Quinn was one of the elite of Demacia, the city of purity, of justice and beauty, growing up in the rural outskirts, every day she had longed to become a great hero, and after the death of her brother, and her encounter with her new one, she was one. With the aid of her Eagle, Valor, the only remaining Demacian eagle in the known world, Quinn was the greatest scout Demacia had, after finally ascending to the city itself when she joined it's top cadre, she had found it too boring, too lacking in adventure. So now this is where she lived, behind enemy lines. Together, they were the wings of Demacia
Quinn was getting worried. She'd been sent on a reconnaissance mission to the woods near the city state of Noxus, and every night for the past week, Valor had disappeared. She didn't know where to but tonight she hoped to find out. There was always a trail to follow, even her best friend left one if you knew where to look. A disturbed branch here, a rather terrified squirrel there. She had been brought up to see those little trails, the hints that no one else saw, that's why she It was simply a matter of patience and an obscenely keen eye, and so it was that this night, she found why her bird was disappearing so, and what, or rather who it was causing him to do this.
After abandoning their small well hidden camp, with its minimal comforts of a fire, tent to protect her from the weather, and a bedroll. All her supplies she kept on her back, so she couldn't bring much. The master scout began making her way through the dense woods of pine and oak, not noticing the leaves as she brushed through them, or that damp smell of a forest in rest; following those small hints towards her quarry. She fell into something a reverie, like she always did when on the hunt, focused purely on the clues and the goal they led to. When a voice burst into being amongst the quiet noises of the forest night, that reverie was shattered like a dropped mirror.
"Beatrice! Beatrice where are you?!" Came a man's voice further to the north, a voice so deep to sound like two rocks grinding together, or Malphite with a cold. Quinn's head snapped up to look about spasmodically, her manner ever so reminiscent of the bird she had come to love. She couldn't risk discovery this close to Noxian territory. With the reputation their jailors and executioners had, that was sure to be the last mistake she ever made. Moving so fast so to be a blur she clambered her way up into the dense greenery of the tree's, hoping they would provide adequate cover to shield herself from the owner of the voice, for whom she scanned for now. Her eyes glimmering through the green to the ground as she searched for any sign of him. The height she'd climbed to gave her a much better vantage point, near enough to a bird's eye view. She had a much wider field of vision up here. Now she could see him, walking by a lake only a few dozen yards away was the caller, and when she recognised him, she nearly fell from that tree.
She recognised this man instantly, she'd been taught to hate him ever since joining the military. This was the Noxian's greatest tool, this man was the man who had been leading the Noxian's to victory for years, he was the man who had recently gained rulership of the city-state through his own tactical genius, his own wit and power. This was the man who'd caused the deaths of so many Demacian's over the years. The man walking not fifty metres from her was the master tactician himself, Swain, the Tyrant of Noxus. But... He did not look now as she though he would. He was not dressed as she would expect, he did not wear the thick red robes, nor the hawk like helm and feather laden pauldrons, all he wore was a dark green scholars robe and a bandanna up around his mouth, she got the feeling this was just what he wore when he was by himself in his home, the public eye never meant to see their ruler without his ceremonial gear. She knew this man was to be hated, and that he had every reason to hate her as he did every other member of the Demacian elite, seeing as she had killed many of his men over years. But right now, as he called pitifully for his friend, limping along the lake shore with the aid of hi. What it was that had brought this impairment, and the original injury, a horrific break in his leg, near enough snapped in two; was a mystery to all but the tyrant himself. He'd pause periodically to cough painfully into a closed fist. She couldn't help but feel sorry for him, he didn't look like a conqueror right now. Just a lonely old man looking for his friend. Though she had to wonder who this Beatrice was, she'd certainly never heard of the Tyrant having even a friend, let alone a lover.
But with yet another start her musings were broken, as an eagles call came from the east, *her* eagles call. With nary another thought spared for the poor man below, she set off leaping from branch to branch, she'd found Valor. Her hunt drew to a close.
Soon enough she reached the location of the call, stopping only a few tree's away from where it had come from. Peering over a rather thick branch, she finally caught sight of her missing friend, there he sat, curled against another bird. Another bird!? So this was why he had been leaving her, he'd found a mate, he'd found someone who mattered more to him than her.
