The Shadow-God of Tamaran
Walking along the hallway of the living quarters in Titan Tower, Robin stopped short as Raven unexpectedly emerged from her own bedroom door. Her nose was stuck in a book, and as such wasn’t really looking where she was going. Robin nearly ran into her, though he needn’t worry, Raven probably would have changed directions anyway. She was empathic. Looking up from the ancient text she was engrossed in she saw Robin catch his footing.
“Morning.” Raven greeted him simply.
“Good Morning.” Robin replied back, with a slight aggravation in his voice. “Next time I should watch where I’m going.”
“Cute.” Raven raised an eyebrow, a flicker of a smile played at the corner of her lips.
“Are you hungry? We should get some breakfast.” Robin wisely decided to change the subject.
As they continued along together, they remained silent. It wasn’t an awkward type of quiet, but one where there was comfort in the company, and no words needed to be said. They were attuned like that, it seemed. Raven could have re-opened her book and continued reading, knowing Robin wouldn’t have found that rude, but she liked being in his company and it would be rude to her.
As they neared the elevator, both of them noticed that Beast Boy’s bedroom door was wide open. They were going to ignore it, but as the elevator took it’s sweet time coming up to them, the open door started to bug them. Beast Boy wasn’t in sight, and it was just irresponsible to leave open a bedroom door where everything private was now open for all to see.
“I’m going to close his door.” Robin and Raven both said at the same moment, clearly thinking on the same wavelength.
Smirking slightly at each other, both walk to his room. Raven watched as Robin reached for the door, but he stopped. She glanced from his hand to inside the room to see what he was looking at. Inside was Cyborg, lifting up Beast Boy’s bed with one hand looking underneath it. The room looked as if a hurricane had blown through it, with almost everything on the floor, including uneaten, spoiled food. Unconsciously both of them walked inside, mainly out of curiosity.
“What are you doing?” Raven asked Cyborg.
Her voice made him nearly jump out of his metallic shell. “Whoa, girl! Next time announce yourself when you catch a guy breaking-and-entering!”
“Sorry, I wasn’t aware there were rules when one catches another breaking someone else’s privacy.”
Robin waved that away. “Never mind that, what are you doing?
“I’m looking for my flipping PSP.” Cyborg dropped the bed with no subtlety. “I lent it to him the other day, and he hasn’t given it back.”
“PSP? What’s that?” Raven asked.
“Ha ha.” Cyborg faked laughed sarcastically. “Very funny, Raven. Not everything can be a 3DS.”
Raven looked at him blankly. Before she could ask, Starfire popped her head from Beast Boys bathroom, clearly giggling. She raised her arm and showed everyone in the room a pink tube. On closer inspection it was an oversized bottle of Nair. There was a roar of involuntary laughter from all.
“Starfire, you shouldn’t be rooting around in people’s medicine cabinets.” Robin told her, but was clearly trying to choke back laugher.
“I did not find it in a medicine cabinet, it was in the bathroom mirror.” Starfire said innocently.
“That’s the same thing.” Robin told her, as her head disappeared to put the embarrassing pink bottle away.
“Anyway, you should grab your PCP and go.” Raven said after a moment. “It’s very rude to be in here.”
“PSP, not PCP.” Cyborg corrected. “And if I could find it, I would.”
Raven did not envy him, the room was a complete mess. “You didn’t create this mess, did you?”
“Hell no.” Cyborg said, then looked slightly startled. He paused and looked directly ahead. “Heck no. I meant to say heck.”
Robin and Raven turned and looked in the direction he was looking. There wasn’t anything there, just a blank wall. Shrugging they moved on, as if nothing strange had happened. By this time Starfire was in the room with them, rooting around in Beast Boy’s desk. As Raven meant to lift up a ripped open bean bag chair to see Cyborg's PMS thing was there, they all heard Starfire squeal.
“What is it Star?” Robin asked, tossing aside a nude picture of Ernest Borgnine.
“I have found something glorious!” Starfire giggled again, and produced a spiral notebook.
“That’s not his diary is it?” Raven asked.
“No, it is not. It is a story he is writing.” Starfire gave a slightly evil grin.
“A story?” Even Robin looked curious.
“Who the HECK writes in a spiral notebook now-a-days?” Cyborg asked.
“Beast Boy apparently.” Raven spoke dryly. “We should just leave. It’s not right to be in here… plus if we stay much longer we might catch small pox or something.”
