lol i can just imagine the stares those poor summoner's received. Great story, though i feel your iteration Pantheon seems to be a bit too much aggressively neutral, but oh well, to each his own and I still felt like you did a good job with the story and the characters
I have to thank you all for your comments and I'm sorry I haven't gotten to them! I'm finishing up the first draft of the next chapter as we speak, but because of my long absence from this here thread I will post a little snippet of what I will be keeping in the chapter. I will get to all your reviews in the author's notes so I don't spoil anything I don't wanna spoil.
With that said, here is my teaser:
“Ask not why the sun rises
why he bathes all in his light
why his glory shines on all
when all who gaze skyward know his might.
For songs rise the slumbering sun
As dark to day does turn
One simple truth we dare to speak:
For the light and warmth, we yearn
From the mountains of Solarus
to the darkest dale
Let the essence of Targon flow
And follow the huntress' bow
Brilliant Sun, purify their souls
The Heretics will never rise again.”
“Ask not the sun why he sets
Why he shrouds his light away
Or why he hides his glowing gaze
When night turns crimson gold to grey
For silent falls the sleeping sun
As day to dark does turn
One simple truth we dare to speak:
The day and night skies, for their light we yearn
From the lowest valley of Lunara
to the highest mountains bright
the rivers flow down her ravine
all will see the truth serene.”
Chapter: What I Have Done
A few years ago
Diana strode with long, though dignified steps down the corridor. Her arms were wrapped around a leather bound book which she clutched tightly to her chest, as though she expected it to fly away if she loosened her grip. The young woman could see Leona down the corridor, mere meters away and accompanied by a trio of Elders. She barely managed to catch Leona before one of her scheduled lessons. The Solari Education for the avatar was different than what was reserved for everyone else, since the Solari Avatar was taught by only the best and brightest experts in what was considered the most important fields of education: Ancient and modern linguistics, history, philosophy, etiquette and political science.
However, with what Diana had discovered, this lesson could wait. No, this week could wait for what Diana had discovered. She needed to talk with Leona. Now. It would be just be one of the few lessons that Leona missed in her entire time here. Besides, the words of her friend echoed in her ears, Leona’s voice softly complaining about the monotony and the repetition of the lessons:
“And then the Solari Avatar looked out from the peak of Mount Targon, and saw that yes, sunlight bathed the land as far as the eye could see, and that he had done well rising that morning. For he, like the sun, always rose at......this is the twelfth time I’ve read this excerpt. How is this valid history again, knowing that he ate two ladles worth of cereal for breakfast? Of course he woke up, if he did not he wouldn’t be alive anymore.”
It was more memorization than meaning, and included the most minute of unimportant details, which only gave more credence for why Diana would have to strike now. Sooner, rather than later. Whatever history lesson Leona was about to be subjected to was redundant when Diana was about to make history, with her friend at her side.
The Elders stopped mid stride along with Leona. The young red haired woman looked back and saw a streak of silvery blonde making her way towards them. The two men scoffed and motioned to their avatar to keep walking. Her response was to take a few steps away from them and towards the source of the noise.
“Diana,” Leona continued to move away from the displeased looking Elders. “What is it? Is something the matter?”
“I found it,” Diana said with a grin. She smoothed her long hair back, a light flush in her cheeks barely visible. Her voice carried a certain breathlessness in it. To most, many assumptions could be made, but Leona knew better than them: she was excited about whatever she had found. Diana flipped her book open and started to rummage through the pages. Eventually she found the desired page and held it up to the Avatar’s eye level.
“Leona, I did it!” she said in the same breathless voice.
Leona’s eyes only scanned the first line of writing, which read, ‘Why the sun he questions why not he rests.’ It was only slightly different from the last time Diana had shown Leona her progress, but nevertheless Diana seemed overly excited, her eyes were lit with unabated happiness.
“The connection, it’s made. The words, it’s a little iffy, and I did supplement a few because really, some of these words can be assumed and snap! All you need to to do i-”
“Diana...” Leona said in a gentle attempt to bring the moon-struck woman back to earth. Out of the corner of her eye, she could see the Elders becoming impatient. Diana could not have picked a worse time. Tonight was the test.
“I figured out the coordinates already, we just need to-”
The woman’s gray eyes flicked towards Leona and she let out a small laugh. “Sorry, I’m just, excited. I did it, Leo. I did it.” She reached over and grabbed Leona’s wrist and started to tug on her gently. “Come, we need to go.”
Leona allowed herself to take a few steps, pursing her lips as she did so. With every backwards glance she could see the annoyed Elders, making her eyebrows furrow ever more with every look she took.
Diana continued to ramble aloud. “It’s just a few kilometers south by southwest, a little closer to the Shurima desert-”
“Diana, tonight is not th-”
“It’s just Solari history lessons, I can help you catch up on them later. We can make history now, Leona.”
Leona tried to stop Diana, digging her heels into the stone floor to no avail. She attempted to reason with Diana once more, “Tonight is my test, Diana. To show how far I’ve developed my skills in control-”
“Leona, why’re you dragging behind? Come on, we can get there and back in a day or two if we leave-”
“Diana!” Leona finally snapped, her usually gentle voice now conveying her commanding, yet notably irate tone.
