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Ask Vayne 03-20-2012 01:33 PM

League's End: Legacy Of The Void
 
League's End: Legacy of the Void

This is my first attempt at writing one of these. This is going to be a rather long story that I have planned for it. Unlike a lot of other stories, this opening describes a specific situation chronologically in the middle of the story. The following chapters will then explain the circumstances leading to this situation and advance the story from there. The rest of the characters will be revealed along the way. Also, just to warn you ahead of time, the characters will all have abilities beyond what is possible in the game, just because it will make it more interesting and plausible given the circumstances that they're in. Let me know what you think.

Fanfiction.net Link

Index of Chapters

Chapters 1-6
Chapters 7-12
Chapters 13-15
Chapters 16-20
Chapters 21-

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Prologue

A young, slender female stands atop a small hill to look out towards the horizon. A light breeze hits her, throwing back the highlighted strands of light purple hair from her face and causes her thin three-piece cape mounted on her left shoulder to waver lightly. She takes a few steps forward, making eerily little noise despite the metallic greaves on her feet that extend upwards to her mid thighs. Her icy blue eyes stare out with determination into the distance and find nothing but a vast expanse staring back at her, pitch black save for a few unexplained pits of fires that breach the surface from the abyss underneath. She looks back and sees five other figures crouched on the ground near her, surrounding a fire that illuminated faces that screamed of apparent fatigue and concern.

An unlikely alliance forming, leading us to this place. In a realm where no light or hope penetrates the infinite darkness of its skies, we are the last hope for the world of Runeterra. The Void...a place of undescribable evil and terror that its very atmosphere would drive any human to insanity. Here, we take the final stand against the greatest lie in the history of our world... a lie that we have all unknowingly played a part in. Fiora thought to herself before swiftly turning around at the sound of a faint rumble in the distance.

"Do you hear that?" Fiora asked in a stern voice, now deprived of the tone of pride and arrogance that once distinguished her.

"Yeah," replied a female voice as a woman wearing a large cloak rose from her seated position, her hair tied together into a large ponytail that draped over a large crossbow strapped to her back. Instinctively, she checks the smaller crossbow mounted on her right hand to ensure that it is loaded and ready for battle. "It seems the shadows are sending us company."

The sound of the rumbling in the distance intensifies as the ground below them begins to shake. The unseen enemy knew exactly where they were, and was fast approaching. As the rest of the team rose from their respective spots, each of them draw out their weapons in preparation for the inevitable battle that was to come. Their journey in The Void thus far has been relatively uneventful. Each of them knew, however, that this calm in the storm was to be short lived.

"Lets bring some light on the situation!" A high-pitched female voice exclaimed in a cheerful tone as she walked ahead of the others.

She raised her right arm to reveal a ornate staff, decorated with multiple runes that began to give off a bright white glow, revealing her long shoulder-length blonde hair that flowed freely with the breeze that began in response to her actions with the staff. She was clad in a silver breast plate that extended to her upper abdomen, the rest of her body covered in a blue skin tight suit save for a white ornate skirt and gloves.

"Hah!" She exclaimed as she swung out her right arm from a folded position, causing the staff in her hand to release a bright flare of light into the dark abyss ahead. Moments later, the flare exploded, lighting up the atmosphere to reveal three enormous creatures, identical in appearance, rapidly approaching. The bright light from the flare reflected off of their shiny carapace that appeared to be made in segments, extending from their heads to their mid region. Their faces revealed two glowing green eyes and a mouth with a row of razor sharp teeth and a pair of large curved spines extending forward from the back of their jaws. Two large feet propelled the creatures forward, causing the ground below them to shake with every step they took.

Surrounding them in the march towards their location were countless smaller creatures that ran on four legs and snarled with greater ferocity with every step they took closer to their prey. Their eyes glowed a bright red and mouths hung open, revealig a row of razor sharp teeth that drooled not unlike that of a rabid dog. Two curved spines protruded forward from behind their jaws and a third extended from the middle of their forehead. They resembled a mutation between a dog, a unicorn, and one of the larger creatures that they accompanied.

As if in response to the explosion of Lux's flare, each of the larger creatures stopped momentarily in order to raise up two large armored skeletal protrusions that ended in sharp curved scythes, the mere appearance of which strikes the terror of being impaled. The creatures let out one last loud blood-curdling cry before rapidly advancing with much greater speed than before.

"Remind you of something?" Vayne asked as she threw aside her hair to draw her large crossbow forward, knowing that this is going to require heavier firepower. She lowers the bow into firing position, an ornate silver crossbow decorated with multiple runes that glowed a dim purple. Drawing back the large bowstring, a large glowing blue arrow begins to materialize out of nowhere, causing Vayne to let out a bittersweet sigh at the thought of resorting to using magic herself.

"Yeah." Fiora responded as she steps forward. "It seems that Cho'Gath's larger friends from back home are paying us a visit."

Raising her right hand that is now adorned with an ornate gauntlet, she narrows her eyes before swinging it outwards causing a long white blade with a small, scythe like curve at the distal end to materialize in her armored hand. The hilt consisted of a white handguard, the top half of which extended back midway up her forearm, with multiple rune markings along it that glowed a bright yellow. A trail of bright clear crystal dust follows in the wake of her swing, creating a small cloud of light before settling onto the ground.

"Time to put our skills to the test!" Fiora exclaimied as she brings her sword forward, pointing it at the approaching enemies.

VoidBro 03-20-2012 09:35 PM

Well this is a bit awkward

Ask Vayne 03-22-2012 06:44 PM

Chapter 1: An Omen Appears

Narbeth, Central District of Demacia.

Runeterra, a rich planet housing infinite possibility for magic, life, and health…or so we thought. We as humans are imperfect and thus, sought control above all else. As the population on the planet increased, people congregated into groups that became tribes. Tribes became cities, and cities became nations. It wasn’t long before conflicts broke out and war took place. Magic filled the world of Runeterra, and it was inevitable that this magic and the conflicts between men would end up on a collision course. Summoners, men particularly adept at the manipulation of magic became weapons in wars. Uncontrolled use of magic during last two large Rune Wars caused instability to the flow of magic within Runeterra, resulting in the appearance of catastrophic disasters in the once stable world. It was clear that the planet would not survive another Rune War. Mankind looked for a solution, and when one couldn’t be found, it was created. The Institute of War, housing an organization that arbiters political conflicts through controlled battles between summoners. Immediately, large-scale conflicts stopped, and the world was at peace again… But even this utopia was not without its downfall.

A high pitched clanking pierced the otherwise quiet morning inside the house, starting off as a dim sound before becoming louder, resembling the sound of kids beating on glass cups with eating utensils in synchrony. The bed begins to shake, starting off as a soft swaying motion that gradually becomes more disorganized, causing its occupant to let out a loud gasp as she threw herself into a seated position from her sleep. She looked around frantically, under the impression that this was due to an attack. Before she could react, however, the shaking of the ground stopped and the air within her house was quiet again, save for a few residual chimes from the glass chandelier.

“It was… an earthquake?” She asked herself before letting out a sigh of relief. “Of course it was an earthquake… there’s no way I would have been caught off guard like that if it really was an attack!”

The girl quickly stood up from her bed and walked a few steps to the bathroom. Turning on the lights, she looked at herself in a round mirror surrounded by a golden frame with an embossed crest of a bird at the top. Staring back at her was a fair skinned girl in her mid-twenties with icy blue eyes that screamed of determination and pride. Her hair, highlighted a light shade of purple, draped partly over her left eye and extended down to just above her shoulders. She let out a soft yawn before stripping off her silk nightgown and stepping into her shower, dousing herself with a steady stream of water that was slightly too warm for the average person, resulting in a buildup of dense steam in the bathroom within minutes.

Stepping out of her bathroom, she dressed herself in a skin-tight dark blue sweater with a short white sleeveless coat that reached only to the top of her abdomen and a pair of tight fitting black pants. It was similar to her usual attire worn for dueling or in battles at the Institute of War, minus the metallic breast plate that she had no intention of wearing for casual occasions. She picked up her sword that had fallen from the shelf earlier that morning, a rapier with a round handguard resembling a half-sphere sheathed in a white scabbard decorated with the symbol of a bird identical to that above her mirror. Despite having no intentions of getting involved in a fight, she strapped the sword to her belt on her left side, preparing for the possibility that she might be spontaneously challenged to a duel like many times prior.

Walking outside, she stepped through a large, vibrant garden that spans a great area in front of her house. Every blade of grass was neatly trimmed at the exact length, and all the flowers were in full bloom, yielding a medley of colors that appealed to the eyes of anyone who passed by. This was the legacy of the noble House Laurent. For outsiders, her house was the epitome of excessiveness that characterized nobility. For Fiora, however, every flower that bloomed was a harsh reminder that it was all a lie, a fašade to cover up the shame that her father had brought to the family name.

“I thought that I would have gotten over this after the time I’ve spent proving myself in the League…but coming back here, the memories and feelings come rushing back.” Fiora said to herself in a bitter tone before walking onto the street to examine her surroundings.

People around her were moving bags of unknown rubble onto the streets. She figured that it was only natural that after the events of that morning, things would be broken and need to be thrown out. Her possessions were no exception, but after leaving for the League of Legends, she had let go of the servant staff that had previously been meticulously caring for her house. She herself was in no mood to deal with this problem after her abrupt awakening earlier that morning, and decided to put it off until later.

It had been months since the last time Fiora had walked down the cobblestone-paved streets of Narbeth, one of the central districts of the large city-state of Demacia. It was a largely wealthy district located atop a hill, the streets lined with mansions that belonged to the noble families, and shops displaying clothing and jewelry with prices that could easily feed an entire family for months. Ultimately, she found herself at the end of the street, which gave way to a circular vista point that overlooked the rest of Demacia. She shaded her eyes with her hands to stare into the distance, the morning sun casting shadows off of the many buildings that made up the heart of the city. The streets in the city below were lined with people strolling, many of which were kids, running playfully and enjoying the freedom that only springtime can offer after a harsh cold winter.

“It’s been months… yet it feels as if nothing has changed.” Fiora said to herself, as she stood at the ledge, placing her hand on the metallic railing that surrounded the lookout and felt its cool and smooth consistency against her palm.

“Fiorie?” A loud high-pitched female voice asked from behind.

Fiora turned around to see a petite girl with long blonde hair and large, warm blue eyes that contrasted those of her own approaching her. She held a long wooden wand in her right hand, which she twirled playfully as she walked down the street.

“It is you, Fiorie!” The girl exclaimed, her face lighting up to reveal a warm cheerful smile. “I didn’t know you were back too!”

Luxanna Crownguard, the daughter of the elite noble Crownguard family of Demacia. The two of them had grown up together as friends. Because of her noble status, Fiora had been denied the possibility of befriending those of lower social status, and often felt alone as a child. One day, at the age of five, Fiora attended a large banquet set up for the Demacian elite. It was there that she saw a blonde little girl around her age sitting in a corner of the room, playfully singing a song. Surprised to find someone her own age at an event like this, Fiora walked over to talk to the girl, who introduced herself as Luxanna, or Lux for short. They had a lot in common, as they both shared a similar background growing up.

As the years passed, their personalities began to drift farther apart, as Fiora reflected her father’s proud status as a master duelist, while Lux remained the same cheerful girl that was present at that banquet so many years ago. This, however, did not change anything in the friendship between them, as the two continue to regard each other as best friends. Even though Lux had disappeared for extended periods of time over the past few years, either for military mission that she was never allowed to expose the details of, or her enlisting in the League of Legends two years ago, the two never grew apart and knew they could rely on each other for company.

“Yes, it is me. Are you on leave as well?” Fiora responded

“Mhmm! I’ve been back for a few days now. I didn’t know you were here as well, I would have found you earlier.” Lux answered happily.

“I got back just two days ago, and I was busy. A duelist must always be on top of her game.” Fiora replied proudly.

“Ohhh Fiorie,” the blond girl said with a sigh. “You really haven’t changed at all.”

Lux then shook her head before letting out a playful laugh. The two of them spent the next hour making small talk about life, some of the people they’ve each met since becoming a part of the League of Legends, and some of the opponents that they’ve faced against. The two of them had been lucky so far, as they have yet to encounter a situation where they’ve had to face off against each other in a battle. Although neither one of them wanted to mention it, they knew it was inevitable that the two would be pitted against each other, and one of them would fall to the other’s hand.

“Say, Lux… what do you think of the Institute of War?” Fiora finally asked rather uncomfortably after a long silence.

“What do you mean? I mean, it doesn’t have the comforts of home, but I’ve managed.” Lux replied gleefully. “And so can you, little Miss Rich-”

“That’s not what I meant… What do you think of the whole concept of the League of Legends?” Fiora interrupted in a serious tone. “Using champions in controlled battles between summoners to settle political differences.”

Lux examined her friend’s face carefully before her smile faded and she looked towards the ground.

“It’s the nightmares, isn’t it?” She asked, causing Fiora to shoot her an abrupt shocked glance.

“W-What are you talking about? I do not have nightmares, I am far too-“ Fiora responded quickly, her voice almost cracking at the beginning before regaining her composure.

“You don’t need to deny it, Fiorie. I have the same problem…They happen all the time don’t they? Nightmares of being trampled by monstrous creatures that we’ve never even seen before entering the League. Even though I know that we can never die during our time in the Summoner’s Fields, it doesn’t make it any easier when we leave the field at the end of the day, does it?” The blonde mage interrupted in an uncharacteristically somber tone.

“Ugh… No, it doesn’t. I volunteered to become a part of the League, hoping to prove my title as the greatest swords duelist in the world. Instead, I found myself going against monstrous creatures that were beyond anything I could even imagine.” The duelist admitted. “In the end, for us Champions of the League, is this really any better than war?”

“No. I’ve been a part of it for two years now, but to this day it doesn’t get any easier. According to my brother Garen, it never gets easier. But I keep telling myself that if only I have to suffer the nightmares on a regular basis in exchange for sparing everyone else that I care about from war, it’s an acceptable sacrifice.” Lux answered, her voice rising and becoming more confident towards the end.

Lux had always been this way; always cheerful and noble, both in blood and in character. While Fiora was always preoccupied with being the best at what she did, her friend cared only about fighting for a good cause. It was one of the qualities that she had always envied in Lux, but would never bring herself to openly admit.

“Hey Lux… what do you think wil-“ Fiora began before an a loud crashing sound could be heard in the near distance interrupted her, causing both girls to turn their heads abruptly towards the direction of the sound.

Looking over the ledge, they saw a thick black cloud rising from one of the nearby streets and a stream of people screaming and frantically running away from the source of the smoke.

“What’s going on?” Lux asked in a concerned voice.

“I don’t know, but let’s go!” Fiora replied quickly, before grabbing onto the metallic railing with her right hand.

With a quick jump, she swung her legs up in a perfect circle to land on the ledge on the other side of the railing. She then leapt outwards off of the side of the hill, holding her arms out as she dropped in free fall to the street 300 feet below. Using her right hand, she reached into her pocket and pulled out a small rune.

“Wind of the Wings of Glory!” She exclaimed before throwing the rune ahead of her. With a quick movement, she grabbed her parrying blade with her left hand and threw it at the rune, shattering it before it landed on the ground below. A large glowing purple circular symbol with multiple markings appeared on the ground below her, followed by a strong gust of air that shot upward at Fiora, slowing her fall and allowing her to do a quick somersault before landing gracefully on her feet.

“W-Wait!” Lux screamed from the hill above, unable to move after what she had witnessed.

A few seconds later, Lux finally managed to compose herself after the initial shock of seeing her friend fall that far and land without a scratch. She raised her wooden wand and waves it around herself a few times, causing it to glow.

“Hah!” She exclaimed before a large, brightly glowing bubble surrounds her.

The bubble begins to elevate her off the ground, over the railing surrounding the viewpoint. Moving her right arm forward, she points her wand ahead and down, causing the bubble of light to move in response to its direction. A minute later, Lux slowly lands on the ground next to her friend.

“You could have just asked me to take us both down. How in the world did you even learn to do something like that? I never knew you learned how to use magic like that.” Lux asked loudly in an excited tone as she lowered her wand, causing the barrier around her to disappear.

“Being a duelist means analyzing and knowing your opponent. Unlike all of my opponents in the past, many of the ones I faced in the Institute fought with magic. In order to understand how to fight them, I forced myself to learn the basics of what they were capable of.” Fiora began to explain. “However, now is not the time, we need to move!”

“Right!” Lux acknowledged, as the two began to run towards the source of the commotion.

***

“Mommy! Help me!” A child screamed, sitting on the floor with eyes wide open in terror, frozen in place by the sight before her.

A large creature standing on two legs, covered from top to bottom in a mysterious dark wispy cloud turned its attention towards the girl, letting out a low sounding growl. The creature, twice the height of an average human adult, extended its arms, which ended in two scythe like projections. Its eyes glowed an eerily yellow color and burned with malicious intent. Slowly, it took one step, followed by another towards the small girl crouched in the corner.

“Melanie!” A woman in her early thirties with long brown hair screamed frantically, running towards the girl. “Melanie, get up and run!”

The scream caused the creature to turn its head and focus its attention to the approaching woman, now a few feet away from the large creature. With a quick swipe of its right arm, the creature’s blades easily impaled into the woman’s chest, causing her to utter out a loud grunt as dark red blood began to pour from her mouth.

“Mommyyyy!” The child let out a loud scream of anguish, causing the creature to turn back towards her.

Taking one more step, the creature flung its right arm to throw the woman off of it before bring it backwards in preparation to strike the defenseless child. With a quick swing of its arm forward, the blade rapidly approaches the child’s head.

“Light Binding!” A female voice yells in the distance.

The creature’s movements stops abruptly, remaining still as though frozen in time. The dark creature lets out a loud roar of anger as all four of its limbs were paralyzed. Surrounding him was an aura of light that radiated upward from the ground, terminating in a bright yellow circle interlaced with symbols in the sky above him.

A second later, Fiora runs swiftly past the creature, grabs the crouched child and escapes with her, bringing her around the corner. The child, now sobbing loudly looked at the two adults in front of her.

“Mommy! I want my mommy!” She wailed loudly.

Fiora turned to Lux before lowering her eyes and shaking her head, letting her companion knew exactly what the situation was.

“Listen, you’re going to have to be brave for us. Right now, the bravest thing you can do is run and go home okay?” Lux said to the child, hoping to comfort her.

There was no solace to the situation. The child let out a loud bone-chilling wail as she ran away. Both of them knew that there was nothing more they could have done in the present situation besides help get her as far away as possible. A loud roar came from around the corner before a loud, high-pitched clank not unlike that of glass shattering could be heard.

Fiora and Lux ran towards the creature to find it had shattered the binding that the light mage had cast on it.

“What in the world is that thing?” Lux asked, examining its appearance surrounded by a mist-like aura as dark as a moonless sky, despite being in broad daylight.

Fiora turned to look at the woman, now lying lifeless on the street sidewalk, a pool of blood twice the area of the woman profusely flowing out of the large open wound in her chest. She narrowed her eyes in disgust before turning her gaze towards the large creature.

“I don’t know, but it has no problem with attacking civilians.” She responded before shifting into battle position, drawing out her sword and pointing it at her opponent. “But if it’s death this thing desires, it’s death we’ll give it!”

Fiora runs a few steps forward to get in range of the shadowy creature. Immediately, the creature brought one of its blade-like arms to the ground, giving her barely enough time to lunge forward and avoid the attack. She tumbled on the ground following the lunge before delivering a quick slash to the creature’s legs, intending to impale it and send it falling to the ground.

Upon impacting with the creature, a mysterious dark light exploded at the site of impact, sending the duelist and her sword flying backwards towards the second story of one of the nearby buildings. She had barely enough time to **** her head slightly to her side to look behind her, allowing her to bend her knees and turn her body downwards to allow her to land on the building with her feet. Instinctively, she launched herself off of the building towards the creature, her right arm forward with her sword in striking position.

As the creature brought its right arm up, Fiora brought down her blade, landing a blow to the creature that resulted in a similar reaction as her previous strike, sending the duelist flying backwards and causing her to land on her back.

“Are you okay?” Lux asked, running over to her companion with a concerned look on her face.

“Ugh… yeah” Fiora responded, letting out a painful grunt as a sharp pain shot down her lower back.

She breathed heavily, feeling the wind knocked out of her with that last impact. The pain, however, was the least of her concerns. Twice she had landed perfect hits on her opponent, yet each time, it failed to elicit any sort of painful response. Furthermore, the hits didn’t even feel like a hit. Her blade has met flesh and many types of armor over the years, but never had she felt this type of sensation. Upon impact, it didn’t feel solid, but rather felt like a sense of vibration followed by a shock. She couldn’t tell what it was that she was hitting, if anything at all.

As Fiora managed to her feet, the creature began to take a few rapid steps forward, its arms held up in preparation to strike at the two petite women in front of it.

“Lucent Singularity!” Lux screamed, raising her wand and waving it backwards before swinging it forward, causing a globe of light composed of swirls that covered the entire spectrum of colors to launch towards the creature.

