Garen lay awake for several hours. He couldn't sleep. It wasn't because of Lux snuggling up to his body, rather it was the fact that Talon was able to sneak up on Katarina and whisk her away as mysteriously as he had appeared. Had Demacia's security loosened, or was it because he was so infatuated with Katarina that he did not notice Talon sneaking around with them. As he lay there, staring at the ceiling, Garen couldn't help but think what would happen to Katarina. Surely, she was in some kind of danger now that Talon caught her red-handed going on a date with Garen. More importantly, Talon appeared right after Garen told Katarina that he loves her. That was a dead give away that something has developed between Katarina and himself. With a sigh, Garen turned to his side and looked at Lux's sleeping face. She seemed very comfortable cuddling her big brother as shown by the faint smile that was evident on her face, combined with her muttering of Garen's name every now and then. Garen ran a finger across Lux's cheek, then closed his eyes as he tried to go to sleep. Sunrise came, and Garen was still unable to go to sleep. He lay there awake despite having his eyes closed. Lux started to wake up as she rubbed her eyes and stretched with a yawn, then slowly opened her eyes and peered into Garen's eyes.
"Good morning, brother," Lux whispered as she kissed Garen's cheek.
"Morning, Luxanna. Did you rest well?" Garen asked.
"Why, yes. I was very warm too," Lux said, closing her eyes and nuzzling Garen's neck.
"Glad you've had a nice night," Garen said as he smiled, then kissed Lux's hair.
"How about you?" Lux said while burying her face into Garen's neck.
"I slept well," Garen lied. He knew Lux was going to force him to go to sleep if he said he didn't get a good night's rest.
"That's good," Lux said before pulling away from Garen and sitting up to stretch more. Garen sat up as well, then looked at Lux. She was wearing a shirt and extremely short shorts. Garen sighed. Lux hasn't changed. Still wearing really provocative clothing inside the house.
Several hours later, Garen and Lux head out of their home. Lux requested that Garen walk her to the Academy before heading out to his daily activities, and so Garen was stuck with Lux as she wrapped her arm around his as they walked the streets of Demacia. Everyone greeted Lux, but they didn't quite recognize Garen in his rugged outfit. Garen and Lux walked together, arms linked until they reached the entrance of the Academy.
"Here we are!" Lux exclaimed as she let go of her brother and spun on her heel to look at him, "Be back here by sundown, and we can walk home together!"
"I'll be here," Garen replied, then watched as his sister climbed the stairs to the Academy's doors. He turned around and left the Academy as soon as Lux closed the door behind her.
With his rugged look, everyone was intimidated by Garen. He walked the streets over to the Dauntless Vanguard's headquarters, and immediately went to the armory. In the armory were, of course, weapons of every sort that the Dauntless Vanguard used, as well as armor sets and shields. There were also crafting tables and anvils and grindstones and all the tools necessary for maintaining weapons. Several of the Dauntless Vanguard saluted Garen, as they would always remember their commander even though his features have changed. Garen saluted back, and started sharpening his sword on the grindstone. The whole armory was buzzing with conversations until the Prince came in, looking for Garen.
"Ah, there you are," Jarvan said as he walked over to Garen.
"Prince," Garen greeted Jarvan as he stood up and bowed his head slightly.
"As you were," Jarvan directed to the Dauntless Vanguard and they resumed their conversations. Garen returned to sharpening his sword on the grindstone. "I see you have returned."
"Indeed. I've spent the night at my house as well," Garen replied, not taking his eyes off of his blade.
"I trust that the Lady of Luminosity has given you my letter?"
"Indeed, she has."
"I'll start today," Garen said, stopping the grinding stone and looking at Jarvan.
"That is excellent news, commander. However, you shall follow me."
"I see the Demacian in you has started to diminish."
"...I'll follow you, Prince."
"Good. We shall be off," Jarvan said as he exited the Dauntless Vanguard's headquarters with Garen behind him. They walked through the streets and went to the Palace, then Jarvan led Garen through a series of hallways, hallways which were familiar to Garen, and finally into an empty room.
