Chapter 5: A Master of Shadows
“You must tell The League of your condition,” Shen said to Akali as the two were halfway through their afternoon run. “The danger of losing the child will only increase the longer you let this go unannounced.”
Akali only remained silent for a long while before finally speaking, “And what would that say about us? Everyone would know about our….”
“Everyone already knows. They have their suspicions. We can’t keep this charade within the fields. You’ve been lucky I have been paired with good summoners. Who is too say that next time you could possibly lose the child?” Shen argued. He didn’t want to keep up their current situation and it was best for both of them if she were to tell the League of her condition.
Akali was more than hesitant to tell anyone. It wasn’t that she was embarrassed of Shen, quite the opposite, she wouldn’t mind it if people saw them together. What she was scared of was her appearance. She would seem weak, susceptible to human emotions. Everyone had only seen her cold side. The side that they feared, but now they would see the other Akali. The Akali she was around Kennen and Shen.
“I won’t force you to tell them, but I am making a suggestion,” Shen explained. It made sense to Akali. The longer she kept her pregnancy in silence, the higher risk of her losing it.
They neared the end of their run, seeing the finish in sight and Kennen already sitting down at their resting spot. He was full of energy that day, more than usual. Akali groaned slightly out of disgust of her choices. She could ignore Shen’s suggestion, possibly lose the baby, and in doing so would anger Shen, if he could get angry. She didn’t want Shen to be disappointed in her. Or she could tell the League about her pregnancy and look weak in front of everyone.
“Fine, I’ll tell them the second we get back to the Institute,” She said quietly, fearing Kennen would hear what they were talking about. He would know sooner or later, but she preferred later.
“Good to see you are making the right decision,” Shen whispered as they finally got to the end of their run. Shen, with almost no signs of fatigue, sat down on the ground not far from the road they ran on and began a calming meditation to cool off his body. Kennen was already leaving his two comrades behind as he headed for the institute.
The two sat in silence while Shen meditated. Akali had tried it only a few times but only when she really needed the calm feeling it gave her or is he needed to think deeply about something. Shen’s duty was to constantly make tough decisions, so his constant meditating didn’t seem too out of the ordinary to anyone. She wanted to ask him a few questions but didn’t want to disrupt his meditation.
“If there is something you want to ask me, then do so now,” Shen said almost as if he had read her mind. Akali was about to ask her questions until she heard the clinging of metal. When she looked up, she saw Shen with his sword drawn. A large shuriken laid only a few feet off to the side. She recognized it immediately and squinted as she turned around.
The master of shadows was knelt down a short distance from them. His black armor gleamed in the sunlight as he stood, watching the two. Red cloth accented the shining black metal on his figure. Strapped to his forearms were two pairs of extending blades. When he spoke, his voice was ventilated. A dark laughter escaped his lips.
“What are you doing here, Zed?” Shen asked, his voice taking a more cold and monotone nature. Shen’s hands tightened around the handles of his swords as he stared at his once brother. “You are attacking champions of the league; there are dire consequences for this action.”
Zed stood up from his knelt position before taking up a fighting stance. “It matters not; they could not catch me even if they tried.”
“You underestimate the league, Zed. That’s always been your flaw. You cannot see the truth in anything, merely what makes you more powerful,” Shen accused.
“Silence, brother, I do not need to hear your preaching. You follow blindly and do as you are told. It’s no wonder father always favored you the most. You were his pet, following him around and believing every word he spoke. He never taught the true power you could wield. The power of the shadows,” Zed’s voice had grown from soft to sinister as he spoke.
“Regardless of the past, what is it that you are here for, Zed?” Shen questioned.
“I’ve come here for a very specific reason,” immediately after Zed had spoke, two shurikens flew towards Akali. She cross her kamas and blocked them. After hearing the familiar clang of metal, Akali noticed Zed was not in front of her. She began to turn, but Shen’s sword pushed Zed’s blade into the ground. Akali twisted her body, delivering a heel-kick to Zed’s face, forcing a groan from him as he hit the ground.
The female ninja raised her kama to stab downward into him, but as her kama descended, Zed disappeared in a puff of black smoke. She heard the whirl of the shuriken, but again, it was blocked by Shen’s blades.
“Coward! Fight us like a true man!” Akali shouted as her and Shen stood back to back, looking for the master of shadows.
Zed appeared a small distance away in front of Akali, “I remember when you wanted to follow the path of the shadow,” Zed said before laughing lightly.
“Those days are over for me. You are nothing but a forgotten stain on my past,” Akali growled.
“Such wasted potential,” he sighed. “No matter, you will die regardless of what path you choose.” Zed disappeared from Akali’s sight. The two remained silent as their eyes search for Zed.
Zed appeared in front of Akali, blade heading for her. Shen twisted her body, taking the blade into his own shoulder. Shen grabbed Zed’s arm and pulled the blade free, but before Shen could do anything else, Zed had disappeared, leaving Shen clutching only black mist. They stood back to back once again and searched for Zed.
“Concentrate, do not look for him with your eyes,” Shen breathed, “Listen.”
Akali took a deep breath and placed her attention into her hearing. As she concentrated on listening, she heard the trees and grass sway in the wind, along with the whistle of the air. It was then that she heard Zed.
It was a quick whoosh of air just off to her left. As soon as she heard it, she swung her kamas at the master of shadows, stabbing them directly into his thigh. He gasped in pain and had no time to dodge as Akali flipped, pulling her kamas out, and kicking his jaw upwards and knocking him to the ground.
She stood over the master of shadows as he attempted to recover. Grabbing the red garb he wore, she pulled his upper body towards her. Still dizzy from the strike, Zed protested none. “Why are you here?!” Akali shouted at Zed.
Zed didn’t answer and merely let out a pained laugh. Akali’s brow furrowed. She lifted Zed to his feet and struck him in the stomach with her knee before dropping him to the ground. His coughing could be heard. Akali lifted her kama up before she heard Shen’s voice.
“Akali, stop,” he commanded softly. Akali, too blinded by hatred, did not listen. She raised her kama to it’s peak and then slashed downward towards Zed.
She expected the splash of Zed’s blood hitting her face as the kama struck something solid. Her kama was stuck into the dirt as Zed had disappeared from her clutches. She looked upward to see Zed doing an incantation.
“You haven’t seen the last of me, brother,” Zed said as he dove into a hole of darkness. Akali sighed as she pulled the kama from the ground.
“I told you to stop, why didn’t you listen to me?” Shen questioned. He stood over the kneeling Akali and crossed his arms. “He isn’t tipping the balance and does not deserve to be killed.”
Akali’s eyes widened as she looked up at Shen. “He tried to kill us! He tried to kill our child!” Akali shouted. “You plan to let him live after such a thing!?” Shen’s eyes narrowed a bit.
“My personal relationships do not matter to the balance and I do not intend to become biased for myself any time soon,” Shen said to Akali and began to walk off. His arm reached up to clutch the wound in his shoulder. The female ninja stood, stunned by her comrade. She had just been attacked by his former brother, the killer of his master, and he decided it was best to let the master of shadows live.
Internally, she cursed at Shen for his job. Why would he take on such a responsibility? Sometimes she just wanted Shen to become his own man, not controlled by the balance. She wanted him to have his own choices.
Akali looked downward, sighing to herself knowing that her fantasy would never be fulfilled. She began to walk slowly towards the institute, disappointed.