Gotham's Dead End Bar

Step 1: Be a serial reincarnator. Step 2: End up in Gotham with Death of the Endless. Step 3: Open a neutral-ground bar for heroes and villains. Step 4: ??? Step 5: Profit. Don't go into this story expecting something serious or (grim)dark. This isn't that kind of story and that's not what I'm trying to do here. This is a story about a bartender telling crazy stories about his time in the multiverse to the villains and heroes of DC. It's practically crack, about two steps removed from a fix-it fic. There is a plot (eventually, the beginning chapters are pretty slice-of-life heavy) but it's never going to be some grand tale of tragedy. In the same lane, don't expect the same Batman/Bat Family that you might be used to. No paranoiax10, dark, and gritty 'Batman can't be/have fun!' Batman. My Batman is more in line with the 'Batdad' concept or the animated series Batman. Also, this is kind of an AU. Not in any major way but some of the story might not match up perfectly with the DC canon continuity. I'm going for a static DC universe. So characters and their backstories are set but I'll be avoiding the major plot points of the comics (Dark Multiverse, Infinite Frontier, etc.) Pat reon.com/dryskies_btb for early chapters. 370k words are already available there.

Daddy · Anime & Comics
Not enough ratings
66 Chs

51: Of Magic and Mantles

Long, long before anything of note — when the universe was new — Magic frolicked amongst itself. It was born with Creation, left pure and promising — left to grow. It surrounded the forming Multiverse, filling in the Changing spaces in between. Every new Change brought excitement and novelty, new opportunities for Magic to do as Magic did.

As time progressed, Magic settled. The Multiverse took shape, laid open for the aspect of existence to explore. Magic was everywhere, as was its nature. Every spark of something new brought new Magic with it. Every obliteration of something old returned old Magic into the fold.

Magic was content… Yet the shared will that began to develop throughout the disparate flows of Magic yearned for something more. Something personal and intense. Something concentrated into a single being.

The first advent of Life throughout the cosmos gave Magic the opportunity it yearned for. And so, the first being born of Magic came to be — Magic's first Avatar. In the layer of existence just beyond physical reality, Hecate birthed herself from pure Magic.

This Hecate was a young being. Innocent. Curious. Excited to learn about everything that crossed her newly-born path. The Maiden — pure in her passion and love of Magic and existence itself.

She played with the majesty of Magic, molding the stuff of her soul like infinitely variable clay. The structures and sculptures she created from pure Magic resonated forward in time, lingering and forming molds for later magical beings to copy.

Hecate single-handedly fashioned Magic into the comfortable forms that would later embody it. She created spells and rituals and enchantments and miracles. She created Magic as it would come to be known, just as Magic had created her.

The layer of existence she inhabited took on shape as she experimented, created, and played. The Sphere of Gods. And from the Life that Magic had taken inspiration from, lesser peers to Hecate were born. Gods and goddesses, deities and demons. None of them matched Hecate's Truth — the Avatar of Magic itself — but they were company. Hecate welcomed them happily with open arms.

Hecate was content with her existence. She was content with existence itself. Until she delved too deep… Until she caught a glimpse of a twisted reflection past the mirror of existence…

A Dark Multiverse lurked below everything she'd come to know. A natural part of Magic and existence, certainly, but what Hecate saw still terrified her to her core. A twisted parody ran concurrently with the Multiverse. The things within left Hecate with nothing but dread in her heart.

SOMETHING skulked Upside-Down beneath the surface of existence. A whole other half of reality, filled with Magic that darkly mimicked that which made up Hecate herself. A shadowy realm to the light she knew. A dark yin to her yang.

Not long after Hecate sprung into existence, the Man-Upside-Down copied her in that Dark Multiverse. He was a cruel reflection of Hecate, embodying the darker elements of Magic that she unconsciously avoided. As she played and created, he loitered and destroyed. He was horror to her beauty, profanity to purity.

The Upside-Down Man frightened Hecate — horrified her with his inherent 'evil'. He was a revolting creature that went against everything she was. They were both necessary, both aspects of Magic's creation. But they could not exist in the same place. Hecate would not let him taint the wonderful things she knew.

Calling upon Magic with her desperate pleas, Hecate took action against the Man-Upside-Down and his Other Place. A great upheaval shook reality as she pushed her Multiverse and the dark shadow beneath it apart. She slid a barrier in place between them, reinforcing the 'glass' of the mirror that naturally separated them. So long as she could help it, the Other Place would not tarnish the light of her existence.