"What is it that you want from me, Prince?" Garen inquired.
"I've heard word that the Sinister Blade was spotted in Demacia yesterday with a rugged-looking man wielding a massive sword. Is this true?"
"Yes, prince, it is true."
"And you spent the day taking her in and around Demacia despite knowing she is from Noxus. Is this true?"
"It is true..."
"Garen Crownguard. You have committed an act of treason against the city-state of Demacia. What have you got to say for yourself?"
"I fell in love, prince."
"Love. I understand love is a complex matter and shouldn't be trifled with, but that is no excuse to bring a Noxian assassin into Demacia."
"What is my punishment, oh great prince?"
"Oh, it is not punishment. You shall fight for Demacia once more. Word has it that Noxus is assembling a siege group outside their city gates. You are to sabotage the siege machines and return intact."
"How many men am I taking?"
"You're going by yourself," Jarvan said, then looked at Garen's eyes to see if he hesitated.
"I'm not allowed to bring a companion or two?"
"Unless someone wants to help the exile that brought a Noxian into his home, then you will be going alone."
"...Understood. When shall I go?"
"I shall release you at once. Go and make your preparations." Garen stood up and bowed lightly to Jarvan, then went towards the door. "Worry not. Should you fail to return in one week's time, I shall send men to recover your body," Jarvan said.
"Understood," Garen said, before exiting the room.
Garen wandered through the halls that Jarvan led him through and eventually found the exit, then he traversed the streets of Demacia to head over to the Academy. A guard stopped Garen at the entrance and requested his purpose for coming to the Academy.
"I am Garen Crownguard," Garen told the guard.
"You're an exile," the guard responded.
"I'm here to visit Luxanna Crownguard."
"And why should I allow your visit?"
"If you had a sister, wouldn't you want to give her a proper goodbye before you go on a suicide mission?"
"What's your point, exile?"
"I was given a task by the Prince himself, and I wish to say goodbye to my sister properly," Garen said, getting slightly irritated.
"Fine. I'll allow it just this once. But don't think you're getting inside a second time," the guard responded before opening the door to the academy.
Once inside, Garen started walking quietly around the place. Many of the students of the Academy stared at Garen for a bit as they walked past, then Garen sought out the library. There, he found Lux carrying a big stack of books, and he approached her and offered to help. Lux smiled and handed Garen the whole stack before walking cheerfully to a table. Garen placed the books down on the table and explained to her the whole ordeal with Jarvan.
"I'm coming with you!" Lux exclaimed after Garen finished.
"I cannot allow that, Luxanna. There's a high chance that I won't return," Garen said as he attempted to calm Lux down.
"All the more that I want to go! You can't do this by yourself!"
"Yes, I can! Don't you trust your own brother?"
"If my brother is going to die, then I would die beside him!"
"Do you hear yourself, Luxanna Crownguard? You're going to throw away your future for the trifles of your brother? No!"
"Why do you want to go alone so badly?"
"Because I don't want anyone else to be harmed! Why do you insist on coming along with me so badly?"
"...Because I love you, dammit!" Lux yelled then glared into Garen, tears forming at the side of her eyes.
"..." Garen was silenced. He didn't know what to do anymore. He wanted to keep Lux safe and let her have a better future, but now she wants to sacrifice her life just to be with him. It was really touching, it truly was, but Garen wouldn't be able to forgive himself if Lux was harmed in this mission. He stared into Lux's eyes, her tears now rolling down her cheek. A decision must be made, and fast, but which should he take? Would he risk Lux's life by allowing her to go on a mission, or would he keep her safe but risk the development of resentment for one another? It was a tough choice, but someone had to make it. Lux certainly was waiting for his answer, and Garen manned up. He wouldn't fail if he was by himself. He was the Might of Demacia. Paired with a great support as the Lady of Luminosity, they might just be able to pull this off. Garen sighed and held Lux tightly in his arms, then kissed her head repeatedly. "Fine, fine... But we have to go as soon as possible."
