've expected, and he felt pain shoot through his wrist.
Raven smirked a little. "A sprained wrist for a sprained wrist, hmm? Unfortunately, I cannot heal my own body, outside of certain circumstances."
"Stop it, you two. I'll do the talking," Karen spoke from behind them, approaching Raven cautiously. "So," her words came out slowly, carefully. "I realize that you have helped us, no matter what your intentions, and for that we are thankful."
Raven closed her eyes, sensing that, of course, it was a blatant lie. She had already proven she could read minds. What did the lady think she could gain by lying to her?
"But your help was not necessary."
The dark sorceress could not help but let out a low, amused chuckle that cut off in a half growl. "How ungrateful," she hissed. "I save this village, get rid of your quarry, which you could not handle, and heal your bodies, and you still wish to antagonize me, is that it?"
Her eyes shifted to the barrier, lips curving darkly. "Fine. Take care of this village by yourselves. Pray that it doesn't get destroyed by this storm, and you along with it."
And suddenly, the barrier faded and Raven had shifted into a bird of pure black energy, with crimson eyes, a hint of violet underneath them, gleaming, half lidded, in the snowstorm. It flew off through the buildings, disappearing into the veil of snow, and was gone. The Titans stared at it for a moment, then realized that it was getting cold, really cold, and really windy, and that the village huts were slowly being torn from the ground, and that they would freeze to death if they didn't find any shelter.
"Smooth," Roy turned to Karen as they went back to the inn, shivering.
She glared at him. "As I recall, you didn't want her help either. You're the one who hurt her. Talk about antagonizing a powerful sorceress."
"But if she's the one who killed Richard's parents-"
"Ugh." Karen looked around, rubbing her arms. "We'll deal with it later. Let's hope we last the night."
Raven landed behind a building, in front of a pink haired girl, and looked around, making sure nobody else was near.
"Raven! What are you doing?! You have to put that barrier back up or else these people will all die! Look!" Jinx pointed at one of the buildings on the outskirts of the village, which was already nearly torn straight off the ground by the sheer force of the wind.
"These people don't deserve it. I don't care-"
"Yes, you do."
"No, I do not. If they do not want my help, fine. They can survive without it."
"Raven, I know that they weren't exactly being nice, but these are innocent people!"
"Slade was right. The innocent suffer for the actions of the guilty. That is the law of this world."
"Then break that law! You don't have to follow it like everyone else does! Besides, it's not like they're even dangerous to you-"
"I do not wish to help those who would try to attack me even as I aid them. They can all die for all I care."
"Raven!" Jinx whispered harshly, but her gaze faltered a little as Raven looked at her darkly. Unlike before, however, she did not back down. "This isn't right! We have to do something."
"Girl, I am done helping. Now, are you coming with me or not?"
"Raven... they're innocent! Most of them probably have nothing against you and would totally help you-"
The sorceress frowned. "My mind is set. Are you coming, or not?"
Jinx glared at her. "Fine. Have it your way. You can go back alone. I'll find my way back by myself."
The pinkette got up and walked off, disappearing into the veil of snow. Raven stared at her for a while, then closed her eyes and sat, the shadows covering her face deepening yet further.