The start of a band. The start of a friendship. The start of something more.
[CENTER]The Axe and the Etwahl[/CENTER]
The receiving platforms within the Lobby of War were illuminated by two series of flashes. From the left emerged representatives of Piltover, including the city state’s sheriff, its famous Yordle inventors and pilot, and an enchanting, if cold-hearted ballerina. Yet on that day, they were not the victors.
Those honours belonged to the group on the right, four representatives of Noxus and a rather hungry guest. They warped back in pairs. First came none other than the Master Tactician, with a devilish grin on his face and the Fallen Angel by his side. Morgana emitted a sigh of relief:
“Finally,” she shot a quick glance at the already-retreating foes and shouted, “tell them to make their own recipes next time!”
“You should not blame them,” came the Noxian’s slightly raspy voice, “your creations are quite irresistible.”
“Why, thank you. And for your aid.”
“Anything for an ally of Noxus. And cakes.”
The insane chemist’s trademark laughter filled the lobby and the man-sized larvae joined in with a trumpet-like roar. Lasted a good few seconds. The ravenous one then approached the owner of Sinful Succulence:
“Me get yummies now?”
“Oh, yes,” she reached down and started scratching him behind his head-spikes, “lots of yummies for such a cute fighter.”
The last champion appeared just as Kog started emitting a sound equal parts purring and regurgitating. The titan of a man took a few steps forward, his blood-red eyes scanning the surroundings. The Zaunite was the first to notice:
“The hero of the battle emerges! All hail the metal lord!”
“You exaggerate. I merely knew when to turn the odds in our favour.”
“Good enough, if you ask me.”
“Indeed,” Swain joined in, “a fine match, that was. May we have many like it in the future. I must beg my leave. Duty calls, as always. Farewell.”
Unlike her master, Beatrice kept all six of her eyes on them.
“You just wait here, I’ll be back with your yummies.”
And with a wave to them, the angel followed Swain toward the nearest warp station.
Kog took her sentence a bit too literally and remained glued to the spot. That left two very unique individuals, who decided to walk away together.
“What are you up to these days, Morde?”
“Currently preparing for my next performance. Less than a week left.”
“Nice. Where you playing?”
“Trogsworth's. The old sod will like the publicity, I think.”
“Has Karthus replied to your offer yet?”
“In a cryptic manner, as always. Something about lacking a foil to my power and speed.”
“Sounds like him, alright.”
The warp station was already within sight, yet the Master of Metal suddenly came to a halt. His companion took notice:
“You coming or what?”
“Go, I need to investigate something.”
“Ummm, fine. Good luck with that.”
And so, the armoured giant ventured deeper into the Institute of War, in pursuit of a sound. Not just any sound. A melody, somehow unnaturally enchanting. Once at the edge of his hearing, it grew ever louder, as he neared one of the most liked areas of the Institute. The great gardens.
On combat-filled days such as that one, most visitors and summoners gathered within viewing chambers to observe and cheer on their favourite teams, leaving the garden empty. That only helped make all the colourful flowers and plants seem even more beautiful.
A figure sat among it all, dressed in an ornate robe of varying shades of blue, most of it matching the colour of her two long braids. It also featured a neckline which defied all laws of physics. In her hands rested an instrument similar in many ways to a harp, yet it had an air of mysticism around it. The tones it was able to create were also astounding. At times, it was almost a harp, yet with the subtlest movements of her fingers, its music gained attributes of other instruments, like a violin, piano, even a guitar, while still remaining unquestionably different.
His ears feasted upon the music, yet he couldn’t help but feel it was a bit too cheerful for his tastes. He spoke up, shattering the perfect symphony:
“Excuse me,” she paused and looked up with the warmest of smiles. His visage did not seem to unnerve her, yet he found the sudden silence almost chilling, “I hate to interrupt. But may I request a different melody? Something more somber, if you would?”
With a single nod, her fingers again started dancing on the strings. Once more, the not-quite-violin filled the air with a much slower tune. The harp remained in the background, accompanied by the otherworldly piano. It was perfect.
