Note: I will update this thread with fragments of the story as I write it. It is intended to be a big undertaking, chronicling the events of Riven's life up until the circumstances that drove her to join the Institute of War after defecting from the Noxian army.
Stay tuned and check the thread out regularly for updates if you like it!
4/4/12 - Youth chapter added
4/8/12 - Appraisal chapter added
4/10/12 - Price chapter added
4/11/12 - Pain chapter added
4/23/12 - Convalescence chapter added
6/29/12 - Insight chapter added (http://na.leagueoflegends.com/board/...1974301&page=2)
"So what was it like, Mother?"
Autumn was young yet, and the leaves had only just begun to fall. A chill evening breeze arrived with the dusk, gentle enough on the senses to be soothing rather than assailing.
"Everything, you know."
A coarse chuckle wafts in the air for a brief moment, barely long enough to be heard.
"Well, you're going to have to be a little more specific than that, dear. Before the League, or after it?"
"Before, of course. You never speak about what happened in the League anyway."
"Some things are better left forgotten, my child. The Institute of War was one of those things."
A gentle sigh resounds amongst the room for a moment, accompanied by the sound of moving cloth.
Opening her eyes, she sees the pride of her life - her only daughter, with her glacial-white hair and stoic brown eyes, light features imbued with a resilience all too telling of her own - sitting at the end of her bed. A song she just can't remember the tune to drifts at the edge of her vision, shrouded by the veils of age and memory.
A requiem, almost. She chuckles to herself.
Smiling gently, she cups her daughter's cheek with her ailing hand, the stark contrast between her own sullen grey-white skin and her daughter's youthful pink dancing freely in both their minds for a moment.
"It is not a happy story, you know."
"I know, I know. You don't hear many happy stories where Noxus is involved."
"It wasn't Noxus' fault and you know that. It was the people, nothing more."
"As you say, Mother. But I'd like to know more. I'd like to know it all, you know?"
Sighing, she concedes with a smile.
"You always did have your father's infernal curiosity, after all."
Dusk releases her hold on the sun, and the world slips into the peaceful dark.
Life was rough in those days. Before the Institute and the League came about, the world was a very different place. Demacia held the world in its grip then, Noxus was just a little upstart with ambitions too big for its boots, or so they thought. That was before my time, though.
I grew up in a place we called the Reave - just one of the thousands of subterranean enclaves nestled beneath the great Overpath. I suppose in hindsight, you could call it a slum - it was a pretty horrible place to live, but it was simply the Noxian way to thrive in those circumstances.
Only the strong survive, after all.
I never knew my father, he just simply wasn't there at any point in my life. My mother never spoke a word about him. She was a tough taskmaster, but she cared for me the best she could in such a horrible place. She was still active in the military when I was born, and as soon as I turned four, she sent me off to the youth internment camps where the Noxian wards took over caring for us.
The Reave had its own internment camp, so I was never really that far from my home. That tore me up a little when I was younger - my own mother was just there, behind these steel gates, just a few minutes walk away from where I slept every night. A lot of the other kids there were the same. Most of them never worked up the resolve to push past that. They just kind of turned on each other, as if venting their own frustrations on others would solve their issues.
I was the back end of a lot of that venting. My hair made me the prime target - mostly everyone else had either black or brown hair. They used to fling insults at me - calling me a barbarian, a snowdweller, yeti handler.. All sorts of things, just because my hair was white. They would throw things at me, ambush me on the way to the latrines and push my face into the mud. I just took it as it came, I didn't know how to do anything else. I was only a kid then, so I cried a lot. I cried until I honestly thought I couldn't cry any more.
The camp had some proper housing, but most of the residents slept outside around the structures in little pits filled with nothing more than gravel and old rags. I managed to find myself a quiet niche which was nestled under one of the houses, presumably dug out by another child at some point in its history. I could pull some rubble across the entrance and just sit there, with enough light streaming in from gaps in the structure to not be in pitch blackness, but hidden enough to evade anyone that would try to hurt me while I slept.