"...Don't worry brother. I'm all ready as I am now," Lux replied, leaning her head on Garen's chest.
"Then we should get going."
The siblings set out of Demacia a few minutes later, and started journeying across Valoran to get to Noxus. They would go around the Institute of War so they wouldn't have to go through the myriad of protocols needed to enter the facility, and just traverse through continuously until they reach the siege machines outside the gates of Noxus. Lux was dressed in her classic outfit, and Garen was in his traditional outfit, but his hair and beard stayed. As the two were walking, they would converse, but mostly it was Lux who talked and Garen who listened. It was a completely different experience from when he walked to Demacia with Katarina, but Garen enjoyed it. Within a few days, they arrive at Noxus's outskirts. With the sun setting and darkness beginning to settle, Garen and Lux hid in a nearby brush and waited till the siege weapons were either unmanned or unguarded. Surely, Noxus wasn't that careless to leave war machines unguarded, but those guards are bound to be tired if they are working an all-night shift. Finally, with just a handful of guards watching over the siege machines, Garen pulled out his sword and Lux readied her wand.
"Ready?" Garen asked his little sister.
"Ready." Lux replied.
The two quietly snuck out of their brush, and proceeded to the first siege machine. Lux ensnared the first guard, and Garen silenced him soon after, then quietly dispatched of him by stabbing him through the heart. Garen made sure he hid the body into a brush, then proceeded through the next couple of guards. With the torchlight illuminating Garen, the guards almost began shouting until they were both hit simultaneously by a blade and a ball of light. There were about eight siege machines, all packed up tightly togehter, with about sixteen guards. With three down and thirteen to go, Garen forged onward, spinning like a top with his blade out to take out another five that were doing patrols around the siege machine's perimeter. Lux fired an anomaly of light towards a group of three soldiers and they stared at it for a while until it exploded, knocking them all out. With their teamwork, Garen and Lux was able to take out the remainder of the guards, but when they were doing a body count, Garen and Lux noticed that they were missing one body. All of a sudden, they heard a bell ringing, and they knew they were detected.
"Luxanna! Destroy the machines!" Garen ordered his sister.
Immediately, Lux fired a wide beam of light that lit the siege machines on fire and eventually they all crumbled down to ashes because of the beam's intense energy. However, as soon as she was finished, a flurry of blades came flying in her direction. Garen ran to Lux, but he didn't get there in time and all three blades embedded themselves into Lux's torso. Lux fell soon after, and Garen looked around to see who did it. Out from the shadows came Talon. He knew that targetting Lux would bring on the wrath of her brother, and surely enough, Garen came charging into Talon with his sword held high. Talon moved to the side as Garen brought his sword down and gave him a swift blow with his knee. Garen pulled his sword up and spun around, but Talon kept running backwards and snuck a few hits on Garen's weak points every chance he got. Eventually, Garen landed a blow at Talon's leg and caused the assassin to fall, but he disappeared in a flurry of blades which hit Garen, then when he came to, he saw Talon on top of Lux's body, a dagger pointed at her chest. Garen, upon realizing what the assassin was going to do, yelled out in despair.
"NOOOOOOO!" Garen ran at Talon, but Talon plunged his dagger into Lux's chest, and it punctured through her armor. Garen, tears in his eyes, ran faster and went to Lux's body. Talon started running but he threw his sword up in the air, only to land on Talon's shoulder in the form of Demacian Justice. Garen's anger and anguish flowed in the form of tears from his eyes, and he quickly retrieved his sword from Talon's body and scooped Lux into his arms and started running. He ran back to Demacia, certain that the Institute of War wouldn't offer help since they were the once keeping balance between Demacia and Noxus. Garen ran as fast and as far as he could until sunrise came, and he treated Lux's wounds. She was looking pale, and Garen was afraid that he wouldn't make it in time to Demacia. After just a few hours of resting, Garen carried Lux once more and started running again.
"Brother, you should leave me here..." Lux whispered to Garen as he ran.
