WARNING: Brief mention of suicide and rape
I used elements of Arella's origin in the DC Comics to fill in the blanks since it wasn't shown in the cartoon how and why she became pregnant with Raven.
Two hours after the Titans had each retired to their rooms, exhausted and worn-out, both physically and mentally, by the entire day, Raven tied her cloak around her neck and carefully made her way out of her room. Quietly, elevating herself slightly off the floor as to not make a sound, she headed for the gardens, where she had set a meeting with Lupe and Leon.
Reaching the gardens, she saw that Leon and Lupe were already there. And they weren't alone.
Andrastre stood behind her pupil, her yellow robes glowing in the dim moonlight as if she had caught the last fading sunlight amongst the folds of her skirt.
"I found Lupe sneaking around and she had the right mind to tell me everything." The old woman said, glaring at Raven in disapproval.
"Translation: She caught me exiting my room and I confessed to everything before I got in trouble." Lupe commented dryly. Leon sighed in defeat, but did not seem to have any animosity for the 'snitch' in their trio.
Neither Raven nor Leon held Lupe's actions against her. They would have done the same, knowing that if they were caught lying to Andrastre, the woman was capable of raising hell against them.
In short, they were all terrified by her.
"Now, I shall join you in your little fieldtrip. After all you will find your way to Orion's cell much faster with me than on your own." Andrastre stated plainly and Raven relaxed. She had feared the woman would have tried to stop them. Knowing she would accompany them was a additional comfort.
The four of them headed towards the west side of the temple. The caves below ground stretching from one side of the island to the other had existed since the creation of Azarath. In their centre, protected by a powerful magic barrier even Trigon couldn't break, was the Alagadar, a monument of five crystal obelisks, the reason the islands of Azarath were floating in mid air and the core of the dimensions existence.
But the three teens and the magistrate weren't headed there. Passing through the one of two entrances to the caves-it being inside the temple's walls while the second was unreachable from the side of the island's edges- they started their trip in the labyrinth of twists and turns so confusing that anyone not familiar with them would be lost in a matter of minutes.
There were heading for the dungeons.
Even though Azarathians were pacifists, they were well aware that they weren't a dimension without enemies. Many evil beings would kill to get their hands on the magical knowledge the people of Azarath had. So once in a while, someone or something malevolent would slip in the dimension, already injured by the barriers protecting Azarath. The first Azar had deemed it wise to build a group of cells, below ground, to keep any foe entering Azarath before they could repair any damages done to the barrier and send them back from where he or she had come.
But that wasn't what the young Titan was contemplating as they made their way down.
Here is the resting place of magistrate Juris….
That was Raven's single thought as they turned to the corridor housing the cells.
She had no memories of that time, being only an infant. But she had heard the story-and the accusations accompanying it-so many times it had been imprinted in her memory as if it was her own.
During her stay in Azarath, Arella had come a long way since the night she was taken in by the temple, the night she had almost killed herself and the child she was carrying. The woman had up until she went into labor, been repulsed by the idea of her past misgivings and Trigon forcing himself on her, during that night in the ceremony of his followers in Gotham. All that in her mind were imbedded in the child she was carrying. Only after being immersed in the Azarathian pacifistic ways was she turned away from getting rid of the child. But she could still not bring herself to care for the hybrid child.
That only changed after birth. At first, she was adamant on not even touching the newborn. But after a lot of persistence from Azar she had taken her daughter in her arms. At that moment Arella didn't take notice of the inhuman features of the child-the grey complexion, the purple hue of the short hairs on her head or the ruby on her forehead-. She only stared at the pair of amethyst eyes staring at her and she had broken into tears, realizing she had all these months hated something that-despite being the product of unfortunate and repulsive circumstances-was only a baby, someone unaware of what had happened.
After that the only actual problem was the ones against Arella's and Rachel's-she had yet to earn the name Raven- stay in Azarath. Every week, during the Magistrate meeting, Azar would have to step in when the members opposed to them would start to get offensive. No one would dare to continue with their persistence once Azar stated her opinion, too afraid of enraging the woman. Even as a pacifist, her mere presence commanded respect and a bit of fear.