“Hah!” She exclaimed as the globe reached the creature, causing it to detonate in a large explosion of light. “Let’s get out of here while it’s-“

The creature suddenly let out a loud roar, reminiscent of pain as the explosion engulfed it, causing Lux to stop mid sentence to examine the situation. When the light finally diminished, the shadowy creature’s essence could be seen. Its legs and lower abdomen, which were affected the most by the mage’s spell was no longer covered in the dark aura, but was rather a dark red in color. Its legs were highly muscular and ended in feet with three toes, each terminating in sharp black spines.

“Wait,” Fiora said as she mustered the strength to raise her blade again. “Give me one more shot at it.”

Before Lux could protest, she lunged forward again. The creature, aware of its approaching opponent, brought both its arms out and swung them together as Fiora neared it. Within a split second, the nimble girl saw the closing blades and quickly leaped up, her feet managing to avoid the blades by inches as they closed on her. She landed on top of one of the blades before lunging a second time, this time downward, landing directly in front of the creature before delivering a quick slash to its left leg.

Fiora smiled as the familiar feeling of her blade penetrating flesh came to her. With a quick twirl of her body, she unleashed a second slash, this time to the creature’s right leg, followed by a third one to the creature’s stomach, causing it to unleash a blood-curling scream of pain as dark green blood poured from the wounds. It quickly lifted its right leg and unleashed a swift kick to the duelist, hoping to impale her on its sharp nails.

Her many years as a duelist, however, trained her to be aware of all of the counter attacks her opponents could unleash on her after she lands a successful attack. This occasion was no exception, as she quickly spun to her side to avoid the creature’s massive foot, tumbling away from the creature before running next to her companion.

“It worked!” Lux exclaimed.

“Yeah, somehow, that shadowy aura it had prevents any sort of physical attacks from having any impact on it. Luckily, it seems that your light magic melts through it, making it vulnerable.” Fiora responded.

“Right! Aren’t you glad I’m around?” Lux said with a smile.

The creature’s screams of pain suddenly changed to one of rage, as it got dropped on all four of its limbs and opened its mouth. A sphere of darkness began to gather in front of its mouth.

“Lux, get out of the way!” Fiora exclaimed as the two immediately leapt to the side.

A split second later, a large beam of black energy fired towards the two champions, barely giving them enough time to leap to each side, dodging the attack by inches. Behind them, a loud explosion could be heard, as the building at the end of the street became engulfed in flames and began to crumble upnon impact with the blast.

“Lux! Are you all right?” Fiora screamed as she got to her feet, using the wall of the building along the side of the road to help prop herself up.

“Yeah!” Lux responded as she struggled to stand up.

“This has gotten way too dangerous, we need to end this now!” The duelist exclaimed, raising her sword up in preparation for the next strike.

The creature continued to stand on all four of its limbs, the exposed part of its body now facing the ground in an attempt to avoid further damage from its opponents. It let out a few heavy breaths before opening its mouth again, preparing to fire off another attack.

“Leave it to me!” Lux announced before spinning her wand around her a few times.

A second later, she held out her arms as two large white concentric circles as large as her appeared in front of her. It had four arrow like symbols, one pointing the sky, a second one towards the ground, and two more that pointed to the left and right. Multiple rune markings appeared between the two concentric circles. The central circle gradually became brighter, forcing Fiora to turn her eyes away in response.

“HAAAAAAAAHHH!” Lux exclaimed as a large beam of light fired from in front of her, the circumference of which engulfed most of the street, causing a large explosion upon impact with the shadowy creature.

Almost immediately, the creature let out a second loud, continuous cry of pain. The creature began to shift around on the ground, abandoning its previous crouched position. As the smoke cleared, the creature was now completely exposed, it’s red torso, a muscular build that continued to its arms comprised of a muscular upper arm fused with a black blade-like weapon. Its head was now revealed to resemble a cross between a bull and a hyena, with two large bull-like horns on its forehead and a snarling jaw reminiscent of a wild dog. Multiple wounds were now present throughout its body after that last magic attack, causing it to stagger wildly around.

Before it could even get itself back to a standing position, however, Fiora was already behind it and leapt up to the level of its head.

“You’re finished!” She exclaimed before she quickly let out a swipe on its shoulder, followed by multiple dashes around the air in which she appeared not as a person, but as a mirage of light, slashing the creature over a dozen times, first around its neck, followed by its arms, and then it’s torso and back. With each successive slash, the creature let out a series of cries of pain. Finally, she landed right in front of the creature before leaping upwards to deliver a kick to its head, causing the creature to be flung upwards. She landed on the ground before quickly making one final leap into the air. The creature could not react fast enough as its head, now cocked in position to look at the sky after the last kick, could all but watch as Fiora appeared on top of it, holding her blade forward as she lunged down, delivering a vertical slash from the top of its head down to its pelvis.

The creature let out a loud high pitched scream that was almost deafening to those nearby before starting to collapse. Green fluid began gushing profusely out of its wounds , creating a large round pool around it on the ground. Fiora instantly leapt backwards to avoid being crushed underneath the monstrous creature. As it fell to the ground with a thud, it let out a few groans before falling silent, its breathing movements slowing down.

Ask Vayne 03-22-2012 06:45 PM

Chapter 1: An Omen Appears (cont'd)

Fiora collapsed onto her knees, breathing heavily as she kneeled on the hard cobblestone street. Almost half a minute later, she finally let out a loud sigh as she stood up again and swung her sword outwards, flinging the thick green liquid off of the blade before sweeping it to her left side to resheathe it. She turned to Lux to see her also on her knees, panting heavily with her right arm and wand pressed against the ground.

“Just… what was that thing?” Fiora finally asked loudly, still fighting to catch her breath.

“I don’t know,” Lux replied, panting loudly and trying desperately to compose herself. “I don’t know if you could sense it but… appearances aside, I sensed a very evil and almost ancient feeling magic coming from it earlier. I don’t know what it was, but the mere presence of it almost made me feel suffocated.”

It was a creature unlike any either of them had ever seen before. Even in their matches in the League of Legends, never once had they ever faced off against a creature with the ability to permanently be resistant to all attacks except light magic. Despite the large collection of creatures that the summoners had acquired over the years for use in their league battles, the corpse in front of them looked nothing like any other creature that’s known to exist.

For Fiora, perhaps the most concerning part was the unanswered question of why would something like this appear out of nowhere in the middle of Demacia. Something like this would clearly have caused a wave of destruction in its wake if it had come from outside of the city, but as far as she was aware, all was calm that morning until that initial blast caught their attention.

“We should notify the Demacian police force. Hopefully they can investigate and get to the bot-“ Fiora began before being interrupted by a loud crash from behind.

Turning around, the two champions opened their eyes wide in shock as a second shadowy creature, identical to the first one landed on the street a few meters away from them. Seeing its fallen companion, it let out a loud blood curling roar filled with rage before dropping down and crouching on all four of its limbs and opening its mouth, a ball of black energy beginning to gather in front of it.

“Gah!” Both girls exclaimed simultaneously, a paralyzing chill sent shooting down their spines as they were well aware of what was coming next.

Neither of them at this point had enough strength to be able to win a second fight against one of these creatures. Lux closed her eyes tightly, preparing for the impact of the impending attack as she no longer had the strength to be able to even stand up after launching her ultimate attack moments ago. Fiora, seeing this, ran towards her hoping to be able to pull her away from the direction of the attack.

“Wave of the Trigram’s Light!” A male voice shouted in the distance.

With a quick wave of his hands, a triangle of white light formed in front of the man. The three corners of the triangle suddenly began to expand forward, producing three large, brightly glowing spears of energy. An instant later, the spears shot forward towards the creature, impaling it at each of its shoulders and its lower back. Almost instantly, the creature let out a loud high pitched cry of pain as the ball of dark energy destabilized in front of its face, causing a massive explosion to engulf the area around the creature. The force of the explosion was enough to knock both Fiora and Lux off of their feet, causing them to collapse to the ground on their backs. Moments later, the smoke cleared revealing the creature on the ground, the dark shadowy aura dissipated revealing a red skinned creature identical to the first one lying in a pool of its thick green blood.

Slowly, the two female champions found their way off the ground and stood up, letting out a loud shocked gasp at the sight of the second creature, now dead from a single attack. Looking behind it, Fiora spotted the man standing on a nearby rooftop.

“Uh… Thank you… for saving us.” Lux spoke first. “But… who are you?”

The man jumped off the top of the two story building, lunging forward before landing on his feet. Standing up, the man appeared to be in his mid twenties, with black hair that extended down to his mid neck. As he took a few steps closer, his long black coat extending from his shoulder to his knees waved in the air, carried by the breeze that began to blow away the dust in the area. Underneath his coat, he wore a tight fitting blue shirt and white colored pants with a red colored scarf hanging on his neck. He then suddenly stopped and looked at the two girls carefully with reddish-brown eyes that appeared impassive at the situation.

“The name is Leon,” the man spoke with a deep, firm voice. “Leon Raynes.”



*****




Chapter 2: Pursued

Those who fear the approach of death desperately seek the powers of immortality. But what is immortality when the price to pay is destruction?

- Teachings of the Goddess Terras, Ancient Tome of Atlas


Centralia, Central Governing District of Demacia

A man wearing a silver armor ordained with multiple symbols of the Demacian army frantically runs down a large hallway with tall ceilings, the walls to each sides arching upwards to terminate in vaulting reminiscent of typical Gothic style architecture. Upon reaching the end of the hall, two guards raise their lances and cross them, blocking his path past the doorway.

“Lieutenant Colonel Excelsior of the Demacian Army, I need to speak to your majesty immediately.” The man said after taking a few deep breaths of exhaustion, slightly irked at the two obstructing his way.

“We were never told of your arrival.” One of the guards announced firmly but uneasily at the thought of challenging a military official that was ranked much higher than himself.

“This is an emergency. I have no time to explain the details to you, but there’s been an attack on our city.” The officer replied, a look of anger now starting to show in his eyes.

“An attack? Wait one moment.” The other guard said uneasily before lowering his lance and pushing the door behind him open to walk in.

He took a few steps into a large circular room, ordained with multiple marble pillars that ran along the periphery of the room. The high ceiling terminated in a large golden rotunda, patterned with multiple square paintings that depicted important people in Demacian history. At the other end of the room, a man who appeared in his mid fifties was sitting atop a large wooden chair, the back of which was covered in a purple silk padding and embossed with the symbol of the Demacian nation. In front of him was a darkly-stained wooden desk on which many documents were laid out. The man raised his head, revealing a face with multiple wrinkles.

“Why have you come in?” He demanded with an irritated tone.

“Sorry, my king, but there’s an emergency.” The guard replied quickly, lowering himself to the floor in a kneeling stance with his head bowed.

“What!” The older man exclaimed after a moment of careful listening.

He quickly dropped the pen that he had been holding and stood up to reveal himself dressed in a magnificent purple gown that draped from his shoulders to just above his feet, the edges of which were embossed with golden highlights. His mid chest that was exposed by the way the gown was worn on him revealed a blue shirt embossed with the symbol of Demacia.

“Let him in now.” King Jarvan III ordered.

“Right!” The guard replied before quickly getting up and returning to the door.

Moments later, the armored officer walked into the room, the sound of his metallic greaves striking the ground with every step filled the room. When he was a few steps away from King Jarvan III, he stopped and kneeled down with his head bowed.

“My King, sorry for the interruption, but I come bringing bad news. There’s been an attack on the Thorin district.” He said, maintaining a kneeled position

“At ease, what more do we know?” The king replied, causing the man to rise from the ground.

“We don’t have many details yet, but reports are coming in saying heavy casualties with significant damage in that region. It seems that it was limited to a specific area, but we don’t know the exact extent of the situation.” The officer replied.

“What of our soldiers?”

“Sir, our military forces that were in the area at the time have not been accounted for at the moment. It is possible that they may be already be dead.” The colonel answered, disappointed at the lack of good news.

“Is it Noxus? Have those wretched barbarians finally given up on peace and decided to start the next war?” Jarvan III asked, a look of rage consuming his face.

“My lord, that is perhaps the most concerning part of it all. We only have reports from civilian eyewitnesses, but from what we’ve been hearing, it seems pretty consistent. Whatever was causing this… wasn’t human.”

“What?” The king responded abruptly, the look of rage on his face suddenly shifting to one of fear.

“Correct. We don’t know the details of it yet, but the description provided to us indicate that the attacker was some sort of creature covered in shadows that appeared out of nowhere. One person claimed that he saw a part of the ground starting to twist and distort into nothing more than a black hole, from which this attacker rose.” The lieutenant colonel explained.

King Jarvan III’s look of fear continued, his eyes wide in apprehension as he knew the implications of this if these reports were true.

“They continued to say that the creature didn’t even appear have a clear form, but rather it was surrounded by a cloud of a dark flowing substance. We don’t know what the situation is now, but more of my men have been dispatched to the location. We’ll know soon enough.”

“May the Goddess have mercy on us.” Jarvan III said in a low, concerned voice.

“Sir?” The military official asked, confused.

“There is dark magic at work here. We could be looking at this sort of destruction taking place within our great city at any time. Our guarded borders would be useless and they can strike at us at any time and place.” The king replied, brushing his bearded chin with his right hand in contemplation.

“Agreed. We’ll take measures to recall some of our men from the outskirts of the nation to fortify our city.” Excelsior acknowledged, turning around in preparation to leave.

“Keep me informed of what your men find. Also, contact Piltover.” The king announced, causing the military officer to stop his movements.

“Piltover, why?” He asked, perplexed.

“An open attack using dark magic is not something to be taken lightly. Whoever is responsible for this wants us to know that the city is not safe and is openly flaunting their powers. I would like to enlist the help of their advanced military specialists.” The king answered, causing his officer’s heart to sink at the realization of the implications of this statement.

“My lord, I must object. My men are fully trained to de-“ He said before being cut off by Jarvan III.

“You dare question my authority?” He exploded angrily.

“Well... no sir but-,” The lieutenant colonel responded sheepishly.

“I understand you do not agree with allowing outsiders to help with our internal security affairs, but right now, the security of our people is what is most important. They have advanced military technology and tactics that we do not possess and will be better at keeping our people and Summoners safe. Did you ever stop to think what would happen if an attack on the Institute of War took place? If the blood of the Summoners were shed, wild accusations will be made and the peace that it has brought us all of these years will be shattered in an instant.” The king explained in a stern tone.

“Right.” Lieutenant Colonel Excelsior acknowledged in agreement.

“Also, our relation with Piltover has been good. This decision will be a gesture of good will, showing that we trust them enough as our ally to allow them to help with our internal security investigations.” Jarvan III explained further.

“Understood,” The military officer replied, kneeling to a bow before getting up and leaving the room.

Moments later, the doors were shut and King Jarvan III stood frozen in his previous position in deep contemplation before finally letting out a sign.

“Long since we’ve known this peace was temporary. I only wished that I wouldn’t have had to live to see this day come.” He said to himself before returning to his seat.

***

Fiora stared at the mysterious young man, now standing just a few meters away from them. Suspicion ran high in her veins. A bright green glow came from behind her, causing the two girls to turn around to see the creature that they had slain emit a bright glow followed by a flash. When the light subsided, the large creature’s entirety had disappeared, leaving behind a pile of dark ash. Before they could react, a similar event happened with the second creature that was slain by the mysterious man that had arrived. They stood silently in awe and confusion at what had transpired, with neither of them moving or making a sound for the next minute.

“Mr. Leon Raynes, thank you for saving us. My na-“ Lux finally began to say in an appreciative tone as she took a step forward before being stopped by Fiora’s arm, raised at the level of her shoulders.

“Lux, stay back.” Fiora barked in a low, but fierce voice.

Despite the fatigue, Fiora stood her ground proudly, her aqua blue eyes cold and suspicious of the person in front of her.

“What’s wrong, do you know him?” Lux asked, confused.

“No, that’s what bothers me.” The duelist replied with a quick glance to her blonde companion before turning her attention back at the man in front of her. “Who are you, and what was it that you were able to just do?”

“Well, that’s no way to thank the person who just saved your life.” The man replied simply in a sarcastic, mocking voice.

“I never said I needed your saving. I would have been fine without you.” Fiora responded flippantly.

“Perhaps that may have been true, but I’m certain your friend next to you appreciated not being turned into a pile of charred bones.” He reciprocated, continuing to mock the purple haired female, who he would have considered rather attractive had it not been for her disdainful personality.

“Tch.” Fiora snapped, averting her gaze and grinding her teeth together.

She tried hard in her mind to deny this. In the end, though, she knew that she wouldn’t have been able to protect Lux had he not shown up.

“Look, I’m not asking for appreciation. I just happened to be in the area and did what I thought would be helpful.” The man finally said after a while before turning to leave.

“Wait!” Lux suddenly yelled loudly, surprising her companion as she pushed the duelist’s arm above her and ran forward. “Thank you, for saving our lives. You told us your name, but who are you? And what was that you just did?”

“Let’s say I’m a friendly Samaritan who happened to be in the right place in the right time. I’ll explain more, but right now, we should leave this place.” He said without turning around.

“Running from the crime scene? That’s not suspicious” Fiora asked in an accusatory voice.

“I don’t know about the two of you, but I’d rather not be standing in an area armed with weapons and surrounded by dead human bodies.” He answered quickly, taking a few steps forward away from the scene.

As much as she wanted to deny it, Fiora quickly realized that his point was valid. With the two creatures bodies mysteriously disappearing into a pile of ash, the arrival of the Demacian army at this moment would likely have gotten them arrested or killed on sight.

“Fiorie, we should follow him… See if he can tell us more about what’s going on.” Lux said, turning around to face her with pouting lips.

Even though she had no intention of trying to gain help from this stranger, she knew that she couldn’t let her lifelong friend follow him alone. Lux had always been an easy going person who was a little too trusting of others. Growing up, Fiora was appreciative of having her around, as her carefree attitude helped balance her own determined and careful personality. At times like this, however, the na´ve attitude can bring unnecessary trouble.

“Fine, we’ll come. But don’t think even for one second that I’ll hesitate to slice your throat open if I get even the slightest impression that something is wrong.” Fiora said in a stern, threatening voice before taking a step forward to follow.

“Such harsh words to come from a young lady such as yourself.” He observed, causing a vein to twitch in her forehead in irritation. “Very well, I’ll explain what I know as we move.”

Ask Vayne 03-22-2012 06:45 PM

Chapter 2: Pursued (Cont'd)


***

Location - Unknown

The stuffy air filled a large circular room, windowless and dark with the exception of a single small glowing red orb that sits on a table located in the middle of the room. A few feet away from the table, three pedestals are placed in a perfect triangle formation, equidistant from the table. On top of each pedestal, an identical circular symbol with multiple rune markings and writings is present, drawn in a black ink. The orb begins to glow brighter for a few moments before three robed figures appeared out of the shadows, one on top of each of the pedestals.

“How did the initial experiment proceed?” An older male voice asked in a low, coarse voice.

“It was successful. Barrier distortion succeeded and lasted long enough for their crossing.” One of the other figures replied, this time a female with a smoky voice. “Things are proceeding as planned.”

“Not quite as planned, it seemed.” The first voice objected angrily. “They were slain within minutes of arriving in Demacia. It didn’t cause the widespread panic that we had intended. Maybe they weren’t as powerful as you had expected”

“Two of the champions from the Institute were there, Fiora Laurent and Luxanna Crownguard. It seemed that it was a coincidence that brought them there. Furthermore, he was there. Next time they won’t be as lucky.” Answered the female voice.

"Laurent?" The first voice echoed.

“There won’t be a next time.” The third figure declared, a male voice grand with authority. “The message was clear. We can strike at anytime. For now, a second demonstration won’t be necessary. We proceed as planned and the world will know of our rise.”

“What of those three?” The robed woman asked.

“He we will have to deal with in due time. In the meanwhile, I’ve already made arrangements to teach those two a permanent lesson for meddling in our affairs.” He replied.

With that last statement, the three robed figures nodded in agreement and disappeared into the shadows, similar to the way with which they had appeared.

***

Kaldor, Central District of Demacia

“Start talking.” Fiora said after taking a sip of her hot tea, her eyes staring intently at the young man in the black coat.

They had spent the past half an hour running from the scene of destruction, ensuring that they would be out of the region before the city’s military force arrived. After deciding that they had put enough distance between them, they agreed to stop at a small, quaint family owned cafÚ that was known for its desserts. The last thing on their minds was food, but there was much to be discussed and a neutral public place was the safest option.

“Getting down to business already? I didn’t even get to enjoy my cake.” Leon replied, a frown on his face.

“Look, you brought us with you here for a reason. So why are we here?” Fiora demanded impatiently, trying hard to control her voice as to not attract unwanted attention.

“I didn’t bring you here. I merely said I wanted to get away from the area. You simply followed because you wanted answers.” He said with a slight grin, developing a sense of playful satisfaction from irritating the arrogant, deadly bladeswoman in front of him.

