Hi all, I saw this cute little comic featuring Pantheon and Leona, and I decided to try writing something serious for once. It seemed like it would be both fun and challenging to try to expand further on their relationship. This post is the first part of the story. You will notice I drew a lot of tidbits from the existing lores/judgments of Leona. I could not find an official judgment for Pantheon, so yeah.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Part 1: this page, first post
Part 2: this page, second post
Part 3: http://na.leagueoflegends.com/board/...1#post33846469
Part 4: http://na.leagueoflegends.com/board/...1#post36596972
Also, here's the comic if anyone is wondering:
START OF PART ONE
The outcome of the fight had never been in doubt. She was by far the superior warrior, and within two short exchanges of blows, her opponent crumpled to the ground with a shrill cry, clutching at his side where surely a broken rib or two now resided. It was almost a mockery, so uneven the fight was. Practically a sparring session between a seasoned weapon master and a fresh-faced novice. But this was no sparring session of harmless consequence. It was the mortal opposite. This was the Rite of Kor, a duel to the death between Rakkor children who were on the cusp of adulthood.
The matchup between Leona and Molik was unfair, and everyone knew it. The other children, the parents, and the elders of the tribe, all watching from the edges of the blood-soaked dirt clearing. They all knew. For the ugly unspoken truth about the Rite of Kor was that the elders always matched the weak students against the strong ones. This way, it was ensured that the strong ones always moved on. All of them. No wasted potential slipping through the cracks. The weak were merely stepping stones along the way, lambs to be sacrificed for the greater good of Rakkor.
Other than Leona's hand-wringing parents off to the side, there was only one other spectator who was nervous for Leona. Her closest friend, someone she had known for as far back as she could remember. Leona usually called him by his birth name, Markus. When she wanted to press his buttons, she called him by his pet name, Rabbit. Others, however, called him by his tribal name: Pantheon.
It was not a name he was yet used to, for tribal names were earned through the Rite of Kor. And he had earned the name no more than an hour ago. His hands were still somewhat slippery with blood, but now the palms were also cold and sweaty. Nervous. Not about the fight itself. Leona would win, that was a given. No, he was nervous about what she would do after the fight. For while everyone knew that Leona was a staunch defender of those less fortunate, and that she absolutely loathed violence and bloodshed which she deemed unnecessary... pretty much everyone assumed that she would kill Molik and take her place among the Rakkor elite. For if Molik did not die, she would be the one to die. Simple as that. She was as headstrong as a team of oxen, but even an idealist like her would have to accept the reality of the situation. That's what everyone thought, anyway, as they waited for Leona to deal the final blow.
Pantheon knew better than that. Yes, she could be incredibly stubborn about the smallest issues and trifles. But in those situations, it was still possible to sway her with reason. When it came to the big things, however. Issues and questions of morality that she held dear to her heart? She was absolutely immovable on such things. Would not hear of anything else. Would not act in any other way. She had her own particular set of convictions, she always followed them to the letter, and that was that.
And six years ago, when the childrens' instructors first informed them about the Rite of Kor and the grisly nature of its completion, Leona had been the first and only child to respond to the shocking revelation when she abruptly stood up with trembling fists of balled-up fury, her eyes burning holes into those of her superiors.
“I will never do that. Never.”
Back then, her instructors had allowed her insolence to pass. After all, she was one of the most promising talents of the village, and such talent was too precious to stamp out at an early age. Pantheon did not share their relative indifference, however, because he knew that tone of voice. Her words were not a cry of outrage. They were a solemn oath, words she would never go back on, words she would carry with her to the grave. She would never kill a comrade. She would never complete the Rite of Kor. Never.
Nonetheless, during that split second where Leona towered menacingly over Molik, her feet firmly planted on the murky reddened ground, Pantheon fervently wished with all his might that she would just lash out with her sword and finish off Molik. Or maybe Molik would be so ashamed of his defeat, that he would lunge forward and run himself into her sword before she could react. Or maybe that ****ing Molik, being the feeble warrior that he was, maybe he would keel over dead from internal bleeding or a punctured liver or something. Anything. Pantheon didn't care how it ended. All he wanted was for Molik to bite the dust, and for Leona to live. Just ****ing die already, Molik.
Then Pantheon's heart dropped to his stomach, as Leona both tossed aside her shield and sheathed her sword in one practiced motion. And she said quietly but firmly to her watching instructors: “No.”
By the gods, she really was going through with it. She was going to let that little rat live, and she was going to die by the hands of her own people. He gritted his teeth madly while cursing under his breath, “Goddammit, Leona, you stupid stubborn donkey! You stupid stubborn braying donkey, by gods, just kill the little **** and be done with it!! KILL HIM!!”
He could not believe this was happening. Did not want to believe. This had to be a dream. Yes, like a dream, the air about him was now surreal and hazy, shimmering, everything suddenly so luminescent. He could feel his hearing being muted. Tingling crawled all over his skin. He realized that he could not control his breathing.
The clearing was silent, the air heavy with dread and anticipation. A sharp voice now cut through, jarring Pantheon out of his momentary stupor. The leader of the tribe, Jagen, was speaking.