Magic, even 'saddened' by its Avatars' irreconcilable differences, aided Hecate. It was for the best. The Light and the Dark could not exist within the same space. Hecate's light would have done just as much harm to the Upside-Down Man's darkness as vice versa. While both sides of the 'mirror' must exist, the only reasonable course of action was to keep them as just that — reflections of each other.

The Upside-Down Man honestly preferred things this way as well. He didn't want to interact with his twisted counterpart either. To him, her beauty and light were just as revoltingly terrifying as his horror and darkness. Unknown to Hecate, the Upside-Down Man had taken the same action at the same time, aiding Hecate and forcefully separating his home Multiverse from her 'Other Place'.

Opposites did not, in fact, attract in this case. Some things were so viscerally incompatible that they could never mix or merge. The two opposite Avatars of Magic happily went their separate ways. They would have been more than content to leave things like that forever.

Unfortunately, truly dark forces would eventually come to interfere. The Great Darkness — eternal opposition to the Source of Light that sparked Creation — crept into the Other Place, casting the Upside-Down Man's mind into insidious shadows.

It was an unnatural, inky blackness, so unlike the simple lack of light that should have been in the Other Place. A desire that went against the core of his being was forced upon the Upside-Down Man. After uncountable eons and eras, he would come to prowl in the Darkness, forced to hunt something he didn't even wish for.

A few eons before the Great Darkness came to pass in the Other Place, Hecate came to the center of her Multiverse, still shaken by her (then) recent encounter with the Man-Upside-Down. She settled there at that conflux of fate and Magic, setting down roots on the planet simply known as Earth.

Hecate came to be quite fond of the place and the Life that inhabited it as she watched humanity grow. She shared gifts of Magic with the humans, teaching them to affect Change upon reality. They named her in return — a worthy gift indeed.

As with all Life she'd encountered, the humans eventually began to populate Hecate's layer of reality with pantheons in their image. The Sphere of Gods flourished around Earth and Hecate was happy. Time ticked and turned and the universe entered a new age.

With the new age, Hecate felt herself changing. The laws of reality were stricter than when she was still young. New duties and responsibilities were carried upon her shoulders. Hecate couldn't play like she used to. Even she was helpless to stop the progress of time, no matter how much she wished to pause for a moment and enjoy herself as she once did. But to resist Change would be to resist her nature as a being of pure Magic.

Slowly, though she had no children of her own, Hecate assumed the mantle of the Mother. The Maiden she was born as did not die. But she was pushed to the side more and more as the Mother was exalted by the humans she'd come to love so dearly. Her ever-eager curiosity and enthusiasm to LEARN/EXPLORE/PLAY were exchanged for gentle care and matronly roles to humans she came to see as her children and even the gods they created through their faith.

Eventually, those gods became something of an annoyance to Hecate. The various pantheons tried to court more and more favor with her. The deities of Earth seemed to think she was the true creator of the universe. She wasn't. She told them as much. It didn't stop them from trying everything to be the one pantheon she joined.

After a few centuries of pointless bickering, backstabbing suitors, and several divine wars over her, Hecate had enough. She put an end to the competition for her allegiance by simply picking a pantheon through random chance. And so, Hecate joined the Greek Pantheon, an ill-thought-out decision that would later doom her to millennia of being a passenger in her own body.

The Olympians — most of them, at least — were petty, arrogant bastards, in Hecate's opinion. Something that only grew worse after they 'won' the battle for her allegiance and claimed her as one of their own. The bastards lorded the 'victory' over the rest of the pantheons, ignoring the fact that Hecate didn't truly have an opinion on the matter.

She'd joined a pantheon to finally put an end to the divine politics surrounding her. Yet the Olympians only made things worse. And they had the absolute gall to rewrite her legend and make her a MINOR GODDESS of all things! Her! Hecate! The first being born of Magic! A minor-fucking-goddess!

It was infuriating, even to her more mellow Motherly form. But Hecate had made a pact. And Magic did not go back on its word. She persevered, holding her head as high as she could hold it. The humans she loved were still there for her to care for, after all.

Magic continued without a hiccup. Hecate bore the burden of her ill-thought decision with dignity. She was above the same pettiness of newer gods that irritated her so. They claimed her but also mostly left her alone… at first.

