SORRY that this took so long. Busy with all my other stuff (Games, my new series, school, etc) and this lost priority for a time.
I kinda rushed this so it may lack editing. Point out any mistakes you find, if you will.
Ahri bounced her bright blue orb against the metal sheets of one of Zaun's many airship docks. The sun was barely rising up in the horizon at this hour, fog hanging heavy over the already bustling factories.
A line of people of varying affiliations waited in single file to board a large steel zeppelin. A large, brown balloon to cured leather was strung tightly between riggings on both sides of the ship, connected by a large metal masthead growing out of the center of the deck. A large pull-away bridge connected the ship, twice the length of the legendary river worm-serpent Baron Nashor (or, at least, the facsimile made for Summoner's Rift matches) , to the perfectly straight dock. The putrid stenches of sludge and smog wafted up from the distant streets, nearly a mile below the airship tower.
Ahri sighed, ruffling the document from the Kinkou yet again as the bouncer ushered the next passenger onto the ship. Ten more people-a mix of yordles, humans, and a few other races- stood between her and airborne transportation to Ionia. Tossing her soul sphere from one hand to another, Ahri took the chance to reread what the Kinkou had sent her.
Per the request of the Institute of War, the Kinkou have agreed that the individual in question should enter the Order's tutelage in the Ionian Isles. The Nine-Tailed Fox must depart for Ionia within the week, aboard The Axiom. Presenting this document to Captain Naether will secure passage to The Isles.
All traveling expenses while aboard this vessel are covered by the Institute of War; following landing and departure from The Axiom, all other expenses must be paid for by the student-to-be. Upon arrival at the Kinkou Sanctuary, a Summoner will be at hand to bind the champion to the location, granting the champion permission to use Institute-approved teleporters to traverse to the Sanctuary, for ease of travel.
Upon arrival, The Nine-Tailed Fox is free to explore Ionia as she wishes, and has no set time limit for arriving at the Sanctuary.
As Balance dictates,
Summoner, Kinkou Director of International Affairs
Ahri almost crumpled the paper in her hand.
Just because of a little…tryst…they're sending me off to some reeducation center? I suppose I'd better humor them, considering how much they've helped me learn…but this is a little outrageous. It's not like I set Cho'Gath on Bandle City…though it'd be fun, admittedly…to watch all the little yordles run…
She shook her head, dismissing the thought before she actually began to consider it.
This is exactly what I'm supposed to be learning-the value of a single life, mercy…whatever else they've been blabbering on about. I can't remember half of my lessons. Maybe I should-
"Ugh, who let that out of their basement?"
Ahri's ears twitched towards the nasally voice that hissed the sharp comment, and her soul sphere began to glow a soft red, as opposed to its usual, neutral blue.
During times of extreme emotion, her orb (being a vessel for her soul and the essences of her former victims) acted as an extension of her psyche, altering shape and color slightly to display her feelings. To all but herself (and very, very well trained mind readers), however, it never changed shape. Right now, it was displaying mild annoyance, and fast blossoming into outright anger.
Pretending not to hear, she stayed facing away from the speakers. With a flick of her wrist, her orb flew up to her shoulder. Granting her vision behind her, and consequently, of her observers, was a simple matter of binding the sight in her left eye to the orb's view.
Two men leaned against the railings of the airship dock, glaring daggers at her back while they whispered loudly. Both were clad in tight, overtly dressy, purple suits that hugged their scrawny, tall forms far more than was possibly healthy for them. It also gave Ahri a little more information than she could possibly want. Being Zaun, of course, this could easily be the norm…comparatively.
Examining further, Ahri could make out a few flaws. While they were, at first glance, identical-greasy black hair, hollow cheekbones, broad foreheads- they each possessed a few distinct defects, possibly as a result of the self-experimentation allegedly common in Zaun, made famous by Singed.
The left one was missing a chunk of flesh from his ear, and an ugly line of blisters crisscrossed his chin. His friend, at first glance, had no defects, but a few became apparent after looking more closely. Two fingers on his right hand were missing, and dots of deep purple sprinkled his complexion.
