Epilogue – Facing Darkness
The beast stood before her, just as it had countless times before. Today, though, it was somehow different. More confident, egotistical, mocking. His eyes glowed a deep condescending red as they sized her up, his irregular jaws curving slightly upwards in what might be a smug sneer. Maybe a snarl. It was hard to tell with creatures from the Void.
Riven took a deep breath as she readied her blade, taking in the information her summoner fed her. It appeared this would be a one-on-one duel, though that certainly didn't make it an easy battle. It never was against the so-called 'Terror of the Void'.
Would you like my assistance? The summoner asked, apparently sensing her hesitance.
'I'll handle the battles,' Riven repeated firmly. It seemed no matter how many times she told the summoners 'no', they never got the message. At least this one didn't protest or boast about his own abilities on the battlefield. Still, no matter what they said, she was not letting another summoner control her body.
Riven took another deep breath to clear her mind. She was letting her thoughts stray when she needed to keep focused. Eyes locked on her target, she took a few tentative steps forward, ready to dodge any of the creature's signature moves. If she'd learned anything about fighting Cho'Gath, it was to dodge the spikes. He was worse than a porcupine.
Despite her advance, Riven noticed very little reaction from the beast. Or had his lips curled upward a little more? He was still glaring back at her, but he didn't look interested in fighting.
Abruptly breaking the silence between them, he spoke in his menacing roar of a voice. "Do you realize how futile this is?"
Riven paused and furrowed her brow in confusion. "What is?"
"All of this. All of you. You are doomed to be nourishment for the Void. Your fate is sealed and this entire charade is... pointless." The beast answered, almost sounding bored.
Riven lowered her body into an aggressive stance. He was wasting her time with his usual empty threats. If there really were going to be more creatures like him, they likely wouldn't get far. Not with the Institute of War at its current prime.
Cho'Gath half-sighed, half-growled. "You would still fight, knowing your death is inevitable?"
Riven smirked. "You clearly don't know Noxians very well, let alone me."
She dashed forward at the beast's legs and slashed at one as she passed by, creating a satisfying blue flash. The beast roared and swiped at her, but she had already dashed past his other leg and given it the same treatment.
'So far so good,' Riven congratulated herself, 'Now to keep him on his toes.'
She made to continue the routine, but her muscles suddenly felt stiff and weak. 'Shit.'
You've been targeted by an Exhaust spell. Working to counter it. Her summoner informed her. Riven knew the routine, but it still bothered her that summoners could interfere so directly.
Cho'Gath turned to face her, his eyes glowing a fierce red. He wasn't bored anymore, if he had been. Just angry. Riven attempted to back away, but her muscles raged at her for trying.
Almost there. The summoner spoke again.
'Not quick enough,' Riven replied as Cho'Gath reared back like a dragon preparing to spit fire; and Riven honestly couldn't decide which she'd rather be in the way of.
A tremendous shockwave pierced the air around her as the beast released a roar from its hideous depths. Riven flinched, feeling her eardrums tremor. If not for the protection of summoning magic, they surely would have burst. The air itself seemed to buckle and wave, only disorienting her further. When at last the sound ceased, Riven tried to recover enough to escape, but her world was still shaking.
...Or was the ground actually shaking?
'Crap.' Riven gasped in her mind, forcing her legs into action. She tried to jump backwards, away from the beast, but immediately felt a sharp spike pierce her leg.
'Not quick enough,' Riven's mind cruelly repeated, her body doubling over. She managed to quell a cry of pain, resisting any show of weakness out of spite for the creature. Instead, she quickly inspected the wound before glaring up at him. There was blood. The protective aura was gone. This wasn't good.
The beast loomed over her while Riven weighed her options. She could cut the spike, or even the leg, but the angle was difficult. Or she could swing one last time at Cho'Gath himself. It wouldn't kill him, but it might send him back to heal. Sometimes that was best, to allow team members a bit of respite. The only cost was her death...
