Author's Note: Thanks for the compliments. I really tried to give this a good plot that explores the lore of the LoL world. I'm hoping that it makes the game a little more interesting the next time you play it.
Chapter 16: Fangs of Darkness
On the shoulders of the First of marred soul,
Rest will the fate of humanity’s whole.
Tasked by the Goddess are the Second and Third,
For her light to be spread and her voice to be heard.
-Sermons of the Ezra Isaiah Cyrus
Piltover Auxillary Airstrip
“Hold the line! Do not let any of them get past!” A field commander wearing a red composite armor ordered as a line of soldiers stood in formation, unloading their magazines towards a seemingly endless legion of rapidly approaching Hellhounds and Void Walkers.
Tension ran high amongst the soldiers trying to maintain their composure as the shards of lead simply deflected off of the Void Walkers, a smokey armor rendering them entirely ineffective. Though the first few Hellhounds fell after a barrage of gunfire had rained on them, they had quickly adapted their moving patterns, using the fortified horns on their heads as a defensive barrier against the oncoming projectiles.
They’re coming… The fied commander thought to himself, a tightening grasped at his chest refusing to let go as a trio of snarling red canines rapidly approached the line of defense, their steps almost eerily in sync with the beating of his own heart. A series of loud pops ran through the air as sharpshooters fired from an elevated tower, successfully taking out the approaching Hellhounds with carefully focused shots.
“Keep firing! Don’t relent!” The officer shouted as the sniper shots jolted him back into reality before opening up a case to reveal a rocket propelled grenade launcher.
Holding it up into firing position, he focused its sights on an approaching Void Walker, crosshairs of its scope centered on where he could only imagine that the creature’s sternum was located. He was nervous, as this was his first time on the front lines of actual combat. He took a few deep breaths, holding it as steadily as possible despite the continued trembling of his arms over the sudden surprise attack by the Void creatures. His men were counting on him and their weapons ration was growing low, him holding one of the few explosive weapons over his shoulders that remained since the initiation of this invasion.
“Let’s see you eat this!” He muttered under his breath. “Fire in the hole!”
A loud whistling filled the air as the rocket propelled grenade launcher fired, sending the projectile towards the towering demon before connecting with its target a few heartbeats later, creating a large explosion that rang throughout the airstrip.
“Gotcha you ugly bas-“ He began to say smugly before stopping mid-sentence in shock as the smoke cleared, revealing the Void Walker unscratched from the last attack. “What the-“
His words were interrupted as the large demon changed its battle paradigm, dropping on to all four of its limbs as an orb of dark energy formed in front of its mouth. Though the officer wanted to run, the horror of his last attack having no effect on the creature rendered him paralyzed. His fragile resolve all but gone, he told himself to move but no matter how hard he tried, his body no longer willfully responded to his commands, only allowing him to watch as a pillar of black energy fired towards him. Fire engulfed him and the nearby soldiers as an explosion rang out, filling the air with screams of agony as they ran hopelessly to put out the trails of flames on their bodies.
“Fall back! Fall back!” A soldier who was second in command ordered as the riflemen quickly abandoned their posts to retreat. He looked in horror as no sooner than he had given that order, that the Hellhounds had breached the line of defense, numerous hellish canines pouncing on his fellow soldiers before sharp fangs tore through their flesh.
He stood motionless, sick to his stomach at the sight of the creatures so easily ripping into the flesh of the people he had served alongside without hesitation. The sound of a growl from behind caught the soldier’s attention, causing him to turn to see a Hellhound staring him down with glowing red eyes of malice, drool falling from its fangs as though it could almost taste the flesh about to enter its mouth. As he turned to run, the creature pounced to attack, only to be stopped in mid-air after another round of loud pops filled the air. Shifting his gaze, he saw the creature collapse on the ground before turning to acknowledge the snipers housed in the tower, stopping in horror upon witnessing the scene in front of him.
Two shadowy winged creatures flew over his head, rapidly diving at the sharpshooter tower. A deafening high pitched screech erupted from one of them, causing the snipers to cower, covering their ears in pain as their eardrums reacted violently to send them into a state of vertigo. With them disarmed, the second winged creature spread its wings wide open, revealing numerous spinous projections that penetrated the dark aura around them. Letting out a loud screech, spines erupted from their attached position, launching towards the snipers fortified in the tower. The soldier could only watch in horror as an instant later, the top of the fortified tower was reduced to rubble. As the dust began to settle, distorted shapes of crimson appeared interspersed amongst the remains of the tower. It took the soldier a moment to realize that the dark red pieces of debris were actually the remains of the snipers, their limbs shreaded and mangled by the aerial barrage.
No…no way. This can’t be happening! He thought to himself, swiftly turning around in shock at the sound of a loud growl behind him.
He watched in horror as a Hellhound had shifted to his position, poucing onto the soldier as sharp nails dug into his chest, a burning sensation digging into what seemed like the deepest recesses of his soul. As the soldier could only cry out in pain at what had to be the last few moments of his life, a high pitched whistle rang through his ears as a glowing blue arrow landed onto the large beast above him, impaling it in the chest to send it flying following the momentum of the arrow. He screamed in pain as the claws tore from his chest war, shifting his position a moment later towards his right to see the night hunter raising her sights from her crossbow.
A flash of yellow appeared in front of the soldier, dimming a moment later to reveal Ezreal a few feet away from him. Forming a bow of energy in his right hand, he proceeded to fire a barrage of arcane energy around him at nearby Hellhounds, quickly disposing of them before turning to face the soldier.
“Sergeant Zidele, hold still. Let us take care of this.” The explorer ordered the fallen soldier.
“Ezreal?” The sergeant exclaimed, blinking a few times in disbelief as though his vision was failing him.
“Don’t worry, the true heroes are here to save the day.” Ezreal answered proudly.
Vayne drew the bowstring on her Ultima Weapon back again, two blue arrows of energy forming along the shaft of the crossbow. Using swift footwork, she sprinted forward to close the gap between herself and the crouched Void Walker. The sound of her footsteps caught its attention, causing it to rear its head towards her as it prepared another Dark Ray attack.
“Time for reckoning, wretched beast!” She yelled as she pulled the trigger on her crossbow, launching the two arrows towards the large demon.
A large explosion formed as one of her arrows connected with the creature’s impending attack. The energy of her attack destabilized the sphere of dark energy that had formed at its mouth, causing a violent reaction to take place around it. A loud demonic scream of pain pierced through the smoke as the creature stumbled forward out of the plumes before falling to the ground lifelessly.
A loud snarl filled the air as a Hellhound fell just a few feet away from the night hunter. Turning her gaze, she saw Talon standing on top of the canine’s motionless carcass, his arm blade embedded deep in its back.
“Blitz!” Lux yelled from a distance as she launched a series of white orbs of energy from the tip of her Celestia.
The light magic of her Blitz spell proved to be highly effective against the creatures of the Void, as each Hellhound fell lifelessly with a pained growl as soon as the spheres connected with their target. The roar of a nearby Void Walker caught her attention, causing her to shift her body before casting a second barrage of Blitz spells, this time focused towards the shadowy demon. The creature staggered to its knees, its shadowy aura dissipating as her attacks connected, leaving the creature vulnerable to attacks.
Taking advantage of this opportunity, Shen sprinted forward as he simultaneously drew out both katanas from his back. As the creature brought down its scythe-like arms in an attempt to impale the incoming ninja, he quickly dashed past it at rapid speeds before following it up with a second dash back from behind. Though it was almost too quick for the human eye to see, Shen had delivered a series of slashes with each passing dash of the creature, evidence by the flow of thick green blood that exuded from deep wounds on its abdomen. In the same way that the attacks couldn’t be seen, it wasn’t until a few heartbeats had passed before the creature had realized its fatal wounds, letting out a pained roar moments before falling to its death.
As he prepared to dash towards a pack of Hellhounds that were in the process of hunting down the retreating soldiers, the purple haired duelist sprinted past him, her three piece thin cape fluttering in the wind with fluid motions as she moved. Drawing out her Highwind, she placed her free hand on the flat portion of the blade, sliding her fingers along its smooth surface as an aura of energy formed around it following the trail of her fingers.
“Bad idea!” She yelled out as she neared a Hellhound preparing to pounce on a nearby soldier, lunging forward as she drove her blade into the back of the red-skinned canine.
The crunching sensation of steel cutting through bone resonated through her blade as she leapt onto the beast, using the weight of her landing to force the snarling creature to the ground. The sound of their fallen ally caught the attention of the other half dozen Hellhounds, which abandoned their pursuit of the soldiers, focusing now on the bladeswoman.
“Come and get it!” Fiora yelled as she channeled a lightning spell into her free hand, bringing it down to create a series of strikes to incapacitate the two closest Hellhounds, her nose twitching as the smell of burning flesh filling the air.
Not giving them the chance to coordinate an attack with each other, she lunged towards a pair of canines to deliver a set of quick slashes to each of them. Leaning forward as she simultaneous spun herself around on her heels, she proceeded to deliver a Spiral Slash to the injured canines, sending them falling to the ground with a wet snarl of pain. Recomposing herself after her last attack, she channeled a pair of Blitz spells into the palm of her free hand, launching them to connect with and incapacitate the remaining Hellhounds.
“Hm… not even a challenge.” She said smugly before the sun above her was blotted out, a shadow cast over on the ground around where she stood.
Looking up, Fiora gasped as she saw two shadowy winged creatures diving rapidly towards her, forcing her to lunge forward onto the ground as they swooped by, their talons narrowly missing contact with her flesh. As she made her way to her feet again, one of the winged creatures circled in the air before diving a second time towards the duelist. Narrowing her eyes, she held her blade up above her forehead in preparation to strike. The sound of high pitched whistles filled the air as a set of air and fire spells intercepted the creature during its descent, causing a mid-air explosion that lit up the sky.
The duelist turned her gaze in shock to see Ashram’s arrival a few feet from her, his Blazing Edge drawn in striking position as he kept his gaze fixed on the flying creatures.
“I thought I told you to avoid getting close to creatures surrounded by that dark aura.” He scolded angrily, frustration setting in at the recklessness of the purple haired girl.
“Tch, as if I had a choice.” She snapped, annoyed at the feeling of being treated like a kid who couldn’t take care of herself. “What the hell are these things?”
“Noctochiropterix. Kassadin had described them briefly in his writings but this is my first time seeing one. Be careful…that dark aura aside, I don’t know what else these things are capable of.” Ashram answered uneasily, as he knew this was not an ideal battle for the duelist to be involved in. He knew, however, that trying to convince her to back down was futile. “Let’s finish them off quickly before we find out the hard way.”
Acknowledging him, Fiora channeled a lightning spell through her mage blade as one of the Noctochiropterix dove towards them. Swinging her blade outwards, she launched a wave of brightly glowing blue lightning towards the approaching creature, releasing a loud crashing sound as the attack contacted the creature, the force of which deflected it to the ground a few feet away. It recovered almost instantaneously, rising onto its feet before taking flight with strong flaps of its wings, causing them to shield their eyes from the oncoming gust.
As they managed to regain their vision of the area, they looked up to see the second winged creature circling above them. Widening its shadowy wingspan, it revealed numerous spikes projecting through the dark aura. With a downward swing of its wings, countless spines rained towards them, each of them resembling black metallic stakes.
Anticipating the incoming attack, Ashram swung out his free hand, channeling energy through it to form numerous blue hexagons glowing brilliantly of energy around himself and Fiora before interconnecting them into a barrier. Fiora flinched as the barrage of spines came within striking distance, raising her arm to slightly into a defensive position before stopping in shock as the blue barrier in front of her deflected the entirety of the creature’s attack.
“Adamantine Aura,” Ashram said aloud. “Every good attacker requires a good defensive skill. You still have some ways to go.”
Those words irritated the duelist, despite the ongoing battle before them. In the back of her mind, however, she knew he was right. She had come so far along in the past few days, yet her ability to defend against attacks was no better than she was before. In the state that she was in now, she could only strike down on enemies, not defend against them…not protect anyone from them. Trying to force those thoughts out of her mind for the time being, she clung to the reality of the situation, delaying the inevitable when she would have to deal with these mental demons.
“Save it for another time.” She said as she channeled magic into her free hand, forming into four Blitz spells.
Flinging her hand outwards, she launched the barrage of spells towards the Noctochiropterix as its attack ceased, colliding with it to surround it in a series of explosions. It emerged a few moments later, its aura now dispersed to reveal a brown gargoyle-like creature. Its wingspan and body continued to resemble that of a bat’s, save for a curved claw that extended upwards from the top pivot point of each of its wingspans. A pair of short horns extended from its forehead to resemble that of a demonic creature with its face held in a constant scowl. Two glowing yellow eyes stared back at the duelist, momentarily appearing almost curious before letting out a piercing shriek through its mouth held wide open.
A sudden cold sensation ran up the duelist’s spine as the shriek reached her ears, as though something inside of her that had protected her sanity broke down. Paralysis dragged all willful control of her body into an abyss that she could not reach, finding herself suddenly unable make any moves to attack.
No! Not now! If any of them decide to attack me, I’d be a sitting duck! She thought to herself in a panic as the same sensation of fear that overwhelmed her yesterday began to take a hold of her. Reality began to distort in front of her eyes, some of her senses overwhelmed as she heard every screech, snarl, and roar of the Void creatures on the battlefield as though they were right next to her while others were muffled, disappearing along with her control over her body. Move…move...MOVE! Don’t let it control you… fight it…you can overcome your fear.
“It’s vulnerable now, lets stri-“ Ashram began to say as he turned towards the duelist, stopping in mid sentence as he saw the pained look on her face.
Beads of sweat flowed along the side of her face, glistening as it reflected the early morning sunlight. It was as though she had lost all awareness of her surroundings, consumed by an invisible struggle with herself. It took a moment for him to realize that the corruption was taking over again; the extent to which it would go was uncertain.
“Fiora! Fight it, don’t give in.” He yelled out before returning his gaze towards the vulnerable Noctochiropterix. “**** it, need to end this quickly.”
