First off, just wanted to say wow..thank you... like i haven't read a good book in a while, but you could definitely make this into a novel. I would buy sooo many copies..... like 24.... or 5... or like...1...yeah i would buy 1, but sorry my broke ass cant make you rich or i would XD. Anyway, please keep updating regularly, i hate to be kept waiting meinie pantz >=/ aaah im just ****in with you, take all the time u need please, as long as you make it good, which your doing terrific so far =3.
Oh and as for a suggestion.... maybe add a romantic twist.... like talon confessing his deep love for Kat while Garen is out doing league duty's or is like on the battlefield. it would make sense i mean hes so like protective of her and ish. i know like her dad told him to watch over them but still, would love to see some inside, first person talon action, see whats really inside The Blades Shadow's head =3 anyway, keep it up ^.^
Hnnng, I'm sorry there haven't been more Garen/Kat scenes. To be honestly, I got kinda carried away with the story arc, hurrhurr. Looks like I won't finish the story before my classes start, but it's close.
Disclaimer: Throughout these next few chapters, there's going to be a lot of Champions. Sorry if your favorite person doesn't make an appearance, but I've got (what I hope) are good reasons for who shows and who doesn't. Some of them are already tenuous at best.
Did you know yordles see infrared? How cool is that!? They're like little night vision wards!
I hope this fight is ok... Let me know!
Facing Fears:Part One
"What's the situation?" Garen demanded as he, Katarina, and Talon stood rigidly around the Summoner Niko in the privacy of Talon's room. The red-haired assassin avoided his eye, her face tinted with the vestiges of a blush, and had placed her adoptive brother between them. The time to take back his words had passed but the soldier forced himself to focus on the matter at hand; berating himself could wait until later.
His gravelly voice low, Niko replied, "Swain has begun the final preparations for his march. His loyal houses have begun to pack their equipment and have finalized their supply trains. Marcus estimates a day, maybe two before they officially leave out, but we've already spied summoners scouting near the Institute. But even though his goal is here, he will head for Kalamanda first, so he can establish a base of sorts and draw on the powers of the two Nexus there."
"And how many does Swain have in his army?" the Demacian pressed.
The summoner shook his head. "Each of the Noxian houses are bringing their personal guard, on top of the Raedsel Guard and of course the general standing army. Swain also drafted all able-bodied citizens who weren't a part of the standing army and all the Noxian summoners he could convince." He sighed, "His numbers are already over 3,000, 500 of which are loyal to General DuCouteau, and there's talk of reinforcements from Zaun."
Talon inhaled sharply. "So many. There's no way the LeBlanc and the Institute won't see this coming. He just plans on marching his army his army right up the highroad?"
"He assumes the Institute-rather, LeBlanc and her spies- know he's coming," Niko explained. "There's not much use in hiding it at this point."
"So is she going to get the jump on him?" Katarina frowned.
A doubtful look twisted the summoner's face. "General DuCouteau said it's most likely that Vessaria will make an offer of peace or surrender first, to cover her ass. If she's smart, she'll move out to Kalamanda before he gets there, and have the Institute as a fall back if things start going poorly. The proximity of two nexuses could really make this battle intense."
"Then we will wait for both armies in Kalamanda and destroy them," Garen growled.
"I agree we should be there before them, but don't forget, our mission is to hunt down Vessaria and LeBlanc," Katarina said sharply.
The soldier shot her a disgruntled look. "If LeBlanc even shows on the battlefield," he mumbled.
"She'll show," the assassin swore, with a confidence that did not reach her eyes.
"Call your allies," Niko stated, ignoring their exchange. "We've got a few days to ready the counter."
"Send the General our thanks," Talon replied. "We'll be there, no matter what happens." The summoner gave a quick nod and raised his hands, and in a blue flash, disappeared.
"So, he's essentially 2,500 strong?" Katarina scoffed. "Better pray we can bring down LeBlanc and Vessaria before we're slaughtered."
"Don't say that," Talon reprimanded. "We'll be formidable enough on our own."
As the two DuCouteau's argued, Garen turned toward the door, earning the attention of both. "I'm going to send final requests to all the city-states and Champions we spoke to," he muttered before swiftly shutting the door behind him.
"What's his deal?" Talon queried. Usually the Demacian was reluctant to leave Katarina, and even more so to leave an argument without putting in his opinion. But the Sinister Blade only replied with an uncaring shrug, though a faint blush crept up her cheeks. Frowning, Talon said, "Not that I care, but did you have a fight or something? I'm only asking because there won't be any place to be distracted on the battlefield, so fix it before then."
