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Okay, so after a bunch of editing and reviewing the work (Shout out to KuzAnn for helping me edit like a monster), I'm going to be posting the story in this thread. The name was suggested to me by another friend, HuggableZombie, so thanks goes out to him as well! This will be a continuing story, and will span a few more chapters. Hopefully this does the pair justice. Enjoy!
(Update! Thank you Ceru for help pointing out a few errors I missed!)
Prologue - The Sun Crowns the Moon
She counted the strands of her hair as each one slid off her fingers. Each thread of platinum blonde shimmered in the light. It was strange to many, but to her, she always thought her hair was reminiscent of flowing moonlight. The young teenaged girl blinked, her bright grey irises shifting from the glare of the sun. She shielded her eyes and winced. She always thought it strange that the sun, the burning orb in the sky, the thing that they of the Solari worshipped, would harm those who dared look at it. She drummed her pen on the desk in front of her. The sun shone brilliantly through the window and through a telescope situated in front of the window.
She had discovered that at certain hours, when the sun was positioned towards her window, she was able to channel the light through a lens and onto a white piece of paper. There, she could observe how the sun moved, the shape, and its brilliance. Yet, she felt that despite its grandeur that it was still inferior. It was too bright, too burning, and too gaudy. It did not let those it deemed inferior to look at it. She was thankful of that chance event for happening.
It was only two years ago when she had experienced the event that changed her life and her thinking. The Solari were cast into dismay and hid inside their homes and temples when this event occurred. She could not help but try to look, but quickly discovered it made her cringe in pain. Through chance, the telescope she had borrowed from one of the Solari elders, the same one she placed on the ground in a hurry, was positioned at the sun. Behind it, a marble white wall stood. She flinched and instinctively looked away, only to see its image projected onto the wall.
She stared at it in awe and amazement. It was the first time she had ever seen a total solar eclipse. The girl was mesmerized, the dark sphere slowly passing in front of it. Out of habit, she had taken out a notepad and started to furiously sketch picture after picture of the events happening. Detailing each phase that it had gone through, it was when the moon completely eclipsed the sun that she wept.
She could see some sort of strange energy encircle it. Darkness overwhelmed the Solari lands. She turned around, and looked up, and for once she could stare at the sun. She was moved to tears for the first time in her life. She was staring at the sun, at the being the Solari worshipped, and it was being blocked by a black circle. There was no way to describe the darkness this shape was made of except that it was pure and utter black. And with that, a crown of fire wreathed around it. She knew the shape, she had seen it every night of her life. The young girl could even feel the familiar, comforting chill, the same one she felt every night of every day: It was the moon.
The moon was being crowned by the sun itself, the fire wreathing the entirety of the sphere in a perfect circlet of golden-white flames. She stared at the total eclipse in complete awe and amazement. All her life, she had wanted to stare at the sun, to bask in its glory, but it refused to let her. It refused to let anyone. And then, the moon granted her this simple wish. After a minute of staring, she broke out of her trance and started to frantically draw what she saw. The sun, crowning the moon. What a glorious sight. She ripped out the paper and tucked it into her pocket, the girl felt a growing pride swell within from her discovery. She was sure the others would agree with her interpretation of what she had just witnessed.
She packed her belongings and rushed towards the nearest building she knew: The Solari temple. The girl burst in through the doors and excitedly called out to them, to come outside, to see the wonderful sight. The Solari Elders moved forward and hissed at her to quiet. She was confused. She pointed and asked them, "Don't you see that?"
"Of course we do. That is an abomination. That is the moon ridiculing the sun, taking away its time in the sky! Get in here, child! Do not bask in its corruption!"
"What? No, no. Don't you see? The sun is crowning the moon!"
For that, she was beaten. She still remembers the bruises, the lashes she received for saying such heresy. They even destroyed her notebook with all of her sketches. She was thankful she had hidden that one drawing. They were lenient on her, for being a child and therefore foolish. Still, she did not understand why she was beaten. She had clearly seen it. They all saw it. The more she thought, the more she realized how much more comfortable at night she was. After all, that is why she asked to borrow the telescope in the first place. She wanted to view the stars at night, to observe the celestial bodies that danced above them each and every inky night. So many lights, so many things shining down upon them, and you could look at all of them without fear.
Why were they so frightened, so judgmental of something that let you look at it? Why praise that which hurts and burns you, while the other lets you bask in its glory but is not so presumptuous as to not let you look upon its splendor? No one would tell her. They refused to tell her. And so, she took it upon herself to discover the truth. Was that not the point of the Sun? To illuminate the truth? She would not be faulted for doing such a thing, right?
Yet she was. They judged her, they insulted her, they punished her constantly. Which is why when she heard the lock on her door click and unlatch she nearly leaped out her window. She looked at all of the notes she had scattered, all of the sketches, the telescope and everything. She did not notice the ink from the pen spilling onto her right hand. She screamed, "Indecent! One minute!" She shoved the notes into the desk drawers and grabbed the telescope, hiding it under her bed. She had never returned it, and feigned ignorance despite the Elders demanding for it to be returned.
" Come in!"
The door knob turned and the door swung open. A tall, older man stood, glaring at her, "Even you deserve to come out of your room for this occasion."
"The Avatar of the Sun herself has arrived."
The girl blinked. The avatar? That's impossible. There hadn't been an avatar in centuries. The elderly man roughly grabbed her shoulder and dragged her, "Come. Even you will greet her."
An hour later, they were outside. The entire cast of the Solari Elders, including the man who had dragged her here, stood at the top of the staircase. The girl shielded her face once more. She swore the sun was burning brighter than usual. It was then she realized it was not the sun that was burning so brightly. Ascending the stairs, two older men walked side by side with a girl, whose long bright fiery hair reflected each ray that shone upon it, in between them. She stepped with determination, no sign of fear, no sign of nervousness or anxiety. Just pure determination. Instantly she felt herself shake, she looked away from the brightness that shone from her. She looked around, and saw that almost every Solari was here, watching this fiery haired girl ascend the stairs. Except, they were not watching. They were covering their eyes from the brightness themselves.
The men bowed towards the Elder who had dragged the platinum blonde youth here. He pointed at the brightly lit girl, "What is your name, Avatar?"
"I am Leona." Her voice, firm yet soft, commanding yet comforting. What a strange dichotomy. She looked around, her hazel eyes scanning everything before her. "This is where I am to stay?" The Elder nodded. The platinum blonde youth tried shirking away. One of the men with Leona flatly stated, "I see you could get your daughter out."
"Yes. Not even she will miss the ascension of the Sun."
Leona looked at the grey eyes squinting at her from behind the Elder. He looked down and barked, "Introduce yourself."
The girl shook her head, covering her face with her right hand. The man snorted, "State your name." Once more, silence. The man raised his hand up and slapped her upside the head. He looked over at Leona, "She is rude. Her name is-"
Everyone blinked. Leona stared at the man, "She will tell me her name on her own."
The Elder raised an eyebrow, "You dare-"
"I do. You will not force her, nor harm her, in my presence ever again."
The Elders looked at one another and murmured. The girl's father spoke up once more, "You think you can come here and make demands, Avatar?"
"My name is Leona. And it is you who wanted me here. If you want, we can return to the Rakkor and we can go right back to my execution."
