A/N: Yes. I did just make this. No, I'm not crazy. There is a noticeable lack of Naruto/League of Legends crossovers on this site, and I aim to amend that! Of course, that said, this chapter actually took me a loooong time to make. If the file's stats are correct, I started working on this chapter around the middle of May. Last year. So yeah, I think it's about time for this baby to come out of the closet. So be nice! I'm not completely knowledgable on League Lore, so some of you gurus will probably find some inconsistancies. If you can bear to ignore them and go with them as AU elements, that would be awesome. At the same time, if you see something that was close to the real thing, but not quite, feel free to say so!
That said, I'll let you all get to reading.
Known, Yet Unknown
The grass was tall and it rustled little as its two inhabitants crept through it. A quick peak out showed two others beyond it. Two enemies. The small minions were whacking each other with their melee weapons while their ranged counterparts threw small spheres of light. But they couldn't be focused on now; the enemy was moving. Of course they knew that they were in the bushes. Where else could they be? The match had started several minutes before, and was progressing as all matches did.
The enemy walked a little bit closer and both of the first knew it was time to strike. The first sent numerous spikes shooting up from the ground beneath the other two's feet, running directly after them. The two enemies were sent soaring into the air landing on unsteady feet in surprise. But they were not helpless.
The first of the enemies ran forward dashing forward and grabbing the immediate attention of his opponents who attacked him. "You're both too slow." He taunted out as he pulled both swords from his back and hacked his way between them. Scythe met sword as Fiddlesticks got halfway through a swing before Shen intercepted him. But Cho'Gath wouldn't let that happen. With a mighty roar, he blew Shen's eardrums out.
But Shen was also not alone. With a ridiculously long leap, the burgundy clad Jax swung his lamp-post (his weapon of choice) at Cho'Gath, stunning him with the force. Even while they focused on the massive insect like creature, neither paid attention to Fiddlesticks behind them. Fiddle had not forgotten the ambush they had defeated him with earlier in the match, and he was determined to make them pay.
Cho'Gath had afforded him the few seconds he needed to exact his revenge. Gathering his magical energies, he blinked out of sight, and in a flash appeared amidst the others, a murder of crows swarming all around them like a cyclone. With a piercing look, he sent Jax stumbling back in fear while he leeched the life from Shen.
Shen retreated a little, allowing Cho'Gath to place himself behind Fiddle. But Jax had recovered and slammed his lamp into the living scarecrow so hard he didn't know which way was up. The Grandmaster at Arms marched forward to finish him off. Once again though, he was thrown into the air by a column of spikes that shot from the ground. Both Cho'Gath and Fiddle ran back to their tower in a hurry. With his crow storm used and abused, he had no secure way to kill the others with Cho as injured as he was.
They could only hug their defensive statue and recoup for now.
Well, they would have been able to too, were it not for the werewolf bearing down on them. Bearing the blessing of the lizard elder, the monster leapt forward and pinned Fiddle to the ground, slashing him repeatedly, despite the bursts of damaging light that the tower shot at him.
With a particularly powerful slash, he ripped the scarecrow in half.
But it was not the end for Fiddlesticks. His body turned to light and vanished. It would be several seconds before he could rejoin his comrade. Cho'Gath however had an easy meal as he consumed the poor wolf-man in one gulp, growing several times larger in the process.
Bottom lane was safe… for now.
Of course, Summoner 's Rift had three particular lanes that cross the humongous map. One on the bottom that curved around to the other side, a mirrored version of it as the top lane, and a straight middle lane that went from one Nexus to the other.
Fiddlesticks took the opportunity of his awaiting rebirth to look at the top lane. Gangplank and Nocturne were holding their own against Shaco, who was alone due to Jax's helping Shen just then. That let Nocturne push heavily.
In the middle lane was the new Champion. He'd just been approved by the League as an acceptable combatant on the Fields of Justice, or the arena in which they now fought. He was said to have been found wandering the expanse of the Shurima Desert. All he asked was where he was, to which the Adjudicators that found him excitedly told him. Apparently he was summoned from another universe entirely, which is notoriously forbidden. As an apology, of sorts, the League offered him a "job" as a Champion. It would give him some pay and shelter until they could find a way to right their wrong and send him back.
With no other choice, as a stranger in a strange land, he agreed. That was last week.
He'd just been put on the Summoning Roster that morning, and this was likely his first match. But despite that, he was surprisingly able. Fiddle had seen numerous men and women vomit from their first experience with "death."
In truth, when one was defeated on the Fields, their soul is collected and their body repaired and deposited back on the summoning platform they started on. The longer the match progresses the longer it takes to repair the body. But this one hadn't so much as blinked at the experience. Well, perhaps that was a hyperbole; he'd found it intriguing.
He was a bulky man that was for sure, probably as weighty as Gragas, a fellow Champion and well known drunk. However, this one was hunched over and moved slowly, as if it strained him to carry his own mass. It belied his power.
Surprisingly he was not a ranged fighter. He was in a sense, but relied on a melee attack pattern. A segmented tail that creeped out from behind him was of medium length, allowing a bit of distance to attack, but it was still limiting, especially against the bow-using Ashe: Frost Archer and Queen of Freijord.
Fiddle hadn't had time to watch him fight however, and enjoyed the moment he had to witness them kill their opposing team's minions. But soon it was time for him to rejoin them in battle and with a flash he reappeared on the Summoning Platform. With a command from his Summoner, he ambled off to the bottom lane, as Cho'Gath needed to recall to the platform to heal and resupply.
The Summoning Platform, commonly referred to as the "Fountain" was magically imbued to heal and replenish the magical energies of those who stood on it, and was guarded by a powerful defensive tower that would absolutely destroy any hostile Champion who walked on its steps.
Any Champion had the ability to "recall" from any part of the map, though it took several seconds. It may not seem like much, but anything can happen in those few seconds. Anything.
Ashe wasn't the type for direct combat. She didn't have the armor or the stamina to sustain multiple hits from enemies. She was more the type to stand in the back and fire arrow after frozen arrow at her enemies. Her Summoner was definitely capable, as he had her poke in and out, getting a feel for this new Champion's skills and abilities. She'd felt excitement as she marched out on the field that morning; the breeze of a new day inspired her with new vigor. Not to mention that the other team had the new arrival on their side. The "newbies," as the rest of the League's Champions called the first timing fighters of the Institute, were always hard to predict and counter when they first arrive, but after perhaps a week of fighting, they were at least somewhat "dumbed down" in that new methods for fighting them were found. But she herself found it exciting.
The man in front of her was large, very wide and short. He was hunched over, and a straw hat hid the top of his head while a mask covered his face from view. He had a mechanical tail that whipped out and slashed or stabbed nearby minions. She'd managed to fire several arrows at him, but he'd shrugged them off like nothing, so she and her Summoner opted to wait until they had a bit more damage on their side.
She was happy to hear the Field's announcer declare the defeat of Fiddlesticks, but was then immediately dismayed at the second message that Cho'Gath had eaten him. If there was one thing she didn't need, it was a fed enemy Cho'Gath.
'I've got to concentrate on the enemy at hand. He looks like he's about to try something.'
Thanks to their telepathic link, she could sense her allies from anywhere in the arena. Warwick had resurrected and was hiding in the bushes off the side of her lane. 'This is it!'
Drawing heavily on her mana, she fired a power frost arrow from her bow. Warwick lunged forward from the bush as soon as the arrow hit the stocky one. He froze into a statue of ice from the attack; Ashe's strongest to boot. Warwick jumped into the air and sliced right through his frozen enemy. But his steel claws met hardened shell as the ice shattered, releasing its occupant.
'He's tough!' she thought as she loaded another arrow into her bow. With a swipe of his tail, he swept Warwick away and turned toward Ashe as she fired another arrow at him. He blocked it with that iron tail of his.
She backed up slowly, firing more arrows at him all the while. He didn't move, thankfully, but his defenses meant he didn't need to worry about being damaged too much. It also meant that without his tail available he couldn't attack. After all Ashe wasn't shooting plain old arrows.
One more arrow impacted against the segmented spike. Ashe smirked as Warwick returned and he tried to attack the wolf-man.
The tail was now frozen in its most critical place; its segments, the place where they connected.
"Now Warwick!" she cried as the tail froze in place. Warwick snarled and attacked viciously. It seemed like the battle was won when Warwick stumbled back, numerous knives imbedded in his chest. Ashe's eyes widened as she saw their opponent rip off his mask and fire dozens of small blades from his mouth, which now that she looked at it, was not a human's. It was segmented, like his tail.