From around the corner a man moved into their path. He was wearing hoplite armor and helmet, and a xiphos sword hung from his hip. He seemed to be daydreaming, not paying much attention to his surroundings when he nearly crashed into the two women. The hoplite, instead of smashing into them, pulled back just in time while issuing a small yelp of surprise. “Gah!”
Diana stared at Leona, shocked beyond words. She had never heard Leona’s voice take such a tone with anyone, never mind her of all people. “Y-yes...? Yes, Leona? What’s wrong? Do you need to get supplies? Don’t worry, I have packed enough for us.”
The hoplite looked back and forth between the women, quite confused. “Leo...Avatar, wh-”
“Sh!” Diana spun around and hissed at the man. She had disliked him from the moment she laid eyes on him, the sniveling coward. “This doesn’t concern you.”
“Diana,” Leona reached over, her free hand resting on Diana’s hand that gripped her forearm. Her eyes did not meet with her friend’s. “I...I need to do this. Tonight is my test.”
“You can skip that for now, can’t you? Just tell them to schedule it another night, you’re the avatar. You did it for all the other tests and it worked. Tell them you’ll do it next week and let’s go, I already packed your stuff,” Diana replied in a low voice, leaning close to Leona’s ear so the Elders would not hear what she was saying. “We just need to-”
“Test? Wait, the test? I don’t think the Avatar should-” The hoplite managed to say before he was silenced by another snappy remark from Diana.
“I’m talking to Leona here, Molik. Go away. This doesn’t concern you.” The look Diana gave Molik silenced him immediately, lest he risk having his limbs removed by the woman.
“Molik, stay,” Leona commanded in a firm tone. “Diana, I...How do you know you are right this time?”
“How do I...?” Diana let out a small laugh despite her nervous tone. Her eyes shifted from Leona to the Elders and back to her. A light swallow, and she spoke again, her previous enthusiasm notably waned. “I know because I can feel it, Leo. You just have to trust me. I know I’m right this time.”
Leona closed her eyes. She bowed her head, not meeting Diana’s eyes and her tone a shadow of her usual strength. “As opposed to the other times...?”
“I was wrong those times, but I have it right this time!”
“I...Diana. I need to attend this test.”
“Leona...?” Her gray eyes were full of disappointment, her voice a former shadow of its initial tone. “You...you trust me, don’t you? Leona...Come on...” She tugged on her friend’s arm. “Let’s go...”
Leona took a deep breath in and opened her eyes. She slowly pulled Diana’s hand away as she spoke, “Diana, I trust you. I trust you with all of my heart, but...I have lessons I need to attend.”
“Please. Come on, let’s go.”
Leona stared at her friend, her mouth silently moving to the words she intended to speak.
The dark circles of fatigue seemed to have deepened in the weeks following her “League match” with the Piltoverans. Sword and shield hung limply in her hands, her fingers barely curling enough to hold them in place. Leona was standing underneath a tower, waiting for her partner to return from the Nexus platform. She was in the middle of a League match, she needed to keep her focus on-
A knife flew out, she barely raised her shield in time to block it. Leona could see through her shield’s circular opening that a certain red haired assassin was quickly closing the distance. She lowered her stance and lifted her colossal aegis ti shoulder height while lowering her head to present less of a target. She could feel the dull thudding as knives struck and bounced off her shield, a few even managing to whizz past her defense and leave shallow cuts on her exposed sides. Leona could feel the presence of the assassin, hear the light steps of the woman, the gentle crack of a nearby twig.
Now was the time to act.
She thrust her shield forward, pushing off the ground, and the heaviness of the shield, took off in an impressive burst of speed. Leona could feel the impact of the shield colliding with the assassin’s face, making the Katarina yell a colorful assortment of curses. Leona slowly backpedaled away while the tower above her buzzed to life and fired a bolt of magical plasma at the unfortunate assassin’s face.
Leona lowered her shield and watched as the leather-clad woman leaped back from the tower. Katarina’s eyes narrowed, her slender eyebrows as yet unhindered by the ugly bruise now forming over her scarred eye. Leona’s partner was still back at their Nexus, and much too far to be able to provide a semblance of help, and with Katarina on the prowl she did not dare leave the shelter of the tower. Her Summoner was whispering in her head to hold out a little longer, reinforcements were on their way.
From the nearby foliage a streak of moonlight ripped out, followed by a low, thunderous knell. At the sight of the light, Leona snapped awake. A surge of memory and emotion ripped through her; she could not allow fatigue to overwhelm her now. Rejuvenated for the time being, Leona out stepped Diana’s attack with a quick jump despite the weight of her heavy equipment. Once she landed her feet sank half an inch into the soil, emphasizing how encumbered she was. The low churn of the bell grew louder as a series of explosions, sounding like water being sprayed about by said explosions, started to make their way toward the tower that Leona was sheltering under. Diana stepped out of the foliage, followed by a towering humanoid, clad in an antique diver’s suit, with an anchor nearly as large as himself propped against his shoulder. If it were just Katarina, Leona would have been able to easily fend her off, but with the appearance of Diana and Nautilus the tower would not be able to shelter her anymore. She had to make a decision, and she had to make it now.