"No! I won't leave you!" Garen said, choking on his tears. He regretted letting Lux come with him on this mission. But as usual, he thought it was a good idea at the time. Garen got to Demacia in a whopping 2-day journey, and he rushed to the hospital with Lux in his arms. The medical magicians took Lux in and they made Garen wait at the lobby. He started thinking about the worst, and he started bargaining. He should've been the one that was hurt. She didn't deserve any of the damage she took. She didn't deserve to be hurt at all. It was the big brother's role to take care of the little sister, yet she took most of the aggro off of him and paid the price. Garen buried his face into his palms as he cried, full of regret, and he awaited any report on Lux's condition.
"Garen Crownguard?" an unfamiliar voice called to him. Garen stood up and looked at the doctor.
"Yes, that is me. What is the situation with my sister?"
"...She's not exactly doing fine..." the doctor started. Garen faltered and lowered his head, "...but she isn't in a life-threatening situation either."
Garen looked up, "What do you mean?" he asked.
"Have a look for yourself," the doctor said before ushering Garen into the room. He found Lux sitting up on the bed with a smile plastered on her face.
"Hey, Luxanna..." Garen said as he approached his sister and held her hand in his.
"Hello, brother," Lux replied.
"Are you alright? Did the doctors do a good job healing you?" Garen asked, caressing his sister's hand.
"They did their best. They said I should be free to go in three days."
"Three days? What for?" Garen turned to the doctor.
"We found an unknown poison in her system, and had to resort to potent healing magic. We're giving her three days to recover from the mana strain that may affect physical movement," the doctor explained.
"Well, thank you very much, doctor," Garen said, then kissed Lux's forehead before the doctor and Garen went out of the room. "So, how much do I have to pay?"
"Don't worry about that, old friend." Jarvan IV said, who had his back leaned against the wall, "You've proven yourself a Demacian, and the fact that you completed the mission AND care about your sister's welfare is enough evidence for me that you are not completely lost to us."
"Prince!" Garen looked at Jarvan, surprised.
"All the hospital expenses shall be paid by the crown. You do not have to pay for anything," Jarvan said, then went over to clasp Garen's shoulder, "But seriously, get a haircut and shave the beard off."
"Haha, very well. I'll do that as soon as Lux gets better. She wanted to do that for me," Garen said, clasping Jarvan's shoulder as well.
"Well, I came to check on you and the Lady of Luminosity. I see that she is in good hands now. I'll be at the palace should you need me," Jarvan said before heading out.
Garen saw Jarvan out, then the doctor excused himself from Garen's presence, and Garen returned to Lux's side. He took her hand into his and kissed the back of Lux's hand, which earned a giggle from her. She started talking about her dreams while the doctors were healing her, and Garen listened intently to his sister's stories. Finally, Lux put Garen's palm on her cheek as she stared ever so lovingly into her brother's eyes.
"I love you," Lux said.
Garen put his other hand on her other cheek and brought his lips to her forehead and then leaned his forehead gently on Lux's forehead, "I love you too."
Lux had a sleep-filled three days in the hospital, and Garen had a sleepless three days watching over her, always keeping himself awake to make sure he can get Lux whatever she needed should she ask for it. As Lux was being discharged, the alarm bell of Demacia rang. Suddenly every staff member in the hospital rushed to and fro, preparing open beds and getting fresh supplies. Garen and Lux knew what the alarm was about, but it seemed that some of the younger Demacians in the hospital had no clue what was going on. Garen walked to a father who was sitting by his son's bed, and gave him a pat on the shoulder. He told him to stay with his son no matter what happens. Afterwards, Lux and Garen rushed to their workplace; Lux to the Academy, and Garen to the Dauntless Vanguard's barracks. Demacia was under siege.
