Chapter 2 - “Negotiations” [Part 4]
All manner of recording and picture taking runes and devices were set up along the walls of the Chamber of Equity. Banners of both Demacia and Noxus adorned their respective corners, and dozens of summoners and citizens alike watched from within the hall itself, or on various arcane receptors across the city-states. This was the single largest meeting between powers since the Kalamanda Incident and the talks that took place during that ordeal. On one side sat the Demacian Delegation that consisted of Jarvan Lightshield the Fourth, Garen Crownguard, and various aides, including a small group of Dauntless Vanguards to act as additional security in the case that something went amiss. Across the chamber sat the Noxian Delegation. General Jericho Swain stood, his raven atop his shoulder, dressed in his finest robes for the occasion. At his side stood Katarina Du Couteau, with Talon shadowing her. The air was buzzing with chatter from the crowd of summoners as the two sides sized up their opposition. The chatter, however, stopped abruptly as the doors at the front of the massive hall parted and shining golden armor carried by white wings floated through the vaulted doorway.
“All rise.” Kayle’s voice seemed to boom through the room, loud and clear, all the way to the back of the hall. With a mass of rustling, all in attendance stood. As they stood, all three High Councilors entered the hall and moved to take a seat: Kiersta Mandrake, Heywan Relivash, and Vessaria Kolminye. High Councilor Kolminye sat in the middle of the three as Kayle took up a position a level below. As the High Councilors stood, Kolminye addressed the hall.
“You may be seated.” All those in attendance took a seat as she continued. “Today, the High Council of Equity shall rule on the contested mining rites disputed by the City-State of Demacia, and the City-State of Noxus.” She motioned to each delegation as she spoke, before turning to address the crowd once more. “Judicator Kayle will conduct today’s proceedings. Each delegation shall present their evidence and claims regarding the ownership of the deposit. Objections are allowed at The Judicator’s discretion. At the end of today’s proceedings the Council will order a recess, and will return thereafter with their final verdict. If there are no further questions…” The High Councilor’s eyes scanned the room for a moment, looking for any raised hands or standing members of the delegations. Finding none, she, and the other two members, took a seat. “Very well then, let us begin.”
The negotiations started with the Noxian Delegation explaining their rights to the minerals as the vast majority of the deposit fell within Noxus’ borders. They produced detailed maps of the underground cache, created with experimental Zaunite techmaturgical devices, as evidence to support their claims. The delegation argued, due to the vast size of the deposit, allowing Demacian mining to take place would compromise a significant chunk of their borders. In their view, it did not matter who had first discovered the deposit, only that allowing the Demacian City-State to operate a mine could easily prove to be an issue of compromised security. On those grounds, the Noxian Delegation wished to deny the Demacians access to the cache, and moved that they be allowed to claim it for themselves.
The Demacian Delegation followed the Noxian argument with one of their own. According to their geologists, they had discovered the cache while attempting to dig a well for a minor Demacian settlement near the edge of their border. Further studies showed the rich field of minerals and riches to be incredibly vast, and to be much larger than the deposits found in Kalamanda some time ago. Soon after finding the cache, however, Noxian officials began to badger the crown about their supposed acts of subterranean subterfuge against their borders due to a large buildup of mining equipment and a few military deployments to offer protection. When King Jarvan III tried to reassure the Noxian officials that it was just a simple mining operation and that no hostile acts would be attempted as per League Edicts, the Noxians, later discovered to be acting under orders from General Swain, immediately ordered all mining operations halted and the ownership of the mining rights to be determined by a fight on the Fields of Justice.
“This delegation has no qualms about allowing the Noxian Government to mine the deposit on their side of the border, however, we wish that we be allowed to mine the resources discovered on our side, and that we be allowed to claim what is rightfully ours.” Prince Jarvan ended his explanation as the rest of the hall listened. The Judicator nodded before turning her head to Swain and the rest of the Noxian Delegation.