"Whoever it belongs to is either very creative or dabbling in some unhealthy fetishes."
The second voice held a less condescending tone; the purple-dotted man stroked his chin pensively, looking Ahri up and down, his bloodshot eyes examining her every detail.
"I mean, I can understand kidnapping a crush and imprisoning her until Stockholm's eventually sets in, or making yourself a slave from a few cells, but the tails? And the ears? What purpose do they serve? It's easy to graft body parts from one body to another…but I can see no practical use for these extra organs."
They must think I'm one of their experiments gone amok, and let loose to roam the town. Either that or they think I'm some kind of servant.
Ahri wrinkled her nose in disgust, lowering her orb and blotting the two men out from her vision.
Humans can be truly awful creatures. I sometimes forget why I so desperately want to become one.
Unsure if the exclamation was directed at her, Ahri turned, and found herself looking at a third man, his purple, flowing robes denoting his status as a Summoner. He pointed angrily at her two insulters with his right index finger, the pair returning his gaze nonchalantly.
Though his hood was pulled over his face, a few sharp glances revealed the telltale rustle of long brown-black hair, the few visible strands standing out against his light skin. His nose, solid and square, matched the shape of his jaw and cheekbones, giving his face a simple, worn-down feel. Dark brown pupils overflowed with youthful energy and sparkled with excitement-or possibly rage. He stood half a head taller than Ahri, barely surpassing six feet in height. Next to the Zaunites, he was burly, huge, intimidating-but compared to the likes of Tryndamere, he was puny.
He jabbed the purple-dotted one's chest, his fingers leaving an imprint in the (unfortunately) skintight material before fading away. The Zaunite shoved his hand away and made a move to advance on the Summoner, but the purple-robed figure spoke before either could strike.
"Don't you know who she is?"
The Summoner stopped expectantly, his finger still awkwardly held in the air in from of the Zaunite. His friend scoffed, turning away.
"Let me guess-she belongs to you and you're going to give us some lecture about how she's 'the future of humanity' or 'the key to unlocking something or another'. Please."
The Summoner's shoulders began shaking with audible rage as his voice took on a dangerous, self-righteous tone.
"Even if she was, that's no way to treat a lady. But she's not. That's Ahri, the Nine-Tails fox. And you've just insulted her. To her face."
Both Zaunite's faces immediately went pale, their hunched backs shooting up ramrod straight. After a quick glance between Ahri and the vengeful Summoner, they took the hint and promptly took their leave, shoving each other out of the way in their effort to get away from her before she decided to teach them a lesson. Their retreat was efficient and soundless.
Ahri watched them leave, amusement stamped across her features as her orb faded to its usual green-blue. She was so absorbed by the sight that she failed to notice the Summoner turn back to face her until he spoke.
"Pardon me, milady. I trust they did not cause too much offense?"
His voice echoed with concern, his dark brow furrowed in worry as he awaited her response.
He's certainly a gentleman.
Ahri giggled, covering her face with a dainty hand to disguise the flash of her canines.
"Oh, it's quite alright, Summoner. Thank you."
His body sagged with relief as he wiped his brow. Rolling his shoulders and straightening himself once again, he paused awkwardly, trying to come up with a follow-up to her response.
"So…what brings a champion to one of Zaun's airports? You can't use one of the Institute's portals to take you where you need to go?"
The tone of his last sentence held a hint of suspicion, but was tempered with the genuine curiosity emanating from his other words. His raised brow betrayed only interest in her activities, not accusation.
Ahri debated how much she could tell him. On one hand, the nature of her trip was a mild source of embarrassment. On the other hand, it's not like she needed to tell him any more than he needed to know.
"I have an…errand to run in Ionia. There aren't any portals to the exact location I need to be, so I figured I'd just take a zeppelin to the coast and walk the rest of the way."
At this, the Summoner brightened up, his eyes gleaming with excitement as he responded with equal veracity.
"What a coincidence! I happen to be traveling to Ionia too!"
It was Ahri's turn to be (or to pretend to be) suspicious. However, years of practice disguising her emotions allowed her to restrain the inflections that would betray her better than he had.
