Much Ado About the League - A Tale as Mad as a Hatter

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Oskay

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Senior Member

11-25-2010

Content

Prologue (Page 1): There is an inn, a merry old inn...
Chapter 1 (Page 1): A Normal Day
Chapter 2 (Page 1): Introducing - the Handsome and Dashing Vladimir
Chapter 3 (Page 1): First Encounter
Chapter 4 (Page 1): An Uninvited Guest
Chapter 5 (Page 2): Tackling the Dragon
Chapter 6 Special (Page 2): And a Bottle of... RUM!
Chapter 7 (Page 3): Burnt Biscuits
Chapter 8 (Page 4): To Rest or not to Rest
Chapter 9 (Page 4): Strange Happenings with a Hint of Malicious Intent
Chapter 10 (Page 5): Outside the Crystal Ball
Chapter 11 (Page 6): Brush, Ambuscade, and a Place Five Fathoms Deep
Chapter 12 Special (Page 7): Yes, a Baker
Chapter 13 (Page 8): Sion and Urgot's Great Adventure - Part III
Chapter 14 (Page 8): Revelations
Chapter 15 (Page 9): The Harrowing
Chapter 16: In Progress




Prologue

Most good stories begin with the letter 'i'. Quite a few of said stories take it a step further by beginning with the word 'in'. This story, however, attempts to trump all others by beginning in a place that incorporates both of these elements: an 'inn'. Inns, of course, are known for the warm refuge they offer, particularly to the weary traveller who wishes to rest for a while. Food is served, and drinks are passed around. The patrons discuss recent events, while a bard sings softly in the corner, nodding with gratitude each time he receives another coin. All is well, and there is a general feeling of peace and tranquillity in the room.

Until the first mug (full or not, it doesn't matter) is sent flying across the room.

“Dodge this!” The deafening roar could be heard clearly in the entire building, coming from none other than the infamous Rabble Rouser. Smack! went the projectile as it slammed into an unfortunate victim. But the innkeeper would have none of that tonight. He quickly grabbed his Hextech Revolver from under the counter and aimed straight for Gragas's head. Smack! went the lamppost as it slammed into the unfortunate landlord. “Surprise! I'm back,” said Jax, still closing his zipper.

With the inkeeper, the only source of order, knocked out cold, the atmosphere changed faster than you can say 'First Blood'. Tables were turned upside down, bottles were broken, and once in a while a man was tossed out of a window (of which luckily there weren't too many). In the middle of the ensuing chaos stood Gragas and Jax, the former still drowning an entire keg of ale. Needless to say, it would be on the house.

Jax waited until his companion was finished, then slowly remarked: “Better get out of here, before the Noxians show up.” He did not really feel like running. As if to emphasise this, he slammed his fist into a drunkard who was trying to sneak up from behind. But then again, a champion could not afford having bad publicity. Or having the League know he was too powerful. The last time Jax had single- and bare-handedly beaten up the 84 attendants of a Demacian pub, the League had implemented new regulations to keep him in check. He had stayed out of trouble afterwards, and the High Councilor Vessaria Kolminye soon gave him back a portion of his old powers. Jax had no intention of losing them again.

Some form of slurred speech that sounded like “Too late...” came from Gragas's lips, as a battalion of Noxian guards rushed through the now non-existent door. Jax swiftly ducked behind his friend, which was more than enough to conceal him for the moment. Too bad that a second later Gragas launched himself belly first into the newcomers. “I'm on it!” he laughed, lying on top of several flattened Noxians. Jax did not pause to consider his options, leaping straight out of a window and into the dark street outside. “Later!” was all he said. The Rabble Rouser would be fine on his own. He always was.

Sure enough, the guards were no closer to catching Gragas than they had been on any other occasion. And so they had to report their failure to capture the Number One Public Enemy to their superiors, who in turn would punish them by sending them on night patrol for an entire month. And nobody wants to be on night patrol when Gragas goes out for a drink.


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Balrogix

Senior Member

11-25-2010

This story is really funny. All hail Gragas and his drinking buddy, Jax!


