Lost in the Woods Part 2
The next few months took Garen in and out of Demacia helping Jarvan or Katarina track down information concerning truth behind the Demacian mine collapse, the poisoning of the soldier, and the mysterious black rose. Garen rarely even saw the elusive Talon, although occasionally Katarina would share information that he supplied to her about the activities of the Noxian underground.
Until now, the commander had given little thought to mystery, but he found that he was quite enjoying himself. The occasional travel provided a welcome relief from his routine duties around Demacia and The League, although he was considerably annoyed that he had begun to see his duties as routine. Everything had become muddled when she entered his life and he subsequently blamed his change in attitude on her. Inwardly, however, Garen couldn't help but embrace the sense of freedom that came with it, something he never realized he had lacked.
The time he spent with Katarina he (somewhat guiltily) considered an added bonus. Sometimes it was difficult for the commander to remember that, despite their mostly positive interactions, she was still a Noxian and only a means to an end.
Even so, Garen couldn't help but feel exhilarated by their interactions What had started as verbal battles when they couldn't fight and physical fights when they grew too agitated for words had softened into sarcastic quips and competitive sparring. He discovered that, despite what the military had indoctrinated him to believe about Noxians, Katarina held a deep sense of loyalty to her family which he was deeply surprised to see her putting before her loyalty to Noxus. When he questioned her about her motives he had not anticipated her answer.
"Wouldn't you do the same for you family?" It had caused the commander to contemplate the question in silence for a good portion of the day. His family had never been that close, his mother becoming considerably colder and expecting in years after his father's death, and although he had once had a strong relationship with his sister Luxanna, they had been able to spend little time together with their duties in the Demacian military. It didn't change the fact that he loved his sister and his mother, but all the same, would he effectively betray the creed of his country for his family? He was shaken that he wasn't sure what he would have done in her position.
I should at least make time to go see Lux, he thought guiltily. The times he was able to visit with her, she had looked so...sad.
...Damn did Katarina make him think!
Currently, Garen was preparing to leave behind his duties in Demacia and sneak away with the assassin on what they were hoping would be a fruitful investigation within the well-known Ivory Ward district of Noxus. The Ivory Ward had recently been destroyed by riots caused by the power vacuum in the Noxian High Command, and although Katarina had been anxious to visit the location on the letter left behind by her father, the climate of the district, until recently, had been too chaotic and heavily secured to allow a thorough investigation. Garen was particularly on edge; he had never been inside the city-state of Noxus and was anxious as to what they would find.
"Two things you need to know about Noxus," Katarina described while she instructed Garen on what to bring on their excursion. "First, act like you either know exactly what's going on or that you don't care what's going on. Second, no mercy, no honor. Noxians only value strength. If you look confused and act all 'high and mighty moral Demacian', you are going to find yourself dead in a gutter."
Yes, Garen was nervous. Even Katarina was feeling apprehensive. The na´ve moral compass that was Garen Crownguard was not her first choice for this endeavor But, the commander had volunteered and even insisted on accompanying her.
Odd, she thought.
It was into their second day that the pair reached Kalamanda, the halfway point between their respective city-states. They had timed it poorly as it was already dark and they readily agreed that they should camp here for the night and resume at daybreak. Winter was in its early stages and Garen felt restless as he laid next to the fire on the cold ground, attempting to sleep. His mind was preoccupied with thoughts of what had transpired here nearly six months ago. Despite his hopes for improvement, he was even more confused now than he was then.
He had grown past denying that he harbored feelings for the Noxian assassin and moved towards begrudging acceptance. In loyalty to Demacia, however, he vowed to never act on his feelings again as he had on the battlefield that day. It didn't change that he didn't know what to expect of her. Would she betray them in the end? How long was Jarvan willing to work with her? More importantly to Garen now, how would Jarvan react if he knew he was smitten with the enemy? Some paragon of ethic he was. Surely this time if found out he would be stripped of rank and responsibility as he had feared would happen before.
"Hey, are you awake?" He startled out of his reverie as Katarina'a voice floated out of the still night. "Oh um, yes, why?" She shuffled around and he could see her shadowed face peering at him across the fire. His heart thumped painfully in his chest; firelight suited her. "Because I can practically hear the rusty wheels in your head turning," came her sharp reply, to which he rolled his eyes. "Actually, I'm having trouble sleeping," she confessed. "Spar with me?" Garen propped himself up on his elbow. "You do realize it's pitch black, right?" Katarina sat up as well, flashing him a grin. "What, scared you're gonna trip and impale yourself? Trust yourself and live a little!"
Trust himself, huh? Garen grunted, but consented in the end, picking up his sword but forgoing his armor; if she could do it, so could he. The fire was barely enough light to see with and with her dark clothing Katarina almost blended perfectly into the night. "I believe I am at a serious disadvantage here," the commander grumbled. "I think you just wanted an excuse to beat me up."