"You guys are taking forever. Let's speed this up." His voice was deep, and it was the first time she'd heard it.
The announcer's voice came ringing throughout the arena saying, "Gangplank has been slain," and followed closely by "blue team's top turret had been destroyed."
Ashe grit her teeth. That meant top lane's defenders would be pushed back to their secondary turret, allowing the enemy more freedom to roam. Likely they would come here, and soon.
Warwick struggled to stand, but fell to a knee as soon as he did.
"Don't bother. Those knives are poisoned. Even if you make out of here, you'll die from it soon enough. Just sit there like a good dog and wait for your death."
Warwick growled deeply at the man. "These claws can steal the life from anyone they touch, as long as I keep attacking you, I'll live long enough to see you die too."
But even as he said it, he felt his limbs grow cold with numbness.
"Idiot. I told you not to move," said the man. Ashe watched as her magically empowered friendly-vision spied her other three allies heading her way from the river passage that cut through the middle of the map.
She allowed herself a brief, concealed smile. As soon as he was dead, they would push the middle lane, which allowed her to roam as well.
She loaded a fresh arrow onto her bowstring. The man looked at her with an annoyed expression. "Can't you do anything other than fire off those annoying things?"
She grinned at him. "Am I boring you, new Champion?" She couldn't quite remember his name.
The man looked askance at her, before his neck twitched toward the long grass her allies had just hidden in.
Her eyes widened in fear. 'Oh no! It's warded!'
The man aimed his left hand in their direction and it shot off of his arm toward them. As her sharp eyes watched she saw the hand (actually a cylinder with multiple other cylindrical protrusions), she witnessed in slight horror as the cylinders broke off and in half, letting loose a hailstorm of small needles, each dripping with a purplish liquid that couldn't be mistaken for anything other than poison.
Jax, Shen and were pelted with them, though Shen managed to shield himself better than Jax, and Shaco had the foresight to vanish from the bush and make for the armored man. The demon jester, invisible for a moment attacked the shelled man with a fervor with his twin knives.
Taking the opportunity, she and her allies attacked. Shen's swords flashed in the light as they separated the man's head from his shoulders and Jax's smashing power crushed the shell on his back.
She smiled in joy as the body crumbled. "Come! Let's destroy the tower!"
The others nodded and they moved forward to attack, the minions around them feebly trying to stop them. In the back of Ashe's mind, she felt as if something wasn't quite right however. Something was out of place…
Then she realized it. The announcer hadn't called out the man's defeat. She looked to the tower and saw that her allies had stopped short, or rather, slowed down.
In front of them was a red-headed young lad. His bored amber eyes belied his power, for he wouldn't be here if he wasn't strong. But still, one so young as him? What could his true power be?
"You all are pathetically predictable."
He pushed off from where he leaned against his tower and unclasped the cloak about him. Letting it fall to the ground.
"Still, I suppose this turn of events will hurry things along..."
Her eyes widened in surprise at his body. It looked like it was almost made of… pieces, rather than a normal human. From his belly, a long, slithering cable emerged, while blade-like wings emerged from his back, and his hands sprouted two small tubes.
Now his entire team was behind him, knowing he was in danger, as was their tower.
"Ye look like ye could use a bit help thar matey!" Gangplank said as he primed his pistol. Sasori crossed his arms over his bare chest, seemingly uninterested in anything around him. Fiddlesticks looked eager to kill someone, as always, and Cho'Gath's monstrous form loomed over them from behind.
But what raised Ashe's curiosity was that they didn't even seem to be defending. They looked very relaxed. It was then that she noticed their numbers. "Look out, there's only four-!"
Her cry was silenced as the arena darkened around her. Her telepathic link with her allies was cut off and only her piercing eyes could see around her. The darkness was brief, but as soon as it lifted she found herself surrounded by chaos.
'Damn you Nocturne!' she swore mentally as the phantom warrior slashed his large arm blades against Shen's katana.
She heard a rumbling from beneath her and as expected Cho'Gath's rupturing stakes rose up from the ground. She had to be careful not to be hit by them. Shaco had duplicated himself and gone after the new Champion while Jax fought lamppost-to-sword and gun with Gangplank. Distant booming sounds sounded out over the tumult and she heard the wounded Warwick cry out, "Cannons incoming!"
Each teammate took that to heart as massive exploding cannon balls began landing around them.
Fiddlesticks, not to be outdone, flashed into the midst of them, his armada of crows flying around and diving onto the five of them.
She shielded her eyes from the attack as she loaded a series of arrows into her bow and fired them blindly in a cone in front of her. It cleared her way of crows, thankfully, but she had little time to think as a wave of heat washed over her.
Burning flames poured out of the boy's hands, eerily reminiscent of Annie, the youngest Champion of the League. Inside the fire, she saw the two silhouettes of Shaco burn to a crisp. She snarled as she fired her frost arrows at him but they merely melted at the neared him. The torrent of flames streamed toward them all.
His amber eyes met hers and the whip-like cable in his gut lurched forward and with a blink of light, it was wrapped around her as he Flashed next to her. With her hands now bound, she had no hope of escape except…
Without any hesitation, he placed a palm against her chest and a burst of flames shot out, vaporizing her.
At least, that what would have happened; just as he had flashed toward her, she used her own Flash spell to escape his clutches. She backed up from the fight quickly, running back to her side of the river and to safety.
When she looked behind her, she saw the boy had turned his attention away from her and back to the team-fight. Nocturne had managed to slay Shen, and Fiddlesticks had died to Jax, poor scarecrow. Unfortunately, Jax had died to Gangplank and Shaco had died to the new Champion. Warwick was now trying feebly to escape by dashing into the bushes, but the poison in his veins kept him from escaping effectively.
She was alone now, wounded, but not gravely, against four enemies who could very easily dive on her and kill her before her defensive tower could do anything to stop them. As soon as they approached, a wave of minions leading the way, she could tell she had no choice but to let the tower die for her. She ran, following the path that led back to her secondary tower.
The path wasn't the shortest one, and it took her several minutes to reach the midpoint between them. She paused briefly to catch her breath. She glanced behind her to see the first tower crumble to pieces and heard the announcer shout out its demise. She leaned on her knees as she took calming breaths.
In the distance was the secondary tower and a crowd of minions around it, standing guard. She picked herself up and began moving again, until she noticed the figure blocking her path. 'Nocturne? How did he get here so fast?'
Nocturne was notoriously fast, but she didn't think he was that fast. She loaded an arrow into her bow and notched it. "Please move. I don't want to fight you." She said sternly.
Nocturne's ghostly face betrayed nothing as he said in a loud whispering voice. "I'm afraid I can't do that." His arm blades twitched in and out of their sockets, showing his anxiety. Then with a shadowy hand, he pointed behind her. With a hesitant turn of her head, she looked back.
She was unprepared for the new Champion to be standing right behind her. She nearly tripped over herself in surprise as she backed away. In haste, she fired her arrow at his head with deadly precision.
In response, he raise his left hand a stream of flames shot out, melting the arrow before it hit him. Ashe, not to be outdone, loaded several more arrows onto her bowstring and fired them all at once.
The metal wings on the boy's back flung forward and began spinning wildly in front of him, like two buzz-saws. The flying arrows collided with the spinning blades and her arrows broke instantly. But when the blades' rotation grinded to a halt, he looked at them, only to see ice covering the gears. With a bored look, he raised a hand, spewing forth more flames at her.
She ducked to the side and rose again to fire another arrow when a thick cable wrapped around her neck solidly, lifting her several inches into the air.
Instantly, she felt her throat constrict with the pressure, even as she clawed at the metal desperately. The boy stepped up to her and gazed at her struggling form impassively. His eyes narrowed and the cord tightened immensely.
A resounding crack could be heard as her body went limp.
With an idle toss, he threw the body away, her lifeless form disappearing in a flash of light before it even hit the ground.
In the distance, the rest of his team were already at their secondary tower, hitting it with all they had, their minion followers doing the same. Sasori watched it fall in a cloud of dust, not really worrying that the enemy team would be revived soon and be after them. The single thought that was going through his mind was one of entertainment. 'This game… It seems like it could provide me amusement for a while.'
The cord retracted and coiled about the inside of his waist even as he stepped forward beside Nocturne. The phantom killer looked at him with a growing sense of respect, but not a diminished desire to kill him. Nocturne was just that way; he'd kill his own teammates if he were permitted.
Sasori gave him a sideways glare. "You'll have your chance, I'm sure."