At first, she wanted to laugh at the idiocy of such a statement. It surely must have been a poor joke, from the tone and the casualness Leona spoke with. Yet, she would not say it unless it had truth to it, right? She is supposed to be the Sun, the source of truth. With this realization, the girl's jaw nearly dropped. No one spoke to an Elder, never mind her father, in such a manner. And they were going to execute the Sun? What nonsense is this? The Elder stroked his chin, "I see you are truly a benevolent girl, Leona. You would cast your brilliance even upon my daughter. Very well, we shall respect your wish."
It was then Leona locked eyes with the girl. She did not see determination, or ferocity, or courage or anything of the sort. She saw warmth, so much warmth in those hazel eyes. She shied away, and was taken back inside once more.
Night came. The girl opened her window and positioned her telescope. No one was awake during these hours of the night. They were all asleep by now. The moonlight flooded her room, illuminating her and all of her notes. A faint candlelight flickered from her desk. She adjusted the telescope slightly to the left, and counted the stars that made up that constellation. She did not notice her door knob turn, and the door swung open. She was so caught up in her stargazing that she did not hear the footsteps that walked into her room, and then sat on her bed. She did blink upon noticing that the room seemed to become brighter. The light from the candle must be stronger than she originally thought.
For a full hour she continued looking at the sky, and continued sketching and recording her findings. She rubbed her eyes out of fatigue, she had stayed up much too late. She murmured to herself and starting shifting the papers. She looked up at her desk and saw the candle had gone out. Strange, if it had gone out, then the room should not be nearly as bright as it is
She gasped, spinning around and knocked her telescope over. A hand quickly surged forward and caught it before it hit the ground. That hand belonged to Leona, the Avatar of the Sun. The girl looked around, her eyes wide with fear. She felt her pen in her grip. She was caught. She was caught by the worst person possible, with all of her heresy. The avatar would tell the Elders, and then everything would be lost again. She had to do something, something had to be done. The avatar could not talk or else everything would be ruined.
The pen in her hand felt mightier than any blade, if she stabbed the avatar's jugular than she would be safe. She wouldn't be punished. The sun crowned the moon, it could be beaten. The sun could be subjected. It was not impossible, she could do it. Just one stab, that was all that would be needed.
Leona spoke, "You did all of this yourself, didn't you?"
The girl nodded, inching closer to Leona. Just a few more feet and she would be in killing distance.
Leona questioned, "Why are you still awake?"
No response. She inched closer.
Leona placed the telescope gently onto the ground and ran her fingers along one of the notes, " What are these? Numbers? And these are stars?" She pointed at one of them, "Which one is this one? I haven't seen this one before."
The girl froze. The avatar was asking her questions. Should she respond?
Leona looked over at her and smiled, "I'm not your enemy."
Those same, warm eyes pierced her. The girl started to shake once more. She managed to squeak out, "N No you're you're lying. You just you're going to tell them "
"Tell them what?"
"Tell them about this about all of this. I'm not wicked, I'm not! The moon, it calls it calls to me! You you hate the moon you hate me."
Leona snorted and lightly chuckled, "Why would I hate the moon, or you?"
"Because you're the sun-!" She nearly screamed. She clamped her hand over her mouth and quivered, " Because you're the sun."
Leona looked out the window, then back to her, confusion on her face, " So?"
Was she serious? "You don't know about the Solari?"
"Somewhat," Leona shrugged. "Rakkor do not pay much attention to such things. They leave that to the acolytes of the Solari while we fight and we war in their name. That is how it's always been."
"You're you're Rakkor? Then how are you-"
"The Sun came down, and smote those who were going to kill me."
The girl blinked. " Why Why would they want to kill the avatar? That's that's really stupid."
Leona smiled and shrugged her shoulders, "Because I went against the Rite of Kor. I refused to kill my friend just because I was asked to."
The Rite of Kor. She knew about it. No one ever questioned, no one ever asked. They simply went along because tradition is tradition for a reason: It works. The avatar, no, this girl before her went against tradition. She went against it. The girl loosened her grip on her pen, could she relax? Leona smiled at her, "I'm lucky some of the others knew where to find you. Even luckier that the door was unlocked."
The door was locked. She knew that. She heard the locks click into place. Her father would not let up on her so easily while she was grounded. "Why Why did you come?"
"Because I wanted to talk to you." Leona leaned in towards her and whispered, "Because I saw that you're scared, like me."
"You? Scared? No. Of what?"
"Of This." Leona pointed outside the door, "Of everything out there. It's all so new. I'm told that I'm the Avatar of the Sun and I must come to the Solari town and to its temple. All of my friends, my family, they watched me leave. They were waiting for me to die, my parents looked at me with disgust. And now, I'm here. I'm I'm scared."
The red haired girl slightly shook, "I'm actually scared. I still haven't gotten over the fact that I was supposed to die. The Rakkor do not fear death, but my own people, those who trained me, who I grew up with they wanted to kill me. The others? They looked on, and they watched. They were going to let me. And I accepted it. And now, I'm here. I "
Leona looked down and shuddered ever so slightly. She was different. She understood. Silence grew between them for next minute. The girl shuffled over and looked at the constellation the avatar was looking at. "The numbers Those ones are degrees, those ones are minutes, those ones are seconds. If you adjust the telescope, you can see the group of stars there."
Leona looked at her, her face clearly depicting her confusion, " Why would you need to know the time?"
The girl blinked, then burst out laughing. She held her hand up to her mouth to try and stifle her laughter. The avatar was legitimately confused. She smiled and shook her head, "No, no, those are the more precise degrees needed. You have three hundred and sixty degrees, sixty minutes and sixty seconds. These help give a more precise reading when looking at the sky."
"Could you use these in the day as well?"
"Mhm. Sailors use them to navigate the sea. They use the sun during the day, and the stars and the moon at night."
"So no matter what, no matter what time of day or night, you could never get lost?"
The girl smiled and nodded, "Yes, no matter the time." She looked at the telescope quietly. She flicked her glance at Leona, "Do you want to see how it works?"
Leona shuffled off the bed and made her way towards the girl, nodding.
The girl reached down and repositioned the telescope, pointing it out of the window. Adjusting the dials, she decided to ask, "How did you know I was going to be awake?"
Leona was quiet. She looked confused once more, "I I'm not sure. I just had this feeling you would be."
She grabbed Leona's shoulder and pulled her towards the eye of the scope, "That's the constellation of a Rakkor warrior king, the one who he and only three hundred other Rakkor held off an entire invading army of Noxus."
"Yes, I remember him." Leona looked into the telescope and smiled broadly, "I never knew there were stars named after him though. Those are so beautiful " The avatar exchanged looking through telescope and out the window in the span of seconds. Her smile still evident, she looked at the moon, "I never really looked at the night sky. It's a pity, how so many beautiful things can only be seen in the night."
The girl smiled back at her, and nodded. She leaned over, resting herself on Leona's shoulder. She pointed at another section in the night sky, "Want to look over there? It has the brightest star in it."
"Does it have a name too?"
"Mhm! It's the lone star, the one closest to the moon."
"The lone star? What do you mean?"
"It's the lone star. The star that shines with none others, the one that is by itself. It is called the hunter. I I was named after her, because of her courage and her steadfastness." The girl looked away, her lower lip trembling. Leona reached over and encapsulated her arm around the girl's shoulders, " What is your name?"