"Don't you have the capacity to just portal yourself there from the Institute?"
Without responding, he brushed past Ahri, walking up to the railing of the platform. Leaning over the edge, he crossed his arms in front of his chest and sighed, allowing a stray breeze to blow the hood off his head. His hair went down past his chin, blowing wildly. His words were nearly snatched away by the wind before they reached Ahri.
"I know. I just…like going naturally. I have quite a large amount of free time, so it's not like I'm urgently needed. Why shouldn't I enjoy the experience of being on an airship just because I don't have to be?"
Ahri had to admit, he had a point. It was nice to be able to travel without magic, to feel the wind in her hair and across her fur, the sharpness of twigs as they cracked under her feet. Not to mention all the virile young men with their luscious bodies and pure, fulfilling souls-
Dammit! Get a hold of yourself! You're supposed to be a recovering addict, not one that regularly indulges!
Instead of responding, she slid up beside him, resting her back against the railing as the breeze died down, allowing his hair to fall over his face. He brushed it aside just as another voice rang out.
"Miss? You're next in line."
The crewmember who was ushering passengers aboard was gesturing wildly to her. Ahri hadn't noticed that the line in front of her had already dissipated. Without turning back to the Summoner, she hurried over to the bridge, passing the document into the hand of the crewmember as she passed.
For a moment, it looked like he was about to stop Ahri from rushing onto the zeppelin, but he thought to glance at the document first. A quick look at whom it was addressed to, and he fell silent, dumbly allowing Ahri to step aboard the airship.
Ahri ignored the shocked whispers and turned heads, seeking only to get to an empty room as fast as possible. Just before descending into the lower decks, she snuck a glance behind her, watching as the Summoner from before handed a ticket to the greeter and step on the ship.
Eyes gleaming, Ahri continued down the stairwell, her orb beginning to shift slightly from green to pink, indicating amusement.
This should be fun...
Fortunately for her sanity, the trip itself was uneventful and short, requiring her to be in the stuffy, rickety airship for only a few days-almost three days and two nights, though she wasn't quite aware of that until later. Ahri spent her entire journey in her room with the porthole closed and meals delivered whenever she pleased, so she had no real sense of time. Because of her skewed internal clock, the now-cloistered fox had found herself unable to sleep on many occasions, so had attempted to force drowsiness on herself through long, warm showers. The fact that she was likely using up half of The Axiom's hot water supply on her own simply sweetened the deal.
Now, Ahri found herself on the ground, back in her native land of Ionia, several feet from the exit ramp of the airship. The landing tower was somewhat isolated from the nearest major port town, so it hosted a few rooms for rent and a tiny cafeteria. Ahri had no plans to stay anywhere near this hunk of metal and wood planted in the forest any longer than she needed to, as demonstrated by her rapid, overly rushed movement down the winding stairs, past the lobby, and out onto the path. Dropping her handbag, she closed her eyes and drew her hands through her hair, curving backwards as she breathed in heavily through her sensitive nose. Taking in the scent of the forest, trying to blot out the hum of machines above her and the faint scent of mechanical exhaust.
It feels...so...strange to be back here, so soon. Back...home...
But home it was no longer. Her murders technically made her a criminal, and even if the League had cleared her of all Ionian law charges, a sinking, empty feeling in her gut settled in whenever she considered moving back that pushed her away. The Institute was her home now.
Yet here she was, visiting her native land, yet feeling unwelcome, like a foreign fugitive in an alien land.
For the first time, Ahri felt a twinge of something in her stomach, an amplified version of the ache from before.
Is...is this...what is this? Why don't I...why am I...sad?
She gave a tiny shake of her head, imperceptible to any passerby. They did not notice her discomfort-those that weren't staring at her, at least.
I don't...know what this is...
Brushing it off with some difficulty, Ahri'd decided to investigate this later. Right now, she knew she needed to take care of one thing before she could travel to the Kinkou-purge the artificial, pumped water off of herself with something a little more natural.
I need to rinse myself of all my rinsing.
