Date: 27 October, 19 CLE
Nasus carries with him an air of blase stoicism, the manner of which is seen in both the enlightened sage and a man who has completely resigned himself to whatever the fates may bring. No display of any kind of emotion ever graced his face. The gentle cadence of his footfalls into the great hall resound with an almost mechanical regularity the likes of which would be more at home within the Royal Guard of Demacia, or the infamous Noxian Black Regiment. Despite the calm and conditioned aura that resonates from his person, a perceptive enough individual begins to notice fractures in the facade.
The most obvious flaw is the creature himself. His massive size and physical build betray the soothing calm permeating his form. His eyes dance about the room in a practiced ballet like a hunter searching for it's prey, leaving no corner of the massive hall unobserved. Every step forward is a deliberate challenge to his foes; his every movement made with a purpose. Completely and utterly utilitarian.
The truest opponent lies within.
The inscription adorning the doors to the Reflection Chamber served to halt the beast's advance for a fleeting moment; a slight tick in the rhythmic meter of his stride the only indication. With a touch, the doors gave way to the murky abyss that was the Reflection Chamber. Confidently; whether born of apathy, tenacity, or ferocity, Nasus stepped into the chamber. The great marble doors sealed its occupant within.
Nasus stood cloaked in the shroud of darkness for several minutes unmoving, as if patiently waiting for something to happen. When that failed to happen, Nasus merely sat upon the cold marble of the Reflection Chamber floor in meditation. For the first time upon entering the League's legendary halls, his eyes shut. After an indeterminate length of time, a warmth from the front prompted his eyes to open.
Before him was the horizon, blazoned with the flaming reds and oranges of the setting sun. Below that, great dunes of white sand gently shifted with the westward wind. Nasus sat on a high vista, overlooking a grand desert city and the sands beyond it's walls. He sat on the balcony of his city's Great Library; the very place his daily meditations took place. A wave of familiarity washed over him as he took in the foreign sight and smells of his people's land. For just a brief second it was good to be home. However, he had seen this vision before, and he knew what was about to happen.
As if on queue, a thundering roar went up over the horizon as flaming serpents sailed across the sky and smashed into the city proper. Small black figures poured over the white dunes like carrion beetles over the sun-bleached bones of a corpse. Another volley of flaming projectiles rose from the dunes and sailed directly towards the library where Nasus looked on, punching explosively into the walls around him. Stone and shrapnel pelted his form, but still Nasus sat in quiet contemplation.
Upon the third volley of missiles, the black shapes had made it to the front gates. A surge of men within the town rushed to the gates like a flooded river, eager to hold the invaders back. Plumes of smoke rose up over the town as fires began to spread through the city streets. The smoke quickly obscured Nasus' vision, much like the inky blackness of the Reflection Chamber.
"Your people are in danger, and here you still sit?" A mocking voice called from behind. "And here I had marked you for one of compassion."
Nasus remained sitting, and closed his eyes. "There is no need to interfere."
"Interfere?" The voice began to pick up rapport. "Surely you are not unforgiving enough to let your people be slaughtered."
Nasus contemplated his words carefully, and responded in the same calm demeanor. "They have already been slaughtered."
A laugh. In the darkness it appeared to resonate from every direction. "Surely you jest; I can see the battle from where I stand right here!"
As if on queue, the Great Library began to rumble. Bookshelves toppled over on top of each other, scattering their contents across the polished floor. Columns cracked and crumbled under the stress which the battle outside inflicted upon it. Stone chunks rained down from the sky as the ceiling buckled and broke. The entire Library was coming undone. A howling gale picked up from the west blowing fiercely against the walls of the library, and slowly but surely it began to topple over in a cacophony of grinding stone and steel.
Then there was silence.
"So you would sit here and do nothing then, is that it?" The mocking voice replied. "That is something to which I cannot abide."
The characteristic zing of drawn steel echoed through the chamber. Nasus felt the ***** of the weapon against the back of his neck, but he did not move nor flinch. "It is time, brother. Stand and fight."
