He charged up the steps for the second time in the last day. As he neared the top, he saw guards posted outside this time. His shoulders had begun to ache from carrying Riven, but he didn’t feel safe leaving her anywhere. He slowed to walk and the guards called out, “You there, this area is closed. What is your business here?” Vlad hesitated for a moment, knowing his plan could backfire. After taking a deep breath he said, “I believe I have information about the temple’s attackers. Please let me in.”
The guard narrowed his eyes and his partner leaned over to say something quietly to him. Vlad felt tense, not liking their reaction. He began to back away slowly when the guard yelled “Don’t even bother. We have men stationed at the bottom. Now, our Duchess would like to see you.” Vladimir considered running for a moment, but knew he would not have the energy thanks to Riven. He walked up slowly and the guards pointed their pikes at him.
The doors opened behind them and they marched him in, always looking ready to strike. The chamber was well lit, and Vlad’s breath was taken away by its beauty. The room glittered with gems placed throughout and the sparse furniture was all a dark colored wood. Standing in the middle of the room was a severe looking woman dressed in an elegant black gown. Her headdress held her dark hair up in a bun and two unusual looking fans swayed at her side.
Vladimir walked up to her and bowed, attempting to be formal, but as soon as he took his eyes off her he was smacked by the flat side of a pike blade. He fell to his knees and dropped Riven over his head. She hit the ground with a thump and he felt a tinge of guilt, but knew there was nothing he could do about it now. He waited until he was addressed, thinking this woman looked like someone not to be trifled with.
She gazed down on him with obvious dislike, and Vladimir did not like the situation. “Who are you, and what are you doing here?” The woman’s voice was regal, but cold. Vladimir answered “I am Vladimir. I met Irelia earlier today at a restaurant south of here. She told me to meet her here so I could have my friend healed by the Starchild. When I came here earlier, I saw the bodies of several people lying in this chamber.” He stopped for a moment, knowing this would sound bad, but opted to tell the truth anyway. “I ran because I did not think it would wise of me to be found in such a spot.”
The Duchess had kept her face impassive throughout his tale, but now broke out into a harsh looking smile. Vladimir was concerned about her expression. He had heard the Ionians were enlightened and open-minded. This Ionian leader seemed cruel and calculating. “If that is true, why do you come back to us now? Have a change of heart, Noxian?” Her smile became triumphant and Vlad knew he did not have much chance.
“I came back because I found a Zaunite general back at the inn where I was staying. I wanted to come warn you. Please, you must believe me. Find Irelia and she’ll tell you!” The Duchess looked as though she had won another victory and Vlad’s heart sank further. “Irelia was found attacked and unconscious earlier this afternoon. I think it was you who attacked her.” Vlad immediately asked, “Is she alrgiht?” The Duchess did not answer and merely said, “We have no time for the trouble you bring Noxian. Your people are no longer at war with us thanks to your new leader Talon. You cretins should all follow his example.”
With that she began to walk away. On her way out she paused by the back door to relay a command to the guards. She walked out the door gracefully and Vlad knew he was in trouble. He was planning how to disable his guards when one of them suddenly pressed his pike to Riven’s throat. “You try anything buddy, and she dies. You got it?” Vlad nodded meekly, his anger rising inside of him. “Good. We’re taking you to a prison outside of town. Any trouble at all on the way and we’ve got orders to execute your friend first, then you.”
They left the temple together with Vlad leading and five guards surrounding Riven. The Duchess had clearly sensed that he was more concerned for her life than his own. They marched straight on through the night. There had been no moon that night, so the way was very dark. There wasn’t much Vlad could see beyond the trail directly in front of him, so he stayed on it. Just as the first touch of color was returning to the sky, a large building loomed before them.
Every building he had seen in Ionia so far had been very aesthetically pleasing. This building was a lump of concrete that had been built without beauty in mind. At the gate, Vlad was handed off to the new guards. He waited for them to hand over Riven, but the five guards who had traveled with him turned away and carried her with them. “Where are you going with her?” Vlad demanded with a shout. They did not respond and he was preparing to attack when he felt a pain behind his right ear. He went down and got smashed again in the head before blacking out.
He woke up inside of a dark windowless cell. There was a dim torchlight in the hallways, but it only served to give the entire room an eerie glow. Vlad looked around attempting to get his bearings, but realized he couldn’t see much. He sat up and realized he sensed another’s blood in the cell with him. “Hello? Who’s there?” Vlad called out to the darkness. A voice from the far corner replied “You have nothing to fear from me. I can tell you are a kind soul, and are here because of something you did not do.”
Vlad was leery of trusting someone in a prison cell, but assumed it could not hurt to just speak. “I am a visitor from Noxus, and during these times I’m not trusted because of it. Why are you here stranger?” The voice chuckled and said, “I am here because I spoke out against the Noxian occupation before they backed off. When it came time for me to be released, someone higher up said no and I was put back here without a trial.”
Though this didn’t sound like the Ionia he’d heard of for many years, although it did sync up with the events of the last day. “It would appear something is very rotten in Ionia,” Vlad said quietly. “Worry not,” came the voice from the shadows. “I believe that you are already forming a plan to escape. I’d like to help.” Vlad was taken aback at how sharp this fellow was. “Actually, I already have a guaranteed method of escape, though you will likely find it morbid and gruesome.”
He didn’t know why he was saying this, but for some reason, he trusted the man already. “I will need you to help me grab a guard’s attention. I need blood for this to work.” The two spoke in hushed tones, hashing out a plan for half an hour before they were satisfied. “I have abilities that they’ve likely only heard of in their nightmares,” Vlad said. “Let’s use it to our advantage.”
The man began by yelling out that his cellmate was bleeding. Vlad lay on the ground and allowed blood to seep from his pores, creating the illusion of injury. The guards came rushing down and as soon as they got there, Vlad forcefully absorbed their blood into his. They fell to the ground dead and Vlad formed blood runes on either side of the cell door. “Now, this may be a little unsettling,” He warned his new companion.
Vlad gathered the blood from the runes back into his body, knowing he’d not need them again. They ran down the hallways of the prison, with Vlad clearing the path in front of them rather easily. He had known he could do this, but didn’t want to risk it with Riven’s life in the balance. At this point, he had no control over it and gave in to his bloodlust. By the time they reached the wall of the prison, Vlad was controlling a large orb of blood that did not belong to him.
He was debating how best to handle this when his new friend stepped forward and said, “May I?” Vlad nodded and watched as the stranger threw a different ball of energy into the excess blood. It began to glow and pulse before his partner kicked the sphere into the wall in front of them. It exploded with a powerful force and a gaping hole was left in its place. Impressed, Vlad rushed through with him and they found themselves on the edge of a forest.
Charging in, Vlad took stock of his companion for the first time. He was a powerfully built man wearing nothing but the tattered remains of black pants. His hair that had grown so long it covered his eyes. A large tiger tattoo adorned each shoulder, and he ran with a grace that suggested martial arts training. They ran for a long time, changing directions randomly in the forest until they came across a clearing. The sun was burning brightly overhead, and they stopped to rest.
“So, what’s your name partner? I’m Vladimir.” The stranger smiled and said, “Pleased to meet you Vladimir. I’m Lee Sin.”
And Ahloso, I missed you! Your comments let me know someone was reading them xD.