Holding up his free hand, he quickly cast a Valor’s Blitz spell onto himself. No later than he had finished casting it that he leapt into the air, simultaneously channeling an Aero Devastation spell into his blade. Gliding past the winged creature, he delivered a quick slash through its abdomen to cause green colored fluid to ooze from the wound. A second shriek came from the creature, only for it to be interrupted an instant later as Ashram launched his Aero Devastation projectile downwards onto its back, the force of which shredded into its flesh while simultaneously slamming it into the ground.
As the dark haired Summoner descended towards the ground, the second Noctochiropterix intercepted him in mid air, slamming its wings into him to send him falling to the ground away from the duelist. It followed this attack up by diving towards her, stopping a few feet short to let out a second bloodcurdling shriek.
“Get away from me… Get away from me, you vile demon!” Fiora yelled out, using every last bit of her effort to lunge forward with her sword, only to be thrown backwards to the ground upon colliding with the shadowy aura.
She struggled to get up, her arms shaking as she fought against the fear inside her that seemed to grow stronger with every passing moment. She looked up as she managed to get on her feet, raising her blade slowly, but failing desperately to hold it steady. As she caught the glimpse of the flying creature’s eyes, a set of bright yellow glows piercing through the dark aura, she noticed it made no moves to attack. She swallowed hard, searching within herself for the resolve to prove that she could win this battle, only it had the opposite effect; she had no chance of winning against anything in the state she was in right now.
“**** it, without magic I can’t-“ She began to mutter to herself before stopping as a voice interrupted her.
“What the-“ She exclaimed as she glared around her wildly to find the source of that voice.
”DARKNESS IS COMING”
“Who the hell are you?” She screamed out loud at the voice that seemed to come from nowhere, yet came from all direction.
”GIVE IN TO DARKNESS”
Dropping her Highwind, Fiora raised both of her hands to her head, cupping her ears in pain to block out this intangible voice as she bent forward in desperation. An overwhelming pain surged through her chest, crushing every last bit of resolve she had left before moving outwards to her arms and finally to her hands, where it felt as though they were on fire. Opening her eyes again, she held out her hands in horror as they became surrounded by flames pitch black in color. It felt like she was being burnt to a crisp, yet the skin on her hands appeared completely unaffected.
”LET DARKNESS CONSUME YOU!”
As the mysterious voice finished those last words, the Noctochiropterix that had hovered in front of her let out another screech before slowly flying away from her, as though it no longer saw her as a threat. In reality, it wasn’t because it no longer found her hostile, but rather given the way her energy felt, it now saw her as one of them.
“You!” She exclaimed aloud, a strange echoing undertone now present in her voice. “You’re the one doing this, aren’t you?”
As she held her hands closer together, the flames converged to form a black fireball that hovered between her palms. Eyes of malice on the creature turned to one of curious confusion, as though it could not figure out why the person in front of it continued to appear hostile towards it.
“Fiora, no!” Ashram screamed out desperately as he sprinted towards her. “Don’t do it!”
His warning was to no avail, as the fear that had previously overwhelmed her became replaced by pure anger, one unlike anything she had ever felt before. She couldn’t understand why, but an overwhelming feeling of hate towards the Noctochiropterix engulfed her, taking control of every nerve in her body. The only thing she wanted was for it to die, as though its very presence disgusted her. Thrusting her palms forward, the black fireball launched from her hand, colliding with the shadowy winged creature an instant later to engulf it in a conflagration of black flames. A loud shriek of pain filled the air as the creature fluttered desperately in the air, trying to extinguish the flames to no avail.
Ashram watched in horror as the aura surrounding the winged creature dissipated, followed by what almost looked like flesh melting from its body. Though only seconds had passed, it seemed like an eternity had passed for him as he watched the creature’s essence stripped, leaving behind a bony winged skeleton that fell downwards, crumbling into a cloud of ashes as it hit the ground. Turning his gaze back to the purple haired girl, a chill ran down his spine as he caught sight of her.
Fiora clenched her hands tightly against her chest as she struggled to breathe, her jaw grinding together with her mouth opened to reveal a set of sharp fangs that produced a metallic tasting liquid as they scraped her lips. The rage that had consumed her dissipated, leaving behind a pain in her chest that had gotten even worse. Every muscle in her refused to move, making her feel as though she was peering into the world through another’s body. She felt suffocated for what seemed like an eternity before her vision began to dim. The world around her blurred as she struggled to maintain consciousness, falling to the ground with her heartbeat as the only sound to enter her ears. Though she saw herself land head first on the concrete under her feet, she felt nothing as her body hit the ground before the world around her faded to darkness.
“Wha-…” Fiora uttered weakly as a thin line of light pierced through the darkness in her field of vision, widening gradually as she began to regain consciousness.
She turned her head to her right side, opening her eyes wider to reveal a blurriness that slowly began to clear with every breath she took. The silhouette of someone adjacent to her filled her field of vision, appearing initially as only blurred patches of yellow and pink. After what seemed to be a lifetime, she finally managed to focus her vision to see the familiar silky strands of long golden blonde hair. As the duelist began to move the rest of her body, Lux quickly turned in response, her face held in a worried look before instantly brightening.
“Fiora, you’re awake! Hey everybody, she’s awake!” The blonde yelled out in a bubbly voice.
“Hey look who’s back.” Talon said as he came within her field of vision, a look of relief on his face that seemed foreign to her.
“Where am I?” Fiora asked as she began to sit up, instantly raising her right hand to her head as she felt the approach of a throbbing headache that caused her to lose her sense of balance.
“Easy there,” Ashram said as he arrived next to her, grabbing onto her shoulders to keep her from falling forward. “You’re okay, we’re safe now. We’re just waiting in the airstrip hangar for them to get an airship refueled.”
It took a few moments before the severity of the headache subsided, allowing her to regain her balance before slowly getting to her feet. She looked around to find herself in a casual looking room, the only window looking out to a large corridor housing numerous aircrafts in the distance. As she took a few steps from the couch she had risen from, she found herself cursing every time she stared directly into a bright light or heard a loud noise in the distance. Nausea rose to the back of her throat, forcing her to use all of her willpower to keep herself from vomiting the contents of her stomach in the middle of the room. She felt disgusted, as she hasn’t had the opportunity to shower and change into a fresh set of clothing in the past two days. It felt reminiscent of the days after her father had been arrested for his dishonorable deed, when she awoke on numerous occasions from a depressed drunken slumber and felt as though she had taken a sledgehammer to the head.
“All fueled up and ready to go!” A voice yelled from the door, causing her to turn to see a Piltover soldier walking in.
She instinctively flung her hand to draw out her Mageblade, only to grab at thin air as it was no longer there, to her chagrin.
“Relax!” Ezreal said as he followed the soldier into the room. “Sergeant Zidele is actually a friend of mine for years already. One could only wonder where he’d be without me.”
“Shut up, man. When will you ever let that **** go?” The soldier replied angrily, causing a smug grin to appear on the explorer’s face.
“Are you feeling okay to move?” Lux asked as she raised her eyebrows into an arch, staring back at the duelist with light blue eyes of concern.
“Yeah…I’m all right. What’s going on?” Fiora asked, shaking her head a few times in an attempt to get rid of the haze that seemed to prevent her from thinking clearly.
She proceeded to reach into her mouth with a finger, letting out a sigh of relief as she felt the absence of fangs in her mouth. While she felt comfort that she her body had returned to normal, it also annoyed her that this action didn’t go unnoticed, as it earned her an awkward glare from Lux.
“We’re putting an end to this, going in for the kill! We’ll show the Institute of War what we all are made o-” Talon said enthusiastically before being cut off by Ashram.
“Not quite, don’t get too excited.” Ashram interjected, causing the assassin to stare at him in confusion.
“Wh…what do you mean not quite?”
“The cat’s out of the bag when it comes to the Void portal. We know it’s been opened and there’s a good chance that the Relivash, Kolminye, and Mandrake have crossed through. In the way we are now, we can’t exactly pursue them. Look at what happened with Malzahar and Kassadin…they barely glimpsed into the Void and that drove them to insanity. What do you think would happen to us if we set foot into that place?”
“So why are we even here?” Vayne asked, pressing her glasses closer to the nose of her bridge with a raised finger before crossing her arms over her chest, an annoyed expression appearing on her face.
“We need to make a side trip…to Icathia.” Ashram answered, causing the room to fall silent at the mention of that place.
“Icathia? Why are we going to that hellhole?” Talon objected.
“The Seers’ Aura.” Shen said as he stood motionlessly at the opposite end of the corner. “In the Kinkou Order, a legend has been passed down for generations, of the Seers of Icathia. Some believed they could see into the future and realize the approach of destruction before it happens. Others, however, believed they could see into other realms.”
“Right,” Ashram affirmed in a tightly controlled voice, his words echoing past the open door into the open corridor of the hangar. “Even before the arrival of the Aesirs, the Seers had been able to peer into the Void. I’ve seen images of drawings on the walls of the ruins there that suggest they knew of the existence of Void creatures even back then. To do that without becoming possessed by the chaos of the Void and becoming insane, I believe that the ruined Temple of the Seers must have at one point contained an artifact or magic that protected them from the influences of the Undying World. If we are to pursue the High Councilors into the Void, we’ll need to obtain this same protection.”
“And you’re sure that this will work?” Vayne asked lamely, letting out a sigh of doubt.
“Nothing is certain, but until someone has a better idea, it’s our only option.” Ashram answered as he looked around the room for any additional objections, finding the others remain silent in contemplation. “Let’s go then.”
No one ever said that the future was going to be easy. At the time, all we could believe in was a glimmer of hope…hope that came with staying together and making the decision to keep going.
Chapter 17: Ruins of Chaos
While civilizations flourished in the North, hidden in plain sight between the ridges of the Great Barrier and the Sablestone Mountains laid the endless expanse of Valoran’s wilderness. An untamed beauty of nature, vibrant and fragile, ruled by a constant struggle where only the strong survive and the weak are preyed on…a land unmarred by the rules of humans. Civilization and mercy has no bearings in its lush jungles of beauty and deserts of unrelenting ferocity. This was the world of the Farlands. It was here that we continued to find a way to change the fate of this world…and where unspeakable dangers awaited us.
-Memoires of Luxanna Crownguard
Footsteps echoed down the corridor, armored greaves hitting against hardwood floor, as Fiora paced down the hallway of her home in Demacia. She walked past numerous rooms, aimlessly attempting to reach the end of the hallway, which seemed to stretch farther away with every step she took. Occasional cracks echoed under her feet, weathered sheets of wood giving way to the weight of her approach. She didn’t know where she was going, but somehow felt obligated to keep moving.
She shifted her gaze to look into the rooms she passed by, noticing a set of couches and wooden antique tables that peered out from underneath white linen that lined the top of each piece of furniture. After passing a few doorways, she forced herself to stop as she realized to her horror that each passing room was identical to each other.
“What’s going on?” She said aloud to herself as she changed directions to take a few steps into the nearest room.
White curtains glowed in the presence of the sunlight, which flooded into the room through a large window opposite the entrance to the hallway. Dust clung to the white linen like morning dew on spiderwebs, keeping its hold despite the incoming breeze. As she looked around and began to examine the features of the room, a red glint caught her attention, causing her to turn towards a small puddle of crimson liquid under the legs of a covered chair. She narrowed her eyes in suspicion as came within distance to see a thin stream of flowing from the seat under the white linen.
Fiora reached out and tugged lightly on the thin sheet of white cloth, coarse fabric meeting the skin of her fingertips. The sunlight coming from outside suddenly shifted to total darkness, returning a moment later as Fiora spun around to look outside. Noticing nothing out of the ordinary in the garden of her front yard, she turned her attention back to the furniture in front of her, only for the light to go out again. She looked around as panic began to grip her, drawing out her Mageblade as light began to alternate with darkness at an increasingly faster rate. The sound of liquid dripping caused her to shift her gaze towards the ground to notice the pool of blood increasing in size at an exponential rate, flowing around her greaves where she stood. Mustering up the courage to finally tug at the sheet covering the chair with stronger force, she pulled the linen off.
A chill ran up her spine as Fiora let out a loud gasp of horror, her eyes held wide as she stared at the corpse of Luxanna Crownguard, her chest mutilated by claws that couldn’t possibly have been human. Frantically taking a few steps back, she watched in horror as additional pools of blood began to flow from the other pieces of furniture, flooding the floor of the room. She moved away to avoid the crimson liquid, only for the window to break, filling the room with a loud shatter. Strong gusts entered through the window, causing the linen covering the rest of the furniture to wave wildly in the air before lifting off. Fiora let out a scream of horror as she saw the bodies of Reginald Ashram, Talon, Shauna Vayne, Shen, and Ezreal brutally dismembered, their faces held in scowls of fear as crimson liquid bled profusely from each of them to cover the floor.
She turned around frantically to run through the door into the hallway, only for it to slam shut on its own, blocking her path despite the protesting pounds of her fist against it. Taking a step back, she prepared to swing forward with her Highwind, only for a mysterious darkness to rise from the ground and engulf all four walls of the room.
”DARKNESS IS HERE” The same familiar voice of malice rang through the room, causing the duelist to look around frantically for a way out.
Fiora looked down in horror as a dark smoky pattern began to flow along the blood that had lined the floors, eventually turning it into a black oily fluid. It almost appeared sentient as the fluid gathered around the duelist’s feet, rising up slowly along her armored leggings. She tried to pull herself out of the ascending liquid, only to find that she could no longer freely move; her struggling only served to increase the speed at which the black fluid rose. She found her arms shackled as they became engulfed in the darkness, forcing her to drop her Mageblade. As the black liquid rose to her head, it began to engulf her, deafening her to her surroundings such that the only sound audible was the beating of her heart. She struggled to breathe, feeling as though she was drowning in a sea of chaos and despair.
“Someone…help…me.” She uttered out weakly.
