Jimmy, I'm more than honored by your drawing. I was going to putz around a little more and be lazy, but I am quite touched so I'm gonna get off my ass and finish up editing the next chapter. I'll have it up in an hour at the least.
And towards everyone else who reads this story, thank you for all of your support. I will be going through the forum and look up everything I missed in the past little while. I had a fever, and it could only be cured with more cowell (And school work, and video games, and things not related to the cow bell.
As usual, thank you all for your reading and please, any critique and/or compliments are of course welcomed! And Cerubois, I'll be writing a few short stories after this chapter. Just so I can be extra cruel
A blade whistled, cutting through the air. Riven’s practiced steps showed a pattern as she slowly increased her speed. The blade seemed to sing as she reached her full speed, the green runes of the blade trailing behind in a faint light. She kept up this tough regiment for a full half hour. She stopped, out of breath. She used to be able to perform her usual warm ups for a full hour when she was a commander. She was definitely out of practice. Her muscles tensed from fatigue, she would not let such a thing stop her. She had to be both strong in mind and spirit if she wanted to win this fight…she did want to win after all, right?
The Noxian and Zaunite Summoners were in the same room, talking with one another. The tapping of a cane stopped their chattering. One of them looked up, “Greetings General. We are almost ready.”
A raven cawed and was quickly silenced by a soft pat to her head. “Almost?”
The Summoner nodded, “Yes, just a few variables and-”
A single tap of the cane silenced the Summoner. “Variables. I do not like that word, not the way you phrased it. Have them attended to. Now, has permission for my viewing been appropriated?”
The Summoner bowed to him, “Of course General Swain. We must make some final preparations for the summoning and then the match will begin.”
Swain nodded as he tapped his way to a side of the room, sitting on a luxuriously padded chair. The match would be in an hour or so. He closed his eyes, letting ideas and plans race through his mind. From beneath his scarf, which covered his mouth, a small smile emerged.
“RIVEN? ARE YOU PREPARED?” The voice boomed in her head. She swore they took pleasure in their yelling. It’s not as if she could not hear a voice inside her mind, why be so loud about it otherwise?
Riven could feel her arms start to warm and to tingle. She was used to the feeling now, the warmth spread to the rest of her body rapidly. Having gone through multiple sessions with the Summoners, the strain was much easier on her. A blue light surrounded her, and within moments she was torn through time and space.
Instead of appearing in the Fields of Justice arena, she appeared in a grey room. Several chairs rested against the walls while a crystal ball was situated in the middle of the room. Riven looked around, this is odd. This was only her second match, but she knew this was definitely not an arena.
She heard the hum of magic from behind her, followed quickly by a roar. Sshe was knocked down from behind, a clawed hand grabbed her shoulder and twisted her head to face a snarling Warwick. “You!”
She had prepared for this. She shifted her hand to one side, ready to strike when the hum of magic was heard once more, and a new voice was heard. It was a deep, cold voice, “Master, let her up. It is rude to attack one’s own comrades.”
Singed. She bit her tongue, a plethora of insults sprung to mind that would make a devil blush. Warwick growled at her one last time, than released her. She glared at Singed; he was a lot more decrepit than she remembered. The years of his alchemic practice took a huge toll on him, as seen by the amount of bandages nearly mummifying his body, and the apparent lack of hair. He had a large bottle strapped on his back and his only visible weapon was the tower shield wrapped on his left arm, as well as various pouches which littered his belt.
He scratched his jaw, “Hm…you look different. Did you do something with your hair?”
No. Calm down. Relax. Ignore him. The hum of magic was heard once more, it was quickly followed by blusterous laughter. “This is Riven the Butcher? More like Riven the Pipsqueak!”
Singed rolled his eyes, “Ever the originator of wit, Sion.”
Sion lumbered forward, his body’s frame towered over Riven. She could easily count how many of her it would take to make up his body’s width: It was three and a half. The sickly green skin and the rotting flesh falling off his skull should have repulsed her, but she had known other undead Noxian soldiers and commanders. This was perhaps the most successful example of reanimation she had seen.
He flipped his oversized axe from hand to hand. He made his way over to her, looking her up and down, “So, this squirt was who I was competing against?”
Competing? Sion’s toothy smile was followed by a gust of foul breath, “I almost got your record of kills against the Demacians. What a sad day when my streak was stopped. I was almost a killionaire!”
Singed chuckled, “I do not think she wishes to hear about your stories of slaughter. She has more than enough under her belt, no?”
