Wavering shadows lined the walls, brought to life by the candles on the diminutive table. Two figures leaned over it, one sitting on the ground while the other leaned against the wall of a pool. Stars watched them from a single window in the wall.
“Graves?… Graves… Malcom!”
The sitting figure snorted and glanced up. Nami gave him an irritated glance. “I told you, you should rest. I can handle the research by myself.”
Graves scratched his beard. “Can’t. Not now, anyways.” He leaned over the wrinkled parchment, taking in the faded ink.
“Yes, you can,” Nami chided. “We’ve been at this for a week. Even the two hot heads take a break from their training. You should too.”
“Research has been my life for the past several years. I know how to handle myself. Go get some rest.” She placed a webbed hand over the tome Graves examined and closed it.
A grumble left his throat. “Not until we finish this.”
Nami huffed. “We have our plan. All we need to do is execute it. Besides, the longer we wait, the less likely it is to work. Our little group isn’t a secret any longer, and I know you know that some people are pulling strings to make sure we don’t get our way. And I need this to go our way.”
“I can rest once I make sure we’re covered from every angle. I’ve put more effort in to lesser stakes. This is nothing,” Graves gently shoved Nami’s hand aside and resumed his reading. Her hand slammed down again, crushing his under a pound’s worth of paper.
“You know how you should always listen to me on the Rift? Do that now. You’re sabotaging our efforts. Sleep. Now.”
Graves glared at the Marai, and she did the same. As their eyes locked, his began to flutter, sleep pulling at his eyelids. He grit his teeth and opened his mouth, “Fine… But before I do, let’s just makes sure we’re still on the same page.”
Nami smiled. “Thank you. So, first thing we still have to take care of is our appeal to the Council. I’ve already written up the formal request, but we still haven’t sent it in.”
“Cause they’ll either ignore it or respond immediately, denying us time to prepare for it.”
“Which is why we are looking into the League Charter and how they’ve failed to uphold it,” Nami finished. “Everyone already has their arguments regarding that. We also know under what statures and definitions we’re setting up our group, right?”
“Okay, and our own charter is written and memorized by everyone. So that’s taken care of. We’ve got a list of Overseers for our match, since it will come to that, if at all. Most are Bilgewater representatives, so we might be lacking in some strategy departments,” Nami stated.
“Taken care of. Everyone knows their position forwards and backwards. The only problem is determining who might be set against us. What have you got?”
Nami sighed and pulled some parchment from a file. “Pantheon, Irelia, Leona, Lee Sin, Udyr, Sona, Vayne, Kat… The list goes on, and none of it is pretty.”
“Eh, not much to worry about then. So long as our engagement goes well, Yas and Riven can annihilate anyone. I’ll clean up all the rest. Shouldn’t be a problem. Is that everything?”
Papers shuffled through Nami’s hands. “Generally. There are some contingencies that I’ve noticed that we-”
“I’ve already planned for them,” Graves answered. “Don’t worry your little headdress over that.”
“I said don’t worry about it. Just trust me.”
Nami shook her head. “Says the least trusting person in Valoran.”
“Just keep researching. Imma nap, now. Mom.” Graves leaned against the wall, and shut his eyes.
Riven and Yasuo surveyed the Rift together, or rather, as together as the ten foot gap between them would allow. Beneath them, another practice match rumbled beneath them. Both sides had lost several towers, but the red team held the advantage.
Yasuo spotted Maokai pressing forward with his allies on the blue team. Their march towards the center of the Rift went unopposed. As they approached the remains of red’s primary tower, Maokai split from the group, heading north. Members of red team gathered underneath the shielded tower
“Not a good idea,” Riven muttered.
Yasuo glanced at her before examining the battlefield. “What are you talking about? He’s flanking them. Red’s all bunched up for him to engage. Even under tower, they still have the damage to win this fight.”
“Just watch,” Riven sighed.
Maokai waited in the brush, ready to ambush the enemy. The teams began exchanging fire, most shots blocked by the minions that dotted the path. The red team backed off as they began to take hits. Maokai circled behind them, using the wall for cover. He rounded onto the main path, but was stopped as the sunlight focused and impaled him.
“There it is.” True to her words, the red team collapsed on Maokai. Even as the red team shredded Maokai, the blue dove to save him. A foolish mistake. The tower ripped at their ranks, cutting them down as the red team turned to fight.
The ace was rapid. Only Leona died from the red team, and their assault ended the match quickly. Yasuo let his jaw drop. “How?”
“Bad engagement,” Riven explained. “He should’ve gone in from the front, not the back. That way, even if he got locked down, he’d take the towers hits first, and his team could have focused on the priority targets. Not saving their teammate.”
