The stranger came into the restaurant, inquiring about the Starchild again. His attire was simple, but elegant. Soraka always welcomed everyone who wished to find her, but there was something about this man that made the Starchild’s guardian pause. Occasionally when she looked over, she could swear his eyes were glowing red, but as soon as she looked again they were back to normal. It was not much more than a hunch, but it was enough to keep the Starchild’s guardian wary of the stranger.
The entire restaurant fell silent as he slammed his hands down on the counter top. “Dammit! I’ve had enough of this! My friend needs help, and the Starchild could help her. Why does she refuse?” The man’s tone started angry, but grew pleading as he went on, and the Will of the Blades was intrigued. She stood up, revealing sleek armor. It was colored red and white and had an odd attachment at the back. There was a seemingly ornamental contraption connected to her shoulder plates. Four blades hung from it, each looking sharp and deadly.
Everyone in the establishment watched the woman walk up to the stranger who had been demanding to see the Starchild. She paced her steps deliberately, attempting to get a measure of the man in case trouble broke out. “Who are you stranger? Why do you seek our healer?” She looked him directly in the eyes, unsure whether she wanted to see what she was looking for.
“I am here because my friend is close to death. I had to perform some…” He paused, clearly looking for the right words. “creative magic to heal her. Unfortunately, it was not enough to restore her completely and I’ve heard that the Starchild can bring people back from the brink of death. Please, if you can, help me.” He looked entirely sincere, and she did not sense he was lying to her, but decided to give him one last test.
“I’m afraid you cannot see her now. Come back in a few days and I’ll consider bringing you to her.” There it was. His eyes flashed red for a moment before he took a deep breath. She prepared herself for the attack, but it never came. He hung his head and said, “Then I’m afraid my friend is simply lost.” With that, he turned away and walked out of the restaurant. Irelia was surprised and quickly ran after him. She caught up to him as they stepped outside. “Who are you stranger?” She asked for the second time.
He looked surprised and turned around, “I am a humble traveler who is concerned for his friend.” The woman looked around at her homeland; she saw the beauty of the pink blossoms in the trees all around, the green grass beneath their feet. The restaurant behind them was made from the wood of trees that shed their bark every season, leaving as small of an impact on the environment as possible. Seeing her homeland reminded her that she should help all those who were in need.
“I apologize. I am Irelia, Will of the Blades. I can take your friend to see the Starchild right away. Please, tell me your name first.” She held out her hand and the man hesitated a moment before shaking it. “I am Vladimir, the Crimson Reaper. I come from Noxus, but as an outcast, not an invader.” She momentarily gripped his hand harder, but quickly released it. Being Noxian didn’t necessarily mean he was evil. “I will ask no more for now, but I am interested as to how you came to be in our lands.”
He nodded and said, “My friend is back at the inn just a mile south of here. What should I do?” Irelia regarded him and told him, “Bring your friend to the temple just north of this restaurant. There is a nexus there and I will bring Soraka to you by nightfall.” The man nodded and thanked her profusely before rushing away. Irelia was intrigued by this man. It was not often that people met a Noxian who showed compassion for others.
Irelia began to trek northwards, knowing she’d need to travel several miles north of the temple to get to the main city of Ionia. The temple she was sending Vladimir to was the Placidium, which housed the School of Transcendentalism. Soraka was on the board of regents for the school and it produced many of Ionia’s greatest thinkers and philosophers. The nexus it housed was the most powerful in the entire city state, and when used to channel Soraka’s healing arts it could perform miracles.
Irelia briefly thought back to the moment when she had been on the precipice of death and Soraka saved her using this exact Nexus. An unexpected side effect of the powerful energies had bound Irelia’s blades to her. She now controlled them as easily as if they were her own limbs. Absorbed in her memories, she paid no attention to the beautiful scenes around her. The mountains in front of her loomed high, with several cliff faces creating brilliant waterfalls. The temple itself was set in the mountain and had fascinating architecture heavily utilizing gems.
