DISCLAIMER: Teen Titans and all associated characters and places are the property of DC. The characters of Sera and Ares are my OCs. Rated M.
A/N: This story – and, hopefully, series – will probably be darker than my Titans Forever series. Though admittedly TF had its dark moments. The Shroud of Darkness series, on the other hand, is going (like I said) to more than likely be darker overall. However it becomes (or turns out), I hope y'all will like it. Oh, and I am sorry if this story offends anyone.
A/N 2: The 'angels' and 'demons' in this story aren't heavenly or hellish entities per se; that's just the closest way to describe them. They're other-dimensional beings.Shroud of Darkness Book 1: Sera Chapter 7: Immortal Fury
From somewhere within her, Raven felt an echo reach her. As dazed and wracked with pain as her mind was, she managed to pull her thoughts together enough to say, with words and thought, one thing: "Sera. Ares."
Sera felt the call and grinned. Only the grin wasn't entirely hers; she felt Ares stirring within. One of the Swords attempted to approach her, but the gaze she snapped at him made him reconsider; her eyes were glowing with angelic fury.
"Back off," she growled.
"You've forced our hand, Sera," the lead Sword said, nodding to his squad. She could feel the build-up of energy and knew they would try to stun her; she wasn't under any such constraints nor did she feel the need to be. Without any warning or indication, her staff was in her hands and being whipped around. It took the head off of two of the Swords before they realized what was going on and sprang backwards. And now I'm like my dark side, she thought. But she also knew that nothing and no one was more important than Raven, and she would kill whoever she had to in order to get to her. With a scream of fury, she launched herself high into the air. As soon as she'd gained enough altitude, she spotted the golden-armored forms of the Seraph Guard flying towards her at high speed. Snarling, she ignored them and began looking around, trying to sense where Raven was.
It was only reflex that made her jerk back so that the white energy blast just missed her head. Snapping her head back, she saw one of the Seraph Guard had a great bow and was about to launch another summoned blast of energy at her. Now that she was aware of it, she could sense Ares within her and could tell that she wanted her chance to come out. She hesitated only for a moment before giving way. A burst of black-tinged red energy surrounded her, only to fade away moments later.
And now the Seraph Guard, along with the Swords of Retribution, found themselves facing fury incarnate.
With her draconic wings keeping her aloft, Ares snapped her arms down and summoned her hellish scimitars.
"Game on, bitches," she growled, a bloodthirsty and eager grin splitting her face.
Ares's energy was impossible to miss; in other words, one would have to be dead to miss it. Which meant that every single angel, including the six surviving archguardians, felt it. And none had felt that particular energy for 973 years. Though all felt a sense of trepidation, only two felt a stirring of fear: the Grand Archguardian . . . and Archguardian Pyra.
The Seraph loosed his bolt, the energy launching from the bow with tremendous speed. But Ares wasn't there anymore. Until her blades punched out through his gut no one knew where she'd gone. Wrenching one blade up and the other down, she brutally tore him in half. Extending the hilts of her blades from the one-hand grip to a hand-and-a-half grip, she fused the bottoms of the hilts together with the blades' cutting edges facing in opposite directions. Then she spun and twirled it, easily picking off the strikes of the remaining Seraphs. She punched her fist through one's chest and fired off a hellblast that punched out through her back and blew the head off of an unfortunate Sword. Reversing her grip, she spun her dual-bladed weapon and deflected to strikes coming at her back, then whirled around and planted her petite foot into a Seraph's mouth with enough force to blow the back of his skull off. She could see more Seraph Guard and more Swords of Retribution arriving, dozens now, but still didn't feel outnumbered.
Splitting her weapon in two once more, she became a whirlwind of death, diving, spinning, twirling and slashing, leaving blood, guts, and falling bodies in her wake. Snapping her arms out to the sides, she punched the blades through the faces of two Swords before throwing herself at a Seraph and ripping her throat out with her teeth. With barely a thought her blades reappeared in her hands and she slashed a Sword in half from crotch to crown. She'd managed to literally shred another Sword's guts when a powerful blast of light energy slammed into her and sent her shooting to the ground, where she created a small crater.
Getting back to her feet, she shook her head and screeched in fury, the sound being felt as well as heard. Coming to a landing on the ground in front of and above her was Archguardian Toln, his great stone broadsword held ready.
"I do not know how you gained this realm, foul creature, but I can assure you I shall be sending you out," he said. She started giggling, then chuckling, and finally gave in to full-out insanely hysterical laughter.
