So, I felt sick this morning and couldn't do voices. So, you might be thinking, "Ryugi, what did you do today?"
I wrote. About half of what I think will be part 2 of Chapter 3 has been written. So, rejoice! If things go well, I may get it out this week after all. =D
Chapter 3 - “Beginnings” [Part 2]
Riven walked along the hallways of the Institute, shattered blade at her back, summoner to her left side. Kaz was talking about some strange thing, but Riven’s mind was focused on anything but what the young summoner was saying. Others eyed them as the pair walked through the various hallways and living quarters on their way to a small place within the Institute that Kaz had assured Riven was “most excellent.” The summoner was speaking dramatically with his hands as he went on and on and chuckling as he spoke. How did he stride so calmly through the masses of raised eyebrows and sideways glances? For Riven, it felt like the eyes were boring into her, and it made her feel increasingly uneasy. She clenched her hands tighter into fists as she strode along the hallway with Kaz.
What was she even doing here? She had other things to do, a mission to accomplish, and goals to reach. Yet, here she was, wandering the halls of the Institute and no closer to her aspirations. Even now, she could feel guilt creeping up her spine. The voices of the slain, the owners of the blood on her hands, were calling to her, asking her for their retribution. No matter how far removed she became from Ionia, from the fields, from that day, it all continued to haunt her. When she was awake, she could feel them watching her and judging her every action. What had she done for them today? Why was she wasting time with her life when she had pledged to right the wrongs made against all of them? Why was she heading to dinner with some random summoner when she could be training, getting stronger, and working toward re-forging Noxus? It was compounded by the looks from those around her. They seemed to judge her as well, weighing her actions and her as a person. It was too much. Riven closed her eyes and stopped walking.
“—to which I said-- Miss Riven?” Kaz turned to face Riven as she halted, tilting his head to the side in curiosity. “Is something wrong?”
“I’m sorry, Kaz... I just don’t think I should be doing this. I… I think I should go…” Riven turned after a brief nod. “Thank you for inviting me.”
“Might I ask why, Miss Riven?” Riven froze, her hands clenching and unclenching imperceptibly. “If you must leave, I understand, but I am curious as to why.”
“It isn’t that I must, but…”
“But what, Miss Riven?” Riven bristled slightly at the comment, but it wasn’t just that. It was his tone. It was so soft and calm, and so knowing.
“Stop that…” Her voice wavered slightly as she spoke.
“Stop what, Miss Riven?” In a flash, Riven turned, glancing side to side before marching forward, grabbing Kaz by the hood of his robes, and dragging him off the main hallway and into a secluded corridor. With a thud, Kaz was pressed against the wall in front of Riven, his eyes meeting hers. Her eyes showed anger, but something else, Kaz realized.
“You know….exactly what I mean…” Her grip was tight and unwavering, even though her voice wavered even more. “It’s not fair, dammit… It’s not fair…”
“What isn’t fair, Miss Riven?” Kaz winced, as he was pressed harder into the wall.
“You! You know what’s wrong, don’t you? You saw into my head and now you think you know me! Stop pushing me! Stop trying to help me!!” Silence passed between the two for a moment before a quiet reply came forth.
“No…” Riven glanced to Kaz as he spoke, her eyes darting back and forth between his as he continued. “I won’t stop trying to help you, Miss Riven…” His voice was calm, even as his feet barely touched the ground below him. “I won’t stop, because…you refuse to help yourself.”
“I don’t need help! Why can’t you see that?! I am a soldier, I’m trained to handle myself in any situation, I’m stronger than this.”
“If you are so strong, Miss Riven, then why, every single time that I look at you, do I feel a cry for help?” Kaz sighed. “You’re right. I’ve seen into your mind. I know your burdens, but what’s more, Miss Riven, is that I’ve seen into your heart. I know how much you suffer because I’ve felt it.” Riven’s eyes grew angrier, and her face looked hurt.
“You call yourself my friend…and then you insult me…” Riven’s fist closed down tighter on Kaz’s robe. “You told me yourself you admired my strength, and now you call me weak…”
“Having feelings and a conscience does not make you weak!” Kaz’s voice exploded with such force that Riven was taken aback. “Feeling alone and vulnerable does not make you weak! Throwing away chances at your own happiness for the sake of others does not make you weak, but it does make you foolish…” Riven looked to Kaz as he finished. “Foolish…and human, Miss Riven.”
“You can’t possibly understand…what I’ve been though, Summoner.” Riven’s reply was weaker this time, her eyes breaking from Kaz’s for the first time since the discussion had started.