Irelia had seen all this before, and passed it by without paying much attention, skirting around the bottom of the mountain towards the city on the far side. The walk was uneventful, but for some reason she felt uneasy. As she approached the outskirts of the town the feeling deepened. She began to proceed cautiously as she walked down an alleyway. She heard voices around the corner and couldn’t make out what they said at first. She slowly came closer and heard, “-at’s too bad. I guess we’ll just have to take it by force.”
Concerned, Irelia immediately decided to take action and revealed herself. Stepping around the corner she saw two men standing over a cowering woman. Before any of the three could react, Irelia’s blades sprung to life off her shoulder plate. Hovering in front of her, the four blades created an x, connected at the middle by a red glowing circle. She sprang forward, striking the first man dead, impaling his chest with ease. The second was groping inside his jacket for something, but Irelia quickly slashed across and his head went rolling down the alley. She stooped over to examine what he had been grabbing when she heard glass breaking behind her.
She quickly looked up and saw a hooded figure run away from the window above. Irelia was about to give chase when she noticed a greenish gas rising from the broken bottle on the floor. Almost immediately, her knees felt weak. She attempted to keep herself up against the wall, but her hands would not listen to her mind’s commands. She slumped against the wall and her head hit the ground with a crack.
Feeling somewhat delirious from both the gas and the head injury, she couldn’t help but think that the hooded figure’s mouth had looked funny wrapped in rags. She wondered briefly if he had been a walking mummy before closing her eyes and surrendering to the darkness.
Here's Part 1 of Part 3 of the whole over-arcing series lol . Enjoy
His head was on a swivel, taking in all of his surroundings. He had just arrived at the base of the mountain, carrying Riven on his shoulders, her body draped around him like a shawl. It was not the most graceful way to carry her, but it was certainly the most effective. He figured she’d understand even if she woke up a little bruised. He was not wearing his Crimson Elite armor, figuring that would make him stand out in a crowd. He simply wore a red tunic with silver buckles, on top of crimson and white streaked pants. His boots crunched loudly on the ground beneath him.
It had just reached twilight, and the sun sent an orange glow cascading over the mountainside. As he trekked up the mountain towards the temple, his thoughts strayed towards his journey to this place. He had left Noxus in a hurry, and after taking Riven to his home he had hastened to Ionia. The trip proved uneventful, which Vlad had been thankful for. He’d gotten several weird looks hauling around a woman with him, but no one seemed to want to ask. He’d hitched a ride on a fishing boat and set off for the capital.
Upon arriving on the outskirts, he’d been told to ask at that restaurant about Soraka. His advances had been rebuffed for weeks before earlier today when he snapped. He was glad he did, and he was intrigued by this Irelia he had just met. He had felt her blood pulsing through her body and felt intoxicated by her vitality. There was something unusual about her, ‘Plus,’ he admitted to himself, ‘She was easy on the eyes.’
He shook off the thought and focused on the matter at hand. He saw the waterfalls off to the side and admitted that Ionia was a beautiful place. He felt peaceful here, something he’d never felt before. Reaching the temple door, Vlad stepped in and froze. There was a musty quality to the air, and it didn’t feel right. He gently lay Riven down against the side of the door and ventured forward. The room was dark and Vlad’s sense of foreboding grew.
He opened all of his senses and could find no fresh blood in this place. He continued forward cautiously, keeping an eye out for anything unusual when he stumbled slightly. Looking down, he saw the corpses of five priests, all with the same slightly consternated look on their faces. He quickly turned and began to walk back to the entrance. This did not look good for him. He grabbed Riven and quickly slung her over his shoulders again.
“Hey, you there, stop!” A voice cried out from behind him and he began to run. Bursting out the front door, he began sprinting down the mountain as fast as he could. ‘I really need to establish a blood rune network,’ he thought to himself wistfully. He could not hear any pursuers, but he didn’t stop until he reached the base of the mountain. He slowed down just enough to check over his shoulders and didn’t see anyone.
He walked briskly, heading back to the inn. Contemplating what this all meant, he knew he was in trouble. He was a Noxian in Ionia, shortly after the Noxian invasion ended. He had shown up at their most sacred temple and found bodies there. Yes, he was in trouble. Upon reaching the inn, he opened the doors and nearly dropped Riven. Sitting there at the table was Singed, the Mad Chemist of Zaun. His mouth was covered in rags, as always, and his shield was propped up against the table. Vladimir didn’t see his trademark bottle anywhere, but remained wary nonetheless.
