Chapter 7: The Day of Subversion
Summoners of magic who flaunt without care
Born from it darkness, their burden to bear.
Destined is order in Valoran to cease
Under the false mask of peace.
- Author Unknown
“You allowed them to escape.” A low, angry male voice announced, its origin a cloaked figure standing on a platform along with two other similarly garbed individuals on their respective spots.
“Who are you to make such accusations when you failed to dispose of the assassin when you had the chance?” A smoky female voice retorted. “Regardless of their escape, everything else was successful. A few champions remain unaccounted for, but we have enough to proceed without them.”
“Excellent.” Another, more commanding male voice answered. “The moment we have been waiting for draws near. This is the last time we will need to meet like this.”
“Shall I track the remaining champions and dispose of them?” The low-pitched male voice asked.
“Do it. It will be one less problem for us in the future. Once you have disposed of them, proceed to track down and take care of Fiora Laurent as well. It seems she had evaded her captors.”
“Proceed to your designated spots. At midnight tonight, initiate the ritual.”
The Farscape Plains, Valoran
“Sacrifice of the blood and souls of Valoran’s champions? How can you say that, the League was created to prevent war.” Shen objected, a hint of anger in his normally impassive voice becoming apparent as he tightened his fists at his side.
“That’s only the greatest lie in the history of Valoran.” The night hunter answered, narrowing her eyes with suspicion upon seeing the ninja’s reaction to her words.
“But what purpose does killing off all these people serve? It doesn’t make any sense. If they wanted us dead, they could have just gone after us individually. That would have saved them twenty years worth of work.” Talon asked, his appetite now all but vanished upon hearing this.
“It’s a ritualistic killing, isn’t it?” Shen suddenly said, causing the other two to turn their attention towards him. “The moment that mass killing took place this morning, the flow of balance within Valoran erupted into chaos instantly. That was the intent, wasn’t it?”
“Yeah,” Vayne responded as she took off her glasses, shooting the two champions a stern glare. “In order to understand the events to today, you need to know what transpired twenty years ago as well as my true purpose for being in the League.”
“Twenty years ago… the Fifth Rune War.” Talon mused.
“Correct. A time of chaos that seemed to never end. Demacia and Noxus…our two countries actively engaged in a large scale war that practically left no corner of Valoran north of the Great Barrier unscarred. Though it started with conventional warfare, once one of our nations began to utilize Summoners as living weapons in battle, the other followed suit. An endless battle raged on, the casualties of war rising exponentially when Summoners were given authority to use their powers in the war without limits.”
“Yeah…even in Noxus, the casualties of that war were unacceptable. Countless kids flocked to the underground bazaar, turning into orphans like myself at the time when news of their family being killed in battle reached the city. But what does that have to do with whatever happened earlier today?” Talon asked as he stood up from his seated position, taking a few steps towards the opposite end of the room to lean his back against the wall.
“Three years ago, I was in Demacia in the midst of hunting a witch that was leaving a trail of bodies. That night, after disposing of the vile woman, I was approached by a man, my contact that I’m to meet in Piltover. He told me the truth behind everything that is the Institute of War. I had my doubts about his claims initially as I’m sure the two of you do about what I’m telling you right now. As I looked into it further, I became more convinced that what he was telling me was the truth.” She continued before pausing a moment to compose her thoughts.
“And what truth was this?” Talon asked, interrupting the silence that had filled the air.
Vayne let out a sign before continuing, as she still felt hesitant at disclosing the truth about her mission for joining the League of Legends. Ultimately, she decided that at this point, there was no longer any reason to keep it hidden.
“What do you know about the events of The Day of Subversion?” She asked.
“The last day of the Fifth Rune War…I was still a kid at the time, but I still remember it clearly. The day the war ended, not because of a treaty, but out of fear when natural disasters started appearing all over Valoran within minutes of each other. All of Noxus was thrown into chaos and I almost got pummeled by the collapsing ceiling of the underground bazaar.” The assassin answered.
“More than that happened on that day. The uncontrolled use of magic by powerful Summoners during the Fifth Rune War resulted in a fracture of the barrier that separates the Living World of Runeterra and…The Void.”
“The Void?” Shen repeated, a shock running through him at the sound of those last two words.
“The Void, a world of darkness that is intertwined with our world. It is the source of the most sinister creatures to have ever existed. Those horrible demonic creatures Cho’Gath and Kog’Maw are but two examples of creatures that spawn from The Void. On the Day of Subversion twenty years ago, the imbalance in the flow of magic through Runeterra caused a rift to open, connecting our world with The Void. Within seconds, those dreadful creatures that you’ve seen in the Summoner’s Arena crossed into our world. The whole world was at the brink of being thrown into chaos until…”
“Until what?” Talon asked after a short pause.
“A miracle? What’re you talking about?”
“A gift from the Goddess Terras. When all hope seemed lost and Valoran was doomed to be thrown into chaos, she restored balance to the world of Runeterra by closing off the rift that was created with a seal…one that restored the balance in the flow of magic in our world, and also prevented the further crossing of creatures from The Void into our world.” Vayne explained, stopping momentarily to examine the other two champions, whose faces were held in a mixed expression of shock and disbelief. “However… those creatures weren’t the only things that crossed into this world. In those few moments before the Goddess intervened, a dark force that had no place in this world reached out to the most powerful Summoners in Valoran and offered them power beyond anything they could imagine. To achieve this goal, they were instructed to perform a ritual that would open up the Goddess’ Seal in a way that even she could not close from where she resides in Edenrealm. This ritual called for a large sacrifice of blood at three points in a Rune Circle carved into the earth of Valoran, followed by the sacrifice of the souls of the strongest champions with the power to protect our world at the center of those three points.”
“Blood sacrifices at three points in a Rune Circle and a sacrifice of souls… You don’t mean-“ Talon exclaimed as a realization suddenly hit him.
“Those three blood sacrifices would eventually be known as the three Summoner’s Arenas, and the fourth is none other than the newest arena that we were all instructed to attend… The Valley of the Magi. Playing on the fears that the natural disasters throughout Valoran had instilled into its citizens, the most powerful Summoners that fell to the temptation of the darkness created the Institute of War. Using it as a façade of peace, the Institute created the League of Legends, attracting Valoran’s greatest champions to enlist into it under the guise of fighting for their own country. Two key battles during the Fifth Rune War left the area filled with magic. Nexuses were installed in those areas to control the magic and utilize it to create the first two Arenas, the Twisted Treeline and the Summoner’s Rift. Years were spent to find similar locations to create a third Arena and when it didn’t exist…it was created.”
“Kalamanda… An all out war between Demacia and my nation that the League mysteriously did not intervene in until significant bloodshed had been spilled.” Talon mused as the realization hit him. “Before he went missing, General Du Couteau had been suspicious about something that was brewing involving that town. I don’t know what it is that he found, but he had been acting strange the two days prior to his disappearance. Two months after he went missing, tensions began to run high when Noxus came under suspicion of causing the collapse of a Demacian mine.”
“Except that the tension didn’t just end there.” Vayne continued to explain after raising an eyebrow to examine the assassin’s face. “What began as a suspicion of sabotage by Noxus turned into a high tensioned game of accusations, both sides fully believing that the other side was at fault for the events at that mine. In reality, that whole ordeal was orchestrated by none other than the Institute of War itself, culminating in the manner that the Summoners hoped it would. The area became scarred and largely unstable by magic, save for a small field that allowed for the installation of a Nexus to control the magic, transforming it into a third Summoner’s Arena…the Crystal Scar. The ones who orchestrated it were the same ones who created the Institute of War…powerful Summoners who would eventually be given the title…The High Councillors.”
With those last words, the room fell silent. Neither Shen nor Talon knew how to react to what they had just heard. For them, their perspective on Valoran had been turned upside down, as the world they knew never existed. Shen, along with the rest of the Kinkou Order, believed in the Institute’s ideals of preserving peace and balance in Valoran. Since his decision to join the League, he had held the High Councillors in the highest regard, as the epitome of those who believed in a peaceful resolution to conflicts. Words could not express his disappointment, finding out that the people he trusted to maintain order in this world were the very ones who aimed to throw it into chaos in exchange for power.
Talon, on the other hand, was furious at the thought of being nothing more than a pawn to be sacrificed for the personal gain of a few Summoners. He came to League looking for answers to the disappearance of General Du Couteau, the only person he ever saw as his superior. Over a year had passed and he was not even a step closer to finding the truth. All this time, he had been acting as nothing more than a bug, waiting to be squashed for a sick ritual. It was then that a truth had finally dawned on him.
“Seems actually answers a question that had been on my mind for a very long time.” The assassin finally said, breaking the tense silence.
“And what question is that?” Vayne asked, turning her gaze towards him.
“When I first joined the League, a Summoner probed into my mind to find out why it was I wanted to join the League. I openly admitted that I had a personal agenda, to investigate the League for evidence of General Du Couteau’s disappearance. Had I been in their shoes, I would never have allowed someone who was accusing me of being involved in a conspiracy to enter the League. It was clear that I didn’t trust them, that I was not there for a remotely honorable reason, yet they allowed me to join. It all makes sense now, when from their perspective, I was to be nothing more than a sacrificial lamb.”
“Yeah. That was the fate that had been decided on us by the High Councillors the moment we joined the League.” Vayne continued.
“So where do you fit into all of this? If you knew exactly what you were signing up for, why’d you do it?” Talon asked in a low voice, his eyes narrowing in suspicion to examine the night hunter’s face.
“I joined the League as a mole for my contact. I was given a charm that allowed me to manufacture what the Summoners would see when I underwent their Judgment. Under the guise of honing my skills to become a better hunter for Demacia, I joined as a champion with the true purpose of spying on the inner workings of the Institute of War. Along with it, I manipulated the Institute’s systems to get certain people out of there when this day neared.”
“So this whole time, you knew that this was going to happen and you didn’t do anything to stop it?” Talon asked, anger rising in his voice.
“And what do you expect me to have done?” Vayne retorted, shooting him an angry glance before lowering her eyes. “How could I possibly have orchestrated the mass departure of every champion in the League without attracting the attention of the High Councillors? This whole time, I had to work in secrecy. I didn’t know who I could trust, and even if there was a Summoner who was honorable enough to be willing to help, seeking them out would only get them killed without effort. That’s the difference in the powers of the High Councillors compared to the others. All I could do was get a select few people who would become valuable in the near future out, while I had to stand by and allow the rest to suffer their day of reckoning. You can say and judge me however the hell you want. It won’t make me feel any more guilt than I already do.”
Another silence filled the air after her last words, as the three champions sat quietly pondering their circumstances. The relief that Talon and Shen had felt after their successful escape from the Institute had all but dissipated, replaced by horror as they now knew what it was they were up against.
“This morning…the LeBlanc that killed Akali and Kennen. She was-“ Shen began after a long pause before being cut off.
“Controlled by one of the High Councillors to do their biddings as a puppet.” Vayne quickly replied. “In the same way that Summoners control how we fight in the Summoner’s Arena, she was being controlled outside of the Arenas by one of the High Councillors. Unlike the other Summoners, the High Councillors do not even need a Nexus nearby through which to channel their magic and control someone. Now do you understand the power gap between the rest of the Summoners at the Institute and the High Councillors?”
“Yeah.” Shen replied in a quiet voice, a look of mourning in his eyes.
“Well, now that you know what it is you’re dealing with,” Vayne began to say as she stood up. “Where you want to go is up to you. In just a little over two days from here, I’ll make it to Piltover to decide what my next move will be. We’ll pass a few transportation hubs along the way there, so I can drop you off at one of those and let you go wherever you please. Keep in mind, however, that you angered the High Councillors by surviving this morning’s purge so moving around may be a lot harder than you think. The choice is yours.”
“You’re going to continue your fight against the High Councillors on your own?” Talon asked in disbelief.
“I don’t expect you to follow me down this road, but it is something I have to do.” She responded, the expression on her face become softer, something that others have rarely seen in her. “When I was a child, I witnessed everything being taken from me by evil. I was helpless then, but not anymore. As long as I have the will to fight, even if it is an impossible goal, I won’t stop until things are made right.”
With those last words, the night hunter walked to the door, leaving to return to her own room before being interrupted by Talon’s words.
“Shauna Vayne,” He called out, causing the night hunter to stop and turn her head, shooting a glance towards him. “If you would allow me, I shall accompany you on the rest of your journey.”
“What?” She responded, her eyes opening wide in surprise. “I appreciate the gesture, but why would you of all people want to go out of your way to help a Demacian?”
“I don’t really know. Maybe it’s because for the first time in years, I feel like I have a purpose again.” Talon said, his voice rising in an almost excited tone. “Earlier, you asked me why it was that I almost sacrificed myself to help the two of you in a dangerous battle. I wondered about it myself for the longest time, and realized that I did it because it was the first time that I was fighting for a reason. It wasn’t about survival nor was it about following orders, but rather it was about stopping someone so twisted that they’d kill off all those people like they meant nothing.”
Vayne and Shen said nothing, but nodded their heads in acknowledgement at the assassin’s words.
“For countless years, I spent my early life in the underground slums of Noxus, fighting one day at a time just to survive. I had no goals until I encountered General Du Couteau, the only person to ever outwit my skills. He spared my life…I respected him and his will became mine, as I carried out every assassination he had asked of me. When he disappeared from Noxus two years ago, I knew I no longer had any reason to continue serving Noxian High Command. But instead, I spent the next two years continuing my loyalty to Noxus for the sole purpose of finding the General. I thought it was all out of respect, but in reality, it was because once again I was lost. Without a master to follow, my life had no purpose. When that was taken away from me, I didn’t want to think about what my life meant and so I kept searching, going so far as to join the League in hopes of finding clues in my spare time about what happened to the General.”
“Clinging to that which gives life meaning, no matter how small and remote a possibility it may seem.” Vayne mused upon hearing the assassin’s words.
“Yeah…only thing was, I realized after this morning that even if I did find General Du Couteau, it wouldn’t give my life meaning.” Talon continued as he stood up, walking towards the window to look up at the twilight sky. “That whole time, I was merely helping someone else achieve their goals. Until our fight earlier today, nothing I had done up to this point was for what I had believed in. Now, here I stand, an enemy of the most powerful entity in all of Valoran and one of the few people left who can help save a world where all hell is about to break loose. I’d say that for the first time, this is me…fighting for a something real.”
“If that is what you truly believe, then I accept your offer to accompany me on this journey.” Vayne replied, taking a few steps back away from the door to face the other two champions. “It will be a far more treacherous journey than anything we’ve encountered in the past. But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. We were destined by the High Councillors to die this morning, but instead here we stand. Against all odds, we changed our destiny and survived. From here on, no matter how hopeless things seem, we will fight and decide our own fate.”
“Hmm… Never took you for the inspirational speech type.” Talon remarked with a grin on his face.
“Shen, though you have proven today to be a great ally, I don’t expect you to follow our paths. I know that you’ve witnessed the deaths of your friends and I’d understand if you wish to return to Ionia after we reach Piltover. The decision is entirely yours and-“ She said, ignoring that last comment, which did its job at ruining the moment as she turned her attention towards the Ionian, who had been standing quietly.
“As part of the Kinkou order, I have worked towards maintaining balance in the world.” Shen began, his voice low and impassive. “I was sent along with the others to the Institute in order to uphold its belief in peace. For me to openly defy the Institute means turning my back on everything I stood for.”
“I understand. If that is your decision, I have no right to change your mind.” The night hunter replied, turning around to leave.
“However,” Shen continued, causing her to stop and turn her head to shoot a glance in his direction. “In the end, it was the Institute that turned its back on the rest of the world. For years, the Order saw them as a great ally to preserve peace. That alliance meant nothing, as they killed my comrades without hesitation. Shauna Vayne, Talon… my blade shall follow you in your journey. Though it means turning my back on the Order, allowing this atrocity to take place would mean turning my back on everything it stood for.”
“Then it’s settled.” Vayne began after a short pause, opening the door to leave. “After we arrive in Piltover and find out more, we take the fight to them. Get some rest, tomorrow we move out at 0700.”
Meridian, Bordering District of Demacia
A small explosion rang through the large metallic corridor, causing smoke and dust slowly rise from the ground. Fiora was kneeling on the ground panting, strands of purple hair covered the left side of her face, dancing with every breath she took. A look of frustration was apparent on the exposed side of her face, now covered in a thin layer of sweat that glistened in the light.
“**** it… this is no good.” She said quietly to herself in between breaths as Leon stood silently at the side.
More than a day had passed since she had begun training herself in the use of magic. What seemed like endless hours had been spent during those past two days, and while the duelist had gotten better with the timing of drawing out magic energy for use in battle, the strength of her spells was all but pitiful. Regardless of what element she manipulated her energy into, her spells would do nothing more than cause small puffs of smoke to rise or small streams of water to appear at random locations in the room. With every failed spell, she became more and more frustrated, as it felt as though she had hit a road block for the past day. Over half of her designated training time had passed, and it felt as though there was barely any progress.
After catching her breath, she turned to look at her mentor to find a look of concern on his face. She knew immediately that things were not progressing as he had hoped.
“Leon, this is not working.” She said, frustrated at herself. “I’ve been doing everything you’ve told me, but even then, I feel as though I’m hitting a brick wall every time I try to draw out magic. No matter how hard I try, I feel like I’m doing nothing more than encountering some strange entity in my mind and trying to drag a part of it out kicking and screaming. Every time, it ends up the same way, with me pulling out what feels like scraps and crumbs of it, enough to barely make a recognizable spell.”
“You’re timing has improved, and so has your ability to direct the spells properly. And also, for some reason, you seem to have talent for manipulating your magic energy into almost every type of element.” He replied in a low voice.
Despite the attempts at reassuring the duelist, the look of concern did not fade from his face.
“What is the point of being able to do that if none of the spells I can cast have any power behind them? With the exception of making my enemies die of laughter, they don’t serve any purpose.” She snapped as she managed herself off of the ground.
A moment of silence filled the air, as neither of them said anything. Finally, Fiora turned around, taking a few steps to leave the room.
“I need a break. I don’t even see what good it is for me to keep do-“ She began before a bright light blinded her, causing her to cover her eyes.
Moments later, as the light faded, she looked around to find herself encased in a sphere of silver colored energy.
“Leon, what is happenin-“ She began to ask before stopping in mid-sentence.
Her eyes caught sight of her mentor, a look of malicious intent now on his face. His right hand was outstretched in her direction, surrounded by an aura of energy similar in color to that which surrounded her.
“Leon, what do you think you’re doing? Is this some sort of sick joke?”
“What a disappointment you really are.” He began, his voice deep with a strange, inhuman echo behind it. “I was hoping there was going to be some use for you, but it seems you have failed every one of my expectations.”
“Use for me? Expectations? What are you talking about?” She demanded, her voice shifting into one of fear.
“Poor, ignorant Fiora Laurent. Your whole life, you’ve kept yourself distant from everyone until now, only to blindly befriend someone without even thinking about the circumstances. Even going so far as to ignore the only friend you had left, letting her get taken away to be executed. All in the hopes of promises of powers to defeat an unseen enemy without even a thought that the enemy had been in front of her the whole time.” Leon taunted as his eyes narrowed, appearing more sinister than she had ever seen them.
Anger shot through Fiora instantly, as she quickly drew out her rapier and lunged towards the sphere surrounding her, delivering a quick slash to it only for it to be deflected by a bright flash of light. She felt herself thrown backwards in a fashion similar to the first time she had attacked one of the Void Walkers a few days ago. Landing on her feet, she lunged forward a second time, aiming for the same spot as before, in hopes of her first attack having weakened the barrier around her. Instead, her attack was met with similar results, causing her to stagger backward as her arm was twisted upwards into a strained position.
“I’m afraid, that won’t work. This barrier that I’ve surrounded you with is completely impenetrable to even the sharpest steel.” Leon explained as he circled around the duelist a few times to examine her. “It really is a shame that it has come to this. I thought I would have had some use for you, but in the end, you were nothing more than a disappointment.”
“Use me? For what purpose?” Fiora demanded, anger filling her voice.
“To destroy Piltover, of course.”
“Destroy…Piltover?” She exclaimed in shock.
“Don’t tell me you didn’t see it coming. It was the perfect set up. With your friend Lux taken by Piltover, you would have been willing to do anything to get her back. By the time we got there, she would have been locked away in their maximum security facility, PSION. To be able to break her out from there, you would all but practically have to destroy the entire city’s power grid and throw it into total chaos. By myself, that was too great a task, but had you become powerful enough, you would have helped me do exactly that without even realizing you were helping my plans succeed!” He explained, a sinister appearing smile now crossing his face.
“You *******! You were the one who summoned those creatures in Demacia, weren’t you? You set us up didn’t you?” She yelled furiously.
