Oh my god! 100 reviews! Thank you everyone! Sorry I was so slow in getting this one up and responding to reviews. I kept flip flopping on a bunch of things so hopefully it turned out ok... There was more too add but it was taking too long for me to get this chapter done so it'll be in the next chapter. School is almost over for the semester, so soon I will have all the time in the world to write for you!
This has become so much more than I ever dreamed it would and it is all because of you ladies and gents! I really can't thank you all enough!
PS! Ender's Game reference!
If there was anything Shauna Vayne was good at it, it was getting information; she had contacts all over Valoran that kept their ears open for even the smallest pieces of rumors, and when someone outside her network needed a little "encouragement" to share, her crossbow could be very convincing.
But even though Vayne had spent the better part of her life hunting down magic users and other scum who'd committed the most shocking of crimes, it was still a surprise to learn that High Councilor Vessaria Kolminye had been meeting with Jericho Swain on a very regular basis. To anyone except Vayne it would seem perfectly normal that Vessaria should meet with the leader of Noxus given the political nature of her position, but to the huntress, it didn't seem right. She knew Swain was affiliated with the Black Rose, and after learning Vessaria had been the one to break the confidentiality of the League of Legends by talking to Jarvan III, Vayne was appropriately suspicious that the High Councilor had fallen under the sway of the Black Rose.
These suspicions were what led the Night Hunter to drop in unexpectedly on the High Councilor one evening as she prepared to leave her office for the evening.
"What can I do for you, Shauna Vayne?" Vessaria sat organizing documents into files but stopped to address her, a cold smile fixed upon her face.
Impassive as ever, Vayne leveled her wrist-mounted crossbow at Vessaria's face stating, "Let's cut to the chase. Are you in league with the Black Rose?" In response, the Night Hunter felt a surge of magic hit her accompanied by Vessaria's tinkling laughter. Without hesitating, she fired a silver bolt that, to her surprise, passed through the summoner's face with a puff of smoke. By the time she whirled around and saw the ethereal chains that seemed to wrap around her, the huntress was rendered immobile.
Vessaria flashed another haughty smile as the illusion faded away, leaving Vayne staring in shock at LeBlanc's beautiful and terrifying face.
"Silly little girl from the cupboard," she crooned, raising her staff. "I am the Black Rose."
"I don't see how you're not dead yet," Talon huffed as he and Garen bolted up the Institute steps. "You're so damn loud." A majority of their short journey was spent exchanging verbal assaults as such.
"Give me a sword and I'll show you how," the soldier grumbled.
Even as tense as the atmosphere between the two men was, for once the Demacian immediately felt relaxed as they passed under the massive entryway and into the safety of the Institute. In the place of his anxiety grew excitement.
"Where's Katarina staying?" he asked eagerly.
Talon shook his head and sighed, "Figures," but took off toward the residence hall without warning, an enthusiastic Garen following behind him. The Demacian was too preoccupied with his own thoughts to be bothered by the assassin's sullen attitude: Would Katarina be excited to see him too? Gods, he should have showered first…
"What the…" Talon wondered aloud, a note of concern in his brusque voice. A crowd was formed down the hall, clotting the hallway with Champions and summoners alike, who seemed to be looking interestedly into a particular room. A foreboding feeling settled in Garen's chest and, as they edged closer to the crowd, gave way to distress when Talon suddenly said, "Oh, ****," and bolted the rest of the way.
The first thing Garen noticed as he and Talon pushed through the throng of people was the smell, acrid but somehow sweet, reminiscent of war and the dead. Most summoners held their robes over their faces, unaccustomed to the smell that was all too familiar to the Champions present. Snippets of conversation as he passed, "-like acid-," "-rushed to the infirmary-," only intensified the dread twisting his stomach; a few steps ahead, Talon, finally emerged on the other side of the sea of bodies, and Garen nearly flew into a panic as he heard the assassin howl, "What happened?! Where is she!?"
A few seconds later, the soldier joined him in the room and a over a decade of military service couldn't stop his hand from flying to his mouth in alarm. Inside, the smell was thick enough to taste and blood coated the floor and sheets; the source of the burned smell was evident by the warped floor that still sizzled as acid continued to slowly eat away at the carpet. He'd seen worse, so much worse, but he knew from the hysterical look on Talon's face that, whatever had occurred, Katarina had been involved, and that thought made the situation in the room intolerable.
