6725/In Erebos: Tartarus Awaits

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In Erebos: Tartarus Awaits
Date of Scene: 28 June 2021
Location: Tartarus
Synopsis: The Titans travel through Tartarus, and it's a surprisingly peaceful journey. They charm a three headed dog and almost get in trouble for having picked the wrong name, but finally get to the Gates of Iron - where a mysterious woman tells them they're at the wrong gate.
Cast of Characters: Donna Troy, Gar Logan, Caitlin Fairchild, Kian, Terry O'Neil, Rachel Roth, Nadia Pym-van Dyne, Damian Wayne, Dick Grayson

Donna Troy has posed:
    The stone beneath their feet is cold, but the air is dry and hot.  A grim roof of dark clouds reflect red, fiery light against a starless sky.  The light is red and dim, but as eyes adjust to the gloom, the Titans could see that the ground on which they landed was a platform of stone, perhaps forty feet by thirty.  The platform is colonnaded with tall pillars of dark granite, supporting a dark roof fifty feet overhead.  At one end of the platform stands the legs of a statue, the upper portion broken off.  The air is filled by a strange sound, a low susurration as of many voices speaking wordlessly.
    On all sides of the platform is a sheer drop about ten feet to a plain that stretches out towards the horizon.  Crossing the plain are a network of walkways raised to the same height as the platform, joining to a number of other similar colonnaded and roofed platforms in the distance, each looking like Greek temples, only much darker.  Below the platforms and the walkways, every inch of the plain seems to be filled with shuffling forms, human in shape but grey and featureless.  Arms reach up towards the Titans, and the susurration rises in volume, half moaning and half pleading, as eyeless faces regard them.
    Tartarus.  Erebos.  Hades.  Hell.  So Donna had declared the place the Titans had arrived.  She has been here before.  The first thing Donna had done was to warn Terry not to open any Rabbit Holes.  This is a place with guards dedicated to stopping people escape, guards with potent magic.  Trying to teleport away would be ill-advised as it might produce a rapid, and lethal response.  However despite the location, Donna had seemed remarkably unperturbed.  "There are gates out of this place.  I don't think we're too far from the Iron Gate," she had said.  "And we're not supposed to be here, so we'll be allowed out.  Don't worry.  Just—be careful."
    There had been other warnings, which largely amounted to 'Keep your eyes peeled and don't draw attention to yourselves'.  After briefly inspecting the shattered statue, Donna had decided it would be a good idea to not be in the temple, but she had also suggested they wait there a short while in case anyone was going to join them.  She was pretty sure that when it was just a nearby dimension rather than the inside of weird time-distorted black hole anomalies, Raven wouldn't be far behind.
    As the Titans had moved out onto the broad stone-block walkway to wait, the shuffling figures below moved blindly towards where they had gathered, arms reaching to scrabble against the sides, moaning wordlessly for the Titans attention.  Donna was studiously ignoring them, and recommended the rest of the Titans do the same.  She did not seem eager to explain why, or what exactly those beings were.

Gar Logan has posed:
    Beast Boy lands safely enough, but that's the only thing that feels safe here as he reverts to normal, costume taking shape.  "What the ffuuuu…" he begins, looking all around immediately.  It isn't long before he sees what's below them, and around them nearby and in the distance, after a couple steps forward are taken.  "Could someone tell me what just happened?  It's like being in a Guillermo del Toro movie down there.  Is this hell?"
    He turns and lays eyes on those that have arrived with him.  Donna.  Caitlin.  Vorpal.  Kian.  "What is it with Titans always disappearing someplace?  Tartarus?  That's, like… hell, isn't it?  We're actually in hell?"  His hands spread out from his sides, palms facing up.  "What do we do now? Should we fly anywhere?  I can fly.  I don't think those things down there are the welcoming committee."

Caitlin Fairchild has posed:
    The Titans have been a team long enough that the roles are almost automatic for the older ones.  Once Caitlin's assured herself no one's been somehow injured, or at least isn't on the verge of a major medical catastrophe in the next thirty minutes, she puts herself at a position slightly ahead of the rest of the group.  With her armor on and the heavy hammer balanced on her brawny shoulders, she makes an intimidating presence—and if anything decides to lunge for the Titans, she's out in front far enough to give the others a split second to react if it comes after her first.
    "I vote no more random teleporting," Caitlin agrees with Gar, and glances over her shoulder at the others.  "We never get teleported anywhere nice.  I don't… I guess this would be Hell," she admits.  "It's supposed to be cold.  At least that's what Dante said."
    She returns to her vigil, ready to intercept anything that lumbers out of the milling pack of spirits.  Fingertips rest on the small cross that's been delicately worked into the breastplate of her armor, and she murmurs a small prayer under her breath audible only to herself.

Kian has posed:
    Kían looks around himself wildly, eyes wide.  "No."  His wings are spread wide and hands clenched.  "No.  Ai, no!  Not again.  I am not learnin' another language an' another culture an' another way of doin' thin's!"
    His wings come down in a snap and spread again—but he does not take off.  It seems to be more anger and frustration building up.  "I haf accept Eart' iss my home.  I am not tryin' to figure out a new one!"  He does not seem to have heard Donna's remark that getting out should be easy.
    The birdman looks around wildly.  "I am not goin' to do this again!" he says sharply, with an edge of approaching panic in his tone.  "I… oh—"
    The next monosyllable tells his teammates a few things.  First, that perhaps his understanding of English is a little better than his pronunciation.
    Second, that he's been paying attention to words being used around him.
    And third, that maybe he really is an Earth bird now.

Terry O'Neil has posed:
    "So this is Tartarus…" Vorpal muses, taking stock of the place in the way a real estate agent might size up a property that he needs to advertise as 'A Great Deal' without mentioning the words 'She's A Fixer-Upper' at least until after the first thirty minutes of the sales pitch.  At Gar's discomfort, he reaches out to take one of the Titans' hands in his, but his words are far from comforting.
    "Tartarus is not the Christian hell, Cait.  We happen to be in another section of that particular Cthonic super highway.  This is where the Greek gods would lock up their enemies.  This is the Arkham Asylum of the Underworld.  Except the opposite, because getting out is almost impossible for those whom the gods imprison."
    At first, he worries that he's going to have to do something to keep Kian from freaking out, but then there is that one vocalization, and the Cheshire cat smiles.  "That is an appropriate Titan reaction, Kian.  Well said."
    He reaches out and places a hand on Kian's shoulder.  "The good thing is that we haven't been imprisoned by the gods.  We are here because of someone else's meddling.  The problem is that the Greek gods, outside of a few oracular divinities, aren't technically omniscient, and those that have those powers aren't necessarily using them all the time, so they probably have absolutely no fucking clue we're down here.  Which means…."
    His red mane turns into an assymetric bob by virtue of his powers of illusion.  "We may need to speak to the manager."  And then, it returns to normal.  "Or follow Donna's lead, since this is her mythology.  Wonderland doesn't have a hell… it only has tea parties that last for all eternity."

Rachel Roth has posed:
    Clues had littered the metaphorical and metaphysical ground following the departure of the other Titans.  Like indecent stains under a blacklight, Raven seems utterly and intensely displeased with what her eyes seem to be seeing, sheathed in a film of ebon energy, she has spent the last few minutes determining where she is going to blame Donna for another group of Titans being accidentally displaced to.
    The results are not pleasant.
    "Everyone," she remarks, "I can get us there, but there will be no immediate return."  Of course, her statement sounds more ominous than it really is.  Breaking into Tartarus is comparatively easy, though breaking out has to be as difficult in juxtaposition as it is getting there.  Otherwise, there are complaints to field, and Raven is banishing spirits of the underworld with harshly worded notes magically stapled to them that do not regard ancient deities' mothers very well at all, metaphorically speaking.
    "As such, only those who are fine with being effectively trapped in the realm of the dead should come along.  This will be your only chance."
    Meanwhile, in Tartarus, the results of Raven's scrying are known.  Specifically, to Donna—the woman can feel, because if nothing else Raven specifically allows her to feel—that Raven's mystical eyes are upon her.  There is no communication.  Instead, she just allows that feeling of being watched to make itself known, such that Donna can draw her own conclusions about the fact that Raven, most assuredly knows where they are.  Maybe it'll inspire hope!  More likely, it'll inspire the same sensation that occurs to a family pet after it tears apart the last roll of paper towels.

Nadia Pym-van Dyne has posed:
    Nadia appears from somewhere amidst the chaos, she gets off to the darnedest places sometimes but was no doubt doing something helpful to the overall securing of the 'box'.
    "We have to go after them!"  There is no hesitation in her voice as she pulls off her helmet.  "I don't care where they went, we are not losing them again."  The Waspette is clearly in, realm of the dead or not.
    She walks over to Raven.  "Ready when you are."

