A heavy padding sound fills the hallways, accompanied by a breathing easily mistakable for the rumble of thunder. Only the vermillion glint of light at the furthest end gives reason to think otherwise as Rengar steadily makes his way down the path. Though outwardly appearing calm and in control, the astute observer would note the sudden movements of the hunter's intact eye, the minor flexing in all visible muscles, the steady clenching around the wicked sword at his waist. Whether it thinks itself the hunter or the hunted in this case cannot be certain.
A slew of clinking rattles join the throng of subtle noises: the hunter's prizes arrayed about its hulking form. The sound brings the predator to a halt at once, all senses alert. After a moment it steadily walks forth again, pausing before the great doors at the end of the hall.
The truest opponent lies within
Upon seeing the warning, Rengar gives the slightest of snarls before abruptly swinging forth a leg, its knee embedded in a dense pad, to strike open the doors with a crash. A slight sniff is given as a deeper growl, one filled with menace, emanates forth. An instant later, the Pridestalker is vanished from sight, the great doorway closing behind.
From nothing came everything, a torrent of sensory input where there once was naught but dead stone. Rengar dropped into a crouch almost at once, glancing every which way. The dreary humidity, the rustling of branches and leaves in the wind, the smell of prey; he was home. Though he was loathe to believe it, his unrivaled senses spoke otherwise. Senses that were not the same, however.
A falling leaf brought to him the realization, drifting into his left eye. At first, Rengar thought nothing of it, until a sudden blink brought with it a wave of astonishment. He had blinked, with the eye he had long since lost. Shifting his weight slightly to feel what once was an empty socket brought with it yet more understanding. His leg was whole once more as well. A sense of unmatched satisfaction swept through the Pridestalker with a deep purr to match, yet a feeling of loss pervaded him as well. It was as though a pair of trophies had been denied to him, trophies won through pain and suffering.
A far-off, echoing sound shattered the tranquility of the jungle like a blade through bark. Rengar's head snapped up at once, the old familiar feeling surging through him; he knew that sound. He knew that sound far, far too well. The vicious snarl that tore through the hunter's throat sent creatures for dozens of meters around fleeing for shelter, but Rengar cared not. Memories of what was before no longer mattered.
Was this what the so-called 'summoners' of the League had in store for him? A second attempt...no, a first attempt. So far as the Pridestalker was concerned, there was no first attempt at the beast. He was renewed, his victory certain. It was always certain, had always been assured. He would remake his past on this day. This was his past. Dropping to the ground, he pounced forward and up a tree, leaping from branch to branch in pursuit of his chosen prey.
The signs he had found indicated that it was a terrifying creature, no doubt. The savaged bodies of creatures he had once felt pride is slaying had irritated him greatly, and the swathes of trees left shattered in its wake had perked his curiosity. This would be a hunt worthy of him, certainly. Everything was prepared, his finest weapons had been sharpened, a fresh set of bolas and traps were his to use. He would succeed, of that he was sure. None yet had escaped him, and he longed for a challenge.
The crashing of breaking foliage met his ears; he was getting close. Rengar closed his eyes briefly, an entirely new world awaited him when he open them again. The verdant greens of the trees and tans of his favored food's hides were gone; a spectrum of reds and oranges pulsed vibrantly. He was fully within his territory as he leaped from branch to branch.
And there it was, suddenly. Amid the dull coppery tones there rose a massive wall of shivering oranges and vibrant reds. The creature was massive, perhaps twice Rengar's full height. Countless arteries shone through the veil of its flesh, among other features. A pair of huge talons emerged near where its shoulders might have been, ending in wicked scythe-like blades. Tusks of sorts jutted around its horrid face, which alone was the size of some of Rengar's largest trophies. This fight would certainly be worth the effort of tracking the beast.
Tense, relax, tense, relax. Rengar was quick to purge any doubts he might have from his mind as he readied his blades. There would be no turning back from this monstrosity that dared to intrude upon his territory. With a final tensing, Rengar pounced, silent until the last instant.
His blade rent a massive gouge into the creature's hide as Rengar alighted upon its back, his savage grin widening at the shower of ebony gore that gushed forth. The creature howled in agony and surprise as the vicious gash lengthened, Rengar sliding down the scaly back of the creature with his blade dragging in its flesh. As it rounded about, Rengar tore his blade free and leaped back, a bola already spinning in one hand. Anger and pain only seemed to rile the creature though, and it charged forth with a howl of rage. Rengar bounded upward as its talons descended, casting the bola around the twin-scythes as they impaled the ground where he had stood a second before. He had to admit, it was startlingly fast for its size. Startling for the unexperienced, perhaps.