Nasus opened his eyes. The scene from the vista was gone; replaced with the empty blackness of the Reflection Chamber. The only hint of what transpired remaining was the sandy floor upon which Nasus sat. Stooping slightly forward, he scooped up a handful and watched as it slipped through his fingers. "What will fighting you a second time accomplish? I have already bested you once."
"Feh!" A startled cry resounded from Renekhton, brother to the creature before him. The sound of his pacing about began to fill the chamber. "You mock me! You dishonor your own brother!"
"I have no need to do such things. You dishonor yourself by turning our people against ourselves." The truth flowed from his lips like the sand from his hand.
A fiendish growl from behind. "You..."
Nasus watched the last grain of sand fall from his fingers. "I would take my leave of you now."
The growing growl transformed into a chorus of vicious snarls, so much so that Nasus could feel the spittle peppering his back. "Coward! Weakling!" The hum of the blade sailed through the air towards Nasus's ears. Reflex gave way to instinct, and upon springing to his feet, Nasus's own weapon flew to parry the oncoming blow.
Except no blow was returned. Turning around, Nasus was faced with an old robed man bearing the gentle smile of one whose years had brought on as much wisdom as it had age. Nasus recognized the man as the one who had approached him with the League's proposal. The man known as Voss sighed.
"You could have tried to at least play along." He jested.
"I have all the time in the world to 'play along'." Nasus flatly replied.
"An astute observation." Voss acknowledged as he paced slowly around the blackened chamber. "With such abundant time on your hands, it's a wonder why you wish to join the League, of all places." Voss was gesticulating his points while he spoke. "One could find a respectable position among either of the great city state's scholars, or military rank above what most men are capable of."
"There's plenty of pleasures throughout Runeterra, and equally abundant are the young maidens hoping to be whisked away by strong men such as yourself. You could live out your days here in complete comfort if you wished."
Nasus was unamused.
Voss laughed heartily. "All right, all right, I get it." He took a look at the ground, stooped, and picked up his own handful of sand. "Why do you wish to join the league?"
"I have already told you."
Voss frowned. "I know. Look; bear with me here."
Because I have nowhere to go. Nasus's face maintained its quiet contemplativeness. Because I cannot stand by and watch as another world tears itself apart through treachery and bloodshed. His mouth opened, but no words issued forth. Because I will not watch the world burn around me a second time. Nasus closed his mouth. Because I shall not let the tyranny that plagued my world infest the lands of others. Nasus's eyes closed a second time.
"I have unfinished business that I will never see completed."
Voss looked at Nasus expectantly.
"I have witnessed first-hand the whispers in the dark that pit brother against brother. I have seen an entire nation rip itself asunder for nothing more than petty greed or pride. I have struck down my own blood to shield those I have sworn to protect. I have watched lands burn under the fires of oppression. I have seen with my own eyes what the League is attempting to avert, and I can think of no better cause to fight for." Nasus opened his eyes. Voss was staring at him with a smile.
"How does it feel, exposing your mind?"
Nasus knew the answer immediately. "Like grains of sand slipping through one's fingers."
Voss nodded, and toppled to the floor. A pile of sand was all that remained. So he too was an illusion after all. A smirk briefly flashed across Nasus's face as the realization struck him. Even in his infinite wisdom, he had still been caught off-guard.
As the great doors of the Reflection Chamber began to open, Nasus scooped up another handful of sand from the small pile that remained. As he turned to leave, he watched as each individual grain slipped through his fingers to the ground below.
Date: 27 October, 19 CLE
The very moment Kassadin enters a room, his presence completely saturates the entire volume of space. The hair-raising tingle of the void energies which he commands could be one source of this phenomenon, and his grand, stately posture and stride could be the other. Despite his apparent transformation and removal from office, Kassadin still commands the air and respect of a proper Demacian Senator.
His critical gaze washes over the entire length of the League's halls before stepping foot noiselessly inside. His footfalls seem more akin to levitation, giving the illusion of a man silently floating across the floor, which may or may not be closer to the truth than one would like to believe. As he crosses the large hall, his eyes behold those fateful marble doors behind which many champions before him and many champions after him have and will pass.
