Chapter 1 - “The Clash of the Cache” [Part 5]
With a pulse of light, both Shyvana and Jarvan found themselves back at base. What greeted them was nothing short of pure anarchy and chaos. Rubble from towers was strewn across the ground, and an army of minions was marching past a destroyed inhibitor and demolishing any defenses that rose to strike them down, both Nexus towers still standing, but taking a beating from the many blasts. However, the one thing they had been expecting was not there.
“My lord, The Exile is nowhere to be found.” Shyvana scanned the field, her eyes spying no trace of Riven. Jarvan scanned the area as well, seeing only blue minions coming over the hills and swarming the base.
“Indeed. If this is the case, it should be no issue to stop them from advancing any further.” Just then, however, an orange light pulsed around one of the minions in the middle of the ranks. Swirling energy surrounded it for a moment before a final pulse of brightness revealed a female figure, crouched near the minion as it went upon its merry, mindless, way. Both Demacians watched as amber eyes rose to meet them, shattered sword in hand. “Exile…”
“Stand aside, Shyvana, Lightsheld! I’ve only one mission to accomplish, and I will not let you stand in my way.” Riven stood as she spoke, clenching her shattered blade as she stared down both Demacian warriors.
“And if we refuse, Exile?” Jarvan gripped his lance and pointed it at Riven, Shyvana raising both of her gauntlets in front of her, ready to fight.
“Then, I’ll be forced to defeat you. I do not wish for more bloodshed, but if I must use violence to end violence, I shall…” Riven stood tall, sword in hand, legs apart, knees bent, ready for anything. Violence to end violence. It was the only way. Any more talking than she’d already used, and it was possible her Noxian comrades would learn of her cooperation with Garen, and she could not allow them to know, yet. At least not until all was said and done, in any case. This would be her truest test of strength and determination yet.
‘Summoner, tactical analysis of the Exile. What enchantments does she hold?’ Jarvan stared her down, speaking inwardly to his summoner. After a moment, his summoner, a woman, spoke.
“Her enchantments are as follows, my Lord: a Doran’s Shield, Boots of Lucidity, a Brutalizer, an Infinity Edge, and two Bloodthirster enchantments. Very little defense, but incredible attack strength. Be wary, Prince Lightshield. A single blow from her could be very dangerous.”
“Understood…” Jarvan turned to Shyvana to speak, however, as he did, a bright flash of light erupted onto the summoning platform to reveal Lux, gripping her side, the healing energies flowing around her immediately. “Luxanna?” Lux nodded and spoke quickly.
“My Prince, my brother is under heavy assault. He needs your assistance, now, or he will fall. He’s managed to strike down one of the enemy’s Nexus turrets, but he and Soraka cannot win alone. He needs your strength.” Jarvan did not hesitate. In an instant, his body pulsed with orange light as he turned to regard Shyvana and Lux.
“Very well. Shyvana, your duty is to the base, understood?” The Half-Dragon nodded, understanding her place as she turned back toward Riven. “Luxanna, assist Shyvana when your strength recovers. Do not let this base fall.” He vanished soon after, leaving both women alone to face down Riven. Shyvana growled, her red eyes glowing yellow with power as she started walking towards Riven, her scale armor clattering as she moved, marching ahead, unabated and undaunted. A stray strand of red hair was pushed from her face and she grinned, a chuckle emanating from her lips.
“Well then, Riven the Exile, it seems fate has brought us together once again. This time, you will not be so lucky as before.” Flames burst up around Shyvana as she launched a strike into the nearest minion, destroying it outright as she scorched her way toward her opponent, striking down minions along the way. “By the blood of my father, I will end you…”
Riven started to circle Shyvana, the heat from her flames nearly sweltering even at this distance. Her heart pounded, adrenaline shooting through her muscles. The rush shot from her shoulders down to her legs and back as she held her blade to her side, until, finally, with a roar, Shyvana charged forward with terrible speed, her right arm cocked back for a thunderous punch. Riven leapt back and away, the punch colliding with the ground and throwing chunks of rock into the air from the power behind it. The dust clouded Shyvana’s position momentarily before she came in for another blow, tearing through the cloud, flames surging from her. “You are not faster than me, Exile!”