“I wonder about that… Let’s just say that was a test. One which you failed miserably at, but Luxanna excelled at. After all, she was the only one who could disperse the dark aura around those creatures, which makes her a threat. All the while, you were able to do nothing more besides watch helplessly until she did her job.”
“So you… purposely kept me here to prevent me from saving her…” She said in shock, the realization that she had been manipulated perfectly hitting her.
“A contingency plan. In the event that this happened, and you really had no way of becoming the powerful mage that I needed to help me destroy Piltover, the mage who specializes in light magic would have been taken out of the picture, making it one less threat to deal with.”
“You *******…When I get out, I will spend every waking moment hunting you down.”
“When you get out?” Leon asked, stopping his movements to look at the duelist in the eyes. “Such a bold statement coming from someone who has no idea what they’re up against. This barrier around you is a powerful one that is meant to last forever unless it is destroyed by magic equally as powerful. What’s more is, this barrier will constrict onto itself and along with it, its contents. In fifteen minutes, it will be reduced to the size of a watermelon, and every bone and organ in your body will be crushed.”
“You coward! Let me out of here!” She screamed out loud desperately.
“Yell all you want. Not even the Goddess herself will hear you down here. Farewell, Lady Laurent. You will die here a pathetic, lonely young woman.”
Chapter 8: Breaking The Boundaries
Oh great darkness, serpent that preys on the weak
Fated are you to rise, your temptation to those with powers they seek
Light’s only hope, the heroes few, destined to cross the rift
For them to bear, the weight of the world, and the Goddess’ gift.
- Sermons of Ezra-Isaiah Cyrus.
Meridian, Bordering District of Demacia
Fiora collapsed onto her knees as a sleuth of thoughts crossed her mind. She felt helpless to do anything and was angry at herself for trusting this mysterious man when every nerve in her body a few days ago was telling her something was wrong. She examined the barrier around her, which was slowly closing on her. The way that he spoke when describing the barrier made her believe that he was telling the truth when he said that it was immune to attacks from her blade.
She raised her free left hand and conjured up a small fire spell within a few seconds, firing it directly in front of her at the barrier. Upon impact, the ball of flames merely dispersed in a puff of smoke, the barrier glowing slightly at the spot before returning to its baseline form.
**** it! He knows that I’m not strong enough at magic to break this. That’s why he didn’t even bother hiding the fact that it could only be broken with a powerful spell. She thought to herself angrily.
“Didn’t I tell you? It can only be broken by powerful magic. It really is pathetic to even watch.” Leon said in response to her attempted spell as he paced along the side of the room like a predator stalking its prey, waiting for the moment to end it all.
A wave of panic overcame the duelist. She never imagined that it would all end like this, dying here alone to a person who manipulated her. She clenched her fist tightly over her sword, causing a small streak of blood flow from the palm of her hand. Unable to bear the sight of herself in the reflective surfaces of the walls that make up the room, she closed her eyes tightly.
I will not beg for mercy. Fiora thought to herself as she felt her time in this world slipping away. I’ve lived my years to its fullest. If this is how it ends…everyone…I’m sorry. In the end, I was too scared to let myself get close. Yet, you all still tried and kept me close to your hearts even when I didn’t return the favor. Thank you, Lux for putting up with me. Thank you, my brothers for being there after mom died. Thank you dad, for making me the swordswoman I am today. Thank you mom, for raising me to become the person I am today…Goodbye, everyone.
“It’s not your time yet.” A female voice said to her
The darkness behind her closed eyes became pierced by a bright light. An instant later, Fiora found herself standing in a room of endless light, empty save for a female figure with a lock of purple hair covering part of her face standing in front of her.
”Mom? What-“ She cried out, her voice giving off a mysterious echo in this place.
“Fiora...I’m sorry, but you can’t stay here for long, so just listen.” The woman replied, her voice soothing and calm. “Do you remember what I said to you the last time we talked? I really meant it. You really are special. You have the power to protect everything.”
“Mom...I’m sorry, but I’ve failed you in that.” Fiora replied, lowering her eyes. “I couldn’t protect dad, I couldn’t protect Lux, I couldn’t protect anyone. And now I’m going to die, with nothing but a trail of failure and bloodshed reflected in these eyes.”
“You can protect them.” Alissa Laurent insisted, causing the duelist to look up in surprise. “It is not your time to die yet. You can get out of this. The only thing that holds you back from reaching your full potential now is your fear. Fear of this unfamiliar entity inside of you that is the magic energy you’ve never known existed…and fear that you will try your hardest and still fail. Only you won’t fail, because I believe in you.”
“Yes. Dispose of your fear and embrace who you really are. Only then can you truly fuse with your magic and use it to do what you desire most.” Her mother affirmed with a smile. “I’m sorry, but you must wake up again. It’s up to you from here on…I believe in you.”
“Wait! Don’t go!”
“As long as you keep me in your heart, I will always be there to watch over you.”
Opening her eyes again, Fiora found herself back in the metallic walled room. Turning her head, she saw Leon walking away, the barrier around her now yielding less than a foot of space to each side. She closed her eyes again and reached into her mind for the source of her magic.
Discard my fear. I am not afraid of what’s inside me...I am not afraid of failing…I am not afraid…to protect them! She told herself.
The magic energy that had always felt like a strange entity inside of her all of a sudden felt warm, engulfing her in its soothing sensation. She felt her whole body surge with energy unlike any that she had ever experienced before, coursing through every vessel in her body.
“Hmm?” Leon muttered under his breath, turning his head around as he sensed a change in the atmosphere.
Fiora slowly stood up from her crouched position, a thin aura of white energy now surrounding her. Opening her eyes, she revealed aqua blue pupil that appeared to glow, augmenting the fierce look of determination that had replaced the fear that had previously dominated her demeanor. She then held out her sword and positioned horizontally at the level of her eyes before a blue spark of energy ran through it, followed by another. Moments later, her sword was surrounded by multiple flashes of lightning energy, glowing brighter as it danced along the blade.
“HAAAAH!” Fiora screamed out as she swung her sword outwards, twirling her body around on her heels in a circular motion to do two full circular rotations.
Time seemed to stand still for a moment as Leon looked in horror at what was transpiring in front of him. In an instant, the barrier around the duelist shattered, a loud sound similar to that of glass breaking filled the air. Dust-like particles from the broken barrier sparkled as they flew through the air, resembling specks of white crystals.
“Leon!” Fiora announced, her icy blue eyes now fixed on his. “You’re finished!”
Leon gasped as he opened his eyes wide in shock, quickly raising both of his hands in front of him as Fiora swing her blade downwards. A large, bright stream of lightning launched towards him, cutting into the ground in a jagged pattern. Upon impact, a large explosion rang throughout the room, causing a large cloud of smoke to fill the room and the floor to rumble.
“I…did it…” Fiora said to herself before suddenly feeling as though the room around her was spinning.
Moments later, she collapsed onto her knees, panting for breath. As the smoke began to clear from the room, she looked in front of her to see a large fissure in the ground in front of her, which followed the trajectory of her last attack. She then opened her eyes in shock at the sight of a figure standing at the opposite end of the crevasse.
As the smoke cleared, Leon stood both hands still held out with a blue crystal-like shield in front of him, gasping for air with a look of desperation on his previously sinister demeanor. The right side of the barrier was shattered, his right arm behind it covered in multiple cuts and burns. Moments later, he lowered his hands, causing the barrier to disappear.
“Yo..You’re still alive?” Fiora said in shock.
She tried to stand up to ready herself for another attack but upon picking up her sword, found that the blade had shattered to multiple pieces. She held up the remainder of her sword to look at it, now a stump less than a few inches long with a blunted end.
“I knew it… you were special. I knew you had it in you.” Leon began to say, his voice now returned to its former calm state. “I’m sorry, Fiora, for any pain my acting caused you.”
“Acting? You mean-“ Fiora asked in shock.
“I knew the moment you said that your magic energy felt like a strange entity that you were subconsciously blocking yourself off from it.” He began to explain as he himself collapsed to the ground. “You aren’t someone who can learn this stuff easily from being taught, that much is clear. So I pushed you into something you were most familiar with… a real life and death situation. It seems I was right. Only then could you overcome whatever it was that was holding you back.”
Fiora managed herself up from her kneeled position, walking slowly towards Leon with labored steps. She held up the remains of her rapier and glanced at it briefly before tossing it to the ground.
“Sorry, if I upset you.” He began to say as the duelist was within a few steps of him. “You’ve done well. You’re now at a level wh-“
Fiora swung her fist, interrupting his words as it connected with the left side of his jaw. He let out a loud groan as he was sent to the ground, landing head first with a thud to cause a bruise on his right forehead.
“Leon, if you ever do that again, I will kill you in a way you can’t even imagine.” The duelist said angrily, her eyes burning with killer intent.
“I guess I deserved that.” He said after a pause as he raised himself off of the ground, holding up his left hand to rub his jaw in pain. “Go upstairs and get some rest. At this point, I think you’ve all but demonstrated the ability to use magic at a level appropriate for battle. We’ll see what you can do tomorrow after you recover.”
He raised his left hand, revealing that it was now glowing a bright green color. Holding it over his injured arm, Fiora stopped to watch as the wounds she had inflicted gradually closed up, the skin returning to its normal color.
“It’s a healing spell, if you were wondering. One of the things you’ll need to learn how to do.” He explained to the duelist, who simply continued to walk by him without commenting.
“I became capable of using magic only to lose my ability to fight using a blade. My sword has completely shattered with that last attack.” She finally said at the door with her back turned, her voice still filled with anger.
“If you were successful, I almost expected that you would wield your magic in that way, and that your sword would inevitably break. It is but another logistical problem that I’ve already taken care of. Just get some rest.”
Fiora spent the most of the night feeling uneasy about everything that had happened. She skipped dinner and locked herself in the bedroom, the thought of the day’s events rapidly going through her mind. The endless onslaught of confusion and anger made her nauseous and she was tempted to run to the restroom multiple times to vomit. Each time, she decided against it because of the possibility that she might have to see the object of her anger in the process. Despite Leon explaining his reasoning for his actions, a part of her trust in him was lost, as she couldn’t confidently decide who he really was. She was still angry with him and a part of her wanted to leave and never return again. She knew, however, that was no longer an option as Lux was already more than halfway to Piltover, and she would have no way of getting there in time to save her by herself.
What concerned her more, however, was the reason behind her mother’s appearance in her mind. She was initially elated to have gotten the chance to speak to her mother again, if only for a brief moment. After the initial joy passed, however, she began to wonder about its significance. It felt far too vivid for it to have been a simple projection in her mind during a near death experience, as she had been in those far too many times in the past than she would like to admit. Somehow, she couldn’t let go of the possibility that something very strange was going on with her.
You’re special. She echoed to herself, unable to figure out why both her mother and Leon had said this to her on multiple occasions.
She held out her right hand above her as she laid on the bed in the dark, her other hand behind her head to prop it up slightly. With relatively little effort, she conjured up a simple light spell that surrounded her hand, causing an aura of white light to fill the otherwise dark room. She then quickly dispersed it, causing the light surrounding her hand to disappear with a flicker.
Why is it that any of this is even possible? She thought to herself as she recalled the words that her mysterious mentor had said to her the day before. What is it that I’m missing here?
These thoughts continued to race through the duelist’s mind as she laid restlessly in bed. It would be hours before she finally drifted off to sleep, as the fatigue from the day’s events finally overcame her.
”This is far too sweet. Please take it away.” Fiora said in an annoyed tone as she pushed away her cup of tea.
“Please forgive me, my lady.” An apologetic appearing middle-aged woman wearing a gray and white maid’s outfit said as she quickly removed the cup from the table.
Responding with nothing more than an annoyed grunt under her breath, the duelist picks up a book that had been lying open on the table in front of her, turning a few pages before reading its contents out loud.
"Even as the ground beneath us becomes barren of light,
Descend upon us, the Goddess' gift to save us from our plight.
Shrouded in mystery becomes it the light that quenches the land,
To return hope to these seas, these skies, and these sands.
Guiding us to glory, her gift our everlasting salvation,
To lift me from my cold and harsh foundation."
“Anathema, Act II.” A male voice said from behind, causing Fiora to turn around.
“You remembered,” She said as she faced her older brother, a man in his mid twenties with short black hair and blue eyes.
“Mom used to read that to us all the time.”
“Ah…yeah” Fiora responded rather hesitantly, as the topic of her mother was still sensitive for her even after six years had passed.
Setting the book down again, she walked through the house to escape the topic of discussion, its hallways decorated with ornate paintings and photographs of her ancestors in the aristocratic Laurent family. She eventually ended up on the front steps of the mansion, staring into the twilight as crickets chirped in the background. The silence in the air was interrupted minutes later by the sound of the mansion door opening behind her. Turning her head slightly, she saw her father stepping out from the house, wearing a long tan colored overcoat. His head was lowered, staring towards the ground as he walked past Fiora without saying a word.
“Father, are you going somewhere?” She finally asked after he was a few feet in front of her, causing him to stop his movements.
“Yeah.” He answered monotonously after a short pause, his back turned towards the purple haired duelist.
“Ok…Well just come back soon. Remember, you have a big duel tomorrow, so be sure to get some rest and make us proud.” Fiora responded confidently.
“Don’t worry…I will.” He responded simply, turning his head slightly to look at her with a grin on his face momentarily before walking away.
An icy chill ran up her spine that moment, as she felt as though something was wrong. The grin on his face seemed very odd to her and the way he acted didn’t seem like himself. She also thought that it was likely her mind playing tricks on her, but in that moment that she saw his face, she noticed that rather than his usual blue eyes looking back at her, she stared into eyes with pitch black pupils that instilled a sense of fear in her.
When Fiora woke up again, dim rays of light were beginning to shone through the blinds in the bedroom. She sat up slowly, rubbing the right side of her face with her hand, the muscles in her arm sore with every movement.
Father…what were you thinking that night? She thought to herself, recalling the dream that she just had.
That was the last night that she would hold her father in any sort of respect. That next morning, she received a call from the Demacian police department saying they had him in custody. That night that she saw him leave, he was caught at his opponent’s house, attempting poison his opponent’s drink with a slow-acting paralytic potion. Authorities were called in and her father was arrested. Fiora would arrive at the jailhouse to bail him out, only to not be able to even look at her father in the face.
Days had passed before the purple haired duelist could look into those blue eyes of his again, and when she finally did, she mustered up the courage to ask him his reason for doing the dishonorale act. Her father could not give her an answer and could only look back at her with the eyes of a defeated man. It was as though he couldn’t even answer that question to himself. A week later, she would demand her share of the Laurent family fortune to purchase her own home and live separately from the rest of her family.
Getting out of bed, she was hesitant to leave the room. She hadn’t spoken to Leon after she had punched him in the face, having avoided him the rest of the day. Taking a deep breath, she finally opened the door, walking out to find the rest of the house empty. A plate of food was left on the dining room table along with a small written note next to it.
Please eat something. You’ll need it.
As she turned around to avoid it, her stomach growled fiercely, causing her to put her hand over it and look around, her face blushing slightly in embarrassment as she half expected the mage to show up right at that moment. It was then that she realized she hadn’t eaten in almost a full day, and obliged with what the note had said.
When she finally descended the long staircase into the brightly lit basement an hour later, she noted that the large fissure in the ground was still there, contrasting the otherwise spotless walls of the chamber. Leon was standing next to a table, his eyes focused on a thin electronic tablet that displayed images of the Valoran topography similar to his computer. Next to him on the table stood two large silver cases that she hadn’t seen the day before. The sound of metallic footsteps caused by her greaves against the floor caused him to look up.
“Thought I’d give you some space to think things through. To be honest, I almost thought that you had left in the middle of the night.” He finally said.
“Hrmpf… The thought had occurred to me many times after that stunt you pulled. But then all I’d be doing is what I’ve always done when things didn’t go my way, running away from my troubles and hoping things get better. Only this time, it wouldn’t get better. I don’t know who you really are, but right now if I was to abandon our arrangement then I’d have lost Lux, and would have made what you said yesterday come true, even if it was just an act to you.”
“You’re learning, I see.” Leon replied with a smirk on his face.
“I don’t care what you call it. If what happened yesterday was really an act, then do what I told you once before…make good on your promise.” The duelist remarked sternly, glaring at the mage with eyes of mistrust.
“Very well, then.” He said before opening one of the large cases and taking out what appeared to be a flat, wide blue rectangular container that terminated in what appeared to be a black colored handguard and hilt. “Catch”
With a swift motion, Leon threw the sheathed sword towards the duelist a few feet away from him. Catching it, she examined it to find that it was much wider than her previous rapier. Drawing the sword, she found the blade itself a shimmering bluish silver color with a smooth reflective surface. The shape of the blade was unlike anything she had previously seen, as it was double-edged and comprised of two prongs, a longer one that almost resembled large crescent, and a shorter one that looked like a series of flickering flames. A jagged streak of yellow ran along the middle of each part of the sword, extending to the pointed tips of the two pronged blade. The two prongs joined near the base of the blade before inserting into a black handguard that looked like three spiraling flames. The hilt itself had a smooth leather grip that felt comfortable to handle.
As the initial amazement at the shape of the blade wore off, she swung it a few times and noticed that despite its large size, surprised to find that its weight was very similar to her previous rapier.
“What is this?” She finally asked after carefully examining the weapon.
“Your new sword…It’s made of an alloy of steel and a rare metal called Etherocite, the same metal that metallic mage staffs are made of. Difference is that this specific alloy is as strong as any blade out there for normal combat but also allows magic to be channeled through it without breaking like your previous sword did. I call it Highwind.” He explained as he opened the other large case to reveal a similarly sheathed sword.
Drawing it out, Leon revealed a long blade with a shimmering surface similar to her new sword. The single-edged blade was curved with an S-shaped contour and a single pointed tip. In the light, his sword had a dark green tint to it, except for the unsharpened top edge of the blade, which was a plain silver color. He then tossed the sheath to the side and raised the blade up above him before swinging it down to point at the duelist.
“At this point, you are capable of using magic at full strength. However, there is a difference between being able to conjure up a spell and using it in a real combat situation.” Leon began to explain as his blade began to glow a bright red color.
Moments later, a thin layer of fire surrounded his blade, extending past its tip to leave a foot-long rising trail of flames.
“Today is the last day. After this, it’s life or death. Show me what you can do and along the way, I’ll teach you a few additional things that may be helpful. Otherwise, there will be no more hand-holding from here on. Everything you’ve done so far will be nothing compared to what today will be like.” He continued as he narrowed his eyes, the previously calm look now replaced by serious determination as he stared down the duelist.
Fiora proceeded to toss the sheath to the ground before raising her blade up with her right arm. Narrowing her eyes slightly, she drew out her magic energy and formed it into lightning, surrounding her blade in its bright blue streaks that charged the atmosphere around her. A few bolts began to strike the ground around her as she increased its power, filling the room with a perpetual humming noise.
“Sure you want to challenge me in a dance of swords?” She asked.
“Let’s just say I’m not too bad at it myself.”
With those last words, they sprinted rapid towards each other. Flames followed the mage’s quick movements, creating a streak of orange as he dashed towards the duelist, swinging his blade with intent to kill. Fiora moved rapidly with a trail of blue colored lightning in her wake, leaping up as her opponent’s blade neared her, followed by a mid-air flip to land behind him. Both of them quickly spun around on their heels, swinging their swords to collide with the other’s, creating a loud explosion that shook the ground around them.
As the smoke gradually cleared, the two stood facing each other with their swords locked, sparks of red and blue flying as they stared into each other’s eyes with focused determination.
“Not bad for a beginner.” Leon teased.
“I can say the same about you…for a self-proclaimed scholar.” Fiora said in response. “I don’t know who you really are anymore, but for the moment, I’m content with the chance to beat you down after that stunt you pulled yesterday.”
“In that case, focus,” He replied, applying greater force with his sword to push the duelist back. “Show me if you’re capable of it.”
Kalidorum Woods, 200 miles west of Piltover.
Lux sat motionless in the train car. With the exception of a plate of food being brought to her twice a day or the occasional taunt from the guard, she has had no human contact with anyone since being captured. Four days have passed and still no one had informed her about why she was being held prisoner.
Is this to be my punishment for how I treated my family? She wondered to herself, knowing that with every passing minute, she was getting closer to whatever cruel fate awaited her.
She let out one last sigh before she felt herself thrown to one side as a loud explosion cut off the otherwise continuous machine-like rumbling of the train. The train car shook violently; the guards on the other side of the gate screamed loudly as they were launched forward, their heads colliding with the wall in front of them. The world around her appeared to spin as the ceiling of the train car began to rotate in a clockwise direction. She felt herself being pushed against her back as the train car flipped onto its side, causing the loose contents to fall towards the wall that the blonde mage had been shackled to. A loud crack came from her left side, causing her to let out a gasp as she turn her gaze in time to see a heavy metallic case colliding with the wall just inches away from her head.