"The truest opponent lies within." Kassadin read the words aloud.
His hand reached out for the door, but hesitated and stopped short. A chill ran visibly up his spine, and it looked as if he might collapse. If that which Kassadin claims to herald is indeed true, I indeed would not want to be in his place.
When he had collected himself, his hand pressed against the ominous doors ushering them to open.
The doors opened to reveal first the inky blackness of the Reflection Chamber, to which Kassadin stepped into like a man walking to his own execution. The malefic visions which plagued his mind during the day and his dreams during the night seemed to amplify in the black stillness of the chamber. Kassadin stood still, and waited.
A snap to the left, like a twig being crushed underfoot. Kassadin's head jerked towards the noise, but nothing was there.
Silence and blackness persisted.
A slimy brush to the leg. Kassadin's nether blade hummed to life and swiped downwards, only to whiff harmlessly through the air.
The gentle hum of the blade and it's eerie glow were all to keep Kassadin company.
An inhuman roar, absolutely deafening to the senses rang out through the blackness. As Kassadin jerked in fright, a heavy clawed hand grasped him by the torso and slung him through the air. Before blade could be brought to bear, his body collided with heavy stone which cracked and crumbled under the force of the impact. Kassadin screamed in pain, his vision blurred from the concussive blow to the head.
As he came to, he looked into the eyes of a beast more horrific than his mind could even fathom. Holding him prone to the ground with it's massive claws was a blackened seething mass of flesh and hair, oozing with tiny creatures which scurried about the beast's exterior. The beast's spawn were four-legged insect-like creatures with a body about the size of a human fist. Their abdomens ended in elongated stingers which flailed about wildly as they moved, and six piercing beady eyes sat recessed into their heads above a gruesome mass of pointed fangs and mandibles which no doubt made up their mouth.
The beast itself was a behemoth of a creature, sporting nine appendages each tipped with a sickly sharp seven-taloned claw. Each appendage connected to a central mass of teeming flesh, which hung about loosely on it's body like rags. A central circular mouth roared down at Kassadin, vomiting viscous yellow liquid which burned at his eyes and flesh. Protruding from that central mouth were rows upon rows of gnarled teeth, bent out of place in every-which direction and a sickly pale tongue which flapped aimlessly in the void.
In moments, its spawn began to crawl down from its long claws and swarm Kassadin, who writhed and screamed and swung his blade wildly as the spawn dug their fangs into his skin tearing out chunks of his flesh and swallowing it whole down their gullets. One spawn found his screaming open mouth and forced it's way inside, filling his throat with a shower of gore as it tore into the back of his throat.
And just as Kassadin was about to pass out from the pain, everything was gone. He was lying on the floor of the Reflection Chamber in a cold sweat; his breath escaping his lungs in heavy, hoarse heaves. The sensation was over just as quickly as it had begun, but the taste of his own gore and the spawn still lingered in his mouth.
Kassadin slowly rose to his feet. The doors to the chamber sat open and ajar, with a soft orange glow flickering into the chamber itself. Kassadin stabilized himself against the door and looked out.
Fear gripped his heart once more.
The marble halls of the League were torn apart, chunks of marble bathed in blood thrown haphazardly across the ground. Gigantic holes in the ceiling cast pools of moonlight into the hall itself. Stepping noiselessly into the hall, Kassadin saw the bodies which ushered forth their crimson markings.
Soldiers bearing both the Demacian and Noxian emblems lay strewn across the floor in various states of dismemberment. From the ceiling, a wretched creature held a man still writing from its claws as it stripped the man's flesh from his bones with its beak. Its sickly gray skin clung to it's emaciated bones, and upon noticing Kassadin's entry, screeched and took flight on leathery wings carrying it's meal with it.
This is what would happen. Kassadin thought to himself.
