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 8: The Shroud of Darkness
"So, um, what's up with the new look?" Raven asked as she sat up. She didn't remember what happened between when she closed her eyes and when she opened them again. It hadn't been that long, really, yet it had felt like a lifetime.
"Oh, um, yeah," Sera said, blushing a little. "I . . . well, I was in a fight with one of the archguardians - they're the leaders of us 'angels' - and reached my limit. I was Ares, then, having 'changed' willingly. And . . . and Sera offered a fusion of the two of them, of the two halves. I'm the result: Sera Treshkar sei Areus. I remember everything from when I was divided."
"I always knew you would come for me," Raven told her, leaning forward and kissing her. Sera returned the kiss with fervor. The gray-skinned woman felt her mind go blank. When they stopped kissing, it took her a moment to get her brain working again. "Wow," was all she could say. Her love chuckled.
"Sorry," she said. "It's just that . . . well, I watched you die, and it felt like everything in me had been ripped out." She smiled as tears came to her eyes. "And then you came back, back to me."
"That bitch was never my mother."
"-tortured me pretty badly. I didn't know why, at first. Then she told me she blamed me for your actions, for you derailing her revenge."
"I wish I could say it was all over, my love, but it's only just beginning."
"So, what happened? If I was dead, then how am I back? Not that I'm arguing with the situation."
"That's something I don't know," Sera admitted. "The Grand Archguardian would know."
"I'm afraid he isn't in a position to speak, though I have the explanation," someone said from behind them. Sera snapped to her feet instantly and whirled around, her recurved katana shimmering into her hands. The angel took a step back and held up her hands - her empty hands.
"Peace, Sera Treshkar sei Areus," said Lausk. "I would not harm you at all, even if you weren't the new Grand Archguardian." That announcement drew immediate attention.
"But what happened to-"
"How do you think your beloved returned to you?"
"No," Sera breathed. "Oh, by the Light, no."
"What, Sera?" Raven asked. "What is it?"
"The Grand Archguardian sacrificed his life for yours, Raven," Lausk explained. "He performed a Soul Exhcange. It's a rare and fatal technique whereby one can sacrifice their soul for another's. It's . . . well, it's only used when one of the souls involved has passed on."
"So you're saying that your overall leader switched places with me?" the gray-skinned woman asked.
"Basically, yes." Lausk held up a hand to quell any remarks. "It was his choice. As was the decision for you to become the new Grand Archguardian, Sera. He felt that you would be best suited to lead us against what is to come."
"What do you mean?" the hybrid asked.
"Why you should lead us or what's coming?"
"Let's start with the first one."
"Because of what you are now. We regard ourselves as followers of the Light, guardians and protectors of order. The drayvern could be thought to have been our opposites."
"I thought that that would be these . . . 'demons,'" Raven put in.
"On the surface, that would be accurate. Idealogically, they are. But as far as keeping a balance between order and chaos, peace and war, tranquility and aggression, no. The demons seek to dominate and replace one order with another. So they're enemies but not critical to the balance of the universes, the dimensions. Sera, because she is the offspring of an 'angel' and a drayvern, personifies the balance that the previous Grand Archguardian strove for. Drayverns are, essentially, chaos incarnate. Their very presence destablizes things, causes order to collapse and be replaced by chaos. On the surface, chaos seems bad. But a balance between chaos and order is essential to a functioning universal continuum."
"So you're saying that wiping out the drayverns millennia ago was a . . . bad decision?" Sera asked sweetly.
"Okay, I'll admit I had that sarcasm coming," Lausk said. "The consequences of that decision, of those actions, are only now being felt."
"How bad will it be?"
"Every single dimension could collapse. But not all at once. Think of it as a . . . how do you say in your dimension, Miss Raven?"
"Domino effect?" Raven suggested, a little confused.
"That describes it perfectly, if I understand the phrase correctly. Wiping out the drayverns collapsed one dimension already. It no longer exists. That destablized the dimensions around it. Two of them collapsed a millennia later. And it's still happening."
"Are you saying that everything's just . . . ceasing to exist?" Sera asked.
"That's how it sounds, but I fear something far worse is actually happening."
"What could be worse than the collapse of . . . of everything?" the raven-haired woman asked.
"There is something there, at the center of this dimensional collapse, that is . . . absorbing the dimensions. It's building power and strength. We don't know what it is, if it's anything at all, but there is something there."