Gauntlet and sword met in a terrible clash of electric orange sparks and a pulse of green energy as Riven met Shyvana’s gaze. She filled her lungs and roared out a battlecry that tore away the ground, stunning Shyvana for an instant as Riven spun out of the clash and aimed a strike for the dragon, green energy pouring from her blade. However, to her surprise, her summoner shouted into her mind. “Miss Riven! Mercury Treads! They resist stunning effects!” As Riven watched, Shyvana recovered and back flipped away, landing in a crouch, as flames burst from her open palm, slamming into Riven as she whimpered, the heat searing her skin. Riven stumbled as Shyvana launched herself towards her, the dragon’s gauntlets bursting into flame as she came down with two thunderous blows, the first striking Riven in the stomach, winding her and curling her forward, as the second came from above, catching Riven in the chest and sending her skidding backwards. Riven coughed and gritted her teeth. She was down, but not out.
She threw energy into her legs and rocketed forward, her resolve shielding her from the woman’s flames as she sent a powerful strike towards her midsection. Shyvana blocked, but to her surprise, the blow carried so much force that it threw her off balance. Riven’s amber eyes locked onto the opportunity, green energy pouring from her blade as she sent strike after strike into the dragon, each more powerful than the one before it, until, finally, she threw herself into a leaping overhead slash, Shyvana pulling herself into a blocking position.
Armored boots dug into the ground, the cobblestone floor of the base cracking and giving way from the power unleashed as Shyvana held fast against Riven’s final strike. Crackling strands of black and green power arced away from the collision point, even as the dragon was damaged through her brace. The two women seemed frozen in time for a moment as they made eye contact, fierce red eyes burning yellow and a determined amber glare meeting them. Neither was going to back down, Riven’s strike still airborne, Shyvana resisting, until a roar came from the woman, and a thunderous burst of flames erupted from her, casting Riven away as Shyvana renewed her searing aura, Riven landing in a defensive crouch as Shyvana shot forward to meet her.
Blow after blow rained down, each faster and more furious than the last. Flames charred and baked the exposed stone, cracks were torn from each missed sword strike, and sparks flew from clash after clash. It was truly a war between two incredibly powerful champions of both their factions. Riven’s slower but more powerful strikes regained her strength with each blow, as Shyvana’s less powerful but more numerous strikes sapped strength as well. They were evenly matched, but something had to give, and ultimately, something did. As Shyvana struck home two powerful strikes, Riven cried out, the stunning force of her voice causing Shyvana to waver for but an instant. Riven took the opening, strike after strike raining down upon her until Riven dropped in once again, throwing everything she had into the strike, and sending the half-dragon through the air. With a cracking crunch, Shyvana slammed into one of the two base turrets, the structure tumbling down on top of her.
Riven panted, clearly drained from the exchange as she watched the rubble cover her opponent. However, it was not to be. The rubble shuddered and the ground quaked, a thunderous roar echoing from below the rocky debris as a massive burst of flames sent every manner of chunk through the air as Shyvana transformed into her true form, flames burning the minions around her to ashes, and stopping their advance. Riven had no army to push the assault… Then, as Riven watched in horror, another voice echoed from the summoning platform.
“Demacia!!” Too late, Riven noticed the small red dot on her chest. A blinding light flashed into existence from the summoning platform as Riven called out with all her might, a massive pulse of green energy surging from her to surround her blade as a furious beam of white light rocketed toward her. The ground below the beam was not simply scorched, it was torn away, the sheer might of Lux’s ultimate attack tearing a furrow into the ground, easily several magnitudes more powerful than the first strike that had missed Riven before. As Lux and Shyvana watched, the beam struck Riven’s position, but as it did, the unexpected happened.
A physical barrier of green energy surged in front of Riven’s body, huge streamers of white energy spraying off like a spray of water striking pavement. The streamers tore into the ground of Demacia’s base, eradicating a large chunk of the outer wall. Under the beam, Riven stood, a battle cry thundering from her lungs, her fully formed sword outstretched into the heart of the blast, its green runes burning like an emerald inferno. Energy surged along the blackstone rune sword as Riven moved it off to her right side. With that single motion, the barrier dropped, and Riven’s body felt the full force of the young Demacian’s power. This was it, she’d come too far for it to simply end like this. With every ounce of her strength, she gathered her energy and swung, a thunderous torrent of green surging down the length of the beam, bisecting it, and tearing the ground below to shreds. It was the single most powerful Wind Slash Riven had ever released.