His voice alone made Riven’s blood boil. Very little was holding her back from attempting to gut him, Sion could read the murderous intentions in her eyes, “Save that for the Ionian pigs, eh? We gotta stick em and roast em. Are y’catchin’ my drift? Yeah you are.”
Another hum was heard, this time no voice followed. Instead a malicious aura filled the room; it sent chills down Riven’s spine. Whatever had come, it was not human. Not even the shadow monster Nocturne made her feel this disconcerted, after all darkness was something she had faced every day during her travels. Riven turned to face the presence, completely dumbfounded by what she saw.
She had briefly read about her: Morgana, the fallen angel. Reportedly she was an incredibly powerful, incredibly dangerous and incredibly vengeful woman to both team mate and foe alike. She was considered one of the hardest champions to summon due to her wrathful nature. A pair of tattered, leather wings stretched from Morgana’s back, her purpled skin a clear sign of the corruption that lay in her veins. She turned and faced Riven, glared at her for a moment, then made her way to one of the many chairs. Despite her ragged appearance, she managed to hold an air of regality about her.
Singed broke the silence, “Now that the entire gang is here, it is time for our pre-match commentary.”
Our what? A feminine voice spoke from the crystal ball,
“Welcome, champions of the League. Today’s match will be in the Summoner’s Rift field. I will be your announcer, Illya. Please adhere to the rules, fight fair, and the best of luck to both teams. And please remember, if you hear my voice during the match it most likely can only be heard by you or by those who I am referring to. I am a neutral party and I will not favor either side with the provision of tactical information. With that said, on with the show.”
The announcer’s voice suddenly boomed in volume, “This match is a grudge match between Sion and Udyr as most of you viewers know! It was almost a week ago when the incident occurred: Sion confronted Udyr in Singed’s on location bar in the Institute, and an argument broke out. Combined they caused damages costing over a hundred thousand in gold coinage. Neither of these champions could pay such a hefty fine for the damages, hence why they settled for a live match, broadcasted across all over Valoran!”
Swain muttered to himself, “It was easy enough to goad Sion. The idiot.”
Riven turned pale, broadcasted all over Valoran? What exactly did that mean? Her question was answered promptly,
“This means from the Eastern most Ionian village to the western most Demacian dwelling are watching this match! That means anyone with access to the Institute’s trademarked CrystalVisionTM can watch this event! Every major city and tribe were donated a free flat panel fifty feet by forty feet Institute brand CV screen!”
Oh. That explained that. ****.
“We are told that over seventy thousand Noxians are watching this match! They cheer for the mighty Sion who is considered the most powerful brute of the Noxian army! We are told over fifty thousand Ionians eagerly applaud their famous martial arts champion, who has been quoted to be, ‘ready to claim the heavens themselves!’ This is a match that has been awaited for many years! Brute strength against brute skill! Who will win?! And with us for this match are some very special guests on both sides! But first, our newest inductee…”
Oh no. No, no no no. Riven turned even paler, causing Morgana to raise an eyebrow. Riven looked at Singed, his eyes gleamed with sick pleasure. He knew. He knew this was coming. Riven gripped her sword,
“Everyone, please welcome Riven! The Butcher of Noxus!”
Looking at the crystal ball, Riven could see she was staring at herself as her image appeared upon its’ surface. She could see the look of utter shock glazed on her face.
“She has only been in one match prior, a mere introductory match to help her ease into the League. This is her first official match! We were told that she was recently reaccepted with Noxus despite her many years of absence! She was most prolific during the Ionian war and gained her title when she…”
Butcher. The announcer’s words were drowned out by Riven’s thoughts. There was that word again. This was wrong. She had specified she was not with the Noxus anymore. Accepted back into Noxus? What is going on? What was the announcer talking about?
Swain spun his cane from hand to hand. As he spoke Singed echoed his words, “If only you made the time to do some paperwork, hm? Bureaucracy can be such a pain sometimes. Some ideas can be… easily misconstrued and manipulated with the proper forms.”
Riven spun on Singed, anger clearly flared. Singed wagged his finger at her, “Tsk tsk, save that for the field, Butcher. Do not forget, you will be penalized for harming team mates.”
The announcer cut through any response Riven wished to make,
“...and that is what Warwick and Singed have been up to recently! Also with the Noxians is a fan favourite, Morgana! The Fallen Angel! She rarely makes an appearance these days, only coming for the most monumental matches or to fight against her lovely sister! Her power has grown exponentially and as we all know, even our Summoners are having some trouble controlling her! Tell us Morgana, what brings you to a match such as this?”