"Perhaps you know not what 'futility' means, human." Cho'Gath took one step forward, covering the distance between them.
Riven took a shaky breath before replying. "I know exactly what it means. To give up my pride, give up everything I stand for and hand my enemy an easy victory."
Cho'Gath bellowed a laugh. "Such an admirable insect. Let us see how well your pride favours you in my stomach."
He lunged downward, his jaws snapping open. Riven swung her sword upwards to meet his head, only to feel another spike pierce her arm. The sword fell beside her, and Riven gave up her struggle silently. If the League had done her one thing, it was to teach Riven her limits. Everything seemed to move slower as she gazed upward, a defiant scowl on her face, and Riven noticed something she hadn't before. A red line of light between her and Cho'Gath.
Riven couldn't help but grin, quickly bringing a hand up to cover her eyes. Within the half-second that followed, the beast's head passed the line, leaving a large red dot on his neck that flickered away. Immediately afterward, a blinding mass of glittering light pierced the area, tearing through the creature's exoskeleton. It lasted but a second, yet when Riven unshielded her eyes, the damage was clearly done. The Terror's severed head lay before her feet. The rest of his body was still limply falling over.
Riven's gaze shifted appreciatively to the source of the beam, the petite blonde girl pushing aside the river's brush. As their eyes met, Lux smiled back cheerfully.
"You know, I can't help but notice you always show up at the last minute," Riven called over to her jokingly, "Is there something you're not telling me?"
"I don't know what you're talking about," Lux played along as she stepped close, "It takes time to get here from bottom lane." She held out a hand to help Riven up. Riven grasped it and hobbled to a manageable balance. She took a short moment to admire Lux's eyes before moving onto business.
"How's it going down there?" Riven nodded towards the river Lux arrived from.
Lux sighed. "You have no idea what it's like to deal with that psycho... but at least we're doing well. However, my summoner says Jax needs some assistance up top."
"The unbeatable warrior needs help?" Riven smirked before sullenly remembering who he was up against. "Alright."
'Summoner, let's head back.'
While the blue glow intensified around her, Riven smiled once more at Lux, who winked back.
"I'll see you tonight," Lux whispered.
Riven nodded, already preparing her mind for the next battle. With a loud 'whoosh', Riven was whisked away, back to her team's nexus. She let the healing effects of the Fountain was over he until her leg could support her weight once again, then immediately dashed into action. With a practised motion, she scooped up an item badge from the shop, attaching it to her sword while she ran toward the leftmost lane.
'What's Jax's status?' Riven enquired, passing a group of minions wobbling in the same direction.
Not good. He's taking shelter under his turret, which is in rough shape too.
'Tell him to recall. I'll be there in time.'
Within a few seconds, Riven saw the blue pillar of light intensifying by the tower ahead. The burly figure within the light gave her a short wave before disappearing in the flash. Riven picked up her pace when she noticed enemy minions closing in on the battered structure.
'No sign of him yet.'
He hasn't shown up elsewhere. Be careful.
Riven exhaled heavily, forcing the doubts and resistances away, letting only the anticipation linger. These chances were few and far between, and she had to make the most of them. Finally, Riven took another deep breath to push away the rest and focus. Though she was confident, she couldn't afford to screw up here. That would give him too much satisfaction.
With a small battle cry, Riven dashed past the tower and cleaved through the foremost minions in a wide arc, continuing the momentum into a second slash to take down the rest. She looked to the tower to inspect the damage. It hadn't taken many hits, but was nearly in shambles. Just a few more and it was done for. As she readied herself to take down more minions, she heard movement behind her and quickly spun, sword ready to strike... only to find him casually walking out of the fog.
Riven felt a fresh wave of anger and resentment rise deep within, and though she intended to hide it, the glare she sent in his direction likely gave it all away.
"So it's you again. Still mad, I take it?" He asked drily, adjusting the odd kite shield he carried into battle, "Hmm. No, 'mad' doesn't seem like the right word. Perhaps... furious?"
