Abe no Mei-Kou, a powerful young Sealmaster of the Mei clan, lay nearly still in a slowly cooling puddle of his own blood and mud. The mixture of his blood and the water was soaking into his once-brilliant robes as he sat propped up against a great oak tree. All around him, a thousand corpses soaked in the mud, the aftermath of his small company's first encounter with Noxians. His friends, all so eager to fight the carven enemy, were slaughtered to a man by the battle-hardened Noxians. Still his magic flowed, forming a barrier around him that was supposed to protect him, for all the f*cking good it did now. Yet even now, the blue glow from his inscriptions was starting to flicker and fade. He coughed up some more blood.
He was a fool.
Like the other young men of his age, he was far too eager to rush out to do battle against the invading Noxians. Like the other young men of his age, he thought he was some level of invincible. And soon like the other young men of his village, all close friends or family, he would be dead in this muck. The worst part of it all was that his life, his own f*cking, worthless skin was still worth more than the rest of his entire village's combined, and he had brashly thrown it away like it was nothing more than the skin off a fruit.
He coughed again, and this time, he felt a knife of ice cut into his stomach. He would be gone soon.
To Grand Sealmaster Mejai… his glorious ancestor… Mei-Kou apologized deeply, again and again in his heart, for he had completely and utterly failed.
For his blood, his d*mn hide, was heir to the Key of Phoenix; only the direct male bloodline from his clan could ever break the seal placed by Grandmaster Mejai on the Phoenix Sun… which was the ultimate weapon of magic, and one of two of the necessary keys to destroy the ultimate evil.
Yet, he, the last of his family, the last of his name, would die. He had no bloodline, and he would be left rotting in the ground, leaving the Phoenix Sun to be lost forever. Sh*t. He should have asked out that Nurse's daughter before he left, maybe made a couple of sons. What was that girl's name, even? He could only vaguely recall the name of the old woman that was the girl's mother. Ahri? Hell. He couldn't even manage to remember that beautiful girl's name. He would have wept bitterly if he had the strength. But the Sealmaster could only lie back, and close his eyes in defeat.
"Kon?" Something chirped.
Mei-Kou opened his eyes. A beautiful white fox had happened upon his almost-corpse. The fox seemed to be drawn by the blue light of his barrier. The creature was curiously sniffing at Mei-Kou's limp, clammy hand.
Mei-Kou tried to lift his hand to pet the beast, but he had not the strength anymore. He gave the fox a ghost of a smile, to perhaps comfort the poor creature in such a field of death.
The fox seemed to get bored, and was starting to move away. Mei-Kou felt that sadness and darkness overwhelm him once more.
But then… in his greatest despair… he had an idea.
W….wait! Mei-Kou thought desperately. He reached out with his mind to tag the fox, and incredibly, the fox drew back to Mei-Kou.
He willed his magic to overtake the fox. Invisibly, his magical signature, and the honor of being of the Bloodline of the Grand Sealmaster Mejai overwhelmed and fused with but an ordinary fox. Confused, the white fox chirped again, and whined a bit, rolling about. She was beginning to change. Mei-Kou felt a spurt of triumph even as his life slipped away into the darkness. The color of the world was growing dim and gray. His insides felt as if they were doused in ice. He could feel death creep up his body, and the flow of blood from his puncture wound in his side start to slow, as there was no more blood to bleed.
You will carry on my bloodline... forgive me...
He thought that would be the end, yet as he died, he saw the form of a beautiful woman take shape. He could only see her silhouette as he finally died, but an insane, ridiculous last thought intruded on his fading mind.
She looks like the nurse's dau…g…h
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"Oh? It looks like you are doing well, for a pupil getting the stuffing beat out of her every day. Zilean's been working you hard."
Soraka, the Starchild, passed her Moon scepter over the bruises that Ahri had gathered from her practice sessions with Zilean. She looked the slightest bit annoyed as she cared after Ahri's injuries. Her yellow eyes, set in a light purple face, glinted in irritation. A brisk Tsk! Escaped her purple lips as the Starchild healed over a particularly nasty bruise left by Zilean, who had caught Ahri quite well on the head with a stick he manipulated during one of their practice sessions.
"Might I ask exactly why are you taking it upon yourself to slowly become Ahri, the Nine-Tailed Punching Bag?"
"No, he just wants me to know myself better." Ahri glanced down at her hand. Spread throughout her fingers and all over her palm were several vicious scars from third-degree burns that Yi said she sustained from fighting the demon Charred. "He said if anything like that time… that time with Singed… happens again, we'll have protection."
"Hm." Soraka mused skeptically, "Protection from the enemy? Or from you?"