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Oskay

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Senior Member

11-25-2010

Glad that you like it. Here's the next instalment, which I didn't think I'd finish today:

Chapter 1

Katarina moved gracefully past the dozens of champions and summoners filling the League Cafeteria. It was lunchtime, and that meant it would be crowded in the hall. Left, right, weave straight through the middle, left again, Shunpo, and she had reached the front of the line. The others who had been waiting for their food began voicing their disagreement, but no one dared do more than that.

At first Katarina thought that she had finally established her position as a deadly assassin, but then she looked at the man right behind her. She immediately regretted cutting the line.

“At your service!” bellowed Garen, much louder than would have been necessary. Looking at the Sinister Blade with what he must have thought to be a charming smile, he added: “The scoundrel will pay for not knowing how to treat a lady.”

“Anything less would be uncivilised,” agreed Cho'gath, looking quite the gentleman today. Katarina did not respond. She grabbed a plate and walked up to the waiter-minion, who promptly filled it for her. But Garen would not be Garen if he'd give up so easily.

“Look,” he began, still trying to sound manlier than he already was. “You probably have heard that I am a very important person in Demacia. Did you know they call me 'The Might of Demacia'? Not that I want to sound like I'm bragging or anything...” He paused as he looked around for the object of his deepest desires, who had unceremoniously disappeared.

“And here he was making absurd statements like 'Even simply the pursuit of a worthy opponent on the battlefield is, to a true warrior, the reason to rise each morning.',” snickered Tristana.

“Or, 'The promise of one, particularly one so beautifully and diametrically opposed, is the validation of his existence.',” added Annie. The two girls, both roughly the same height, were giggling quietly. Garen took no note of this. He had spotted Katarina again, and shouted “Fear not, I'm coming!” as he made his way to her table. He took a seat without waiting for her permission.

“Mind telling me if my hair is well groomed?” he asked, pointing at his face while flexing his arms. The Mercenary sighed.

“Indubitably,” she answered indifferently. He must be spending more time in front of his mirror than LeBlanc, she thought. Garen mistook the indifference for an attempt at hiding her true feelings for him.

“Well, as I was saying earlier, I have connections. Lots of them. And I so happened to have one of them give me these two babies...” He waved two sparkly pieces of thick paper in front of her face. “Want to join me? Cause these are the last tickets in Valoran that will get you backstage after the Pentakill concert”

“If I really wanted to talk to Mordekaiser or Sona, I could do so right now.” Katarina nodded towards the Master of Metal, who was sitting but a few tables away.

Garen appeared to have missed the last comment. “Come with me, and you'll like the way the concert goes. I Garen-tee it,” he added with a wink. Unfortunately, winks and Garens don't go well together. Now winks and Tarics, those are different. But everyone knows that Taric would not waste his wink on a woman.

Katarina picked up her plate and rose. As she turned to leave, Garen, in a desperate act to get her attention again, put his hand on her shoulder. “Come on honey, you can't possible decli-i-i-i-i...” A kick in the privates proved to be more effective than Kassadin's Null Sphere.

“Don't test your luck, Demacian.” Katarina spoke softly, just loud enough for Garen (now sprawled on the floor) to hear. The Demacian fool had managed to ruin her good mood again, as he did on every single occasion they met. Which turned out to be more than she could take, especially since she had joined the league. With her still half-full plate, she walked to an unoccupied table, and let herself sink into a chair.

Except, she never touched it. Instead, she ended up on top of something that felt like cheap cloth, hovering at least a hand-span above the seat. With an uncharacteristic shriek, she jumped up and looked at the chair, eyes wide open.

“Why so serious?” the disattached voice chuckled. With a faint pop, the Demon Jester came into full view. But Katarina was not feeling like partaking in any of his jokes; she pulled out her dagger and threw it at the prankster. Shaco exploded in a shower of rainbow-coloured fluff.

“Look behind you,” he laughed hysterically. Katarina did exactly that, and came face to face with a Jack in the Box, making her flinch as the clown nearly collided with her. Behind the abnormally large box, she saw Shaco on the floor, moving away while doing his trademark worm.