“I don’t have to, Miss Riven. I know what you’ve done, I know how it haunts you, and I also know it is consuming your life. You want to leave because you can’t handle social situations. You want to leave because you feel like the ghosts are breathing down your neck, and you feel you cannot live for yourself without feeling the guilt of abandoning them and the promise you made to them.”
“My life is forfeit, Summoner... I love Noxus, and I want to recast my homeland into something I can be proud to call home.” Riven’s grip released and Kaz touched ground again, and set to rearranging his robes as Riven continued. “Every day I do not act upon that, I can feel the promise I made to those souls that day echoing in my head. I stole their lives from them, Summoner… Noxus stole their lives from them… The woman I was back then died too, and I was born in her place.”
“Riven…” She looked up to the summoner as he placed a hand on her shoulder. That was the first time he’d ever called her only by her name. “Those who are dead are dead… If they were to come back, they would simply get in the way of the living.”
“But...” Kaz shook his head and Riven stopped.
“You can’t fight for them if you allow yourself to fall apart. Every pillar needs a base on which to stand. Do not forget them, or your actions that day. Remember your promise, and allow it to guide your actions, but do not allow it to consume your life.” The summoner looked into Riven’s eyes as he spoke. “Sometimes, you just have to live for yourself, and take whatever that path brings your way.”
“Kaz…” Kaz’s hand squeezed Riven’s shoulder in reassurance.
“I wasn’t lying to you when I told you I’d felt your strength. You’re so amazingly strong. I honestly believe you have the power to change this world, Riven.” A hint of a smile crossed his face. “I’m just a summoner. I’m not a League Champion. I cannot change the world, or really fight for anything for myself, but you, Riven… You’re stronger than that, and you can do so much more. Out of all the champions I have summoned, you were the only one in which I truly felt that strength.” He sighed. “That’s why I went through such lengths to meet you. I want to be a part of that, and if being a part of that means being here as a constant reminder of your own strength, then I am more than happy to oblige.”
Riven felt the tiniest hint of a blush cross her features as Kaz complimented her. It was an odd sensation, and one that she simply was not accustomed to experiencing. She reached out and placed her left hand on Kaz’s shoulder, mirroring the summoner as she spoke. “Thank you, Kaz…” Riven then looked away, a little sheepish and ashamed. “I’m sorry I snapped at you…” To her surprise, Kaz laughed.
“Don’t worry about it, Miss Riven.” Riven huffed.
“What?” Kaz looked confused.
“If you are to really be my friend in this, I think I would like it better if you called me by my name without the honorific.” She grinned faintly. “I’ve never been much of a ‘Miss’ anyway.” Kaz smiled and removed his hand from Riven’s shoulder.
“As you wish, Riven.” He paused for a moment before he started once more, changing subjects. “So, now that we’ve had our discussion, do you still wish to get something to eat?” Riven looked contemplative as she, too, removed her hand from Kaz’s shoulder.
“I suppose so…but, I still don’t like all the people…” She fidgeted. “I’m simply not used to physical contact or intense social situations. They make me…uneasy.” Kaz chuckled.
“Oddly enough, I understand.” He motioned toward the main hallway and the two started walking once more. “I was always the shy type growing up, but eventually, I got tired of worrying what other people thought about me. If they were going to curse me, then I figured that they should curse me for who I really was.” He smiled. “So, I completely stopped caring. I mean, obviously I’m still shy in more personal situations, but that’s normal. As far as public, though, I don’t mind either way.”
Riven nodded and continued walking with the summoner at her side. “Perhaps I should attempt to do that as well…”
“It certainly couldn’t hurt.”
“Thith ith delithuth!” Steam rose from Riven’s bowl of soup as she slurped the noodles into her mouth, using a pair of chopsticks. Kaz simply sat across from her, dumbfounded. For someone claiming to be so shy of social interaction, the presence of food before her seemed to turn Riven into the least self-conscious person he had ever seen. That, and she seemed to have a tremendous appetite. Two bowls sat to the side of the small table, each one stacked atop the other, emptied of their contents. Riven was currently finishing up her third bowl while Kaz had barely made an impact on his own food. This, of course, was due to the fact that Kaz had a terrible time using chopsticks. Riven finished another bite and sighed, wiping her mouth with a napkin. “I must admit that you were right about this place, Kaz. It really is ‘most excellent.’” Kaz smiled awkwardly as he tried, and failed to gather a piece of meat from his soup.
“It stands to reason that the League, being a melting pot of Runeterra’s cultures, would have a wide mix of cuisine. I find that this little place has some of the best Ionian dishes, and I’ve always liked ramen noodles.” He frowned as a bite of noodles slipped off of his chopsticks. “Assuming I can eat them before they get cold…” He tried again with more success as he looked across the table to Riven who had stopped eating. “Riven?”