"Her name? Her name is-"
"No. Your name."
" My name? My name is Diana."
Chapter – Field Full of Briars
The scene melted and faded away. Where the young Diana stood a woman emerged. Her long, platinum hair was reminiscent of a pale river shimmering from moonlight coursing down her back. Her gray eyes, unblinking at the scene that had just happened, lazily looked about her. Her forehead glowed with the symbol of a crescent moon and a small circle resting above it. Her entire being was encased in armor that perfectly reflected the night sky, from its pitch black fabric to its dull twinkling metal plates. In her right hand, a large, wickedly curved blade was firmly gripped, the tip of the blade hooking inwards. The woman's cold voice commanded, "Summoners, do not think of me a fool. Let her show herself."
The darkness around her shuddered, then lit up in a burst of light. Armor loudly clanked. A fiery haired woman stood across from her, her warm hazel eyes narrowed. Her armor was highly polished and shone as if it were the sun itself. The golden armor brightly shined while the purple fabric sparkled from the natural light exuded from her being. She bore no weaponry on her this time, for she had not come here with that purpose. She firmly spoke, "Diana."
"Leona," the woman responded. Her voice was cold, almost monotonous. "It has been a while. You look well."
Leona pointed at where the scene was, "You remember that."
"Of course I do. We could run through the other memories if you so wish. I am not forgetful."
"If you remember that, then how could you do it? Why?"
Diana raised an eyebrow, "Why did I do…" She mouthed her understanding, "Ah. That. What does one have to do with the other? It does not matter. I am curious though, why do you think I did it? What did they tell you?"
Leona glared at Diana, "They told me that you had gone insane, just as the elders always feared, and you snapped. You killed them and destroyed the temple using heretical magic."
"And do you believe that?"
Diana stared at Leona with her cold eyes, waiting for a response. After a few moments, she decided to reply for the Solari Avatar, "You do not, otherwise you would have a weapon in hand and be readied to strike me down and some other nonsense."
"The corpses were still there when I returned. The temple was still in ruins. Something had happened. That there is evidence enough of what you did."
"Then why are you here? Are you here to judge me like these pitiful Summoners?"
"I want to know the truth!" Leona tapped her chest, "I want to know what happened! Diana, you would never do that! I know you! So what happened? Tell me, please! I need to know why you did this!"
Diana rolled her eyes, "Why should I tell you, when I can show you?" She tilted her head back, "Summoners? Continue with the show."
The scene changed again. Leona was in clear view as Diana donned in her current armament walked out of a temple. The Avatar of the Sun looked around, she did not recognize this valley, or this temple. How odd. It looked so sequestered-
The scene fast forwarded to Diana climbing the stairs to the Solari temple. It was dusk by now, and the evening prayers were almost done. She was smiling, gripping the weapon tightly to her chest as if it were her dearest child. Anyone who saw her instantly drew back, mortified of this shining woman ascending those stairs. She had never been happier in her life than she was now.
The prayers had just finished, the elder Solari councilmembers were stepping out of the temple when Diana stood in front of them. She waved the blade at them, "I was right!" The entire cast stared at her, eyes wide with shock, their mouths open. Diana looked between them, speaking far more excitedly than her present demeanor would ever fathom, "Elders! I have found proof that the Lunari existed!"
The elders looked at one another, murmuring in stark confusion. They looked back at her, and her father stepped forward. He looked up at his taller daughter and gave her a faint smile, "So you have, Diana. Come with us." He motioned to her to follow. Diana walked in after them, smiling all the while.
Leona pressed her hand against her mouth, walking instep behind them, "No, no…Don't tell me…Diana, please, this is the test, right? This is what the Summoners are doing, this isn't-"
"Sh," Diana looked back at Leona, her face reverted to its cold stoicism for a split second, "Do not speak. Watch. And listen."
Diana was led deeper into the temple, chatting all the while, "I went over the notes, I went over the Solari records! I spent years, remember? Years! Longitude, latitude, charting the stars, trying to decode the secrets, you thought I was crazy, ha ha! Even Leona started to doubt me! I don't blame you, I really don't! I was losing hope, but I did it!"
"We remember, Diana," one of the elders spoke.
She looked from one elder to the other, finally asking the most obvious question, "Where are we going?"
"To discuss the truth, just as you've always wanted, Diana."
Diana smiled at them. She hefted the blade up and down and tapped it on her shoulder somewhat excitedly. Eventually they reached the furthest altar at the back of the temple. The full moon clearly shown down on them now from the temple's rooftop opening. On Mount Targon, night fell very fast. Diana looked around, "Why are we talking here? Why not call the other Solari here? It is a joyous occasion."
"Because they do not need to be involved in this conversation. Diana, will you let us see the weapon? It is a curious blade."
She nodded and handed her weapon over. Her father grasped it, looked at it and muttered, "It is incredibly light. Almost as if it were light itself."
Diana nodded once more, "The murals show that to be the Lunari Avatar's weapon of choice. This is her armor. The Avatar of the Moon, of the Lunari, she existed. Isn't it wonderful?"
"Why do you wear it?"
"Hm? Oh!" She brushed her hair back, the symbol on her forehead curiously missing. "It was hard to carry it all, so I thought perhaps I should wear it back. Less cumbersome."
"And yet it fits you perfectly."
Diana blinked. She actually hadn't thought of that. It hadn't crossed her mind. An elder moved over to each side of her, and slapped a pair of iron chains on her wrists. She was too dumbfounded to react as they slapped another pair of iron cuffs on her ankles. Suddenly the chains on her wrist were yanked upwards, nearly suspending her midair. Diana blinked, and looked at the elders, "What's…what's going on?"
"You have discovered the Lunari cult. Despite your curiosity, it is strange you have never wondered why we denied their existence. We had hoped it would dissuade you."
She tried speaking but no words came out. The oldest of the elders stepped forward, waving the rest of them off, "Prepare the necessities. I will try one last time to reason with her." The others walked away, resting her weapon on a nearby pillar.
The old man looked Diana in her eyes, "Do you know what happened to the Lunari?"
"They…they were killed. Wiped out by something. Some sort of event. The murals show…" Her eyes widened, "The murals. So it is true. You did it. The Solari did."
The old man nodded, "The Solari and the Lunari were once united. They coexisted for many years in peace. The balance of power started to shift, and the realization came that the Lunari are not needed in this world. Only the dominance of the sun, only the warmth and life giving light that the sun bears is needed. And so, the Lunari were extinguished, as in accordance to the decrees of the prior Avatar of the Sun."
Diana shifted the chains ever so slightly, "That…no. That doesn't make sense. It's just, it was another part of the religion! How does that warrant-"
"The moon is servant to the sun. The servant cannot become the master, not now or ever, and so something had to be done. The Solari Avatar decreed that the Lunari must be stamped out and extinguished, their temples destroyed, and their followers killed. Heretics are not allowed to live, Diana. We have only done what is in accordance to the Solari, and we have followed our duties to the letter. We have no idea how that temple was missed, but it matters not anymore. With your help, we can find it and destroy completely wipe out the Lunari."
"Wh-what?" Diana cocked her head, "Why would I…"
"Because if you do not tell us, you will be branded a heretic. You will be branded a heretic, and killed. You will drift away into obscurity. This is your last chance, give up your heresy, claim your error in judgement, lead us to the temple, and let the Solari reign unabated."