Katarina laughed and disappeared from his sight and he tensed instinctively, straining for any sound of movement and was rewarded with a cold blade rested against his neck. "I promise I won't kill you, how about that?" she taunted. Garen squinted and rushed her, only to see her melt into the shadows once more. "I think you're cheating," he called out to the darkness. He heard her laughter to his right and slashed with the flat of his sword at the sound only to feel her slap him in his left side with the flat of her own blade. "When you're in the light I can see you and you can't see me. You should try playing in the dark," she offered before darting away once more.
Garen shuffled uncomfortably, heart pounding, and stepped out of the circle of light. Gods, how did she see anything in this? Cautiously, he walked through the trees, painfully aware of how loud his boots sounded on the broken twigs and dead grass. At least his eyes were beginning to adjust. Where was she hiding? He heard a soft swish and instinctively leapt backwards, tripping over a root and dropping his sword but avoiding another hit to the side.
"See how much better you're doing already?" the woman teased, rapping him on the head with the pommel of her dagger. He grumbled and pushed himself to his feet. "Try following me," she ordered. "And listen with your gut. Don't rely so much on your eyes." With that advice she took off running, forcing the Demacian commander to follow blindly behind.
After a few minutes of jogging Garen stopped and peered around, listening in vain for some sound of her presence. It felt more like training than sparring, he thought crossly, but he still took a moment to mentally applaud himself for not tripping as he ran. Tentatively, he closed his eyes. He knew she would attack if he stood for too long, if he could just figure out when she was close...
A shiver ran down his spine and he snapped his eyes open and dashed forward, hitting Katarina in the stomach with the flat of his sword. She stumbled back but smiled broadly and pushed his blade aside. "Very good!" she congratulated. Garen was about to reply when, in two swift movements, she tossed her daggers aside and closed the gap between them, entwined her fingers in his hair and forced his lips to meet hers.
He couldn't stop it; he threw aside his own sword and wrapped his arms around her waist. He did not think about Demacia, the Measured Tread, or Justice and instead focused on the feel of her soft lips, the smooth skin of her back, the pressure of her body pressed against his. Her hands slid slowly down his firm chest and his knees shook at the feeling of her fingertips on his bare skin as she shifted them under his shirt. He gripped her hips and clasped them against his own, eliciting an obscene moan from the red-head and effectively shattering all thought processes Garen had left to him.
Body burning and knees buckling, he guided her firmly to the ground until he straddled her once again, her chest arching against his own, hands curved like claws across his back. He found his lips straying to her neck, her collarbone, back to her mouth and he quaked as another soft whimper escaped her. Slowly he ghosted his calloused fingers from her hips across her stomach, stopping to rest his hands around the curve of her breasts.
She made no move to stop him as his fingers carefully explored her body, nor did she stop him as he shifted his knee and pressed it between her legs, dragging another indecent sound from the assassin's lips. At that, a thought floated through the fog of the Demacian's mind and he considered briefly, did she want...that, from him? Here?
Garen suddenly broke away from her lips and lifted his hands, a deeply apologetic look on his face in contrast to her own confused expression. His face burned in the cold air and he stammered, "I-I...er, didn't...sorry!" as he quickly leapt away from her, grabbing his sword and running into the night, leaving Katarina behind.
Katarina hovered over Garen's fitfully sleeping form, a dagger in each hand. After his abrupt departure, she had remained on the cold ground contemplating what had just transpired. As a younger girl just introduced to the arts of assassination she had been passionate and prone to mistakes, two things she had vowed to correct; she wore the scar across her eye as a testament to her decision. Over the years she had tempered her passionate nature, never letting it interfere with her duties to Noxus.
Why then, she thought as she scowled up into the dark sky, did she feel like that same little girl now after working so hard to curb her flaws? She contemplated her actions for a while but eventually rose from the ground and made her way back to the camp where the last embers of the fire illuminated Garen's body. How long had she been lying there? The Demacian was already asleep. Unsheathing her daggers, she crouched beside him and placed one of the sharp blades near his neck. She could kill him now for his blatant rejection. Did he trust her so much that he would leave himself so defenseless in the presence of a woman scorned?
A smirk twisted her face. He certainly hadn't acted like the noble, self-righteous Demacian he was on the battlefield, but he did have such a high standard of honor that it aggravated her, and this same honor was likely the driving force behind his decision to run. "Idiot," she muttered quietly as she stood and sheathed her daggers; she was even beginning to understand how he thought. The sooner she figured out the reason behind her father's disappearance, the sooner she could rid herself of this man who made her feel so weak.
There would be no more mistakes, she vowed silently. Katarina DuCouteau did not make the same mistake twice.
My only recommendation is to suggest that you make new paragraphs for new speakers. Sometimes it gets slightly confusing for a moment or so as to who is saying what, especially in this chapter's scene where three people (Jarva, Garen, and Katarina) are conversing. Other than that, I'm enjoying watching how this plays out. Sorry I don't have time for a good review. My fall break is just around the corner.
© 2013 Riot Games, Inc. All rights reserved. Riot Games, League of Legends and PvP.net are trademarks, services marks, or registered trademarks of Riot Games, Inc.