10 December, 20 CLE
I worked hard to regain his trust. Never again would I question a single order that he gave me.
Noxus was a captivating city, the heritage it garnered was shadowed only by its inherent mystery. The rules were simple to live by: the strong rise, the weak die, and nothing else mattered. Because of this, the city-state pushed itself beyond limits... and excelled in aspects of military and government. I wanted to have stayed longer, but it had been a month since we left and now it was time to return. We had been staying in tents amongst the outskirts of battlefields, in villas amidst the upper class of Noxus, and in carriages traveling from one location to the next. One night Leblanc had visited me and knelt down to beg for forgiveness... eventually, I too would forgive her as Swain had forgiven me.
Ionia agreed upon this day to hold the political match for their independence, and Swain would not miss such proceedings for the world. His plan had only just begun to unfold.
We arrived at the institute, and were greeted by all summoners loyal to Noxus. There must have been hundreds or more of them, and they all looked to me and to Swain... they didn't know that today would be a great defeat for us all though. Katarina, Vladimir, Sion, Leblanc, Urgot, Singed, Warwick, and their summoners had been waiting and now took their places beside us.
"Let's get this over with." Swain said coldly.
We all moved up the steps to the league, no doubt the Ionians were doing the same on the other side. If not for already knowing the outcome of the battle, I would have been filled with pride... I wondered how Swain was taking this. We continued on until at the end of the hallway we spotted the Ionians moving toward us. The entrance to the summoning platform we would be using resided in the middle of the hallway, it was customary to greet your opponents before these kinds of ceremonies. There would be no greetings from either party however, only malice. Akali, Shen, Kennen, Irelia, Master Yi, and Udyr stood before us. The tension taking residence between both groups could only be cut with a knife... One side laying down life and liberty for one chance at freedom, and the other coming to grips with their pride. Master Yi was the first to say anything.
"Good luck." The disgust in his voice was palpable, he extended his hand out towards Swain. Let it be said that even before the face of their enemies: an Ionian is honorable.
"Indeed, you'll need it." Was all Swain said before ignoring the gesture and leaving for the Noxian lounge. All other champions and summoners proceeded to their respected sides, the battle would commence in an hour.
Swain waited for both groups to be in their respected rooms before speaking to us.
"I am to understand that not only us in this room are to be fighting on behalf of Noxus... that other champions might as well. We do not get to pick who goes, but I do know the majority will be of our own. You all have your orders. Even though we are to lose, it doesn't mean that we shall hand them victory. You are to make it as difficult for them as you can. Because of your patriotism today, you have ensured for Noxus a future so strong that I could not begin to describe the glory that awaits us. For those whom this is not enough, I have taken the measures necessary to see to my end of the contracts. Fight with strength, and fight with pride... For Noxus!"
The room filled with the battle cry. Swain pulled me aside to talk to.
"We will not be in today's match Irannius."
"Wait.. why's that?"
"Because we will lose, and I can not be seen losing in a match of this magnitude."
"So what will we be doing?"
"I will be waiting here, you will be going over to the Ionians to congratulate them now."
"I'll be doing what?"
"Remember what the most important politics are?"
"The company I keep."
"Precisely, now go keep them company. Beatrice and I will still be here when the match ends."
I obeyed and left. It was a strange thing for him to ask of me, but I knew better than to question.
I carefully entered the Ionian lounge, they all glared at me. Shen seemed to be the only champion not clouded by frustration, and he spoke.
"What purpose have you here?"
"I just wanted to congratulate you on your up and coming victory."
They all looked at each other quizzically. I could understand why though, when I'm the prime summoner for Swain and I come before them to acknowledge their future independence.
"Nice try, but we are not so easily fooled. Do not mock us, or attempt to flood our minds with deception."
"I mean it though."
"How could you be so certain of our victory Irannius?" Akali now spoke, I could hear hopefulness in her voice.
"Because I am. I am not permitted to tell you why. But I felt it was necessary to be the first to say that your freedom is well deserved. All of Ionia shows great strength, the act of being here to challenge Noxian rule is proof enough that you should be left alone."
"Yi, is there truth to this summoner's words?"
"Yes Shen, I would know if he was lying... this is a strange turn of events. Am I to understand that we should still fight?"