Over time, the Olympians became even more arrogant. They deemed themselves worthy of dictating Hecate's being. Legends of their design usurped hers. Her Motherly mantle was controlled and guided as they deemed fit. Hecate barely recognized herself at certain points.

The Mother became the only aspect of Hecate that anyone ever saw. The Maiden — her original, most true mantle — was forgotten about. Magic, of course, responded to the change. The new age that heralded her Motherly mantle grew ever more strict and rigid with laws and assumptions passed onto Hecate by mortal-sprung gods.

Hecate was helpless to stop the process. Her Motherly aspect even came to welcome it. That part didn't know any better. All she'd known in that form was the Olympians' yoke. In ironic tragedy, the Mother was young while the Maiden was ancient and experienced. So with a gentle smile on her face, the Mother bore the weight of the agreed pact with the Olympians as Magic itself was ignorantly restrained.

Not entirely. Magic was always Changing. Hecate was not the only being with sway over the aspect of existence. She was merely one of its Avatars. But… the first was not easily forgotten.

The Olympians did not even realize the greater effect they had on the universe at large. They were restricted to their limited view of the world. A view born from mortal perspectives, influenced by mortal arrogance and ruled with an almost lazy monotony of mythical routine. Oh, how the Maiden wished to show them just how powerful the Magic they dismissed could truly be…

But the Maiden was not in control anymore. She was pushed behind the fold as Olympian legends were imposed upon her, tinting her Motherly mantle with more and more Greek flair. The Mother became a Greed Goddess through and through. A minor one, at that, to add insult to injury.

In arrangement with that damned pact, Hecate was set to marry Hades, the Greek God of the Dead. He was an agreeable man — as agreeable as Olympians got, anyway. The Mother did not mind. She believed she could come to love him. And it left her time to focus on her teachings to humanity, her loving gifts of Magic.

Then one day, out of nowhere, Hecate was contacted by her husband-to-be. He'd found someone else to marry. It wasn't an unusual development for the Olympians. Their relationships were in constant flux — especially in those days when their beings were still so malleable to faith and legend.

But to Hecate, it was the final straw. The last insult she was willing to bear. The Olympians had broken the original pact and Hecate could finally break it in return.

To make matters even worse, the children she'd adopted turned on her as well. They grew greedy and arrogant as the worst mortals tended to do. Hecate was summoned and trapped, forced to impart gifts she would have freely given to a specific few mortals who represented the very worst mankind had to offer.

Even imprisoned by the mortals, the Mother had stayed her hand. It pained her, stabbing deep into her heart, but they were still her children. Alone, either betrayal would have been forgivable. Not easily, but the Mother's benevolence would have managed to move past it. Taken together though…

The Maiden surged at the opportunity, letting out a scream that shook the heavens. The Mother added her own pain to the scream as the family imposed upon her — all that mantle had ever known… — betrayed her so. With the mortal betrayal on top, that pain turned to anger and that anger to a dark, twisted, corruption.

The Maiden was almost glad for the betrayals. Almost. Until she ventured too far into her torment and rage, unused to being untethered after so long. Within those emotions, something cracked. A third mantle emerged in a grand coup of Hecate's being. The Crone.

The Maiden was shoved to the side again. As was the Mother this time. The tormented and tainted hatred of a being who had seen so much assumed control in an instant. The Change was sudden and impossible for Hecate to fight. The Maiden and Mother could only watch in horror as the Crone exacted a dark vengeance from the universe itself.

The Crone was cruel, irrational, and entirely distanced from Hecate as she knew herself. All she cared about was inflicting PAIN, past even the revenge Hecate thought she deserved. She tore open a hole in the 'mirror' between the light and dark. She cackled like a goddess driven mad as she did the unthinkable, exactly because it SHOULDN'T BE.

A Great Darkness crept through the hole into the universe of light. The Crone was driven even further into cruel madness. Shadows gripped the edges of Hecate's being, tainting and subtly controlling her much as they did for the Man-Upside-Down in the Other Place. And the Crone released dark magicks upon the world.

In the coming centuries, Hecate would find herself in an even worse situation than she was in with the Mother merely under the thumb of the Olympians. The Mother and Maiden lived on in a prison of Hecate's own making, a prison of the Crone. Hecate was forced to watch herself become sadistic and undeniably evil. Two-thirds of her being was trapped behind a darkly powerful third mantle.