“General, what is your intention in all this? It is well known that the Noxian High Command is in an uproar after the death of Grand General Darkwill, and that many Noxian powers are vying for the leadership role.” Kayle raised an eyebrow as she crossed her arms over the handle of her sword. “Your position here is due to the High Command choosing you as a replacement for the missing General Marcus Du Couteau. Correct?” Swain nodded.
“You are correct, Judicator. My position is not under scrutiny, however.” Swain’s eyes showed he was grinning. “My intentions are clear and simple, Judicator. Kalamanda showed us all what a delicate situation mining rights can be. As before, sharing such a valuable resource will most certainly cause issues. For this reason, and for my duty to protect my homeland, I urge this Council to grant rights to one party and one party only. Sharing the rights will simply allow the possibility for conflict. Kalamanda showed us the Demacian penchant for attacking unwarranted when egos are bruised, thus I—“
“Objection! It is common knowledge that the cause of the mining collapse was due to Noxian subterfuge after it was decided Demacia should be the sole city-state allowed to mine within Kalamanda’s borders!” Jarvan stood and shouted accusingly at Swain.
“How easily you forget, Lightshield, that a man, claiming to act under your orders, confessed to the framing of my city-state. Not only that, but it was you who struck the first blow that escalated the disagreement between our respective parties into what nearly became a full-scale war.” Muffled sounds from the crowd stirred with the comments as Garen stood in defense of his prince and country.
“Noxian trickery at its finest! The Prince would never go against the orders of his King! Masters of illusion are commonplace in Noxus are they not? For example, the Matron of the Black Rose! Is she not among your country’s associates on the Fields of Justice?” Katarina sneered at Garen as he lumped her in with the likes of LeBlanc, and Swain simply laughed, amused by the situation. The crowds’ previously hushed tones were much louder now as High Councilor Relivash stood, his voice amplified by summoner magic.
“Order!! Order and silence! Any further mention of the Kalamanda Incident during these proceedings will not be tolerated! The Noxian Delegation will refrain from defamation of character against members of the Demacian Delegation, and vice versa.” Both sides took their seats and the quiet returned as the High Councilor spoke to Kayle. “Judicator, you may continue.” Kayle nodded.
“Indeed. Now then, General, your intentions.” All eyes turned to Swain as he moved to speak.
“As I was saying…” Swain glanced to Jarvan, taking enjoyment in the fact that the prince was scowling as he stood once again to address the High Council. “My intentions are to secure the cache of wealth for Noxus. It is no secret that my country has been denied a great deal of wealth over the past few years. The unification of Freljord and the Barbarian Tribes has cut off any supplies we may have gathered from our victories there. The early rematch with, and the subsequent loss against, Ionia wrested control of that nation’s southernmost provinces from us, removing even more of our homeland’s acquired resources. We rely on trade between, and imported products from, our neighboring city-state of Zaun, and what little we can gather from our own territories. Granting us control over this deposit will give us back what has been taken from us by the formation of the League. As far as Noxus is concerned, Judicator, we are owed this cache.”
As a battle of one type raged in the heart of the Institute of War, another battle of a completely different persuasion was getting ready to begin elsewhere. The morning sun bathed the field in light as Riven stood some distance away from her challenger. The Institute of War sat within a volcanic mountain, but the only thing beyond it was a vast field stretching far into the distance, rich with grass from the hearty volcanic soil. There were no cheering crowds, no arcane vision devices, and no voice inside Riven’s head but her own. There was also a distinct lack of the ability for her to be revived should she perish here, she thought. In a strange and morbid way, Riven was more in her element here than on the Fields of Justice. The only power helping her here would be her own, unbound by any sanctions of the League. She hoped it would be enough as she stared back at the Wuju Master. She knew he, too, was free to fight to his fullest.
“What I do now, I do for my people, Exile. Until I have avenged them, their voices shall forever cry out for peace.” He moved his sword up, placing his weight on his back foot, his front leading, as the tip of the weapon pointed towards Riven, held in both hands. “Honor dictates I give you a single chance to surrender to my blade. Take it, and your demise shall be swift, painless, and honorable.” His head tilted slightly to the side, as if adjusting his goggles for a better view. “So, what say you, Exile? Do you surrender to atone for the deaths you have caused?” A breeze swept across the field as Riven stood silently, her eyes closed, as she appeared deep in thought. After a moment, however, she opened her eyes.