The words were crisp, uncompromising, deadened. “Finish it.”
Her response was swift, resolute, final. “I refuse.”
Now that she was openly defying their leader, the crowd finally began to stir. Mumbles of disbelief, mostly. A muted sound of grief from her crying mother, and a curt choking sound from the throat of her tight-lipped father.
Although he could have done so right then and there, Jagen did not issue the death sentence just yet. Leona was easily the strongest Rakkor woman to come about in the last century; he had no doubt that she would bring them great victories on the battlefield, and give birth to great warriors from her bed. They could not afford to lose a woman of such prowess and genetics, even if she was suffering from a bout of temporary insanity. They had to make her see the light, somehow.
They did have one card to play: her best friend, Pantheon. As children, the two had started out thick as thieves, virtually joined at the hip as they ran up and down the streets in endless footraces and clobbered each other over the head with wooden swords. They did become a bit more distant as they outgrew the silly contests between themselves, but as Leona matured into a full-fledged woman, rumors started to abound that she took quite the fancy to her strapping childhood friend. Of course, she tried her best to hide it whenever she interacted with him, but the sharp eyes of the village crones saw all; it was very hard to fool a woman's intuition.
Her preference pained the hearts of all young men not named Pantheon, but the elders were delighted with her choice. With the strongest man of their generation together with the strongest woman in recent history, the future of their tribe would be secure for decades to come. But for all this to happen, she first had to pass her Rite of Kor.
Jagen and the other elders shared a nod, then Jagen looked to Pantheon.
Pantheon was by her side immediately, and he hissed angrily, almost desperately. “You need to do this, Leona.”
He tried to make eye contact with her, but she refused to reciprocate. Her eyes stayed zeroed in on Jagen, as she replied to both the elder and her friend. “I will not.”
Perhaps she avoided his eyes because she was afraid she would lose her resolve. Or more likely, she was simply showing her defiance of Rakkor tradition to the very end. Or perhaps, it was a bit of both. Either way, the reasons did not matter to Pantheon; all he knew was that his best friend was going to die if he could not change her mind.
Even worse, he had no idea what to say. He was a soldier, not an orator. Solving problems with his tongue had never been his strong suit.
Then a wild notion flashed through Pantheon's mind, and his helmet slowly rotated towards Molik.
Molik was up on his knees now, slowly coming to grips with the possibility that he might survive his Rite of Kor one way or the other. But now, he looked up to see Pantheon's steely helmet focused squarely on him, the warrior's face indecipherable behind a mask with bottomless shadows.
Molik stared back at Pantheon in confusion. Then Molik's bladder lost all control, as he suddenly realized that he was now closer to death than he had ever been during his fight with Leona. He was too terrified to move or speak. A blessing in disguise, actually. If Molik had uttered even one word at that moment, any word, Pantheon would have rammed his short sword through that pathetic mewling mouth.
From behind him sounded a sharp draw of breath, and Pantheon snapped out of his murderous daze. He looked back to see Leona's beautiful face warped in fury, her eyes blazing as she emphatically told him without words: “NO.”
Pantheon knew that she was right, of course. His killing Molik would not solve anything, and it would not complete her passage to adulthood. A new opponent would be put in front of her, and she would have to go through the same ordeal all over again. The only difference being that Pantheon would no longer be watching, because he would be dead. Death was the penalty for interfering with a Rite of Kor.
As it was, Pantheon was already precariously close to violating this particular Rite of Kor. He had asked her, she had refused, and he should have left the clearing by now. For every moment Pantheon continued to dawdle by Leona and Molik, Jagen's lips drew tighter and tighter. It had not occurred to Jagen that Pantheon would even entertain the crazy notion of interfering with a Rite of Kor. Pantheon had always been the disciplined one, straight as an arrow despite his penchant for jumping over tall buildings for the lark of it (hence why Leona liked to call him Rabbit). Leona was the troublesome one, questioning everything at every step and turn, insisting that bloodshed was not the final answer to everything.
The light seeped through the face of Pantheon's helmet now, revealing his confusion. Her face softened for a moment, and their eyes met. Then Pantheon finally realized something that he should have noticed from the beginning: she was not afraid.
Everyone else thought that her calm and composed face was a facade, a conscious display of her open defiance of Jagen. But when Pantheon stared into her eyes, all he saw was conviction. She was convinced that what she was doing was right. More than convinced, even. She knew. She simply knew that this course of action was the right one.
Her conviction was contagious somehow, and an odd yet welcome peace settled over him. His indecision faded away, as his imagination fancied the whispering of muted voices somewhere in the back of his head. Do not fear for her, the voices told him. For she is righteous, and she walks the path of the gods.
And where she walks, her people will follow.
The dreamlike haze was back, stronger than ever. His mind in a fog of whispers, Pantheon stepped away from her, his feet moving on their own. Even when the executioners stepped in at Jagen's command, he did not panic for Leona, because he somehow knew that they would not reach her. As she stood there with distant eyes gazing out to the horizon, not even acknowledging their presence, he realized that she was beyond them.