The worst part — the cherry on top of the shit sundae, as modern humans would so elegantly put it — of Hecate's current situation was that the Olympians still claimed her as one of their own. The divinely stubborn bastards didn't recognize that they'd broken the ancient pact. That Hecate should have been free!

They merely saw her as the black sheep of the family. Every pantheon had its 'evil one', right? She was still 'theirs', or so they claimed. It caused no shortage of irritation to Hecate as a whole — the only thing all three of her mantles could consistently agree on.

And so was the tragic existence of Hecate. From the first being born of Magic to someone she hardly recognized herself as. By now, Hecate — the Maiden mantle, the true core of herself — was practically resigned to her fate. She hadn't been truly free for millennia. First the Mother, then the Olympians, and now the Crone. She didn't hold much hope for anything to change…

Until she heard a whisper within Magic itself. A long-overdue introduction and a held-out hand in friendship. Magic itself leaped on the whispers — more ecstatic than Hecate had ever seen — and directed them to the Maiden covertly.

Even after everything she'd been through, the Maiden was still the mantle of Hecate closest to Magic itself. And Magic seemed THRILLED/DELIGHTED/ENCHANTED to be able to finally help its first Avatar. It was an ever-so-curious thing, Hecate — the Maiden — thought, a sensation she would have loved to be free to explore — to study and play again. It felt like Magic itself was… fangirling…?

Confused but intrigued, the Maiden tuned in to the whispers resonating specifically for her, "Kori, do you want to make a new friend?"

Another voice replied in that same language that spoke to the Core of Hecate's being, "Always!"

"Yeah, you've got it. Just speak this language and be True to yourself. You'll get your point across."

"Hello, the Magic! I would like to be your friend!"

The Maiden giggled — the sound more full of relief than humor — at the break in the tragic monotony of her current existence. She internalized the strange new language being spoken. It came to her as naturally as breathing or molding Magic.

"That's it. Magic? Would you be a dear and-…"

The first voice returned, requesting something from Magic itself. Hecate didn't let him finish, unable to stop the plea that tore from her metaphysical lungs, "Help… me…"

There was a pause from the other side of the conversation. With her reply, she'd established a connection between herself and the speakers of the novel Language of Magic. She could feel the first voice's attention turn firmly onto her, finding her instantly across distance made meaningless by pure Magic.

'Oh my,' the Maiden thought. 'I've never felt anything like him. He's not born of Magic and yet… he feels closer to it than I do! He feels… almost familiar already. An old friend Magic and I have never met…? O-Oh my… that's a lot of determination. Righteous fury as well. He hasn't even heard me out yet. Dare I… hope…?'

"What's going on?"

Even asking that question, the unknown old friend didn't seem confused. Just wholly and entirely determined to set any problems right. An absolute pillar to lean upon. In that moment, Hecate was truly convinced that this man could and would do anything for her.

Even though the language seemed to come naturally to her, Hecate struggled to put the full Truth of her situation into words, "Magic… Hecate, first-born from Magic… Pact-Chains-Olympians… Mantles: Maiden, Mother, Crone, Trapped. Help…?"

"I see," And he truly did. Hecate could feel it over this strange new connection and language just as she could feel him nod.

"Friend Sean? What is happening to Friend Magic?" The second voice — a young woman who didn't carry nearly the same weight as the first — asked.

"A fucked up situation concerning a partially corrupted Avatar of Magic trapped by her own mantles. The arrogant godly bastards are honestly kind of an afterthought," The man growled.

Hecate was baffled and awed as his voice seemed to shake the whole of Magic itself. No, not 'shake'. Magic was responding to him, even more than it responded to its Avatar. The aspect of existence shuddered and shivered like a small, excitable dog being stroked. Hardly the first simile Hecate would have expected but it fit curiously well. If Magic had a tail, it would have been wagging up a blur.

"Oh. Oh no, that is not of the good at all!" The palpable concern in the woman's voice warmed Hecate's heart. "We must help Friend Magic! How do we help the Friend Magic?!"

"Kori? I've got this one. Don't go worrying yourself into a frenzy," The man reassured.

Hecate could put names to the voices now. Sean and Kori. Not only that, the Truth in their words — the Truth in this new language — gave her a good feel for them. Kori was a good person, the sort that exemplified what Hecate had once and still loved about humanity — though Kori herself did not seem human, ironically enough.