“I have done many terrible things in my life. I’ve killed so many, too many, all in the pursuit of a flawed ideal, an imperfect dream, perpetrated by an even less-perfect society.” Amber eyes met seven green lenses as she continued. “My only wish now is to see that ideal reborn into something of which I can be proud, and nothing will stand in my way of achieving that goal, even my past.” Riven shook her head as she pulled her blade free and pointed it toward Yi. “I’m sorry, but I will not, and will never, surrender until my dream is made real.” Yi lowered his head and raised his sword ever so slightly, his stance tightening.
“You have made your choice, Exile.” The blade twisted sideways, the cutting edge off to Yi’s right side. “Then let us begin this dance of death…”
As he finished, both fighters began to circle one another, their eyes glued to their opponent. Breeze blew across the field, and other than the sound of footsteps on grass and the hiss of the wind through the green blades, no other sound was present. Riven’s eyes watched Yi for any sign of his strike. The twitch of a finger, the bend of a leg, or the imperceptible movement of an arm could spell out his intent. Then, in a flash, it happened. The material of his rear boot distorted as he moved his toes into a better position for a spring.
A screeching clash thundered across the field as both blades met head on, sparks flying and power ebbing free from both weapons. It had taken every ounce of Riven’s skill to meet the attack that, she had realized, was aimed for her chest, straight between her ribs. Yi had meant to end it with his first strike… She had little time to react, however, before the clash was broken, Yi spinning to the side, his coat flaring from the speed as the tip of his katana barely missed her right side as Riven hurled her body away. He was faster than any League Match she had seen would seem to indicate. For the first time in a long time, she felt a twinge of fear run down her back. She could possibly lose this fight, and her life…
Before she could fully recover, Yi turned on his heel and charged, raining blow after blow down across her blade as she fought to keep up with his speed, to parry each deadly attack. Each swing was aimed for a different section of her body, seemingly at random, each one either a kill strike or aimed for a crippling injury. Sparks poured from each clash as Riven retreated and gave more ground with each one. To advance under such a heavy bombardment of strikes would mean certain defeat. All she could do was weather the flurry of bladed swings until she could spy an opening. She realized, however, that there were none. Yi’s swordsmanship was virtually flawless. Riven’s heart pounded hard in her chest, her breathing increased, and the faint chill of adrenaline surged through her veins as she continued to give ground.
“Is this the warrior that killed so many!?” Yi’s voice cut in above the clashing of metal on metal as he continued to strike again and again. “Reduced to a cowering mass under the blade of a true opponent? That you have ended the lives of my people is nothing short of an insult!” As he finished, his blade burst into an aura of yellow flames as he unleashed the fury of Wuju Style. This, Riven would find, however, was not some segmented restriction, this was the full brunt of the ability, one too mighty for the League’s sanctions. In an instant, Yi’s strikes carried far more force, almost as if he was wielding a massive broadsword as opposed to the thin and speedy katana. Riven’s stance was thrown about by each blow as she struggled to block them in time. Yi saw his opportunity. Just as Riven struggled to hold back his onslaught, the blade erupted into a massive blue aura and Yi tore into Riven’s defenses, blow after thunderous blow slamming home against Riven’s blade. She couldn’t deflect them all, and with a final dual strike, Riven’s guard was broken, and Yi did not hesitate. “For my people!!” In an instant, his blade surged toward her chest, even as Riven’s eyes opened wide in shock, and snapped shut as she braced for impact...
Wind howled across the battlefield and crackling energy arced across the ground. Confused, Riven’s eyes snapped open to reveal a completely unexpected sight. In front of her was a shield of green light, Yi’s blade caught directly in the center of it, arcs of energy sprayed free from the impact point. It looked exactly like… Riven looked down to spy the pendant shining with gold runes, the green glass in the center quickly beginning to crack under the strain of Yi’s stab.