Nocturne's fingers flexed. "I know. I just can't wait for it."
Sasori gave a small chuckle before small blue rings of magic encircled him. "This match is already over. We might as well have fun with what's left of it."
Nocturne gave what could probably be translated into a snort as he too began the recall spell. Both of them watched on for the few seconds it took for the spell to complete. In the distance, two other recall spells shot up into the sky, Cho'Gath and Gangplank having had the same idea as them.
The momentum was in their favor, and for Sasori's first match, it was good start.
Ashe stretched her stiff limbs as the reinvigoration magic took effect, healing her and repairing her clothes, armor and weapons, and restoring her mana reserves and body back to normal status. She groaned as she felt her neck pop when she twisted it. She winced as she felt a lingering pain of her former asphyxiation during the match. They'd lost, of course; purple team's minions pushed a third tower before anyone had a chance to stop them, and the inhibitor was badly damage by the time they cleared them away.
Now that she had time to think outside of the match, and about the certain individual who'd just made his debut, she would probably classify the new Champion as an offensive support mage. He didn't have the raw power that other mages had, but his area-of-effect abilities, like his flame thrower and his crowd-control abilities, like the cord, meant he could hold someone down and do constant damage to them while the more beefy Champions caught up to finish them off.
The first of his kind, as far as she knew. Karma, the Ionian fan-user was similar, but had very little crowd-control, and was more of direct support.
She rubbed her left shoulder and cracked her neck in the other direction.
"Man that match was rough." Came a sudden voice from behind her.
She looked up to see Ezreal, one of them few teenaged Champion of the league standing in the doorway, looking sympathetic. Ashe gave a mirthless laugh. "Yeah, it was wasn't it?"
Ezreal took the response as an OK to come in. "A lot of Summoners were watching the match and want to make a contract with the new guy. What was his name again?"
"Sasori, I think," she said as she stood. "He's an interesting opponent, and I'll admit he's quite scary. You two would probably get along."
Ezreal gave her a raised eyebrow. "How do ya figure that?"
Ashe shrugged her shoulders. "Well, you're both the same age, so I just assumed. Besides, I have a feeling he's a different person outside the arena."
"Again… How do ya figure?"
Ashe gave him a mischievous look. "Call it a woman's intuition."
The boy rolled his eyes at her. "In other words, you have no idea."
She brushed passed him, purposefully ignoring his jab on her way out. He turned and followed.
"So where is he? I heard he was staying here at the Institute until he gets familiar with the place."
Ashe shook her head. "You're the explorer; go figure it out." She smirked at him as she turned at an adjacent hallway and broke company with him.
She smiled at his retreating form and continued on her way. Much of her time was spent in Freljord, ruling over her people, but quite often she would be called to take part in the League's battles. It also didn't hurt that it kept her skills sharp. It was common for one to see other Champions running through the halls, or sitting in the library reading.
As she passed by said library, out walked the last person she'd expected to meet. It was the boy from the earlier match. He now wore a black cloak with a high collar and strange red clouds patterned on them. The inside of the cloak was made of a fine, red silk, from what she could see, and its long sleeves hid all but the tips of his fingers.
She stopped as he walked out, greeting him in the process. He looked at her with an emotionless expression.
"You're from the match today," he stated plainly.
She nodded. "My name is Ashe. Pleased to meet you." She smiled as she extended her hand to him. To her mild surprise, he simply gave her a nod of respect, though he did not reciprocate her gesture.
"I heard about you from many of the Champions here. You're very popular with the Summoners; even the weakest ones."
Ashe gave a shrug, knowing he was right. "It's a pleasure to help those in need. If no one wanted to help the new Summoners, then there'd never be any experienced Summoners, now would there?"
The boy didn't react with much expression. "That may be so, but if that is the case, I'll leave jobs like that to you. I prefer to work with professionals."
Ashe nodded. Champions were often approached by Summoners for a summoning contract, an agreement that allows the Summoner to use them in matches. Of course, Champions had their standards; they'd often do research to see if they could find history on the Summoner. They'd look at their previous records, other known contracts, and known associates, if they had any.
Sasori seemed like the type to prefer the higher tiers of Summoners. Most of the newest Champions of the League were hard to contract, and Ashe had a sneaking suspicion it was due to bloated egos; just being accepted into the League could do that to you.
She blinked back to reality, realizing Sasori had just to excuse himself from her conversation. He simply turned and walked away. She normally would have turned and left as well, but she felt her gaze fall upon the back of his retreating form. She felt her curiosity pique and in an instant she knew she would be asking around about his past for the next few days.
Sasori closed the door to his lavish room. Well, it would have been lavish had he preferred it. But he liked it to be sparse, fitting with his Shinobi lifestyle. Instead, there was a workstation off to the side, a bedroom on the other side and a small congregation room. The League had room service as well as a communal feasting hall so there was no need for a kitchen.
He looked around the room until his eyes fell on his workstation. He made his way to it, pulling off his robe and grabbing a screwdriver and wrench. On the table lay an unfinished puppet, to which he immediately got to work on. It was so habitual to work on puppets that it allowed his mind to wander, even as his skilled hands guided pieces to where they needed to go.
He was alone in this strange world. Whoever summoned him here obviously didn't know who he was summoning or from where. Or else he'd have chosen a better fighter than a puppet master. Sure he was strong, but there were several other stronger fighters in the Shinobi world that he could have chosen.
But if he had anything to say about it, the Summoner (or group of Summoners) wouldn't be able to resist summoning more form his world; not after the show he put on during that mornings' match.
Sasori scoffed aloud to himself. "I wonder who'll be their next new recruit..." He looked at his creation on the table and affixed chakra strings to it, making it stand. "It's a pity I can't make puppets out of the other Champions here. Such a pity..." He smiled smugly as he turned the marionette this way and that, admiring his own work.
His puppets were after all his only company. But they wouldn't be for long, of that he had no doubt.
In the midst of the forests of Ionia, the summoning magic had been set. It was ready. Indeed, the man who stood at the center of the circle of energy was very pleased with the results of his last summoning. "Sasori, the Master of Puppets" had turned out to be a powerful warrior, one the elites of the Institute would wish to contract with. Already there were rumors that the proverbial "line" was a mile long.
Everyone he talked to spoke of the young lad's power and skill, and when they weren't talking about the lad himself, they were talking of out to fight with him, how to sync with him perfectly to bring out his full power.
It was glorious, and even though the world didn't know that he was the one who brought the Puppet Master here, he was happy with being the unsung hero. Naturally, what he was doing was against The Summoner's Code, but regardless of that, by the time he was done, other Summoners would be so thankful for his actions that he would have near diplomatic immunity.
Yes, he would be an iconic figure in the League of Legends, and whether he ended up being famous or infamous, he honestly didn't mind. It was the beginning of something new; something great.
And he was at the center of it.
"The circle is ready, let the summoning commence."
Three hours later…
Irelia really wasn't a lavish person; she liked the simple things, but as the Captain of the Guard (who had an abundance of adoring fans) she didn't always have the opportunity to enjoy that simplicity before she was given gifts from her countrymen and women. However, what she cherished most were the gifts from the children of her nation. One, because they gave her gifts not really knowing what she did, and two because they were just so innocent… so pure.
A lot were simple, often bad quality drawings from children who simply sent a note at their parent's behest that said "thank you for keeping us safe, from etc etc" and included a poorly drawn picture of her and the child together in some famous or familiar place.
It was adorable no matter how you looked at it. She specifically set aside one of her room's walls as a display just for them. She sat on her bed, looking at the multitude of papers with a sense of pride. She desired to protect and serve her country, and the messages from such little ones were an encouragement, more so than their senders could ever realize.
A knock at her door stirred her from her thoughts. "Just a moment." She stood, smoothing the folds of her robes and strode over to the door and opened it. Outside stood a page who held a small letter in his hands.
"Sorry to disturb you ma'am, but this came just now from the Navori region border patrol."
Irelia looked at him curiously before taking the letter from his hands. Unfolding it, she glanced through several times before turning back to the page. "Alert the Kinkou Order, I'll be along shortly."
She barely heard the "yes ma'am" before she closed the door and went over to her wardrobe, pulling out her armor. Nearby, her blades levitated over to her, buzzing as if with excitement. They whizzed over to her side as she donned her radiant red armor. She quickly finished putting it all on before leaving the room, her blades following close beside her.
As soon as she left her room, she was joined by a duo of guards that rushed to her. "Reporting for duty ma'am."