“Ahh, Vladimir, I presume? I was hoping I might find you here. Come, sit down and have a drink with me.” Singed said in his deep, hypnotic voice. Vlad looked disgusted and said to him, “I’ll stay here, thanks.” His blood was boiling with hatred. Riven had told him during one of their nights together about this monster. He had been the one to send the chemical attack that had decimated Riven’s unit and begun her exile. Vladimir hated this man with every fiber of his being.
“I’m very sorry to hear that Vladimir.” He stood up, and calmly picked up his shield. Vlad set Riven down by the door and realized that he was making things very dangerous for her. “How about you and I take a walk then? We can discuss why you’ve been looking for me and why you’ve come here.” Singed chuckled and said, “No, I don’t believe I’ll be doing that.” He made a sudden lunge toward Riven on the ground and Vlad shouted.
Before he had time to think he was already firing a projectile of his own blood and it burned the flesh on the back of Singed’s head. The Mad Chemist let out an odd gasping sound and Vlad used a torrent of blood to draw Riven to him. As soon as he had her he flung her onto his shoulders yet again and sprinted out the door. Thinking through his options while he ran, he decided he would go back to the temple. Hopefully, if he explained himself, they’d see reason and know that Singed being here was not a good sign.
‘The Ionians are famed for their higher learning,’ He thought to himself. ‘Hopefully their compassion and intelligence lives up to its billing.’
These come out a day earlier on the website, so go there if you're itching for more xD.
He charged up the steps for the second time in the last day. As he neared the top, he saw guards posted outside this time. His shoulders had begun to ache from carrying Riven, but he didn’t feel safe leaving her anywhere. He slowed to walk and the guards called out, “You there, this area is closed. What is your business here?” Vlad hesitated for a moment, knowing his plan could backfire. After taking a deep breath he said, “I believe I have information about the temple’s attackers. Please let me in.”
The guard narrowed his eyes and his partner leaned over to say something quietly to him. Vlad felt tense, not liking their reaction. He began to back away slowly when the guard yelled “Don’t even bother. We have men stationed at the bottom. Now, our Duchess would like to see you.” Vladimir considered running for a moment, but knew he would not have the energy thanks to Riven. He walked up slowly and the guards pointed their pikes at him.
The doors opened behind them and they marched him in, always looking ready to strike. The chamber was well lit, and Vlad’s breath was taken away by its beauty. The room glittered with gems placed throughout and the sparse furniture was all a dark colored wood. Standing in the middle of the room was a severe looking woman dressed in an elegant black gown. Her headdress held her dark hair up in a bun and two unusual looking fans swayed at her side.
Vladimir walked up to her and bowed, attempting to be formal, but as soon as he took his eyes off her he was smacked by the flat side of a pike blade. He fell to his knees and dropped Riven over his head. She hit the ground with a thump and he felt a tinge of guilt, but knew there was nothing he could do about it now. He waited until he was addressed, thinking this woman looked like someone not to be trifled with.
She gazed down on him with obvious dislike, and Vladimir did not like the situation. “Who are you, and what are you doing here?” The woman’s voice was regal, but cold. Vladimir answered “I am Vladimir. I met Irelia earlier today at a restaurant south of here. She told me to meet her here so I could have my friend healed by the Starchild. When I came here earlier, I saw the bodies of several people lying in this chamber.” He stopped for a moment, knowing this would sound bad, but opted to tell the truth anyway. “I ran because I did not think it would wise of me to be found in such a spot.”
The Duchess had kept her face impassive throughout his tale, but now broke out into a harsh looking smile. Vladimir was concerned about her expression. He had heard the Ionians were enlightened and open-minded. This Ionian leader seemed cruel and calculating. “If that is true, why do you come back to us now? Have a change of heart, Noxian?” Her smile became triumphant and Vlad knew he did not have much chance.