So, I hope that in some way, you will allow the enclosed gift to show that you have inspired me to keep trying, and to press forward to become more than what I am. Thank you, for being you, Riven.
The words of the summoner shot through her mind, and instantly Riven composed herself. She would NOT die here, and certainly NOT to the man before her. She had a dream. The lives of those that had fallen would all have been lost in vain if she failed them now because of one man’s anger. She would not let that happen, no matter the cost. As Yi watched, Riven’s eyes drained of fear and doubt, and filled with dangerous resolve. Against all logic, Riven did not back down, she charged ahead with a battle cry, her blade swinging before her to strike home with thunderous force, even as Yi was stunned by the ferocious burst of power.
The impact was tremendous and sent the Wuju Bladesman through the air, his hands tingling from deflecting the blow, even as he landed on his back. Now, it was Riven’s turn. She threw herself after the flying weapon master, her broken blade pouring green power from it as she came down, carving a trench into the ground and throwing debris into the air as the Wuju Master barely managed to roll to the side. What she lacked in speed, she made up in pure unbridled strength. A single blow from her, Yi reasoned, was easily like five of his own. He rolled away and pulled himself to his feet as another blow came down upon him, meeting his glowing blue blade head-on. Twin auras exploded from both of the weapons, blue and green fighting for supremacy as both fighters eyed their opponent. However, as Riven held off the Wuju Master, his face twisted into a grin.
To Riven’s horror, Yi completely vanished from sight, a howling cry echoed across the field as the whistle of wind across a blade alerted Riven to an attack, a red hot spark of pain wracked Riven’s body as her side was slashed, and another from her back, one across her calf, and yet another across her right arm, with a final one striking her blade in front and casting her backwards, blood flowing from multiple wounds. Riven grit her teeth as Yi reappeared, performing a quick flourish of his blade to remove the blood from it.
”Alpha Strike can strike a target five times in the blink of an eye. The League felt it was too powerful, and therefore placed a sanction on it, preventing me from attacking the same enemy more than once. Here, however, there are no such limitations.” He turned to face Riven, who now sat crumpled on the ground before him, holding her left arm across her right, blood seeping between her fingers. “You are indeed powerful, Exile, but you can not match my speed. Speed, form, power, and skill are all aspects of Ionian swordplay. My speed is unmatched, my form is all but flawless, my power comes from within, and my skill is the envy of many.” He looked to his blade, holding it up so that Riven might see the weapon’s many scratches. “I trained for years after Noxus invaded my homeland and killed my kinfolk. I used the anger and spite from their acts to fuel my desire for perfection, and to one day be capable of exacting my vengeance for their actions against all of Ionia.” In another lighting-fast movement, Yi brought his blade to his side and turned his attention back to Riven. “Now stand, Exile. Your wounds are not so dire that you cannot fight.” Silence passed between the both of them for a moment before Riven spoke.
“No.” Her eyes met Yi’s lenses. “I will not fight you.”
“What! You have given your word!” Yi pointed angrily at Riven, his voice harsh. “Do you have no honor? Denying me that which you already promised!” Riven pulled herself to her feet, her stance a little unsteady from her wounded leg.
“Matters of honor go beyond simple rules and regulations, Wuju Master…” Riven shook her head. “I agreed to fight you. I did not agree to be part of your path to vengeance. Too much blood is on my hands for me to wish to spill more. I have no quarrel with you…”
“Quarrel or not, Exile, you gave your word to me that you would fight me. Deciding to change your mind after I have delivered a blow does not change your promise to me. If you value your word, you will fight me until one of us is defeated.” Yi watched as Riven stiffened. He grinned, but frowned as Riven spoke.
