"A drop in the ocean,
A change in the weather,
I was prayin' that you and me might end up together;
It's like wishing for rain as I stand in the desert,
But I'm holding you closer than most
Cause you are my heaven."
- "A Drop In The Ocean" by Ron Pope
Lux did not stay at Vladimir's place for the night. Deep inside, she was still upset and angry for what had been done to her country and family. She believed him, however, that he was not the one.
Who was it then? She asked herself often. It couldn't have been any Demacian, it would most likely be Noxians… but the only Noxian she knew who was capable of blood magic was Vladimir.
On her way home, she intercepted a night carriage that would be passing by Demacia on its journey. She was happy, it would save her much time and provide comfort. It was an awfully lonely trip, though; beside her, there were only the driver and another merchant. She tried to initiate conversations, but neither of them seemed to be interested in who she was and what she had to say. It was getting late, however, so she forgave them for not socializing.
When they were fifty miles away from Demacian boarder, Lux felt the carriage halt abruptly and quickly readied her baton. She made no sound as she waited calmly for the driver to inspect the situation.
"What is thi-"
She got off the cart immediately when she saw a purple aura closing in on the carriage. The two horses panicked and reared. She tried to dispel the aura with her magic, but it did not work. After both travelers had vanished into nothingness when the edge of the aura touched them, she began to worry.
When the aura touched her at last, she felt as if the world had turned upside-down as she fell onto her bottom, her head spinning, feeling nauseous. She blinked, her surrounding had changed; she knew this place, she was here once before. The murky skies and ever-glowing horizon… The Void. Icathia. She was here again.
How is this possible? She pushed herself off the ground and tried to stand up, but her knees were still weak from disorientation. She looked across the realm and found that, not far away, were the broken bodies of her fellow travelers. She looked away and sighed. A ripping in dimension would sometimes cause the affected to be torn apart; she had read many horrifying stories about such occurrence.
"Unlucky ones, they are." A haunting voice came. Lux turned to the speaker and frowned.
"Malzahar… what is this? Are you doing this on purpose?"
"You know well… Lady of Luminosity. Portals that lead to this place open on a daily basis… It is merely Icathia's calling. Have you reconsidered my offer yet?" The Prophet was floating a few meters away, the ever-present void essence surrounded him and his pet.
"I do not want to join the Void! Now would you show me how to get out?" With her best efforts, she tried to stand up again, but only managed to get on her knees. I feel so sick… She was very vulnerable at the moment, but it wasn't in her best interest to let Malzahar know that.
"You shall not get out." The Prophet laughed as his eyes narrowed, "Don't you see? You are bound to die…. By the hands of your lover. Turning your face away from fate does not make it go away…"
Lux's eyes widened, she remembered the illusion she had seen of Vladimir tearing her heart out. She had doubted the Prophet then, and she still did. Who was he to play fortune-teller?
But it was so real…
Metal claws that melded with her flesh, crashing the tissues with its sharp edge… Malzahar's words forced her to relive the scene, and it sent shivers down her spine. She did not deny that she loved Vladimir this time.
"False prophecy… It was merely an illusion, don't play that game with me."
"…Still you don't see, well…"
"What is there to see? He would never-"
She paused mid-sentence, suddenly unsure of the statement. Yes, she cared for him, and yes, she cried when she thought he had betrayed her trust. But did he feel the same?... The kisses, the embraces, the tease, everything. Everything that he gave to her had been able to fill her heart with joy, but…
He had never spoken once about how he felt about her, and that she couldn't understand. It felt as if they were playing a dangerous game; the excitement lured her in, made her hope for the grand prize, but now she couldn't even back out. Uncertainty was eating away her thoughts. She only wanted some kind of reassurance. She wanted to know that he was hers, and he wasn't just… playing with her.
Lux shook her head, refusing to think more. "He would never hurt me." She finished, half-heartedly.
"Of course it is all false… you'd be heartbroken if that had happened…A mortal game you play to lose…" Malzahar approached her, something was telling her that he meant no good.
"…Let me spare you from that by overruling my own prophecy."
She had no time to scream as Nether Grasp cut off her windpipe like an invisible hand. Her baton dropped to the ground, her hands were at her throat trying to pull away the tightening pressure. She kicked and flailed, Lord knows where she had gathered the strength to do so. The will to survive kept her fighting; she would not go down so easily.
"You shall be a good sacrifice for the Void." Malzahar's face was determined.
"Let the girl go, Malzahar!"
Lux saw a projectile flying towards the Prophet, hitting him, and the pressure around her throat was gone. She fell to the ground and coughed, didn't get a glance at her rescuer.
Her neck burned from the grasp. She tried to make a sound but it only brought her pain; she feared that her windpipe had been crushed. Soon enough, the rescuer engaged in a battle with Malzahar. Void essence was filling the air around her, she could tell who he was now.
Kassadin. She looked at the two, seeing Kassadin teleporting around and shattering Malzahar's voidlings with his Nether Blade. Lux wanted to help, she grabbed her baton, but casting a magic now would require the focus and stamina she did not possess. She opened her mouth, no words came out. All she could do was pull herself away from the two to safety.
"You will not take another innocent life." Kassadin's blade cut through the ethereal screen and caught Malzahar's mask in the process, the fabric fell apart as his face was revealed.
"I serve a greater purpose… your lives are worthless compared to what I will achieve."
"I will seal the portal!" Kassadin turned to Lux, "Get out, now!"
She nodded and scouted the terrain, there was an opening nearby, if she could just get up and run she could reach it in time. Her legs were still shaking, but she felt ready.