"No!" Diana shouted at the old man, the chains groaning from the force being exerted on them. "You know nothing! You are nothing! Leona! Where is Leona?! She won't let this happen! She will not!"
Leona started to choke on emotion. She stood across from where Diana was chained, a few steps behind the elder speaking to the imprisoned woman, able to hear every word in their exchange as the memory flowed.
Diana hysterically screamed, "Get Leona! Bring her here!"
"We are the Acolytes of the Sun, Diana. We act in her name and on her behalf, just as always. This is her will."
Leona blinked. She rushed forward to the old man, hands outstretched in raw anger. Diana looked up and shot a cold glare at the approaching Avatar, "No. Don't you dare intervene. If you hold a single ounce of respect for me, do not intervene. It is too late now."
Leona fell to her knees, staring at the scene unfolding before her. Diana choked back the tears, "N-no…Leona, Leona believed me. She believed me."
"She is a kind one, Diana. She humored you. We used to discuss it with her, and we explained to her why such a cult never existed. She is the Avatar of the Sun. It is her destiny as is for all Solari to stamp out the Lunari should they ever rear their heads. The warmth of the sun is all that is needed for our lives. Diana, will you refute the existence of the Lunari once and for all? If you do so, then you will be finally accepted into Solari society. Think of it, you will get what you have always wanted."
"…How dare you?" Diana glared at the men, her tone hardening, "How dare you? The sun is supposed to be the light of the way, the revealer of truths! Yet you dare ask me to do such an abhorrent action?! Tell me one thing, will Leona know of what will happen here?"
"Of course she-"
"WILL. SHE. KNOW?!"
"…She will know what she needs to. Nothing more."
Diana bowed her head. The elder asked once more, "Do you not understand the graveness of this issue?"
"Then what is your answer?"
Diana glared at him, scowled, and bowed her head once more. The elder sighed and walked away. Diana hung up there for an hour before the rest of the council returned. Her weapon was rested against a pillar a dozen meters away from her. The elders stood in front of her, and called out to her, "One last time, Diana, tell us where the temple is and renounce your faith."
The elders sighed and looked at one another, "We will search her room afterwards. Perhaps she left behind a few notes." They looked at Diana, her father stepped forward, "Diana, you are deemed a heretic of the faith. You will be killed in accordance to the will of the Sun."
Another elder spoke up, "None will remember you. Your name, your face, will be swept away in the sands of time. You will have no family, no friends, no one will acknowledge you even existed. That is the fate of a heretic. Only the Sun will remain."
Diana remained silent. Her arms swung back and forth ever so slightly. Her father stepped forward, brandishing a knife, "From this moment forth, you are not my daughter. You are nothing but a heretic."
She blinked. She raised her head up, staring at her father with apathetic eyes. He got closer to her, readying the knife. She whispered aloud, "If I am not your daughter… if I cannot be a mother, nor sister or wife…"
She closed her eyes, the moonlight bathing her. Her forehead started to shine. The chains around her wrists snapped. The knife did not pierce her flesh. A strange force seemed to prevent the blade from touching her. He had only a moment to let out a gasp of surprise when he suddenly exploded in a mess of gore. Her arms dropped down to her side. The elders looked on in horror as Diana readied herself to step over the bloodied puddle. Her eyes flicked opened, revealing new found determination in them, and she walked forward. The chains snapped far too easily off the woman who was now bathed in moonlight. "Then I will be a scythe…"
She raised her hand towards her weapon at the same time the elders unsheathed their own weapons. A gravitational force pulled several of these men towards Diana, while her crescent blade flew to her grasp. With one fluid movement, she decapitated all the elders that were pulled to her, "In a field full of briars."
Diana walked down the stairs towards the rest. They attempted to flee, to gain some ground, but a simple flick of her blade shot out a huge arc of lunar energy. The light smashed into the archway of the temple's only exit, an entire section of the roof and several pillars thundered to the floor. Only a select few managed to make it to the other side.
Leona watched Diana slaughter the ones she had caught. They did not stand a chance.
The rubble exploded in a burst of lunar energy, giving Diana passage. They had almost escaped, they had almost managed to make it out of the temple when she jumped through the air. For a brief moment, she transformed into a beam of moonlight. Easily catching up to the two, she reached out and grabbed one of the two remaining elders. The sickening sound of his skull smashing into the marble floor echoed in the now empty temple.
Diana looked over at the other man, the oldest of the elders. She stabbed his neck with the hilt of the blade, which had the image of the crescent moon sculpted onto it. She tore the pommel out, kicked his body back into the building, and descended the steps. Within moments, from the structural damage it had suffered, the temple of the Solari collapsed upon itself. Diana descended the stairs, the crimson rolling off her armor and her weapon as if the moonlight was cleansing her body for her. The memory ended there.
Diana looked behind her at the kneeling Leona. She walked over to her and pressed the tip of her blade under Leona's chin, "Get up."
Leona looked at Diana, "I…I didn't know Diana. I didn't know. But, all this death, all this destruction. You didn't have to-"
"Have to what? Kill them?" Diana scoffed, "What other choice did I have? They called me a heretic. Now they are dead."
"You didn't have to kill them! You didn't have to do that to yourself!"
"Really, Leona? You were saved by the Sun's direct intervention and the Solari. Do you think if they had not come, you would have lived when your aggressors got up? I pleaded for the moon's help, I prayed to the moon for its aid. It freed me of my chains. It gave me the only chance I would get. I did what was needed. The old must be cut for the new to flourish."
Leona got to her feet, yelling at her, "You killed all of them! You didn't let any live! Not even the ones who wanted to run! How could you?! You killed your own family!"
"And why not? They were hiding the truth, using you for their own needs. They were responsible for the hiding of the Lunari. They were stuck in the corrupt old ways, they had to be extinguished. And my own family tried gutting me. How atrocious is that? Do you not see? I have done what is necessary; I sifted them, the righteous from the wicked. I wonder if you know why I asked for the moon's help, Leona. Why did I pray and plead to it?"
"You were always comfortable with the moon. You may have thought that in your last moments, you could have a little respite. I don't blame you for that. Instead it granted you its power to escape, and you misused it."
Leona blinked, "Excuse me?"
Diana motioned to Leona, "Knock, knock. Ask who's there. Let's try again. Knock knock."
"The moon." Before Leona could ask the next question, Diana interrupted her, "It's far away! You were alone the whole time!" The stoic lady of the moon burst out into a fit of disturbing laughter.
Leona visibly tensed, "Diana…I wasn't…I didn't…"
"Not accustomed to my humor anymore, are you? It has been a very long time. You weren't there, Leona. I do not blame you, just as you should not blame me for what I did. I did what I thought and think was necessary, and if that is not enough I am still blessed by the moon," Diana sharply replied. "You were busy doing whatever a good lapdog does. I admit, at first I hated you. I wanted to kill you out of pure spite, for not being there, for allegedly condemning me to my death. For being as ignorant and stupid as the so called true believers. Then, in my travels, I saw a League match. With you in it."
Diana's lips convulsed upwards into a faint smile, "Imagine my surprise when I saw you use an eclipse to better shield yourself. To do what you always do best in your caring nature. You remember me. You remember our talks, as sporadic as they were. That was when I realized, I do not hate you." Her face reverted back to its stoic form, "You are still human, Leona. You make mistakes. You were ignorant. That is why I tell you that what I did was necessary."