What was startling was the way that the bola's cords practically vaporized at the slightest flex of the beast, cords that likely would have held Rengar himself fast were they ever employed against him. The talons swept up, and Rengar could not hope to avoid the attack while in mid-air. Flesh parted like water around the talon's tip, and what blood wasn't shed from the wound boiled in a sudden thrill. This had happened before exactly as it was now. As Rengar began to fall, the beast opened its hideous maw, exposing countless rows of serrated fangs. A feeling he had not felt for years swept up the Pridestalker: his death was suddenly a very real possibility.
A roar of fury escaped Rengar as a paw quickly darted to his other armaments, plucking a large dagger from its place. This abomination would not be needing its tongue when it occupied his wall. As Rengar threw the jagged knife, the squirming appendage in the beast's mouth was casually snipped off at the last three inches, disappearing down its gullet along with the blade. The monstrous creature staggered back a step, a claw going to its throat as it gagged wretchedly, allowing Rengar to land without further injury. A deathblow would soon follow from the Pridestalker's blades.
...had the creature not stomped its gnarled foot upon the ground with a resounding report. Rengar's senses blazed in alarm; this was no death throe. No death throe sent tremors through the earth towards him. He dove aside in instinct, moments before an array of jagged spikes erupted from the ground where he had been and shredding the terrain. There could be no doubt; this thing was not of this world. Just as Rengar recovered from his perilous evasion, the creature, throat cleared, lurched forward and let loose a deafening roar, obliterating all other sounds. Such was the force of the scream that not even the pounding of Rengar's heart registered for several seconds. In that time space, the beast lunged forward again, casually decimating the foliage with every step.
Rengar could do naught but roar in defiance, though the sound was lost on his ears, and surge forth to meet his adversary. A devastating clash of claw on blade ensued, both combatants tearing into each other with a feeling that neither had quite felt before that day: desperation. Rengar barely noticed when the monster skewered his leg through the knee, pulverizing the bone; the creature didn't even break pace when a wild slash by Rengar rent its chest from shoulder to hip. Neither would flee, neither could walk away.
A twinge of dread surged through Rengar as he saw the foot of the beast snap forward; he remembered, and would remember this for all eternity. Before he could react, he was pinned under the foul smelling foe he had spent so long preparing to face. All of that time, wasted. His blade was still ready in one hand, but the creature was one step ahead. With a swift jolt forward, tusk met eye; the Pridestalker's howl of agony would be heard for miles around.
This he remembered well, all too well. Pinned, blinded, crippled, helpless...defeated. The creature was smiling down at him now, preparing its razor fangs for a veritable feast. And then...
"Why do you want to join the League, Rengar?"
The sudden question took the Pridestalker by surprise. This...thing, had spoke, in a voice so like his father's. It was a trick, clearly. Some fantasy brought on by blood loss, a wild hallucination. Perhaps the creature's talons were coated in venom of some sort, bringing these-
"Why do want to join the League, Rengar?" asked the creature again, in a sterner tone.
The question was odd, certainly. But more than odd, it was infuriating. Rengar's vision was red, but whether or not it was from the blood of his wound was debatable. These pipsqueaks dared to make him relive his greatest shame, to see it for themselves?! They sought to make him a trophy of their own, did they? A snarl of fury escaped Rengar's blood-stained jaws, a paw snapping forth to grasp the mocking monster's tusk.
"Why...?" The Pridestalker growled in a thick, guttural voice. "You shelter the one I seek, shelter it with the strongest of your kind. You call them champions...to me, they are trophies yet to be collected." When the monster continued to stare, Rengar continued. "Prey upon the weak, and you shall survive. Prey upon the strong, and you will live."
The monster nodded sagely, a talon tapping its gore-soaked chin.
"Indeed. How does it feel, exposing your mind?"
Rengar's expression was slack for but an instant before it contorted in fury at the insolence he faced. Uttering a terrible a terrible roar, he swung his wicked blade into the monster's face with all the strength and hatred he still possessed; the instant it made contact; all that was, was no more.
Blackness enveloped Rengar's sight, the familiar scents and sounds of home faded to nothing. There was a new addition to the strange stone chamber, though: the smell of fear. As the great double-doors slowly spread wide, light spilling into the chamber, Rengar looked back over his shoulder and into the darkness; the scent of fear intensified.
The feeble human lurking behind him would be spared, though, as the Pridestalker lumbered through the doors and into the League. There was far worthier prey to stalk, nobler blood to spill, and trophies to be preserved for all time.
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