6958/In Erebos: The Decision

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In Erebos: The Decision
Date of Scene: 16 July 2021
Location: Tartarus
Synopsis: The Titans travelling through Tartarus are standing on the threshhold of the way out when they decide to take the long way around to the Bronze Gate instead, in the hope of saving Themyscira. Except for Raven, who opts for the Iron Gate in the hope of saving reality.
Cast of Characters: Donna Troy, Terry O'Neil, Dick Grayson, Kian, Gar Logan, Caitlin Fairchild, Rachel Roth, Damian Wayne, Nadia Pym-van Dyne

Donna Troy has posed:
    "No."  Donna's voice is quiet but firm.  She crosses her arms and looks at the rest of the Titans.  "Look, I appreciate you all offering to help, but we are not going to defeat five thousand centaurs in combat.  I'm going to warn the guardians of the gate what's happening."  She glances towards Caitlin, and gives her a slow nod.  "Or rather Cait and I are going to.  It's our duty as Amazons.  The bronze gate leads to Themyscira, and it is the sacred duty of the Amazons to guard it.  Most of you aren't allowed on Themyscira, and that would mean a very long trek back to get back to this gate so you can go home."
    She shakes her head, looking down.  "Frankly we've been lucky.  We've had to cross a very small section of Tartarus to get here, and avoided a lot of the dangers.  Crossing the entirety of Tartarus to get back here will take… I'm not even sure.  A week?  Two?  And be far more dangerous.  The sensible thing is for Cait and I to go, while the rest of you go through the gate that's right here and get back home.  We'll see you in a few days."

Terry O'Neil has posed:
    Vorpal crosses his arm and matches Donna's look, gesture by gesture.  "No.  We are going, because we are Titans and we are family.  The Amazons are your family, and therefore they're our extended fam.  We don't leave family behind and, quite frankly Donna Troy, you can't get rid of me unless you literally conk me out."
    He glances at the other Titans, "I'm not alone in this, right?"

Dick Grayson has posed:
    There's just a quiet chuckle before Nightwing says, "And since when do the Titans do the sensible thing?  Especially when it involves letting the two of you make that trek across Tartarus that you claim is too dangerous for all of us.  Like we're going to let the two of you go alone.  I don't think so.
    "So, shall we fight about it, or get moving so that we get there in time to do any good?  Arriving after the army would be rather pointless, I think.  Up to you how much time you want to waste arguing about it."

Kian has posed:
    "If we haf been lucky, it iss not reasonable to expec' that to continue, especially on a longer trip."  Kían doesn't look wholly convinced by his own words, but he continues regardless.  "It iss by far better to haf us wit' you an' not need us, then not haf us an' need us."
    He glances at the near door with a look like a man who wishes he didn't have a conscience.  Home is that close by, but there are priorities.

Gar Logan has posed:
    "Yeah, what they said," Beast Boy adds on, gesturing toward those who have already spoken up.  "Really, Donna, I'm kind of surprised you're even trying to discourage us from this.  When it comes to having a choice between doing the dumb and dangerous thing and the smart and safe thing, which way do you think most of us are gonna go?"
    He gestures around them.  "Besides, we're all in this together.  If I'm gonna go out, if it's my time, I'd rather it be with the rest of you fighting against stupid odds.  And you might need us, too.  All of us against all that is better than just the two of you."

Caitlin Fairchild has posed:
    Caitlin shoots Donna an uncertain side eye.  She seems a lot more on board with fighting centaurs than arguing with her friends about the merits of their options.
    Peer pressure's a thing, people.
    "Um… guys, you gotta realize that there's a good chance that the Queen might not even let you through the gate.  For all I know there's magic that is meant to keep non-Amazons out.  That would mean you all get stuck between the island and an army of centaurs.  I don't think even all of us put together is gonna carve a path back through them.  It's too much of a risk for you to come with us only to get stopped by a glass door."

Rachel Roth has posed:
    Throughout this whole conversation, Raven has been… oddly distant.  That isn't to say she's normally not distant at all—but this is actually one of the times where she'd be speaking up: Voicing an opinion, telling people to or not to go.  Trying to keep a level head.
    Right now?  She's not saying a damn thing.  Not voicing any concerns.  Not telling anyone this is a bad idea.  Not telling Donna not to go.  Maybe she knows it's futile, but perhaps there's something else.
    The silence only goes on as long as it takes the others to voice their support—to say that they're going.  Once everyone's had a turn, that's when she finally speaks.
    "I can't."