He exited the great hall and stepped outside. Gnarled trees expunged a noxious green ichor all over the cracked and parched ground. Somewhere off in the distance, large hound-like creatures flitted through the trees on ghastly paws. A blackened fog tinged with purple had blanketed the entire landscape, casting terrifying shadows from the flickers of flame that covered the countryside destruction. Weird, fantastic, terrifying creatures watched him perched from tree branches or from burrows in the ground. More of the wretched beasts from earlier sailed the skies above, occasionally swooping down to catch a wriggling meal to which Kassadin could not distinguish if it was human or not. The weird place held Kassadin transfixed as he walked down the charred path.
He had been here before.
This was the Void.
This is Icathia: a perverse mockery of the lands of Valoran, twisted and warped by the malevolent powers to which the Void served. A predatory ethereal phenomenon which sought to devour everything that stood in it's way. Terrific, macabre-
"It's no more evil than something like, let me think for a moment, fire."
Kassadin turned with blade to bear to meet a strange humanoid creature standing behind him. Before he could react, it spoke again.
"Yes, fire is a good comparison. It consumes all that it touches if left unchecked, but fire in and of itself is not good or evil. It just is."
The creature was about as tall as Kassadin. Its physiology, however, was indeterminate as it was cloaked from head to toe in tattered yellow robes. It's face was concealed by a featureless white mask, and upon its head sat a dirty crown of what appeared at a glance to be gold. The back and sides of it's head were covered by the hood of the robe.
The disconcerting part of the creature was its voice. It was a hauntingly soothing voice, like one you would expect from a caring grandfather. When it spoke, it called forth a small buzzing like an insect in your mind which seemed to slowly bore deeper, and deeper as it kept talking. It was a task just to keep focus, nonetheless listen to the words it was saying.
However, I know you. I've met you before.
"That may be true, but if a fire is threatening one's home, one's natural reaction is to extinguish it." Deja vu flooded Kassadin's senses as the words escaped from his mouth.
The mask's mouth contorted into a twisted smile. That smile! "Fair enough."
The smile! That awful, awful smile!
It was the smile that plagued Kassadin's nightmares.
"Why do you wish to join the League, Kassadin?" The creature called out mockingly.
Kassadin did not need time to think. "Because I must protect everyone from you, just as much as I must protect myself. As you said, you are like fire; if left unchecked you will devour everything."
The creature laughed. It was a piercing laugh that grated against every nerve in Kassadin's body. "Come now, am I all that bad?" Another laugh, as it raised it's arms to gesture at the surreal surroundings. "Is this all that bad?"
Again, Kassadin did not need time to think. "Anything is better than this. Even if I fight for those that do not believe me, even if I might die without anyone suspecting what I've done, it is a much better fate than this. I will fight you at every turn while I still draw breath, and curse your very existence from the grave when I'm gone."
Anything less is unacceptable.
The creature stood motionless for a moment before speaking again. "How does it feel, exposing your mind?"
"My mind is already blanched from the horrors of this realm. If there was anything left to expose it has since withered away."
Kassadin suddenly fell backwards, as if his feet were jolted out from under him from a powerful impact. As he fell, he could feel the Reflection Chamber reverting to it's usual, blackened self. When he finally made contact with the floor, the thin crack of white light casting it's rays across him was the only assurance he needed.
He was home. And if need be, Kassadin would be it's martyr.
Date: 27 October, 19 CLE
Jax came to our doorstep a broken and battered man. Acolytes of the League rushed him to the medical ward, fearing by the size of the pool of blood at the front door that he may have already bled to death. They drastically misjudged his resilience, and today he seems to have shrugged off his wounds entirely after a week of rest. I am pleased to see he is doing well, because with his foreign anatomy there was not much we could do for him without fear of accidental harm.
It is any man's guess as to why he is here; he has not spoken very much since his arrival. From our limited conversation, he seems to be a down-to-earth and callous individual. His occupation is as of yet unknown. He carried with him a blade of remarkable craftsmanship, which seemed to lend to the image of a soldier; however the insignia of which he bore belonged to no city state or nation I have ever heard of. Any inquiry into his origins has so far been met with brazen rejection.