"It's none of your business," she hissed, pushing past him. "And don't question my ability to focus in a fight! I'm more than capable." The door slammed behind her and she stomped away, the blush on her face growing more fierce once alone in the dim hall as she considered Garen's earlier confession. How could he spring something like that on her now, when she needed to concentrate the most?
The assassin made her way to her own room, heart thudding rapidly in her chest. Romantic feelings were never something she ruminated on, though she was well past the point of denying that she harbored them for the Demacian. But... love? What did that even mean?
She whipped her head back and forth, desperately trying to clear it. Eventually she would need to give him an answer, and a small shiver of fear worked its way through her at the prospect. Upon reaching her room, she quietly set to sharpening her blades, taking comfort in the rhythmic activity.
It was funny, she thought, that three little words frightened her more than the war looming on the horizon.
Kiersta Mandrake tried her best to relax with her cup of tea as she sat across from Vessaria in the latter's elegant office. It seemed that not everyone was willing to cooperate with the restrictions they'd agreed upon, but that wasn't exactly a surprise to Kiersta. Initially, she'd been against the whole idea, but Vessaria had been very convincing and insisted that working individually with the city-states would help to stabilize the conflicts that had been occurring.
That was before the reports of summoners abusing their powers came rolling in from across Valoran.
The two weeks prior had been a nightmare of diplomacy, trying to understand who was right and who was wrong in the whole situation: Summoners insisted the citizens were violent and rebellious, while citizens claimed the summoners were unnecessarily abusive. Handling conflict was never her strong suit, and it was enough to make her want to retreat to the calm of her home.
To complicate matters further, there was Garen Crownguard's second Judgment to consider. If only it had come before the High Council agreed to the restrictions, Kiersta would have trusted her instincts and opposed the proposition. But she was too weak and stupid to realize she was being played for the fool, and what a fool she'd bee-
"Kiersta, is something troubling you?"
The High Councilor realized she'd been gripping her teacup so tightly her knuckles were white, and loosened her hold immediately. "Apologies, Vessaria. It's just these rumors of war have me worried."
Vessaria nodded in understanding. "These are troubling times, though it is no surprise a challenge would rise from someone like Jericho Swain." Flipping her long auburn hair over her shoulder, she added, "And rumors they are not. Loyal summoners have confirmed to me that Swain intends to declare war by taking Kalamanda from the League."
A hesitant look found its way to Kiersta's face. "Can we not propose peace before such a thing happens? If another battle were to occur in Kalamanda, it could be a disaster for Valoran..."
"I would offer them a chance to surrender," Vessaria replied with a smirk that did not strike Kiersta as being very merciful. "Valoran has seen the Institute's might already. Swain would be a fool not to accept."
She knows he will not back down, the summoner thought despairingly. Her slim fingers twitched against her cooling cup; she could try to end it now, kill Vessaria with her own hands from where she sat. Would it stop Swain? Would it stop the impending war? Could things go back to normal if she did? Shaking, she raised her hand...
...and quickly brushed aside her hair. No, she couldn't do it. She was afraid.
"I have no doubts that the Institute's summoners and fighters can put Swain's little rebellion to rest," Vessaria continued. "Our summoners are quite loyal." She leveled a hard stare at the timid woman across from her. "You will stand with us, won't you?"
The words of a corrupted summoner, Kiersta reminded herself, taking strength from it. If Vessaria thought her a fool, let her play the part; next time, Vessaria would not suspect her, and she would not be afraid.
"Of course," she lied, setting her cup down and rising to her feet. "I will do what's best for Valoran."
"Has there been any word from anyone? Someone has to be coming, right?"
Talon had been pacing around the library, waiting for the Curator to return, and had promptly bombarded him with questions. Two days had passed since Marcus's summoner approached them, and he'd come again that day with confirmation of the Grand General's advance.
"Demacia, the Rakkor, and Bandle City have responded in the affirmative," Nasus relayed. "Jarvan IV brings many allies, most of the Demacian Champions in fact, along with a battalion of soldiers from the Demacian Elite Guard and Vanguard and a company of Demacian summoners. He, the ladies Luxanna, Shyvana, Fiora, and Sona, as well as Galio and Poppy all will join us on the battlefield. Pantheon leads a small force of warriors from Mount Targon, and the Rakkor have agreed to provide supplies for a time should the battle run long. From Bandle City, a company of Meglings and Scouts, led by Teemo and Tristana and joined by almost all of Bandle City's League Champions."
