Lux was sitting down in the lobby of Demacia's hospital, crying, when Shyvana came to visit her and sat down beside her. Shyvana was in her Ironscale outfit, and she put both arms around the crying Lux. Shyvana had heard of Garen's encounter with the Hand of Noxus, and she went to check up on him on behalf of Jarvan IV, who was busy giving condolences to the families of the fallen. Shyvana rubbed Lux's shoulders and hugged her close, but Lux kept on crying. She felt very guilty for the injuries Garen sustained in his battle, and she wished she had been there to protect him.
"It's all my fault, Shyvana... It's all my fault... I just had to be careless and get injured on a mission..." Lux grieved.
"Your brother is strong, Luxanna, I'm sure he will pull through," Shyvana replied.
"He stayed awake for three days... It's natural he would lose...! But if only he got rest... only if I wasn't so needy..."
"Don't talk like that, Luxanna. I'm sure the Might of Demacia wouldn't like hearing his sister talking so badly of herself."
"But it's true!"
"I don't care whether or not it's true. What matters now is that you believe in your brother, and that you repay his kindness to you by being there in his time of need," Shyvana encouraged.
"I don't know... Being there feels like I'm watching him suffer..."
"So, you'd rather run away?"
"Then don't. You just have to accept, it was not your fault."
"It's going to be hard..."
"And it's a challenge you are willing to take," Shyvana held Lux's cheeks to make eye contact, "I'm sure you will prevail, and your brother will be proud."
"If you say so, Shyvana..." Lux said, before holding onto Shyvana tightly.
Meanwhile, in a prison cell beneath Demacia's streets...
"Here is where you'll stay. We won't allow visitors, so better get used to that cell of yours," a guard said before locking up Katarina inside.
Somberly, Katarina sat down on her cot and stared at her bloodsoaked hands and clothes. Garen's blood was still on her pants, and the image of Garen taking the hit from Darius's axe that literally took Garen off his feet was embedded into her brain. She just couldn't believe that things could end up like this. She didn't think she'd develop feelings for Garen that would be so strong that she felt sadness and loss at the sight of Garen getting hurt. The tears in her eyes dried up, but if she allowed it, they would still be pouring down her eyes. Has she grown so attached to Garen? Did she already fall in love with him without her noticing? All the recent times she spent with Garen, he did nothing but be nice and... just be the man he could be. All Katarina did was threaten him and put him down. She felt so ashamed of herself that she buried her face in her hands and sighed deeply. He even defended her when Darius insulted her. Really, what a gentleman. He fought for her, he lost for her, he won for her, and he nearly died for her. Everything he's done recently has been for her, and she had completely no reason not to have said "I love you too" before Garen forced it out of her.
"Oh Garen... What will I do now...? Will I ever see you again, Garen? Garen, please... please live..." Katarina whispered to herself. Afterwards, she lay down on her cot and closed her eyes. Outside, she was calm. Inside, she was crying.
A few days have passed, and Garen has been moved out of the Intensive Care Unit and into a regular hospital room. Lux stayed with Garen, watching over him, while either Jarvan or Shyvana coming to visit every now and then to keep Lux company. Garen has been sleeping for the past few days, and Lux worried that Garen might have slipped into a coma, but the doctors reassured her that it was only a matter of time before Garen wakes up. Sure enough, on the 6th day in the hospital, Garen slowly opened his eyes. At first, everything was white and very bright, and they settled down soon enough. He saw Lux sleeping in a chair beside his bed, and he looked around himself. At that point, he found out that he was in the hospital, for he had no idea where he was. He cleared his throat, and Lux jolted awake at the sound. She looked around sleepily, then yawned. The image of Lux as she yawned was just cute. She just yawned in this cute way, like a puppy. She then looked at Garen and noticed he was awake. Immediately, her sleepy eyes widened and she smiled brightly.
"Brother!" Lux exclaimed.
Garen smiled at Lux, then raised his hand slightly. Lux held it in her own hand.
"You're awake!" Lux ecstaticly said.
"Yeah..." Garen weakly replied.
"That's good! Hold on, I'll get the nurse, okay?" Lux said, but she stood up and left the room without waiting for Garen's answer. Soon, Lux was dragging someone into the room. To Garen's surprise, it was Akali.
"Whoaarrggggggg..." Garen said as he suddenly started backing away from Akali. He knew she might have something against him for killing her once in the Fields of Justice.
"Now, now. It's best if you stopped moving. You're not fully recovered yet," Akali said as she walked over to Garen's bedside and checked the machines. Lux just watched with this cat like grin on her face.
"What are you doing here?" Garen asked, suddenly full of energy. He knew he was at the mercy of the Fist of Shadow, but seeing her in that nurse outfit made Garen think she was harmless.
"Why, I've been assigned as your nurse, of course."