I collected a few things in my time there, stuff I had found lying around the place. I found a little piece of this jet black metal nestled in the dirt at the edge of the Reave once, when out on physical routine. Well, when I say found, I mean that I ended up slicing my arm half open on it when one of the kids that used to torment me decided it'd be hilarious to push me into the wall as they ran past. I pulled it out of the wall and stuffed it into my pocket just on a whim, befor e the wards rushed me off to the infirmary.
I kept that shard in my hands each night. It was some solace for me, somehow. I used to clench it everynight as I went to sleep, and I would wake up holding it in the morning every time. It went with me everywhere - I kept it hidden in the small of my back when I wasn't actually holding it in my hands.
My mother came to visit me once when I was eight or so, and saw the state I was in. She just shook her head and sighed, then grabbed my head and pulled our eyes to meet.
"I didn't raise a weakling, whelp."
I remember standing there, too shaken up by everything to even move. Something just snapped in me, and I remembered the line I had been fed at the start of every day in that place.
Only the strong survive.
The very next day, I found the group of kids whom had made my life a misery for the past four years, and beat every single one of them within an inch of their lives using that little piece of metal. The camp overseer just called me in, had me place the shard in front of him and just smirked at me.
"Welcome to Noxus."
He thrust the shard back into my hands, and that night, I was given my own room inside the camp housing. It wasn't much of a room, but it was my own room.
Word of my little outburst had gotten out around the camp, and my tormentors left me alone after they returned from their healing. The lieutenants upped my physical training more and more as I grew older, until I was doing nearly five routines for every one that the others would do themselves.
Years passed, and before I knew it, I was sixteen, ready for full admission into the Noxian army. The same overseer from all those years ago was still in charge, and even after all those years, he still wore the same unadulterated smirk on his face. He signed my admission papers, then waved me off.
I walked into the Reave proper for the first time in ten years, and the first place I went to visit was my old home.
Nothing was left when I arrived. My mother had left on her tour of duty several years prior and had simply told me. My old home was a mess - the spider life that thrived within the Reave had made use of my house in good measure while it was empty. Cobwebs everywhere, what little furniture we did have was in tatters and at the very least, in the beginning stages of serious decay.
I don't know what part of me thought that she'd be there. I don't think I'll ever forget that day - I was wearing my first ensign uniform, all freshly pressed and in perfect condition, with my admission papers half poking out of my pocket.
It was a pipe dream, I guess. I just wanted to show my mother that she hadn't raised a weakling after all, and that I might even get a chance to serve with her in the future. I wanted to tell her about my training, my accolades, my distinctions.
But instead, I found myself tearing up, just mindlessly looking into a sundered and empty home.
I can't remember how long I lingered there for. Hours, maybe even a day or two. I eventually wandered out and headed to my first assignment, albeit considerably later than I had anticipated.
My very first combat drill, and I had arrived late.
The quartermaster was a morbid wretch of a human, so withered by the passing of time that it was impossible to discern its gender. I still think to this day, that there was some form of Zaunite chemistry which kept that thing alive to be as old as it was.
"Late for your first assignment, child?" it seethed at me as I entered the armory, a dusty old room that reeked of rusting chain-links and old leather.
"Sorry, sir. I got caught up an--"
A dart of pain shot outwards from my left ear, followed by the warm trickle of fresh blood. In the blink of an eye, the decrepit quartermaster had somehow thrown a dagger across the entire room, directly at my face.
"Tch. I'm rusty, apparently."
I stood there in dead silence, not even moving, devoid of any expression. It smirked, revealing a row of yellow-green teeth that would have made a shark feel insecure.
"At least you've got a bit of intelligence in you, even if you're too bloody dense to keep an eye on the time." it snorted, before flicking through a tome in front of it.
"Riven, I trust?"