Leona moved around to the far side of the tower, away from Diana and allowed herself to be within the the attack range of Katarina. She could feel the presence of the moonlit knight as Diana closed the distance between them, but they would not attack, not yet.
The anchor flew and one of its prongs latched itself around the base of Leona’s tower. The screech of metal tearing earth up overwhelming the explosions as Nautilus dragged himself closer to Leona. The explosion continued to fire behind her, Leona could smell, even taste the salt water now. Leona could tell that in three breaths she would fall victim to these depth charges. She let out a sharp exhale of breath and swung her sword arm upwards, just in time to block the anchor that would have crushed her skull.. The weight of the weapon, along with the added weight of the Titan’s body mass behind the blow, granted the attack a ridiculous momentum. Despite Leona parrying the strike it made Leona’s very core shake, flakes of rust from the prong flaking in front of her as the anchor’s prong screeched across her blade and away from her. If this attack had landed with its full force, it would have most certainly reduced Leona into a quivering pile of gore. The tower hummed to life as Nautilus’ aggression triggered its defense mechanisms, firing a bolt of magical plasma at his helmet.
A solid, unexpected kick from Katarina to Leona’s thigh made her buckle, she took a deep breath in and ignored the pain. Leona could see the assassin’s knives rise up in preparation for a downward strike. Her eyes flashed with a bright light, making the red haired assassin pull back briefly and wince at the sudden blinding force. Once the light dimmed, Leona was displaced from her original position. She was now a good distance away, and just outside of Diana’s peripheral vision.
Leona took a breath in, and braced for impact.
The last explosion fired off underneath Leona’s feet, a geyser of saltwater, heat and shrapnel throwing her to the air. The heat was not so much a problem to an avatar of the very sun itself, but her flesh was still only flesh, the shrapnel cutting through the fabric and embedding itself snugly into her muscles and veins.
When Leona landed she could see her three opponents cast a look about for her, temporarily at a loss as to where she was. Diana flicked her head about the field and spotted Leona out of the corner of her eye. The two made eye contact for a brief moment. Diana’s stoic expression flickered. The woman jumped towards Leona, disappearing into a stream of moonlight and colliding with the Avatar of the sun. Her curved blade struck the shield, the hook catching the edge. With a quick pull, Diana exposed Leona’s side and paused.
Diana’s eyes twitched at the sight. Leona looked tired, and not just from the fight. Something was ailing the woman, her eyes showed how unfocused on the fight she was, and Diana could easily see it.
‘She should not be standing, never mind fighting.’
Diana pushed such thoughts out of her head and attempted to impale Leona on the end of her blade when her arms suddenly felt sluggish, her steady hands shaking and drooping. Her entire body felt as though they had become suddenly encased in lead. Diana recognized it as Summoner’s magic at work, and what would have been a grievous wound was harmlessly parried to the side.
Katarina let out another irritated grunt, reached at her belt and made a whipping motion at one of the minions that served Leona’s team. The minion’s head split apart, the soft, whirring sound of metal cutting the air whistled in her ears. Another minion’s face was slashed open, followed by a third minion, than a fourth. The glint of metal sparkled, Karatina’s eyes traced the trajectory of her knife to Leona’s calf. Once Katarina confirmed the the knife hit her intended target she retreated away from the tower, not wanting to be caught in its sights. She may have lost her quarry, but hopefully Katarina’s teammates would be able to rack up a kill for her.
Leona continued to face Diana, shield raised and sword pointed as she backed away with slow, even steps. However, a dull pain in her thigh made her wince every other step, slightly slowing her pace. Nautilus suffered several blasts from the tower despite him slowly making his way towards Leona. The damage he sustained was seen by the cracks and chips in his armor, all punctuated by characteristic scorch marks from the tower.
Leona knew they would pursue her, she had expected as much. With barely any warning, a burst of sunlight shot down from the very heavens themselves, striking the ground like a lightning bolt. Searing heat, a great magnetic pull, it was a solar flare striking the very soil of Runeterra itself, bathing Nautilus and Diana in its blazing fury.
Leona continued her retreat and looked over her shoulder, spotting that Diana was closing the distance between them with quick, long strides. She had almost made it to the secondary tower for defence, but Diana would not be not dissuaded so easily. The patches of burnt flesh on the moonlight knight’s face were glossy from the fluid seeping up through the damaged skin, though if she were in any pain she did not acknowledge it, her stoic expression held in place. She swung her curved weapon yet again, aiming to catch the Solari Avatar’s unprotected side.
Leona parried the blow and retaliated with a swipe of her own sword and continued to slowly back away. She could still feel the dull pain in her left leg, but she had to ignore that for now. There were more pressing issues at hand though than a leg pain, Leona could see that Nautilus was still trudging towards her. The Titan of the Depths seemed to be quite irked by something, or someone. He lifted one hand and struck the side of his helmet., his deep voice letting out an irritated grunt. If Leona had to weather a guess, Nautilus was being annoyed by his Summoner.
