Keep it together keep it together keep it together.
Riven's thoughts raced as she flew through the Institute of War, not entirely sure where her feet were carrying her. She could make it to safety, solitude, she could. She didn’t have to give in, didn’t have to pummel him murder kill he deserves it he does it’s all his fault. The white-haired woman had even managed to excuse herself properly from the table that she and her friends had occupied mere moments prior. Up until he showed up and don't think don't think just go run escape.
Finally she burst through a door and locked it tight behind her, or at least she thought she did, she couldn't know her vision was blurring and she couldn't tell where she had ended up. White, shiny forms jutted from the walls on one side, and a mass of rectangles obstructed something from view she was certain she knew what but couldn't place it.
Riven shook as she made her way to those strange white shapes sinks, sinks, they were sinks she mentally corrected herself. She grasped onto the sides of the first one she made contact with and through sheer force of will alone managed to stay upright, even though what she wanted to do most right now was to curl up into a ball and hide away. Faintly, she could hear the drips of a leaky faucet, but she couldn't register the noise. A dull roar no one else could hear had already filled her senses, her head swam as she tried desperately to catch her breath, keep her calm but it was too late it had to be it was starting again and she couldn't stop it.
And suddenly Riven wasn't in the league, had never been in the league, no such thing even existed. She was in Ionia, her sword a monolith of black stone with an ominous green glow to it, pristine, nary a scratch on it. She was cutting a swath in the battlefield, men and women littered the ground at her feet. But all of them had the same face. She cut through another, her sword slicing a ragged cut into his torso. But the man himself was bald, laughing with strange bandages that covered his mouth, and deserved it deserves it his fault kill him. She shook her head, the faces of the Ionians were once again varied, different. And what was that small body over there? Was it a chil---no no it couldn't she couldn't she wasn't a child murderer no it couldn't stop.
She blinked furiously, and for a brief moment she was back in the League. It didn’t last long though and she was in her past again, this time surrounded by Ionians on all sides, her comrades nowhere in sight. And what was that orange glow above her? Had one of her men lit off the distress flare? She couldn't focus on that right now, as one of the Ionian men on her left attempted to cleave her in two. She managed to block the blow in a single motion; it would have been effortless if she hadn't already been fighting for what felt like hours. Every muscle hurt and ached; she had been past five winds at the least. Only the strong survive. But was a war like this really strength, she wondered for perhaps the first time. No not the first years of questioning running thinking fleeing not the first how many times now too many can’t think it doesn’t matter, she had more pressing matters to attend to.
She rose her monstrous blade once more, readying it again for an attack that she knew would never come how did she know that? Before she could answer herself a foul stench hit her square in the chest. She could have sworn it was burning her nose clean off if not for the fact the thing was still attached to her face. How could anything smell that bad? Something in the back of her mind had an answer for her but she didn't search for it as she jumped back; she had seen something lobbed at her from above the Ionian's heads. Riven didn't move a moment too soon. Mere milliseconds later, whatever it was cask cask it was a cask landed and burst at their feet, and the smell worsened if that was even possible. Terrible shrieks of agony rose up all around her.
She ran to a nearby thicket of trees and dodged the hail of poison as best she could, all around her men and women were splashed and acted as inadvertent shields by happenstance. In all the time she had been Riven, the Butcher of Noxus, not once had she heard someone cry out as the people around her did now. A few of the inhuman wails of pain sounded too familiar, but she pressed on. She made it well past the tree line until she managed to get a foot snagged under the brush and fell, landing hard onto the wet ground.
Riven scrambled to her feet, and turned back to see if anyone had followed her. No one had. She brushed the sweat-drenched hair out of her eyes, and decided to go back to investigate. No no don't go back you're not ready never ready don't face it don't face them you can't won't don't do it. She promptly ignored the small voice.
The scene that awaited her was horrific, it had been completely transformed from the previous farm land it had once been. The smell from before persisted, but it had a new scent mixed in. The battle-weary warrior slapped a hand over her mouth, a strangled cry given no release. On some of the nearby bodies, it looked like the flesh had melted straight off the bone, piles off strange, dis-colored goop lay next to them and flesh that was flesh bubbling in the liquid she could see a few Noxian uniforms mixed in with the red and gold Ionian ones her men her men all dead it's your fault you told them to light the flare you had heard the rumours. On the other side of the field, a stranger looked doubled over. Was he a survivor in pain?