Blocking the path of a retreating summoner Talon shouted, "This is Katarina's room! What happened to her?!"
The summoner recoiled from the two Champions and stammered, "T-there was an accident-"
"This doesn't look like a ****ing accident!" Talon interrupted, seizing the front of the summoner's robes. "What. The ****. Happened?!"
"We're not sure!" the summoner blurted. "Someone reported the smell a-and so we came and she was already… it looked like she was attacked- maybe another Champion-w-we aren't sure!"
Through gritted teeth, the assassin hissed, "Is she... is she alive?" Garen held his breath.
"YES!" the summoner squeaked, struggling in the Noxian's grasp. "They rushed her to the infirmary 20 minutes ago! They're trying to stabilize her!"
Talon shoved aside the summoner to turn to the Demacian but found the other Champion crouched on the ground inspecting the damage to the floor. It was true Garen wasn't well versed in the Champions of the League, but he'd seen at least three use something that could be acid on the Fields of Justice, and the world seemed to suddenly go quiet as Garen realized the only one of those Champions which would have the motive.
Rising to his feet, Garen seized a different summoner, who was inspecting the bed nearby. "Did the attacker leave any other evidence?" he demanded.
The summoner let out a startled squeak as she turned into Talon and Garen's intense stares and started to shake her head, but then she bit her lip and whispered, "They're organizing a group to look into...well, we're not supposed to say anything but, they found what might be a blood trail leading out the East entrance." Without another word, the two men bolted from the room, shoving bodies from their path.
"Who was it?" Talon questioned.
The assassin considered it, then muttered, "Let's go then," but before he could bolt, the Demacian stopped him.
"Wait! This is... personal," he mumbled. "I need to go alone."
Dark eyes flashed and Talon quipped, "You don't think it's personal for me too? She's my family!"
"You don't understand! Urgot... I'm the one who made him like he is," Garen revealed. "It was a long time ago, but... that's why he did this, I'm sure of it, so I need to take care of this."
Talon looked about five seconds away from leaping for the Demacian's throat, and his blade twitched expectantly. "Fine!" he spat to Garen's surprise. "I hope you kill each other! She's better off without you!" At that, he took off running toward the infirmary, leaving the soldier who went toward the makeshift armory the League kept for when Champions needed a spare weapon.
"Hey! You can't just barge in here!" a summoner shouted as Garen burst through door and made a direct line for the armor. The Demacian wasn't deterred as he quickly rifled through the equipment, lacing up a simple pair of vambraces over his gauntlets while ignoring the summoner's decreasing objections. His search continued until he found a pair of old Demacian pauldrons and impatiently decided that they would have to suffice as he belted them across his chest.
The summoner was still glaring albeit silently as the Demacian continued his disruptive search in the next room, which contained racks upon racks of different weapons. Realistically Garen knew he would be hard pressed to find a sword that would rival Demacian Justice in quality, but settled for the only sword in the armory that matched it for size and weight; it was sharp but the nicks in the steel and the worn wraps on the grip indicated that it had seen better days. With a deep breath to slow his racing heart, Garen belted the sheath onto his back and rose, giving the summoner a nod as he exited.
Years before Kalamanda was even on the radar, there had been one particularly nasty battle in which Jarvan IV was captured by Noxian forces and the Dauntless Vanguard barely saved him before the Noxian division executed him on the field. Garen would never forget the smell of burning bodies when they'd stormed the camp, nor would he forget the monstrous man with an executioner's scythe and a missile launcher in place of hands. Garen had cleaved Urgot in half without a second thought, but the man had devoted his dying breath to vow revenge, something the Demacian hadn't taken seriously until now.
Guilt and the echo of Talon's parting words coursed through the soldier momentarily before he shook his head clear. There was no way he could have known this would happen because of something he did so long ago. Now as he paced through the much quieter halls of the Institute that led to the back entrance, of one thing he was certain: He'd cut Urgot down before; this time he would make sure the ******* never got up again.