“You look tired,” Diana said, breaking the silence between them.
Leona blinked, surprised that her old friend was actually talking to her. She parried another strike from Diana, another step backwards, another throb of dull pain.
“I said you look tired,” the moonlit woman repeated herself. “Why are you tired? What have you been doing to make you neglect League matches? To neglect your health?”
“I’ve...been thinking,” Leona’s voice was loud enough for Diana to hear, but it did not resemble her tone in the slightest. Not gentle, not soft, not even angry, just tired and lifeless. “About many things.”
“Things? You mean matters. Matters such as my offer?”
Diana pulled her blade back, staring at Leona with an incredulous glare. “Truly?”
“Yes, Diana. I have been thinking of such matters.”
“Then what is your answer?”
She shook her head, not answering straight away. “I...I need more time. I do not know yet. I’m...I’m not s-”
A burst of moonlight raced towards her. Leona attempted to and dodge, but she was too slow. She braced herself for impact while the arch of light curved and...missed her? Apparently standing still was Leona’s best defense this time, the streak of moonlight making a harmless wide arc around her.
“But you are thinking?” Diana’s monotonous voice actually had a different pitch within it this time. She sounded surprised. “You are considering?’
“Diana, what they did was wrong. What you did, was wrong but...I don’t know. I don’t know, Diana. I’m trying to understand why.”
“I told you why, Leona,” she replied with a snort. “You saw why. How is that still an is-”
“I need to see your pain for myself. What you went through.What I put you through. I need to know. I need to know what the weight of the betrayal truly is, and what it felt like for you to experience such a thing.”
Diana swung her curved weapon at Leona, her strike wide and easy to dodge. It was an overly clumsy, sloppy slash, as though she had intentionally missed. Nautilus was close now, the low ring of his diving suit booming with each heavy step. The moonlight lady’s eyes flicked skywards for a scant moment, stared at something, and then focused on Leona once more. She took a step back, gave Leona a small nod, turned around and jogged away.
Diana struck Nautilus’ arm and jerked her head, silently commanding him to follow her. The titan shrugged her off, muttering something about, “idiotic summoners”, and continued his slow run after the Avatar of the Sun who had stopped moving, and now stood in shocked silence at what just took place.
Leona did not notice the shadow that had eclipsed the sunlight shining down on her. As Nautilus drew his anchor back and heaved it forward, she snapped back to reality and readied her shield, ignoring the throbbing sensation in her thigh.
The anchor flew through the air and hooked one of its rusted edges on the rim of her shield. With a violent tug, Leona was dragged towards Nautilus as he launched himself at her, becoming a several hundred pound projectile. Instead of fighting against the force, Leona braced her knees and launched herself at Nautilus, smashing her colossal shield into his body. The vibrations from the impact violently shook her arm. Despite this, Leona could feel the dent her blow made from the ridiculous momentum she had been given, which in turn dazed Nautilus. The large humanoid staggered back, his anchor releasing Leona’s shield as he hoisted it over his shoulder once more.
Before either of them could properly react, something to the direct left of Nautilus crashed into the earth.
Dust was thrown up, and the tumbling cracks of broken stone made Leona’s eardrums tingle.. Leona raised her shield, blocking any stray debris from striking her. Nautilus was near the epicenter of whatever object had landed, the tremendous force of which had created a sizable crater. The shockwave alone was enough to widen the cracks in the Titan of the Depths’ diving suit, and his attention was now completely focused on this new challenger.
Down from the skies and into the fight, out from the plumes of dirt and dust clouds, Pantheon leaped out. His aegis slammed into Nautilus’s helmet, caving half of the helmet’s visor and handicapping Nautilus’ vision.
Leona knew not to dawdle. She flicked her sword towards the titan, a stream of sunlight piercing the dirt clouds that Pantheon had created. The light pierced Nautilus’ metal suit with ease, cracking it open. A single flash of light and Leona was now behind Nautilus in a single instantaneous moment, readied for combat. The cracks in his diving suit had sunlight emanating from their outer rims, the darkness of the suit swallowing the rest of her light.
Not even Pantheon’s steady eyes could follow what had taken place, Leona was on one side one moment, a flash of light, and then there she was on the other side. It did not matter, she had given the two of them an advantage: to be able to attack both sides of the titan simultaneously.
He pulled his spear arm back, holding his shield up while Nautilus swung his anchor downwards in an attempt to crush the Artisan of War. His runic aegis easily withstood the force of a literal, full ton of dead weight smashing down on the shield. Pantheon’s arm did not even quiver from from the blow. He pulled his spear arm back and started to rapidly stab at Nautilus’ body, the sunlight that surrounded him quickly exploding in a burst of heat and energy in response to Pantheon’s attack.
Leona pushed her sword with all her might into the titan’s back, piercing the suit with ease. The cracks in his armor finally gave way. With a little extra force, she pushed the tip of her sword through his stomach, allowing a small spurt of black blood spray out. Pantheon understood why Leona did this, and used improvised his new footing to his advantage.
