Talon has long been my favourite and most adored character in league. I decided I want to display this in a continuous story. For so long as I believe it garners interest, I will continue to update it. This first entry is the prologue to the main story, so I hope you all enjoy it! Just as a note: It covers two core elements of the story, with one transitioning into the other near the end.
The crows were out in force. Talon dispassionately observed the desiccated, stacked corpses rotting, being picked clean by starving black scavengers, standing nonchalantly on the roof-edge of a small house. Caws and agitated flaps reflected the mood of the harsh sunlight, streaming down onto the small town square. The Blade's Shadow had been pursuing his target for some time at the request of his Master's scion, Katarina, yet the elusive anarchist always managed to elude his grasp at the last moment. Were it not for his emotional apathy, he would classify his perception on the matter as frustrated. That, of course, was ridiculous -- he had evolved past such base flaws as conventional 'feelings'. There was only the hunt.
There was only another body for the gutter.
It had been the same thing since the journey from Noxus; bodies piled together, heads removed, arms and legs swapped around in a grotesque recreation. To the assassin, it almost seemed as if the killer was attempting to create some form of morbid, sadistic artwork. Talon, of course, had no interest in that sort of thing -- Katarina may find it amusing, but for him the detail was minor. Insignificant. He would use it to refine his hunt, but in the greater scheme of things, his target's habits were of little consequence. Mere distractions, that could not be allowed to detract from his focus.
Turning from the scene at last, he calmly stepped from the roof. No over-dramatic flips or conspicuous acrobatics. Such things were for amateurs, braggarts and fools. His hood shadowed the slight downturn of the corners of his lips, displaying his displeasure at the thought. A true assassin held no pride in anything but the speed of the kill. Aerobatics and unnecessary party tricks only served to detract from the validity of the title. An assassin was neither seen nor noticed until they struck. All that should be known was the shadow that precluded the end; the shadow of a blade. His blade.
Talon made his way to the waiting, still form of his dark steed, its eyes locking onto him as coolly as its rider's looked back. The creature was a gift from the General, a perfect companion to death's favoured son. Brink, he had named it. For its passage heralded a target on the brink of their coming death. Mounting, his blade-cloak hung over his saddle as he settled into it, tugging on the reins to steer his mount back towards Noxus. The trail had circled back; the killer had returned to the city. In the distance he could see it, already he could smell it: the stench of dead bodies, their systems failed, defecation adding to the scent of spoiled blood. Maggots festering in the once-warm flesh of guttered bodies.
To Talon, such scents had been constant companions since his youth. Since his first kill. Since Kavyn. The other boy's face lurked in his mind, his bloodied corpse once more fallen at Talon's feet. The new dagger, so precious, clutched hard in his right hand. Panting, revelling in the rush of adrenaline, the blood-surge from the execution. His first steps towards ascension: his birth into his destiny. A wry smile tugged the edges of his mouth; the General Du Couteau had found the story of his origins into the world of murder fascinating, a true representation of the spirit of Noxus: Strength created power and power allowed for advancement. 'Du Couteau,' Talon thought with another frown, 'I will discover the reason for your disappearance. I will have my purpose back.'
Digging his heels into Brink's flanks, he urged the horse into a light trot, aware that pushing it too hard could hinder him in a required moment. In stories, men and women of power often raced Horses over miles and miles, never stopping, galloping triumphantly to their goal. In reality, a Horse of good breeding could manage perhaps fifteen minutes of hard riding before it collapsed, or was pushed to the point of death. There were few things Talon considered 'important' in his life, yet Brink counted among them. The Horse knew him, understood him, his deepest secrets -- his mannerisms, his style of operating... the steed was, in many ways, his closest and only friend.
Several hours passed, where Talon alternated between riding and walking, allowing Brink some rest in order to preserve the Horse's strength. He attached a bag of feed every now and then to rejuvenate the beast, and also allowed him time to water himself when they passed suitable areas of clean liquid. When eventually they reached Noxus, the burning sun was sinking below the horizon and the moon was near to full light. The guards at the entrance to the city pointedly avoided noticing him, recognising his mount and his cloak. Irrelevant of his efforts, most Noxian soldiers knew of Talon, the General Du Couteau's favoured blade. They knew of him, and rightly feared him. It was not how Talon would have preferred it; notoriety made his job harder. But in some ways, it could speed up the process of gathering information on a target.
