Heavy footsteps stomped on the wooden boards of the docks. The ships swayed with the tide of the sea, waiting for their crew to board them. Only one ship was leaving this dark night. The men leaving stood in a line. Their loved ones looked at them, all of them stony faced. They bowed to one another. Husband wife, son and mother, son and father, no emotion could be seen. They did not need to speak words or show their care for one another. They already knew.
That was when light footsteps could barely be heard. Towards the approaching people, a man ran. His long black hair seemed to flow like a river, tied up into a pony tail. Dressed in Ionia's national color of red, he looked about, smiling. His thin frame was deceptive, since underneath all of the armor and the clothes, corded muscles were coiled and ready to spring. He skidded to a halt in front of three people who had come to the docks.
A woman whose hair was reminiscent of the beating waves on the shore, stared at him with clear eyes. Her celestial nature, her smile, it gave her this divine aura as she raised her hands and pressed them against his cheeks. "Be careful," she said in a seemingly operatic voice.
He laughed, tapping her hand, "Me? Careful? You know I never am, Soraka."
The woman frowned, but the smile quickly returned, "You never change, not even in the face of war, do you Zelos?"
The woman next to her, clad completely in green, grunted, "It would be nothing short of a miracle if he did."
Zelos chuckled and started to obnoxiously ruffle her obsidian hair, "Hey, what can I say? It wouldn't be me!"
"This is serious. The League has refused to relay our concerns to Demacia. We need you to go as quickly as you can, we need you to be diplomatic..." Her eyes narrowed as she spoke, getting angrier by the moment, "Polite...Disciplined and most importantly...will you stop touching my hair?" She batted his hand away, glaring at him.
A man's voice spoke up, "Akali, he is just a little nervous."
"Me? Nervous? No, never," Zelos laughed, shaking his head.
The man stepped forward, stroking his thin, wispy beard. He was dressed in the green clothes of the Wuju practioners. He stared at the young man until his shoulders slumped forward in defeat, "Yeah, okay, I'm nervous. I just, y'know...I kind of hoped Irelia would come with you?"
Soraka's soothing voice spoke up, "I'm sure she will come."
"She's still angry at me, huh?"
Soraka shook her head, "No, I do not think she is. She is just worried."
Zelos laughed and rubbed the back of his head, "Yeah, just...that look, y'know?" His light tone suddenly took on a darker one, any merriment from his features disappeared, "I have to get going. Please, keep the promise."
Akali tapped her fist against her chest, and gave him a stoic nod of her head, "We shall look over her in your absence, Zelos. Have a safe and expeditious journey."
Soraka tapped his forehead, "May the stars carry our prayers to you, may the love of our country and those who love you protect you, and may your love for your country light your path, Zelos."
He nodded. He looked over at the man. He bowed towards the man, "Before I forget: Congratulations, Master Yi."
"This was expected of me, but thank you nonetheless," Yi bowed back towards Zelos. "Your father would have been proud, Zelos, if he were here."
The young man nodded, turned around, started to walk away. The crowd that had gathered parted for him. He boarded the ship, and yelled at his crew to lift anchor. He looked back at the dock, he sighed. Irelia had not come. If only-
He squinted into the darkness, barely seeing a young girl running at him. He motioned at his men, "Men, drop the anchor! Drop it!"
"Sir, we're already moving out of the dock. We can't-"
"Then be ready to throw the rope!"
Zelos leaped over the ship's edge, his loose clothing billowing about him as he flew through the air. He landed on the dock delicately, rolling to minimize the impact. He got to his feet, and ran towards the young girl who had pushed past the crowd that had gathered. He leaned down and scooped her up into his arms, "Hey, thought you were going to be late!"
"Zelos, don't go!"
He laughed, nudging his head towards the slowly moving ship, "They're going to kill me for ditching like that, but I was chosen. I'm going to be gone for a month at most, I will be back."
