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This story will center around Riven's Fury Company before, and during, the Ionian War. Be prepared for drama and tears.
Author's Note: Finally, I've started on Tales of Fury. I've been pondering it for many months now, and have decided on the way I want to present it. This is a bit of a teaser, I suppose, until I finish Guiding Light. I just wanted to get it out there. You might notice some influence taken from Guiding Light's style, but I also wanted to put much more emphasis on descriptions in this project. Let me know if I'm accomplishing that.
This story is one defined by its end, moreso than its beginning. It is a story written in history. An unchangeable, grim history that was shared by many in a dark time. This is a story of death, of despair, of the darkness and sins that lie on the surface of war, and most importantly, of change. These are the tales of Fury Company.
Quiet breaths, the squelching of boots as the mud grabbed hold of them, and the jingling of equipment were the only sounds that rang through the fogged valley. No one spoke, they only observed the field of bodies surrounding them. What the group saw was not reassuring. They'd heard rumours of the war stalling, of "losing steam", as one Zaunite had put it. Noxus' victory was looking more and more distant, and they needn't look far from here to see the cause of it all. Needless casualties, strange tactics, and the technical handicap of working around Zaun's military agenda. That is, lay waste to everything and spare nothing, regardless of strategical locations.
Somewhere behind her, Riven heard someone wretch. She closed her eyes and blocked out the sound, already feeling the nausea building up within her. The smell was the worst she'd found since they'd arrived in this land, but it was the soil that bothered her. The mud, moistened not by rain but by the blood of her people. She inhaled through her mouth, and shook the thought away to try to focus on the task at hand.
Looking to the mountains in the distance, she saw a green glint shimmering through the fog. Judging by the brightness of it, the war machines were nearly at the Shon-Xan pass, their only passage to Northern Ionia. The objective wasn't far, but the mission wasn't nearly finished. They were to reach and escort the Zaunite forces, and act as vanguard for the 42nd Standard until ordered otherwise. Which, unfortunately, meant dealing with more of these scenes in the future. Her men weren't enthusiastic about it, especially with what they'd just been through.
"Are we really this far gone?"
Riven didn't know what to say to them. This war was not what they'd said it would be. From the moment they were shipped off "to ensure a more expedient victory", Riven had had doubts. It just didn't add up. What had they been training for, if this wasn't it?
She gripped her massive blackstone sword more tightly, letting the stress out. This wasn't what she should be thinking of right now. Fury Company was strong, they'd make it through this, and they would... and what would they do? How could they go back to Noxus like before? The tensions that had arisen, the losses they'd taken, after everything they'd been through, experiencing the reality of war, nothing was the same. No, it was impossible to go back to the way things were. This war had broken them.
Them... Not me... Right?
Riven shuddered as a chill ran down her spine, and her mind quickly attributed it to the cold, rather than the thought. Winter was coming again. The last one had been near-catastrophic, in terms of losses and morale. While Fury Company had been spared the worst of it, the majority of the Noxian Forces were left without proper defences from the creeping temperatures. 'There simply isn't enough,' was the reasoning the other officers had used. Meanwhile, the Zaunites were content with their own portable heating devices, resistant to share the technology, quoting the same excuse.
Riven was growing tired of the nonsense. She had diligently followed the orders, never refusing, never arguing. She was following her training as best she could, and acting as the ideal Noxian soldier, yet... she couldn't help but feel that things could be different. Better, even, had she taken a different route.
And to not think of the way her mind was taking all these hits. It was a wall under siege, and it scared her to imagine the cracks growing with each blow. Every time, she convinced herself she was fine, but she had never had these kinds of thoughts before. She had never felt the need to worry about her health, let alone the health of others. It was always about improvement, for herself and for Noxus. To become stronger, faster, harder, wiser. But now... there were doubts. What if her ideals weren't in line with Noxus'? And if they weren't, why were they taught those ideals, trained to follow them under any circumstance?
She closed her eyes and breathed deeply. Focus.
'Focus is essential. A lot happens in the chaos of battle, but you can only accomplish one thing at a time.'
The words of Cragneye, her drill instructor, still held true at the very least. She could deal with all this later. For now, she needed to get Fury Company to the mountains.
Just then, amidst the noise from behind her, she heard footsteps ahead of them. A survivor perhaps? Riven stopped and raised her sword high above her head, ignoring the strain on her malnourished muscles. The green runes engraved in the obelisk glowed fiercely as a warning. Behind her, the noise dimmed as the company came to a stop. The unknown steps grew closer, staggered and messy. Whoever it was, was injured, possibly badly.