Starfire was opening the book and squeaked again. “It’s about Raven!”
“WHAT?!?” Everyone exclaimed.
“Give me that!” Raven grabbed it. Her eyes scanned on the text and she groaned. “I’m going to hurt him…badly.”
“I can’t take it anymore.” Cyborg took the book. “I’m going to read it.”
“You shouldn’t--” Robin started but was interrupted.
“Read it to us!” Starfire shouted.
“The Shadow-God of Tamaran by Garfield Logan” Cyborg read the title, then snickered. “Garfield That’s his real name? Could he named something worse?”
Robin shrugged, glancing at Raven. “It’s not as bad as it could be.”
“I am curious on why he used my home planet in his title.” Starfire pondered, but this time she was shushed by everyone.
Deep in the misty stretches of the dawn world, a prehistoric valley lies somewhere between two might escarpments in remote africa - a girl with violet hair rules supreme. For she is the Raven, whose lips speak the language of the beasts, and those hands are strong and supple to uphold the jungle law. Along with her faithful yet slightly dimwitted companion Robin, Raven rules the jungle with a balance of strong justice with barbaric savagery.
“Dimwitted companion?” Robin muttered.
It is into this scene that we find the Jungle queen, together with Robin. They are dressed as is natural for the savage, in the hides of wild animals they had slain with only the strength of their bodies and the wits of their minds. But, like all beasts in the jungle, they only kill for what they need. To kill without a purpose is unforgivable.
So it is with a shock that Raven saw the still body of Lakli, the cheetah. She is dead, laying on the jungle floor with a spear stuck in her. She has not been eaten. Her hide still remains. She was just killed for sport.
“Poor Lakli.” Robin bent over examining the body. “Killed by hunters, no doubt.”
Raven’s keen eyes, trained from the hardships of the jungle, spotted something else. “She was not alone. Her cubs have been taken. Alive by the looks of it.”
Robin looked at the tracks pointed out to him. “That is not all, look!”
Pointing to a tree in the distance, there was another spear pinned to a tree. But it was holding something. Quickly the two jungle savages rush to investigate. Hanging on the tree was the dead body of Mgugu, the She-Monkey.
“Even Mgugu! Dead. And her babies taken by these hunters as well!” Raven pulled the spear from the tree and allowed Mgugu to drop to the ground.
More animals. And more tracks. Everywhere the story is the same. The animal mothers of the jungle lions, leopards, antelope, and apes have all been ruthlessly slain and their young stolen. As Robin and Raven bend over the bodies they are filled with a mixture of sadness and anger.
“These are the tracks of alien hunters! We should follow them and learn what they do with the jungle’s young.”
It was agreed on in short order, Raven and Robin set out - out of the bounds of their little world into the unknown. Across the jungles of the early dawn world races our primitive heroes, to the edge of the great smoking land with no grass nor trees.
“I have never before been to the land of the smoking ground, Raven.” Robin admitted to his savage companion.
“Nor have I. The air is heavy, almost choking. And it smells.” Raven looked at a huge mountain where smoke billowed from the top. “Such an evil place where even the mountains rages with fire.”
Like a disembodied spirit they move through the world of heat and terror. where the ground rumbles and lava flows like water. And across this wilderness, another jungle, yet a cleared out one. And when the mists clear in the distance they see a spectacular sight which their primitive minds could never fathom!
“What is this?” Robin looked at the strange sight before him, with gapping jaw.
“A city.” Raven answered confidently. “I always thought such a thing was a myth, but it’s real.”
“Oh C’mon!” Robin interrupted again. “I don’t even know what a city is? That’s bull.”
“It’s not you, bro, don't get mad.” Cyborg said with a big grin on his face.
“Enough. I want to know what happens.” Starfire urged on.
“The city was unlike they had ever seen before--” Cyborg tried to continue but was interrupted again.
“Of course they hadn’t seen a city like that before, they’ve never SEEN a city!” Robin raged. Everyone shushed him.
The city was unlike they had ever seen before. There were many buildings made of both lumber and brick. There were more people who looked much like them, only with orange skin, going hither and thither about their daily tasks. They wore clothes woven of cloth, not primitive skins like the two jungle savages. But what was most amazing about the city was a gigantic pyramid in the center of town.
Raven and Robin climbed the pyramid to look inside the stone windows carved out from it. Lucky for our heroes, the window they chose was a most revealing one. Inside was an opulent palace thrown room. It was here that the situation became more clear. There was a woman sitting on the thrown. Others of her own race were in the room in a subservient role, but there were still others, ape-like men, who worked as slaves.