Riven clenched her jaw to restrain herself from taking the bait. 'Keep calm. Focus. Then kill him in cold blood. Just like he did to them.' She took a small step towards him.
"Not as chatty today, I see. Got it all out of your system then?" He continued, his disinterested tone grating Riven's ears.
Riven twitched, and her words stumbled out before she could stop them. "It won't be 'out of my system' until you feel every bit of pain you caused us."
He seemed to stop and consider the idea for a moment. "Well, you'll have to help me there. You see, pain is rather relative. For instance, I don't feel very much physical or emotional pain at all, whereas you... you seem especially susceptible," His eyes brightening as they finally made contact with hers, as if he were smirking behind the bandages.
Riven breathed deeply once more, though the effect was limited. Her sword's glow was quickly intensifying, reflecting her mood. Last time had been for Ardus. This time would be for Martin. The list was long, and she would enjoy crossing it off one name at a time.
A bright green flash lit the area as Riven continued walking forward, changing her stance slightly to accommodate the extra weight of her full sword.
"You know, I've been curious," He continued without a hint of concern at Riven's advance. "Are your mood swings a side effect of the chemical exposure, or just a mental illness? It was listed as one of the side effects from that fine creation. Ah, but the list goes on. Tissue damage. Muscle deterioration. Trouble breathing..."
He continued on almost robotically, as if he were reading from a script, and Riven angrily ignored every bit of it. That is, until he uttered the words "Memory loss."
If he said any more, Riven didn't hear him. Memory loss...? It finally made sense. She hadn't escaped the bombardment unscathed. Her past wasn't fuzzy because of her lack of attention.
It was because of him.
Of course it was. As if he needed to take one more thing from her.
A sudden rage welled up inside Riven, and it showed outwardly through her sword's energy. The green flashes lashed out like angry waves of lightning as Riven's mood soured further. She grit her teeth, silently apologizing to Martin. He was now next on the list. First, she needed to avenge herself.
The chemist noticed the change in mood and cocked his head curiously. "Did I say something to upset you?"
Riven stared at the sickly thin finger, wishing him nothing but a slow and painful death. "Your existence upsets me," She muttered, letting her anger seethe through every word. "And I plan to resolve that, Singed."
Riven stretched out on her couch, relieved to finally be alone and away from the world. The quiet would have been calming, if Riven's mind wasn't racing. The match's events kept playing over and over, offering no solace to the quiet rage that still occupied the pit of her stomach. She had managed to defeat Singed three times by the end of the match, crossing three names off the list... yet it felt no better.
'It won't be over until he's dead for real,' A dark thought presented itself. If Riven had been in any other mood, she would have pushed it away. Instead, she entertained the idea. Was there a way to kill a League champion without repercussions? Surely so. But it would require a delicate hand – something she didn't possess. Perhaps Lux-
Riven inhaled sharply and shook her head violently, shocked at the direction that took. There was no way that was happening. She wouldn't and couldn't ask that of Lux.
"Speaking of..." Riven muttered to herself, looking at the clock. It wasn't quite time for the Demacian to show up, and Riven let out a long sigh. She needed something to distract her from the day.
She sat up, intending to go to the kitchen, when she noticed a copy of the Journal of Justice sitting on the coffee table.
"I told them to stay out of my room," Riven sighed, thinking of the majority of summoners who thought themselves above simple requests. Nevertheless, she picked up the small newspaper and immediately felt her spirits dampen further.
"Master Tactician named Grand General after defeating Keiran Darkwill" The headline on the front page read. Riven had known it was coming ever since the duel with Darkwill; the duel any perceptive onlooker would see was rigged. Lux had foreseen the event months beforehand, and Riven reluctantly accepted everything the mage had predicted was coming true. What worried them both was the long-term effects of this event.