The taunting only served to anger her more. She came to the conclusion that staying here was pointless, as the mysterious man in front of her probably had no intentions of giving her the answers she needed. She was ready to leave when Lux, who had previously sat at the table quietly watching the exchange of verbal attacks, finally intervened.

“Umm… I’m sorry Mr. Raynes. Please excuse Fiorie, she can be a little rough around the edges sometimes.” Lux said with a nervous chuckle, causing the duelist to shoot her an icy glance. “But really, if you can help us answer some questions, we’d really appreciate it!”

“Well, since you asked nicely,” He began after a short pause. “Give me a moment to finish off my dessert and I’ll tell you what I know. It’s rude to speak with food in your mouth, you know.”

“Of course, take your time!” Lux replied happily, her face beaming with satisfaction that her tactics worked.

“Tch!” Fiora snapped, turning her head away in contempt to examine her surroundings for anything suspicious.

The street around them was surprisingly pleasant, considering the commotion that had taken place earlier. The midday sun shone brightly on them as the three of them sat at a glass table along the sidewalk, light reflecting off of the glass causing Fiora to shade her eyes from the glare. A man who looked in his mid 40s stood a few feet away with his back against the wall, a lit cigar between his right index and middle finger, and his eyes fixed on a location on the ground. It was the typical behavior of a long-time smoker, raising his head only to take a drag and letting out a slowly rising cloud of smoke before re-fixating on that specific spot. A minute later, the man took one final puff before putting out the cigar under his shoes. He turned his head towards the beautiful duelist who had been observing his behavior for the past minute, giving her a smile and a nod before walking off. Fiora ignored the gesture and instead continued to look around, watching a young couple walk by with a leashed white dog with brown spots that looked large enough to weigh as much as herself. It was the characteristic easy-going environment of the eastern district of Demacia, known for its many shops and restaurants.

“Well then.” Leon finally said after a long, uncomfortable silence, causing Fiora to turn her attention back to the table. “What is it you want to know?”

“Well, first of all, just who are you?” Fiora asked immediately, a question that had been burning inside of her for the past hour.

“As I had mentioned earlier, my name is Leon Raynes. I’m a scholar in the area of magic. Since I was a child, I’ve spent most of my life traveling the continent of Valoran to the different societies, studying their forms of magic. It was my goal to eventually return to Demacia to teach others all that I have learned on my travels. After spending dozens of years of my life in this area of study, it was only natural that I’d be rather adept at using magic.” Leon recounted.

“What was that spell that you used earlier? It was so powerful, way more so than anything I know.” Lux asked, a tone of disappointment in her voice as she trailed off at the end.

“That was the Wave of the Trigram’s Light. It’s a form of holy magic manipulation that seemed to work well against dark magic.” He explained.

“Can you teach me?” Lux quickly asked with child-like excitement.

“Erm… it’s a little complicated. Maybe eventually.” He replied hesitantly.

“Dark magic,” Fiora said to herself aloud. “Since we’re on the topic, do you know what those things were that attacked us?”

“That… is the right question. I can’t say this with certainty, but I believe that those creatures are Void Shadows.” He answered, his voice sounding more certain than his answer would imply.

“Void Shadows? I’ve never heard of those before. What are they?” This time it was Lux’s turn to ask.

Lux had studied white magic extensively during her upbringing. Along with that subject came endless hours of studies on the magical capabilities of creatures on Runeterra. Thus, it bothered her that the name didn’t sound familiar and knew of only a few possible explanations.

“It’s a creature not of this world, but rather as its name implies, it crossed over from the Undying Realm. Or as it is more commonly known in Demacia, The Void.” He explained, the last words of his answer causing the blood of both of the female champions to run cold.

“Th-…The Void?” Lux uttered, her eyes wide open in shock.

“Impossible!” Fiora objected almost immediately. “There is no way that those things could be from The Void. There’s only ever been a few creatures from that realm that have ever been able to cross over into our world, and they’re all imprisoned in the Institute of War. Even then, the only reason why they appeared was because of the instability in the world after the end of the last Rune War. Now you’re saying that more of them got through but decided to wait until now to reveal themselves? Those two back there didn’t exactly look like very intelligent beings to pull such a thing off.”

“That’s perhaps the most concerning part of all. You’re right, they aren’t the type to simply lie dormant and wait for orders to attack. I believe that they came over to this world at the very moment that this all started.” Leon explained before taking a sip from his cup of coffee, a wisp of steam rising vertically from the cup on the calm day.

“Brought over? How? How are you so certain that any of this is even correct?” Fiora asked, not because she was skeptical but because she was hoping that there was some other explanation.

“A year ago, I was in Piltover researching the history of the disturbances that occurred after the end of the fifth Rune War. It was then that I stumbled onto a rather startling discovery. Tell me, Luxanna, do you know the story of the two men who successfully looked into The Void?” Leon continued.

“Yeah… Malzahar and Kassadin. They’re two men who practice powerful black magic. I’ve fought them in the Summoners Fields a few times. They’ve gone completely mad.” She answered.

A frown appeared on Leon’s face in response to her answer. He remained silent in contemplation for the next few seconds before continuing.

“A lot of people believe that they went mad, describing unspeakable horrors of the world ending. However, I question whether the claims of their insanity are truly warranted.” He mused in a stern, quiet voice.

“Explain.” Fiora asked uneasily.

“Well, it appears that after each of them were transferred to the Institute of War, their original homes were searched by their state’s military. Multiple documents were found, most of which were illegible. However, some of the documents were written depictions of creatures that they saw during their gaze into The Void. Separately, they appeared to be the ramblings of a psychotic man, but when I had both of their documents in front of me at the time, I began to realize that the two men made almost identical depictions of many of the creatures they believed they had seen. They described Hellhounds, mutated mutt-like creatures with glowoing eyes and spine-like horns on their heads; Archknights, large winged beasts wielding blades the size of an entire person; and of course, Void Walkers, creatures covered in a dark shadowy aura with arms that end in scythes. I’m pretty sure that last one sounds familiar?” He continued before coming to a stop to allow his words to set in.

“So those things that we fought and defeated…They really were creatures from The Void.” Fiora mused rather proudly before asking the question that had really been bothering her this whole time. “You never answered my other question. You said that they were brought into our world today. How?”

“I don’t know the exact answer. But I believe that the magical barrier that separates the Living World of Runeterra and the Undying World is intentionally being broken down.” Leon replied.

“The barrier between the Living World and the Undying World?” Lux asked in astonishment.

“Correct. In Piltover, their research into magic came to one conclusion. Since the creation of this world, the world of the living has been separated from the Undying World by a magical barrier. This barrier is extremely powerful, such that it prevents even the strongest of dark magic in The Void from being able to penetrate it. However, it was found that there was one requirement for the maintenance of this barrier: the stability of the flow of magic in this world. As long as the flow of magic is stable, the barrier would remain in place and separate our world from the Undying World. As you mentioned, Ms. Fiora Laurent, when the flow of magic destabilized after the last Rune War, it began to weakened, allowing creatures to enter our realm. I believe that now, someone or something is trying to purposely weaken the barrier again, and is responsible for destruction that you saw earlier today.” He explained, causing the duelist to close her eyes bitterly, as her suspicions had been confirmed.

“But why would anyone want to do something like this? And how?” Lux objected.

“I’m afraid I can’t answer those questions right now. I don’t know enough about the situation either to be able to give you reliable information. All I can tell you right now that might be of some use now is a statement that was written by both Malzahar and Kassadin in their documents.” He replied.

“What is it?” Fiora asked, opening her eyes again and preparing herself for what could only make things worse.

“Two words that both of them wrote, ‘Genesis awaits’.” Leon said before falling silent, his eyes now focused on the two young women in front of him.

“Genesis awaits… what is that suppose to mean?” Fiora finally asks, breaking the tense silence.

“I don’t have an answer for that either.”

“Maybe we should find out more? Perhaps ask some of the Summoners back at the Institute of-“ Lux began to suggest before being interrupted abruptly by Leon.

“No! We don’t know the extent of what is going on right now. For all we know, it could be people in the Institute that are involved in this. If we get too many people involved, it’ll either attract unwanted attention towards us, or get more innocent people killed.” Leon explained.

“Hmm… what about someone that we can trust to explore the research at the Institute?” Lux proposed.

“Who do you have in mind?” Fiora asked curiously, turning to look at her friend.

“The explorer, Ezreal. He and I actually became friends since we both shared a knack for white magic. Plus, he’s always engrossed in the books at the Institute’s archives when he’s not out traveling the world. I saw him there right before I left the other day, so he should still be there. I can ask him to help find some information on this Genesis event that you mentioned and it won’t even be suspicious!” Lux answered.

“That could work. But be careful and don’t reveal too much. We don’t want to cause unwanted attention.” Leon affirmed.

“Really? Awesome, you can count on me!” Lux replied enthusiastically as she smiled and gave the man in front of him a wink, causing Fiora to roll her eyes in response.

Leon Raynes spent the next minute finishing his drink before standing up his chair.

“Sorry, but I’m afraid I have to leave now. There are things that I need to attend to.” He announced before pulling out a piece of paper from his pocket. “If you find something, contact me at this number.”

Leon places the small square sheet of white paper and slides it along its surface to a few feet in front of the purple haired duelist.

“With that, I bid you farewell.” He says, turning around and walking away.

Fiora picked up the piece of paper after half a minute had passed and looked at the number scribbled on it in blue ink. Without saying anything, she pocketed the sheet of paper and turned to face Lux who seemed to stare off into space with a bright smile on her face.

“Lux, are you okay?” Fiora asked, a puzzled look on her face.

“Wha- Oh, yeah I’m okay. Just daydreaming was all.” The blonde mage replied.

“Daydreaming after all that’s happened? Full points to you.” The duelist remarked sarcastically.

“Oh come on, Fiorie, please don’t tell me you didn’t notice. Leon was kind of cute. You think he’s single?” Lux asked in a bubbly voice.

“Tch! Go find that out on your own time.” Fiora snapped in an annoyed but tired voice. “After everything that has happened, I need to rest.”

As the two stood up from their seats, the feeling of fatigue began to hit them. Though it was only the early afternoon, they were exhausted from the battle earlier that morning. Adrenaline and curiosity had kept them going, but both of these began to wane as the afternoon progressed. They coursed through Demacia at a slow pace. What had taken them only half an hour to traverse earlier, now took two hours for them to return to Narbeth. Though she would never admit it, Fiora was in horrible pain. With every step that she took, a sharp pain shot through her back, with the most severe pain in the area of her mid back that had collided with the ground.

“Are you going to be able to make it home?” Fiora asked.

“Yeah, my whole body aches, but I think I’ll be okay for now.” Lux replied, the energy that had previously filled her voice now gone.

“I’m going to make my way back home. Get some rest and stay safe, okay?” Fiora finally said.

***

Light waves crashed softly against the rocky shores along the Western edge of Demacia. A flock seagulls flew by, letting out high-pitched noises, finding a few rocks to land on along the shore. The morning springtime air was cool, as the sun began to illuminate city, casting shadows of nearby buildings just long enough to touch the shore. Two days have passed since the appearance of the Void Walkers, and life in the city had appeared to return to normal. A two block radius around the crime scene had been quarantined, off limits even to Demacia’s own soldiers.

Minutes later, the quiet air is cut off by a set of machine like sounds. Four large flying aircrafts, oval in shape approach the city, converging on an open area near the Western shore. Upon arrival, the four aircrafts change the configuration of their turbine drives, now pointing it vertically to cause strong gusts of wind to hit the ground below them, kicking up a large dust storm in the region. Four sets of loud sounds that reflected metal impacting with the ground below could be heard followed by the gradual softening of the sound of the aircrafts engines as they powered down.

A large cargo door opened downward from each of the machines, creating a ramp from the inside of the craft onto the ground below. Moments later, dozens of soldiers wearing light gray armor that appeared to be flexible and split into multiple segments at the abdomen to allow for improved range of motion began to march down the ramp. Multiple blue markings were present along the armor, which was made out of a synthetic meshwork material much lighter than metal. Each of them wielded a large black assault rifle and multiple extra magazines on their person. As they piled out of the aircrafts, the soldiers went into formation, creating two rectangular squadrons of 50 people each. Each of them stood in rigid position, their faces looking straight ahead with determination and ferocity.

Minutes later, a tall slender woman wearing a tight fitting blue shirt and black paints that contoured well to the voluptuous curves of her body appeared. She wore a long blue coat that ran from her shoulders to her knees, with the midline unbuttons. On each side of the coat, numerous medals hung, symbolizing her rank to the soldiers. She raised her right hand to place a large purple hat on her head, the color of which seemed out of place with respect to the rest of her attire. Walking in front of the two battalions of soldiers, the gust from the nearby aircrafts caused her shoulder-length brown hair to wave lightly. A look of determination and authority was present on her face as she began to address the two battalions of soldiers.

“Members of the Special Operations Division of the Piltover police force, welcome to Demacia. I am Officer Caitlyn, your commanding officer for this mission. You have all been briefed about the details of this mission. Two days ago, an attack took place in the city with high suspicion for the involvement of black magic. The subsequent investigation by the native military came up empty-handed. That’s where we come in. Nobody has been able to provide an account of what has happened, but one thing we do know for certain is that at least two people were spotted leaving the area, both of them armed. Unless we discover something new at the scene of the crime, we are to assume they are involved. Regard them as hostiles, armed and dangerous, but do not shoot to kill. We need them alive for questioning. Bravo team will come with me to conduct the investigation of the crime scene while Alpha Team will divide and acquire the targets. Once they’ve been acquired, take them to the drop point at the Northern part of the city and rendezvous with Convoy Team who will be there to pick them up for questioning. Any questions?” The woman announced in an authoritative tone.

“No ma’am!” The soldiers responded in unison.

“You have your orders then, move out!” The woman ordered as she crossed her arms under her chest, a look of satisfaction on her face.

***

Fiora walked carefully down a dark narrow street. A few of the streetlamps flickered, but none of them were bright enough to illuminate the area. She took a few steps forward before stopping as she became aware of a rumbling approaching from the distance, causing a chill to run down her spine. She turned around to try and identify the source of the sound, but couldn’t tell which direction it was coming from. Instead it sounded as though the sound become increasing in intensity from all directions. Rather than waiting around, she broke off in a run, her right hand now grasping her rapier in preparation to strike.

A loud roar that sounded very strange, yet familiar came from all directions, causing her to stop and her heart to race. Finally, she looked upwards to realize the reason why she couldn’t tell where the sounds were coming from. Staring back at her with glowing yellow eyes was a Void Walker stalking her from the rooftop of one of the buildings. With a quick leap, the creature jumped off of the roof, landing on the street a few meters from the duelist and causing a loud crashing sound from the collision. The force cause Fiora to jump backwards a few feet and assume a battle stance. When the dust finally settled, the creature covered in its shadowy cloak stood in the middle of a pile of stone rubble.

****, none of my attacks will work. What can I even do? She thought to herself.

The creature lurched forward, bring one of its massive scythes down on her. Fiora raised her left arm, holding her parrying blade to block the attack, only to be met with a flash of energy that sent her flying backwards. She managed to turn her head to look behind her, shifting the position of her body to allow her to land on her feet against the ground. Without hesitation, the duelist broke off on a run to get as much distance between herself and the creature as possible.

Turning the next corner, she ran until she noticed a short cloaked figure walking slowly in front of her.

“Hey kid, run! Quickly now!” She yelled to the child, who continued to walk at a slow pace.

Fiora stopped right as she passed the child, turning to look at its face partially covered by the hooded part of the outfit.

“Hey, did you hear me? There’s something coming, and you need to ru-“ Fiora repeated before being frozen in horror as the child raised her head to reveal the face of the little crying girl from the attack, her pupils now pitch black in color.

“W-What are you doing here?” Fiora asked, a frantic mix of confusion and fear hitting her, causing her whole body to shake.

“You couldn’t save my mommy. Because of you, she died. Now it’s your turn to do the same.” The child replied in a calm, creepy voice that resonated through the alleyway.

“No!” Fiora said frantically as she took a few quick steps backwards, stumbling to the ground as she tripped on a loose cobblestone. “GET AWAY FROM ME!!”

***

Fiora shot up from her bed, gasping for breath. Her nightgown was soaking wet and her face was drenched in a cold sweat. Looking around, she found herself in her own bedroom, the sun beginning to shine through the curtains in her room.

“It was… a nightmare?” She finally said after taking a few more deep, rapid breaths.

She quickly got herself to the restroom and stared at herself in the mirror before turning to examine her back, the presence of a dark purple bruise on her mid back just below her scapula. She reached back with her right hand and touched it with some pressure, causing her to wince slightly. Two days have passed and she had mostly recovered from the events of that day. She knew, however, that while her back will take longer to heal, the most concerning are the mental scars that may never heal. The nightmares had become much more vivid and terrifying the past two days. The appearance of those creatures broke the boundaries that had previously kept her sane even after joining the League of Legends. Even though she was forced to fight against nightmarish creatures in the League, at least she knew that everyone entering the Summoners Fields would come out of it alive. With the appearance of the Void Walkers in Demacia, the bloodshed was real. When these creatures attacked, there was no revival spell from the Summoners and innocent bystanders, including the girl’s mother will stay dead long after the battle is over. After turning on the shower, she clenched her fist and brought it against the wall, causing a loud thud to ring through her house. She closed her eyes, allowing the water to hit her face and run down along the curves of her chest.

***

“Alpha Team One, this is Blitz-One, we have the target in sight. Second floor, northeast corner room. Patient is asleep and does not appear armed.” A soldier armed with a scoped rifle barks into his radio.

“Roger that, Blitz-One. We’re moving in with formation Delta Charlie Tango. Notify us of any chages.” A garbled radio message acknowledged.

On the ground a few meters below him, a squadron of armored soldiers appeared out from their hiding spots in various brushes. A dozen soldiers converge in the front of the house, all armed with automatic assault rifles, now loaded with stun rounds to ensure that their target is not killed in the confrontation.

“Masks on! Masks on!” A fair skinned, muscular man in his late twenties ordered before raising his weapon, a modified version of the weapons carried by others capable of firing out canister grenades.

A small oval canister is launched from his weapon with a soft sound. Upon collision with the upstairs window , the sound of glass shattering filled the otherwise quiet early morning.

“Go! Go! Go!” He ordered as the rest of his team, now standing adjacent to the front door of the large two story mansion, kicked the door open and rushed in.

***

The sound of glass shattering quickly woke Lux from sleep. Jolting awake, she looked dazed before seeing a dark gray smoke being sprayed from an egg-shaped metallic object that came through the window.

“What?” She asked aloud before the smell of the fumes hit her lungs, causing her lungs to experience a strong burning sensation.

Immediately, she ran towards the door, coughing heavily and taking several tries before she could successfully turn the doorknob all the way. She immediately ran down the hallway, coughing and gasping for breath. She turned to walk down the stairs before seeing four men in gray armored suits coming up the stairs.

“Get down on the ground now!” They exclaimed as they raised their weapons to a firing position.

It took all of her focus to be able to bring her right arm up, forcing herself to tap into the magic energy in her mind and bringing it out in the form of a light barrier in front of her. The soldiers fired off a few rounds, all of which were stopped by the barrier that she had cast. Looking past them, a few more armed soldiers appeared, now raising their weapons up to fire at her. She quickly ran along the hallway in the opposite direction. Using the sleeve of her shirt to cover her nose and mouth, she entered her bedroom again and ran up to the shattered window, preparing to cast a barrier over herself that would carry her through the window and out of the house. As she raised her right hand up to begin casting the spell, a red dot appeared on her chest. She took one look down and didn’t have time to react before a loud bang was heard followed by a second sound of glass shattering. A surge of pain, similar to being hit in the chest with a sledge hammer went through Lux, as she instantly lost control of her ability to breathe and fell to the ground motionless. Her eyes remained opened, but time stood still as the rest of her body no longer followed her commands. The last thing she saw was the appearance of multiple gray and blue boots in front of her before everything went dark.

Ask Vayne 03-22-2012 06:47 PM

Chapter 3: Family

So it came to pass that fire rained from the skies. From the ashes of those flames, rose the bringers of power, untamed and capable of great protection…and destruction.

- Unnamed Texts of Atlas


Narbeth, Central District of Demacia

“Alpha Team Two, I have her in my sights, target is approaching the ground floor, moving towards the kitchen in the southeast corner of the complex.” An armored soldier handling a scoped rifle announced into his comm. unit.

“Affirmative, Thunder-One. Mission is a go.” The team below responded.

Inside the house, Fiora stood in the kitchen, staring intently at the spotless room that hadn’t been used in months. She felt no appetite but knew she had to eat something. Opening up a large window, she took a deep breath of the cool morning spring air. She turned around and began to walk away before stopping at the sound of something moving in the bushes. She quickly turned to look out the window but saw nothing in the back. Turning around, she noticed the shadow of multiple approaching figures being cast by the sunlight against the curtains. Instinctively, she immediately ran towards the armory, making it halfway down the hall before the sound of something crashing through the window broke the silence. A large cloud of gas began to form in the living room accompanied by a high pitch whistling sound from the egg-shaped device.