“Oh, it’s nothing…” She sighed. “It’s just, the last time I ate food like this it was with the men and women from Fury Company. They were like a family to me, and the day before we marched into that valley we were sitting around the campfire, eating some local food and sharing stories about past fights and conflicts.” Riven stared into the swirling broth of her bowl as if its surface held some sort of meaning. “I never really got overly close to any of them, such was the Noxian way, but they were my comrades, my brothers in arms, and they always had my back…” Riven lowered her head and her shoulders slumped slightly as she continued. “I guess I just wish I had been better at having theirs…”
“I think you should be more wary of your own back, Exile.”
In an instant Riven was on her feet, her chair knocked backward and on its side, her blade drawn. A slow, deep laugh came from the man who now stood with a single boot atop the chair, the large blade attached to his right arm glinting in the low light of the restaurant. “Talon, the Blade’s Shadow…”
“You’ve grown soft, Exile. I could have killed you at least twice in the time it took you to react to my presence, and that is not counting the time before I announced myself.” Talon’s unhidden mouth slanted into a grin and he balanced a blade on his fingertip. “Luckily for you, I’m not here to end your life.”
“Then why, Assassin, are you here?” Talon’s eyebrow raised as Kaz now stood, his face twisted in irritation.
“Hold your tongue, boy. My orders do not include leaving you unharmed. It would be a shame if something were to happen to you.” Kaz stiffened at Talon’s threat and grew more irritated.
“Enough.” Riven sneered and pointed accusingly at Talon, her blade still ready to strike upon a moment’s notice. “What are you doing here?”
“It seems Lady Du Couteau wishes for me to discuss a few matters with you. Of course, after seeing what I’ve seen, I honestly don’t believe you to be worth her, my, or even Noxus’, time. You’re completely pathetic. Obviously, you defeating the Might of Demacia was some kind of fluke.”
“If you doubt my skill so much, Talon, why don’t you test your blade against mine?” Kaz’s eyes widened and he stepped forward.
“I accept.” Talon huffed an amused laugh as the balanced blade was flicked into the air and captured in Talon’s grip. “For the honor of Noxus, I’ll put you in your place, girl. You will not best me in combat.” Talon turned his gaze to Kaz, who looked a little pale and still quite irritated. “You, boy, use your magic and teleport us to a fitting location for a duel. I care not where, so long as it is outside the jurisdiction of the League.”
Kaz looked to Riven and their eyes met. Riven nodded and Kaz sighed in acceptance. This was what she wanted. He bowed his head and the familiar orange runes surrounded the three of them.
In a flash, the trio arrived in a new location, gathering themselves as they looked around. Rooftops spread across their vision, and not far from their location stood a single imposing feature. It was a massive mountain that bore an uncanny resemblance to a skull. Riven realized instantly where the three of them had been teleported. They were in Noxus’ Ivory Ward. She was home. Laughter broke the silence.
“Foolish boy! I know these streets and rooftops better than any other. You should associate with more intelligent sorts, Exile. It would do you more justice, to what little you have.” Talon sneered and brandished a blade in his left hand.
“Riven…” Kaz placed a hand on her shoulder and spoke as he glanced to Talon. “Remember who you are, and what you want to be. This is where it has to happen, here in Noxus. Every ounce of power you have is your own to mold and bring forth. This isn’t a Field of Justice. Nothing is holding you back but yourself. Don’t hold back. This is your chance to show Noxus the true strength you hold close to heart. Fight with everything you have, not just for those who have passed, but for yourself, and for your own heart. You can do this, Riven. I believe in you.” Kaz spoke confidently as Riven looked to him, responding with a single nod, before the Summoner quickly backed away a few feet, leaving Riven to stand alone against Noxus’ top assassin on his home turf. She sighed and pulled herself into a battle stance, her amber eyes glinting with determination.
“You doubt my strength, Assassin? I’ll show you just how powerful I really am.” Riven’s eyes never left Talon’s as wisps of green energy started to rise from her body, her blade crackling with sparks, its former outline being traced by errant strands of emerald might. Talon scoffed.
“Light shows will not save you from my blades, Exile. In all of Noxus, there was only one that ever stood against me, and lived to tell the tale.” Several more blades appeared in Talon’s hand as he spoke, his head rising to show his eyes, hard as steel. “That man was the only man to whom I pledged my life, and was none other than General Marcus Du Couteau himself. You have no chance, Exile.”