"I thought you only volunteered for that one time when there was some widespread outbreak or something?"
"They asked me to take care of you. A champion for a champion, as they said."
Garen sighed. He knew it was pointless to ask more questions pertaining to why Akali was there, but he did ask one more thing, "When will I be able to get out?"
"Honestly, with how you're acting up right now, I'd release you as soon as you fill out the forms."
"Alright, hand over the forms," Garen said.
"Not going to ask nicely to the woman that took care of you the past few days?"
"Good boy," Akali left the room and returned with the release papers and a pen. Garen signed them and handed them back to Akali, who disconnected everything that Garen was hooked onto and smiled, "The Sinister Blade is being held in a prison cell at the moment. That's your first stop, is it not?"
"How'd you know?" Garen asked.
"It's easy to see from your face."
"Well, yes, you're right."
"Good luck~." Akali waved to Garen and Lux before exiting the room.
Lux handed Garen his clothes and left the room so he can change, and while he removed the gown, he saw a big stitched gash across his body. It must be from the axe blow he received from Darius. He sighed, then wore his shirt and pants, then buckled his belt, and walked out of the room. When he came out, Lux held Garen's arm and helped him walk. Together, they walked through the streets of Demacia and Garen led Lux to the dungeons, where he was greeted by the guards and congratulated him on his recovery. He asked Lux to leave him be, and asked the guards to lead him to Katarina's cell. The guards hesitated a bit, but when Garen pushed his authority on them, they gave way and led him to the floor that Katarina was on. He asked that the guards left them alone, and he slowly walked over to Katarina's cell. She stood up and walked to the grills as Garen approached, and reached out to hold his face.
"You jerk... You had me worried..." Katarina said, then pulled Garen's face close to the grills so she could kiss his lips. After a while, she parted from the kiss.
"You shouldn't be here," Garen said, holding Katarina's hand.
"I have been caught. I allowed myself to be caught... I didn't think you'd survive," Katarina admitted.
Garen stared into Katarina's eyes for a moment, before peering inside the cell, "Have they been treating you well?"
"As much as they'd treat any other prisoner, I guess."
"Good. I'll get you out of here, I promise."
"Don't bother... You'll just get into trouble," Katarina said, trying to persuade Garen to leave her be. It was because of her that he got into problems anyway.
"No, no... Don't say that. I'm sure I can pull a few strings," Garen said, rubbing Katarina's hand.
"Why...? After all I've put you through, why are you still being nice to me?"
"Because I love you," Garen said. Katarina stared into his eyes and put his hand onto her cheek.
"I love you too," Katarina said.
"I'll get you out, okay?" Garen said smoothly, kissing Katarina's lips repeatedly as if preventing her from talking back.
After their little encounter, Garen went back upstairs and walked with Lux across the streets of Demacia, and went straight to the palace. People along the way greeted Garen and Lux, and congratulated Garen for his recovery. Garen would smile and wave before he proceeded onwards, and when they got to the palace. Upon entry, Jarvan IV and Shyvana were just about to head towards the door.
"Ah. Garen, Luxanna," Jarvan said as he saw the two.
"Greetings, Prince, Shyvana," Garen responded.
"Are you feeling well enough to be on your feet, commander?"
"Well enough to demand the release of the Sinister Blade from prison," Garen stated.
"And what in blazes made you come to this?" Jarvan asked.
"How did you feel when you were captured by Noxian forces? You didn't belong in their cells, and neither does she," Garen bargained.
"And what do you expect me to do, hand her over to Noxus?"
"No, hand her over to me."
"Garen, this is the very issue that got you exiled in the first place. Are you willing to risk your citizenship again?"
"What if Shyvana was captured? Wouldn't you do everything in your power to get her out?"
"That's a different story, Garen," Jarvan said.
"No it isn't, Jarvan. I love Katarina as much as you love Shyvana," Garen countered. Jarvan was speechless, then begrudgingly nodded. Shyvana kept a straight face.
"Fine. She is free and will be under your custody, but once things go wrong, Garen, mark my words, I will put her back in that cell myself."
"Works for me, Prince," Garen said, "When would I be able to take her?"
"As soon as I sign the papers. Wait here," Jarvan said before ordering a guard to grab him parchment and a pen. Soon, Jarvan signed the papers as he said he would, then handed them to Garen, "Here."
"Thank you," Garen said, then turned around and walked with Lux back to the dungeons. Garen presented the papers to the warden of the dungeon and the warden gave it a skeptical glance over before nodding and presenting Garen with the key to Katarina's cell. Garen walked slowly down the stairs until he reached Katarina's cell, then unlocked the door. He beckoned to her and she took his hand, and together they walked out of the prison and back to Garen's home. Lux prepared the shower for Katarina, and soon, she was under the water, washing her long, red hair until she heard someone walk into the bathroom.