The iron man closed his eyes. The memories came back to life around him. Massive fields filled with only the most resilient on plants, the ground under them filled with foul sicknesses and countless brave, lost souls. Maggot-ridden creatures walked upon the surface, searching for sustenance and often finding it in their kin. In the distance, massive trees stood watch above cursed swamplands, where not even the walking dead dared to tread.
It had been so long. Yet somehow, thanks to her music, the image was as clear as if he had left mere moments ago. Home sweet home.
The illusion was shattered, replaced by the view of the gardens and her. With one final pluck, the melody came to an end. He would have clapped, but the massive mace on his shoulders was too much of a hindrance.
“That was stunning,” she bowed slightly, her smile even wider. He hoped his memory wasn’t completely shoddy, “you must be Sona Buvelle.”
She nodded. Swain hadn’t been kidding, then. The league’s newest recruit and continent-wide superstar. Not surprising, judging by her skills. The lich’s words resurfaced within his mind. Could she perhaps...
“I am Mordekaiser,” she bowed once more, “this question may sound strange, but... do you have any concerts in the near future? This week, perhaps?”
Her hands started dancing in a very different way, forming signs understood by others like her. After looking at the titan’s vague expression, she knew he was not among them. After a sigh, she simply shook her head. Somehow, he, the great Master of Metal, the Spreader of Sickness, felt sorry for her.
“Then I would have an offer for you. Are you familiar with the techma-tune music of Zaun,” a nod, “well, I am a part of the scene. However, I am but one man, facing the likes of Yordle Mothership, or the Hexbenders,” her gaze was a bit puzzled, “I’ve been searching for other musicians, yet none have had the talent I seek. But you... your music is like nothing else. It moves the soul, makes memories as clear as my current eyesight,” her lips curled back into that lovely smile, “our styles may be different, but together... Sona Buvelle. Will you join me, at least for one time? To show Zaun what real music is made of?”
For the briefest of moments, she thought about the titan’s proposition. And one final, enthusiastic nod sealed their pact.
“Wonderful! There is a certain place where we can train. Officially abandoned, disinfected and it comes with its own critic,” Sona perked an eyebrow, “a certain chemist keeps some things there. I never asked what, because I know better. In any case, he very much enjoys techma-tune. So, can we start practising tomorrow, perhaps?”
Four days had passed. Each pretty much the same. Meet at Zaun’s main warp station, move to the warehouse and practise until the dark of night. And listen to what Singed thought. The skeleton of a man was never far away from some techma-tune goodness.
With a final chord, their training ended. The titan smashed his deadly instrument into the ground, while hers just hovered in place. A clapping sounded from the top of a nearby pile of crates:
“Bravo, bravissimo,” the chemist looked ecstatic. Though, a state like that was far from foreign to Singed, so Morde was not as reassured, “that was stupendous! You really sound like a duo now! Perfect unison and all that! I bet the crowd will be pleased!”
“Thank you, friend. And speaking of the crowd,” the titan turned to his lovely co-star, “they can be very picky lot, ready to criticise and condemn based on looks alone,” after a realisation, he swiftly added, “not implying you don’t look great in any garb, of course.”
The faintest hint of red appeared on her cheeks and she nodded.
“I hate to ask this of you, but would it be possible to also dye your hair? The conservative sods seem to despise the hues of blue in large amounts. They prefer shades of grey and black, and red from the primary colours.”
The chemist suddenly joined in:
“I may be of help,” both gazed at him hopefully, “Singed Industries may offer you a wide variety of hair-dying products, many of which can be simply washed off with no side-effects! I assure you, I tested them on many of my apprentices!”
“For a second there, I was afraid you had tested them on yourself.”
The chemist scratched his nearly-bald scalp, then erupted into an almost maniacal laughter. The Master of Metal chuckled, while Sona put a hand over her mouth and giggled, though, without emitting a sound.
The training day ended. Both chemist and lord accompanied her to Zaun’s warp station, where one final farewell was shared. She was transported first and as Mordekaiser started walking towards the platform, Singed asked one last question:
“Say, what are you going to do while she’s out shopping?”