The Sinister Blade had enough. Head held high in order to retain some of her dignity, she strode out of the room with more strut than even Miss Fortune could have managed. And indeed Sarah Fortune was watching her with a good mixture of respect and envy. “Bang!” she said, raising an eyebrow.

Whatever else the Bounty Hunter had to say was cut short by the League Commentator's female voice: “All Demacian and Noxian representatives, please head to the Summoning Chamber. Details regarding the match will be explained on the Fields of Justice. Repeat, all Demacian and Noxian representatives, please head to the Summoning Chamber."


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Oskay

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Senior Member

11-27-2010

Chapter 2

Vladimir was strolling towards the main summoning chamber, situated in the exact centre of the League. In the smaller rooms around it, novice summoners could practice their skills in customised matches and quick three-on-three skirmishes. He had been approached a couple of times today by these summoners, who had begged and pleaded to have him lend them his powers. But they had not yet earned enough reputation in the League, and so he had declined each and every one of them. It had felt wonderful. Seeing the depressed faces as the summoners walked away filled the Crimson Reaper with more joy than a Tuesday. Black pudding, you see, is served only on that particular day.

On top of that, there would be a match to decide the outcome of some city-state conflict. And not just any city-states, but Noxus and Demacia. That much had been made obvious by the announcement.

Every few steps Vladimir did a little skip, destroying his casual fašade; truth was, he was barely able to conceal his excitement. He doubted that this day could get any better. “Wonderful,” he chanted over and over again. He could feel his own blood rushing through his veins and arteries faster than before, causing a pleasant sensation of heat that spread through his entire body.

The chamber was empty when he reached it. No champion stood on the ten platforms arranged in a circular fashion, no summoner stood outside the circle. Nostalgia swept over Vladimir as he gazed at the platforms, each two arm-lengths away from its neighbours.

It had been one of his earlier matches. Two summoners (on different sides) had requested to control him during the battle. Vladimir had been about to suggest that the more powerful summoner should have the privilege, but the Overseer of the match had come up with the most absurd solution: they would both control him. Before the Crimson Reaper had time to ask how exactly that would be possible, the Overseer had picked him up and walked over to the gap between two platforms. And then Vladimir had simply been slammed into the ground so that each of his feet made contact with a platform, causing him to do a most undignified split.

Well, at least I got a new move to add to my dance, he thought while the memory faded. He looked around, but he was still alone. For the sake of doing something, he manipulated his own blood so that it would rise through his skin and form a sphere in his hand. Then another, and another. The pain he felt was minute, his body having grown used to losing the essence of life. He checked the orbs of blood to make sure they were perfectly round, then began juggling them with professional movements.

“The gift of eternal pain,” Urgot sighed, his techmaturgically enhanced voice coming from the doorway. Vladimir did not respond, mainly because he wasn't sure what his Noxian colleague had meant. There was also the matter of Urgot unnerving him simply by being close by; as a matter of fact, the freaky, creepy, crabby, shabby, former human gave him the chills like nothing else in Runeterra did.

Clearing his mind of such distractions, he re-absorbed the blood. Now that someone else had arrived, there would be no need for entertainment. The real fun was about to begin, and Vladimir wanted to know exactly who he would be facing. His allies were only of secondary importance.

Sure enough, the number of champions doubled in the next ten seconds, then doubled again five seconds later. Garen, Lux, and Xin. Vladimir was vaguely aware of the other four champions moving to his side. Only two missing now.

When he saw who had been sent to make up for the lack of Demacians in the League, the Crimson Reaper almost let out a laugh. They were none other than the two drinking buddies Gragas and Jax, who had been sighted just last night running away from the demolished 'Withering Ivy Inn'.

“Wonderful,” Vladimir repeated for what must have been the fortieth time. All that was left to do now was to wait for his summoner to show his hooded face. He did not have to wait for long, as a minute later ten purple-robed figures entered the chamber and positioned themselves behind their respective platform. Vladimir stepped onto one and faced his summoner. Expectancy was clearly written in the latter's face. The Crimson Reaper rolled his eyes. He had no idea why he had to do this every single time.