The quartermaster practically dragged me in front of his foul visage as soon as I was close enough, and began probing my arms with his skeletal fingers. The folds where its eyes should have been shifted significantly as it reached my upper arms, before quickly throwing my arm down to the bench.
"Very unexpected. I've seen third-term soldiers with less mass on their bones than you, whelp. One of those Zaunite experiments?" it rasped, while rummaging beneath the counter.
"No sir. I was given extra training in the internment--"
With a great heave, the quartermaster produced what appeared to be the largest blade in the entire armory, hefting it with obvious effort into my waiting hands. I nearly collapsed under the weight of the blade, and came very close to losing a finger or two as well.
On the surface, it seemed to be a standard Noxian blade, just made three or four times the ordinary size. The edges radiated a sickly green light characteristic of the imbued ore from which all Noxian weaponry was forged. Looking around, there was really no difference between it and any of the other weapons aside from its immense size.
Seeing the look of bewilderment on my face, it chuckled.
"That is your weapon. You get one, and only one. If you do not fare too well with this one, then there is always work for you in the mines."
Rummaging under the bench once more, the quartermaster threw me an equally gigantic back scabbard of old, dented leather and ashen wood.
"The nick is a present. Consider yourself lucky - I was aiming for your eye. You'd lose an arm if I was the Sergeant-at-Arms. The Zaunite envoys are all too often needing subjects for their techmaturgy experiments. Losing a limb makes you a prime candidate."
I nodded and offered my thanks, hearing a derisive snort in return. Hefting the colossal blade as best I could, I sheathed it and nearly bent in two as I hoisted it onto my back.
Trudging outside, I got my first good look at my new home for the next few years.
Only a few buildings dotted the area - namely the armory, the infirmary and the mess hall. Housing was denoted as a cluster of tents around small fire pits and line upon line of latrines. I immediately assumed you slept on the ground exposed until earning the right to sleep in a tent somehow.
Soldiers walked around everywhere, all intent on some duty or another. There was little conversation, only the sibiliant ringing of moving blades and the noises of pained exertion. Even the Reave was quiet here, with little of the clanging and backing noise that seemed to permeate the air.
A formidable man dressed in full Noxian plate regalia strode towards me with a malicious look in his eyes. I stood upright in the salute I was taught, awaiting my inevitable punishment. He stopped dead in front of me, towering over me by nearly three or four heads. His dead, grey eyes pierced into mine, sending a terrible urge to flee throughout the entirety of my body.
After a few moments of this, he took a step back and raised a half-salute in the same fashion.
"Welcome, recruit. You've pased the first test. Too many of you rats just dissolve at the first sight of anything that casts a larger shadow than yourself and end up in a blubbering heap on my floor. I've sent twenty to the mines already today, and I don't have many more left to go through." He chuckled for a moment, before pausing to gaze at the massive hilt that sprung from my shoulder.
"Razul gave you one of those? High Command is letting the Zaunites use whelps as young as you now?"
"No, sir. I'm not a Zaunite experiment. I was given extra routines to do in the internment camp."
His eyebrows visibly raised, almost comically shuffling his plate helmet up slightly.
"Five, sir. More if I was instructed."
"Now, you're a special one. Can you even hold that blade? Draw it and raise, recruit."
In the smoothest motion I could muster, I hefted the great blade from its sheathe and drew it in a crescent arc in front of me, every muscle in my body screaming at the effort.
A small smirk began to crawl along his face.
"You make up for the the twenty I've lost today, and possibly even the three hundred I've gone through this week if my intuition serves me right. Sheathe your blade and follow me to the mess hall." He turned and began to walk away, before pausing for a moment.
"Don't disappoint me, recruit."
Training from then on became almost unbearable. Every day, at the break of dawn, the Sergeant-at-Arms would haul me out to the training grounds hours before the other soldiers would wake to perform extra drills in wielding my gigantic blade as if it were a pocketknife. The sergeant kept a similar weapon himself, and even had the tenacity to do demonstrations whilst wielding the blade with only a single hand. I marveled every time at how he managed to do it without snapping his meaty wrist clean in two - his own blade was twice the size of mine.