Damian Wayne has posed:
    Damian had suited up as well as he could.  He came kitted out to fight like never before.  Was that an RPG on his back too?  Yes, yes it was.  "Red Hood gave it to me for my birthday," he offered up to Nightwing as they gathered with Raven.  "I had another.  But I used it killing owls when they breached the Batcave."
    Damian took out his sword, the one Donna had made for him, and smiled.  "Guess those thugs got their wish.  I'm going to hell after all."

Dick Grayson has posed:
    Dick looks a bit stunned at the vanishing of that many teammates, but recovers and funnels the crowd out of the room so Raven can get to work.  A quick text is fired off once Raven makes her announcement about their location, then he nods to the spookiest of Titans.
    "I'm going too.  I'm not going to just stand around while everyone is trying to get the team out of whatever realm they got sent to."  Tilting his head a little to look at Damian, he just shakes his head.  "You never cease to amaze me, Damian.  But in this case, you might have the right idea."
    Looking back to Raven, he asks, "You need anything special to make this happen, or just for us to stay out of your way?"

Donna Troy has posed:
    Donna gives a nod of her head to Caitlin.  "Terry's about right, it's not what you're thinking of as hell, though it obviously influenced…"  She stops a moment to pick her words carefully.  "…the way that many Christian writers interpreted the idea of hell.  Though unlike Arkham Asylum there's not even a pretence at trying to achieve redemption or a cure.  Tartarus is a prison intended to punish those who have displeased the gods."
    She tilts her head back towards Terry.  "At this point I'd think I wouldn't have to keep pulling you up on the 'mythology' thing, Terry.  I mean you're right here."
    Donna has been seated quite calmly on the stone walkway to wait, though her eyes keep scanning the horizon.  "Kian, please try not to worry.  This isn't another planet, it's just a… it's too complicated to explain.  We're going home, it'll be fine so long as we stay together and don't do anything stupid.  Talking of which, flying is a last resort.  I'd rather not attract the attention of a flock of harpies.  I got chased by some once when I was a kid and it wasn't fun.  There are a lot of them here."
    There are occasionally dark shapes high in the sky that might be birds, but then given what Donna's suggesting, they might be something worse.
    Donna's head tilts thoughtfully to the side, and she stands up again.  Her lasso glows with a gold light that pierces the gloom even though she has it slung at her belt—normally it only glows when it's in her hands and about to use it.  "Right.  I suspect Rae is about to join us.  We're going to make our way along the walkways in… that direction," she says, pointing towards where the volcano can be seen spitting fire on the horizon.  "There should be a stone tunnel somewhere a few miles ahead that will lead to the iron gate.  We get there, we talk our way through, we negotiate passage on the river beyond, and when we cross back into our world we can teleport safely back to the tower.  Shouldn't take more than a day at most and we'll be home."  She makes it sound so simple.

Gar Logan has posed:
    Gar Logan glances down at the hand and squeezes it, commenting dryly to Vorpal in the end, "I dunno if a tea party that never ends is much better, dude.  But if we're gonna be here a whole day, did anyone bring snacks?  Water?"  It's not just that his appetite is always on.  The body needs hydration above all else, and in this place?  It probably needs even more of it.
    "You make it all sound like we're just going to the store for some groceries, Donna," he adds, going on to say, "When that whole thing ended up being an attack and the box or vase or whatever it is sent out this beam of light that transported whoever it passed over here!"
    Kian's reaction and subsequent assessment of the situation… he can't help but snicker, if briefly.  "Hey, we'll get outta here.  But maybe we don't want to see those harpies too close.  Or those other ones down there."  The figures reaching for them and making all that noise.  "They sound kind of like you in the bedroom, Vorpal."  The fact Raven may be looking in on them is better off left alone.  He's had enough disapproving looks from her, more than he can count.

Caitlin Fairchild has posed:
    "I've got snacks," Caitlin chimes in, because of course she does.  There's a small fannypack at the small of her back, except it's made of leather and has a more integrated appearance than being a cheap slingpack slung there for convenience.  She digs around in it and pulls out a few ration bars.  They're not the worst-tasting things in the world, but they are definitely designed more on the 'nutrient-dense' side of things than for flavor.
    "Water's going to be a problem, I didn't think we were going on an interdimensional trip.  If I remember the lore right, you don't want to drink any water you find here.  I think it's the river Lethal—Lete?  Lethe?" she hazards.  "I can't remember how to pronounce it, but it'll make you lose your memories."  She hands the bars out to anyone who needs them, keeping none for herself.

Kian has posed:
    Unsurprisingly, Terry senses the great agitation between Kían's normally rational manner and exterior, butting heads with the panic of being thrown into another world so soon after being thrown onto Earth.  It's a struggle to keep his thoughts in order—they may even rival the cat's own for chaos.  The effort is ongoing.
    One thing that always clears his head is flight, and he's already gotten about five meters in the air when he hears Donna's warning about not flying.  He lands flat-footed next to Terry again, with a scowl.  "We are not only not on Eart', but we are a place I can not fly?" he says, deeply aggrieved.  "I did not think it coul' be worse, an' yet it iss.  What iss the fastes' way out of here, and where iss it?  I do not want to be here any more than we haf to be."
    He takes a few deep, calming breaths.
    They don't really help.

Terry O'Neil has posed:
    "I mean, 'mythology' is shorter than saying 'the pantheon, shared beliefs and respective dimensional cubbyholes of the afterlife and elysian fields et al.', but if you'd prefer accuracy over expediency, I will be happy to oblige.  But Donna is right—you don't want to attract the attention of the Harpies.  Especially if Celaeno is hanging around here.  I hear she has an absolutely rotten temper."
    Curiously, the fact that he is in Tartarus doesn't seem to scare Terry as much as when they were lost in terra incognita.  It's probably because this is something he knows, even if he has only read about this in the past… and much of what may have come down to mortal man may be inaccurate, it's still something more than what they had back in the White Hole.  But, if his experience as a Titan has taught him anything, is that nothing is as simple as what Donna hopes.  "I worry…" he says quietly, "about what their reaction might be to finding me here.  If you had to box me into something, I'd technically be related to the fae more than anything else… which, I guess, the closest thing you have in the Pantheon is Nymphs and Satyrs.  I most certainly do not have the decolletage to be a Nymph, and Gar is far more the horny goat than I am," he says, in an attempt to lighten the mood a little bit… and to tease him back for that moaning comment.
    "Cait is right.  You might be thirsty or hungry, and the chance of any food or drink appearing will be very slim, but trust me on this—do not eat or drink anything you might happen upon while you are down here.  I am not entirely sure if the rules for Hades also extend to Tartarus, but let's just treat this place the same as Faerie and Hades.  No food nor drink unless it came from Catilin's ever-bountiful Bag Of Holding Yummies."  He gives Caitlin a look, though, because he sees what she's doing.  "You keep a few for yourself, lady.  I mean it, or I'll hork a hairball into your pack when you are not looking."
    Then, of course, there is the bigger worry of how the gods may react when a Raven pops up in their sub-basement.  The Daughter of Trigon, the Literal Doorway To The Extermination Beyond, might make any number of gods nervous about a potential Aggressive Franchise Merger of their afterlife.  He glances briefly at Donna, wondering if she might think the same.  "Well.  As Chrysostom said, 'Misfortunes are less sharp when shared with others.'  Tit—"  He pauses, taking stock of exactly where they are, and the possibility that someone might be listening.  "Insert Team Name Here Together."  He reaches over and puts an arm around Kian, to try to comfort him.  "Easy there.  We'll follow Donna, potentially get into a scuffle here and there, and then we'll be out, right?"  He pulls Gar over for a three-way hug to try and give the telepath some comfort, and to prepare for the arduous trip ahead.

