As the pair walked along, Quinn's usual energetic manner reasserted itself, looking up from under her hood at the man limping beside her. "So uh.... How're the birds? Is your garden big enough for them?" She inquired, doing her best to give that frightening masked visage a smile. Swain looked down at her and was ready to respond with his usual disdainful rudeness but... Well saw no real reason to, the girl was young, frightened and just wanting to see her friend again. He felt he could cut her at least a little slack, she had done well in getting here after all.
"They are fine, there was plenty of room for their nest, Beatrice lived there as it was so it was simple accommodating your eagle... How did you come across such a creature? I had thought the Demacian eagles had gone extinct decades ago, and yet one has managed to win my ravens heart." Quinn was faintly surprised at the sudden willingness to talk from the Tyrant, this was the... Well Nicest was exactly the right word, the most accepting he'd been of her since they'd met. She took a moment to respond as she let the story well up from her memories.
"Well to explain, I'll have to tell you a bit about my family. My brother and I had always been adventurous, and we dreamed of being great Demacian knights like the legends we were told to teach us proper values."
Swain snorted at the word, considering Demacian values a long way from *proper*. Quinn pretended not to hear him as she continued.
"So as we grew up, we'd go exploring, leaving our town for weeks on end as we ventured out into the wild in pursuit of danger and excitement. We found all sorts over the years, abandoned Crypts and catacombs, waterfalls the height of the Demacian palace, and all sorts of creatures, the likes of which we'd never been taught about in school. But... Well one adventure, we went far, far south, into the untamed forests, the night before we went home we were attacked in our camp by..."
Her voice began to quaver as she reminded herself of the painful memories.
"By a giant spider with the voice of a young woman, it drew us from the safety of our camp by pretending to be a human calling for help, by the time we realised what was going it, it was too late and the monster had caught me in its web. My brother managed to ward it off long enough with his torch for me to cut myself down and he told me to run, promising he'd be right behind me."
"But he wasn't, was he?" Inquired Swain, the harshness of his guttural voice all but gone by now. Quinn gave a little shake of her hood.
"That was the last time I ever saw him, as I passed our camp, I heard him scream and... That was it. I went home and didn't go back there for five years, by then I had joined the military and was a successful pathfinder. If I couldn't find my brothers body I was at least going to leave a marker for him... I didn't find any sign of him or the spider there, except for a few old cobwebs, but what I did find there was a wounded bird, a wounded Demacian eagle. I took him home with me and nursed him back to health. That's how I got Valor. I don't know if there are more Demacian eagles in the wild forests, but I'm not going to look. They have their freedom there, and if we take them all for war beasts again, this time they really will be extinct." She finished, looking down at the ground with a sad smile across her lips, she had lost her brother there, but there she had found a new one. With both enraptured in the tale, neither had noticed as they passed from the city streets to the wide open foreground of the keep itself. Soldiers on patrol and on parade, training with dummies and sparring with one another in equal measure, gone was the disorderly nature of the street, here there was naught but discipline and precision. Those not locked in practise and simply out on errands would turn their head to nod respectfully at Swain as they passed, though distracted as he was he neglected to return the gesture.
"Quite a tale, I now see why he matters so much to you... I didn't choose Beatrice as you chose Valor, she chose me."
Quinn's brows went up, "what do you mean, sir? If you don't mind me asking." She, like most, knew very little about the Tyrant's past, even his advisors and right hand man, Darius, only knew that he had one day appeared in a Noxian hospice with a shattered leg and Beatrice atop his shoulder.
"... Fine, someone may as well here the tale. And you're stuck here until I deign otherwise." He paused for a moment to remove his helmet, revealing the dark green sash he wore over his neck and face in full. Keeping the helmet in the crook of his arm, he fell into step with her once more. "I was a sergeant in the Noxian military, our regiment was invading Ionian grounds, crushing all in our wake. When *he* arrived, I never learned the man's name, but I believe him long dead now. On our way through the Ionian forests after subjugating another border town, he fell upon us, his sword moved faster than any bullet, and in moments not a man stood, some tried to run but he cut them down without a moment's hesitation, I was the only one to get a hit on him, my blade caught him right under the ribs, in response his caught me on the side of the knee, he only used the flat but he hit with such force he maimed me for life. I don't know why he neglected to finish me off, but he left me there, amongst the bodies of the dead. Maybe he thought the carrion birds would finish me off. They swarmed soon enough, picking out the juiciest of the dead and feasting upon them as I began to drag myself from the field. Some decided I was to be their next feast and their weight bore me to the ground once more. That's when Beatrice arrived, I still have not discovered exactly what she is, but she is no normal raven. That I know. Her magic tore through those who make me their meal, and it was she who led me back across the border, warning me of trouble in our path. By the time I had reached Noxus once more, there was no one I would rather have by my side than her, she and I had bonded on the journey and she never saw fit to leave my side after that." Quinn was quite frankly shocked, to hear the great Tyrant admitting to weakness, admitting to being bested, admitting that it was to Beatrice he owed his life. Now she understood the sorrow she saw in him when he thought he had lost her, why it seemed he truly did not know what he was to do without her by his side. Beatrice was his guardian angel. For a long time she didn't say a word, content to follow him as they entered through the great gates of the keep, walking through the bustling halls, finally she spoke up once more, looking him in the eye with a wider smile than he had ever seen from her across her lips.