Regardless of where he comes from, he seems set on entering the League. I for one cannot argue that request given that just several hours ago the man looked like nothing but a corpse. Anyone with as powerful a force of will to endure that kind of punishment and come out unscathed has to be a formidable fighter indeed.
Jax unceremoniously made for the Reflection Chamber after we informed him about the induction process. There was no shame nor fear in his eyes as he marched down the hall towards the large marble doors in his tattered and stained bloody robes, gripping his dazzling blade in his right hand. His confidence filled the air so thick it was almost palpable. A quick glance at the inscription upon the doors was the only heed he paid to what was usually a very somber affair.
The truest opponent lies within.
Jax knocked the doors open himself with a shoulder, and stormed into the Reflection Chamber.
The darkness of the Reflection Chamber met Jax with a greeting of silence. As the doors to the chamber closed behind him, he began to pace about the blackness whether out of eagerness or impatience. When nothing manifested itself, Jax issued the darkness a challenge.
"Come on! I want to make this quick!" Jax yelled, showing his blade with a practiced flourish.
And as if in response, Jax was knocked flat onto his face. What he landed in was not the marble of the chamber floors, but mud.
"Whoa, sorry! Didn't see ya there Jarvis!"
Jax slowly picked himself out of the mud, the sudden change of scenery flooding his memory all-too fast. Covered in filth, Jax for the first time stood spellbound by the scene before him.
He stood in the town square of a bustling village attached to a Demacian military outpost. This was Liman; the infamous 'Border Town', cursed with the misfortune of being built directly over the Noxian-Demacian border, and upon whose charred ashes the League of Legends currently rests upon. A picture straight from the past.
As a whole, the village was a muddy mess. Most of the towns' structures save for the Chapel and the Outpost itself were shambled messes of charred wood patched up in several places by fresh timber. Most houses stood on top of the wreckage of previous houses since burnt down in the perpetual warfare that plagued Valoran. A shoddy palisade riddled with arrows and other weaponry surrounded the village of Liman, the sturdy timbers providing at least some measure of cover against the invaders that would no doubt stampede their way through.
Officially a Demacian settlement, politically the people of Liman liked to see themselves as an independent city state. The idea was perpetuated by Jax's own father Romas, who went so far as to name his two sons Jarvis and Boram as a sick parody and testament to how often the village of Liman changed hands between the two powers of Valoran.
Coincidentally it was Romas himself who Jax was faced with, having been accidentally struck by a large log strung over his father's large shoulders as he turned to navigate the narrow village streets.
"What, it was an accident! Don't look at me like that!" Romas let out a hearty laugh and turned to leave, almost smacking Jax a second time.
This time Jax knew to duck.
This was when I was just a kid. Jax mused to himself. Indeed, the village of Liman had been wiped off the face of Valoran in the second Rune War. Suddenly the inscription upon the doors of the Reflection Chamber made sense. Jax turned towards the east, and waited for a moment. If he was correct, then-
His intuition was rewarded. To the east, dark figures rose over the horizon. Jax didn't need to see them up close to know who they were. This was Liman's final moment. A mile from the palisade wall that gave the people of Liman refuge marched an entire battalion of Noxian stormtroopers, clad in their characteristic black plate mail and skull-shaped helmets. Though they were not yet visible, Jax could already see the Noxian banners waving over the advancing armored column. Jax could also see what would happen next.
The feeling was surreal, pointing out what would happen moments before it actually did. The Symphony of Destruction had begun. Jax's father would drop the log he was carrying, and send up a call to arms. The Demacian company stationed in Liman would surge forward towards the palisade's entrenched defenses. Townspeople would make for the Chapel, where Romas had stashed enough weapons over the years for every man woman and child to carry. Boram would run past Jarvis, and Jarvis would reach out to-
Jax's arm shot out almost reflexively and caught the shoulder of his younger brother. Boram turned to look up into Jax's eyes; a look of raw terror upon his face. Jax took off north, dragging his brother wordlessly with him.