Smoke rapidly filled the room and Lux spent the next few moments in a completely dazed state, as she couldn’t clearly see or hear the events transpiring around her. When she finally came to her senses again, the sound of the two soldiers who had been guarding her cell caught her attention, causing her to turn her head in time to see one of them being thrown against the metallic bars of her cell.
“Hey, who ar-“ The other soldier began to say before meeting a similar fate, as a white blast of energy collided with his chest, launching him against the metallic beams.
Lux watched in confusion as the second soldier dropped to the ground, the silhouette of a familiar blonde male figure standing behind the falling soldier.
“Ez-Ezreal? Is that really you?” Lux exclaimed as he searched through the pockets of one of the soldiers. “What’re you doing here?”
“What everyone with true skill would do, saving the world and rescuing the girl along the way.” He answered confidently, raising his head to reveal a grin on his face.
Moments later, he found an electronic device in one of the pockets of the guards, raising it and entering a few commands. A thumping sound came from the door to Lux’s cell, followed by a high pitched beeping noise from the devices that shackled her arms and legs. Instantly, she felt the bindings around her limbs loosen before falling to the ground. Lux stood up and slowly began to walk towards the door, squeezing through a narrow opening in the gate.
“You have a lot of questions, I know. First, we need to get out of here as fast as we can.” He commanded.
Grabbing a hold of Lux’s hand, he guided her slowly through the train that had fallen to its side. It felt almost surreal as she walked through the wreckage, the air filled with smoke and the ground lined with the bodies of unconscious soldiers. Reaching the end of the wreckage, Lux gasped as she saw the train car terminate in a large opening, created by Ezreal’s Trueshot Barrage, which had been used to disconnect and derail the back of the train. As they hopped out into the nighttime heavily wooded forest, two soldiers that had crawled out from the wreckage earlier quickly raised their weapons upon seeing the two of them.
“Freeze!” One of them commanded.
Without hesitation, Ezreal blinked behind him. Raising his right arm, a large blue energy bow appeared over it. He quickly fired off two arrows made up of arcane energy in rapid succession, each one of them hitting one of the soldiers in the back. The Piltover soldiers could only let out a soft groan before doubling over to the ground.
“Hmmm… that ought to show the-“ He began to say before Lux’s scream caught his attention.
Chapter 8: Breaking The Boundaries (Cont'd)
A white mechanical giant that resembled a half-sphere flew towards them from further down the train tracks at rapid speeds, filling the air with a continuous mechanical hum. As it reached within a few meters of Lux, it flew upwards, circling mid-air before mechanical legs projected from the bottom of the device. It dove downwards to land on the ground with a loud rumble, causing Lux to fall as the ground shook. She looked up in fear as the large mech stood at three times her height on two steel legs, its body round except for the top which was flattened off. Two arms extended from its main body, one fused with a tube that ended in a flickering flame and the other with a large mace. Attached to its back were three large white missiles with red colored tips.
“Rumble?” She screamed out loud.
“No, it’s a copy of his weapon that Piltover reverse engineered and developed called the Juggernaut Warmech.” Ezreal responded as he quickly to her side. “Get up Lux.”
She hesitated for a second before finally forcing herself up. Despite the fear that had taken over her after seeing this war machine in front of her, a part of her continued to feel despair that once again she had to be rescued by another.
“Can you fight?” He asked her as he raised his bow towards the warmech.
“Umm… I can try.”
“Good, then promise me one thing. Don’t ever give up and die without putting up a fight!” He commanded loudly, causing Lux to gasp at those words.
That’s right… He came here to save me. The least I can do is help him. She thought to herself, raising her head and changing her stance to prepare for battle.
As the warmech raised its right arm, the flickering flame began to brighten. Moments later, a stream of flames fired towards the two mages. Without a second thought, Lux flung her right hand out, drawing out her magic to create a brightly glowing white barrier around herself and the explorer. Flames danced past them as the barriers protected them from its fiery grasp. As the flames died down, the two mages lunged to the side.
Ezreal quickly reformed his energy bow before using it to quickly fire off two white bursts of arcane energy towards the arm equipped with the flamethrower. The warmech quickly raised its left arm, fused with the large mace, to block the attack, resulting in only a pair of small dents to form on the solid weapon. As the machine turned to retaliate, Lux took advantage of the distraction, taking the time to form two white spheres of energy to swirl around her right hand.
“Blitz!” She announced as she quickly sent them towards the flamethrower arm in rapid succession, catching the warmech by surprise as the attacks collided to cause a fiery explosion, the oil in the weapon combusting.
The hissing sound of high pressure steam releasing came from the warmech as the burning arm quickly became unhinged and dislodged from the rest of its body prevent the spread of the damage. With a swift motion that caused the ground to shake, the machine leapt off of the ground backwards to put some distance between itself and the two champions. Raising its mace into the air, a few sparks of electricity surrounded it before it was brought down to the ground, sending a field of electricity outwards towards the two mages.
“Watch out for its Lightning Field!” Ezreal managed to warn.
Lux quickly reformed a barrier around herself before forming a bubble of energy in her hand, firing it at Ezreal before expanding it to surround him. The machine’s attack, however, ran up along the barriers, shattering it before colliding with the champions. A bright spark filled the area as Lux and Ezreal felt themselves thrown backwards into the air as a vibrating sensation ran through their bodies, their muscles contracting in pain. As they landed on the ground again, they were slow to get back up, as the electricity had caused them to lose partial control of their muscles. As they reached their feet again, they saw that the warmech raised its mace towards the sky in preparation for another attack.
“Look out, another one is coming!” Ezreal screamed.
Thinking quickly, Lux conjured up a light binding spell and casted it on the machine, halting its movements completely as it was now surrounded by a column of light, a circle of rune symbols floating above it. Taking advantage of the snare, Ezreal focused his attention away from the pain in his muscles to recompose his magic. With a natural talent for using magic, he quickly recovered in a matter of seconds, blinking next to the warmech and firing a volley of yellow energy from his bow at the less armored proximal portion of the Juggernaut’s left arm.
The impact of the magical attacks ripped through the steel plating, sending sparks into the air from the damaged wiring inside. A second series of seething noises accompanied by the appearance of steam came from the joint of the left arm as the warmech detached its other arm from its main body. Changing its attack paradigm, the machine activated its flight gear and retracted its walking mechanism that had previously supported it on the ground. Creating a strong gust that kicked up a small cloud of dust, the mech elevated itself a dozen feet off of the ground.
“What’s it doing?” Lux asked as she watched the machine lift into the sky.
“A change of strategy,” Her companion managed to say before stopping as the Juggernaut began to launch its next attack.
Lux and Ezreal watched in fear as the three rockets mounted on its back that had previously been dormant were now lit. They could all but quickly lunge to the side as the three rockets were launched upwards before circling downwards towards the ground, creating three large explosions on impact. The shockwave of the high explosive rockets sent both champions into the air, throwing them backwards into the heavily wooded forest.
Luxanna slowly made her way to her feet after she collided with a tree before falling face first into the ground below. Her arms and face were covered with multiple large bruises and burn marks. Just a split second before the rockets detonated, she had successfully conjured a third barrier around herself. Though the front side of it that took most of the damage was all but destroyed, the part of the magical shell protecting her back remained, padding her impact against the large tree.
Ezreal, however, did not fare well. By the time Lux had managed to her feet, she found the explorer lying on the ground motionless. She felt her heart sink at the sight of this and took off running towards him.
“Ezreal! Ezreal!” She screamed as she shook her fallen ally’s left arm. “Wake up! Please, wake up!”
A groan of pain finally came from him after a long pause. While attempting to get up, Ezreal let out a loud scream of pain, his arm shooting towards his back. Unlike his companion, he experienced the full strength of the attack and the subsequent impact of his back against the large trees. Slowly turning him over, Lux looked in horror as a significant portion of his body was now covered in dark burn marks, the clothing covering his torso mostly burned by that last attack. Mustering up his strength, however, the explorer managed to slowly rise to a crouched position, coughing as he struggled to catch his breath.
“Let’s get out of he-“ Lux began to say before being interrupted by the machine-like rumble of the warmech’s turbines.
The smoke that had filled the area dissipated moments later as gusts formed by the machine cleared the region. Hovering a few feet away from the two champions, a vertical fissure began to form along the midline, opening to reveal a large square shaped prism surrounded by electronic components. Energy began to gather in the prism as it began to give off a bluish glow that increased in intensity with every passing moment.
Lux knew that they couldn’t escape another attack in the shape that the explorer was in, and knew that there was only one option left. In the past she was always the one who had to be rescued by others and loathed herself over it. This time, the roles had reversed and it was someone else who depended on her for life.
Letting Ezreal down slowly, she took a few steps forward towards the warmech as its next attack continued to charge. Drawing out the remainder of her energy, she held her hands in front of her as two large concentric circles decorated with four arrows and multiple rune symbols formed in front of her. A bright white light began to fill the central circle, increasing in intensity over time.
A high pitched hum came from the center of the warmech before its Pulsewave Cannon, a large beam of energy that resembled a blue colored laser, fired at them. Lux simultaneously let out a battle cry before firing off a thick beam of light magic towards the machine. As the two beams of energy collided, a stalemate between them began to form as the equally powerful attacks began to fight to cancel the other out. In her tired state, she tried her best to continue feeding her attack to overcome the machine’s, but it wasn’t enough to overpower the warmech’s strong reactor. As the pulse wave began win the stalemate between the two attacks, pushing the point of contact towards Lux, she felt herself being forced backwards.
I’m sorry. Even this one time, I wasn’t strong enough to sav- She thought to herself before being interrupted by the sensation of a pair of arms wrapping around her body, its hands holding her arms.
A surprised Lux turned her head to see Ezreal standing closely behind her, the warm breath of his panting on her neck.
“Ez…Ezreal! What’re you doing?”
“Synergy,” He answered simply.
“Wh-what?” She asked in surprise.
“When two energies of similar nature converge, they have a synergistic effect and make each other stronger.” He explained weakly. “I normally channel my magic through my rune, but there’s no reason I can’t do the same through another person. The Summoners do it during the time we’re in the arenas. I’ll channel a part of my energy through you to strengthen your attack and defeat it.”
“Luxanna. Remember what I said, don’t give up without putting up a fight.” He finally said, a faint smile forming on his face.
Lux felt her energy replenished as the explorer channeled his magic into her body. With her new found strength, she pushed forward with greater strength, increasing the intensity and size of her attack. The pulse wave began to retreat away from the two champions. Blue and red sparks flew from the warmech’s exposed electronics as it overloaded its reactor in an effort to overcome the mage’s attack. Even with the overloaded reactor, it found itself unable to overcome the two mage’s combined Finales Funkeln. Moments later, Lux’s attack connected with the warmech, resulting in multiple bursts of flames to rise from within the machine, merging to form a torrent of flames around it. As its flight gear failed, the warmech fell to the earth, breaking apart as it collided with the ground.
“You…did it.” Ezreal said in a weak but comforting voice before his grasp on his companion’s arm came loose
Lux let out a sigh of relief before turning around. Upon seeing the explorer falling to the ground lifelessly, her look of relief instantly turned to one of shock. Her heart sunk as she dropped to her knees to find his eyes closed and his only movements from his shallow but regular breathing.
“Ezreal…” She screamed as she shook her fallen ally’s shoulder, eliciting no response. “Ezreal? Ezreal!”
On some days, when the fate of those we care about is filled with uncertainty, I couldn’t help but wonder...would the both of us would have been happier had we not ever met?
Chapter 9: Wandering Attachments
Great Icathia, how quickly came your fall. So dark and mischievous your gods of worship and so quick were they to abandon on your end of days. Capable were your great Seers to look beyond the realm of the living, blind were they to the deception in plain sight. Destined were your bodies to return to dust, and your souls to remain forever lost.
- Unknown Scrolls
Meridian, Bordering District of Demacia
“What is that sound?” Fiora asked as she breathed deeply to catch her breath, looking around to find the source of a rhythmic low beeping noise that filled the underground chamber.
Without responding to her question, Leon quickly sheathed his mageblade and proceeded to run towards the electronic tablet on one of the side tables that had previously been quiet. He opened his eyes wide in surprise, letting out a gasp as he analyzed the readings on his tablet.
“Sorry but we’ll have to cut this short. We need to go now!” He announced as he paced to the duelist, a stern look on his face.
“Why? What has happened?” The duelist asked, causing a silence to fill the air. “Leon, what is it you’re not telling me?”
“The convoy train,” He finally answered with hesitation, averting his eyes to avoid her gaze. “The one carrying Luxanna… It’s been attacked.”
“Attacked? By who?” Fiora asked, her voice becoming more frantic as those words caused her heart to sink.
“I don’t know. There’s no way to tell from here. Our time has been cut short, we need to move now!” He responded as he reached into one of the large cases that had previously stored his mageblade to produce a purple colored ceramic flask. “Drink this.”
“What is it?” She asked suspiciously.
“An Ionian elixir. It allows rapid healing and regeneration of your energy. Ideally I would have wanted to leave for Piltover tomorrow after resting, but that’s no longer an option. This will be a quick substitute for that.” He said as Fiora uncorked the bottle.
Tilting the bottle back, she poured a small amount of the elixir into her mouth. As soon as the liquid hit her tongue, the duelist almost gagged as it was the most bitter and horrendous tasting substance that she had experienced in her life. Taking all of her willpower to avoid spitting out the liquid, she managed to quickly swallow the elixir. Though she felt her energy returning to her a few moments later, she maintained a face of disgust that gave Leon a mild sense of amusement. Letting out a series of harsh sounding coughs, she returned the bottle before walking away to continue her bout of coughing, not wishing to give the black haired mage the satisfaction of seeing her in this state.
Leon took a sip of the elixir without even a flinch before recorking it and placing it into his coat pocket. Picking up his mageblade along with a few supplies, he approached the duelist, who was still standing in a corner of the room recovering from the ordeal.
“Do you need to bring anything else?” He asked.
“No…I have everything that I need.” She answered as she raised her head towards him. “So how were you planning on getting us across thousands of miles of land?”
“Like this,” Leon answered before closing his hands together.
The duelist watched as a bright white aura surrounded his hands. Dropping to the ground, he pressed his palms against the floors to cause three large concentric circles of light to form around them. Swirling his hands while on the ground, multiple rune symbols began to form in the spaces between the circles. Five symbols formed along the edge of the smallest, each shaped to represent the elements of the world appeared equally spaced before a line connected them to form a pentagon that began to rotate within the circle.
“What is this?” Fiora asked in amazement as a cylindrical barrier of light surrounded the two of them, vertically rising streaks of white light flowing upwards.
“Odin’s Blessing. In the Summoner’s Arenas, no doubt you’ve been teleported back to your home base by your summoner using a Recall spell. That allows them to transport you through a realm beyond space and time to their origin of power. In this case, we are going to do the opposite and transport ourselves directly into Piltover. From there, we will travel towards the site of the crash to find them.” He explained as their surroundings became increasingly brighter.
Fiora could all but cover her eyes as her surroundings blinded her vision. As the area around her began to dim, she found herself suspended in mid air, the environment around her comprised of countless bands of golden light that spiraled around her in the form of flowing helices. The golden strands appeared homogeneous in color and intensity, save for occasional flashes of lights that traversed along their length. Beyond the golden helical bands was a bright aqua blue backdrop that appeared to be textured in the form of clouds, creating swirls that seemed to move in random patterns.
“What is this place?” She asked in wonder as she looked around wildly with eyes wide open in amazement.
“The Eden Stream, the edge of the realm of the Goddess. Here, time does not flow linearly and space does not follow the laws of physics as they do in Runeterra. You’ve been here before; each time you are recalled in the Summoner’s Arena, you pass through this realm. Because the distance that you travel is so short in those situations, you brought through this place only for an instant and would not even realize you were ever here.”
“The realm of the Goddess…How are you able to do any of this?” She asked, a mix of awe and disbelief filled her mind.
“Anyone who is capable of magic in theory has the ability to access this realm. Controlling it and not getting forever lost here is another matter.”
Fiora became entranced with the magnificence of her surroundings. She had never seen anything like this before and just a week ago, would never have even dreamed of the things she had experienced in the past few days. Being here almost felt overwhelming, yet something about it bothered her. Maybe it was because she really had been here during her time in the Summoner’s Arena and just wasn’t consciously aware of it, but she couldn’t help shake the feeling that there was something familiar and warm about this place.
While Demacia and Noxus engaged in active warfare, a third human society emerged from the shadows of the two superpowers, growing in its own way. Their focus was the conquest of technology and science, rather than territory. Piltover…the land of the North, often referred to as the City of Progress. With the Yordle Science Academy at the forefront of its development, their society engaged in fierce competition against their rival nation Zaun for technological superiority. They were locked in an endless stalemate for scientific dominance…or so everyone thought. Three years ago, a discovery under the very earth of the City of Progress would reshape the evolution of Valoran, and push Piltover far beyond what its neighboring societies could even imagine.
Odinfall, Central District of Piltover
A few moments of silence passed before her surroundings became engulfed in a bright light again, causing the duelist to shade her eyes. As her environment dimmed again, she opened her eyes to find herself next to Leon in a room that looked almost identical to the living room of her mentor’s house in Demacia. A rune circle identical to the one that had surrounded her moments ago in Demacia was present on the ground around them, gradually dimming before disappearing.
“This looks like your house. Did it not work?” The duelist asked, a sense of fear beginning to run down her spine.
“No,” Leon answered simply before walking towards a large window with the curtains drawn, pulling them aside to bring light into the room. “Welcome to Piltover.”
The purple haired duelist let out a gasp of awe as she stared into the distance to find an endless field of skyscrapers colorfully lit that seemed to extend to the horizon, contrasting the otherwise dark evening sky. From the elevated condominium unit, she saw a complex network of roads that connected the city, many of which spanned multiple levels above the ground. It had been five years since she had last visited Piltover. Though it was an advanced society even at that time, never could she have imagined the city of progress could look like this today.
“This…is modern day Piltover?” Fiora asked in disbelief.
“Yeah. A lot of what you see in front of you is possible because of the work of Dr. Heimerdinger and the Science Academy.” Leon explained before turning towards the duelist. “Sorry to cut into the moment, but we need to move now.”
Acknowledging him, Fiora followed him as he left his accommodations. On her way out, she caught a glimpse of a tablet with bright blue rune symbols on a shelf. Though it was only a moment, the symbols that she saw were unmistakable; they were identical to the symbols etched on the pendant that hung from her neck. Though it was possible that it could have simply been a coincidence, a part of her couldn’t help but wonder about its significance. She knew, however, that time was running short and there would be future opportunities to ponder it further.
The two of them proceeded to descend down a brightly lit elevator that moved smoothly, the only sound a soft humming noise as the machine worked. Reaching the lower level, they exited to find themselves in a dimly lit parking garage. They walked until reaching the end of the pathway to find themselves standing in front of a pair of machines that resembled new motorbikes that Fiora had recently seen in the streets of Demacia. Rather than a pair of wheels, however, two sets of large circular discs existed in their place. They were designed in a sleek and aerodynamic manner, the front panel extending back to cover the handlebars.
“They’re called Graviton Cycles, similar to motorbikes that have only recently been made available to countries outside of Piltover. These, however, use a special gravity drive system that elevates it off of the ground and moves much more smoothly. It’s still considered experimental technology that the Science Academy is working on, but so far I’ve found no problems with it.” Leon explained as he picked up a black helmet from the seat of the bike with the corresponding color, fitting it snugly over his head. “Take the other one. If you’ve never driven one of these before, don’t worry. These are a lot easier to use than traditional gear-based motorbikes.”
The duelist doubted his claims, but knew that there was no other option at this point. Placing a white helmet over her head and adjusting the visor to allow her to see properly, she leapt onto the white colored Graviton Cycle. Following her mentor’s instructions to start it, she felt a soft humming sensation coming from the machine between her legs. The circular discs on each side of the bike began to glow a bright sky blue color as they spun rapidly. Moments later, every muscle in her body tightened in anxiety as she felt herself lifting from the ground, suspended in a position a few inches above the cement underneath.
“This…I don’t like this one bit.” Fiora objected, her voice tense at the thought of being on a machine that was elevated off of the ground, especially one that hadn’t even been fully tested.
“Just follow me. I know how to get there. Once we leave the city limits, these cycles can go at well over a hundred miles an hour. It won’t take long.” Leon said as his cycle slowly sped off, the duelist still uneasy but trailing behind him.