After using his trademark technique, “Grand Skyfall”, his jumping capabilities were limited while he recovered from the strain. He jumped up, used the firmly embedded blade to push himself further upwards and raised his spear.
Nautilus moved to retaliate, but the firm strike of Leona’s shield at the back of his legs made him buckle down to his knees.
Once Pantheon was high enough, he stabbed his spear down into the cracked fissures of the diving helmet underneath him. The spear pierced the crack and bored into and past Nautilus’ skull, if he even had one. Pantheon buried half the length of his spear into Nautilus’ head, into his torso and into where one would assume the titan’s stomach was, if he still had one. Pantheon released his spear and landed on the ground. He took five steps back and waited patiently.
With a gentle sway, Nautilus released his anchor, fell forward and was dead before he hit the ground. The announcer on the Fields of Justice called out in a loud voice, “PANTHEON HAS SLAIN NAUTILUS!”
The hoplite knelt down and unceremoniously yanked his spear free. He wiped the blackened blood on the grass while Leona freed her sword from Nautilus’ back.
“You were sloppy,” he barked in a rough tone at Leona. “Is something wrong, Leona?”
Leona brushed some of her hair away from her face, letting out a small sigh. “No. I’m just tired.”
Pantheon spun around and glared at his old friend. His burning amber eyes locking with her hazel eyes. “Then get some more sleep, Leona.” His tone was flat, to the point, no emotion. He eerily resembled Diana for a brief moment.
“I will, Pantheon. When I can, I will.”
The Artisan of War stabbed his spear into the ground, and with his free hand, loosened the straps on his aegis. Pantheon made his way over to Leona and silently grabbed the cloth on her arm. His fingers quickly found a rip made by one of Katarina’s knives, the exposed skin showing only a superficial wound. With a quick tug, and before she could protest, he tore off a strip of the fabric. Pantheon then knelt down, carefully reached over and pulled at something in her calf.
Leona let out a soft gasp of pain and looked down to see what Pantheon had done. She saw the back of her leg was caked in mud and a viscous gold liquid. The closer to the wound, the more the liquid resembled molten gold. The further the liquid flowed, the more it started to resemble an average person’s blood, a brilliant sanguine. In his hand, he held a small throwing knife covered in blood. Leona’s blood did not bleed like other people now that she was the Solari Avatar, or at least, that is what the Elders had told her. “Liquid sunlight” was the term they used in describing her blood.
Pantheon slid his aegis off his arm and started to tie the cloth around her leg. She winced as his improvised tourniquet tightened. Once Pantheon was done, he slipped his shield back on, tightened the straps and got back to his feet.
Leona could only guess that one of Katarina’s knives had made its way to her somehow, and had cut deep. It was a miracle she had not died from blood loss.
“Thank you, Pantheon.”
He issued a short grunt and nod of his head in response. Pantheon jabbed a finger westward. “Return to base, heal yourself and buy what you need. I will watch over the huntress until you return.”
Leona nodded and stepped to the side, allowing blue, magical energy to surround her as her Summoner started the recall spell. Her thoughts were muddled, she was confused about what had just happened, why it happened, but she knew she could not afford to divert her attention too much on these events. Leona could see the words of her notes run through her head. She was trying to think of the next line of writing she had to decipher, and the lines she had already deciphered to reassure herself that they made sense. Leona knew she still had much work left to do.
Pantheon walked down the path, wondering to himself why Diana had not killed Leona. He could see from his vantage point in the skies that if she and Nautilus had stayed they would have overwhelmed Leona. Then with his landing he would have most likely perished as well at their hands. Leona was not her usual self, and possessed a certain sluggishness that had almost cost her life during the battle. Something was off about her, but he knew not what.
It did not matter.
Leona would do what she needed to do, while he? Pantheon gripped his spear tighter. He would do what he needed to do.
A few years ago
The room was pitch dark, curtains were pulled over the windows to block any stray beam of moonlight that could possibly shine into the room save for a single, circular space in the ceiling.
“Are you sure you are able, Avatar?” a voice called out from the darkness.
Leona nodded in response to no one in particular and closed her eyes. She knew her vanguard stood behind her, she could sense that Molik was in their ranks, and she could sense that the Elders sat on their wooden stools scant feet in front of her. She was surrounded on all sides, all eyes were on her. Leona tilted her head back and could feel a warmth build within her body. From the pit of her stomach, it started to spread within her like a hungry flame.
She was in control.
The burning sensation spread out to her chest, down her legs and up her arms. She could feel it fill her throat.
Leona was in control.
She could hear people gasp and move, but she was not focused on them, she had more pressing matters at hand. Within minutes the burning sensation had now spread throughout her entire body.
Leona opened her eyes and looked at the audience that had gathered. She could see them clearly now. The room had grown unbearably bright for everyone, save for her. She could see the Elders shielding their eyes. When she looked over her shoulder, her Vanguard were mimicking the Elders, except using their shields to better shield themselves from the blinding light. She looked upwards and saw the minute opening in the roof. With a slight exertion of will, a burst of sunlight suddenly cascaded down onto her, her golden form now swirling with bright reds, oranges, whites and blues.
