ScreamPaste here, below is the second chapter and my first contribution to this fic.
The sun was in her eyes. Coming from the west, the Noxian army had positioned itself in front of a sunset to blind the Ionians across the field. She knew that few of the men at her side recognized the tactic for what it was, but spoke not a word. Knowing it was planned wouldn't shift the horizon any more in their favour, and the enemy was already on the march. She simply set her jaw in determination and lowered her chin to better benefit from the shade of her helm. It, like most of her gear, stood out amongst that of her peers. It was a close faced steel trap that somewhat hindered her vision but hid her face; An unfortunate but necessary trade.
At her hip hung a straight, double edged blade with a leather wrapped hilt meant to be grasped in two hands. For armour she wore a sheet of light chain hung loosely over her torso. She knew it wouldn't provide much protection, but it hid away just enough of her frame to make her gender less obvious. Beneath it she was tense, and her hand had already found its' way to the grip of her weapon.
She didn't draw yet, her unit was waiting at the top of their hill. They meant to look stoic in their resolve, but the amassment of militia, volunteers, and conscripts that were shod together to form a line were largely inexperienced and untrained. Standing apart from the regular soldiers they'd been asked to form a center and hold their hill, and now the Noxians marched on it. Each of them had placed a hand on their weapon, waiting for the moment to draw, shout, and charge in what was hopefully an intimidating martial display.
At their backs, she could hear bowstrings drawn taught, and with the lowering of a flag the first volley of arrows was loosed, disappearing into the black, silhouetted Noxian mass without visible effect. She knew some men must have been wounded or fallen, but the angle of the sun made it impossible to tell, and they kept coming at an even march, unified foot steps creating a pounding drum beat, and leaving the green and feeble at her sides shaken. Her grip tightened. The moment had almost come to charge when they simply stopped outside of charging distance around a hundred yards away. She could make out colour in their front ranks, but they were all still.
With their march ended the battlefield fell silent except for the nocking and pulling of bows behind her, and the worried breathing of her comrades. And then something else, a whistling sound similar to a flight of arrows. Immediately her gaze snapped up, she'd heard this before. The sound of Zaunite artillery. She could already see them coming, it'd be seconds.
Placing her life in the hands of her own resolve she snapped her sword into her right hand and let out a potent, growling scream as she raised it skyward and took off at a forward run. Unsure if it was their cue the men at her sides followed suit, and those flanking them as well. She'd spurred on a charge, meaning to get as many men into combat as she could before their lives were wasted on the hill without ever fighting.
She'd barely descended the slope when the first strikes landed behind her, shredding men and sending up a wave of nightmarish heat and pressure that pushed those who had escaped forward. Nothing was left behind them, forward was the only way.
Crack. Crack. CRACK. The shells landed in succession, and in their wake only screaming. Arrows passed narrowly above her head in return for the bombardment, missing her unit by only feet to soften up the front lines into which she was charging. The regulars had seen her play, then, she thought, and were giving them the last support they could.
The lines met, men fell. There was clashing, shouting, shrieks of pain and shock. She pushed forward, cutting down her first man with a hard, right handed swing from her sword. She felt nothing. Hitting her stride she stepped in, bringing the large weapon around for another wide cut. She could feel the crowd open around her, and continued on, deeper. She knew she'd lost men behind her. A quick glance told her she'd already pushed past her lines, it didn't matter. She cut deeper, again, and again.
It became a blur, her clothing and mail streaked with blood and grime, behind her smoke drifted across the battlefield and before her the sun hid behind the waves of her enemies. Her nostrils burned with fumes, sulphur, burning flesh and earth, and iron rich blood that ran down her helm, leaking through the large eye holes and onto her cheeks. The sword she'd brought to the battle was quickly notched and the handle warped just slightly, the tip blunted. But it never stayed still long enough for its' effectiveness to fall into doubt. To her enemies she was death. Focused, and in control. She continued forward, thinking to herself that if she could make it that far, she'd kill the cowardly commander behind the army, too. She quickly set it aside, once again focusing only on her next swing and step from moment to moment.
Another man came into reach, landing on the tip of her sword. This time the tip gave, the blade flexed, and snapped against his breast plate. Unfazed, she pushed what remained of the notched edge against the steel sheet and ground it forward and up into his unprotected underarm without slowing. The sound of shearing chain met her ear as the man raised from his feet and fell back, arm folded across his chest, and legs tucked, rolling from side to side in shock of his injury. She stepped over him, and she heard the ripping sound of tiny, exploding steel ringlets a second time. Now it was followed with sharp pain in her ribs and left side, and marked by a loss of breath. Twisting away from the weapon she drove her elbow into her attacker's side, a brief green flash accompanying a strike the left his plate looking like a collapsed can. He fell immediately, and she continued on, beginning to tire.
More and more she found herself accumulating wounds, and compensating for her damaged sword and restricted vision. It didn't occur to her that she couldn't continue on forever. She'd cut so far past the front line now that she'd met the elites, and cut deeper into them, still. Surrounded, alone, and injured, she continued to orchestrate every move with efficiency and resolve. and then to her side something exploded within the Noxian ranks. She wondered for a moment if they'd opened fire upon themselves, and maybe the Ionians were winning.
She allowed herself the briefest feeling of elation at the idea she was being bombarded, and that perhaps the Noxian army could be stopped, before returning to her duty. Around her more men fell at the cost of another few inches of her weapon and a wound to her calf which luckily hadn't damaged the tendon. Another explosion. And another shortly thereafter. Fire picked up close to her, and for the first time she could see the ground at her feet clearly. Whatever was illuminating the battlefield was not the artillery of Zaun, it was something else.