The woman was Koriand’r, Queen of the Tamaraneans. She ruled the ancient city of Tamaran with strict fist. She was scantily clad, as was all of her people. She had long red hair and vivid green eyes. But that was the extent of her beauty. She has the cruel heart of Womba, the jackal.
“I do not have a cruel heart.” Starfire narrowed her eyes. “And what is this jackal?”
“Best we move on.” Cyborg urged.
Before her, she studied a group of captives her ape-men had caught. They surrounded them with spears pointed at their backs. Three of the captives were women, and one was a man. He stood out not only because of his gender, but because he had green skin.
“They shall make good food for The Black One, the Shadow-God! Chain them to the altar!” Koriand'r proclaimed dramatically.
Cyborg stopped. Everyone looked at him for a moment. He didn’t continue until Raven prompted him.
“What is it.”
“I better not be ‘the Black one’, that’s all I got to say.
“What makes you think that?” Starfire asked.
“Everyone else is in the story so far, but not me. So I better not be ‘The Black One’. “
“if you are, you’d be a god.” Robin pointed out. “Not some stupid dimwitted--”
“Alright, alright, I’ll keep going.” Cyborg raised the book to his face.
As the ape-men took the captives away, Koriand’r’s eyes fell upon several golden cages hidden from view until the captives left. Inside the cages were the cubs of the slain jungle mothers. They cried out for help, yet none came.
“These shall make fine pets for my hanging gardens! I shall train them from cub-hood to serve me and only me! Thus shall I guard against treachery from my own people, who have grown to hate me! But now my ears wish to hear the screams of those I selected to be brought before The Black One!”
As Koriand’r left the thrown room, Robin and Raven drop into the room silently.
“Let us rescue these cubs and leave this evil place.” Robin suggested to Raven.
“I wish for nothing more, but something tells me that we should find out what this Black One is. For now the cubs are safe, but those captives are not.”
The two fine limbed jungle lords stealthily follow the orange queen of Tamaran, awaiting to find out what horror this Black One is. They do not have far to go as the altar room was close to the thrown room. Inside they see the three captive woman being dragged by the ape-men. Trembling, the screaming women are dragged to great golden manacles attached to a wide terrace before a statue of a god. The statue is that of a large fat woman with four arms and a gapping mouth.
In cowering terror, the women kneel and watch the statute of Black One. A huge black shadow began to grow within the mouth of the god of Tamaran. The shadow grew larger and rolled across the altar of the Black One. For a little while the black shadow seethed and billowed, and then it faded away - like a mist before the sunlight. When the shadow faded, the manacles gleam empty! The women, and their screams of terror were gone.
“The black shadow ate them!” Robin whispered to Raven.
“I saw with my own eyes, Robin.” Raven reminded him. “What evil is this that we have stumbled on too?”
“Intruders!” An ape-man shouted.
“We’ve been careless! They’ve seen us!” Robin pulled his fists up as two ape-men rush him.
“We shall make them scream as did those victims eaten by their Shadow-god!” Raven shouted as she too was faced with the oncoming ape-men soldiers.
And the fight between two worlds begins. That of the savagery jungle and that of barbaric civilization. Unarmed, Robin and Raven fight three to four ape-men at a time. But as they finish off one, another takes his place.
“We must retreat for now.” Raven calls to her companion, after flipping an ape-man over her shoulder much like a judo hip-toss.
And like Mgugu the monkey, they scatter, leaving behind their hulking attackers in an instant. As they escape from view, the two return back to their stealthy skills. On jungle-wise feet that make no sound, Raven and Robin move though the dusty corridors of the old city.
“We should have left this evil city with the first born of the jungle.” Robin pointed out.
“I am beginning to think you’re right. But we can not sneak back into the thrown room now. We must be as patient as Numa, the hunting lioness, if we are to free them.”
After several hours of evading search parties, the jungle savages circled the palace until they were within sight of the golden cages in the thrown room. By now there was no one in sight. Just as Raven was starting to think that the set-up was just too good to be true, her intuition was correct. From the shadows ape-men emerge.
“Those cubs are for Koriand’r!”
“What does she need with the jungle’s young?” Raven shouted.
“It is not our place to question. Some she will train to be her faithful slaves, others she will feed to the fire-god that dwells in the depths of the Smokey Mountain.” The ape-man advanced.
