"DAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRRRRRKNESS " The voice echoed across the desert as Dante arrived on the other side of the rift.
A blur of what appeared to be an ethereal figure viciously jettisoned itself before Dante heading directly towards Achion at blinding speed. With a flash of speed Dante rushed to Achion's aid and deflected the oncomers attack with his sword, but even this was daunting for the creature's momentum pushed Dante back - his feet barely able to hold their traction in the thick unstable sand. With one quick forward slash he sent the creature back the way it had come flying helplessly into the gravel like sand.
"Its really great to see you Dante, we could really use your help against Helba's forces." Achion grunted through the pain of his sustained injuries. Helba's forces were overwhelming, and Achion now knelt on the ground bloody and bruised.
"I suppose Nocturne is helping her?"
"Yes the nightmare king himself is causing me quite some trouble, all my attempts at fending him off are twarted by his spell shield. I wasn't sure how much longer I would be able to hold the rift open for you. You are lucky you got here when you did, I almost closed the rift which would have torn you to shreds."
"Well in that case I am really glad you didn't, I doubt Domovoi could sustain the energy himself yet. Do you think you and Safred can hold off Helba while I take care of Nocturne?"
"Yes, the rest of our group will handle Fiddlesticks and the other members of their group."
"Yes, it seems Vudu's worries were right all along."
"So you heard that too?"
"Yes, the dimensions are getting weaker as my power fades, I will be able to stablize them soon if I have time to rest. But with this onslaught of Helba's I doubt I will get that chance. Soon even the temporal rift that Zilean and I created will collapse and so will the whole of reality with it. Zilean is now the only thing holding all of time together. But his Chronodisplacea will eventually overwhelm him causing him to lose his concentration over the time stasis. When that happens, all void will break lose."
"That bad huh?"
"Okay then let's get started." With that Dante rushed off in the direction of Nocturne whom seemed to be recovering from forceful blow dealt by Dante's sword.
With forces of darkness, Nocturne ravaged and slashed with shadowy energy in the form of claws aimed at Dante. Each attack passed through Dante's body, sending shivers of blackness running down his spine. Every time Nocturne hit him, his health seemed to fade, but he had to push on and get to Nocturne so he could stop him for good. Meanwhile, Safred struggled to hold off Helba, while Achion recovered his strength.
Step by step, inch by inch, Dante slowly made his way closer and closer to Nocturne. When he finally neared the fiend, Dante was cautious of the creature, knowing how it could cause fear in any man by making them see their worst nightmares. He quickly charged in, knowing his only fear was Helba succeeding, he feared nothing exploitable and would stop Helba at all costs. Nocturne tried to fear Dante, but the slayer of Darkness saw through the creature's attempts and quickly broke the hold without a sweat. Dante brought down his sword, slicing across Nocturne's mass. The creature howled in pain and retreated further back against the howling desert winds. Dante pursued him each slash coming ever so close to reaching its target, but Nocturne was elusive and continued to dodge with ease it seemed, gliding across strands of darkness created by his shadowy claws. Lunging forward in yet another attempt, Dante at last connected once more sending ethereal goop flying across the desert sands. The nightmare beast howled in pain, crying out in one last final attempt to escape the beast uttered his final words...
"Darkness." The skies went dark and as light suddenly reappeared Nocturne was nowhere to be seen. It seems that the elusive creature would evade Dante yet again.
Dante knowing his battle with Helba's forces was far from over rushed to aid the others in their attempts to thwart the allied forces that she mustered. Each slice brought Dante closer to Helba and Safred, both of which seemed entwined in a battle of psychic powers. If the link between the two was broken who knows what might happen to the other, but for Dante this was a risk he was willing to take.
He rushed up behind Helba and sliced through the protective wards around her, quickly he raised his sword to her throat and uttered, "Drop the link Helba!"
"Well, well, well...if it isn't little Dante. You can't stop me this time Dante, your little sword won't help you anymore against me now, you see I have the power of the void."
"You are crazy Helba, crazier than you were when I first sent you into the void, it seems the endless whisperings of the void's will finally broke you."
"Dante, Dante, Dante, Don't you get it? It was I who broke the void."
"And now, the whole world is going to fall because of it. No Helba, I may not be able to kill you, but I can detain you. Forever."