“But he should have used his jump,” Yasuo stated.
“Crowd control. I thought you’d know that. Besides, whoever Maokai’s Overseer was needs practice… Yeah, Demacian… Geez, he’s new even for Champion standards. We are not hiring him.” Riven marked a line on her scroll, adding to the myriad of lines that plagued it.
“I don’t see how that failed. His jump-”
“Not everyone can do what you do, Yas,” Riven spat. “Slippery… Look. We need to figure out how we’re going to win. How would you have gone against the red team’s line up? Yeah, if we get ahead and rip them apart, great. What about when we’re even, or they’re ahead?”
“Do what I always do: Isolate them and rip them apart,” Yasuo angrily stated.
“Are you that stupid? The red team grouped once they realized they couldn’t go in one-on-one situations. What then?”
“Split push. I can escape if they catch me alone.”
“What about the rest of the team?”
“I don’t know… They’ll be a distraction,” Yasuo gazed at the blue nexus, entranced as he watched its shattered crystal lazily reform. His shoulder numbed in pain. Reflexively, he drew his blade and snapped it to Riven’s neck.
She didn’t flinch, instead, pouring fire from her eyes. “You wonder why people naturally don’t like you. You damn, arrogant… I’m wasting my breath. I’m going to talk with Maokai, see what went wrong. Maybe some time alone will help you realize how stupid you are.”
Normally, the hustle of devising war plans made the strategy room alive and loud, but today, it was silent. Garen surveyed the room’s occupants. Lux stood next to him, examining the names of Graves’ accomplices. Shyvanna stood next to Jarvan’s empty chair. Her hands idly clenched behind her back.
Across from the half-dragon, Fiora and Xin sat together. The former polished her blade, a glazed look over her eyes. Completing the group, Galio and Vayne separated Shyvanna from Fiora.
“Why don’t we get Quinn’s opinion?” Lux suggested, breaking the silence.
“She’s not a part of the Remnant,” Fiora answered.
“But nothing. She’s a commoner whom still hasn’t been admitted by Jarvan,” Fiora interrupted.
“Whom is still missing,” Garen declared. “That’s why we kept this silent. We know who poses as him currently. Lux, she’ll be admitted in due time. Fiora, I suggest you keep your opinions to yourself.
“Quinn is an invaluable asset. Both on and off the Rift. However, we’ve already asked plenty of her, regarding information gathering. She deserves a break.So I’ll repeat myself: what else should we do? We’ve already have our representatives siding against Graves’ but that might not be enough.”
Xin spoke, “Personally, I don’t see it as a problem. With the chaos regarding both Shurima and Graves, we could take the opportunity to find out where Jarvan has gone missing.”
“Would stop saying he’s missing?” Shyvanna breathed, fury coating her words. “We know he’s been captured, otherwise that conniving-”
A brief cough from Galio silenced her. A flash of guilt crossed her face before she restarted. “Xin is right. This chaos is the exact kind of cover we need to infiltrate Noxus.”
“The question is not when, it’s whom to send,” Vayne muttered. “None of us are assassins, much less infiltrators of any sort. And, I’m sorry Lux, but, despite your ability to disappear, you’d stand out whenever you run out mana. Any of us would.”
Lux pursed her lips together. “I wasn’t going to suggest myself,” she retorted, indignant. “I know my invisibility limited, and with how bloody Noxus is, someone could track me easily. So, let’s choose someone who’s excellent at staying hidden. Like Quinn.”
Fiora scoffed. “You’d entrust the prince’s safety to her? A Demacian Eagle is sure to stand out among the crows circling that hellhole. She’s no better than the rest of us, and Garen said we’ve used her too much.”
“I’m for it,” Shyvanna declared. “Of all the people we trust, she stands out the least. All we’d have to do is give her some Noxian styled clothing and she’d be on her way.”
Galio nodded and rumbled, “It’s a bit risky, but I think it’s worth it. She can handle herself in many situations. I also motion that if we do send her on this mission, it’d be her entrance exam for joining the Remnant.”
“I don’t know,” Xin muttered. “I think the prince is better suited determining who should join. The royalty is the one entrusted to the legacy of the Protectorate. Not the nobility. However, I am in agreement with this proposition.”
“So am I,” Vayne stated.
“Then I guess I recant my break for her,” Garen finished. “We send Quinn to rescue Prince Jarvan. We can determine her status with the Remnant after her success or failure. Are there any objections?”
Silence invaded the room again. Glances exchanged between the occupants. Most were nods. Fiora opened her mouth, but quickly shut it. When no one spoke against the decision, Garen continued, “Very well. Meeting adjourned.”