“Those cubs shall not die like that!” Robin shouted.
Like an enraged tigress, Raven hurtles forward, her long knife unleashed, thrusting forward. “Come, you dregs of the dawn world! Let the Raven teach you how to fight!”
Only the harsh breathing of the panting fighters filled the room. As before the numbers-game plays in the ape-men’s favor. Try as they might, Robin and Raven spent most of their efforts dodging swinging spears and axes, always just missing, always just grazing. They take out one, two more come forth from the shadows. It was a pointless battle, only this time, there was no retreat.
“Too many of them.” Robin shouted and he was finally subdued by the onslaught of ape-men holding him down, shackling him.
Raven soon followed suit, and before they knew it, they were bound together and faced the thrown of Koriand’r, who at some point entered the room, smiling a devious smile.
“So this is the famous Raven I have heard so much about from the Jungles of Numa! Take her in her chains to the alter of the Shadow-God. But leave her companion with me. I will have my way with him before I slay him. As for you, dear Raven, you will join the Green One and be given to the Black One!”
“This sucks.” Robin grumbled, interrupting again. "Who writes like this? The green one... the black one. How about he use some imagination and name some people."
"And do you notice he keeps jumping from present tense to past tense." Raven also pointed out.
Robin wasn't finished. "And why am I even in this story? All I do is say things that are completely obvious and get insulted.”
“At least you’re in the story.” Cyborg grumbled bitterly.
“So you WANT to be in this badly written piece of garbage?” Raven asked.
“Yeah--no… I don’t know. Everyone else is, why not me?” Cyborg complained.
“Hmm...I do not think it is so bad.” Starfire spoke after a moment.
“What are you talking about, Star, you’re the bad guy!” Cyborg reminded her.
“Maybe, but at least I get to have my way with Robin.”
Robin groaned. “Let’s just get this over with. What happens next?”
Within moments, Raven and the Green One are dragged to the alter, ape-man forcing her faithful servant to watch. Manacles are locked tight about their wrists. Forced to crouch, the mist of the shadow-god of Tamaran rolled forward from the Black One’s mouth. And then the blackness is around them, blocking out all sight. But no sound came through Raven’s lips. She was a woman of the jungle, able to die silently as befits a jungle queen. The only sounds from the room were the sounds of Robin’s angry screams, and howls of despair.
From out of that darkness come grasping hands. A key turns the lock of the manacles. Raven’s instinct was to run, but run where, she was surrounded by the strange black mist. As the blackness faded, Raven found herself on the floor of a tunnel.
“What?” The Green One exclaimed in shock. “Where are we?”
Then the situation became known to her. “The altar sinks below the terrace level, hidden by smoke!”
“You’re as clever as you are beautiful, Raven.” An ape-men with an axe stepped forward. “It is here we unchain the victims of the Black One, so that when the altar rises, only the empty chains are seen. In that way the people of Tamaran think their fake god ate them! In here, the real killing takes place. The bodies are dumped in the river and none are the wiser!”
“The people must hate Koriand’r for the Queen to go to such lengths.” Raven reasoned. “She created this false shadow-god so they would fear her, so they will do her bidding.”
“Now that you know the truth, you, like the others will die!”
Raven twisted her supple arms out of the grip of the ape-men that held her. She pushes an axe into the Green One’s hands and commands him. “Raise up! You are not a sacrifice to a false god no longer! Rise up and slay these ape-men!”
But the speech was not needed. Back to back the two fight. Now in an enclosed area, the ape-men with their overwhelming numbers could not use this to their advantage. And the savage hands of the jungle queen dismembers her attackers one at a time. Soon the floor of the charnel house was covered with the bodies of the slain.
“There is more killing to be done in this ancient city. But first, Green One, you must help me expose Koriand’r’s evil.”
“I am at your service, Raven the beautiful!” the Green One said, his muscles glistening pleasingly in the torch light.
The next day Koriand’r and her new slave, Robin, enter the altar room. He is now chained by the neck and led by the Queen of Tamaran.
“Chained by the neck…” Robin seethed. “And Beast Boy is her new companion. What a crock of sh--”
Cyborg continued reading.
As the Queen prepared to watch more victims of the Black One be sacrificed, Raven too watched nearby, confident in her plan. “Soon now the shadow-god will come, and with him the surprise I have prepared.”