As they followed the twists and turns of the underground parking structure, they eventually emerged onto the streets, neatly paved with cement. Minutes later, they passed through Central Piltover on a roadway that was elevated a few stories above the ground. To both sides of the street, large flat panel electronic screens lined the buildings at street level, displaying streams of news announcements and colorful advertisements for new electronic products. Pedestrians lined the sidewalk along the street they were driving on, many of whom looked like they were in their mid twenties, gleefully laughing as they were enjoying the bustling urban nightlife.
Fiora looked to her right to see a pair of young couples that appeared around her own age standing at the corner of the intersection, hand in hand with smiles on their faces. The two young girls burst into laughter over something that was said amongst them while their respective partners gave each other uneasy glances over what was said. Close by to them stood a man that appeared only a few years older than the duelist wearing professional appearing attire that looked foreign to her, but was commonly advertised over the large overhead digital screens. He spoke loudly with a slightly humored voice as he talked into a wireless phone, discussing minor issues that he followed up with laughter.
They look so…peaceful…and happy. I hated this place so much after they took Lux that I didn’t stop to think what it was I was angry at. Never did I expect that the people here were like any other, living life and finding joy in it. This place, a city of lights that never sleeps…it’s…beautiful. The duelist thought to herself in awe. They go through life peacefully, living one day at a time blissfully unaware that the person in front of them right now is likely one of the most wanted people by their government. They are totally unaware of the danger that lies beyond the borders of this city.
Fiora shifted her eyes away from them, turning her gaze towards the road ahead of her again. A part of her wondered what it would be like had things turned out differently. She wondered what life would have been like for her if she was like them, living from day to day in the City of Progress. She couldn’t help but ask herself whether the roles would be reversed right now, or would her innate nature win out and she would still be on this Graviton Cycle riding into what dangers lie waiting for her ahead.
It would take the next hour before they slowly made their way to the western border of PIltover, following the rest of the metropolitan traffic to avoid drawing suspicion from the police force. Upon leaving the city limits, the Graviton Cycles let out a high pitched ring as they increased the speeds on their cycles to quicken their journey towards the last reported location of the convoy train.
The Kalidorum Woods
After spending the past hour slowly pulling the unconscious explorer away from the wreckage site, Lux ultimately chose to stop and rest at a small clearing in the forest. She propped Ezreal against the trunk of a large evergreen tree, the bark of which was hard but relatively smooth to the touch. Calling forth her magic energy, she conjured a Lucent Singularity comprised of swirling strands of light and threw it into the center of the clearing to provide some light to the otherwise dark forest.
Minutes passed, but to her, it every second felt like a lifetime. Her companion had practically sacrificed his life in order to protect her and she now felt helpless to do anything for him. Even though she had constantly checked to ensure that he was still breathing regularly and had a pulse, she didn’t know when he would regain consciousness again.
The only things that will be looking for us will either be more soldiers or hungry creatures looking for their next meal. A fire to keep us warm is out of the question. Lux thought to herself, contemplating what to do next. All I can do now is keep watch and hope that he wakes up at some point.
Propping herself against a tree next to Ezreal, she alternated her focus between him and her surroundings. Though she was initially wary of the slightest sound that came from the forest around her, hours had passed and no signs of life could be seen, save for a few small rodents scavenging for scraps of food.
“Hey Ezreal,” She finally said as she turned to look at him, breaking the otherwise silent night.
She paused a moment, hoping that her companion would somehow respond to her. When no answer came, she turned her head towards her Lucent Singularity, her eyes focused on the colorful swirls of light that she had made hours ago. Countless thoughts went through her in that moment, creating swirls of confusion in her mind similar to the light in front of her, as she didn’t know what to do next.
“Did I ever tell you,” She began to say, keeping her gaze away from her unconscious companion. “What I thought of you the first time I met you. It was in the Summoner’s Rift Arena, my first time being chosen for a match. We were teamed up together…and me being shy, didn’t even introduce myself to you. At the time, I didn’t think much of you. Compared to the people in the military that I’ve been surrounded with the years prior to that, you didn’t seem particularly strong.”
Lux closed her eyes, a tear flowed along the side of her right cheek. A part of her felt pathetic for being able to say these words only when her companion was not able to even hear her. Another part of her, however, wanted to keep going in hopes that her words would somehow be heard and give him a reason to return to the world of the living.
Chapter 9: Wandering Attachments (Cont'd)
“That same match, you proved me so wrong. I wandered off and found myself ambushed by enemies. I thought I was going to die for sure, but then…you came. Even though you knew that I would revived by my summoner if I fell, you came and saved me. You told me then, the same thing you told me today, to never give up and die without a fight. You didn’t look it at first, but you really are brave, far braver than I can ever hope to be. You aren’t like the other people that I know…you act of your own free will and explore the world to find yourself rather than following orders that someone else gave you. Unlike me, you’re not a dog of the military and you never will be. You are brave, strong-willed, free…things that I always wanted to be but could never achieve. I guess what it is that I’m trying to say is…”
A lump formed in her throat, causing her to choke as she tried to finish those last few words. She let out a few sobs, keeping her eyes closed as tears streamed along the side of both of her cheeks. Despite having known the explorer for two years, she had only found the courage to befriend him outside of the Summoner’s Arena the past few months. Though she originally did not appreciate how he would disappear from the Institute for weeks on end during his travels, she came around to realizing that this free-spirited personality was what she admired most about him. She had always wanted to tell him these things, but could not find the right moment. Taking a deep breath, she finally recomposed herself enough to continue speaking.
“Please, Ezreal…don’t leave me. There is nothing for me in this world and if you…If you were to die…I don’t know what it is that I wo-“ She managed to say before the sound of shifting to her right caused her to open her eyes and turn her gaze.
She watched in surprise as the explorer began to shift slightly, struggling to raise his head. Wiping away the tears on her face with her sleeve, she quickly got up and paced over to her companion, kneeling down to place her hands on his shoulders.
“Ezreal? Ezreal? Can you hear me?” Lux asked, her voice frantic with concern.
The explorer let out a painful groan as he tried to straighten his back. Finally managing to prop his upper back upright against the tree behind him, he opened his eyes partially to reveal cerulean orbs that stared back at Lux.
“Wh-Where am I?” He asked with a weak but steady voice.
Lux kneeled motionless for a few moments before proceeding to wrap her arms around his neck, resting her head on his right shoulder. Though a mild amount of pain shot through the explorer due to the weight of the blonde mage pressing against his shoulders, it was confusion about the way she was acting that filled his mind.
“Ezreal…promise me that you’ll never do that again.” She managed to utter before pulling herself away from him.
“Huh.” The explorer began to say before looking up, noticing that the sky had become significantly darker since he was last awake. “Ah… all right. I won’t…sorry to have worried you. How long was I out for?”
“A few hours…I didn’t know if you were ever going to wake up. With your injuries, I didn’t know what to do. I…I-“ Lux began to say as she continued to kneel a few feet away from him, recomposing herself.
“You don’t have to say it. I’ll be all right…we’ll make it through this.”
Thank goodness. Even when he’s badly hurt, he’s still the same person from that time. She thought to herself, her heart that was distraught just moments ago now more calm after hearing the confidence in her companion’s voice.
“How will we get out of this? I don’t even know where we are. I just instinctively brought you away from the crash site in case more soldiers came for us.”
“Four miles northeast of the crash site is a highway. My car is parked along the side of that road. If we can get there, we can go somewhere to rest and hea-“ He began to explain as he forced himself to stand up, stopping mid-sentence as he looked up, his eyes opening wide in fear. “Get down!”
Ezreal lunged forward to grab hold of the lady of luminosity before falling to the side and taking her with him. Before Lux realized what was going on, a large dark figure flew past them, narrowly missing them by inches. She raised her head to look up in time to see a large winged creature covered in black feathers rising into the air, letting out a distorted roar of anger. Moving swiftly, it flew to form a large loop in the air before rapidly diving towards the two magi.
“Swain?” She exclaimed in horror as she quickly got to her feet.
“Watch out!” Ezreal exclaimed as he quickly got up, dashing forward to push her out of harm’s way.
As she fell to the ground, she was only able to watch as the large raven collided with the explorer at the spot where she had stood just moments ago. Quickly getting up, she saw him being thrown to the ground like a rag doll, tumbling a few times before stopping to lie on the ground motionless. The large raven flew upwards before looping in the air a second time to dive towards the ground. As it landed, a large rumble shook the ground around him, sending debris flying towards the blonde mage.
As the dust cleared, Lux saw the raven’s wings wrap around itself before the feathers began to quickly disappear in wisps of smoke, revealing the robed human form of Swain. He opened his eyes to reveal pitch black pupils that seemed to pierce the very core of the blonde mage’s soul, leaving fear in its wake. Though she didn’t know why he suddenly appeared in this place, she could feel a strange aura of evil coming from him, indicating that things were about to get a lot worse.
“Swain, what are you doing here? Why did you attack him?” She demanded, assuming a defensive position in preparation for an oncoming attack.
“Taking care of a pest problem. Don’t worry though, after I’m done with him, you’ll be next.” He answered as he extended his left hand, forming a black Chaos Blitz sphere over it before firing it at the fallen explorer.
Realizing his intentions, Lux quickly conjured a white Blitz spell in her hand, launching it to intercept the tactician’s attack. The collision of the two attacks caused a loud explosion to fill the nighttime air, causing flocks of birds in the area to let out loud shrieks as they quickly took off to evacuate the area. As the smoke began to clear, the blonde mage quickly ran to stand between Swain and her fallen companion, holding out her hands indicating that she intended to block his path.
“So many times he’s saved my life. Now it’s my turn!” She said as she faced Swain, assuming a battle stance. “You want to kill him? I won’t let you!”
“How unfortunate…And here I was, hoping I’d watch you suffer in despair by as I killed your friend over there. It would have given me pleasure to see after you thwarted my plans in Demacia. But…if you are so eager to die, then perish with him!” Swain responded.
The blonde mage quickly called forth her magic, starting off by holding out her right hand, which glowed with a white aura, to form a spherical protection barrier around herself. Without hesitation, the raven on Ezreal’s shoulder took off, opening its beak to form a purple colored sphere of energy in its mouth as it rapidly approached the blonde mage’s position. Anticipating the incoming attack, Lux quickly brought her hands together to form swirls of light energy in her palms, swinging her right hand outwards to launch a Lucent Singularity spell. As the raven rose up to dodge it, Lux clasped the wrist of her right arm with her left hand, bringing it upwards with an open right palm. In response to her movements, her spell rose upwards to follow raven, closing in quickly before the blonde mage closed her right hand to form a fist, causing a reaction in the swirling sphere of light to explode. The shockwave of the explosion caught the creature in its grasp, knocking it to one side to collide with a large branch.
Letting out a high pitched screech that sent a chill down the mage’s spine, the raven quickly dove backwards towards its master, fluttering a few times in the air before returning to its position on the tactician’s shoulder. Frustrated at the failed attack, Swain raised his right arm, opening his palms to cast a spell in the form of a large glowing white circle with multiple rune symbols appearing below the blonde mage. Talons quickly rose from the ground, latching onto Lux’s legs and hindering her movements.
“Know despair!” Swain exclaimed as he conjured three Chaos Blitz spells that swirled around his right hand.
Swinging his hands outwards, he launched the volley of attacks towards his opponent, still bound by his last spell.
“Not done yet!” Lux replied as she conjured up three white Blitz spells herself, firing them in rapid succession aimed with pinpoint accuracy at each of the attacks that the Noxian had sent towards her.
A series of loud explosions disturbed the otherwise quiet forest as the three sets of attacks collided with each other. A large cloud of smoke rose into the air above the treeline, slowly carried away from the area by a Northern wind.
“Oh? Impressive…didn’t know someone like yourself could fight at this level. What happened to your fear?” The tactician asked with an arrogant voice as the smoke began to clear.
As if in response, a fourth Blitz spell shot through the smoke, causing the Noxian’s eyes to open wide in surprise as it curved downwards towards him. The loud cracking sound of the light mage’s spell sounded through the forest as it found its mark, kicking up another cloud of dust into the air.
“I disposed of it. What use is fear if all it does is gets everyone else involved hurt in the process? I said this before…this time, I’ll be the one who will save another’s life.” Lux announced confidently.
“Ridiculous. Disposing of fear in the face of overwhelming danger only means you accept death.” Swain responded after a moment of silence.
The smoke finally cleared moments later to reveal the Noxian tactician standing unscratched behind a large yellow colored barrier that appeared to be comprised of multiple hexagons connected together at the edges. His eyes narrowed as he stared at the light mage, the raven on his shoulder doing the same with glowing red eyes.
“Words of self-sacrifice from someone of your level means nothing more than that you are willing to throw away your life.” The tactician said after a moment of silence, an arrogant grin on his face.
Without hesitation, Lux quickly conjured three more Blitz spells, swirling them around her right hand. Swinging her hand outwards, she quickly launched the barrage of attacks at her opponent, causing a flurry of explosions that shook their surroundings. As the smoke cleared, the white mage’s eyes widened in shock as Swain stood there without a scratch on him, the yellow barrier in front of him still active.
“Impossible. I’ve fought you before in the Summoner’s Arena multiple times and this has never happened before. Just who are you really?” The white mage finally said, realizing that something was very wrong.
“That is something you do not need to know. There is no point in explaining the truth to someone who will die before they get the chance to see the next sunrise.” He answered simply as the raven on his shoulder took off into the air again.
This time, the tactician brought his hands together. A dark aura began to surround his whole body before he brought his hands apart again, extending his right arm upwards. The raven’s eyes glowed brightly before it also became surrounded in a dark aura.
“I’ll show you, just how great of a difference exists in our power.” He said after a moment, a strange echo beginning to appear in his voice that caught the white mage’s attention. “Darkness Descent!”
With those last words, feathers began to shed from the raven. As the feathers began to drop towards the ground, each of them glowed and expanded, revealing dozens of ravens identical to the first. Lux could only look in shock as each of them rapidly dove towards the white mage. As they neared her position, each of them opened their beaks to activate their Decrepify ability. Lux quickly conjured up a set of Blitz spells, launching them with great precision to the ravens that were closest to her. She followed this up with a second round of attacks, but found herself unable to take the ravens out fast enough. As their attacks landed on Lux, she began to feel herself rapidly drained of energy.
Knowing that she had to do something besides simply defending, she quickly held both of her hands together, causing the appearance of a white rune circle in front of her. Despite feeling her energy dissipating from her with every passing moment, she forced herself to channel her spell. Letting out a loud cry, she fired a large beam of light energy from the rune circle towards Swain. All of the ravens that were in front of her were instantly vaporized by the force of the attack.
Swain’s eyes opened wide with surprise as her ultimate spell neared him. He held out his hands to channel his energy in order to fortify the barrier that had been protecting him. As the white mage’s attack hit, a bright dome of light consumed the area, sending shockwaves outwards with the tactician’s position as the epicenter. Large trees around him began to tip over, causing a series of loud crashing sounds as they collided with the ground.
Lux panted loudly to catch her breath after that last attack, beads of clear sweat forming a trail along the side of her face, dripping off at the bottom of her chin. Looking up at the sky above her, she noticed that the ravens that had previously been relentlessly assaulting her now circled around her in the air with no indications of attacking. She had hoped that it would be the end of this confrontation but a part of her knew that it was too good to be true. As the smoke cleared, her suspicions were proven true as the Noxian tactician was still standing, breathing hard but still without a scratch on him. The yellow barrier that had been protecting him was now shattered, shards of brightly glowing energy falling to the ground, resembling the sound of shattering glass.
“How wonderful,” He began with a taunting voice as his breathing slowed, the smirk on his face now gone, replaced with a look of anger. “To be honest, I had underestimated your potential. Stopping all of my attacks and even though it took you your strongest technique, you managed to destroy my powerful defense.”
Lux quickly whipped into a battle stance, preparing for an imminent attack. She knew that she was in trouble. Even with her Finales Funkeln, she was unable to even land a single hit on her opponent. It was apparent from the evil feeling coming from him that this was not the same Swain that she had faced many times before in the Summoner’s Arenas, but rather was something totally different. It didn’t matter, however, who it really was that stood in front of her. She was fighting a losing battle and knew that she had only one chance to come out of this alive.
“However,” The Noxian began before raising his hands to reveal a Chaos Blitz spell dancing in his palm. “It only means that no longer are you merely an annoyance, but rather someone who must die!”
Lux quickly brought her hand up, drawing out whatever amount of energy she could in that short time to form a barrier around her as the tactician launched his attack. A loud cracking sound filled the air as the attack collided with its target resulting in copious amounts of dust and smoke to accumulate before slowly dissipating with the light breeze.
“It’s over. For someone at your level, you really did put up an interesting fi-.” Swain said after a long pause before stopping in mid sentence, gasping in horror at the sight in front of him.
Lux revealed herself in a battle stance as the cloud of dust cleared from the area, a warm glowing aura of holy magic surrounding her body. She held her arms held outwards to channel her energy into what appeared to be the outline of a glowing triangle in front of her. The edges of the triangle intensified in brightness as a projection from each of the corners extended outwards towards the Noxian.
“You’re right…it took the strongest ability that I had and it still wasn’t enough. However, that doesn’t mean that I will give up and die without even trying. I don’t even know if this will work, but it is my final shot at ending this.” She said, continuing to channel her energy into the spell, causing the projections from each corner of the triangle to sharpen, forming the shape of three spears.
“This is-“ Swain managed to utter out, a look of terror in his eyes staring back at the blonde mage, who leapt into the air with a swift motion, her spell following her movements to form a bright streak behind her.
“Wave of the Trigram’s Light.” She said confidently before letting out a loud high pitched cry.
Three spears of light began to glow brightly, blinding her opponent. With a high pitched hum, they shot forward with such immense speed that it was impossible for the Noxian to dodge. Three loud collisions rang through the forest as the attack found its mark, followed by a loud scream of pain from the Noxian. Lux felt her energy fading rapidly after that last attack, the bright aura surrounding her disappearing as she fell from her elevated position onto the ground. She tumbled to break her fall as she landed, a skill that she had seen being used by many of the other champions during their battles in the Summoner’s Arenas. She was slow get on her feet, but a sense of satisfaction passed through her as she saw the results of her attack.
Swain laid on the ground, making only slight movements of his muscles as anything more caused him to wince in pain. Three spears of light impaled him against the ground, one in each shoulder and a third in his right lower abdomen, thus preventing any mobility to come from the fallen Noxian. Copious amounts of bleeding came from where the attack had hit its mark, a pool of blood beginning to form around her fallen opponent. The lady of luminosity was surprised as she stepped backwards towards Ezreal, both at the extent of the damage that her last attack was able to do and that her enemy was even still alive with those wounds. It had been almost a week since her first time seeing this spell used by the mysterious mage who saved her life. Upon seeing it in action, she was intrigued by how powerful and effective of a spell it was that she had decided she would devote all her efforts into reverse engineering it and learning to use it herself. She had spent the two days prior to her capture by Piltover training herself to use that ability, failing each attempt during that time. Thus, it came as a total surprise to her that her first time successfully using it was in the heat of battle against the strongest opponent she had ever faced before.
“So,” Swain began to say in a deep, hoarse voice causing the blonde to stop after a few steps. “You managed to replicate his ability, didn’t you? You think you’ve won with that last trick?”
“Swain, enough! I don’t know what has gotten into you or why you’re even here, but I don’t want to fight you anymore.” Lux said, staring intently at her opponent as she was shocked at his ability to even speak.
“You speak almost as though you pity me.” He responded, his voice now growing louder and with more anger in it. “Are you happy that you managed to destroy my defensive barrier? Are you happy that you managed to counter all of my attacks? Do you think you’ve won because your attack hit me successfully? Perish the thought, you pathetic human woman!”
With those last words, which resembled screams of anger, a bright green aura surrounded the fallen Noxian. The ravens that had been circling in the air over the light mage changed formations, diving downwards and fusing into a single creature before reaching Swain. As the bird reached its master, a bright flash of light filled the area, followed by a loud, distorted, piercing scream. Lux could only watch in horror as the tactician became surrounded in dark wisps of energy that solidified, causing him to grow larger in size. Black feathers sprouted from every limb of his body and covered his robed torso from top to bottom.
As he completed his transformation into his raven form, he let out a second animalistic scream before a releasing a large amount of dark energy, the very sensation of which caused the blonde mage to almost suffocate. She let out a gasp as the three spears that had impaled her opponent into the ground began to crack along its length, shattering completely seconds later as the large raven forced himself off of the ground. A bright yellow light surrounded the large raven before forming into individual hexagons that linked together to reform the barrier that had previously shattered.