She signaled them to follow and they did so as she made her way out of her villa's main building and to the courtyard where her horse waited. Another pair were brought from the stable when the gathered soldiers and workers saw that they were to follow her. They mounted as soon as they were brought to them.
"I'm heading to the Navori region. I'll be back in a couple of days." And without another word she gave her horse a kick and they all three charged off out the villa's front gate.
One day later
Never before had Akali hunted someone as elusive as her current target. He, or she, was very smart, and stealthy. When the Kinkou Order had been requested to help hunt down the target, she had been slightly surprised. The Kinkou Order was rarely called upon to take care of something in place of the regular army. Not only that, but the fact that Irelia herself was coming to oversee the capture (or death) of the target meant that it must be someone big.
From what she'd been told, the target had been found near an unauthorized summoning circle and was suspected of being the Summoner that had brought the new Champion Sasori to Runeterra several weeks ago. But as she pursued her query, she felt more and more assured that it wasn't the Summoner. Summoners weren't known for their physical prowess after all. Whoever this was, he was skilled.
A shadow of movement caught her eye and she saw that it was her ally Kennen.
Beyond them lay more trees. The forests were perfect for concealing them, but it also seemed to be a similar habitat for their enemy. Of course, with Kennen's raw energy, he would probably be the first to spot the target. And spot him he did. With a swing of his hand, a beloved shuriken crackled with electricity and flew through the air, cutting through several trees in its path.
There was a whizzing, and then the sound of metal making contact. They leapt forward and landed on the ground, looking around for their prey. What they saw worried Akali.
The shuriken lay on the ground in two pieces, the insides still hot from where they'd been split. Kennen likewise looked stunned. Few things had ever been able to deflect his shuriken, let alone split it in half, especially when charged with electrical energy.
They stood there for only a moment before something flashed from the corner of her eye. A shining metal shuriken, much smaller than her partner's, came wheeling at her from the brush. They both dodged to the side, well out range of the spinning blade.
Which was why it surprised her when she felt a sharp pain from her side as she dodged. When she landed, she looked down to see a small cut in her abdomen. Not fatal, but painful nonetheless. She looked back to where the shuriken landed. Well, should have landed. But what she saw were only split branches and tree trunks. Her eyes furrowed in concern. Just what power did this person have? Hopefully, she wouldn't have to wait too long to find out.
Kennen quickly threw his own shuriken into the bush, trying to drive out their opponent. And out he came. He jumped straight up, landing on a branch above him. But what shocked both of them was that he landed on the underside of the limb, and stuck fast.
He wore black clothes with orange patterns on them. On his head he wore a headband with a metal plate on it. On the plate was a foreign symbol of some kind.
He looked at them seriously. Akali leapt forth, bringing her two kama in front of her as she made to decapitate him.
With an inhuman twist of his neck and back he lifted his head, narrowly missing the lethal blow. Akali wasn't expecting that. She'd fully expected him to be dead as soon as she landed. She twisted in midair to land facing him, but as soon as she turned around, the boy was missing.
Oh, right, and he was pretty close to her age, maybe a bit younger. She was nearly eighteen, and this kid looked maybe sixteen or seventeen. Before she could blink, he was in the air, spinning rapidly toward her.
With a painful kick, she went crashing into a tree behind her. Kennen came at him from behind with a surge of lightning. The boy whipped out a knife from his sleeve and turned to face the coming onslaught. But to her surprise, again, the boy deflected the incoming Yordle, using the momentum to push himself away as well.
By now, Akali had recovered and dashed toward the boy, bringing her kama to bear. But the boy saw it and raised his small knife up to defend himself.
The next few seconds were a blur to her.
The boy sliced right through her weapons (though how she didn't know, since his knife didn't even touch her blades at all) and she was sent crashing into the nearby foliage. Kennen threw several shuriken, each charged with deadly lightning. In response the boy threw several of his own. The skill with which he did so inspired Akali; if it weren't for the powerful cutting energy in Kennen's throwing stars, they probably would have all been deflected.
But when they met, they were each cut through with deadly efficiency. Kennen's shuriken that is. Each one sliced right through. If her eyes weren't wide right now, then Kennen's surely were. Nothing had ever cut through his shuriken like this before.
Then she saw it. On the edges of blades the boy was idly spinning on his fingers were thin, near invisible blades of air.
'An air element fighter!'
Like Janna, but far more lethal. Janna could form the wind into a bruising force, but this boy could morph it into a sharp cutting blade that not only could cut through lightning, but also extend the blade's reach.
With a grunt of effort, she threw down a smoke bomb and watched as the chemical dispersed, shrouding them in shadows. She crouched down low in the smoke, as Kennen landed next to her. They both knew they had to approach this carefully.
He was strong, that much was undeniable. She gave a nod to her partner and settled back into a leaping position. With a spring of energy, she shot forward, using the shadows of the smoke to hide her presence. Silently leaping from branch to branch she saw the faint outline of her target and launched herself at him.
Having lost her kama earlier, much to her regret, she tackled him from the branch he was on to the ground. They both landed with a grunt, and as soon as he realized what was happening, he began struggling against her grip. She had her arms wrapped around his arms and chest, but that didn't stop his sharp elbows from nailing her gut.
"Ngh…! Now Kennen!"
Instantly she felt her captive's muscles tighten in preparation for her ally's attack. Bright streaks of lightning flashed from the sky, tearing through trees and stones as they homed in on them both.
The boy shifted his shoulders and ripped his arms free from her grasp and gave her a hard elbow to the face. With a dash of speed, he began running and jumping erratically through the forest, trying to avoid the deadly lightning bolts as the ninja Yordle pursued.
Akali took her brief respite to collect herself and balance from the dizziness she felt. She watched from a distance as the fight traveled farther and farther away from her position. It was only when she couldn't see them anymore that she could hear the armored footsteps of soldiers approaching her.
After a few seconds, they came into the clearing, now empty of smoke and clearly wrecked. Six soldiers flanked the ruler of Ionia, her bright red armor not at all blending in with the green scenery. Irelia took the scene in in an instant.
She turned to the young ninja girl. "What happened here?"
Akali took a deep breath and calmed herself. "We confronted the target, but he got away. My partner is in pursuit."
"Then let us follow, we cannot lose this opportunity!" Akali gave a nod and led the way after Kennen. Not that she needed to; the path to him was littered with destroyed forest. They were fast, for soldiers, and were easily capable of fighting and defeating ten men each.
They closed the gap between them and the distant fight (which was now audible). When at last they reached the battlefield, Akali was shocked to see Kennen's unconscious form half buried in a crater several feet deep. Atop the risen dirt on the other side of the impromptu clearing, the boy stood, albeit shakily, and with several cuts and bruises, and even a few burn marks on his clothes and skin. He was breathing heavily.
When he spotted the newcomers, he gritted his teeth and made to leap away. But as soon as he tried, his right leg gave way and he toppled to the ground. A short cry of pain went out from his lips as he pushed himself back up. Akali was about to charge at him, but a red blur from beside her beat her to it.
Her magical blades following, Irelia rushed forward, slamming into the boy and pinning him to the side of a tree beyond. He cried out in pain as the quartet of blades sank deep into his arms and legs. But when the sound stopped, he glared fiercely into Irelia's eyes even as a trickle of blood slid down his chin.
The soldiers surrounded them, leveling their weapons at him just in case he tried anything. Irelia gave no notion she was intimidated by him though, and glared just as strongly back at him.
"Target captured," she announced. Akali made her way to the center of the crater and lifted the small Yordle into her arms.
He groaned as he awoke. "Kennen, are you alright?"
He gave a slight nod and true to his nature he hopped out of her arms and to the ground. Despite being a deadly creature, Akali took secret pleasure in holding Kennen. He was like a big teddy bear, and he was just so cute! But she kept that to herself.
Kennen looked to were the boy was carefully being removed from the tree and bound with magical chains to keep him secure.
Kennen watched for a while before he spoke again. "Akali, I don't think he's the Summoner."
Akali gave him a curious glance and raised an eyebrow. "You think he's the summoned?"
Kennen gave a hesitant nod. "Well, he isn't wearing any Summoner clothes or runes, and his abilities aren't anything like what we know Summoners use. It makes sense…. Doesn't it?"
Akali turned from his questioning glance and looked back to where they were restraining the boy. True enough, he didn't look like a Summoner, and he was uniquely gifted. If anything, he was more like the Shadow Warriors than a Summoner.
Without a word, she walked over to where Irelia and her guards were standing/working. "Miss Irelia, a word please?"