“Go! Go! Go!” One of the soldiers screamed from outside the door, followed by the sound of wood breaking as the front door was kicked in.

“Alpha Team Two, I’ve lost contact with the target. She was last approaching the northeastern corner of the complex when I last sighted her.” The sniper announced over the team’s communication unit.

“Roger that, approaching.” The raiding team replied as they quickly moved down the hallway.

Upon entering the armory, the soldiers slowed their pace, carefully examining the large, empty appearing room that was lined with shelves of swords, maces, and metallic armor. One of the soldiers approached a large wooden display case that housed an ornately decorated knight’s helmet. The sound of a book on the other side of the room dropping caused him to turn his attention away. Taking advantage of the opportunity, Fiora quickly stepped from behind the display case, a glowing white trail following her in her wake. Within the blink of an eye, she appeared next to the soldier, grabbing his rifle with her right hand.

“What the-“ The soldier exclaimed loudly before the duelist shot up a quick elbow to the soldier’s face.

Without hesitation, the nimble girl flung the soldier around, using his arm as a pivot to put him between her and the other soldiers as they opened fire on her. The soldier let out a loud scream of pain as the rounds landed on their comrade instead of their intended target. Twisting his arm, now flaccid after having taken multiple hits, she held the captured soldier’s gun at the other armed men in the room, squeezing the trigger and unloading the magazine on the half dozen men. Their screams caught the attention of the remainder of the invasion team, causing them to rapidly pace down to hall to the armory.

Upon entry into the armory, the first soldier saw his fallen allies and didn’t have time to raise his head again before a sword had cut into his right arm, causing him to let out a loud scream before dropping his gun. With a swift kick, Fiora send the wounded soldier flying backwards, colliding into his companion behind him and collapsing to the ground.

She quickly lunged forward, the trail of white light continuing to follow her as she closed the gap, delivering a quick slash to a third soldier’s abdomen before turning her body to the side, narrowly avoiding a burst of gunfire from another armed man behind them. With a second lunge, she dove at the direction of the gunfire to deliver a quick set of two slashes with her blade to the fourth soldier’s chest, causing him to let out a loud scream of pain, releasing his hold on his weapon. She follows this up with a kick to the head, sending him to the ground.

Hearing the sound of something shifting behind her, she turns around to see one of the soldiers that she had thrown to the ground began to get on his feet. Without hesitation, she quickly launches herself at him, her feet letting out a white spark against the ground. She does a 180 degree flip in midair in order to deliver a flying kick, both feet impacting on the soldier’s chest, sending him flying backwards and pinning him to the wall behind him before leaping off of him with a backflip to land on her feet. Before the soldier could even comprehend what had just happened, Fiora raised her blade to the soldier’s throat, causing him to let out a choking utter.

“Who are you and why have you come here?” She demanded.

“Ugh… W…We’re from the Piltover police force, special operations division. We were ordered to apprehend you.” The soldier screamed, alternating words with rapid, shallow breaths.

“Apprehend me for what reason?” Fiora asked in a threatening voice.

“For killing all those people two days ago!” He answered angrily without hesitation.

“Two days ago? I was the one who helped to stop it!” She snapped

“Bull****! Why would I believe you?” The soldier choked out, causing Fiora to hold her blade closer to his neck.

“Doesn’t matter! How many more of you are out there?”

“Screw you, *****! I’m not te-“ The soldier began before Fiora pushed her blade against his throat, causing a sharp searing pain as it cut into his superficial skin. “Ahhhh… okay! Okay! There’s a dozen more of us outside, two of them are snipers with long ranged rifles, one covering the front and another covering the western side!”

Fiora quickly swung the hilt of her sword against the soldier’s head, its handle colliding with his temporal region, sending him to the floor unconscious. She reached into her coat pocket and pulled out a shattered stone rune that emitted a soft white glow. By shattering it just prior to engaging the invasion team, she activated its ability Valor’s Blitz, an enhancement spell that temporarily increases the capabilities of her muscles and decreases the effects of gravity on her body, allowing her to move with significantly increased agility and speed in battle. Moments later, the glowing fragments began to dim before crumbling to dust, causing her to curse under her breath.

Still a dozen or so of these guys outside and this thing goes dead. Just perfect. She thought to herself, angry at herself for her lack of skill at using magic.

She took a few quick steps back into the armory room. Hearing the sound of additional footsteps echoing through mansion, she quickly looked around the room to look for an escape route and ran towards a large window, opening it and leaping into the rear garden.

Knowing where the scouters were now located, she treaded carefully along the rear wall of her house, using the brushes as cover and avoiding open areas where she could be detected. Minutes later, she found herself at the edge of her property and proceeded to quickly leap over the low-lying stone wall into a neighboring property, dense with colorful foliage. It provided her the perfect cover to quickly put distance between herself and the soldiers as she continued to move from house to house, away from the exposed street.

So, they’re after me because they think I was responsible for the event that took place two days ago. Sounds like someone didn’t appreciate our presence. Fiora thought to herself, stopping to catch her breath after sprinting for ten minutes prior.

She went through the details of that day to see how things could have led to this. The explosion, them sprinting to action, her unable to save the small girl’s mother, Lux stopping the creatures from killing the child.

“Lux!” She exclaimed quietly.

If they came for me, no doubt they’ll try to do the same to her. It may already be too late, but I have to try to protect her. These thoughts raced through the deulist’s head as she quickened her pace towards her childhood friend’s house.

Fiora arrived at Lux’s house in time to find it blocked off, a few armed soldiers that she recognized as wearing the same armor as those who attacked her searching the house for evidence. She spent the next few minutes secretly exploring the scene from a distance but found no trace of the blonde mage. Judging from the small number of soldiers in the area, she knew that her friend was no longer here.

**** it! Fiora cursed to herself in anger.

A few more minutes of scouting took place before Fiora left to gather her thoughts. She couldn’t figure out why all of this was happening all of a sudden, how her trying to save the lives of others ended with them being branded as criminals. She was angry with herself that she couldn’t make good on her pledge years ago to let go of those close to her, and that now people were getting hurt because of it. She didn’t know where to go next, and so she leave the area with no particular destination in mind.

“You look loss, Miss.” A gray haired woman said aloud minutes later, causing Fiora to stop in her tracks, her eyes shooting up in surprise and her mind becoming consciously aware of her surroundings again.

“Ah, sorry. Just a lot on my mind.” She replied, letting out a forced smile that she was never really good at.

“A young lady like yourself shouldn’t be so worried about things.” The older woman said with a smile. “After all you have so much potential and family who will be there for you no matter what.”

Fiora bit her lower lip at the sound of those last words. What this woman didn’t know was that her family would not be there for her. Seven years ago, Fiora watched as her mother died in the hospital after an unexplained accident, tears streaming down her cheeks as her mother told her that she loved her for the last time. She had lived with her father and her two brothers until two years ago, when her father was caught dosing his dueling opponent with a slow-acting paralytic potion the night before their arranged duel. She was distraught that her image of her role model was shattered, and when people began to question her own honor as a duelist, she isolated herself from her father. She would find out a year after she left to live on her own that her father committed suicide.

Family. Fiora thought to herself a few moments later, a realization hitting her.

“You’re right. There are people who will be there.” Fiora said, her forced smile now turning into a slight, but honest grin. “Thank you your kind words.”

She quickly shifted directions as she now had a purpose in mind. While she herself may no longer have family to rely on, she realized that the same was not true for Lux. A part of her dreaded the words that she would have to speak to the Crownguard family in order to explain what had transpired. However, she knew that nobility had its benefits, and the Crownguards should have influence over what happens in the government.

***

“What do you mean she got away?” Caitlyn asked in a low, angry voice, slamming her hand on the table.

“Sorry ma’am, but it appeared that there was magic at work. Over a dozen of our men were defeated, overwhelmed by her inhuman speeds.” A male soldier clad in the special forces armor replied.

“Magic? Impossible, I’ve seen her fight multiple times as a champion in the League. She’s a girl who’s good with a sword but never once demonstrated skill in the use of magic.” Caitlyn objected, standing up angrily to reveal that she was now wearing a tight purple long-sleeved shirt that conformed well to the curves of her chest.

“My apologies, ma’am.” The soldier replied sheepishly.

“What of the other one?” Caitlyn asked, brushing aside a few strands of her long brown hair that hung over the right side of her face.

“She has been successfully apprehended and is now at with the Convoy Team at the Northern train station. She’s being transferred later today and will arrive in Piltover in four days.”

“Excellent, make it happen. Devote the rest of our resources to track down the duelist. She must be apprehended for the safety of this city.” The female officer ordered.

“Understood.” The soldier acknowledged before saluting his commanding officer and turning around to leave.

If what he’s saying is true, then there is more to you than meets the eye, duelist. The evidence is building against you, and the talons of justice will have you in its grasp soon enough. Caitlyn thought to herself with a satisfied grin.

***

Institute of War, Valoran

Opening the door to his room, a man lets out a load groan. He is dressed a tight purple body suit that shows off the contours of his upper body muscles. Over his head, a purple hood covers his hair and extends to form a large cape divided into multiple sections, each connected to large arrowhead shaped blades on the ends. Entering the room, he releases the straps on his right arm and places the large jagged armblade onto a table.

Talon was an expert assassin in the Noxian army. He had a long record of secretly murdering enemies of Noxus, but to this day, found his opponents in the League of Legends tougher than any he had encountered in the past. Although he joined the League two years ago, his battles in the Summoner’s Arena continue to leave him fatigued at the end of the day. Fortunately for him, he did not experience many of the horrific nightmares and flashbacks that some champions were haunted with, as his history of assassinations had all but left him immune to the effects of bloodshed and death around him.

Taking off his hood and cape, he laid down on his bed, a simple mattress with sheets and no excessive bedding. He closed his eyes for less than a minute before the sound of something shifting at the door woke him. A note had been slipped under the door, which usually meant one thing.

“You’ve got to be kidding me.” Talon exclaimed as he picked up the note.

Champion Talon, The Blade’s Shadow. You are hereby ordered to report to the Summoning room tomorrow at 0800. A new Summoner’s Arena, the Valley of the Magi, has been constructed. You and others have been selected for a battle. Prepare for it as you normally would for an Arena battle.

Talon angrily crunched the note into a small ball and threw it into a small round wastebasket next to the desk.

Screw these Summoners. They made me fight for most of the day today and now they want to send me to be their guinea pig in some new maze they constructed without even a day’s rest? They can shove it if they think I’m going to follow suit. If those Summoners give me any trouble, I’ll be glad to give them a firsthand taste of my daggers. Talon thought to himself with a sneer on his face.

He returned to his bed to lie down for a moment, unintentionally drifting off to sleep from severe exhaustion.

***

Centralia, Central District of Demacia

“Who is it and how may I help?” A male voice responded over the intercom unit.

“I need to speak to Lord Crownguard. My name is Fiora Laurent... we need to talk.” Fiora replied into the metallic box.

A long pause followed, during which she stood in front of the gated mansion, which never failed to strike amazement in her. The Crownguard mansion was build on the side of a hill, occupying multiple acres of land. Looking past the gate, which was adorned with a lion’s head, the crest of the noble household, Fiora watched as the wind caused a light shifting of the lush garden flora.

“Lady Laurent? Please come on in.” The voice finally replied after a long pause.

A low machine-like hum began to fill the air as the metallic gates in front of her parted. She followed the main path, lined with a medley of trees and colorful orchids, until it led to a large flowing fountain that adorned the front fašade of the large Victorian-style white and gray stone mansion. The crystal clear water sparkled in the sunlight, causing a slight glare to hit her eyes for a moment. The front door of the mansion opened up before she had the chance to even reach it. Standing in the doorway was a man in his mid forties wearing a black suit, his left arm held out at his stomach.

“Greetings, Lady Laurent. Lord Crownguard is waiting to see you. If you would follow me…” The man, a servant of the noble family announced.

With a simple nod of her head, the two entered the mansion. After ten minutes of walking through an extensive network of wooden hallways decorated with paintings and sculptures, they arrived at a room where the Lux’s mother and father sat.

“Ah, Lady Laurent. Always a pleasure to have you over. Please, have a seat.” The Lord Crownguard announced, the wrinkles on his face shifting to accommodate a smile as Fiora approached him.

Fiora obliged, sitting down on a large red velvet couch a few feet away from the old man. The fireplace was lit, the flames flickering and illuminating the room as the embers gave off a soft cracking sound to the otherwise quiet room.

“So what brings us your company? Have you come to reconsider our son Garen’s offer?” He asked, causing a vein on Fiora’s forehead to twitch.

Two months prior to her leaving Demacia to join the League of Legends, Garen had proposed the joining of the two noble families, asking for her hand in marriage. She had no interest in going through with it, as she saw Garen as an unrefined brute despite being of noble blood. The situation was made only more awkward after a few occasions where she had delivered wounds to him that would have otherwise been fatal in the Summoner’s Arenas on multiple occasions.

“Not quite. I’m afraid I come bringing bad news.” Fiora responded after a short pause, knowing that she was about to have one of the most different conversations of her life.

The next half hour was spent going over the details of the events that had transpired in the past two days since her return from the Institute of War. While there were occasions where Lux’s mother, a woman in her early forties with long blonde hair, let out gasps of concern at what had transpired, the two heads of the family remained mostly quiet and attentive. After Fiora had finished with her story, the room fell silent as they contemplated the situation, trying desperately to find a solution to their dilemma.

“I can try to speak to the head of the Demacian defense ministry.” Lord Crownguard finally said, his right hand stroking his bearded chin.

Moments later, he shook his head, causing his long curled brown hair to shift slightly and reveal interspersed strands of gray. Without a word, he stood up and walked over to a nearby table, his long white robe interlaced with shades of blue dragging along the floor behind him. The sound of glasses colliding filled the room as he poured a small glass of amber colored whiskey.

“This will not be an easy situation.” He says aloud after taking a few gulps of his alcoholic drink. “I can try to see what Defense Minister Driska can do to help, but if you’re saying that the men who attacked your home were Piltover guards, I don’t know how much good it’ll do.”

“Marcus, what do you mean by that?” This time it was his wife’s turn to speak, an apparent tone of distress filling her voice. “He’s the head of the whole military here, surely he can do something when it comes to military affairs!”

“That may be true of Demacia. But if Piltover is involved, they will no doubt expect us to intervene. Those accursed soldiers know that they can’t keep our little girl imprisoned in Demacia for long.” He explained with a look of anger on his face before taking a few more gulps to empty his glass of whiskey.

“So what are you thinking, Marcus? Where is our daughter?” The mother replied, the desperation in her voice causing it to crack towards the end as the whites of her eyes began to turn red, tears beginning to well up.

“I don’t know! I believe the first thing they will do is have her transported out of the city and into Piltover, where they can carry out their interrogation without worry of being stopped. It’s an underhanded tactic that only dishonorable cowards like those soldiers would do.” He replied, frustration at his own powerlessness becoming apparent.

“Well we have to do something!” She insisted, her words alternating with that of sobs.

“I know! Just give me a few moments to think and I’ll contact Minister Driska. If there’s anything that can be done at this point, he’ll do it.” With those last words, he threw his glass on the table with force and stormed out of the room in a quick pace.

Fiora spent the next few minutes in the room with Lux’s mother, the sobs of the middle aged woman filling the otherwise silent room. She sat quietly, watching the ailing mother and searching within herself to find the right words that could provide some comfort. Unfortunately, words of comfort did not readily come to her. Seeing her reaction to the news reminded the duelist of her own mother, how even her last words on her deathbed were ones of concern for Fiora and her two older brothers. The duelist didn’t know how to react to this display of emotion by the woman in front of her, and so she remained silent. Minutes passed, and the woman’s sobs finally began to wane. With one final sniffle, she finally looked up at her guest and began to speak.

“I’m sorry, Fiora, but is there anything more you can tell me?”She said, her voice still cracking at moments.

“No. Words at this point won’t change a thing. Unless we do something to change the situation, anything that I can say is meaningless.” She said as her voice began to show signs of bitterness.

“Fiora, dear, what does that mean? What do you plan on doing?” The lady asked, the tone of her voice shifting from despair to concern.

“These people who call themselves a police force think they can come into our country, attack civilians without warning, and then kidnap them without any evidence of guilt? Some twisted sense of justice they have. If they think I’ll sit idly by over this, my blade will show them otherwise.” Fiora responded, the sound of anger apparent in her voice.

Lady Crownguard immediately opened her mouth to object, but was interrupted by the sound of the room door opening. They turned their heads to see Lux’s father walking into the room slowly, a frown on his face and his brow furrowed, accentuating the lines of aging on his face.

“Marcus? What happened?” His wife quickly asked.

“I just got off the phone with the Minister of Defense. It seems that Piltover was brought in and were given full autonomy over the investigation. As I had suspected, our daughter is not in any of the Demacian jails, meaning that our worst fears might come true. It is likely that she is no longer in Demacia. He said he’ll do what he can to learn more of the situation, but for the moment, his hands are tied.” He announced in a low, solemn voice, causing a sudden wave of sobs to resume from his wife.

Fiora sat still as she watched Lord Crownguard walk over to try and comfort his wife. She felt sorry for them, but knew that words alone will not help anyone.

“I should go…Sorry for what’s happened.” The duelist said in a low voice as her eyelids narrowed, an icy cold look in her eyes as she knew what she had to do.

She stood up and turned to leave. She navigated the many hallways of the house, following the reverse direction of the path she had taken earlier. As she approached the main entrance to the mansion, a sound of rapid footsteps came from behind, causing her to turn her head slightly to see Lux’s father trailing her.

“Wait!” He said as he approached the duelist, stopping a few feet from her. “Don’t do anything stupid.”

“Stupid? Forgive me, Lord Crownguard, but I’m offend-”

“You know exactly what I mean. I’ve known you for years and I know that especially in situations like this, you’re not exactly one to sit back and let things take its course.” He said, an accusing tone showing up in his voice.

“What are you implying?” She asked, her voice now defensive.

“I’m saying this is a delicate matter. Lilia told me what you said, and it seems you’re going down a dangerous road. That recklessness will get you in a lot of trouble.” The older nobleman insisted.

“Good bye, Sir Crownguard.” She replied simply, turning to leave.

“Wait! Just listen for a moment!” He yelled out loudly. “Promise me that you won’t run off on your own and do something reckless. Listen, I know you’re not exactly the warmest young lady in the world, but even if you don’t believe it, we do care for you. You and our Lux grew up together and Lilia and I practically regard you as family. I know you consider yourself all grown up now, but you’re still a young lady. If you feel lost and need an adult to help you, or even just a place to stay, know that our door is always open to you.”

Fiora stood still, her eyes staring at the older man behind her for a second before turning her head ahead towards the door.

“I know…I’ll let you know if anything changes.” She said coldly with her back turned to him before stepping into the outside world.

Fiora contemplated the nobleman’s words for the next few minutes as she walked through the front gate. She didn’t care for most of what he had said, but he did have a valid point. He was right in that she didn’t know how to even approach this problem. However, she knew of someone who might be of use, regardless of whether they’re willing or not. Reaching her hand into the pocket of her white jacket, a feeling of relief hit her when she felt a familiar piece of paper still in there.

So, where do you fit in with all of this? She thought to herself as she pulled out the square piece of paper, a phone number written in blue ink.

***

Institute of War Central Archives, Valoran

Two stacks of books sit on the table to each side of a blonde haired man in his mid twenties. He stares at the book in front of him, a look of frustration on his face. Minutes later, he lets out a groan, raising his right hand to scratch his head before moving it forward, dragging a few strands of his neck-length hair with it as he rubs his face. Two days ago, when his friend Lux contacted him with an odd request, he agreed to help her conduct some research. He hated being trapped at the Institute of War, not being able to resume his exploration of the world of Runeterra for the next two weeks. He felt confined and figured that helping her would take his attention away from this fact. Endless hours of research had gone by and still nothing had turned up.

“Why did I agree to this?” He mumbled to himself in exasperation.

Giving up his perusing of his current book, an old leather bound tome on the lore of the ancient civilization of Atlas believed to predate the current societies of Valoran, he randomly flipped through the pages quickly as he was ready to give up for the day. A full page black and white drawing glanced by him on one of the pages, the image sending a chill down his spine for the brief moment that he saw it. Curious as to what it was, he flipped back to the page to find a large illustration of a large creature with its face completely cloaked from view, four arms projected from its torso, each of which wielded a large scythe. Surrounding it was an army of twisted appearing creatures unlike anything that he had ever encountered during his travels.

Ezreal looked down at the caption to find words that immediately caught his attention.

The Second Coming of Genesis

For a moment, he was in disbelief, wondering if this coincidentally referred to the same event that Lux had asked about. He frantically began to carefully examine the writings, a lore of the last days of Atlas. Two hours passed, during which he was completely engrossed in the text, the fatigue from earlier left his body and was replaced by curiosity. When he was finally finished with the section of interest, he looked up to reveal that his face was pale, a look of horror on his face.

This… this can’t be! This can’t possibly be happening. He thought to himself, as the pieces of information that he read began to fit together in his mind.