Until one night, two months after Rachel's birth, when Arella went to check in her daughter's crib, she found it empty. The woman, scared and almost hysterical, went straight to Azar's quarter, despite the late of the hour. On her way she came across Arthur, and the man, upon hearing that Rachel was missing, went with Arella to his mother and the three, calling on Phelan, Andraste and Balor-who many years later would become the mentor of Zora-, started searching the temple.
Azar had put a special magical barrier on the child the moment she was born, which would alarm her the moment Rachel left the grounds of the temple. She had done that in fear of someone harming the child or trying to cast it away. Since the spell hadn't been activated, the baby was still inside the temple.
It had been Phelan who had proposed searching the dungeons. He, Azar and Balor had gone there while Arthur and Arella, accompanied with a few servants still awake, continued searching the temple.
The three elders had almost reached the corridor of the dungeons when a loud scream pierced the air, making the hair on the back of their necks stand straight. They had run like the wind and by turning the corner, they had only managed to catch a glimpse of the sky blue robes and the shiny mane of silver hair of magistrate Juris before the black swirling portal on the wall engulfed him. The portal closed as soon as it had sucked Juris in it, the low hum emitting from it stopping abruptly, allowing them to notice the soft wail of a child.
Rachel was a few feet away from where the portal had been, on the ground, crying in pained sobs. As her wails intensified, the rocky walls around them started trembling and Azar rushed to pick her up and calm her down to stop the surge of energy from destroy the underground of the entire floating island.
Phelan and Balor pointed out the book and candles on the ground in front of where the portal was. Those and a couple of herbs and incent found beside them made clear the destination of the portal.
Magistrate Juris had tried casting Rachel away to Limbo, a terrifying dimension of ever-ending emptiness where even ruthless demons- even as dangerous as Trigon- didn't wish to be entrapped in. It was a place where only lost souls ended up, being twisted and turned into something more sinister than all the demons of hell.
They couldn't figure out if Juris had done something wrong with the spell-which was in itself very complex and not very stable- and he had lost control of the portal or if maybe-Azar never confessed to it out loud but she considered it- Rachel had done something, in a defensive instinct, to protect herself from being casted away to Limbo.
The next day they announced the unfortunate passing of Juris. The details of his death were only shared between the magistrate, Azar not wanting to fuel the accusation of the public against the newborn Rachel.
Merrigan, then a pupil of Juris for only three years, had been made magistrate while still mourning the death of her mentor. And unfortunately, Azar wasn't able to keep the details a secret because one month passed and somehow they had been made common knowledge to the people of Azar, the facts twisted and turned as to paint the infant as a malevolent being and magistrate Juris as an innocent victim of hers.
"We are here."
Raven was shaken out of her dark thoughts regarding the first of many unfortunate events in her life by Andrastre's voice, clear and stern, echoing in the empty corridor.
She noticed they had reached almost the end of the row of cells. She looked around at the faintly lit hallway and the grey rocks of the walls surrounding them, before her gaze focus on the cell a few steps ahead of her and to her right, where the other three were standing.
A rock from the caving right above the iron bars had fallen, still on the ground over bended iron. The caving had made a big enough opening on the row of bars for a person to pass through. For a faint moment, the last memory she had of Orion, behind those same iron bars, chained against the wall, passed by in Raven's mind and the girl shuddered despite herself.
"We don't know if it happened during Trigon's attack or as the dimension was reassembled when you defeated him. I hate to admit that we did not think to check on our one and only prisoner after we came back home. We only came down here a week later and by then, he was long gone."Andrastre explained calmly, her eyes glaring at the damaged cage, as if it had broken itself on purpose as to let Orion out.
"They tried looking for him. Dad, Balth and Felix searched the entire maze of caves and Nova did a thorough search of the aboveground territory. They couldn't find him." Leon commented and Raven frowned. Despite not liking Felix and the feeling being reciprocated, she knew that he was a skilled tracker. If he had not been able to locate Orion, the chances of her being able to do that were very slim.