One morning, my curiosity got the better of me.
"Sir, how is it that you are physically able to hold that blade with just one hand?" I asked cautiously, in the middle of a warmup routine.
"Are you calling me weak, Riven?"
I unsheathed my blade, sending a sibilant ring out across the stirring Reave.
"Hardly, sir. I am just curious."
Drawing it around in a slow motion, I cleaved the air in front of me with a slow swing, my muscles almost audibly straining at the effort.
"And why is that?"
I drew the blade back behind me, the tip nearly touching the floor, and smoothly stepped forward to follow the sword forward in its natural momentum. The sergeant barked a surprise order to draw, and I reflexively pulled back and slashed the training dummy in front of me, severing it nearly clean in half.
Breathing softly, I re sheathed my sword.
"I would like to wield my blade the same way, if I am able, sir."
He paused for a moment, with a bemused look on his scarred face.
Planting his sword firmly in the ground by simply dropping it point-first, began to work with the metal fixtures adjoining his gauntlet to the rest of his armour. Popping off the bladed glove with a loud rattle, he smoothly removed what looked to be a large metal shackle and threw it to me.
"Wear that. Clamp it as hard as it will go down, almost until it draws blood."
As he instructed, I attached the shackle to my sword-hand and clamped it down as tight as I could bear, drawing blood slightly in the process. My wrist went almost completely rigid - the shackle in its entirety extended almost all the way up my arm, stopping just shy of the elbow.
It was a clever invention, a piece of Noxian techmaturgy made just before the Zaunites began instructing the whole affair. Extending up the half-length of the wielder's arm, it would completely immobilize the wrist and strengthen entire arm, enabling it to hold loads that would have otherwise snapped it clean in two.
It came with a price, but I didn't know that then.
I drew my blade with both hands at first, hesitant of what may happen. Every part of my brain was screaming to not even attempt such folly. I was inclined to listen, for a time.
The sergeant's face began to contort into a horrible scowl. He stamped forward, coming within inches of my face, and bellowed his order a second time in a voice that probably woke up the entire district.
I hastily re sheathed, and drew the blade with my shackled arm.
The weight of my blade pressed firmly into the shackle, and a peculiar tingle began to surge up my arm. My knuckles lost their color almost immediately, struggling to contain the immense weight pressing into them.
He stepped back for a moment, a small grin on his face.
Pulling the blade back, I followed my routine as I would have done ordinarily. It all seemed well and good, until the blade connected with the dummy.
Unused to the stress, my fingers simply snapped under the strain of the blow, leaving the sword embedded in the dummy. My hand hung limp from my shackled arm, with almost every bone in it broken up to my wrist. The shock of the weight pressing into my arm from the shackle splintered the bones in my forearm like they were twigs. Blood welled down my arm from where the shackle had pressed into my skin.
I stood there, exerting all of my willpower to not simply collapse from the pain.
The sergeant waited, and waited. Time seemed to simply stop as he just stood there, watching me tremble as I tried to keep a stony look of indifference on my face.
I refused to falter. I had asked for this, even in my ignorance, and I must bear my mistake on my own shoulders.
Over time, the grin slowly faded from his face into a staunch look of approval. Or at least contentment.
"At ease, soldier."
I raised my good hand in a salute, then promptly passed out.
I spent a long time in the infirmary. I remember the look on each of the healer's faces as they examined my arm - all too afraid to even detach the shackle on my arm, fearing the sudden loss of what little support that was left. Most sheepishly avoided any questions I asked about when I would be able to use it again, and simply kept silent, occasionally tapping the shackle or shifting my arm slightly.