“The rivers will run red,” he declared with as much annoyance in his voice as he could muster. But the summoner seemed to be satisfied; he was moving his arms in complicated patterns and mouthing words in an arcane language. The runes on the summoning platform lit up brightly, and a second later there was darkness.

Vladimir found himself staring at his own portrait. Hanging around it where the paintings of his fellow Noxians, and above them he could make out the faces of his enemies. Enemies who would soon be feeling quite drained.

***

Xin Zhao stood staring at the goods the shop had to offer. He was still conemplating which item to buy first. The Meki Pendant for increased stamina, or a Long Sword to tie to his spear for increased lethality?

“Ya just goin' to stand there like a buffoon or d'ya wanna buy somethin'?” the fat shopkeeper grumbled. Xin had not seen him be cheerful once in his entire career as a champion.

<Fat, greedy, drug addict...> the summoner's thoughts echoed in his mind. Xin had to agree; all this guy ever did was sit behind a counter, perfectly safe, and collect the champions' hard-earned money. And then mysteriously, he would be broke again at the beginning of the next match.

The general plan the team had come up with was simple; Lux would head straight towards the enemy Nexus, while Gragas and Jax were to flank the enemy from the east. That left Garen and Xin to surprise the Noxians from the north. The plan appeared perfect, because it was both original and effective; the opposing champions would never think of a similar one.

Xin was jogging towards the west, so that he could later turn south towards the enemy base. The encampments had been set up before the champions were summoned, so all that was asked of the two armies was to destroy them.

Behind him, the minions were streaming out of the Nexus. One, two, three armed with little swords and tiny shields, one, two, three, armed with wands.

Xin had just reached the inner camp, guarded by a giant, enchanted statue. He paused briefly to regain his stamina. Most summoners never thought about the size of the Fields of Justice, as it appeared relatively small to them. Reality was, of course, completely different from the theory; the fields were roughly as big as a real battlefield, city-states included. Running back and forth from the Nexus to the small camps beyond was rather tiring. Xin wished his summoner would have had the power to simply teleport him to the farthest location possible.

“The warrior's spirit is never broken,” he reminded himself. He continued running in front of the minions, until he finally came to the outer camp. Garen was hiding in the thick brush in the distance, his shiny armour visible even from a far away. Xin shook his head in wonder, because somehow this course of action always worked; the enemy champions would come running into the brush, oblivious to the lustrous attire of Garen (who was also at least a head taller than the grass).

The Seneschal positioned himself next to his fellow soldier. They had been through countless battles together, and each time Xin had been the voice of reason that restrained Garen from charging straight into the enemy camp.

<Probably would survive it, though>. The summoner's voice was ringing in his head. Xin nodded, then glanced at the leader of the Dauntless Vanguard. A shiver ran down his spine, and he slowly shuffled a bit to the left; Garen was examining himself, using his polished sword as a mirror. Xin was doubting whether inviting Taric to join them in their free time had been such a good idea after all.

The sound of something big moving through a bush caught Xin's attention. He could have sworn that someone had whispered: “I'll do it.”

He readied his spear. Clearly Garen's battle instincts had alerted him too; he switched abruptly from Disciple of Gemstones to Might of Demacia. Xin did not have time to react to this.

“DEMACIAAAAA!” Garen shouted as he ran towards the sound and out of the cover of the grass. Thud! His body fell right back into the brush, a big bruise on his forehead.

Xin jumped into action. “To triumph!” he proclaimed, feeling slightly embarrassed at the idea of shouting with no one around. He lunged forward with his spear, just as a familiar looking corrosive container flew past him.

Spear met crooked blade, as Xin came face to face with Urgot. On the ground next to him lay Sion, a bruise similar to Garen's decorating his undead jaw.

Urgot shot the Undead Champion a quick glance. “Truce,” he muttered. “Truce,” Xin agreed. The two enemies slowly backed away from each other, eyeing the other's weapon suspiciously. But the brief halting of the battle would benefit both sides, and so neither took advantage of the lowered defenses.

