The next thing Xin remembered was walking through a decrepit slum as he made his way towards the massive gate to Noxus proper. He was aware in the back of his mind of other altercations in the city suburbs that preceded this memory, but adrenaline has a strange effect on the memory, or perhaps they weren’t as important?
Xin was pulled from his thoughts by a gruff man’s voice reverberating from inside a poorly-made metal helmet.
“Who are you?”
The two Xins had already arrived at the towering metal portcullis that barred access to the inner city. They were standing on a large wooden drawbridge over an enormous moat filled with a disgusting soup of chemicals. The older Xin shuddered at the thought of falling in. Drowning would perhaps be the least of his worries.
Noxus was a filthy place that cared little for aesthetics: The houses outside the city were cobbled together from rocks, mortar and metal plating, garbage and refuse lined the stone streets and the ramshackle streetlights (in the few places there were streetlights) were made of bent metal pipes with all thought given to function and none lent to form. The sky was constantly darkened by ash blown out of the furnaces of the hundreds of blacksmiths that dotted the suburbs, working tirelessly to keep the Noxian military armed with crude weapons and armor. It made the air thick, and since arriving the young Xin had been coughing often, and the older Xin remembered how his lungs had burned.
“Are you going to gawk like an idiot, or are you going to answer me?” asked the guard, testily.
The young Xin stammered a response. His voice was hoarse.
“I’m...Uhm, that is, they call me...”
The older Xin remembered this. He’d not thought of how he would introduce himself within the city, and he decided that using his own name was out of the question.
The younger Xin thought for a moment as the guard narrowed his eyes with impatience.
“Viscero.” said the young Xin at last. “I am called Viscero.” He coughed.
The older Xin grinned. It had been a long time since he went by that name.
“Viscero what?” asked the guard.
“Uh, just... Viscero.” said Xin.
“Well!” said the guard, and Xin could tell that behind his metal face guard, he was smiling, “It’s nice to meet you, Viscero. Get lost.” This last with no smile at all.
“I’d like to enter.” said Xin, and he coughed again.
“Tough ****, kid. Nobody makes it through this gate, especially not a foreigner like you. Hell, I should kill you just for setting foot in Noxus without permission. But, since I’m having a good day, I’ll give you one chance to piss off before I throw you into the moat.”
“I’m not a foreigner,” argued Xin, “I work for...” he scrambled to think of the name of a local blacksmith, and he realized he’d bothered to learn exactly none of them, “Burke, the blacksmith. I have business inside the city.” The guard couldn’t possibly know every blacksmith, could he?
The guard guffawed, “Oh, not a foreigner! And he has business! Hey, hear that? He’s not a foreigner after all!”
The man turned to address someone, and Xin was surprised to find that there were actually two guards at the gate, the other leaning against the wall inside the alcove, his armor stained with soot to be the same shade as the dark stone wall. The light being what it was, the other guard was almost totally invisible. He chuckled.
“That’s quite the cough for a lower city resident. You must be sick” said the second guard.
The first guard took a step toward Xin, who took a step back, “He looks it, doesn’t he? Maybe we should put him out of his misery?”
“...Hey, hang on a second.” said the other guard. “What’s that weapon he’s got there?”
The first guard tilted his helmet downward to get a better look at Xin’s sword, which was now on his hip to make it easier to draw..
“Where did you get that?” demanded the first guard.
“It’s mine.” answered Xin.
“Like hell, hand it over!”
The second guard pushed himself off the wall slowly, like a statue coming to life. As he began to walk towards Xin, the first guard snapped out a hand and latched onto Xin’s forearm.
Xin reacted by snapping his free elbow upwards, angling to get under the man’s helmet and strike his jaw. The blow connected, the man stumbled backwards, and both of the guards drew their swords.
“Get him!” shouted the second, and both men charged at the young Xin. The older Xin watched the scene silently. He remembered the guards, he remembered the bluffs, and he remembered the threats... But he didn’t remember this, and now under the scrutiny of his mind’s eye he found he could not recall exactly how he’d made it into the inner city. And so he watched as the young Xin defied his expectations, drew his sword, and stood his ground.
The guards dove for him in motions that recalled nearly every fight Xin had been in since he entered the bounds of the city-state. These guards, like the vast majority of the enormous Noxian military, were street thugs handed crude armaments and given something approaching a purpose. The Noxian military provided no specialized training for them, for their only real duty was to die in the name of Noxus and serve as cannon fodder for the Noxian elite.
Minions, the older Xin thought morbidly.
It came as no surprise to him then, when the older Xin’s attention returned to the fight, that both of the guards were lying in a broken, defeated pile and the young “Viscero” was cleaning the blood from his blade.
The two travellers approached the portcullis, and the younger began searching for a way past. The iron barrier was so large and heavy that they wondered if it was even intended to move at all. As Viscero examined the gate, the older Xin looked over his shoulder back at the lower city. Had anyone witnessed the fight? Would anyone care? Granted there was probably very little love held between the Noxian lower class and the Noxian military, but he could never be too careful that someone may report him, incensed by the idea of a reward.
Xin turned back to see Viscero attempting to slip through the bars of the portcullis... And succeeding. In a few moments he had slithered his way through and was picking himself up on the other side. Xin ran to the gate. That trick worked for his younger self, but how was Xin supposed to make his way through? As he watched Viscero start down the pathway behind the gate, Xin laid a hand on the metal.
Or he tried to, anyway, but his hand slipped through the material like it was an illusion (and as far as Xin knew, it was). He pulled his hand back quickly, and then tested it again. The metal offered no resistance, and Xin imagined he could simply step through it. He looked up to see Viscero about to disappear from sight, and step through it he did.