Then a feeling of weightlessness and vertigo overtook her. A direct hit just beneath her feet had launched her back into the charnel path she'd carved, searing away parts of her boots, tabbard, and leggings. She landed face up, but with the air pushed from her lungs. Immediately she attempted to roll to her feet, but, taking account of her abused body, found herself a split second too slow. A booted foot, housed within shining amber plate, landed squarely on her sternum. Above her stood The Judicator. 'Fitting', she thought as her eyes darted to the point of Kayle's sword, weapon that seemed to sear the air around it, hissing its' anger.
It lunged for her, tip homing on the spot just beneath her chin. Airless and bloodied, the soldier's ruined sword flew up across her chest, flat placed against her left palm and quickly emitted a sharp green burst as it was moved to intercept. She succeeded, just barely, in pushing the thrust off course and into the eye socket of her own helm, tearing away the protective item with a protesting grind of metal on metal, and leaving a gouge in her forehead, further staining her normally blanched hair with blood.
With her damaged helmet still bent around the tip of Kayle's sword, Riven pushed the blade up and away, before smashing her own into the angel's armoured chest with a burst of her trademark green energy, knocking her opponent back into the ranks of the remaining Noxian soldiers. When Riven returned to her feet she stared after her assailant and saw that a circular clearing had formed around the two. All ready the murmuring had begun. "The Exile", she picked out. No sooner had Kayle stood however than they scattered.
A horn sounded, the Noxians were retreating, and she knew that the Ionians needed to as well. It would only take moments for the entire battlefield to be targetted by melter barrage. This new Noxus didn't take losing gracefully. Not at all.
Breathing hard, Riven attempted to raise an acknowledging hand to The Judicator, who may well have turned the tide of the battle, and unknowingly saved her life as well. Before she could achieve the gesture however, Kayle was on top of her again with a single beat of her wings, bringing a broad horizontal swing towards The Exile's torso. The sheer speed of it forced an edge on edge block, the lithe Noxian woman barely managing to raise the remains of her sword, gripping it in both hands. A deep gouge was bitten into the blade, and the steel curved badly back toward her heaving chest.
As she tried to step back, her adversary stepped in, she could not break the lock. Worse, the massive sword threatening to snap what remained of her own caught fire, immediately causing the contact point to smoke, Riven knew it could get hot enough to slag mundane steel. Planting her feet and forcing her exhausted arms to obey her she raised her weapon just as it gave out, narrowly giving her clearance to duck under and hop away. She held onto the hilt and remaining warped steel band more for security than any remaining use, but stared into the face of Kayle's enchanted helm without any trace of fear. Despite her look, she sorely wished she'd brought her runic broadsword to the battle.
No sooner had she opened her mouth to speak than she heard the clattering of armour behind her. The Ionians had stayed, and even come toward her. They needed to leave. A warning glance their way would have been followed by a shout had the dirt beneath her not exploded. Quick reflexes barely kept her out of the path of the fireball sent her way.
"Run! Go!", she shouted to her comrades and rolled back to her feet and away from yet another blast.
The gap was quickly closed, "Noxian!", Kayle shouted as her wings carried her to her target. There was nothing she could do to get away.
The swing that met her displayed exactly the kind of strength that had won Riven's respect years ago at the Institute of War. It was powerful, sudden, and direct. She did the best she could to slide it off the flat of her sword's forte, but the metal gave without question, and the strike fell beneath her arms, sliding across her midriff and opening her armour, clothing, and flesh with ease. She took consolation, though, that the others had turned to leave. She was alone.
The hilt and guard that remained in her hand felt suddenly heavy, and she tossed it aside, falling back onto the ground, with her back propped against one of the men she'd put down earlier. It gave her the illusion of sitting up.
"Why?", she demanded of her killer, unflinching as the celestial creature stepped nearer, pointing the tip of her sword toward the beaten champion's chest.
"You're a traitor.", was the answer, it didn't carry malice, though the anger felt tangible. Beneath her plate, Kayle was seething. "A traitor to your own people who fights for Ionia. A traitor to the Institute, participating in open war. Why shouldn't you be punished, Exile?", she spat, and moved to push the tip of her blade against the woman's chest. To her surprise the Riven's hands flew up to catch it by it's large, diamond shaped tip, and hold it back with what was left of her strength. It bit into her hands, but the heat it gave off near instantly cauterized the wounds. Her arms shook, and the pain of it was apparent on her face.
"I'm already punishing myself, Judicator", she hissed in turn. "Noxus betrayed itself, turned its back on its ideals and its people. My people, and I'll fight them if I have to. How would I punish a Noxus that ignores the decisions of the League from within it?", her voice trailed off, bitter. There was nothing she could do now. The melters would fire soon, and her arms were growing weak. "They're going to bombard this entire area, Kayle. Leave.", she added, and then fell silent, allowing her arms to drop, and closing her eyes.
They opened again when she heard the tell tale shriek of a falling shell, joined near immediately by several more. "Go!", she rasped, finding her throat hoarse and dry.
The angel stayed, looking up, and watching the melter charges approach. To Riven's amazement, Kayle spoke. "Perhaps... You can be redeemed.", she offered, and then knelt before the mortally wounded woman. Her wings extended, encapsulating her lithe, bloodied form, and she bowed her head.
Within the strange embrace, Riven could only stare into the sky, blood loss beginning to rob her of her wits. She'd die soon, she felt, and it didn't worry her. But as the shells hit, the world around her took on a warm amber tint, as though viewing it through a sheet of stained glass. The explosions seemed so silent, and far off… As if nothing could hurt her, and she drifted there, into unconsciousness.