The assassin groaned. "Yordles hardly count, and even so, will it be enough? Swain marches with over 2,500."
The Curator placed one of his large hands on the Noxian's shoulder. "Do not fret. There is still time. We have many independent Champions on our side as well, all of whom are here and ready. Quality over quantity, friend."
A sound of objection fell from his lips. "I know, but both would be much more reassuring," he grumbled. "And for all the summoners loyal to their city-states, there are even more loyal to Vessaria. The halls are packed with them now, more than I ever even knew existed."
"She's likely promised them power if they aid her, but their greed and blood thirst blinds them to our counter. No one is concerned with the number of Champions present," Nasus mused, turning to a book titled Military Tactics. "Besides, how much use will summoners be when confronted with blades?"
Sulking, Talon conceded the point. "You're quite the optimist."
A wry smile pulled at Nasus's maw. "Only familiar with war."
Garen had thrown himself into contacting every Champion who had given him a 'maybe', intent on giving Katarina all the distance she seemed to desire. Part of him was afraid to see her, afraid she would reject him, but it didn't change what he said; with a red face, he replayed the scene for the hundredth time that day: I told her that I loved her.
For two days he forced down his fear and shame, pushing it underneath the mission he'd set for himself. His hand was cramped from writing letters and his head spinning from talking with those who happened to be in the Institute, but it was a worthwhile effort. Many of the independent Champions agreed to meet the force in Kalamanda, some eagerly now that war was on their doorstep. No reply had yet come from Freljord and Piltover, and the Demacian feared it would be too late to receive help from the North.
Now that Swain was on the march and the time had passed to recruit, the soldier sat dejectedly on bed, sharpening the edges of his sword, the last task he needed to complete before he was ready. When night fell, they would march under the cover of darkness to Kalamanda and evacuate any citizens or summoners who remained, by force if necessary.
A gentle knock on his door roused him from his reverie, and he carefully but down his blade and whetstone before hesitantly pulling open the door.
"Hey," Riven called, lifting her hand in greeting. "Can I come in?"
Heaving a sigh of relief, he opened the door to let her pass. "Sure, make yourself at home." The Noxian pulled a chair that rested in the corner to sit across from him as he resumed his task. "Need your blade sharpened?" he asked.
She shook her head. "Hardly. My sword is enchanted black stone. Even broken it does not lose its edge. I only came to see that you were prepared. Did you know Cassiopeia did not even know what to bring?"
That brought a smile to his face; he couldn't imagine the high-maintenance woman ever being in a true battle. "I'm more surprised that she's even coming," he said.
"She is a Noxian," Riven replied, a hint of criticism in her tone. "She is strong, in her own way. Why would she not?" Garen gave a shrug that gave way into awkward silence.
"Do you know where Katarina is?" she asked suddenly, her grim voice breaking the silence and earning a wince from the Demacian.
"I haven't seen her in a couple of days," he admitted. "She's not in her room?"
An odd expression alighted on Riven's face, a mix of confusion and interest. "I have not checked yet. I just assumed she would be with you."
"Well I'm sure wherever she is, she's more than ready to move out," he retorted.
Another moment of quiet fell, until Riven stood and pushed the chair back into the corner. Pausing at the door, the Exile turned and murmured, "In battle, you must be completely focused, with no traces of doubt. You would do well to clear your mind, or start making peace with your god," before exiting as quietly as she'd entered.
A minute passed, then ten, as Garen pondered the Exile's advice. He stopped sharpening his blade, then shoved the whetstone into his pack atop a bedroll and potions, a sash and pendant the armorer swore were magic resistant, jerky and dried fruit. He checked the armor underneath his vest and jacket, his vambraces, double-checked that his one remaining pauldron was secured, before sheathing his sword on his back and swinging his bag over his shoulder; he would not be coming back.
His gaze was distant but his feet knew the path and maneuvered him around the summoners filling the halls: south down the hall, one-hundred feet, turn east, sixty-five feet, knock. Footsteps approached, and his heart began to pound.
"I thought I told you to go away, Riven," Katarina called, swinging open the door. "I don't need-"
The Noxian stuttered into silence, the uncharacteristic look of doubt taking hold of her face and she shut the door.
"Katarina! Hear me out," the soldier pleaded, resting his head against the smooth wooden door. "I know I could have picked a better time, but I mean what I said. You don't have to say anything to me, ever if you don't want. But if I make it through this, just know that I'll be here, if you ever want to see me, ok?"