Morgana refused to move from the chair, black tendrils crept along the floor, “I am here because I was asked to. It was a strange request, but it sounded amusing to say the least.”
Swain nodded, this was going exactly as planned.
“Sion, last but not least, what are your thoughts on this upcoming match?”
Sion expanded his chest, slapping his axe onto his shoulder, “I’m gunna crush the puny Ionian! He’s got what I like to call little girly muscles, not meant for heavy lifting! I always did suggest he open a nice little tea shop! Haw!”
Sion flexed his muscles to emphasize his point, “He wanted the bull, now he’s gunna get the gun show!”
A slight groan escaped from Singed’s mouth, muttering inaudibly. Morgana did not move from her seat, she looked bored of the entire affair. The voice spoke up once more,
“So let’s see who’s on the Ionian side! Most of the team declined for comment, except for surprisingly the fair lady Karma and the fan favourite! You know him, you love him, and here he is! Udyr, the Animal Spirit!”
Riven could see Udyr on the crystal ball, she expected him to be seething with anger. Instead he had his arms crossed and a calm demeanor.
The announcer excitedly questioned him,
“So how long have you wanted to fight Sion? We know he has been aiming for you ever since your victory during the infamous Ionia vs Noxus rematch. He has stated that you made Noxus look foolish, and ever since then wanted to show the true strength of a Noxian. He has challenged you several times, and you refused each time. Why did you accept now? Were you forced into this fight?”
“No.” Udyr’s voice was eerily calm. “At first we were coaxed to participate, and we were going to disregard the match completely. Then we saw the champions listed for their team.”
The announcer sounded confused, “Meaning…?”
“Meaning we refused and still refuse to fight a carcass. However, we will see her on the fields. That is why we are here.”
Warwick burst out with hyena pitched laughter, “This is going to be great! Two birds, one wolf!”
Sion was visibly shaking with anger, “I’m gunna kill him. Then I’m gunna suck his bone marrow, then I’m gunna kill him again. Then…suck…his bone marrow.”
Riven grasped her sword, breathing slowly in and out. She had to keep control, she swore to herself she would. She closed her eyes, focusing on her breathing. In. Out. In. Out. These theatrics were meant to throw her off, but off of what? Or maybe they were meant to show her something? What was she missing?
“And we are surprised to see the good lady Karma here with us! Tell us, why are you here today?”
A soft voice replied. No, soft was not the right word. It was soft and elegant but at the same firm and imperious, “When I learned of the champions that were to be organized for this match, I simply asked Udyr if I may be a part of this match. I need some perspective.”
The announcer stopped for a moment, and then started back up, “Ah yes! Riven led the attack on your village, an attack concluded by Singed and Warwick’s siege weaponry! We know of your opinion on those two individuals, but do you harbor any hatred towards her?”
“We shall see.” Karma’s statement was simple yet carried the weight of a thousand words.
Riven opened her eyes, clutching her sword with all her might. No, no more hesitation. She was here to face those she wronged, to face her old comrades. She didn’t care what caused all of this, but she finally came to a realization. “Summoner Nechako?”
Riven cracked her fingers on her leg, “When were the champion listings released? And why was I not informed I was a part of them?”
“The listings were released three days ago. You were informed yesterday for your participation today.”
Riven shook her head,
“Isn’t it League law that I am informed the moment I am put on the champion listing to be told of such and at the time the listing is released? In the simple case I do not wish to participate or if I have plans? And if I remember correctly, Irelia was meant to participate in a match but canceled it at the very last moment because of circumstances beyond her control. The way Udyr and Karma spoke, it seemed like I was an already confirmed pick whether I chose to participate today or not.
Her Summoner responded slowly, “I…suppose. Your point being?”
“My point being is that this in turn would mean the champion listing was either very small as to assure there would be no large backlog of champions and to assure my participation, or that only the five of us here were the only confirmed. I let this slip by the first match because I thought that was how things were, but I just realized Udyr found me at an incredibly specific time. It was as if he knew when I would be summoned.”
Nechako furrowed his brow. He was unsure how to reply while Swain almost seemed to take delight in this. Riven continued her accusation,
“Speaking of which, is it not strange that my chosen Summoner, who knows I am an isolationist, would not regal me with important news such as participating in a match against the Ionians? Not only that, but with a Noxian, two former comrades and a fallen angel who resides in Noxus. How should I read all of this?”