"It was not necessary! You did not have to become this thing, you did not have to kill them."
"What would you have done? I was not aware I was blessed by the moon, I was not aware of my capabilities, I was about to be executed by my own people. Sound familiar? Can you truly fault me in that regard?"
Leona fell silent, clenching her fists. She eventually asked, "If you had another choice, would you have taken it?"
"No, looking back on it, I wouldn't. Because if I had let them live, they would have filled your mind with their poisonous lies and this conversation would be very different. The cycle of lies and deception would have babbled on."
"Do you not feel remorse?!" Leona spat.
Diana shrugged her shoulders, "Would they have felt remorse for killing me? No. They would not have. I feel nothing for them." She crossed her arms, "You may have accepted death at your execution, but I did not. I have a reason to live. My voice will not be silenced just because the truth is hard to hear. And if there are those who wish to quell my voice, I will end them."
A loud voice suddenly boomed, "Why have you joined the League, Diana?"
Diana looked up and around, "I believe I made it quite clear, but if you so need me to explain: I have joined the League because my voice will not be silenced, the truth will be known, and I will cut down any who stand in my way."
She looked over at Leona with her cold grey eyes as she continued her justification, "I also came here to show Leona the truth. I am pleased to see her now and not some illusion, so I can let her know that when I kill her, it is not out of hatred or out of spite. The Solari have lost their way, they call the true faith heretical. They do not wish for the Lunari to ever return. The Lunari are needed for the sake of balance, and I will kill the Avatar of the Sun a thousand times over to show the strength of the Moon, to show that the Solari are not the dominant ones and that we are necessary. They only have the illusion of power. The sun only blisters the eyes and its radiant rays only blind those who dare look upon it. I lost any desire for acceptance the moment I was condemned for being right. I will show everyone through the League the truth. My voice will not be quelled, not ever again."
Diana walked towards a slowly emerging door, one she knew that would lead into the League. Leona called out to her one last time, "Diana, you didn't have to kill them! You don't have to fight me! We do not have to fight!"
Diana stopped in mid stride. She shot a cold glare at Leona, "You think of me as a monster, for having killed them, yes?"
Leona did not respond, she simply replied with her own glare at Diana.
"Then we are at an impasse, so long as you think I am wrong," the lady of the moon waved the Avatar of the Sun off. "I ask you once more, do answer it this time: What would you have done if you were in my position, word for word?"
"I…I would have defended myself!" Leona yelled. She breathed in and out heavily, "I would have! But you didn't have to kill them! You didn't have to destroy the temple! You didn't have to go to such extremes! You didn't have to do that to yourself! Is this what you want, Diana? Destruction?!"
"I did not kill them out of hatred, or spite. When we fight on the fields, it is not out of hatred or spite that I will kill you. I do not hold those against you. I do not fault you, Leona, for finding such actions atrocious. You, the most kind person I have ever known, you, the one who once accepted me…I cannot fault you for that." Diana looked away from her, "That does not mean I forgive you. No apologies are needed. I want you to think, and realize what needs to be done, because I want you to join me, Leona."
"Join you? For what?"
"In spreading the truth. For the Solari to accept the truth, for balance to be restored. For the Lunari to be accepted once more."
Leona glared at Diana, "And what if they don't readily accept? What if they are unsure of the Lunari and its importance from all the years of silence? Despite my word, despite my position, not everyone will accept the Lunari cult back into the fold so readily. If the Lunari are considered heretics, it will anger a lot of people, you cannot force such a drastic change on people so easily. What will you do then?"
Diana swiveled her crescent shaped weapon about, "Then I will be a scythe in a field full of briars."
"You cannot be serious. That is an atrocious method, Diana. You…you can't be serious. You-"
"Summoner?" Diana reached the door, her hand stretched out to touch it. A loud voice boomed,
"Will I be in my first League match today?"
"If you so wish it."
Diana turned around and pointed directly at Leona, "I do. My one request is for you to make sure I am facing her."
Leona blinked, "Diana…This is-"
Diana raised a finger to her lips, "Sh." The Avatar of the Sun glared at her while the lady of the moon continued, "It is only because it is you, that I am giving you this choice, Leona. Do not answer now, or next week, or next month. I want you to think about it, I want you to truly think about it, and if you still feel the same way, then I will kill you like the rest of them. Do not hate me, and I will not hate you for what I must do. I know you won't, it is not in your nature."
A loud voice boomed once more, "How does it feel, exposing your mind?"
"No different. My path still lays before me now as it had when I became realized. Everyone will come to know the truth, or die ignorant. They will all know the truth. I will be sure of it."
With that, the lady of the moon pushed the door open and strode into the League.
Blood dripped from her arms. In one hand, shouldering a golden object far too large to be considered a shield, Leona's other hand gripped her sun kissed blade tighter. It was a League match, she was severely wounded, but her companion had managed to get away. She looked at the monolithic stone structure next to her. It pulsated with arcane energy, it was a magical tower meant to attack any of her aggressors. The Avatar of the Sun cricked her neck and started to feel a magical aura surround her. She was being recalled by her Summoner. She breathed in, relieved, she knew she was safe for now. Then something caught the corner of her eye. A bright burst of silver light ripped the ground apart and thundered towards her.
Despite raising her shield in time, she staggered from the strike. This was followed by some sort of horrific force slamming into her. Leona fell to one knee, and swung her shield out. She felt it make contact with her attacker, which was followed by a bright beam of arcane energy being fired off towards the aggressor. Leona got to her feet and blinked in surprise. It was Diana, glaring at her. Leona could feel her own body was exceptionally weak from the prior fight she had been in, but at point blank range her Summoner assured her that they could live. Her sword hummed with energy, and she fired a bolt of pure sunlight at the lady of the moon.
The moonlit woman dodged to one side to avoid the beam of sunlight, and leaped into the air. Diana became a bolt of pure lunar light and slammed into Leona once more while another bolt of arcane energy struck her. Leona suddenly felt her entire body become displaced. She was torn through the barriers of reality, and teleported a few meters away from her original position. Leona took a step away from the tower when a sudden gravitational pull tore her back to Diana. The lady of the moon reached out, grabbing the back of Leona's head and slammed her into the ground. The Avatar rolled onto her back and held her shield up to defend herself one last time. Diana raised her viciously curved blade and snapped it downwards. Her face bore no hate, no love, no emotion in any sense. This, for her, was business.
It was then that Leona discovered the true purpose behind the Lunari's weapon. Aside from making it resemble the moon, having such a strong curve rendered the Solari Avatar's shield completely and utterly useless due to how long it and how curved it is. It simply went up and above the shield, and firmly penetrated Leona's skull. Diana stood over the fallen Avatar. In Leona's final moments, she heard and saw a few things.
She heard a loud voice boom, calling out Leona's death at the hands of Diana. Leona also heard Diana mutter to herself, "The first of many deaths, the hundredth of many steps…" It was then that she saw an arrow suddenly pierce the chest of the moon lady. Staggering back, Diana's body became fully encased in ice. Leona started to black out, death overcoming her. She knew this, the familiar warmth of the Sun started to fill and seep out from her body. In her final moments, she felt the ice shards of the former Diana rain down upon her corpse.