Donna Troy has posed:
    For a moment it looks like Donna is tempted to take Terry literally, knock him out and hurl him through the iron gate, but then Dick speaks up and she settles down.  "We don't have to trek there.  We've been offered a short-cut."  Donna glances towards the mysterious woman Terry has named Hekate, who gives her a nod.  "And could we get a ride back?" Donna asks her.
    The woman smiles a knowing smile and shakes her head.  "What do you think?"
    "But you'll send us ahead of them?"
    "To the base of the stairs, if you so desire.  After that, you are on your own, Amazon.  What will it be, your friends or your sisters?"
    Donna turns back to the Titans with a shrug.  "Kian is right.  It is not reasonable to expect us to be so lucky on a longer journey.  Cait and I can get there.  The stairs are… tough, but we'll do it.  It's getting back afterwards that worries me."
    Hekate, if it is indeed she, turns her gaze to Raven, and slowly nods her head to the half-demon.  Something isn't being said.

Terry O'Neil has posed:
    Terry turns to Raven, looking puzzled.  "What do you mean, you can't?"
    He glances over at Hekate, once she nods to Raven, and he slowly walks over to her, cautiously.  He seems to have A Thought that may have occurred to him, but he's looking for an opportune moment to approach the goddess and ask.  For the moment, he focuses back to Raven.

Damian Wayne has posed:
    Damian sighs, exasperatedly.  "The sensible thing would be.  But the sensible thing for us, is to stand by you.
    "I got to pet Cerberus.  I am more happy right now."  He points his finger right to the ground.  "Than I have been in years.
    "And if my gender keeps me here, I am stuck regardless."

Gar Logan has posed:
    Gar Logan laughs at Caitlin's concerns about the Queen not allowing them through.  Not laughing at her, but at the thought.  "If it's a glass door like that, if they really don't want to let us through, then maybe after we've saved them and everyone else we'll have to break it down and go through it ourselves."  He sounds boastful, confident, but he pauses at the interactions going on with Hekate, Raven's unusual reluctance as well.
    "Yeah, why not?  We need to get over there and make sure whatever army that's being put together her doesn't go any further.  That's just how it's gotta be.  Why is this even an argument?" Beast Boy wonders, his palms out to the sides.

Dick Grayson has posed:
    "And we'll do it together.  You should know better than to even try this Donna.  We're going with you and making sure the Amazons are warned about this army, and if they don't want to let us out, then we'll make our way back here.  All of us, the way we always do things."
    He glances at Raven.  "Well, maybe almost all of us, what's up Raven?  What can't you do?  Is it something we can help with, or make easier for you in any way?  Talk to us, we don't have time to be enigmatic right now."

Kian has posed:
    Kían can't even comprehend being kept here for something as irrelevant as one's physical sex, but Earth does so many things the weirdest way possible.  He also casts a quick look at Raven, but says nothing.
    And then, he puts the near door out of his mind.  "It iss what we do.  Protec' people an' places an' thin's.  If we haf to come back the long way, then we come back the long way.  At leas' we know where to go, if we can not use the passage out there."  He doesn't quite sound resolute, but he does sound committed.  Better than resigned, probably.

Donna Troy has posed:
    Donna glances Damian's way and gives a sigh of frustration.  "D… Nightwing, you don't think I want you guys along?  But as Caitlin says, there is no guarantee that you'd be allowed through the Bronze Gates.  My mother has not allowed any men on Themyscira in two thousand years.  Maybe she would make an exception because of the service you would have done for Themyscira, but I can't guarantee it.  I've been trying to persuade her for years, but… but there is a real danger that this would mean a month's trek through basically hell afterwards."  She glances towards Raven, but isn't going to say what she suspects is on Raven's mind.  "And there are those who probably will not look kindly on us being here any longer than we must."
    "And no Gar, you can't just break it down.  We have guarded that gate for thousands of years against the worst Tartarus can provide, and none pass through without the queen's permission.  We are right here by a door.  You can go home.  Cait and I can be right by another door… well not far from it anyway.  Then we can go home.  It sucks, but this is the safe and sensible option."

Nadia Pym-van Dyne has posed:
    Nadia finally pipes up from she is still perched on Cait's shoulder.  "You're not going alone, I don't care how strong you think you are, Titans are stronger together."  Bold words for someone who willingly turned themselves over to the Red Room to spare those around them less than a year ago, but there is conviction in her eyes when she says it.
    "I don't have enough friends to afford to lose any.  We're going with you and then we'll all get out together."  She looks between Donna and Cait.