The shadow-god soon swirled out the niche of the Black One, it’s smoke floating, preparing to shallow it’s victim as it had done countless times. Then a breeze blew through the corridors, past the doors that Raven and the handsome Green One had secretly opened. Raven turned to her new companion, his long hair blowing in the breeze, and gave him an approving thumbs up.
“What? This can not be!” Koriand’r exclaimed as the smoke harmless blew off into nothingness. The alter did not lower, and it’s victim remained alive, still shackled in their golden manacles.
A roar of rage arose from the throats of the other Tamaraneans present, whom Koriand’r had ruled with terror and fear. “A trick! A trick to keep us in fear to this false shadow-god!”
“It’s no shadow-god!” Robin called from his leash. “Only thick smoke puffed out from that statue of the Black One.”
“Yes. We see that… now.”
In no time flat, the Tamaraneans surround their Queen reaching for her. Koriand’r went down before her people as vengeful hands ripped her limb from limb. In the chaos, the watching Raven swings in and obtains Robin’s leash.
“We must leave this place, or else their fury may not end with just their queen.” Raven pulled him along.
As they arrive in the thrown room, the Green One had already freed the cubs from their golden cages. Taking a moment, Raven unleashed Robin with the brute strength of her own hands. As the three aid the animals out the palace, Raven explained the plan to the perplexed Robin.
“It was simple. We opened all the doors of the palace so that the wind could sweep through. It blew across the terrace to reveal Koriand’r’s trickery! It will be equally simple to walk out of Tamaran while her people destroy their queen.”
And so they did, crossing the great smoking land and into the Jungle of Numa. The Green One aided in the return of the jungle's first borns to the cub’s fathers and all was well. For some that is....as before the statue of the Black One lay the body of the Queen of Terror! Koriand’r was dead before her false god.
“HEY! What is everyone doing in MY room!”
Raven turned a guilty expression towards the door where Beast Boy was now standing. A mixture of curiosity and shock played on his face. Cyborg moved to hide the spiral notebook, but Robin was already across the room, slamming Beast Boy against the wall.
“And what are you doing writing creepy things about us!”
Beast Boy’s anger left him. “Dude! It’s-- you weren’t supposed to read that!”
“Obviously. Dimwitted companion?!? Is that how you see me?”
“Find me a better detective in this whole room, you arrogant little snot!”
“Dude, what are you talking about?”
“That Jungle Raven story you wrote, you idiot!”
Raven placed hugged her book. “About that… why did you make me a Jungle girl?”
“Jungle girl?” Beast Boy blanked out for a moment. “Oh! Thank God! I thought you read that OTHER story I wrote.” He chuckled. “That one isn't so bad by comparison!”
“What other story!” Robin slammed Beast Boy against the wall again.
“Forget about that.” Beast Boy sweat dropped. “I just… I just used everyone as templates for characters. That way it’ll be easy to write and I could change the names later.”
“Templates?” Cyborg asked. “So apparently I’m so insignificant to you I’m not even IN your story.”
“And you see me as evil?” Starfire blinked.
“And me a savage sex object?”
“And me a DIMWITTED!?!”
“No! No no no no!” Beast Boy was searching his tiny brain for an answer.
Robin let him go and stalked out the room. “Go and tell another one, Garfield.”
“Robin, wait for me!” Starfire called and floated after him, not even bothering to give Beast Boy a glance.
“You really messed up this time, BB.” Cyborg told him, handing over the spiral notebook. “What were you thinking anyway?”
“I was thinking it was my private writings…” Beast Boy attempted to save grace.
“Eh, whatever. I just came in here looking for my PSP. Do you know where it is?”
“Ahhh, about that.” Beast Boy rubbed the back of his head. “How much do those things cost anyway?”
Cyborg groaned. “You broke it, didn’t you? I KNEW I shouldn’t have let you borrow it.”
“C’mon, man. I’ll pay you back.”
“You always say that!” Cyborg pushed Beast Boy out of the way, making his way to the door. “You owe me $3,569.46, moron.”
“You’re keeping track?” Beast Boy called after him, but only got a rude finger gesture from a walking away Cyborg.
Raven waited a moment before walking towards the door silently. She could feel Beast Boy’s eyes looking at her, just itching to ask her something but after everyone else’s rage didn’t have the courage too. But apparently he could hold himself back and blurted it out.
“Are you mad at me too?”
“No.” Raven stopped but didn’t turn around.
“Even though I made you a cave girl?”
Raven paused for good effect then answered him. “Because I already knew you were an immature halfwit.”