Previous Update: Sword of the Wind
Echoes of the Past
by Montesque64 (edited by CupcakeTrap and Agrofox)
Dark tendrils of magic wrapped themselves around her heart, and she fell, lifeless, to the bloodstained ground.
The cold Noxian sorcery drained the life from her. Her vision dimmed, filled with the sight of her slain comrades, Ionian blood soaking the earth. Then, burning, a celestial light, fierce and vital, filled her as she lay on the ground, as if she had swallowed a star. Her body arched, and she screamed as the light flooded through her.
She rose from the ground, and her father’s blades rose with her, orbiting around her as the Noxian soldiers halted their slaughter, momentarily unsure in glare of her light. The Ionians, who had begun to scatter and flee when their champion had fallen, gave out a great cheer as they saw their champion rise once more.
The blademistress leapt into the midst of the enemy army. Her blades traced red arcs in the enemy ranks. She spared no thought for defense, and the cuts and blows she took healed almost as soon as they were inflicted. For the first time, she knew the true nature of the Hiten style, and her blades gave death to her enemy and life to her body in equal measure.
Her blades reassembled into a four-part weapon, and impaled a Noxian soldier. Her father’s blades then flew apart, carving the woman into four parts. As blood splashed over her, Irelia saw only practice dummies, clothed in the uniforms of the Noxian invaders.
She pressed forward as the Noxians began to break, and the Ionian forces surged after her. One of her soldiers cut a fleeing Noxian down with his curved sword, and Irelia smiled as he fell. The blademistress swept through the enemy, accompanied by her father’s legacy, and where she stepped, Noxians died.
At last she realized that she was alone, surrounded only by the corpses of fallen Noxians. The remnants of their army had melted away, and she had left her own soldiers far behind in her pursuit of them. Only then did she look at her blades in wonder, as they floated around her. She could feel them, not merely as weapons, but as actual extensions of her being. They were her, just as she was theirs.
Irelia, Mistress of Blades, shook her head to clear away the memories. The chamber in which she trained now was full of wooden figures and forms, upon which she worked her destructive art. Chips and shavings flew through the air as she spun, her blades weaving a pattern of death around her, far from the battlefields of the first war.
Each wooden doll she imagined to be wearing a Noxian uniform, and when she came to the final two, she saw upon them the faces of Darius and Riven, the Noxian butchers who had once again brought the monsters of the cursed land to her shores. She gritted her teeth, and her blades blurred from sight as she cut into them for daring to invade lands where so much blood had already been shed. Again, for daring to tempt them with their lying promises of peaceful settlement. Each cut fed her fury until at last, both figures snapped under the force of her blows, and fell, bisected, to the ground.
She stood over them, clenching her fists. No. I can’t. No matter how much I want to. Can’t give in to this…whatever it is. She breathed deeply, and slowly relaxed. Lately the rage had been taking her more strongly, and more often.
“Irelia?” A soft, calm voice inquired from the chamber door.
The blademistress started, and spun, embarrassed to have become so caught up in memory that she had allowed Karma to sneak up on her. “Yes, ma’am?”
The leader of Ionia smiled gently, and gracefully entered the room. She ran gentle fingers over the scarred wood of the remaining training dummies, her forehead wrinkling slightly as she surveyed the devastation. “Irelia…”
The Commander of Ionia’s armies flinched at her leader’s gentle tone, and turned her head away. “I’m controlling it. I haven’t gone haring off after them yet, have I?”
“No, you haven’t. But I know you to be more of a lion than a hare, my friend. And a wounded one, at that. Not always the most reasonable of beasts, or so I’ve heard.”
Irelia snorted at the comparison, but couldn’t resist a small smile at its accuracy. “Maybe. But I haven’t forgotten who directs my claws, if that’s what you’re worried about.” Her smile widened and she lifted her arms, brandishing her blades around her.
“No. I know you would never betray me, or our people. You couldn’t, any more than I could. But this…” she gestured to the wreckage surrounding them, “does not signify a balanced mind, my captain.”
“How can my mind be balanced when the Noxian scourge is swarming over our lands, Karma? How can you? You know you’ve lost just as much to them as I have! I know you want to see them driven back into the sea as much as I do! So why won’t you just let me do it already?!” The blademistress erupted furiously.
Karma’s eyes narrowed, and the twin dragons upon her back began to glow, slightly. “Yes. I have. Lost much, and desired to drive them out, by any means necessary, as you say. But I refrain, because I know that protecting my nation by betraying what it stands for would be merely destroying it by other means!”
Irelia’s swords seethed around her as she stalked closer to Karma, until she was inches from the other woman’s face. “Balance?! How does allowing them to have their way with our lands promote balance?! Their only desires are power, and a conquered people they can dominate with it! The only way to restore the balance is to wipe them from our islands, and don’t try to tell me any differently.” She turned away, shoulders shuddering with rage.
Karma, who had accepted the tirade calmly, without flinching, closed her eyes as her friend turned away. She could feel the other woman’s pain, and knew it all too well herself. Many were the times when she felt she should order exactly what Irelia desired, for the Noxian invaders to be sent back to their Void-ravaged country by any means necessary, and killed if they refused. However her training, stayed her hand, an inner voice which urged her to maintain the razor-edged peace, the fragile balance which had simmered since the question of the ports was resolved.
The Enlightened One moved closer to her friend, and laid a gentle hand upon her shoulder. “Perhaps, Irelia. The spirits give me conflicting answers, as do my advisors. I promise you that I will do whatever is best for Ionia, and the Balance, but while I try to discern what this is, I ask that you try to calm your spirit. Not as your commander, but as someone who is concerned for her friend. Doubtful though it is, when dealing with Noxians, a bloodless solution would be best for all our peoples.”
Irelia snorted humorlessly. “Bloodless. Right.” She shrugged off Karma’s hand, and stared at her for a moment, eyes filled with loss and grief. Then, the Warleader of Ionia’s eyes hardened once more. “Well, while you try to figure out what the spirits are telling you, I’m going to go make preparations. This peace is just a brief respite, and more blood will be spilled soon. I intend to make sure my armies are ready.” She stalked from the room, leaving Karma, alone, amongst the wreckage.
Next Update: Madmen of Zaun
Images are from the LoL wiki; I believe they are Riot’s.