Alright, because I suck and I lied, here's the least I can do. The first half of Chapter 12:
Chapter 12 – Flicker, Part 2
Riven heard the sound of the crowd echoing down the hallway far before reaching the end of it. She took a deep breath, knowing she’d need to steel her nerves in order to face it. She silently wished it could be simple like before, when she didn’t need the process; When she was always ready, always focused.
They passed through the final doorway of the passage, and Riven shielded her eyes from the sudden sunshine. The open space of the coliseum greeted them, and the sight of the thousands of spectators in the stands made Riven wish she hadn’t looked.
In the middle of the raised platform, in the centre of it all, stood Lux, waving cheerily at the crowd.
Riven felt a twinge of anger run through her. How could she look so happy after what happened last night? It sickened her. Part of her wanted to walk up and confront her on the spot, despite not knowing what to say. The other part regretted the commitment she felt earlier. What was this tournament going to accomplish for her? It was pointless.
... Or was it? She shook her head, trying to figure out her own thoughts. What was her intention? What was the goal? Her eyes drifted back to the blonde, and she felt her insides twist in confusing mix of discomfort. This had become complicated.
“I like complicated.”
Riven almost smiled at the memory, but stopped herself halfway through, allowing the sadness to return. She knew she recalled the memories fondly, but refused to let it through. Happiness was something to be shunned right now. She felt she needed to be upset in order to get through this.
‘And then what? What comes after?’
Was it over between them? Riven felt a large amount of regret. It pained her to imagine it. This wasn’t her fault, yet... she didn’t want it to end this way.
The thought itself was strange. She’d parted ways with many people, many times. She’d made friends, enemies, met hundreds of others, some she never wanted to meet again. Every time, though, she’d left unphased, like they didn’t matter in the end. The only parting that came close to what she felt now was the loss of Fury Company. Even after all these years, she felt the shame, regret, and despair from that time. Despite how little emotion she felt back then, the group had had that much of an effect on her. And now, it was happening again. Only... this time she had the chance to change it.
She hesitated at the idea. She had the chance if she wanted it. This could also be an opportunity to end it and move on, as if nothing had happened. From the look of it, Lux was already doing so.
The frustration flashed through her again, her fists clenching on their own. Yes, she was just about ready to take her anger out on someone. And it had better be soon. Somehow this tournament was the right place right now.
“Alright, you two, wait here,” Sayara directed. She stepped out onto the field and walked towards the wooden platform in the middle of it. Riven stood beside Lee Sin and watched as a few others followed Sayara, carrying a variety of supplies. A large, white board was brought out and set up centre-stage. A man stood on each side, holding a long stick with a brush at the end of it. Riven curiously continued watching, wondering what would happen.
“I believe they are setting up the ‘Path to Victory,’” Lee Sin explained, as if reading her thoughts.
Riven glanced at him, “What does that mean?”
“It’s a common form of tournament here. The newcomers are generally placed against one another, and face tournament veterans afterwards in order to secure overall victory.”
“Sounds like a lot of work for newcomers,” Riven replied, unintimidated.
Lee Sin nodded, “Indeed, though I have the feeling it will be the shortened edition, considering we have only two days.”
“The veterans will face one another for their spot in the path, cutting the amount of battles in half.”
“How many in total?” Riven questioned, her mind eager to prepare itself.
“I’m not sure of the final amount. We will have to wait and see.”
Riven tapped her foot impatiently as the crew finished setting up. Sayara raised her hands in the air and the stadium responded almost immediately, quieting down to a whisper. She waved Lux away, and the Demacian bowed and left the stage, standing well out of conversational range. Taking this as a hint, Riven stayed defiantly beside Lee Sin.
“Are you alright, Riven? You’re giving off a particularly stressed aura,” Lee Sin commented.
“Don’t worry about it,” Riven replied. The last thing she wanted now was more ‘helpful’ advice. The monk didn’t press the matter.
Sayara bowed deeply, proceeding to make wide hand and arm gestures with a certain flow to them. A man copied her actions precisely on the opposite side of the stage, while another beat a methodic rhythm on a large drum.
“Is this a sort of preshow?” Riven asked, confused.