Rachel Roth has posed:
    As the others volunteer, Raven holds her hands in her pockets and floats like some ominous totem of intense disapproval.
    Eventually, as the others make ready, she turns towards them.  "I do need one thing, but I luckily have a spell prepared for just this occasion."  She regards them in silence for a time, before speaking again.  "It's good that you are all willing to go."  There's an odd emphasis on the words Good and Willing, that implies that while she may have asked for volunteers, the hesitant or outright unwilling would have been teleported all the same.  She leaves the idea of exactly what spell she has prepared a mystery.
    Speaking of which, Raven lifts a bit further off of the ground and is consumed by what can only be called a mystical hurricane of swirling black energy.  This maelstrom coalesces behind her into an effective portal, and the others—the poor, friendly Titans, who just want to help their friends—are actively pulled into it by featureless, spectral limbs.  They reach out like the tentacular arms of an octopus, which they resemble vaguely, and grasp at her compatriots. So encircled, each one will be yanked bodily into the portal.  Raven, quietly, slips backwards into it without another word, unaided by slithering tentacles/marital aids.  That they were entirely optional for her is an injustice the other Titans are likely never to know.
    Their arrival in Tartarus is heralded by an explosion of shadows, noticeably moving masses of darkness incarnate that form into a horizontal hole in the universe, which without any ceremony seems to actively vomit three Titans onto the floors of the underworld some short distance behind the others.  Those who are acrobatic, or can fly, will likely be fine—which does mean basically everyone—and sadly she doesn't teleport Gar this time, so she can't deposit him upside down.  She'll get him twice next time, somehow.
    Raven, for her part, floats calmly down out of the portal into Tartarus with all the grace she can manage.  Floating beside her is a fully constructed, magically conjured doghouse.  It seems lovingly constructed, as the wood is symmetrical and seamless, and the paint is completely error-free.  Above the small door aperture on the front is a silver name-plaque that bares the name 'TROIA' in excellently chiseled lettering.
    "We have arrived," she declares.
    The spell was for the doghouse.  She has been waiting for a situation like this.

Nadia Pym-van Dyne has posed:
    "Is it really Hell?  I mean I've seen some pretty terrible dimensions…" Nadia begins to say after Damien and Dick's comments only to be cut off with a yelp when the tentacular arms of Raven's swirling black portal reach out and snatch her up, dragging her through the roiling maelstrom of mystical energies.  Like all travel with Raven it is a harrowing experience moving between worlds and likely not one she would care to repeat any time soon.  "Okay, that though, that might have been Hell!"  She coughs doubling over and placing her hands on her knees for a moment.
    Finally standing up and looking around Nadia's eyes get a bit wide as she surveys the dim red shrouded bleakness around filled with the faceless shuffling forms of the damned, "This… might be worse than the dimension where Dad combined with Ultron and tried to kill me."
    In the back of the Waspette's mind an internal dialogue is racing a mile a minute trying to analyze and make sense of her surroundings in terms of known Physics but just keeps returning 'Error: Phenomenon Impossible' which further fails to reconcile with her belief that nothing is impossible.  The net effect is a Waspette that seems kind of distant at first before she finally shakes it off resolving to just deal with the 'Now', making sense of things will have to wait.

Damian Wayne has posed:
    The travel to Tartarus was one that… was unconventional, to say the least.  As the black tentacles grabbed Robin and the rest, if anyone would have looked at the young Titan, they would have seen a grin on his face.  This is the kind of thing he loved doing.
    As much as it should have been a harrowing experience, this was better than a roller coaster, at least where he was concerned.
    As Raven deposits them in Tartarus, there is a significant whooping from a certain grumpasaurus rex.  The whirlwind dropped them off in spectacular fashion, and Damian's cape goes ridged, allowing for a soft-ish landing.
    Once he lands, he rises from a crouch, with a smile on.  "I want to do that again."

Dick Grayson has posed:
    With a rather undignified eeping sound Nightwing is grabbed by a tentacle and dragged to hell.  Well, one of them anyway, and at least it's for a good reason.  Being him, his landing is actually graceful as he flips out of the portal and lands on his feet before looking around.
    "Well, this is… ominous.  Rae, you take us to the nicest places."  He scans around the area he can see and spots his missing teammates in the distance.
    "Ah, there they are.  And not even in combat with horrible monsters out of mythology yet.  Something must be wrong, it's never this easy."  He looks to the others.  "Let's get over to them before anything happens to split us up, that's all we need."

Donna Troy has posed:
    "Yeah, no drinking from the Lethe," Donna agrees with Cait, while turning down the offer of an energy bar with a raised hand.  "Generally best to stay out of any of the rivers that pass throug here, whatever you may heard of Achilles.  Just uh… well we'll deal with it.  Luckily we seem to have arrived only a few miles from the wall or we could have been in big trouble."
    "You can fly a bit, if you have to," Donna concedes to Kian as she waits.  "Just keep it very low.  Like head level.  Unless there's an emergency.  Remember, no attracting attention."
    Not attracting attention is exactly what Raven doesn't with the somewhat spectacular arrival of reinforcements.  And dog house.  Donna stares at the doghouse for a few moments, then gives Rae a look.  After a few moments, it changes into a smirk.  "Don't try pinning this on me, Rae.  I didn't do it!"  It's a valid point.  Donna didn't knock the box over, or smash the table it was on.  Not that she's going to point any fingers of blame; Rae doesn't need encouragement to blame Gar for everything, after all.  She shakes her head and rolls her eyes at Raven, but it's a fond expression and there's no disguising that Donna's pleased to see her.
    "And you brought reinforcements."  Donna's less pleased to see Dick, Damian and Nadia, though she doesn't show it.  Not that she wouldn't usually be pleased to see any of them, but she isn't enamoured of the idea of increasing the size of the group.  After a moment she gives a smile and a shrug.  "Welcome to Tartarus guys.  No, Nightwing.  I can't promise easy, or safe.  But if we're lucky it shouldn't be too bad.  We've got a hike ahead of us.  Stick to the walkways, don't draw attention to yourselves, ignore the eidolons filling the plains below, or anything else that calls to you, tries to talk to you or bargain with you.  Follow my lead and we'll be out of here before the day's out.  Let's go."

    The march is steady, but tiring.  The air is hot and dry.  The atmosphere is oppressive, and if the Titans find themselves instinctively tending to talk at a whisper, Donna encourages it.  After a few hours there may be an increasing sense of complacency though—nothing seems to be accosting the Titans or causing them any trouble, though the constant moaning of the creatures that fill the plain wears on the nerves.  It's soon clear that Donna doesn't exactly know the route rather than the direction as there's a certain amount of backtracking and she's not always entirely confident of which path to take, but after six hours of marching the Titans finally see the mouth of a tunnel appear ahead of them.  The tunnel appears to be made of mud brick, eighty feet wide, fifty feet high and lit by scattered fires along the floor.  It's anyone's guess who keeps the fires fed.  The tunnel extends out of view, the far end lost to darkness beyond.
    A hot air blows out from the mouth of the tunnel, smelling faintly of decay, and faintly of the rich, earthy, animal smell of a zoo.  From time to time an ominous rumbling sound echoes through the tunnel. Donna unslings her lasso, readying it in her hands, and mutters, "I wish I'd brought my sword."  She glances to Caitlin.  "Cait, take the lead with me, okay?  Rae, if you've got some way of forewarning us of anything coming towards us, that would be useful.  Who wants to take rearguard?"

Terry O'Neil has posed:
    "You know, I read that King Tantalus is probably somewhere down here.  Got sent down here for cutting up his own son and serving him up as a dish when the gods invited him over for dinner."  Light conversation indeed.  "Man, the ancients had issues.  Maybe Zeus said the kid was so adorable 'he could just eat him up' and Tantalus was one of those Very Literal People…" and then the other Titans arrive.
    Vorpal gives Raven a big grin, which extends to the others.  "The cavalry arrives!  And look…"  He glances at the dog house.  "They brought you a tent for the trip, Donna."  He looks back to his friend, a teasing glint in his eyes.  There is commiseration in that glint—Gar got him a doghouse not unlike that one to express his displeasure when he went off with Harley to spread the Christmas Cheer at the Gotham Children's hospital, and some gangsters popped up to try to steal the toys.  Which had contraband jewels in them, because Harley didn't check her sources.
    But her heart was in the right place. Which, most of the time, is all that matters to Terry.
    "I'll take the rear!"
    Hush, Gar.

Caitlin Fairchild has posed:
    Caitlin looks relieved when Raven arrives; despite Donna's disapproval, she mouths a grateful 'thank you' to the pale-skinned woman.  "Nadia, you can ride on my shoulder," Caitlin invites the Waspette.  "I need a second set of eyes watching the sky here."
    Off they go; Caitlin sets a merciless pace, making the others walk just about as fast as they are physically capable of sustaining.  It's likely fairly exhausting for anyone who isn't accustomed to endurance walks.
    When they reach the tunnel, she wordlessly offers Donna the hammer in her hands.  It's better than nothing, and when it comes down to it, Caitlin's fists are about as dangerous as the heavy Themysciran warhammer itself.  With the marching order resolved, Caitlin starts prowling into the tunnel a few strides ahead of the other Titans, with Donna at her elbow.  If anything comes rushing at them head-on, it will meet a hard wall of resistance in the form of the two Amazons at the vanguard.

