Date: 23 August, 21 CLE
Talon enters the Great Hall with wary anticipation, his gaze forward. The unknowing might consider him careless, but to his perceptive observers it is apparent that Talon is infinitely aware of every detail in his surroundings.
While his focus is sharp, Talon's mind is elsewhere. He hastens towards the massive double doors at the end of the hall and regards them impassively. His purpose lies far beyond the Reflection Chamber. What lies within is a necessary distraction, but hardly an obstacle. Blade in hand, he enters without pause.
Talon was on the ground, his face pressed to the dirt-ridden cracks between black cobblestones. The world came into focus around him one piece at a time--first the stench of sewage, then the muffled cries of "stop, thief," and finally the walls of the dead-end alleyway, its corners piled high with reeking decay.
He needed nothing else to identify his location. He knew this alleyway-and the slums of Noxus-all too well.
Talon rolled onto his hands and knees. His arms and legs, gangly and darkened with dirt, stung and bled from fresh scrapes. The cries grew closer, coming for him. "Find that boy!"
Talon glanced about, quelling his panic. His eyes fell on what appeared to be a rotten plank of wood, half-covered in garbage and waste, in the shadowed corner of the alley. With what quickness he could muster, Talon scurried towards it, grabbing the rotten plank and tugging it aside. Beneath it, a small opening led under the alley wall and deep into the darkness. In a swift and painful motion, Talon twisted to drop himself down into the opening and slid the plank back into place.
He pressed his back to a muddy dirt wall as the muted sounds of confusion came from outside his hiding place. He remained perfectly still until his pursuers dispersed, their footsteps retreating and grumbled voices fading.
Talon tried to catch his breath. The wet air he gasped into his lungs reeked of rats and sewage. As the rush of adrenaline left him, he found himself stricken instead by the dull pain of hunger and, more pointedly, anger.
"Where was Kavyn" he growled to himself and looked down into the dark.
The plan had been simple. Their target had been a fruit merchant whose cart stood at the edge of the marketplace. Kavyn was to give the signal and, as Talon took what he could, Kavyn would create a distraction so that he could escape. He'd seen the signal, but moments later, as he filled his satchel with Kumungu berries, he caught the attention of half the marketplace. And worse, he'd lost the bag in his frantic escape through the slums.
With nothing gained but a painfully hungry stomach, Talon seethed with bitterness.
Talon turned and began to crawl down the passage. Before long, his fingers and knees squelched as the ground beneath him became wet and cold-he'd reached the old and unused pipe that led into Noxus- underground chambers, most of them connected to the sewer network.
It isn't the first time that Kavyn has failed me like this, Talon thought as the passage sloped downward. With the pain in his stomach and the weakness in his limbs, he couldn't help but recall instead the times he'd succeeded alone, fending for himself without dependence on anyone else.
Finally, the pipe opened over a small chamber, its space filled with makeshift furniture and garbage scraps. Far below the western edge of the chamber, where a sheer drop took the place of a wall, a foul river carried Noxian sewage out of the city. Talon twisted within the pipe's cramped space and dropped down.
"You made it back!"
Talon whirled. Kavyn stood against the wall below the pipe's mouth, lighting a match. The flickering flame revealed a boy hardly older than Talon himself and just as rough and dirty, his brown hair a matted mess on his head.
"Where were you?" Talon snarled.
"Never mind that," Kavyn dropped the lit match onto a small pile of trash beneath him, which instantly caught and cast a wavering light about the chamber. "Did you get anything?"
"A bag of Kumungu berries," Talon's voice was cold. "I dropped it-while running."
He saw a twitch of unease in Kavyn's expression, and his eyes flicked to a small and nearly-empty crate in one corner of the chamber, where they usually kept their stores of stolen food. "Oh."
"Where were you?"
The other boy held up his hands. "Just hold on," he said. "I've got something." Kavyn tugged at his tattered leather belt, revealing two sheaths at his side that Talon had never seen before. From within them, Kavyn withdrew a pair of short daggers. Their blades shone like gold in the firelight, and Talon's eyes widened.
"Listen," said Kavyn, tearing Talon's covetous gaze away. "We can sell them. It doesn't matter that you lost the food."
Talon bristled, but the comment fazed him far less than it should have. He looked back to the daggers, which Kavyn held flat in his palm as though they'd slice him open if he wiggled a finger.
"I stole them from a drunk near the market tavern," Kavyn explained. "That's where I went. I thought--well, we'll make enough to eat for a few days with these, right? And..."
He continued to explain himself, but Talon no longer heard him. He reached a hand forward for one of the blades. As he held it, Talon became immediately aware of its shoddy quality, its weight imbalance, the way the hilt splintered. It was hardly suited for cutting meat, let alone use in combat. The blade had three worn notches and Talon ran his finger gently against them, just enough to feel its sharpness--one, two, three. He was possessed by the feel of it in his hand. The blade empowered him.
Kavyn had stopped talking and turned to pull the remaining potatoes from their crate. I was nearly caught because of this foolish boy, Talon thought, the bitter, hateful fire lit again within him. He knew he'd have inevitably been killed, for such is the Noxian way.
Talon ran his fingers along the blade's notches again. The Noxian way... he'd heard that before, in whispers on the streets. The strongest find their way out of the gutter. Weapons were coveted things, weapons--even a simple pair of daggers--were the key to survival. Another whisper, one he'd heard again and again, echoed in his mind: The strong rely on no one but themselves.
Talon clenched the blade in his fist and dashed forward, reaching to put the dagger to Kavyn's throat...
...but the boy whirled around and caught Talon's wrist, blocking his attack. Talon stood shocked. This is wrong, he thought. He remembered the blood on his hands, he remembered dropping the body into the sewer--the first of many.
Kavyn spoke, but the voice was not his own: "Why do you want to join the League, Talon?"
"For General Du Couteau," Talon said. The sewer chamber began to fade to darkness around them. Talon felt the weight of his bladed cloak returning to his shoulders, the illusion shattered. "My search has led me here."
"You fight for yourself," said the summoner imitating Kavyn's form. "You have no allies. You kill to survive, yet you follow at this vanished General's heels like a dog on a leash. Why?"
Talon tried to wrench his arm away, yet he found himself paralyzed not by the summoner's physical strength but by some magical intervention. "I am in his debt. The General spared my life?"
"Is your debt not paid? After you spilled the blood of the boy called Kavyn, you swore allegiance to no one. You killed without remorse, and while you killed for Du Couteau until the day he vanished, you may now have freedom if you wish it. Why do you want to join the League, Talon?"
"You misunderstand," Talon hissed. "In the slums of Noxus I killed to survive. Under Du Couteau I killed in his name, but my life was my own. Now--I am nothing, yet I still have my blades. What other purpose can my blades serve?"
"How does it feel, exposing your mind?"
The summoner released him. Talon grasped his cloak and vanished into the dark, leaving the Reflecting Chamber in utter silence. The summoner glanced back and forth, scowling, and stiffened when Talon's blade appeared at his throat.
"Unpleasant," Talon growled into his ear. "Necessary."
And he was gone.