"Garen, I know you freed me and all but that doesn't give you an excuse to sneak into the bathroom while I'm in it!" Katarina yelled.
"It's Lux..." Lux said.
"Oh... What are you doing in here?"
"Brother requested that you stay in his room."
"Is that something you really have to barge into the bathroom for?"
"If you leave him or hurt him physically or emotionally, I will hunt you down," Lux threatened. She loved her brother very much.
"..." Katarina was speechless, then finished rinsing herself and wrapped a towel around herself. When she pulled the shower curtains to the side, Lux was standing there, her arms crossed in front of her chest and was glaring at Katarina.
"You will stay with my brother, is that understood?"
"Yes, mom," Katarina said as she rolled her eyes. What possibly could this girl do? All of a sudden, a bright light appeared by Katarina's shoulder and gave her a sunburn.
"You crazy little..." Katarina muttered as Lux left the bathroom. Katarina went to Garen's room and found some of Lux's spare clothes waiting for her on Garen's bed. There was just one problem though. Garen was in the room.
"Oh, hello," Garen said as he turned on his chair to look at Katarina.
"Would you mind getting out for a bit? I need to change."
"You can change right there, I won't look," Garen said as he turned back to what he was doing. He was applying some sort of protective oil on his sword so it wouldn't rust.
"Ugh..." Katarina sighed and cautiously started putting on clothes, glaring into the back of Garen's head to check if he was going to peek. But when she was finished, she decided to go over to Garen and wrapped her arms around his neck as she leaned her chin on his shoulder gently.
"You done changing?" Garen asked.
"Mhm," Katarina responded. Garen turned around in his rotating chair and pulled Katarina onto his lap. She sat down facing Garen, her legs on both sides of Garen's legs.
"You're rooming with me," Garen said.
"I heard," Katarina replied.
"You okay with sharing one bed?"
Katarina poked Garen's forehead, "We've slept beside each other twice. I think we're going to be fine. Unless, you give me a reason not to trust you," Katarina said.
"Of course not. I would never do anything terrible to you," Garen said as he kissed Katarina's cheek.
"You missed," Katarina said, before kissing Garen's lips.
"Aww... How sweet!" Lux exclaimed from Garen's door.
"Luxanna Crownguard! What are you doing there?" Garen yelled, flustered.
"Oh, don't worry about me! Please, continue!" Lux said, watching the two.
Garen and Katarina looked at each other for a while before they laughed and hugged each other tightly. Today was a start of a new life for the both of them, especially since Jarvan pretty much signed their permit to have a relationship. However, Katarina knew she wouldn't be able to go back to Noxus, and she'll still be a prisoner in the Demacian's eyes outside of Garen's home. As Garen held Katarina's hips, Katarina wrapped her arms around Garen's neck in response. Lux giggled like a maniac as she watched the two, then Garen turned to Lux.
"Shut the door, Luxanna," Garen said with a smile. Lux winked at Garen before closing the door behind her. At that, Katarina sighed and looked back at Garen.
"You must feel very happy right now," Katarina said.
"Oh yeah. Very happy," Garen repeated before he took Katarina and laid her down on his bed. Katarina rolled so she could be on top of Garen then accidentally pressed down on his chest. "Oww..." Garen whispered.
"Oh, sorry," Katarina said apologetically, before giving Garen's forehead a kiss. She then lay down beside Garen and propped her head up with her elbow, "So, what now?"
"Now, we live under one roof. Now, we eat together at one table. Now, we live like a couple," Garen said.
"Isn't it a bit too fast for that?" Katarina asked.
"We're eventually going to live like this, we might as well practice," Garen mentioned.
"Don't forget, we're still on a hunt for those artifacts. We can't just leave that lead we caught," Katarina pointed out.
"We'll worry about that when we get there..." Garen turned his head to look at Katarina.
"...Alright, fine. Let's have it your way this time."
An hour later, Lux was very curious as to what Garen and Katarina were doing in their room. They were awfully quiet, and it was fishy. Lux carefully opened the door and took a peak inside. She had this silly blush on her face, as if she knew something mature was going on between her brother and his "girlfriend". However, when she peered into the room, Katarina was giving Garen a haircut. Lux opened the door completely and put her hands on her hips.
"Brother! I wanted to do that!" Lux exclaimed.
Katarina turned to look at Lux, "What, give him a haircut?" she asked.
"And shave his beard too!" Lux added.
"Well, I'm almost done cutting his hair, so I guess you're too late."
"What was that?" Lux got really riled up, jealous of the attention that Katarina was giving to Garen. She wanted to give Garen the haircut and the shave, just like their family tradition had always been, but here comes this woman and steals all her joys away from her.
"Are you jealous?" Katarina asked, whisking her long, red hair back.
"Ooh... You're such a meanie! Brother! Why aren't you doing anything about this?" Lux exclaimed.