Gar Logan has posed:
    To his credit, Gar doesn't make any jokes about the doghouse.  Just not the right place or time.  Besides, he's gravitated toward Caitlin for the nourishment, eating half of it for now, saving half for the trek ahead.  What's this?  Thinking ahead?
    "Hey, look.  The gang's all here!"  Just about.  He gives Raven and the rest a somewhat muted, uncomfortable wave in spite of the greeting, mainly because this whole thing is just spooky.
    After they're filled in, and they make their way in the direction Donna says they're meant to go, he ends up mostly quiet and attentive.  No 'Are we there yet?' or 'How much further?'  He's keeping an eye on their surroundings, the masses that would seek to grab them and do unspeakable things, and… the place is just starting to weigh on him by the time a few hours have gone by.
    So it's with a quickness that he says, "If I can do anything…."  Eager to be of use.

Kian has posed:
    Kían lags back with Terry, mostly to keep his mind off of walking.  It's just not anything he's used to doing for long periods—most distances beyond a few wingspans, you fly.  For inconveniently long distances, there are mechanized transports.  Walking is kind of weird… but everything is weird anymore.
    You'd think he'd be used to that by now.  In any case, keeping contact with Terry helps keep his mind occupied.
    Donna has warned him off flying, allowable with restrictions.  About every half-hour or so, he kicks into the air, remembering to keep no more than two meters high… just to keep from doing something that really attracts attention.  Like screaming in frustration.
    After a while, he asks—sensibly, he thinks—"If we are not suppose to interac' with the… bein's here, what do we do if one comes close?  Jus' try to stay away from it?"
    The approaching mouth of the tunnel is a strangely comforting sight.  First of all, it's vast.  And hopefully it's also short and home is on the other side of it.  Terry might be surprised to sense that 'home' really does mean Earth and the Tower to the birdman now, not his homeworld.

Rachel Roth has posed:
    Raven has designed this Doghouse specifically.  Its every measurement purposeful.  As Donna moves to lead the team, Raven drifts forward, and so does the doghouse, the narrow side of which is just a touch wider than Troia's shoulders.  That becomes apparent as Raven rotates it such that she can drape it over Donna's shoulders, the other woman's head comfortably jutting from the door.  Gar may have gotten Terry a doghouse, but did he think to physically put Terry in it?  Raven is so astute.
    She doesn't take any steps to save the thing from its inevitable crushing, while commenting in reply, "I am not trying to pin this on you, Troia.  I have.  Successfully," she notes, in that candid, literal tone of hers.  A nod is given to Cait at her wordless thanks for Raven's presence.  SOMEONE appreciates the presence of the gloomy sorceress, at least.  "You can move faster than the eye can see.  Yet, I suppose, this is a brilliant training maneuver for the newer recruits.  I notice you've already secluded yourself with Caitlin.  I didn't know you wanted to have a fight today."  Yes, it was tactically the right choice.  Yes, it's clear—at least to Troia—that Raven is giving her a hard time, as she is wont to do.  No, she doesn't really mean it.  Yes, she does find it hilarious.
    Raven takes her position without argument, her feet never touching the floor.  "I'll do my best.  The spirits and threats here are… Predictable.  I don't need to say it, but I am going to—I can only remove us from here in the case of an extraordinarily dire emergency.  The paperwork would be tremendous, and I'd have to file it all myself."  Calling the attention of various angry underworld deities paperwork is the understatement of the year—rightfully, it'd probably be more dangerous to do that than simply trek out in a mythological fashion, but it does say that she is willing to do it in the right circumstances.
    Otherwise, as they begin the journey, she is akin to a ghost—putting all of her attention to the world around them, and that which dwells there.  With any luck, the spirits know who Troia and Raven are.  If their reputation has preceded them, then it will be relatively peaceful.  If.

Nadia Pym-van Dyne has posed:
    In the blink of an eye Nadia goes from Nadia sized to pixie sized as her bio-mechanical wings extend from her back and she flutters over to perch on Caitlin's offered shoulder eager to help.  The fact perching on Caitlin means she doesn't have to walk only sweetens the deal.  "Okay!" Nadia chirps training her eyes on the dark red-lit sky above them and those ominous shapes in the distance.  "Second pair of eyes I can do!"
    She passes the time of the journey mostly looking at the sky and whispering in Caitlin's ear when any of the strange flying shapes begins to get too close.  When Gar comes over though she gives him a wave.  "If you get thirsty, I should have some things in the lab."  The Lab?  In Tartarus?  Yes.  The one she wears around her neck.
    When the entrance to the tunnel entrance looms in front of them, Nadia doesn't give up her perch, reasoning she can always flit away if things get too intense but ideally can provide support to the front line from this position.  "That's… a really big doorway."  She peers from side to side and then up and up and up as if trying to figure out why it is so high and yet not commensurately wide.  She peers ahead into the gloom cycling through the different spectrums of vision and other sensors that her helmet offers trying to make out what lies ahead.

Damian Wayne has posed:
    After his little… fun, Robin was all business.  Of course since he didn't need to fight, he put his own sword back in the scabbard.  "I think Pallas would find this an interesting story for the sword," he whispers somewhere hours down the trek.  "I cannot imagine many of her works can say they have been to hell and back."
    Six hours of trekking, in armor and gear that doesn't breathe that well.  Robin would never admit it, but the sweat and his face shows a decent measure of exhaustion.
    Damian joins in with the forward party, sword at the ready.  It didn't matter to him if he was… squishy.  But the smell from the tunnel, and the rumbling sounds… something spooky is in there, and it is both exhilarating and terrifying.  "On your six," he says, steeling his resolve.

Dick Grayson has posed:
    Nightwing falls in with the crowd of other Titans as they head out in the direction Donna indicates.  Peering through the general murk of hopelessness emanating from the faceless figures below, he keeps an eye out for anything that could be described with the adjectives 'large', 'clawed' or 'drooling' coming their way as they follow the paths.
    When they make it to the tunnel entrance, he flips through the various vision modes on his mask, including telescopic, trying to see down the tunnel and make out what might be big enough to make it's breath felt out here.
    "So, ominous breathing tunnel.  I'm thinking maybe we need three really big dog biscuits if we want to get past without a fight.  Raven, you did the doghouse, got any other canine themed spells handy?"

Donna Troy has posed:
    It does indeed not take too long before the doghouse meets its inevitable fate, and when crushed remains of the doghouse are cast into the pit below, the creatures Donna had named eidolons mill around the broken wood for a while in confusion before deciding to ignore it.  One of them stands on the remains, gaining a half-foot of height over its fellows, but seems to have no clue what to do with this advantage.
    "Given where we are today, Rae… I think for once I'd prefer not to have a fight," Donna tells her with a broad grin.  Raven may be giving her a hard time, but that's just Raven's way, and it lifts her mood.
    "Hopefully we won't have to interact with anything until we get to the gate, Kian.  That's what these walkways are for.  If we meet anything on the walkway… I'm not sure.  Leave it to me.  Don't talk to it.  Don't touch it.  If it tries to kill you, zap it."
    She gives Damian a smile, but shakes her head slightly.  "You'd be surprised," she says.  "There's a reason I have some idea of the geography around here.  The Amazons guard one of the other gates here, and sometimes we have reason to go through the gates ourselves.  This is the second time I have been in this realm myself."
    During the march Donna finds herself having to call Caitlin back from setting too fierce a pace; not everone here is built for it.  However when they get to the mouth of the tunnel, she refuses Caitlin's offer of the loan of her hammer with a smile and a shake of the head.  "No Cait.  I've got my lasso.  And that's a weapon designed for you.  We may need to rely on your reach here, let's not reduce it."
    The Titans march into the tunnel, Cait and Donna in the lead, Gar and Terry volunteering to take up the rear.  Although the passage is wide there's no real chance of anything approaching them from the flank without being seen.  There seems little to see in the tunnel ahead even through the wider-spectrum vision offered by Nadia's helmet or the bat-lenses of Robin and Nightwing.
    Perhaps a mile into the tunnel, the unpleasant smell starts to grow increasingly stronger, and a short distance further ahead the Titans pass a mound of something very unpleasant smelling that implies some animal of considerable size has passed this way.  There is what looks distinctly like the shape of a foot impressed in the dung mound, and several footprints of smeared muck moving in the direction the Titans had come from leading from it.  The size of the feet might give Nadia some clue to her ponderings of the dimensions of this tunnel—it appears that something bipedal and very tall has used this passage.  "Terry, Gar, no," Donna says as they pass the pile.  "Just no.  Whatever you were thinking of doing or saying, no."
    It's hard to judge distances in the tunnel, and there's something about the unchanging nature of the tunnel that plays with the sense of time.  Nevertheless it can't be more than another two or three miles before a dim circle of light indicating the tunnel is coming to an end.  The Titans' pace picks up as they approach, but when they're no more than a few hundred feet from the entrance, something starts to move there.
    Dick's joke about dog biscuits was voicing something that must have been on the minds of most of the Titans; Kerberos is the one thing about Tartarus that even most people who aren't Amazons have heard about.  When the shape moving at the mouth of the tunnel starts to become more clear and a canine head can be made out, everyone with the exception of Kian must be thinking it.  When the second head appears, and then the third, there will be no doubt that Kerberos approaches.
    The giant dog pads forwards, growling, its central head fixed on the Titans, the other two heads looking around as it approaches, checking for anyone who might be hiding closer to the walls of the tunnel.  Powerful limbs carry the three-headed creature at a steady pace, but for now it's not charging.  Three noses smell the air, and one head growls softly.  The beast is huge, bigger than a bull.  As big as a small elephant.
    "Nobody be dead," Donna warns.  "Being dead would be a bad idea right now.  As we're alive, we might be okay.  But just in case… Terry, I know I said no Rabbit Holes, but if he charges, Rabbit Hole in front of him and another as far behind us as you can manage.  That would count as an emergency.  Everyone get ready to run, and run fast.  And try not to hurt him, because his owner is someone we do not want angry at us!"