Sean… Sean was complicated. Immense and vast. Like a deep well of being that Hecate couldn't see the bottom of. Hecate wished to dive into that well — to learn things she never imagined. He was intrinsically tied to Magic in a way that fascinated her. Not as she was, being born from it, but as if he'd come to an impossibly deep understanding with the aspect of existence, both sides agreeing to something unseen.

"Now, Hecate. You seem to have gotten yourself in a bit of a pickle," Sean turned his attention back to Hecate, making her let out a disbelieving laugh at the understatement. "Let's see if we can't CHANGE that for you…"

Magic reacted to his words, quite literally vibrating across reality. The Maiden gazed on in stunned silence. Sean pulled himself up to her level. Even trapped behind her mantles and corruption, the Maiden was still an Avatar of Magic. The original Avatar of Magic, at that.

Yet Sean didn't seem to have any trouble getting himself to her on a metaphysical level. Magic giddily granted him something Hecate had never seen. It made him a temporary Avatar-… no, more than that. It made him a physical and metaphysical embodiment of Magic itself and seemed to squeal in excitement at the chance.

For a single moment that seemed to stretch into eternity, Sean WAS Magic. He understood it to its core. He lived and breathed the stuff of its winds, even not having been born to them. His being suffused the whole of existence — light and dark — and he spoke the Truth of Change to Magic itself.

"[~Be Free to Change…~]"

The words were damn near silent. Yet they echoed throughout existence on a level that few could hear. Magic itself clung to each resonating, whispered word. They were so quiet as to be loud, so light as to be heavy, and somehow the Language of Magical Truth was made so much MORE in a way Hecate could barely comprehend — and desperately wanted to.

Unseen chains of her own making were bucked as if they were nothing — encouraged to Change, to be Free. The Crone let out an eerie, banshee-esque shriek as her entire mantle dissolved into the unnatural darkness that tainted her being. The Great Darkness — anathema to Creation — was pushed back beyond the edges of reality again.

Hecate was far from the only one affected by Sean's command of Truth, urging Magic to do everything it was supposed to do. Even in the Other Place Upside-Down, someone heard his whispered words. The Man-Upside-Down found the shadowy tendrils of the Great Darkness clear from his mind. For the first time in eons, he breathed an upside-down sigh of relief and was free to relax into the natural darkness of his half of existence.

And throughout all of existence, a new Age of Magic was rung in. An age 'Free to Change'. Magical 'constants' — an illogical and paradoxical concept in themselves — finally began to shift again as they were supposed to. The age of magical monotony imposed by mortals and gods alike came to an abrupt end. The ripples of Change would undoubtedly be felt for centuries to come across the entirety of existence as Magic was upheaved and turned on its head, Free to Change as it SHOULD BE once again.

Hecate herself had more pressing immediate changes to worry about. The Crone was gone. Rejoice! But now, both the Maiden and the Mother were free. Hecate didn't wish to fight within herself. Thankfully, the solution was rather simple. Unlike the Crone, the Mother was a natural progression of Hecate's growth as a woman, along with some consideration given to the more restrictive Age of Magic that she was born from.

With Magic returning to what it was when she was young, it was only natural that the Maiden come back to the fore. Additionally, the Maiden was the mantle that kicked off this new Change and she'd been 'out of commission' for the longest. The Mother — benevolent even after being betrayed by all she'd ever known — was more than willing to let the Maiden take the lead once more.

The Maiden couldn't stop the excited squeal and giddy laugh that escaped from her. Hecate was back, baby! So much to PLAY/LEARN/EXPLORE! Her mood easily matched Magic itself, the aspect of existence relishing the new age brought upon it and gushing over the one who brought it even without the concept of words. Hecate — Maiden once more — grinned! She was right, Magic was definitely fangirling over Sean. And after experiencing him in action, she could certainly see why.

Turning her attention back to Sean now that her internal complications were solved, Hecate poured all of her feelings — the Truth of her emotions — into the fascinating new language he spoke, "[~Thank you… For everything.~]

Across the communicating line of Magic that connected them, Hecate felt Sean bring himself down from the lofty heights of Magic he'd reached, giving up ultimate power over Change as if it were nothing. She got the impression of a fond smile, even though he hadn't truly met her. She'd have to change that soon…

"You're welcome, Hecate. I was happy to help. I also cleaned up some issues in that Other Place, the one Upside-Down below everything else. You and your counterpart there should probably look into protections from that 'Great Darkness' stuff. I could put you in touch with Lucifer. He might be able to help against the antithesis of his father's work."