“No way… there is no way that this is even possible.” Lux said to herself, a cold sweat beginning to form on her face as she ran forward to avoid any collateral damage to her fallen ally behind her.
Swain’s raven form took flight, letting out a loud distorted scream as it opened its mouth before a red sphere of energy began to form in front of it. Sensing the imminent attack, Lux quickly mustered up the remains of her energy to form a barrier around her as she simultaneously spun to her left in hopes of avoiding a direct attack. This proved to be futile, however, as the large raven fired a barrage of red spheres towards where she had stood, each of them causing a large fiery explosion upon impact with the ground. The shockwave from the attacks knocked the blonde off her feet, sending her airborne backwards in a manner that she had no control over. Though only seconds had passed, the blonde mage felt herself suspended in the air for what seemed like days before falling to land hard on her back, her momentum sending her tumbling backwards multiple times before finally stopping.
When her senses finally returned to her, she felt a sharp pain in her left arm as she tried to move. She turned her head to find a deep laceration that spanned part of the top of her shoulder down to the mid portion of her arm. The skin around it was a bright red color and painful to the touch, caused by the intense temperature of that last attack. A ringing filled her ears, drowning out all of the noises of her surroundings. She managed to set herself on her knees before looking up towards her opponent. Her sight was also beginning to fail her as the weakness in her body overtook her, the world around her starting to appear blurred.
Swain’s raven form opened its mouth to form a second red sphere of energy, preparing to launch a second barrage of attacks to finish the job he had set out to do. The blonde could only kneel and watch as her opponent prepared for his final strike. Reality began to feel surreal, time slowing down as she distinctly felt each beat of her heart, knowing that she was closer to death with each thumping sound that filled her ears, interrupting the ringing that was finally beginning to dissipate. She felt the cool nighttime breeze against her face, causing golden strands of her hair to brush up along her cheeks with soft smooth strokes.
Lux knew that she would not survive the next attack, but refused to avert her gaze. Perhaps it was too late, but she finally understood the words that Ezreal had said to her years ago about accepting death. If she was going to die, she would rather face it head on instead of closing her eyes and giving up. As she saw the raven’s attack beginning to split into a barrage of red spheres, multiple high pitched whistling sounds filled the air as a wave of fire and wind projectiles flew past her, clashing with the large raven to release a series of explosion.
The shock of seeing her opponent engulfed in flames snapped the lady of luminosity back into reality in time to hear a loud, distorted cry of pain coming from the raven as it fell to the ground. The sound of two sets of footsteps rapidly approached, stopping as they reached her side.
“Pretty impressive job you did here, Lux.” A familiar female voice announced, causing the blonde mage to look up at her new reinforcements with a shocked expression on her face.
A young woman with the left part of her face covered with purple hair stood to her left, wearing a long-sleeved white coat that extended to her waist and tight blue pants with composite armor leggings. A thin three-piece cape connected to her coat at the left shoulder waved in the air, eventually settling over a large sheathed blade that hung at the left side of her waist. To her right was a man with black hair that extended to his mid neck, wearing a long unbuttoned black overcoat that extended to his knee. A similar sized sheathed sword hung at the left side of his waist, protruding out through the middle of his coat.
“Fiorie? Leon? What’re you doing here?” Lux asked in a weak voice of disbelief.
Without answering, Leon held his right hand in front of his face, opening his palm to produce a bolt of blue energy that slowly flew towards the blonde mage, a trail of flickering lights in its wake. Upon contact with her skin, Lux felt a surge of energy returning to her body, the weakness and fatigue from her battle almost completely disappearing in an instant. Using her newfound strength to stand up, she let out a wince of pain as she tried to move her left arm.
“Hold still,” Fiora commanded as she placed her hand a few inches away from the wounded shoulder.
A shock went through the blonde mage as she saw the duelist’s hand now surrounded by a bright green aura. A trail of green colored energy flowed from Fiora’s hand to her shoulder, a warm sensation surrounding the area as the pain began to slowly disappear. The deep wound she had suffered earlier rapidly closed up, leaving behind a small scar. Flakes of dark charred skin began to fall from the burnt part of her shoulder, leaving behind a new layer of pink colored skin.
“Fiorie, wh-…how?” Lux stumbled to ask, greatly confused at what she was witnessing until a loud fiendish roar snapped her out of it.
She turned in time to feel a gust of wind in her face, sent by Swain as he managed to extinguish the flames that had previously surrounded him. Yellow shards of energy slowly descended to the ground as the barrage of spells had managed to destroy the defensive barrier that the Noxian had conjured. Staring back was a set of eyes that now glowed a bright red color as it examined the two new opponents that had appeared in this battle, an intense feeling of murderous intent now coming from him.
“We can talk later. For now, let’s deal with him first.” Fiora responded confidently.
“Are you ready for this?” Leon asked, shooting the duelist a glance as he drew out his mageblade, Blazing Edge, bringing it over to his right side with a swift swing.
“Tch…are you kidding me? He won’t even know what hit him.” Fiora answered as she unsheathed her Highwind, swinging it in a smooth downward motion to her right side as she brought her right leg backwards to move into her battle stance.
Chapter 10: Reunion
Bound are we to the Fallen, our purpose to bring about his inevitable awakening. Release him from the shackles that bind him, held by the blood of the corrupt and the righteous, and bring forth will he the path to immortality.
-Writings of Malzahar, The Prophet of the Void
The Kalidorum Woods
With one last flicker, the flames surrounding the raven form of Swain disappeared. A loud distorted sound resembling a mix of a roar and a screech came from the large creature as it brought its massive wings downwards, raising itself off of the ground to take flight. Fiora’s eyes followed the creature’s ascent into the air, quickly swinging her blade upwards above her head. Holding it horizontally, she lowered it slightly before narrowing her eyes for a moment in anticipation of an incoming attack. She didn’t know if it was because her awareness of magic had improved, but something felt different about the opponent in front of her. It was as though the raven taking flight was not a single creature, but rather two separate entities in a single shell.
Without hesitation, Luxanna clasped her hands together, opening them again moments later to reveal two large interconnected spheres of light. Swinging her arms outwards, she released her spell to dance in the air, forming loops around herself and her two allies to form a set of defensive barriers. Following this up, she quickly held her arms to each side, an aura of white light surrounding her finger tips. Energy from her fingertips fused in the palm of her hands to form two bright white bolts of energy, which she sent towards Fiora and Leon to cause a thin white aura to surround them as the spells connected with their target.
Letting out a loud screech, dozens of small yellow points of light formed in front of the Noxian, rapidly expanding into hexagons that interconnected to reform his defensive barrier. Rising into the air rapidly, Swain swung around in a loop before finding a striking position, opening its beak and extending its head forward to charge up a red sphere of energy in its mouth. With a quick swing of its head in a circle, he brings his head downwards towards the champions as the attack separated into a dozen smaller spheres, sending a rapidly moving barrage of a dozen crimson-colored Chaos Blitz spells towards his opponents.
Anticipating the attacks, Fiora swung her blade downwards, raising her free left hand to form a set of four silver colored Blitz orbs that danced around her palm. Following suit, Leon and Lux conjured a set of similar spells before firing them towards the Noxian. A set of explosive cracks filled the forest as multiple bright orange flames danced in the sky, caused by the collision of the two barrages of magic energy.
Not wasting time, Fiora quickly raised her blade a few feet away from her face, channeling energy through her blade. With a twitch of her eyes, a few red sparks formed at the base of her sword before it became surrounded by a helix of flames that wrapped around her blade, a blazing trail of flames extending from the tip of the long curved portion. She turned her head slightly to look at her mentor, who acknowledged her intents as an aura of cloudy wind magic surrounded his blade, running along it as a rapidly moving flow of jagged edges.
Lux could all but watch in awe as they dashed into the air, using her Valor’s Blitz enhancement spell to stagger gravity’s effects to improve their movements. As they neared Swain’s raven form, they simultaneously raised their free left arms to conjure a set of lightning spells, channeling it forward to strike the defensive shield that protected the Noxian. Small cracks formed along the surface of the barrier as the lightning damaged the bonds that held the barrier together. The intensity of the lightning spell blinded the raven, causing it to momentarily avert its gaze from his opponents.
Taking advantage of the opportunity, Fiora and Leon quickly channeled a small amount of energy into the soles of their feet, creating a white spark of energy at their heels to propel themselves forward. Reaching Swain, they separated to form a two pronged attack, performing a set of horizontal slashes as they glided past him. The duelist then twirled her body around in mid air to do a vertical flip, channeling additional energy into her blade to intensify the flames around it. Creating a second spark of energy at her heels when she was positioned to face the raven, she lunged towards her opponent, delivering a flurry of three Flamestrikes. With the last strike, the loud sound of glass breaking filled the air as the shield surrounding Swain glowed brightly before shattering into pieces that descended towards the ground.
Angry that his barrier was so vulnerable to his opponent’s attacks, Swain quickly extended his right wing over the duelist, bringing it down with a mighty swoop. Fiora could only hold her blade in front of herself to defend as she felt herself being knocked backwards rapidly, the weight of the large wings much greater than she had anticipated. Doing a second mid air backflip, a smirk crossed her lips as her body turned to face the raven again.
As Swain prepared to launch himself downwards with the intent of impaling the duelist with his talons, he suddenly realized the significance of the expression on the duelist face. He barely had enough time to turn his head around to see his second opponent behind him, his mageblade held above his head with both hands.
“Aero Devastation!” Leon said in a low voice before bringing his blade down, separating the aura of wind magic that had surrounded his sword away from his blade to fire it forward as a projectile attack.
Pieces of shredded black and green feathers filled the air as Leon’s attack hit its mark, landing in the middle of the large raven’s now exposed back. It let out a bloodcurdling scream as the force of the attack sent him diving towards the ground, a trail of broken feathers and fine crimson mist in the wake of his fall. Unable to free itself from the force of the powerful wind attack, Swain plummeted with increasing speeds before being colliding on the ground with a loud crash.
A large amount of dust filled the air, reducing visibility to just a few feet away as the collision into the ground scarred the earth with a small crater. Lux struggled to stay on her feet as the force of the collision caused tremors in the area. When she finally stabilized herself, she turned at the sound of a pair of steel greaves hitting the ground to see Fiora landing a few feet away from her. With her right leg bent forward in a kneeled position, the rest of her body was turned with her left leg straightened behind her. The blonde mage had countless questions going through her mind as she watched the duelist stand up from her crouched position, swinging her two pronged mageblade in a circular motion. The sound of a second set of feet landing on the ground snapped her back to reality as she saw Raynes land next to her.
“So powereful,” Lux mused out loud. “You did it! You beat hi-“
Lux’s words were interrupted by a wave of dust originating from the center of the crater. Fiora pulled the sleeve of her coat over her nose, looking up to see a large winged creature darting vertically into the air, a dark trail of dust rising with it. She narrowed her icy blue eyes as Swain began to dive forward, the moonlight behind him casting a silhouette of his raven form, increasing in size as he rapidly approached.
“Get ready, move on instinct!” Fiora ordered as she channeled a lightning spell through her blade in preparation for a counter-attack.
Swain extended his wings outwards, casting a large shadow with the wingspan to block his opponent’s view of the moonlight behind him. A dark green aura formed around him, resembling green flames that danced in the sky. Letting out a loud screech, countless feathers erupted from below his wings, spreading over a large area of the sky before falling towards his opponents. The shape of the feathers began to distort, increasing in size and transforming into a barrage of ravens that dove towards the ground. Countless purple points of light shimmered in the sky as each of the oncoming ravens prepared to use their decrepify attack.
With a swift downward motion, Leon struck his mageblade into the earth below him. He then channeled a fire spell into his right hand and a water spell into his left, holding them up to reveal swirling red and blue auras.
“Storm Cloud Vortex!” He announced as he closed his hands together, holding it in front of his face as a stream of thick white mist fired forward at rapid speeds.
The large cloud filled the sky above him, engulfing the large flock of ravens with a strong gust to elicit a series of loud screeches from the deadly creatures. Leon closed his hands tightly, his fingers interlocking to force a shape manipulation of the spell he had just cast, causing the cloud to shift directions and form a large spiral in the night sky. Trapped in the large spiral were the ravens, unable to escape from the force of the wind within the spell to resemble hundreds of small black specks in the sky.
“Do it now!” He commanded as he turned to face the duelist who had been waiting for the time to strike.
Fiora raised her Highwind across her chest to position it to her left side, sparks of lightning creating a trail of light behind her blade. Realizing the strength of the attack she would need to perform, she channeled additional energy into her blade, multiple streaks of lightning now conducting through the air from her blade towards the ground.
“Take this!” She yelled out as she flung her blade forward, directing multiple Lightning Waves in front of her to create a continuous buzzing sound that filled the air.
As the spell reached the large cloud, the large amount of water in the mist disseminated the lightning, illuminating the dark-gray cloud brightly to create a diffuse field of flashing lights. Multiple turbulent rumbles could be heard as the internal flashes of lightning could be seen in the artificial storm cloud. A set of synchronized screeches followed, the sound of which caused an icy chill to run down the duelist’s spine. A shower of charred corpses and feathers began to descend on the ground, the pungent scent of burning flesh reaching Fiora’s nose, causing a cringe to cross her face as she raised her sleeve to cover her nose.
In the midst of the shower of charred carrion from the storm cloud, a sharp depression in the spiraling cloud appeared, forming a rapidly elongating spear-like projection that resembled stalactites within a cave. Swain emerged from the projection, diving rapidly before leveling off a dozen feet above the ground. The large raven flew over his opponents, creating a gust of wind in his wake that caused the female champions’ hairs to wave wildly in the air. Coming to a hovering position behind them, Swain’s head swung in a few circle before bringing it forward, letting out a loud distorted roar as a small red rune circle appeared in front of his face. Two crimson pentagon-shaped symbols appeared within the rune circle in a staggered position relative to each other.
“What’s he doing?” Fiora asked, swinging her blade forward to position it with the tip towards her opponent, her eyes watching intently.
As if in response, a larger-scale version of the crimson rune circled formed on the ground, surrounding them. Rune writings that ran along the periphery of the circle glowed brightly before beams of light rose upwards in a curved dome pattern, converging at a position a few meters above where the three of them stood. A third identical crimson rune circle formed at the point of convergence, followed by a column of energy descending from the periphery of this rune circle, engulfing Fiora, Leon, and Lux within its confines. Fiora launched a Lightning Wave spell from the tip of her blade, streaks of electricity colliding against the walls of her confines to create a series of buzzing sounds. She narrowed her eyes and let out an angry grunt under her breath as she saw her attack redirected downwards into the ground harmlessly.
“Tch! Just what is this abil-“ Fiora began to ask angrily before being interrupted by Leon, who held a look of shock on his normally calm face.
“This is bad! This is the chaos spell Final Judgment. We need to destroy that circle above us or we’re finished! Lux, throw everything you’ve got at it.” He commanded the blonde mage before turning his attention back to the purple haired duelist. “Once we do, finish this.”
Fiora acknowledged his intentions immediately, nodding her head slightly as she drew forth her energy to cast a Valor’s Blitz spell on herself. She followed this up by channeling her energy into her sword, a bright white glow flowing along the edge of the blade. She watched intently as Leon raised his mageblade above his head, conjuring his energy into it before bringing it down to perform two perpendicular swipes. A bright white cross of energy formed in front of him, following the swings of his blade. Positioning his blade at the point of intersection of the cross, he channeled additional energy into it, causing it to increase in size. He then slowly raised his blade, causing the magical cross to follow its movements, ultimately ending in an upward position.
Lux raised her right hand towards the heavens, a look of determination on her face as she drew out her magic, channeling it into the fingertips of her extended hand. She swiftly projected her energy into the sky to create the outline of a large white triangle above her. After the successful use of her spell against Swain earlier, she felt confident in her ability to use it a second time, increasing the speed of her casting.
“Wave of the Trigram’s Light!” She said in a low voice, focusing her energy into firing the three holy spears at the rune circle above her.
Leon raised his eyebrow, shooting her a quick glance in pleasant surprise at the sight of his own technique being used by someone whom had just seen it for the first time days ago. It was an original spell that he had created himself, spending countless hours over the course of weeks to perfect it. Relying on the rare ability to manipulate one’s magic energy into holy energy, the Wave of the Trigram’s Light is an ability that required a very high level of skill both in shape and nature manipulation. It thus, came as a great shock to him that the blonde next to him had managed to mimic one of his most powerful spells in a fraction of the time that it took for him to create it. He knew at that moment that she had far greater potential than he had ever originally anticipated for the battles to come.
“Asundering Cross,” Leon said in a determined voice as he turned his attention back towards his own spell.
A bright flash of light came from the white cross, forcing Fiora to shield her eyes in order to preserve her vision. Dozens of rays of holy energy formed from the large cross, firing a volley of attacks towards the crimson rune circle that remained suspended above their heads. The combined magic of the two holy spells caused a loud explosion to fill the otherwise quiet Kalidorum air. The sound of glass shattering followed as the rune circle above them broke apart into shards of crimson energy that fell towards the ground, each piece slowly dissipating into trails of crystal-like dust. The light that had surrounded them disappeared along with the bright rune circle under their feet, returning the forest to its previously darkened state illuminated only by the specks of crystalline dust that shimmered in the moonlight.
Fiora leapt into the air, a bright spark of light appearing momentarily under her feet as she pushed herself off of the ground. A dim trail of light trailed her as she glided towards the large raven, now hovering motionless in the air in disbelief that his technique had been destroyed. As she neared Swain, she swung out her blade; a bright glow surrounding it caused shadows of the nearby trees to dance on the ground. She channeled her energy into the soles of her feet to launch herself higher, a spark of light appearing under her steel greaves to propel her with greater speeds, appearing right in front of the large raven before swinging her blade upwards.
Swain’s raven form could only watch as the Fiora’s felt her blade cut into his right wing, the energy running through her blade greatly increasing the strength of her attack and the sharpness of the double-edged mageblade. Despite the tough appearance of her opponent’s raven form, the magical augmentation of her blade allowed the duelist to cut clean through its wing. Swain remained motionless as though it failed to realize what had happened until a few seconds had passed and a gush of crimson liquid began to ooze from the vertical cut. He let out a loud distorted cry of pain as the distal half of the wing quickly detached from the rest of his body. Despite the pain, he began to desperately increase the speeds with which he moved his wings in an effort to keep himself in the air.
Fiora continued her upwards trajectory a few more feet before twisting her body to do a back flip in mid air, channeling energy into the soles of her feet to create a spark that propelled her towards the raven. She glided by the tactician’s raven form a second time, this time coursing past his left side as she swung her mageblade downwards to deliver a vertical cut through his left wing. She delivered a second clean cut through the full thickness of the wing, causing him to let out a second loud cry of pain as the remaining wing separated from his body. With the wide wingspan of the raven now cut short on both sides, Swain could no longer maintain the weight of this form in the air. As he began to fall rapidly to the ground, Fiora dashed in the air rapidly from side to side, the image of her body now appearing more like a blurred trail of light to her allies below her as she delivered a flurry of cuts to her opponent. The Noxian was thrown in different direction corresponding to the trajectory of her attacks, a trail of crimson mist accompanying each of her attacks.
“Let’s end this!” Fiora exclaimed as she dashed upwards a final time, appearing a few meters above Swain’s head before turningher body with her head facing downwards, the image of the raven reflecting off of her aqua blue eyes.
Grasping her Highwind with both hands, she held it forward as she let out one last spark of energy from her graves to launch herself downwards. An instant later, her blade stabbed into the head of Swain’s raven form, the force of the attack sending him rapidly towards the ground. As Fiora’s feet landed on the raven’s head, she immediately took off running along the back of the falling raven, maintaining a hold on her blade with both hands below her to keep it embedded in the flesh of her opponent. Large amounts of crimson colored blood exuded from the raven behind her as she increased the length of the cut with every step she took.
“HAAAAA!” She cried out as she neared the tail of Swain’s raven form, performing an upwards swing with her Highwind as she leapt off, moments before the creature collided with the ground to fill the forest with a loud crashing sound.
Lux watched in amazement as Fiora performed one final back flip in the air before gracefully landing in a crouched position, her right hand extended forward and pressed to the ground in front of her with her mageblade underneath it.
“Nothing to it,” Fiora said with a voice of confidence as raised herself to a standing position, swinging her double-pronged blade out to her right to rid it of the blood that had coated it.
“Fiorie! Are you all right?” Lux yelled as she ran towards the duelist, stopping a few feet away from her when the large raven behind her became surrounded by a bright yellow aura.
Fiora turned around to see the remaining stumps of the raven’s wings start to disappear in wisps of black smoke, revealing Swain’s human form underneath. The Noxian’s breathing was rapid and irregular, indicating that death was fast approaching. He turned his head slightly to look at Fiora, his pupils now returned to the color that she had previously remembered him having during her previous battles against him in the Summoner’s Arena.
