Why do I not see the full story yet D:
I DEMAND MORE PIGGIES!
The Consequences of Choice: Part Two
Alexander looked hesitantly toward the mirror. There was a short, single tap, so he turned back to the commander, who was slumped defeated in his chair, gaze directed to his feet.
"Um...Ok. C-continuing on," the summoner stuttered as he steeled his face back into a neutral expression. "Was the...relationship used for some political gain in some way?"
"No," he whispered.
Alexander looked expectantly to the scientist, who claimed, "Didn't register."
With a frown, the summoner asked again, "Are you conspiring with Katarina DuCouteau to overthrow the Demacian government?"
Another negative shake from Kirkham resulted in a look of confusion from Alexander. He waved a hand at Starke, who once again probed into the Demacian's mind, this time with no resistance.
"Was there any sort of political benefit to be gained from your relationship with Katarina DuCouteau?"
Garen looked up toward the mirror, to the King who sat behind it, and quietly repeated, "No."
Taking his time, Starke rifled through the images and memories within Garen's mind, until after several minutes of tense silence, he stated, "There nothing there."
The two summoners and the scientist glanced uncertainly to the mirror, and this time, Jarvan III stepped into the room.
"Why would you do it, then?" he questioned. "You were the face of Demacian ethic."
Blood rose to Garen's face, anger and frustration burning hot in his eyes. "I don't know!"
The King regarded the commander, his face a mixture of disappointment and anger. Finally he murmured, "Is there anyone who knew about your... regretful decision to betray the morals of Demacia through this relationship?"
He tried to remain level, but Garen's breath hitched for a split second before he lied, "No."
Without prompting, Summoner Starke shot unexpectedly into the commander's thoughts where he probed for a moment before saying, "To an extent, the Prince, and a woman, blonde hair, blue eyes. His...sister? Others might speculate but he isn't sure."
Narrowing his eyes at the upset commander, Jarvan III hissed, "You would convince my son and Luxanna into going along with your traitorous activity?"
"Katarina doesn't care about Demacia!" the commander shouted, surprising everyone in the room. "She just wants to find her father!" The summoners and the Piltover scientist inched away from the two Demacian's while Jarvan IV moved to watch from the doorway, several soldiers at his back.
A furious redness was beginning to advance across the King's face as he raised his voice. "Fool! Why would you believe anything a Noxian says!? Clearly she has you tricked into think-"
"You don't know her!" Garen interrupted, rising to his feet. The scientist grabbed his machine as it skidded across the table, resulting in several of the senors being pulled off of Garen's body.
The commander knew he should stop, no one could speak to the King like that, but the words spilled out as the frustration he'd been holding in exploded from his chest. "She's honest and good and not like anything you've ever told me about Noxians! She's not a threat to you! I'm...I'm a better person for knowing her, better than I ever would have become just by mindlessly believing everything the military has ever told me! We...I wasn't hurting anyone by being with her!"
Throughout Garen's tirade, Jarvan III's said nothing, until the angry soldier paused, finally noticing the cold expression that had fixed itself upon the King's face, and he knew he'd gone too far.
"Have Luxanna Crownguard summoned immediately from the League of Legends," he suddenly commanded the two summoners who were standing as quietly as possible in the corner. "I will show you who you hurt when you betray your nation."
"Don't!" Garen cried, struggling against the three soldiers who rushed him after he took a step toward Jarvan III. "Lux...she-NO! She didn't do anything! Leave her out of this!"
The King turned, no hint of apology on his face, and stated, "I'm sorry, Garen," before pushing past Jarvan IV and returning to the room behind the mirror, shutting the door behind them. It took the soldiers a minute before they could subdue the commander long enough to adjust his cuffs, now binding him to the chair by his hands and feet. Quickly Kirkham detached the rest of the wires from the seething Demacian, before retreating into the adjacent room and leaving the commander alone.
He struggled against the metallic cuffs uselessly for a few minutes before giving up with a low growl of resentment. Not since he was a child had Garen wanted to cry as badly as he did then, knowing that he had failed so completely. But they weren't going to have that satisfaction; he wouldn't break...
Lux was never as prompt as Garen, perhaps as her own form of rebellion, so it was nearly an hour before the door opened and the woman walked in, her head high and arms behind her bound in glowing cuffs. Seeing her brother, she simply said, "Hey," as the soldiers sat her in the chair next to his.