"He's asleep," Katarina said, grabbing the mirror and angling it to show Lux that Garen was sleeping.
"Let's make a compromise, then! I'll shave his beard after you're done!"
"Hmm... How about... No."
"Aww, come on! Let the sister get some fun too!"
"Fine, fine. Just don't make too much noise."
Garen, unaware of the activities going on about him, remained asleep. Katarina managed to get his hair back to the normal way, and Lux managed to cleanly shave Garen's growing beard. The two women, happy of their work, left Garen to sleep soundly on his chair and went out to eat a snack.
Garen woke up to the sound of laughter and the scent of what smelled like vegetable soup. He saw that the sun was setting over the Demacian beach, and he could hear the sounds of cooking utensils clanking in the kitchen. With a quick glance, Garen noticed a mirror on his table, and he peered into the mirror for a bit. He had his traditional old look, and he angled his head from side to side to see if anything had been missed. Of course, the only one that could do his haircut the way he liked it was Lux, but then he remembered that Katarina was living in their home as well. He turned to look at the bed, and saw an empty bed. Garen stood up and walked out of his room, wandering over to Lux's room. There was no one there. He knocked on the bathroom and opened it, but no one was there. Finally, he went to the kitchen and there he found who he was looking for... and a few others. In the kitchen stood Lux, who was cooking, and Katarina, chopping vegetables for Lux. He then saw Jarvan and Shyvana who sat by the table, and they looked like they were having a conversation before Garen appeared.
"Hello, brother," Lux said before stirring the contents of the pot in front of her.
"What's everyone doing here?" Garen inquired, surprised by the sudden visit. He didn't expect Jarvan to bring Shyvana along, and he didn't expect Shyvana to appear in her Ironscale outfit.
"We came to visit, old friend! Is it bad to have a day off every now and then?" Jarvan said, who stood up and extended his hand for a handshake. Garen took Jarvan's hand and shook it, then peered over to Shyvana.
"What are you looking at?" Shyvana questioned.
"N-Nothing..." Garen said.
"Nonsense. You wouldn't look over one's shoulder if you weren't looking at something. Answer the question," Shyvana demanded.
"This is the first time you've visited my home, Shyvana... I'm just surprised," Garen said, scratching his cheek.
"An honorable answer. Do not worry, Garen. I will not harm you," Shyvana said with a faint smile, and Jarvan walked over and gave Shyvana's shoulder a pat.
"This is just how Shyvana is, Garen. I know you haven't had much contact with her, but she's a feisty one," Jarvan explained.
"I noticed..." Garen replied.
"Ugh... How many vegetables do you need?" Katarina asked Lux.
"I had enough for a while now. You just kept chopping the vegetables so I keep taking them," Lux replied casually.
"What? You mean I've been wasting my time chopping these ****ed vegetables?" Katarina responded.
"It's not my fault you didn't ask when to stop," Lux replied, then tasted the vegetable soup. As she deemed the soup good enough, she started serving bowls of soup to everyone, "Dinner's ready~!"
All five positioned themselves around the table, Jarvan and Shyvana sat beside each other while Katarina, Garen, and Lux sat beside each other. The table was not too big, but it accomodated six people. After a little moment of silence, they all started to eat, and had conversations about their days. Garen kept quiet for the most part, considering he did nothing but sleep the entire day. Jarvan mentioned his date with Shyvana around Demacia for the 17th time, but it seemed that every single time, Jarvan would stub his toe in a corner or something and he'd limp the rest of the day. Shyvana made comments that she enjoyed, although it took a bit of thinking to understand her cryptic way of speaking. Katarina and Lux seem to be competing over household chores, and they even had a game of rock, paper, scissors to determine who would wash the dishes. Garen volunteered to wash them, so the two immediately competed for who would wash the dishes with him. Katarina won, therefore she was going to wash the dishes with Garen, however she didn't know how to wash dishes, and Garen promised to teach her. After dinner, Garen collected the bowls and spoons then went over to the sink. Katarina gave it a shot but nearly broke a bowl.
"It goes like this," Garen said before standing behind Katarina, holding her hands and directing them in a circular fashion while holding the bowl firmly with the other hand. Garen was so into his moment with Katarina and Katarina was too engrossed in learning how to wash the dishes that they failed to notice Lux's jealous glare and Shyvana and Jarvan's curious stares. The kitchen was silent except for the sounds Garen and Katarina made, and it took Garen a few minutes to notice it. He turned around, and Jarvan and Shyvana immediately struck up a conversation while Lux pretended to try and cross her eyes. Garen blinked repeatedly in confusion, but he returned to teaching Katarina how to clean the dishes.
After several minutes, Katarina and Garen finished cleaning the dishes and were drying their hands when suddenly, blue rings surrounded Garen.