Piltover Airship, High Altitude Flight Over The Eastern Sector of the Great Barrier
Fiora let out a loud gasp as she shot up off of a reclined seat, letting out a fit of coughing as she struggled to breathe. She held her hand up to her head in pain, as the headache she had earlier that day began to settle in again. Moving her palm onto her face, she felt it drenched in sweat, beads of clear liquid running down her face before dripping off of her chin to create dark spots on her blue shirt. Rubbing her eyes for a moment to clear her vision, she let out a groan as she stood up, slightly thankful that at least the nausea at the back of her throat had ceased.
She looked around to find herself in a Spartan looking room lined with simple walls of white with the exception of a metallic door at the opposite end. An incessant machine-like hum filled the room around her, causing her annoyance as it only served to make her headache worse. Taking a few steps back, she turned to look out the window, examining the endless sea of white fluff slowly passing underneath her on the other side of the glass. A small sink laid to her right, which she was glad to use to finally wash off the dirt from her face. An image of herself with dark circles under her eyes and messy black and purple hair stared back at her as she looked in to the mirror. It was evident that she had not slept well in days, and her most recent nightmare certainly did not help at all.
A knock on the door at the opposite end of the room caused her to jump slightly as she reached for her Mageblade that hung from a nearby rack instinctively. Her heart began to race as the memory of her last nightmare was still fresh in her mind, slowly approaching the door as she prepared to unsheathe her blade.
“Fiorie, are you okay? I heard some noises coming from here.” The muffled but familiar voice of Lux asked from the other side, its comforting tone relaxing her tense stance.
“Yeah, I’m fine.” She said simply, lying in hopes of avoiding any prying from the blonde mage.
“If you’re awake, can I come in?”
Fiora cursed under her breath. She knew that it would have been too easy for her friend to have left her alone. It was inevitable that the blonde would begin to inquire about what had happened earlier that morning, assuming that Ashram hadn’t already told her. Lux was the last person that she had wanted to talk with about her condition, as she knew that her inquisitive nature would never let her off easy. Letting out a sigh, she finally dropped her sword on the seat before opening the door, knowing that locking her friend out would only lead to more agitation.
A look of concern crossed Lux’s face the moment she saw Fiora’s appearance. She tried very hard to hide her surprise, but nothing could help her get over the change in the duelist’s demeanor, from that of a proud and elegant girl into one that looked disheveled with eyes of pain and despair.
“Fiorie,” Lux finally said as she averted her gaze, avoiding the look on the duelist’s face as though her very appearance caused her pain. “How are you feeling?”
“What do you want, Lux?” Fiora asked coldly.
Please, just leave me alone right now. She thought to herself as the blonde mage walked into the room, circling around her to look out the window. I really don’t want to talk about this right now.
“Nothing, just…” Lux began to say before stopping, taking a deep breath in order to muster up the courage to continue. “I just wanted to know what’s going on with you.”
“Nothing’s wrong, just…haven’t slept well is all.” FIora replied, noticing the unconvinced look on the blonde’s face as she turned around. Hiding her problems from others was never her forte. The moment they became suspicious, the strength behind her denials shattered like fragile sheets of glass. It was for this reason that she had kept herself physically distant from others during times like this.
“Fiorie, there is more to it than that, I know it. Ashram won’t tell me anything, but I know you’re hiding something from me.” The blonde pleaded as she walked over towards the purple haired girl, stopping next to her. “We’re going into the most dangerous mission that any of us, including myself, has ever been involved in. If you don’t want to tell me as a friend, fine, but look at this way…all of us need to be able to rely on each other. We can’t be hiding stuff from each other because it could compromise everything. I know you, and I know that something is wrong.”
“Lux…I…” Fiora muttered in a low voice as she turned to face the blonde.
“But don’t you see? Right now, hiding your problems could be putting everyone in danger. It doesn’t have to be now, but before we go any further, it would really helpful to know what’s happening with you, and how we can help.”
“Lux, I just….it’s...” Fiora said before pausing, averting her gaze from the blonde mage before spinning around to stare through the window. “It’s nothing… I’ll be fine.”
“No, you’re not. All this time you’ve been there to save me from danger on so many occasions. It doesn’t always have to be that way. I’m here to help you too.” Lux replied stubbornly before reaching out to grab the duelist’s shoulder.
As the tip of her fingers brushed over the armored shoulder, Lux felt the presence of darkness almost instantly. A vision of legions of indescribable Void creatures overrunning and consuming Valoran went through her mind in that instant, causing an indescribable terror to run down her spine. The shock of what she felt almost sent her tumbling the ground.
“What the…Fiorie, what the…” Lux asked as Fiora shifted to notice the shocked expression on the blonde mage’s face.
“Lux, what did you just do?” The duelist asked as she quickly pulled away from the blonde’s reach.
“Nothing, I just…” The lady of luminosity began before stopping, realizing that this time, she had no need to explain herself in light of her new discovery. “What has happened to you? It felt like there was…something evil inside of you.”
Lux took a few steps back away from Fiora, almost tripping over a pipe that protruded outwards from the bottom of a wall, before stopping. A part of her was afraid that the purple haired girl might lash out at her at any moment and wanted to escape as far from her as possible, but another part of her knew that was the last thing she should do. Running away would only have made matters worse, as it would have reinforced whatever it was that kept her friend distant from everyone else.
“Are you scared, Lux?” Fiora asked, closing her eyes as she lowered her head in sorrow, “I won’t blame you if you are. I won’t blame you if you run.”
Don’t be afraid of me.
“I won’t stop you even if you were to tell everyone else. Maybe it’s for the best that everyone stays away from me.”
I don’t want to be abandoned.
“Maybe you were right. I am putting everyone in danger now. Maybe I should be left behind until this is all over, for the sake of the world.”
Please…I don’t want it to end this way. Lux…help me…I don’t know what to do.
“Fiorie...I…no!” The blonde managed to stammer as she looked around hoping to find the words that seemed to evade her. “I won’t leave you behind! You’re still a good person, I felt it. I didn’t notice it until just recently when you began to use magic, but it feels like the old you from years before is still there. But along with it, there was something else there…it felt like sadness and despair. Only it was more than that…it felt dark, as though it was trying to suffocate the real you. You know what’s happening, don’t you?”
Fiora raised her head slightly to reveal streaks of tears flowing along the side of flushed cheeks. The sight of this caused the blonde’s heart to jump slightly, as it was the first time she had ever seen her this way. Even after her mother died, never once had the blonde ever witnessed her friend in tears, as she had always managed to keep up a stoic fašade. It surprised and scared her at the same time, as she had always looked up to the purple haired duelist as the strong and emotionally invincible one.
“Lux…I don’t know what to do.” She finally said in a cracked voice as she sat down onto a chair, her back flushed against the cushioned lining. “It’s destroying me, little by little and I don’t know how to stop it. If it takes over, I don’t know what will become of me, or what will happen to any of you who are around me when it happens.”
“What is taking over you? Let me help, what is happening to you?” Lux asked in a concerned voice, putting her hand on the duelist’s shoulders.
“I wasn’t strong enough…I tried to deny it…and allowed it to take control of me for years.” She began to explain, stifling her desire to let out a scream that she felt had been bottled up for years.
Fiora spent the next half an hour explaining in detail what Ashram had told her, adding details of relevant parts of her life that likely contributed to her current situation. She felt guilty for the suffered look on the blonde’s face as she listened attentively, her story clearly casing her pain with every word she spoke. She had hoped that letting out the truth would have liberated her from the despair she had dragged around for years, only to find that it was about as effective as trying to dry the sea using one towel at a time. Even as she was explaining everything to Lux, she hated herself for it. Not only did it burden her friend far more than it benefited herself, it also made her realize that underneath the proud and deadly mask that she’s always had on, she was also one of the most vulnerable people she knew.
“I’m sorry…I didn’t know.” Lux finally said, pausing after the explanation finished. “If I had known maybe I would have…”
She stopped herself there, finding no way of finishing that sentence without sounding selfish. When she took a moment to analyze the scenario, there wasn’t much she could have done to help had she been aware of what had transpired. The only thing those words would have accomplished was to make her friend feel even greater guilt than she already had. Unfortunately, the part that had managed to escape was enough to do exactly that, causing Fiora to let out a sigh as she pinched the bridge of her nose between her fingers.
“I’m sorry,” Lux uttered in an apologetic voice when the duelist remained silent after a long pause. “I didn’t mean it that way.”
“I think both of us know you did.” Fiora snapped before realizing what she was doing. “I don’t deserve to be friends with you…with any of you. All I’ve done is drag you down with me when I’m cornered, but never gave anything in return when times were better.”
“Fiorie, don’t say that! You know that’s not true. This isn’t who you really are. Don’t you remember? The days before your mother died…you were such a nice and supportive person. All of the laughs and the good times we shared growing up?” Lux said, stirring up memories that the duelist had long forgotten.
It’s been so long…why have you clung to those memories after all this time…after how badly I’ve treated you? Fiora thought to herself as she looked up at the blonde mage standing in front of her, dull cerulean eyes of despair meeting ones that looked so full of life compared to her own.
“Yes, a long time has passed, but I don’t want to lose that person. Deep down, that part of you still exists, I know it. We’ll all figure this out…together! And when we do, maybe once this is over, it can be like the old days again, to be able to see you smile and laugh again.”
“Lux…I…” Fiora began, closing her eyes as confusion began to set in.
Though she felt more insecure than ever, hearing those words seemed to give her a glimmer of hope, something she thought had been extinguished completely from her life. The road ahead of her was far more treacherous than anything she had ever faced, and the chances of them making it through were extraordinarily slim. But for the first time in the past few days, she felt a sliver of hope that maybe things could get better, that a light did exist at the end of the dark tunnel.
“All right…we’ll do it your way.” She finally said after a long pause, causing the blonde’s face to brighten up instantly.
A sharp rumble underneath their feet caused their hearts to jump slightly in surprise. Turbulence began to rock the airship as the clouds outside the window started rising, signaling their descent.
“Everyone, hang on, we’re beginning our descent. Get ready, without an airstrip, this is going to be a bumpy landing.” Ezreal’s garbled voice rang through the aircraft, projected through every loudspeaker on board.
Edgemont Runes, Icathia
Time and existence frozen in ruins, forever lost to reaches of civilized men. Marred by an overarching evil that stifles those who dare enter its borders, even the bravest of explorers shudder at the mention of its name. Icathia…an ancient civilization at the edge of a dangerous wilderness, consumed by chaos. Hope and light do not pierce the ominous shadows cast by the ever-looming clouds of evil. Though a once isolated civilization that hoped to attain power by the worship of dark deities existed, all that remains now are crumbling walls of despair, and pillars of darkness.
A dark overcast shrouded the ruined city, giving it an ominous grey overtone as they passed through countless walls of stone, round slabs interlaced upon each other in cyclopean fashion. An eerie howling sound filled the air as gusts passed through the ruins, causing them to shield their eyes as copious amounts of dust was kicked up. The howls were incessant, interrupted only by occasional rumbles in the distance, the origin of which could not be found as no signs of rain or thunder were visible.
Lux’s eyes scanned the area apprehensively as they passed through a series of stone arches to enter what must have been a courtyard at one point. To each side of them stood black obsidian pillars covered in rune symbols drawn along most of their surfaces. She stopped suddenly as one of the obelisks caught her eye, entranced by the drawings that were engraved onto its surface. She felt herself nudged forward as Vayne bumped into her, eyes also wandering to each side to investigate the ruins around her.
“Oh! Sorry!” Lux apologized before moving aside, continuing to gaze upon the details of the obelisk.
Numerous demonic faces made up the drawings on the pillar, some of which resembled creatures from the Void that they had encountered. In the midst of the sea of demonic faces stood five creatures unlike anything she had ever seen before. Small figures that she had presumed to be human worshippers surrounded the creatures, the sizes of which were far greater than that of man if the drawings had been done to scale. They appeared horrendously disfigured, causing the blonde to swallow hard as she laid eyes on the ancient civilization’s renditions of them. In the middle of the other four demonic appearing creatures stood a cloaked figure far larger than the others, its body and face shrouded save for four arms that extended from its torso, each arm wielding large scythe-like curved blades.
“What is this place?” Lux asked aloud as she turned back towards her group, quickening her pace to rejoin them.
“To most people, this place is but a rumor. To explorers, it is a curse. An ancient civilization that, according to the writings of Malzahar and Kassadin, existed around the time of Atlas. Unlike Atlas, which followed the teachings of the Goddess Terras, the civilization of Icathia worshipped deities that were almost demonic in appearance.” Ashram explained, stopping to face the rest of his party in a manner that almost resembled the guide of a group of tourist.
“How terrible! Why would anyone willingly do something like that?” Lux asked with a concerned face.
“Probably the same reason the High Councilor’s are doing what they’re doing now…the promise of power.” Vayne said, shifting her gaze slightly as Ashram nodded in acknowledgement before lowering his head slightly in shame.
“According to the writings by Kassadin that I had collected, the Icathians believed that dark magic was the route to power. Sorcery was not only practiced, but was publicly encouraged in their civilization. For them, who was likely staggered by the overwhelming might of a country like Atlas, they likely deemed anything to be acceptable if it will give them power over this world. Ultimately, they worshipped these demonic deities because they believed they could obtain a power unlike any other…the power of immortality.” Ashram continued, his last word catching Fiora by surprise.
“Immortality…why do I get the feeling that’s not a coincidence?” She asked, keeping her gaze to the ground as she used her left hand to grab hard onto her right arm in order to hide a shudder that passed through her.
This place...what is this feeling? Fiora thought to herself, holding back the urge run as fast as her legs would allow. There’s something wrong with the atmosphere here…like the air is closing around me for some reason. Every moment that I’m here, I can feel it coming on…something about this place is making the darkness inside of me grow stronger and take over what remains of my sanity at an accelerated rate.
“Right,” Ashram responded as he resumed his journey through the ruined courtyard. “It’s almost certain that they worshipped the powerful entities of the Void. In light of what Ezreal had found, however, I wonder if there’s more to it than just that.”