She moved closer to get a better look at the pair, realising now that they already had a nest, to which they both now lay asleep in. When she was barely a meter from the peaceful pair she stopped paying attention to her friend, focusing purely on his companion. It was a black raven, larger than any she had seen before. It's sleek black feathers were at a contrast with her own birds rough sea storm blue ones. There was something familiar about the bird. She swore she knew this bird from somewhere, but as she stared at it the only image that came to mind was that lonely man looking for his friend, that Tyrant brought low she saw wandering through the forests. Then she realised who this was, this bird. There was only one bird smart enough for Valor. And that bird was the one that lived on a Tyrant's shoulder. The bird that currently had its cheek rested against Valor's in their slumber was none other than the one that man searched for far behind her, this was Beatrice.
This was the companion of the Tyrant of Noxus.
Valor had fallen for Beatrice. Valor had fallen for the enemy.
Well that certainly cleared a few things up, it explained why the Tyrant of Noxus was out on his own in the middle of the night, he was looking for his missing bird just like she was. He wasn't going to waste his men on searching for his pet, he *was* meant to be a master tactician. Of course what Quinn was thinking right now didn't so much focus on that as it did with the fact that there where eggs, her best friend had, had chicks with the lord of Noxus's bird... What was she to do? She was a Demacian, they could hardly just laugh it off and leave the two to their business. She called out to Valor, trying to wake her friend.
Valor raised his head and twitched it about blearily, looking for the source of the sound. Quickly his keen eyes focused on Quinn , he stood in the nest, waking Beatrice as he did so and letting out a quiet caaw, laden with nervous apprehension.
"No, I saw, and I know who that is. Why, Valor? Why didn't you at least tell me?"
Valor let out a more vindictive caaw as his nest-mate wearily stretched out her wings, ever the quiet one as she watched the two friends with both interest and unease.
"... Okay, good point, I would have disapproved. But still! I'm your partner Valor, we're meant to tell each other everything!"
That caused the smaller bird in the nest to **** her head to the side and trill up at Valor, he dissuaded her worries in that matter with a loving nuzzle and a quiet coo. He looked back to Quinn and flapped his wings, flying onto her shoulder and doing his best to calm her in turn. Beatrice followed in the simple interest of not being left out and staying close to her mate. The three's "chat" however was rather swiftly cut off by the other occupant of the forest.
"Beatrice? Please come back!... I don't...." There came the deep grind of the Lord of Noxus' voice, laced with sorrow, Quinn looked from the pair of beds resting against one another on her shoulder in its direction, and after a moment's hesitation, she spoke up.
"Uhmn... She's over here!" Quinn's own voice was almost as nervous as Valor's had been, if not moreso. She was revealing herself to the enemy but... What else was she to do? He sounded like he was about to break down into tears, and that... Well that just wouldn't be right, she knew how much a bird could mean to someone and it felt wrong not letting him see his own.
Swain limped out from the underbrush a few moments later, peering around for who had spoken, his cane driving itself into the dirt as he fidgeted with frustration. A second passed and Quinn gently lowered herself from the branches above him, landing with nary a noise as the lord tyrant blinked a few times at her, looking from her, to Valor, to Beatrice.
"Who are you?... Wait, I know you, you're that Demacian scout, the one who just joined the league. What are you doing in Noxian ground, and more importantly-" Swain's voice burned with vindictive rage as his free hand began to burn with an ethereal green flame, Quinn had heard stories from the other Demacian champions about his Torment spell and she did not wish to be on the receiving end of it. "What are you doing with Beatrice?!"
Quinn raised her hands protectively, her crossbow lay at her waist and she knew she wouldn't have time to reach it, nor did she want this to turn into a fight. "Wait I can explain!" The birds looked from their individual owners with increasing worry, Beatrice hopped from her spot on Quinn's shoulder to the roost Swain had on his own, giving her owner a nuzzle. It took some of the fire from his belly, but sadly none from his hand, though he did lower it a bit.
"Talk." Barked Swain as his hand came to worriedly stroke down the spine of his bird. Valor looked to him with a bit of jealousy, but was smart enough to remain where he was for the time being.
Knowing this was the only chance she'd get, Quinn did her best to formulate her thoughts before finally opening her mouth to speak. "Valor here has been going missing every night for the past week or so, I managed to follow him this time and when I caught up to him, I found him asleep up there-" She raised a hand to the nest above their heads, "with Beatrice.... They um.... There's eggs up there." Beatrice had the decency to not look at her owner as Quinn said that, nervous as to how he'd react, she was at least as smart as Valor if not nearly as boisterous or proud as her mate. Swain's eyes slowly widened as the young Demacian explained and the fire in his hand burnt itself out, he looked away from Quinn, to his only close friend in the world.