The worst outcome was war, within the next five years. Swain had Noxus, but that wouldn't be enough for him. He wanted his revenge too, which meant the first chance he got, Prince Jarvan IV would be his target. The only thing stopping him was the Institute of War, and no doubt he already had plots running to solve that problem. Hell there were rumours among the summoners that the Ionian event Riven had been caught up in was one of them. Had Falnic succeeded, it would have spelled the end of the League, and the beginning of the next Rune War. After just a little over 20 years of relative peace, the world was once again threatened by the egos of men.
Riven shook her head slowly and sighed. Despite their regular planning sessions, she and Lux had yet to come up with a surefire idea to prevent it all. The one thing they came back to every time is that the League must survive, no matter the cost. To keep both the supernatural beings and the superficial humans in check. Convincing Noxus of that fact, especially with Swain in control, would be difficult.
Riven laid her head back and stared at the ceiling. This was definitely not her forte. She much preferred to take things one step at a time. But with an opponent such as Swain, Riven knew she had to play his game of chess before she could even consider challenging him outright. And if not for Lux's help, Riven wouldn't stand a chance.
Another deep sigh. Despite her initial reluctance to restore Noxus with someone else's strength, she'd only become more and more reliant on the Demacian girl. Riven just didn't possess the insight that Lux so effortlessly contributed. She really was a match for Swain in terms of strategy, while Riven could only hope to beat him in the heat of battle. And, for that matter, she hoped it wouldn't have to come to that. If any Noxian blood could be spared from infighting, Riven would gladly take that route. Though the more they planned and discussed, the less likely that idea appeared.
Swain would never go down without a fight.
"Wallowing in self-pity again?" A woman's voice cut through the silence.
Riven might have jumped three feet in the air if her mind hadn't instantly recognized the voice. She allowed herself to relax a little. If Katarina wanted her dead, she'd have already done the deed.
"What do you want?" Riven asked tersely, ignoring Katarina's obvious provocation.
The redhead sighed dramatically. "Still boring, I see." She sauntered over to the table and sat facing Riven, her legs splayed out casually.
Riven kept a guarded expression, trying to find some kind of tell which might reveal Kat's intention for being here. If she could figure that out, she could get the Noxian to leave before Lux arrived.
"Checking for openings, or checking me out?" Katarina's smirk caused Riven to frown. "I can tell you the former won't yield anything, while the latter..." She trailed off as her smirk grew more suggestive.
Riven rolled her eyes. "Not interested. Not in the slightest." It was the truth. Katarina had no appeal to her, visually or personally. "I'm still waiting for an answer. If you're here to play games, you can leave right now." Riven silently hoped for that result.
Katarina crossed her legs as the smirk disappeared, the playful smirk turning into a neutral expression. She stayed silent a moment longer, as if weighing her words in her mind. It was unlike her.
"I'm here because I agree with you," the assassin finally broke the silence, "About Swain."
Riven raised her eyebrows. She agreed about Swain, meaning she knew Riven's objective. While it probably wasn't difficult to deduce, Riven still felt a little intruded upon. How much did Katarina know, and how much was she trying to find out just by saying that? Riven glanced back at the Journal of Justice, noticing Katarina in the foreground of the headliner's photo. She didn't look happy as she watched Swain being instated.
...Maybe she could be an ally after all. But...
"What happened to 'things are fine the way they are?'" Riven asked carefully, remembering the conversation they had so long ago.
Katarina's eyes narrowed, though she kept her gaze away from Riven. She'd been expecting that remark. "Things have changed."
"Something to do with your visit to Demacia?" Riven prodded. Even Lux didn't know what that was all about, but Riven was sure she'd like to find out.
Katarina finally met her eyes for a fleeting moment, before once again staring at the wall. She was nervous? Or embarrassed? Riven couldn't figure it out. She was about to change the topic when Katarina responded.
"Swain has my father imprisoned somewhere. He's alive, or at least he was a few weeks ago. I learned this from Prince Jarvan, who was locked up right beside him."