The burning sensation was gone, and the calming sensation of warmth replaced it. She was in complete control.
“Leave the room,” she commanded. “Go outside the temple. I will show you the full extent of my control.”
Anyone with exposed skin could be seen tanning from her mere presence. The heat she was exuding was making everyone sweat buckets. The stone around her feet was starting to melt into a gooey mass, bearing a strong resemblance to molten glass. They listened to her command and quickly left the room. Her Vanguard looked at one another, not sure if they should follow her command or stay just in case. Leona’s blazing presence was already unbearable. She slowly looked over at them, her hazel eyes replaced by radiant light burning from them. Despite all of this, her voice still carried its trademark gentleness. “Follow them. Please.”
The men and women of the Solari Vanguard reluctantly followed her command, not even Molik protested, and left the room quickly.
The moment everyone had left, Leona closed her eyes and felt for the presence of light. She could feel moonbeams shine upon the roof of the temple, she could literally feel them. Could she perhaps use them to her advantage? She clenched her fingers into tight fists. By the time her body disappeared she had already reappeared atop the temple.
She still was in control.
Outside the temple, the Elders, the Solari citizens, and her Vanguard gathered, looking up at the night sky. They could all see a brilliant source of light shining out from every crevice of the Solari temple. A brilliant burst of light exploded, a wave of heat washed over them and the resulting light forced everyone to look away.
When they looked once more, no one could believe their eyes: it was daylight in the dead of night. When the sun was supposed to be hidden, when the horrid moon was supposed to be taunting the night, there was the sun, standing atop their very own temple and providing light and warmth.
For miles on end, Leona’s light could be seen for the ten full minutes she was able to channel the sun. As far as the light’s rays could reach, Leona could see through them.
Leona could see the Solari, though covering their eyes, completely amazed at the sight. She could see the Rakkor wake up from their slumber and stumble outside, only to be presented with this source of light.
Leona could see Pantheon’s house, and even his face as the helmeted warrior was trying to make his way through the door despite his grogginess. The Rakkor children, the ones who slept in the woods as per their training, tossed and turned, the makeshift daylight rousing them and making them gawk in awe.
Leona could see all of Demacia, all of its people waking up, unsure of what was going on. Most shocked, some panicking, a few screaming about the end of the world, but nonetheless all were amazed.
She could even see the Institute of War, the Summoners scrambling in confusion to such an event. They were running to and fro, unsure how such a thing like day in the middle of night could be.
And last but not least, Leona saw Diana, who was staring up at the sky and covering her eyes. Diana was shocked, frightened, her lips moving and conveying her despair. She was asking, pleading for her moon. Where was her moon? Leona remembered something her friend said one time one time: In a very, very rare event, for a short time during the day, the sun would crown the moon and give the due respect it deserved. The sun would remind the world that moon is not meant to be abhorred, but to be respected, since it was crowned by the sun itself.
What then, was this? What had Leona done? Was she mocking Diana?
Diana fell to the ground,twisting her head away from the sky. She could not look up at her night sky, it was too bright, far too bright. Why could she could not look up at her night sky? Where was her moon? Where were her stars? This was the time for the night, not for the day. What atrocity was this? Who would do such a thing? Leona. Only Leona could, only she had the power to do this. But why, why would Leona do this to her? Why-
In a single moment all the light disappeared. Leona was violently shaking, sweat dripping down her forehead. She had pushed herself too far. There was no feasible way for her to descend from the temple, and so with one last burst of power, she slipped through the hole in the ceiling in a beam of brilliant light.
Leona hobbled over to one of the stools and started to breath heavily. It was a huge exertion on her part, and she sustained it for far longer than she had intended it to be. Nevertheless, she had made her point: she was able to control her power. She would be named the Solari avatar, she would be granted her true position in their society, but at what price?
Leona clutched her face, her shoulders quaking. She eventually spoke to no one in particular, asking a simple question aloud. “What...What have I done?”
“Your duty, Avatar,” a voice replied.
Some of the Elders were already in the room and sitting around her. She had not noticed them. The man who had replied to her, she remembered his face, his voice: They belonged to Diana’s father. “What is wrong, Avatar? Why do you look upset?”
Leona rubbed her face. She was not sure how to explain herself.
The Elder’s voice carried a certain firmness, but it had a warmth to it as well. A warmth that he never showed his own daughter. “Avatar, are you distressed because of Diana?”
“I...I didn’t...She trusted me. And I broke it.”
“Avatar, listen to me. Sometimes, things have to be broken. No one knows Diana better than I do,” he grunted. “She has always, always, been a dreamer. You suffered her dreams for how long? You have done so much for her, she was completely lost without you. With your presence, your influence, she started to take her studies seriously, she began to attend our sermons, her quality of life has improved because of you. But Leona, what was it that she was asking of you?”
“To trust her.”
“And how cruel would it be of you to continue entertaining her ridiculous notions? How much more can you show your trust of her, when she asks you to trust the impossible? What will she ask you to do, when all of your trust has proven to create nothing? You trusted her, Diana failed, and you continue to trust her. That is self-destructive, Avatar.” He quickly realized the tone he had took and coughed to stop himself.