“Wh-…How? This can’t be,” Swain managed to utter in a weak voice before his head slowly fell to his side.
The yellow aura surrounding him began to glow brightly before his entire body became consumed by light, breaking apart into countless specks of yellow light that rose into the air, carried away into the skies above. Lux and Fiora watched in confusion as this event transpired in front of them, uncertain as to what it was they had just witnessed.
“Yeah… I’m all right. What about you, are you hurt?” The duelist finally answered when the shock of what had just transpired finally wore off.
“No, I’m fine” The blonde replied with a shake of her head before turning around looking around quickly to find the explorer. “But Ezreal is over there. He was hurt pretty badly.”
“He’ll be fine.” Leon’s voice answered from a distance, causing the two girls to turn their attention in time to see the silhouette of him in his long overcoat carrying the unconscious explorer on his shoulder. “I was able to do some preliminary healing on his wounds to stop most of the bleeding, but he also has multiple fractured ribs. Those will take more time to fix. We need to get him back to my place in Piltover so I can continue treating him.”
“He told me that he had a car not too far from here along some highway.” Lux explained as she quickly ran towards Ezreal, stopping a few feet away from him to let out a sigh of relief when she noticed he was still breathing regularly.
“So that was his? We stopped not too far away from it when we heard a series of explosions in the area. That’s how we found you in the first place.” Fiora said as she resheathed her mageblade, pacing slowly towards her allies. “We knew you were being transported by train and had been tracking it using some fancy machines that Leon had in Demacia. When we saw that the train had been attacked, we came as soon as we could.”
“Yeah…I don’t know how he did it, but somehow Ezreal knew where I was as well. He attacked his own country’s military to save me, destroying the train I was being transported on in the process.” Lux explained.
“We need to move away from this area. After all of the noise from that last battle, it won’t be long before this area is crawling with military personnel.” Raynes announced, a hint of annoyance in his voice at having to carry the explorer over his shoulders while his companions nonchalantly stood idly by.
“I like that plan! Let’s get him somewhere safe and healed up.” Lux replied happily after visually examining Ezreal to ensure he was still alive, a smile appearing on her face upon seeing that most of the injured skin on the explorer had been healed by the dark haired mage.
Satisfied that things may finally take a turn for the better, Lux quickly moved to pace alongside the duelist as they left the area, holding a smile on her face despite the countless questions going through her mind. For the moment, she was thankful and content for simply being reunited with people that she thought she would never live to see again.
“Hey, are you two seriously going to walk off and leave me to carry him by myself?” Raynes yelled out with an obviously annoyed voice as he tried hard to keep up with his companions.
“Don’t tell me a man like yourself isn’t strong enough to do this!” Lux said in a teasing voice as she spun around on her heels, bending forward to stare at the struggling mage.
“You kids…” Leon said as he let out a sigh, shaking his head as he trudged on.
It took a lot of effort for Fiora to hold back laughter at the sight of her struggling companion, as this was the first time she had seen him in such a frustrated state. It didn’t really surprise her, as she knew that only Lux could irritate someone in such a playful and entertaining way. Even though her cheerful behavior contrasted Fiora’s calm and serious demeanor, the duelist felt a part of her relax to see her antics at work again. For the first time in years, the purple haired girl was able to admit to herself that she was glad to be in the company of another person.
When you finally face yourself and overcome what has been bringing you down, the weight of the world feels lighter and things seem more hopeful. Even if nothing around you has changed, facing the world becomes easier when you have others you can rely on and yourself to believe in.
Chapter 11: Piltover
Herein lies the power of Atlas, our strength and pride. May it one day be used again to light the path to illumination. Treasure and protect it you must, for were it to fall into the grasps of evil, unlimited would their potential be for darkness.
- Ezreal, Translation of Subterranean Piltover Runes.
Sanctorum, Central Governing District of Piltover
A small flock of doves walked along the steps to the entrance of the PSION facility, extending their beaks forward to peck on small scraps of consumable food on the concrete surface. The bright early morning sun reflected off of the pure white feathers of the birds, creating the illusion of dancing specks of white migrating along the otherwise dull man-made terrace. A set of footsteps caused the doves to turn their heads towards the source of the noise, taking flight with flaps of their wings in rapid succession at the sight of a woman with long black hair rapidly ascending the steps. Upon walking through the double doors of the concrete facility, she flashed her identification card to a set of guards stationed immediately inside the building. She stood with her arms folded under her breasts as the elevator ascended with a soft humming noise, a look of bitter impatience on her face made apparent by the pursing of her lips together.
I can’t believe this is happening. After all the work we’ve put into improving our police force, we can’t hold onto a single little blonde girl? Caitlyn thought to herself angrily.
Getting off of the elevators, she navigated the labyrinth of hallways in the advanced military facility, presenting her identification badge a second time to a set of guards stationed to the side of a set of wooden double doors. They acknowledged her with a quick nod of their head, stepping aside to allow the police commander to pass into a conference room surrounded by dark stained wooden walls that were lined with electronic screens. A group of highly decorated police officials and a seated woman with glasses turned their head to see the young woman entering the room, standing up to greet her.
“Director Caitlyn, welcome.” A man that looked in his mid-forties, strands of silver alternating with black in his hair, greeted her as she walked into the room. “Have you been briefed on the situation?”
“I’ve been told that the convoy train carrying Luxanna Crownguard has been compromised. What I want to know is how is it that an entire train of highly trained elite officers couldn’t manage to transport a single girl from Demacia to this facility.” She demanded, anger filling her voice in her voice.
She had not been accustomed to failure. For years, she had previously been the lone gun of the law in Piltover, handling investigations and successfully catching wanted fugitives on her own. Prior to her joining the League, the Institute of War saw her success at ridding the city of crime and provided funding to Piltover towards the creation of an elite police force, setting her as its director. The creation of this police force led to a massive drop in the crime rate in Piltover, as she oversaw the training of investigative and battle tactics of new recruits. The discovery of the Crystalis artifact underneath Piltover only made it even more effective, as it provided the energy needed for Heimerdinger and the Science Academy to produce advanced weaponry that had effectively put an end to crime in the city.
“The train was more than compromised. It was destroyed from the outside by an unexpected intruder.” A second man answered, standing up to reveal a well-built man with short dark brown hair, a stern look on his face as he moved to a nearby computer screen to tap it lightly with an outstretched finger.
A black and white image of Ezreal standing next to Lux appeared on the screens, the two of them taking a battle stance as they faced towards the camera. Caitlyn furrowed her brow upon seeing the image, as she instantly recognized the appearance of the explorer but couldn’t explain his actions.
“This was taken from one of our warmechs that had been stored on the train in case of emergencies. You should recognize who it is that’s responsible. According to reports, the convoy train was cleanly cut through with some sort of magic, derailing the rear of the train. The Juggernaut Warmech that we had stored on the train in the event of something like this was destroyed in a subsequent fight.” He continued to explain.
“Do we have any additional information about this? It doesn’t make sense, Ezreal has always been supportive of our government so why would he suddenly turn on us and take such drastic measures to rescue this girl?” Caitlyn asked as she stared at the image on the electronic screens along the wall, an analytical look on her face suggesting that she was deep in thought. “Where are we on locating them?”
“So far, we have nothing. We searched the area and found evidence that a large battle involving the heavy use of magic took place not too far from the wreckage of the Juggernaut. No bodies were found after a thorough sweep so it’s uncertain what had happened. ” A woman with blonde hair and glasses, who appeared to be similar to Caitlyn in age, announced from her seated position in front of a computer. “We have both of their images running through our system. It’ll take time, but if any of the surveillance cameras in the city manages to capture them or their registered vehicles, we’ll eventually be able to locate them. According to the video footage from the warmech, the battle left Ezreal heavily injured. He’ll need medical care and rest, and Piltover is the closest city within a thousand mile radius. They’re likely going to end up in this city eventually if they haven’t already entered its borders.”
“Good, keep me updated.” Caitlyn replied as she acknowledged the female analyst before turning her attention back towards the younger brown-haired man. “Colonel Aronov, once we locate them, dispatch an assault task force to retrieve them. Assume they are highly dangerous but ensure that they are brought here alive, non-lethal force only. Something isn’t adding up here and I need to interrogate them.”
“Yes ma’am.” He replied simply.
“There is yet another matter at hand.” The middle-aged man announced unexpectedly as he furrowed his brow to accentuate the developing wrinkles on his face. “As of three days ago, we lost all contact with our forces stationed at the Institute of War.”
“What?” The Director asked in shock, shifting her eyes towards the older man to look at him in shock.
“For the past two days, our police force stationed there failed to provide their nightly reports. It’s happened before, so we didn’t pursue it any further initially, given the intrinsically secure nature of the Institute itself. However, when we called for a check-in of our forces last night, all members of our forces failed to respond.” He continued to explain as the blonde analyst pulled up data logs onto the electronic screens lining the walls of the room.
“What of communications with the rest of the Institute?” Caitlyn demanded, a chill running down her spine.
“Nowhere. All lines of communications into the Institute are dead.”
“Send an airborne task force to do reconnaissance. I want them to report everything they find the moment they find it.” Caitlyn ordered.
An uneasy feeling settled over Caitlyn, causing her stomach to feel slightly nauseous. She couldn’t explain what it was that bothered her, but something about the situation felt very unsettling. In the past, her instincts had always led her in the right direction in her investigations. Even though the police force under her leadership was far more advanced than anything she had in the past, a part of her feared for the first time what the outcome might be if her instincts were correct this time.
Odinfall, Central District of Piltover
Streaks of bright orange shone through the blinds of the large westward facing window as the sun began to set on the horizon. Fiora stared out into metropolitan expanse from Leon Raynes’ condominium unit, located on one of the upper floors of a tall building overlooking the cityscape. Despite having driven through the labyrinth of elevated roads that made up the advanced infrastructure of the city, the sight of such a large advanced metropolitan center filled her with awe every time she stared out the window. For her, the city of Piltover felt more like another world rather than another city in Valoran.
“It’s a marvelous city, isn’t it?” The calm voice of Leon Raynes asked as he stepped out from the bedroom, completing his examination of Ezreal’s injuries.
“Leon, how did this happen?” The duelist asked after a moment of silence, keeping her gaze focused on the multitude of activity going on in the city.
“I don’t understand what you mean.”
“Last time I was here was five years ago. At the time, it was already an impressive city, built at the top of a mountain and utilizing the nearby swamps as an energy source to power its technology. I saw a zeppelin flying in the air remember thinking it was the first time I had seen any machine capable of flight.” Fiora mused with a hint of nostalgia in her voice before turning her attention towards the dark haired mage. “Still, it was nothing like this. Roads built on elevated platforms, electronic screens everywhere used for commonplace things like advertisement, vehicles that can fly by manipulating gravity? How did this city create all of this in such a short time?”
“The operative word isn’t create, but rather found…A secret discovery that was kept hidden from the rest of Runeterra.” He answered simply.
“What is that suppose to mean?”
“Three years ago, a series of large caverns were discovered under Piltover by your explorer friend resting in the other room. These caverns were filled with markings that resembled an advanced but ancient civilization that was believed to previously inhabit these lands. At the core of these caverns, a discovery was made. The Crystalis… an ancient crystal that had laid dormant, containing an immense self-renewing energy source that could be tapped into for powering the whole city. It was essentially an unlimited power source that allowed Professor Heimerdinger of the Science Academy to bypass the problem of powering his inventions.” He explained as Fiora listened in awe.
“It allowed the Science Academy to create anything it desired, essentially.” Fiora replied in disbelief at the secret this advanced city had managed to keep even from its allied nations. “What is the Crystalis?”
“It takes the shape of a massive crystal suspended in an underground cavern, but no one really knows what it is. From the translations of the writings on the walls of the underground caverns, many speculate that it was an invention of a highly advanced ancient civilization that predates the founding of all current societies on Runeterra today. It functions similar to a power generator, only it requires no fuel and when activated, produces more energy than anything that was ever thought possible. Since its incorporation into the city’s infrastructure, very few people know the truth about its existence and the public has just been told that everything has been the doing of the Science Academy.” Leon continued to explain, sitting down on a couch as the duelist took a few steps towards him.
“Keeping this great a secret even from its own people? How cruel.” Fiora added as she raised her right hand to pinch the bridge of her nose, closing her eyes in visible annoyance.
“A necessary evil…Demacia has likely done similar things in the past to maintain order in the general public. A power source this strong…if something like this became common knowledge and fell into the wrong hands, there’s no telling what they would be capable of.”
“So all of these people,” Fiora began as she paced back towards the window, stopping to stare at the streets below to see countless people appearing the size of ants moving along the walkways. “That’s why they act the way they do.”
“Hmm?” The mage asked.
“Yesterday when I rode through the streets of Piltover for the first time, I noticed everyone looked so happy and at peace. They have no idea about the truth of how everything in the cityscape around them exists, do they?” She asked, turning towards Leon to see him shaking his head slightly as he focused his gaze on the duelist.
“There’s more than one way to maintain peace in the world. Even if it is a façade, ignorance in itself can be powerful enough to keep the public happy. The same can be said about you, can it not?” He answered, causing Fiora to lower her eyes towards the ground, averting her gaze from her mentor. “You’re here now, fighting to protect your life and the lives of those around you all because of a series of events you had no control over. Had someone else taken your place on that fated morning in Demacia and our paths never crossed, would any of the things you’ve seen and experienced over the past few days have ever concerned you in your wildest imagination?”
“No,” She finally answered after a long pause, breaking the silence that had filled the room. “It wouldn’t. Had I not been away from the Institute of War, I would have remained the same person; the proud but heartless girl who would cut through anyone who doubted my abilities. Would I have been happier that way? I don’t know…But I don’t regret the decisions I made and the way things turned out.”
Raising her eyes again, Fiora walked away from her place next to the window, her armored leggings producing a loud knock against the ground. Reaching a couch across from Leon Raynes, she flopped down to land on it with a thud accompanied by the soft squeaks of the furniture.
“Despite all the danger and uncertainty with what lies ahead, I feel more like my honest self again.” She began, resting her elbows on her knees before bringing her hands against her chin, interlocking her fingers together. “Sure, I might have been accepting of how things were, but what was the point when it was all a façade? Ignorance won’t bring true happiness. It only makes people live a lie. A part of me yesterday was jealous to see how peaceful life was for people here, but after saving Lux and Ezreal, I came to realize that happiness was what each of us makes it to be. Being able to save the people I cared about in itself brought me greater joy than any amount of time spent in peace here.”
“I’m glad then,” Raynes replied, a smile now on his face. “It seems you turned out to be the better person that I had hoped you would-”
“So then it’s your turn,” Fiora suddenly interrupted, crossing her arms under her chest to stare at Leon with more determined eyes than a moment ago.
“What is that suppose to mean?” He asked in a coy manner.
“I’ve trusted you this far and never questioned you about who you really are. You’ve told me on multiple occasions to live my life by being truthful to myself and yet to this day you have yet to tell me who you really are.” She said answered, her voice now a stern contrast to her previously calm, thoughtful voice.
“I’ve already told you. I’m a scholar from this city who studies the ways of mag-“
“Cut the ****, Leon!” Fiora interrupted accusingly with a raised voice, causing a frown to appear on the dark haired mage’s face. “A scholar doesn’t possess the skill to use magic at anywhere near the level that you’ve shown. A person who spends his life reading books can’t use a sword at a level that’s on par with even my own. They provide guidance and education to warriors, not charge head first into a battle alongside them without hesitation. I know nothing about you, yet everything you say suggests that you know far more about me than you’re letting on. Just who are you really and why do you know so much about me?”
“That…I-“ He began to answer before being interrupted by Lux’s high pitched voice from the other side of the hall.
“Everyone! Come quick!” She yelled out, causing Fiora and Leon to turn their attention towards her, quickly rising from their seated positions to pace towards the bedroom.
Fiora quickly stepped into the bedroom to find a bandaged Ezreal beginning to stir on the bed, opening his eyes slightly to look at his surroundings. Lux sat in a chair next to him, staying by his side overnight as he rested and healed his wounds in a scene reminiscent of the Demacian hospital. The duelist watched the lady of luminosity’s eyes lit up as the explorer became more awake, holding onto his hands as Leon examined his injuries. A dark purple bruise spanning the length of his right lower five ribs was now present, a sign of blood under the skin that was to be expected from the multiple fractures he had suffered.
“He’s stable…he’ll be fine. It took me hours but I was able heal the fractured ribs and the puncture wound in his right lung. His heart is beating regularly at a normal rate, which means he’s not bleeding from anywhere anymore. That bruise on his chest may not be the prettiest thing to look at, but it’s just a cosmetic thing that will go away with time.” Leon announced after he had finished examining him.
“Wha-? Where am I?” Ezreal asked in a slow, dry voice.
“Thank goodness!” Lux exclaimed as she let go of the explorer’s hand to embrace him in a tight hug at the shoulders, causing him to let out a groan of pain.
“Woah! Easy there. He’s a sensitive guy, don’t hurt him again after I just spent all that time healing.” Leon chided lightly.
“Oh! Sorry!” Lux said as she quickly backed away, letting out a light hearted laugh as she scratched her head in embarrassment.
It’s nice to hear the sound of laughter again. Fiora thought to herself as she stood leaning her left arm against the door frame. A subtle smile appeared on her face before turning to leave the room to avoid being noticed. I didn’t think I’d get to hear their laughter again. I thought that the only reason I had left to smile was proving my superiority. I never imagined I’d find joy in being around them again.
Moments later, Leon Raynes emerged from the bedroom, leaving the two blonde champions behind. He paused to give Fiora a quick glare as she stood with her back against the wall, her smile fading as she began eyeing her mentor with suspicion. Her conflict with him from earlier had yet to be resolved but a part of her held back from continuing her verbal assault on him. She knew that there would eventually come a time where she would have to face him again with those same questions, but for the moment she was accepting of the way things were.
Lux watched as the dark haired mage left the room, leaving her alone with the recovering explorer again. Sitting down again, she watched as Ezreal took a few deep breaths, turning his head to inspect the environment around him for the first time. When he finally turned his gaze towards her again, she stared back at a loss for words. She didn’t want to leave his side in his current condition, but a part of her didn’t know how to handle the situation and desperately wanted to dart out of the room. During the past day, she thought of countless things to say to him the moment he regained consciousness, but when the moment was now finally here, the words wouldn’t come to her no matter how hard she tried. She had lost her train of thought and nothing she did seemed to help get her figure things out.
“Luxanna,” Ezreal began to speak in a low voice, causing the lady of luminosity to snap back to reality as his words broke the tense silence in the room. “Where am I?”
“You’re…you’re safe now. We’re at a friend’s place in Piltover. He’s been treating all of your injuries and said you’ll be fine.” Lux managed to say slowly with an obvious sense of discomfort.
“Ahh!” He groaned in pain as he tried to bend forward to sit up, quickly sending his left arm towards the bruised part of his right chest. “Sure doesn’t feel like it. How did I get here, what happened? Last thing I remembered was being in the forest with you and getting attacked by some large flying creature.”
“It was Jericho Swain.”
“Swain?” Ezreal exclaimed before stopping, the look on his face shifting from surprise to one of deep thought. “That’s right…I remember now.”
“You were badly hurt and I didn’t know what to do.” Lux continued in a somber voice, lowering her gaze towards the ground to avoid the sight of him in such a weakened state. “All I could think of was the possibility of you dying because you came to rescue me from my captors. My whole life, I’ve had to rely on others to keep me alive...to the point that I kept getting in everyone’s way. That’s why I couldn’t just stand by and watch you die in front of my eyes. No amount of time in the world would allow me to forgive myself if you had lost your life trying to protect me.”
“You…fought for me…” Ezreal said in awe, his eyes opening slightly wider despite his weakened state. “You saved my life!”
“No,” Lux interrupted, shaking her head. “I tried my best to keep you from getting hurt but in the end, I still wasn’t strong enough. Both of us would have died had Fiora and Leon not intervened. The way they fought was at a level far beyond what I was capable of. I’m sorry, it’s my fault that-”
“Lux…Thank you.” Ezreal said, causing her to look up in surprise. “You fought against someone that powerful without hesitation to save my life. That isn’t a sign of weakness. You’re really strong…probably more so than what I would have been capable of in that situation.”
“What do you mean? I wasn’t strong enough to do anything without their help.” Lux insisted.
“You’re strong because you have the will to follow through with your desires. Even though you and I have only really known each other for a few months, you were willing to go so far as to risk your life against overwhelming odds to protect me. Strength in combat, anyone can learn over time, but the will to fight and risk everything cannot be taught.”