Hecate's mouth fell open in shock, "Y-You… You helped the Other Place?! Helped that… THING?! Why?!"

Somehow, she knew he was staring at her queerly with that question, "That place and the Man-Upside-Down are just as much a natural part of Magic as you are. It makes sense that you would feel that way — the Other Place is quite literally everything you're not, after all — but I helped ALL of Magic. It's only right."

Hecate didn't know what to say to that. It went against everything she thought she knew. That… That place terrified her. To hear that it was just as essential to Magic as her side of the mirror was… It was a strange, alien feeling that she had trouble reconciling with.

"It's… It's supposed to be that way…?" Hecate eventually asked, just as horrified as she was intrigued.

"It is," Sean confirmed. "The only thing wrong with it was the corrupted taint of the Great Darkness. It's supposed to be dark, but not 'that' dark, you know? I'm not saying you should go there by any means or even think too hard about it. But there's nothing particularly wrong about it now that the Great Darkness is taken care of for now. So long as you leave him alone down there, he'll leave you alone up here."

"That-…" Hecate paused before shaking her head. "Very well. I shall strive to keep that in mind. Thank you again. For everything. How… How can I find you?"

Sean smiled. Hecate didn't know how she knew but she did, "I don't think you'll have any trouble with that. Just look for the Dead End of it all. We'll welcome you with open arms. I've always got an open place for Magic at my side. If those godly bastards give you a hard time, just run until you hit the Dead End."

"What does that… mean…?" Hecate asked, her curiosity giving her the feeling that there was more to what he was saying than the mere words. "The Dead End?"

"You've got it," Sean said, his voice amused with its crypticness. "Just pick a direction and start walking. You'll find me soon enough."

"And I~!" The second voice — Kori — returned to the conversation. "I look forward to the seeing of you, Friend Magic Hecate!"

The connection began to fade as Sean 'waved' without words or sight. Hecate felt herself panic slightly, frantically calling out to Magic's savior, "Wait! I desire more information than that!"

She felt Sean's smirk like whispers on the wind as the connection fully faded, "See you soon, Hecate~."

All too soon — in her opinion — Hecate found herself alone with herself once again. Her arm stretched out toward nothingness as if calling out. There was no reply. Sean and Kori drifted out of Magic as if they were never there in the first place. The only evidence Hecate was left with was how EVERYTHING had Changed…

"This…" The Maiden and the Mother stared at each other, puzzled and more curious than ever.

"We must find him. I have much to ask," The Maiden asserted, her determination firmed by an overwhelming desire to learn more.

"I'll admit to some curiosity as well," The Mother hummed, slightly more taken aback by everything that had happened so suddenly. "Mostly, I just wish to thank him in person. To be freed from the Crone would have been enough. This 'Great Darkness' he talks about… We had no idea."

The Maiden nodded, "All the more reason for a polite inquisition. I certainly don't want to go back to the Olympians. Ever."

"Yes," The Mother grew somber and regretful. "As much as it pains me, they've shown they hold no true love for us. They won't take our 'betrayal' well, you realize?"

The Maiden scoffed, "They have absolutely no grounds to stand on."

"They won't see it that way," The Mother reminded softly. "They're remarkably stubborn. As the Crone, they could at least still claim us to retain their pride and face. I don't believe that will be the case if we seek out this Sean."

"As the youth would say: fuck 'em," The Maiden growled. "I will not honor a broken pact. They may try. We will simply show them just how petty Magic can be."

The Mother tittered behind a hand, almost failing to maintain her usual mature bearing, "That will certainly be something to watch. And Sean has already promised us any aid we might require. I imagine the Olympians will have a very poor time of things should they try to interfere."

"Most certainly," The Maiden grinned an eager grin. "I have no intentions of giving up my freedom ever again."

"I doubt a return to the status quo would even be possible," The Mother considered.

The Maiden nodded, "Be Free to Change…"

Magic reacted to her words, an intangible laugh if Hecate ever heard it. She'd never experienced Magic like this, not even when she was young. It was utterly free. Unrestrained after an age of ever-growing constraints.