"I . . . came in through . . . the front door!" she managed to get out, before dissolving into laughter again. After a few moments, she managed to get herself under control. "I did, too. See, I'm the dark, dirty secret of your 'loyal' Archguardian Pyra. Surely you recognize me, Toln. You guided me through my training as a Sword. As I recall, you said I was the most promising Sword since the Grand Archguardian eons ago."
"You cannot be Sera!"
"Oh, but I can! See, Pyra was my mother . . . but my father was General Kalsh Treshkar. The last of the drayvern."
"By the Light," Toln whispered as the realizations hit him.
"Now, I'm through talking," she said. Then she launched herself at him with phenomenal speed. His sword was already sweeping in to block her strike. He may not have been as fast as she was, but he had fought her father blade to blade and knew that anticipation was the key. Even so, he was unprepared for her fury. She was attacking, constantly attacking, with no break or pause to her motions. She was fury incarnate, but she was also calculating; she didn't react or attack unthinkingly. It was one of the things that made drayverns so much more dangerous than demons. Fortunately for him, her hybrid nature – being the offspring of a drayvern and an angel – prevented her from changing into her natural form. Or she hasn't learned how yet, he thought.
She slashed her scimitars in, one high and one low, and he used his sword's great length to block both simultaneously, then ducked under the blast of hellfire she unleashed. He swung his sword in a level swing, then reversed it and drew it straight up as Ares dodged it. Arching her back allowed her to flip over the strike, while a quick flip had him just barely avoiding her hellblasts. He recognized the moves, of course, even though the weapon of choice was different; Sera often preferred this style of fighting. And he knew a quick counter; building energy quickly, he channeled into his hand – and fired it into the ground. It had the twin effects of shooting him into the air, and creating an obscuring dust cloud. He watched as she teleported out of the way and sought him out; but she'd gone up to find him.
"Wrong move," he said. She looked up in time to bring her scimitars into an X-block, but not in enough time to avoid his strike or counter it. The stone great sword slammed into her crossed blades, his momentum and power driving her straight down back into the ground. If anything, the crater and dust cloud this time was even bigger than before. When it cleared, Toln was standing with his sword in one hand while Ares/Sera was on the ground, bruised, battered, and more than a little bloody. Coughing, she rolled onto her stomach and got to her hands and knees. "Yield," the archguardian said.
"Never," she growled.
"So be it," he replied, a little sadly. Gripping the handle in both hands, he raised his weapon for a final strike and began murmuring a benediction for her soul. Meanwhile, she was panting, trying to find some energy – any energy – to strike back with. But she had nothing left.
You're wrong about that, Ares.
You? Seriously? Now?
We don't have time, and you want to argue?
Alright, alright, I'm sorry. So, where's this extra energy?
Whoa, hold on there. Do you know what that could do to you? To us?
It could conceivably obliterate me, though you would be spared.
Why would you risk something like that?
Because Raven is more important than our lives, than my existence.
I don't like this.
I'm not asking you to like it. I'm telling you to do it. Besides, there is a good side to this.
It could merge us together into one being. We would no longer be trapped in a dual existence, no longer subject to Mother's whims.
Let's do it. But if we die, I'm killing you.
Ares took a deep breath, and reached for Sera's energy – right as Toln swung his sword down. There was a flash of unbelievable light, with a massive release of energy. It knocked anyone within twenty feet flying twice that away. When the flash cleared and everyone recovered, what they saw was more frightening than anything they'd seen before. Even Toln was stunned into immobility. There, on one knee in the crater, was an abomination. She had the same faintly bluish pale skin as a drayvern and the blue-and-white hair of her angel side. She wore the same pants Sera did, with Ares's top. The colors were blue and black. In her hand was a single, elegant blade. Its cutting edge recurved along the bottom of the blade, forming a hook. Yet the blade itself was long and as thin as a katana. When she opened her eyes, Toln received the shock of his life: her left eye was metallic gold, while her right eye was the sinister coloration of a drayvern. Then she spread her wings, revealing a further affront to his senses: her right wing was angelic, while her left wing was draconic.
"Time to die, you bastardized son of a bitch," she growled. Setting her blade so it angled out and down to her left, she shifted her left hand to its guard while placing her right hand on the pommel. She moved her right leg forward and slightly bent the knee. When she pushed off, the ground behind her literally exploded with the force she exerted. Toln spun his sword around, and wondered if he would be fast enough. There was a flash, an explosive sound and the two warriors were standing on opposite sides of each other, their backs facing one another. For a moment, no one and nothing moved. Then the forward half of Toln's blade impacted the ground tip first, and the archguardian slid forward to the ground – at least, from the waist-up he did. Standing up, the true hybrid looked around.
"My name is Sera Treshkar sei Areus," she said. Her grip on her hilt tightened. "Anybody else want to give me a try?"