"What about mom? A-and dad?" Boram yelped out as he ran.
Jax recalled the words as he spoke them. "They'll be fine."
They're both dead and you'll never be able to see them again. Sorry.
After they had run a distance, snowflakes had begun to fall. It became harder and harder to put one foot in front of the other, as if trudging through a heavy snow. Looking down, Jax saw the heavy sheet of snow laying across the ground. Awestruck and confused about the apparent transition, Jax jerked his head up. All around him, the old scenery of Liman was melting away. A blizzard began to howl from the north, obscuring his vision. Instinctively, Jax raised his right arm to shield his eyes, and looked back to check on his brother.
The weight of his brother's shoulder was replaced with the weight of Jax's sword, carving a trail through the rapidly piling-up snow as it dragged lazily across the ground. Behind him, barren crags of rock burst through sheets of snow and ice. The sun and sky were no longer visible. The figure of a man was silhouetted against the white canvas of the land in front of him.
So I'm back in the Freljord.
Jax called out to the figure, bringing his sword to bear.
"Alright, Diego! I know that's you and I know this is all in my head. Just beat me half to death already so I can leave." The feeling of Deja vu completely overtook Jax as he spoke, a chill not born from the cold running up his spine. This had taken place only two weeks prior.
The figure began to approach. As it came near, Jax stopped walking.
Diego was a large man, if one could call him a 'man'. His skin was a rusty hue of red, topped at his head with a curly black mop of hair. His hands bore small, short claws instead of nails, and the beginnings of a tail remained half-formed at the base of his spine of which poked through his clothes. Lastly, a single small horn had begun to grow out the side of his head.
"So the freak show's all back together now." Diego snidely remarked.
Jax laughed. "Your fault for dragging us off to Ionia, 'fearless' leader."
Diego wasn't laughing. His left hand tightened it's grip around a blade identical to Jax's. "Oh, so you knew they were just going to blanket the entire island in an off-shore chemical bombardment."
Jax looked around, still chuckling. "Not anymore than you did. Be happy they put us back together in Zaun." Jax held his hand out in front of his face for emphasis. "I for one think I look nice in purple."
Diego roared and slammed his blade against the ground. Cracks in the ice spider-webbed out from the impact point. "You shut it! You were the one who did this to us!"
Jax crossed his arms, still holding onto his blade. "Nope. You're just sore that your awful decision-making chased my brother off and landed Lichter a job as a hopeless drunk in Piltover. The hell were you thinking taking a contract from Zaun, and with only four people?" Jax began to pace. "Then of course you blamed me when it all went to hell, we fought and almost killed each other, then all of the money we earned went to fixing us up." Jax unfolded his arms and pointed a finger at Diego. "You're a pretty dangerous man."
Diego hurled himself at Jax. This time Jax remained motionless instead of ducking to the left. Ducking to the left had got him a chest-full of claw followed by a headbutt to the face and a trip down a snow-bank. From there everything just went bad.
At the last moment, Jax pitched right and caught Diego's sword arm. Rooting himself into the ground, Jax used Diego's momentum and swung him straight into a protruding rock. Diego lashed out with his left claw...
Chest-full of claw. Headbutt to the face. Thrown down a rocky snowbank.
At least it didn't hurt this time. Jax thought to himself as he came to a stop next to a scraggly tree.
Diego stood atop the snowbank, and called down to Jax. "Why do you wish to join the league?"
Jax slipped his hands behind his head as he laid in the snow. "What a dumb question. To get away from your sorry ass."
Diego smiled. "How does it feel, exposing your mind?"
Jax furrowed his brow and looked up at Diego. "I don't remember you being this creepy."
Then blackness. The Reflection Chamber had reverted itself back to normal. It took a moment for Jax to process the transition as he got to his feet. Turning to his left, he saw the light from the Institute of War filtering into the chamber through the opening doors. Shrugging off the events of the Reflection Chamber like so many wounds, Jax marched out into the warm glow of the League.