“Then stop speaking and make good on your words!” Riven charged, green power thundering from her form as a battle cry echoed across the rooftops. Sparks flew and Talon’s eyes opened in surprise as his right hand held off Riven’s first lighting-fast strike. Her strength was enormous, greater, he realized, than even the General’s had been. He leapt backward, his parry forcing Riven’s blade into the roof below, cracks appearing in the center of the strike and spider-webbing across the surface. As her weapon indented the roof, a storm of blades flew toward Riven’s form. However, Riven cried out, a burst of green energy answering her voice as the blades were completely deflected, their wild trajectories causing them to veer off and away from their target, even on their return trip.
Talon landed some distance away on the edge of the roof, gathering his blades as they returned to him. “Well done, Exile. You’ve managed to avoid a point blank assault in plain sight.” His tone was sarcastic as he simply leaned backward, falling off of the ledge. Riven tore her blade from the roof and gave chase. However, as she made it to the ledge, she found Talon had seemingly disappeared. She cursed under her breath, but as she did, a whistling sound caught her attention, and she hurled herself off of the ledge and to the rooftop across the alley, rolling to catch her fall. Blades rained down upon her previous position, as she looked up to spy talon, airborne. “Classic misdirection! Your time away from us has made your mind weak as well!”
Talon landed in a crouch and shoved off of the ground, disappearing in an instant, before reappearing behind Riven, his blade aiming to pierce her from behind. However, the same thunderous pulse of energy erupted from Riven as he neared, the blade cutting against her side as it was redirected. Talon reeled from the unleashing power, stunned, as Riven whirled, her elbow slamming into his head and knocking him aside. He stumbled, but recovered quickly enough to meet Riven’s runeblade in a clash. She bore down on him with every ounce of her strength, and Talon was forced to his knees, his head still ringing from the impact with her elbow. Blood dripped from Riven’s side as she continued the pressure. Talon’s steely gaze met Riven’s fiery amber eyes as the two battled it out. In a flash, Talon’s left arm shot forward, stabbing a blade directly into Riven’s gut. Riven’s face contorted, but she continued to press down, even as a fresh red stain flowed across her white tunic and leather armor.
It was a perfect stalemate. If Talon tried to redirect the clash, Riven would be right on top of him, and with her superior strength, he’d have nowhere to go, especially if she used her ki to strike him again. However, he decided to cut his losses and take his chances. He shifted his position to the right and pushed off of his kneeling leg, forcing him to the side, even as Riven’s blade came down beside him, barely missing him as he tumbled, and gathered himself, throwing more blades at Riven as her torrent of energy barely missed his retreating form, several blades piercing her leather armor before they returned. Talon grinned.
“You place so much faith in each of your blows. I only need a few blades to find their way into your flesh each time. You will wear down before you can defeat me. Even now the wounds from my blades are weakening you.” A chuckle came from the assassin. “The longer this foolishness goes on, the better my odds. You can not win, Exile.”
Riven coughed and turned to face Talon. Blood dropped to the ground below, as her white tunic grew redder with spilled lifeblood. The assassin had a point. The longer the battle went on, the more his blows would weaken her. She could not win like this. That left but one option. If prolonged combat would lead to her demise, she would simply have to go all out, hold nothing back, and end this quickly. She glanced to her cracked Runeblade. Noxus was broken, and she had pledged to reforge it anew. The man before her represented the very kind of dishonor that had lead to the massacre of her fallen brothers in arms. Assassinations, hidden intentions, they were all a part of how her homeland had been twisted by the machinations of those corrupted with power. Ever since she had come to the League, she had been hiding, simply trying to find her strength to push her goals forward. However, she realized that at this very moment, her intentions had to be made clear. If her people were to curse her, let them curse her for what she truly was. As Talon watched, green energy began to pour from Riven, the runes surging with energy. Wind whipped away from her form, strong enough to cause the assassin to raise an arm to block his eyes from debris.
“For a lifetime, I fought without reason. Brave men have fallen, and evil and darkness have risen. The sins of Noxus will be cleansed, and I will reforge my homeland into a pinnacle of true strength, and honor.” Green light shot into the sky above Noxus as Riven raised her shattered blade to the heavens, the massive weapon pulsing with energy as it reformed, called forth by its wielder.
“I am Riven of Noxus, and I have awakened…”
Hm, I am actually interested in finding out more of this story. Rare to find a gem like this. <3
Hope to see more of Riven having to deal with the repercussion of her pasts, Master Yi was definitely a big one. But there are plenty of Ionians who might be bearing grudges as well...
Also love your depiction of the Noxians, I loved to hate them. Scumbags.
Thank you everyone! Means a lot to hear such kind words.
As for the Noxians, not all of them are so bad, I think. Just different-minded when it comes to how to handle things. Remember Katarina and Talon's discussion in the last part. Even within Noxus there are laws to which one must bow.
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