Rachel Roth has posed:
    Raven cannot meet anyone's eyes, but she can feel them on her.  The inquisition starts—and as sensible as it is, it does nothing but wear Raven down.  She notes Hekate, but doesn't seem to want to address the woman at all.
    "I c—"  She takes a moment, seemingly having to swallow and compose herself yet further after only the two syllables.  "I can't go, because when you go, you will fight, because that's always how it happens, and, if I fight, it'll get noticed.  He's not… He's not barred from here.  Just the level of reality that contains Earth.  It's how he got Azarath."  The statement should be 'it's how I let him into Azarath' but that isn't a sentence that she can just bring herself to say.
    "I can do little things.  I can mimic some of the magic of Tartarus, but if I fight, everyone loses."

Damian Wayne has posed:
    "Yes, we protect nouns."  Damian nods, before he steps up, and drives his sword into the ground.  "If the Queen should refuse us, then I will take us on a vacation.  I will do what she will not, recognize EVERYONE for their contribution."
    That was about the time that Raven completed her explanation… "Okay, that is probably a good reason.  But TITANS TOGETHER DAMMIT."

Terry O'Neil has posed:
    Terry nods slowly.  "If you fight, he comes through.  But… what if you heal instead?" he asks.  "I agree with Robin's enthusiasm," which is something he thought he would never say, and somebody better check the temperature right now, "but think on it for a little.  If you keep yourself apart from the heat of battle and heal the wounded instead, would that work?" he asks.
    And then, to Donna, "If the Queen can't let us through, then she can't.  We don't do what we do because of the perks we may get, we do what we do because it's the right thing.  And King Ixion…."
    And then he finally turns to Hekate.
    "Mother of magic… something has been bothering me about what you said.  King Ixion has somehow freed himself from the punishment assigned to him by Zeus… did I hear that right?"

Caitlin Fairchild has posed:
    Caitlin holds her helmeted head in her hands and drops into a squat, grimacing and softly banging her forehead against her palms.  Frustration, exhaustion, and annoyance all in one.
    "You people are the most lovable bunch of idiots in the world," she says of the crew.  She looks up at them and stands once more, hand resting on the butt of the heavy maul upturned on the stones next to her feet.  "And you're going to get me and Donna in trouble with the Queen.  And if I get in trouble, no one gets birthday cakes.  For a year."
    Outburst concluded, Caitlin turns her thin-lipped attention to Terry's inquiry.  The madcap cat has a good sense for catching those little details that turn out to be important.
    And she gives Raven a very gentle, very brief touch of concern on her shoulder.  Not lingering long enough to make the sorceress uncomfortable, but to affirm the expression of sympathy on Cait's face for the conflict Raven is surely feeling at the moment.

Dick Grayson has posed:
    Nightwing nods after Raven explains and simply says, "Okay, that I can understand.  If you have to bow out to avoid disaster, nobody will hold it against you.  You head out this gate, let the folks back home know what we're up to, and we'll do the job that needs doing.  I want us to stick together, but not at that price.  There's a difference between 'It's a dangerous trip' and 'The place will fall to a demon lord if I sneeze wrong.'"
    He looks to the others.  "But besides Raven, who has very valid reasons, I don't think any of us are going to be talked out of this.  So really, you're just wasting time."
    He looks to Hekate as Terry asks his question, because the fact that the guy escaped Zeus' own assigned punishment hadn't really even occurred to him.  Too busy arguing to keep the team together.

Donna Troy has posed:
    "This is Hades' realm," perhaps-Hekate says, addressing Raven finally.  "But it would not be just Hades who your father would have to deal with were he to choose to appear here.  There are… rules.  Greater forces who try not to come into conflict with each other.  For him to step foot here would be to challenge those rules.  Such a thing has not happened in seventeen thousand years, and it shook the universe."
    She stares at Raven silently for a few moments, before turning her attention on Terry.  "You did not hear me say that he had freed himself, Wonderlander.  The wheel still burns, yet it no longer turns."