Most left, but Garen stopped Lux with a hand on her shoulder. Her curious eyes met his. “That’s a bit uncouth of you. Suggesting your friend for a suicidal mission like that.”
“I know she’d be more than willing,” she pointed out. “You don’t know her like I do. She’s just as willing, if not more so, to lay her life down for our king and country.”
“That’s exactly why I’m worried,” Garen explained. “I wasn’t lying. She’s invaluable, whether or not she’s a part of the Remnant. I know some of the things that go on behind those bloodied walls. Knowing the rumors, let alone the confirmed stories, I’d never want to send anyone into that place. I’m not trying to make you feel bad. I just want you to understand what you have just proposed.”
“And I do. And Quinn does. Like I said, you don’t know her like I do. One way or another, she will succeed. I… Garen-tee, it,” she laughed.
A grin tugged at his lips, but somberness kept it suppressed. “I hope for Valoran’s sake, you are correct.”
Darkness enveloped the docks, perfect for Irelia’s situation. She tugged her black cloak closer towards her face. It had been hard enough to get a cargo ship to take her to the mainland, let alone do it without anyone recognizing her.
I am a bit early, though, she reminded herself. She glanced behind herself and began to wind through the buildings. Every few moments, she checked behind herself. The only people that roamed this early weren’t following her. Sighed in relief.
Irelia yelped and whipped out a short blade, but it was quickly ripped from her hands and pressed to her heart. A pair of amber eyes locked with hers, and a playful smile revealed a fang-accented smile.
“Don’t… ever… do that again,” Irelia breathed. She grabbed at the dagger and missed as the wielder flourished it away.
“C’mon,” Ahri giggled. “You know you’d have to do better than that if you want try and escape unnoticed.” She spun the blade again and handed it back to Irelia.
“How did you find out?”
“I have my ways,” she teased. “Besides, you aren’t exactly the most discreet person. And so you know, Karma’s not going to be happy with you.”
Irelia pocketed the blade and ignored the fox. “Look, I have to do this. I know she wants what’s best for Ionia, but I’m not sure how much longer we can play the bystander.”
“You think Graves’ little party is going to be that bad, huh?”
“If it wasn’t for the fact that Azir is already making things complicated, I don’t think it’d be much of a problem. But Graves is a patient and cunning man. I know he doesn’t intend to bring down the League, but that’s the way it’s looking.”
Ahri huffed. “Explain this to me as if I’m five. How does this bring down the League? If he’s successful, he gets to off Fate. Maybe his compatriots get something in return. How is this such a big deal?”
“There’s more than one person with a grudge against another champion in the League. If he gets to kill Twisted Fate, that’ll open the flood gates for everyone killing each other. Champions get cut down left and right. Political relations breakdown. And so does the League, and we can’t let that happen.”
Ahri smiled. “Well, if that’s true, take me with you,” she hummed. An azure orb floated from between her tails and to her palm.
“I can’t. You need to stay here with Karma. I can’t help you with your episodes if-”
“I’ll be fine. Ionia is my home, and despite my past, I’m going to protect it. If what you’re saying is true, then it’s only natural we intervene. You’re taking me with you. Or do I have to persuade you through other methods,” she hummed. Pink auras swirled around her hand to emphasize her point.
Biting her lip, Irelia sighed, “Fine, but be discreet.”
“Of course. I can do more than kill with my magic,” she replied. The orb faded, blending with her surroundings, as did her tails and ears, giving her a truly human appearance. “Besides, I didn’t want to stay with that fuddy duddy Karma, anyways.”
Councilman Bendicas flipped through the appeal request again. He should have just thrown it away, but he couldn’t. A single signature glared back at him: Malcom Graves. Very few Champions had such a strong influence over the Council. Graves only made that list because of his persistence.
“This isn’t the first time he’s done this,” Bendicas remarked to his secretary.
The secretary nodded. “I understand, sir,” he replied. “Should I throw it out like the others?”
“I want you too, but…” His voice trailed off. A nagging voice itched at the fringes of his thoughts. He’d only do it again. If I shut him down publicly and lawfully, he stop. Bendicas skinned the form again.
Everything was precisely and eloquently filled out. He recognized the handwriting as Nami’s. And the rumors are true. He read the names of the applicants again. This…Well, some of our most unruly and powerful champions are looking to upset the order. As if Azir wasn’t bad enough.
“Contact the other council members. Tell them I’m rearranging the schedule. First order of business: shutting down Graves and whatever game he’s playing at. Also, I’m sure he’s been awaiting this, get me Jericho Swain. He might have some input I want to hear.”
As always, the characters, world, and concepts are all property of Riot Games.
The story belongs to me. Happy reading! -Jared