“You can’t possibly think that their central deity was…Genesis?” Ezreal exclaimed, realizing the Summoner’s intent immediately.
“We may never know, but one thing is for certain. If Ezreal’s findings and Kassadin’s writings are both true, then they likely worshipped the Aesirs and the Void as though they were one and the same. Using dark magic, their civilization was able to communicate with the Undying World through their Seers, powerful sorcerers of dark magic that rivaled even the Shaman Wizards of Atlas. It was said that they had possessed the ability to gaze into other worlds such as the Void, as well as see into the future, hence the origin of their title.”
“So if these sorcerers were able to see the future, how is it that their civilization got wiped out?” Talon asked from the back of the group. “After all, if they knew the future, then that means they could have avoided it right?”
“I don’t fully know the details, but it seems their very attempt to avert disaster was the same actions that caused their downfall.” Ashram answered, stopping in front of a stone building that stood almost fully preserved, tangled webs of vine running up along the edge of its walls. “The Seers saw their civilization get destroyed when an unknown war ravaged the city. So, they turned to the temptations of the Void. In hopes of obtaining immortality, they attempted, on a smaller scale, the same ritual that the Institute of War had succeeded in…spilling the blood of its own citizens in secret at three points of the city to scar the earth and open a path into the Void.”
“You think…this wasn’t the first time it’s happened?” Lux asked in horror.
“Successfully, yes, it would be the first time. According to the scrolls of Malzahar, they were only partway done with the sacrifice of blood before a mole in the Seers council leaked word of this to the public. A civil war erupted against the Seers, causing widespread destruction. In the end, both sides were completely wiped out.”
“Ironic, creating the exact future they were hoping to change.” Vayne said in a spiteful voice as she pushed her glasses against the bridge of her nose before directing her gaze towards the building in front of them.
A few moments of silence passed as they walked around the intact stone building in a loop, stopping at the entrance to find bronze doors laying on the ground, a large dark room behind it with a large staircase at the opposite end.
“We’re here.” Ashram suddenly said, causing the others to look around in surprise.
“What is this place?” Fiora asked, her grip on her right arm tightening as she could feel the dark side of her almost feeding on the atmosphere within the structure.
“The Seers’ Temple, an underground cathedral where the Seers practiced the dark arts,” Ashram explained halfway to the downward staircase before stopping, narrowing his eyes as he saw claw markings that interrupted the floor that was otherwise homogeneously covered in sand. He quickly drew his Blazing Edge as growls echoed from the ground below. The claw markings that had etched into the ground looked fresh and could mean only one thing. “Tread carefully, we’re not alone here.”
Chapter 18: Ruins of Chaos 2 – Descent
Descend into the deepest recesses of Icathia’s plight
Gaze upon it shall you, the last bastion of the Goddess’ light.
A beacon of hope for the world’s wounds to mend
In a land so marred by a corruption intent to bring our end.
Temple of the Seers, Icathia
They descended a long staircase, a series of twists and turns through the bowels of the earth itself to end up at the arched opening of a long, musty corridor. The looming darkness in front of them was thick, almost suffocating as their sense of sight was rendered useless in the face of its overwhelming shroud. The silence was unnerving, almost ominous; giving Fiora an unshakable chill that something was waiting for them on the other side to step into its grasps. Lux swung her staff with soft, fluid motions as she channeled a light spell into it, a bright flare wavering wildly before stablizing at its tip to resemble a torch. Her light spell revealed a narrow hallway comprised of stone walls, dilapidated and bare with the exception of a series of torches that lined the walls in between arched pathways too numerous to count.
Raising his hand with curled fingers in front of him, Ashram channeled flames into the palm of his hand, swinging it outwards to release a series of Fire spells. A series of whooshing sounds echoed through the hallway as bursts of orange and red connected with the torches, bathing the corridor in a bright orange glow. A second series of growls echoed through the hallways, seeming to appear from no direction in particular. Not good…too many dark hiding spots to ambush from, Fiora thought as she drew out her Highwind, holding it to her side in striking position.
Taking point, Talon and Shen navigated through the winding corridors of the underground cathedral, the torches faint blotches of brightness along their path, instead relying on their keen sense of sound to compensate for poor visibility in the darkened ruins. With the exception of Fiora’s obvious signs of anxiety, their time in Icathia had been oddly uneventful. Despite the animalistic noises earlier, they had encountered no signs of life outside of each other, the weathered path seemingly unventured for countless generations.
That thought changed very quickly as the sound of a loud growl reached their ears. No sooner had their minds processed this than a Hellhound pounced from an unlit room, exposed fangs dripping in anticipation of its next meal. As Talon quickly dodged the attack and followed it up with a successful stab to its abdomen with his armblade, the sound of multiple howls echoed through the convoluted corridors. Numerous Hellhound minions subsequently appeared with almost every turn of the corner, the two swordsmen keeping busy to dispose of the incoming threats. While the canines specialized in their sense of smell to track their prey, the two swordsman’s familiarity with nighttime combat and the use of shadows to their advantage placed them on equal terms with the beasts, allowing their superior skills with blades to give them the advantage. With even the most subtle of movements and sounds, they were able to tell their opponent’s position, diving into the shadows to seek them out before they could retaliate. The deeper they went, however, the more creatures that appeared. It wasn’t long before the path was lined with piles of ash left over as corpses disintegrated from their attacks.
“Mangy beasts,” Talon exclaimed angrily as he retracted spinning blades to bring them back under his control, disposing of the last of the demonic canines. “Where the hell did all of them come from?”
“It’s recent. This place looks like it hadn’t been disturbed for over a millennium until recently. It looks like the others came to the same conclusion about this place.” Ashram suggested as he stepped forward, taking point as the echoing grows in the air had finally ceased.
“Yeah, and they left behind a nice welcoming gift for us.” Vayne said aloud in a sarcastic tone as she trailed behind the others alongside Lux, covering their backs in the event of an ambush.
As they navigated the winding dark pathway, the air began to feel heavy, the musty odor exacerbating Fiora’s nausea until it took every bit of her willpower to hold back the heaves that rose to her throat with every breath she took. Crossing the threshold of one final arched doorway laden with multiple jewels and inscriptions, they came to a large round chamber, the contents of which were hidden by darkness save for a central stone pillar that seemed to generate its own source of light.
They treaded carefully, circling around the large altar, which stood at twice the height of a typical person. Its base was comprised of a square block of white marble, narrowing on the way up along a smooth, slanted surface. An ornate golden ornament comprised of multiple circular swirls stood at the top of the obelisk, creating a pattern of multiple rings arranged in a staggered pattern. Each of the rings emitted a bright aura of different colors, converging at the center into an almost blinding white nexus that spread its energy downward along the surface of the altar.
“Looks like this is it,” Ashram announced as he carefully examined the structure for even the slightest hint of traps. “The aura of light that surrounds this altar is likely the result of the magic of the early Seers, granting a protective shell against the chaotic effects of the Void for future generations of Seers. With it, I believe it will protect us from the Void’s negative influences and prevent us from following the same route as Malzahar and Kassadin after their visions of the Undying Realm.
“How do we use it?” Fiora asked in a harsh voice, causing the others to turn to see her keeled over with a face that looked as though she was struggling to remain standing. “Let’s just get this over with and get out of here.”
“Well aren’t you just the most pleasant gal to work with.” Vayne said sarcastically, causing Ashram and Lux to shoot her an angry look.
What is their problem? Vayne thought to herself, surprised at their reaction as she turned her gaze back towards her purple haired companion, analyzing her movements. What in the world is going on with her anyways? I’ve seen her cut people to shreds without even breaking a sweat. Now she looks like she’s about to die even though she hadn’t raised her blade since we landed.
Turning her gaze towards Talon and Shen, who had been standing beside her, it was clear that they had noticed the same thing, though they had refrained from commenting on it. She knew something was going on with the duelist, and Ashram and Lux were in on it. What is it you’re hiding from the rest of us?
Turning his attention back towards the altar in front of him, Ashram took a few steps forward, holding an extended right hand forward to come within inches of it. The white aura surrounding the altar seemed to pulse with his approach, increasing in intensity as a white shard of crystal appeared in the Summoner’s hand.
“This is-“ Ashram exclaimed in surprise as he brought it back towards him to examine the crystal closely. Staring into the small crystal that rested in the palm of his hands, he saw swirls of brilliant white energy that flowed through the inside of the crystal. “The Goddess’ blessing. How? Here in Icathia of all places…”
“Why do you say that?” Lux asked as she followed suit, holding her hand out as a white crystal began to form in the palm of her hands. A bright flash of light dispersed the crystal, redirecting colorful streaks of energy towards her Celestia staff. She looked in shock as a white crystal became embedded into the tip of the metallic staff, glowing brilliantly as swirls of white flowed in a circular pattern. “Wha-…what just happened?”
“This altar…it’s powers were not based on dark magic, but rather on the crystal…the powers of the Goddess. This is quite a surprising discovery…and an ironic one at that.” Ashram explained as he pocketed the crystal in his hands. “All accounts of Icathia tell of its trials in using dark arts that violate the norms of the Goddess’ teachings. Who would have expected that the Seers themselves would seek the power of crystal to protect themselves from madness!”
Ignoring the Summoner’s fascinated musings, Fiora raised hand to use the altar, its energy pouring into her hand. Initially, the flow of energy down her extended arm was overwhelming, but it quickly became a source of relief, feeling unexpectedly stronger, and her breathing becoming slightly easier. She looked at the top of the altar in an almost entranced state, feeling the warmth of its energy partly relieving her of the pain that had made her every moment a living hell. Though she didn’t know why, she instinctively held up her other hand to her chest, lowering her head with her eyes closed to allow the flowing aura to focus above her sternum. She felt the crystal materialize and embed itself into the pendant given to her by her mother.
This pendant…its presence is almost a symbol of who I’ve been ever since the fateful day when it was given to me in Demacia. I wore it proudly until she passed away…I then kept it hidden but near me at all times. It was with me when Dad died, when I joined the League…when I met him- the person I initially despised only for it to evolve into this strange trust, this…whatever it is.
Opening her eyes again, the dull blue eyes that seemed lifeless moments ago now appeared stronger, as she took a deep, smooth breath that had been impossible for days. She felt the darkness inside of her still present, but more contained, walled off from the rest of her by a mysterious force that she couldn’t understand. Nor did she care for an explanation; the end result being the only thing that her currently fragile consciousness cared about. Whereas before it took all of her effort just to keep it from taking over every inch of her body, the presence of the new pendant that hung from her neck seemed to keep the evil at bay.
As the rest of them proceeded to follow suit, similar results were met. With the exception of Ashram and Fiora, crystals became embedded into their respective weapons, surrounding them with bright auras that seemed to pulsate at different intensities depending on their wills.
“This is supposed to protect us?” Ezreal asked, holding up the amulet on his arm to reveal three arched rings in a staggered pattern as though he held a miniature figurine of the altar design.
“For some of you, it does so in more ways than one.” Ashram answered, breaking the silence of everyone examining their crystal blessings. “It gave each of us what we would need to be able to protect ourselves, not only from the influence of the Void, but also from the evil that exists there. For most of you, it seems your weapons have been augmented, allowing you to use your normal combat abilities more effectively. For others…it provided you with what you needed.”
Fiora cocked her head slightly at the former High Councilor, fully aware that his last statement was targeted at her. It was a truth that she couldn’t deny, as it gave her a feeling of hope that had been lost ever since that fated day in Demacia. Even as this thought crossed her mind, she couldn’t let go of the lingering thought that this relief was but a temporary calm in the storm; that it would be inevitable before the growing darkness inside of her would become too strong even for this newfound strength to stop.
Backtracking from the altar, they navigated their way through the seemingly endless convoluted hallways of the temple without further trouble, using the lit torches as a guided path back to the surface. Ascending the final steps that led to the surface, they opened their eyes to a dizzying brightness, raising their hands to shield their eyes from the glare. Even though the ominous dark overcast continued to linger over the ruins, the dim rays of sunlight penetrating through the clouds were far brighter than what their eyes had become used to in the underground labyrinth.
Talon let out a sigh of relief as they passed through the threshold of the doorway into the open ruins of Icathia, freeing himself of the confined spaces that made him feel trapped. Even though their efforts proved fruitful, the last place he had wanted to be was within the dark confines of the underground temple. It reminded him far too much of the underground bazaar in Noxus, where in order to survive as an orphan, he had killed without prejudice. It was a world where morals had no place, and life itself was synonymous with brutality. Navigating the dark paths within the temple brought all the desperation of his former life back, flooding his consciousness with images of the things he had to do and people he had to kill just to survive. It reminded him of the person he once considered to be his best friend…and the blood on his hands after he killed him when his purpose ran out. As he leaned his back on the warm limestone of the temple, careful to not rip his cape along the rough rocks that jutted out from the ruined wall, he looked at the people around him, examining their features.
Shauna, Shen, Ezreal, Lux, Reginald, and Fiora…even knowing what kind of person I was, you chose to accept my offer to help and fought beside me. I can only wonder…had any of you been in my position growing up, would you have ended up a cold blooded killer like myself…or would you have been the better person? Thoughts of his childhood and the League Judgement reflective of it came rushing back, shaking his head in disappointment at how his life had turned out prior to his departure from the Institute of War. Kavyn…how cold and selfish I was in the past. Everything you did was to help both of us survive but all I cared about was myself. How different things might have been…had we companions like them to show us the way…
“This way, let’s hurry back to the ship and get movin-“ Ezreal announced, sand shifting softly under his feet as he stood from his seated position. He motioned to lead the way towards their airship before stopping at the sight of an approaching robed figure. “Huh…who is that?”
The rest of the party stopped in their tracks, their gazes meeting where the explorer had become focused on. A figure wearing a long robe with alternating stripes of red and yellow that extended from his shoulders to his ankles moved in a firm and steady pace. Colors fluttered wildly in the presence of a strong gust that suddenly picked up, contrasting the rest of the body that moved far too smoothly. A brown hood covered his face, obscuring their view of his features, save for a short aged beard of brown alternating with strands of gray.