“They are explaining the rules,” Lee Sin answered.
Riven studied them, understanding what it was now. She couldn’t decipher any of it though, and wondered how anyone new to it could hope to grasp it. Nevertheless, it was mesmerizing to watch as the two danced in sync to the drumbeat. It was an art in itself.
Suddenly, the others joined in, and in a short flurry of movement, followed by a pause, a blindfolded man held up a coloured wooden block high in the air. The ones with the giant brushes jumped into action, smoothly dancing around the stage. In one swift motion, they gathered a dipping of ink and plastered a complex-looking symbol on the white board.
As soon as they finished, the sequence began again. The sound of their accentuated footsteps matched the tempo of the drum, and those were the only sounds in the stadium.
“Describe the first glyph to me,” Lee Sin requested.
Riven squinted at it, “It looks kind of like a person riding a six-legged horse.”
“To... Ri, then?”
“Mm,” Riven confirmed. So he was first, huh?
“Keep going,. I can help you understand.”
A symbol was painted in the top-right corner.
“A... bear?” Riven thought aloud, though the drawing was highly stylized. She couldn’t really tell.
Lee Sin nodded, “That would be Udyr. It’s quite fitting for him.”
Riven continued describing the symbols to the blind man, and he interpreted them with ease. Lee Sin himself was placed next, just above Tori. Followed by a person named Amo, next to Udyr, and another named Li, below them.
The next symbol looked like an eagle carrying a fish, and when Riven said so, Lee Sin visibly reacted.
“Yi? I was unaware he would be participating. This could be troublesome...”
Riven recognized the name. Master of Wuju, Yi of Ionia. He had fought in the war as well, and the reports told of his prowess of the blade, along with his penchant for working alone. She’d heard a rumour that he too was a victim of the chemical bombardments that plagued the nation. Though, it was difficult to find an Ionian who wasn’t.
“Where is he placed?” Lee Sin asked abruptly.
“His symbol is next to yours,” Riven answered, unsure of the significance.
Lee Sin smiled in a look of relief, “Well, that is a stroke of luck.”
“What do you mean?”
“It means Yi will not be participating in the tournament for very long,” He said with a dark smile, cracking his knuckles.
Riven smiled nervously. Somehow that seemed like less of a boast and more of a declaration.
“Is there a reason why you don’t want him in it?”
Lee Sin turned to face her, “For your sake, of course,” He responded.
A roar of applause erupted from the stands, disrupting Riven’s attempt to press him for more information. She glanced at the stage to see what was going on, and saw that the performers had finished.
“As I thought, a small turnout,” Lee Sin commented.
“Hold on, which one am I?” Riven asked, suddenly flustered. She didn’t understand the designs on the board.
“We’ll see in a moment,” Lee Sin answered cryptically. Riven clenched her jaw, somehow feeling like he knew more than he was letting on.
The crew carried away the supplies and board, leaving only Sayara on the platform. Once again, she raised her hands and the audience fell silent.
“It has been decided!” She yelled, her voice carrying surprisingly well despite her small appearance.
The crowd welcomed the boy loudly as he emerged from an area to Riven’s left. Her eyes followed him while he confidently strode towards the centre.
Riven’s eyes widened and her gut clenched agonizingly. “Just like that?!” She complained to Lee Sin.
He smiled and beckoned to the platform.
“I don’t even know the rules!”
“It’s simple. Win.”
She grit her teeth and steeled herself, muttering about how ridiculous this was.
As she proceeded onto the field, the crowd’s cheering was reduced to murmurs and polite applause. Riven kept her hood up, afraid to expose herself.
“Good luck!” She heard a familiar voice call.
Riven glanced at Lux, who smiled and waved excitedly back at her, bouncing on the spot.
She turned away and grimaced, a strange torrent of stress running through her. The frustration had returned instantly, and she resigned herself to it. She could use it during the fight.
Removing her shoes and climbing the steps, Riven looked across the platform at her opponent. He grinned in that cocky way she’d already grown to hate. Sayara bowed to both and stepped off the platform, leaving the two of them alone in the middle of the stadium.