"I can see why Valor loves her. Kind, brave, smart...""
Swain blinked once at the sentiment, before nodding, though she could not see much of his face, she got the sense he was smiling underneath that sash. "Yes, he has many reasons to love her, and is indeed a very. Very, lucky bird, for having won her heart. Though I'm still not sure why she has fallen for him."
"Oh... I think I know, Valor's a wonderful bird, even if a bit brash at times, he's the most loyal and brave friend I've ever had. If he cares for her, that means he'd never let anyone or anything hurt her."
"Hmn, we shall see then. I for one wonder what their children will look like." Internally he added, 'and what I will do with you.' but left that thought unvoiced for now. "Enough of that though, we are nearly there." He nodded to a winding staircase at the end of the hall, beginning to ascend it with her in tow, with the small width of the stairs, and Swain's impairment, the going was very slow and Quinn found herself waiting a time for him to ascend each step while she would have leapt up them three at a time. Of course she didn't say a word, to bring up his limp would only harm his ego and more importantly, his already rather low opinion of her. Which she was hoping to improve as long as she was here, she could learn a lot about Noxus by forging a better relation with its ruler, and seeing as she was stuck with him for a time, effectively his prisoner; she'd be mad to not do so. Finally, after what seemed to Quinn an eternity, they reached the top of the staircase and Swain threw open the door to his own private quarters. Stepping inside with the air of a man within his own palace, utter control, which in-fact he was and he had, from what was visible from the doorway, these rooms were a tad more decorated than the public rooms of the keep, one the walls hung dark green drapes, the same colour as Swain's sash, the floors were a thick, deep red velvet. The combined insulation of which, along with the thick stones that made up the walls, effectively muted all the noise from the rest of the fort, affording Swain his own, completely private space. Even her footsteps were muted and muffled by the thick, velvet of the floor. Inter-dispersed where portraits of the previous lord Generals, it seems he was not the first to make his home here and would by no means be the last.. As Quinn stepped in behind him and shut the door he turned to face her once again. "There is a spare room down that hall, you will stay there. You are not to leave the quarters without my consent, and if I hear word of you going anywhere in the keep you are not supposed to, believe me girl, what good graces your bird has garnered you will swiftly run out. Understood?" Quinn nodded frantically, the sudden threat taking her wrong footed after the much friendlier conversation preceding it. Though she understood why he said what he did, she was a spy he'd allowed entry into his own keep, where all the Noxian's plans, all their tactics and all their best and brightest were kept. He couldn't exactly give her free reign of the place. "Good, now put your backpack in your room, it is pointless to keep lugging it around, then I'll take you up to see Valor and Beatrice."
The smile from earlier swiftly found its way back to Quinn's lips as she practically bounced down the hall to the room, throwing open the door, she found it to be rather threadbare, a simple black quilted bed in the centre with a slit of a window looking out over the courtyard, and a wooden clothes cupboard beside it, the walls still hung with those thick green drapes. There was little of the opulence she had seen in her visit to the Demacian palace, it seems Noxian's believed in efficiency and, sitting down on the bed she realised, comfort over gilt. It was surprisingly refreshing to see the ruler not revelling in his wealth, it gave it an understated dignity, one that didn't need banners and pages to declare its presence. Quinn found herself thinking that this was all round a rather nice place for her to stay a while, a surprising show of kindness from the lord Tyrant, seeing as any time he wanted he could choose to instead have her sent to the dungeons.
After depositing her belongings, and the thick greatcoat in the room, Quinn rejoined Swain, who she found had taken the time to remove his thick steel pauldrons and his cape along with them, his shoulders relaxing thoroughly with the now relieved tension of no longer having to carry the armour atop them. He gave her a brief nod before setting off once more. Finally, she would be reunited with Valor.