Leona looked up at the man, his cold eyes staring back at her. She said nothing yet, and waited for him to continue speaking.
“If I may request permission to continue, Avatar?”
“You may,” she answered in a barely audible voice.
“She was asking you to throw away everything, and for what? Tonight was the night, Avatar, not tomorrow, not yesterday. You had to prove the culmination of your knowledge tonight. You are selfless, and that is a trait you should appreciate, but you need to put your well being ahead of others from now on. You and I both know that Diana will go...wherever she goes, and when she returns she’ll come back empty handed per usual. You must be ready to comfort her, and to help guide her once again, but that is all. You can’t entertain her ridiculous notions anymore. You will have more duties coming very soon. The Rakkor have sent their champion to participate in the League of Legends, and we are considering having you, the Solari Avatar, represent us. With that said, you will have to leave our mountain, leaving her to her own devices on a more frequent basis.”
He let out a light sigh and bobbed his head about. “With all due respect, Avatar, you are not Diana’s friend. She is not your friend. You gave her all of your trust, and it has surmounted to nothing, yet Diana demands more from you. What has Diana done in return for you, for all of the trust she has asked of you to place in her? I know for a fact, nothing nearly equivalent. You are the Avatar, you represent the Solari as a whole. You are our face and our voice. You are no longer just Leona, you ceased being Leona the moment you took on the mantle of the Avatar. The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few. Will you choose her over all of your people? Will you entertain the whims of this one girl, over the needs of everyone else?”
Leona bowed her head. She allowed the words to sink in. Diana had failed every other time she claimed she found the temple, what would make this time any different? That was why she had not gone with her, that was why Leona stood her ground tonight.
He...he was right, in a way.
Despite shaking her head, the pangs of guilt still churned within Leona. She felt drained of all energy, not just from her display, but from the turbulent emotions in her gut.
“Will you join the League, Avatar? Our champion of the Sun, to become a champion of the League, to represent us and our interests in the League? To represent our people, to spread your message, to spread our message for all to hear and see?”
Leona looked up at Diana’s father and replied in a solemn voice. “I will consider it. I will need some time to think it over, but I believe we both know the choice I will make.”
He nodded and gave Leona a soft smile. “I understand. You really are a gentle soul. How I wish you could have been my daughter.”
Leona’s face did not betray the violent convulsions in her stomach or the sudden desire to vomit from the growing, sickening feeling within her.
The door to Diana’s room swung open. Leona was still clad in her full Solari regalia. Her sword slid out of her hand and clattered onto the floor. She reached over and unstrapped the leather wrapped around her left arm, which helped brace her shield against her forearm. Once undone, she rested the shield against the wall. Leona made her way to the desk yet again, and grabbed one of the various tomes. She opened a drawer, took out a leather bound journal and slapped it onto the desk. Her eyes darted to and fro, searching for something she required.
“Pen...pen...where did I put the pen...?”
Leona’s eyes suddenly started to scan the star chart she had pinned to the wall above the desk, completely losing her train of thought. She had moved the mirror that was originally there and replaced it with the charts. In fact, all the walls were now covered with star charts, tacked in place with small pins. Leona got up from her seat, tapping the side of her head in sudden realization of what she had originally been looking for. She started her search anew while murmuring aloud about her pen and where it could be.
A voice interrupted her thoughts and stopped her search. Leona was on the floor, looking under her desk. She looked up and saw Molik standing at the door, tray of food in hand. His tone was wary, unsure of the scene he had walked into. “What are you doing?”
“My pen. I can’t find it.”
Molik carefully made his over to her desk and started to lower the tray of food on top of one of the piles of books.
“Not there!” she yelled, freezing Molik in place.
“...Uh...Where can I put it then?” He looked around, his confusion only becoming more evident on his face. “There’s not much space for me to work with, Leona.”
“Put it on the floor,” she commanded in a tepid tone. “I will get to it after I find this pen.”
Molik reached over at the desk and picked up the writing instrument she was looking for on the floor on her hands and knees, murmuring the entire time. “Leona? It’s right here.”
She looked up at Molik, blinked a few times as though his words needed time to sink in, and let out a small laugh. “Ah ha ha, I must have missed it.”
“Leona...” His voice clearly conveyed his concern. He placed the pen on the tray and sat the food down in front of her. It was a simple plate of salad and roast chicken breast, with a glass of cold water.
Leona rolled over and sat on her backside. She rubbed her face tiredly. Fatigue, frustration, and apparently absent mindedness were the defining features in her eyes and face now. Leona hardly resembled the image of one who would call themselves the Solari Avatar.
“So,” Molik decided to try and strike up some light conversation. “How did the League match go?”
“The match ended with Demacia’s victory. Bilgewater will have to compensate for the goods they had stolen via gold or the return of the goods themselves,” she replied in a nearly monotonous voice. No happiness, no pleasure, no joy, she conveyed nothing but fatigue in her tone.
“Did you eat lunch?”
“No,” Leona admitted with a half sigh. “I didn’t have the time.”
