"Between living and dreaming, there's a third thing.
Antonio Machado, Proverbs and Songs.
Everything was submerged in a crushing darkness, in perpetual silence. Fear was invading her in every space of her mind. The only thing around her was complete darkness. Standing in that thick black was extremely disconcerting to her. There was nothing around. She felt really stunned. She closed her eyes and opened them again in the hope of finding another outlook, but nothing happened. All she had left to do was walk. In spite of not seeing anything or anyone around, as if it were blindness, she felt completely watched. Stalked. She felt exposed and helpless, a strange instinctive sensation, as if a beast was going to jump immediately to attack. With her heart in a fist she scanned the darkness in search of the slightest hint of movement. In the midst of blackness, she perceived an oscillation. There was something in there with her. Drowning a deaf scream that only increased her torment, she felt as if sharp eyes had rested on her, succeeding in oppressing her chest. But there was only silence. An uncomfortable silence. Though now the perception of her own breathing gave way to an unbearable and disturbing sound. All she had left to do was keep walking.
She hated the feeling of being blind in this darkness. She hated this strange place. She was... afraid to be alone in the dark.
She wanted to get out right now. But how could she do it? Was there any way? There seemed to be no way out, no sign of opening, no sign of light to indicate a way forward. She wasn't even sure if she was walking in any direction, her sense of spatial location in this place was null.
She went on marching, breathing heavily from fatigue. She looked up, and everything remained the same. The sense of imminent threat continued. But she still had to move on, she had to get out of there immediately. After a few steps further on, she found with astonishment that she was immersed in water up to her waist. The water was icy and dark, matching where it was. She directed her gaze at it and couldn't even see her reflection. Her body was already numb from the cold liquid and then she felt it. Something grazed her foot as if it were slipping down there, causing a start in her to avoid contact with whatever was in there. Then it was only engulfed in the depths of that dark sea that now seemed to have no soil.
She just tried to find something to hold on to, anything, but there was nothing. The only thing she could scratch with her hands was more water. She tried to shake her arms and legs and swim to the surface, but the icy water seemed to push her deeper into that shady bottom, as if something was absorbing her. The cold and the agitation were causing him to run out of oxygen. The feeling of choking and suffocation was invading her.
She wanted air, and by a reflex act, opened her mouth in search of that longed-for breath, and ended up drinking a large amount of water in the process. She inhaled water, babbled, coughed and inhaled more water. It was inevitable to swallow water in those mouthfuls desperate for some air. The sensation of the liquid invading her airway was unbearable. Her hands clung to her neck. It burned a lot and she felt like her lungs were about to explode. A somatic burning sensation in her chest was felt as the water descended through her entire respiratory system. Then, when her body felt faint, there came at last a kind of fall into a sense of calm and tranquillity as she continued to sink into nothingness itself. Before she lost consciousness, she noticed a strange glow emerging from her hands.
In a frantic manner, agitated by the bad dream, Raven woke up with unease. The sensations had felt too real, almost like a lucid dream. As an act of consolation, she took a large breath of oxygen in order to take away a little of the feeling of suffocation that tormented her until a moment ago. She closed her eyes and inhaled and exhaled the air from her lungs. "Relax, it was just a nightmare." She tried to calm her troubled emotions a little more before she opened her eyes. Her vision was now directed at the landscape that was glimpsed through the window of the train where she was at this moment. She tried to focus her head on the goal of this journey to try to clear her thoughts. The sorceress had been assigned on a mission to escort a team of heroes to a safe place, a monastery specifically, to keep them away from the Brotherhood of Evil, one of the most prominent criminal groups in the world now behind the Titans and any subject with powers that might threaten their preservation.
Gone are the urban landscapes of the city of Jump City, and now you could only see the vast green space of the countryside. As the railroad advanced, she could notice the wide meadows and spaces dedicated to agricultural cultivation.
She had been travelling for some time and honestly felt a little bored, and she didn't even have a book at hand to distract herself. The swaying of the train soon became too monotonous and the girl felt the need to stretch her body a little and move her legs before falling asleep again. She got up and walked into the hallway towards another waggon.
Raven walked until she found a metal door. She went into the small bathroom and opened the cold water faucet to wet her face a little. She relaxed her body slightly and moved her neck to the sides, it was so tense that it even hurt, an obvious product of sleeping for some time sitting in the same position. She looked at her reflection in the mirror above the washbasin with a grimace as she delineated with her fingertips some of her particular characteristics. Her pale skin, purple hair, amethyst eyes. Features that showed him she wasn't a normal person. That… she was rare. Features that reminded him of her inheritance, and which sometimes told him that it was nothing more than a simple portal for her demonic father to enter the Earth. Although Trigon had already been defeated, his latent presence was still present. She continued to look at the reflection that the mirror returned to her until the voice of Malchior, that dragon demon who tricked her and used her to escape from the prison in the book, rumbled in her head.
"Beautiful maiden"... "A lock of a beautiful girl's hair."
"It was just a hoax. A lie," thought the sorceress.
Malchior had attacked her at her most vulnerable point, her feeling of loneliness. The wound had not yet disappeared, it persisted like a sore in living flesh. Her hands clutched tightly in the sink as her knuckles turned white from the pressure. She noticed how her emotions were disturbed by the cruel memory, causing a black glow to fall from her body, as if it were an electric current, causing the mirror to fragment into pieces, now seeing her image split and divided. Fractured.