Finally, the figure stepped into view. A young Ionian woman with messy black hair, her clothes tattered and bloodied, and a dishevelled, vacant expression upon her face. Riven's gut wrenched slightly. Yet another civilian, caught in the battlefield. With this reoccurring experience, the memories of two months ago just wouldn't leave her mind.
The Ionian looked up suddenly, as if she hadn't noticed them until that point, and her eyes widened in fear. "No no no no no, no more, please," She begged, her knees giving out beneath her. She fell to the bloodied soil, sobbing weakly.
Sighing inwardly, Riven lowered her sword, turning to Em and Martin. She motioned for them to move her away. The two looked at each other, sharing a thought, before proceeding to the front. They reached the woman and stood reluctantly on either side of her. Riven knew they weren't on the best of terms at the moment, but tensions were high throughout the company. Em and Martin were still the least likely to fight amongst themselves.
The moment dragged on, and Riven made to hurry them up, but was interrupted by a flash of movement. The woman had stood quickly, her arms outstretched, and both Martin and Em had moved back in recoil. Too late. Wide-eyed, Riven saw the blood spray from their necks, and her focus solidified instantly.
"Ambush!" She yelled, readying her sword, but it seemed redundant now. The screams at the rear of the company were already ringing out. On each side of the Ionian woman, the corpses at her feet stood, gripping their weapons tightly. Necromancy? No, they were very much alive, the hate apparent in their eyes.
Two cries from behind distracted Riven for a split-second. Those were Jin and Calen's voices. Had they been hit? She didn't take the time to look. It had suddenly become clear. The messenger this morning had mentioned there were fewer Ionians in battle than had been expected. They had planned this. They had known Fury Company was coming. But how?
A loud roar rumbled somewhere off to the side of the company. Dassel had charged into the Ionian ranks. The war cries of Brite and Mannen resounded on the other side, but they were cut short. Riven took in the information and processed it, her mind already moving on to the most important tasks. The 42nd needed to be warned of the Ionian forces behind them.
"Defensive formation!" She yelled in an attempt to gather their strength. She grabbed the Zaunite flare gun from her belt and fired the green beacon into the fog above them. The light scattered and clashed with the orange hues caused by the sunset, giving the valley an eerie, supernatural glow. More cries of agony rang out, this time Krim and Sal. Had they not listened to her?
An Ionian soldier immediately jumped at her, probably desperate to take out the leader, and she swung her sword upwards to bisect him mercilessly. The noise of the battle was all around her as she stepped backwards to close the ranks. She listened and watched, trying to determine the next step. It was looking and sounding hopeless, but Riven would not give in. She had trained her entire life to overcome situations like this. There had to be a way.
A hand rested on her arm, and she recognized the grip as Ardus'. Riven glanced over, and he smiled grimly back at her before drawing his second blade, refocusing on the enemy that surrounded them. Behind Ardus, less than twenty of the company remained in their defensive circle. The clashes of metal that filled the valley elsewhere were quickly dwindling. An indeterminate feeling rose in Riven's gut, somewhere between regret and despair. Why had it turned out like this, so quickly and decisively? Was there really no way out? There were simply too many of them...
Riven felt her mind reluctantly accept their fate, and defiantly turned to the one thing she had left. She would uphold her ideals, to the bitter end. She bitterly stared down their attackers, and they stared back silently, savouring their victory. Riven pledged that she would take as many of them with her as possible. They might have won, but the Ionians would not escape damage themselves.
A loud whistle pierced the skies above them, and Riven's body froze at the noise. She recognized that sound all too well, by this point. The Zaunites were launching their chemical bombardments. But why now? What was the target?
The ground erupted in a flash of green flames, not twenty paces away from their position, blinding Riven and sending the Ionian soldiers ahead of her flying. Without warning, another landed just outside of the Noxian circle, knocking what was left of the company aside like rag dolls.
Riven fell to the ground roughly. In horror, she glanced toward her soldiers, now screaming and clawing at their melting flesh. The ground shook with more explosions, but Riven's mind couldn't process any of it. She couldn't believe it. Why? Why was this happening? Why was Zaun firing on its allies? And why was Noxus allowing it?
Only the strong survive. Isn't that the way it was? Isn't that what they were taught? Where was that now? This wasn't about winning the game anymore. This was about wiping the board clean. Erasing any advantage, whatever the cost.