Vladimir sat down on a rock at the edge of the clearing. They had been running through the forest for a long time, and the sun hung high in the sky. As he sat, he realized he’d not slept in two days and his exhaustion hit him like an ancient golem. He asked Lee Sin if he’d keep watch while Vladimir slept. Lee Sin consented and sat down cross legged. Vlad could tell he was meditating and thought it must have been a handy skill in prison. He found a spot in the shade of a tree and lay down, letting sleep fall over him.
He fell into a deep sleep and woke up as the sun was rising. He looked over and saw Lee Sin still meditating in the same spot. The man seemed to come out of a trance and broke into a grin saying, “Sleep well?” Vladimir laughed and said, “Yes, I did thanks. You could’ve woken me up to get some sleep yourself.” Lee Sin’s smile was warm and sincere while he said, “I have no need. Mediation gives me just as much rest, but allows me to remain aware of my surroundings. He pushed his hair out of his face and Vlad saw his eyes for the first time. They were a deep brown color, and clearly he was a man used to smiling. Vlad couldn’t help but like him.
“Alright, well I’ve got one for you. Why did they keep you in prison if you were put there by the Noxians?” Vlad had been wondering this and was interested to hear what his companion’s take on it was. “I’m honestly not sure. The only thing I can think of would be my fighting prowess.” He looked at Vladimir sheepishly and said, “I’m sorry, I do not wish to be boastful. I was trained in a Shojin monastery and I learned to fight quite well. I only say this because I think that’s why I was kept in prison. Ionia has been undergoing some strange changes lately, and it seems that we’re going out of our way to make ourselves vulnerable.”
Vlad thought on his words and was impressed he had a Shojin master here with him. He had heard tales of the fighting style in Noxus, and it explained his impressive display at the prison. He was about to ask if the man wanted to spar a bit so he could get a demonstration when he stopped. A beautiful singing voice came from the forest behind him and he turned immediately, looking for the source. He was unable to see it immediately, but the voice continued to sing. He was entranced, unable to think of anything other than reaching that beautiful voice.
Lee Sin was speaking in the background, but Vladimir heard none of it. The voice was calling to him, telling him to come chase her. ‘Well, there’s nothing else I’d rather do in the world,’ he thought to himself and took off sprinting into the forest. Lee Sin yelled behind him, but he didn’t care. He ran a few hundred yards, dodging in between trees and chasing down the source of the beautiful voice. He rounded a thicket of bushes and when he turned, he saw her.
She was a beautiful woman, if a bit unusual looking. She had short cropped burgundy hair with ears poking out of the top. She wore what looked like a leather leotard with furs attached to the belt. The most unusual part of her appearance however, were the tails. From her lower back she had nine beautiful, bushy tails that glowed red as if they were on fire. They swayed back and forth, holding Vladimir’s attention completely.
She giggled and said, “Let’s have some real fun.” She winked at him and blew him a kiss. It almost seemed to strike him physically and Vladimir wandered forward, intoxicated by the strange woman’s presence. Just as he was about to fall into her arms, something flew from behind him and struck the woman in the chest. She flew backwards, hitting a tree hard and slumped to the ground. The trance wore off instantly and Vlad looked over at Lee Sin.
“What on earth just happened to me?” Lee Sin laughed and said, “It appears you’ve fallen victims to the charms of Ahri, our Nine-Tailed Fox.” As he finished speaking the woman stood up and seemed to be clutching an orb of energy. Her voice was suddenly much harsher and she screeched, “Yes, and now playtime’s over!” She charged at the two quickly throwing her orb at Lee Sin, forcing him backwards. She quickly changed direction and dove directly at Vladimir. Three small fires were circling her and she quickly threw them at Vlad.
He managed to jump out of the way of the first one, which evaporated upon hitting a tree. The next two struck him squarely in the chest, causing him to feel as though he was being boiled from the inside. He focused himself and found her blood in the air, pulling some to him. She cried out in pain and fell backwards. Lee Sin then threw out his own orb of energy, striking her firmly. She attempted to dash away again, but as she did, Lee Sin jumped towards her and kicked her directly again. She wobbled backwards, and fell again, hitting the ground hard.
