It started off quite simply.
Sona finished the solo, but didn't continue when Mordekaiser recommenced the main riff of 'We'll Pull Your Guts Out through Your Throat (and Beat You to Death with Your Spine)'. He stopped chugging on his axe and looked at the Maven questioningly.
Sona was looking thoughtful. She played with a lock of her long, silvery hair (she only dyed it when they went on tour; this was just practice), and then looked back at Mordekaiser. The quick sequence of plucks had an inquisitive air to it.
The two glowing red spots of eerie light in the otherwise total darkness of Mordekaiser's helm flicked off and back on, indicating that he'd blinked.
"How is our sound lacking?" he asked back, his booming voice sounding like two slate slabs being ground across each other.
Sona's fingers danced across the strings. She paused, waved her left hand airily whilst searching for the right word, and then plucked the last note.
The Master of Metal considered what Sona had said. He nodded. "Yes, I understand your meaning. We could use a bit more rhythm – especially during the solos. Not only would it give me more freedom to harmonise with you, but I've always had penchant for a bit of percussion." Mordekaiser glanced across at his trusty mace, which leaned against the wall beside him, and chuckled darkly."But how are we to achieve this effect?"
A quick scale from the etwahl.
Mordekaiser's eyes widened. "Recruit another member? I suppose we could... although I do not know of whom we could make such a request."
Sona shrugged and riffed off a quick melody.
"Hm... You may have something there. Very well. It shall be done."
Lux looked up at the League of Legends bulletin board. She smiled with delight when she saw the small, hastily handwritten bill that had been pinned down near the bottom.
"Hey, look at this!" she called.
"Hm?" asked the nearby Akali, who was busy looking at the matches lined up for the day.
"Pentakill have put up a flyer asking for new members!"
"Great, great," she replied distractedly.
"You should totally join!"
"Oh, come on," said Lux enthusiastically, her beatific smile practically lighting up the (rather dank) room. "I've seen the way you handle those blades of yours."
"They're called kamas."
"They're practically the same as drumsticks!"
Akali turned to Lux, hands on hips, and fixed her with an incredulous look. With her mouth covered, her eyes did double the duty. "Please tell me you aren't being serious."
"As the plague," said Lux, grinning as she did a mock imitation of Mordekaiser's voice.
"There's a lot of difference between the technique required to effectively dispatch a living being and that needed to keep a steady beat."
"And you're saying you don't have rhythm? You dance waaay better than I can – even after a whole night's worth of shots."
Akali sighed. "You aren't going to shut up about this, are you?"
Lux beamed. "Nope!"
"And you're going to keep hounding me about it throughout the whole day, aren't you?" asked Akali, as she began to walk off down the corridor.
"And you're going to completely wreck my concentration in every match we're in together."
Akali sighed deeply. "If I promise to go along to their stupid auditions, will you please keep your trap shut?"
Lux's smile neared Cheshire Cat proportions. "Okay!"
"All right then, I'll do it."
Lux giggled innocently, twirling her baton by way of celebration.
Akali took a few deep breaths. Luxanna was a lot of fun, but not the best person to be around when you had a hangover.
"I apologise, but your performance wasn't really what we were looking for," said Mordekaiser earnestly, his giant gauntleted fingers interlacing on the comparatively puny table in front of them.
"What? But I thought I did very well!" Olaf boomed, standing up from behind the drum kit.
The current members of Pentakill looked across at the cymbal that had somehow ended up embedded into the wall. Sona plucked at the etwahl wryly.
"Exactly," Mordekaiser concurred. "While your.. enthusiasm is appreciated, we only wish to slay our audience figuratively." He thought about this. "Is that right?" he asked, turning to Sona.
She nodded and made a musical comment.
"Yes, I guess killing our fans would be bad for record sales... As I said, I am afraid that we must reject you. We thank you for entering the audition process nonetheless."
Sona's tinklings of consolation did little to calm Olaf as he left the room, grumbling ill-naturedly and hitting things with his axes.
"That one is particularly tempestuous," Mordekaiser remarked, crossing the room to the wall and plucking the cymbal therefrom. "Is there anyone waiting?"
Akali waited in line with the other champions, and Lux. Luxanna wasn't there for the auditions, but rather for moral support. At least, she purported to be.
"You're going to be sooo good in there! I can already see you up on stage with Pentakill, touring around all of Valoran in their big shiny tour bus! Ooh – now you won't forget your old friends when you become a big star, will you? I'd really love to get a backstage pass and hang out with the band members!"