And just like that, she raced for the rift, even though her legs felt as if they were sinking into the ground beneath her with each step, pulled down by quick sand that intended to trap her here forever. So close…She could see the night sky and the trees from the world she knew, Come on, you can do it.
The rift shrank rapidly as Lux went through and landed safely on the road. She felt the same sickness, but she was fine. She pulled herself up. Home. I want to go home.
Even if it's ruins that she'd be returning to, she would still keep moving. She was sick of not belonging, sick of being a gypsy. Pain had tamed her rebellious spirit, It's time to go home.
She didn't know how far she travelled before she fell, her body finally giving up. The night was quiet as wind caressed her pale cheeks.
She couldn't recall how exactly she got back to Demacia, but waking up to the evening sun on the second day in her own bed was such an amazing feeling, she could afford to let the painful memories go.
She rubbed her eyes and swung to the side as she placed her feet on the floor, the bottom of her feet felt funny. Looking down, she saw the care on them: linen bandages soaked in some kind of balm. She must have gotten blisters, the thought of it made her feet hurt again.
She took careful steps to the bathroom and cleaned herself. Her room was exactly the same as how she left it before Piltover; the paper cranes and roses were still on her table, embraced by sunshine.
The Necklace! Lux remembered suddenly and reached for her dirty clothes. When the jewel revealed itself she sighed in relief, she would not forgive herself if she lost it again. The gem shone under the sun, reflecting its sapphire brilliance onto the bedroom ceiling. She smiled and put it back where it rested on her bookshelf.
She looked out of the window and saw the streets and people of Demacia. The city was recovering from the damage. The pavement in front of Crownguard manor still a faint red from all the bloodshed that day. She turned away and sighed.
"Lux?" Garen's voice came as he knocked on the door.
"A….." She panicked. What's happening? I can't speak… She tried again, but all that came out was a dry "A" sound, and her throat began to hurt.
"Lux? I'm coming in." Garen walked in and closed the door behind him gently. He wasn't wearing the soldier's uniform today, surprisingly. "I thought you'd still be sleeping. How are your feet?"
"A….k….enn" She looked to him helplessly. I can't talk… Malzahar had wounded her throat badly, it seemed. What am I going to do?
She pointed at her neck and shook her head at Garen. "Can't…talk? Is it a bad cold?" Garen was awfully caring today, it was awkward for Lux but secretly she was happy that her brother still cared about her. She shook her head.
Being a bad mime, she grabbed a quill and paper and wrote: I was attacked by Malzahar.
Garen took the paper as his expression darkened. "Nether Grasp…" He murmured, "It is deadly enough in the fields of justice, having to endure it outside…" For Garen, he expected that his sister had gone through hell, and her throat problem wasn't going to get better on its own. "I found you on the side of the road after Kassadin informed me what happened."
Lux stared at him, dazed for a second. Soon she began to remember Garen picking her up and carrying her home. Just like he would carry her exhausted body home after training when they were younger. Heavy footsteps, but he never complained.
Garen had always been there for her, watching over her, although most of the time she dismissed his care as being nosy. He scolded her, yes, but it was because he cared about her. She was too busy crying over her own emotions to see that even when mother and father had given up on her, Garen never did; he took up the role of her parents and he tried.
"Lux…" Garen began and took her hand gently; the action stirred her as her blue eyes widened at him, it felt like as if he just read her mind. "I have been… harsh on you, I know. I want you to know that it wasn't… no, I want you to know that I was doing so because…"
He began to stutter, losing words to describe how he felt. "Lux I am your brother. I know you've always felt as if mother and father both have their high hopes on me, but truth is, they care about you far more than they do me. And as your brother, I want you to know that I do care for you. Have you any idea how worried I was when I come home and realize you've disappeared? Sometimes for a day?"
She lowered her head and nodded. This was a hard talk, but a necessary one she understood. Garen had never been so open about his feelings before, and now she finally got to see her brother beneath his skin.
"You were born an adventurous soul, Lux. I know I shouldn't see you as a fragile little sister but I can't help but do so. Everytime you wander off somewhere, you'd come back with scars here and there, and I don't wish that upon you."
She lifted her head and blinked at him, a sad little smile around her lips as she squeezed his hand. I know… I'm sorry, I'm really careless, and selfish. It would have been hard to say those words, therefore she appreciated the temporary – hopefully – mute condition.
"I know I should stop treating you like a child. Forgive me, sister, but you must understand, and I thank you for that." He pulled at her cheek gently as she pouted, which made him chuckle. "We need to find Soraka and have her heal your wound."
Soraka? Lux raised her brow. But that's…Ionia, that's days of travel!
"I'll ask the Institute for permission for her to come here, meanwhile stay home and rest. Please." He gave her a smile before taking off.
After Garen left, Lux buried her head into her pillow again, breathing in the soft cotton.
She closed her eyes and held her pillow tightly. If she imagined hard enough, she could feel his presence; a bit lunatic, sure, but she had never needed him as much as now. Something unfortunate always seemed to happen to her because of him, indirectly: Vayne's disappearance; sent to Piltover, came back to a ruined Demacia; Malzahar… all of these could have been avoided, couldn't they?
No. What has happened cannot be changed. She must see it through, so that she and him might have a future.
What holds for their future? She questioned herself everyday. Would Garen let her just run off with a Noxian? Would mother and father?
Ugh! Stop thinking! You're hurting your head again. She rolled to her side. All she could do now was to wait patiently for some medical attention. But she couldn't help continuing her little fantasy of catching a glance of Vladimir's red coat someday, some morning, as she send her wobbling body down the stairs, and into his arms.