Sighing, he pushed away from the surface and moved to leave, when the soft creak of hinges bade him to turn. He only caught a glimpse of black and red before the assassin's deft fingers were tugging at his hair, pulling him into a clumsy kiss. Summoners flashed them glances as they passed the couple, curious or angry, but the Noxian and Demacian didn't notice as they stood connected in the hall, his arms around her back, pulling her body as close to him as he could, her leather-clad legs wrapped around his waist.
She pulled away, her green eyes looking down into his blue ones."I love you, too," came her reply, soft but sure. "I-I didn't know what... I'm sorry, I just didn't know what to say, I've never felt-"
Her words were lost as his lips found hers again and again, until both were breathless and weak.
"You don't get a choice," she whispered. "You have to live because I love you."
"Count on it," he laughed, setting her down.
Whistles went up along with applause from the people in the hall, and Katarina flashed them a glare and choice finger while Garen blushed, grabbing her hand and pulling her into the room.
Facing Fears: Part Two
Talon frowned as he surveyed the small group of Champions and summoners in front of him. "Jax, you couldn't bring a real weapon?" he barked.
"Don't need it," the three-fingered Champion shrugged, his ragged brass lamppost held firmly in his grasp. The strange man was only present because Garen had convinced him that the Demacian government would compensate him for his services.
"The future of this world is at stake! Must you make everything a jest?" Kayle remarked, her folded wings rustling in agitation.
Waving a hand, the Blade's Shadow groaned, "Never mind, it's not important! Everyone know what our mission is?"
Olaf was quick to answer. "OBLITERATION OF OUR ENEMIES!"
"We punish the reckless mages!" the Twisted Treant Maokai rumbled.
A giant mound of rock shifted and Malphite ground out, "Smash!"
Talon hung his head in exasperation, and Katarina rested her gloved hand on his shoulder.
"I think we all know why we are here," the soft-spoken Taric replied, "even if some have interpreted it to their own reasoning."
"THE BEJEWELED ONE IS CORRECT," Blitzcrank beeped in a woosh of steam. "THERE IS ONLY A 39% CHANCE OF SUCCESS BUT WE HAVE COME. THIS IS THE ONLY FACT OF CONSEQUENCE."
"Thank you, Blitzcrank, for those encouraging numbers," Talon muttered. "Alright everyone! Forget I said anything and let's just get going!"
With some of the creatures in their ranks, there was no hope of being silent, but the Institute was dark and Vessaria and her summoners slept blissfully unaware of the army moving from beneath them. It was an odd motley of figures that marched toward Kalamanda; even the most unsuspecting of Champions had joined: Ryze who only muttered that he must keep his scroll from the summoners' prying hands; and Skarner, the wise brackern who's brethren slept beneath the earth near Kalamanda, who said he would protect them with his life.
And for the short march to Kalamanda, they all allowed themselves to hope their reasons for war would turn the battle in their favor.
"Remember the last time there was a war in Kalamanda? You stabbed me," Garen teased Katarina, who grinned.
"Well you kissed me!" she shot back, earning a laugh.
Nodding at the odd pair that laughed in the face of war, Nasus murmured to Zilean, "Is it not strange, how things have turned out?"
The old chronomage shook his head, his beard wagging back and forth. "Of all the paths," he chuckled. "How could I have known the most unlikely of paths would cross and result in this? The love of a child for her father, of a soldier for an assassin, the desire for justice that burns so strongly. Without them, we would have fallen under the thrall of corrupted magicians, slaves to their every whim."
"But you still don't know how it will end?"
"No," Zilean sighed. "And I am afraid I will not until it is too late to change."
Convincing what few citizens remained in Kalamanda since the last battle to evacuate the area once more was no easy task, especially in the middle of the night, but by dawn the city known as the Crystal Scar was empty. Garen felt for the few miners who had stuck around in the harsh lands after the brief war waged by Demacia and Noxus; the lives they'd salvaged would be lost once again to factors out of their control.
But they couldn't afford to let Swain take the city and its nexuses and needed LeBlanc and Vessaria to move away from the Institute. It could only be Kalamanda.
The made what fortifications they could from the existing structures, moving stones from the quarry to create blockades and creating traps that when stepped upon would open up into the bottomless mines below the town. With the Great Barrier and Mount Targon at their backs, and small projections of rocks surrounding it, it would be nigh impossible for anyone to get into the town without their knowledge. By Garen's estimation, when Demacia arrived from the West and the Rakkor from the South, they would have about 1,000 people total and would be soundly outnumbered, but with Swain fighting LeBlanc and the power flowing from the Nexuses, the field was a little closer to even.