No. No he wasn't. She knew but didn't know it was Singed him his fault that man he did this laughed and laughed we were only lab rats for him it didn't matter to him he's to blame. She couldn't understand that though and why did she know this, her head hurt and there was movement a body it was moving it had stood up, looking straight at her with the flesh half melted off its face and stop stop make it stop that's not supposed to happen--
"RIVEN. Today is March 17th, 23 CLE! You are in the Institute of War. You are safe." The male body was speaking in a womans voice? And the date...
Riven blinked. She blinked again. Slowly, her vision cleared in front of her, revealing familiar scenery. She wasn't Riven, the Butcher of Noxus anymore. She was Riven, the Exile. She was currently in the public restrooms located outside the cafeteria in the League of Legends. And in front of her, hands clasped firmly on her shoulders, stood Lux, the Lady of Luminosity. Demacian. Her best friend since arriving to the League. The blonde looked pale, her brow furrowed and her lips formed a tight line. Something was sparkling at the edge of her eyes.
"Lux?" Riven whispered, her voice hoarse. She sounded much softer than she had thought. Her throat hurt for some reason. What had she been doing?
Lux responded at once by pulling the Exile into a tight hug, Riven could feel something wet brush her cheek. Or was her cheek already wet? She couldn't tell. The white-haired warrior looked past the blonde mage; cracks dotted a few walls, and she was dimly aware of the sound of running water.
“I think you had another flashback,” came the blonde’s reply at last. “I followed you out after you opened the box. I waited outside, but I heard a crash. I’m sorry that I broke in, but I wanted to make sure you would be ok.” She pulled herself away from Riven, and looked the other woman up and down. “Do you feel hurt anywhere? Do you need me to take you to the hospital wing?”
Riven looked around. It looked like two sinks and one bathroom door had been her casualties this time. Water had already begun to seep into the room, and she reasoned that soon it would lap at her feet, above her sandal’s soles.
“I’m fine,” she lied. Riven was sure that Lux knew it was a lie as well, but right now the Exile needed to believe it. “I just, just need to sleep. Sleep will fix it.”
If Lux had the thought to protest, Riven would never know. Instead, the luminous mage replied “All right. But you’re sleeping in my room tonight, ok? The last time that idiot pulled a stunt like this, you were out of it for a decently long while,” she glanced at Riven for a short moment before turning around, “Just think of it like a sleep over. I’ll even let you take the couch.”
Riven’s mouth had at first been open to protest, but instead, she let out a drawn out sigh. She hated feeling like this. She hated what the war had done to her. And she hated how now she managed to get her friends worried about her as well. Riven allowed the other woman to lead her out of the broken bathroom, and down a few halls. She was too lost in thought to notice that no one had acted like they could see them.
The pair made it to the light mage’s room without incident, a simple abode made beautiful by dancing lights that played out across the room, the source a small handful of crystals that hung in front of the main light source on the ceiling. The furniture was plush, light and feathery. It fit the occupants outward personality well, Riven thought. Lux led the tired warrior over to a rather large couch that sat proudly in the center of the far wall, between two doors. As the light mage turned, Riven’s hand shot out and tugged at her skirt without thinking.
“Stay with me,” Riven pleaded after a few moments silence, “Please.”
In answer, Lux gave her a genuine smile, and sat down next to her. The mage wrapped Riven up in her arms, and leaned back, a hand trailing up and down the Exile’s back for comfort.
“You aren’t the Butcher anymore, Riven. It’ll be ok.”
Lux had made a good point. As much as Riven loathed her past, loathed herself at times, she wasn’t that person anymore. Maybe she could have realized the truth about the war sooner. Maybe it would have saved her men. Maybe she wouldn’t have been a killer. Maybe instead of killing her men, Singed had instead been far away that day. Maybe she would have never went to war at all in the first place, and would continue to be the poster child for Noxus, the Butcher. All these maybes were making her head hurt. At this present moment, she was Riven, the Exile. She had done many horrible things in her past, but she was working to atone for her sins. She would restore Noxus, in the memory of her comrades, and in the memory of all the people who died by her hand. But for right now, all she wanted to do was to stay in the arms of one of the few people who believed in her, even when she didn’t believe in herself.
Riven wasn’t quite sure how long the two stayed like that, but at some point, they both took heed to the whispers of sleep, and for the first time in a long while, Riven did not have the night terrors that usually kept her up for days afterwards.
Author's Notes: Thank you for reading, let me know what you think! And a many thanks to everyone who read over/helped me with edits, you guys rock! :3