The rest was history. When the pillar of light shot down from the heavens, walling off Leona from her would-be executioners, Pantheon was the only one who did not utter a cry of shock. When the pale-faced Jagen hastily called off the execution and sent off his swiftest messenger to summon the Solari, Pantheon knew that she would no longer be living in their village. The sign from the heavens was clear. She was a chosen one, and the chosen ones always resided on Mount Targon's peak, where she could be closest to the gods and the sun.
Amid the chaos and hubbub which ensued, which consisted mostly of people falling onto their knees in an impromptu mass prayer to the gods, Leona made it a point to find him in the crowd. It would not be long before the Solari arrived to claim her. Her eyes were misty, but her voice was strong, as she grabbed him by the hands and held them close to her chest.
“I will return,” she told him with a strange urgency. “Stay safe until then, Markus. Please.”
Pantheon was caught completely off guard by the familiar way with which she touched him. Sure, they hugged countless times before. They held hands before as little children, when they walked wide-eyed throughout the village during the fireworks festivals. They wrestled full contact on many occasions, their bodies twisting and turning against each other in ways that might be construed as erotic by someone who had no clue about combat training. Not once did he think of her as anything other than his best friend.
All that changed in an instant. Her femininity surged to the forefront now, and it called out to him like a siren's song. Beckoning. Yearning for his touch.
Under the watchful eyes of the elders and the jealous gazes of Pantheon's male peers, her body remained proper, and all she did was minutely rub her thumbs against his. But it was enough to set his loins afire, as a nigh uncontrollable desire consumed all rational thought.
My god, he thought to himself as he enveloped her hands within his. Has she really been hiding this from me the entire time?? It was just as well, perhaps, because Rakkor society frowned mightily upon sexual relations before the age of eighteen. If she had behaved like this with him any earlier, he was positive he would not have been able to keep his hands off her.
He tried to think of something tender and romantic to say, or at least something witty. But before he knew it, his stupid tongue was waggling on its own. “Stay safe?? Hah, there is no glory in staying safe! I shall decorate my mantle with the helmets of our enemies, and when you return, Leona, I will describe to you in great detail the battle for each helmet! Ha ha ha ha!”
His laugh ended up sounding more nervous than boisterous, but his words soothed Leona's anxious eyes, nonetheless. She knew him best, and she knew what he was trying to say in his own roundabout way. She simply smiled in delight, and her thumbs began to rub against his thumbs once again...
Even while he was lost in her dazzling smile, Pantheon was forever on alert, and his ears pricked up at the sound of approaching horses. He had the sharpest eyes and ears in the village, and to him, it sounded like about three dozen horses, going hard, full gallop. He had a pretty good idea who rode those horses, as he turned his head slightly to his right, so that he could watch the horizon of the village's main road.
Leona picked up on the horses a moment later, and her smile faded, as she turned to see where Pantheon was staring. The rest of the village did the same moments afterward, for they also had sharp ears.
It was a contingent of the Solari, the largest peacetime group Jagen had ever seen of the reclusive clan. Their faces were solemn, and their armor was a brilliant shiny gold, functional but far more ornate than standard-issue Rakkor armor. Pantheon had never seen any Solari before, and he felt like his eyes should be hurting from the unnatural brightness of their shields, but they did not. A magical light, he assumed. It seemed they also bore relic weapons of some sort, similar to what the Rakkor used.
The leader of the Solari was an older man at the front, and he was the first to dismount. While the other Solari followed his example, he and Jagen exchanged brief bows of the head.
Jagen said, “How did you get here so fast? You were already on your way?”
The leader nodded. “Our seers told us that we must bear witness to this generation's Rite of Kor. We did not understand at first, but now we know why the gods directed us so.”
Then he looked straight through Pantheon, his eyes focused only on Leona.
“She is the one?”
Jagen nodded. “Yes.”
“It is truly a blessing to have a chosen one among us during these dark times,” the Solari leader said.
Jagen could only nod, very conscious of the fact that he almost had her killed an hour ago. He would have to double down on his nightly prayers for the indefinite future, lest the gods be angry with him.
The leader said in a gentle voice, “Leona, do you understand why you must join us?”
She had let go of Pantheon's hands by now, and she stepped forward with a nod. “Yes, I understand.”
“Thank you for your understanding,” the leader said with a subservience that surprised Leona, Pantheon, and all the other Rakkor. “Further enlightenment awaits you, chosen one.”
Then he yelled loudly and clearly: “Kneel, my fellow brethren! Kneel before her, for she is our sun!”
The Solari dropped onto their left knees as one, heads bowed deeply before their anointed champion. The shocked Rakkor quickly followed suit, Jagen being the first to hit the ground. The most shocked of them all was Leona, her eyes and mouth wide open as she looked all around herself. Nothing but broad backs and bowed heads for as far as she could see. All in deference to her.
And although Pantheon was the closest one to her, as he stared at the ground before him, he could not help but feel so far away. This feeling was far too similar to when he watched the would-be executioners close in on Leona. Not only was she beyond them, she was beyond him. Above and beyond all of them.
For she was their sun.
TO BE CONTINUED