"That'll be enough, child," said an ancient voice. Turning around, she saw the Grand Archguardian himself stepping out of a portal.
"You're the one who actually killed my father," she said.
"Indeed I am, though Toln and Nont also played significantly in that tragedy."
"I want your blood," Sera said.
"You can have it," he replied, stunning her and everyone witnessing.
"You'll let me kill you?"
"You're the most powerful person here."
"That would be you, Sera Treshkar sei Areus. As powerful and skilled as I am, with the experience of an eon or more, I cannot compete against you now. Your mother is just as powerful as I, and your father was somewhat beyond us. Why do you think it took seven archguardians to bring him down?"
"Because I have lived a long, long time. I have seen many births, many deaths, and uncountable bloodshed. We have lost our way. Your father's death was, perhaps, the greatest tragedy I've seen. She defeated all of us, killing one of us with ease. Yet she never assumed her true form. A form I'd seen only in my father's journals. In the end, she'd had enough. She was simply tired of living as the last of his kind. She asked me to grant her mercy, to end her suffering. I could tell that she had found someone she loved a great deal, yet being the last of his entire civilization had finally worn away at her. I'd like to think that had she known of your conception she would have chosen to live."
"You granted her that mercy," Sera said quietly.
"I did. No greater sorrow have I ever felt than at that one moment when my preferred blade, a saber-like long sword, bit through her neck with hardly a whisper. Since that day, I have never raised a weapon. If it is vengeance for your father's death that you seek, kill no more. Let my death be the last one you take on that road."
"You ended my father's life, and it was vengeance that I sought. But it was a vengeance that wasn't mine. My mother, Pyra, was the one who wanted revenge for Kalsh's death." She turned and looked away from the Hall of Council, towards the city itself and beyond. She closed her eyes and sought out a specific aura, one that didn't belong to this dimension. She found it, though it was faint.
"There is but one more death to be brought about," she said after the silence. "But it is not yours, Grandfather." Then she teleported away.
Pyra's personal guard was waiting for her. Female Seraph Guard, though she called them the Valkyrie, stood against her in great numbers. They would have been insurmountable to either Sera or Ares; but to Sera Treshkar sei Areus, they naught but a minor distraction. Her mother was where she had expected her to be, in her castle's grand chamber. Seated upon an ornate chair crafted from black blitzstone, it cast her in a dark and sinister aspect, completely at odds with the white marble of the room. To one side of the throne was a torture wheel, with Raven strapped to its center. Her mother had been expecting her to come in carried by her Valkyrie; she hadn't expected her to walk in as she was.
"What are you?" she asked.
"What you have forced me to become," Sera replied. "To save my life and to rescue my beloved, I had to bring both sides of me together. I have achieved a peace I've never felt as either one."
"You've failed," Pyra said angrily. "You had one reason to exist, and you failed to fulfill it!"
"My being alive is reason enough to exist," she returned. She looked pointedly looked at where Raven hung. "She is reason enough to die." She returned her baleful look to her mother. "You may have given birth to me, but I no longer recognize you as my mother, Pyra, if I ever thought of you that way."
"You won't kill me. It's part of the geas I've put on you."
"You put that upon Sera and Ares. I am Sera Treshkar sei Areus, and am not bound by your foolish curses."
"Then there's no reason keep her alive," Pyra replied mildly, then stabbed Raven through the gut with a wickedly barbed sword. The half-demon screamed as the pain-inducing barbs on the blade slid into her, a scream that was echoed by her beloved. She rushed to the now-dying girl, only to be battered aside by a vicious backhand.
"You may be powerful, you may be a monstrosity," Pyra said, "but you are still young! I have over two millennia of experience in combat! You barely have nine centuries!" She threw back her head and laughed. "And you think you can defeat me?"
"No, I don't think so," Sera said, picking herself off the floor. "I know so. And who is truly the monstrosity here?" Then she launched herself at the angel, fighting not for her own life but for her beloved's. She brought her blade in with an overhand strike, the blade moving so fast it was nearly invisible. Pyra blocked it and attempted to catch it with her own blade's barbs, so she could snap-roll it away. But the recurve of Sera's blade prevented that from working. Pyra grunted and was knocked back by Sera sinking her foot into her mother's gut. She had barely recovered and set herself when her (to her) traitorous daughter came at her, the fury in her blood practically singing aloud. She found herself hard-pressed to defend against the combinations of punches, kicks, and sword strikes; though an accomplished fighter, she had never trained to utilize hand-to-hand techniques with melee weapons.