When Ahri didn't respond, Soraka turned back to erasing her bruises. After a few more minutes of careful incantations, and a steady sweeping over all of Ahri's arms and legs, Soraka declared her largely fit. The Starchild was in the middle of chiding her on the values of looking after a young girl's health, when she stopped.
Her hand froze. The Starchild stared at where the Crescent hovered over right then.
"Soraka? what is it?"
Soraka had stopped her Crescent over Ahri's belly. She muttered a few incantations as if to check something. She finished, and lowered her crescent.
A smile slowly spread across her face. The Starchild's eyes softened, and she looked all the more human.
"Well, Ahri, my dear, this is good news."
"I have an excuse to pull you out of those **** lessons, now. I'll talk to Zilean to get him to stop beating on you with his magic clubs."
"What? What is it?"
Soraka laughed, and suddenly stood straight up on her goat-like legs. Her hoofs clattered against the stone of Ahri's quarters as the Starchild walked to the exit, grinning.
"Tell meee!" Ahri yelled, pleading. She followed the Starchild, beating lightly on Soraka's back.
"That's my secret for now, sweetheart." Soraka opened the door. "I do need to make you a present, though. When I give it to you, I'll tell you. Until then, no more lessons! Period!"
The Starchild clapped her hands in excitement, completely caught up in her own joy.
"Oh, I can't wait to see the look on your face! Ah, haha!"
Soraka left the quarters giggling like a schoolgirl, leaving Ahri sorely confused. She sat back on her bed. The fox's ears drooped in bewilderment. She did not know yet how to deal with being completely and utterly lost. Ahri tried to reason out what just happened there. She gave it a few seconds, before growling, and then flipped over on her bed. Screw her, Ahri reckoned, as she nestled in her fluffy tails. I'm tired and I want to sleep.
The Dark Battalion marched from the South. Thousands strong, they were armed with only the deadliest weapons, forged from volcano-forged obsidian and tempered by the most powerful of enchantments. Their armor was pitch-black, encapsulating the devils completely in protection. Only a miniscule slit cut into each of the face of their helms betrayed dark, dimly glowing eyes. So far, they had consumed several villages, both Noxian and Demacian in nature, coldly and mechanically butchering and putting every living soul in them to the sword. Not even the dogs survived the debauchery. In their wake, they left only bodies and blood. For what?
For their wood. The Dark Battalion dismantled the cottages that families had spent generations living in, killing every living thing in them, only because it was more efficient than cutting down the wood themselves.
The wood will assist our siege, their lieutenant ordered, and no living being can be left alive to preserve the element of surprise.
So ruthlessly efficient were the Dark Battalion that the lieutenant even ordered that garrisons be left behind in the corpse towns they had created, in order to ambush travelers and butcher them as well, so that their target would have no advance warning of their impending attack. None at all.
For their ultimate goal was the Institute of War. By their master's will, the Dark Battalion advanced on the League. They marched on with ruthless speed.
It was only a few days later that they reached the doorstep of the Institute. The League had only a few hours of notice of such a massive army on practically in their face. Immediately, the Palace Guard and the Champions were mobilized to combat this massive new threat.
Jax had assumed command of the Champions, barking orders out as soon as there was trouble. He sent them scurrying about, working on one project or another to combat the impending siege. The enemy was almost upon them.
"Alistar, move those turrets over by the barrels, we need those towers another twenty feet to the east, they're out of range! Caitlyn, take your men and scout the best vantage points for our snipers! We'll post you with Ashe and Tristana to cover the high ground!"
The minotaur grunted in affirmation, as he picked up a tower, and started hauling it closer to the front lines. Caitlyn turned, and shouted some orders, as a full rank of Piltover snipers filed behind her, and started jogging off into the mountainous crags, searching for the best overwatch areas.
Jax called out to an idle palace guard.
"Soldier, I order you to restock the supply of gunpowder in the eastern frontline. Their stockpiles have been running low after that fire a few hours ago."
Jax gazed out at the work they had done on the Entrance of the Institute of War. Behind every corner was a turret, hidden to be protected from siege weapons, but in crucial areas that would stop advancing the advancing army in their tracks.
Who were these men? Jax wondered as he gazed out into the distance at the camp of the invading army. They were neither Noxian nor Demacian, not in their pitch black armor. They seemed somewhat robotic— in the way that they moved, or how they twitched whenever it seemed that their orders had changed—they were eerily inhuman. Could they be from another world? Jax shivered at the notion of some inter-dimensional empire arrived on Valoran. They had enough problems of their own.