Gar Logan has posed:
    Gar Logan runs a hand through his hair at Raven's concerns.  "Yeah, that's not a good thing, but you know what?  I'm willing to take that chance if you are.  If not, I get it.  But if we don't all do what we do and stop this, that guy showing up here is gonna be the least of our worries.  If you have to do little things, do little things.  Help protect us or something.  Watch our backs.  Put up some barriers.  There's a lot of stuff you can do that isn't fighting, right?"
    He passes closer to Raven and lowers his voice at the start, raising it back to normal by the end, being so bold as to extend a hand toward her shoulder.  "And you're probably gonna tell me I'm an idiot, but I believe in you.  I didn't come back to this, we didn't come back to this just to let fear stop us.  I'm tired of being afraid of failing.  Everyone knows I've done enough of it."
    No matter what that moment brings, he gestures in the direction they'd all need to go.  "So what are we waiting for?"  He steps forward.  "Once more, unto the breach!"  Pause.  "Where is the breach?  Do we have to make one ourselves first?"

Kian has posed:
    The birdman nods once at Rae, but says nothing.  Now is not the time to get thrown into a wall again, especially not a wall like the one the near door is set into.
    He does give Nightwing a thin smile, though.  "Oh, I wish someone would talk me out of this, but I haf a responsibility to my frien's, an' to my new homeworl'."  Still smiling slightly, he shakes his head, and mutters something in his own language… that he does not translate.

Terry O'Neil has posed:
    "But how could he do that?" Terry asks quietly.  "Wouldn't he need outside help to stop the wheel from turning?"
    He glances back at his team-mates, and suddenly feels the urge to reach for his phone, sensing that something is about to happen from which some of them might not survive.  And then he stops and asks Hekate very, very quietly.  "Is it disrespectful if I take pictures down here?"

Rachel Roth has posed:
    Raven recoils, slightly, at the contact.  Her eyes have hit the floor, now, and there is so much processing going on that every thought takes palpable time to complete: everything warrants a pause.
    "He is many things, but he is anything but patient.  If he gets even a sliver of an opportunity, it doesn't matter if the resulting conflict shatters the universe, he will take it."
    Within the pockets of her sweater, Raven's hands have balled into fists.  "You don't know fear.  You don't know pain, you don't know horror, until you've seen the deleterious effect he has on existence.  It isn't a thing you can fight."
    Her head raises, and she looks upon Hekate.  "This is not a gamble even you want to take.  To bet upon the ability of someone like him to uphold a verbal agreement."

Donna Troy has posed:
    Perhaps-Hekate smiles gently at Raven.  "I didn't say it would be me.  Believe me, child of Trigon, I know exactly what he is.  I know what he wants.  And I know that he is not foolish.  There are easier paths for him to take.  Is that not the bitter irony of your existence?"
    She gives Terry a long, obscure look, but doesn't reply to either of his questions.  After a little while she looks away with a faint smirk.
    Donna has been silent a little while, staring at the ground, but Caitlin's outburst provokes a smile she can't quite hide.  "Rae," she says quietly, "he hasn't tried coming here before.  But for all that you oppose him, he wants you… needs you alive.  Right?  So I mean… as long as you weren't in danger… our intent will be to run ahead of battle not join it.  To raise an army to fight an army.  And you know I would protect you with my life."
    She may not have conceded, but she doesn't seem to be arguing against the Titans accompanying her and Caitlin any more at least.

Damian Wayne has posed:
    Damian picks up his sword again, and sheathes it.  "Let's go then.  While we are still alive and before I adopt that dog."

Nadia Pym-van Dyne has posed:
    Still sitting on Caitlin's shoulder with her legs swinging over the edge, Nadia just grins.  "The last birthday cake I had featured Terry and a full ballet, I think I'm good for awhile."  Not that she'd really be getting them in trouble for being in Themyscira anyway.
    "If people are in trouble we should help them, it's what we do."  A pause.  "He really is a good dog."  Nadia agrees with Damian.  Do you want Kerberos as a tower pet?  Not taking the team is how you get Kerberos as a tower pet.

Caitlin Fairchild has posed:
    Caitlin mutters a prayer for patience under her breath and shoots A Look at Donna and Nightwing.  In particular she narrows her eyes at the former Boy Wonder—but the smile inching at the corner of her lips indicates a more fond sort of frustration for the implacable courage of her friends.
    "Fine!  Let's go, then," she announces, and shoulders her heavy maul again.  "At least we can probably get some food once we're there.  Nadia, you and I should totally talk about miniaturizing survival rations or something," she tells the Waspette—and once everyone's got their boots and game faces on, Caitlin turns to face the path towards Doom Gate.