"Ah, yes. There was actually a purpose for me coming here..." Jarvan recalled, "You were assigned to have a 3v3 match with the Frost Archer and the Barbarian King."
"Ashe and Tryndamere?" Garen asked, suddenly excited.
"Yes... You seem happy. Did something happen between you three?" Jarvan asked.
"Oh, no! Nothing at all!" Garen said before getting ready.
Garen was preparing in his room when he heard a knock at the door...
"Come in!" Garen said as he started strapping his armor on. Katarina entered the room and closed the door behind her, then started helping Garen put on his armor.
"I heard Darius was going to be in this match. You have to be careful," Katarina warned him.
"Don't worry, I've fought him before," Garen replied.
"Just... don't get banged up too badly," Katarina said as they finished preparing Garen's armor.
"I won't, I promise."
"Come back in one piece, you hear me?"
"I will," Garen said before leaning forward to kiss Katarina's lips. Katarina pushed forward to deepen their kiss, but then Garen was teleported before they could go any further.
Garen appeared at the base and was greeted by a massive pat at the back and a hug from the front at the same time. Garen coughed a bit as the air was blown out of him from the converging greetings he received from his teammates, but he at least hugged back.
"It's been a while!" Ashe said as she pulled away and looked at Garen.
"Yes, it has!" Garen replied, before clasping Tryndamere's shoulder, "I missed you guys!"
"Good! I thought you only missed my wife," Tryndamere joked, while Garen clasped his shoulder in return.
"Why wouldn't I miss the one who taught me how to spin2win?" Garen said with a smile.
The three bought their starting items and headed out to their lanes, Garen taking bottom lane, Tryndamere taking top, and Ashe taking middle. Garen spent a long while sitting in the bushes waiting for his enemy to appear, until he got impatient and spun out of the bush to kill some minions and earn some gold. It was later revealed that Darius has taken middle lane and was managing to push Ashe back to her turret. Garen was fighting against Master Yi, and Tryndamere was fighting against Talon. Darius pulled Ashe toward him with his axe and spun around, dealing damage to her, but when she tried to run, Darius smacked her with the flat of his axe and knocked Ashe unconscious. Tryndamere came rushing in and spun to victory, pushing Darius to his turret, but Talon came by and killed Tryndamere with a flurry of blades. Suddenly, Master Yi appeared at the middle lane, urging Darius and Talon to run.
"What are we running from again?" Talon asked Master Yi.
"Just run! Run, run, run!" Yi replied frantically.
A figure slowly started catching up to the three, and he ran with such speed that it was blinding.
"Pah! It's Garen. Our turrets will take care of him," Darius said. However, once Garen was within turret range, the turret dealt little to no damage to Garen.
"Come back here!" Garen yelled.
"Hell naw," Master Yi replied.
Darius, feeling almighty, stepped up to Garen and swung his axe down at Garen's shoulder, attempting to cut straight through Garen's body. However, his axe was stopped like a stick hitting a stone. Garen whacked Darius's head and he fell to the ground violently, and stood back up, and the two started having a massive fight in middle lane. Darius kept hitting Garen but Garen kept shaking it off like a boss, while Garen spun and spun until Darius replied with a spin of his own. Their blades clashed against each other and Garen's sword started to chip, but so did Darius's axe. Darius kicked Garen and followed up with a chop, but Garen dodged at the last second, feeling the wind from Darius's axe blow across his hair. Garen punched Darius's jaw and swung his sword horizontally, but Darius's stagger made him unintentionally avoid the swing. Finally, Garen shoved his sword into the dazed Darius's stomach and kicked it further in, and Darius died. Talon and Yi retreated when they saw Ashe and Tryndamere appear at the scene.
"How the hell did you manage to do that?" Tryndamere asked, referring to Garen's ability to just shrug off attacks.
"Stacked thornmail," Garen replied.
It finally came to the climax of the match when the three were locked in ferocious combat, and when Ashe was struck down by Darius, Garen and Tryndamere spun around to attack him, however Darius flashed over to Ashe's body and brought his axe down on her lying body. Garen and Tryndamere were enraged and they went into what seemed to be an endless rage, Tryndamere charging straight for Darius, and the two exchanged heavy blows to each other until Garen stole Tryndamere's kill with Demacian Justice. Tryndamere ran to Ashe's body and held her close.
"Ashe!" Tryndamere spoke.
"Don't worry about me, Tryn... This is a field of justice... I will revive..."
"I know... but that doesn't mean your injuries don't hurt!" Tryndamere exclaimed.
"DEMACIA!" Garen yelled as he charged straight into Master Yi and Talon, keeping them busy and off of Tryndamere's and Ashe's area.
"Don't worry, Tryn... I won't make it back, but their nexus is exposed... Finish it for me..." Ashe said before she went limp.