Maybe it could be considered justice, hunting down Urgot, but it walked so near the line separating it from vengeance that he wasn't sure which it was, and he found that he didn't care. All the justification in Valoran for why the monstrous Champion should be punished paled in comparison to one simple fact: He'd hurt Katarina in an attempt to get at him, and Garen wasn't about to wait for a group of summoners to decide what should be done. If his exile taught him anything, it was that systems were flawed; what if no punishment ever came from the League? How long would it take? He wouldn't be able to live with himself if Urgot was allowed to roam free after whatever happened to Katarina.
And deep down in the dark part of him that he tried never to acknowledge, Garen knew that no matter what the League did or didn't do, legal retribution wouldn't satisfy him. It was time for him to battle his own demons; this fight, and all the future fights people might try to start, he would win them right now. He wanted to guarantee that when he was through with Urgot, no one would ever **** with them again.
As was customary, a hot pot of tea sat on the table between LeBlanc and Jericho Swain, but along with it, a rare animosity separated the two masterminds as they sipped their drinks.
Pleasantries aside, LeBlanc plastered a polite smile on her face as she stated, "Jericho, I'm wondering what your reasoning was in sending that letter to Urgot."
"I only wanted to ensure that Katarina was removed from the picture as we previously discussed," he replied, matching her with a calculating grin of his own. His raven, Beatrice, who was perched on his shoulder, seemed to tilt her head and focus her gaze on the woman, studying her response.
Her smile slipped momentarily into frown. "By having him attack her in the Institute of War?" the Deceiver chided. "Between this and having to get rid of Vayne to protect us, my resources are quite strained."
"It was never my intention to make things so difficult for you," Swain said with an innocent shrug. "Are you sure you have everything under control?"
Instantly the cunning smile returned to her face. "Oh please, Jericho. You sound almost as if you doubt me!"
"Never!" he exclaimed as the two shared a laugh. "But I'm afraid I must cut our meeting today short. I have business to attend to with the High Command."
"Is that so?" LeBlanc mused. "Until next time, then."
With a slight incline of his head, the Noxian Grand General stood, his bird flapping its wings at the disruption. "Yes, until then." As he reached for the door knob, Swain paused and turned back to look at the Deceiver once more. "Oh, and LeBlanc?" he added. "Should things become too overwhelming for you, I will be more than pleased to… help."
Smile disappearing altogether, LeBlanc retorted, "That won't be necessary. Good day, Jericho." Beatrice let out a short caw that echoed the low chuckle of her owner as he briskly left the office.
As soon as the man was gone, she scowled into her half-empty cup. She knew just as well as he that invoking the situation with Urgot was no accident; it was a test, a threat, and a promise. Since she'd committed to using Jericho Swain, the Deceiver knew someone as ambitious as he would need to be kept under close scrutiny, and she realized now she'd erred and let the leash grow lax. Her knuckles grew white as she clenched her cup. What a foolish mistake.
Taking a few deep breaths, LeBlanc willed her ancient mind into a state of calm so she could consider her options. It wasn't the first time she was forced to salvage a situation that strayed off course. The most important thing, she reminded herself, was that she came out on top.
True to the summoner's words, there were sporadic splotches of dried blood along the darkened hallway that led to the Eastern entrance of the building, the side closest to Noxus. Garen broke into a jog and descended the stairway, determined to find Urgot before the League mobilized. By his estimate, the machine-man couldn't have more than forty-five minutes to an hour's head start, and factoring in that he was wounded and slow to begin with, the Demacian was confident he would catch him.
With only a half-moon lighting the brick path, Garen wished he would have been clear-headed enough to take a lantern from the armory as well. It was difficult to tell if it was blood he was seeing or just dirt as the spots grew farther and farther apart, and he started to worry after ten minutes without seeing anything. But just as he slowed to a walk, from the corner of his eye, a green glow caught his eye.
The exhaustion that had crept into bones was driven away by the anger which came coursing back, and he fell into an easy run. It wasn't long before the Demacian neared the slower Champion, the sound of Urgot's metal legs scraping a path through the brush reaching the soldier's ears before he even saw him. Garen thought for a moment he would try to follow along behind the monster and wait for a moment to attack when the other appeared most vulnerable, but when was close enough to finally see the Champion, his adrenaline spiked in a biological plea for action.
