Chapter 8 - Twisted Fate
Since Twisted Fate was born, life taught him not to trust anyone. Son of gipsy parents and born in the stinking cellar of a ship, he was orphaned shortly after being given birth, since his parents had not paid a third ticket and the captain of the ship fed them to the sharks for trying to fool him. Fate narrowly survived because the captain wanted a companion for his newborn son who was waiting in Bilgewater, the refuge of pirates of Valoran.
Not yet named, Twisted Fate lived the first year of his life being raised in the company of Nathaniel Graves, the captain’s baby son, and was just called "other". But his quiet life did not last long, as the captain was involved in a bar fight that caused his death. His wife, Grave’s mother, was raped and killed shortly after, on the same night. Now both orphans, fate gave them one more chance: the innkeeper offered to raise the boys, and he named the “other” Twisted Fate because of its tortuous life.
Twisted Fate and Graves were raised by the innkeeper until the age of fifteen, when their foster father was killed by the fearsome pirate called Red Eye that haunted Bilgewater. But at this point in their lives the two boys knew well enough to live by themselves, and it was at the playing cards tables in stinky taverns that they began to earn their own livelihood. They quickly learned the tricks and cheats needed, and soon made enough money to quit Bilgewater and try life in a more honest place, as Valoran. They set sail to the city-state of Noxus, but saw that there were few differences between the pirate port and city-state. All were dishonest, murderers and traitors, and there was no trust or loyalty. And there in the tunnels of Noxus’ underground suburbs the two "brothers" were gaining experience and concepts that they lacked. They were getting smart. They knew the game, knew what to do to survive.
At twenty years of age, however, something happened that would change them forever. Graves won half the fortune of a famous Zaun executive, Dr. Aregor Priggs, by cheating in a card game. Upon discovering what had been stolen, Priggs offered to Twisted Fate a tempting proposition: anything he wanted in exchange for Graves. Fate accepted Priggs’ offer and the executive gave him what he wanted: forgiveness for all his crimes, past and present. In exchange, Twisted Fate revealed Graves’ location, and his “brother” was now locked in a dark and dirty cell in the depths of Zaun. And Twisted Fate was in a caravan of merchants to the south of the Great Barrier again suspecting that he had been deceived.
To begin with, Fate had joined Malzahar’s caravan for the sole purpose of getting some money. But all that the caravan had done hitherto was descending to the Yordle Lands without even selling a piece of product, adding a yordle member to the group and then leave, again without selling anything. There were rumors that Malzahar was leading the caravan to the ruined city of Icathia, but that would be too insane to be true.
Twisted Fate was seriously considering abandoning the caravan with some goods to sell in Bilgewater or Noxus, but feared to end up getting in the middle of the war, then in the end decided to return to the north of the Great Barrier only when things return to normal. He could live a few months in the Shurima Desert if necessary. Coretia was not a bad city at all, and there he could get the money he’d lost with Malzahar in just one night.
Twisted Fate was in the tent he shared with other members of the caravan, camping overnight. The place reeked not only of the shurimites who never bathed, but the marsh that surrounded them: they were in the Voodoo Lands, a huge swamp area that stretched from the Sablestone Mountains to the Great Barrier. Fate bristled at the thought that Malzahar and his damn black rat were sleeping amid incense and satin cushions in a tent far greater than the one he shared with the rest of the stinky shurimites.
He could not sleep, then got up for a walk around the camp. Outside, the night was cold and the embers of the fire had already been extinguished. The thin columns of malodorous gases that rose from the geysers that dotted the landscape were the only movement of the night. Far away, the Great Barrier stood, a giant mountain range that was a straight line from one end of the continent to the other, dividing the civilized north from the savage south. The next day, if they kept a good pace, they would arrive at the Shurima Desert, passing very close to the Mogron Pass, the only road linking the two halves of Valoran.
Twisted Fate was so distracted that he was startled when someone touched his shoulder. He drew his dagger, ready to attack, but it was just Malzahar, the old deceiver.
"Enjoying the night of the Voodoo Lands?" The old man asked with a hint of mockery.