"Don't forget the discrepancies in the barrier." Lupe pointed out, interrupting Raven's train of thought. "What discrepancies?" the sorceress asked slightly alarmed.
"Some time ago, it must have been three weeks after we noticed Orion was gone, our Azar sensed a discrepancy in the protective barrier. And it wasn't someone going out of the dimension, it was someone coming in." Andrastre said and Raven's eyes widened in surprise.
"You mean to tell me that Orion might have possible managed to open a hole in the barrier and instead of escaping a dimension which had him locked up in a cage, he brought someone or something in?" She exclaimed, her voice her usual unemotional tone, despite the storm acting up inside her.
In Nevermore, Sadness was currently having a panic attack, Rage was rattling in her cage and even Happy felt a bit less cheery…..
"Is there any possibility that perhaps he doesn't have a horrible revenge plan and is hiding away to reappear and apologize for everything?" Leon asked jokingly, trying to lighten up the dark mood looming in the atmosphere.
He got his answer in the form of two sets of glares and a smack on the back of the head by Lupe.
Raven was ready to snap at him, when she felt a cold feeling run through her, from head to toe, causing her to shiver. Instinctually she knew something was off.
"Duck!" She commanded while doing just that. And just in time because as soon as the others followed her example, a blade of red hot energy blasted right over their heads. If the hole it made where it landed on the wall any indicator, if it had fallen on any of them, the results would have been lethal.
A high pitched, ominous chuckle echoed in the hall, as another beam of energy was shot, this time on the ceiling right above them. The rock immediately cracked and pieces of stone fell. Raven muttered her mantra as soon as the rocks fell on top of them, raising a thick cloud of dust in the air. The cloud spread, dissolving, and the four of them appeared once more, thankfully protected by the dome like shield Raven's black energy had created just in time.
They weren't given a moment to gather their wits. The same beams kept coming, from different directions, their source obscured by the long shadows engulfing the majority of the cave. The four Azarathians each stood their guard, summoning their own shield with their magical energy, covering each other's back as the beams double in numbers.
The laughter kept echoing without a break, coming from everywhere and nowhere at once.
Raven was getting dizzy, her sense receptors working on overdrive, between the ringing in her ears from the blood-curling chuckle, the dim poor light hurting her eyes, the dust and the debris from the rocky surrounding leaving a bitter taste on her mouth. She knew she needed to do something besides shielding herself with her magic; she needed to identify their unknown attacker or get Andraste, Lupe and Leon out of the dungeons.
Andraste was powerful but her age has taken its toll on her, Lupe was shielding herself based on her ears, but she was bound to make a mistake with the laughter obscuring the sound of the energy shots and Leon wasn't trained in combat.
Her blood was boiling as she felt Rage rattling in her cage, screaming for her to let her loose.
A cry of pain took her focus away from Nevermore. She turned and saw Lupe holding her left arm, with which she was up until them maintaining her shield, now nowhere to be found. A large bleeding gush went all the way from her wrist to her elbow.
Before any of the others could react, another shot of energy shot towards the defend less girl, who was unable to see the danger and was holding her wound.
Leon screamed her name at the same time as Raven, who raised her hand, her own shield forgotten, to protect her friend as the beginning of her mantra left her mouth.
A green blur fell on top of Lupe, pushing her aside and out of the beams range, which landing on the nearest wall behind the spot Lupe was standing.
Two things happened next at once. One Lupe landed on her floor, a green dog on top of her, its front paws on her shoulders. And two, a green beam of energy, very familiar to Raven, was shot through the air, colliding with another blade of energy coming towards the Azarathians.
Raven looked towards the other end of the corridor, where one by one, Robin, Cyborg, and last Starfire, her eyes still glowing neon green, appeared from the shadows. Beast Boy had by then transformed back to his base form, and was helping Lupe stand up.