Master Yi, the Wuju Bladesmaster, came up behind him. The Master had brought out his most powerful battle suit, his Headhunter Armor for this battle. Six lenses gleamed viciously against his sharp, framed helm, offering advanced vision as well a small element for future sight. A tentacle ending in a cruel claw writhed behind his head, cancelling all ambient noise. Vicious claws were attached to the Master's forearm guards, allowing for a killing blow even when disarmed.
Finally, the blade he grasped in his armored hand was the finest in the world. It was a straight, flat slab that sported a simple, yet elegant guard ending in a dragon. On it, was carved the evil-killing inscription,
Rlung Tsi Hya Tyan Gaor,
Dragon Rises to where Ocean meets Heaven
It was the Dragon Rising Blade.
"Shen is ready, Grandmaster. So is the other rotation of our champions."
Jax nodded at this. Their entire defense rested on this crux of the strategy. They could not possibly defeat the entire army head on, so they had to funnel the enemy forces into tactical chokepoints. The ones who would hold these chokepoints were the League's very own champions. Once one champion would tire or get injured, the next would take his place, renewing the guard. Jax hoped that this would be enough to maybe delay and cripple the enemy forces.
There were three chokepoints to be held.
The first was at the entrance of the Institute of War. Here, at the widest area, was where the majority of their turrets were concentrated. There is where Jax would make his stand first. With his hammer, his true weapon Mjolnir, he would be able to destroy great swathes of the craven foe before he would have to retreat.
Jax, with the most raw power, would have to hold off the bulk.
The second chokepoint was deep, deep underneath the Institute. There no turrets stood guard, the heat would do most of the work over there. Yet even that god-forsaken place still had to be held against their dauntless enemy. Shen, the most durable of the first three to hold the chokepoints, would stand guard there, in the oppressive, murderous heat, until his will finally cracked, and some other champion would have to take his place.
Shen, the most focused of the Kinkou, would have to endure the Magma Chamber with those unfortunate enough to endure it with him.
Finally, there was a small bridge used to train new summoners in their arts. It was the area where Zilean held his numerous and painful practices with Ahri, and where summoners would sometimes mess about with the avatars of the champions. A small mountain pass around the Institute would perhaps allow an elite force to slip through, and attack unnoticed, that that point had to be held as well.
The Proving Grounds, an arena of endless duels, is where Master Yi would make his mark.
Yi gazed out at the encamped army.
"They will not wait long. I must go."
Jax nodded in affirmation.
"Good luck, brother."
"And you too, my friend."
Yi raised a hand in farewell, and walked off to the Proving Grounds. Jax gave him a passing glance, before jumping to his chosen spot, leaping down a twenty feet of steep, steep stairs, where he would make his stand. The Grandmaster slammed his hammer down in determination. He would not fail.
LeBlanc stood with her master in the shadows, from behind defender lines. They watched over the futile preparations of siege by the defenders. The Deceiver had a grin on her face, as constantly she mocked every bit of the defender's efforts, bit by bit.
"As you expected, master. They are sending out a champion at a time to meet our forces. Right into our plan" LeBlanc gave a sigh. "I'm surprised, though. I thought Jax would send ALL of the champions out. Too bad. Guess they weren't that dumb after all. But I guess fighting for so long, you get this kind of instinct. Too bad I was born a spy. Ha-ha!"
The dark figure grunted, watching solemnly over the siege procedures. His army was starting to move.
"Clumped champions… are too vulnerable to siege weapons." The dark figure scowled. "You know nothing of war, woman."
LeBlanc recoiled a bit at the rebuke, but quickly recovered. She quickly put on another sly smile, maybe to placate the master. The dark man did not respond. The Deceiver seemed to shrink at his silence.
"A-Anyhow, I must go to Councilor Kolminye's office. I have the next part of the plan to carry out." LeBlanc turned back to head to the Council of Equity's chambers, but the dark man's voice cut in.
LeBlanc froze immediately. A bead of sweat rolled down her neck as she gulped.
"Who was defending the bridge called the Proving Grounds?"
LeBlanc turned around, a smile fakely plastered on her face, her fear of the man palpable. Her voice came out quaky and weak.
"T-that was Yi, the Wuju bladesman, master. My scouts confirmed this-"
"Enough. Do not block off the bridge."
The dark figure rose, picking up his sword. LeBlanc hastily bowed as the man swept away into the darkness. Out of the corner of her eye, she could see the glint of the dark figure's razor-sharp sword as it shone in the shadows. She quivered from the strength of the man's spirit, and sweat dripped all about the stone floor of the upper balcony they were on. Even longer after he was gone, LeBlanc still remained bowing.
"Y-yes… master. It will be done."
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