“You do not understand. People like you will never understand. Killing for honor, or simply to prove one’s strength is not the way. It is exactly those thoughts that drove my people to invade your homeland, and I am sick of it.” Riven’s eyes glinted dangerously as she eyes Yi. “The warrior you seek to fight, Bladesman, has died. She died on the fields that day, and the woman you see before you was born in her place. I made a promise to the slain that day too: that their sacrifice would not be in vain, and that I would fight to make sure that nothing like their tragic deaths had to happen again. If defeating you is the only way that I may keep my promise to them, if more violence is the only thing that will persuade you that I am no more a monster than you, then I will fight you, unbound, and I WILL show you the strength of my resolve.” Yi’s mouth was stern as he spoke.
“Then show me your resolve, Exile, and I will show you mine! “ We will see whose resolve is stronger!!”
With a thunderous cry, green lines traced down the form of Riven’s blade, the weapon pulsing to life and forming into its full glory. Just as Yi’s abilities were unbound, so were Riven’s, and her blade echoed the power of her resolve. The green runes burned with energy, and Riven’s entire body was energized, her wounds numbing, and the bleeding slowing. Nothing would stop her. Yi’s form snapped into a stance, slower than before Riven noted. Either he was tiring, or the sight of her full power had gotten to him. She didn’t care. In an instant, she surged forward, attacking with the full size of her weapon, green trails of crackling energy following it its wake.
The enormous size and speed of the weapon completely prevented Yi from counter-attacking, until his form vanished from sight, a screeching howl once more permeating the air. This time, however, Riven was ready. In a mighty drop, she stabbed the tip of the blade into the ground, a rune pulsing to life under her feet as she cried out, a massive burst of green power circling her as Yi’s form collided with the barrier, stunned from the energies released. In an instant, Riven was upon him, tearing her blade free from the ground to land a mighty strike against his defenseless form, cutting a line across his midsection, red staining black. Yi stumbled, clutching his chest.
“Well done, Exile, but I’ve had enough of your tricks!” Energy pulsed around Yi as every one of his movements seemed to blur. In a flash, he advanced, darting side to side. Riven jumped back and brought her blade down as Yi moved forward, his blade surging to blue as the two weapons met, the ground indenting and grass being thrown away as Yi caught the full brunt of Riven’s overhead strike. However, as Yi took the blow, Riven surged forward, vigor flowing through her muscles as her left arm delivered a powerful punch directly into the injured belly of Yi, causing him to cry out even as he was cast back yet again. Yi landed on his feet, a smirk present on his face as energy suddenly enveloped him, his wounds healing. Seeing the opportunity, Riven made a thunderous swing into Yi’s midsection, only to have her blade clash against his skin as if it were armor. Strike after strike landed against Yi, doing little damage other than lacerating his black coat.
“Meditation to get one through even the darkest of times, it too can be used in battle to calm the mind and heal the body. Now, let us continue!” Yi vanished once more as he unleashed yet another Alpha Strike, this time the strikes getting through Riven’s vigorous defense. More blood flowed from her other leg as both were now compromised. This time, Yi did not retreat, he kept coming, his movements hardly traceable by Riven’s eye as she used the full size of her blade like a shield to block as dozens of blows rained down again and again.
With a final clash of metal on metal, Riven pushed back against Yi with all her might, using her weapon like a battering ram to throw him off of her with all her strength as she charged after him, green energy surging around her body. As she swung at Yi, however, he blocked, and was cast backward, boots carving twin trenches into the ground from the force. Riven continued her chase, raining blow after blow down upon Yi as he blocked again and again as his blade suddenly lost the blue flaming aura that had permeated it for so long. Yi’s expression was one of grim acceptance. Even if his opponent did not realize it, his final flurry of blows had been his last resort. With all of them blocked, he had drained his magical reserves too low to be of use. In simple terms, he was out of mana to continue the fight.
With a final thunderous swing, Riven brought her blade down, a powerful explosion of green throwing Yi into the air and back as he fought to maintain his footing without his magically and spiritually enhanced strength. Seeing her opportunity to strike, as the Wuju Master was off-balance at last, Riven spun, and with her blade surging with energy, a massive blade of power erupted from her weapon, striking Yi even as he attempted to block the torrent of arcane might.