"As you will, Darkslayer, I go with you willingly." Helba sneered as she dropped her mental hold over Safred, despite her willingness to surrender Dante still remained on guard.
"Take this woman directly to the Warden's cell. Restrain her and allow no one to speak with her. And make sure she can't use magic."
"Right away Dante!" a gruff soldier replied and quickly holstered Helba away.
As the soldiers took Helba into custody, Dante walked back over to Achion and Safred. "Did that seem far too easy?"
"You mean because it was anti-climatic?" Safred suggested.
"It is because deep down, Helba wanted to be detained. She has something planned, but something is blocking my view from seeing it. Whatever or whoever is causing this is quite powerful. Far more powerful than any summoner or champion combined. It is likely blocking more than just my abilities too. Even Achion and Domovoi seem to be weakened."
"Well that worries me. I have no choice but to detain her though."
"Until we learn more, no. We cannot afford to allow her to cause more damage to the rift. So we must play her games...for now." she said wiping the dirt from her face.
"Seems like we are approaching checkmate, and we aren't the winning side Safred."
"Yes Dante, it seems so."
The boat heaved against the crashing waves, every moment seemed to draw Vudu closer to the Shadow Isles. The ferryman was against taking them at first, and even when Vudu showed him a sack full of gold he was still reluctant, but finally after Vudu 'convinced' him -essentially using his stuffy doll- that it was in his best interest to take this party to the island the ferryman finally agreed.
Vudu sat on the bridge of the ship at a table (a table that is a giant wooden spool ), the mist cascaded over top of him as he repeatedly placed card after card down on the table. Bianca stood nearby at the helm watching him as he did. He appears nervous, another emotion Bianca had never seen in the Doctor for a long time. She quietly walked over and sat down across from him.
"What do the cards say Doctor?"
"Same thing they always say Bianca since the storm began to form, 'Darkness will reign over the worlds.'"
"Worlds..as in plural?"
"Well, did you think that we were the only world out there Bianca? Domovoi is proof of that not being so."
"Well I know that, but I had never thought that something occuring on our world would affect all the other worlds."
"Butterflies flap their wings ever so Bianca..."
"What is that supposed to mean?"
"Everything has an outcome, everything has an effect."
"Well Doctor, what is our outcome?"
"I see only the darkness, no matter how I turn the cards Bianca. Whatever our outcome, the cards do not speak well of it."
"So we could die."
"You and I both know there are worse things than death."
"Doesn't make me like death any better."
"At least in your case Bianca, death has been curable."
"Only thanks to you Doctor, we must both face the facts, if you die then I doubt I am ever coming back again."
"Well then I will do my best not to die."
"You better doctor, because according to Zilean he won't be able to resurrect anyone as long as the temporal stasis is active."
"Well, I guess I better not lead the way then huh?" he smirked.
"Be serious Doctor, are you sure you should be doing this?"
As she asked this he flipped over one final card, on its face was the magician.
"From what the cards say, yes I must be there."
"And you are sure that the magician means you?"
"It has in the past. Plus the predictions are controlled by the Shadow Lord now, he wants me here and so I shall be."
"And you are going to blindly follow some deceptive demon's plan?"
"Not blindly my dear Bianca, for even the Shadow Lord must abide by our pact."
"Fair enough Doctor, but know this, if I even suspect that you are in danger I will do whatever it takes to protect you."
"Thank you my child, I appreciate that so."
They had just ceased talking as Vash walked around the corner and approached their table, "Doctor, can I ask you something straight up?"
"What seems to be on your mind mon?"
"Why are you trusting me? I am a hired hand that has prior associations with Black Rose. You have no idea if I will betray you."
"Vash if you wanted to betray me, you would have done so already, but both you and I both know that you won't."
"How can you be so sure?"
"Well for one the amount of money I am paying you is enormous, and secondly you and I both know about my stuffy doll's hold over you."
"So you can control me?"
"Only if I needed to, I hardly doubt that I will though. Most people that become traitors usually tend to not express this concern with those that might doubt him."
"Well I guess I appreciate your well-guided trust."
"Not so much trust as it is leverage Vash, make yourself very aware of that fact."
"Yes Doctor." satisfied with this response Vash wondered back over to where Domovoi was standing along the railing of the ship.