“So proudly stands here the prophesized ones…the heroes few, destined to cross the rift; for them to bear, the weight of the world, and the Goddess’ gift.” The cloaked figure announced in a loud voice as he came within a few yards of them, pausing sharply with those last words.
“Who are you, and what are you doing in this place?” Talon asked aloud, darting forward past the explorer to stand crouched in a defensive stance.
“Hmm, so this is what the child has resorted to…working with the enemy.” The cloaked figure replied in a tone filled with malice, a subtle shake of its head reflected in the appearance of creases on alternating sides. “Is this how much loyalty is worth to your pathetic existence?”
“Child…loyalty…worth…What the **** are you trying to say? Just who are you anyways?” Talon demanded, raising his right arm to reveal his blade, swirls of energy flowing in a rhythmic pattern inside a crystal embedded within the surface.
“Is that any way to talk to your superior?” He replied in a taunting tone, raising his hand to lift the brown colored fabric from his head to reveal short curled brown hair interlaced with strands of gray, similar in fashion to that of his beard. Pitch black pupils peered through narrowed eyelids held in a malicious stare. The rest of his face was smooth, showing a complete lack of lines of aging that contrasted the strands of gray in his hair. It was a face that he would never forget…one which tensed every muscle in his body to cling desperately to a logic that was slipping away with every heartbeat.
“I-Impossible!” Talon exclaimed, his face was held in an expression of pure horror as his subconscious fought against his senses over whether his perceived reality was within the scope of possibility.
“So, after all this time, you still remembered.” The robed man replied in a cold voice that was all too familiar to the assassin.
“Talon, you know this person?” Shauna Vayne asked, staring at the Noxian intently with her right hand raised in front of her chest, a brilliant aura flowing from a small crystal along the small metallic crossbow mounted on her wrist reacting to the presence of a nearby evil.
“General…Marcus du Couteau!” He said in an unsteady voice, indicating that he was clearly shaken up by his former commanding officer’s appearance. “Where have you been?”
While his instincts kept telling him that something was clearly not right with the situation, Talon couldn’t help but feel happy at the general’s presence. The whereabouts of the person in front of him wasn’t merely just his reason for joining the League, but rather, until recently, his whole purpose for existing. Countless months spent searching, only for the target of his efforts to mysteriously find him, in the most unlikely of places.
“How are you even here?” Talon asked as he took a few steps forward towards the general, only for a hand to grab him from behind by the shoulder, throwing him onto the ground. Ignoring the pain of landing on his tailbone, he looked over his shoulder to see his purple-haired companion standing behind him, her hands held out in front of him as she looked towards du Couteau with icy blue eyes. “Hey, what do you think you’re doing?”
“Stay back, Talon! Something is very wrong here.” Fiora warned angrily as she gazed upon the Noxian general apprehensively.
She had seen eyes like those before, pitch black globes shooting piercing glares of malice that penetrated the fragile shell protecting her soul, scaring it without effort. Even without the manifestation of the dark aura, the duelist felt the darkness inside of her gradually becoming stronger in the presence of this man. The newfound comfort and relief that the crystal provided was fleeting with every passing moment as she once again felt the growing chaos in her soul clawing to escape from its confines.
“How observant,” General du Couteau said in an amused voice before vanishing in a puff of black smoke, only to appear next to the duelist. “It seems that the dog has found himself some friends.”
Moving on instinct, Fiora quickly drew her Highwind, delivering a horizontal swipe at the Noxian general, the sharp edge of her blade meeting thin air as he disappeared again in a second puff of black smoke.
“Outcasts, each and every one of you.” He continued as he reappeared next to Shen, who drew his blade to attack, only to meet the same result as the duelist.
“Trash that is no better than mangy hounds of the Void.” His taunt continued, materializing next to Ezreal who manifested a white bow of energy, firing a blast of arcane energy an instant later that passed through the general, vanishing only to reappear back at his original spot a moment later.
“You journey to stop the inevitable future, completely unaware of the suffering that awaits you. But I am not without forgiveness. After all, you have witnessed firsthand that I am capable of mercy, my loyal assassin. So, I shall give you a chance…join me by my side again and serve me. If you do, I shall spare you just like I did last time, and together we shall rise to a level reserved only for the Gods.” He announced in a strong and proud voice, staring intently at Talon, who had managed back onto his feet.
“Rejoin you?” Talon mused aloud, his body taking a step forward as though to accept, only to stop moments later; his conflicting conscience deterring him from making a fatal mistake. “Just a few days ago, had you made such an offer, I would have accepted it without a second thought. My devotion was unconditional and blind. Now, however, after everything that I’ve been through, I realized something. I served you loyally and killed countless people because I was without my own purpose, without goals or a future. You’re right, I was nothing more than your loyal lapdog, but things have changed. They helped me realize that this whole time, I was complacent with it because I couldn’t bear living aimlessly without purpose…acting as your blade filled that gap. But now, that’s different. Now, the world is about to fall apart and I’m ironically one of the few people who can save it. I know that you aren’t really him…but he is in there somewhere and I know that deep down, if he was in my position, he would make the same decision.”
Talon proceeded to position himself into a battle stance, holding his arm blade in front of his face as an aura of holy magic flowed wildly along its edge. He shifted his gaze slightly to see Fiora and Vayne walking to his side, their weapons drawn and poised to strike.
“We travel the same path...to stop the chaos you hope to unleash onto this world.” Vayne said as she instinctively checked the smaller crossbow, now flowing with holy energy, ensuring it was loaded and ready to strike.
“Our goals are one and the same, to stop the spread of your chaos and bring peace to this world again.” Fiora said as she swung her Highwind to her side, crouching slightly into a defensive position.
“To stand by those who have supported me…to end the cycle of death and betrayal that has filled my life with emptiness…and to actually fight for the betterment of this world. That is my new purpose!” Talon announced proudly, affirming his decision to stand by his companions to the end.
“To betray your master simply because you found some new friends. How pathetic!” Du Couteau as he crouched to the ground, slamming his hand onto the ground to create a crimson red rune circle under his feet.
Three large mounds of earth began to rise from the ground around him as grains of sand flowed downward along their sides like fountains, driven by gravity’s pull. As three distinct roars filled the air, a set of uniquely colored carapace extended through the descending streams of sand, flailing wildly to free themselves from the earth around them. Lux let out a gasp of horror as the dust began to thin, revealing the demonic silhouette of the Void creatures Cho’gath and Kog’Maw alongside an unfamiliar third creature that was larger in size than the other two.
“Some places in this world are said to be cursed and forbidden for a reason. Now that the odds are a little more in my favor, I’ll make you regret ever setting foot into these feared ruins.” General du Couteau announced, followed by the lour roars of the three demonic creatures that almost seemed to react on cue.
“Bring it! I lost to you in the past…let me show you just how much better I’ve become!” Talon exclaimed as the three of them charged forward to face off against the general.
A rumble began to fill the air as the three of them neared the general. Feeling the ground beneath them beginning to shake, they instantly lunged to the side as spines began to rise from the ground. As they got to their feet, an explosion took place in front of them, kicking copious amounts of dirt into the air. The dust settled to leave behind a small crater filled with a steaming green substance.
“**** it, those creatures won’t let us get anywhere near-“ Talon began to say, his words interrupted as a barrage of five Blitz spells flew by them, connecting with the carapace of Kog’Maw.
A series of loud pops echoed through the ruins as the attacks landed, followed by a loud snarl of pain from the insect-like Void creature. As the smoke cleared, drops of green oozed from multiple wounds on the creature. Without pause, the mouth of the abyss darted towards the Lady of Luminosity, opening its mouth to launch several globs of acid towards her in rapid succession along the way.
Following suit, Cho’gath sprinted rapidly towards the blonde mage, large spines raised over its head in preparation to strike. Two bursts of arcane energy connected with the large beast’s armored spines, each of which blasted through to cause the elongated projections to land on the ground. Letting out a feral growl of pain, the Terror of the Void turned its attention towards the explorer, wielding a bow comprised of swirls of white energy that extended from the rings of crystal over his amulet.
The remaining creature stood silently in its original position, crouched on all four of its limbs, each of which terminated in two sharp processes that appeared almost amphibian-like. A sinister pair of glowing yellow eyes took up most of the top half of its face, below which a large mouth opened in a large malicious grin that exposed a row of sharp teeth. Swirls of markings ran along its body, which was a dark red color, except for multiple sharp silver spines that projected from its back. A long tail emerged from its posterior end, terminating in several spikes that looked identical to those mounted on its back.
Ashram watched as the large burgundy colored creature open its mouth, letting out two clouds of what resembled black smoke towards the other Void creatures, causing the wounds that had been inflicted to instantly heal. It raised its tail into the air, curling it in the direction of the other two Void creatures in a manner resembling that of a scorpion before launching two of its spines towards them.
Shen watched in disgust as the spines impaled Cho’gath and Kog’maw, causing them to let out loud roars of pain. Disgust, however, quickly turned into horror as the spines that had embedded into the Void creatures began to burrow themselves deeper into the creatures, eventually disappearing as the carapace closed in around it. A sharp screech echoed through the air as a large aura of dark energy erupted from Cho’gath and Kog’maw, their bodies appearing to twist and distort painfully. Numerous spines erupted from their bodies, causing them to both resemble large porcupines. As the spines engulfed every inch of their previous bodies, they charged towards their respective opponents in a mindless fury.
“Summoner Ashram, what is that foul creature. Its energy is unlike anything I’ve ever seen.” Shen asked as he stared intently at the mysterious creature, reaching behind him to draw his dual katana.
“No…it can’t be,” Ashram said in deep thought, a grave look of concern on his face. “They managed to create it…a Proto-Aesir, Omen.”
“Proto-Aesir…that means-“ Shen began to say in an unnerved voice that contrasted his normally composed demeanor.
“It is extremely powerful. An idea that stemmed back to when I was still amongst them. We were instructed to use the raw essence of the Void to artificially create a creature powerful enough to control the very chaos of the Void itself. I split from the Institute when we were still in the process of gathering enough chaos energy from the Void to create it. It appears that they have succeeded in finishing my work. To this day, I don’t understand the reason behind why its creation was necessary. I assumed at the time that it was to be used as a weapon of war…but I wonder…” Ashram explained, a white aura of energy flowing along the edge of his Mageblade as he drew it from his sheath.
“Cho’gath and Kog’maw…they appear almost mindless and feral, unlike the times when I’ve encountered them in the Summoner’s Arenas.” Shen mused, gathering natural energy from the environment around him to channel it into one of his swords, the other of which was augmented by an aura of holy energy that flowed from the small crystal embedded in the hilt.
“The Proto-Aesir is tied to whatever essence it’s created from, and thus has control over everything that comes from it. In the same way that all of life on Runeterra is tied to the life stream of this world, so are the creatures of the Void with its essence. I helped create it…it’s my responsibility to destroy it.” The former High Councilor said before lunging forward, casting a barrage of five Blitz spells from his free hand at the Proto-Aesir.
Anticipating the incoming attacks, Omen raised its tail towards the incoming attacks, simultaneously channeling a series of Chaos Blitz spells on its tip before firing them at each of the incoming holy spells, cancelling them out in a series of mid-air explosions. It proceeded to follow this up with a second attack, opening its mouth to form a sphere of dark energy before firing a beam of dark energy towards the former High Councilor.
Ashram raised his sword in front of his chest, channeling additional energy into his blade in preparation to launch a counterattack. He stopped his movements as a set of purple crescents descended a few meters in front of him, colliding with the incoming attack to create a large explosion, forcing him to brace himself against the incoming shockwave. Moments later, Shen appeared next to him, blades held in battle stance.
“She is beginning to rub off on you,” Shen said, causing the Summoner to snort angrily at his insinuations. “I don’t know the extent of your abilities, but at this point, if the Proto-Aesir is as powerful as you’re implying, there’s no need to be reckless and fight this thing alone. I will fight alongside you.”
This story is progressing nicely. With the latest chapter, it's really neat how you implement General Du Couteau and Omen into it.
However, I'll be honest. After all this time, there's finally an appearance of some actual Void champions and they're pretty much mindless beasts. I was kind of hoping they would serve a more...prominent role in the story (what's funny is that I thought Ashram was guising as someone else even before he revealed his true identity, I just thought it was Kassadin or something).
Nevertheless, a very well-written and epic story. Your delving into the psyche of the characters does create a sense of desperation and hopelessness in the reader. The ability to manipulate the emtions of the reader is a trait of a good writer. I also really like the backstory with the Aesir and the Goddess.
Fantastic story. Can't wait to see how this all comes together.
Chapter 19: The Blades of Noxus
Under Du Couteau, I killed in his name, but my life was my own. Now--- I am nothing, yet I still have my blades. What other purpose can my blades serve?
- Talon, League Judgement
”You are weak…you cannot kill me, not now. I should end you right here, but it would be a waste of potential.” General du Couteau said proudly as he stared down at Talon, the younger assassin keeled over struggling to maintain consciousness after the copious blood loss he had sustained.
“So what…what the hell do you want from me?” Talon demanded weakly, his fragile resolve tested the moment he raised his head, realizing with incomprehensible dread that his vision was beginning to dull with every passing moment.
“You have refused every one of our demands to join the Noxian military, so I shall give you one last option. Join the cause of High Command. Become my will and my blade to strike down Noxus’ enemies.” Du Couteau answered, delivering his ultimatum as he lowered his blade. Rays of sunlight peeked through the cracks of the Noxian bazaar in that moment, its rays creating a well-defined silhouette of the general bathed in a divine glow.
“Fine,” Talon replied after a prolonged pause, choking as he took several deep, labored breaths of awe at the sight in front of him. “If an assassin of your caliber wishes for my services, then I shall serve you and only you.”
“Very well. From this day on, you shall be known as the Blade’s Shadow. Carry out my will and become stronger. And one day, when the time comes, we cross swords again to determine which of us will reign as the greatest assassin.”