They worked until dawn with little talk and rested when they could, and the dawn brought with it the smiling and grim faces of the yordles and Rakkor, respectively. The yordles with their seemingly endless optimism were a difficult bunch to handle on so little sleep, but Teemo and Corki quickly organized their forty scouts into groups for shift surveillance, and Tristana set her twenty Megling Commandos to aid the Ziggs and Heimerdinger in laying explosive mines and techmaturgical turrets around the city's perimeter.
The warriors of the Rakkor, however, were eager in a different way; the blood lust emanating from them was almost palpable, ready to show Runeterra what war truly meant, yhough Pantheon, the Artisan of War, was absent. He'd gone, his men said, to Targon's peak to appeal to the Solari Chosen, his childhood friend Leona, despite their urgings that they didn't need the help of a woman who refused to kill. Garen didn't care, so long as the fearsome man showed.
It was as night began to fall that Teemo came rushing back into camp, calling for the leaders to meet at the empty house they established as their base of operations. Hopping up onto the table on which a map of Valoran rested. "Swain!"he reported, out of breath. "He's gonna split his army into two. A smaller force, maybe 'bout 200, is gonna head this way, but his main army is goin' to the Institute of War. Seems there's about forty summoners, maybe, a little over a hundred soldiers, forty guys on horses, and ten of the guys with the big helmets and four red eyes-"
"The Raedsel Guard," Riven corrected.
"Them," Teemo added, "ten of them. Plus there's three Champions, Darius, Sion, and Vladimir."
Katarina swore. "Why didn't we anticipate that?"
"Because we're not tacticians," Cassiopeia hissed.
"Will this not be to our benefit though?" Nasus posed. "We will have no problems handling a small force, and Swain will not anticipate our resistance. He's now, essentially without 200 soldiers which will be easier for us to manage now, and help us in the longer term."
Rapping her knuckles against the map, Riven barked, "Teemo, where exactly is he? How fast will he be here?"
The yordle studied the map, then pointed to a nearby area North-East of their location. "Here," he stated, with a sudden seriousness. "And they'll split here," he added, pointing to a location much closer to Kalamanda. "They've been goin' kinda slow, so they'll be here maybeee... the day after tomorrow, mid-mornin'. But if they move swiftly, tomorrow as the sun sets."
"Will your scouts be able to stay out at night?" the Exile questioned. "The last thing we want is for them to steal a night's march on us."
"'Course," the scout grinned. "We do best at night. Don't worry 'bout being snuck up on!"
Pacing about the dusty wooden floors, Garen said, "Once this contingent is defeated, we must move to the Institute. This whole thing is useless if LeBlanc and Vessaria don't come out."
Riven nodded. "Agreed. We must be flexible to ensure our goals are met."
"Let's make sure everyone else knows what's going on, then," Talon commanded, pushing away from the dusty wall on which he leaned and motioning the others to move. "And hope no one changes their minds," he added under his breath.
The sun was beginning to crest over the Eastern-most part of the Southern Barrier as Garen slowed to walk after an early morning jog around the town's edge. Pausing on an outcropping of rock that lead up to the Barrier's steep sides, the Demacian watched the crystalline nexuses, situated on the East and West ends of the village, as their glowing waxed and waned. When matches weren't being held, both emitted a soft blue light, and the turrets were dark and disabled until a summoner channeled the nexus's energy. The only other movement came from the West end nexus: Skarner, scuttling back from his observance of the grounds in which his people still slept.
"Still nothing from the scouts today," Katarina observed quietly, appearing at his side and causing him to jump. Dressed in her traditional black leathers, the Noxian looked every bit as beautiful and deadly as the first time he saw her, even with the sleepless circles under her eyes.
"You can't make some noise to let me know you're coming?" he gasped.
The assassin smirked, "Where's the fun in that?" but her smile faded quickly. "Do you think they were discovered? Teemo said the army would be here this morning."
Shaking his head, the soldier replied, "I can't imagine one of them being seen. Nobody suspects a yordle."
"I guess that's true," she admitted, walking down the rocky path. "Especially not an army of Noxians. Most everyone thinks yordles are useless, but they've never been on the receiving end of a poisoned dart."
"See?" he assured. "They'll probably be back by the time we get to command. I'm more concerned about where Jarvan is... He was supposed to be here by now, and the scouts haven't seen any trace of him."