“Well…I…” Lux began to object, struggling to find the right words to say. “I was only able to because of what you had done. You’ve always had the courage to do what you wanted, without a worrying about whether you would succeed. You’ve always been the thrill-seeking free spirit I looked up to, coming to my rescue in an instant. All I could do was do my best to keep you from suffering for my sake.”
“Free spirit?” Ezreal mused as he examined the lady of luminosity’s face before lowering his eyes. “You misunderstand my intention.”
“What?” Lux exclaimed in shock.
“The reason I have spent my life exploring the world isn’t because I was brave or because I wanted the thrill of doing something daring. It was quite the opposite. I did all of this because I wanted to be free of responsibility from what my actions would have on others.” Ezreal answered in a stern voice that sounded even weaker than his previous words.
“Free of responsibility from others? How can you say that after everything you’ve done for everyone…after what you just did?”
“I traveled the world on my own to explore it, bringing back what discoveries I can. I have no place to really call home. I have no people left to call family. This whole time, I made superficial friendships and professional relations with those I encounter, but never allowed my interactions to get serious enough to where I felt responsible or obligated to anyone. So long as I could keep traveling the world with nothing tying me down, I didn’t care what happened to me. When I was forced to become a champion in the League, I hated everything about it.”
“Because it kept you from your travels.” Lux said, echoing the words that he had said on multiple occasions in the past.
“Because it meant I had obligations to something other than my own desires. I didn’t even know what it was I was fighting for in the Summoner’s Arenas most of the time, but I knew that my actions could be responsible for vastly affect the outcomes of political conflicts. I didn’t want any such responsibility, so I made myself as scarce as possible from everyone just so I wouldn’t have to deal with the repercussions that my actions may result in.”
“So then… why did you save me?” Lux asked in disbelief.
“I…I don’t really know,” He responded slowly before turning his head to stare at a point in the ceiling. “I guess it is because you never gave up on me. Everyone has always regarded me as the vagrant who distanced myself from society, but you persisted in trying to understand me better. Even after I had pushed you away the first few times after our battles in the Arenas, you kept trying.”
“I remember…you told me those same words back then that you said to me yesterday. It was the first time that anyone had ever said such inspiring words to me. I wanted to know more about the man behind his words.”
“Yeah. That’s why when you asked me for my help with that little book project of yours, I agreed to it. With no obligations meant I had no responsibility to anyone…that’s what I used to think. But that wasn’t true anymore, not after you asked me for my help. I had no idea until after I had finished my research of the danger that you were in.” He explained in a tone that felt more as though he was thinking aloud.
“The danger I was in? Ezreal…I didn’t want to ask you this while you were still hurt but what exactly did you find?” Lux asked, perplexed by the explorer’s last words.
“I think I figured out what is going on and how it relates to why you were taken by this city’s police force. That’s why Swain appeared in the forest. I don’t know what happened after I was knocked unconscious, but he wasn’t there because of you. He was there because he was coming after me to kill me after he had failed to do it just days ago.”
“Kill you? You two never saw eye to eye, but why did he suddenly want to kill you? Why he acting so weird and what does it have to do with what else is going on?”
“Swain, the Institute, Piltover, Genesis, it’s all on a collision course that’s going to eventually consume this world in darkness. Lux, whatever you’ve gotten me, yourself, and everyone else here into is far more dangerous than anything that anyone has ever seen. I came and saved you and help you because this time, if I didn’t do everything that I possibly could, I would have been responsible for allowing the end of everything to happen.” He continued in a serious tone, his stare now focused on Lux reflecting the gravity of the situation.
“The end… of everything?” Lux said with her eyes wide open in terror, a chill running down her spine as she quickly stood up from her seated position. “Ezreal, you’re scaring me now. If this is a joke, please stop it.”
“There is no joke to any of this. You should get the others in here as well. You all need to hear what it is that I’ve found and do everything possible to stop it from hap-“ He began to say before being interrupted by the overhead light being shut off spontaneously, leaving the room dark with only the dim twilight in the western horizon as the only light source. “What the?”
Chapter 11: Piltover (Cont'd)
Lux looked around the room in surprise before moving to the light switch, flipping it up and down to no avail.
“A power outage?” Lux began to say before the sound of a loud continuous machine-like rumble coming from the outside began to increase in intensity.
She turned her head in time to see a bright light coming from the outside sky flooding into the room as a Piltover airship descended from above. She stood with her body fixed to the ground, mortified at what she was watching and unable to move.
“Lux, Ezreal! Move!” Fiora exclaimed as she ran to the doorway, an intense look of ferocity on her face as she beckoned them with her free hand, her unsheathed mageblade held in the other.
Ezreal bent forward to sit into an upright position, wincing as pain shot up from the right side of his chest. He did his best to ignore it and forced himself to a standing position, pleasantly surprised to find that with the exception of the rib injury, the rest of his body felt fine. Lux quickly followed the explorer from behind to ensure that he was able to keep up, shooting a concerned look at the duelist, who stood motionless for a while as she stared out the bedroom window with aqua blue globes behind narrowed eyelids.
Leon quickly opened the front door, standing adjacent to the door before sticking his head slightly forward to look for the presence of incoming Piltover soldiers.
“Coast is clear for now.” Leon said in a low voice before turning around as a realization hit him.
Quickly pacing to the opposite corner of the living room, Raynes proceeded to pick a large case off of a shelf. Opening it, he drew out a long metallic staff that shimmered brilliantly a gold and silver color as light from the airship floodlight coming through the windows reflected off of it.
“Luxanna Crownguard, take this.” He said as he approached the lady of luminosity. “It is an ancient relic known as Celestia. They are rumored to be handed down since the days of the Shaman Wizards of an ancient civilization that once existed in Runeterra. It was mine, but given the circumstances, you would benefit more from having a weapon to augment your abilities.”
Taking the staff, Lux examined the weapon with amazement. Despite what the dark haired mage had said about it being an artifact from a past civilization, the ornate staff was flawlessly adorned with golden rune writings engraved into the staff. Running a small amount of her magic energy through it, the staff instantly lit up brightly, surprising the blonde with the speed and power that the staff allowed her to cast the spell.
“What about you? Don’t you need it?” She asked, looking up at Leon with arched eyes of concern.
“I can fight in more ways than one.” He responded, unsheating his Blazing Edge as he walked past her to survey the hallway of the condominium building a second time.
“Coast is clear, let’s go!” He announced.
“Wait,” Lux said as her military training kicked in, causing her companions to turn towards her. “We’re in confined corridors likely faced off against multiple enemy soldiers. We’ll need a formation. Leon and Fiora, you two take point and lead the way out of here. Check your corners and turns because if these are the same people who kidnapped me, they’ll be using projectile weaponry. Make sure you can close the distance between yourselves and the enemies before they can pull the trigger, and if not, hold position until they’re at a more desirable distance. Ezreal, follow them and try to keep up, avoid fighting in your condition. I’ll cover you from behind, as I can use the distance between us and hostiles that try to flank us to my advantage.”
Well there’s a side of you I’ve never seen before. Fiora thought to herself as the blonde announced her analysis of the situation.
Around her, Lux had always been the cheerful, carefree girl from her childhood. She knew that the lady of luminosity had underwent extensive military training, as she had spent years away from home during her teenage years. She had expected that after the time spent in the Demacian army, her friend would return as a different person but instead, years had passed and despite all the different missions that she had been sent on, Lux never showed signs that anything had ever changed. It thus came as a surprise to the duelist to see how quickly her friend was able to adapt to the situation and instantly change her persona.
“The front doors on the ground level will likely be covered so our best shot at getting out is the parking garage underground.” She continued with a stern look on her face. “Going down the stairs will cause too much noise from this high up and get us caught. Given that they’re not here yet, it means they don’t know which floor we’re on, so that gives us some time. There’s a really high probability that soldiers will be ascending in the elevators, so we should avoid using those as we normally would as well. We can, however, use the elevator shafts. They’ll likely start by sending their men to the top floor and sweep downwards one floor at a time so if we hurry, we can get under the elevator and I can lower us to the parking level.”
“Right, stay close then.” Fiora added as she and Raynes entered the hallway, their respective mage blades held to their right in a defensive position as they paced quickly down the long corridor, their companions trailing close behind.
Upon reaching the elevator, Fiora reached to the left side of her waist to draw out a small parrying blade from her belt, stabbing it into the narrow opening in the double doors. With a firm twist of her wrist, the golden colored doors separated, revealing the dark metallic elevator shaft. Pulling the door apart completely, a continuous machine-like hum filled the hallway, drowning out the sound of the Piltover airship outside.
Lux stuck her head through the doors, peering up and down but was unable to determine the current location of the elevator car. Quickly holding her Celestia staff in front of her, she channeled her magic into it to form a spherical barrier that quickly expanded, surrounding her entire party in its confines. Holding her staff upwards, she felt herself lifting off of the ground alongside her companions before the barrier transported them into the elevator shaft, descending at a steady pace. Countless doors passed them as they descended from the 54th story of the tall complex, large numbers corresponding the respective floors painted in white along the side wall.
A loud rumble followed by a louder hum filled the elevator shaft as they descended past a door marked with a large “2”, causing everyone to gasp in surprise. Fiora looked down before opening her eyes wide in shock at the sight of the elevator car under them beginning its ascent from the lowest level.
“**** it! Get us down there quick, we need to get out of here now!” The duelist exclaimed, drawing out her magic into her blade to surround it with a layer of wind magic, creating a breeze around them. “Make me an opening in the barrier.”
Lux quickly swung her staff in a downward direction, causing them to plummet at far greater speeds. Raising her free hand, the lady of luminosity pressed it against the surface of the barrier, causing a vertical line of light to form before opening to each side in a manner resembling the doors of an elevator.
As they passed the door marked “L”, Fiora quickly leapt forward, passing through the opening in the barrier as she held her Highwind in front of her left shoulder. She delivered a quick set of three slashes to the door marked “P1”, following it rapidly with a lightning spell that she had channeled into her free hand to force it open with an explosion.
“Hurry! Move it!” She yelled out as she tumbled through the cloud of smoke to land on the concrete ground of the parking garage.
The rest of her party followed suit, leaping from the barrier to cross the threshold of the elevator door, landing on the hard concrete floor below them. The sound of the machine-like hum becoming muffled a second later signaled the passing of the elevator car, narrowly missing Ezreal by a few inches as his feet managed to cross through the threshold into the parking garage moments before getting crushed.
“Everyone all right?” Lux asked as she stood up, brushing off dust that had collected on her loose fitting green sweater when she landed.
“Yeah. What ab-“ The duelist began to reply before stopping as she caught sight of the explorer kneeled on the ground, his left hand clenched over the right lower part of his chest that had been injured.
Realizing the same thing, Leon quickly walked over to him, lifting his loose fitting shirt to examine the area briefly.
“Nothing new is broken, just that he’ll be sore like this for a while. Unfortunately he won’t be able to tolerate much more of this kind of stress, which is going to be a problem in situations like this.” Raynes said after a pause.
Lux let out a sigh of relief at the good news before the sound of yelling and rapid footsteps approaching in the distance cut her moment short. Turning to look at Ezreal showing signs of pain as he stood up, she knew that he would not be able to withstand another battle in his condition. She had just saved him from dying and yet another inevitable fight was fast approaching. She looked around for a place to hide but knew that the area would be crawling with hostile soldiers within minutes, and every corner of the area would be checked.
“Lux!” Fiora said, interrupting the blonde’s train of thought. “You can manipulate light to cloak yourself and things around you, right?”
“Yeah, but I can’t do that in a wide enough area to cover all four of us.” She replied.
“What about two?” The duelist said, turning her head slight to look at Ezreal still overcoming the pain from his injuries.
“Wh-…Yeah I think I can do that but what about you two?” The blonde mage asked, realizing her friend’s intentions. “I can’t just leave you here, you’re not doing this alone again!”
“She’s not.” Raynes interrupted, causing both of them to turn their attention towards the black haired mage. “Right now, Ezreal is in no shape to be able to put up a fight if he stays with us. The priority right now is getting him out of harm’s way. You’ve been trained in the art of espionage and escape so I believe you should have no problem getting out of here.”
“Where should we meet up again?” Lux asked hesitantly.
“East Point of Piltover. Keep yourselves cloaked and out of sight even after you leave the building. They have cameras everywhere in the city, which is how I suspect they were able to find us.” Leon commanded.”
“Good luck,” Fiora added in, turning around towards the direction of the oncoming soldiers as she swung out her mage blade to her right side. “We’ll hold them off.”
Hearing the confidence in the voice of her companions, Lux’s hesitation disappeared as she finally became content with their decision. Grabbing a hold of Ezreal’s hand, she began to guide the explorer in the opposite direction, turning a corner and hiding behind it. She began to surround herself with a thin layer of light as she drew out her magic, holding her staff in front of herself and Ezreal. A bright light surrounded the staff, growing in size before it enveloped the two of them.
Colors began to form in the cloak of light, twisting and distorting to cause the explorer to watch in amazement as the color of the environment around them began to become inverted. Moments later, as the cloak around them stabilized, the dark garage was now a bright white color, save for the ceiling lights that appeared to give off rays of black.
“They shouldn’t be able to see us now, but tread lightly.” Lux said to her companion. “Let’s go!”
Ezreal nodded in acknowledgement, following the lady of luminosity as she held onto him with her free hand, her other hand holding onto her staff in a firm position in front of her. As they ascended the stairwell to enter the lobby level, numerous footsteps echoed through the corridor from above. Reaching the lobby, they were shocked to find it swarming with dozens of Piltover soldiers armed with assault rifles wearing composite armor uniforms identical to the ones worn by her assailants days ago.
Without saying a word, Lux and Ezreal maneuvered around the soldiers, taking care to remain silent during their movements. Upon emerging past the front doors of the building, they saw that a perimeter comprising of numerous road blocks and soldiers. The sound of a series of loud thumps of steel colliding against concrete caused them to turn their heads in time to see a Juggernaut Warmech making its descent into the parking garage. Knowing what that machine was capable of, a part of Lux wanted to abandon her escape mission and return to the rest of her companions. Even though her instincts wanted her to go back, she knew what she had to do and proceeded with their escape, sneaking past the roadblock without any troubles.
Even with all the self-confidence in the world, it’s not enough to only believe in ourselves. Sometimes we need to do what we must and put our trust in others to come through. In the meantime, all we can do is hope that in the end, things will all work out.
Chapter 12: The Sixth Day
The sixth day after the omen in Demacia was the beginning of our end. Even if it was short-lived, for the first time, it didn’t really matter who we were or where we came from. All of our differences, our individual goals, and our allegiances were cast aside. Our only purpose was the hope that light would remain and life itself would not be consumed by chaos.
- Memoires of Luxanna Crownguard
Odinfall, Central District of Piltover
“Spread out! Check every corner!” The lead soldier whispered into his comm. unit, performing a set of hand signals towards the rest of his task force with the slight turn of his body.
Acknowledging him, the two dozen men trailing him raised their rifles and began to diverge into three groups, spreading out into a scouting formation to cover more ground. Their footsteps echoed through the parking garage and the flexures in their composite armor grinded at the knees as they moved. Their scouting technique was thorough but predictable, keeping their distance from confined areas as they conducted their search.
Fiora and Leon crouched with their backs pressed against the door of an older looking sedan, paint chipping away from its surface evidence of its wear from extended use in snowy environments. She narrowed her eyes as the sound of three sets of rhythmic footsteps became louder until they couldn’t have been more than a few feet away. Turning her gaze towards her mentor, she nodded as he raised three fingers in front of his face before gesturing to move.
Three…two…one…Go! She thought to herself before the two of them lunged from their crouched position towards three soldiers that had appeared a few feet away from them.
“It’s th-,” The first armed man managed to utter before a swift kick from the duelist sent him backwards, colliding into a second soldier that was directly behind him.
As the two soldiers fell to the ground with a loud groan, their third companion quickly his rifle at the duelist in time to see a satisfied grin on her face. A quick leg sweep from behind by Leon at the soldier’s knees sent a surge of pain up his legs, causing him to let out a cry of pain as he pulled the trigger. Bullets flew wildly from the rifle in his hand as he fell, causing Fiora to quickly lunge to her right to avoid being hit by a stray shot. A swift kick to the head by the dark haired mage caused the soldier to let out a soft groan of pain before letting go of the trigger, putting an end to the barrage of bullets.
The encounter quickly attracted the rest of the Piltover raid team to storm the area, a second round of loud cracks now filling the air as a dozen nearby soldiers crouched on the ground and began to open fire at them. Ducking behind a car, Fiora quickly drew forth her magic to cast a Valor’s Blitz spell, surrounding herself in a thin aura of white light. Sparks flew from her soles as she quickly dashed from behind the car, a trail of bullets following her path as the soldiers struggled to keep up with her augmented speed. Within moments, she had managed to get behind the firing line, leaping into the air to do a forward flip as she drew out her Highwind in midair. The soldiers could only watch as she landed next to them, unable to react quick enough as she spun around her heels with her blade extended outwards to deliver a Spiral Slash against the soldiers, drawing blood from those closest to her.
As the remainder of her opponents in the distance took aim to retaliate, she changed her attack paradigm, grabbing the gun of one of the wounded soldiers as she quickly spun around behind him, propping him against her body to use as a meat shield as gunfire rained on her. Seeing their attacks hit only their ally, the soldiers quickly ceased their attack, giving Fiora the opportunity to kick her fallen hostage towards them. This moment of distraction allowed the duelist to sprint towards them, unloading the magazine in the rifle she had managed to capture in her left hand as cover fire. As the soldiers quickly moved to avoid the barrage of gunfire, she channeled a wind spell through her blade.
“Enjoy the ride!” She said as she closed the gap between her and her enemies, swinging out her blade to launch an Aero Wave, which resembled a cloudy crescent, towards the soldiers to knock them off their feet into the air. They let out cries of fear as they felt themselves lifted off of the ground, dropping their rifles as they were sent flying backwards before colliding hard against the wall behind them.
“Wasn’t even a challenge.” The duelist said in a low voice before turning to see Leon engaged against a second group of soldiers.
Countless hexagons of energy formed in front of Raynes as he raised his hand in front of him before they merged to form a large blue crystal-shaped shield. As a second group of a dozen soldiers opened fire on him, he stood motionless behind the crystal barrier, their projectiles colliding with the shield only to be deflected off of its surface. They ceased their attacks as they realized that none of their attacks were connecting.
“This is…sorcery!” One of the soldiers managed to exclaim before a painful cold sensation ran through his arms.
He looked down to find that his hands and weapon were now bound together by ice that had surrounded his whole forearm, slowing extending upwards towards his shoulders.
“WHA-What is-“ He managed to utter as he looked up in time to see a half a dozen orbs of blue energy swirling in front of Raynes in a circular pattern.
The other soldiers looked in horror as the black haired mage swung out his arm to send the barrage of blue energy towards the soldiers, each of them colliding with a soldier. As his attacks connected, shards of ice formed on the soldiers, completely restricting their movements as they slowly expanded in size to engulf them in ice.
“You *******!” One of the few remaining soldiers yelled out angrily over his fallen allies, raising his weapon, a rocket propelled grenade launcher before firing it towards the dark haired mage.
A loud explosion filled the room, followed by the appearance of flames that engulfed the area where Leon had stood. Fiora’s heart sunk at the sight of this, as she couldn’t tell whether her mentor managed to survive through that attack. She still didn’t know who he really was but for the moment, he was her only ally. Smoke in the area obstructed her view of the battle scene. As she began to sprint towards the soldiers angrily, a gust of wind from the center of the immolation cleared the area of smoke and dust, stopping her in her tracks. In the middle of this shockwave stood Raynes, the crystal shield in front of him still intact as he remained unscratched despite the large explosion.
“Ground Devastation.” He said in a low voice as he fell to a kneel, slamming the palm of his right hand into the ground.
A bright green rune circle appeared under the remaining soldier, causing them to let out a gasp at the sight of being surrounded by the spell. Before they could react, the ground under them began to destabilize, crumbling before shards of earth rose from the ground. The force of the rising earth sent the soldiers airborne, colliding into the concrete ceiling above them before landing on the crumbled ground below.
With the remaining soldiers incapacitated, Leon turned his gaze towards Fiora, who now slowly made her way towards him. Before she could say anything, the sound of loud stomping filled the air, gradually increasing in intensity. Turning their attention towards the direction that the sound was coming from, they saw the silhouette of a gigantic machine that moved on two large metallic legs descending into the parking garage from the world outside.
“A Juggernaut Warmech. It’s a heavy assault weapon based off of the machine created by a Yordle champion in the League.” Leon warned as he drew out his Blazing Edge, swinging it in a smooth circular motion over his head before holding it to his right side.
