Annnd part 2! Boy that sure was a bunch of minutes, wasn't it?
Viscero awoke the next morning in a state of agony he had never felt before. His muscles burned with the travels and efforts of several months, and for what felt like several hours he could not move his limbs. Eventually he was able to exercise some control over his arms, and slowly, painfully, he climbed out of his bed and stepped down to the floor. He staggered across the room like a newly-animated scarecrow and began to get dressed, but as he kneeled to fasten his boots, he found himself unable to rise from the floor. He crawled to the nearest chair and used it as leverage to pick himself up from the carpet. Awkwardly he made his way to the door and opened to it find Bronze the butler waiting for him. Viscero wondered how long he’d been standing there.
“Good morning, young master. I’m here to direct you to Breakfast.”
Viscero attempted a smile, which was turned to a grimace by the pain racking his body.
“Thanks. After you, then.”
Bronze gave him a strange look, “Right this way.”
Viscero was happy to have a guide through the manor. Had he tried to navigate it himself he would almost certainly have ended up lost, wandering hallways for the rest of his years. After a brief journey, with Viscero hobbling to keep up, they arrived and Bronze announced Viscero’s presence to the room.
Ardis was seated at a round oak dining table ringed with chairs, attacking a breakfast of eggs and toast.
“Ah, Viscero.” he said after swallowing a mouthful of egg, “I trust you slept well?”
Viscero nodded slowly.
“Are you certain?” he asked, cocking his head, “You look like you’re in pain.”
“Yes.” he agreed, “I really, really am.”
“Ah, well you know what my father always says.” said Ardis. Viscero didn’t, but he listened anyway. “Pain is just weakness leaving the body. And then he usually says something about how the truly strong have never felt pain to begin with, and that I should stop whining. Great man, my father.” he nodded sagely and consumed another piece of toast. “Please, have a seat. Bronzey, stop gawking and get Viscero his breakfast.”
Viscero sat slowly and settled into the chair. It was nice to not have to stand or walk anymore.
“So, how are you enjoying yourself?” Ardis asked him.
“Very well, thank you. I appreciate your hospitality.”
“My pleasure! We Blackburns are renowned for it. We, unlike the other families, welcome outsiders who show promise.”
“What sort of promise?” asked Viscero. He knew, of course.
“Strength. Skill. Qualities all Noxians respect and admire, but, if I may be so bold, are contradicted by the fact that you’re an outsider.”
Viscero was distracted briefly when Bronze slid a plate of food in front of him, and it was only then that he discovered just how hungry he was.
Ardis smiled, “Help yourself to as much as you’d like.” and he turned his attention on his own breakfast, knowing that he wouldn’t have the starving Viscero’s full attention until the young man had finished.
Viscero tried very hard to be mindful that he was in noble company, but it wasn’t enough to stop him from destroying his breakfast like a starving traveller who had walked halfway across the continent without ever once having a satisfactory meal. Viscero cleaned his plate, and then his second, and then his third.
“You probably shouldn’t eat so fast,” said Ardis, but Viscero could already tell he’d made a mistake. Fortunately for him, he was able to keep his breakfast down, but made a mental note that he should probably never eat so much after being so hungry for so long.
“Are you alright?” Ardis asked, and Viscero nodded.
“Not bad. I’ve seen people throw up from doing that.”
Viscero wished he hadn’t mentioned throwing up. “So what was that I heard last night? About business?”
Ardis sat back in his chair and smiled, “Ah, yes. Well, before we discuss that, I’d like to ask you something. Why did you come to Noxus?”
Viscero hesitated. He hadn’t anticipated a question like that. What could he say? That he was here to avenge his father? That he’d come to kill someone who was likely part of the Noxian High Command? Why else would people come to Noxus?
“I assume,” continued Ardis, “That you’re here for the same reason anyone is here. Because you, like the rest of the people within the inner ring, appreciate the power you have and want more of it. Correct?”
“Uhm, yes. That’s it.”
“Exactly. Well, you and I are no different. I too wish for something greater than this, and working together I believe we can both get what we want.”
Viscero thought about this. How much “greater” was Ardis looking for? It seemed from where Ardis stood in the Noxian heirarchy, the next step up was ruling the city itself.
“So you want me to join your group, right? Would that make me one of your followers?”
“A follower? Hardly. My organization is much more of a... a syndicate of friends, if you will. None of us are really the “leader” of the group, although I do provide us with direction and motivation on many occasions. In the end, we’re all after the same thing, and in a city as vicious as this one, friends are the most valuable commodity of all. My father has a phrase, something about scratching people’s backs. I don’t remember the words exactly but it’s about cooperation. So, what do you say? I don’t wish to pressure you into feeling obligated to join, I’m merely extending an offer, the alternative to which is extremely undesirable. Ah, I’m sorry, that came out like a threat. Really, there’s nothing forcing you to join.”
“Sounds like I’d be crazy not to accept.”
Ardis’ expression brightened, “So, you’re in, then? I’ll warn you now that you may be required to hurt people, but know that these people would hurt you first, given the chance.”
Viscero thought about it. Somehow, the idea of hurting people didn’t bother him as much as he felt it should. But then again, it was Noxus.
Ardis extended his hand, and Viscero shook it.
“Welcome aboard, Viscero.”