Riven’s nerves caught up as she felt thousands of eyes on her. She took a deep breath and focused on her target, excitement and sharpness replacing the nervousness.
“I didn’t expect to see you here,” Tori said, just loud enough for the both of them to hear.
Riven didn’t answer.
“What do you say we raise the stakes a bit?” He asked smugly.
Riven analyzed him. What was he getting at?
He beckoned to Lux, “Winner takes the prize?”
Riven glanced over to the Demacian, wide-eyed. She smiled back, confused. She obviously couldn’t hear them.
Riven looked back to Tori, “I’m not here for her.”
He shrugged, “So you’re just gonna give her up like that? I hear a Noxian never backs away from a challenge. Maybe my dad was just making that up. Or... maybe it’s just you.”
Riven clenched her fists. ‘Don’t fall for it,’ she told herself.
“But,” He continued, “I don’t blame you, really. It isn’t much of a challenge for me. I learned the Noxian style, your style, and specifically created one to counter it.”
She tried to ignore the remark about style, but it was difficult. Memories of bashing people’s faces in over that remark only brought back the anger. Instead, she attempted to analyze the information he was revealing. She needed to keep him talking.
“So what if I accept?” She replied.
“Then whoever loses backs off.”
‘You realize you don’t have a chance in the first place, don’t you?’ Riven thought to herself, holding back a smirk. Maybe she could use this. No matter what happened, she came out ahead. Meanwhile, she was going over the best counters to Noxian fighting, figuring out what weakness Tori might hold.
Riven shook her head, “If I win, I want something else.”
Tori shifted his stature, “Like what?”
“I haven’t decided yet. But it will be reasonable.”
Tori eyed her suspiciously, “You’re a strange Noxian, aren’t you?”
Riven took a deep breath, “On the contrary, I’m not. I am everything a Noxian strives to be, and my goal is to remind them of that.”
Tori raised an eyebrow, clearly not understanding the message meant for someone else. “Whatever, I’ll go along with your deal. May the best man win.”
He bowed, presumably out of custom. Riven responded in kind, though she felt none of the respect the action was meant to convey. She’d had enough time to figure out some possible strategies, and quickly trained them to memory. Now she’d find out if they were right.
Riven allowed her mind to go quiet, quieter than the now-silent, expectant crowd or the wind that gently brushed by. This was what training was for. Not needing to think, relying on instinct. She could let her body do the work, while she kept focus on the goal.
She stepped forward and began circling Tori, studying his form and intentionally using an old stance from her military days. Tori followed suit, calmly walking around the platform. Neither of them made a sound against the wooden floor.
Riven made the first move. She rushed in and attempted a quick jab, testing his reaction speed. He smoothly sidestepped the punch and struck her in the ribs in return. It would have been more painful if Riven hadn’t tensed herself for it. She quickly backed off and scanned him again. Time for another test.
She stepped forwards again, feigning another punch, but stopping halfway. Tori had already prepared to sidestep again in the same pattern. Riven stepped back out and circled more, looking for an opening.
Tori made the first move this time, attempting to throw a high roundhouse kick. Riven’s instincts took over, and she quickly stepped into close range to reduce the effectiveness of his kick, launching a short flurry of blows to his chest, hand over hand in a wheel motion. Tori stumbled backwards, clearly surprised from the manoeuvre. The crowd seemed to enjoy it, and they cheered, bringing about a small amount of euphoria in Riven.
She took a deep breath and stared calmly at him, her arm burning slightly from the impact of the kick. She hadn’t planned on breaking out her Tilas this early into the fight, but it was just a natural reaction. Luckily, Tori didn’t seem to realize her style had changed in that moment, and returned to his normal stance, eyeing her warily. She knew she’d inflicted some damage there by how cautious her was being. Riven wanted to test something else.
She sent a quick kick to the side to see how he’d react. He caught it and swept one of his legs under hers. Riven fell hard onto the boards, and the crowd reacted again. Tori didn’t relent, still holding onto her leg, he crouched down and punched her in the gut. Riven used her natural reaction to curl up from the pain in order to bring her knee up and strike his head. While he stumbled, she scurried back onto her feet and sent another kick at him, striking him cleanly on the shoulder.