Her Summoner fell quiet. He cast a gaze at Swain who remained silent. Riven concluded, “Your silence says it all. Thank you for not lying any more, it would have dug your grave deeper. After this match, we will have words.”
Nechako turned and faced Swain, he was clearly nervous. He felt like he had failed, and was about to try and defend himself when the General raised his hand, “You worry too much. If she managed to figure all of that out, then give her another minute or two to realize what this all means.”
“…But she does know. She knows she was set-up.” Nechako was clearly confused.
Swain’s chuckle made every Summoner in the room cringe in terror, “I would have discarded her myself if she didn’t realize the obvious. No, there are a few more subtleties here. She is still however being too emotional in her reasoning, missing the obvious. I will give her three minutes to realize what she has stumbled upon before rendering my first of many verdicts.”
The voice finally concluded the preamble, “Now then loyal viewers. Your champions will be transported to the Fields of Justice in a minute and twenty seconds. And as usual, they will be given a minute and a half for preparations. Let’s get on with the match, Sion versus Udyr, the grudge match! Who will win: the over powering Noxian and Zaunite alliance, or the ever resilient Ionian spirit?”
Singed tapped a beaker around from hand to hand, blue light surrounding each member of the team. Riven cricked her neck, she needed to focus. Just focus. Warwick clicked his claws together, “It’s been awhile since I’ve tasted Ionian. Never feels proper without a bit of sauce and rice.”
Odd, Warwick seems more lucid than when they had met a few weeks ago. Maybe it is from the influence of the Summoner? Morgana rose from her chair and made her way towards Riven. She placed one finger underneath Riven’s chin, causing her body to convulse from the raw power exuding from the angel’s body, “I hate losing. Do not disappoint me too much, human.”
Morgana was the first to disappear. Riven and the others followed suit shortly after. This was a bit more familiar; she recognized the Summoner’s Rift field. It was where she had her first match. She turned to the shopkeeper, an ugly pig man wearing a plain blue robe. Her responsibility was the top pathway, just like in her match against Wukong.
Her Summoner asked her to buy a pair of boots and a couple of healing potions. She tapped the icon carved in a stone and instantly felt her legs become less sluggish. Almost every “item” she “bought” was simply to let her Summoner access more of her innate abilities. The gold came from an imaginary coinage their Summoner would receive each time they killed a champion or one of the automaton soldier minions each team had. The same went for any other champion and their Summoner. It also helped the Summoners specialize what areas they wished to focus with their champions, which of their innate skills they wished to exemplify. The only actual physical items that she had to carry were sight and vision runes as well as any consumable potion. The glass clinked together as she strapped the health potions on her belt. She felt a clawed hand grab her shoulder, squeezing it tightly, “I will be watching you.”
Warwick turned and marched towards the wooded area. They called it the jungle despite it not having any typical jungle animal or jungle forestry. It was strange slang, almost as strange as the term ganking. She refused to call it such. It is an ambush or a surprise attack. A sneak attack maybe at most. While she jogged to the upper path she wondered whom she was to face. A quick thought was shot to her Summoner, he promptly responded, “Akali will be top, Udyr will be jungling. He is most proficient there, Karma is to take mid, than the Minotaur and Ashe will take the bottom.”
Akali. Riven clicked her tongue, she had read about her: a fierce ninja woman and a member of the triad ninja group, the Kinkou. She was meant to be the executioner of the three. She was said to be strong enough to slice through solid stone with her bare hands. More importantly, her village was one of the few that the Noxians and Zaunites attacked and failed. This attack happened after Riven had become missing and presumed “dead.”
The announcer yelled that another thirty seconds remained before the spawning of minions and the official start of the match. Swain stared at a pocket watch in hand, “Twenty five seconds left.”
Riven looked around her, the path widened and now a lot of thick brush cropped up in places. These were meant to be used to dart in and out of, to help confuse the enemy. She tapped the ground; it was dry and solid. She looked to her right, where the path divided into a shallow creek. It was muddy, inhibiting walking only by a bit but having options gave her assurance.
Trees behind her meant she could use them for cover and to gain some more footing, also meant it was grassier making it slightly slicker to run through. There were three different types of grounding for her to use. Good. Udyr could pop out of only the jungle or the creek. This assured her slightly.