“I still need to finish chapter two and train.”
“I’ll tell you later.”
And with that, he vanished, leaving behind a very confused chemist.
He should have picked her up.
But the stage had been in such a mess, hardly prepared for what was to come. It needed fixing and cleaning. Still, he could have made a bit of time.
But she doesn’t need an escort. She’s smart and quite skilled at defending herself. She is a champion, after all. Still, good manners told him he should have gone.
But he still needed to make sure he had understood the chapter correctly. Still, he should stop making excuses. He should have picked her up.
And so, when he heard a short tune, unmistakably belonging to one of the rarest instruments in the world, he looked up from his own instrument, ready to apologise in as many words as possible. Yet he just froze.
There she was, the Maven of Strings, her hair a long, flowing sea of blood. Her robe was black as night, with hints of silver. And even her instrument was dark, its strings somehow glowing in an eerie glow. And yet, the warmest of smiles was still there, under that pair of sky-blue eyes.
He broke free of his trance and straightened up. He raised his hands and she looked on, still. He spoke:
“I’m sorry if I manage to butcher it.”
Her gaze showed confusion, until his hands and fingers started moving, rather clumsily, forming words and sentences. She almost lit up, such was her smile. With his hands, he spoke:
“You look great.”
She replied with much greater speed and accuracy, yet he managed to piece the shapes together:
“Thank you. You look quite good, as well.”
He gazed quickly into a nearby mirror. Was it the bits of armour on his shoulders and legs? Was it the long black streak of hair, suddenly free from its metallic prison? Was it the bare, muscled chest? Was it the axe-guitar? Yeah, probably the axe-guitar.
“Good to hear. Now, shall we show all of,” a tiny, delicate hand reached out and adjusted his armoured fingers a bit. He nodded in gratitude, “Zaun what real music is made of!?”
“Gladly, Master of Metal!”
Trogsworth’s tavern was full. It was actually getting a bit hard to breathe, yet none of the local denizens cared. For it was time for the show. Their cheap and questionably concocted beverages were bought, now all they needed was entertainment. And that, they would certainly get.
The curtains slowly slid halfway, revealing none other than the Master of Metal, who burst onto the stage, accompanied by screams and a massive applause. At the top of his lungs, he shouted:
“Good evening, Zaun,” they screamed back, “tonight, you have once more come to hear me spread the sickness to you all! However, there is a twist! For tonight, I am not alone,” whispers darted around the crowd. Several conspiracy theories were forged within seconds, “so please, give a loud welcome to the one, the only, Sona Buvelle!”
A mixed reaction, some shouted out, others remained silent. A minority spit out their drinks. The curtain finally slid all the way, revealing the maven in her full beauty. She bowed to the crowd, then, without warning or pause, her music filled the air with an alien piano.
“Gaze at it, if you dare, mortals,” his right hand shot into the air, carrying a sign the crowd returned, “gaze at the Mask of Madness!”
As soon as his fingers touched his own set of strings, the piano fell silent. After a few moments, the axe faded, and the other returned. For a while, this was their game. One played, one remained idle. But then, Sona stopped abruptly, mid-tune. And they both unleashed the sickness in perfect unison.
The music was like nothing else the crowd had heard. His power and speed was coupled with her style and grace, yet instead of cacophony, the two created a symphony to last the ages. Their duet lasted into the late hours of night, yet the crowd still begged for more. A grand finale arrived, and both reached for the highest of tones accessible, before ending just like the madness had started. With silence.
The crowd soon filled the void, their screams still begging for more. Mordekaiser was somehow able to shout even louder:
“Enough sickness has been spread for tonight! And from now on, I shall not spread it alone! We shoot down motherships for breakfast! We use hexbenders to pick our teeth! No nexus remains standing in our presence! We are sickness incarnate! We! Are! Pentakill!”
“Pentakill! Pentakill! Pentakill!” the mass shouted back.
The duo vanished behind the curtain and headed backstage. Both were tired, even exhausted, but felt so great. Especially since the applause could still be heard.