Lee Sin looked over at Vlad and said, “You ok buddy?” Behind him, the Nine-Tailed Fox had already gotten on her feet and had the little fires floating around her again. Vlad shouted a warning out, but it was too late. The first fire struck Lee Sin in the stomach, making him double over. This motion caused the next two to strike him directly in the face. He yelled in agony as the fires raged on him. Vladimir fired a bullet of his blood at Ahri, but the fox had already retreated, giggling as she ran away.
He quickly ran over to Lee Sin and tried to put out the fire. He tore off his cape and threw it on him, patting it out where he could. Lee Sin’s cries were muffled and he thrashed about. Vlad felt awfully for him, and took off the cape. While his face looked raw and torn up, it was Lee Sin’s eyes that made him pause. His eyes had been burned out of the sockets, and Vlad knew there was no reversing that. Horrified, Vlad picked him up and carried him back to the clearing. He set him down and said, “If you can hear me, I’d go into the deepest trance possible. We need you to heal up as much as you can.”
Though Lee Sin didn’t acknowledge that he heard, the grunting stopped and he became perfectly still, sitting up straight. Vladimir sat down against a tree next to him, wondering how his time in Ionia could’ve gone so badly.
And thank you Ahloso, it must be different reading them all in one sitting I guess. As I was writing it I didn't feel very good about it for a while there in the middle!
Irelia arrived at the city of Malthrir in the late afternoon. The weather was much cooler in the north of Ionia, but Irelia felt extremely comfortable. As she made her way into town she began to feel a familiar sense of dread kicking in. It was the exact same way she had felt walking into the city of Ionia several days ago. On high alert, she held her blades out in front of her, ready to attack. As she wandered on the outskirts of the city, her unease grew the longer she went without seeing someone.
As she debated her options, she decided to go with a reckless choice. She called out, “This is Irelia, Will of the Blades, Captain of the Guard of the Ionian defense forces. If there are any Ionians here, show yourselves!” She only had to wait a moment before a door opened about a hundred yards in front of her. She jogged over, blade at the ready, hoping she wasn’t walking in to a trap. A strange face peeked out of the doorway and said, “Welcome to Malthrir.”
Though Irelia had heard of the Wuju Bladesman, Master Yi, she had not met him personally. He had been assigned to the northern forces during the Noxian invasion, and Irelia made a name for herself fending off the southern invaders. She knew in theory about his odd goggles he wore, but it was another thing entirely to see them for herself. There were seven green, glowing eyes to them, and he looked more like an insect than a warrior. She tried to mask her surprise and quickly said, “Master Yi, I’ve been assigned to provide you with assistance and…” She paused, knowing this was going to be a sensitive subject. “I’m also here to take over operations in this area.”
Master Yi’s face remained impassive, and the silence hung in the air for a long moment. “Very well,” he said with a professional tone. “Come inside and let me update you on the situation.” Irelia felt slightly guilty, but orders were orders. As they walked into the house, Irelia saw it was well furnished and had clearly been lived in, but it was empty. “Where are all the civilians?” Irelia sincerely hoped they had not already fallen. “They are all holed up together underneath one of the buildings across town. I’ll explain more once we are safe.”
They reached a staircase on the far side of the house and Master Yi knocked on the side in a peculiar pattern. When it opened she followed Master Yi down a hidden staircase and found herself in a dimly lit room with soldiers scattered throughout. It was dismal and Irelia asked, “What on earth happened here?” Master Yi looked back and said, “We were attacked by Zaun. They were led by a man I’d never seen before. He spoke with a heavy accent and had some kind of arm coming out of his back.”
He hesitated, “They used some kind of gaseous weapon on us and we evacuated the city as soon as possible. That’s how we ended up down here.” Irelia looked around and said, “Is this all the fighting forces we have left?” Master Yi nodded and added, “There is nothing we can do to combat them. The gas is easy enough to stop if you have something covering your mouth and nose, but by the time we learned that, we had no men left. That gas is quick acting and deadly.”