“I came back because I found a Zaunite general back at the inn where I was staying. I wanted to come warn you. Please, you must believe me. Find Irelia and she’ll tell you!” The Duchess looked as though she had won another victory and Vlad’s heart sank further. “Irelia was found attacked and unconscious earlier this afternoon. I think it was you who attacked her.” Vlad immediately asked, “Is she alrgiht?” The Duchess did not answer and merely said, “We have no time for the trouble you bring Noxian. Your people are no longer at war with us thanks to your new leader Talon. You cretins should all follow his example.”
With that she began to walk away. On her way out she paused by the back door to relay a command to the guards. She walked out the door gracefully and Vlad knew he was in trouble. He was planning how to disable his guards when one of them suddenly pressed his pike to Riven’s throat. “You try anything buddy, and she dies. You got it?” Vlad nodded meekly, his anger rising inside of him. “Good. We’re taking you to a prison outside of town. Any trouble at all on the way and we’ve got orders to execute your friend first, then you.”
They left the temple together with Vlad leading and five guards surrounding Riven. The Duchess had clearly sensed that he was more concerned for her life than his own. They marched straight on through the night. There had been no moon that night, so the way was very dark. There wasn’t much Vlad could see beyond the trail directly in front of him, so he stayed on it. Just as the first touch of color was returning to the sky, a large building loomed before them.
Every building he had seen in Ionia so far had been very aesthetically pleasing. This building was a lump of concrete that had been built without beauty in mind. At the gate, Vlad was handed off to the new guards. He waited for them to hand over Riven, but the five guards who had traveled with him turned away and carried her with them. “Where are you going with her?” Vlad demanded with a shout. They did not respond and he was preparing to attack when he felt a pain behind his right ear. He went down and got smashed again in the head before blacking out.
He woke up inside of a dark windowless cell. There was a dim torchlight in the hallways, but it only served to give the entire room an eerie glow. Vlad looked around attempting to get his bearings, but realized he couldn’t see much. He sat up and realized he sensed another’s blood in the cell with him. “Hello? Who’s there?” Vlad called out to the darkness. A voice from the far corner replied “You have nothing to fear from me. I can tell you are a kind soul, and are here because of something you did not do.”
Vlad was leery of trusting someone in a prison cell, but assumed it could not hurt to just speak. “I am a visitor from Noxus, and during these times I’m not trusted because of it. Why are you here stranger?” The voice chuckled and said, “I am here because I spoke out against the Noxian occupation before they backed off. When it came time for me to be released, someone higher up said no and I was put back here without a trial.”
Though this didn’t sound like the Ionia he’d heard of for many years, although it did sync up with the events of the last day. “It would appear something is very rotten in Ionia,” Vlad said quietly. “Worry not,” came the voice from the shadows. “I believe that you are already forming a plan to escape. I’d like to help.” Vlad was taken aback at how sharp this fellow was. “Actually, I already have a guaranteed method of escape, though you will likely find it morbid and gruesome.”
He didn’t know why he was saying this, but for some reason, he trusted the man already. “I will need you to help me grab a guard’s attention. I need blood for this to work.” The two spoke in hushed tones, hashing out a plan for half an hour before they were satisfied. “I have abilities that they’ve likely only heard of in their nightmares,” Vlad said. “Let’s use it to our advantage.”
The man began by yelling out that his cellmate was bleeding. Vlad lay on the ground and allowed blood to seep from his pores, creating the illusion of injury. The guards came rushing down and as soon as they got there, Vlad forcefully absorbed their blood into his. They fell to the ground dead and Vlad formed blood runes on either side of the cell door. “Now, this may be a little unsettling,” He warned his new companion.
Vlad gathered the blood from the runes back into his body, knowing he’d not need them again. They ran down the hallways of the prison, with Vlad clearing the path in front of them rather easily. He had known he could do this, but didn’t want to risk it with Riven’s life in the balance. At this point, he had no control over it and gave in to his bloodlust. By the time they reached the wall of the prison, Vlad was controlling a large orb of blood that did not belong to him.
He was debating how best to handle this when his new friend stepped forward and said, “May I?” Vlad nodded and watched as the stranger threw a different ball of energy into the excess blood. It began to glow and pulse before his partner kicked the sphere into the wall in front of them. It exploded with a powerful force and a gaping hole was left in its place. Impressed, Vlad rushed through with him and they found themselves on the edge of a forest.