Gar Logan has posed:
    "Wasn't gonna say a thing," Gar openly lies.  He's thinking it.  They're all thinking it.  Nightwing has brought it up.  "Except… we're gonna need a bigger doghouse," he adds as the trio of canine heads soon becomes clear.
    The stench, the big tunnel of significant length, the whole nature of this place… it's just weighing on him, and the joke is the only way he knows to try to lighten the mood a little.  "I sure hope he doesn't like chasing cats.  Actually, that could work to our advantage," he adds, nudging Vorpal.  "Uh, gooood giant doggy?"  He puts a hand out to be sniffed, but keeps a more than healthy distance from Kerberos, or Cerberus, or whatever name exists for the three-headed dog.
    Beast Boy turns into animals.  He could become practically anything he can think of.  He could be Kerberos.  But will his tie to the animal world do him any good here?

Kian has posed:
    Kían just stares at the huge beast.  There is no Kerberos in his legends; for that matter, he's met very few normal-sized dogs with the normal number of heads.  "What iss it?" he asks predictably, and in a tone that suggests he already knows he won't like the answer.  His wings twitch slightly.  This is precisely the sort of thing one should fly away from very, very fast.
    "If it iss emergency enough for a rabbit hole," Kían comments, "it iss emergency enough to fly."  That wasn't a question, it was a statement of intent.  He's just not built for running, not with a few meters of feathery appendages on his back.

Rachel Roth has posed:
    "I only have one canine themed spell in my repertoire at the moment, and all it does is conjure another doghouse.  I was going to place it on Troia's side of the bed, later.  I did not exactly have time to adjourn to a library to look up something apt for the situation we are about to face."
    Admittedly, as they approach, the thought of having Gar turn into Kerberos and performing an Indiana Jones style swap before escaping Tartarus has been lingering at the back of her mind for a while.  She could smooth it over with Hades.  Troia would help.  It'd be a victimless crime.  Vorpal could visit on Tuesdays.
    Still, however, there is the matter of fact that it isn't how much of a threat the titanic canine poses to the team—which, frankly, might be minimal considering Caitlin, Donna, and Raven herself let alone the sheer experience and fighting prowess the less mystical and superpowered other Titans present bring to the table.  It's that bringing that might to bear would incite a threat far greater, and while it may in the end result in the mystical version of paperwork for Raven and Troia, it would be the least pleasant paperwork in the universe.
    Momentarily, the idea of Hippolyta's response and the incredible dressing down Donna would receive at her hands visits Raven's mind, and no matter how appealing, it's pushed away.  For now.  She'll think about it, though.  Nobody can stop her from imagining it to great glee.
    These thoughts combine in a perfect storm of things Raven enjoys, and she gets one of those almost stupid smiles on her face for a scant few moments, the kind of idiotic grin you get when you've thought of the perfect funny thing, an expression that has genuinely never been on Raven's face before.  So new to her it is that she cannot immediately suppress it, and being that her emotions when uncontrolled are contagious, is likely to spread to the rest of the team if they're not careful, resulting in a moment of unabashed glee, fleeting as it may be, in the pits of one of mythology's most famous hells.
    It may be, frankly, the most appropriate place for it to have happened to Raven.
    Now that Kerberos is fully present, and her internal glee is dutifully shoved into the room where Raven keeps happy thoughts for when they're needed, which is never, Raven drifts foward and places a hand on Donna's shoulder.
    "I can do my best to ensure that it doesn't make good on any hostility it's feeling, but I'd rather do so only if it decides that we're supposed to stay here."
    For a moment, Raven locks eyes with Kerberos itself, and her impassive expression remains upon her features as she stares beyond what can be seen by normal eyes—in a mystical fashion, she peers essentially into its very soul.  "Do you think it remembers you fondly?" she asks, genuinely.
    "If not, now would be the time to pull everyone into defensive positions.  Just in case."
    Her attention drifts to Kian, and while she is attentive to the bird, she doesn't look at him—instead, just speaking.  "Don't.  Do not fly.  You walk.  You keep your head low.  You look miserable and submissive, and maybe it won't take you for a threat.  As Troia has said, we should be allowed to leave.  We should have clearance to walk out and go home, but the god whose house we're in will believe the testimony of Kerberos before almost any other, and it would be a bad idea to give him any excuse."
    With that, Raven follows along, keeping only a hair's breadth behind Donna.  Does she consider herself part of the front line?  Not exactly, but this situation may call for a level of mystical finesse and the removal of the concept of aggression from the psyche of a being that has spent untold eons being told to be nothing other than hostile.
    Taking any measure to shave that portion off of its mind is going to be an unpleasant experience, and it isn't one she takes lightly.  The thought of it has all of her attention now, and she keeps her eyes on the hellhound with every step that is taken.
    With any luck, the Titans will act appropriately, and Donna's expertise will be rightly trusted, and apt for the situation.
    Of course, the Titans are definitely the luckiest team of heroes in the whole of human history, and there is definitely no literally immediate evidence to the contrary.

Nadia Pym-van Dyne has posed:
    Nadia makes a face beneath her helmet when they pass the seeming mountain of dung.  It's one thing at normal size, it's quite another at tiny size and much closer to an actual mountain.  "That…" she begins but then stops when Kerberos comes into view.
    The Waspette takes a step backward on Caitlin's shoulder at the sight of the massive three headed canine.  "N… nice doggy?" she manages as she watches the second and then the third head appear.  Donna's explanation that this thing has an owner and that they should try not to hurt it doesn't really do much to calm her initial apprehension, nor the statement that the rabbit holes Terry should absolutely not use could be used in this situation.
    "Maybe he likes treats?  Do we still have any of those food bars?  I could make one really big for him…."  Not the best plan perhaps but at the moment the best she has that wouldn't risk serious harm.

Damian Wayne has posed:
    Robin continues onward, where the stink of three headed dog poop can be smelled.  It wasn't that great.
    But Robin kept going, until the group had now encountered the beast.  "Cerberus."
    The massive dog pads toward Gar, seemingly interested in the scent of Beast Boy.  The outside heads sniff around, looking around while the center head sniffs at Beast Boy's hand.  As Troia said, being alive is really helping them out right now.
    Robin sheathed his sword, and approached slowly, letting his scent acclimate to Kerberos.  He even removes his gloves, reaching out with his own flesh and blood, his living hands.  One hand, fully open palm up, and in the other, slowly and confidently, beef jerky.  "Waspette," he says, holding out the, as of right now, small beefy treat.

Dick Grayson has posed:
    With a nod, Nightwing mutters, "Called it.  Told you we needed dog biscuits.  Time to add to the utility belt for the future."
    Looking to Donna, one brow raises as she warns them not to be dead.  "Well, that is generally the goal, I think.  We want to get out cause we're not dead, and we want to get past the big doggy so it doesn't make us dead.  So I think we can manage not being dead, it's one of our strengths, really.  Beside that though, are there any actually useful things we can do to try and make this encounter go well?"
    When Robin comes up with the beef jerky, he smiles.  "Good one.  Make that nice and big and maybe we can just bribe our way by."

Terry O'Neil has posed:
    Terry looks… nervous.  There is a very good reason for this, namely—that there is a gigantic effing three-headed dog in front of them, and he has remembered that he is a cat.  All of his knowledge of Greek myth will avail to nothing if instinct proves greater than duty, and Kerberos decides that what it really wants to do is chase the Cheshire cat up a dead tree.  It's for this reason that he lets Robin and Waspette and the rest attempt to charm the beast, maybe soothe its savage breast.  He remains very, very still so as not to provoke Spot.