“Yeah, I’ve seen it before…and just like Rumble’s machine in the Summoner’s Arean,” Fiora responded before swinging her Highwind forward, holding the pointed end towards the approaching warmech. “It’s time to scrap this hunk of metal!”
Stopping its movements, the warmech opened a sliding panel in the middle of its main body, revealing a set of three spears loaded into tube like structures. They fired in sequential order, sending large harpoon-like projectiles towards the fugitives.
Upon seeing the appearance of the harpoons, Leon and Fiora dove to the side, narrowly avoiding the attacks as they flew by with a high pitched whistle. The duelist recomposed herself as she stood up, lunging forward to close the gap between herself and the large machine. The warmech brought up its left mace arm to defend, filling the air with the sound of clashing steel as Fiora brought her blade down.
Using its strength to its advantage, the Juggernaut swung its arm upwards with rapid speeds as it conducted electricity through the weapon to create a spark before knocking the purple haired girl into the air. Turning her body around while airborne, Fiora landed against the ceiling on her feet before pushing off to launch herself towards the war machine. Channeling her magic into her blade, she surrounded it in a shearing wind spell that flowed rapidly along the edge of the blade. Metal collided a second time, this time the magic augmentation of the duelist’s blade overcoming the thick armored mace to create a clean cut along the length of the mace.
As the lower part of the mace arm fell off, sparks of lightning flew wildly from the interior of the arm, now visible to show delicate beams of metal, interconnected to form a cage that allowed it to conduct electricity without damaging the circuitry within. The duelist followed this up with a vertical swing of her Aero augmented blade in order to cleanly cut the rest of the arm off at the less armored upper portion, causing a loud crash to ring throughout the garage as the heavy arm landed on the concrete below.
Turning its body on a rotating pivot located above its legs, the warmech brought its right around before releasing a large stream of flames towards the duelist at point blank range. Fiora quickly channeled additional energy into her blade before swinging it outwards to launch an Aero Wave attack at the flames. Rather than deflecting the flames, however, the wind spell only served to fuel with additional oxygen, intensifying the flame and causing it to expand wildly. The duelist watched in horror as the large ball of flames began to surround her, unable to act in time to escape.
“Arctic Shield!” Leon’s voice rang through the garage before a large pillar of ice rose between the duelist and the flames in front of her.
The pillar of ice rapidly rose to the ceiling before expanding outwards to form a wall of ice in front of the duelist, forming a shield impenetrable to the flames on the other side. A flowing blue energy ran through the length of the ice wall, feeding its strength to avoid being melted by the intense flames. Fiora turned around in time to see her mentor’s free hand held outwards, an aura of blue energy surrounding it in a flowing fashion similar to that within the ice wall.
“Frost Lance!” He said as he clenched his open hand into a fist.
The duelist watched as the ice wall began to glow brightly, the flow of energy now concentrating into a dozen points along the wall. Spear-like projections extended from the ice wall before breaking apart into sharp shards of ice that remained suspended in the air the block the oncoming flames. A soft whistle filled the air as the shards of ice appeared to launch themselves towards the machine synchronously, rapidly pushing the flames back to the warmech before colliding with its armored hull to create a series of crushing sounds. A series of sparks flew from the machine moments later, visible through the dust as the heavy armor that had encased its main body had been compromised. With its circuits now exposed, the Juggernaut bowed forward to reveal three large missiles mounted on its back, aiming them towards its opponents as flames began to erupt from the back of the leftmost one.
“Don’t even think about it!” Fiora said as she instinctively channeled a set of three Blitz spells to swirl around her free left hand.
With quick motions, she swung her hand outwards to launch the barrage of blitz spells aimed at the rockets. Only one of the missiles managed to successfully lift off from the back of the warmech before colliding with a silver sphere of energy, causing a massive explosion. The collision of the other two Blitz spells with the remaining missiles, still mounted on the back of the warmech, created similar explosions. Flames emerged from the explosion, engulfing the machine in its entirety.
The duelist dashed away from the machine to avoid the ensuing flames as a series of smaller explosions filled the air, corresponding to the overheating and subsequent destruction of the warmech’s inner circuitry. As the flames began to retreat after the blasts ceased, Fiora stopped to turn around one last time to watch as the warmech become reduced to a smoldering pile of metal. The sound of footsteps approaching her caused her to turn to face her companion, whose gaze was also fixed on the immolation in front of them.
“Well that wasn’t too bad,” Fiora said, causing the dark-haired mage to nod slightly in acknowledgement.
“Come on, let’s make our escape. We don’t know what else they’ll send at us if we stay.” Leon finally said after a short pause.
Resheathing their mageblades, they took off on a run towards the Graviton Cycles. This time, the duelist had no hesitations with mounting the bike, quickly putting on her helmet before the familiar humming of the gravity drive system filled the area. The sound of gunfire filled the room as another task force of soldiers appeared in the distance, a barrage of bullets colliding with the nearby structures.
Knowing that this was going to be a never-ending battle if they were to stay, Leon and Fiora quickly shifted their bikes into a forward drive, the humming sound increasing in intensity to echo through the garage as they took. Moving at high speeds, they rapidly approached the firing soldiers that blocked the path to the exit driveway, maneuvering left and right to avoid their gunfire. Fiora drew out her Highwind as they neared the soldiers, channeling an Aero Wave spell through it before swinging it forward to create a vertical crescent of wind that extended into the ground, creating a fissure in the concrete as it moved. Upon reaching the soldier’s formation, the impact of the wind spell against the riflemen sent the few closest to the spell airborne, causing them to let out loud screams as they flew backwards.
Leon simultaneously formed a set of five Blitz spells to swirl around his right hand, firing them towards the soldiers closest to them. The impact of the silver spheres against the soldiers caused them to let out a loud cry of pain before they collapsed to the ground, their eyes remaining open to see the two Graviton Cycles pass them but unable to make any moves to stop them.
Fiora and Leon emerged from the parking garage onto the street level to see themselves surrounded by military vehicles that formed a two block perimeter around the building.
“Freeze!” A loud voice echoed through the air as countless soldiers turned their attention towards the sound of the high pitched hum coming from their Graviton Cycles.
Rapid gunfire erupted from their rifles to create a series of cracking sounds that filled the air. Knowing the enemy was far too numerous for them to engage without turning the streets of Piltover into a massacre, they quickly spun their cycles to their right and took off on the main street towards the roadblock in the distance. Fiora narrowed her eyes behind the visor of her helmet as she analyzed the composition of the roadblock: two large slabs of heavy concrete that took up most of the width of the street except for a few small gaps that were blocked off by military vehicles positioned to allow only pedestrian traffic to cross. Knowing that there was not going to be enough space for their Graviton Cycles to go through, Fiora turned her gaze towards Leon.
“You crack it open and I’ll blow it open!” Leon said, acknowledging the duelist’s assessment of the situation.
Fiora removed her right hand from the handle bar to raise it up, positioning it directly ahead of her before drawing out her magic to create a set of three Blitz spheres that revolved around her right palm. As they came within a block of the roadblock, the duelist fired off the barrage of Blitz spheres at the concrete road block. The soldiers that guarded this portion of the military perimeter dove away without hesitation, narrowing avoiding direct hits from the attacks. A series of explosions accompanied the collision of the spells with the concrete slabs, causing them to break apart into large fragments. As the solid slab began to crumble from the force of the duelist’s attacks, Leon channeled wind magic into his Blazing Edge, surrounding it in a wide layer of cloudy swirls.
“Aero Devastation!” He yelled as he narrowed his eyelids to fire off the powerful wind projectile the surrounded his blade towards the crumbling wall.
It was almost instantaneous, the slabs of concrete that began to crumble appeared to almost vaporize in an instant as the force of the powerful wind attack sheared into the fragments of stone. Within mere moments, the majority of the concrete slabs disappeared, leaving behind a wide fissure. A curved dip formed in the ground between the remains of the roadblock as the force of the attack sheared into the road itself. The guards posted at the roadblock were only able to turn their heads to watch as the two Graviton Cycles sped by through the gap their riders had created.
“Perimeter has been breached, deploy pursuit teams immediately!” A voice said over a loudspeaker in the area.
The sound of multiple high pitched hums was fast approaching as Fiora and Leon sped through the colorfully illuminated streets of Piltover. Turning her head backwards for a moment, the duelist caught a glimpse of four armored soldiers approaching on Graviton Cycles.
Realizing the same thing, Raynes signaled to the duelist to follow him as he made a swift right turn. Over the next few minutes, Fiora trailed behind him as he made numerous turns through the complex network of streets in Piltover in an effort to lose their pursuers. The longer the pursuit went on, however, the closer the soldiers came to catching up with them. They eventually ended up on a wider two way street positioned on an elevated platform before two of the soldiers increased the speed of their pursuit, ending up on each side of the fleeing fugitives.
“Die you *****!” One yelled out angrily as he raised his rifle with his right hand, unloading his magazine at the duelist.
Bullets connected with the gravity drive discs on Fiora’s cycle, causing it to suddenly slow down before sparks flew. Moving on instinct, she cast a Valor’s Blitz spell on herself before quickly leaping off of her cycle, gliding through the air before diving towards the assaulting soldier’s cycle. Drawing out her mage blade, she swung it downward as she landed, embedding it into the engine of the cycle.
“Go to hell!” She retorted angrily as swung herself around, using the embedded sword as a pivot to deliver a swift kick to the soldier’s head, knocking him off of the moving cycle onto the streets.
She quickly landed on the seat of the soldier’s Graviton Cycle as sparks began to fly from where her mageblade had connected with the vehicle. Pulling out the sword with both hands, she quickly leapt off of the failing vehicle, doing a mid-air flip over Leon’s cycle. With a swift move, she lunged downward to latch onto the front of the second soldier’s bike, causing him to release his grip of the cycle as he let out a cry of surprise. With a set of two quick blows to the soldier’s head using the hilt of her mage blade, she flung him off of the cycle before swinging herself around to assume control of the vehicle and continue their escape.
“Impressive…dangerous but impressive.” Leon said after watching her skirmish unfold.
“Don’t mess with me.” She replied proudly before returning her focus towards their escape. “Two more are fast approaching, got any strateg-“
Fiora stopped in mid-sentence as the brightly lit street around her suddenly became pitch black. Without warning, the shimmering lights and colorful advertisements in the city of lights faded, transforming the brightly lit metropolitan into a dark abyss where the only sources of light were the headlights of motor vehicles.
“Wha- What’s going on?” She asked as she looked around frantically in a perplexed state. “Is this a trap?”
She turned her head slightly to look at the two pursuing soldiers mounted on their Graviton Cycles, watching as they themselves lost their composure in response to the power outage. It was evident that they were just as shocked at what was happening.
No, something else is going on. It’s not just a few streets but the whole city seems to have lost power. Fiora thought to herself as she stared into the dark abyss ahead, seeing no signs of lighting in the visible distance.
A loud rumble began to shake the elevated road underneath them, causing the duelist to snap out of her thoughts. She began to feel her Graviton Cycle sway to each side in an unsteady manner. Initially cursing the technology under her, she began to notice that despite the tilting of the bike, the road underneath her remained level with her field of vision.
“Leon, the road, what’s happening?” She yelled out upon realizing that it was not her bike that was malfunctioning, but rather the entire street underneath her becoming unstable.
“We need to get off of here now!” He commanded before banking a sharp right turn with Fiora following. “These streets are suspended in the air and fortified into position using energy. Whatever is affecting the lights in the city has also affected the roads. They’re going to collapse!”
The rumbling that ran throughout the city intensified. The previously solid road, comprised of countless green metallic segments that had held together tightly began to separate. Fiora felt a sensation of freefall as the road under her began to collapse to the ground level underneath. Redlining the speed, she followed Raynes as he made an attempted dash towards an off-ramp that would take them to ground level.
The segment of road adjacent to the off ramp began to collapse as they reached it, causing them to look in horror as the concrete off ramp appeared to ascend, rising into the air like a stone barricade to cut them off. Leon’s muscles tightened as he managed to reach the off-ramp, applying backwards force on the handlebars and shifting his weight to draw it upwards. The collision of the bottom of his bike against the rising concrete sent sparks to fly. It took all of his effort to try to regain control of his cycle, ultimately failing to keep it upright and leaping off in abandonment.
****, I’m not going to make it! Fiora thought as she saw that the road under her had already fallen by at least a few feet and was only getting worse.
Upon reaching a few feet away from the rapidly rising concrete ahead of her, she pushed herself off of the bike into the air, using the remains of her gravity manipulation spell earlier to rise above the level of the off ramp. No longer had she managed to rise above the level of the road than the sound of an explosion rang from underneath her as the Graviton Cycle collided head on against solid concrete. Her eyes opened wide in horror as she began to fall towards the hard ground at rapid speeds, fueled by the momentum of her speeding cycle.
**** it, is this how it ends? She thought to herself, closing her eyes and holding her arm to her face to brace for the inevitable.
She braced herself for a pain unlike any other she had previous experienced upon landing on the ground, one that would accompany the breaking of likely every bone in her body, as was to be expected at these speeds. Instead, she felt nothing but a cold sensation around her. She couldn’t explain the sensation and could only assume that she was dead and that her mind had protected her from the trauma of it all. She forced her eyes open, expecting to find herself in an afterlife type of world, only to find herself unable to breathe.
A choking sensation ran through her as a small amount of cold fluid entered her lungs. She gasped for air and as if in response, the large orb of water that surrounded her collapsed, sending her falling a few feet onto the ground below. A pain ran up her back as she landed on her tailbone, causing her to wince in pain as she coughed, gasping for breath. Recomposing herself, she looked around her to find a large amount of water running down the side of the street. Her clothes were completely soaked through, droplets of water falling from the strands of her hair as she struggled to sit up.
“What the…what just happened?” She managed to utter out before turning to see Raynes approaching her. “Did you just…break my fall?”
“I accept your gratitude.” Leon responded sarcastically. “I said your stunt earlier looked impressive, but it was also really reckless just like this was. If I hadn’t crashed my own cycle in time to see your fall, the injuries you would have sustained would be fatal, far beyond what I could heal.”
Fiora spent the next few minutes kneeling on the ground as she breathed hard, letting out a series of coughs to bring up the rest of the water she had inhaled. Taking a moment to analyze the situation, she had the uneasy feeling that something had gone terribly wrong to send this previously peaceful city of lights into darkness. Standing up to look into the distance, she noticed an orange haze that spread diffusely over the city, multiple plumes rising into the night sky to paint it gray. She knew that the damage she had just experienced was but a sample of what was going on all over the city.
“What caused all of this? What could throw this utopian city into chaos like this? Is all of this happening because of us?” She asked out loud with a tense voice.
“No…something else is going on. I don’t know why all of this is happening, but we can’t stay here. We need to meet up with the others and go from there. Hopefully they got out safely.” Leon replied, gesturing for the duelist to follow.
Hours passed as Leon and Fiora wandered through the dark streets of Piltover, gradually making their way towards the West Point of the city. With every corner she turned, all that was reflected off of the duelist’s eyes were scenes of chaos as people roamed the street with cries of despair. Countless people flooded the streets, many of whom were injured from the collapse of the city’s elevated road system. She knew it was illogical but couldn’t help feel somehow responsible for the chaos that was spreading, that her presence in this utopia alone tainted it and threw it into darkness. They roamed through the streets silently to avoid attracting attention. Despite the chaos, they were still wanted fugitives in the city. Every person in the city had the potential to recognize and blame them for the destruction going on in the city, as well as take matters into their own hands.
“Fiora, let’s stop here for a bit.” Leon finally said, breaking what seemed like an endless silence when they reached an empty street. “You wanted to know what could cause this to happen?”
“Yeah. What are you thinking?”
“The Crystalis,” He said as he pointed downwards towards the ground. “It has failed.”
“What? You said that it was essentially an unlimited power source. How could it cause all of this damage?” She asked in disbelief.
“How it failed, I don’t know. But everything you’re seeing around you is the result of building a city far beyond its own limits.” Raynes answered, almost with a tone of bitterness in his voice.
“Why do you say that?”
“After it was discovered, the whole city was practically reengineered to be built around the power of the Crystalis. Without even considering the possibility that it could fail, the entire city’s power grid was connected to it. Even roads were reformed into sky bridges that in no way could be supported using normal physics. Everything was redone to create a modern city that was almost designed to flaunt its power and superiority.”
“Pride.” Fiora interjected, lowering her eyes slightly. “The happiness of an entire city built on lies and a foundation of hubris…with peace lasting for as long as the pride was still there. Once that foundation ran out, everything else fell with it. I know that feeling all too well.”
“History teaches us that civilizations have collapsed for similar reasons. After tonight, the people will begin to question their leaders. Only time will tell if this society is resilient enough to rebound, or fall like many others have in-“ He began to say before being interrupted from behind.
“Hey! It’s them! Freeze!” A soldier yelled out as he raised his rifle, opening fire on them from a distance.
Fiora and Leon shot a quick glance behind them to see two armed soldiers that had managed to identify them, their weapons unleashing a series of loud cracks as they unloaded their magazine towards them. Caught off guard, they dashed forward, tumbling to turn the corner before continuing to sprint away from their opponents. As they reached the end of the next block, a car pulled came to a screeching halt in front of them, blocking their path.
“Get in!” A female voice yelled out as the tinted windows rolled down to reveal Shauna Vayne in the driver’s seat.
“Vayne, what are you doing here?” Fiora exclaimed upon seeing the familiar face staring back at her.
“Get down!” Talon exclaimed from the passenger seat as he drew out two daggers.
Those words caused Leon and Fiora to quickly duck to the ground, turning their heads to look behind them in time to see two daggers flying over them, giving off a dull thud as their sharp edges met the flesh and bones of the skulls of the two soldiers in pursuit. The sound of metal colliding with the hard ground below filled the air moments later as they dropped their rifles, falling forward onto the cement with a loud thud.
Not hesitating a second time, Fiora quickly pulled back door of the night hunter’s car open to reveal Shen already occupying one of the seats. She lunged forward to set foot into the vehicle with her companion following behind her. Tires screeched as the car took off, barely giving enough time for the dark haired mage to close the door completely.
“Vayne, what the hell is going on? Why are you here and how did you find us?” Fiora demanded frantically.
“With the amount of commotion your party caused in Piltover? It wasn’t too hard…they had you broadcasted all over the live news here.” Vayne replied, slightly annoyed at the accusatory interrogation from her fellow League champion. “I have to say, despite your tendency to want attention, this publicity stunt was ridiculous even for you.”
“Tch…whatever. You still haven’t answered my question.” Fiora said as she twitched slightly at the night hunter’s attitude towards her.
She and Vayne had never gotten along despite their status both in Demacia and in the League. Every instance that she was forced to team up with Vayne in the Summoner’s Arena to represent Demacia, they were constantly at each other’s throats over battle strategies. Even in Demacia, prior to their participation in the Institute of War, their personalities were always at odds with each other’s. While the night hunter focused on the practical aspects of getting things done, regardless of the means, Fiora had always believed in the importance of style and appearance in battle.
“Why did you come save me and why is a Noxian and an Ionian accompanying you here?” She repeated.
“I know it’s hard for someone like you to understand, but the world doesn’t revolve around you.” Vayne snapped as she banked a sharp right turn, causing the duelist to shift in her seat. “I didn’t come here to rescue you. I came to Piltover to rendezvous with a contact of mine over some important business. You just happened to be with him at the time.”
“Your contact,” Fiora echoed as she turned to face the dark haired mage sitting next to him, who looked back at her with apologetic eyes. “Leon? You know h-“
“Leon? Is that what you told her to call you?” Vayne interrupted. “How pitiful…You still haven’t told her the truth yet, have you?”
“The truth? Just who are you, really?” Fiora demanded, a look of anger in her eyes as she stared down the dark haired mage.
“Fiora…Please forgive me, I never intended that you would have to find out this way.” He answered before closing his eyelids, furrowing his brow slightly before speaking again. “My real name is Ashram…Reginald Ashram, former High Councilor of the Institute of War.”
Chapter 2 posted. Sorry for the delay. I had it written for a while already but towards the end, I realized that there was so much more I could do with this story. Since Riot pretty much left the lore of this game open, I decided to fill in a lot of the gaps as well as introduce my own additions to the lore in the form of this fanfic. I'm going to try to do one update a week, but as of right now, I'm trying to keep myself at least a chapter ahead of what I post so that I can go back and make changes to it along the way. Feedback/reviews would be great.
Also, since the technology in this game seems all over the place to begin with, with some champions being barbarians that use large blades, to giant juggernaut like robotic creatures like Rumble's machine, I pretty much set the technological capabilities of this story to be slightly more advanced than what we have now.
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