Charging in, Vlad took stock of his companion for the first time. He was a powerfully built man wearing nothing but the tattered remains of black pants. His hair that had grown so long it covered his eyes. A large tiger tattoo adorned each shoulder, and he ran with a grace that suggested martial arts training. They ran for a long time, changing directions randomly in the forest until they came across a clearing. The sun was burning brightly overhead, and they stopped to rest.
“So, what’s your name partner? I’m Vladimir.” The stranger smiled and said, “Pleased to meet you Vladimir. I’m Lee Sin.”
And Ahloso, I missed you! Your comments let me know someone was reading them xD.
Irelia woke up with a pounding in her head. She looked around and saw she was in a room inside of the Placidium. Soraka, the Starchild, was sitting in the far corner washing rags in a bucket. She must have heard Irelia rustling, because she looked up and smiled. “Welcome back Irelia. How are you feeling?” Irelia sat up on the edge of the bed and said, “Awful. My head is aching like none other. What happened?” Soraka looked surprised, “You mean you don’t remember?”
Irelia tried to remember what happened to her before she drifted off. She vaguely remembered being in alleyway, although she couldn’t figure out why. There had been men there, and a flash of bandages. “Soraka!” She exclaimed quickly. “I think Singed is here in Ionia!” Soraka’s eyes began searching hers, attempting to find the truth. “That is interesting you should say that. Another man claiming to know you said the same thing. He said that he had seen Singed at roughly the same time as your attack, but several miles south.”
Irelia was surprised and said, “Vladimir?” Soraka’s face gave nothing away but she said, “So you do know him?” “Yes,” said Irelia, “We met at the restaurant just south of here because he was looking for you. He said he needed you to heal his friend, that conventional medicine would not work.” Soraka looked grave and said, “So you trust this man?” Irelia considered her words before replying, “Yes. I don’t know why, but there’s something about him that seems very sincere.”
Soraka breathed heavily and filled Irelia in on what had happened since she’d been attacked. Irelia grew angry when she heard of the Duchess’s treatment of Vladimir. “What is wrong with her lately? Karma was quite a benevolent ruler at first, but she’s practically turned us into a military state in recent weeks.” She thought about it, “How long have I been out?” Soraka laughed and said, “Three days. You had me worried there for a bit, but I know how much it takes to get you. As long as I’m around you’re not going down without a fight.”
Irelia smiled but thought of the implications. It was clear something was happening in Ionia. Soraka interrupted her musings, “When you’re ready the Duchess would like to see you. Well, she’d like to see you the second you woke up, but I figured you’d like a minute.” Irelia laughed softly and was glad she had a friend like Soraka. “I’ll see her now. Is she in the inner sanctum?” Soraka nodded and Irelia left the room.
Irelia traveled through the temple at a quick pace, wishing to get her meeting with the Duchess out of the way. She had felt uneasy around the leader lately and didn’t want to be alone with her. She reached the double doors that led into the inner sanctum and took a deep breath, preparing herself for the confrontation.
She walked in and saw Karma in front of the Nexus. This was the most powerful Nexus in all of Ionia, and was the reason the Placidium was located here. It channeled magical energy whenever it was cast and made it stronger. Karma turned around and said, “Irelia, so glad you’re ok. Tell me what happened.” Irelia gave her a shortened version of events but when she got to the part about Singed, Karma scoffed. “Oh yes, that man tried to say the same thing. That is unimportant right now. There have been disturbances to the north lately. I need you to go and take charge of the area; find out what’s happening.”
She paused for a moment before saying, “Irelia, I’m sending you because you are one of our finest warriors, do not make me regret this. You will find Master Yi in command and you are to follow his orders. If things seem out of place, I want you to take control.” Irelia was aghast, but as she was about to speak Karma said, “I have no time for this, you leave at once.”
Irelia, feeling uneasy, bowed to the Duchess and left the room. She had a terrible feeling about the direction Ionia was headed, and couldn’t do anything to stop it. ‘At least,’ she thought, ‘I’ll get some action shortly.’
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