Katarina reached up to put a slender hand on his shoulder. "He wouldn't lie to you. He'll be here."
Their talk of yordles was an easy distraction from the edgy feeling that accompanied the battle that was ever present in their minds, and the scouts had indeed returned when the pair arrived.
"We got an hour and half, I'd say, maybe two," one of the yordle scouts claimed, receiving nods from his teammate and Captain.
Jax waved his lamppost threateningly. "It'll be easy. We prepped for an army, not a tiny group like this, This battle is as good as won."
"I agree with the Lamppost Warrior!" Olaf bellowed, shaking his axes. "This fight will be ours."
Before the conversation could escalate, Talon quickly interjected, "Yes, agreed. Now, let's go over the plan and get to our positions."
It was simple enough, even for those like Cassiopeia with little to no real battle experience: Wait for the first line to hit the hidden hexplosives; activate the small turrets; wait; charge; retreat if necessary; second line of hexplosives and turrets; clean up. If Pantheon returned with Leona, they would total twenty-three Champions and ten summoners, sixty yordles, and almost a hundred Rakkor, nearly 200 to match. A seemingly small number, but the Champions were paragons of their crafts, stronger than the average soldier. Some like Kayle with otherworldly abilities and the Rakkor boasted an individual to be worth ten foot soldiers. Summoners could conjure life-sized corporeal soldiers and mages, popularly referred to as 'minions,' to carry out the most basic commands, which could add to their numbers and serve as distractions.
Garen passed by the five heaping mounds of metal which Heimerdinger had lugged all the way from Bandle City and grinned confidently; maybe if the little yordle kept those going, they wouldn't even need to lift a finger. From his position near the East nexus, the Demacian was poised along with the brawnier soldiers to lead the charge on the infantry when they broke past the first line of hexplosives and turrets. Support would come from all sides in the form of the yordle Commandos and Scouts, and those Champions and summoners who had the skills to fight from a distance.
A collective breath was taken and a rush of adrenaline coursed through the company as the army appeared, cresting a hill from the East, a mile away, then half. The Noxians had no idea what they were marching into; they weren't even in formation for a fight. A majority of the cavalry led, five abreast, with the infantry and summoners trailing behind, with the Raedsel, remaining cavalry, and Champions at the rear.
The center of the first line of hexplosives detonated with a deafening boom and a chorus of screams from men and horses alike went up as magical energy, heat, and pressure surged through them like fire. A lesser man might have lost control of his men, but Darius was the pinnacle of Noxian discipline. Striding through the ranks bellowing commands, the Hand of Noxus brandished his axe and looked toward the seemingly empty village that lay ahead.
From behind him came a wave of conjured soldiers pouring from the palms of the summoners and disappearing in an explosion of fire as they progressed over the rest of the hidden mines.
"Well he's smarter than he looks," Jax mumbled from somewhere behind Garen, who motioned the Grandmaster at Arms to be silent. The troops progressed cautiously past the remains of their comrades behind their magical army, now only 1,500 feet away from the outermost edge, and Talon's voice pierced the air as he shouted, "Now!"
A low buzz started, quickly growing louder until bursts of magical energy shot from all two of Heimerdinger's five turrets, bombarding the company. Minions dissolved along with the soldiers, but the attacks gave way as half the summoners hastily invoked a magical shield over the troops. Recognizing what was occurring, the Hand of Noxus bellowed an order to the white-haired Vladimir, who seemed to be enjoying the sight of his slaughtered comrades. "GO INFORM GENERAL SWAIN!"
The hemomancer nodded lazily and seemed to melt into the blood spilled on the ground. Sion lumbered up to Darius's side, and the Commander urged them all forward in a charge.
With a cry of their own, the Champions followed Garen into the melee, catching the dwindling force by surprise and suddenly Kalamanda was alive with clashing of steel and brass and magic.
The infantry was at a disadvantage against creatures such as Malphite, Maokai, and Skarner, their weapons seemingly ineffective against the rock , wood, and crystal exoskeletons of the magical Champions; the Treant thrust his root-like limbs into the ground and a shockwave of magic forced the soldiers into stumbling back over themselves. A beam of blinding energy exploded from the curved point of the brackern's wicked tail, raking along a line of fallen soldiers and leaving a wake of crystal shards in their skin and armor.