Garen, having three thornmails stacked against each other, tore down the minions within his perimeter and started fighting with Darius once he arrived. Darius knew he couldn't touch Garen with his thornmail, so he decided to taunt him instead.
"Katarina will return to us," Darius said as he rushed in to attack Garen.
"Never!" Garen shouted as he shoved Darius away and slashed at his leg, but Darius was already in the air, about to land his ultimate move on Garen. Garen took the hit like a man and fell down to his knees, but Garen brought down a sword straight to Darius's shoulder, disabling his superior hand and making him unable to wield his axe. Garen and Darius engaged in a fist fight, Darius aiming mainly for Garen's chin while Garen aimed for Darius's stomach. They were locked in a deadly battle until the two were ready to unleash their ultimate moves once more.
"Noxus!" Darius shouted as he jumped into the air and held his axe with two hands above his head.
"Demacia!" Garen said as he pointed to Darius and a sword appeared above his head.
The two hit each other at the same time, and they killed each other simultaneously. Tryndamere had some trouble shrugging off attacks, but with his perseverence and endless rage, he managed to bring down the enemy's nexus and score a victory. Darius and Talon immediately teleported back to Noxus, and Yi shook hands with Tryndamere before teleporting back to Ionia. When Tryndamere was looking at the mess he made, he noticed something on the ground that didn't look in place. He picked it up, and it showed the southern piece of Valoran etched into the small stone. It looked like it was part of something, but only time would tell if Tryndamere would ever find the other pieces.
Garen was hiking with two hundred Dauntless Vanguards up the Serpentine River early morning however the sun bore down on the heavily armored men. Their swords gleamed in the sunlight, and the banner of Demacia hung passively as no wind was blowing. Everything was calm, even the flow of water along the river. The animals made soft sounds, nothing too annoying, and would scamper off the moment the vanguards closed into their space. The grass was somewhat greener in this area than in the Demacian fields. Some of the vanguards hiking hasn't even step foot outside of Demacia's borders, so it was quite an adventure for them to traverse so far from home. It was very familiar to League champions such as Garen, since the Summoner's Rift lies on both sides of the river. Luckily for them, there was not a match going on at the moment, and the Serpentine River was free from any battling champions. Seeing that it was about time the vanguard regiment have wandered along the river for too long, Garen led them towards the North, to Freljord. A few hours of trekking later, the sun was at it's peak at the sky. There were no clouds present, therefore there were no shadows that offered cool patches for the men to find shelter from the noon heat. Knowing it would be taxing for his men, Garen called for the halt of the hike and ordered his men to set up camp until mid-afternoon, when the sun's heat is bearable.
Jarvan IV received a letter from Queen Ashe requesting Demacia's help a few weeks after the landslide of a battle with Garen, Tryndamere, and herself. Apparently, a huge creature with multiple claws appeared along with an army of unknown creatures and invaded Freljord. It seems that Queen Ashe's forces were holding out, but she treated it as a siege, and her relative, Sejuani, refused to help despite her people being affected by the Void invasion. Queen Ashe did not trust Grand General Swain enough to send him a letter requesting help, and the only option left, albeit some distrust between their people, was Demacia. Of course, Jarvan approved the release of Garen and two hundred Dauntless Vanguards to set out to Freljord immediately, and sent a confirmation letter to Queen Ashe of their arrival. Now, Jarvan only hopes that they arrive on time.
Garen sat down on the ground and opened his flask of water, but found it empty. Garen tilted his flask till the opening pointed straight to the ground and shook it a little, and not even one drop came out of his flask. Garen sighed, but then a flask was offered his way. He looked up, and saw the smiling face of Katarina. She insisted on coming along with Garen in his little mission after she saw that there was little that she could do if she stayed in Demacia. Lux opted to stay and help in around in the Academy. Looking at Katarina, her red hair gleamed in the sunlight and her skin was shiny from perspiration, and her green eyes seemed to be such a relaxing sight to Garen. It helped put him at ease, and just a glance at Katarina's face was the equivalent of a nice, cool breeze on this hot day.
"Thanks," Garen said as he took Katarina's flask and took a few gulps of water.
Katarina sat down beside Garen and wiped the sweat off of her brow, and looked up at the sky, "How the hell are you wearing all that and not pass out?" she asked.
"Actually, all of these armor and clothes block out the sunlight, which ultimately causes the heat. Unlike your outfit, which leaves the arms and stomach exposed, mine keeps it enclosed," Garen explained.
"Shouldn't the heat get stuck within your outfit eventually, though?"
"Well, you get used to it if it's a gradual change. If I took off my armor now, you'd feel a wave of hot air attacking you because it's all crumped in my armor," Garen said.
"Ew. That sounds disgusting," Katarina said as she sighed, "It just had to be so freaking hot out today."
"Don't worry. Where we're going, you'd wish you were in a hot place," Garen said with a laugh.