"We must talk, Malzahar." Twisted Fate sheathed the dagger. "You lied to me."
"Never!" Malzahar seemed offended "I would never deceive a sales partner.”
"But you did. You made me come down here for nothing! Tell me, what did we sell? I want my money, Malzahar!"
"And you shall have money, Twisted Fate. I do not betray my words. You will be paid after you finish thy mission. But it is not over yet. You have an important role yet to be played, that is why I let you join us. I'm a seer, you know."
"My future lies within the cards, not in your crystal balls."
"Yes, of course. So tell me, what is thy future?"
Twisted Fate hesitated, then pulled out his deck and opened a range of cards in his hand.
"Pick a card, Malzahar." He asked.
The old man nodded and held out his hand, which hovered over the range for a few seconds. Then he reached out further, and instead of removing a card from the deck he picked one inside Twisted Fate’s sleeve.
"This one." Malzahar offered the card to Twisted Fate.
Impossible. I never put that card there.
"What is thy future, Twisted Fate?" Malzahar asked again.
Twisted Fate looked down at the card the Seer had picked. There was a huge question mark engraved on it, and nothing else.
"You do not have a determined fate as other people, Twisted Fate. That's why I chose you."
Fate put his cards back to their pocket and turned his gaze to the swamp. He had no courage to face Malzahar now.
That's when he saw torches in the distance. And voices, footsteps and sounds of water splashes in the marsh.
"Can you tell who they are?" Twisted Fate challenged Malzahar.
"I already predicted that, Twisted Fate, long ago. They are soldiers of Noxus, looking for me. "
Fate was surprised.
"What do they want with you?"
Malzahar was slow to respond.
"They think I can help them predict who will have the crystal that was found."
"What crystal? What are you talking about?" Fate did not understand anything.
"I will go with them now, Twisted Fate. You must do me a favor." Malzahar now seemed more serious. "Go to my tent and take two things. Inside is a chest where you will find a bag full of gold coins; your payment. There is also a deck of cards, not an ordinary one, get it for yourself and do not lose it. Then run away, run away to the north and look for the Institute of War. Take Veigar with you. Do this, Twisted Fate."
"Wait, wait! How do you know all this?"
"Did you happen to forget that I am a prophet? Now go!"
Twisted Fate ran to Malzahar’s tent and came in hastily. Inside, the yordle Veigar was asleep and woke up when he heard Fate.
"What is it?" The yordle took a fright.
"Get dressed, you come with me! Malzahar’s orders." Twisted Fate ran to the chest and took the two things that Malzahar had quoted. Veigar was already getting dressed, wearing a purple robe attire similar to Malzahar’s. Fate grabbed the black yordle’s arm and pulled him out of the tent. Outside, the camp was already in an uproar. Soldiers of Noxus were already rolling tents and killing members of the caravan. Malzahar had been arrested and was forced to watch the carnage.
Twisted Fate and Veigar raced behind the tents and into the marsh without any torch light. The yordle, however, was very small, even for his race, and Fate had to carry him on his back. They slowly got away from the camp, as the screams were getting lower until they disappeared.
Twisted Fate walked without stopping, with the whole body becoming more painful with each step he took. He was drenched in mud and increasingly sunk on it, but did not give up. He knew that the soldiers would arrive much faster there, because they were coming down the road, so Fate could not afford to stop.
When morning came they arrived at the end of the Voodoo Lands. Ahead verdant plains stretched covered with threatening storm clouds. Those were the Tempest Flats, a place where the rain never stopped. They hadn’t taken more than a few steps inside the hills and were already soaked, which on one hand was good as the mud of the Voodoo Lands had dried into scabs on the clothes and hair of Twisted Fate, and the water washed it away.
"Where are we going?" It was the first time that Veigar spoke since they left the caravan.
Twisted Fate could not answer. Malzahar had told him he should go to the Institute of War, but Fate had no idea where this place was.
"Far. To the other side of the Great Barrier. Is this enough for you, or you want more details?"
Veigar spoke no more after that.
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