Nearby, Malphite's relentless attacks seemed to fracture the earth around him, sending fragments of rock into the faces of the soldiers, and he bade the ground beneath them to shift, causing them to lose their footing. The magically imbued spears and swords of the Rakkor moved in a blur, slicing through the soldiers with ease. But as they group pressed their quick advantage, a wave of energy cut through them, knocking them all to the dirt.
"Take out the summoners!" Garen shouted, jumping to his feet. At his call, a hail of yordle darts and missiles rained from the outcroppings on either side of the village, a small line of bombs from the sky as Corki flew by overhead, and bolts of energy and poison from Ryze and Cassiopeia and what few summoners they had for allies. Some found their targets, sending the magicians to their knees as poison or fire or magic ripped through them, but the spell shields were strong and much of the assault diverted harmlessly to the side. Realizing it was no use, the blue mage motioned for them to switch targets.
They defended from the rocks, blasting enemies who tried to take advantage of an ally's unguarded back and raking clusters of the conjured soldiers from the field to clear paths for advancement. Cassiopeia couldn't help but smirk as the weak succumbed, purple-faced and choking, to the poisons she flung from her claws; it certainly wasn't the Fields of Justice, but death still looked the same.
Beside her, Tristana gave an irritated cry of "Boring!" before reloading her rocket launcher and hopping nimbly down the rocky slope, leaping for the fray. Just before she reached the ground, the yordle took aim and fired, the missile exploding in the face of an unfortunate Raedsel soldier and knocking the nearby enemies on their backs. Giggling all the while, the Megling Commando shot again, this time riding the shockwave of the blast to safety while the explosion disintegrated the legs of the enemy in front of her.
Fighting alongside Darius, Sion the Undead appeared unphased by the blades which cut his flesh as he swung his axe in a wide arc to guard his superior, catching several of the Rakkor unawares. As he readied to swing again and finish them, his weapon met the heavy brass of Jax's lamppost, who beckoned him away from the Noxian commander with a few quick hits of his lamppost that would have sent a normal man sprawling. Blocking the brute's wild swipes with a calculated spin of his weapon, the three-fingered Champion patiently exploited all the openings Sion's strikes allowed. But even after trading blows it seemed to Jax that his foe hardly tired.
Finally the Undead Champion let out a roar and a bolt of energy shot from his fist and hit Jax squarely in the chest. There was a break in arms-master's attacks as he tried to catch his breath, and just as the grinning Noxian moved in to kill, there was a sickening squelch as one axe, then another, implanted themselves deep in his back. In a fluid motion, Olaf leapt onto the roaring Champion's back and twisted the axes as he pulled them from their lodging, before dodging a missile of magic and continuing on through the battlefield. With a grin only he knew was there, Jax noted that as he resumed his attack on the monstrous Champion, Sion finally looked like he was weakening.
Further away, the three remaining Raedsel guards, which were formidable even outnumbered, had come to an impasse in the form of Garen and Riven, unable to break through their defense, but yielding no ground themselves. However, they were no match for the combined efforts of League Champions. Rushing forward to support the two, magic burst forth from the tip of Nasus's staff, and Zilean bent the flow of time to his will, causing the Raedsel to slow unnaturally, and Riven and Garen dashed in: The former struck in quick succession, sending the men reeling from the powerful blows that left their armor and the bones beneath it crushed; the latter followed with a wide swing of his sword, pivoting to slice cleanly through two of their throats, and heaving his sword through the last soldier's eyes.
More and more bolts of magic were flying from the Noxian summoners, and the mages attacking from the high ground were forced to abandon their vantage point as the boulders shielding them were slowly worn away. As they fled, a cry suddenly went up from the distracted Noxian summoners, as a slew of knives went arcing out from the center of their group, piercing through their unguarded flesh and again as they returned to their owner, who materialized just as he slipped away from the confused group.
Hundreds of the mindless minions disappeared in a puff of smoke as their summoners died, and the bolts of magic being cast haphazardly diminished. Just as Talon edged away, Katarina flashed in, her body spinning gracefully as a dancer's as she imbedded knives into the remaining summoners throats. The assassins seemed to vanish as unexpectedly as they appeared, only to sink their blades into the unguarded necks of their enemies as they stalked through what was left of the army from behind.
Darius was enraged. Never had he been so entirely outclassed in a battle, but as he yanked his axe from the corpse of another Rakkor, a bugle sounded in the distance still miles away, and the Hand of Noxus shouted, "HOLD!" Reinforcements were coming; if they could just hold their position...