“Hah! Singed was right, after all! I hope we can do this again, and again, and again!”
She merely nodded, while still playing on the etwahl.
Backstage, she made a turn for the exit, but he shouted:
“Wait,” she turned around and noticed he was holding something behind his back, “I have, well, a little token of gratitude for you,” she tried to hide her excitement, unsuccessfully. Hiding her surprise was even harder, once he revealed a small pot. Within it, a tiny black plant was growing. She looked up at him, ” on the Shadow Isles, it is called the Black rose. It grows for many years, enduring countless hardships, disguised as some unimportant grass. Yet, when it finally blooms, all other flowers pale in comparison. Its beauty and grace truly know no equal,” her confusion was very visible, but then, he finished, “I think the two of you have many things in common.”
In moments, her face matched her hair in colour. Swiftly, her hands spelled out:
“I’ll wait outside.”
With that, she grabbed the pot and vanished from sight within seconds. Morde had a large smile hidden within the darkness of his helmet.
A voice suddenly echoed within the room, raspy, ancient and somewhat ethereal:
“I never knew you were such a hopeless romantic.”
He didn’t even need to turn to imagine the liche’s garb:
“What can I say, I am a gentleman,” he finally turned, “you should give less cryptic advice in the future, though.”
“Is that so,” Karthus’ skull attempted to grin, unsuccessfully, “I wonder. Would the mighty, wise and thick-headed Mordekaiser have listened to the advice of an old, wise creature? Or would he have disregarded it as the ramblings of an insane lich? I do wonder.”
“Fine, fine, you have a point. Thank you.”
“You are welcome. And I’m sure you’ll be pleased to know, that I will gladly join this growing band of yours as soon as I get myself a fitting garb. Ideally one not infested with maggots.”
“Yes, that would be ideal,” he turned away once more, “now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a lady to escort.”
Karthus exited via the doors used by commoners. And somehow, he was not surprised to see a bandaged, armoured skeleton of a man on the other side.
“Good evening, Singed.”
“Ah, Karthus, fancy seeing you here! Saw the concert?”
“Whether I saw it is irrelevant. But I heard it. And it was quite good.”
“And where are our stars?”
“You could see them above, if your factories stopped spewing so many chemicals into the air.”
“You know what I mean.”
“Of course. One is being escorted, the other is working as an intimidating escort. They are either headed to her residence, or his. That is, much like seeing a concert, irrelevant at this time.”
And so, the two walked and floated along the streets of Zaun, accompanied by maniacal laughter.
Though it's not the word I'm looking for, it's cute. I enjoyed reading what you have posted so far.
Something I like: the way you kept Sona a mute instead of talking in Morde's head. She can only talk to summoners. Thanks for keeping with the consistency. It made for an interesting plot device that they couldn't understand each other immediately. He had to learn/be around her more.
Something I didn't like: how I fell for the title name. I clicked on your link with fear because I thought it was an Olaf/Sona story. I forgot about his skin that makes his mace an axe-guitar... But that was more my bad than yours. Nothing else to put in this spot.
All and all, interesting. I'm a sucker for music, so this was already sold when you wrote about Pentakill. I await your next chapter, friend. I wish you the best of luck with writing!
I'm glad you liked it, mate.
I meant this as a short story only, though, so if you'd want want a continuation, I'm afraid I'll have to disappoint . I may elaborate on their relationship in a different short piece, but I cannot promise anything.
I do try to remain true to the lore, while taking an artistic liberty here and there. For example, the name of the tavern and all the bands are taken right out of the Journal of Justice. Again, glad ya liked it.
And don't worry, I deliberately chose the title in such a way, to confuse and laugh at others' misfortune. I'm evil like that. Also, a play on words, since a slang term for guitar is 'axe'.
I have a few more stories in mind, some slightly different in tone, so if you happen to read those, hope you'll like them, as well.
© 2013 Riot Games, Inc. All rights reserved. Riot Games, League of Legends and PvP.net are trademarks, services marks, or registered trademarks of Riot Games, Inc.