Irelia looked at her and nodded. "Make sure he doesn't get loose," she ordered to her soldiers as her blades withdrew from his skin, following behind her as she moved away.
Kennen didn't follow them as they stepped off to the side, but as he watched them, he could tell Akali was raising his concern to her. Irelia looked over at the boy on the ground a few times and after a minute gave a hesitant nod to Akali.
Irelia walked over to the wounded boy and looked him over. His breathing was a bit labored, and his wounded legs were bleeding. His scorched and sliced skin was in awful condition, but such could be expected from fighting the Fist of Shadow and the Heart of the Tempest at the same time. His eyes were darting around him at a rapid pace, even as he struggled to break free of his bonds.
After several seconds Irelia spoke. "Boy, what's you name."
He looked at her and snarled. "Piss off bitch. You can't hold me forever."
She slammed a fist into his wounded leg and then grabbed him by the throat. "Your name, boy."
His cry of pain turned into a strained snicker. "That the best you can do?" There was an audible hissing sound that drew Irelia's attention away from his face and toward the leg she'd just hit. To her shock, the wound was sealing itself shut at an inhumanly fast pace.
As she stared at the injury, she heard a loud click and looked back up. What she saw was the boy's fist cocked back ready to hit her, somehow free from his cuffs. She didn't have time to dwell on it before she found herself reeling from the blow. She caught herself before she completely hit the ground and looked back to the now free blonde.
He spun his legs around him as he twisted on his hands, knocking his captors around like paper dolls. Flipping upright, he rolled his neck around, reveling in the cracking sounds it made and the relief he felt. "Nnngh yeah…"
His arms and legs hissed as their wounds closed, a pungent steam rising from them. "You can't catch a Shinobi like me that easily!" he boasted with a smile, as if all of them attacking him hadn't angered him in the least.
Something in the back of Akali's mind whispered to her. Something about what he said was familiar. But why? The gears in her mind kick-started, grinding as she racked her brain for the origin of that strange familiarity. Then it hit her. One of the words he had said.
The soldiers around her leveled their weapons at the boy and Irelia's blades whirled back to her, ready to strike. Kennen was crouched low, prepared to pound on the stranger with all his might; sparks of electricity were already leaping from his feet as he readied himself.
The boy noticed this and, his grin faltering, also crouched lower, either to run or to defend himself.
Everyone turned to Akali as she placed herself between her allies and her enemy. Irelia looked at her strangely as did the boy, though by the time the young Shadow Warrior turned to him he'd already begun backing up, his eyes subtly looking for an escape route.
Akali turned to the boy, placing Irelia behind her. "What did you just call yourself just now?"
The boy looked at her strangely, not exactly sure what was going on. "Um, a Shinobi?"
Akali nodded her head, now certain that was what was scratching at the back of her mind. "Yes, what is that?"
The boy looked at her as if she were crazy. "Wow… what the hell have you been hiding under if you don't know what a Shinobi is? I'm a ninja, duh!"
Both Akali and Kennen's eyes both widened and then narrowed. That explained a bit. He was definitely ninja-like, though perhaps lacking on the stealthy side. He used ninja weapons, fought using his surroundings to his advantage, and had unique elemental abilities. He wasn't of the Kinkou Order that was certain; he didn't have any of the attributes that their kind possessed. If anything he looked far too carefree and rambunctious to be an acceptable assassin.
"Where are you from, boy?" Irelia asked, her blades lowering ever so slightly, but not unprepared to act at their master's will.
"Geez, quite calling me 'boy' already! I'm Uzumaki Naruto of Konoha, get used to it!"
Kennen perked up and spoke to him for the first time. "Konoha?"
"Yeah, Konohagakure no Sato." At their silence, his face went front from a, what's-wrong-with-you expression, to an oh-you've-got-to-be-kidding-me one.
"Leaves! The Village Hidden in the fucking Leaves! Damn, you guys don't know anything!" His facial expressions changed from irritation to near anger. He slapped his palm against his face in annoyance.
Suddenly the rabbit trail connected for Akali. "Wait, is that near the Village Hidden in the Sand?"
Instantly the boy's frustration evaporated and changed to a look of suspicion. "How do you know about them?"
Akali, now knowing that this boy was from the same place as Sasori, knew how to diffuse this hostile situation. "Another person from that village came here several weeks ago. His name was Sasori. Is that familiar to you?"
A spark of recognition lit up in Naruto's eyes. "…Akasuna no Sasori?"
Akali, for the most part sure that it was the same person, though she didn't know what "akasuna" meant, nodded. "Yes, I think so."
Immediately, Naruto's eyes hardened. "Where is he?" It was less a question and more of a demand. The slightly-jovial atmosphere around him vanished into an air of sheer determination. "He is a threat to my village. I've been specifically ordered to kill him on sight."
He pulled out a small knife and pointed it at the assorted crowd. "You will tell me where he is."
Akali placed her hands in front of her. "N-Now hold on now there's no need for violence. I think we need to explain a few things first." She looked to her leader and sent a questioning look her way.
Irelia nodded and stepped forward. "I'm Irelia, Captain of the Guard of Ionia. You probably don't know where that is, do you?"
"Never heard of it," Naruto said, rolling his eyes.
"Well then, like my friend said, we need to explain some things first. So if you're willing, we can escort you back to my estate."
Naruto snorted in laughter. "Isn't it a bit soon to be inviting me over to your house? Sadly, I must decline your most gracious offer, as my heart belongs to another," he said over-dramatically, even as the image indigo hair fluttered in his mind. "Her name is-…"
Suddenly, his eyes snapped open and he faced them, slitted black pupils standing out clearly against his crimson eyes. "…-Kyuubi!"
With a swing of his arm, red wisps of energy lashed out against the gathered , each tendril of destruction acting as a sharpened whip, slicing through trees and the ground itself as they homed in on his opponents. "Hahaha! Eat it!"
It happened too fast for them to see, too fast for them to register. In the blink of an eye the red energy that was leashed to his body vanished like mist, and his red eyes changed back to their azure orbs.
But it wasn't the boy that their attention was directed at now. It was the form of another boy, much colder looking that the first. He was faced away from them, and subsequently, toward Naruto. He stood eyelevel with him until Naruto wobbled a bit. The newcomer caught him easily enough, steadying him.
"…Eheh, thanks Sasuke. You're a life-saver…" Naruto said groaning slightly and clutching his head.
The boy named Sasuke gave a sort of grunt, and let Naruto go. He turned to the spectators behind them. This boy wore a mix of white and purple; a white shirt that hung open in the front and was tucked into his black pants, around which was wrapped a purple rope-obi. A sword was tucked neatly behind him, interwoven with the rope cords.
His black hair accented his white shirt, but it was his hypnotizing eyes that grabbed their attention. They were crimson, not unlike how Naruto's had been a moment before, but instead of feline slits for pupils, they were a series of three black commas revolving around a larger black pupil. But as soon as they saw them, they were gone, replaced by a pair of cold, onyx eyes.
"It seems in this particular instance, I was." He said, likely referring to saving their lives from Naruto. Whatever that red energy was, it was extremely lethal.
"And what was that about the Kyuubi being the love of your life?" Sasuke asked suspiciously, eyeing his comrade from the side. Naruto held his arms out in front of him and laughed nervously.
"Ah, well about that… I didn't really mean the Kyuubi. I was talking about someone else, but then the Kyuubi kind of popped in there and… yeah."
Sasuke shook his head and sighed. "If it were anyone other than me…" he mumbled under his breath.
Naruto got up and swung his arm around his friend's shoulder. "I know! That's why you're my best friend, riiiiight?"
Sasuke rolled his eyes away from Naruto, not caring for his antics at the moment. Instead, he turned to Irelia, seeing as she was clearly the one in command. "I'm Uchiha Sasuke. We'll accept your request for talks. After all, if I'm right, I doubt we're in a position, or place to negotiate."
Irelia gave a nod, knowing what he meant. She directed them all to follow her. If they had been illegally summoned, then they probably had no idea how far from their home they really were. "Well head for the Kinkou Order, since it's nearest. We'll rest and explain things there, agreed?"
As they all settled with the decision, Sasuke turned to the small ninja Yordle. "I hope my friend didn't cause you too much trouble. As a fellow Raiton user, I know how hard it can be to fight a Fuuton user like him."