Ignoring the irony, she probed around with her nose, trying to determine the exact direction of the nearest body of water. What hit her was incredibly surprising.
There, to the west, away from the path and over the ridge. The clinging heat of steam tickled her nose, accompanied by a slightly stronger scent of clear water, with the faintest hint of sulfur. Together, they could only mean one thing.
That was how Ahri found herself running in the opposite direction of the path, over the hills, instructions to travel to the Kinkou forgotten at the thought of cleanliness. Her bag draped over her shoulder, she tore up the hill with an abandon she usually only reserved for sexual anticipation.
Kinkou can wait. I need to be clean!
Her thoughts flew by in a flash as she ran up the hill, tails streaming besides her. And there she was at last. Panting ever-so-slightly, a small sheen of sweat on her brow from the hike up the surprisingly steep surface, and she overlooked one of Ionia's legendary hot springs.
The spring itself was perfectly circular, ringed with smooth gray rocks that sunk gradually into the cloudy, bubbling water. Steam rose in a heavy blanket-it was obvious that if the wind wasn't blowing the steam her way, she might've not been able to see this treasure from her position through the evaporated liquid. A few large rocks along the edge prevented her from simply walking into it, and were the only sections where the surrounding rock didn't simply melt into the pool.
It took all her self-control to not rush helter-skelter down the hill and throw herself (and her dry kimono) into this surface evidence of underground volcanic activity.
...Deep breathes, Ahri, deep breathes. The spring will still be there when you walk down to it...
Taking her own advice, she closed her eyes and breathed deeply in through her nose, her chest rising and back straightening as she went. With a great sigh, she opened her eyes and exhaled, relaxing herself.
The spring was still there, of course.
See, Ahri? Nothing to worry about.
Putting one foot over another, Ahri made her way down the grass, relishing in the increasing heat as the steam grew nearer. The question of where to put her clothes came to mind, but a dry rock just where the grass abruptly ended and stone began proved adequate for her needs.
She dropped her bag against the stone, and her kimono followed suite. Running her hands through her hair, she took in the sensation of the heavy mist running over her naked form, her increased proximity allowing her to get a full blast of its heat-only immersing herself would give her more heat. She wasn't sure if the liquid droplets dotting her thighs was sweat or water from the steam. A large droplet hung on her exposed nipple before falling down, landing on the stone in front of her with a small plop.
Easy does it...those wetter rocks look slippery.
Arms extended to her sides for balance, Ahri moved herself forward with excessive carefulness, gasping slightly when her pale white toes first sank into a puddle between two rocks at the edge of the pool. A spike of heat flashed through the poor body part, but Ahri knew the slightly painful heat would fade as she fully entered the water.
Another large step forward, and the water was up past her ankle. She couldn't see her foot below the surface.
Her tails were starting to hang heavy from the liquid they were absorbing, the steam surrounding her on all sides except in front of her, where she could see the pool extending before her figure. She needed to sink into the water before the weight started hurting her lower back.
She didn't have to wait long. Three more light movements in front of her, and the water was nearly up to her waist-the depth had increased dramatically. Fortunately for her, the fox had stayed near the edge of the pool-thus, all she had to do was position her tails below the water, pushing against the rock side, and lower herself.
As the water encased her voluptuous form, she gasped once again as heat overtook her, growing steadily hotter as more and more of her own body was submerged.
It's-it's even warmer than the Institute's showers...
Finally, her buttocks hit the rock bottom of the pool, the water conveniently just above her nipples. In fact, it nearly mirrored the cleavage of her standard garb, only wavier and less fabric-y. Ahri's teeth sunk into her lower lip as the heat overtook her, dulling her senses in the best way.
Sit back, relax...and be all by myself...
The fox-woman allowed herself to go limp against the outcropping. Her jaw relaxed as her eyes closed, heedless of the world around her as all that existed was herself and this scalding pool.
Unfortunately, she wasn't going to be alone for much longer...
Who's going to join our lovely Ahri?
Well, hopefully you won't have to wait nearly as long to find this one out!
Review please, and make sure you tell Waddlebuff how much Ahri loves him because she's his waifu. And his only :D