“Death is the only escape,” Urgot warned as he backed away, having shouldered his fallen companion. Xin's mind worked furiously to come up with a counter remark.

“A Demacian does not retreat.” That sounds lame, he thought. <How about 'He only gets bored of beating little Noxians'?>, the summoner suggested. “He only gets bored of repeatedly humiliating the Noxian want-to-be soldiers,” Xin repeated. <Better>, his summoner complemented him.

Xin grabbed Garen's leg and dragged him back to the encampment, not turning his back to the brush. He knew he shouldn't be surprised by the result of this first encounter; having two boneheads collide head on was unlikely to have produced any other outcome.

***

Warwick was running through the dense forest making up most of the Fields of Justice. Actually, it was more like a jungle; lots of green, lots of humidity, and no breeze at all. The local inhabitants' juicy meat would be quite refreshing.

“Huff, puff,” the Blood Hunter breathed heavily. Keeping up this pace was pure torture. But he could already see the small group of wolves huddling together. Warwick smacked his lips, closing the gap and taking a large chunk out of the alpha male's leg.

“Mmm, delicious!” he said dreamily. He made quick work of the wolf, noting the irony, then turned towards the remaining two. But the clearing was empty. No problem for the big bad wolf, though; he sniffed the air, picking up the scent. “It's only fun if they run,” he said to no one in particular, grinning from ear to ear. Raising his voice above the buzzing noise made by the hundreds of mosquitoes that were busy sucking him dry, he shouted: “Run little piggies!” And off he went, not even bothering to wait for the young girl with the red hood to pass through the forest on her way to visit her sick grandmother.


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Kaboomafu

Member

11-27-2010

Haha, this is funny. Keep it up!


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Azarthes

Senior Member

11-27-2010

A very nice story.


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Odysseus1

Senior Member

11-27-2010

You meant to say of course that Jax was hit with the mystical weapon that summoners had developed in case of a champion becoming too powerful in perception of the masses who watched the daily matches. As perception of power is everything and not power in itself the League was forced to use the deadly "Nerf Bat" on Jax rather heavily. Insuing effects were inavoidable.


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Real Life Sloth

Senior Member

11-28-2010

XD i love the part with shaco


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Oskay

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Senior Member

11-30-2010

To all of you who have been waiting patiently:

Chapter 3

Lux did not like the way the battle was going so far. The enemy had set up camp within sight of her own, and the endless stream of foot soldiers was beginning to grind on her nerves. She could have sworn that the Noxian minions were hitting with greater precision than her own. I'll look into it when this is all over, she thought, as she drank a rejuvenating red cocktail.

Her opponent today was none other than the aristocratic Vladimir, who unlike Lux had no trouble healing his wounds. A tiny transfusion of blood here, a parasitical blood pool there, and he looked as young and dashing as ever, his fair skin the epitome of perfection.

Lux shook her head furiously. She was not going to fall for this guy. His obsession with his looks (especially the hair) reminded her of her brother. Which would make her lusting after Vladimir in a sense lust after her brother too.

<What?!>, the summoner asked in confusion. “Forget it.” Lux blushed and mumbled incoherently about the psychologically overwhelming Noxians. Oh, she would let Vladimir overwhelm her any day.

Think of something that will allow you to focus on the task at hand, the Lady of Hormones Gone Wild told herself. Something that will counteract Vladimir's charms. Something that will be the opposite of ultimate arousal and pleasure.

Taric.

Lux's mind was suddenly freed of all feelings of attraction – and that despite her being a girl. The next time Vladimir would look at her with that murderous smile of his, she would know what to do. Not even hearing him say “A draining exercise” would cause her to fantasise in the most unladylike manner.

She threw an orb of light into the oncoming wave of minions. As they entered the event horizon, they slowed down to what looked like a complete halt.

“Light'em up!” Lux commanded. The orb disintegrated into tiny photons, taking with it the mindless front-line fodder. Vladimir, on the other hand, had once more sunk into his sanguine pool, avoiding all harm. Which made no sense, because firstly people don't just dissolve into blood, and secondly one should be able to simply reach in and pull the hemomancer out of it.