Noxus greeted him as it always did: with large crowds, danger and strict martial control. Noxian troopers were everywhere, intermingled into the crowd, watching with supposedly cold eyes for trouble. Talon knew better. It was a farce. A convincing one, but a farce nonetheless. The men were second-rate killers at best, and buffoons with pointy sticks and sharp pieces of useless metal at the worst. He could have butchered all of them without pause, but such expenditures of energy were pointless; he'd need to have himself at full power to destroy this new infection that afflicted his homeland. Katarina had demanded its death. He was honour-bound to comply. House Du Couteau, after all, held his allegiance and for better or worse; that meant until the General returned, Katarina held his loyalty.
Whatever loyalty he had left, at any rate. Sometimes, he wondered if he only acquiesced out of deeply ingrained habit, as opposed to true dedication to House Du Couteau.
The crowd of people buffering him did not thin, but neither did he mind. Amongst them, he was effectively invisible, a wraith blending into a field of ghosts. He was aware of everything, every hand that subtly tried to brush his pockets for gold, every urchin that attempted to stalk him and failed. He suffered the invading fingers, ignored the pathetic hunters. Killing them would be a waste of time, and pointless; there was no satisfaction in an enemy who could only whimper helplessly. It lacked... fulfilment.
As he glanced up at an overhead crow flying amidst the staggered house peaks, he caught sight of something that struck his instincts. A vanishing cloak, a flash of steel, a sudden invisibility. Immediately, he tapped Brink twice on the shoulder with his knuckles in the silent command to send the beast home, and vanished into the shadows the moment that it began to trot away. The darkness embraced him, and Talon flew on wings of death, appearing atop the rooftop a blink of an eye later. Nothingness greeted him, but he knew what to search for. The slight disruption of a tile, a mild shift of some mildew, minor changes to the rough surface of the slate.
Immediately he moved, accelerating to a baffling speed to launch to another rooftop like a descending bird of prey, red-gold eyes snapping left and right before he launched himself again. He was on the trail now, and it was definitely fresh. His heart thundered. He knew he was close to finding his target. Adrenaline surged in him, his magical proficiency spiked. His senses expanded and he became The Blade's Shadow in true form. Another blinding leap, a smooth landing and follow-up jump. Talon began to race along the rooftops, dodging high-standing archers and city guardsmen with only the minimum amount of effort. They were blind to true artisans of the craft of shadows, and that was why men like him existed.
Talon launched himself to another rooftop, and his senses abruptly screamed. A mid-air shift sent him into a spinning corkscrew, knifing through the air like an arrow. A razor blade passed inches from where he had been a half a second earlier, the metal whispering its passage through the night. Talon landed in a roll, left hand bracing to the roof as he threw himself back in a juke, dodging a second knife and flinging one of his blades at a point six feet ahead and to the right. A figure appeared out of darkness and rolled away, silent as Talon himself. The Blade's Shadow smiled truly for the first time: A worthy foe.
Citizens continued their passage below, oblivious, even as the second engagement began. A fight between assassin was not decided by swordplay, nor macho confrontation. It was whoever struck first, and score the first hit, that mattered in the end. It was fast-paced, terrifying duelling that could end instantly and brutally. One mistake could spell disaster of a fatal kind. Another blade flew at Talon even as he flung his own a hair of a second after, smashing with a faint 'chink' into the one intended for his heart and knocking it off the roof. His own followed.
Once more he leapt, pirouetting over a pair of needles and flinging his own at a point directly behind him and to the left, having rotated himself upside down momentarily to do so. He landed with an airborne backflip, rolling to the rear and right to dodge another blade -- which stuck menacingly into the slated roof. For the first time, Talon felt excitement. He could die at any instant, he was fighting a foe possibly as skilled he. It was something he had not known since his battle with Du Couteau; it was true exhilaration. He dodged left and rolled forwards, raking the air before him with a trinity of bladed disks. Abruptly, his foe appeared, flipping over the attack and ducking flat with bended knees like a cat, smoothly flowing backwards under them. He was good.