She headed into the brush, crouching low to the ground. She did not want a ninja surprising her. If that happened she might as well write her own epitaph. While she waited she thought about what she said to her Summoner a few moments ago. Something about her own words disturbed her. If Udyr knew where she was during her first match that would mean he would have to have looked at the champion listing. And in order for that to have any effect, he had to know what her real name was. Riven’s eyes widened at the stupid realization. He did know who she was, he even said so the first time they met. But if that is true, and there was a champion listing that is posted days before a match... then that meant Irelia-
“Minions have spawned!” Riven snapped out of it, she could not get distracted. She’ll figure out what to do with the realization in a bit. Nechako turned to the General, relaying what Riven had just realized. Swain closed the watch, “She realized a full second earlier than I expected. Not too bad. Now then, let’s see how she fights.”
Riven’s muscles tensed, she watched the “minions” clash at the center of her lane. It was creepy watching them fight. They looked like clockwork toys re-enacting battle scenes, their multicolored blood splattering on the field. They reminded her of children. A rustle of bushes pricked Riven’s ears. A green clad woman stepped out with kamas in hand. She looked around and readied herself to strike one of the minions down. This was when Riven rushed forward.
Riven swung in a broad arc, narrowly missing the woman who nimbly leapt away. Riven tore one of the enemy minions apart from the strike. Riven readied herself for the counter attack, a kama flew at her face to which she narrowly evaded. The sound of steel embedding itself in one of the minions was heard as the woman leapt over Riven, retrieving her weapon.
The woman wore mostly green, her loose flowing robe was barely enough to hold her breasts in place. Her jet black hair was tied back in a ponytail and her mouth was covered by a metal frame with green cloth stretched across. A kunoichi outfit, Riven knew of them and why they dressed as such. At least she had one immediate advantage over the ninja. When the ninja finally spoke, her voice was smooth yet commanding, “You are Riven the Butcher, yes?”
Riven shook her head, “I am Riven. You must be Akali.”
“I wish to strike a deal with you.”
Riven cocked an eyebrow, the ninja continued, “I will not attack you, and you will not attack me. Not until both our Summoners are able to access our full range of skills.”
Riven swatted at another minion, “And why would you do that? You have the advantage now. You can throw your kama and retrieve it with relative ease. Now would be your best chance to defeat me.”
The ninja’s eyes narrowed, resentment in her glare, “I wish to kill you at your full potential. I do not want to hear any excuses when I cut your throat.”
Riven was startled by the ninja’s remark, she heard that the Kinkou were about maintaining order and were famous about keeping emotion in check in order to render true justice. “Aren’t you a member of the Kinkou? Aren’t you being a bit...?”
“Irrational?” Akali chuckled, “Do you see my fellow members with me? No, you do not. This is not business. This is personal.”
Riven sighed, she would go along this for now. This could, after all, benefit her. She would gain a better advantage after seeing how the ninja telegraphed her attacks. “Yes. Agreed”
Akali twisted her body around, heaving a kama which narrowly missed Riven. Another one of Riven’s minions fell to pieces. Energy hummed around the ninja’s open hand, and her weapon instantly appeared within her grip. “If my fellow Kinkou were here, I would be told to keep my emotion in check and to not make such a request. And of course, they would be right for advising me so. Thankfully for me, they are not here. Let’s see if you can keep your word.”
Riven breathed a mental sigh of relief. This gave her a chance to plan ahead and try to overcome the nerves that had started plaguing her. The set up was meant to put her off kilter, everything was done to try and rattle her. She was in a terrible position now: If she won she would be dubbed a Noxian despite her protests and her title would become etched in stone.
Any hopes of redemption would be lost. If she lost, then she would most likely lose most Noxian support, but how would it affect her standings with the Ionians? She originally joined the League because she was tired of running, tired of hiding. Win or lose, how would people view her? What would she gain if she won? If she lost? These questions continued to plague her as she silently struck minion after minion down.
Suddenly a shock of vigour shot through Riven’s body. It alerted her that her Summoner had her entire array of skills ready. Akali cricked her neck in anticipation, “Are you prepared?”
Riven nodded and took a stance, Akali drew out of her pouch a small metal ball and threw it to the ground. A soft click was heard and thick smoke billowed forth. This was a classic ninja trick. Riven readied herself, Akali darted out of the smoke at a blinding speed. She was almost as fast as the blur that Riven spotted from the corner of her eye. Akali’s foot was an inch away from Riven’s nose when a burly hand caught the ninja’s ankle. The only word that best described the situation was expressed by both women, “Huh?”
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