Without hesitation, he stood up from his seat in the Central Archives and left the room in a hurry. Pacing quickly down the hall way of the building, he reached his room and proceeded to pack a few traveling necessities into a bag.

Ten minutes later, he stepped out of the Institute through the main doors. Turning the corner, he proceeded to pace quickly towards his automobile. He managed a few quick steps before stopping at the dull sound of wood colliding with the concrete ground. Turning around, a chill ran up Ezreal’s spine as he saw the silhouette of a man wearing a large robe standing at the end of the street. His right hand held a wooden walking stick and his head was bald, save for a small round tuft of hair at the top. On his left shoulder, stood a large raven with eyes that appeared to glow red in the dark of the night.

“Going somewhere?” The man asked in a low voice filled with malice.

“Swain… What are you doing here?” Ezreal replied as he felt his pulse beginning to rise.

“I could ask you the same thing. I don’t recall you being given permission to leave.” Swain responded, his voice sounding more sinister with every word. Taking a few steps forward, his face appeared under a streetlamp, revealing pitch black pupils that seemed to burn into the very core of Ezreal’s soul and a distorted grin almost too sinister to be possible in a human.

Ask Vayne 03-22-2012 06:49 PM

Chapter 4: Beyond Pride

Chained is humanity to its endless cycle of bloodshed and death, feeding the darkness beneath. Such is the cycle of life, till the day that cycle ceases to exist. In that final hour, the first born will be humanity’s last hope.

- Lost Scrolls of the Prophet Ezra-Isaiah Cyrus, Ancient Atlas.


Institute of War, Valoran

“Tch!” Ezreal snapped before reaching into the back of his mind, finding the warm feeling of the magic that ran through his body before activating his Arcane Shift ability, allowing him to quickly blink into the driver’s seat of his automobile.

As he quickly started the vehicle and began to accelerate from the parked position, Swain responded by transforming into a monstrous creature that appeared to be a hybrid of a human and a raven. Spreading out large wings covered in feathers, Swain brought them down in a quick arching flap, causing him to lift off the air, kicking up a large amount of dust from the ground in the process.

“**** it, this is getting dangerous!” Ezreal said to himself as the large raven began to shoot towards his vehicle at high speeds.

He maxed out the speed on his car, yet Swain continued to advance on him. A few moments later, Swain’s raven form opened its mouth as it continued to close the gap between him and the explorer. A red glowing sphere began to form just in front of its mouth, starting out as a small orb and gradually expanding in size. After a short pause, the sphere separated into six equally sized bolts of energy that launched towards its prey.

Upon seeing the approach of the incoming energy attack, Ezreal extended his arm out the window, using the mirror to help with his aim as he fired off several white bolts of arcane energy. His attacks collided with most of Swain’s, causing multiple midair flashes of lights followed by the sound of explosions. Two of his arcane bolts missed, allowing the remaining energy spheres to continue on its course. Ezreal swerved his car to each side, narrowly avoiding the attacks, each of which exploded on impact with the terrain, sending shockwaves strong enough to almost send the car into a nearby wall.

Holding his arm up behind him again, he fired off a few more shots of arcane energy, this time aimed at the large raven who simply took the attacks head on without even slowing down.

This is bad. What is going on? Ezreal thought to himself nervously.

He knew that at this rate, one of his opponent’s attacks would hit its mark and he would never escape. He looked at his surroundings before looking upwards to notice tall brick buildings on both sides of the street.

“I hope no one gets hurt from this, but there’s really no other choice.” Ezreal muttered before raising his arm out the car window.

The large rune on his arm began to glow a bright golden color. Moments later, a glowing blue bow made up of energy expanded outwards from the rune, with which he launched multiple large yellow blast of Essence Flux upwards, hitting the rooftop of one of the buildings. The impact caused a loud crashing sound to break the silence of the night as large pieces of the building wall began to crumble and fall towards the ground.

Swain could all but turn to look up as a large brick slab collided with his back, the weight of the falling debris too great for his winged form to maintain flight. He let out a loud, inhuman roar as he fell to the ground, landing prone on his abdomen. Under the weight of the large stone slab that grounded him, he could all but watch the tail lights of Ezreal’s car disappear in the distance before the rest of the falling debris buried him.

The sound of the falling debris subsided minutes later, the night falling silent yet again, save for the sound of water dripping into a nearby storm drain. The sound of hard footsteps that could only be caused by women’s heels walking on concrete echoed through the air minutes later, penetrating the otherwise calm streets. A young woman appeared under a streetlamp, stopping a few yards away from the fresh pile of rubble, clouds of dust rising from it due to a light breeze in the area. Her body, mostly exposed except for a black, tight fitting outfit partially covering her breasts and pelvis, had an eerie purple hue to it. A loose fitting purple and gold colored magician’s garb, attached to the rest of her outfit at the shoulders and extending upwards above her neck, waved wildly in the wind.

“A pathetic display.” The woman says as she closed her eyes in contempt, her eyelids highlighted with black eyeshadow that extended downwards to form a dark streak falling from each eye.

She waited a moment for a response, but heard only silence. Angrily, she held up a large staff, the end of which was adorned with a crescent comprised of multiple segments, topped with multiple crystals that appeared magically suspended at the tip of the staff. Seconds later, the purple crystals began to give off a bright glow. With a slow, smooth swing of the staff, the large pile of rubble began shifting, following the movements of the staff. A loud thrashing sound came from the middle of the debris, pieces of the brick wall sent flying into the air as a large figure covered in dusty black feathers appeared from underneath.

“A great job you did. You just got destroyed by a **** travel junkie.” The woman continued to taunt as the large winged figure stood motionless, save for his heavy breathing.

With a loud scream, the large raven’s wings wrapped over the rest of its body before its feathers appeared to shed, disappearing into black waves of smoke to reveal Swain in his robed human form. His face was held in a malicious scowl as he stared off into the distance.

“LeBlanc…” He said in a low voice moments later as he turned around to face the woman. “Forgive me, but he slipped from my grasp.”

“He knows the truth. It could ruin everything.” Emilia LeBlanc reprimanded loudly, opening her eyes to reveal pitch black pupils held in a threatening stare.

“Him knowing the truth won’t change a thing. By the time he can do anything about it, it will be too little, too late. We proceed as planned.”

***

“**** it! What the hell was that? Is he the one behind all of this?” Ezreal screamed aloud to himself, his car reaching the edge of the city that housed the Institute of War.

He had fought Swain in the Summoner’s Fields in the past, but even with the magical enhancements provided by his Summoner, his opponent was nowhere nearly as strong as what he had just witnessed. Thoughts raced rapidly through the explorer’s mind, as he pondered whether this was Swain’s true strength, feigning weakness during his battles in the Summoner’s Arena to avert attention. He had hoped this was the case, as the alternative was a far worse scenario. No matter how hard he tried to remain optimistic, he knew that the attack was not coincidental. He recalled the look on the Noxian’s face and felt the murderous intent creeping up his spine all over again. The message was clear: somebody didn’t like what he had found and was willing to murder him over it.

He muttered a few curses as he drove, annoyed at what his friend had gotten him into. For him, it was bad enough that he was forced into fighting pointless battles for Summoners, but now he’s become a target to be killed. He found it ironic that of all the places he had traveled and lost ruins that he had discovered, the thing that may end up getting him killed was spending two frustrating days reading dry ancient tomes.

Pressing a button on the dashboard of his vehicle, a small black screen lit up to reveal a touch screen control panel. Sliding his hands along the smooth glowing screen, he switched on its wireless communications ability to make a phone call. Though he was annoyed with her, his efforts would have been in vain if he had gotten killed before he had the chance to pass the information he had acquired onto Lux. He dialed the number for Demacia’s central operator and waited as the line rang a few times over the vehicle’s speakers before it was answered.

“Operator, please connect me to the private resident of Luxanna Crownguard. Tell her this is Ezreal, the Grand Explorer of Piltover. She is expecting my call.” He said.

“One moment please.” A woman’s voice responded followed by a long pause.

Minutes passed and the line remained silent. With every passing second, Ezreal’s anxiety increased, constantly checking his surroundings for any signs of an impending attack. Despite seeing nothing suspicious, he couldn’t help but feel that he could be killed at any moment before he had the chance to reveal what he had found to the world.

“Hello, Sir?”The woman’s voice returned.

“I’m here.”

“I’m sorry, Sir, but that number has been temporarily suspended.” She announced, causing his heart to sink.

“What do you mean suspended? For what reason?”

“I can’t say for certain, but it appears that she is under criminal investigation, and all lines of communication with her have been cut off.”

****, this is bad! This is definitely not a coincidence. He thought to himself. He knew Lux’s personality and could easily tell that she was far too nice to end up in situations like this.

“Operator, in that case, connect me to Defense Minister James Driska. He knows me and will readily accept the call.” He finally said after a short pause.

“One moment, please.”

He knew that he had to get more information about what had happened and the Ministry of Defense would be the governing body that would provide him with what he wanted. After a few rings, a male voice answers on the other side of the line, his voice sounding hoarse typical of a lifelong smoker.

“Ezreal! What a pleasure to hear from you. How’ve you been? I didn’t get to say thanks for helping us with the mapping a while back. Helped us get rid of security breaches.” Driska announced with enthusiasm.

A few months ago, Defense Minister Driska had approached the explorer after an increase in Noxian spies within the Demacian border. While most of the country was bordered by natural obstacles such as mountain ranges, the Northeastern border was largely unfamiliar and was suspected of having hidden pathways that allowed Noxus to sneak its spies into the country to gather intelligence. Ezreal agreed to help with this errand, in exchange for a favor later on. Now was as good a time as any to call in that favor.

“Great, just great.” Exreal responded rather sarcastically. “Hey, about that… remember how you said you’d owe me a favor for helping deal with that problem? I could use help with something.”

“Hmm… I’ll see what I can do. What do you need?”

“I need to get in contact with Luxanna Crownguard of the noble Crownguard family.” Ezreal asks, slightly embarrassed as he realized how odd this request sounds.

“Luxanna Crownguard?” He exclaimed with surprised.

“Yes, I’ve been told she was under criminal investigation and could not be-“ Ezreal began to explain.

“Well that’s interesting.” The defense minister interrupted. “You’re the second person today that has asked me about her.”

“Second person?”

“Yeah, just hours ago, her father, Lord Marcus Crownguard contacted me asking about what had happened to her.” Driska explained, causing anxiety to rise in Ezreal.

“What is going on? Where is she?”

“I’m afraid she’s no longer here. I’ve been doing some digging myself and she’s being held by the Special Operations division of Piltover’s police force.

“Piltover? Why is my country involved in this?” Ezreal exclaimed.

“They’ve been contracted to investigate an incident that occurred two days ago in Demacia.”

“Two days ago… you couldn’t possibly mean…” He said, contemplating the implications of everything that was happening.

“You know about it? So much for internal security.” Driska replied before letting out a loud sigh of disappointment.

“Do you know where she is now?” Ezreal asked rather pointlessly, as he was almost certain that he knew the answer to that question.

“We believe they’re transferring her up to Piltover with a convoy train for interrogation.”

A cold sensation ran through Ezreal as he heard those words. A criminal transfer to Piltover ended up in only one place: PSION – Prisoner Security and Interrogating Operations Nexus. High profile criminals were brought there for interrogation and intelligence gathering without interruption from the civilian government. The military police in Piltover has such strong influence within the government that no one has the ability to override their operations, and are thus allowed to act freely. PSION is the epitome of their power, an impenetrable fortress armed with the most advanced security system and weaponry that it is impossible to break in or out of the facility. Once someone is transferred behind its walls, they can be held there indefinitely without hope of escape. Criminals charged with crimes punishable by death are executed in the facility. Given the series of events leading up to this point, he didn’t doubt that this was likely the eventual outcome.

“James, I need another favor.” Ezreal finally asked after running the various possible scenarios through his mind.

“What is it?”

“I need you to use all the political influence you have to try and get Luxanna Crownguard released from their custody.” Ezreal announced, once again beginning to feel embarrassed at the nature of the request.

“Released from their custody? Ezreal, you know I don’t have much influence over what their police force does.” Driska replied abruptly in surprise.

“I’m aware, but just try.”

“Luxanna’s father contacted me with the same request earlier. So far I’ve had no success… I’m beginning to feel like an errand boy when it comes to matters relating to this girl. Her father, I could understand, but what is so important about her that would drive you to go to such lengths to have her released? You two together or something?” The defense minister teased.

“No, that’s not the reason.” Ezreal replied before stopping to contemplate his next move.

“Well then what is going on? For you to ask me for help, there has to be something you’re not telling me.”

“Are you in a safe location to talk?” Ezreal asked after a moment of hesitation.

“Yes. Tell me, what in the world is going on?” The defense minister was not happy about being kept in the dark about things, and the sound of frustration in his voice was reflective of this.

“I need you to keep this quiet until we know more about what’s going on. Can you do that?”

“Not a problem. Just say it already.” Driska demanded, unable to contain himself as he felt like a caged animal being repeatedly tempted with freedom.

Ezreal paused for a long moment, contemplating if it was really a good idea to get more people involved. His encounter with Swain clearly showed that possession of this knowledge was dangerous, and revealing the truth would likely put the defense minister’s life at risk. The alternative, though, was that if he was to be attacked again and never make it to Lux, the truth would die with him, and the world would suffer the consequences. In the end, he decided that there was no other choice.

“Two days ago, Luxanna Crownguard contacted me after the attack that I’m sure you’re aware of. She fought off the creatures, likely conjured into Demacia by black magic, and learned something about them. The creatures came from The Void.” Ezreal began to explain.

“Yes, Lord Crownguard told me something along those lines. How did you get involved in all of this?” Driska acknowledged.

“She contacted me in order to look up information about something related to The Void, an event named Genesis.” Ezreal continued.

“The creation of the world?” He exclaimed, bewildered as to the relevance of a religious story to the current situation

“That’s what I had originally thought as well. That is, until a few hours ago.” Ezreal explained before pausing for a moment, still hesitant as to whether he should proceed with his explanation. Ultimately, he figured that someone had to know the truth about what was going on. “I found it, the truth behind its meaning. A truth that I was almost killed over just minutes ago…The truth behind everything that is happening now and throughout the history of Valoran.”

***

Meridian, Bordering District of Demacia

The sound of crickets filled the otherwise quiet evening. Fiora stood in a dark alleyway, her face partially obscured from view due to shadow cast by the tall buildings surrounding her. She shot quick glances down both sides of the street to ensure she was not being followed before taking a few steps towards a wall, the sound of her knee high metal greaves hitting the ground to cause a soft noise to echo down the alley. Swinging around, she leaned her lower back against the wall, reaching her hand up to her chest to touch a golden pendant, engraved with rune symbols that hung from her necklace.

It was a good luck charm that had belonged to her mother, who gave it to her shortly before she died. She told her it would protect her as long as she kept it near her heart. It was the last gift that she would ever receive from her. Since then, she had always worn it on her as the last reminder of happier days.

She lowered her eyes to stare at the ground, damp from the evening dew before releasing her grip on the pendant and crossing her arms under her chest.

Where are you already? If this is a set up…. Fiora thought to herself impatiently, biting down on her lower lip for a few seconds before letting out a sigh, blowing out a puff of steam that rose steadily in the calm, cool air.

She had been waiting at the Meridian district for the past half hour. Unlike the neat cobblestone paths of her home districts of Centralia and Narbeth, the streets of this middle-class district of the city was comprised of concrete littered with cracks and potholes. The air in the area had an unusual stench to it, causing the duelist to cringe slightly when she first arrived. A part of her was relieved, though, that she had been standing there for such a long period of time without encountering anything suspicious, the only people she saw during this time being behind the wheel of the occasional car that passed by. She knew, however, that time was precious, and with every minute she stood here waiting, the only person she ever truly considered as a friend was getting farther from her reach.

“I didn’t expect you to actually come.” A familiar male voice said from the opposite end of the alley, causing Fiora to shoot him a quick glance.

“I didn’t have much of a choice. What took you so long? Someone of my status sticks out like a sore thumb here.” Fiora responded, annoyed yet relieved at the same time.

“It must be your modest personality.” Leon replied with a slight smirk on his face, causing the duelist’s eyes to twitch. “So what was so urgent that you had to meet today?”

“Lux… She’s been captured.” She answered simply, her voice changing from one of apparent annoyance to a quiet, solemn tone.

“Captured? By whom?” Leon asked in surprise.

“Piltover. It appears they were called in to investigate that attack two days ago where we first met. Somehow along the way, the story changed from that of a monster attack into a case of black magic as the cause of all that destruction. Someone tipped them off about us leaving the crime scene in a suspicious manner. They think we caused it. They think we killed all those people.” Fiora continued to explain.

“They came after you, didn’t they?” Leon finally said after a moment of silence, noticing a small scar on the side of her face that looked new.

“Yeah… Soldiers armed with guns far more advanced than anything in Demacia.” She began before pausing, realizing the implications of what he was asking. “You weren’t attacked?”

“No. I had no idea any of this was even going on. Otherwise, I’d have come sooner.” He answered.

“Why is that? You were there with us that day, yet how come only we were targeted?” Fiora asked, her eyes narrowing in suspicion.

“I don’t know either. But I can tell from the look on your face, though, that you don’t believe me. If you suspect that I set you up, dispose of the idea. I had nothing to do with this.” He replied, his voice remaining calm.

“Why should I believe you?” She asked, her right beginning to move towards her rapier.

“Because if I really wanted to dispose of the two of you, I’d have let that creature finish the job the other day.” He replied, a hint of frustration now apparent in his voice.

Fiora contemplated those last few words for a moment before moving her hand away from her sword, allowing her arm to hang loosely on her right side again. She hated to admit it, but he had a point. It would have been pointless for him to go through the trouble of saving Lux and herself only to get rid of them later on.

“You…You’re right.” She finally said hesitantly.

“Come with me.” Leon replied after a short pause.

They walked for the next several minutes Leon leading her down a series of winding streets. After Fiora explained the details of her attackers earlier that morning, neither of them said a word to each other, resulting in an awkward silence that she didn’t seem to notice, as she was engrossed in her thoughts.

“We’re here.” Leon announced, causing Fiora to snap out of her thoughts and look up to notice him staring at an old dilapidated appearing building.

“You live here?” She asked, a cringe of disgust running through her as she examined the old two story building, pieces of brown paint chipping off of the walls to reveal mild amounts of mold growing on the wood underneath.

“Looks can be deceiving.” Leon simply replied, opening the door and stepping inside with Fiora following after a moment of hesitation.

Ask Vayne 03-22-2012 06:52 PM

Chapter 4: Beyond Pride (cont'd)

They walked down the ground floor hallway, a plain looking corridor dimly lit by a few exposed light bulbs in their wall sockets. A musty stench filled the air, suggestive of mildew. She felt disgusted for being in such a place, as this was even worse than her accommodations at the Institute of War, which she already considered below her standards. Upon reaching the end of the hallway, Leon placed his hands on a brown wooden door. Fiora blinked in disbelief as the door appeared to distort in a wave pattern, changing forms from an old brown wooden door into a large shiny metallic door built into a reinforced doorway.

Walking through the doorway, the duelist looked in amazement as she felt as though she had crossed the boundaries of time. The room she was now in was filled with furniture that appeared unlike anything she had seen before. The center of the room held two large black leather couches with a sleek glass table in the middle. She walked around to see a kitchen lined with appliances made out of steel that she had never seen before. Her surroundings didn’t have the feeling of nobility that she was used to, yet she somehow felt comfortable and safe here, no longer feeling the need to look over her shoulders for potential attackers for the first time since that morning.

She turned to Leon, who walked into separate room containing a desk with three flat panel screens arranged in a crescent pattern in front of a leather seat. Moving his hand over the screens, they lit up to reveal maps of different parts of Valoran. A virtual keyboard appeared on the screen and he began to type in commands to change the location of the maps on the screen.

“What is all of this stuff?” Fiora asked, astonished at even the most minor details of this place. It was as though she had set foot into a future that she would never have imagined to exist. “This is amazing!”

“This, is the technological advancements of Piltover. I had it imported into Demacia so that I’d have all the modern comforts of their society right here at home.” He explained with his back turned towards the duelist, his eyes focused on the electronic screen in front of him. “I said it once before, didn’t I? Looks can be deceiving.”

“Indeed.” She began before approaching the man, still engrossed in his activities in his activities on his computer. “I’ve seen those machines before when I passed through Piltover a year ago. What’re you doing on there?”

“This computer is one that I specifically brought from Piltover to be able to tap into their electronic information network. You said that your friend Ms. Crownguard was likely abducted this morning, correct?” He explained as multiple windows popped up on the screen displaying lines of numbers and electronic code.

“Yeah, when I went to her house this morning, it was still surrounded by those soldiers. What does that have to do with this, and why are we here? Surely you didn’t bring me here just to show off your possessions.”

