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The heart of life. (runeterra, OC.)

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(May be part one, just wanted to try my hand at it, any comments welcome.)

The machine went. it was rather quiet as the structure of gleaming brass rolled on. The soft seats, covered in rough leather, were empty, a single man was looking out, wind blowing past his face as the machine whirred away. The man, insisting on going by "Chain" in Piltover, looked over the soft terrain, the damage of madmen showing as they were getting further over the Zuan border. He rapped his fist to the roof, making a hallow clanging with each knock. "How is the cargo?"

"It just moved a bit." The robbed figure, a golden, hook like staff in hand as she used another one of the leather seats, looking a large wool bag. Ruhs placed the staff in in her lap, looking out one of the slats. She looked down at her brown robes, the head of the staff glowed and the end extended, reinforcing itself.

Chain looked out over the wastelands, he knew she was near. Backing up a bit, he looked at the large, open section of the wall. There was a blur of brown and green before the figure pointed something at Chain. What Via didn't see coming was her hand to be grabbed and the knee digging into her stomach, the cloth proving very poor protection as she doubled over, her own pistol pointed at her head.

"T-thief..." Via managed, geting up a bit, willing herself not to throw up. The only weapon she had was a dagger now, and she was sure it would not be fast enough as the man backed up. What looked like a staff coming from the front of the machine was pushed, the machine starting to turn lightly, the unstable Via caught herself on the opposite wall, wishing there was more stability then a bunch of interlined poles to hang on to.

"You" Chain started, voice surprisingly gentle and deep "are on a vehicle i commissioned, payed for, and plan on maintaining with my own money. You're an intruder." He explained kindly, the faintest golden glow appearing on the edge of Via's vision. Rhus had the point of her staff at Via's throat.

"Look at the little assassin. Let's remove this headware and see where you're from." Rhus said, her voice was also soft, but it seemed to be hiding an intent that was a lot harsher.

"She's Ionian, leave it on." Chain commanded. Rhus frowned. Why did he hire her in the first place if he already knew who their attacker was? She removed the hook from the neck and went back to the upper floor to do her main job.Via looked up at the man, shocked that he knew where she was from.She finally pulled herself off the bars, seeing this man she tracked with the gem examining her weapon.

"W-what are you doing?" She asked, not sure at all if she was stable enough to get it back from him. He pulled back something, letting an unspent bullet out, looking at it.

"Huh, this is pretty basic. It's actually kind of weak. great for hiding, though." Chain said, looking over the ordinance.

"I know it's nothing compared to the champions in the league, but it get's the job done." Via said, looking at her gun carefully. She had taken care of it, although she noted that this man was doing so as well.

"I also know that you use training unique to Ionia to empower your bullets so their smaller size is backed up by power." Chain said, to the woman's great surprise. Via was not sure she wanted the man to keep talking, despite his mundane appearance he was reading into things nobody had ever found out about before, from her nationality to her method of attacking. It was bad enough that those few back home knew of her dishonorable job. They were accepting, and knew that she only had the best of intentions in mind, they knew how wrong it was.

While Via was locked in that thought, she was surprised by a gleam of metal. She looked up, the gun being handed back to her. Via gasped in surprise as she took it and looked it over.

"Here's the deal, we need this to the pass in ironspike. After that, you can get the heart of life back, there should be another gem waiting there for us. Then you can go back to ionia and return it to wherever it's supposed to be." Chain said, making Via frown in consideration.

"So, we get to the path, and you hand over the gem and I can go on my way?" She asked, finding it odd after all this time he's willingly handing over the object she was pursuing.

"If all goes well, yes. Should it not, then you will find why we can't hand it over. I'm not making an excuse" He said hurriedly "I'm saying that when we get there, you will know if we can't hand it back." Chain said, Via thinking before Rhus dropped down from upstairs.

"I see a vehicle from Zuan." She said, it was calm but brisk.

"Hey, how would you like to stop some actual thieves?" Chain asked, Via looking alert. She looked and saw, dark metal against a darker landscape. "Don't damage the machine!" He said to both the girls as Rhus climbed back up top. 3 bandits detached themselves from the persuing vehicle, jumping onto the machine. Two went for the armed person, the 3rd went for the unarmed. They were clearly high rate mercs as despite the unstable and small conditions they fought well.