The instant her opponent emerged from his little puddle, though, Lux threw a second, albeit smaller orb in his direction. The Crimson Reaper was instantly shackled to the ground by light. Which made equally no sense, because light does not stop people from moving.

The momentary advantage did not last long; pain coursed through Lux as Vladimir violently sucked her blood out of her body, followed by a tiny tidal wave of the same liquid. Lux knew that Vladimir was the more experienced champion, having spent more time in the League than her. He knew what it took to grow strong before his enemies did, and he would soon reach the stage where he could access his most potent ability. But darkness was approaching, and there was no need to continue the fight today. He retreated slowly, calmly, confident enough to turn his back to the Demacian camp. Apparently he also knew when a champion simply did not have the energy to cast another spell.

***

Three of five Demacian champions had felt the tug of the recalling spell cast by their summoners. Three of five Demacian champions were now sitting in a comfortable room in their Nexus, having time to rest until dawn. Similar to the issue with the size of the Fields of Justice, most summoners were not aware of the passing of time either. Zilean had aided the League by warping time around the battlegrounds, so that the week-long matches would only go on for a few hours at most.

Garen was lying on a couch, pressing an ice bag against his forehead. The bruise looked rather nasty, having swollen and turned the same colour as Sion. “Vile scourge,” he muttered. It was not so much the pain as his sister who bothered him. He had to listen to her mocking him with annoying, girly insults. The worst was the constant repetition of “With your power level, I suggest you go back home to mum again”. He couldn't wait for this match to be over, so he could show her power by abusing his older brother privileges. A month worth of grounding should do the trick.

The very same sister Garen was complaining to his summoner about was busy watching Xin Zhao trying to light a fire. The Seneschal was sitting cross-legged in front of the fireplace, leaning over the cold logs with two stones in is hand. Again and again the stones collided, but no sparks could be seen.

“By the time you get that fire going, we will be back in the summoning chamber,” Lux said, smiling innocently. “Why don't you swing around that spear of yours? Would be more efficient than trying to get two rocks to mate.” Xin ignored her, but his eyebrows were already moving to form a scowl.

“Why not let me do it?” Lux suggested. “I think I remember the incantation for the spell you need. It's...”

Xin turned to face her, the look of disapproval sealing her lips. “You see this hair?” he asked, pointing at his ridiculously long ponytail. “Do you know how long it took me to regrow it the last time you lit the fireplace?”

“You men and your obsession with hair,” Lux sulked. “Daddy would have let me try for sure. You know he's much closer to the King than you are. I could get you thrown back in a gladiator pit if I wanted to.”

“Garen!” Xin called, despite the older brother being only a few steps away. “Do something!”

“What makes you think she listens to me? The times when little children still knew their place in society are long gone. It all started with that fancy hextech machinery.”

“Stay positive,” Lux said cheerily. She was going to try a different method. “All I want to do is help out the strong, tireless Demacian warriors who spend their day protecting the innocent and the poor.”

She almost succeeded. Xin had risen to his feet and was about to step aside. But Xin was not only brawn like Garen, he actually had a brain. And that brain had just seen past her pretty words. “Like Noxus I'll let you persuade me!” he shouted.

“Now, now,” Garen intervened from his couch. “There's no need to use such harsh language.”

“I'll show you harsh!” threatened Xin, and was already halfway to Garen by the time he finished his sentence.

“Thank you,” Lux said appreciatively. “Now let's get some some warmth in here.” Xin opened his mouth to say something, but Lux spoke first: “Shhh! I'm charging.” Light began forming around the tip of her wand, which she was holding dangerously close to her mouth.

“By Ionia!” swore Garen. “What is she doing?”

“IMA FIRIN MUH LAZOR!” yelled Lux as the beam of light shot forward and through the wall, burning anything it came in contact with. The fires that had formed were instantly snuffed out by the cold night air. “Sorry,” apologised Lux sheepishly.