Donna Troy has posed:
    Donna looks to Raven, and as that smile of glee flickers over the half-demon's features, a matching grin finds its way onto Donna's.  Whether this is the result of some empathic overflow or just a direct reaction to seeing that rare stupid smile on Raven's face is something none shall ever know, including Donna.
    Kerberos shifts his heavy snuffling from Gar's outstretched hand to Damian, he lets out a loud but nonetheless quite gentle sounding 'WHUFF' from one of his other heads, cheeks puffing sideways.  The third head turns to regard Gar curiously, ears pricking and head tilting to one side as the middle head makes quick work of Damian's beef jerky.  He's a big doggo, and the addition of supersize snack bar to the bribe does seem like a plan.
    Donna echoes Kerberos' head tilt, but as she tilts her head to Dick her expression is less 'what kind of dog are you' and a little more 'smartass!'.  "You know what I meant, Nightwing.  I mean specific to this occasion.  Kerberos guards against the dead trying to escape here.  We're not dead.  I think we're gonna be okay…"  She glances Terry's way.  "Unless Vorpal starts hissing."
    She turns back to Raven with a grin, resting her hand briefly over Raven's as that hand in turn rests on her shoulder.  "I think you're spared any onerous emotion-draining.  Looks like our animal-loving team mates have this one well in hand."

Caitlin Fairchild has posed:
    Caitlin visibly relaxes, coming off the balls of her feet and taking a steadying breath.  "Golly, I was about to go a round with that thing," she mutters to Raven and Donna.  "I figure we're not singing our way past, and I remembered Hercules did it once by smacking it around.  I really don't want to be known as a dog abuser."
    She glances at the animal favoring the other Titans with friendly attentions now.  "Even if it's a scary mythological one that guards the place here.  He's really not so bad, is he?"

Gar Logan has posed:
    Beast Boy glances sidelong to the others with things for Kerberos to nom on, whatever methods they have of making sure it's enough.  It might not be enough.  "Guys, I'm gonna say right here and now, we can't do a 'but he followed us home, can we keep him?' thing here.  Let's just play it cool, and Vorpal… maybe you better lose the C-A-T side for this part."
    He's thinking about what to do if the big dog decides to get aggressive with them, but they are alive and the giant pooch seems to be accepting of them… so far.  He bites back a swallow before gently and carefully reaching further to run his hand along the side of the head that's giving him the most attention right now.  "There's been a debate online about Clifford the Big Red Dog being a kaiju.  Right now I'm kind of on the side of 'yes' there.  Anyone want to try passing?"
    He doesn't really understand whatever Raven just tried doing, but things are working out for the time being.

Kian has posed:
    Kían says nothing, and keeps his wings folded, but Terry can feel the tension in him.  Fortunately, this is a case of 'so far so good', and he's not going to mess with that.  "That might not be a good idea," he puts in at Gar's suggestion.  "His change iss not subtle an' might startle… that thing.  It has probably notice Terry already, an' I do not think startlin' it iss sensible."
    No, 'fighting like cats and dogs' isn't a thing on his world either, at least not with anything remotely resembling a cat or a dog.
    Well, the only way to get past it is to pass it.  He steps forward gingerly, to be recognized by it as 'not dead', and he really hopes that status doesn't change in the next few seconds.

Terry O'Neil has posed:
    He's a very nice dog—for a dog.  Vorpal has no problem with dogs—some of his best subjects were dogs, back in Wonderland.  You could get them to do just about anything if you found a way to disguise it as a fetch quest.  With literal fetching.  "Hon," Vorpal says very quietly, and slowly, "like Kian said… if I change into human form, not only is there going to be a very visible light show, but also there's going to be a shuffling of parts of my soul, and I have no way of knowing how Goodboy here will see that. For all we know, it could trigger his watchdog reflexes.  Or for that matter, this place might see it as an attempt to escape.  I think I'd better just… play it safe."
    And that means he will try to pass, but do so in the most gentle, casual, pink-panther type of 'Oh I am just here' saunter that there is.  He is really most sincerely not dead.  But he is an unusual soul with two parts to it.  He has no idea if Kerberos is one for technicalities and might end up seeing one part of him as a stowaway.

Rachel Roth has posed:
    The stroll past the great beast of a dog is tense, but disarmed.  The animal-friends of the Titans step forward—something Raven is surprised, even if she doesn't show it, includes Damian—and offer gifts.  Luckily, the culture surrounding Kerberos is one of gifts and sacrifice.  If it understands anything, it understands an offering to placate.  There's actually more to this than just Treats Make Dog Happy.
    "If we're offering treats, though… I think we have finally found a situation in which Vorpal is very useful."  She wasn't about to let this go without offering the suggestion, after all.  She hopes, futilely, that Troia will side with her and the sacrifice will be made.
    Idly, her hand twists, palm upwards, and because she feels Donna may need it, she offers a calming squeeze to the other woman's hand.  "I think, for once, we could use the lucky break to just walk out of a place like this.  That would be nice."

Nadia Pym-van Dyne has posed:
    "Thanks Robin!  That is perfect!"  Nadia gives him a bright smile as she zips off of Caitlin's shoulder for the moment with a flutter of Bio-Synthetic wings.  She stays small, seemingly hoping not to attract too much attention to herself even as she aims one of her gauntlets at the beef jerky in Damian's hand.
    <<When it gets too heavy, just drop it.>>  Nadia's voice comes through the comms to avoid having to speak too loudly and also because she is pretty small at the moment.
    The beam of concentrated Pym Particles from the Waspette's gauntlet collides with the jerky and what was a small stick of meat begins to enlarge growing bigger and bigger until it is more like a segment of tree trunk composed of tasty meats.  "Giant treat for a giant doggo!"  Who taught her that word?!

Damian Wayne has posed:
    Robin's brow eases back as the first treat is gobbled up with gusto.  He even chuckles with the… texture of a giant dog's tongue.  Is that even a smile?
    "Good Kerberos," he says, loud enough that the dog and anyone close can hear.
    Damian's hand reaches up, and pets the dog, again, confidently, yet slowly.  "This will distract him long enough to pass."  It's a strategy that works with guard dogs, and the reason why he keeps beef jerky in one of the back compartments on his belt.
    As the second chunk of dried beef is enlarged, Damian's hand lets go, quickly, and Robin keeps a hand on the dog, before gesturing to the giant sized treat.  "Good work."  Yes, he is working on giving praise.  It just so happens that he was in a very good mood after petting a monstrous three headed dog.  "Don't run, but be confident."

Dick Grayson has posed:
    Nightwing grins as Gar and Damian pet and treat the Guardian of the Underworld into happiness, then looks to the others.  "Well, that is going amazingly well.  What say we just move right along here before something comes along and makes this all go sideways?"
    Yes, he's expecting the worst.  Maybe today the various Gods are smiling down on the Titans and this is going to go well, but he'll believe it when he sees it.  For now, every effort is turned to being ready for whatever the universe decides to throw at them next.
    "That's actually a decent sign, when I think of it.  He's supposed to keep souls from escaping, so this must be the right way to escape."