The pain wasn't so bad after a while, namely because the first thing I remember anybody doing was smearing my arm in this foul smelling ointment that flickered at the corner of your eye. It removed the pain completely, but did nothing to actually heal the wound.
I noticed one wide eyed healer-apprentice staring at me with her deep brown eyes, a mixture of pity and curiousity. After all the other healers had left me--obviously deep in thought over some convoluted cure, I imagined at the time--she walked up to me and sat by my bedside where my ruined arm lay.
She was a pretty girl. I can't really say much more than that. She had a slight golden glow - something the Reave dwellers used to call a "suntouch". Many of us only got to see the occasional lick of sunlight at high noon, when the sun would be high enough in the sky to shine inside the Reave, instead of the buildings of the Overpath. It would last maybe ten or twenty minutes, depending on the weather. Most of the Reave gathered in the district square when that happened - it had the largest bit of sky in the entire area.
"M-may I inspect your arm for a moment, m-miss?" she asked hesitantly, obviously uncomfortable.
I shrugged indifferently and turned my head away as she reached out to touch my arm.
Befitting her eyes and stature, she was gentle - much, much more gentle than her superiors. I barely felt her probing fingers as they darted across my skin, still slick with the ointment. I turned to look at her, and she smiled softly at me - still slightly hesitant.
I watched as she gently pried the shackle from my skin to reveal the crusted mass of dead skin and dry blood beneath it. A long purple band extended across my arm where any part of the shackle had touched. All I felt was a sort of numb ache when she brushed past anywhere that hadn't been coated in the ointment.
After a while, I got bored of watching her fiddle with my skin and turned to look at her features more closely. Something struck me as a bit peculiar. She was unlike anyone I had ever seen in the Reave before - and that was distinctly unusual. Nobody who wasn't Noxian in some fashion came into the Reave-- why would they? There was nothing down here but the mines and makeshift housing, aside from the military encampment of course, but there was one of those in every district
"You're not Noxian, are you?" I asked.
She visibly jumped and slowly turned her eyes to meet mine.
"N-no, I'm not."
I figured as much, but then I couldn't help wondering what she was. She certainly wasn't Demacian - not a chance of that. I had heard of a people who lived in the Shurima desert, but they had supposedly died off a long time ago.
She seemed puzzled at my silence.
"You can't tell what I am?"
I shook my head.
"I was born in Ionia."
I whistled. I hadn't even considered the thought of an Ionian coming into Noxus, let alone working here.
"What brings you down here, then?" I asked, still intently studying her features.
"Training. I am an Initiate of the Body - we are trained at home before we set out on a pilgrimage, to treat as many as we can in places that will let us. Noxus usually doesn't let us practice here, but they seemed to have changed their mind as of late."
I was intrigued. Such a journey away from home, friends and family would be hard on any person. Treating the misery and suffering of others at the same time could have only made that burden so much worse.
Despite her appearance, she was probably one of the strongest people in the city at the time. Not physically, of course, but in spite of her timid nature, she almost radiated an aura of calmness and determination at the same time. It was a very peculiar mix.
I lay silent for a while as she continued to fiddle with my arm. It must have been quite a while, as I started to feel her touch more and more, along side a terrible, dull pain.
I have had many wounds in my life, but none had hurt even a fraction of what this one did.
She continued to poke and probe, and I could feel it more and more. Aside the dull throb that had encased the entirety of my arm, I could feel the slight touch of her fingernails against my skin occasionally. I began to sweat from the pain. She notices, and places a hand to my forehead. It is cool and soothing, somehow. I think to myself that I have never actually had anyone be this gentle with me before. Along side all this pain, it's enough to bring a bit of a tear to my eye. I blink it away as best I can, but she notices.
"I'm sorry. I know this must be tough for you. Let me see if I can do anything about the pain--"
"No no, please, no." I whisper ferverently. "I have to deal with this. If I let you put more of that ointment on, soon I'll want it on all the time. I'll end up like one of those soldiers you hear about that just squirm around like insects when they get injured. I can't end up like that."