It was too much, to see his little sister poised so dignified in the terrible position in which he'd unintentionally forced her. "Lux, I'm sorry, I'm so sorry, I never thought..."
"Garen, it's going to be ok," she assured with a smile. "It'll be ok."
"Luxanna Crownguard," came the King's interrupting voice. "As you might have guessed, we are going to ask you some questions regarding your brother's illicit relationship and your role in them."
"Let me save you the trouble," she declared, her beautiful face scrunched in determination.
"Luxanna, don't..." her brother warned, but she continued on as if she didn't notice.
"I don't know the exact details, but yes, I knew my brother and Miss DuCouteau had some kind of romantic relationship. And I didn't tell anyone," she paused, sending her brother a gentle and encouraging smile, "because for the first time in our lives, since the military took us, I could see that my brother was happy. Really happy! And that," she finished, lifting her chin to look in the King's impassive eyes, "is worth more to me than my stupid military career. So punish me however you like."
"Lux..." Garen choked, looking to his sister who had yet to take her blue eyes from the King's face, though they swam with tears.
"I am sorry to hear that Luxanna," Jarvan III replied dispassionately. "You had such a promising future."
"What does any of this matter, father!?" Jarvan IV chimed in, walking into the room. "This is nothing compared to the real threat out there! I told you-"
"Yes, you told me about this Noxian Champion, LeBlanc," the King responded. "I spoke with High Councilor Kolminye about her. She informed me that they were investigating LeBlanc as well, as she had not responded to a League summons in nearly a month. As is often the case with Noxian scum," he added, sending a pointed look to Garen, "Vessaria stated it is highly likely that her involvement in the Noxian underground resulted in her unfortunate death. She is no threat!
The three Champions absorbed the King's words in a stunned silence, Jarvan and Garen especially. All the work they'd done, brought to closure in such a simple statement.
Jarvan III regarded his son, asking, "Is there anything else you feel the need to tell me? You've seen the accuracy of Mr. Kirkham's lie detector." Quickly, Jarvan shook his head, but his father pressed on, "Nothing about the nature of your relationship with that inferior halfling?"
The prince flushed instantly and managed only to stammer, "H-how...? Why!"
The King answered his son only with a disgusted expression and a slow shake of his head. "You should know better. I'm temporarily suspending your Champion status for your outright refusal to conduct yourself in a manner that promotes the well-being of Demacia. That...woman, will face suspension, as well as removal from her position in the Elite Guard of Demacia." Jarvan tightened, clenching his fist and jaw, his temper daring him to challenge his father, but fear of what could happen to Shyvana keeping his tongue in check.
The King faced Lux, who stared back wide-eyed fear, and stated, "Luxanna Crownguard, for crimes against Demacia including misprision of petty treason, you are hereby dishonorably discharged from your station as an officer in Special Operations. Your status as a League of Legends Champion of Demacia is suspended indefinitely and you will placed under house arrest pending reindoctrination into the Demacian Military as an enlisted soldier."
Garen could see his sister struggling to keep a brave face, but tears were already spilling from her eyes onto her red cheeks and, defeated, she hung her head with a quiet sob.
"Garen Crownguard," King Jarvan addressed, finally turning his steely gaze back to Garen, "for crimes against Demacia including fraternization with an enemy agent and petty treason for aiding in the retrieval of another known enemy agent, you are hereby dishonorably discharged from your station as Commander of the Dauntless Vanguard. Furthermore, your status as a Champion of Demacia is permanently revoked, and you shall no longer be affiliated with Demacia in any form. In honor of your previously faithful service, I will keep this charge from the public, but you are never to step foot into Demacian territory, and any infraction of this order will result in a public execution."
Knowing it was coming did not lessen the pain.
All of time stopped. His breathing shallowed, vision narrowed, he couldn't think. There was only the echo of Jarvan's words in his empty chest.
Dishonorably discharged. Permanently revoked. No longer affiliated with Demacia.
Dishonorably discharged. Permanently revoked. No longer affiliated with Demacia.
He was aware of his heartbeat, fast, too fast, a slight ringing in his ears. Hands on his arms, lifting him from the chair.