He wasted no time; with Katarina's face in his mind, Garen drew his sword and burst through the trees into Urgot's path, coming up swinging behind the Noxian with a fierce cry. At the last second, Urgot heard his approach and lurched forward to miss being cut apart, letting out a surprised grunt as the tip of the sword still managed to cut through the thick skin of his back.
"I didn't expect to see you so soon," Urgot challenged, blocking Garen's incoming strikes with his bladed hand as he tried to put distance between himself and the Demacian. "I take it you got my message." The faint green glow of the machine on his back illuminated the barely closed gashes he sustained from Katarina and made the executioner look even more gruesome than usual.
An inhuman growl escaped the soldier's throat in response as he lunged toward his injured opponent again. Urgot stumbled back, the charge he'd been preparing going wide and bursting against Garen's left shoulder in a shower of acid that caught them both but forced the Demacian to disengage abruptly. As the mixture melted through the metal of his pauldron, the soldier frantically unbuckled the piece of armor just as another missile went hurtling into it, following the path left by the acid.
Using Garen's brief pause, Urgot rushed into the trees, increasing the distance between them and haphazardly firing shots of energy from his cannon behind him. The Demacian dodged the shots and pursued, closing the gap before the monster could prep another corrosive charge. With a cry to bolster his spirits, Garen suddenly pivoted on his heel to bring the full weight of his body into his strike, leaving a long gash across the Noxian's chest to match the one on his back.
Urgot let out a strangled, "No!" as the Demacian followed through again with another slash, then another, snapping through techmaturgical wires under his skin and forcing his mechanical legs to buckle. To close to dodge, Garen staggered back as a shot of energy blasted into his chest, followed by a missile which ricocheted harmlessly against his remaining pauldron before exploding in the air beside him. The monstrous Champion rose to his weakly functioning legs, only to have one seize up and quit moving completely, leaving the top-heavy man unbalanced.
His chest was singed and stinging from the energy blast, but Garen gritted his teeth and dashed in on the Noxian with a downward strike that, for a split second, met with the steel of Urgot's blade, before the force pulled his blade straight through it and the arm below it.
Garen couldn't help the twisted grin that took his face as the Noxian screamed, and he turned his blade upward to slice through the other arm at the elbow. Urgot could only sputter and cry out in pain in response to the Demacian's laugh.
"You thought you would get away with hurting Katarina?" the soldier asked, resting the flat of his sword on the executioner's shoulder.
"My revenge..." Urgot gurgled, "...I was going to...kill you..."
Hefting the borrowed blade over his head, Garen looked down on him with an uncharacteristic glint in his eye and said, "Too bad," before severing Urgot's head from his neck, which fell with a sickening splat onto the grass with blood pouring from the wound. Without the techmaturgical signals from the dead Champion's brain, the mechanical legs folded and the body followed the head to the ground.
The civilized side of the Demacian was content at the sight before him, but that was not the part of him in control. It started with a low chuckle in the back of his throat, but erupted into a fit of manic laughter that wracked his body and when his laughter finally faded, Garen raised his sword again and hacked at Urgot until blood and dirt drenched him and the body lay beneath him in so many pieces it was no longer recognizable.
A grin spread slowly across his face as his eyes alighted on the dismembered cannon that was once the Noxian's arm, and he placed it in middle of the pile of flesh. There as a soft hiss as steel passed through the tops of the charges and acid spilled across the mess that was once Urgot and in no time ate through it until all that remained was a bloody smear on the forest floor. Let them try and reanimate that.
Suddenly, the grin fell away and Garen shook his head to try and clear his mind. Hastily, he wiped his blade on his jacket before sheathing it and stumbling away from the disturbing scene he created.
Talon stood stiffly beside Katarina's bed, his hood back in a rare display of respect, looking on the ashen face of the woman he considered his sister, while Cassiopeia cried, clutching his hand. Hours passed before the medics allowed them in to see her, saying they'd been able to surgically and magically repair most of the internal damage from the stab, but even given the gravity of that wound, they were even more concerned with the burns; after what happened in Ionia, the deadliness of chemical warfare was devastatingly clear.