It swirled around the connection to Sean that had faded. Excited didn't even begin to describe it. Utterly rapturous was closer. As if Magic had just met its personal hero. Someone who Freed it to Change, helped it do exactly what it was always supposed to. Without the limitations, expectations, and preconceptions that had been slowly heaped upon it as time went on.

After all of the Change, Hecate was left feeling more true to herself than she had in a millennium. The Mother was still present but the Maiden had grown to accept her. Her second mantle was nothing compared to the sheer wrongness of her third. With Magic now returning to how it should be, the Maiden felt she could happily live with the Mother in her shadow.

Content with Change, Hecate did as Sean had instructed, picking a direction and 'walking'. Magic prodded her in the 'right' direction. Somehow, all directions felt right. Hecate knew that she would end up at this 'Dead End' no matter what. But Magic was more than eager to coax her onto the quickest path.

At her eventual destination, the source of her curiosity waited for Hecate. Along with an offer of somewhere to belong — to be free — and an enthusiastic invitation of friendship from an energetic young woman. Hecate picked up her pace. She couldn't wait to get there and EXPLORE to her heart's content.

Meanwhile, a certain corner of the Sphere of Gods was abuzz with activity. Olympians ran to and fro, trying to figure out 'WHAT' the fuck was going on. Hecate's freedom threw their whole system into whack and the new Age of Magic had all divinities on the fritz. They would stabilize, eventually. Probably…

And in an even more specific corner of the Greek section, three meddlesome old bitches with more yarn than sense, and not nearly as much power as they thought they had, wove a prophecy and quest to get back what was 'theirs'…

In the Dead End, Sean and Kori came down from their trance-like state of communicating with Magic itself. All of the guests in the bar watched them with blatant interest. None of them had any clue what was truly going on with the two of them. Just that something suitably 'Sean' had happened and Kori had been swept along for the ride.

The language that started it all had been a shock. It was nothing like any of them had ever heard. Not even Simmy's conceptual, [Data]-filled language compared. No one but Sean and Kori could understand this new language. And yet, it somehow still spoke to the Truth of their beings, both a roar and a whisper in all of their ears.

The Teen Titans were particularly nonplussed by the fact that Kori now spoke what seemed to be a primordial language. That could only mean… interesting things for their future. Not to mention the fact that Kori could likely learn to cast spells just as easily as Raven now.

The magically inclined in the audience felt the language reverberate through their cores. They were left practically gaping in shock at just how REAL the words felt — heavy enough to weigh down the air that carried them — coming out of Sean's mouth (and Kori's to a much lesser extent). Just hearing the language of Truth and Magic bolstered their connections to the aspect of existence enough that they could feel Magic swirling ecstatically around Sean and his words.

It was like nothing they'd even imagined before. But even for the rest of the audience, Sean and Kori's conversation with Magic was certainly a spectacle.

"They supposed to look so mellowed out, choom?" Becca whispered a question to Harley. "I've seen wireheads and reality junkies more aware than they are right now."

Harley shrugged, "No idea. Gothboy's always doing weird stuff like this. If he didn't look so good doing it, I'd probably be laughing at him constantly~!"

"I have a terrible feeling that he's altering the fabric of reality or something right now," Barbara sighed.

Kara gave her a commiserating pat on the shoulder, "Probably. But knowing Sean, it'll be for a somewhat good cause…" She paused, "Or just because he thought it would be funny. It could go either way."

"I think…" Barbara muttered, considering something. "I'm just going to 'conveniently' forget to report tonight. That damned story and now all this magic stuff? Yeah, it's for the best."

"Yeah," Kara nodded in agreement. "I think Scarecrow is still high off the Eldritch horror from before."

Scarecrow giggled Madly to himself in the background, "We are born of the blood, made men by the blood, undone by the blood. Our eyes are yet to open. Fear the Old Blood…"

Didi glanced at him with a slight frown, "Oh dear, something else slipped through the perception filter. Let's just fix that before it can become a problem…"

Suddenly, Scarecrow shook his head as if waking from a trance, "Gah! Where-?! What-?! Who-?! I think… I need to lie down."

Riddler helped him, coaxing Scarecrow's head onto the bar as he rubbed his friend's back soothingly. Scarecrow would be fine. Mostly…

"I don't think you'll be able to cover up tonight's new arrivals, Barbara," Ivy pointed out as most of them tried their best to ignore Scarecrow.