"How do you that?" the hybrid asked. Lausk unfolded her wings, and both women gasped. The angel's wings were blackened but not burned, as though they had been touched or colored by something dark and malevolent.
"Because I found out for myself, on the request of my oldest friend, the Grand Archguardian," she replied quietly. "It changed me, made me less - or, looking at you, perhaps more - than I was. It is why I am a moderating influence on the council, why none have seen me 'in action' for over two thousand years. I wasn't the only one affected, either."
"What do you mean?" Raven asked.
"Sera, do you remember my 'daughter?'"
"Yeah. What about her?"
"You'll recall that she wasn't born as one of us, but came to us through means that you'll learn about in time."
"She did seem to appear rather suddenly."
"What happened to me affected her, as well, because of how close we were. It . . . it was part of the reason your mother banished her to Heltara."
"Damn," the blue/white-haired woman breathed. "And you're saying that stopping all of this is now my responsibility."
"Yes. Your grandfather gave his life in exchange for that of your beloved's. His sacrifice was a gift to the granddaughter he didn't realize he had, and also a statement of faith in you."
"Faith in me? For what?"
"That you would be able to restore balance to the pan-dimensional reality. No one can undo what has happened and what is happening now. It can only be repaired, fixed, restored."
"So what's up with my golden eyes?" Raven asked.
"You bear some of his power," Lausk told her, stunning them both.
"Sera, as powerful as she is, won't be able to do this alone. And you didn't have enough power to help her. So he gave you as much of his that you could handle. Your eyes won't be the only thing to change. Other changes will come as you come into your newfound power. I don't know what they will be, as something like this has only been theoretical as far as other races from other dimensions go."
"The two of us won't be enough," Sera said, interrupting. "Not if this 'shroud' has been growing as you say."
"You have the entirety of the serangel people at your command, m'lady."
"That won't be enough, either. Not in terms of power and ability. I need a relatively small team, and I don't think I can find them in this dimension or in my beloved's home dimension."
"Then where-. No. You can't be thinking about that, Sera."
"What is she talking about?" Raven asked.
"I'm . . . no, we are going to have to go to other dimensions and recruit others similar to us. And I know where we're going to start looking." Sera looked at Lausk. "Just which dimension was Vasilia banished to when Heltara kicked her out?"
Sera and Raven didn't waste any time. The hybrid portaled them back to Raven's dimension, where they ran into her team. Their appearances threw back the other four Titans, and for a moment none of them could speak. Raven spoke into the silence to preempt any words from them.
"It'll take too long to explain what's happened with us," she said, "but trust me when I say that our story is nothing compared to what's going on."
"What do you mean, Rae?" Cyborg asked.
"You all know that Sera comes from another dimension, right?" she asked. When they nodded, she went on. "Well, there are, of course, vastly more dimensions than just hers and ours. There are dimensions that are alternate realities, others that are different planes of existence with creatures that defy our 'rational' thoughts, and so on. And every single one of them is in danger."
"Danger from what?" Robin wanted to know.
"Something that is threatening to consume all of reality," Sera answered. "We don't know what is, exactly. And you can't help. It's not because we don't need it, but that you don't have the power or skill to help us. What you can do is prepare as many of your Titans as you can to help if things start going 'haywire' in this dimension. There'll probably be more demon attacks as the barriers between dimensions weaken. Maybe some other things coming through, too."
"What are you and Raven going to do?" Starfire asked, concerned.
"We're going to go build a team. From different dimensions."
E/N: And that's the end. I know this isn't a long chapter, and it wasn't really meant to be. Kigo4evR's story, Shroud of Darkness 2: Emma is the next one in the Shroud of Darkness saga. I am accepting 'submissions' in the SoD 'verse, but only a limited number for obvious reasons. I have decided to make 5 spots available now - 6 if y'all take into account Kigo4evR's story, seven if you factor in mine. Talon (aka Magic Basher54986) has requested one spot, so that means 4 are left. They don't have to be Raven/OC fics; they could be OC/OC fics, or OC/other Teen Titan fics. But I would request that they be Teen Titan fics. And the OC doesn't have to be an angel. That said, I hope everyone liked Shroud of Darkness 1: Sera.
There are now 3 spots left, as DarkDarsi has been given a spot.
Two spots now remain, as Piece Bot has requested to do an SoD story.