"Beatrice... Is she telling the truth?" His voice... Well it was undecided, he didn't mind the idea of Beatrice finding a mate... But a Demacian? In answer, Beatrice looked to Valor and he hopped from Quinn's shoulder to join his mate on Swain's roost, she nuzzled eagerly into the downy feathers of his neck.
Quinn was at this point, beginning to relax the tiniest bit, she wasn't dead yet, even if her mission was a complete and utter failure seeing as she'd just revealed herself to the man in charge himself. But... Well again, it had seemed the right thing to do. Now the only question, was how to do right by Valor. She was hardly inclined to force her best friend to abandon his new found family. Swain's thoughts were going down a similar track, and as the two birds looked to him for permission to leave, he only nodded and waved for Quinn to follow as the two birds fled back to his nest. Picking his cane back up from where it lent against a tree, the tyrant began limping off towards the lake Quinn had first spotted him by. Hurriedly the young scout chased after as the birds nestled back atop their eggs, watching their owners departing once more and laying down together to go back to sleep.
Along the way, Swain's bad leg rather harshly met a uncovered root that in the darkness he had failed to see, with a pained cry the tyrant's leg gave out beneath him and he fell, Quinn, following behind let out a quiet gasp and hurried forwards catching him around the shoulders, "are you all right?" She inquired, surprising even herself with the amount of worry in her voice, must be the show of affection their birds had shared affecting her. However Swain was nowhere near as touched by the avian's and growled at her begrudingly.
"I'm fine." He wrenched himself from her grip and she let him go, she recognised that defensiveness from the crippled soldiers she'd met, insisting they were perfectly capable of managing on their own despite their grievous disabilities. Though, considering he was a league champion, and had won his title as Tyrant in a duel, Swain was hardly a useless cripple. So she let him go, not saying a word so as not to wound his pride, giving the man a moment to collect himself before setting off with him once more. Wondering where this night would lead. Little did she know just how much Valor's new relationship would change her own life...
END OF CHAPTER 2
The unlikely pair of tyrant and scout and had made their way back to the lake, the scout slowing her usual energetic pace so as not to race ahead of her limping companion. Upon reaching the lake he busied himself with slowly lowering his form onto a tree stump as Quinn felt her breath taken away, looking out over the lake she could see twin full moons, one bright in the sky and the other on the perfectly clear water, there was nary a cloud in the sky and it was truly a beautiful and rare sight. "This is quite a predicament your *pet* has gotten us all into, isn't it?" The irritable tones of the man behind her whipped her back to reality and she in turn whipped around, an instinctive response finding its way to her lips.
"Valor isn't my pet, he's my friend! He's not some dumb animal." She snarled, momentarily forgetting her place, then who she was talking to reasserted itself and the fury was pushed from her face, replaced with fear. "But.... Yes, yes he has... Oh of all the birds in the world he could fall for, what are the odds of it being yours...?"
"Yes, my point exactly. But she feels the same, and it seems the pair have children on the way. So," Swain crossed his palms over the head of his cane, resting his chin upon it, his eyes clouded over as they stared at her. Seemingly lost in thought.
"So...?" Quinn inquired, quietly moving closer to sit in front of him.
"So as much as I'd enjoy to send you and yours packing back to Demacia, your head in the stow on luggage compartment for stealing into my land. I... Can't do that to Beatrice, so, Valor will be staying with her until their eggs are hatched, if not longer. I'll move their nest to the roof garden of my quarters so as to be free from any predators foolish enough to try anything."
Quinn internally let out a sigh of relief, he wasn't going to hurt Valor, and he wasn't going to take him away from the bird he loved and their impending children. But... What about her? "That's... That sounds good, but... What about me? I don't want to leave Valor. I'm not going back to Demacia without him." The look in her eye gave those words credence, Valor was her closest friend in the world and she'd be damned if she was going to leave him behind in the territory of the enemy, even if he was protected there.
"That's the question, isn't it? What *do* we do about you, I suppose I could just leave you here in these forests until I could send Valor back, but that would make it harder for me to keep an eye on you, and now that I know you're here to spy on me, I'd rather you do it where I can spy back." He gave her a grim smile as one finger tapped against the shaft of his cane. "I have it, you will be coming with us to Noxus. I will take the birds with me now and in the morning you will find the uniform of one of my personal guards outside the corner of the south and west Noxian walls. With that gaining entry will be easy, and you can meet me in Haggard Stallion's tavern. From there I will take you to my quarters and that is where you will remain unless I say otherwise." She could see why this man was Tyrant, it wasn't so much what he was saying, but rather how he said it, there was no question to his words, only command. Each and every word was an absolute, and even though she was his enemy, she couldn't help but feel herself nodding in agreement and supplication.