Irelia sighed and leaned up against a banister. “Thank you Master Yi. I’ll decide what we can do and get back to you shortly.” He remained standing where he was and said, “One more thing… why did it take you two weeks to get here? The journey only takes two days, and we sent someone out as soon as this started.” He hesitated, “And not that I haven’t heard of your reputation as a warrior, but I was hoping we’d get more reinforcements. As it stands we only have one hundred men to fight off an army.”
Irelia was shocked at the Duchess’s treatment of the situation. She had not known it was this bad. “I’m sorry, I didn’t know. I only heard about it three days ago, and the Duchess made it sound as though the problem wasn’t too bad.” She looked around and raised her voice, so everyone in the room could hear her. “I need anyone and everyone able to fight to come with me. Prepare yourselves to counteract their poisonous agent, but now we go to battle.” One of the soldiers protested feebly, “But we’re so outnumbered, how could we ever win?” Irelia laughed and said, “Clearly you’ve never fought with the Will of the Blades before.”
An hour later, after preparations had been made, Irelia led the group through the city. Master Yi had informed her that the enemy had taken up positions outside of Malthrir, and refused to go in, where the defenders had the advantage. It was a smart move, but Irelia had a feeling that she could strike an easy victory here today. She had donned black armor for the occasion and wore a strip of black cloth over her face to cover her mouth and nose. She knew it made her look intimidating, and was relying on it for the upcoming confrontation.
As they reached the western border of town Irelia saw the Zaunite army in the distance. There were only one thousand soldiers, but she knew their advantage lay in their techmaturgy, rather than their numbers. She signaled for her team to wait behind her and Master Yi yelled out the orders. Stepping forward, she called out, “I am looking for the general of this army. I wish to speak with him.” There was laughter among the Zaunite camp that was quickly cut by a metallic sounding voice.
“Move out of my way, I will see her.” Irelia gasped as she saw the face of the man who had attacked her in Ionia. What she had mistaken for rags was actually a mechanical mask, and she heard the sound of heavy breathing through it. The man laughed and said, “So, Irelia, you recovered from my attack did you? I’m surprised, that gas is supposed to be fast acting and deadly.” Irelia regained her composure and said, “It didn’t work very well then. I’m still here.” She wondered how he knew her name but gave nothing away.
“I am Viktor, general of Zaun. I come to your humble state for one reason. I want to kill you all.” He laughed again and the mechanical arm on his back pointed at her. “You Irelia, stand in my way, and for that, you shall be the first of my prey today.” Before Irelia could retort, a laser beam appeared from the hand and headed at her. She dove sideways, feeling the heat from it pass by her. She yelled out, “Ionians, charge!”
Behind her, the Ionian contingent leapt into the fray and began attacking the Zaunite soldiers. She saw Master Yi diving left and right into battle, attacking with a speed and ferocity that lived up to his reputation. She saw Viktor running towards the back lines of the battle and firing his laser at any Ionians he could see. She cringed when she saw it hit one of her fellows in the leg. The laser sliced through it cleaner than any blade, and the man fell to the ground screaming.
Irelia shook it off and concentrated on the battle around her. She dove in and out, attacking all who came near her with her blades. She saw a group of four in front of her and concentrated on her options. Quickly deciding, she dove at the man on the right, impaling him with two blades, while turning in mid air towards the other three. She quickly threw one of her blades in a line through the closest one. He fell over dead and the other two abruptly stopped, rethinking challenging her. By this time, it was too late as Irelia dashed again to the furthest opponent, stabbing him while throwing her last blade in to the back of the other soldier.
As they slumped over, dead, Irelia looked around for Viktor. She saw him on the edge of the battlefield and quickly made her way to him, stabbing any who came near her. Though he wore glowing red goggles, she could tell the fury etched in his face as he fired laser after laser at her. She continued to dodge as she came nearer and upon reaching him, she swung with all of her might. She cut off his right leg and arm with one swing, and he cried out in pain.