Garen had to let go of his icepack in order to restrain a furious, and rather bald-looking Xin Zhao.

***

“Knock knock.”

“Who is it?”

“Your mother, and she has brought something for you.”

Luckily the young golems had heard the grating voice and seen the dark paw. “We will not open the door, for you are not our mother. She has a deep and gentle voice, but your voice is rough. She has grey feet, but yours are black. You are the wolf.”

Warwick could barely suppress his laughter. “Yeeeees...” he agreed as he jumped into the middle of the sentient boulders. He was still wearing the sleeping gown and the night cap, having just eaten another poor grandmother.

“Time for dessert,” Warwick growled. The golems ran in terror; one jumped into the brush, the second scrambled up a tree. But the Blood Hunter found them all, and with no further ado he swallowed them down his throat, one after the other.

Warwick lay down on his back and in his rumbling voice recited the verse that all big bad wolves knew by heart, now more appropriate than ever:

“What rumbles and tumbles,
inside of me.
I thought it was kids,
but it's stones that they be.”

Soon after, his snores echoed througout the entire forest. So loud were they, that he did not even hear Big Mama Golem approaching. Good thing he had swallowed her children whole.


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Oskay

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Senior Member

11-30-2010

The following episode may be bordering on short, but it acts as a transition. To what, you'll see when you finish reading. But let it be said in advance that this tale justifies its title.

Chapter 4

“The early bird guts the worm, I know, I know.” Impatience governed Swain's voice as he argued with his summoner. Here they were, fighting the two most unsettling champions in the League. Jax with his barrage of relentless attacks, Gragas with his never-ending supply of explosive kegs. Swain could have sworn the two had been drinking just before guiding their minions into battle.

The night had been surprisingly short. Swain and LeBlanc had not had a moment of peace, unlike the rest of their Noxian comrades. No matter how many spells they had thrown against their opponents, the Grandmaster at Arms and the Rabble Rouser did not back off. Actually they did, but only to fill their travelling mugs with Gragas's home-brewed beverages.

LeBlanc, too, was feeling the effects of fatigue. Old people, after all, are not known for their stamina, but rather their grumpiness. But don't you dare let the Deceiver hear you said that.

“It's hopeless,” she sighed. “Sooner or later we will have to take a break.”

Swain nodded. “My thoughts exactly,” he replied. Out of the corner of his eyes he saw a panic-stricken Warwick sprinting across the lake into enemy territory, with an angry looking Ancient Golem in close pursuit.

“Wait a second. Did you see that?” Swain asked his partner.

“The fish throwing themselves at the golem in order to slow it down?” LeBlanc had a tendency to reply to questions with questions. “I heard the wolf has some sort of deal with the water-dwellers.”

But Swain was not listening anymore. His mind was working furiously, and his face contorted to reflect the mental strain. He could do this, he told himself. He had the necessary skills. Back in the Military Academy, his teacher had always written 'excellent' and 'superb' at the bottom of his work. Especially in mathematics. He remembered his superiority in that field of knowledge. No one could compare to him...

“If you think any longer your brain will have a meltdown,” remarked Leblanc, not facing Swain. “If you could see yourself right now, even you would think the rumours to be true.” No answer. “The ones about you being as intelligent as a siege minion.” Still no reply. “The ones about you being merely a puppet, while that bird is the true mastermind.”

“Lies!” croaked the raven.

LeBlanc's head snapped around to face the Master Tactician. She was about to say something, but then finally Swain found the answer he had been looking for.

“Gragas, Jax, Lux, Garen, Xin Zhao,” he listed the enemy champions. After a brief, yet dramatic pause, he continued speaking. “Sion, Urgot, Vladimir, you and me. One, two, three, four, five... and Warwick?”

“Huh?” came LeBlanc's characteristic question-reply. “Are you certain?”

Despite feigning ignorance, she had already confirmed what Swain had noticed. Five champions fighting for Demacia, five champions fighting for Noxus. One lone wolf in the jungle. And still no details about the match itself. Possible reasons for this anomaly ran through her head. She did not like a single one of them.


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