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      At age nineteen, one would think that a boy like Raven would be planning to finish school, possibly go off to college or get a job. That was for normal people. And Raven knew that he was far from normal...

      There was no way that he could explain the way he felt. Raven was different... he could just feel it. And thus, Raven's plans were different as well. All he ever wanted to be was a swordsman. He'd always felt more comfortable with a weapon in his hand. That started when he was ten...

      It was then that his parents took him to his first fencing class. Raven had been begging them for months to take him, and on his birthday, they finally agreed to make that his present.

      Raven loved his time there, and rose through the ranks quickly until he actually could out skill and out finesse his instructors easily. Of course they were agitated that a student who had been studying for less than a year could best them. So, come time to renew his contract, they told Raven's parents that he had become a disruptive influence in class. In retrospect, Raven concluded that they hadn't technically lied. After all, how could they teach if there was someone there who could out maneuver them at every turn.

      After that, Raven's parents enrolled him in a martial arts program. He'd been far less enthused about this, but again, he rose through the ranks quickly, getting his black belt after only three years. After that though, Raven almost completely lost interest in it and quit. That had been five years ago.

      "Jason Ebony," came the call. It was his science teacher, "Would you be so kind as to answer that for me?" Raven looked up, shaken from his thoughts. Mr. Wakefield, his science teacher, was the only one who insisted on calling Raven by his real name. The other teachers, the students, even his own mother and father accepted the nickname. Why not this man?

      Raven smiled wistfully, "Depends on what the question was I guess." He ran his fingers through his reddish blond hair, feigning an innocent look with blue-violet eyes.

      Some of the other students laughed, but Wakefield's face reddened slightly with frustration. "That's what I thought, Mr. Ebony. Please see me after class.

      Raven sighed. Why did he pick on him so? Raven had the highest grade in the class, so why was the teacher acting like he was one of those no talent loser that were failing the class? Raven clenched his jaw and thought, Why me?

      After class, Raven approached his teacher and waited.



      "Jason," Wakefield repeated calmly.


      "Listen Mr. Ebony," the teacher began, more sternly now, "There are times when you have to swallow your indignance and try."

      "What is that supposed to mean?" questioned Raven.

      "You're my best student. You have learned everything I've taught with ease. However, you never really listen to what I teach, and as a result, you'll never truly understand."

      Raven shook his head, "That's not true Mr. Wakefield. I just started daydreaming for a minute, honest."

      Wakefield have him a hard look, "These daydreams of yours have been becoming more and more frequent. What has gotten you so distracted?"

      Raven shrugged, "Nothing really,"

      A look of skepticism was his only reply.

      The boy turned away, "Look, I'd really rather not explain myself. Just believe me when I say that it won't happen again."

      Wakefield nodded, "Alright, Mr. Ebony. I'll give you the benefit of the doubt. Just think about what I said, alright?"

      "I will," Raven replied, "See you tomorrow, sir," he called as he left the room.

      "We'll see, Raven"

      It wouldn't be until much later that day that Raven would even acknowledge Wakefield's almost cryptic response. He didn't even notice that the man had called him Raven. After all, he'd barely been listening, but later, he would wish he had.

      Truth be told, there was something bothering Raven. Throughout his entire life (at least as far as he could remember) Raven had been plagued by strange dreams. In these dreams there were always people standing around him. They'd look at him, usually inspect him to see how he grown, and usually ask him questions about his life.

      Generally, these dreams were months, or even a year apart, but in the last few weeks, they'd come almost every night. The questions had changed as well.

      Now instead of things like: "How are you adjusting to school?" and "What is the strongest emotion you are able to feel?" they'd begun asking things like: "If you found yourself injured in battle, how would you dress the wound?"

      The whole thing was really beginning to unnerve him. What were these things leading to? Raven didn't have any answer to that question.

      "Hey Raven!" called his mother.

      "Yeah, what is it mom?" replied Raven. He looked up from his thoughts to see what she wanted.

      "Raven, would you please go up to the attic and get me a spool of violet thread?"

      "Sure thing," he agreed, and quickly went upstairs to retrieve the item she wanted.

      When he got there, Raven began searching through the sewing supplies. After a few minutes, he found the spool of lavender thread that she had asked for. However, as he was leaving, a glint of light caught his eye.

      Raven turned to see an open jewelry box that he hadn't noticed before. Out of curiosity, Raven approached the little wooden box. He quickly spotted the object that had caught his eye.

      On top of the other jewelry was a quarter-sized gold pendent. The pendent was inscribed with a symbol that resembled a large "T" with a lightning bolt striking across it. It shown brightly, seemingly calling out to be taken.

      Raven reached out, mesmerized by the piece of jewelry. Though he heard footsteps coming up the stairs from behind him, Raven ignored it. Suddenly, as his fingers neared the pendent, an electric spark arched out, causing him to jump back. No one to be thwarted, Raven reached out as fast as he could and snatched it in his hand.

      Just then, Raven's mother entered the attic, "Did you find the thread?" she questioned. When she saw what Raven had in his hand, a look of horror spread across her features, "What are you doing with that?" she demanded.

      Not understanding her outburst, Raven turned to her, "What is this mom?"

      "It's something that I never wanted you to find," she exclaimed, "But if you were able to touch it, that means that it has chosen you" she trailed off.

      "Chosen...this thing?" said Raven, indicating the pendent, "What do you mean?"

      Before she could answer...before Raven could even figure out what was going on, the pendant flared to life, surrounding itself in an eerie glow. Raven tried to drop it, but the pendent seemed to be affixed to his hand.

      "I'm sorry I couldn't protect you," she said, tears filling her eyes.

      Suddenly, a swirling blue vortex opened up behind Raven. He could feel a pull on him..it was trying to suck him in! He looked at his mother, but she turned away, unable to watch what was about to happen.

      The pull became too great, and Raven lost his footing. The gate drew him in. After that, there was only darkness.

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