Just as Irelia was about to deliver a killing blow, Master Yi shouted out behind her, “Duck!” Irelia reacted without thinking and hit the ground. Just above her, a blade went slashing by and she threw her blades behind her. She heard a groan and looked back to see two soldiers with her blades stuck in their stomachs. She quickly grabbed them back and turned to finish off Viktor when she saw he had disappeared. She gazed around the battle and heard his mechanical voice yell, “Retreat!”
She gave chase, but a large group of Zaunite soldiers got in the way. She quickly dispatched them with her floating blades but the Zaunite army had gone into full retreat. She saw viktor using his mechanical arm to hang onto a soldier that was carrying him away. She turned to survey the battle and saw that the Ionians had managed to make it through relatively unscathed.
Master Yi walked up to her and said, “Thank you Irelia. Temporarily we are safe, but we must fortify our defenses.” She nodded, and knew she should be proud of this victory; she just couldn’t shake the feeling that something was wrong. She said, “Yes, well, let’s get everyone situated in the city again. I’ll need someone to send a report to the Duchess.”
Singed was sitting inside of an inn on the south coast of Ionia. These territories had been invaded first by Noxus and it was one of the main reasons they had lost in his opinion. They should have invaded everywhere at once, the way he was doing now. He had Viktor up north spreading chaos and isolating an entire region. He had received a communication several days ago from his spies in the Ionian capital stating that Viktor had been winning every battle and the defenders numbers were decimated.
Singed knew he was not a tactical genius, but he understood people well enough to realize that if you cut them off from help, they grew desperate. The crown jewel in his invasion plan had been the spy he placed in the capital. Using a brilliant new formula he had concocted, the spy was able to take on the appearance of anyone he could get biological material from. It had worked splendidly, and Singed knew he had eyes and ears inside of the capital.
The only thing that wasn’t going according to plan so far was the appearance of Vladimir. He hadn’t counted on that, and had hoped the man would join his cause. Unfortunately, he had reacted violently to the Mad Chemist’s presence, forcing him to turn violent. Fortunately for him, Karma would no longer recognize help if it walked up to her and smote Baron Nashor.
Surprisingly enough, he didn’t need to do anything to create the unstable state the entire region seemed to be in. Karma, Duchess of Ionia had begun acting irrationally on many matters lately, and it had worked perfectly for the Zaunite invasion plan. He would find out why she was acting this way once he had moved in on the capital.’Yes,’ he thought, as he sat there, drinking his glass of tea, ‘Events are proceeding well.’
One of his lieutenants came in and looked around. Spotting Singed, he headed over and delivered a small tablet to him. Singed looked at it and didn’t know what he was supposed to do with it. Suddenly, before his eyes an image of Viktor appeared. As far as Singed could tell from the mask and the goggles, he looked pained. Singed was taken aback, but didn’t let it show in front of his lieutenant. He dismissed the man and watched the communication.
“General Singed, the offensive was going very well, but I made a grievous mistake. Irelia, captain of the guard, came to battle and I underestimated her. She injured me and almost single handedly won the battle for them. Despite this, I have a plan to improve both myself and my men. I will update you with more details as I can, but for now, our offensive in the northern regions has been stopped.” The image cut off and Singed was left with a little more time to think.
He was impressed with the technology that Viktor had sent him, but very displeased with the news. His plans relied on the Ionian forces being spread too thinly to truly defend. He considered his options and stood up when he made a decision. The restaurant grew quiet, populated entirely by his men. “Well, Zaunites. It would appear the time has come to make our move. Eat well, for tonight we begin out invasion of the southern territories.”
The restaurant staff gasped and began to try to back away, but without needing orders, the Zaunites stood and barred the exits. Singed sat back down and sipped his tea, gazing off into the distance. The screams of the Ionian workers were piercing but short. The restaurant went silent, the way Singed preferred it.
Thank you Triton! If you'd like more, you can either find the Crimson Elite and War for Freljord Series threads on these league fanfic forums, or you can just click on the website above. The tab for new readers in the top right should take you there pretty easily!