The rush for preparations went by in a blur, and Garen had no idea how much time has passed since he left the hospital, but they were sure as hell it was the Noxians who did this. In the midst of civilians retreating to their designated safe zone and Demacian soldiers rushing to the frontlines stood Garen, in his classic outfit, along with the sword he was known for. He took a deep breath, then started walking to the front lines. He carried an air of calmness around despite of the chaos going on in his home city. Soldiers ran to and fro, avoiding Garen like an obstacle. Soon enough, he was at the city outskirts, where the men have assembled and were waiting patiently for the orders to be given. As Garen went to the head of the Dauntless Vanguard regiment, Jarvan IV came over to Garen and briefed him to the situation. It seemed that Noxus siege machines that Jarvan sent Lux and Garen to destroy were meant to draw the two out, so that the attention wouldn't be towards the bigger and badder machines that they were making within Noxus.
"I should have paid more attention," Jarvan said, looking a little regretful of his orders.
"Do not worry, Prince. We shall lead our men to victory," Garen reassured his childhood companion.
After their brief exchange of words, Jarvan rode out to lead another regiment at the North side. Garen was leading the Dauntless Vanguard to guard the East. As the siege weapons threw heavy projectiles to Demacia's magical defensive wall that was created and maintained by magicians in the Academy, the ground rumbled as the Noxian forces visibly started to charge raised his sword and yelled, "Charge!" as he ran, and the battlecry of the Dauntless Vanguard echoed in the air. "Demacia!" the resounding voices of the Demacian forces yelled. It didn't take too long for the two armies to crash into each other in the middle of the battlefield. Garen cleaved through many soldiers due to his spin to win technique, and soon he found himself, along with his men, in the middle of the enemy ranks. The clamor of battle and the sound of war rang through each and every warrior's ears, and the warm blood of their enemies splattered on the ground and on their weapons. The breaking of bones or the cutting open of flesh, everything made a sound. The panting of a soldier, the drop of a sweat, the blink of an eye. Everything had a sound in the field of battle, and you couldn't keep track of time. Garen bashed a soldier with his fist and hit him upside the head with his sword, then swung his sword to the side to cleave through the man next to his imminent attacker. The man hesitated which allowed Garen to beat him with his enormous fist.
Several hours of fighting between the Noxians and the Demacians passed, and it seemed that both sides had an infinite amount of soldiers. More and more came out to fight from Demacia, and more and more Noxians appeared in the fields. The frontlines wavered. One hour, it is pushed into Noxian territory, the next, it is closer to Demacia. The siege weapons continued launching flaming projectiles at the magic barrier of Demacia. Garen, now covered in blood, took hold of the Demacian flag from a flag bearer and drove it straight into the enemy forces, signaling his men to push forward. Minutes later, the Dauntless Vanguard had gained the ground they lost, and started pushing farther. The Demacians fought harder when they saw Garen bravely running towards the enemy lines. However, Garen's advance was stopped when he saw the beautiful familiar face of Katarina.
"You...! What are you doing here?" Katarina exclaimed.
"I'm defending my home, which you are attacking!" Garen replied, as he thrusted the tip of the flag at Katarina. She dodged it deftly, then threw a dagger at Garen's shoulder.
Katarina and Garen were locked in a deadly waltz as they fought against each other in the middle of all the fighting going on. Since the flag of Demacia didn't move forward, the men knew that they had to hold the line. Deft moves and heavy attacks were exchanged between the two, but due to three days of not getting proper rest, Garen started losing. Katarina stood in front of Garen's kneeling form, and pointed her dagger at Garen's neck. Suddenly, behind Katarina's back a lot of men flew off of their feet, and soon, a big man appeared beside Katarina.
"Darius, I got this," Katarina said to Darius, the hand of Noxus.
"Nonsense. He would already be dead if you handled this properly," Darius shoved Katarina to the side as he raised his axe above his head as he swung it down at Garen's head. However, Garen raised his sword and blocked Darius's axe. Darius's heavy attacks made Garen's hands numb from the shockwave that ran through his weapon. Garen struggled for a moment, but he stabbed the flag of Demacia into the ground and used two hands on his weapon as he charged into Darius with a decisive strike. Darius swung his axe horizontally and Garen ducked below the attack as he spun again. However, Darius stopped Garen from spinning as he slammed his axe into Garen's shoulder. Garen fell down to his knee, but he threw a solid punch to Darius's knee, which caused the Hand of Noxus to take a few steps back. Katarina watched from a distance. She knew there was no stopping these two, but she knew Garen was on the losing side. He was already battered by leading his men in the first charge, and he also fought Katarina, now he has to endure another beating with Darius. Darius was the most feared warrior of Noxus, and Garen was one of the most revered fighters of Demacia. It was just the battle of the legends, and Katarina couldn't help but stop Garen from being hurt after seeing him take a solid hit at the side of his head from the flat of Darius's axe.