Before the sorceress could question her team's appearance, she noticed that both the enemy blasts as well as the laughter had seized. Obviously their attackers, whoever they were, had been surprised by the newcomers and had vanished.
Leon calling her name stopped her before she could focus on the Titans. Turning towards him, he nodded towards Lupe. Andrastre was examining her wound, the girl looked like she could barely stand.
"I can partly heal it for now, but Phelan needed to take a look at it as soon as we go back to the surface." The older woman said before beginning to mutter incantations, a yellow aura dripping from her fingertips, surrounding the wound. Raven would have offered to heal the wound but the stares of four pairs of eyes caught her focus.
She turned to face her team. Cyborg was staring at her, concern written all over his face. Star;s eyes lost their neon glow as the alien became certain the battle was over and instead a pair of big emerald eyes came to focus on Raven. Beast Boy's gaze was darting from the sorceress to Lupe-something which on any other occasion Raven would have taken notice of.
The sorceress could tell even with his mask obscuring his gaze, that her team leader was glaring at her.
"How long have you been standing there?" Raven asked calmly, nodding towards the far end of the corridor.
"Long enough." Robin stated coldly and that was when Raven was certain she had messed up.
He wasn't angry with you for knowing his secret identity….but he is certainly angry with you now….
Raven mentally shushed Knowledge, coughing nervously.
"I think we need to talk. And you need to tell us exactly why you are needed here. You cannot keep secrets from us, not again." Cyborg stated, trying to smile reassuringly at her. Raven flinched at the verbal punch. She was well aware the Trigon episode was still fresh in all of their minds. She hadn't even thought that by keeping Orion's existence secret, she was doing things wrong all over again.
She nodded, agreeing silently to explain everything to them. Content with that, they all started their way back. Cyborg offered to keep an eye on Lupe when the girl refused to be supported by any of them. Andraste lead the way right in front of the half-robot and the girl, with Leon and Beast Boy close behind. Robin was next, and Raven walked behind him, Starfire on her side.
The sorceress could see how tense the shoulders of the former sidekick were. She could sense even without their bond-which she did not dare to poke at- the frustration oozing from him in thunderous waves.
Starfire placed a hand on her shoulder, attracting her attention. "Friend Raven, I do the understanding of having want to protect your people. But do not do the forgetting, we are your person too. We care for you and we want to do the helping." Starfire said gently and the half-demon was reminded that the cheery princess wasn't as childish as she seemed. She thought back to the time when they had switched bodies and how eager Star was to reach out to her after the whole ordeal.
She realized in shame that Lupe and Leon were right, and that she had underestimated her team, her family.
"And one last thing I would like to do the sharing with you. You must know that friend Robin was most concerned when I told him I heard you abandoning your place of sleep in the middle of the nighttime. He was the one insisting of doing the following of you. You should give him more of the credit, he is most worried." Starfire added after a heartbeat, as if she had not been certain if she should have shared that with Raven.
Raven felt a slight blush climbing up her neck towards her face as her heart skipped a few beats at the thought of Robin being worried about her. But immediately she was able to avoid Happy's little victory dance in Nevermore as quilt quickly build up in her mind.
She had once again made a mess of things.
IMPORTANT: Leon's mother-because obviously he has one of those- will soon make an appearance. I would like your opinion of whether or not you would be interested on learning more about her and Arthur, as well as Arella and Arthur, or Arella on her own. Despite my intension of keeping Arella storyline pretty much like in the comics, I would like to add some personal touches. It is not pertinent to the story so I am not sure of whether I should explore them further. I would like your opinion and thoughts on that.
I wasn't sure of whether or not to have the little attack on Raven and the others happen, which is a huge reason of postponing updating this story.
Next we will have Raven, Lupe and Leon explaining their history with Orion to the Titans- although Raven will still insist on keeping some things out of the conversation.
Also what do you think is Orion planning? Who attacked Raven and the others? Did he really smuggle something or someone in Azarath or is it just a smokescreen for his real plan?
I would like to say that I believe you will not see it coming….-Insert evil madman laughter-