And then, one final thought, What now?
This story is not dead! It lives!
Chapter – Solar Flare
"Why has she called us together? And now, of all times? It is nearly dusk."
"Did you not hear?"
"The Heretic returned. She has joined the League."
"They even fought in a match today. Apparently, the Heretic targeted only Leona the entire match."
"This is not good."
"Indeed. We must see why she has called us, but if it is what we think it is…We know what we must do."
Sixty men, each wearing purple togas with gold hems, walked as one. They were all either in the mid-thirties or early forties in age. They stepped through the white marbled halls of the temple complex in silence, they came upon row upon row of shining, monumental colonnades. Sunlight seemed to pour from every crevice as the men neared their destination. The Radiant Dawn, in all of her glory and decorated in her ceremonial armor, sat in her large oaken chair in a large open space, sunlight seemingly streaming from her very being. Several hoplites in brass armor, shields and spears held at their side stood behind her. One of these men stood at her left, holding a large, shining shield with his xiphos blade sheathed. The councilmen grabbed the hickory stools that littered the floor, arranged themselves into a circle and looked at the Avatar, waiting for her to start. Dusk was approaching, making it a very strange time for her to call a meeting.
After a few minutes, Leona finally moved and looked around at the council gathered before her now. She opened her mouth, and her usual firm yet soft, commanding yet comforting voice filled the room, "Do you know why I have called this meeting, and deemed it urgent, council?"
They looked at one another, murmuring amongst themselves. One of them finally spoke up, "It is because of the appearance of the heretic."
The men murmured to one another once more. The same man spoke up, "We heard about what happened in the match. We understand you must be fe-"
"I want to know about the Lunari."
The man tried to stare at the Radiant Dawn, squinting his eyes in his best attempt to look at her while he responded. The light emanating from her seemed to intensify with each passing moment. "The original Elders went over this with you, Avatar. Nothing has changed."
Leona folded her hands on top of one another onto her lap. Her hazel eyes seemed to burn into the skull of the man speaking, "Why was she to be executed?"
"I want to know. Why was she to be executed?"
Several of the people spoke one after another, reaffirming their reason, "Because that is the punishment of heretics."
"I see," Leona nodded. "Why was I not consulted, in regards to her?"
The council looked at one another, than at Leona. The same man as before spoke up again, "They did what they knew was necessary, Avatar. We are following Solari law and scripture, your will."
The man continued, "Solari law dictates that any heretic of the Solari religion is to be asked to give up their belief and rejoin the Sun as the first step of many steps to their redemption. Anyone who refuses any of these steps is condemned and executed, so it is decreed by the original Avatar."
Leona's eyes twitched, "Which is to say, is not me."
"She was the sun before you, and you are now her. Ergo, your will, is her will, which is subservient to the sun. She who was blessed by the sun only fulfilled its' will, that being heretics are given a chance for redemption, and then executed. It is how it has always been."
"That is why Diana was to be executed without alerting me?"
The man nodded, "The Elders and us believed that such a petty issue would not be needed to be brought up with you. We know why you have called the council to convene."
The other men murmured to one another, nodding in agreement. The man got up from his seat and fell to his knees, supplicating himself in front of Leona. The others followed suit. The man spoke, "We apologize for the failure of those who came before us, Avatar. Today could have been avoided if Diana was dealt with promptly. Forgive us, the Council of Elders, for the failure of our predecessors, and for not having the strength to quell the heresy. For our failure, you have suffered."
The sunlight bathed them, almost scorching from the heat emanating from her. Her golden greaves rapidly clicked on the ground. She stood in front of the man who had been addressing her this entire time. "Elder Alexios."
He looked up at her, squinting in a feeble attempt to stare directly at the Avatar to no avail. As he bowed his head once more, he could feel the toga cloth on his shoulders was suddenly caught in an iron grasp. He was harshly jerked to his feet which was followed by a resonating slap that echoed through the entire agora complex. Leona readjusted her grip his toga and drew him close to her, the heat radiating off of her presence starting to bubble his skin, "How dare you?"
She heaved him to the floor. Her voice roared in volume, "How dare you? How dare any of you?!"
The hoplites moved forward, and situated themselves next to her. The one with the sword reached out to Leona and touched her shoulder. She pulled away from him as she continued questioning the council before her, "Why was I not consulted?!"
Alexios blinked in sheer shock. The other members of the council stared, dumbfounded at the events that were still unfolding. He tried speaking, "It is your w-"
"No!" Leona yelled. She slammed her fist on her chest, the metal breastplate clearly rang from the intensity. "I was not consulted! I was not asked! I am not my predecessor! How dare you assume such things?!"
"She…she is a heretic. We have only-"
"The Lunari were wiped out and slaughtered by the Solari! Why?!"
The elder blinked again, "Our ancestors followed the decrees of the Solari Avatar. No heretics can live. We spoke about this many ti-"
"Not their name! You never said their name, you all called them the unbelievers, the heretics, the corrupters of man, not the Lunari!"
"Would a name change anything? They are what they are. It was by her decree that-"
"Hers! Not mine!" Leona steethed. She kept her fists clenched tightly at her side, shaking from the emotion running through her.
Silence fell upon the crowd. A few moments later, she barked at them, "Where are her notes?"
"Her notes!" Leona raised her voice. The heat exuding from her was overly apparent now. The hoplites were sweating bullets while the unprotected council could feel their skin had become noticeably tight and dry, quickly compounding in intensity.
She yelled again, "Where are Diana's notes?"
"They were burned, as in accordance-"
"Where were they?"
Elder Alexios opened his hands pitifully, "Ah…well…we assumed her old room. With the failure of the original Council, we decided to take the next steps as in accordance-"
If looks could kill, Leona would have bisected this man. "Were you successful?"
"Yes or no," she snapped.
"…We are unsure," the man admitted. "The door refused to open, even to its key. Even the strongest men of the Vanguard could not budge it. She must have done something to the door, so we tried feeding the fire underneath the door. We saw the light of fire, we could smell the oil burning, and we let it be."
Leona looked at the hoplites behind her, "…Which of you helped them."
Three armored men stepped forward. She pointed at them, "And you did not tell me? You knew, and you did not tell me?"
It was strange, to see Leona of all people so angry. The marble floor where her boots touched liquefied as she walked away from the group of men and hoplites. After some time, a couple of hoplites trudged after her, the one with the xiphos commanding the others, "See the Elders to their homes and whatever other business they have."
A quick turn around a familiar corridor, down a hallway, the Radiant Dawn stormed down the halls. Her radiance did not dim until she stopped in front of a certain door. She grabbed the handle, turned it and pressed her entire body weight into the frame, only to have the door easily swing open. She stumbled in and barely managed to catch herself. Once she regained her balance, she observed the scene before her.
The only traces of fire were the ashes that rested on the floor, the oil soaked rags - blackened and fragile. A breeze swept into the room through the open window. The fire had received enough oxygen to build and to consume the room, especially considering it was resting on top of piles of scattered papers. The entire room was covered in papers. The walls had maps of the sky, the constellations with degrees and connecting lines between some star configurations and clusters, with numerals also having been scribbled upon the paper; various phases of the moon and other astronomical graphs. Making her way over to the desk, she saw notebook after notebook that seemed to blanket its entire face. Jars of ink laid scattered about, the black liquid now completely dried upon the numerous pens and brushes Diana once wrote with. Leona reached over and grabbed one of the books and flipped it open. Her hazel eyes widened as she read its contents.