The blades of energy tore through Finales Funkeln and hurtled towards the final Nexus turret. Shyvana roared and launched herself toward the blades, trying desperately to halt their advance, but they struck her massive body, throwing it back with such utter force that the tower behind her crumbled regardless, even as the blades carved a massive scar into the Nexus itself before they finally dissipated into nothingness. Shyvana’s massive form dropped to the ground, pulsing with blue energy as she was defeated. But as Riven watched the final tower fall, her vision blurred and she dropped to the ground, her blade vanishing to its broken state as she, too, was felled.
Purple minions swarmed across the Noxian base as the final turret crumbled, leaving the Nexus completely open to attack. Swain’s birdlike form roared as Jarvan stood, a beaten and battered Garen at his side, both men back to back facing down Talon, Katarina, and Warwick, with Soraka some distance away, dropping bolts of energy down upon opposing minions. Jarvan grinned, turning his head to Swain as Soraka spoke up. “The Exile has fallen, but our base is still open and vulnerable, Prince Lightshield.”
“Hear that, Swain?” Jarvan bellowed, a smirk on his face. “Your ally has fallen. You’ve no one to assist you any longer.” It would be a complete untruth if Jarvan could not admit to being a little pleased with the look of anger and hatred that crossed Swain’s six red ember-like eyes. “So, I shall give you one final chance. End this madness; let our countries discuss this at the diplomatic table, and not with swords drawn. Or...” He nodded to Garen and Soraka. “…We can settle this the old fashioned way...” Swain hissed, his form morphing and twisting under his feathery skin, soon returning to his human state, his raven fluttering and squawking angrily on his shoulder. With a snarl, and a voice filled with hatred and disgust, Swain spoke.
“Very well, Prince.” He spat the name as if it were poison. “We’ll settle it your way.”
The Clash of the Cache was heralded as one of the most action-packed League matches to date, ranking just under the rematch of Noxus against Ionia for one of the most interesting. Fans cited Jarvan Lightshield’s battle with Jericho Swain and his subsequent rescue by Shyvana the Half-Dragon as one of the most memorable moments in Leage History. Neither side claimed victory over the other, and the League officially announced the match as a draw, stating that negotiations for the mining rights would proceed at a later date. In the days after the match, Riven was often approached by summoners or common citizens seeking her autograph, or to have their picture taken with her. Her fight with the Might of Demacia was often cited as the epitome of League Combat, emphasizing fairness, and a good fight over underhanded tactics. Of course, Riven’s final battle was also picked up and spread like wildfire through the Noxian news centers, once again toting her as the truest display of Noxian spirit in battle, and stating that their Poster-Child was back in full force, trumping even Swain’s bout with Jarvan for that honor. Riven herself, however, was not to be found within the walls of Noxus, and instead, it was reported that she had taken up residence in a modest room within the Institute of War on the surface levels rather than the underground facilities. This much was true, of course.
Riven sighed as she mulled over the last few days. She was not a social person, and all the summoners and visitors to the league had simply been overwhelming. She’d only really felt at home among warriors or soldiers. During her years of exile, she’d become more withdrawn, preferring the wilds to normal living conditions. However, she had to admit. Being able to sleep in a real bed at night was a welcome change, and being able to let down her guard slightly had become a welcome distraction. Her countrymen knew she was alive, and so did her enemies. At least, here, they would be hard pressed to attempt an assassination… She rolled over on her bed and glanced at her armor and sword. Only now, she realized how much weight she had been carrying around all these years. Her left shoulder pauldron and a single shin guard were all that remained of a much more complete set of armor after all these years. She pulled herself to her feet and walked over to the mirror, looking into it. It had been ages since she got a clear look at her face. For years, it had simply been her reflection on the water or a shimmering object of some sort.
She was surprised at how young she still looked. Ionia…seven long years ago, and yet, she still looked almost the same as she did back then. She sighed and closed her eyes, a hand absently moving towards the tie that almost invisibly held her hair high and off her neck during combat. It had been even longer since she’d let down her hair, she thought. Her hair fell down to its true length, just touching her shoulders. The last time it had been cut, it had been cut with her blade, and the raggedy lines showed. Despite everything, as she looked at herself once again, she could hardly believe she was staring at the same person. She felt a stranger in her own skin. This young woman who stared back at her was not Riven of Noxus. This woman was simply a woman, and as she looked into her reflection, she realized this woman was plagued by something. It was written across her features like the words upon a scroll. In battle, she could hide away from her troubles by focusing on the task at hand, the next attack and counter strike. But here, in the quiet, all she saw spread across the features of the woman in the mirror was loneliness, and a quiet pain. Riven sighed forcefully and turned away from the mirror, furrowing her brow, closing her eyes, and clenching her fists, striking the wall next to her with her right, the wall cracking slightly as the faintest hint of a quivering lip invaded her stoic face. “…Dammit…”
“If the mirror and quarters are not to your liking, Miss Riven, I can appeal to the Council to find you something better.” Instantly Riven turned, her heart pounding with adrenaline. She hadn’t heard anyone come in, no footfalls, nothing. However, as her eyes looked to the doorway, she realized why this was so. Two golden boots touched down and wings folded themselves back and away as Kayle the Judicator entered Riven’s quarters, helmet secured under her arm, sword at her side. “I apologize for the intrusion, and for startling you. I did not think I would be intruding.”