Terry O'Neil has posed:
    With a touch, Terry's phone floats a few feet off the air, and takes a panoramic image of the area, and his companions.  For posterity, he thinks.
    Maybe we'll look back at it a few months from now and laugh.
    Or maybe they might be able to use the picture for his obituary.  Who knows?
    "…he'd need someone to give him a hand.  But not someone trapped here," Terry says quietly.  As the woman turns away, he frowns.  "No gods would profit from the war.  Athena is not the type to turn against Zeus, and Ares… has better sense than that."  Okay, not by much, but enough.  "But Ixion is a bone of contention because of… double standards."  Because Zeus can philander, but Hera can't have lovers.  "If he were to go to war on the Amazons and then try to move out into the world, he would get notice.  He would be talked about…" by the gods, by Zeus and Hera.  "And there might be… discord."
    He glances at the enigmatic woman, but by now he seems resigned to being ignored.  He frowns and stores his phone in silence, thoughts racing through his head.

Rachel Roth has posed:
    "It's that defiance that is the problem.  For eons my father tried to make a thing like me.  The culmination of all of that… He absolutely is that foolish.  He believes he is the strongest.  He believes that once he has me, nothing can stop him."  The lingering thought of `And he's right´ doesn't pass her lips, but those who know her well enough will be aware that they're waiting there on the fringe.
    "It's not a gamble I am willing to take.  I can't.  There's just… too much in the balance," she notes, finishing with Hekate for the moment, as Donna approaches.  "That's just it.  What do you think I'd do?  What makes you think I'd have that much self-control?"

Dick Grayson has posed:
    Dick Grayson says, "If you truly believe it's that dangerous Raven, then as I said, use the gate here.  None of us will think less of you for it, we have at least an idea of what you're dealing with.  Just like I'm not willing to lose Donna and Cait by letting them go off alone, I'm not willing to lose you by making you come somewhere your father can reach you.  If it's too likely that you'll gain his attention here, then I think I speak for all of us when we say we'll see you back at the Tower."
    He almost reaches out to pat her shoulder, but she's already been touched today, and he doesn't want to force her to reveal herself to Trigon by blasting him.  "Be safe, and we'll be back soon.  If you think you can do it without gaining his attention, you're welcome to come, but it's your call, you know him and yourself best.""

Donna Troy has posed:
    It's not accurate to say that perhaps-Hekate is ignoring Terry.  She certainly listens to his speculation with something that looks very like interest, and when he's finished she cocks her head to the side.  The enigmatic woman seems intent on remaining enigmatic, but there is something about her expression.  Perhaps amusement?  Or perhaps she is even… pleased?
    "Because I believe in you Rae," Donna replies.  "And because I will be right beside you all the way."  It really is that simple to her.  "But this is your judgment to make.  If you go through the Iron Gate, you will find yourself on the banks of Acheron.  Half in this world, half in ours.  Await the ferryman, and when you have crossed it will be safe for you to teleport back to the Tower.  If you come with us, we will keep you safe and ensure he finds no reason to look your way."
    Donna rests a hand lightly on Damian's shoulder, gives a quick nod to Nadia, and then looks at perhaps-Hekate.  "Lady.  In the old tongue, the word 'Titans' means something like… 'those who strive mightily'.  You see why I thought the name apt.  They would all cross Tartarus to do what is right."
    She looks back at the Titans surrounding her, at the family.  "Cait's right.  You're all idiots.  But I could not ask to know better idiots than you.  Every one of you is a marvel.  If this is your choice… then we will go.  And if mother refuses you entry to Themyscira, she will know that she will be turning me away too, because if you must cross Tartarus to get home again, you will have me as your guide."
    "Spoken like a true Amazon," perhaps-Hekate says.  She snaps her fingers and Donna's outfit changes again—from the saffron robe into the golden armor of the Themysciran palace guard.  Donna nods her head slightly, and the enigmatic woman summons a glowing portal, standing behind them opposite the iron gate.  "Go do your duty then, little cousin.  And the rest of you—of you Titans—make your choice.  One door or the other.  Go now."

Nadia Pym-van Dyne has posed:
    Nadia has already made her choice but now she demonstrates it more clearly, not waiting to ride through the portal on Caitlin's shoulder (as much as she loves her shoulder perch), the Waspette springs into the air and zips towards the portal under her own power.
    There is no hesitation as the Waspette flies through the glowing circle, her new friends the Amazons are in danger and she and her a bit less new friends are going to go and help them, it's as simple as that.