"Yes, uh... Yes. That sounds good. But, what about the other champions?" Quinn asked, nodding along.
"What about them?" Swain growled back, raising an eyebrow.
"Well they could recognise me, I've fought alongside Katarina in the league."
Swain let out a bark of laughter, shaking his head, "You're new, and your bird is what stands out the most. You'll be fine. Now. You know as to where to get your disguise?" He said as he slowly got back to his feet, pushing himself up with the aid of his cane. She nodded in confirmation. "Good, then let us go see the happy couple." With that he turned on his heel, limping back off the way they came.
Soon enough they had once more found the birds nest, Valor was fast asleep already, but Beatrice lifted her head at their approach, giving Swain a trill in greeting. The master tactician smiled more openly than earlier as he stretched out an arm to her, letting her hop onto his wrist. "Beatrice, is it all right with you if we move your nest to the gardens above our house? It'll be safer and I'll stop worrying about you all the time." Swain's voice, like his smile was much softer as he spoke to the bird, his affection for her clear in every respect. She cocked her head and let out a faint caaw, looking back at her sleeping lover. "Yes of course he'll be coming to, as if I would ever force you to part with him." Beatrice let out a pleased trill and rubbed the top of her head against Swains chin, his smile only widened. "Wonderful. Wake him for me will you." The pair turned to look once more at Valor, only to find him already awake, staring down at them and looking over to Quinn. She gave him her best over confident grin, completely at odds with how she really felt right now.
"I'll be fine, Valor. Don't worry, I'll be meeting you there soon." Valor caaw'd and hopped to her shoulder to give her a furtive nuzzle , wrapping a wing around her neck for a moment as she in turn stroked a hand down his spine. "I'll be fine Val..." She looked to Swain as Valor released her, joining his beloved on the Tyrant's shoulder. "Look after him sir."
"I will, you should be more worried for yourself." He promised this as he reached up, gently taking hold of the birds nest and lowering it into the crook of his arm. "I'll see you on the morrow, child." With that, the tactician truly took her breath away, activating his signature raven metamorphosis, the huge humanoid bird he became completely at odds with his stately appearance of norm. Turning away from her, the creature took a few steps before vaulting itself into the air, the nest secure in its arms, and the new couple flying along either side of him, all three silhouetted against the moon. Quinn watched until they'd gone over the city walls and out of sight. With them gone, the scout was finally back where she started. Alone. And alone she made her way back to her small camp, waiting out the night till its end, sleeping fitfully in her bedroll. Nightmares of Valor being tortured and torn apart feather by feather assaulting her subconscious mind. She could only hope the Tyrant was good to his word, and see what tomorrow brought.
She'd be the first Demacian entering Noxus as anything but a prisoner in years. Fate sure dealt funny cards sometimes, no not Twisted Fate, he just dealt crooked cards; fate had handed her a hand she never thought she'd get, and now all she could do was play the game, and hope she'd live through this week. One thing did bring her some warmth in the night though, Valor was going to a father!
Quinn woke well after the sun had risen, the nights activities had exhausted her. Mentally more than physically. Not knowing when she'd have another chance the girl dined on a breakfast of porridge and those starchy, foul ration biscuits. They were supposed to be good at keeping you going through a long mission, she suspected that was just because you'd face death before wanting to eat another one of those.
After her quick but Malphite heavy breakfast, Quinn packed up her camp. She would not be coming back here no matter how things ended, so she didn't want to leave any evidence behind for a stray Noxian to find. Once that task was done, she hefted her supplies over her back and set off through the forest.
The forest seemed far more... Alive, during the day. Birds chirped in the trees, squirrel's chattered to one another in the underbrush, the sun cast the glades she passed through into stark and vibrantly coloured relief, a contrast to how nigh on monochrome they had looked during the night. Quinn had always preferred the night for moving, a place feeling alive just meant that there were more things to see her. In her haste to reach the disguise Swain had promised her, something nearly did.