“Oh, no, Judicator, I’m sorry. The quarters are just fine.” She did her best to smile. “Everything is fine. The League has been very accommodating.” Kayle was quite a bit taller and more muscular than Riven, standing at the very least three inches taller than her, and her preference of using her wings to move made her seem all the more imposing. She could easily envelop almost anyone in shadow. The angelic woman smiled, however, pleased.
“That is good to hear. As I said, I apologize for the intrusion, but I was making my rounds and decided to check on your status. Not every League Champion wishes to stay at the Institute. For those that do, I take it upon myself to see that they are comfortable.” Kayle turned to leave. “If you do desire anything, Miss Riven, please, do not hesitate to contact me.” Riven nodded again.
“Thank you, Judicator.” She watched the woman leave, on foot this time, she noticed, before she heard her take flight and move on. As soon as the sound faded, Riven sighed and her eyes turned downcast. Was it going to be like this every time she encountered someone? Put on a strong, determined face to the world, and just forget that there was so much more threatening to boil forth in unchecked? She’d heard Noxian officials talk of warriors returning home, disgraced and thrown out of the military for something they called Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Heightened awareness at all times, inability to completely relax, recurring nightmares, flashbacks of the horrors of war, even a numbing effect to emotion, were all associated with the condition. For a Noxian to submit to such things was not strong, and was a sign of weakness. Despite her strength and renewal of faith, she could not recall the last time she had slept soundly, or a time when she did not have nightmares about being unable to escape, being trapped, or under attack. Was it so wrong for her to have a heart? The tremble in her lip returned.
She shook her head violently to clear her mind and took a deep breath. She recalled someone mentioning that the League had a bathing facility onsite. Since the League sat atop a volcanic area, naturally hot mineral water had been pumped into bathing areas. It had been far too long since her last real bath. She left her quarters and made her way there. Surprisingly, without her sword and armor and with her hair down, almost no one seemed to recognize her. In a way, it brought comfort and peace. At least she wasn’t being picked out in the crowd. After a walk, she finally found her way to the female side of the baths, and wandered along the lines of lockers, grabbing a towel as she passed a rack.
After undressing and wrapping herself in her towel, and a brief rinse to remove most of the excess uncleanliness, she made her way around the pools, away from the other women, to the quietest and most secluded spot she could find. It was a smaller pool, surrounded by a few lava rocks and plants, along with a single small crystal formation of some sort. She eased her way into the water, hesitating slightly at the warmth, instead opting to simply dangle her legs in the pool. After a few minutes of simply watching her legs swirl around in the water, Riven decided she would take the plunge. After a quick glance from side to side, she unwrapped herself and slid into the hot water, taking a deep breath and exhaling as she sunk in up to her chin. The steam rising from the water brushed against her face, and she closed her eyes, feeling the heated water penetrating deep into her muscles, and relieving ages of tension. However, just as she began to relax, a voice called out to her.
“Queen Ashe? What are you doing here? I would have figured you’d rather enjoy the luxuries of your royal palace than fraternize with us ‘common folk.’” A splash indicated that the owner of the voice had slipped into the pool, and as the steam cleared briefly, Riven spied who it was that had joined her. “Wait, you’re not Ashe… Riven!? What a lovely surprise!”
It was Lux.
Chapter 1 - "The Clash of the Cache" - End
And with that, Chapter 1 comes to a close.
What will Riven and Lux talk about? Will Lux confess her undying love for Riven? Will Riven die of embarrassment long before then? Or, will Riven's sadness and inner turmoil push her to the breaking point? On that note, what have the Noxians been up to since the League Match came to a close...?
Find out the answers to these questions and more on the next installment of "The Exiled".