"Doctor!" Bianca snapped after Vash was out of earshot.
"You and I both know that your stuffy doll can't control people."
"Yes but he doesn't need to know that Bianca. Besides it may not control him but it can prevent him from harming anyone."
"True. At any rate it seems we are arriving at the docks of the Shadow Isles, but from here it looks more like a scrappy pile of junk."
"I doubt it sees many repairs Bianca, and I also doubt that our ferryman will remain any longer than he has to."
"You are saying we are going to be abandoned on the most dangerous island of Runeterra?"
"I am so glad I brought my sword."
"As am I, because we will need it."
"Achion how are you feeling now?" Dante asked.
"Much better now thanks to you, this rest has allowed me to regain my powers. Soon I will be able to stablize the dimensions for good. Except...nevermind."
"Well, while Zilean and I were creating this stasis, it felt like something was preventing us or working against us. A force far greater than that which Helba could possibly possess."
"Safred mentioned something similar. Do you think it has something to do with the Heart of Darkness?"
"I don't know, but it is likely. At any rate we should secure the area and make sure Zilean is safe."
"Is there anyway you could relocate him to a safer location?"
"Even if I could, it wouldn't make a difference. Nothing can reach him."
"So I guess he is safe right where he is then?"
"Well we can't leave him here by himself."
"No. I had thought of that, hence why I brought that thing to watch over him." he said as he opened a rift to reveal a large mechanical sentry unit that was hidden out of sight within a dimensional shift.
"What is that?!"
"Oh just a sentient scrap golem that I found one day wandering the streets."
"Was it Blitzcrank?"
"Oh no, Blitzcrank is still fine and well, this is what is left of Damyia."
"Oh my, I hadn't seen Damyia in ages, what happened to her?"
"Well countless years without repairs leaves a golem full of rusty parts. Now she has nothing left but her sentience."
"So this is what the league does for its champions."
"In time Dante, everything becomes like Damyia here. The league is only able to prolong the inevitable for a duration. In Damyia's case, this is what happens to her 400 years from now."
"Is she here? Simple, time is collapsing due to Zilean's attempts to help me stablize the dimensions. So certain things are getting thrown out of sync with their timelines. Eventually all of time will happen at once if this continues."
"So like the timeline is bending or something?"
"More like the timeline is being jammed up into a ball and things are jumping from one point to the next just as if they were continuing down the line."
"Yes and as it stands the future of Runeterra has already been written in the past, but for years we have been too blind to see it, this is something Zilean showed me in his final moments. Icathia for instance is just one example, its desctruction and their mythological belief in some Gods? Those were the void. And this isn't just the only occurence in history. There is another account where historians document how the void came to Runeterra, but were fought off. I believe that these accounts are coming now. That our past is really only our future."
"But, it makes no sense."
"I know, I'm struggling to figure it out too. But trust me, if I am right and we do not stop the void, our reality will collapse due to the anomolies and parodoxes created."
"So we have to stop it."
"We did so in the past, we will do so again."
The thick foliage of the forest slowed and halted progress preventing Vudu, Bianca, Vash, and Domovoi from proceding. The moonlight above often granted reprieve, but the cascading darkness that poured down from the overhead brush cancelled the effect. Vudu knew that their path would not be bogged down with creatures or treacherous terrain. But that did not make him any less hesitant to continue. Each weary step brought him closer to center and possibly the Shadow Lord.
Webs and tracks of spiders appeared on their right, the home of Elise was nearby, Vudu knew that the Widow Queen would not be home. Even still the thought of the montrosities is enough to send chills down any man's spine. With this in mind he hurried past this part of the forest onwards making haste coming within yards of the center.
Now it was finally time, he was within moments of the final hour. This was where the Heart of Darkness rested, the only question was what was it and what did it look like. Originally Vudu had thought the heart to be a black stone, but as he walked into the giant clearing at the center of the isle, his own heart skipped a beat. The entire forest floor was covered with large black stones all of which in the shape of a human heart. The shadow lord had some more tricks up his sleeve it seemed.
As he stared at the amass of stones scattered at his feet, a beam of dark energy emitted from the epicenter of the stone pit. Vudu was too late, the Shadow Lord was coming, and there was no way to stop him.