“This has the ability to access the transportation network within Piltover to see the status of its defense and transportation system. According to this, four Piltover police airships are docked along the Western shore of Demacia this morning, but none of them left. However, a military-class convoy train that arrived yesterday evening is shown to have left from the Northern Demacian train station eight hours ago heading for Piltover. If I had to bet, that’s where they’re holding her right now.” Leon continued, pulling up a map with a red blinking dot located a few hundred miles north of Demacia.

“Then that’s where I’m going!” Fiora said abruptly, walking out of the room towards the front door.

“Wait!” Leon exclaimed.

“What for? We know where she’s at, the quicker we get there, the better.” She objected.

“How do you propose to get to where she’s at?” He asked, causing the duelist’s expression to turn from irritation to one of realization.

“I- I’ll think of something.” She said after a short pause.

She knew that this man in front of her had a point. She had been so desperate about saving her friend that she never considered some of the logistics involved. Her property was now seized by the soldiers from Piltover and along with it, her vehicle.

“And what do you plan on doing if you somehow managed to reach that train? How do you plan on stopping the train traveling at over 60 miles an hour? Or are you planning to go into Piltover and single-handedly engage their entire police force with nothing more than your sword?” He asked, causing Fiora’s heart to jump with each statement he made. They were facts that she knew was true in the back of her mind but had refused to consciously acknowledge.

“I’ll do something!” Fiora shouted frantically in frustration, her voice beginning to crack. “I have to try, and I will succeed!”

“And what if this time, trying isn’t good enough?” Leon asked, his voice remaining calm despite the tension in the air.

“What?” She exclaimed, her eyes wide open in shock.

“What if this time, in the way you are now, even if you tried your hardest, it still isn’t enough? This morning you gave it everything you had, even used magic and you still only managed to take out less than a dozen men. What happens this time when you go in slashing at everything that moved in a battalion of hundreds of heavily armed soldiers, and it isn’t enough? What will happen to the honor that you’ve been so protective of when you are killed and it is announced that the last great Laurent family duelist died during a murderous rampage against innocent soldiers? What happens then to the other people that are also involved?” He continued to ask.

Fiora’s blood ran cold at the sound of those last words. In that instant, flashbacks of the people in her life appeared before her eyes. She saw her mother, lying in a hospital bed with severe burns that covered her whole body. She saw herself going into the morgue to identify her father, who committed suicide by drinking poison after he couldn’t live with himself. She saw Lux, smiling and carefree two days ago. She saw the middle aged woman that she couldn’t manage to save in time, her chest impaled with blood oozing profusely from the wound onto the sidewalk. Finally, she saw the woman’s small child who haunts her dreams almost on a nightly basis, crying for her deceased mother and blaming her for what happened.

“I don’t know!” Fiora suddenly exclaimed, her fist slamming against a wall in anger, causing a loud thud. “How am I suppose to ask for forgiveness for something like that? Nothing I say will change anything! What am I suppose to do in a situation like this, roll over and just give up without even trying? I can’t, I won’t!”

Fiora remained standing with her head faced against the wall, her eyes closed and her fist still held tightly in place. She clenched her teeth hard, holding back the lump that was beginning to form in her throat.

“I shut everyone out. I kept my sanity by remaining focused only on myself and my skills with a blade. I thought that if I did this, people would acknowledge me, but I wouldn’t have to return the favor. At least then if I was to get hurt during a fight, I’d still only be fighting for myself. Only my own body and pride would be hurt out of it, while everyone else would not get involved. My father, two brothers, and Lux were the only people that I still kept close just out of habit. I swore that I would protect them with everything I had. Now, years later, my father is dead and the only person I ever considered as a friend has been kidnapped because she followed me into a battle. Great job I’ve done so far.” She said after an uncomfortable silence filled the room, the sound of contempt for herself strongly evident in her voice. “Look at me, after all this time, I’m still the same pathetic little girl watching helplessly as the people I care about get taken away from me.”

“Then stop running from yourself.” Leon said from behind her, a tone of confidence beginning to fill his voice. “Stop running, and start overcoming that which holds you back.”

“What?” She asked in surprise, opening her eyes and turning to look at him, revealing the conjunctiva of her eyes to be slightly red.

“Stop pushing others away and let them help you face your problems. Running away won’t change anything. Masking your true insecurities with an arrogant and cold shell won’t bring you out of the dark place that you’ve been hiding in.” He answered, surprising the duelist at how well he knew of her predicament.

“Running away…is that what I’ve been doing?” She asked herself, pausing as her eyes opened wide in realization. “That’s right… I wasn’t always like this. When my mother died, I lost hope and so I ran. I ran to keep myself estranged so that I wouldn’t get hurt. All I had was my pride and when my father disgraced the family name, I ran even more, away from home to live on my own and avoid the painful memories. I refused to talk to him, and the day he died, I wasn’t even there for his final moments. I couldn’t bear the memories that were behind every corner of this city, and so I kept running, joining the League in order to escape those memories and my own insecurities about what people thought of me. All this time, I had no goals, no direction in mind. All I could do was keep moving and fighting along the way to avoid dealing with the pain of my past. And in the process, I dragged Lux into my aimless path of destruction.”

“Running away and leaving the people you care about behind…that doesn’t mean you’re doing them a favor. Though you simply wanted to avoid seeing those you cared about getting hurt, shutting them out only hurts them more. Even if you never wanted to admit it, you have people you can count on to help you make it through.”

“For me, it’s too late for that. Lux was the only person who would ever care enough to support me. Now that she’s gone, I don’t have anybody that can help me in this situation.” She replied, lowering her eyes in disappointment.

“How about starting with me?” He said simply, causing the duelist to raise her eyes to look at him in surprise. “What? You didn’t think I’d really let you do this on your own did you?”

“Why though? Why would you want to help me when all this time, I’ve done nothing but criticize and accuse you?”

“Sometimes it’s not about what we want. In life, there are some things you just do because it has to be done.” He responded, the confidence in his voice somehow beginning to give Fiora hope.

“So what is your plan?” She finally asked after a long pause.

“The train to Piltover will not arrive for another four days. You are good with a sword but against such overwhelming odds, you’ll need more than just that. In the next three days, I will train you to be able to master the ability to spontaneous tap into your own magical abilities and manipulate it without relying on the use of runes.” Leon replied.

“What, in three days? How? People practice for years to master that stuff and I’m not even remotely good at it. Why does it matter if I can use magic?” She exclaimed in disbelief at what the person in front of him was suggesting. “Besides, if it takes the train four days to get there, how do we hope to catch up to it in a day?”

“Merely another challenge for you to overcome. You have already demonstrated that you have the innate ability to use magic by channeling and sealing it into runes. If you believe in yourself, I believe that you have far greater potential than you think. As for that last problem, you let me worry about that. So what do you say? Are you willing to take a chance on yourself and others?” He responded, a smile of confidence on his face.

Fiora looked at him and couldn’t help but feel her skepticism and despair being washed away by his words. She didn’t know what it was, but something about what he said put her heart slightly at ease for the first time in years. She closed her eyes and brushed away a lock of purple hair that covered the left part of her face before opening them again, this time a look of strength and determination emitted from her aqua blue eyes.

“Three days… If you don’t make good on your words...” She began to say before pausing a moment, collecting herself and crossing her arms under her chest. “I’ll hold you to your word.”


***


Chapter 5: Defiance of the Black Rose

Bound are the Aesirs to their sealed forms
Their allegiance absolute to the ones they serve
For the Day of Prophecy approaches
Their release will decide this world’s balance
Between the hope of the Goddess and the chaos of the Undying.

- Writings of the Prophet Ezra-Isaiah Cyrus, Ancient Civilization of Atlas


Institute of War, Valoran

The sound of loud knocking against the wooden door to the plain one bedroom unit rang loudly through the otherwise quiet room, causing Talon to shoot up from his slumber, assuming a sitting position on his bed. A moment of dazed confusion passed, before a look of anger appeared on his face, his eyes narrowing to accentuate the scar over his eye lid.

“It’s early in the morning! What the hell do you want?” He screamed out angrily after a second set of knocks rang through the room.

“Talon, we are part of the Institute Guard. You were notified to appear this morning in the Summoning Room to prepare for battle in the League’s new Arena. You failed to appear and we’ve been dispatched to retrieve you.” A muffled voice came from the other side of the door.

“Sod off! You made me fight all of yesterday. I’m sore as all hell and you expect me to come be your little pawn again without even the decency of a day’s rest? Go find some other fool to be your guinea pig.” He angrily replied.

“Your attendance is mandatory, if you do not come voluntarily, we’ve been authorized to apprehend you and bring you there ourselves.” The voice announced, the arrogance apparent in his voice that only served to irk the assassin even more.

“You have to be kidding me.” Talon mumbled to himself as he stood up and walked towards the bathroom.

A third set of knocks on the door followed by a loud crash was heard as the wooden door to his unit was kicked in. Four men wearing metallic armor with multiple blue and red markings marched into the room with their swords drawn to approach the assassin.

“What the hell?” Talon exclaimed, leaping backwards towards his bed, where proceeded to grab a pack of daggers he had stashed for emergency purposes.

Without hesitation, he quickly assumed a battle stance, a dagger in each hand. The environment was against him, as he was in a heavily confined space with no ability to hide. He was a skilled assassin, but in this particular scenario, stealth was not an option. He had to keep his distance, as he did not even have time to properly arm himself with his arm blade, his only weapons the daggers in his hands. He looked down on the ground to find his boots next to him. Taking a step backwards, he quickly landed a kick to one of his boots, sending it flying at the first guard.

The guard quickly shifted his head to avoid the incoming projectile, his eyes turned away momentarily from his target. Using the distraction as an opportunity, Talon quickly flung one of his daggers at the guard, its path perfectly targeted as usual, coursing its way directly towards the guard’s neck.

A yellow spark of energy appeared from outside the door, colliding with the dagger and sending the weapon flying to the ground. The guard’s eyes were wide in horror and confusion, as he thought for certain that he was finished. Talon stared in surprise as he shifted them to look around for the reason why that last attack didn’t hit its mark. Looking at the facial features of the three other guards, it was evident that they were as shocked as he was.

“After all this time, you’re still just as antisocial as that boy thief in the bowels of Noxus.” A familiar voice blared from outside the door.

A few footsteps echoed from outside before the robed Swain appeared at the doorway, his face one of clear disdain were it not for his pupils, pitch black in color that gave him an intense look of malice. On his shoulder stood a large raven that Talon couldn’t recall ever seeing the Noxian traveling without.

“Swain, just what do you think you’re doing? Have you sunk so low so as to become the Institute’s errand boy for meager tasks like this?” He asked with a tone of loathing, his eyes staring at the old tactician with hatred.

Though both of them served the Noxian military prior to coming to the League, Talon’s relations with Swain were one of professional tolerability at best. For years, the assassin had served as an elite assassin within the Noxus, specifically carrying out orders that General Du Couteau himself ordered. With the exception of the General, however, Talon held no respect for the rest of the Noxian High Command and had no desire to associate with them.

“My, my. Such disrespect for your superiors, boy. And here I was beginning to think that you might be of some use to Noxus in the future.” Swain replied with an arrogant tone in his voice.

“My superior? The only person I bow down to is General Du Couteau, and none of you scoundrels even know where he is anymore.”

“What a shame you think that way. I’ll be sure to relay your sympathies back to the rest of High Command.”

“You can tell them whatever you want! For years, you cowards of the High Command sent out people trying to kill me. Did you really think that I’d ever bow down to such a disgraceful group of old men sitting in a room, sending their worthless underlings to do your bidding while you refuse to even lift a finger?” Talon continued, narrowing his eyes in contempt. “Now, looking at you, my point has all but been proven. You run around doing meager errands in hopes of a treat at the end of the day from the Institute. That alone is a disgrace to the General. You are nothing compared to him and I have no reason to do anything you say.”

“How pathetic… I pity you, lowly human scum!” Swain announced as he raised his right arm towards the assassin, his index finger extended.

“What?”

Before he could react to Swain’s gesture, a glowing white circular symbol appeared on the ground beneath the assassin. He attempts to lunge to the side, but found his feet unable to move, pinned to the ground by talon-like projections that rose from the ground.

**** it, he’s not joking around! Talon thought to himself. Without hesitation, he raised the remaining dagger in his left hand, throwing it straight at Swain’s forehead with intent to kill.

That should do it! He thought to himself as the dagger flew with perfect trajectory for a fatal hit.

The tactician made no motions to move or dodge the incoming projectile. As the dagger flew within inches of the old Noxian’s head, a yelow flash of light appeared, parrying the dagger flying away harmlessly.

Impossible! What the hell is going on? The assassin thought to himself, his eyes wide open in shock.

A translucent dome of yellow energy flickered in front of Swain for a few seconds before disappearing. Talon was in disbelief at what he had witnessed. During his time in the Summoner’s Arena, he had seen instances where his attacks have been parried, either with the use of a weapon or with carefully timed magical spells. All of those defensive spells have a time limit before they shatter, as the amount of energy required to maintain it stressed the body too much to keep it sustained for long periods of time. It should have been impossible for his current adversary to deflect a perfectly aimed attack without so much as a blink of an eye.

“A mutt who no longer serves a purpose has no use in living on.” Swain said as he opened up his extended hand, a sphere of black energy forming in his palm.

“Swain! What are you doi-“ Talon began to exclaim before the dark projectile launched at him, colliding with his abdomen causing a bright purple flash to fill the room.

Talon instantly fell to his knees as the attack hit its mark. With a single attack, he felt as though his whole body had been struck by a vehicle, pain shooting up every nerve fiber in his body. He couldn’t move any of his muscles and struggled to even breath, as even the slightest contraction of his diaphragm caused excruciating pain. Despite years of taking damage during assassinations and his time in the League, this was the first time he had ever felt a pain like this. The only thing that kept him from letting out a scream of pain was that the very act of screaming would have caused him unbearable pain. Moments later, the pain disappeared, replaced with a numbness that caused him to be unable to move or feel any part of his body.

Is this what it feels like… to be at death’s door? He asked himself. He could all but remain motionless on the ground as events continued to transpire around him.

“Carry him over to the Arena. Take his weapons with us. It would be suspicious for someone as paranoid as him to leave such things behind.” Swain ordered.

“Understood, Sir.” The guards accompanying him replied before proceeding to pick up the assassin, dragging him out of the room.

Talon could not remember how long he was in this state of paralysis. He saw his body dragged along the ground for what seemed like hours. Gradually, he began to recover sensation in his limbs, first in his upper arms and then his legs. The excruciating pain from earlier began to return, as whatever numbing effect that his mind had put up to protect him from the pain was wearing off. He saw himself being forced down multiple unfamiliar corridors along with a guard following behind him, holding up Talon’s arm blade to examine it. A look of disgust showed on the guard’s face, as he regarded the weapon as being barbaric.

“What the-!” One of the guards in front exclaimed before letting out a loud scream, a thud against the ground to follow.

“Hey, what do you think you’re doing!” Another of the guards shouted as Talon felt himself being dropped to the ground.

The sound of metal colliding with metal echoed in the corridor, followed by the sound of additional screams. It took all of the assassin’s effort to move the muscles in his neck, turning it slightly to watch the sight of a familiar masked figure wearing a blue armor that terminates at his lower abdomen, his legs cloaked in loose fitting blue pants. His arms were covered with a thick spiked blue armor that split at the upper arm to allow for improved mobility. Each hand held a katana, with which he was easily disposing of the four guards that were abducting the assassin.

“Cease your actions immed-“ The last guard yelled before the ninja parried his sword to the right, following it up with a forward lunge to stab the free katana into his opponent’s abdomen.

Moments later, the guard dropped to the ground, joining his other three comrades on the ground lifeless. Talon remained sprawled out on the ground in prone position, his head raised just enough to see the massacre in front of him in confusion.

“Sh-Shen. W..why are you doing this?” Talon managed to utter out.

Without saying a word, Shen sheathed his weapons before walking to the assassin. With one hand, he lifted him off the ground over his shoulder as though it took almost no effort on the ninja’s part. He proceeded to pick up the arm blade from the ground, tucking it on top of Talon. Then ninja then raised his other hand in front of his face, making a hand sign before channeling the energy of his surrounding environment into himself. Moments later, a bright purple sphere surrounded the two of them followed by a bright flash.

The next thing Talon knew, he found himself in a room that looked similar to his own living quarters, only the walls were decorated with Ionian symbols, and the shelves were lined with exotic artifacts. He felt himself dropped onto a floor mat. Shen disappeared for a moment, only to return with a green bottle of liquid.

“Drink this.” He said, uncorking the bottle and holding it up to Talon’s mouth, pouring the liquid in.
Talon felt himself gag with an intensity unlike anything he had ever felt. The taste of the liquid was pungent beyond anything he had ever had the misfortune of tasting, making the taste that accompanied falling into the Noxian subterranean sewers a pleasant memory.

“What the hell is that stuff?!” Talon screamed out in fury, forcing himself to sit up rapidly.

Instantly, a shock went through him as he realized that he was once again able to move every muscle in his previously limp body. He let out a few more dry wretches from the taste in his mouth before composing himself.

“How come I can move again? What in the world was that vile tasting stuff?” He asked when the gagging stopped.

“An Ionian regeneration potion. A secret potion passed down the Kinkou Order since the Rune Wars, allowing instant recovery of strength. Though our numbers are few, it allows us to continue to battle as long as necessary.” Shen explained before recorking the potion and disappearing from view with it.

Talon stood up, a sense of dizziness overwhelming him initially, forcing him to prop himself against the wall. A minute of silence passed as the assassin tried to regain his balance before he picked up his arm blade from the ground, strapping it onto his right arm with mild difficulty, as a slight vertigo continued to linger.

“Hey! I don’t mean to ungrateful or anything, but why are you helping me?” Talon asked after he finished strapping his weapon into position. “I mean, ninjas like that Akali girl, Kennen, and yourself are suppose to be all about honor right? Doesn’t seem like an assassin like me fits with your motto on life.”

“Akali and Kennen are captured and likely dead. You were the only person alive that I’ve been able to find.” Shen replied emotionless as he returned to the room.

“What? Those two are dead…how?” Talon asked in surprise.

He had faced them multiple times in the Summoner’s Arenas. While Shen was exceptionally skilled in the art of defense with a sword, making it really difficult to land a successful hit on him, the other two ninjas excelled at agile movements. Despite being an assassin that specialized in quick, surprise strikes, even he had difficulty keeping up with them in combat. It thus came as a surprise to him that anyone outside of the Summoner’s Arenas would be capable of killing those two.

“Not just them. All of the champions.” He answered, causing Talon a shock to run up his spine.

“What are you talking about? What do you mean all of the champions are dead? How is that even possible? In fact, the reason you even found me was because of that rat ******* Swain-“ The assassin began to object before being interrupted.

“Swain is one of the people responsible for this. Three days ago, the three of us from the Kinkou Order felt a disturbance in the order of this world. Something unnatural was taking place with the source of this imbalance located here at the Institute. Yesterday, you received a notification that you were going to be participating in a battle in a new arena, am I correct?” Shen explained before pausing to look at the other man in the room, a person he had once despised as an opponent without honor.

“Yeah, it pissed me off that they wouldn’t even let me have a day of rest so I decided not to show. What of it?” Talon responded.

“I believe every champion received that same notification. This morning, Akali, Kennen, and myself congregated as we felt a mass exodus of dozens of strong energy sources, many of which felt familiar, from the Institute to a location not too far north of here. We knew something was wrong and so we stayed behind and explored the Institute, finding it empty of all champions of the League.” He continued.

“All right, so everyone got transported to that new arena, the Valley of the Magi or whatever it’s called. How does that translate to everyone being dead?” The assassin asked, his curiosity helping him to focus and overcome the lingering dizziness in his head.

“Within moments of the champions being transported to that location, we felt the balance of this world transform into total chaos. The energies of the great champions of the League instantly vanished from our senses in an instant, their essence disappearing from this world. As we contemplated the meaning behind this, we were attacked and I was the only one who managed to escape.” Shen answered, his voice continuing to be calm and impassive.

“Attacked? By who?”

“I will explain the rest later. Right now, we need to leave this place.” The ninja answered before quickly walking past him and opening the front door to his unit, surveying his surroundings. “Can you walk?”

“I may not be a ninja, but don’t insult me.” Talon responded, following as they left the room.

Ask Vayne 03-22-2012 06:55 PM

Chapter 5: Defiance of the Black Rose (cont'd)

They ran along the corridors of the Institute for the next few minutes, navigating its convoluted passages until they reached the Grand Chamber that led to the main entrance of the facility. They had managed to reach within 10 meters of the door when they felt a strange force overcoming them and causing their muscles to tighten beyond their control. A moment later, Shen and Talon felt themselves lifted off the ground and violently flung against the opposite walls of the room.

Talon let out a groan of pain as his back, still sore from the earlier attack, collided hard against the marble wall. He opened his eyes to find himself pinned against the wall a dozen feet off of the ground. On the opposite side of the room was Shen in a similar predicament. Upon hearing the sound of hard footsteps echoing through the chamber, Talon shifted his gaze to see the familiar scantily clad sorceress from Noxus pacing into the room, a sinister grin on her face.