Eventually, a group of vanguards gave Garen some materials to make a tent, since the brought extras in case some of the tents broke. Garen thanked them and started creating the tent, and within minutes, he was done. Katarina crawled into the tent immediately and gave out a loud sigh, as if relieved of some heavy burden. She lay on her stomach and peered out of the tent, looking at the other vanguards as they hunkered down in their tents and took off their armors. She wasn't all too familiar with seeing men take breaks, for back in Noxus, taking breaks was a sign of weakness. Garen sat down inside the tent and started removing his shoulder armor. Katarina turned around and saw Garen, then helped him with removing the armor. Katarina organized his armor neatly to the side of the tent and sat down beside Garen. She leaned her head on Garen's shoulder, then Garen held Katarina's hand. Katarina interlocked their fingers then gave Garen's cheek a soft kiss, then leaned her head back on his shoulder.
Afternoon came along, and the sun's heat wasn't too bad. Garen woke Katarina from the small nap that she took, and ordered the men to pack up and be prepared to move out. Several minutes later, the Dauntless Vanguard regiment was ready to go. Garen and Katarina stood at the front of the regiment, and they led the hike once more. The regiment moved at a steady pace towards Freljord, and soon, they encountered snow. The white flakes were very familiar to Garen as they fell, and the cold breeze felt much like home to him. Katarina tugged at Garen's arm, and when he looked over, she was shivering. Garen smirked then took his cape off, and gave it to Katarina. She wrapped it around herself, then smiled at Garen. After returning the smile, Garen returned to looking forward and leading the hike. Soon, Garen was leading his men up a hill that borders Freljord. They could hear the growls and gnarling sounds along with the battlecries and weapon sounds of the siege going on in Freljord.
Tryndamere and Ashe were rallying their warriors against the onslaught that were beating down on their defenses. Ashe commanded the archers while Tryndamere commanded the melee combatants. Every two hours, Tryndamere would rotate a batch of warriors in order to hold off longer. Meanwhile, inside the defenses, those who couldn't fight were either making more arrows or maintaining weapons, or treating injuries, or feeding the hungry. Tryndamere cleaved through a monster of the void when suddenly, he saw the flag of Demacia on the hill that flanked the void creatures.
"Ashe! Ashe! Your son is here!" cried Tryndamere. His cry turned the heads of many towards the flag of Demacia, and they wondered if Ashe adopted a son from Demacia. Ashe looked into the distance and saw the Demacian flag rising from the hill. Soon after, she saw Garen and Katarina, followed by a line of warriors. She could only assume there were more waiting on the back of the hill.
"Men, prepare yourselves!" Garen yelled as he held his sword tightly in his hands. The vanguards all unsheathed their weapons and stood at the top of the hill. Garen raised his sword and it gleamed in the setting sun's light, and he pointed it forward before starting to run down the hill. Katarina followed him and soon, a swarm of vanguards started storming down the hill. The men all let out their battlecries as the adrenaline in their bodies rushed. Right before crashing into the void creatures, all of them yelled, "Demacia!" and the Dauntless Vanguard penetrated the unruly ranks of the void monsters. Garen spun into action and eliminated multiple grunts of the void army, and Katarina spun as well, throwing daggers all around her and clearing out a circle around her.
The battle raged on for a couple of hours, Demacians showing their military power by defeating many of the void army, but they have received heavy losses as well. Tryndamere took a group of the bravest men and sallied out of their defenses to squeeze the void army between them and the Demacians. Ashe sent arrows into the middle of the void army volley after volley, whittling them down for the two groups that engaged them in melee combat. When it seemed like they were winning, and the void army started retreating, Cho'Gath made his appearance. The large creature, ever so frightful, marched toward the Freljordian defenses, and Garen saw it fit that the Dauntless Vanguard must keep the beast busy until the Freljordians were prepared to take on it. Garen and Katarina led the charge towards Cho'Gath, and the Dauntless Vanguard followed after them. With weapons raised, they charged into the beast, but the middle ranks of the vanguards were launched into the air as a myriad of spikes suddenly erupted from the ground and threw them into the air, if not pierced their body. However as their name said, the Dauntless Vanguard forged onwards, and started engaging Cho'Gath. The Terror of the Void swung it's claws in a sweep-like motion, disabling most of the Dauntless Vanguards. However, Garen sliced through one of it's claws and Katarina dealt damage through an invisible manner, disappearing and reappearing behind the beast. Garen spun around to deal plenty of damage to Cho'Gath, and the Dauntless Vanguard all attacked the Terror of the Void simultaneously.