Edgemont Ruins, Icathia
Sparks flew as the serrated edge of Talon’s armblade met Marcus du Couteau’s, a long straight blade fused with a small vicious appearing axe at the base of the weapon. Years had passed since the first time he fought against his current opponent, finding that his attacks now have more power behind them than before as he fought on par against the general. Doubling back with greater strength, they simultaneously parried each other’s attacks. Talon leapt backwards dashing past crumbled cyclopean walls, shoes shuffling against the sandy earth as he simultaneously unleashed a flurry of blades, each of which were parried harmlessly with pinpoint accuracy by a counterattack that almost mirrored his own to the finest of details.
Talon yielded a satisfied grin at having been able to fight on an equal level with the general, who had managed to easily defeat him years ago. His smile quickly faded, however, when his opponent disappeared with a Shunpo, reappearing inches in front of him. He watched in horror as the general’s blade was brought down, his heart sinking at the realization that he couldn’t react fast enough to escape the oncoming attack. A second blade entered his vision, a blue shimmering color that lined its edges surrounding a central jagged streak of yellow. A clash rang through Talon’s ears as the general’s blade collided with Highwind, causing a look of surprise to appear on the Noxian general’s face.
Running her energy through her blade while simultaneously increasing the strength of her upward swing, Fiora pushed du Couteau back as a small chip appeared on the edge of his blade. Narrowing his eyes in a scowl, he quickly retreated, leaping backwards as the duelist channeled a lightning spell with her free hand, a soft insect-like buzz echoing through the air as streaks of electricity flew towards him. Her attack failed to connect with its target, however, as a stream of crimson tinted lightning flew from the general’s hand, clashing with her spell to nullify it.
A holy infused crossbow bolt flew towards the general, narrowly missing him as he vanished again, leaving behind only a small puff of black smoke. Fiora scanned the area carefully as she channeled four Blitz spells in the palm of her free hand, launching them the moment she noticed his materialization a few feet behind her. A series of popping sounds echoed through the air as her spells collided with their target. Knowing that her attack was insufficient to stop an opponent of this level, she channeled flames through her blade, lunging forward with a follow-up attack as the general emerged from the smoke to sprint towards her at rapid speeds. A trail of bright orange followed her path as she approached her opponent.
“Take this!” Fiora yelled as she swung forward with a Flamestrike, colliding with the Noxian’s blade, now surrounded in a black aura of flowing energy.
For an instant their eyes met, the general giving her a long searching look, trying to find and expose that weakness that she had been trying so hard to hide. Knowing full well what the black aura around his blade was capable of, she quickly pushed herself away from her opponent as she felt a pulsating sensation coming from the darkness inside of her heart, causing her to wince slightly in pain as she slid to regain her foothold. Du Couteau noticed her moment of vulnerability, taking advantage of it with a Shunpo to escape her field of vision and following it up with multiple blades soaring through the air towards her back.
By the time she noticed them, she knew that it was too late to dodge or deflect them, bracing herself for the incoming onslaught of pain that she had experienced before during her duel against Talon. The blades never reached her, however, as a second flurry of blades flew from the periphery of her vision, dim rays of sunlight dancing off of them as they intercepted the original attacks. She turned to see a determined look on Talon’s face as he brought the blades back towards him in preparation for the next strike.
Using this exchange of attacks as a distraction, Vayne pulled the trigger on her Ultima Weapon, sending two large blue energy arrows towards du Couteau, causing the ground to tremble under their feet as the arrows found their mark. Fiora landed on the ground safely moments later, her heart beating far too fast for comfort during that moment of vulnerability. They watched cautiously, maintaining a combat stance as they prepared for their opponent’s next attack.
“Talon, I hope you realize the du Couteau in front of you is not the same one you knew years ago. He does not care about the principle of a fair match. His only goal is to kill us, and you’ve clearly seen that he’s willing to use dark magic at will to achieve this end.” Vayne chided, annoyed by the recklessness of the assassin for initially charging recklessly into battle.
“I know,” Talon replied, grinding his teeth together at the thought of the person he once held in such high respect now being used as a puppet. Forgive me, General…but it seems that the duel of blades that you deserve will not be possible.
“Hiyaaa” Lux yelled out as she released a barrage of multiple Blitz spells, all of which connected with Kog’maw, who made no attempts to evade the incoming attacks.
The Void creature emerged from the smoke, revealing that its barbed carapace had withstood the full force of her attack, her spells failing to even leave a scratch on it. Retaliating for that last attack, the Void spawn unleashed a ball of Void Ooze, rolling past Lux to entrench her legs in a warm, thick fluid. Shivers of nausea shot up from her stomach, causing her to momentarily neglect the danger she was in as she swallowed hard against the rising bile in her throat. It proceeded to follow up with a barrage of caustic attacks, spitting numerous globs of acidic fluid that was now mixed in with sharp spines that fired from the base of its mouth.
It wasn’t until the first explosion agaist the ground just inches in front of her that brought clarity back to her awareness of the surroundings. Lux held out her staff, casting a spherical light barrier around herself to defend against the oncoming attack while simultaneously lifting herself out from the crimson fluid. Knowing that the constant onslaught of attacks will easily break through her defensive barrier, she launched a Light Binding spell to snare the Void spawn’s movements, following it up with a series of three Lucent Singularity spells in rapid succession. Waiting until all three of her spells reached their destination to form a confined triangle around the snared creature, she detonated the globes of unstable light simultaneously to create a series of bright flashes that caught the attention of the others engaged in their respective battles.
The way Kog’maw acts…it’s completely different from how he is in the Arenas. Whereas before, there was thought behind its attacks, now it attacks entirely on instinct…like it’s lost its own intelligence. Lux thought to herself as she watched apprehensively, waiting to see the results of her attacks as the shroud of rising dust seemed to move slower with every passing second.
The light vanished, clouds of incandescent dust thinning to reveal only minor burns on the reinforced carapace of Kog’maw. Knowing that her normal light spells were not effective against its new found defenses, she brought her hands forward to form a triangle of light in front of her, channeling energy into it to form three large spears of light. Before she could successfully complete the spell, however, the Void spawn anticipated her incoming attack and counterattacked, launching a barrage of artillery attacks into the air. Seeing the impending attacks, she quickly abandoned her spell, lunging to the side before taking off on a sprint to avoid the incoming artillery attacks.
What should I do? She thought to herself as she ducked behind a crumbling wall, using it as cover as her hand pushed against fine grains of sand, crawling to move along its length. My own spells were meant to do widespread damage to support troops in a war, not for solitary battle like this. Against armor like that, none of them have the penetrating power except Wave of the Trigram’s Light. Casting it takes a lot longer than any of my other spells and it seems to know that its power is capable of killing it…that’s why it won’t let me use that ability. Reginald Ashram said that the crystal in my staff is suppose to help me somehow, but so far nothing has changed. There has to be something…something that I can do!
As if responding her pleas, streams of energy flowed from the blessed crystal, bright lines forming into perfectly carved paths along her Celestia. It elevated out of Lux’s hands, breaking apart into pieces that levitated in the air momentarily before reforming into a different configuration. Completing its transformation, her weapon landed in the palm of her hands to reveal a long metallic spear that glowed brilliantly. She stared at the flow of energy through the spear in an entranced state, its flowing aura reflected off of her blue eyes as she analyzed its quality. It was though the energy that pulsed around the spear spoke to her and revealed to her its purpose.
Emerging from behind the ruined walls, Lux channeled the rest of her energy into her weapon, surrounding it in a brilliant white aura. As Kog’maw caught sight of her, it opened its mouth, fumes seething from its exposed throat as it prepared to launch another barrage of attacks at the lady of luminosity.
“Too late!” Lux yelled out as she leapt into the air, holding her weapon over shoulder in striking position. “Divine Javelin!”
Lux flung her hand downwards towards the Void spawn, launching a spear of holy energy that easily pierced through the carapace. An animalistic snarl of pain echoed in to the air as she brought her arm above her shoulder again, showing no mercy as she swung her weapon forward a second time to release another attack. Repeating this multiple times, she impaled the Mouth of the Abyss onto the ground with five holy javelins, hitting vital organs within the creature. It could all but let out a weakened cry of pain as its carapace changed to a familiar purple color, indicating its body was on the brink of death before entering a self-destruct process.
“Hah, take that!” Lux taunted proudly as she landed on her feet, a beaming smile now present on her face as she watched the corpse explode, concluding with a sickening thud of its remains that slowly dissipated into ash.
Ezreal watched as Lux’s opponent fell, a look of amazement frozen on his face at the devastating result of her Divine Javelin. The fine trembling of the ground underneath him gradually becoming more apparent snapped him back to reality, dashing away quickly to avoid being impaled by spines that rose from the ground below him. He had been met with similar difficulties, as the armor that now protected Cho’gath was impenetrable to any of his arcane attacks.
His troubles didn’t end there; the giant Void creature’s Rupture attack now augmented to produce thick, razor sharp spines from the earth that didn’t dissipate after it had been cast. His only advantage had been his quick movements around the battlefield, but space was becoming limited. With every Rupture spell that the creature casts, his maneuverability worsened. He stood with his back pressed against the cool, jagged surface of the risen spines, a look of apparent desperation in his eyes as they darted around the battlefield to explore options that became increasingly dwindled with every incoming attack.
The sound of rumbles against the ground became louder as the large insect-like Void spawn began to close the distance between them. He felt like a cornered animal, staring down an animal that he had no hope of defeating, and looked around for a way to buy some time. Bolting from his hiding place as the sounds became too loud for comfort, he darted past a stone pillar, quickly reforming a bow on his hand to fire a trio of Essence Flux blasts at the base of it to collapse it onto the large creature. Slabs of stone fell onto the spinous carapace, shattering harmlessly against it as it passed through the falling debris without so much as a flinch.
As Cho’gath came within striking distance, a large spinous projection from its back swung downward like a scorpion’s tail, a long shadow cast around him as it descended. Ezreal could all but blink away using his Arcane Shift, reappearing behind a nearby stone wall. His breathing became labored as sweat dripped down his face. He felt lightheaded, his senses betraying him as exhaustion set in. The battle had dragged on far too long for his body to sustain, feeling as though he could collapse at any moment.
**** it, my attacks hurt me more than it hurts him! I don’t have enough power to be able to even defend myself, much less stop this behemoth. The others are already having a difficult time fighting their own battles. If I die…this monster will ambush the others…it’ll be all my fault. Lux…it seems like you were the stronger of the of us after all. He thought to himself, curling the fingers of his right hand into a fist before punching it angrily into the sand under his feet.
A cloud of dust rose from the ground, becoming suspended in the air as it reached the level of his amulet. The individual specks of sand glowed brightly, remaining suspended in the air before turning into streaks of energy that gathered in the crystal rings around the relic on his hand. He held his eyes wide open, a renewed awe replacing the fatigue that had been present just moments ago. What is this…no…could it be…? Grasping a handful of dirt with his free hand, he gently poured the fine grains of light brown over crystalline rings, his heart jumping as this produced the same result.
This is…matter conversion! He thought to himself in shock, realizing the true capabilities of his augmented amulet.
The discovery of his amulet in Shurima Desert granted him the ability to draw out magical energy around him. Until now, the only source of energy behind his attacks has been that which flowed through his own body, innate magical energy that he never knew existed until then. He theorized that it was possible to gather magical energy from his surroundings, but found this to be impossible outside of the concentrated magical environment of the Summoner’s Arenas. After seeing the process of matter conversion taking place in front of his eyes, he realized the truth of Ashram’s words in the Seers’ Temple- It gave me exactly what I needed to stop the darkness!
Stepping out from his concealed place to face against his opponent, he channeled the remainder of his magic energy into the rings of crystal, bypassing his amulet. Three large white rings emerged from the crystal, surrounding him as an amplifier to gather energy from his surroundings. The intense light of his spell radiated against the rows of spines, casting shadows of their serrated edges on one another. Cracking sounds echoed around him as the spines that had formed as a result of Cho’gath’s Rupture spell began to break apart, forming specks of energy that darted towards the explorer to resemble a springtime breeze laden with freely flowing rose pedals.
Cho’gath let out a feral roar as he caught sight of the explorer, rapidly charging towards him. Anger reflected in its growl as it had been fed up, chasing after what was the size of an insect to him. All that went through its head was a burning hunger, an insatiable sensation that could only be calmed with the feeling of flesh between its jaws. As the Terror of the Void closed the gap between itself and the explorer, it raised its head, opening its jaw to reveal two long rows of sharpened teeth. An acrid stench filled the air as it breathed out before lowering its head to devour its next meal.
Narrowing his eyelids as the behemoth’s head came within a few feet of him, he shifted the energy around him into his hands, condensing it into three crescents that swirled around in the palm of his hands. Using his Arcane Shift one final time to evade the creature’s attack, he reappeared behind it as he held out his right arm.
“Take this!” He said in a low voice, his hands tense as he held them forward, bracing himself for whatever would happen next.
Three white crescents launched forward from his hand, expanding in size through the air to form white scythe-like blades of energy that whistled loudly through the air. As the staggered attacks collided with the large creature’s thick carapace, Cho’Gath let out a loud scream of pain as its armor began to deteriorate, converting into energy that only served to strengthen the explorer’s attack. Moments later, the scythes had managed to tear through the Void spawn, consuming its very composition before emerging from the opposite side.
“Release,” Ezreal commanded, causing the condensed energy stored within the crescent scythes to explode, engulfing Cho’gath in a rising torrent of energy almost resembling a tornado. It would take almost another minute for the area to dim again, the explorer’s eyes shaded with his hands until the surroundings became more bearable, opening his eyes to reveal a large crater in the earth where the explosion had taken place. No signs of the Void spawn were left, as though everything within the area engulfed by his attack had been wiped from existence.
“Breaking apart the bonds that hold matter together on an atomic level and then converting it into energy that feeds into its own strength. True matter subjugation…the same principle as the Crystalis…this is what Ashram was talking about?” Ezreal said to himself in shock as he stared at his amulet as though it had become a complete stranger to him.