Donna Troy has posed:
    Kerberos snaffles up the jerky with his middle head, chewing enthusiastically on it.  The left head darts in and manages to snatch a piece of the jerky dangling from the center head's mouth, and soon two heads chew in happy unison.  When Damian pets Kerberos, the dog's mouth opens wide, tongue dangling and panting, lips pulled back into an apparent smile.
     Kerberos turns one head to sniff in Kian's direction as Kian passes, but Kian does not smell like a dead soul, and so he is quickly ignored and allowed to pass.  Terry's attempt to pass elicits a similar response, but this time the head stares at him a while too—and again, lets him pass.
    "Rae," Donna says warningly, while she takes Raven's hand.  "We are not feeding Vorpal to Kerberos!  Not unless he doesn't like the jerky."  It's a joke, not permission, but Raven may not see it that way.
    Damian, Gar and Nadia's dog-charming seems to hold Kerberos' attention pretty well, particularly the prospect of giant jerky, a scent which appears to have Hades' Hound fascinated.  He does not entirely shirk his duty, and each Titan gets that passing sniff and is allowed to pass.
    The tunnel comes to an end just beyond the dog, opening out onto a plain facing an enomous wall, fifty feet high and stretching to the horizon either way.  It looks like a short hop to cross the wall to those in the team who can fly, but nobody needs to warn them that trying to cross that wall in an unapproved fashion would be a truly terrible idea—everyone can sense it.  The wall appears to be made of alernating bands of iron and bronze, and set into the wall just across from the tunnel mouth is a gateway.
    The gate is dwarfed by the wall it is set into, almost prosaic in the environment.  It's wide enough for two to pass through at a time, and although Caitlin wouldn't have to crouch to step through, it would be no strain for her to touch the top of the gateway.
    "That's a solid piece of tactical advice, Nightwing," Donna says.  "I'm all for plan 'move right along here'."  She raises her voice to call out to the Titans remaining in the tunnel.  "No, Nadia and Robin!  You may not keep the doggo.  We're here, come along and leave Kerberos to his snacks."
    Kerberos pads after the three young Titans as they go to join the rest, following them up to the end of the tunnel mouth with his tail wagging faintly.  When he reaches the tunnel mouth his tail drops down beneath his legs, and he slinks away.
    The Titans barely have a moment to react to Kerberos' sudden nerves when an arm reaches out over the top of the wall.  A HUGE arm, hand clenched into a fist.  The arm reaches down towards the Titans, and the fingers unfurl—but each finger unfurls as another arm, with its own hand at the end.  These in turn unfurl, and on the middle finger of each of these hands is a large eyeball.  The eyeballs swivel this way and that, looking across the group of assembled Titans, studying them one after the other.
    "Don't move.  Nobody move!" Donna hisses.  Several of the eyes swivel towards her, and after a moment the arm starts moving, reaching out towards the Amazon.
    "TCH!" a voice hisses, just behind Caitlin's ear.  The arm stops suddenly, and withdraws a little way into the air.  A woman steps out from behind Caitlin and starts circling her.  "Well, what have we here," she says, her voice gentle but slightly mocking.  She's quite a bit shorter than Caitlin, but seems utterly unintimidated.  She's dressed in a long saffron robe, looks perhaps thirty and very beautiful.  "Titans, trying to leave Tartarus?  That will never do.  And what have they brought with them, Aikaterina?  An ox who thinks she's an Amazon?  A pastry chef pretending to be Themysciran?  How utterly strange."

Gar Logan has posed:
    "Okay, okay.  Don't bite my head off," Gar replies to Vorpal and Kian as they almost in unison remind him that the cat turning could be ill-advised.  To Kerberos, he adds, "That goes for you too, all right?  Hey, if we're ever back through here, I'll bring you a big ball to play with.  That'd be fun, yeah?"
    There is a Kerberos-sized part of him that fully expects something to go wildly astray any moment now.  It's just the way of things with the Titans.  Bucking the trend, here and now, would be more than fine.  Slowly but surely, he's making his way past the giant canine as well, still freely giving out the scritches and all.  "Yeah, don't run and don't walk fast, either.  This isn't release night for the PS5, or first in line at the buffet."
    Idly, he begins humming the chorus to 'Alive' by Pearl Jam.  Not 'Still Alive' from Portal.  No, he just sang a line from that the day he and Nightwing came back to the Tower for the first time since the split, encountered Raven being even moodier than usual, and she didn't end them on the spot.
    So onward they go, until they're past the tunnel with the wall looming ahead of them.  "Aww, I think he misses us already," he says, noting the way Kerberos seems… disappointed?  Maybe it's something else, and he blurts a quick, "Holy fu—" before cutting himself off as the hands with eyes loom overhead, Donna telling them to stop where they stand.  Out of the corner of his mouth, he says, "You want to explain this to us, maybe?" but then there's someone else among them.  He arches a brow at the mocking questions.  "Seeing as we shouldn't have been here in the first place, yeah.  We're trying to leave.  Whoever you are."

Caitlin Fairchild has posed:
    It's a credit to a lifetime of training together that when Donna says 'Don't move', Caitlin doesn't move.  She barely blinks when that dry voice crackles near her ear.  It's not until she hears Donna shifting her weight, and that handful of eyes withdrawing, that she turns slowly.
    If the woman is hoping to intimidate Caitlin, the redhead's clearly not going to let it show.  Her hand shifts minutely on her warhammer's haft, the weight of it resting across a pauldron.
    Her ears pink a bit under the helmet but the insults which once upon a time would have pricked her ego, only seem to irritate her.  "You're pretty confident I won't swat you into tomorrow," Caitlin tells the stranger.  "This isn't exactly a goodwill tour.  We're leaving.  Are you here to stop us?"

Kian has posed:
    Define 'move'.
    Kían definitely starts, and spreads his wings more instinctively than anything else, but he stops walking and he doesn't take to the air, no matter how much he wants to.
    It is with a considerable effort of will that he folds his wings again, but he does not look like he's actually calm.
    His hand finds Terry's shoulder.  {What's happening?  I thought we were leaving!}

Terry O'Neil has posed:
    "Keep that up, Rae, and I'll join the Doom Patrol and you will miss me," Vorpal says, focusing on walking confidently.  Banter helps focus the mind.  Their success in negotiating Kerberos tells Terry that, in the cosmic balance of things, there now needs to be a total eff-up waiting for them to balance things out.
    And what do you know?  There is!
    Vorpal doesn't move, he trusts Donna's knowledge of her own domain.  He only says one thing, in a voice that is a mixture of awe and horror at the same time: "Hecatoncheires…"  The hundred-armed jailors of the Titans.  When the cascade of arms stop and withdraw, Vorpal's attention snaps back to the woman as she appears behind Caitlin.
    Caitlin responds accordingly to her protective nature, but there is something in Vorpal that makes him take a step back and bite his tongue for a moment.  Saffron robes.  He only knows of one saffron-robed goddess, Eos.  This, clearly, is not the dawn-bringer, she would never be in Tartarus.  But there is another one.  And he almost doesn't even need to ask, it's something that the part of him that is pure chaos and magic can guess at… and Raven most likely also knows, too.
    {We are in the presence of a goddess, Kian.  Let me.}
    "Alexeatis Alkimos, gracious minded and unconquerable," he says quietly, "Ruler over earth, sea and sky, Mother of magic, torch-bearing Hekate."  Vorpal recites the titles and her celestial name with an elegant, mellifluous tone that he has seldom ever used with such respect.  "My friends are but mortals waylaid, tossed into this realm by the workings of incompetent spell-crafters the likes of whom are an affront to the noble students of your art.  Queen of the Dead and Ineffable star-walker, I humbly beg that you turn your eyes upon me and pierce the veil of my soul and see the question… how can I be a Titan?  I am not of that stature, for I am more of the subtle matter that you weave in your midnight looms than that which comprises those who are imprisoned here?  And in seeing thus, guardian of the crossroads, surely you would see that no Titan would walk in my company."

Rachel Roth has posed:
    Raven is not surprised that someone appears out of nowhere once they're finished handling Kerberos.  Frankly, this is both the Titans and their dabbling in mythology, she's more surprised that they weren't engaged by someone who appeared from nothing long before now, perhaps even immediately after their arrival.
    That she immediately arrives and taunts Caitlin is… well, to some degree it's cathartic.  She's not happy about it necessarily, but it's just a little amusing, to say the least.  They've encountered people in worse moods with harsher words, though she's pretty sure these probably level some more sting in how deeply they're meant than normal for Caitlin.  That… she'll leave to Donna.
    For now, she appreciates the power of the woman, but Raven is no diplomat in the… strictest sense of the word.  In other situations, maybe, but right now?  She would be best leveled by making threats, and these threats might not be taken kindly in the current company, despite how devastatingly true and earnest they would be.  Would it get them out of the situation?  Plausibly.  Would Raven like to earn the definitely permanent ire of any portion of any pantheon?
    Yes, actually, but she's not going to admit that to Troia.
    Her hand presses against the small of the other woman's back, urging her forward.  Terry's message to Kian was perhaps either nonexistent or psychic, but at the very idea that we should let Terry do anything, Raven is asking Donna to very much not, with a single gesture.

Nadia Pym-van Dyne has posed:
    Once it is time to leave Kerberos behind, Nadia gives the giant three headed Doggo one final wave before fluttering back to Caitlin's shoulder.  It may not have been the best decision given what is to come but alas foresight does not number among Nadia's powers.
    She gapes a bit at the arm coming over the wall and then the arm has arms and the arm's arms have arms and then eyes?  This place just keeps getting stranger and stranger but when Donna tells them to freeze Nadia does so.
    Only to be surprised yet again by the smaller woman circling Caitlin.  Well smaller than Caitlin anyway, with Nadia enjoying a pixie sized view of the altercation from her Amazonian friend's shoulder.  Pixie sized hands ball into fists.  "Hey!  Don't talk to Cait like that strange toga woman!  She earned everything!  She's amazing!"  A passionate retort from the excitable insect girl.