Talon snapped his eyes right and darted in the same direction, as opposed to the expected left. The result was him slapping away the incoming feint knife with his arm-blade and dodging the true attack; a poisoned needle that could have stopped his heart in three seconds. A near miss was still a miss and in the world of assassins, there was no prize for second place. Feinting forwards abruptly, Talon listened to his instincts and ducked, glad for their warning. A whisper of steel flashed where his neck had been, and he immediately brought up his arm-blade, blocking a second downwards strike. At the second the weapons connected, his foe was revealed, melting from the embracing darkness and glaring at him with hate-filled blue eyes.
Talon rolled backwards and flung out another rake, smiling when his opponent flipped backwards to avoid it and tapping into his powers. He felt space elongate and then snap together like a rubber-band, and suddenly Talon appeared behind his enemy with a delayed crack, grinning madly at the sword that blocked his lightning stab. His foe was fast. The fight immediately flowed into a mad duel following the motion, arm-blade meeting arm-blade as they clashed steel to steel, two shadows flowing faster than the eyes could follow. Back and forth, feeling one another out, learning each other's perceived patterns. It was morbidly elegant in its execution, beautiful motions more entrancing than the greatest of waltzes. A tradition of time immemorial.
The two monsters fought, and the world held its breath, watching with focused anticipation. Talon dodged a viperish strike at his heart and flowed to the right, feinting to his foe's ribs, and then feinting again at his heart. The first feint was suitably blocked, as was the second, but the third strike came unexpected. Talon smiled internally, and left the smallest opening. Caught in battle lust, his foe took the bait and struck, and the blade's shadow vanished. His opponent stumbled the slightest margin, surprised, and Talon scored his victory. His blade, now behind, sank into soft flesh, burying in under the ribs to puncture the lung, a soft sight escaping his foe as the strike was made.
Talon's left arm snapped out to stop a backwards dagger stab and his enemy crumpled onto him, falling into the assassin's morbid embrace. They two stood then, silent, the only sounds his opponents failing breathing. Then, the enemy spoke. "You live up to your name." Talon smiled quietly, "You made me work for it, friend." His opponent half-laughed, half-gurgled. "I had to see..." Talon quirked an eyebrow. "See?" He asked, suddenly wary. The other nodded, life slipping away fast. "I am not... your foe. Merely a messenger. A test." Talon immediately stiffened, and a quiet laugh escaped his dying opponent. "Not now, Talon. But s-soon."
The strength fled from their limbs and Talon immediately slid his blade out, lowering them to the roof. His left hand, however, snapped out a moment later; catching the wrist before the hidden blade could get him. He did not react to it. "What do you mean?" He asked coldly. The other laughed again, barely coherent beneath the choking. "I am... just... a warning..." Talon felt an unexplained chill. "A warning? From whom?" Choked words followed, and he immediately removed the cowl hiding his enemy's face. He paused a moment. It was a woman. No, a girl, barely over twenty-one. Short blonde hair was stained with blood that leaked from her splattered mouth, her flesh deathly pale, blue eyes hateful, yet admiring. Her lips moved, and he read them, then found himself speechless for the first time.
At his expression, his foe smiled in a final, minor victory and slipped into the embrace of death. Letting the corpse go the moment it stopped being a person, Talon didn't even watch it slide a shining crimson trail to the edge of the roof and over into the gutter. He couldn't. At that moment, he was too stunned, too staggered to move -- for the first time, the blade's shadow had been caught off guard, unprotected. At that moment, he couldn't have dodged one of Olaf's hurtled axes. The final words of his foe punched a stunned hole into his gut.
Kavyn is waiting. She had said. The words haunted him, penetrated him. She had known of Kavyn. She had known of his first sacrifice to death. What was more, she had spoken his name as if... "As if he were alive." He whispered to himself, for the first time uncaring of the emotion that struck him. For the first time, Talon felt and the occurrence of feeling struck something long-buried inside of him. Screaming in rage, he flared his cloak and vanished in a storm of razor disks, fleeing into the embrace of the anonymous shadows.
[center]≈End Part One≈[/center]