Garen charged in for a decisive strike, Katarina behind him, but there was a sudden force that buried itself into Garen's side and threw him off his feet. All Katarina felt was the warm splash of Garen's blood onto her face as she stood there, shocked at what she had noticed. Cho'Gath had his full attention at Katarina now that Garen was out of the picture, and he stomped on groups of vanguards to get to Katarina. As Cho'Gath towered over the shaking Katarina, she started spinning, throwing daggers at Cho'Gath. The Terror of the Void staggered due to the damage that Katarina inflicted upon him, and barreled through mutiple men as he retreated back to the portal from where he came. Surprised at the sudden retreat, Katarina turns to the opposite direction of the portal and saw the Noxian flag flying in the icy winds of Freljord. Noxus somehow sent men to Freljord, and it doesn't look peaceful. However, due to the remaining number of void creatures in the battlefield, the Noxians had something to keep them busy while the Dauntless Vanguard rallied itself. In the midst of the Demacians regrouping, Katarina found Garen beside a number of dead bodies, and she knelt down beside him.
"Garen?" Katarina asked while shaking his shoulder.
"Yeah?" Garen replied, however he did not move.
"Yeah, I'm fine," Garen said as he stood up.
"We have more company," Katarina reported, pointing to the Noxian forces who made their appearance under an icy pass.
"Who's leading them?" Garen asked.
Katarina squinted to get a better look at who was at the head of the Noxian forces, and saw Darius, "An old rival."
"****..." Garen said, but it seemed that the Noxian forces were only there to spectate, for the moment they saw Demacian flags wavering in the wind, they started to head back.
Katarina sighed as she saw the Noxian forces leaving, then was approached by Tryndamere and his men, "Are you two alright?" he asked.
"We're fine," Katarina responded, however she put Garen's arm over her shoulders.
"What's the matter, Garen?" Tryndamere asked.
"It's just a scratch, don't worry," Garen said.
"I wouldn't worry, oh no, but Ashe would. I mean, look at that pool of blood forming by your feet. It's more than a scratch, alright."
"It doesn't hurt as much as it looks like it should," Garen reassured, then smiled at Tryndamere.
"Eh... Just patch it up before Ashe sees it," Tryndamere recommended before he raised his sword and yelled, "Victory!"
The Freljordian tribesmen all cheered, and the Dauntless Vanguard echoed their celebration. Out of the two hundred that marched from Demacia, only one hundred and twenty remained. Garen walked with Katarina towards the city of Freljord, and Ashe quickly led them to Garen's old cave. Ashe then brought food for Garen and Katarina before leaving them alone in the cave. Garen was fed by Katarina, but he had to ask her nicely for it, and used his injury as an excuse. Katarina soon finished eating as well, then started treating Garen's wound. Most of it was already healed due to Garen's regenerative ability, and all Katarina had to do was to put some bandage around it. She was finished in a few minutes, and she leaned her head on Garen's shoulder. Garen smiled and caressed Katarina's cheek before giving her a gentle kiss.
"I see you like kissing me," Katarina commented.
"Of course," Garen said before kissing Katarina again.
"Don't get too carried away now..." Katarina said after she broke off from the kiss.
"I'm sorry," Garen apologized.
"It's okay. I understand."
"We go back to Demacia tomorrow."
"Leaving so soon?" Ashe asked as she suddenly appeared in Garen's cave.
"We have to. Jarvan might think it's a bit fishy if I stayed here for a while," Garen said.
"Ah, that's a shame. Well, do come by more often! We miss you a lot!" Ashe said, patting Garen's head.
"Of course, but we're leaving tomorrow, not now," Garen said with a smile.
"I know, I know," Ashe said before leaving the two alone again. She passed Tryndamere as he walked into Garen's cave, carrying the artifact he found in the Fields of Justice.
"Hey. You know what this is?" Tryndamere asked Garen as he showed the artifact.
"It looks like part of the artifact we found, Garen," Katarina said.
"Is this why those creatures attacked this place?" Tryndamere asked.
"I would assume so. We had an encounter with Cho'Gath in the Ironspike Mountains when I found an artifact similar to this one," Katarina explained.
"But, shouldn't the Institute of War control the magic that opens portals to the void?" Garen asked.
"We can only assume at this point that the artifacts have the power to open portals wherever the handler chooses, and that's why Cho'Gath is after it. He plans to destroy Runeterra." Katarina said.
"Well, whatever this thing does, we cannot keep it here. It is far too dangerous for our people if another attack comes along," Tryndamere said.
Garen took the artifact and held it firmly in his hands, "Demacia will keep it for you. We have ample men to defend against a void raid," he reassured.
"And if Noxus attacks?" Katarina asked.
"So be it," Garen said, knowing it would be the fall of Demacia should the attack of the void happen alongside a Noxian invasion.
"Well, now that that is settled, I'm going to get some rest. You two should, too. You have a big day tomorrow," Tryndamere said before leaving.
Garen and Katarina both stared at the artifact. They couldn't believe something so small could cause such dramatic effects.
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