Kennen blinked as he sorted through Sasuke's words. His choice of words implicated that he was a lightning user too, by the word "fellow" and that regarding how hard it was to fight the boy's wind techniques, which he assumed was what "Fuuton" meant. He wasn't sure, but it sounded like this Sasuke guy was a lightning element user too, which made this the first time Kennen had met someone else with similar abilities before, excluding Volibear, who wasn't specifically lighting based.
Shaking off his excitement, he shook his head. "Not a problem! If we fight again, I'm sure I'll win."
Sasuke gave the small strange creature a smirk. Even if it was covered in clothes, he could see fur on the thing's face. Naruto may have thought he was a midget, but Sasuke clearly saw that it wasn't human. 'Hmm, giant hamster or small bipedal bobcat? Eh, I'll go with hamster.'
It was funnier that way.
"So, let me get this straight… You want us to believe that we've been… 'summoned' to another world by 'magic,' and that this sort of thing happens all the time?" Naruto asked, extreme skepticism showing in his voice.
Irelia simply nodded blankly. "Yes. Well, actually, summoning from other worlds and realities is strictly prohibited, and anyone who's caught doing so is severely punished. You see, summoning is easy, reverse summoning is… a bit more difficult, so we can't just send those who are illegally summoned back. Immediately anyway."
Naruto stared at her blankly. "Yeeaaah… you lost me at 'magic'."
The young woman took a start at that. "You've… never heard of magic?"
"Nope," said the blonde simply.
"Magic is simply cheap illusions and parlor tricks," Sasuke elaborated. He sat quietly on a plush chair in one of the Kinkou Order's common rooms. His sword leaned against the right arm rest, close at hand, just in case. His arms were crossed coldly. "Real 'magic' does not exist."
He looked at her impassively, though mentally correcting himself slightly. 'At least, not where we're from…'
Irelia looked at them quietly for a moment, with Akali and Kennen glancing between the three of them. An elder of the Order sat nearby, listening eagerly
At last Irelia nodded to herself. "In that case, what do you call the energy that allows you to do… what you do?" Kennen and Akali had both briefly spoken to her in private about the blonde's abilities, just in case something happened. Though they didn't know the obsidian eyed one's powers, at least they'd have a leg up on the other.
But that was, of course, a worst case scenario.
Naruto suddenly became uncharacteristically silent. He glanced to his right at Sasuke, whose eyes were closed.
Irelia looked at them expectantly. "If it's any comfort, there are many with strange powers all over Runeterra. You needn't feel ashamed or careful; we found you, and we'll take care of you, if you'll let us."
Sasuke's eyes opened. "Two things: who is 'we' and 'why?'" He fixed her with a no-nonsense look that said he was very obviously suspicious of her and the others.
She hesitated a moment before laughing mirthlessly. "Ah, I see. We haven't exactly informed you have we?" She turned to the Order elder. "Can we borrow a map? I'm afraid we left ours on the horses."
"Oh, of course." The man compliantly nodded and got up, shuffling over to the other side of the room where a littered, but still organized table sat. Presently, he picked up a brown parchment and came back over, unfolding the map on the center coffee table that sat between them all.
"We are here." She pointed to small land mass to the up right of the map. "Ionia."
Sasuke and Naruto both looked at the map carefully, looking for the all-too familiar continents and seas of their home. There were no similarities. Runeterra was a large island land, with nothing around it except smaller land masses, in the form of Ionia and Blue Flame Island. On second glance, there was another island far up and to the left most corner of the map; the Shadow Isles.
After several long moments, Sasuke sat back, his look showing he was no longer interested in the map. "…I see…" he said at last.
Irelia, taking the advantage of the ensuing silence, continued on. "The nations of Runeterra are essentially city-states. Since you were found in Ionia, it's only expected that we take care of you until, well, such a time as you wish to leave."
Naruto sighed softly. "Man… Danzo's gonna freak," he said, his hand sliding down his face as he mumbled to himself.
Sasuke threw his partner a look before realizing that it was probably pointless; this world had no knowledge of Danzo. It probably wouldn't hurt anything to let his name slip.
Akali noticed the look, but said nothing.
Sasuke folded his hands in front of him, resting them in front of his mouth as he leaned forward on his knees. "…And in return?"
Irelia blinked. "You have no obligation to do anything for us. All we are offering is a place for you to live until you are sent home."
Sasuke looked at her calmly. "Forgive me for being cynical, but I have yet to meet any genuine politician who would offer assistance to two powerful, unknown killers without a self-serving reason. So I'll ask you again; what do you want?"
The Captain of the Guard swallowed deftly. She hesitated before speaking again. "W-well, the thought did cross my mind…"
"Captain…" cautioned the old man, but she went on.
"Ionia has many enemies… Zuanite mercenaries, Noxus, and even Demacia will not ally fully with us. And as you can see, we are a small nation." She gestured to the map with a wave. "Though direct conflict is… discouraged by the League, we still fear for our safety. If you two are willing, you could become Champions of Ionia; iconic figures who can help quell the temptation of war."
Naruto quirked an eyebrow and Akali could already guess what it was for. 'They don't know what the League is…' She was about to voice her opinions to the Captain when Sasuke cut her off.
"What makes you think we're that capable?" he asked, testing the verbal ground he stood on.
Irelia motioned to the two Shadow Warriors to her right, their left. "If you can match the strength of these, which you've already proven to be capable of doing, then you are surely able to become Champions. I, for example, am a Champion, as are both Akali and Kennen. The stronger we are, the more deterrence is placed on potential enemy city-states."
Sasuke glanced to the side to see Naruto's opinion, only to see him quiet in thought. After a few seconds, the blonde spoke. "You mentioned a 'League.' What is that? Some sort of governing body?"
Irelia made a face, realizing they wouldn't obviously know about it. Akali's expression changed to one of relief, thankful the subject on her mind was voiced. It would have been awkward if they went through the massive explanation only to find out most of it went over their heads.
"Oh, sorry! Of course, you wouldn't know," she said apologetically, though Sasuke couldn't tell if the emotion was real or forced. "The League is a neutral, third party organization in charge of maintaining peace and balance between all nations of Runeterra. If a country wants to challenge someone else for something, the League also becomes host to a competition on the Fields of Justice."
Naruto raised an eyebrow at her, silently beckoning her to elaborate.
"The Fields of Justice is, as simply put as possible, a massive arena where Champions fight. Often, Summoners control us Champions through a magical link that allows us and them to sort of… meld mentally. We understand their thoughts, and they see through our eyes, hear through our ears… you see?"
Naruto huffed. "Now doesn't that sound familiar…" he mumbled, crossing his arms over his chest.
Irelia looked at him questioningly, as if silently asking whether he'd experienced something similar before, only for Sasuke to prod her to continue so she obliged.
"Essentially, Summoners are special mages with great power, capable of syncing with us. Provided they have the right credentials, we allow them to use us in matches. Some competitions are simply to hone a Summoner's skills, while others are for political conflicts, in which said countries will hire the best Summoners to participate on their behalf."
"And you want us to become vassals for your country; Champions to be summoned for gladiatorial fights? How slighting…"
Irelia, sensing she seemed to have hit a prideful nerve, quickly corrected herself. "It's not necessarily like that; the combat that goes on on the Fields is very tactical and strategy based. Work with your team, lead your troops, defeat the enemy."
Seeing Sasuke's skeptic look, she nodded to herself. "It's probably hard to imagine without seeing it for yourself." She let a silence fall over them, allowing them time to think.
After some time, Naruto spoke. "These… 'Summoners…' What are the parameters of who they can control, and, what are limits they can control you?"
Irelia took that as a positive sign and continued. "If a certain Champion catches a Summoner's eye, they can request the permission to use us in competitions. However, we alone give consent to that. Some Champions allow even the newest of Summoners to use us. A gracious quality our pride doesn't always allow…" she quietly admitted.
Sasuke looked between the three warriors in front of him. "And what qualities would they need to have before you allow them to use you?"
"In a word, influence. The more a Summoner participates, the more influence he gains. This influence is both social, and magical. The magical influence allows him the ability to control a higher tier Champion better, while the social influence allows him or her to gain an audience with us, personally, to request our approval."
Noticing their blank looks, she went on. "That's not to say we always agree. It's rare, but some have been known to turn a Summoner down. We don't fight for just anyone with connects you know. Often, we will do our own background checks on the Summoner, seeing who he participates with. If he tends to fraternize with our enemies, or with Champions who support our enemies, we would likely say no."
"So we have the choice to allow them or not," Naruto clarified. She nodded.