The emerald eyes of the young girl welled with tears, her long black hair messily fell about her kimono. She was sniffling and hiccuping, "Y-you promise? You'll come back?"
He pouted, "Irie, what's this? You're crying?"
"N-n-no I'm not! Something in my eye! I'm not a kid, I am not crying! I am stronger than that! I am not crying!"
He laughed softly, and pressed her head to his chest, "Irelia, I'm not coming back."
She paused. She hiccupped and stared at him as his voice hardened, his emerald eyes staring into hers, "Because I will never leave. You are all that I have left, Irelia. I will not leave you."
He reached into his chest piece, and took out a small wooden talisman. It had characters carved into it, they looked like they were carved by a childish hand. It read, 'いれりあ.' He dangled it in front of her, "No matter where I am, you are going to be there with me. You'll always be there with me, no matter where I go. You're all that I have left Irelia, I will not leave you. All that I am leaving is this land."
Zelos leaned over and kissed the top of her head, making her blush profusely, "I promise that I will come back to Ionia. I will come back to this land, but until I return, I need you to promise me something."
She looked up at him, an overly serious expression on her face, and she nodded furiously.
"I need you to look after Ionia in my absence. Can you do that, Irelia?"
"Yes," her voice was stern, even for a young girl.
Zelos patted her head affectionately one more time, "There, you see? We each have our responsibilities, Irelia, as children of Lito. I must go to Demacia to protect Ionia, you must stay here to protect it. Can you do that, Irelia?"
Irelia reached into her clothing, and drew out her own wooden talisman. It had expert characters carved into it, reading, 'ゼロス' . Zelos tapped it, "See? I don't break promises. I will never leave you, Irelia. Never."
She nodded. He started to stand up when she rushed over and threw her arms around his neck, hugging him. She tightened her grip and muttered aloud, "Be safe, Zelly. Please."
He laughed and returned the hug, "I will, Irie. Your big brother won't be gone for long."
They broke the embrace, and she watched Zelos run down the deck once more. The ship was a couple dozen meters out. He bellowed at the shipmates looking at him, "Rope!"
He leaped off the docks, sailing through the air. He actually managed to clear half of the distance before he started to plummet into the cold water below. Fortunately for him, the moment his foot touched the water's surface, a rope winded itself into his hand. He gripped the line, and while skidding across the water, swung over to the side of the ship. He hit the side of the hull with a dull thump, using his feet to brace himself. He looked over at the fleeting image of the dock, and saw Irelia standing in front of the entire crowd of people. She stared at him while he was being lifted by the crew back into the ship. His hand raised itself to smooth back his hair when he felt something. He plucked it out and moved it in front of him for a better view. It was a flower, an Irelia, his sister's namesake. That was why she had taken so long to get to the dock, not because she was angry at him.
Zelos smiled at the pink flower speckled in crimson spots. He placed it back in his hair, and waved farewell one last time to her before he was dragged on board the ship, the waves gently beating at the hull as it lulled them towards a faraway land.
The sword art of the Hiten style. Its lineage long, its history tragic and bloodied, it was and is considered to be the epitome of sword mastery: It can have only one successor.
Eleven years later. Present day.
Hoofs trotted down a beaten path through a clearing. Not much grew in this patch of land in Ionia, not even grass. An assembly of armed men rode side by side one another. At the front of these blue clad men was their prince: A man outfitted in the finest of gold armor, which was adorned with dragon scales, and a circlet upon his brow which denoted his royal heritage. In his right hand, he carried a long and heavy spear meant to pierce the hearts of colossal beasts while in his left he held the reins to his magnificent stallion. He had a certain air of haughtiness about him, except when he looked at his companion who casually jogged at his left flank.
A woman clad in crimson armor, her blue skin peeked out from the metal plates as she continued her jog. Her yellow eyes flicked about with every step. She was easily able to keep up with the stallion and in front of the other horses.
The prince questioned, “Do you need some rest, Shyvana?”
“No, Sire. Thank you for asking, but I am fine.”