- - - - - - - - - -
POST SCRIPT: This was initially written around the time a number of heroes saw their backgrounds changed. I had forgotten to read up on them and see that Jax's background was changed to where he underwent no judgment. Personally I still feel that sort of background story is lame, so I refuse to change this one.
- - - - - - - - - -
Date: 27 October, 19 CLE
Gangplank is... interesting, to say the least. Were it not for his fame among those faring the eastern seas he most likely would have been thrown out of the Institute of War when he arrived, flanked by two young women, reeking of cheap stale beer, and clearly quite drunk himself. Rather than process him while thoroughly inebriated, as that could have caused damage to the Reflection Chamber, we bade his 'escort' farewell and allowed him a day's worth of rest.
Today he appears to be doing as well as he ever will, for I suspect his irritable demeanor and fierce temper are not a product of his night spent drinking. Gangplank commands undivided attention through the use of fear and intimidation, as any man would making a living off the shadier aspects of human society. Were it not for his blatant disregard and disdain for any sort of authority, I imagine he could have become an extremely powerful man under the Noxian regime. Gangplank is his own man in every sense of the phrase, and he makes no point in hiding it.
As he strode arrogantly through the central hall towards the Reflection Chamber, one could feel the disgust radiating from his scornful gaze as it crossed the room. I imagine Gangplank has never seen ornate halls of caved marble except while plundering them for his bounty. When he arrived at the doors, his gaze followed the contour of the thin crack between them up to the inscription.
The truest opponent lies within.
Gangplank scoffed, and then nearly got himself thrown out of the Institute a second time. The ruffian pulled from his person a small dagger and slipped it under the 'u' in 'truest', as if to pry it from where it sat. I promptly yelled for him to cease and desist, and with a sneer Gangplank entered the Reflection Chamber.
Smug little rat.
Gangplank fumed in the darkness of the Reflection Chamber, clearly not happy about being accosted by one of the Institute's acolytes. The last person to do that took a bullet in the gut and bled out all over a city street. The person before that was kidnapped in the dead of night, and fired from a ship cannon back into town in the morning. And the person before that...
Was my old man.
"Waaahahaha! Still miss yer dear old daddy, do ye lad?"
Gankplank drew his pistol and fired in the direction of the voice before turning to look at whom it belonged to.
"Whoa there, watch where ye point that shoddy piece a driftwood; ye'll poke someone's eye out wid et!"
There stood Vincent, or rather Vincent's skeleton, with a chunk of skull blown out behind the left eye socket.
"And aye believe this belongs ta me."
While Gangplank's brain attempted to process what was unfolding, Vincent's skeletal hand snapped forward and snatched Gangplank's hat clean off his head. The hat came to rest atop Vincent's own, and with a small push forward fit nicely with his old black overcoat. If it weren't for the skeletal head and hands, nobody would suspect Vincent had ever died in the first place.
"So yer like a cockroach after all." Gangplank remarked, thinly veiled malice lacing his words.
"Eh, shut it boy; Ye got lucky." Vincent removed a pipe from his vest and a box of matches. After a few strikes, however, it was clear his matches were not going to light.
"What, somethin' on me face? Make yerself useful an git me a light." Vincent remarked absently.
"Git yer own, ye scum." Gangplank angrily replied.
"Ey, respect yer elders ye brat!" Vincent lashed out and smacked Gangplank upside the head in response.
Gangplank, however, was having no more of that. His right hand gingerly yanked his cutlass from it's resting place, and swung a vicious horizontal arc that caught Vincent square in the ribs. The blade tore through his overcoat and the vestments they covered, but failed to strike anything vital. Vincent glanced down at the 'wound' inflicted by the weapon, and laughed. Enraged and spurred on, Gangplank continued his assault by smashing the flat of his blade against Vincent's face, sending him reeling across the floor and knocking his hat off.
"Tha bottom o' tha sea not a good enough restin' place fer ya, is that it?" Gangplank called mockingly as he picked up his hat to set it in it's rightful place. "Aye shoulda left ye on some spirits-forsaken rock ta be picked apart by tha gulls then!"