What remained of his company staggered back slightly to reform around their commander, only a handful in comparison to the two hundred with which he'd entered. Sion trudged on behind him, and as Darius turned to take one last look at the group which had shamed him so, he barely caught a glimpse of the giant, metallic fist which was hurtling for his chest. Without a second thought, the Commander rolled out of the way, but cursed in surprise as the fist twisted and his undead comrade was seized, wrenched back kicking and shouting to the enemy line instead.
He did not look back as Taric channeled the dazzling power of his gems to blind the Undead Champion into stumbling, and only spared him a thought when the Champion cried out as Kayle's sword cleaved his head from his neck.
"C-commander, we won't make it until they get here!" one of his subordinates choked out. The unfortunate man clutched at his bleeding side, the armor that was once there cracked around the wound he'd sustained from Riven.
Hefting his axe, Darius snapped, "We will not retreat!" and began what he knew would be his last charge. Garen calmly advanced toward the Noxian with promises of death across his face and an army at his back. But as the Hand of Noxus took his first step toward his foes, a flash of blue light burst around him. He felt a hand grip his arm and just a quickly as the summoner appeared, he blinked out of sight, Darius in tow.
A moment passed in silence as they all stared blankly at the spot which seconds ago was occupied by Darius and his army. Someone started to chuckle and soon the air was filled with the laughter of an army that had tasted victory.
The elation was short-lived, though, as Teemo climbed up onto Garen's shoulder like a cat and unfurled his spyglass. "We need to regroup, set up some more stuff, and do it fast," the yordle declared. "Looks like Swain's full army is comin' and... and someone's chasin' him-"
Talon swiped the tiny spyglass from the scout's gloved hands and squinted through it. "An army of summoners," he breathed. "Vessaria is actually coming out."
"I could'a told you that," Teemo grumbled slinging the hand-held telescope back over his shoulder.
Garen coughed. "Get off me."
"He's right though," Katarina echoed. "We don't have time to celebrate. We need to heal up, fortify, lay down more mines-"
"I got this!" Ziggs exclaimed.
"Er, great," she nodded. "Go ahead and-"
Before she could finish, a loud clatter came from within the village, and in seconds the company had their weapons drawn and advanced. Stumbling around the corner from the direction of the bar, a pair of yordle scouts came running, chattering incoherently.
"I-it's some guy!" one of them finally squeaked.
"All dressed in gold!" the other finished. "He j-just popped out of that building-"
"Jarvan!" Garen exclaimed, running past them toward the Hasty Hammer, where an innumerable amount of Demacian soldiers were spilling from the building, directed by the Prince. There was a flicker of light and his suddenly his sister had flung herself into his chest.
"Garen!" she squealed.
"H-how!" he stuttered as he held Luxanna out at arms reach.
Laughing heartily, Jarvan IV sauntered over to the company. "Do you know how hard it is to move an army underground?"
The group looked at the crown prince in confusion, but Talon responded, "The passage from the prison?"
"You got it," Jarvan affirmed. It seemed there was no end to the soldiers still filing out behind him. "I had to move in secret for a bunch of reasons, and Luxanna took the liberty of finding out where this tunnel went after I told her about it, so here we are!"
"How many?" Katarina asked.
A smug grin made it's way onto the prince's face. "800. Plus Champions. Everyone wanted to help. Well, everyone except for Xin."
From the throng of soldiers, Garen's former first captain Anders emerged with a salute. "Garen. The Vanguard is still your family." Swinging a large sack from his shoulder, the commander thrust it at the Champion and another passed him a bundle of cloth in the form of a blade.
"Justice," he breathed, tearing away the bindings to reveal his former sword.
"And your old armor, if you want it," Anders stated. "No one else can wield that sword anyway."
Garen looked up, overwhelmed by the display of loyalty from people who owed him none. His eyes scanned the army: Shyvana shouting orders at her Elite Guard; the men and women of the Vanguard; Poppy, riding on the winged shoulders of Galio; Fiora marching through the ranks, lecturing the soldiers about honor while Sona glided behind, plucking an energizing tune on her Etwhal.
"It's not just Swain," he warned. "Vessaria has an army too, and LeBlanc will be here."
Luxanna answered for them all. "We're here because we believe it's the right thing to do. No matter what happens, we will stand for what's right or die trying!"
Behind her, those listening let out a rousing cry. The real fight was only a few miles away: The Institute of War against Swain, their mismatched army against both. Odds be damned, Garen decided adding his voice to the shouts of the army. They didn't come here to fail.
Fight for the truth, or die trying.
© 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.