Quinn spotted them before they saw her thankfully, and had ducked into cover behind a tree long before they had a chance. A Noxian patrol! Ten men, each one armed and armoured to the teeth and beyond in typical Noxian fashion. It seems they'd stopped for a quick smoke break and were idly chatting to one another on a forest path. To get to her destination, Quinn would have to make her way around them, but if they saw her... Well she doubted even the Tyrant himself would be able to save her in time. She decided her best option was to just wait them out, and tried to make herself as small as possible within the meagre cover the tree provided, crouching down, burying her head into a hedge growing alongside to so that she could peer out at them without giving them the same advantage. She waited some time, but it seemed they were wanting to make this break as long as they could get away with. When Quinn was just starting to get bored, one broke off conversation with his fellows, moving in her direction.
"Oh no did he see me?!" Squealed Quinn within the muted cage of her own mind, curling up even tighter in the off chance the soldier had yet to spot her. Her hand reached for her crossbow, she took a bolt from her back just as he reached her, ready to fire. To silence him, to stop him alerting his fellows.
He undid the button on his pants.
Now Quinn really did have to resist squealing, shutting her eyes tight so as not to get a look as the man relieved himself just beside her, sighing in satisfaction and still entirely unaware of the poor girls presence. After what seemed an eternity, he shook himself, buttoned up his pants and moved back to his comrades. Moments later they all fell into step once more, finally moving on in their patrol. It took quite a time for Quinn to collect herself, still thoroughly disturbed by the man relieving himself right beside her. After the red finally disappeared from her cheeks, she raced across the path, not wanting to waste any more time than she already had in reaching the disguise. After a few more uneventful minutes of racing across the forest floor, she finally found herself in easy sight of those towering fortified walls. Now all she had to do was find the package. She made her way along the wall until she hit the corner, this was where the tactician said he would leave it for her and sure enough, there it was. A small paper parcel, tossed from the walls and lying just shy of a meter from them. She eagerly ran to it and tore the parcel open, revealing the clothes that would be her ticket to safety. They were... Well from seeing some of the Noxian champions, about what she expected. A long black hooded greatcoat with sleeves long enough to devour her hands, a golden trim running all along, a thick, layered undershirt that seemed to be laced with mail, and finally a pair of black tight fitting leather leggings. Not exactly her preferred dress, but at least she didn't look nearly as skimpy as Katarina. Plus the hood would make it harder for any who had met her before to recognise her.
She packed her own clothes into her backpack along with the rest of her supplies, not as eager to abandon those as she had been her camp before finally beginning to make her way along the wall looking for a gate. And eventually she found one.
It was as heavily guarded as the reputation of Noxus would suggest, and each guard looked far more alert than the patrol guard had been, that got Quinn's hackles raising, was this disguise going to work? Would they stop her and ask for some kind of identification, or would they be like Swain had said and care more about the uniform than the girl inside. All she could so was put her best foot forward and hope for the best, there was no turning back once she was inside.
She approached the gate. Having already pulled her hood up on her approach, she let her features sink deeper into its shadows, her hands hiding within linked sleeves behind her back to disguise the fact that one still firmly held her crossbow. She nodded to the guards, hoping they would recognise the uniform and not as any questions.
"Hoi, what's one of your lot doing outside the city. Don't see much lately worth sending one of the golden boys out." Called one of the girls as she got near in a casual tone, idly twirling the polearm he held with one hand, seems he was pretty experience with the deadly weapon. But his words had served as an even greater weapon as they sent her mind reeling, frantically trying to think up a reason, to get in the mindset of a Noxian soldier. She thought of recent events, the incident at Kalamanda occurred to her, and the end of the journal of Justice, a print she'd actually rather enjoyed until it had been shut down. She had it. Adopting the tone of voice she'd usually reserve for reports to her superiors, she gave the soldier a clipped explanation without stopping her step.
"Investigations into the Kalamanda incident and Journal of Justice's editor in chief's involvement. A delegate from each city involved was sent to review evidence and aid in the prosecution."
"Oh... Well fair enough then," the soldier replied, not making a single move to stop her as she stepped through the stone portal and into the city of Noxus itself. The architecture was not at all like that of which she was familiar with back home in Demacia, where the streets were wide and the buildings bright and friendly, here they were thin, tightly packed with the citizenship, the tall, dark and foreboding buildings staring over them and casting them into shadow like threatening giants over gaggles of children.
She had passed her first challenge with nary a scratch, now she just had to survive the city itself. She was hesitant to ask for directions so for now she just decided to do a sweep of all the streets around the gate. She just hoped Swain was there, it was an odd thing to think but at this point, the tyrant of Noxus was the only lifeline she had, and if she couldn't find him her chances of ever seeing her beloved Valor again were down the Latrine.
Here's a link to the story on fanfiction.net, to aid in keeping track of it. It's also available on my short story tumblr
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