Because who doesn't love Sequels?
I shivered. I wasn't cold, no not at all, at the speeds I travelled, and my time spent at high altitudes I had adjusted to any and all chilly temperatures. Cold didn't mean anything. No, I was terrified. I sat behind Nikasaur who was at a podium for a press announcement relating to the League of Hunger. Looking out across the crowd, I knew there was only one reason for a conference at this point in time. It was time for the Second League of Hunger.
"Ahem, Ladies and Gentlemen of Valoran, it is my proud honor to announce the second annual League of Hunger!" A crowd of citizens had gathered outside the Institute of War, which had been transformed from a place of sanctuary to a temporary press event. Nikasaur stood before the enormous crowd with a wide grin, as they went completely ballistic. I had seen this before...
After completing the first League of Hunger.
I went from city to city, and each and every time they would replay the most dramatic moments of the event, most of them involving me. Starting at the dramatic first death of Urf the Manatee to the landmines, to Teemo, melting away in lava from a Volcano. And each and every time a champion died, the crowd let loose a roar. It had never bothered me before...
Often times I had returned home to Zaun after a successful League of Legends match to the same type of event. Various replays from the particular match and the cheers of the crowd. It was as if nothing had changed.
But it had.
It had all changed.
The deaths and moments that happened during the regular League matches were temporary, brief, and were never to big a deal. No matter how many times a champion died, they still returned home with their pride and honor, even if the defeat had been devastating, they still made it home.
Yet, even without their return following the last League of Hunger, the citizens didn't seem upset at all. In fact, they seemed even more excited at the prospect of a second.
I guess it made sense...the idea of a rebellion had never been theirs to make. It started with Jarvan IV and a few higher ups of the various city states. They felt like the Institute of War wasn't there for our protection anymore. Their power had grown, they started accepting just every champion that applied.
Some applied just for the sake of killing. No more judgements, no more revelations. Anyone that showed exceptional power the League brought into their power bubble, and constrained them. Not many saw the true intent. To control all of Valoran.
So the rebellion began.
The champions lead the assault, the citizens supporting as much as possible, but the rebellion was shut down nearly immediately. The armies stood no chance against the magic the summoners controlled, and with the excess power granted by their Nexi, the champions powers were sealed and the war ended almost instantly.
It was like a mouse attacking a lion, but for the sake of amusement the lion kept the mouse alive to toy with it.
And the citizens didn't mind.
Nothing changed for them. They resumed their lives like normal, but the Institute of War had turned to a new way to control the City-States. It would be just like before, and with less and less champions there would be little-to-no resistance when the Institute finally made their move.
For now it was their time to widdle down anyone exceptional or threatening.
The citizens? They watched on like always. Champions going to fight, none of their concern if they died or not, it was all about the sport and the entertainment.
The Institute's plan was flawless.
"Now then, last years League of Hunger actually dropped the number of available tributes by a great deal. Many places of representation do not have enough champions to send away, so we decided to do something different. After all, trial and error! We'll get it right eventually. So, this year instead of going for the various City States directly, we will just select twelve males and twelve females from the entire champion pool. And, since the number of champions is going to go down every year, previous winners will not be exempt from future games."
What did she just say?
"Which means, all of you fans might get to see Janna, last year's winner competing for a second time! Will our champion of champions fight again? We'll see!"
I...might have to go back into the arena? That's...not fair. I went through that hell once and they might be sending me back in?
No...breathe. The odds are slim. There is an insane number of female champions in the League. I was picked once by default, my odds of being picked again were infinitely smaller than before.
"Let's do the gentlemen first." The wait was killing me...why did they have to do the boys? The anxiety was maddening.
Nikasaur walked over with a devilish grin and twirled her hand over a glass jar, dragging her index finger around the ring of the bowl once to build up anticipation before reaching in quickly and yanking out a piece of paper.
"Our first male is...oh my. Brand"
The...the fire. The guy is literally on fire. What do you do to that?
She went down the list.
"Graves, Jayce, Jax..." A summoner jumped out of his seat and darted over whispering something into Nikasaur's ear.