Riven immediately felt alarmed and alert. "Jarvan was imprisoned? When? How?"
Katarina shrugged. "Sometime before Kalamanda. The Jarvan there that everyone saw was actually Leblanc. It was all a ploy Swain and her put together... to what end, I don't know."
Riven collapsed back into the couch, her mind racing but her body limp. This had serious implications. "How did Jarvan escape?"
"My father helped him. Managed to work his usual magic to create a diversion while the prince got out and away."
Riven took a deep breath and shook her head in disbelief. Marcus Du Couteau, freeing a Demacian prince from the hands of Jericho Swain. It sounded ridiculous.
Katarina frowned, presumably noticing Riven's confusion. "No, I don't expect you to believe it. But to me, it sounds like something he might do just to spite someone. And if Swain has had him caged up all this time, he's got a lot of spite to go around."
Riven nodded slowly, absorbing all this new information. It answered a few questions, but raised dozens of others. "So you're here because you want to save your father?"
Katarina spat on the floor, which Riven grimaced at. "No, dumbass. I'm only here because I'm the current head of the Du Couteau house, and I'm sure as hell not going to let some fucking bird man get away with disgracing it."
Riven sighed silently. If the assassin was lying, she was lying well – though Riven still wouldn't put it past her. Katarina could really only be counted on for two things: killing people and displaying her twisted personality.
"So you want Swain dead," Riven confirmed quietly.
Katarina grinned and leaned in. "I want that bastard more than dead. I want to see him suffer. I want to see the defeat on his face, just as he thought he'd won. Then I want to kill him."
Riven frowned. There was the twisted personality. "You realize it may not work out that way?"
Katarina's grin widened, "We could do to him exactly what he did to Keiran Darkwill."
'And this is why you're no better a strategist than me,' Riven kept the thought to herself, immediately seeing holes in Katarina's idea. 'You're too... passionate.'
Riven studied the Noxian as she took a moment to think. She really did seem keen to join forces, but Riven needed more time to figure out whether the idea was a good one. She already felt troubled by bringing Lux into this, though she cared a great deal less about whatever happened to Katarina.
All in all, the assassin could be a useful piece in the game of chess. And if she had Katarina, she also had Talon and possibly Cassiopeia. That evened the odds against Swain's allies in the League. Was this opportunity too good to pass up?
"Feel free to talk it over with your Shinny bitch." Katarina said mockingly, apparently bored of the silence.
'Shinny. Still an odd nickname for Demacians.' Riven reflected. She didn't take offence to Katarina's phrasing. She had trained herself not to take the insults seriously – there were simply far too many of them to pay attention to. Instead, Riven nodded. Damn straight she'd talk it over with Lux, with Kat's permission or not. Lux would have a much better idea of what to do with the support of the Du Couteau's.
"Are we done here, then? I've got better things to do than sit and chat with a depressed loner." Katarina stood, nodding towards the door.
Riven took the cue and walked to the door, feeling Katarina's gaze on her back, but inside feeling relieved she was leaving. With a practised motion, Riven quietly opened the door and took a quick look down the hallway. As she did so, she felt a slight shift in the air around her, as if someone had slipped into the room past her. Riven almost smiled. It seemed she wouldn't have to explain much to Lux after all – but if the mage wanted to remain hidden, Riven wouldn't reveal her.
When a sufficient time had passed for Lux to find an out-of-the-way spot, Riven signalled the all-clear to Katarina. With a small, unfortunately familiar 'fwoop', Katarina appeared uncomfortably close to Riven.
"I'll be in touch," Katarina smirked before disappearing down the hall.
With one final sigh to see off that stressful interaction, Riven shut the door and moved to collapse back onto the couch, feeling even more drained than before. Soon after, she felt the cushions shift and Lux's hand on her leg.
"You alright?" Lux asked quietly, her body now in plain sight.
Riven nodded in response, but 'alright' was relative. This time it meant that, at the very least, Kat's proposition had distracted her from the dark thoughts of Singed.