Despite Yi’s best effort, however, one cannot truly block the wind. The energy surged around and past Yi’s blade, delivering a thunderous hit to his body, blood flowing from a dozen cuts and bruises as he took a knee from the damage he had accumulated. Riven stood, walking up to him, her blade still brimming with power, its light not diminishing as it would on the fields of justice…
“Go ahead, Exile. End me. My skills, it would seem, were inferior…” Master Yi bowed his head, his words heavy with defeat. However, Yi’s lenses would catch the light of Riven’s blade vanishing, and the ambient arcane energies diminishing. He looked up to spy Riven offering him a wounded arm and hand.
“I agreed to fight you, I did not agree to kill you.” She smiled faintly. “I could never deny Ionia such a powerful warrior as yourself.” Yi hesitated for a moment before he took hold of Riven’s hand, and she pulled him to his feet. “You and I are not so different. Our styles may differ, but our hearts follow a similar path. We both wish to have our dreams fulfilled. You wish to destroy the Noxus that robbed you of your home, and I wish to reforge Noxus into a place I can love. Our goals may be more similar than you believe, Wuju Master.” Yi was silent a moment before he spoke.
“It would seem that you are correct, Exile.” He shook his head. “Perhaps these goggles have blinded me to the truth. You are no monster, at least not anymore, and you wish to atone for your crimes. This is an honorable path you walk.” Yi took hold of Riven’s hand and shook it. “For what it is worth, Exile, you have gained an ally this day. I am not so blind as to not learn from my mistakes. If ever you need a blade to add to your own, I will fight with you.” He paused again. “The people of Ionia thank you for what you are trying to accomplish.” Riven returned Yi’s handshake.
“Thank you.” Riven allowed herself another faint smile before her eyes turned to the man’s wounds. “Are you going to be all right?” Yi chuckled and nodded.
“I have had worse. I will sit here and meditate. My wounds will heal.” Yi turned his back to Riven, signaling he had no further business with her. “I hope yours will heal as well, Exile.” Riven nodded before she took her leave.
The morning sun was now climbing higher into the sky as she headed back to the Institute of War. She had gained an ally, and perhaps another friend in all of this. It seemed that no matter how hard she tried to do things herself, people would always be willing to assist her. It was becoming a bit of a trend, she mused. A stinging pain interrupted her musings across her body, and she remembered she had been wounded. Before she would get lunch, she would have to head to the Medical Ward…
All was silent in the hall as the High Council of Equity emerged from their deliberations. As they took their seats, all eyes and ears were on them, even Kayle’s. After a moment, High Councilor Kiersta Mandrake stood and addressed the waiting crowd.
“After much deliberation, this Council finds that mining rights for the cache shall be awarded to both sides.” The crowd erupted into hushed tones as the Councilor signaled for silence before continuing. “However, each party will be restricted to mining within their own borders. Any attempts of either side to extract materials from the opposing city-state’s section of the cache shall result in the forfeit of their mining rights, and award full mining rights to the opposite faction. As Noxus apparently has the larger section of the cache within their borders, we feel that this decision will best serve both parties, and further prevent Noxus from attempting anything unwise. Not only will breaking this contract allow the other side full rights to mine the deposit, even within the borders of the offender, it will forfeit any right of the offending party to retaliate against the mining on the Fields of Justice, or take any military action against the party awarded full rights. This decision is final. Appeals to change the decision will only be allowed if a grievous breech of the contract by both sides occurs. Until such an act happens, the Council hereby considers this matter closed.” High Councilor Mandrake banged a gavel to signify that the meeting was over, and the three councilors made to exit the hall.
As the crowd began to talk over the situation, Katarina turned to Swain and spoke. “It would seem, General, that your evidence has won a victory for Noxus. Yet, I was not aware of any Zaunite Techmaturgical devices in the vicinity of the deposit.” Swain glanced to Katarina and replied, his voice calm.
“There are some things you need not know, Lady Du Couteau. As to our victory in this matter, I agree completely. A major victory for our people has indeed been won.” Swain snickered and Beatrice cawed, ruffling her feathers as Swain stroked her head. “A major victory indeed…”
Chapter 2: "Negotiations" [End]