He toppled over, and Riven took the chance to regain her stamina. Her gut was twinging in pain, but the adrenaline was countering it sufficiently. Overall, the test was successful. He was reacting as expected. She had analyzed him correctly. She felt in control.
Tori scrambled to his feet, bouncing a bit to loosen his movements. He looked to be less focused now. He was thinking.
Riven didn’t waste any time. She jumped in and sent a punch directed at his neck. He grabbed her wrist and pulled the blow to his shoulder instead, angling his body to absorb the blow while bringing his other hand up to attack. But Riven caught the fist with her free palm, sending Tori a small smirk as he looked at her in surprise. With his blow stopped, she brought her palm to his chest with lightning speed, knocking the wind out of him. He released his hold on her wrist, and she was free to continue the assault on him. After another quick flurry on his chest, she grabbed his neck, manipulating it forwards to put him off balance. With a slight swipe at his feet, she sent him tumbling forward past her.
He landed hard on his stomach, and Riven gave him the chance to get up, content with showing her dominance.
“You can give up any time,” She stated.
“As if,” He grunted, getting to his feet again.
Part of Riven was glad to see him get up again. She hated to see someone give up so easily. And from her experience with Ionians, they never gave up easily.
He seemed to force himself back into a calm state, and Riven did the same. After a brief respite, he moved in again, loosely sending a punch her way.
‘A feint,’ Riven thought, watching him more closely. She waited an extra half-second before responding, and was rewarded when he shifted his stance to bring up his leg instead. She stepped in past him, rendering his kick useless, and grabbed his arm. With a quick tug, he was pulled off balance, and she pushed him down to the ground. She got her revenge with a quick jab to the gut, and backed off before he could recover.
He coughed and lay there for a moment while Riven watched him. Once again, he returned to his feet.
“You’re not using Noxian techniques,” He said, a bit of the pain escaping in his tone.
Riven smirked, “Correct.”
Tori shook his head, “That really sucks. I underestimated you.”
Riven shrugged, “You aren’t the first. Ready to give up?”
Tori’s laugh transformed into a small fit of coughing, “You kidding? I’m just getting warmed up.”
Riven couldn’t help but chuckle at the display. The kid was tough, she’d give him that. She gave her arms a quick stretch, and removed her hood. She ignored the increased murmurs from the crowd as they finally got a good look at her face. She didn’t really care if they recognized her right now. She was enjoying herself.
Tori grinned and began circling her again, apparently feeling the same despite his clear disadvantage.
Riven waited for Tori to make the first move, but he was being too cautious, and she was getting impatient. A small plan formulated in her mind. It was risky, but she could end the battle if it went right.
She relaxed and let her instincts take over. She’d need every millisecond of reaction speed, and that required not thinking. Releasing herself into the flow of the battle, she jumped in and swung hard. The next few seconds were a blur. She felt the pain of being hit in the brow, but didn’t let up. She felt her fists making contact, and they ached from the blows she gave him. Riven was knocked off balance from something, and she pulled Tori down with her, throwing him off to the side as she fell.
Immediately, Riven rolled to get back onto her feet, only to see Tori struggling to get up as well.
“Stay down,” She commanded.
“Make me,” He responded, wavering. A stream of red was trailing down his cheek in two places.
Riven grit her teeth. Her hands felt wet, and she wasn’t sure if it was his blood or her own. Her head was pounding where she’d received the blow. She’d thought for sure she would have knocked him down there, but he must have reacted better than before.
“You’re not bad, but you need to train more. You can’t beat me.” Riven said plainly.
“I’ve trained this way for an entire year. I can take you on anytime,” Tori answered angrily.
“Then prove it,” Riven coaxed. This was good.
He charged, and she studied him. She could see his movements clearly, and almost smirked at the chance she’d been given. As he swung, she reacted instantaneously, redirecting his arm beside her. With her other arm, she grabbed his wrist and pushed it out of the way, while sending her elbow into his face. Not giving him a chance to react, she brought her arm back behind his head and pushed him down into a knee to his gut. Pushing him down further, she kneed him in the head, and dragged his arm around to break his balance. He fell easily onto his back, and Riven finished off the manoeuvre with a crouching blow to his gut.