“I thought I’d find a rat, but who would have thought he would have found a friend.” She said as she turned her head towards Talon, revealing pitch-black pupils not unlike that of Swain’s.

“LeBlanc… Just what do you think you’re doing?” Talon struggled to say, as he was pinned to the wall with a heavy pressure sensation on his chest.

“Taking care of unfinished business.” She replied, turning her head to look at Shen.

“Unfinished business? You… you were the one who attacked and captured Akali and Kennen?” Talon exclaimed.

“Correction, the former Akali and Kennen.” She announced, turning her head towards the assassin slightly before returning her gaze in the opposite direction. “I took my time to enjoy killing your little friends, hearing their cries of pain.”

Shen let out a struggling groan as he narrowed his eyes, anger running through him at the thought of his allies falling.

“That’s it, feel and know despair. But don’t worry, this pain and suffering will only last for a short time. The two of you will join them soon enough.” LeBlanc said before raising her staff up, causing the crystals suspended at the end of staff to glow a bright purple color.

The pressure sensation on their chest that had kept them pinned against the wall began to rise, extending to their necks. Talon and Shen felt a choking sensation around their necks, their ability to breathe becoming severely restricted. Instinctively, Talon reached into his pocket to pull out a poison –tipped dagger. Mustering up all of his strength, he quickly flung the dagger towards the Noxian sorceress, causing her to shift her attention towards him. Using the opportunity, Shen quickly drew out a wakizashi from his side, holding it up above his shoulders, he flings it down towards the now distracted sorceress.

“Rain of the Blades!” Shen uttered as he held his right hand in front of his face, forming a hand sign.

His wakizashi began to glow a bright purple color before splitting into three identical blades, all of which now converged on the sorceress. Talon’s eyes opened wide in anticipation at the sight of the four deadly attacks hitting its mark. Without warning, a bright purple flash of light surrounded her, colliding with the weapons and sending them flying away from their target.

“No… not you too.” Talon uttered in shock as he witnessed a glowing purple sphere of energy surrounding the sorceress, the same phenomenon he saw not too long ago during his encounter with Swain.

“Clever. I’ll give you credit for putting in the effort. However… trying to win against me is like an ant trying to avoid getting squashed.” LeBlanc said, her voice now with a semblance of annoyance, before raising her staff again. “Farewell, pathetic humans.”

Talon and Shen both let out a choking grasp as they felt the invisible force that bound their necks tightening even more, causing them to struggle to catch even a single breath. Talon felt the dizziness beginning to worsen again, as the room began to spin before the light coming into his eyes started to fade.

**** it, looks like this is it. Forgive me, General Du Couteau. In the end, I failed… Talon thought to himself.

Two large arrows comprised of an unknown blue energy flew from above towards LeBlanc, colliding with the purple barrier that protected her and creating a large explosion that sent shockwaves through the Grand Chamber. Paintings and artifacts that lined the wall were thrown from their display locations, falling to the ground, accompanied by the sound of various items shattering. Shen and Talon felt the bindings that held them against the wall release, causing them both to fall from the elevated position.

The two of them let out a long series of coughs as they quickly gasped for breath.

“Wh…What just happened?” Talon finally managed to ask before looking behind the cloud of smoke to see a woman standing on the second floor ledge that ran along the back of the room, her large burgundy colored cloak waving in the air in response to the recent explosion. Placing her hand on the banister, she flung herself over the ledge to land on the ground floor before tumbling forward to pass LeBlanc. Getting up, she raised a large ornately decorated metallic crossbow with rune symbols that glowed a dim blue color. She turned her head to each side to examine the two champions recomposing themselves to a standing position before shifting her attention back towards LeBlanc, narrowing her eyes behind her sunglasses in anticipation of an incoming attack.

“Vayne…Is that really you?” Shen asked before being interrupted by the sound of a sinister laughter coming from the clearing cloud of smoke.

“Very amusing…I’m curious as to how you managed to acquire a weapon like that.” A smoky female voice announced, causing the three champions to shift their attention towards LeBlanc, now standing unscratched behind a barrier that appeared shattered, pieces of bright purple energy falling to the ground not unlike broken glass.

“Yeah, it’s me. Save the formalities for later. Are the two of you able to fight?” She replied.

“Of course.” Talon said, his left hand reaching into a side leather bag strapped to his waist to pick out a dagger before raising his right hand to ready his arm blade. “I always said I’d live or die by the blade. That’s one thing I stand by. What about you, ninja boy?”

“If it will restore balance,” Shen responded as he reached behind is back to draw out his two swords, assuming a battle stance. “Then it must be done.”

LeBlanc raised her staff into the air, causing a purple glow to emit from its crystals. Moments later, the purple colored barrier that had previously shattered began to reform from the edges inwards. In response, Vayne drew back the string on her crossbow. The rune symbols began to glow brighter in response before a low pitched hum filled the room as a large blue arrow formed in front of the bowstring. With a swift motion, she raised the large crossbow up to aim it, firing it a second later. The bright arrow flew towards LeBlanc, perfectly aimed to pass through the hole in the barrier that had yet to reform.

LeBlanc quickly dashed to her right, narrowly avoiding getting impaled in the abdomen by the large arrow. A loud explosion echoed through the chamber as the arrow collided with a marble pillar behind her, causing it to crumble. The ledge that it had previously supported also began to destabilize, parts of it breaking off and falling to the ground below.

LeBlanc’s energy barrier shattered in response, as she had not finished channeling her energy into completing and stabilizing it. Standing up angrily, she abandons her defensive style and decided to focus her energy into attacking. Raising up her staff, the crystals began to let out a bright purple glow before three yellow orbs appeared on the staff in a swirling pattern. With the twirl of her body on her heels, she flung her staff, releasing the three spheres of energy towards her opponents.

The three champions tumbled to the side to avoid the projectiles from hitting them, only to watch in awe as the attacks bent in their trajectory after not hitting their mark. Looping around, the three orbs changed directions to target their respective champions again.

Vayne quickly tumbled a second time, mounting the large crossbow on her back before raising the smaller crossbow attached to her right hand. She fired a silver tipped bolt at the attack, causing the sigil in the middle of it to partially shatter. She quickly tumbled forward a third time, maneuvering her other hand to pick out another bolt from her side bag and reloading the smaller crossbow before she was back on her feet. She instantly raised her right arm and aimed it again at the sigil, firing a second shot that shattered the attack completely.

Seeing that it was possible for the attacks to be disrupted, Shen picked up his wakizashi that he had previously used from the ground. With a quick forward flip to avoid the sorceress’ attack as it looped around, he flung his blade towards the attack.

“Talon, go!” The ninja announced as he raised his left hand up to his face to form a seal. “Rain of Blades!”

The sword he had thrown split into two, one colliding with each of the remaining attacks that LeBlanc had released. Talon, acknowledging the move, quickly dashed forward at immense speeds. Before she had realized it, the assassin had appeared in front of her, his blade in position to strike. With a swift move of his right arm, Talon swung his arm blade upwards, slashing LeBlanc from the lower right part of her abdomen up to her mid chest. The sorceress let out a scream before her body disappeared in a flash of light.

“What the?” Talon exclaimed.

The sound of laughter from LeBlanc rang through the chamber, causing them to realize that the LeBlanc that had been attacked was an illusion.

“Where are you?” Vayne asked, her eyes shifting around trying to track where the echoing voice was coming from.

As if in response, a black sphere of energy, which Talon was all too familiar with after earlier that morning, rapidly approached him from one of the open side doors leading into the Grand Chamber.

Oh no! Noot this again! Talon thought to himself before quickly dashing away from his standing position to avoid the attack.

An explosion came from behind him, as the attack caused another of the marble pillars at the back of the room to burst into flames, crumbling into large pieces of debris. After seeing the effects that the attack had on the surroundings, the assassin understood why it had almost killed him instantaneously earlier that morning, and knew that he had to avoid getting hit by a second attack like that.

LeBlanc appeared through the door that the attack came from, causing Vayne to quickly fire off a third silver tipped bolt from her smaller crossbow. Upon reaching its target, the figure of the sorceress simply disappeared in a distorted wave of light. Quickly reloading her crossbow, Vayne saw the apparition of the witch appear to her right, to which she responded by quickly firing a bolt in her direction, this time yielding the same result as her last attack.

A third apparition appeared, this time behind Shen. Sensing it, he quickly spun around, both arms extended to deliver two quick slashes to the figure, which disappeared in a wisp of light.

**** it, where is she? Talon thought to himself before the sound of something shifting behind him caught his attention.

He quickly swung around to find himself face to face with the Noxian witch. Instinctively, he lashed out with his arm blade, causing her to parry it with her staff. He knew that this was the real one and that this was his one shot at taking her out, using the opportunity to fling multiple blades towards her.

LeBlanc leapt backwards, shifting her position with agility unlike any she had previously demonstrated to avoid the projectiles. The assassin then closed the gap, lunging forward to strike with his arm blade, which LeBlanc parried a second time with her staff. She then raised her left arm, her palm open revealing a bright yellow sphere of light. As Talon shifted his position in preparation to defend himself against an impending attacks, multiple sets of bright golden chains appeared, flailing outwards wildly before burrowing into the ground. Seconds later, a few cracking sounds filled the air, followed by the appearance of multiple golden chains projecting out of the ground, wrapping themselves around each of the champions.

**** it! I can’t move! Vayne thought to herself as she struggled to free herself from her bindings with no success.

What sort of sorcery is this? These spells are far too powerful for someone like her to use. Shen thought to himself as he tried cut the chains with his swords with no effect.

“It’s been an entertaining encounter, to say the least. Now, however, I grow weary of your presence. Disappear from the world of the living, fore-“ LeBlanc began to say before stopping in response to a slight chuckle from Talon. “Finding the moment funny? I guess there is humor in this situation; the irony that the great Noxian assassin himself is about to have his life ended.”

“No…” Talon responded with a smirk before tugging his fingers backwards. “The humor lies in the irony that the great deceiver herself couldn’t see through the deception.”

“What?” LeBlanc managed to utter out before the sound of multiple thuds rang throughout the chamber, signaling that Talon’s assault had hit its mark.

The witch lets out a painful groan before turning her head slightly to see multiple blades protruding from her back. The realization then hit her that the blades that Talon had previously thrown prior to being bound by her spell served another purpose. He had intentionally thrown them and followed up with attacks from his arm blade to give her a false sense of security, the deception that the blades he had thrown were the distractions to allow him to strike her with a close-ranged attack. The reality was that the opposite was true, that the second attack was the distraction to prevent her from realizing the danger that was waiting behind her.

Moments later, the magical chains that had bound the champions began to dim, crumbling into small pieces that fell to the ground, disappearing as they collided with the floor.

“It’s over, LeBlanc. Your spell over us has been broken, which means your powers are fading. Now tell us what you know. Why are you and Swain trying to kill off the League champions? What are your motives and are they related to the Black Rose?” Talon said with his arm blade pointed towards the head of the witch, who was now hunched over breathing heavily.

“The Black Rose? Is that what you think is responsible for all of this? Perish the thought, foolish human. This runs far greater than that little Noxian cult.” LeBlanc replied as she straightened herself up to reveal two black sphere of energy swirling around her left hand. “Embrace death’s grasp!”

“**** it!” Talon uttered in shock as LeBlanc fired both of the attacks at him in rapid succession.

Talon could all but close his eyes and raise his right arm over his face to brace himself for what he knew meant certain death. A moment passed, and he felt nothing.

Am I… really dead this time? He thought to himself.

He then opened his eyes in shock as he found himself surrounded by a barrier of purple light. An instant later, Shen appeared in front of him, holding both of his swords in front of him crossed across his chest. The blades gave off a purple aura of energy as he held them in position to deflect the two attacks that LeBlanc had sent out.

Shen struggled against the witch’s attack, using all of his strength to hold them back from advancing. With every moment that passed, he felt himself weakening, gradually becoming overwhelmed by the strength of his enemy’s attack. As his energy began to fade, he felt himself about to succumb to the intensity of his opponent’s attack when the images of Akali and Kennen flashed through his mind. They were the people that he had relied on the most since his arrival at the League. Now, both of them had left him, murdered by the woman who stood in front of him.

I… I will not let your deaths be for nothing! He thought to himself. Using his newfound resolve, he poured the rest of his energy into his blades and increased his strength, now managing to parry the attacks away from him. He let out a battle cry, his blades now flared in a bright purple flow of energy, before pushing back the black spheres with all of his might, sending them flying back towards LeBlanc.

The witch opened her eyes wide in surprise at the sight of her own attack being deflected back at her, hitting its mark before causing a large explosion around her. A shockwave accompanied the explosion, knocking Talon and Shen backwards onto the ground. Moments later, the smoke began to clear, revealing LeBlanc, still alive but covered in multiple burns and scars panting hard.

“Unacceptable… Unacceptable! To be treated like this by pathetic creatures like yourselves. The very thought is ludicrous. You overstep your boundaries, so I’ll show you to know your place!” LeBlanc screamed out in anger.

“No, we only overstep yours.” Vayne’s voice replied from behind.

LeBlanc turned her head just in time to see Vayne in the air behind her, her large crossbow held with its string drawn, a large glowing white arrow in firing position.

“You, who corrupt the innocent with darkness, and understand nothing but your own power…disappear from my sights, forever!” Vayne announced before raising it to firing position. “Starfall!”

LeBlanc could only look in horror as Vayne released the bowstring, revealing a volley of a dozen white arrows launched at her position. A large series of explosions rang out through the corridors of the Institute of war as the arrows landed, forcing Talon and Shen to dash towards the main entrance, crossing the threshold as the shockwave sent them airborne. Moments later, they landed on the hard stone steps below them, a few feet away from the doorway. The pillars that lined the inside of the Grand Chamber crumbled instantly in response to the shockwave of the attack, causing the suspended walkway to collapse onto the ground floor, blocking the pathway into the rest of the building.

“Ugh… What the hell was that?” Talon finally said as he finally got up from the floor, feeling the top of his head to find a small amount of blood oozing from a bruise on the left side of his forehead.

Shen remained silent as he stood up, turning his head towards the Institute to see the night hunter walking out of the smoking building, panting heavily for breath. She managed to walk a few steps down the stairs in front of the Institute, but appeared unstable in her gait.

“Are you two all right?” She asked after a while.

“Yeah. What in the world did you do?” Talon asked, letting out a few coughs before continuing.

“Starfall, a special attack that I can only do with this particular bow. As for LeBlanc, that is likely more complicated of a situation than I can explain at the moment.” Vayne began to explain, mounting the large glowing crossbow on her back again. “I couldn’t find her body amongst the rubble, so I can’t say for certain if she’s dead. If she isn’t, we definitely don’t want to stay here. Let’s move!”

“Where do we go from here?” Shen asked as he sheathed his swords behind his back.

“My car is nearby. I need to rendezvous with a contact of mine in Piltover to figure out how to proceed.” Vayne said, adjusting her glasses as she walked by the other two champions. “You are welcomed to come with me if you have nowhere else to go…at least until we’re clear of the area. Once we do that, you’re free to go as you please.”

Talon and Shen looked at each other and nodded in agreement. While neither of them would openly admit it to each other, but for the first time ever, the two of them had a lot in common. Both of them were now alone, as Shen had lost the only two members of the Kinkou Order outside of Ionia that he was close with, and Talon could no longer safely go to where Noxian High Command had authority. As of now, neither of them had any destinations that would deviate from the night hunter’s plan.


***


Chapter 6: The Hidden Past

Ever present, but always unseen, is the Undying Realm. Intertwined with the World of the Living, yet separated by the Goddess’ gift, a seal forever locked. Its key, the blood and souls of the living.

- Writings of Kassadin, the Void Walker.


The Farscape Plains, Valoran

Hours had passed since their complicated departure from the Institute of War, the night hunter’s car driving along a primarily empty road, save for the occasional freight vehicles. To each side of the road stood endless fields of lush green grass and flowers, save for the occasional meadows of flowing water. Looking at the scenery now, no one could possibly have guessed that it was the site of one of the largest battles of the Fourth Rune War many years ago, one which nearly destroyed the delicate balance between order and chaos.

Questions filled the minds of Talon and Shen, yet the ordeal earlier that day left them too drained to really focus on the situation. Shauna Vayne sped down the road, the inside of her car quiet, save for the occasional loud snore from Talon in the back seat that annoyed her. In the passenger seat sat Shen, still fully dressed in his battle attire, quietly asleep with his arms crossed. The sight of the ninja dressed like that in the large open expanse of the plains in broad daylight brought a humorous smirk to the night hunter’s face.

As time passed, her focus on the road began to wane, as the fatigue that she had been fighting off was beginning to eat its way into her consciousness. Without hesitation, she took the next exit, following the signs for an inn that was advertised along the road a few miles back. The stopping of her car caught the attention of the two passengers, waking them from their slumber.

“Are we already there?” Talon asked after letting out a groan, shading his eyes as the bright afternoon sunlight hit his eyes.

“Not even close. At the rate things are going, we’ll never make it there alive unless I can get some rest.” Vayne answered as she proceeded to get out of the car. “I’ll get three rooms, you two stay here.”

“Why? This heat is killing me.” Talon objected.

“Because you’re covered in scars and he’s dressed the way he is.” She answered, nudging her head towards Shen. “You don’t think it would be the least bit suspicious?”

“Hrmph… Guess you have a point there.” Talon responded, scratching the back of his head.

Vayne took off the crossbow attached to her right arm and the large cloak she had been wearing, revealing a tight fitting purple unitard and leggings made up of a composite armor that extended up to her hips. She threw them into the back seat before proceeding into the lobby of the inn.

Talon and Shen stood next to the car and examined their surroundings, finding it mostly empty save for the inn, a petroleum station, and a small local diner across the street. An awkward silence filled the air as they waited for the night hunter’s return.

“Hey ninja boy,” Talon finally said after a while to break the silence. “Listen, what you did back there…thanks. Even though I’m sure you see me as a sack of **** without honor, you saved my life.”

“It was… to restore balance, repaying you for doing the same.”

“Doing the same? When did I-“

“You risked your life to attack that vile sorceress. Even though she was Noxian like yourself, you sided with us and almost died in order to land the first successful attack on her.”

“Yeah, that surprised me as well.” Vayne’s voice said from behind, causing the two male champions to turn their attention towards her. “You could have ran at any time and left us there to fight for ourselves, yet you stayed and risked your life. Why?”

Talon remained silent as he searched within himself for the answer. A moment passed and no answers came to him, leaving him speechless.

“Well, regardless, here are your keys.” She announced after a long silence filled the air. “Get some rest. Since neither of you are in any shape or form to be in a public place right now, I’ll bring you boys dinner later tonight.”

“Wait! You know what is going on, don’t you?” Shen said as Vayne turned to leave, causing her to suddenly freeze her position. “You didn’t seem surprised this morning at what had happened. I think it’s time we knew what is happening.”

Vayne stood still for a moment, narrowing her eyes in response to the ninja’s question.

“Give me a few hours of rest. I’ll explain what I know over dinner tonight.” She replied in a low voice without turning her head before leaving for her room.

Ask Vayne 03-22-2012 06:57 PM

Chapter 6: The Hidden Past (Cont'd)

Eastern Ridge of Serpentine River Valley, Valoran

“Why is this happening…where are you taking me?” Luxanna Crownguard asked in a somber voice as she looked up at the two guards standing guard at the door of the train compartment.

She recalled the events of the previous day’s morning, a surprise attack at her manor that resulted in her being shot. She remembered falling and the world around her turning dark.

Lux walked through the door to her parent’s house as a teenager. Upon entering the kitchen, she saw her mother and father talking with a military official from the Demacian government. She initially ignored it, and it wasn’t until she was already halfway down the hall that she realized the topic of conversation was none other than herself. She could only listen in horror, fear running down her spine as she found out that her parents had signed her over to the Demacian military. It felt as though only seconds had passed before she was subsequently dragged kicking and screaming from her home.

A flash of light suddenly blinded her as she was being dragged out of her home. When she was able to see again, she was in the Demacian military academy. She found herself spending many long hours spent focused on her training in order to block out her hatred towards the parents who abandoned her. This was never the life that she had wanted. Never once had she felt the desire to hurt others. It was evident to her, however, that her father did not really care about what she had wanted, but rather only about the honor of the family name. The house Crownguard, a noble family with a long and prestigious history in the Demacian army, who only cared about the family name as her father sent her older brother Garen, and then herself to serve the country. Her brother’s time in the military changed him. After he came back, he no longer even saw her as his little sister, but rather as a subordinate in the army. She saw herself making a vow to herself a year after her initial indoctrination that she would not share the same fate as him; that she would not allow the army to change who she was as a person.

Another flash of light followed, and when her surroundings dimmed, she blinked and found herself returning home after graduating from the academy. She was greeted by her family, her father welcoming her back as an official Crownguard. That line had made her resent her father even more, so much that moved away from home to live on her own.