Terry O'Neil has posed:
    Terry glances at Hekate's expression, hard to read as it is, and wonders.  If there is a force such as Eris behind Ixion's attempt, that's something worth considering.
    Or it would be, if they were going by common sense.  But they are Titans, those who punch hard and fight dirty—or, at least, those trained by Harley do.  "…I don't understand.  If the Amazons are the daughters of Ares and Harmonia… the wouldn't be your cousins."  Because Hekate, if it is indeed her, was not of the Olympians.  She was, actually, a Titan.  "I know.  I know.  More important things at play."  He pauses, and glances at Hekate and, sheepishly, appears to consider asking her permission to take a picture, but then whatever unnatural shyness it is that possesses him seems to overcome him and instead he walks over to Raven.
    "You do what you need to do," he says quietly to her, "She'll come back."  For a moment he seems to want to say something more, but hesitates.  He's always operated under the assumption that to Raven, he was not unlike a bug under the heel of her shoe, so whatever else he feels compelled to say, he sits on it under the impression it would mean very little to her, coming from him.
    So instead he says, "Don't let Bart empty the refrigerator while we're gone, okay?"  As if wishing Raven's watchful eye over Impulse was any better.  If he came back, he might come back to a speedster demanding answers.
    He turns around and walks towards his team-mates.  On the way there he grabs Gar's hand in his and a quote comes to his mind: 'Perish any man who suspects that these soldiers either did or suffered anything unseemly.'
    "Hey, Nadia, wait for us!  It's Titans Together, not Titans Hurriedly Rushing Along, you know!"
    And he shoots Donna a glance.  She probably should have knocked him out.

Kian has posed:
    "Kya!"  Kían brings his wings down once and flits over to Gar and Terry, taking Vorp's free hand.  "I need your mind to distrac' me from what an unbelievably stupid thin' I am doin'," he says, quite seriously.  "And when—"  There is no 'if'.  "—we get back, I will expec' chocolate."
    The birdman's own mind is a weird mix of fear and resolve.  So far, resolve is winning, but it might be a good idea to pass through the portal rather more sooner than later so the whole thing is moot.

Dick Grayson has posed:
    Nightwing nods to Raven as she makes her decision and heads for Hekate's portal.  "Okay Titans, let's get this done.  With this many of us here, surely we can manage."  He nods to Kian.  "I'm sure we can get you all the chocolate you need once we're back, no worries."  He grins and then nods to Hekate.  "Thank you for your help, we appreciate it."  He steps into the circle and is gone.

Donna Troy has posed:
    "We're not all actually sisters either Terry," Donna says with a smirk.  "But in ancient Greek… the word for cousin means uh… well we don't specify actual cousins.  It's more like… clan, I guess.  This is one of the reasons you guys have so much trouble understanding Homer."
    Donna watches with an expression of pride as the Titans march one-by-one through the portal, until just she and Raven are left on the other side.  She looks at Raven with a smile, then wraps her arms around the half-demon, holding her tight.  A display she wouldn't inflict on Raven with the other Titans around.  "I'll keep everyone safe.  We can Rabbit Hole back from Themyscira, might even get to the Tower before you.  If I get there first I'll put the coffee on so it's waiting."  She pulls away, turns to perhaps-Hekate with a nod, and says "Thank you, Lady."  With one last glance back to Raven, she steps through the portal.
    "Are they braver for going?" perhaps-Hekate asks.  "Or you for not?"  She rests a hand on Raven's shoulder, and nods towards the Iron Gate.  "Shall we?"
    On the far side of the portal, the Titans find themselves standing in a damp chamber, lit by flickering torches.  Ancient and lichen-covered stonework give the impression this place is ancient and ruined, and here and there the bare rock of the cavern it is cut into show up—yet there are torches burning in brackets on the walls.  Bone crunches underfoot, and scattered around are skeletons in varying states of decay, some relatively fresh and some crumbled almost to gray powder, but all entirely denuded of flesh.  Some are clearly not human.  A dozen feet ahead of the Titans, a broad archway opens up onto a rough stone stairway, ten foot wide, that climbs a long way before its meandering turns disappear into the darkness.
    "Right," Donna says, glancing at Caitlin.  "I guess I better explain to you all about these stairs..."