"You see them nearly every day," said Akali wearily, desperately wishing she had an icepack for her throbbing head. She turned to her other side looking for an excuse to ignore Lux – the one at the front had just gone in, so there was only Karthus sitting there, looking unusually anxious. It was better than nothing. "I didn't know you were a drummer."
Karthus turned an icy stare on her. Akali stared back, unfazed. After a while, he gave up the act and answered. "Actually, I am not a drummer. I think that Pentakill's vocals need something of a... shall we say... a tune-up."
"You do, do you?"
"Yesss. Mordekaiser's vocals are low and growling – quite befitting of the music that he plays – but I feel that their sound requires someone capable of hitting the higher notes, especially when considering Sona's style – not to mention that Mordekaiser tends to concentrate more on smashing people's faces in rather than hitting the right notes," said Karthus, sniffing distastefully.
"Wow, Karthus!" Lux chirped up. (Akali's heart sank by another centimetre.) "I had no idea you were so musical."
Karthus sighed in frustration. "Why does everybody keep saying that? I am the Deathsinger, after all: not exactly a very subtle hint."
"Are you classically trained?" asked Lux, her attention rapt on Karthus. He noticed it and couldn't resist the chance to preen.
"Yes, as it happens. In my previous life, I was enrolled at a school for-"
"Akali! Where are you going?" asked Lux, innocent concern written all over her face.
"The nursing station. I'm sure I've got a couple of headache pills there," Akali called back over her shoulder. 'Although I doubt they'd make you go away,' she added in the privacy of her own head.
Sona consulted her list. A quick plucking of strings opened the door. In shuffled something vaguely man-shaped, clutching a much-used shovel in one hand and with a guitar slung across his (badly hunched) back. Sona informed Mordekaiser of the applicant's credentials.
"Ah, a fellow Shadow Islander!" Mordekaiser greeted heartily.
"Yes, I hail therefrom," said Yorick. Sona noted distastefully that the Gravedigger sounded as though he'd smoked a couple hundred more cigarettes than any living man should.
"Tell me – how is the Motherland these days?" asked Mordekaiser.
"In a putrescent decline."
"Wonderful! How I long to go back... You just can't get a half-decent plague around here."
Sona cleared her throat and gave Mordekaiser a meaningful look.
"What? Oh, yes – I am Mordekaiser, Master of Metal, lead guitarist and vocalist of Pentakill, and this is Sona, Maven of the Strings."
Yorick looked at Sona. He then raised a slimy finger, pointing at the etwahl. "What manner of instrument is that?"
Sona looked delighted to be asked about her pride and joy and reeled off a long melody explaining its history, uses and capabilities.
Yorick was silent for some time after the last note had died away. He turned back to Mordekaiser. "Was that supposed to be an answer? Does she not speak?"
"We'll deal with that later," said Mordekaiser hurriedly, acutely aware of the manner in which Sona was silently fuming. "To business: your audition. I assume from the guitar on your back that you do not wish to be our drummer."
"You are correct." Yorick unslung the guitar, replacing it with his shovel, and threw the strap around his low-bent neck. "I thought that you could perhaps use a bassist."
Mordekaiser nodded approvingly, noticing the sharp edge and bone design of the guitar. "Well, feel free to show us what you can do," he said, resuming his place behind the table with Sona.
Yorick nodded. Pausing to take one deep, unpleasantly moist breath, he began.
The sound was deep and rich, starting off slow and growling. He then dropped down low into a solid groove, rocking to its beat with an unsettlingly animalistic feel. Finally, he picked up in tempo until Yorick's chunky fingers were a flurry of movement across the fretboard. With one last booming bass note, his demonstration ended. He looked at his judges expectantly.
"So... any thoughts, Sona?"
Sona glared at Yorick with arms crossed, still furious about the perceived slight to her precious etwahl. No answer was forthcoming.
"Thank you, Gravedigger," said Mordekaiser, sighing inwardly. "We will let you know of our decision soon."
Yorick nodded and left, looking at Sona oddly as he did so.
"I thought he was quite good," said Mordekaiser evenly.
Sona remained with arms crossed for a few seconds. She then grudgingly plucked a few notes.
"What, a hat? ...Yes, now that I think about it, he would look good wearing a top hat. Where did that idea come from?"
Sona shrugged wordlessly.
"It matters not. Next, please!"