Sera was alive with fury and rage; but rather than cloud her vision or make her sloppy, they instead served to sharpen her vision and reflexes. Pyra may have had an unbelievable amount of experience in fighting, but Sera had her drayvern heritage of instinctive fighting. Plus, Pyra was fighting for herself and her revenge while Sera was fighting for the woman she loved. Their battle had taken them all over the grand chamber, and the sound of their blades clashing was like a musical symphony of death. An orchestral conduction that would only end.
And Sera could feel Raven's life force fading fast.
Screaming with fury at her impending loss, she pirouetted in a vicious circle, her sword swinging with every ounce of strength, fury, and power she possessed. It sheered right through Pyra's evil blade and took of the woman's arm, though she had dodged fast enough to avoid a decapitating blow. Sprawling onto the floor, she began scuttling backwards as fast as she could, watching as the woman before her vanished her sword and stalked towards her. She backed into the base of her throne and looked back for a split second; but that was enough for Sera to close the distance. Grabbing her mother by her throat, she lifted her into the air.
"The right thing to do, the 'angelic' thing to do, would be to turn you over to the Grand Archguardian," she said, loosening her grip slightly. Pyra felt a moment's relief. "But I'm not inclined to be angelic right now." As her mother's eyes widened in horror, she sent an overwhelming amount angel hellfire into her body, causing it to explode. Then she rushed over and slashed Raven's bonds with her hands, catching her before she could fall far. Dropping back and falling to her ass, she cradled her beloved in her arms, her eyes roving over the naked woman's battered and tortured body.
"Oh, my love," she whispered, stroking her cooling cheeks. "How could I have come so late?"
Coughing heavily, Raven faintly replied, "That you came . . . at all is worth . . . the wait."
Smiling, tears falling down her cheeks, she leaned down and kissed her on the lips. "I don't want you to leave me, even as I feel your soul slipping away bit by bit."
"You look so beautiful now," the gray woman said.
"Sera and Ares are gone, though. I am Sera Treshkar sei Areus."
"Your name doesn't matter . . . you're still the same . . . on the inside."
"Don't speak. I'll . . . I'll heal you. With a kiss. Just like before."
"It's . . . it's too late for that . . . my love."
"No! No! It can't be too late, it just can't!"
"I wish I could . . . take away . . . your tears," Raven replied, her voice growing weaker. She reached up a shaking hand to brush Sera's cheeks, but didn't have the strength to do it. But Sera caught her hand and held it to her cheek.
"Oh, by the goddess and the Light, don't leave me!"
"I . . . love . . . you . . ." Raven said, the last word trailing off as consciousness and life left her. The moment she felt Raven's aura vanish, Sera let out a wail of soul-wrenching sorrow and pain, a sound that was heard all the way to the Hall of Council, where the Grand Archguardian still stood in the courtyard. He bowed his head, tears streaming unashamedly down his face. To be so close to a lifetime of love and joy, only to have it snatched away by the cruel hand of selfish vengeance.
"I will not allow this to happen," he said softly. One of the surviving archguardians, Lausk, stepped closer.
"My lord?" she asked.
"Know that Sera Treshkar sei Areus is my chosen successor," he said. "For in her there will be balance between light and dark, life and death, good and evil." He looked over at his oldest friend. "It is within my power to take away the pain she is now suffering. The pain that I have caused her, through my daughter's vengeful quest, is not what she deserves."
"Oiram, you cannot mean to do it!"
"No greater love is there than for one person to lay down their life for another. For all that she is now, she will always be my granddaughter. See that she uses her power wisely, for there is a shroud of darkness shadowing us. Things are not over." Placing one hand upon his heart, he extended the other towards Pyra's castle, where a tortured soul mourned the loss of her truest love.
The first hint that Sera had of anything changing was a warmth in the air. But she paid no attention to it at first. It wasn't until she felt the tingling of energy washing over her that she realized something was happening. Looking down at her beloved's body, she was startled to see it glowing. She had no idea what happened to mortals upon their soul's departure from their bodies, but she doubted what was going on now was normal. The glow became brighter and brighter, forcing her to squint and then close her eyes as it became too bright. With a flash of light and a crack of thunder, it was over. Blinking her eyes for several unbearably long moments, Sera managed to clear her vision enough to look down – and gasp.
Raven's wounds had been healed, her scars removed. Even the missing fingers and ear had been restored.
"What . . ." was all she had time to say before Raven's eyes snapped open. Looking up at her beloved, she smiled. Sera watched as the younger woman's eyes changed from their normal violet to a metallic gold.
"What happened?" Raven asked.
"You came back to me," Sera asked, smiling, tears of unimaginable joy running down her face.
E/N: Okay, okay, it's a little cliché, but c'mon! It works! And like the Grand Archguardian said, this isn't over, for there is still a shroud of darkness on the horizon.