Aside from various calculations, degrees, some weird jargon coding and other geological and astrological sketches and writing, it was also Diana's diary. Leona randomly read aloud one of the final entries,
"I'm close, so very close. I can feel it, I can sense it. The texts, it's all there. It's all there. The puzzle, need to unpuzzle. Why is it in here? I don't know, I need to solve it. I'm so close. Why is it there? Can't care, not now, after I'll think, now I need to dig deeper. It's there, it's there, I swear it is, I'm not sure how much longer I can hold these books. With Leona in the League, the Elders are becoming nervous without their sacred texts. Understandable, really, but still... Just a little longer, I'm almost there, and then I can prove it. I can show them, I will show her. Her face, I can't get her face out of my head, that look she gave me. I can't, I need to prove it not only for myself, but for her now. I need to be right, I can't get those eyes out of my head, those pitying eyes. I'll show her, I'm not crazy, I am right, I know this. I have not asked for much, but please, please dear Sun, please dear Moon…For my sake, for her sake, let me be right...Please…"
Leona hiccupped, pressed her free gauntleted hand to her lips and shut the book closed. She placed it on the table and walked over to the bed. It was neatly made and did not look like its occupant had been missing for the months she had been. She sat on it, sinking into the mattress. Leona removed her gauntlets and buried her face in her hands, while her armored shoulders shook with silent sobs.
A hand rapped on the open door, followed by a man`s voice, "Radiant Dawn? May I come in?"
Leona collected herself and looked up. She nodded to no one in particular and attempted to speak authoritatively. For once, she failed, her voice coming out as a whisper, "Come in."
The hoplite walked in. His shield was strapped to his back and his xiphos blade rested snugly in his scabbard. He looked around, his expression obscured by his helmet, "...Couldn't even clean up after herself, huh?"
"Look at this…" He pointed around the room, "Papers everywhere, there's some ink there, I think I see a dust bunny family under the bed just waiting to repopulate the land, she could have at least organized herself before leaving."
Leona simply stared at him. The hoplite scratched the back of his head awkwardly, his fingernails rasping against the metal of his helmet, "…And that's what happens when I'm put on the spot."
She smiled and shook her head, "Sorry, it's just…I'm not in a very humorous mood."
He sighed and nodded his head back at her, "Yeah, I know, I just…I don't like to see you sad, Radiant D-"
"We are alone, Molik," she interrupted, her voice flat and humorless. "Please, call me Leona."
The hoplite grabbed the only chair in the room, dragged it over and plopped himself into it. "I've never seen you so angry, Leona. Ever."
"…Did you know?"
Molik froze and looked at Leona. She pressed the question again, "Did you know?"
"…Not entirely, no."
Leona reached over and grabbed his hands, gripping them. "Why didn't you tell me?"
He shook his head, "I didn't…I didn't put two and two together. I did not think it was important. I'm sorry, Leona. For the pain it caused you, I am sorry."
"…I spoke to the Summoners afterwards."
She continued, "I asked them why they did not test her, why did they not change her memories as they had done for most others? They were surprised I didn't realize. They told me it was because I was her test, there was not much else they could have done to someone who lost everything and knew it. To do anything more would have been sadistic."
Leona closed her eyes and bowed her head. She released his hands and remained still on the bed. She eventually spoke, "Molik, can I ask you to leave me be? If you see any more of the Vanguard, let them know I am here, but I do not wish to be disturbed. Please close the door on your way out."
He silently complied. The hoplite got up from the chair and walked out of the room, closing the door behind him with a quiet click. Leona looked around the room, taking in the full extent of the various diagrams and notes strewn about. "For what it's worth, Diana, I am sorry…"
Leona got up from the bed, walked over to the desk, dragged the chair into place, and sat down in it. She grabbed another leather bound book, flipped it open, and started reading.
The clear night sky allowed the waning moon to shine down upon the travelers. A young man walked alongside two donkeys pulling a wagon, within the wagon were a young woman and two children fast asleep, a boy and a girl. He cursed at himself for staying for so long in Demacia, the roads at night were not safe. He weathered a rough guess that they were thirty minutes away from their farmstead. He recognized the place marker at the crossroad, breathing a sigh of relief. He was right, they were almost there.
The rustling of bushes pricked his ears. He looked over to his left and saw five figures emerge. Moonlight glinted off of sharpened steel as they sauntered over to the wagon. The man sighed, he was so close to home.
The shadowy figures walked up to him and pointedly spoke, "Your money or your lives."
The blade was pressed against his throat. A disgruntled voice commanded, "Just hurry up. Tonight's been a long night."
He looked over at the woman in the wagon, only hints of fear in his voice, "Dear, do we have any more money from today?"
The woman, her entire body tense, nodded her head, "J-just, just twenty coins."
"…What." The bandits looked at one another, throwing their hands up in exasperation, "What are we going to do with twenty coins?"
The man made a very poor choice in telling them what they could do, "You could just get jobs instead of robbing people, you damn hooligans."
This earned him a back fist to the jaw. The woman muffled a scream, which woke her children up. They looked around hazily and became catatonic with fear. The bandits pointed at them, "Didn't notice the brats. Noxus still buys them, right?"
"Yeah, they do."
"Hand 'em over."
The children's father got back to his feet and wobbled over to the wagon, shaking his head defiantly, "Take the twenty, leave them alone!"
Their blades glinted as they neared the family when the little girl let out a loud squeak of panic, clamping her mouth shut. One of the bandits laughed, "Y'see? Yer only scaring them the longer you delay this. C'mon, either your kids or something equivalent. Wait, y'got food, right? That works, all of your food or yer kids."
Before the young father could respond, his daughter did so for him, "I-I'm not scared of you," she squeaked out. She pointed behind them, "I'm-I'm-I'm…There's her."
Before the bandits could scoff at the young girl for trying such a trick, their ringleader suddenly lost his head. His body slumped to the ground, dark blood flowing freely from the open cavity of his neck. The other bandits scrambled away from him. A cold, uncaring voice spoke up, "The moon sees all."
The blood was flicked off the viciously curved blade. A woman with long flowing, platinum blonde hair stepped into view and was instantly bathed in the moonlight. She looked at the family, "Will you embrace the moon as your nightly protector, the one who illuminates your path in the dark of night?"
The remaining bandits snorted and laughed. More figures emerged. A total of eleven men now surrounded the moonlit woman. One of them snapped their fingers at her, "I saw you today, in yer League match…Diana, right? The heretic? The hells are you doing here?"
Diana looked over, her grey eyes boring into the man's soul, judging his very existence. "What do you think of the moon?"
The bandit rolled his eyes, "I love it. I love it with all of my heart. Now f-"
His head promptly flew off. Diana looked at the remaining thugs, "Those who lie will die. What is your choice?"
Several of the men unsheathed flintlock pistols, aimed them at her, and fired. Diana did not respond, the bullets exploding far before they made contact with her. The moonlit knight's entire body seemed to emanate moonlight as she took a single step towards them, three of the men closest to her exploding in a shower of pale silver and crimson mist.