He looked over at his right. A man wrapped in the finest of blue silks silently rode alongside the prince. The prince attempted to speak to him, “See? I told you she would be fine. You doubted her at the beginning. I hope this is a fine example of the Demacian spirit.”
He said nothing.
Shyvana emitted a low growl as the silence grew. She barked at the man, “The prince is regarding you, sir. Do not be rude.”
He still did not respond, he kept his head bowed.
The prince sighed, “What is wrong, sir?”
“I cannot hear the birds.”
“The birds…” He lifted a thin hand about him, “I cannot hear them. I cannot hear the insects chirp, I cannot hear scratching of animals, and I cannot see the trees.”
The prince nodded and looked around, “War. It is a terrible thing.”
The man pointed at the clearing about them, “Where are these woods. Where are they? What happened? Why have they not grown back yet? Where are the trees?”
Shyvana’s eyes softened. She realized why he was in such a melancholy mood. The prince sighed, “It was a strenuous war.”
“I can see that. Do they know, Prince Jarvan?”
“No,” the prince shook his head. “We thought it best to not alert them right away. We thought it best to explain to them in person."
The woman next to Jarvan snorted in response, muttering a few choice words under her breath.
The man wrapped in the blue silks quietly asked, "Is she there? Now?"
"Of course!" Jarvan replied somewhat angrily. "Do you not think I would keep my w-"
"Just making sure, your majesty. I..."
Shyvana looked over at Jarvan, "Your majesty, he is tired."
"That is true. It has been a long journey in more ways than one."
The man muttered aloud, "Not that Demacia would know, watching the war unfold before them like that. Despicable."
The woman's irises narrowed. One would swear they saw a draconic glint in her irises, “Watch your tone, sir.”
“Shyvana, no, he is right.”
“Demacia did not act. Despite what I wanted to do, despite how much of an atrocity that occurred, Demacia did not act. It was despicable, and I admit that. As I said before, sir, I am sorry. I truly hope-”
“Yeah, yeah, I know. It's just...hard to not say it, not with all this barrenness.”
Jarvan sighed and shrugged his shoulders, “I know. But there is nothing else I can say.”
“There is one thing you can say, or rather, tell me, please.”
Both Jarvan and Shyvana looked at him questionably. The man raised a thin hand at the sky before them, “We should be able to see the Placidium soon, yes?”
“Yes, we should be able to. Why?”
He pointed upwards, “Is that a new addition to its structure?”
Jarvan and Shyvana looked upwards, and saw a literal flying fortress in the sky. They could see the Placidium in the background, with this citadel hovering above it. The prince clicked his tongue, “You would think we would have seen something like that. No, it is not a part of the Placidium. In fact...Shyvana? What is that?”
"Sir? Why would I know?"
"You have come to Ionia more recently than I, perhaps..."
"No sir, that is definitely not normal."
“Not even an inkling?”
Shyvana shook her head, “No.”
“Should we be wary?”
Before anyone could respond, a deep rumbling could be heard. The horses stopped and neighed uncomfortably in place. They were agitated, and started strutting about. Jarvan, still staring at the scene before him, spoke in a hardened tone, “That answers that. We need to ride faster. Men! On the double!”
He looked over at his right, “I know you are a little rough for wear, but keep…”
Jarvan blinked. The man was gone. "Ùp..."
He looked around, and saw the shadow of the man flitting down the path before them. He sighed, "How is it that every Ionian can run faster than the greatest of steeds?"
Shyvana groaned and threw her hands up in annoyance, “Does this mean what I think it means?”
“I am sorry, Shyvana, but yes. You need to ride his horse.”
She sighed and walked over to the discarded horse. She grabbed his reins and took him off the path, “Prince, I shall catch up with you as quickly as I can.”
Jarvan nodded, kicked the sides of his stallion, and took off galloping with the rest of his men. Shyvana, however, stared at the horse. “You are not scared of me, are you?”