Molik scratched the side of his head and twitched his shoulders. “Are you going on the Rakkor warrior diet?” he asked in a light tone, his attempt at making a dumb joke. “I should load you up on more chicken then. Can’t have you wasting away now, eh?”
No smile. Leona only nodded her head. She picked up her utensils and started to cut her chicken into bite size pieces.
Molik scratched his neck, unsure how to deal with the silence, and looked about the room. He finally broke it, asking the inevitable question he always asked. “So, are you getting anywhere with all of this...stuff?”
“Do you have any regrets?” she asked while staring absentmindedly at her food.
Molik bowed his head, his helmet angling itself forward while he started to mumble nonsense. His voice gained some strength after a few moments. “Ah...uh...yeah, I suppose? I mean, I regret not bringing your food qui-”
“Why don’t you take your helmet off, Molik?” Leona’s eyes rose up and locked with his. “It’s only you and me. Why don’t you take your helmet off?”
“Ah...What? Leona?” he said while laughing. “It’s part of Vanguard uniform, in the presence of the Solari Avatar we have to-”
“Take your helmet off,” she snapped.
Molik shook his head while replying in a shaky tone, “Leona, I can’t-”
“Do not make me pull rank, Molik. Take your helmet off.” Her brow furrowed, she was glaring at him, the bags under her eyes making her look more intimidating than she intended to.
Molik slowly reached at the base of his helmet and lifted it off his head. A man with dark rings under his eyes, mimicking Leona’s own, was revealed. He had short, dark hair and worried blue eyes.
“Do you have any regrets, Molik?”
“I...yeah, course I do,” he finally, and reluctantly, admitted.
Leona grabbed the tray and slid it away, creating space between the two. She pushed herself forward and wrapped her arms around his neck in a tight embrace. “I do too. Molik, I do too. You don’t need to do this, Molik. You don’t need to push yourself-”
“And you don’t need to either,” he replied. His hands trembled as he timidly rested them on her back, returning her embrace. “You don’t need to do this for her, not for anyone. Leona, you’re a saint. You don’t need to subject yourself to this punishment.”
“Regardless of your opinion, Molik, I need to do this because I care about her. Do you understand?” Leona released Molik and shuffled back to her side of the room, staring at him the entire time. “Just like how much I may protest, how much I may beg you to not have any regrets, you still have them. You still came for me, you still left the Rakkor behind and joined the Solari Vanguard because you feel as though you need to make up for what happened. Molik, you have nothing to regret, you have no duty to me, I command you to go back to the Rakkor.”
He sat there, completely stunned at her. His lips moved in a feeble attempt to speak, to no avail.
“You won’t, will you?”
“I...” he squeaked out. Molik stared at Leona, his eyes welling with tears. “I...don’t make me, Leona. Please don’t.”
She pointed at him, her tone sharp. “I am sorry Molik, I will not ask you if you stop asking me how I am doing with all of this ‘stuff’, only to lead into your asking me to stop my work. I should not make such an assumption, and I would not normally, but you have repeated these same actions since the very beginning. I will decipher her notes, I will find the temple, and I will show Diana that I care about her and I will sway her away from her path. I will not abandon her, not again. The moment you can let go of me is the moment I can let go of Diana. Do you understand, Molik?”
Molik went quiet. He looked Leona in her eyes, his welled tears now dribbling down his face. His skin started to become pale. “I...I see...”
“Do you understand?”
“Y-yeah...Yes. I do.”
Leona reached over and started to wipe away his tears with the back of her hand. “Molik, I didn’t mean to be so harsh, but I need your support. I need you to trust me, please.”
“I...I am, Leona. I am here for you.”
“Then stop trying to dissuade me, Molik. I need to do this, no matter what. I need your support, not your criticism. I know what I am doing is foolish, but I still need to do it. For her sake, I need to.”
Molik nodded and stood up, breaking Leona’s contact. He slipped his helmet on and gave her a quick salute. “Please eat your dinner, Leona. I will be back on an hourly schedule to assure that you are not overworking yourself.”
She smiled back at him, nodding in acknowledgement of his salute. “Thank you, Molik. At ease.”
He marched towards the door and walked out of the room. After he was a safe distance, Molik’s body started to tremble. His voice was shaky in pitch. “She’s...she’s going to kill herself over Diana. She’s killing herself. I...” He balled his hands into fists. “I can’t. I can’t allow that. I won’t allow that. Leona doesn’t deserve to suffer. She doesn’t deserve this.”
Molik marched down the hallway, his shaky voice now resolute. “I will not allow this. I will protect her. Damn it. Damn it all...”
Author's Notes: Once again, thank you for all of your continued reading, and thank you KuzAnn for being my lovely editor as always! Now, I won't answer any questions this time, because...Well, because I have the next chapter written up as well. We're in the throes of editing that, and it'll be posted within a week's time. I'm sorry I haven't been faster, I've been becoming increasingly busy, and I'm going to make a big post about it and what that means for the future of my fanfiction. These stories will come to a conclusion, there's no fear of that, do not worry! I will not leave you in the dirt, but you will see my announcement soon enough. Cheers!
Added Note: The creeds aren't in this chapter for a reason. You'll see
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