He then turned his attention towards the remaining battles. As the initial elation of defeating Cho’gath began to fade, a sensation far beyond normal dizziness overtook him. He wasn’t simply lightheaded, but rather felt the world around him spinning, causing him to stumble from the vertigo before bracing himself as he fell to the ground. As he laid on the ground, he knew he had pushed himself far beyond his normal limits and would only get in the way had he tried to help his allies.
General du Couteau grinded his teeth in anger as the two Void spawn were so easily defeated. The thought was short lived, however, as Fiora leapt into the air, lunging forward in mid-air using Valor’s Blitz to deliver a Flamestrike. The attack found only air, however, as the general used his Shunpo to evade her attack, reappearing a few feet away only to be intercepted by Talon in the process of unleashing a flurry of blades. Using swift movements, du Couteau managed to evade the oncoming blades, recomposing himself into a defensive stance to parry away a close ranged attack from his opponent’s armblade.
Unable to take proper aim against the general in the face of their close-range combat, Vayne watched intently at the clash of blades between the two Noxian assassins. For a moment, they almost mirrored each other, exchanging a series of blows to parry the other’s attacks in perfect symphony of clashes. As Talon drew out a dagger using his free hand, his opponent motioned to do the same, steel colliding as they parried each other’s jugular strikes.
“You should have known, I’ve become much stronger than I was that time.” Talon said in a smug tone, as though a long-term burden had been lifted from his shoulders.
“So it appears.” Du Couteau replied before a sinister grin appeared on his face.
An aura of dark energy enveloped his dagger, sharpening it to cut cleanly through Talon’s sidearm. Talon’s smug expression was replaced by one of horror, the oncoming dark steel reflected in his eyes as he retreated, avoiding his neck being slit by mere inches. Leaping backwards, Talon drew back on the blades that he had previously thrown, recalling them back in a whirling fashion. A series of soft thuds echoed through the air, causing a grin to appear on his face as they connected with the back of the Noxian general. Du Couteau let out a groan of pain as the blades pierced into his back, using a Shunpo to bring distance between himself and his opponents as he struggled to recover from the attack.
“Deceitful…opportunistic…such underhanded techniques. One who is truly deserving of being called a Noxian assassin.” Du Couteau announced out loud as Talon reconvened with Fiora and Vayne, staring intently at his former master. “I had hoped to humiliate you using the general’s own abilities but it seems you won’t go down so easy. So then…let the real fight begin!”
As if on cue, a dark aura surrounded the Noxian general, followed by the sound of several dull thuds as Talon’s blades ejected themselves onto the ground. The wounds that had bled profusely closed up, the chaos energy causing the surrounding tissue to instantaneously regenerate. A sinister feeling energy flowed through the general’s armblade, causing a chill to run down Fiora’s spine. This feeling again…not again! She could only watch as he disappeared from sight, reappearing instantly in front of Talon while simultaneously swinging down his armblade.
A crescent wave of dark energy launched from the tip of his blade, a pitch black color impenetrable by even the brightest sunlight. Talon raised his armblde to defend, a white aura of energy suddenly engulfing the serrated edge of his blade as it collided with the attack. Though he had managed to raise it in time, the force of the attack was too great, causing him to stagger backwards as streaks of darkness managed past the defensive aura of his blade, shredding into his body. Talon let out a scream of pain, pushing himself far beyond his limits to deflect the attack upward mere heartbeats before he felt his back collide against a stone wall, the force of impact reducing it to rubble.
Vayne quickly leapt into the air, drawing the string back as a white energy arrow appeared. Taking aim at the general, Vayne released the bowstring as Fiora realized her intentions, darting away to increase the distance from her opponent.
“Starfall!” Vayne announced as a volley of white arrows fired downwards at du Couteau, creating a flurry of large explosions that echoed through the ruins.
As Vayne began her descent towards the ground, using the duelist’s Valor’s Blitz spell to slow her drop, a chaos Blitz sphere flew from the plumes of smoke, causing her to quickly fire a Holy enhanced bolt from her smaller crossbow. The two attacks collided, causing a popping sound to fill the air as they nullified each other. She followed this up by drawing her crossbow string back, forming another white arrow to prepare for a second Starfall attack. This second attack would never come, however, as du Couteau appeared next to the night hunter using his Shunpo, his body showing no signs of ever having been in battle as he delivered a slash to her head.
Though she had managed to react in time to avoid the full brunt of his attack, Vayne was unable to evade it completely as she felt a searing sensation over her right eye. For a moment, time seemed to slow to a grinding halt as her surroundings instantly brightened. Her sunglasses flew off, cleanly cut into two pieces that broke apart as she fell to the ground, revealing eyes held wide open in shock as streams of crimson liquid began to ooze from a cut above her right eyelid.
“Feel the power of chaos!” Du Couteau yelled out as crimson streaks of lightning surrounded his blade, filling the air with a high pitched buzzing sound as he swung downwards towards the falling night hunter.
“Think again!” Fiora said in a low voice as she glided past Vayne, her Highwind augmented with a jagged stream of wind magic. With a swift upward swing, she released an Aero Devastation attack to intercept the incoming lightning attack, engulfing its crimson streaks as it continued towards the Noxian general.
“Inferno Blaze!” General du Couteau yelled out in a rageful voice as four orbs of flames spiraled rapidly in front of him, merging together to form a single attack.
A conflagration surged forward, crashing into the duelist’s Aero Devastation attack, using the added oxygen to form a large ball of flames that painted the sky a bright orange. The rising mass of flames in the air caught the attention of Ashram and Shen, who turned to look at the scene unfolding in front of them. Though they were having their own difficulties against the Proto-Aesir, they had to wonder what sort of battle was being fought in the distance.
General Du Couteau and Fiora continued to exchange blow, appearing as streaks of white and black in the air that collided against each other, the sound of steel clashing echoing through the valley every time their swords met. As the battle in the sky raged on, Talon struggled to his feet, moving slowly in an effort to avoid worsening the sharp pain in his back. He watched in awe at the flurry of sword and magic attacks that Fiora exchanged with the Noxian general.
“**** it,” Talon cursed to himself. At my current level I’m useless in this battle. Who was I kidding…claiming I was now at his level? Being a better assassin means nothing in this battle. Fiora…in the time since we fought, you’ve become far stronger I can even imagine. I wanted a purpose…I wanted it badly and felt like I finally belonged when all of this began. But in the end, what good is having a purpose…why did I even come along when I don’t have the means to carry it out?
Chapter 20: The Proto-Aesir
For us as humans to see the light so prime,
Pass must we through the darkest struggles of time.
To know sacrifice and mourn for those we lost,
And find on the other side a new hope worth the cost.
- Sermons of the Demacian Clergy
Edgemont Ruins, Icathia
“Die, humans!” Omen screeched in a distorted voice, a deep echo overshadowing every throaty word that escaped its lips, as the clouds in the overcast sky began to move in a spiraling pattern. Numerous strikes of crimson tinted lightning ran along the clouds, the roars of thunder filling the air before a mass began to protrude downwards from the center of the spiral, resembling almost the descent of a funnel cloud. “Fall of the Desecrated Meteor!”
Shen watched in horror as the skies opened up to reveal a massive stone descending upon them, its rough surface kissed by a smoky crimson energy along its surface. He sensed a dark aura about it, the intensity of which was unlike anything he could even begin to describe. Moments later, the falling rock halted its descent unexpectedly, as the crimson energy intensified to bathe the ruins around them in an ominous glow. Crisp cracking reached their ears, shards breaking off of the rock, descending rapidly towards the ground in a manner resembling an incoming barrage of artillery. It took all of his effort to be able to predict the movements of the incoming projectiles, each of which impacted the ground to create a large explosion that made the very act of standing an impossible feat.
Unlike Shen, Reginald Ashram wasted no time marveling at the Proto-Aesir’s spell. Quickly leaping into the air, he propelled himself using the falling chunks of rock as a foothold towards the large central meteor. He knew that if the central meteor remained, the whole ruined city of Icathia and everyone still in it would be crushed.
Pulling up his right sleeve, he held up his right forearm to reveal a blue crystal embedded within his skin. He placed two fingers of his other hand on it, causing it to glow brightly before performing an outward sweeping motion. A trail of bright green energy followed the smooth movements of his left hand, condensing to reform the crescent shaped crystal in his left palm. Letting it go slightly, he quickly swung his Blazing Edge to shatter it, causing a large sphere of translucent energy to form in front of him.
“Render Them Asunder, Fenrir.” Ashram said aloud, causing multiple brightly glowing lines resembling ribbons and rune symbols to form on the surface of the sphere.
Shen watched in awe as the large orb grew brighter, expanding rapidly in size before erupting into a blinding light that forced him to shield his eyes. As his vision cleared again, he saw a large wolf-like beast suspended in the sky where the sphere had been a moment ago. The massive beast stood floating in the air, its fur a uniformly glossy blue color. Two brightly glowing yellow eyes stared intently at the Proto-Aesir, its mouth opened to reveal ferocious looking fangs. A thick black mane separated its head from the rest of its body, the fur of which grew in layers to give it almost a segmented look. Its torso was covered in a black and gold armor, extending from just past its mane to its hind legs. Its appearance resembled almost that of a chimera, but the ninja knew that it was anything but such a creature. The energy that flowed from the creature was staggering, at a level that was even greater than that of the Proto-Aesir. Unlike Omen, however, the flow of energy coming from the new creature did not feel malicious despite its ferocious appearance.
Ashram propelled himself forward in mid-air, landing on top of Fenrir in a position that looked reminiscent of horseback riding. As if it understood his intentions without the need for a verbal command, the large wolf took off running, its feet giving off white tracks that suspended in the air with every step it took, appearing as though it was moving on an invisible platform. Despite its large size, the creature moved with incredible speed and agility, avoiding all of the descending rocks that spewed from the Proto-Aesir’s spell. As it moved to evade one last attack, it twisted its movements upwards in a vertical path towards the central meteor.
“Finish it.” Ashram said in a low voice as the creature opened its mouth wider, streams of energy gathering around to form massive white sphere of energy. “Lunar Strike!”
A large beam fired upwards from its mouth in response to Ashram’s command, striking the bottom of the large meteor. Chunks of the crimson meteor began to shatter into pieces, circling around the white pillar of energy that originated from the large wolf. The hole created in the middle of the dark meteor began to enlarge as pieces broke off to become engulfed in beam of light, as though the creature’s attack had a gravity pull of its own strong enough to absorb matter around it. As the last remnants of the meteor disappeared, the pillar of light faded from view, the ominous overcast skies returning to its previous calm state, as though it had never been disturbed.
Changing targets, Ashram redirected the wolf under him in a downward course aimed directly towards Omen, his grip on the wolf’s mane tightening as he felt his stomach rise to his throat with the rapid descent. A growl of fury escaped the demonic Proto-Aesir’s lips upon seeing its meteor spell dispersed, lowering its head to aim the spines on its back towards the sky. A dense barrage of metallic spikes rose into the air, the view of the ground below him faded as the cloud of countless gray spines rose towards him.
“Lend me strength, Astral Blades!” Ashram commanded as he swung his Mageblade forward numerous times, releasing a flurry of white crescents towards the incoming spikes. Expanding in size as they approached the oncoming projectiles, his attacks consumed the deadly cloud rising towards him, cutting through the Void creature’s attacks the instant it made contact.
With a quick shift of its hind legs, Omen launched itself from its crouched position, diving head-on into the wall of energy to emerge on the other side unscratched. Closing the gap between itself and Ashram, it raised its front limb, a massive crimson outline of its claws extending into the air. As it made the motion of swiping forward, the larger silhouette followed its movements, a red shadow swinging forward to collide into its opponent.
Ashram felt himself thrown to the side as the Proto-Aesir’s attack connected, the sheer force throwing his balance into chaos, consumed by an overwhelming vertigo that sent the world around him spinning. Grasping furiously with its paws to regain a foothold in the air, Fenrir stabilized itself before leaning backwards on its hind legs, making a pouncing motion with its front claws. Six streams of blue energy formed from the tip of its claws, extending vertically to almost reach the ground below. Using all of his force to hold back the nausea that inevitably came with the dizziness, the mage regained his balance, swinging his blade forward to send the attacks launching forward, shredding into Omen’s armor to elicit a bloodcurdling cry of pain while simultaneously sending it reeling towards the ground.
Shen sprinted forward rapidly towards the falling Proto-Aesir, intent on delivering a fatal blow if the creature survived the attack. Arriving at the crash site a minute later, he treaded carefully towards the crater where the Void creature had landed, watching for any signs of sudden moves. The sound of footsteps against the earth from behind him caused him to turn his gaze to see Ashram arriving next to him mounted on the large wolf, which was much larger in size close up, standing at three times the height of the ninja.
“What is that?” Shen asked as he stared intently at the fierce looking wolf that Ashram had been riding.
“Fenrir…an Aesir of the Goddess.” He answered simply, sending a shock to run along the ninja’s spine.
For a moment, Shen couldn’t tell if he had misunderstood the former High Councilor. How…I was under the impression that an Aesir was a wild creature of unimaginable power, capable of destroying the world…impossible to be controlled by any mortal creature. Yet, standing in front of him was a creature that Ashram claimed to be one of them, docile under his control to be used in battle.
Reginald Ashram… just what are the limits of your power? Shen thought to himself almost in disbelief until the sound of shifting from behind the plumes of dust caught his attention.
Turning towards the smoking crater, he saw the silhouette of the crouched Proto-Aesir emerging slowly from behind the smoky shroud, its face still held in a sinister smile as it cast aside the dust. As it came into view, numerous lacerations were present across its body, thick black fluid seeping from the individual wounds to form small pools on the ground it stood on.
“You think the Goddess’ power will protect you? Think again!” Omen shrieked in a rageful voice, dark energy suddenly exploding from his body. Its bleeding stopped as the wounds generated by Fenrir began to close up before their eyes.