The horse whinnied, trying to escape the woman. She grabbed the horse's face and growled at it, “You are not scared of me. Right?”
The horse let out a timid snort, and bowed his head. She jumped on top of it, and kicked his side to start walking. The horse tepidly stepped down the path, shaking and sweating profusely all the while, which made her sigh in exasperation. This was going to be a very long ride.
Soon enough, the silk wrapped man had managed to reach the gates of the Placidium. People were rushing out in a panicked state. A ninja clad in cobalt blue clothing dashed in and out of the entire structure of the building with blinding speed. A black haired woman clad in green stood at the gates, ushering people out while a Yordle jumped from person to person, keeping them in single file.
He could see even armed soldiers being rushed out. If he looked carefully, he could see council members of the Ionian government being carried by the blue clad ninja at blinding speed. The man moved towards the gates, only to be stopped by the woman. She glared at him, “Evacuating, no entry.”
The two stared at one another. She blinked. She lowered the half mask covering her mouth and tilted her head. “You…seem familiar...”
He pushed past her. He fought against the tide of people fleeing when he heard stone snap and crack against one another. This was followed by haughty voice filling the air, “A legion couldn't stop me! What chance do you have?”
He clenched his teeth. He pushed himself further past the crowd. His eyes flicked every which way, scanning faces. He saw men and women push past him, both soldier and civilian, and even a few monks. He had fought against the tide his entire life, he wouldn’t be stopped now.
The silk wrapped man skidded at a hallway, several stories up. He could sense that the source of all this was coming from this direction. Numerous corpses that littered the hallway, all Ionian soldiers, all broken beyond comprehension. Twisted bones, weapons shattered, their faces contorted in their final moments. He remembered his father's teaching, "Air is the same as water, you simply must heed the ripples, for every ripple is the messenger of something yet to come."
A loud piercing shriek filled the air, "Aaaaah! Y-you cut my face? You dare cut my face?!"
Stone cracked, a rage filled voice echoed and roared through the bloodied corridor, "I am power without limit! You are nothing! Just die already!"
He picked up his pace, and ran down the hallway. He ignored the corpses as best as he could while he ran. He quickly saw the light that at the end of the hallway, when he heard another scream of anguish, "Why won't you die?! Why won't-"
The voice was cut short.
What was going on? He would find the answer to this the moment he stepped outside. When the man emerged to the other side, his emerald eyes went wide at the scene before him.
Her black and white dress flowed about her as she took a final count of people that had left., she rested her hand on the last man, closing his opened eyes and stilling his silent death scream. She bowed her head, and stood up. The cobalt blue ninja appeared behind her, "Every councilman has been evacuated, Karma. What will you do?"
She calmly replied, "What is needed."
A blue skinned woman, with goat legs and a large golden horn that protruded from her forehead, quickly emerged from the window. The green clad ninja from before had set her down in front of the woman with the kimono. The two women looked at one another, the goat woman spoke in a very gentle, yet operatic voice, "I have looked over those I can. We need to go. Now."
Karma nodded and reached to her sides. She withdrew two folded fans, flicked them open, and looked down the path before her. Shattered colonnades, broken bodies, bent weapons, they made a bloodied path for the two of them to walk past, and one they quietly ran down.
More corpses, more blood, more broken and twisted bodies littered the pavilion. Uprooted trees, shattered stone columns, ripped up tiles were scattered about the scene like toys. In the middle of it all, was a woman with long black hair, clad in the crimson armor of an Ionian soldier, yet the Mantle of Decorum hung behind her head. It had no way to stay in place, but there it was, as it bobbed about. He could see her collarbone cracked into an awkward position, blood flowing from her head and dripped down below onto the target she had effectively mounted and started to choke.