Years passed within the blink of an eye and she found herself in an espionage mission deep within Noxus High Command. She had been there for days, her powers weakening through prolonged use and lack of rest. On the day she was suppose to return to Demacia with the intelligence she had gathered, a fluctuation of her powers in her weakened state caused her to be revealed to Noxian officials, resulting in her capture for the next three days. It would take an extraction team along with a diversion by her brother Garen crossing swords against Katarina Du Couteau to orchestrate her escape. She returned to face her brother, who said nothing to her, and merely showed a face of contempt.

That night, she saw herself in the depths of despair that no amount of light could lead her out of. She had become a dog of the military, being sent on missions at the will of her commanding officers. She was constantly on the move and had told so many lies as a spy that she couldn’t keep track of what was even real in her life. She despised herself for what she had become, as well as her family for turning her into this. Her brother saw her as nothing more than a weak child, and her parents did not care about what she had wanted so long as she continued to serve for the honor of Demacia. The only certainty in her life was her childhood friend Fiora, only she too had become increasingly distant years after the death of her mother. It was that night that she decided to join the League of Legends in hopes of finding purpose in her life and getting stronger to protect the people she cared about.


When she finally woke up, a full day had passed since the attack. She found herself hands shackled with electronic handcuffs, her feet bound with a device attached to a round metallic railing. She felt the environment shake occasionally, indicating that she was in a moving compartment. The room itself was dimly lit by red emergency lights on each side of the train car. She didn’t know where she was, nor where she was going and felt angry with herself. Multiple attempts at asking her guards for information had been met with total silence.

Why does it always end with me feeling like this? She thought to herself as she lowered her head to look at her feet, shackling devices attached to each of her ankles. Why is it that after all this time, I always end up having to rely on others to help me? I joined the League to get stronger, yet I constantly need to be saved by people in the Summoner’s Arenas. Even now when I was at home, I had to be saved by Fiora, all because I wasn’t strong enough to protect myself, much less others. All this time, I’ve been telling myself to remain positive, keep smiling, and maintain a cheerful personality; and things will get better. In the end, it was all nothing more than an act. Now that I’m truly alone, away from people who can help me, I’m nothing more than a pathetic, helpless girl.

“Hey! Why do you not say anything! I have rights too, I demand to know where you’re taking me!” She suddenly yelled out at the guards, whose backs were turned to her.

“Shut up, witch!” One of the guards finally chided as he turned slightly to look at her, revealing a man with short hair and a tough, chiseled face that held an expression of hatred towards her. “You’ll be at PSION soon enough, and when you are, you’ll be wishing you were still here.”

Lux didn’t understand the significance of what he had said, but knew that things would only get worse. With very few exceptions, most of the danger she had encountered had been in the Summoner’s Arenas, where a part of her was assured that she would be revived even if she died. This time, however, if she died at the hands of her captors, she really would be dead.

Perhaps… this might be for the best. She finally thought to herself as she closed her eyes in despair. If I died, would people even care? Maybe not…Maybe then, I wouldn’t get in everyone’s way and force them to protect me. All this time, I’ve put others in danger because I was too weak. Maybe I am beyond saving…Maybe…my death might make everyone happier in the end.

These thoughts raced through her mind as she sat quietly in the train car, feeling her back pushed against the wall as the train made its turn along the Eastern edge of the Serpentine River.

***

”Where is she?!” A young girl with blue eyes and dark hair, save for a large purple lock of hair over the left side of her face, demanded as she stood in front of a counter, panting heavily for air.

“Woah, hold on miss. What’s your emergency?” A lady with white wrinkled skin asked from behind the counter, standing up to face the girl.

“My mother. Where is she?” She asked again.

“Now hold on. Calm down so I can help you. What is your mother’s name?”

“Alissa…Alissa Laurent.” She answered, anxiety building inside of her as the receptionist went silent to look up the name.

“She’s in room 407, go down the hall, make a right and then another right. The room will be on your left side.”

Without responding, Fiora took off running down the hallway of the Demacian Central Hospital, arriving at the door a minute later to find it closed. She reached out to push the door in before hesitating. Her heart was racing at the thought of what might be behind this door. She prayed that on the other side of this door, a doctor will be there to tell her that her mother will be healthy to leave tomorrow, but knew based on what her father had said to her that it was wishful thinking.

Finally pulling her courage together, she pressed against the door, its weight surprisingly greater than she expected, forcing her to push with her full weight to prop it open. Walking into the room, she instantly felt her heart sink. She saw a barely recognizable figure on the hospital bed, covered in white bandages, many of which were soaked through with sanguineous fluid. Tubes and wires were attached to machines along the wall of the hospital room, showing an elevated heart rate and decreased blood pressure despite large amounts of fluids being administered.

She took a few steps into the room and turned to see her father and her two step brothers sitting in the room, a look of despair on each of their faces. Her father stood up in response to her entering the room, quickly walking over to give her a tight hug.

“Dad…what is happening, is mom going to be okay?” She asked, her voice muffled behind her father’s shoulder.

Her father remained silent, causing her to push him away as tears began to well up in her eyes.

“No… this can’t be happening. How did this happen? What aren’t you telling me?” She demanded, her voice echoing down the hospital corridor.

She turned her head to look at her step brothers, one who was 4 years older than her and the other 6 years older. They turned their heads away from her in response, covering the painful expression on their faces. They were both born of a mother who died in childbirth, giving birth to the younger of the two brothers. Despite this, Alissa was a kind hearted woman who took care of them as though they were her own children. Even after Fiora was born, she never treated them any differently, taking care of her children as the most precious part of her life. To them, she was the only mother that they knew and cared for her as such.

“I’m sorry…there was a fire. The doctor said…” Her father began to say before his voice choked, causing him to pause a moment. “They said too much of her body has been burned. I’m sorry.”

“No, don’t say that!” Fiora screamed as tears flowed down along the side of her face.

She buried her face in her hands, taking a few steps back away from her father. She continued to weep for what seemed like an eternity to her before a soft woman’s voice interrupted her.

“Fiora?” The voice said, causing her to instantly look up at her mother turning her head to face her. “Is that… really… you?”

Without hesitation, she quickly ran over to her mother, lying on the hospital bed with her eyes slightly open revealing aqua blue eyes. Her face was covered in black and dark red colored scars, partially obscured by a lock of purple colored hair resembling Fiora’s, which draped over the left part of her face.

“Mom! Yes it’s me.” The young Fiora answered, her hand grabbing onto her mother’s bandaged hands.

“Thank goodness. I didn’t think… I’d get to see you again.” She said, her voice gradually becoming quiet.

“What do you mean? Of course I’m here. You’re going to be fine, I know it.”

“Fiora…listen to me. You…you’re really special. I can see it…in your eyes. You are destined….” Her mother said, as her voice began to trail off.

“Mom, save your strength. Tell me this when you come home!”

“Fiora…don’t give in…to despair…You have to be there… to protect them…after I’m gone…You’re the only one that I…that I believe in.” Her mother said, letting out a slight smile through charred lips, her voice dry and hoarse sounding. “I’m sorry… I…love you.”

With those last words, she became silent as her eyelids fell before the machines on the wall began to let out a loud, constant alarming sound. Fiora looked up in horror as the monitor that previously displayed her heart’s electrical activity became a flat line, large letters below it displaying the word ASYSTOLE.

Yelling came from down the hall, followed by the appearance of multiple nurses and doctors running into the room. The young Fiora could all but take a few steps backwards as her father beckoned her to follow him out of the room to allow the hospital staff to try and save her. She took a few steps towards the door before breaking out in a sprint away from her father. She didn’t know where she was going, but she wanted to be anywhere but here. All she wanted to do was to get as far away from here as possible.

She turned the next corner, her vision partially obscured by her tears, causing her to bump into a young man who had been standing at the corner. Doubling back, she looked up to get a quick glance of a person she did not recognize at the time, a pained look on his face.

“I’m sorry.” He said in a low tone, looking at the young Fiora as she continued to run down the hallway, which seemed to continue endlessly.

When she finally wiped the tears from her eyes, she found herself at her current age again, now surrounded by light, which blinded her to her surroundings. She could all but cover her eyes as everything around her began to disappear in a bright flash of light. It was at this point that a realization had struck her; she actually recognized who the man in the hallway was, but knew that it wasn’t possible.

“Leon…was that really you?” She said to herself


***

Meridian, Bordering District of Demacia

Fiora woke up to find herself lying in an unfamiliar room surrounded with simple but strange looking furniture. It took a moment for her to reorient herself, remembering where she was. Last night, with nowhere to go, she took Leon Raynes’ offer to stay the night at his place. Ultimately, she forced him to sleep in the living room, as she refused to be degraded to doing such a thing as sleeping on a couch, while she took the bedroom.

She stood up, vaguely remembering her dream. It was one that she had relived multiple times in the past. This, however, was the first time that her mysterious mentor appeared in it. It felt so vivid, his presence within the dream, that she thought it couldn’t possibly have been contrived. She heard the sound of water running, followed by the sound of something metallic falling from outside the room.

“You’re up early.” Leon said, shooting her a glance from the kitchen to notice an annoyed look on her face as she stepped out from the bedroom. “Well aren’t you just the brightest sunshine in the morning?”

Ignoring his last comment, she looked to find a few pans that had fallen on the ground, as well as scraps of food dispersed on the countertop.

“What’re you doing?” Fiora asked, slightly humored at the sight of the calamity caused by him trying to prepare food in the kitchen.

“Breakfast. Unlike you, not all of us have servants to do our everyday biddings.” He replied as he set two small plates of a simple breakfast on the table.

She remained silent during most of breakfast, deep in thought over the vision of the man in front of that she saw at the hospital in her dream. She desperately wanted to dismiss it as a simple trick that her mind was playing on her, but something about it made her feel uneasy.

“Hey Leon.” She finally said, breaking the tense silence in the air. “Seven years ago…”

“Yeah?” The man replied in a calm voice, looking up at the duelist.

“I…it’s nothing.”

Leon shot her a strange look before finishing the food on his plate. He stood up and walked over to the kitchen, starting to clean up after the mess he had made that morning.

“Fiora, once you are finished, shower, and get yourself ready. Meet me in the basement in half an hour, it’s two doors down from the bedroom.”

“Right.”

Descending the well-lit steps along a long stairway, she emerged at the bottom to find herself in a large brightly lit chamber. The walls were made up of metal with multiple rune symbols drawn in blue lining the walls. As she stepped through the threshold of the stairs, she felt a vibrating sensation run through her skin. Turning her head, she saw that she was passing through a strange barrier-like field that glowed a sky blue color outlining her body.

On the other side of the chamber stood Leon, his back turned to the duelist as he was focused on various objects on a table.

“What is this place?” Fiora asked, causing him to turn around to greet her.

“Ah, you’re early. That’s good. We’ll get started then.”

“Ok… what do you want me to do? I’m not exactly familiar with the stuff you’re hoping to teach me.” She answered, walking towards him, her eyes wandering around to examine the room.

“Let’s start with something that you are familiar with then.” He announced, picking up two small pieces of a brittle gray stone and handing it to her. “You’ve used runestones like this before to channel and seal magic into correct? Show me how it is you do it.”

Fiora hesitated, as the idea of demonstrating her attempts at magic made her feel weak, bringing her down a few levels from where she normally saw herself. After a few moments of contemplation, she obliged anyways. She placed the stones on a nearby table before clasping her hands over it and closing her eyes. During her research at the Institute into the use of magic, the common theme amongst the texts was the concept of emotional cues to tap into a person’s energy. The more powerful the emotion is to the person, the stronger and more effective their spells will be.

She knew that her most powerful emotion was one of pride. Using this, she searched through the depths of her mind, using her drive to prove her own superiority over others. Minutes had passed before she finally felt the familiar, weak feeling of warmth that felt walled off from her. Forcing herself, she managed to break past this barrier to drag a small amount of this energy into the rest of her body, channeling it through her arms. She then manipulated it with her mind into a simple fire spell before releasing it through the palms of her hands, sealing it into the runestone.

When the duelist opened her eyes again, almost ten minutes had passed. She let out a sigh before slowly turning her head to see a disappointed look on Leon’s face, for which she had already been prepared for.

“I told you. Magic is not my area of expertise, as you can clearly see. How am I supposed to do anything with it if it takes me that long to even conjure up a simple spell?” Fiora said before letting out a sigh of frustration.

“No, it is not the timing that bothers me, but rather your technique of drawing out your magic.” Leon began to say before walking closer to the duelist. “It is apparent that you understood the concept of using magic, and can will your mind to adapt to it. However, the way that you are doing seemed really forced and unnatural.”

“It felt as unnatural for me as it looked to you.”

“That’s not quite what I meant. Would you believe me if I said that the same spell can feel and look very different based on the emotion that the caster is using to channel their energy?” Leon began to explain.

“I’m not sure I follow you.”

“I want to test something. Close your eyes and relax, clear your mind and simply pay attention to your environment.” He began to explain, Fiora obliging to his command.

He then held out his right hand, which began to glow a bright white color. Moments later, a bright silver sphere of energy appeared, levitating a few inches above the palm of his hand.

“Let yourself go and tell me what it is that you sense.”

“It feels… warm, as though it gives off the feeling of confide-“ Fiora began to say before stopping, as a sudden realization hit her. “No… it’s a feeling of…hope.”

“Precisely! But there is more to it than just that. Using a general emotional cue can indeed allow you to successfully channel magical energy, but it will generally be weaker and slower.” Leon explained as the duelist opened her eyes again, focusing on the bright silver sphere floating above his hand. “Instead, giving it specificity helps to improve its effectiveness.”

“Specificity…” Fiora mused before being interrupted.

“Before we get into that, there are a few more things. When I observed you casting that spell, you chose to use your pride to force out your energy. However, different emotions are not all equally effective. Pride is not an emotion that is true to you, but rather only one that you put on as a fašade to hide your true self. You said as much yesterday when you first came here.”

“Yeah…right.” She responded after hesitating for a few moments. “But do you have a better idea?”

“You should already know the answer to that.”

“Explain. All I know is that you’re telling me that pride is insufficient for this purpose.”

“When you first joined the League of Legends, what was the first thing you did after your acceptance?” He asked, causing a confused look to appear on Fiora’s face.

“The League Judgment. What does that have to do with anything?”

“What did you see?”

“I saw…” She began before pausing, lowering her eyes as she hesitated to answer the question. “I saw myself at my mother’s deathbed.”

“And how did that make you feel?” Leon asked, causing Fiora to turn her gaze towards him.

“How do you think it made me feel?” She snapped as she narrowed her eyes in anger. “It made me feel helpless, unable to do anything to protect her. Then, when the Summoner finally showed himself, it made me feel angry that it was all a game to him to ‘expose my mind’.”

“Do you know the reason why the League Judgment is an absolute requirement to be a part of the League of Legends?”

“I always assumed it was to ensure that you had no ulterior motives for joining.”

“That’s part of it, but there is more.” He corrected. “The other purpose of exposing your mind to the Summoner who will be sponsoring you in the Arenas is so they know how to channel their spells through you in the Arena.”

“What?”

“A Summoner is adept at the use of magic to the point of being able to draw out magic of different natures. To successfully channel their spells through a champion in the Arena, they must understand what drives a champion, and thus what type of magic is compatible with them. A Summoner can’t channel magic full of malice, for example, through someone like Luxanna because their natures are incompatible.” He explained as Fiora stood quietly.

“That’s interesting and all, but is that suppose to help me in any way?”

“You hide your true self, not only from others, but from yourself. Yesterday, I think for once, you finally broke through the fašade you’ve put up all these years and you were truthful to yourself about who you were. Think back to it, and tell yourself what is it that you really desire more than pride?”

Fiora stood motionless for a moment, staring at the man in front of him. Any other person who said such things to her would have been cut down by now, yet she found herself seriously considering his words. She thought back to her moment of vulnerability and helplessness from yesterday before finally understanding what he meant.

“More than pride, I wanted to protect those close to me. I wanted to never experience that feeling of helplessness again, and wanted the ability to protect them.”

“Then that is the true motivation for everything in your life, even if you were never consciously aware of it.” Leon said with a smile before swinging out his right hand, sending the sphere of energy in his hand to launch into the distance.

A loud explosion filled the room as the attack collided with the opposite wall of the subterranean chamber, causing the duelist to flinch momentarily. Leon then proceeded to pick the empty runestones from the table that were in front of the duelist.

“I want you to try casting an attack spell of any kind, only this time you won’t seal it into stones, but rather will direct it towards that point where my last attack hit.”

“What? It takes me 10 minutes to be able to seal even a simple spell into a rune, how am I supposed to do what you’re suggesting?” Fiora objected, crossing her arms under her chest.

“Because I believe that you have the potential to do it. Channel your magic, only this time, don’t use magic for the purpose of boosting your ego, but rather use it to protect someone close to you.” Leon explained in a calm voice, a slight smile of confidence on his face.

Fiora felt uneasy at the suggestion, as it made her feel like a toddler being told to run a marathon when she could barely walk. After a moment of hesitation, however, she obliged as she knew that she didn’t have much time to waste. This time, the process of locating and drawing out her magic somehow felt more intuitive.

Leon stood still, watching as the duelist’s hands began to glow a dim orange color a minute later. A slight smirk appeared on his face as sparks began to appear followed by a flame that began to increase in intensity.

Maybe this will go faster than I expecte- He thought to himself until the flame in the palm of Fiora’s hand flew off wildly, colliding with the ceiling to create nothing more than a small puff of smoke.

Fiora’s eyes were wide open, dumbfounded at what had happened. She turned to look at the dark haired man, who scratched the back of his head and held an embarrassed smirk on his face, before she turned away and shook her head.

“This is impossible.” She said before letting out a loud sigh.

“I wouldn’t say that. You’ve already made a lot progress in terms of timing and technique. This time it also felt less forced than the previous attempt.”

“About that,” She began after a short pause. “Explain this to me. Why is it that I had to go through that whole ordeal of exposing my true self in order to use magic? Lux has been using magic since she was a child, and I doubt she had to go through this at that age.”

“That is because under normal circumstances, it is impossible for someone magically na´ve at your age to learn it.” He answered after a pause, his face transitioning from one of an embarrassed smirk to a much more serious look.

“What?! But…“ Fiora objected, turning around to reveal a look of surprise on her face.

“A person is born with the potential to learn how to use magic. Those who discover it or are trained to use it at an early age end up being able to utilize it for the rest of their lives. It is well known in psychology that after a person passes their mid teens, however, he will have established his personality and identity. From then on, those who are magically na´ve can no longer tap into the magical potential they were born with, because that established identity blocks it from happening. All the while, those who trained to use magic from a young age conforms their use of magic to their newfound identity at around the same age, associating their dominant emotions with their magic to give it their unique forms. Why do you think it is that anyone who is an expert at using blades usually never demonstrate the use of magic? They made the decision as children to excel at the use of weaponry and remained magically na´ve.”

“Leon, prior to two months ago, I had never used magic once in my life. What you’re saying can’t possibly be true.” She objected as a look of shock crossed her face.

“Fiora, yesterday you asked me why it mattered whether you learned to use magic. The answer to that is that you are a very special exception to this rule.”

***

The Farscape Plains, Valoran

Talon shifted around in his bed a few times before letting out a loud groan at the sound of a set of loud knocks on the door to his room. Sitting up, he couldn’t help but pray that this time, the people on the other side of the door will be less intrusive than the ones from earlier that morning. He stood up to find that every muscle in his body ached worse than anything he had previously experienced.

“Who is it?” He yelled out with a groggy voice, picking up a dagger from his pouch as he approached the door.

“Open up. It’s us.” A familiar low-pitched female voice answered through the door

Minutes later, Shauna Vayne and Shen watched in disgust as Talon rapidly scoffed down the food that she had brought in, small fragments of food landing on the table, floor, and himself. To them, it almost looked as though he hadn’t eaten in months.

“You are welcomed to actually keep some food in your mouth and off the ground.” Vayne finally said after she could no longer bear to sit back and watch.

“Hm?” Talon responded, looking up from his food before letting out a belch. “Sorry. Haven’t eaten anything since yesterday.”

“For someone who kills for a living, you have the living etiquette of a manchild.”

“Well excuse me, not all of us grew up all prim and proper like you.” Talon responded, shooting the night hunter an angry look before returning his attention to his meal.

“Shauna Vayne, what has happened at the Institute of War?” Shen finally asked to break the otherwise silent air, save for the continued sounds of food chewing from the assassin. “What do you know about the catastrophe that took place this morning?”

“Catastrophe?” The night hunter began with hesitation in her voice, opening her eyes again. “What transpired this morning was anything but a disaster. It was simply the execution of the exact purpose for which the Institute of War was created.”

“What?!” Talon suddenly shouted out, dropping a piece of meat that he had been holding, his hands covered in a thin layer of grease. “What the hell is that suppose to mean?”

“It means that everything that has happened since the inception of the League of Legends after the Fifth Rune War has culminated in this specific day.” Vayne continued to explain in a low serious voice. “The sole purpose for the creation of the Institute of War was to instrument a ritual involving the mass sacrifice of the blood and souls of Valoran’s greatest warriors.”


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