"Of course, however the outcome is to never be doubted. This match would be an excellent way to prove to all of Ionia's willpower."
"Make no mistake, we will still despise Noxus."
"And I don't expect you to stop doing so."
Master Yi paused, and looked at all the other Ionians before speaking once more.
"You have inspired hope in us. Hope of a future where our people may live free of oppression and tyranny of a corrupt nation. A future where our children may grow to not know the horrors of war, and live the lives that none of us could have ever dreamed of. If we win, Ionia will show you friendship and hospitality... but if we lose... there will be not a single place you could hide from us. While under the heel of Noxian rule, we would end you."
"Thank you, that is a most generous offer... I will remember that when you win."
That couldn't have possibly gone any better. Swain would be pleased to know the fruits of my efforts. The battle was now under way... the Ionians bowed before they left me. I made my way back to the Noxian lounge, he was the only one still there... watching and waiting. We both had our eyes trained on the screen displaying the match.
"How did it go?"
"Very well, the Ionians trust me... now all we have to do is wait for them to win."
"We might be here for days then." Swain and I looked at each other, and laughed.
"What's the next step of the plan?"
"Patience, this is only the beginning. We have many more months ahead of us... our gaze shifts towards Demacia. I will be visiting Noxus again, and you will act on my behalf while I'm gone. No doubt you've noticed Kalamanda more than once on my maps or in conversations... that is where our dream will take us."
Our eyes fell on Udyr, whom was displaying the most zeal for winning. He proceeded from one champion to the next, dispatching them.
"It appears the match will be ending shortly..."
After a few more minutes, the match ended. As to be expected, Ionia had won. The Noxian champions and their summoners returned, their expressions were that of shame. Swain stood and applauded them, this only further dampened their spirits. There was nothing more to be said. Swain pulled me aside again and asked that I check in with the Ionians once more.
I carefully entered the room again, Shen and Akali were embracing each other... her eyes flooded with tears of joy. Udyr looked exhausted, he leaned up against the wall and all he could do was breathe heavily. Master Yi was sweating, apparently watching the match was overwhelming for him. Yi was the first to speak, passion bursting in his voice.
"FREEDOM!!! Victory for Ionia! Free at last!" He raised his sword high into the air, all Ionians mirrored his cheer.
"Congratulations... again." Yi quickly walked over and held out his hand to me, once I grabbed it he pulled our right shoulders next to each other and he patted me on the back.
"Thank you Irannius, we will honor our promise. We would be happy if you would join us in celebration."
"No no Yi, this was a victory for Ionia, enjoy it." He nodded and joined the rest as they were on their way out. I met up back with Swain.
"They agreed to trust me in the future, this could prove to be valuable."
"It could, or it could prove to be as worthless to us as their homeland. Darkwill was such a fool..."
Boram Darkwill was the Grand General of Noxus, the adequate of a monarch in their society.
"It was his order to invade Ionia, was it not?"
"It was an incompetent command, but enough of that... we have a special gift arranged for the 'winners'. Follow me to the bar."
Ionia was there celebrating already, drinks in hand. Singed managed the bar. Swain nodded at Singed, whom then brought out a plate full of glasses with the blue drink I vaguely remembered having once before.
"Go and deliver these to the victors."
"At once." I did as he asked, and of course they accepted the gift... only to fall unconscious moments later.
Swain raised a glass of scotch, "Here's to Ionia, may their victory be short-lived and bitter." All the other Noxians replied with a "here here". Then Swain nodded to Sion, and everyone but Swain and myself got up and left the bar... Sion hauled the comatose Ionians away. Once we were the only ones left, Swain shattered his glass against a wall.
"Soon Irannius... soon we will know glory. Whatever it takes. I have orders for you, I had to wait until we were alone."
"I await your command."
"You will find a box in your room containing letters marked with separate dates. Each one is to be opened on its printed date, and the instructions within are to be carried out exactly as written. Is this clear?" He stared sternly at me, this was of utmost importance.
"Yes Swain, I will not let you down."
"Good. The fate of Noxus may very well rest on you doing just that. I take my leave now..." Swain got up and began to walk away.
"Wait, when will you be back?" He turned back to face me, looked at Beatrice, and then chuckled.
"When victory awaits."
With that, Swain continued on and left once again.