The woman beneath her squirmed to the best of her ability. Dark magic surged from her hands, or at least, attempted to as it fizzed. Her silver hair was speckled in her own blood, several other superficial wounds could be seen on her curvaceous body. The black and violet clothing was torn, ripped, and bloodied. But he did not see that, all he saw were the hands that were wrapped around her neck, and all he could hear was her choking, crying. This crimson clad woman that had this other woman pinned to her mercy was choking her to death. He could see an intense, burning hatred in her emerald eyes, affixed on the woman beneath her.
The woman let out a fearful gasp, and attempted to speak. Blood speckled her silver hair, her purple eyes grew wider and wider with each passing moment. "St-st-glk...!"
The hands of the crimson clad lithe woman tightened around the neck.
The dark magic completely fizzed out as the woman's arms feebly reached up and attempted to grab her attacker's arms. Her legs convulsed and her feet scraped against the ground, as if she were trying to run away. Her head tilted back as spittle flew out of her mouth. Tears flowed down the coking woman's eyes, froth could be seen.
Her sword, a strange six foot blade with a sanguine crystal that hummed with energy, was now split into two separate pairs of blades. They quickly resembled scissors, which slammed into the ground. They pinned the woman's arms to her sides, stretching her out. She tried to cry out in pain, but all she could mutter was a fearful gurgle. He instantly recognized the blade, however, as he slowly tried to comprehend the scene before him.
"Irelia...That is enough."
He looked over at the woman who had suddenly appeared. She slowly walked past him while he remained utterly dumbstruck. He recognized her voice instantly, despite her appearance. The black and white kimono was strange, so was the bundled up hair, but her voice, but he knew that it was Karma. The name she spoke, though, fell on dumb ears. He refused to believe her. It couldn't be her, could it? No, it couldn't be, that was not her. Karma seemed to realize there was another person aside from her here, looked at him and frowned ever so slightly, "Sir, you should not be here. It is a dangerous scene. Let Soraka escort you."
Karma turned her attention forward, and called out again, "Irelia, release her."
The man's blood went cold. Oh gods...it was her.
Karma spoke again, "Irelia, do not kill her. She-"
"Deserves to die."
Her convulsions as the tears from her eyes mingled with the blood that poured from her forehead. Maybe another minute, and the woman will have been strangled to death.
"Irelia, do not do this."
"Balance in all things. She killed Ionians. She dies."
A soft, gentle hand tapped the man's shoulder. It belonged to a strange, blue skinned goat woman. He looked over at her, trying to fit together the pieces of who this strange being was when she spoke to him, "Sir, you must..."
Her glowing, divine eyes went wide. A moment of silence passed while the two recognized one another. She drew back, she placed a hand to her mouth. Her body started to shake. The goat woman looked over at the scene and yelled out, "Irelia!"
Karma called out yet again, "Irelia, please, you are angry now. Do not-"
Irelia tightened her grip around the woman's neck. When she spoke, it was the coldest, the iciest, even the most venomous tone this man had ever heard in his entire lifetime, "This self deemed Sovereign, this vile, egotistical power hungry child, came here, killed my people, my friends, and she thinks she can get away with it, and why? Because apparently she's strong, because she's powerful, because she is supposed to be power without limit. Our home was destroyed because I didn't have the strength to protect it. I will fight to the bitter death before I let something like that happen to Ionia again."
Irelia jerked the woman's head back, lifted her body and readied for the final push, "Not ever again."
The man called out, worry in his tone, "Irelia...!"
*Author's Note: Edited slightly! Hopefully enough for now!*
I enjoy the story, but I do have a small constructive criticism for you. In regards to your description of Soraka, the prologue, you used "seemingly operatic voice." Alright. Then you used the exact phrase in the first chapter, then described her voiced as operatic once more, like we forgot.
I am also... curious, as to why you had to mention the "horn protruding from her forehead" twice with little time in between the phrases. Perhaps this was for wordcount's sake, but maybe consider coming back one day and tweaking it?
For the record, I do like that this involves and surrounds around Zelos. Because I like it, I want to help. Sorry (in advanced) if it rubbed you the wrong way.
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