Naruto leaned forward and rested his chin in the crook of his thumb, visibly pondering everything he'd been offered. Sasuke likewise closed his eyes and thought.
They were silent before another voice spoke up, this time from the green clad girl who sat on her knees beside her ally. "Miss Irelia is too humble to say it, but both she and my friend, Kennen, are of the highest tier of Champions. I'm… more towards the middle myself."
Naruto glanced at her, but his glance turned into a stare. "Your name was Akali, right?" She nodded.
Naruto paused, not saying anything more, but pursing his lips and simply looked at her. She shifted slightly under his gaze, but it wasn't long before she realized he wasn't looking at her. Rather, he wasn't looking at anything in particular at all, almost like he was staring off into space. She deftly glanced to the side and saw Kennen give her the same look she had.
Sasuke simply looked at Naruto, silently waiting for what would come next. After a minute or so, the blonde seamlessly came back to reality.
"He says it'd be entertaining," he said at last, though his words confused those around him. Sasuke smirked, though, apparently understanding what he was talking about.
"Of course he would." He snorted lightly before looking back at Irelia. "Before we give an answer, I think it's only fair we visit this 'League' for ourselves. Is this agreeable."
The woman nodded. "Oh, perfectly. We will leave in the morning. Until then, if it's permissible, take a tour of the Order. It's a quite a place, and not many people get to even be as far as this room."
The old man next to her nodded and stood. "Of course, we'd be happy to show them our home. Choose your guides and do as you wish, but please try not to disturb any of the students in their training."
While he was speaking to Sasuke and Naruto, his parting words seemed to be directed to the two others.
'In other words, don't let them get into to trouble.' The Uchiha let himself smirk slightly as he stood. "In that case, if I may, I'll have the small one."
"Yordle." Akali informed carefully. "Yordles are indigenous to Yordle Land and are naturally small." She pointed at the map and Sasuke followed its direction.
"I see. Kennen was your name, yes?"
The furry creature nodded. "Yes. Your name was…?" He trailed off questioningly.
"Sasuke. Uchiha Sasuke."
An odd name. But he couldn't begrudge someone of their name. "OK then Uchiha, follow me."
"Just Sasuke. Uchiha is my last name," he corrected.
Kennen gave him a strange look. "Do you always introduce yourselves with your last name first?"
"More or less. It's custom for our family name to come first in an introduction."
Kennen stood as well, accepting the fact easily. An honorable notion; to place the family name first. "Alright then, let's go!" The Heart of the Tempest gestured for the boy to follow as he led him out of the room.
"I guess I'm stuck with you, huh?" Naruto said jokingly, laughing lightly as he looked at the Fist of Shadow. But the look he received was less than friendly.
"I might say the same."
He cringed slightly. Apparently she didn't joke well.
She looked at him sternly. "I am Akali, the Fist of Shadow. I'll be your guide from here on." While she didn't take kindly to his teasing tone, she couldn't easily forget what this boy alone had been able to do while fighting both her and her ally only the day before. But even so, she had to admit it; with him sitting there in front of her, knowing that neither were an enemy to each other, he actually looked quite friendly.
"Uzumaki Naruto. Err…Naruto… Uzumaki, I guess," the blonde stuttered slightly at the mix-up. 'That sounds so weird!' He shivered off the foreign feeling and shrugged. "Lead the way."
She nodded and turned, walking out of the room with him in tow.
When the four others had left the room, Irelia looked to the old master still beside her. "What do you think?"
"Actually, it's strange. When they first came in, and even during the discussion, aside for their general lack of knowledge about Runeterra, they didn't feel all that foreign. In fact, if I were to be completely honest, I'd say they felt almost eerily familiar."
The Captain of the Guard cocked her head to the side curiously. "Familiar?"
The man nodded. "If I had to describe it, it was like I was talking to two of our very own Warriors. Closed, guarded, ready… With the kind of connection to each other that we promote in our own trainees. I have no doubt that without even looking, those two could read each other's mind."
"So… what does that mean?"
"At the very least," he continued after a long pause. "…it means that whatever world they're from, whatever culture they have, their professions are likely very similar, and perhaps even identical to that of the Kinkou Order. "
"…Would that make them more or less likely to accept our proposal?"
The man hrmm-ed quietly to himself. "I can't say. It may be that they find similarities here that will make them comfortable enough to agree, or it could be that those similarities are superficial and I'm just reading too much into it."
The woman let out a breathy sigh and nodded. "Either way, thank you for your time. I'll be sending a message to the League tonight announcing our arrival tomorrow."
The man nodded and watched her leave. Quietly, he shuffled over to one of the few windows in the room and looked outside at one of the Zen gardens below. On one side, Kennen and the stoic boy were heading to the library. On the other the more jovial boy was being led by Akali to the practice fields.
As he observed them, he couldn't help but wonder, as one always did about extraterrestrial/ inter-dimensional beings… What secrets did they hold? What power did they wield? By what laws did they abide by, moral or legal? And of all questions, he couldn't help but wonder this one; why did they both reek of such terrible malice?
So far, the Naruto boy had been quiet, allowing her to simply lead the way to the training grounds, which was probably the only place that came to mind when she thought of how to start the tour. She couldn't deny the uneasy feeling she had; walking around so close to someone who only just recently was her hunted target and enemy without her beloved kama… It wasn't exactly the most comfortable feeling in the world.
However, now that she'd had time to examine him, both his subtle mannerisms and his physiology, she found him very curious. He seemed to be the excited, happy-go-lucky type, like Kennen but more so, yet he was clearly restraining himself; like how a hyperactive child might try to act at a funeral of someone he didn't know.
It was like he deemed the situation was too dismal to act the way he normally would. That was a type of empathy that she wouldn't expect from a "bad guy," and it made her even more curious about him.
His voice jolted her from her thoughts. Without stopping, she turned towards him. He rubbed his neck bashfully.
"Sorry about the fight earlier. I probably shouldn't have run when I sensed you coming." He laughed forcefully. "Probably could've avoided the whole mess if I'd just come quietly, right?"
'How strange…' He was trying to be nice, funny, and apologetic all at once. Akali had grown up from birth to be strong and obedient. Don't question orders. Don't slack off. Protect the Balance. Etc. But even so, she hadn't been taught to be a merciless assassin. She'd developed a calm, quiet personality as she grew within the Kinkou Order, even going so far as to volunteer as a nurse at the Institute of War.
She wasn't exactly the most personable type, but she could read emotions and behavioral tics in a person. What she could read in this boy showed that he was a very empathetic person, able to feel the weight of the emotions of those around him. Comparing the boy she saw now with the cold fighter she'd battled a day earlier, it was like night and day.
"It's only natural to run from danger. If you hadn't run, you'd either have to be very confident, or very dumb," she assuaged understandingly. "Though it would have been nice if you hadn't."
The boy chuckled quietly, rubbing the back of his neck. They continued on without interruption, the crunch of gravel or the rustling of grass beneath their feet the only sounds to be heard other than their breathing. Presently they came to the practice field, or at least, the one she frequented the most.
It was a simple verdant field of grass with a dozen training posts scattered around at random intervals, and included barbed wire fences and trappings. Numerous scratches and cuts in the wood, along with the occasional stain of blood on metal wire was only a small telltale sign of how much time and energy she'd devoted to practicing when she was younger, and even now, when she had the chance.
She looked at him curiously. "Familiar?"
He nodded. "Well, yeah, kinda. I mean, we didn't have barbed-wire fencing, but we did have the occasional training post. Konoha's training program focused on nurturing our growth rather than forcing it out of us, so I doubt we were as extreme as this place is, if this spot is any indication…"
"Konoha? Is that where you come from?" she asked, guessing the foreign word to be a name.
"Yeah, Konohagakure, the largest and strongest of the Five Shinobi Nations." He rambled it off as if it were a habit. Glancing to the side, he noticed she had a slightly confused face and he chuckled. "Right… you've got no idea what I'm talking about. I guess I should explain a little about my home too. Ah, but where to begin?"
He looked to the blue sky thoughtfully before several moments before speaking again. "I guess it all started couple hundred years ago. The world was filled with warring Shinobi clans, but two of them, the Senju and the Uchiha, both being the strongest and most influential of the clans, put aside their grudges and formed Konoha, the first Shinobi village. Eventually the other countries followed suite, resulting in each nation having its personal Shinobi village. Kaze no Kuni had Sunagakure, Tsuchi no Kuni had Iwagakure, Hi no Kuni had Konohagakure, Mizu no Kuni had Kirigakure, and Kaminari no Kuni had Kumogakure."