She came out of the bathroom and went back to her seat. She was hoping to get to the location soon, she had already been traveling for several hours. Her eyes turned again to the window, seeing the fresh and beautiful landscape. About ten more minutes passed when the train finally sounded its whistle announcing the arrival, as it began to gradually slow down. When it finally opened its doors, Raven finally came out of it breathing some fresh air. Now she was at Myrberg Station, where they were supposed to be waiting for her. But it was totally empty. She looked at the big clock at the station and saw that it was almost ten o'clock in the morning.
In the distance she could see a vast open plain surrounded by mountain ranges that had their peaks covered by ancient forests of tall trees. White clouds advanced almost touching the peaks of the high mountains that delimited the horizon; the leaves of the surrounding trees moved gently with the breeze; the air breathed was warm. Everything was beautiful, it looked almost like a painting, that combination of shades was perfect for that morning. The birds sang harmoniously and when they reached the summit, the sun appeared over those mountains that looked like giants protecting it. Yeah, everything was really nice, but that didn't stop Raven's mood from starting to sour. They must have been waiting for her by now, and here she was, standing without any trace of the subjects she had to guard towards the location assigned to her to leave them. Well, it was time to ask for explanations, so she took her communicator.
“Raven calling Robin, over," she announced as she sent a signal to the transmitter.
But the video call didn't show the face she wanted to see, quite the opposite. And honestly, she wasn't in the mood to talk to the green boy and his jokes.
“Robin's communicator, may I help you?” asked the changing as he looked at Raven's face.
“Beast Boy, pass me Robin,” ordered the sorceress frowning.
“He's fighting crime at the moment perhaps I can be of assistence.”
“I'm at the station and there's no one, are you sure this is the place?” she asked, looking around, hoping to see if they had already arrived. Not a thing. Wait... was that a dry bush across the road? Well, she wasn't surprised, the place was practically deserted.
“Yes, it's the meeting point," said Beast Boy.
“So what if they don't show up? Do you expect me to stay here in the middle of nowhere forever?" Raven complained, irritated by the delay and the smile on the boy's face that only seemed to irritate her more than she was at the moment.
“Wait for them," he said in a tone of voice that seemed to minimize the importance of the matter. “Robin trusts you to meet them and take them to a place where the Brotherhood of Evil cannot find them.”
Raven cut off communication when she managed to scan a bus approaching from the roadway. It braked for a moment, and then went on its way. After the engine exhaust fumes dissipated, she stared in front of her eyes waiting to see who she had to guard but nothing was shown there, yet she felt theirs presences. Slowly she lowered her eyes as if fearing what was about to happen. She only begged internally. By Azar, don't let it be what she was thinking.
"No, please," begged Raven.
“Are you Raven?” asked a voice that was too shrill for her ears, and only gave him a headache.
And she finally saw them.
And she wanted to run and escape as far as possible.
Or that the earth would swallow her right now.
And it wasn't just one, it was three...
She had a sudden desire to take the first train back, or maybe a portal? And to arrive and kill Robin; a duel to the death with knives sounded tempting to her; or perhaps some method of torture in the best style of the Middle Ages: the wheel didn't seem like such a bad choice to her, or the pulley... or the guillotine directly; or why not just let her demonic side take charge of her leader?
“You've gotta be kidding me," she muttered, watching as her eyes met those three pairs of beautiful... little devils. Well, it was time to finally communicate with her leader.
“Robin,” called him again with a slightly acid tone even for her.
Her head hurt even more when she heard the "touching" sound coming from the suction of the pacifier of the smallest. But the day didn't seem to be in her favor.
“I have Robin's transmitter, I can...”
“Pass me Robin, now!” Raven shouted as Best Boy's face was again shown on the screen.
“He's very busy right now.”
“Well, tell him I'm not a fucking babysitter!” she shouted louder if she could, perhaps so that stupid Robin could hear her complaints.
“Raven wants you to know she's not a babysitter," he told Robin, who seemed to be in an interesting fight dodging shots from a robot. More interesting than her mission, surely. “Robin says you have to be," said the green boy.
“Can't someone else do it? Starfire likes people, or Cyborg.”
“The others are on other missions, you'll have to do...”. Well, she cut off communication again before her anger came out. She tried to relax, because anyway this was not a game, it was an important mission in which the Brotherhood of Evil was involved. And the sooner she was done, the sooner she could get home.
“Are you going to help us, miss?” asked the girl in a shrill voice.
“What's your name?” she asked a little more calmly now. Just a little bit.
“Melvin," said the blonde girl.
“Melvin, are you the leader of the group?”
“I think so, they follow me everywhere," she said pointing to the other two.
"All right, Melvin, I'll take them safely to a hiding place, but that'll be all," Raven announced, sighted the train that would take them to their destination and was already approaching on the tracks. Great, now the baby had taken one of her hands, while the screaming girl took the other. The other boy with that blanket had now begun to cry. If the girl had a squeaky voice, the redheaded boy had just taken the first place by far. His crying seemed to drill deep into her ears.
“What's wrong with him?” she asked, looking at the boy whining and kicking on the floor.
“I don't know, what's the matter with you, Timmy?” Melvin asked her brother.
“Nobody takes my hand!” he cried as the volume of his crying increased.
Raven just got an amazing nervous tic in her eye.
“Melvin, take his hand,” ordered the sorceress to be able to calm the screaming child.
“I can't, I have to take Bobby's hand, he's afraid of trains," Melvin exposed as she showed the sorceress her free hand grabbing... only air.
“I understand, Bobby is afraid of trains," Raven muttered as she arched an eyebrow, now there were three children and an imaginary friend. What an interesting and entertaining trip she had ahead. “Timmy you'll have to take his hand.”
"Like I said, stupid Robin."