"Garen, Darius is very powerful. It'd be smart of you to run away, if you can," Katarina said.
"I see the difference in our power... but this man is corrupted. I can see it in his eyes. His eyes give off the lust for power, like most Noxians do," Garen said, struggling to get up since his balance was thrown off by the most recent blow he received.
"Don't worry, Katarina. Your pathetic self couldn't land a scratch on this man," Darius said as he approached Garen. Garen jumped up and struck Darius's shoulder with his sword, taunted by Darius's insult to Katarina, which elicited a spinning attack from the Hand of Noxus. However, the Might of Demacia continued his barrage of attacks before spinning around as well, dealing intense damage to Darius. The two clashed their weapons together in the form of swift, heavy attacks. Sparks flew out of their weapons every time they met, and but Garen was driven to the ground once more by Darius's superior power. Darius swung his axe down on Garen, but Garen rolled to the side, barely avoiding the deadly chop. It had been raining for a few minutes now, and the ground soon developed muddy water. As Garen was on the ground, Darius kicked the muddy water into Garen's eyes, and brought his axe down on his shoulder. Luckily, Garen's armor was thick enough to withstand the impact, but it crushed Garen's shoulder bone from momentum alone. Garen wiped the mud off of his eyes and saw Darius's huge figure before him, and the next thing he knew was Darius's hand had grabbed Garen's head and slammed it on the ground. Darius then stomped on Garen's chest before jumping into the air, swinging his axe downward at Garen. As a reflex, Garen snapped and a massive sword impaled itself on Darius's shoulder, barely missing his head by a few centimeters. Darius's ultimate move was canceled, but he made a final swing at Garen's abdomen, which punctured through his armor and tore flesh. However, the Demacians were already past the area of battle as they drove Noxian forces away, and Darius had to be hauled by 7 people to retreat.
Garen stood there, oblivious to the rain beating down on his head and body. His energy oozed out of him like how his blood flew from the massive wound on his body. As he fell, Katarina ran to Garen and held him in her arms. She laid his head on her lap and applied pressure to his chest as much as she could.
"No...! No...! Don't leave me!" Katarina yelled out in desperation.
"Hehe... Are you worried, Sinister Blade...?" Garen weakly said.
"You! Don't talk!" Katarina said, her voice wavering. Garen couldn't tell if she was crying or not because of the rain.
"Did we win...?" Garen asked as he grabbed Katarina's hand and squeezed it tightly.
"Yes... yes you did. For a gravely injured man, you sure have a strong grip..." Katarina said, sobbing slightly.
"That Darius guy sure was strong..." Garen said, his eyes fluttering as he struggled to keep them open.
"Of course he is...! He's the Hand of Noxus!"
"...But I'm the Might of Demacia."
"Enough talking! You'll survive, do you hear me?" Katarina looked at the Demacian soldiers running past her, "I'll get you help..." Katarina said, but Garen grabbed onto her arm.
"Don't leave..." Garen whispered. He winced, then looked at Katarina's eyes.
"But I have to get you help!"
"Don't worry about me... I just need one thing from you..."
"What is it?"
"I never heard your response when I told you that I love you..."
"I told you, I know that you love me!"
"I love you too!" Katarina yelled before hugging Garen's head. She started crying completely now, and the rain kept falling. It rained harder, in fact, and soon, Demacian soldiers surrounded Katarina and Garen. They took Garen and rushed him to the hospital, while they took Katarina prisoner.
The last image Garen could see was Katarina's crying face as she was dragged away. After that, everything went dark.
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