Vincent's humor roared through the chamber, still it's dark and inky black self. "Oh, aye got me a mighty fine piece a land down there. Ye should visit sometime!" Vincent yanked free a flintlock pistol from his belt and aimed it straight at Gangplank's face. Before he could duck or dodge out of the way the shot had already been fired, slamming into Gangplank's left eye.
Gangplank screamed as a spray of gore blanketed his face from the wound. His right hand released his blade which clattered noisily to the floor and clutched his wound. His back arched forward in pain, and his knees nearly gave out. As his fluids leaked through his fingers from the hole in his head, Vincent howled with glee.
"There! Now ye'll look like a proper pirate!"
A soft patter echoed faintly from before, and Gangplank momentarily glanced in it's direction with his good eye. Vincent's eye-patch laid in front of him on the reflection chamber floor. Gangplank growled in rage and shot his glance upward at Vincent, who stood with his arms up in a gesture of confusion.
"What? Aye'm just tryin ta 'elp ye boy. Don't look at me like tha."
With a bellowing yell filled with spite, Gangplank bull-rushed Vincent and knocked him to the ground. His bones clattered to the floor in a heavy crash, prompting Gangplank to throw himself on top with a crunch. With Vincent now pinned, Gangplank pounded his fists into his father with an unrelenting fervor. His knees sat pinning Vincent's shoulders to the floor, preventing any retaliation. His hands slammed mercilessly into Vincent's skull, each blow slowly but surely sending small cracks spider-webbing across it's exterior. A well-aimed blow knocked his lower jaw loose, and a second sent the bone skidding across the floor with a hollow clang. Under the stress of the barage, Vincent's skull began to bulge inwards and with a final, furious slam the bone finally gave way and caved in on itself.
Gangplank huffed with exhaustion, still seated on his father's still prostrate form. Looking up, he began to notice the scenery had changed. No longer a dark room, he sat in the captain's cabin of his ship. And as a memory flashed across Gangplank's mind...
This makes sense.
Gangplank stood up, grabbed Vincent's overcoat, and hoisted the corpse up over his shoulder by it. He exited the quarters, to be met with the eyes of his crew watching his exit. They continued to wordlessly go about their duties, but never took their eyes off Gangplank and his 'companion'. Gangplank refused to acknowledge their existence, and instead made his way over to the stern of his ship. Leaning over the banister to peer into the waters below, his began to speak again. The voice this time was not of his father, but of someone Gangplank did not recognize.
"Why do you wish to join the league?"
Gangplank paused, but only for a moment. He remembered where he was.
"Why? 'Cause it's about time Bilgewater gets tha respect it deserves, an who better ta 'represent it'?"
There was a brief pause, and the voice spoke again.
"Why do you wish to join the league?"
Gangplank's temper began to flare again.
"Aye just told ye!"
Immediately, Vincent spoke.
"Why do ye wanna join the blasted league, ya dirty 'lil runt!"
Gangplank was finished with this charade, and hurled Vincent's body over the railing and into the murky depths below. He watched with a smirk of gratification as the corpse faded out of sight under the waves of the ocean. Gangplank shrugged, and addressed his father's final question.
"'Cause aye can!"
Gangplank felt a flash of relief as the body sank to the bottom of the ocean. He called out to it's rapidly disappearing form. "Ye know how much tha eye's gonna cost me, ya crazy old sea-devil? A bloody fortune! Ye owe me!" Gangplank chuckled with satisfaction, and turned to head back to his chambers.
"How does it feel, exposing your mind?"
The voice had returned, and for the first time it dawned on him, so had the sight in his left eye. His right hand reached up to his face to find all the damage from before gone like his father. More peculiarly, the doors to his cabin had been replaced with the marble doors of the Reflection Chamber, standing wide open as if to usher him out into his new placement within the league. Gangplank rubbed his left eye briefly, and walked from his ship back into the Institute of War.
From the great hall, Gangplank turned to watch the Reflection Chamber doors close.
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