Examining the Void creature’s regenerative ability closely, Shen began to realize the origin of its power. There is a way to stop it, but… Drawing out both of his katanas, the ninja dashed forward to deliver a series of slashes against the Proto-Aesir, which merely stood in a crouched position motionless, its eyes meeting the ninja’s burn a clear message into his mind: his attacks were futile. He came to the same realization an instant later, for the moment that his attack connected, the sickening sound of flesh moving reached his ears as the creature instantly regenerated from its wounds. As the creature began to crouch lower into a striking stance, Shen quickly raised one of his swords in front of him, holding it a few inches away from his face.
“Rain of Blades,” He said in a low voice, intending to impale the creature’s limbs to the ground to hinder its movements. Rather than splitting into two swords, however, holy energy spilled from the crystal embedded in the hilt of the blade, expanding into five blades that levitated in the air, revolving in a circular motion around the ninja in a manner not unlike that of Irelia’s fighting style. After the initial shock passed, a gasp escaped Shen’s lips as a realization cut through his hesitations like a blade.
“Sir Ashram, please stand back.” Shen said, causing the Summoner to gaze at him intently.
“You have a plan?” Ashram asked, surprised at the request.
“Yes, I think I may know how to stop it from healing.” Shen replied before raising his free hand. A floating katana ceased its orbit around Shen, moving forward slightly before rotating at its hilt to be aimed towards Proto-Aesir. With a swift swing of his hands, the katana shot forward, aimed towards his opponent’s head.
Anticipating the oncoming attack, Omen leaped to the side, allowing the blade to fly past him harmlessly before embedding itself into the ground behind him. It turned its attention back towards the ninja, who took off on a sprint before a second blade was launched forward. Like the previous blade, Omen leaped to one side to easily avoid the attack. After avoiding a third attack in a similar fashion, the Proto-Aesir let out a sinister laughter of amusement.
“Is this all you’re capable of, pathetic human?” Omen asked in a toying manner, shifting his head slightly to avoid being hit by a fourth blade flying past him from another direction. “Do you think this will do anything?”
“In fact…yes.” Shen announced as he leapt to his original position, landing with his legs slightly bent next to the former High Councilor. His eyes burned with determination as all feelings of inadequacy in this battle left him, grabbing a hold of the final sword that levitated in front of him before swiftly swinging it towards the ground.
A sharp ringing echoed through the air as he stabbed the blade into the ground, causing a large area of the ground around the Proto-Aesir to glow a bright purple color. A large rune circle appeared, a pentagon imposed on the inside of the circle with Omen in the middle. Jagged streaks of energy extended from each of the katana that had been embedded into the ground, perfectly positioned at each of the vertices of the pentagon, converging in the middle where the Void creature stood.
“What?” Omen snarled as it struggled to move, finding itself snared to the ground. The wounds that had healed suddenly began to burst open again, its blood flowing freely onto the ground below it. “Impossible, what is this?”
“Negation, a sealing technique. After seeing your regeneration ability a few times, I realized you accomplish it by drawing in chaos energy from your surroundings. In the case of Icathia, there was plenty of it in the atmosphere. Negation is a seal that uses natural energy to completely disrupt and seal off the flow of energy into whatever stands at the center of this technique…in this case, you. With the flow of chaos energy disrupted, your ability to heal and cast spells has been eliminated. In other words, it’s over, Omen!”
Fenrir reared its head in a circle as it let out a loud roar. A blue aura of energy surrounded it, flowing up along Ashram’s body onto his blade. A large crescent of sky blue energy extended forward from his blade as he raised it into the air. Narrowing his eyes as he stared at the struggling Proto-Aesir in front of him, he brought his blade downwards to launch an Astral Blade attack, creating a bright arc of energy that tore through the ground as it approached their opponent. A loud explosion echoed through the area as hisattack connected, a dome of flames rapidly expanding in size as it spiraled in a perfect circle around Omen.
“It’s over,” Ashram said as he leapt off of his Aesir, placing his hand on its flank. “Thank you, old friend.”
Letting out a roar, the large wolf glowed a bright blue color before dispersing into specks of energy, gathering together to form streaks that embedded into the High Councilor’s right forearm. The brilliant light dimmed as the creature’s energy condensed, reforming its sealed crystal form. Pulling his sleeve down to its original position, Ashram turned his gaze towards Shen, who was hunched over on his knees, fighting to breathe as his neck muscles strained with every breath he took in.
“That was in interesting technique. I had no idea you were capable of using such powerful magic.” Ashram said.
“It’s not magic…it’s natural energy manipulation…an elite Kinkou Order technique that relies on drawing energy from the earth to seal away magic.” The ninja explained, alternating between words and labored breaths. “It normally requires at least two members of the Order to perform, as it would be impractical for any single person to carry any more than two swords on them. Until I received the power of the Seers’ altar, performing that technique by myself would have been impossi-“
The sound of a bloodcurdling shriek interrupted Shen’s words, causing both of them to suddenly turn towards the clearing cloud of dust. Before they could react, two shadowy tentacles flung outwards towards them, snaring their legs into place.
“You might have won, but this is not over.” Omen’s voice announced with a tone of desperation, one that came from someone who no longer had anything to lose. As the smoke cleared, the figure of Omen remained motionless on the ground, speaking without any movements of its mouth. “I will scar this earth with my legacy, the legacy of the Void!”
With those last words, pitch black clouds rose violently from the fallen Proto-Aesir, launching into the sky to cover the area in a formless shroud. Ashram and Shen struggled to move, but found themselves paralyzed from the neck down by Omen’s magic bindings. They looked up in horror, staring into the essence of the black cloud spiraling in the air, a sentient presence within it spreading a feeling of raw chaos and darkness into the atmosphere.
A trembling sensation overcame Fiora as she continued in her clash of blades against General du Couteau. She felt the darkness inside of her suddenly clawing at her to escape its confine, causing a sharp pain to rise from her chest. Turning to find the source of the darkness, she let out a gasp of shock as her gaze met Ashram and Shen shackled to the ground by shadowy bindings. Abandoning her fight against the Noxian general, she sprang towards their position while channeling a light spell through her blade.
“Fiora, what are you doing, get out of here!” Ashram yelled out as he saw her approach, watching in horror as the cloud of darkness began to descend upon them like a tidal wave.
Fiora landed on the ground next to them, delivering two quick slashes to the shadowy tentacles to free them of their bindings. Tossing her blade to the ground, she quickly grabbed a hold of both of their shoulders, hurling them away from her. As she prepared to evade the descending cloud, a second searing sensation of pain rose from her chest, choking her breathing as she let out a painful scream. No! Not now…move…move…I can’t…move! She fell to her knees a moment later, every muscle in her body frozen into ice that failed to obey her the moment the chaos energy above her came too close.
“Fiora, move!” Ashram yelled out as he sat up, a chill running down his spine as he realized what was happening a moment too late. “Fiora!”
His last screams would not be heard by the duelist as the dark cloud collided onto her, engulfing her in an aura of chaos. The pain that had suffocated her moments earlier had become unbearable, spreading from her chest into every limb of her body. She couldn’t move or breathe as she lost total control of her body. The sensation of countless insects crawling on her body reached her mind as veins around her hands and face began to swell up, changing colors to resemble miniature black serpents. The light of the world around her began to fade, in its place a pitch black void that deprived her of every sensation and thought.
A maniacal laughter echoed through the area as General du Couteau descended slowly from the air, landing on the ground smoothly a few feet away from the duelist, now hunched over on the ground motionless. A sinister smile was plastered on his face as he began to slowly pace towards her, his blade held to his side in preparation to strike.
“How precious, sacrificing yourself to save your friends. How does it feel, to be overwhelmed by the suffocating darkness, unable to breathe, unable to move, unable to control the same body that you were born with?” He taunted, stopping inches away from the fallen duelist before raising his blade above his head. “Not to worry, I’ll put an end to your suffering.”
“No!” The combined voices of her companions screamed out as they simultaneously rushed towards her, watching as the armblade was brought down on her neck, an execution move that meant a quick and certain death to its victim.
The general’s blade suddenly stopped in mid-swing as a dark hand caught the descending attack, causing him to let out of a gasp of shock. He pulled backwards desperately, trying to free his arm from its grasp to no avail.
“Impossible… you’re still-“ Du Couteau managed to say before a low growl interrupted him, causing him to gasp in horror.
Within the blink of an eye, a trail of blood flew from the general’s chest as Fiora’s free hand swung upwards, ripping into the Noxian’s chest with bare hands shrouded in a black aura. Twisting her other wrist a moment later, she flung him into the air, throwing him to the side like a rag doll as the tip of his armblade broke off.
Fiora slowly rose to her feet as she tilted her head backwards to reveal eyes pitch black in color, trails of black veins extending from her eyes along the side of her face. Her mouth was held in a distorted grin, showing a row of razor sharp teeth that gleaned mercilessly in the daylight. Holding up her arm, she revealed that the dark aura around her left hand had fused into a single large scythe. Kneeling down to pick her Mageblade off of the ground, her attention shot towards the Noxian general, the jolting reactions resembling almost that of a predator searching for its prey.
“Take this, you *****!” Du Couteau yelled out in an enraged voice as he cast an Inferno Blaze, sending the massive ball of flames towards her.
Fiora responded by raising her free hand to form a dark sphere of energy at the tip of the scythe, causing a look of horror to appear on the general’s face. As the flames neared her, she let out a loud growl as a beam of dark energy shot forward, engulfing the flames to negate the attack in a large explosion. The general quickly shielded his face from the shockwave with his hands, opening his eyes a moment too late to see Fiora emerging from the flames with a look of murderous intent on her face. He couldn’t react fast enough as her blade impaled him in his chest, the momentum of her movement carrying him with her backwards until her blade stabbed into a crumbling stone wall.
“Fiora, that’s enough!” Ashram said as he sprinted rapidly towards her.
General du Couteau had barely enough time to let out a cry of pain before opening his eyes again to see a second black sphere of energy appear at the tip of her scythe, intending to kill him with a point blank Chaos Strike. “So…that’s how it is.” Du Couteau said as he stared into the jet black eyes of the duelist, a look of acceptance on his face. “Do it then.”
A loud crashing sound rang through the ruins as the two of them became engulfed by a large spiraling dome of chaos energy, sending numerous shockwaves that kicked up dust towards the others. The force of the attack was overwhelming, forcing those closest to Fiora to find cover as violent streaks of black lightning flew from the origin of the attack, randomly striking the ground around them. As the attack faded, an eerie silence overcame the ruins, contrasting the chaotic sounds of battle that had filled the air moments ago.
Lux dropped onto her feet, her eyes wide open as she held an expression of horror on her face. The power and evil behind that last attack was far too much for her to withstand even being within its proximity. Knowing the source of that attack only served to worsen the effect it had on her, her mind still in disbelief of what her eyes had witnessed.
“No…no…it can’t be,” Lux said, her voice shuddering in fear. “Fiorie…is this…really you?”
The silhouette of the purple haired duelist appeared behind the fading cloud of dust, pacing towards Shen, Ashram, and Lux. They stared at her approach apprehensively, watching as she walked towards them in an almost entranced state, her head held downwards with facial features hidden by strands of purple and black. A trail of smoky black energy followed her left arm, her hand still held in the form of a black scythe. Streams of jet black energy exuded from her Highwind, resembling black flames that danced around the blade with every step she took.
“Fiorie,” Lux said carefully, her voice weak and cracking, as she took a step backwards. “Can you hear me?”
As if in response, the duelist’s gaze shot up towards her, letting out a feral growl under her breath similar to a startled animal. Without warning, she took off on a sprint towards them, her Highwind held to her side in a striking position. Leaping into the air, a wide smile crossed her face as she stared down her prey with darkened eyes, swinging her blade down onto the blonde mage as she descended.
Lux froze in horror, unable to move at the sight of her best friend attacking her with extreme prejudice. By the time she had realized that the duelist was serious in her intentions, she could no longer evade the attack, as steel came swinging down far too fast for her to dodge. She flinched as the blade was brought down, shifting her body as she closed her eyes until the sound of metal clashing reached her ears. Slowly opening her eyes again, she looked in horror as Ashram stood in front of her, his Blazing Edge drawn and pressed against Fiora’s.
“What are you doing? It’s us, your friends!” Ashram exclaimed, pushing with all of his strength to keep her blade and its surrounding currents of chaos energy away.
The purple haired girl reacted to his statement with a simple growl under her breath before swiping at him with her left hand. Leaping off of the ground, he used the clashing of their blades as a pivot point to flip over the duelist as he simultaneously channeled a spell through his free hand. Landing behind her, he held out his left arm to produce a set of five crystals that expanded in size to form a perimeter around her.
“Five Prism Binding!” He announced as each of the crystals around her glowed brightly, causing her arms to fling outwards and become suspended in the air.
A series of bloodcurdling growls and shrieks escaped Fiora’s lips as she struggled to free herself from her bindings. Lux held her hands to her mouth in horror at what was transpiring in front of her, the childhood friend that she had known for years now resembling a feral caged animal rather than a person. Her fear worsened when Fiora lashed out, streams of chaos energy erupting from her body, flowing wildly in all directions to cause the blonde to nearly suffocate under its pressure.
Why is this happening? We already won...so why is...I...I have to do something…for everyone’s sake…for her sake. Lux thought to herself, shaking off the haze of confusion and distress in her mind as she held her staff firmly in front of her face, using all of her effort to channel a spell that bathed the area around in a dim radiance.
Ashram narrowed his eyes in apprehension, taking a few steps back as his Five Prism Binding technique collapsed under the force of Fiora’s chaos energy. As the last of the magic prisms binding her shattered like delicate glass, Fiora sprinted forward at the closest person to her, closing the gap between herself and Lux, who stood motionless as the steel of Highwind was brought to her abdomen in a horizontal slash. It was almost instantaneous, too fast for Ashram or anyone else to react as the possessed duelist’s Mageblade buried itself halfway into the lady of luminosity’s belly, cleanly slicing through to her midline.
“Lux! No!” Ezreal screamed in horror as he managed to his feet, taking weak and desperate steps forward to try and rejoin the others. “It…it can’t be…”
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