"Er...wait. It seems that we've just received word from the High Summoner Kolminye that Jax will be the only champion exempt from the League of Hunger, simply because he will practically be guaranteed a real weapon and nobody wants to see that again." Coughing slightly Nikasaur ripped up the piece of paper with Jax's name and tossed it aside. "Let's continue."
Circling the bowl once more Nikasaur resumed choosing names. "Oh...oh my." Two pieces of paper had stuck together and her eyes widened. "The next two competitors will be..."
Just from her expression I had a good idea of who's names would be called out.
I started to breathe rapidly, inhale, exhale, inhale...inhale? How did I breathe again...exhale exhale...no that's not right.
No no no.
NO NO NO.
"Nasus, Nautilus, Shen, and Zed."
This...this was insane. The crowd was going ballistic, and if I put myself in their shoes, a crowd of bloodthirsty maniacs who had been desensitized to violence and just wanted to see a gory battle, then I could see why. They couldn't have gotten a better selection of male participants.
"Oh I could watch the League of Hunger with just those twelve! It sounds absolutely astounding, but as you all know we must also pick twelve female tributes as well! So, let's begin. Will we get to see your Champion of Champions Janna enter what is sure to be the best League of Hunger we'll ever see? Let's find out!"
I looked at Nikasaur. Not just looked. I glared. I attempted to gaze into Nikasaur's soul, to bend the energies of the universe and keep her hand from nearing the piece of paper with my name on it. My intense gaze kept up as she began to read the list of female tributes.
"First for the ladies," She dragged her finger around the lip of the bowl and reached inside snatching out the first name. "LeBlanc, and next we have...Miss Fortune! How...unfortunate."
Nikasaur snickered to herself, more puns just like last year...
"Oh my, it seems Ashe and Lissandra will be competing this year as well. Oh the delicious rivalries. Shame we didn't get Renekton to fight against Nasus, or even Sejuani had she not died the previous year. Oh well, you win some you lose some. In Sejunai's case, losing!"
Oh get on with it already...
"Vayne and Ahri." The Night Hunter would be terrifying, she was used to hunting powerful beings, so this would be a natural environment for her. Ahri could probably seduce some of the stronger male competitors to fight for her.
"Ori...Anna?" Nikasaur looked confused and towards the summoner who had spoken to her about Jax before, who responded by shrugging his shoulders. "Well I guess she's close enough to a female. The parts are all there. Get it, parts? She's a robot? Ha...ha?" Silence met her, and she deserved it as she snatched out a handful of names in anger.
"Fine then, since you guys clearly just want this to get over with, the final fighters are Quinn, Shyvana, Janna, Vi, and Fiora. Now, we will see you all at the parade, where the partners will be randomly decided. Enjoy."
Quinn, I wonder if she would keep Valor, and Shyvana would be a violent competitor. Then...Ja...Janna.
No...I was certain I wouldn't be going back in. I had already been in once, and there were so many competitors! Why...why me?
The crowd was going ballistic, and a summoner attempted to move me off the stand to a different press room to get my opinion about going back into the battle.
"Brother!" Darius and Draven reached out and clasped each-others arms and locked them together. I could see their veins start to push out their skin as their death-grips tightened and tightened until Darius finally gave in.
"You've gotten soft twirling around those blades all day. You need a real weapon." Darius made a sweeping motion followed by a dramatic leap-strike as if he was wielding his favorite axe. Darius rolled his eyes and started to look around the room. His eyes landed on me briefly and he made an almost romantic gesture. I shivered and quickly looked away as the other competitors filled the meeting hallway.
"Did someone say something about a real weapon?" Jax walked into the room and a chill went down the spines of every competitor in the room, even the Freljord Sisters. His form was incredibly intimidating, there wasn't a champion alive who didn't fear Jax, they'd heard the stories, or worst, witnessed it for themselves. Walking right up to Draven and Darius, he looked down at the brothers, and I wondered what expression he had under-neath his mask. Anger, disappointment, excitement? "Was it you Darius? Maybe it was you Draven.
"Not Draven..." Draven gulped but tried to maintain his composure in front of Jax. "Draaaa" Jax reached out his three pronged hand and placed his fingers around Draven's throat, lifting him slightly into the air."
