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|The Place That We Call Home|
|Topic Started: Jul 21 2008, 07:59 AM (195 Views)|
|Azar||Jul 21 2008, 07:59 AM Post #1|
The Place That We Call Home
by Azar (burn to ashe)
Rating: PG-13 (epic violence, mild language)
Characters/Pairings: eventual Rob/Rae, one sided Rob/Star, BB/T, Cyborg
Summary: AU set in a fantasy world. Raven is princess of Azarath, and must find a way to stop her father before he conquers the known kingdoms. Her plan is to rally the kingdom of Gotham against Trigon, hoping the other kingdoms rise up behind them. The problem would be getting to Gotham.
Warnings: My muse for this story seems to like abusing Raven.
Previous Chapters: can be found HERE @ FF.net
Author Note: This chapter is one I've been looking forward to for some time. It actually contains the original scene that convinced me to write this story. This chapter might be longer for it, too, but bear with me. I hope you all still enjoy where this is headed. I didn't originally intend for this Tamaran arc to be quite this long, but it has evolved from what it once was as much as this story has.
For the curious or uninitiated, a name guide:
Raven: Raven (alias: Rachel)
- - - - - - - -
Chapter Eleven - Resilient
Raven had not slept much after the intruder left. She heard Richard return to his room late into the night, and wondered where he had been. But he did not knock on her door nor even pause before it when he did enter, so she paid little mind to that arrogant bastard of a prince. She kept expecting the call to battle, the alarm that the demon king's troops attacked now, but dawn came and went and the attack never came. Raven had never known her father to back down from a fight, especially one he was sure he had already won.
Raven washed her face and hands, and finally stripped out of that blood stained gown, tossing it aside. A maid would take it away and she would doubtless never see it again. She would not mourn it being gone, either. She would prefer the memories of... had that been only yesterday?... never return to haunt her. She was well and beyond exhausted, but she carefully tended herself and hoped that the dark circles under her eyes did not ruin the entire illusion of a woman well put together.
A clean gown and the clean face did wonders, she decided. A brush through her hair and a few pins to keep it off of her neck finished it. She did not bother to try and smile, and as she stood before the vanity she saw in her mind the haunting image of that bronze mask. Her hands shook as she clasped a loose belt around her hips and turned to leave her room. She hesitated at the door. Despite their fight last night, Raven did not want to wake the prince if he was finally resting. She slowly turned the knob and stepped into the main room, surprised to find that he was already dressed and gone, it seemed.
Promising herself that she simply did not care, she turned to the main door and stepped into the corridor. She spared no thought to where he could be. Once in the main corridor, Raven hesitated. She had expected a call to war this morning, not the too still quiet that greeted her. Where would she go? “Miss Rachel?” one of the footmen called. Startled, she turned and looked at him. He looked surprised and a little concerned. “I thought you were laid up in the House of Healing, miss.” he asked politely, trying to cover his surprise.
She replied with politeness but no smile. “I found myself unable to sleep there, and returned to my room late in the night. You wouldn't be able to tell me where to find the members of my party, would you?” she asked. The footman nodded.
“All have gone to breakfast in the Queen's solar. You were invited, but the queen assumed you to still be bedridden. I will escort you myself, Miss Rachel.” The footman said. He motioned to his friend that he was going, and led Raven through the halls of the castle with sure steps, though he walked slowly. She knew it was because she had been so gravely injured only the day before. He was kind, and she wondered if that kindness were a blessing or a curse. The footman wrapped on the door twice, and it opened to find a servant inquiring what the matter was. “I am escorting Miss Rachel.”
From inside, she heard Garfield cry out. “You're alright!” He jumped out of his seat and bounded towards her, embracing her when he reached her. She was startled by the abrupt physical contact and looked at the younger man in shock. “Rae, I'm so glad you're alright.” he smiled at her, and she felt her stomach clench painfully. “Come on, I saved you a seat in case you felt up to coming.”
As she entered, the royal women of Tamaran studied her. The queen was shocked to see her up and being dragged as she was. The older girl looked calculating. The younger looked torn, as she always did when she studied Raven. As she was seated beside Garfield, and watered wine set at her elbow, she murmured an apology to those gathered.
“No need to apologize, Rachel. We should have considered you may be hungry despite your injuries.” the queen replied graciously. “And you are just in time to hear an announcement.” The queen had a prideful smile on her face, and Raven wondered why it gave her a cold chill. “My daughter and Prince Richard have decided to move the wedding up. By the end of the month, the two will be married.”
Raven swore silently, though spoke words of congratulations as much as the next. With the chaos of a new bride to be considered, it would be harder to get the attention of the King of Gotham, and to convince him to rally the known world against Trigon. Her plans had just become more difficult.
“Rae, are you sure you're alright?” Victor spoke up very quietly from her right, and she nodded. She wasn't sure when her party had come to calling her Rae, but she found it comforting rather than irritating.