The wind was knocked out of him, hard, and he had trouble breathing for a moment. Riven felt the endorphins running through her at the success of the movement. She had beaten him completely. The crowd was cheering maddeningly.
Tori finally regained his breath, though it was very ragged. His nose was bleeding now, and Riven wondered if she’d broken it.
“Alright,” He wheezed, “You can have her.”
Riven sighed, “I told you I’m not here for her.”
He stared up past her at the sky, “Then... What do you want?”
Riven considered the question for a moment, before offering him a hand up. “Just keep training,” She said with a smile.
The crowd roared as Tori signalled his forfeit.
Far up in the stands, a woman stood alone, leaning on a railing and observing the end of the match.
The woman looked beside her, “Lee Sin. How are you?” She asked with a soft smile.
The monk smiled back, “I am well,” He replied, leaning on the railing beside her.
“She fights well,” He said simply.
“Mm,” Irelia agreed, staring down at the platform as Riven helped Tori off.
“... I heard you had some... complications in your plan.”
Irelia closed her eyes and gave a heave of a sigh, “It wasn’t my plan. It was Karma’s.”
Lee Sin hummed in response, “Are you alright?”
“I will be,” She answered, “Just... don’t touch me.”
Lee Sin chuckled softly, and said nothing.
After a few moments, it was Irelia who broke the silence.
“I didn’t mean to fall for her. It surprised me as much as it surprised her.
“The plan... The idea was simply to befriend her, to indebt her to Ionia in some way. Karma was right to think so, and it was up to me to accomplish it. But...”
Lee Sin quietly listened while Irelia carried on.
“She really caught my attention. After our first meeting, back when I was reading up on her, I was impressed by her. It felt easy to laugh or get upset at her accomplishments and failures. I guess I felt we were similar, or connected in some way. It was something special. And then... Then when I saw her again, this feeling was already there. I kept thinking ‘How can I help her?’, or ‘What would she like?’, or ‘How can I make her smile?’”
She shook her head, “She’s been through so much. I wanted to save her from it. Every source of pain. Every horrid memory. I wanted to help her heal the wounds...”
She felt a tear threaten her eye, and laughed shakily, “It seems I’m not entirely immune to emotion in this state after all. She taught me that as well...”
“I’m sorry, Irelia,” Lee Sin said solemnly.
“You have no reason to be. I’ll be fine.”
The pair stayed quiet for a longer moment.
“So what are you up to with her?” Irelia began again, “Why the sudden attention?”
Lee Sin laughed, “Let’s just say I had a convincing conversation with an old friend.”
“Cooperating with the Kinkou? Now that’s new for a Shojin monk,” Irelia joked.
“What can I say?” Lee Sin chuckled, “This is a chance to solve many problems at once.”
“Mm,” Irelia sighed, looking back to the white-haired girl down on the field, “You’re right about that. We need her on our side. She will become the bridge between our nations.”
She frowned slightly as she watched Lux pounce on Riven, and with another sigh, she began to walk away. “One day, she will rule Noxus.”
Lee Sin listened to her footsteps as she left, and her blade cleanly cutting the air as it followed. They were sad and slow-paced, yet still the same confident strides she normally made.
“Balance in all things,” He said to himself, “You really are the embodiment of it, Irelia.”
I'll be working away at the second half, and hopefully have it up for the weekend. I may or may not make some small changes to this half before then, depending on how the second half ends up. But when it's done, I'll put it all up on fanfiction.net. For now, this is a special treat for you dedicated forum-goers.
I loved it, I hope this tournament doesn't continue TOO long, but it is neat. I can't wait to hear about Lux jumping on Riven from her point of view, all the extremely mixed emotions she must be feeling. Keep it up can't wait for the rest of it and thank you so much for posting this ) (btw I read it like 20 minutes after you posted it but I fell asleep and never bother logging in to leave posts haha)
Also, nice chapter (or half a chapter) once again, I cannot wait to read more. The last full chapter and the first half of this chapter didn't have enough Lux in them so I think part 2 will feature her. Thanks for putting all this effort into writing this stuff for us <3
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