Via stunned the first with a deceptively hard strike at his knee, forcing him to kneel while the second one was forced to catch his breath after a collision from the side of Via's fist. Catching his leg, Via destabilized the other man and almost got hit by the recovering merc, but not before she had pushed the second merc off the machine, clutching at her leg now as she pulled out the gun, shooting the mace in his hand, a faint yellow glow where the bullet had collided. A fist barely missed Via's head as she caught the arm, forcing the momentum to keep going and having that aid her in throwing the second one off the machine, becoming a bump on the road.

Chain didn't mess around, pulling out a small rod, he jabbed his attacker in the thigh, a painful shock confusing the man before another one was applied to the head. He recovered enough to land a solid blow to the side, Chain grabbing the fist and stabbing it with a needle he had hidden. Throwing out the needle the man's fist went limp, another jolt ran through him before he felt a pain on the side of his head, Chain haviing grabbed the mace and slammed the head of his attacker, throwing him out the side of the car as well.

Rhus dropped down again, a man's head capture by her staff as she gave a powerful twist and flung out the 4th merc who had snuck in. Looking at the vehicle that still followed, she lifted her staff and pointed the base at the middle of the mass of metal, a brown bolt coming out of it and sticking to the vheicle. As it danced along the top, rust started to form, the metal creaking and groaning in weakness as the staining of rust grew, the middle suddenly split, as if it had finally given up a battle with time as it split and the front, where the last merc remained, spun out and flipped.

Via looked at the mage now, she knew there were mages who focus on fighting, but this was the first time she saw one manhandle another person in combat.

"Rhus, Ionian, go up, you two look for anybody else who might have an interest in us and check on the cargo." Chain said, going back to the front to start steraing the machine again. Rhus climbed up, offering her hand to Via. The Ionian refused, trying to climb up herself, found it still felt unstable, and took the hand. She was surpised at the top, it was much more covered and solid, with actual walls with windows.

"So, it's clear my employer trusts you. Although you have proven yourself, i'm not going to give you leeway." Rhus said, looking through the slats at the distance.

"That's fair, but i'm in it for the gem this car uses as an engine." Via said, looking through opposite windows carefully. "Although i have no reason to trust your employer, he did show trust in me, it's only fair I show trust in him."

"Alright." Rhus said, sitting down again, looking at the Ionian carefully. "So, I've never seen such application of focus." Rhus said in provocation.

"Please don't start! I hear it all the time. I'm not like Karma, I don't have a strong conviction that the way of the peace is right. My will to live is much strong than my will fight for a cause." She sat down heavily in a chair, buring what was visible of her face in her hands. "I don't belive peace is the right method for everything. We have zombies and machines and abominations from a void of horrors on our planet, planning, killing, lusting after blood and life." Rhus felt rather bad, but she also realized something was pushing the emotional release, rather than the Ionian being weak.

"So, what are you doing?" Rhus asked, and she got an angry stare back.

"I'm fighting how i can. I'm preventing more corpses from coming back with the intent to murder. I'm stopping people from making armies to defy the already shaky peace the league keeps, i'm making sure weapons never reach those who would use them." She snapped.

"So, you're going to take away everybody's hands and feet?" Rhus asked.

"I..." Via was at a loss.

"Look, we all want to make the world better, there are countless things that can happen. Some do it through force, some through trickery, some through peace. there is no one answer to everything." Rhus said, very aware what was in the sac may just count as a weapon of world destruction if things go wrong.

"And that's why I fight." Via said weakly. "I know my people want peace, and i know somebody needs to take up the war against evil to stop them. I may not be a champion, I may not represent my home, but I'm doing what I can."

"Well, are you sure you don't represent them in some way?" Rhus asked, smiling gently to herself as she thought of stories she heard when she was young.

"H-how so?" Via asked, almost desperately.

"Karma is the champion of willpower for your home. She may be great, but not everybody can define themselves by their iron will. We are all different people, but we all hope, we all fear, we all weep. You are simply what Ionia doesn't show to everybody, but what is still very real." Rhus explained. She could have sworn she herd a sniff.