“If no one else is gonna go here, then I will. Why hasn't Trigon attacked?” Tara said abruptly, breaking the jovial mood of the room. The princesses looked flustered, and Raven dared a look at Richard for the first time. His hand tightened around his fork and his eyes turned hard. She felt her stomach sink.
“Maybe he got tired of getting beat?” Victor suggested almost comically when no one else supplied an answer.
“No,” Raven spoke up, and cursed herself for it. Richard's eyes turned on her and she could feel the anger of their unresolved fight mingle with his hatred of Trigon's army. “I do not believe that is quite it.” she replied democratically. “He does not seem the type to just turn back if things do not go his way.” she added softly as she pushed a pile of potatoes around on her plate. She hated all of those eyes on her.
“Miss Rachel speaks truth.” Kori replied. “I do not believe Trigon the Terrible would have earned his name this way.”
“He isn't done then. He waits until we're distracted, we're weak, and he attacks again.” Richard said sharply. He closed his eyes and pushed away from the table. “Your Majesty, I seem to have lost my appetite. I apologize.” Richard turned to go, and Victor hurried after him. Those remaining at the table exchanged wary glances. A few moments after Richard had departed, Raven stood.
“I find myself feeling light headed, your Majesty.” she gave by way of explanation. It worked, but too well, and she found herself walking with Garfield and Tara back towards her room.
“Are you sure you're alright, Rachel?” Tara asked from one side of her. “You look pale.” Mentally, Raven rolled her eyes. She was always pale.
She did not have time to formulate an answer, though. They came from the walls. Black nothings at first that Raven almost immediately recognized as her father's conjurings. When they sprang from floors, ceilings, walls, they became solid creatures. They were obviously still conjures, not real soldiers; they were all identical creations. The first one she saw she ducked. She cursed her luck. With Garfield and Tara present, she could not use her powers. She ducked and dodged, turning and spinning aside, but despite how much her powers danced at her fingertips she did not reach for them.
Tara reacted before Garfield, and ripped a hung of stone from the banister to use as a weapon. Her control was not perfect, but her aim was good and she took several out who were likely to impale Garfield. Garfield alternated between very small and very large animals, dodging and hitting the enemy in turn. Watching them, Raven missed the enemy with her in its sights, and was tackled down a flight and a half of stairs before she rolled to a halt with the enemy on top of her, its hands wrapped around her throat and squeezing the life out of her.
She clawed at his grip. She could not cry out for help. For once, she hoped that someone had seen her fall. She felt pain, but the most overwhelming pain she felt was the burning of her throat and chest. She needed air. She opened her eyes, gone white, and was going to risk being seen to save her life before Garfield saved her. In the form of a jungle cat, he tackled the enemy right off of her. She inhaled sharply, gagging and coughing on the sudden flood of air to her lungs. She rolled over, hissing when she found that she'd wretched her knee as well, somehow, in the fall. She lay still, but knew she needed to get up. She couldn't do it.
Richard and Victor were alone in the corridor when the attack hit them. Richard found himself cursing his lack of sword as he was tackled sideways against a wall. He heard Victor cursing and swearing near at hand, and the hallway lit blue as Victor fought back against the onslaught. Richard was barefisted as he fought, and he had blood draining down his hand before he reached the side of his friend and companion.
“We're outnumbered, Richard.” Victor yelled to him with no presumption whatsoever. Richard swore to himself and thought quickly. He could either fight himself towards the barracks, where the men could be rallied to fight, but surely someone else would do that. Then he remembered the breakfast he had left moments ago. The queen had a few guardsmen with her, but she had been left relatively helpless, as well as the elder princess and...
“Kori,” he whispered. He turned and took off as fast as he could run, dodging, engaging only when he had to. They were thinning around him, but he didn't notice, too intent upon protecting his bride to be. He came to a staircase with the banister gone and swore. How bad had the fighting gotten here? Then he saw Garfield and Tara at the foot of the stairs. That answered how the banister had been broken. He intended to let them be, they seemed to be holding their own, until he spotted Rachel with one atop her, hands about her throat.
Despite his anger, his heart skipped a beat and he made a mad leap halfway down the stairs, landing in a pile of his own limbs. He fought to his feet, but Garfield has already gotten rid of the problem atop her. She rolled to the side, gagging and then terrifyingly still. He darted to her side.
“Rachel?” he asked carefully. “Are you alright?”
She groaned but finally responed in a voice rusty and hard, not her own. “I think I'll be fine.” He could see the bruising already, forming below her jaw and all down her throat, in the shape of fingers. She rubbed at her throat, but it seemed as if nothing when she tried to stand and cried out. He caught her before she could tumble into a pile, and held her upright.
“My knee,” she explained before he could ask. “I twisted it when he knocked me down the stairs.” she hissed. Despite the fighting still going on around them, Richard found himself unable to release her. She looked up at him and those rich violet eyes were colored in her own pain. And yet they remained clear. Despite her ordeal thus far, no tears pricked her eyes. That seemed to be too true with this woman. She was not like a Gotham woman he might meet.