Damian Wayne has posed:
    "Goodbye Kerberos," Damian says, faintly as the dog slinks back into its tunnel.  Robin waves a now re-gloved hand at the pupper.  "That's a good dog…" Damian comments, following along perhaps a bit forlornly.
    Though the sadness was met with dread as Donna hisses to stop moving, which he does.  But he is ready to snap that RPG out real quick if Donna gives the word.
    A quick snerk erupts from Damian though, as Terry makes a plea to the big lady.  His eyelets close, no more white to be seen, only hunter green, and a strained smile, holding back laughter.  "Pontificate," is the only thing he says, holding up his hands, and waving like someone praising a preacher man.

Dick Grayson has posed:
    Nightwing smiles a little at Damian's reaction to the dog, it's always amusing to see his reaction to animals compared to his reaction to people.  Still, the way Kerberos chooses to leave has him on high alert, so the arm… arms… eyes… geez… doesn't take him entirely by surprise.  After all, he's been waiting for something like this the whole time.
    Then they suddenly have a new visitor, and one who's insulting Cait at that.  He almost lets out an unfortunate reply, but luckily Terry speaks up before he can, with much nicer words.  As the feline Titan continues to stroke the ego of the short woman, he decides it's probably a good thing he didn't snap at her after all, cause he recognizes those names.  He does grin at Terry's wordplay regarding being one of the Titans and being a Titan, however.  Hopefully it'll do the job.

Donna Troy has posed:
    "Cait's as true an Amazon as I am!" Donna snaps towards the woman.  "Yes… she earned everything.  She fought for it.  She has been accepted by the five."
    The woman turns a lazy smile on Donna.  "Maybe even more than you.  I was there when the Amazons were made.  You weren't amongst them, Troia.  Yet you claim to be an Amazon.  Did you earn it too?  Or were you given it?"
    Donna glares back at her, but refuses to rise to the bait.  The woman looks Donna up and down, examining her attire—Donna is still wearing the business suit disguise she had attended the auction in.  "Riduculous," the woman says with a smile.  "Unusuitable."  She snaps her fingers, and Donna's clothing is changed into a dress to match the woman's own, though not quite as beautifully folded and pinned, and in a lighter, less rich saffron.  Donna looks down at herself, startled.
    The woman turns her head sharply to Terry, smiling a little at the epithets.  "You think your soul is veiled to me, Wonderlander?  I know what you are.  And yet you call yourself a Titan, do you not?"  There's another finger snap and a torn piece of The Daily Planet, on which Terry recognizes the headline of his piece on the refounding of the Titans, flutters past his face.  "Titans are not allowed to leave this realm unless the Father of Olympus declares them free.  Has he so declared in your favor?  Or shall I instruct Briareos to complete his task?"
    She turns her head to Dick.  "Was it your idea, to call yourselves Titans?  You founded the group, did you not?  And you name yourself after an alien god, so you have, as you might put it, form.  Hmm, yes, I think it must have been you.  Perhaps the others are innocent.  Should I let the others go, while you stay here for eternity?  Would you take that choice?  I think you would, if you could find no other.  How interesting."
    "I came up with the name," Donna says sharply, her attention back in the game after Raven's urging.  "It was my idea.  Nobody else."
    The woman glances briefly at Donna then turns away to examine the fiesty Waspette with an amused expression.
    "And I came up with 'Titans', not Titanes," Donna continues.  "The meaning is a little different in English.  We are not those Titans as well you know.  We are heroes. We fight to avert evil.  We are not dead, we have not been banished here.  We came by accident, and are not supposed to be here.  Please Lady, will you unlock the gate for us so we can trouble you no more?"
    "How very Amazon of you, little cousin," the woman says with a smirk, still watching Nadia.  She pauses for a few moments, looking thoughtful, then snaps her fingers.  The giant arm pulls all the way back, and the iron gates creak open.  "Very well," she says.  "You may leave."
    Donna says "Thank you Lady," and bows to the woman, then quickly gestures towards the other Titans.  Her meaning is clear—let's get going before she changes her mind.  She's already moving towards the gate herself when the woman calls after her.  "I am surprised at you though, Troia.  Going on this pleasant stroll with your friends through the Iron Gate.  Taking the easy way.  Surely you have heard the news?  Nobody in Tartarus is talking about anything else.  You should be heading to the Bronze Gate to warn your people of what's coming.  Frankly, I'm shocked you didn't ask me to send you there ahead of the army.  I'd do that if you asked nicely."
    Donna stops in her tracks and looks back at the woman.  "Army?" she asks.
    "Oh.  Yes."  The woman holds the backs of her hands out and looks at them, searching for any sign of dirt under her nails as she replies casually to Donna, "Ixion.  He has raised an army of five thousand dead centaurs, and is marching on Doom's Door right now."

Gar Logan has posed:
    Gar Logan takes all of this in, finding his knowledge of mythology to be woefully inadequate at the moment, and all he can ask is a simple question.  "That's bad, yeah?"  Iron Gate, Bronze Gate, thousands of dead centaurs, and… right.  A hand goes to the back of his head, at which point he rubs it in discomfort.  Stage-whisper time.  "So… now what?"
    Oh, he's seen Donna's attire suddenly change.  He spotted that story going by Vorpal's head.  He heard the questions over the naming of the Titans and the technicalities in there.  But, he's at a loss where to go from here until he clears his throat.
"Titans would go deal with that, uh, problem, wouldn't they?"

Terry O'Neil has posed:
    There is one quick flick of the cat's green eyes that zone in on Nightwing with the loudest 'I told you so' that has never been spoken out loud.  The glance makes it very clear that, at this point, the only reason Terry hasn't fired back a comeback that points out Robin is the perfect height to play the altar boy is only because they are in a very precarious position and under the scrutiny of the goddess of all magic and witchcraft, so he has bigger fish to fry.  And then he would probably add another remark about the size of goldfish, out of spite.  But the glance is very clear about one thing: once they are out of hell, the truce is off.
    He watches the Daily Planet pages flutter by, and he winces—those photographs for the article, they were the first sign of what Gary The Intern was capable of.  He isn't surprised she chose the second page, where the print almost made like Donna was being attacked by a pancake.
    But there are more things to pay attention to.  Hekate's mention of Ixion makes Terry's eyes go wide.  He also realizes that Kian and Gar are probably going to need a translation.  "Ixion.  A king who tried to seduce the wife of the head of the gods."  He totally leaves out the fact that the head of the gods is a massive hypocrite whose untamed danger noodle was the cause of most things that went wrong in ancient Greece and therefore had no reason to be uppity about his poor wife actually having someone interested in her because he was too busy canoodling with everything with a pulse for thousand of years.  "He was condemned to be tied to an eternally-spinning wheel in Tartarus.  The wheel was on fire to signify his offensive lust.  He's got a bit of a grudge.  Him heading an army is not good."
    "To the bronze gate, then?"  He glances at Donna.  It's only right, even if he has been nothing but useless to this point and common sense would dictate he take the other way back and let those with the power deal with the evil king of the dead.
    Screw common sense.

Nadia Pym-van Dyne has posed:
    Nadia stares back at Hecate from Caitlin's shoulder, she clearly has no idea who she is dealing with.  Though given some of her past life choices it is highly questionable how much difference it would make if she did.
    When the strange woman seems to come around though, Nadia also seems to relax somewhat, those tiny fists unballing.  She looks between Donna and Hecate following the conversation as best she can.  It has definitely been a day of craziness that she is going to spend a lot of time unpacking later.
    "We have to go warn them!" she finally pipes up.  A glance is given towards the open gates, the easy way out of this hellish landscape, but the Waspette's mind has been made and with the stubbornness inherited from her father not much in this universe is going to unmake it.  "I'm in, however I can help!"

Dick Grayson has posed:
    Nightwing listens to the woman speak, thinking quietly to himself that these divine types must have massive inferiority complexes that make them such pricks.  When she asks about his staying to let the others go, he's nodding before she even begins to answer herself, because of course he would.
    The mention of Ixion and his army brings an immediate answer to Gar's question: "Of course we will.  It's what we do.  We don't hear about that kind of trouble then slink away out the back door.  We go, and we deal with this.  Somehow."  He looks to Damian.  "I don't suppose you have more than the one RPG, by chance?  Five thousand is a few to deal with."

Kian has posed:
    The tone would be suitable for 'Are we there yet?'—or more accurately, 'you mean we're not there yet?': "This iss a bad thin' an' we haf to stop it, then?" Kían asks.
    Maybe it's a good thing he doesn't know the legend of Ikaros and Daidalos.  And right now would be a bad time to enlighten him with regard to Greek myth.
    Er, legend.  History?
    "Cen-taur… that iss what Saj iss, yis?  An' there iss an army of dead ones?"  He shakes his head.  "Every time I think Earth has got as weird as it can, it proves me wrong."