"S-so... you think I'm actually doing good? That I'm improving things?" Via asked, Rhus was a bit worried about such a roller coaster of emotions, and then things snapped into place for her. She was now worried for a different reason that she wasn't about to reveal.

"Yes, you may not be doing what's best, or what others think is the best, but you are doing what you feel is right. It's all that you could do." Rhus said. She could have sworn she got a beaming smile from the covered figure but she noticed a twitch in the sack. "Let's go downstairs so you can enjoy the breeze." She jumped down. "Chain, I think it's time for you to go and look over the cargo."

"Right." Chain said simply, climbing up, Via noticing his features were actually bulky, rather than slim the blowing clothes had lead her to believe.

"This is relaxing." Via said, standing in front of the blowing wind, the smell of chemicals long behind them. "So." She turned, seeming much happier now that she was away from the cargo. "What was that ability you used?"

"What, you mean the vehicle chasing us?" She asked, moving to the open edge and sweeping her hook, holding a rock in her hand.

"Yeah." Via said, looking at the rock curiously. "Oh, I'm Via by the way." She offered.

"Rhus. And it's my focus of magic. People always focus on making bigger fires or causing better enhancements to the body, but never how to naturally produce results." She said, holding the rock in hand out of the machine. Soon it started to smooth out, cuts and imperfections becoming more clear as it got smaller, before becoming brittle dust hand and blowing away in the wind.

"Wait, are you a chronomancer?" Via asked. "Like that one champion..."

"No." Rhus interrupted smoothly. "My focus is not on time itself, but how it affects things. I study the deterioration and reversion of materials." When she saw the confused eyes she went on "Say you have a well worn sword, it was used by somebody in the army, and it was their father's before his."

"I would expect, without care, it would get very weak." Via hazarded.

"Yes, but going from that. If i were to come into contact with that sword I could do one of two things. I could make it age and wear faster, so it crumbles to dust in the hand, or I could cause it to go back in time to when it was first forged, or when it got repaired, or when it was first cast, or to an ingot, or to ore."

"So... you study... decay?" Via guessed.

"Yes, how things decay, how they return to before, how they go to their end." She said, skillfully scooping up another rock. This time it shifted, becoming smoother but also dripping as it slowly became smaller and more exaggerated again, before the dust seemed to be swept away in a current to nowhere.

"You're very good with that staff." Via noticed.

"Impressed? I'm good with a hook, not a staff, but I'll let you guess, you seem to be an agent or spy. Where did I come from?" Rhus challenged.

"Uh..." Via was rather surprised by this pop quiz.

"You have two hints. I know a lot of decayed items, and I know how to use a hook."

"The slums?" Via asked, frowning under the concealment.

"Yes, that's how I got an interest in rusted items, my father was a butcher. He slaughtered meat for a living, nobody dared cross him. I was just a pretty girl surrounded by the dishonorable. Father used to give me hooks and taught me how to intimidate and injure." Rhus explained.

"Wow, I wouldn't have expected that from a mage in robes." Via admitted.

"I was lucky. One night my father complained about how his good cleaver was rusted through so I took a look at it. A young girl with a pretty face can learn a lot when she lives near an academy. What I tried didn't work until I just wanted to fix it so much it hurt. I watched as before my eyes, the damage and years vanished. I started to practice on the rest of the damaged items, soon my father's second hand items were pristine. I couldn't do it to meat. I tried, but it never got far. I can heal minor injuries, but nothing more." Rhus explained, smiling at Via. "As the academy was right there, I showed them to try and get my father support so he could move out of the slums."

"What about your mother?" Via asked.

"She wanted nothing to do with me. She actually ran away, but dad agreed to take me in. She's how I got my charm. She simply needed to eat for the night so she could move on in the morning." Rhus said, chuckling at the reaction. "Oh please, I spent my youth stabbing people with hooks and you're surprised at the payment my father had gotten for his work?"

Via said nothing. They were reaching the path through the mountains. She had no idea if she wanted to stay or take the gem and leave at once.

"Take your time. We need to do a few repairs before we go on."

In the top compartment, the sack opened, the figure looked at Chain, eyes red as he looked down at himself.

"This is good. I was so weak before, but this should support me. I am going to nap. I need more energy to support this body."

(comments and critique appreciated.)