Without warning, he shifted and lifted her off of her feet. “Garfield, Tara, draw back to the breakfast room. Protect the queen!” He would protect all of the royal women. Rachel said nothing about his decision to lift her up, but he noted that she wasn't laying her forehead against his chest and resting. She had craned her head about to watch for danger.
He had been thinking it for some time, of course, but in that moment he knew that this woman was no peasant or farmer. She had been trained in the arts of war, of fighting, of self preservation. She fought and and healed too well. Her lie should have hurt, but now it intrigued him and his eyes darkened as he thought of her in the arms of the prince the night before. Who was this mysterious woman who inspired desire, lust, possession in the men around her so easily? Even Garfield was devoted to protecting her, and the footmen as well.
What was it? He would find out. He swore it. His theories did not make him content with her.
“Richard,” Tara spoke up as she struggled to keep up with his pace. “What are these things?”
“I do not know, but perhaps Miss Rachel does.” Richard spoke up. The girl turned to look at him abruptly. Too abruptly. It was not puzzlement in her eyes, but a splash of fear.
“Why would I know anything, my lord?” she asked too cautiously.
“Why indeed.” he snapped. Tara backed off, returning to Garfield's side and near Victor, who struggled behind. As the breakfast room neared, Richard leaned close to Rachel's ear and whispered to her. “If you know anything about these things that might help us, I suggest you tell us. I will tear you apart if I find you lie to me.”
She shuddered, but said nothing.
They found the breakfast room better defended than Richard had imagined. The women were armed with bows and arrow, and the footmen all had swords. Richard receieved a sword when he entered, after placing Rachel near a wall. The queen went to the young woman and settled in to see if she could heal her at all.
“You are not the luckiest young woman I have ever met, Rachel.” the queen said good naturedly. She was examining Rachel's knee, and trying not to make concerned noises. It was more than sprained, it was damaged. Without her healing supplies and the longer the injury went without treatment, the more permanent damage there would be.
“I come to agree with you, your majesty.” Rachel whimpered as cool, firm hands studied the bruising and the turn of the knee. The two spoke a little, all polite and neutral conversation, and neither said anything about the occasional dark looks Richard sent her way.
“Friend Richard, you are uninjured, yes?” Kori looked her betrothed over with a concerned eye, her bow near at hand should another wave of those strange creatures attack. Despite having been unarmed, it seemed the only injury the prince had received was the cut on his knuckles that had already been cleaned and tended to by Kori herself. Now she closed a tanned hand on his forearm to still his pacing. They were in a far corner of the solar, and at the other end Kori's mother tended the girl Rachel. Kori had wondered how only Rachel had received serious injury thus far.
“I am fine, Kori. Do not concern yourself for me.” Richard said gruffly. Kori would have recoiled, but she recognized the mood. Her father often had it when the season of war arose. Richard was cornered, wired too tightly, and afraid for those he cared about. Kori watched his eyes steal across the room to where Rachel laid. Once his gaze would have been full of warmth. Today his eyes were hard, violent things. She shuddered to think of them ever turned upon her in that light.
“You are to be my husband, it is my duty to concern myself with you, Richard.” she smiled up at him, hoping to lift his mood at least a little. He closed his eyes and the corner of his mouth lifted. A smirk was better than nothing. He turned to her and she brightened further. “It is not that bad. The men seem to have little trouble pushing these strange demonic enemies back. A few injuries have been reported, but not many. Rachel seems to be the worst of them.”
She knew the moment the words were out of her mouth that she had said the wrong thing. Richard's eyes turned on her and narrowed.
“Yes, they do seem to be the worst, don't they?” he hissed darkly.
“Richard, what is wrong between you and Rachel?” she demanded. “She is a member of your own party, what could be the problem?”
Richard said nothing but after a long moment of tense silence, he excused himself from her side. She watched him go to speak with the soldiers and felt her stomach clench with ice. She did not want to admit it, but she suspected that Richard was becoming a great danger, but whether that danger was to himself or to Rachel or her people, she could not yet tell.
Trigon's troops returned when he ordered, disappearing into nothingness at his whim. He looked around at his few commanders, who couldn't decide what his day's example was to prove.
“You did not succeed in extracting the princess, you didn't kill a great number, what could you possibly have gotten out of this?” one demanded. Trigon laughed to himself and raised a hand. Hellfire rose at his command and consumed the man. The others quickly hushed, and Trigon smiled to himself.
Oh he had accomplished much this day, for he had finally learned his daughter's master plan. She intended to go to Gotham, to turn the entire continent against him. The plan amused him so much that he gave the order for full retreat. They would march through the night, and turn their attentions northward, to Gotham. He would not attack just yet, either. He wanted to watch her plan play out and watch it fall in on top of her.
“Do you think they will ever accept you, daughter dearest? Did you think you could pass as human?”
He was laughing all the way back to his own tent.
Sig and avi by Draugon.
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