She draws back a little bit from me, concern obvious in her eyes. She nods slowly, and pulls her arm away.
Silence prevails for a moment between us, as my breathing becomes more laboured from the pain.
She looks visibly troubled, rubbing her forehead with her free hand.
"I may be able to fix your arm, but at a cost."
I nearly sit bolt upright in the bed, but the pain stops me.
Before I can speak, she continues.
"Your hand is completely shattered from what I can feel, along with a good part of your arm. Some of the bone has splintered and is embedded in your muscle, which is causing you most of your pain and most of our grief. Your hand we can fix readily enough, but it is your arm I am worried about."
"If we heal your arm magically, we'll only be able to assemble the bone that isn't embedded too deeply in your muscle. Even moving those shards may cut the ligaments in your arm, and you might end up with an arm which is nothing but a hindrance to you."
"If we wait for it to heal naturally and just we just assist the process, your arm may heal properly and even be able to bear that ridiculous load which broke it in the first place. But it will be painful beyond measure, and it will take at least a month, if not more, before we can finalize the process with magical healing."
Her apparent shyness gone, all I can see on her face now is a grim look of determination.
"I cannot make the choice for you, miss."
I ponder for a moment.
"Will I be able to continue weapon drills while I wait for it to heal?"
Her eyes visibly widen, and she looks at me as if I'm mad.
"With your other hand? Yes. With that hand? No, not unless you enjoy the pain or something. I can mend your hand, so that you may grip a small weapon with it, but nothing larger than a dagger. Your arm is the main problem."
This surprises me, since I thought the intricate bones in my hands would be the hardest to fix. The art of healing never really made sense to me.
"What about the other healers?" I ask. "Do they have any ideas?"
She quietens for a moment, the sheepish look returning to her face.
"Amputation." she whispers quietly. "To the elbow. One of them mentioned referring you to a techmaturgist and applying for one of those Zaunite"-- her face visibily contorts for a moment --" machine arms instead."
My eyes narrow. I will not be some experiment, some toy for alchemists. My strength will be my own, and from my own resolve.
With tremendous effort, I lift my shattered arm into the air, shackle and all.
Her eyes widen again. "What are you doing--"
"Mend my hand, please." I say through gritted teeth.
She pauses for a moment, a wild look in her eyes. "I ah-- can't, I'm just an apprentice here.."
Pain throbs in my temples. If I keep this up, I'll pass out. My arm dangles precariously in the air.
"Your name.. What is your name?" I ask in a coarse whisper, my eyes held tightly shut with the strain.
She yelps a little bit. I can feel fresh blood running down my arm again.
"Chisu, it's Chisu!" she sounds almost frantic.
I can feel consciousness ebbing away slowly. The pain is just too much. The entire right side of my body is completely numb, and I can feel my heart pounding in my chest. But something wells up inside of me - a little green flame, I remember. I could feel its warmth somehow, and I reach out to it in my mind's eye.
My eyes flash open. I steel my body with my newfound resolve, and look Chisu in the eye.
"Please, mend my hand, Chisu. I beg you."
My arm shudders with the effort. Even speaking is difficult, despite the resolve.
What little strength I have left is fading now, I can feel it. My arm lowers, but then stops. I feel Chisu's cool hands holding it up, and I feel my arm move slightly as she fumbles with the shackle.
Her arm travels to my shoulder, weaving under my regalia shirt to directly touch my shoulderblade. She places her palm directly over it, and I feel a peculiar warmth flow throughout me.
My fingers slowly curl themselves back up, occasionally shifting rapidly as the bones bond back together and muscle entwines them. The warmth crawls all the way up to my wrist, then stops. A lot of the pain dissipates very rapidly, but my arm still aches almost unbearably.
"Thank you.." I whisper, before the flame in my mind goes out, and I fall exhausted into sleep's kind embrace.
See the beginning of page 2 for the next chapters
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