He hardly recognized her, with all the tubes that connected her to machines whose purpose he didn't quite understand except that they were helping to keep her alive. How could someone as strong as she look so breakable? The responsibility he felt for her condition was overwhelming and snapping at Garen was his way of displacing the guilt that gnawed at his own conscience; if he hadn't fought with her, if he'd never left, if she'd gone instead…
"This is all my fault," he divulged as he dropped Cassiopeia's hand. "We got in a fight before this happened and I left… If she doesn't wake up… I yelled at her, Cass, the last thing I said was so…"
Carefully gripping his face in her hands, Cassiopeia reprimanded, "Stop it! You didn't do this to her, and you know she would say the same! Besides when she wakes up, you can apologize for your fight."
Talon nodded, then unexpectedly buried his face in the crook of her neck. "I'm sorry," he whispered. "Marcus's last order to me was to protect you two and I failed. I failed…" Tears trickled down the woman's distraught face into his hair as she wrapped him in a tight embrace.
"Hope I'm…not interrupting….anything…"
The two Champions pushed apart in surprise as Katarina's rasping voice drifted weakly from the bed.
Cassiopeia lunged at her sister sobbing, "Kat!", though Talon grabbed her before the snake woman could collapse on her injured stomach. Instead, she gently took her hand in her own and helped her sit up while Talon pulled a chair to sit beside her.
The red-head flashed them a faint grin. "Good to see… you two."
"How are you, um, feeling?" Talon choked out.
Closing her eyes, Katarina admitted, "Honestly… it hurts... everything just... hurts."
Face sympathetic, the snake-woman managed to say, "You're pretty heavily medicated, though."
"Medicated?" Katarina questioned. "Why?"
Talon and Cassiopeia exchanged a guilty glance before the assassin slowly replied, "You got burned pretty bad, Kat..."
The red-head was mute for a moment, then pulled her hand from Cass's to whisk aside the blanket covering her. From her feet to her hips and up onto her stomach, not an inch of skin showed through bandages; she stared for a moment with a blank expression and breathed a small, "Oh," before quickly pulling the blanket back over her and laying her head back onto her pillow.
"I'm tired," she whispered. "Come back later, ok?"
Cassiopeia started to say something, but Talon shook his head and promised, "We will," pulling the snake-woman to the door, each sparing another worried look for their bed-ridden sister.
Katarina closed her eyes, now able to recall the acid and the excruciating pain, but with a surprising detachment. She thought about all the unsanctioned fighting she'd done in Ionia during the time leading up to the end of the Noxian occupation; the people that hadn't been killed by the biochemical acids and poisons Noxus deployed were forever changed, often disabled for life depending on the extent of their injuries.
Slowly the assassin calculated the timeline of her future. Even with the combined efforts of medical care and healing magic, it would take weeks just for all the muscle and skin to heal. Scarring would be thick and if they weren't careful, she would have problems simply walking. But if everything went well, in a few months she might be able to force herself to start training again. Though she might never be an assassin again, Katarina was determined to remain a threat. And as the medication pulled her back into unconsciousness, she wondered as an afterthought, if Garen would ever look at her the same.
So far this has been a very good story. I love how you keep everyone in character and that there were barely any mistakes concerning the lore. Your story is even believable which is really hard to accomplish in my opinion.
But I think it's very unrealistic that Katarina won't be entirely healed. If that had happened on the Fields of Justice, she would've been healed with ease when entering the base, don't you think? I mean, just think of how easily a champion respawns after death there, no matter what injuries they had suffered.
But nevertheless, I love the story. You did a very good job!
Weeeeell it's just that I've been told I go to easy on characters, so I was trying to not do that XD
Certainly she will be healed! It's more of a timing thing. My though process is that they could probably zap all of her skin back on but then it wouldn't be stretched correctly over her joints making it difficult for her to bend her knees.
In real life it would take a long time for 3rd degree burn recovery, so in this realm I'm gonna say about a month of recovery which will go swimmingly with no problems. I was planning on there being a time jump anyway so it works out well in the grand scheme.
What would be the point of having an assassin who can't kill people!
Sorry my thoughts are all over the place >,>
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