Lee Sin did not dream, nor was he aware of his surroundings. Normally when he went into a meditative state, he kept himself open to the world around him. Right now, he was focused on nothing else but urging his body to heal as much as it could. He knew his eyes would never work again. They had received far too much damage. Despite this, he knew that much of his training with the Shojin meant he could overcome this. This knowledge made him keen to heal as much of himself as he could.
He didn’t know how long he had been out, but he knew that it was time for him to come out of his trance. He had done all he could. Lee Sin allowed himself to wake up and tried to look around. It was disconcerting having no vision, but he felt a cloth on his eye sockets. He called out, tentatively at first, “Vladimir?” He heard no answer and thought to himself, ‘Oh no… He abandoned me.’ Then he heard a yell, “Be there in a second!”
He heard a small scuffle and approaching footsteps. Vladimir’s voice rang out from somewhere to his right, “Glad you’re up. You had me worried there.” Lee Sin gave a small smile, and asked “How long was I out?” Vladimir was silent for a moment, no doubt making a facial expression Lee Sin could not appreciate. “It’s been about three days. I’ve been keeping watch over you in case the nine-tailed fox came back, but it looks like she decided we weren’t easy prey.”
Lee Sin could hear the smile in his voice before a quick, “Oh, I’m sorry Lee. I didn’t mean anything by it-“ but the monk cut him off. “I know what you meant Vladimir. This was not your fault, it was mine. I grew cocky due to my fighting skill. I should know better than to take it easy, especially when facing one as tricky as the fox. I’ve learned my lesson in one of the most difficult ways possible.” He gestured towards his face.
Vladimir laughed and the two sat there for a few moments, enjoying the warm weather. Lee Sin stood up and said, “I do have a favor to ask of you now.” Vladimir’s reply sounded surprised. “Alright, what can I do for you?” Lee Sin gave a sheepish look, “Well, I must relearn to fight with my new… ailment. Can I spend some time sparring against you until I can at least fight passably?”
There was a silence in the air for a moment before Vlad replied. “Of course I can do that for you, but only on one condition.” Lee Sin raised his brow and looked slightly amused, so Vlad continued. “I want you to come with me to save my friend. She was taken from me when I was thrown in prison and I need to help her.”
Lee Sin responded after a few seconds, “Yes. I will help you find your friend. Perhaps together we can uncover what is rotten in the state of Ionia.” Vladimir laughed and said, “Deal. When would you like to start?” Lee Sin responded by throwing his ball of energy at Vlad. It struck Vlad squarely in the chest and something amazing happened. By the sound energy bouncing off of Vladimir, Lee Sin had a clear picture of him in his head for a moment.
“Whoa! Apparently now is when we’re starting. That thing packs a punch.” Vlad began to circle slowly and Lee Sin was amazed to find how well he could track Vlad’s movement based on sound alone. He heard something whistle through the air towards him. He tried to duck, but took a rock to the leg for his efforts. Vlad commented, “Well, I’m impressed you knew it was coming, but your dodging could use a little work.”
Lee Sin laughed a little and said, “Again.”
It had been a week since Irelia’s small band had defeated the Zaunite forces. She had sent a messenger back to Karma, trying to find out what the newest plan was, but to no avail. She waited five days, more than the time needed, but heard nothing back. Malthrir had seemed to be past the imminent danger, so Irelia let Master Yi take over again and declare everything back to normal. On the fifth day, she bid Master Yi farewell and headed back to the capital.
The journey took her two days, and during that time she had much to think on. She wanted to know why Zaun had sent such a small invasion force. Why was Karma not taking this seriously? What had happened to her in recent weeks that had caused this? She was curious as to what had happened to Vladimir, the charismatic stranger from Noxus. She hoped Soraka would have some news when she returned.
The traveling was uneventful, and Irelia arrived in Ionia precisely when she meant to. As she traveled through the city, headed towards the Placidium, she noticed the people were acting strangely. As she passed by a shop, she asked a customer coming out, “Why does everyone seem so one edge?” The Ionian gave her a strange look and said, “You haven’t heard? Zaun has attacked our southern shores and grievously injured Master Wukong. Even now he sits in the Placidium, where the Starchild attempts to revive him.”