"For what it's worth," Lux offered as she rubbed Riven's leg, "My initial reaction is that Kat's offer is a good thing for us."
Riven nodded again, slower this time. Her mind was racing a mile a minute, yet going nowhere at all. It was a strange sensation and she wished it would go away.
Lux giggled and squeezed Riven's leg. "I can tell you don't want to talk about it, so let's just take a break tonight."
Riven met Lux's eyes and silently thanked her. Sometimes she thought the Demacian might know her better than she knew herself. The small things like that were the main reason Riven had gotten so accustomed to Lux's presence. The mage was thoughtful, considerate, and perceptive. But most of all, she was understanding. She knew how much Noxus meant to Riven, and she was quick to offer advice, yet keep her distance from directly interfering.
Riven feeling's for Lux had only strengthened and solidified over the past year, and it felt like they'd been together for longer, even though the time had flown by. Lux had become her one true friend and her constant support. That wasn't to say Riven didn't have other friends in Nigel, Irelia, or even Lee Sin, but Lux was on a separate tier. They just clicked somehow.
Lux smiled and titled her head a little, her telltale sign of wondering what was on Riven's mind.
'Just you," Riven's mind answered, though her mouth simply smiled back silently, saving herself the mild embarrassment of admitting it.
Lux's smile turned a little mischievous, as if she'd read her mind anyhow, and she leaned in for a kiss, closing her eyes peacefully along the way. Riven followed suit, letting the sensation of Lux's lips against hers captivate her mind.
The world and all its troubles vanished, and Riven felt the calm and peace of Lux's embrace take its place. It was only in these moments that Riven could escape entirely, with no chance of having those dreams and memories. And it felt right, so much so that her mind didn't bother looking for negatives and drawbacks.
It was in these moments where Riven was happy. She was loved. And she wasn't alone.
Well hi there fans. Surprise! The epilogue I promised, like... 8 months ago, I think. If you're wondering why I decided to do this after so long, here's why:
I just couldn't accept the idea of leaving my two favourite characters in the dust. The plot ideas wouldn't leave me alone. I even had aspirations to write a full sequel (one that had something to do with a Void invasion, hence the teaser with Cho'Gath). But then Riot (once again) screwed up the entire plot and lore, this time by saying summoners don't actually exist. Thus the League of Legends doesn't actually exist. And so... there was nothing left of the world I loved, except a few characters. That didn't sit right with me.
Thus, my announcement that I plan to rewrite Guiding Light into my own world. It definitely won't be the Guiding Light that exists today. I'll have to change a lot of things to make it work, basically starting from scratch. But what I do plan to keep is the feel of the story, and the feel of the characters (obviously I can't just yank Lux and Riven out of Runeterra, as much as I'd like to). I don't know when it will be accomplished. I've got a lot on my plate right now (I'll get to that in a moment). But know that I am working on it gradually, and I will try to make it as good or better than the fanfiction you know and (hopefully) love. There isn't a way for me to keep you updated properly on this site, so if you're looking for more information, please check my company's website every now and then.
"Wait! You have a company?"
Yes I do. I can't put a link here in the story, but feel free to Google "Salvadora Studios" or check my profile for the link. It's the reason I've been so busy. We're actually about to launch a Kickstarter to help fund our first game, "The Floor Is Made of Lava". You can find a link to it on our site. If you're able to, I'd be honoured if you helped out, directly or indirectly. If you have no money, please tell your friends about it. I can't ask more than that, and I'll appreciate any effort you make.
Anyway, if you're looking for any progress on the story, the best indication will be the status of the project codenamed "S.S. Atsaria". If there's been development there, there's definitely been development in the story. It's a world I've been building with my roommate for months now, and I can't describe how excited I am for it.
Until I see you again, thank you for being fans. Hopefully you'll see a lot more creations from me, with the same passion that drove me to write this novel of a fanfiction. :)
My best to you,
Salvadora11 / Cerubois