Two of the remaining gunmen fell to the road while the others attempted to flee. Flicking her wrist, silver light ripped up from the ground beneath them, reminiscent of the waning moon above them. The moment the light touched the fleeing men, they were promptly dismembered. The last words one could hear if they were close enough were their whispers, "S-so…so…cold…"
She craned her head and stared at the two who did not flee. They prostrated themselves in front of her, "We love the moon! We love it! We'll worship it, alright?! Please, just, just let us live!"
"The world has no need for liars, while the moon…" Diana raised her blade as she strode towards them, "Has no need for cowards who watch their comrades die."
The family watched the bloodbath before them, shaking and quaking in fear. The father was making several gestures over his chest while the young mother clutched her children, trembling. Diana looked over at them, her dead eyes staring at them. Her icy voice flatly stated, "It was not the Sun that watched over you this night. She was absent as always. Remember, and pay your respects to the Moon."
With that, she walked away into the darkness before them. The family could actually see her progress, from the faint, silver light emanating from her very being. He reached into the wagon, grabbed a small package and muttered, "Respect, respect, ah…only got bread. Wait, yes! Smoked meat, oh thank the gods. H-hope this's enough, oh gods, please let it be enough." He placed the bread and meat at the foot of the signpost at the crossroad, muttered a few more thanks before he whipped the donkeys to get moving.
The early beams of sunrise rose over the mountainous plains of the Rakkor people. The golden wheat fields swayed in the wind. A hoplite, wearing the gold and purple colors of the Solari Vanguard, walked down a gravel path. His shield rested on his back, while his xiphos slapped against his leg every other step. He made his way towards a little homestead. The Solari hoplite could see an elderly man already in the fields, tending to his sheep. Molik paused briefly before the front door, then politely rapped his knuckles against it.
A gruff voice barked at him, “What is it?”
The door swung open. A man stood in the entrance of the house, his chest and shoulders brushed the wooden frame of the ajar door. His face was occluded by the darkness of the house, he grunted and pointed at the hoplite, “Stay here.”
He reappeared a few minutes later clad in his own set of hoplite armor. His, however, was not only a brilliant crimson with a large black mantle, but it belonged to an ancient Rakkor warrior as was the tradition of their people. He had earned it through the Rite of Kor. His shield and spear were of no special note in the way of appearance, save for the hundreds of runes etched onto the metal of the weapon. His face was now hidden by the heavy helmet resting on his head, save for the bright, burning amber eyes that seemed to shine from the darkness. “What do you want, Molik?”
Molik bowed towards the larger, more intimidating man, “It is about Leona.”
“Go away.” Pantheon shoved past the man, stepping out onto the path. He looked back and growled at Molik, “How did you know when and where to find me?”
“You always went for your run at this time, and I expected you to still be living in your parents’ home. Rakkor tradition and all, and I sort of assumed you hadn’t found a w-”
“Assumptions get you killed.”
“Then you will listen to what I have to say.”
Pantheon thumped his spear onto the ground, he impatiently waited for Molik to continue.
“Diana has returned.”
“…Who? Should this name mean something to me? You are interrupting my run.”
“She is a heretic.”
Pantheon shrugged his shoulders, “So?”
Molik’s voice raised slightly, “She killed the Council of Solari Elders and destroyed the Solari temple.”
“Point being: So?” Pantheon shrugged, “The Council has been replaced already. The dead are dead, it is not the concern of the Rakkor. These are Solari matters.”
“She is a danger to Leona. She joined the League.”
“Then I will kill her if I need to, just as my occupation dictates. She is no exception.”
Molik stepped towards Pantheon, his tone becoming angrier, “She may kill Leona, Pantheon! And not in the League, she seems possessed by the idea of killing Leona again and again! The League’s not going to satiate her, she’s going to want more! You can see it in her eyes, she’s…she’s crazy! She’s insane, you can see it so clearly. And if she returns to the Solari, I don’t know if I’m strong en-”
A short, abrupt mocking laugh erupted from Pantheon. He spun his spear about lazily, his deep voice heavy with derision, “No, you’re not. Otherwise you wouldn’t be asking me, and you wouldn’t be so nervous.” He pointed at Molik with his spear, “What did you lie about to Leona, Molik? Are you lying to her, to me, or to yourself? What’s got you so on edge? Your body language screams your guilt, you little worm. Go back to the Solari. I owe nothing to them, or to you.”
The Solari hoplite stomped over and grabbed the Rakkor hoplite’s shoulder, “What is wrong with you?! She could die! Pantheon, I’m begging you, she’s your friend! Our friend! I need your help, to protect our friend, we need to-”
“Our friend? You and I are not friends. She and I are not, ‘friends.’ She is the Solari Avatar, I am the Artisan of War and you are a member of the Solari Vanguard. I need to do nothing but to kill those I am pointed at. If you are so concerned, now it is too late. This could have been avoided a long time ago, all you had to do was die in the right place at the right time and this could have been avoided,” Pantheon spat back. Slapping the hand away, he growled at Molik, “Leona’s chosen her path, I have chosen mine, you have chosen yours, and whoever this Diana woman is has done the same. There is nothing more to be said on the matter. All of you, live with it.”
Pantheon turned around and readied himself to start his run. Molik laughed, shaking his head, “We were friends, Pantheon! The three of us were, and she’s in danger! I need your help, please!”
“She was in danger once before. You were content with letting her die back then.”
“I…I-I couldn’t help myself, I couldn’t stop the tears! I’m sorry, Pantheon, I can’t express that enough, but it was Leona, how could I hurt her? How could I think of ever hurting her?” Gesturing to the Rakkor, he questioned, “What would you have done? Could you have killed her?”
“That implies you or I had the skill to do so. Even if I had said skill…” Pantheon shrugged once more, “I would have let her kill me. I would have thrown myself onto the end of her blade.”
“That’s why you’re needed!” Molik yelled. “Someone is coming to take away our avatar, our light, our sun! She may die!”
Pantheon stopped at this statement. He rested himself on his knees, slowly got up, faced Molik, and shook his head, “…You don’t get it, do you? Tch. Go crawl into a well and die. She has chosen her path, as I have chosen mine. If she dies, she dies.”
With that, Pantheon took off for his run, weapons in hand, leaving Molik behind.
Molik threw his hands up in frustration. Despite his heavy armor and weapons, he could see that Pantheon had become only a speck in the distance in mere moments. Trudging along the path, the Solari hoplite had a long walk back.
Leona's eyes fluttered open. The morning sun rays shone in through the window. She raised her head up from the desk. She looked down at her feet and saw the literal flood of papers and books scattered about. Leona stretched her body, she felt sore: She had fallen asleep while studying the notes and journal entries Diana left behind. Unfortunately, she was still wearing the full attire of the Solari avatar, heavy as it was. The chair screeched back. She stood up, removed her diadem and stared out at the morning sun. Closing her eyes, she let it bask her in its incandescent glory.
Piece by piece she removed the Solari armor. She took off all of the metal components until she was left wearing only her modest, violet bodysuit; her golden greaves and the boots that accompanied them. She rested the stripped armor onto the unused bed. She sat back into the chair, grabbed another book with a feather sticking out of it, and continued where she had left off.
***Author`s Note: A friend of mine, KuzAnn, once again edited the dang out of this. Thank you, Kuz, for all of your work!
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