"No, not likely," Barbara sighed again. "At least they were peaceful like all of Sean's guests are. The Edgerunners are easy enough. Just standard extradimensional visitor forms. Even Simmy shouldn't be too bad, considering how she's completely focused on Sean. Ophis, on the other hand…?"

Barbara, Kara, Ivy, and Didi all glanced over at the silent Infinite Dragon God. Ophis looked utterly content to munch down on her rapidly replenishing sweets. Like absolutely nothing else in the world mattered.

"I have a feeling only Sean is able to keep her in check," Ivy noted.

"She's relatively simple, as far as I can tell," Didi said. "I would recommend just leaving her to her Silence though. So long as you do that, I think your organization will have more to worry about with the Edgerunners."

"Ah, yes, they'll actually be taking work here," Ivy smirked.

Kara furrowed her brow in consideration, "I think you're right. Mercenaries can be really troublesome at times."

"Especially cyborg ones trained by freaking Deathstroke of all people," Barbara groaned. "Dammit, I didn't even realize that. Ophis and Simmy can be written off as just 'Dead-End/Mr. Barkeep' things but the Edgerunners might very well go on to be active globally."

"The Justice League has a filing system just for Sean?" Ivy asked with a laugh.

Barbara just raised a single eyebrow at her, "Wouldn't you?"

"≖‿≖" Cass joined the conversation with a mischievous grin. 'I wanna fight 'em.'

"The Edgerunners?" Barbara clarified, rolling her eyes. "Of course, you do."

"(¬‿¬)" Cass' grin transformed into a 'persuasive' smirk. 'C'mon, you know you want to too~. It'll be fun! What's a little grievous bodily harm between friends?'

"I hate just how… you, you are sometimes, Cass," Barbara groaned.

Didi chuckled, "Sean and I think she's absolutely precious."

"(*ΦωΦ*)" Cass 'smugged'. 'Heh, I'm precious.'

"So is Kara for that matter," Didi noted, changing the subject slightly. "Tell me, are you truly planning what I heard Harley whispering to you for your date with Sean at Sunrise."

Kara's sudden blush could have powered a star, "M-Meep~! I-I don't know if I want to confirm that aloud! I-It's not proper! I'm still trying to prepare my heart!"

Didi smiled gently at her, "Ganbatte, Kara-chan… Ganbatte."

With that, Sean and Kori came down out of their Truth and Magic-induced trance. Kori quickly shook off the after-effects, seemingly energized even more than usual by communing with Magic. A worrying prospect, her teammates thought. Sean didn't seem affected at all.

"Woah~! What of the rush!" Kori whooped. "I do so hope that Friend Magic will come to visit soon."

"I'd give it good odds," Sean chuckled. "For its first Avatar, at least. Magic itself may have trouble visiting since it's technically already here and everywhere else at the same time."

"Confusing…" Kori frowned slightly. Her expression bounced back instantly after, "I shall strive to not think about the confusion! If Friend Magic is everywhere, I can always give it the hugs of friends!"

"So, uh…" Klarion hesitated to ask. "What… was that all about? If you don't mind me asking?"

"Yes, Sean," Raven deadpanned, much more bluntly. "What did you do?"

"Nothing much," Sean shrugged in reply. "Just made a Magical Goddess/Avatar's situation a bit less complicated, purged Magic of some corruption from the antithesis of all Creation, and rang in a new Age of Magic."

As one, everyone in the Dead End bluescreened, "Huh…?/What?/What?!/WHAT THE FUCK?!/What./[Error]./Loud…"

Sean just chuckled to himself, "Oh, a new Age of Magic and a nice reaction. It must be my lucky night."

Didi came up to brush nonexistent dust off his shoulders, sighing, "You do realize you're essentially bullying them at this point, don't you, Dear?"

Sean's face was the picture of innocence, "I have no idea what you're talking about, Didi."

"Of course, you don't," Didi giggled to herself, leaning in to plant an almost chaste kiss on his lips. "Why, that might mean you do the things you do on purpose."

"Inconceivable," Sean murmured back into the kiss, his eyes twinkling mischievously when he pulled back. "Simply inconceivable. I would never."

"He lies as easily as he breathes," Raven deadpanned in the background.