His body felt impossibly heavy but somehow his leaden feet moved, one after the other into the hall. And as the door slammed shut behind him, sound and sight and feeling slammed back into his world with alarming clarity. Lux's muted screams followed him down the hall and he could feel the weight of the soldier's stares on the back of his neck while they escorted him up the stairs.
Garen tried to struggle from their grasp, but uncoordinated and bound, he stumbled and had to be pulled upright before he hit the ground. Mixed expressions greeted him briefly, pity, disbelief, scorn, before his face was covered and he was taken back to his cell in the prison to wait for it to be suffiently dark enough that no citizens would be on the streets.
For a while, he sat completely still, occasionally snapping to attention but quickly returning to a daze. Time continued to pass at a crawl even though he was in his cell less than an hour. As his moments of cognizance grew so did the pain, until by the time someone came for him, he thought, for sure, death would be better than feeling as miserable as he did.
The broken man looked up to see Anders standing outside his cell, holding a pair of boots and a bundle of clothes. "What?" he croaked.
Face sympathetic, he unlocked the door and crossed the room to sit next to his former commander, removing the cuffs on his hands and feet. "Lady Luxanna gathered some things and asked me to bring them to you," the captain revealed, placing the boots on the floor and the clothes in Garen's arm.
"Isn't that going to get you in trouble?" Garen mumbled, unmoving.
Anders hesitated, then stated softly, "Sir, you're part of the Vanguard. We take care of our own."
A choked laugh slipped from the former commander's throat, but he stood to put on the clothes, a red vest with money in the pocket, a pair of gloves, a belt, and a black jacket he recognized as once belonging to his father. He smirked; what would his mother say when she realized it was gone? "I'm not part of anything anymore, Anders."
"You were always good to us. You might have made a mistake, but you're still a good man," the captain contended, rising as well. There was no need for bonds as they walked out into the warm night together; Anders might be showing him sympathy, but Garen knew he would not hesitate to follow the order to kill if he tried anything.
"The only mistake I made was wanting something Demacia didn't order me to want," Garen muttered bitterly.
Anders promptly replied, "It was a breach of law and the contract you made with the government."
The ex-commander considered the captain with an expression of pity. "The next time someone tells you, you can't have the only thing that's ever made you feel alive and happy, see how long you can hold out before you try and take it anyway."
Neither men said anything for the rest of the time it took to manuever the empty streets to the gate, where Anders finally asked, "Where will you go?"
Garen had been worrying over that detail for the entire walk. "I don't know. Kalamanda maybe, for now."
Anders nodded, pausing for a moment before snapping into a salute. "I'm sorry, sir. I wish things could be different."
Saluting in return, the stateless man replied, "Me too. Thanks, Anders," before turning away from the city-state he once called home.
Kalamanda was only a short-term option and he knew it. How long could he make the money Lux slipped him last? His heart tightened painfully; Gods, Lux. That had been a cruel punishment, forcing her to rejoin the entity she hated at the lowest level. It was his fault, he should never had said anything to her...
He quickly pushed the thought away. It wouldn't do him any good to break down here if he wanted to get out of Demacian territory by morning. Instead, he forced himself to consider the logistics of a new life. Perhaps he could travel Valoran, taking on odd jobs for money and lodging. At least the military had given him the survival skills to live on the land.
And inevitably, his thoughts were drawn to Katarina. How, he wondered, would she react? It seemed like an entire lifetime had passed since he talked to her, even though it had only been that morning that they'd gone their separate ways. It would be another week before she even knew he'd gone to Demacia, and he sure as hell wasn't going to Noxus.
****, how would he even see her again?
He'd been walking for several hours along the outskirts of the Marshes of Kaladoun and finally he saw the last trickle of the Serpentine River's west fork where it fed into the marsh. With a heavy feeling of trepidation, he stopped to stare into the black stream; once he crossed it, he would have officially passed the boundaries of Demacia.
On shaking legs, he slowly took a step, then another, letting out a soft sigh that seemed to carry with it the weight of an entire lifetime. This chapter of his life was over, whether he wanted it to be or not. Numbly, he walked until the stream was out sight, finally staggering to a halt against a tree.
Garen collapsed on the ground with a low sob. For the first time in twenty years, tears rolled down his cheeks until finally, exhaustion took him into a troubled sleep.