Irelia thanked her and hurried on her way. Well, at least one question was answered. Zaun invaded the north because they were invading the entire country. This, coming so soon after the Noxian invasion, would be difficult to counter. They had not had time to rebuild their strength, and under Karma’s leadership, they weren’t likely to anyway.
When she reached the Placidium, she burst inside and went straight to Karma’s chambers. There were two sentries posted outside the doors, something Irelia had never seen before. As she moved to step inside, the sentries both crossed their spears and said, “No entry right now. Orders from the Duchess.” Irelia gave them a withering stare and said, “If you don’t move now, I will go in by force. I do not wish to hurt you.”
The guards looked at each other and moved their spears. Irelia did enjoy having a reputation sometimes. She thanked them and entered the inner sanctum. Soraka was kneeling before Wukong’s prone body, and Karma stood off to the side, observing. The Duchess turned quickly, and upon seeing Irelia, wore a look of disapproval. Irelia was shocked to see this once wise and caring woman so callous.
“Irelia, leave us. The Starchild needs to concentrate.” Soraka stood up and turned towards them. She looked surprised to see Irelia but merely stated, “I’ve done all I can. It’s up to Wukong now.” Karma pursed her lips and didn’t say anything. Soraka smiled at Irelia, trying to infuse her with confidence. Irelia looked at the Duchess and said, “Reporting from Malthrir, we met with a Zaunite invasion force. We held them off and pushed them back, but I think we need to go into a full defensive. This is obviously a full scale invasion.”
Karma smirked and said, “No, we are handling things just fine. If the Monkey King over there had been smarter, we would have lost no ground against the Zaunites. We are withstanding their invasion just fine.” Irelia was concerned and started, “Ma’am, please. If I may speak bluntly-“ but Karma cut her off. “No, you may not. I have new orders for you and I expect you to follow them. There was a break from the prison west of here. It was that man from Noxus and a Shojin monk who showed seditious tendencies that escaped. I want you to bring them back.”
Irelia was incensed. “You mean in the middle of an invasion on our shores, you want me to worry about two escaped convicts?” She could barely keep the disdain out her tone and Karma’s eyes narrowed dangerously. “That is exactly what I want you to worry about. If there’s a problem with that, please, let me know.” Irelia took the hint and merely said, “Yes ma’am. I would request that Soraka come with me. If they’re as dangerous as you hint, I may need the healer with me.”
Karma considered for a moment before saying, “That is fine. Oh, and when you meet the Noxian, tell him that if he resists, his friend dies.” Irelia was aghast that Karma could be this cold and uncaring, but said nothing. At that moment, a page burst into the chambers. Karma looked angry and was about to tell him off when the page shouted, “Freljord has fallen, Freljord has fallen!” He stopped a moment to gather his breath, then went on.
“Reports are that infighting between Queen Ashe and another tribe leader Sejuani caused their fall, and Noxus stepped in to help negotiate a truce. They refused and started an all-out civil war that led to the destruction of the territory.” For a moment a look of pleasure crossed Karma’s face and Irelia could not fathom why this was good news. “This doesn’t sound good Duchess. I’ve met Ashe before she was queen, and she always had a fairly level head. I don’t see why she would fight until her people fell.”
Karma said, “Thank you Irelia. Your opinion has been noted. Please carry out your orders.” Irelia begrudgingly bowed to the Duchess and left. Behind her, Soraka gave the unstable leader a severe look before bowing as well. She followed Irelia out of the building. They didn’t say anything until they had successfully left the Placidium behind.
Quietly, Irelia said, “What on Runeterra is wrong with her?” Soraka, keeping her voice hushed, replied, “It’s been getting worse lately. She appears power hungry and was disappearing for long hours a few months ago. It has stopped lately, but her attitude has obviously taken a turn for the worse.” Irelia looked grim. “Well… regardless, we have some escaped convicts to catch. I would make a guess that they headed west from the prison, and I think we both know what lies in that direction.”
Soraka shook her head and said, “Yes, I pray they have not already run afoul of the Kinkou.”
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