"Oh I'm sorry. Not Draven, Draaaaaaven right? You do it all with style." Jax laughed as Darius moved forward to try and save his brother, but was instead greeted with a fist. "I don't need a real weapon for you punks. Trust me, Style is the last thing you'll be worried out in that arena." He released his grip on Draven who remained on his feet for half a second before he stumbled back in fear and found a nice spot in the corner to huddle in terror.
"Jax, what are you even doing here? They exempted you from the roster, you're not competing, so you should probably leave." Shyvana walked forward from the group who, until now, was still frozen in time from his entrance into the room. Jax turned from Darius and Draven to the new person addressing him and let loose another laugh. "It's not funny, if the summoners find you here they'll..."
"We'll do nothing. We sent him here." High Summoner Kolminye was standing in the doorway wearing a flowing turquoise robe and a serious look on her face.
"That's not fair though, you already selected all the participants for this years game. You even went so far as to exclude Jax after he was selected, so why is he here?" Ashe stepped forward and pointed at Jax. She looked coldly at him, then back at Kolminye. "You can't make rules or decisions and then just change them around whenever you feel like. If he joins it would mean someone else would be taken out."
"You're right, but you're also wrong. We did decide Jax would be excluded from being in the games themselves, but he will be participating. He will be training all of you. After all, last year's winner was a support." All eyes fell on me. Looking to the left I could see Kha'zix rubbing his claws together, to the right Rengar was looking between myself and Kha'zix. Most of the other competitors were scattered together, and all I got were dirty stares. Aside from Draven, who was still shivering in the corner. I kept looking across the room when a massive body blocked my view and I jumped back. Jax had approached me and I hadn't even noticed.
"Then again, this little lady here might not need any training at all. Your gunblade skills were impressive even from my perspective, though your use of phantom dancers could use some work." Something about his speech pattern changed when he talked to me. It almost seemed...honest. Like a small part of him thought I showed a great deal of skill, and coming from him that meant a lot. Part of me grew a little more confident. I did win this once. New competitors sure, but if they wanted me, they'd have to put their life on the line for it, and I met each of their gazes with a new fierceness.
"Hey, stop that." Kolminye's attention suddenly darted across the room to the corner where Draven was hidden, and I peered around Jax to see Ahri crouched over his body, which was now laying limp with a dreamy look on his face, a blue essence escaping his lips into Ahri's.
"I'll take care of it..." Brand walked over and grabbed one of Ahri's tails, and she leaped up screaming and running from Brand as Draven shook himself back into reality.
"I can already tell this is going to be a brutal game..." Kolminye looked around with an evil grin before a sour expression found itself on her face. "Let's...go ahead and pair people off, it smells like burnt fur." Ahri could be heard letting out various noises and curses before Kolminye began to read off names.
"First pairing shall be...Brand and Lissandra, just because I think that will be fantastic to watch." Brand and Lissandra glared at each-other. One wanted to end the world in ice, the other in flame, and I felt like their glares alone were creating a steam in the room. Though that was probably just the smoke from Ahri's tail. "Once you have your partner head down stairs, you will find a personal designer who will spend the next few days coming up with a design for your costumes for the parade. Immediately following the parade will be interviews, and then you will have a week of training before the games. Use each of these periods as best you can, every minute counts, and cling to them like they're you're last, because they might be."
Kolminye continued down her list, Kha'zix and Ahri, so hopefully this would minimize any seduction before the games. Graves and Shyvana, Jayce and Vi, oh the Piltover love. LeBlanc and Kassadin, Nautilus and Orianna, Vayne and Zed. I personally ended up paired with Shen. His calmness made me feel he was the one I would be safest with for parade preparation, especially with a seemingly prize bounty on my head.
Darius was matched with Miss Fortune, and Draven with Ashe. Rengar with Quinn, and lastly Nasus and Fiora. The matches were almost silly if you imagined them. Nasus towering over Fiora, a dragon and a cowboy, even the diver suit and the robot seemed...out of place. I couldn't even fantasize about the kinds of costumes everyone would be wearing to the event. I walked down the stairs with Shen to meet our designer, and my eye twitched. Oh no, anyone but her...
Summoner Nikasaur was standing with a sign, Janna and Shen were written across it. I would be stuck with her again...Oh joy.