His tone became more disgusted at the end of his list, almost spitting the final name out. But even with his explanation, Akali was completely lost. All those words were foreign to her. She quickly felt around in her pocket, finding the small red gem inside of it still pulsing with energy. 'The translation runes stone is still working… why isn't it translating?'
The Ionians had their own language, but most of them spoke the common universal language everyone else in Runeterra did. This was done through translation rune stones. Some Ionians preferred to speak their own language over basic, and consequently used the stones more often. Akali was one of them. Though she wondered what would happen if she turned off her rune. What language did he speak? The only problem with always having translation stones was that you couldn't tell when anyone was actually speaking another language, since the artifact would automatically translate it into a language the owner understood.
But she didn't want to miss anything he said, so she left it on. She could always ask him later.
"You said that one of the… Shinobi," It was a strange word, "clans was the Uchiha. Is that the same clan as your friend?"
Naruto smirked. "One in the same. Sasuke's ancestor, Uchiha Madara vied for power by challenging Senju Hashirama for the title of Hokage, the leader of our village. When he failed, he left the village. There's a lot of backstory as to why he left, but Sasuke won't share it with me. All he says is 'you'd understand if it were you,' or something like that. Oh well, everyone's got their secrets."
"So, who is your leader now?"
Naruto smiled sadly. "A guy named Himura Danzo. See, our village was attacked a while back, Tsunade, who was the Hokage at the time, helped fend off the attack. Unfortunately it left her in a coma. Until she wakes up, Danzo is Hokage."
He paused, as if deliberating whether he should continue or not. Eventually he shrugged and went on. "See, me and Danzo go way back though. In our village we have a group of elite Shinobi called ANBU. Basically assassins and bodyguards under the direct command of the Hokage. Danzo, a warhorse of the Third Hokage's day had built his own ANBU force called ROOT. When I was young, I was inducted into them along with Sasuke."
He smiled at those old memories. "Sure it was different than what normal Shinobi would have done, but I don't regret it. Normally, ROOT training requires harsh exercises that force you to suppress your emotions. But Danzo could never get me to do it. No matter what happened, my emotions were always there. Eventually he just gave up on trying to get them out of me and focused on actual training."
"What about your friend Sasuke? Did it work for him?"
She was surprised when Naruto openly laughed. "He didn't need it. Sasuke was already emotionless when he joined ROOT. See, Sasuke's brother killed the entire Uchiha clan in cold blood, leaving only Sasuke. He hasn't been able to escape that past…" he trailed off, his voice growing sad.
"Over time, he grew a personality, but by the time he did, he was past the age for emotion training. As long as he was loyal to ROOT, Danzo let him be. It was also important because he needed Sasuke to keep me in check. See, I've got this… problem. And whenever this 'problem' gets out of hand, Sasuke has to stop me. Aside from Danzo, Sasuke is the only person who can."
She hesitated to ask what his "problem" was, but she did wonder why Sasuke was the only other one. "Is it because of your friendship?"
Naruto shook his head. "Not at all. Our friendship came later. Rather, it's a specific ability he has, the ability afforded to him by the blood of his family. We call them Kekkei Genkai, special abilities that run in the blood of a family line."
"I see," she said at last. "You keep saying "Shinobi," but I don't know what that is. Can you explain?"
Naruto hrmm-ed aloud and paused. "If I had to compare it to something, as far as I've seen, Shinobi are the same as the people here. What'd you call yourselves? Shadow Warriors?"
She nodded her head affirmably.
"Well, from what I can tell, they're pretty much the same, I think."
Akali paused and thought over all the information she'd heard. Several questions came to mind, and even as she thought of those questions, even more questions about those questions popped up. But she couldn't help but notice the feeling that while he was so different, and clearly form another world, it all sounded distantly familiar. She tried pinpointing the origin of the feeling, but came up with nothing. 'I'll have to meditate on it later.' She looked at the boy and continued with her questioning.
"This Danzo person sounds like a very uptight fellow; very strict sounding."
Naruto nodded. "He can be. In all honesty, if he knew I'd blabbed about him as much as I have today, I'd be in trouble for sure!"
"Blabbed? From what you've told me, everything you've said sounds as if it would common knowledge. You don't need to feel obligated to tell me any secrets."
He waved her off idly. "Most of ROOT is sealed with a special mark that keeps them from disclosing any information about ROOT or Danzo himself. Neither me nor Sasuke were given it, so we can talk all we want. I'm just taking advantage of it. Though, in all honesty, I don't get the feeling we'll be returning home anytime soon."
Akali cocked her head at him curiously, a small grin invisible beneath her mask. "And what brought you to that conclusion?"
He shrugged again, this time with a blank face. "A feeling. And unfortunately my feelings are usually right."
Neither of them spoke, and neither of them really noticed they'd moved from the training field and were now aimlessly strolling about the outer walls of the Order. When Akali realized they'd traveled halfway around the facility, she quickly thought of some place the boy would probably like to see.
"Say, Naruto, would you like to meet some of our other members? They're young and aren't full-fledged Shadow Warriors yet, but perhaps you will feel more comfortable around people of a similar creed."
Naruto blinked at her before smiling brightly. "I'd like that very much, Akali-san. Thanks!"
Something about his smile was infectious, and she couldn't stop a grin from forming beneath her mask. She deviated from their orbiting walk and began leading him through a maze of hedges and meditation gardens to another training field, one where Order fledglings would practice and train.
It was several minutes before the familiar ruckus of training graced their ears. Presently they turned a corner and were able to see the several dozen fighters working in the massive training field. Some were sparring, others were doing terrain training, and even some were balancing on narrow crisscrossing beams of wood while fighting with bow-staffs. There was a shaded area where some were reading books beneath a large tree; some of the students having chosen to take to the higher points of the tree's branches for privacy. A small workout station was planted beneath a clear canopy, doing nothing to shield those beneath it from the sun, but rather only there to keep the equipment from getting wet were it to rain.
Naruto took a deep breath, inhaling the pungent scent of sweat, blood and determination. "Just like the Academy…" he mumbled quietly to himself.
"They will be excited to meet you. Even if you don't accept our offer and become a Champion, it isn't often one meets someone from another world."
Naruto shifted slightly and rubbed the back of his neck. "Ehh… I'm not one for that kind of thing. Err, I guess I should say I'm still not used to it…"
She looked at him inquiringly. "So you're famous where you're from?" she asked, catching his trailing words.
He looked away and muttered lowly. "Erm, well…"
He was broken from his thoughts as there was groaning yell from across the field. Standing on his tiptoes, as if it would give him a significant height advantage. When he saw what was causing the noise, he shook his head wearily. "C'mon Akali-san, we'd better get over there fast or we'll miss the action."
Without warning, Akali felt one of his strong hands grab the wrist of her own and suddenly found herself being dragged across the training field at high speeds. She felt a blush pink her face at the unexpected action, though by the time they stopped she'd composed herself. Pulling herself free of his grip, she rubbed her wrist and gave him a look, but he wasn't looking at her. Following his gaze, she found herself standing beside a mass of bodies littering the ground, each one groaning in pain and rubbing their wounded limbs.
In the center stood Sasuke, looking this way and that for any more challengers.
"Come on, I was going easy on you too."
One of the students at Akali's feet groaned and sat back on his knees, rubbing his ribs tenderly. "Geez, he's unstoppable…!"
Naruto smirked. "Well, that's Sasuke for you. You guys'd be lucky to even touch him."
Akali frowned and stepped forward, picking her way through the mass of injured students up to Sasuke. "What do you think you're doing?" she asked harshly once she'd gotten close enough, Naruto in tow, occasionally uttering an apology to someone he stepped on.
The Uchiha looked at her with his onyx eyes blankly. "You're friend wanted me to give some tips to the younger ones," he said, gesturing to Kennen nearby, who'd been hidden behind Sasuke's form from the Fist of Shadow's perspective.
Ironically, the little Yordle was practically bouncing with excitement. "It was so cool! Akali, he's totally strong!" Small sparks of light zipped from his fur unconsciously.
Akali felt most of her indignation fall away, seeing as it had been Kennen's idea in the first place. She repressed a sigh, though with effort. "I don't think Master meant this when he told us to give them a tour."
Kennen chuckled bashfully. "Hehe, well, I might have gotten a bit overzealous I guess."
Sasuke closed his eyes and turned toward her with a small smirk. "Hmh, don't blame him too much. It's understandable that he'd want to see my abilities. Though, if you wanted to see more than just my taijutsu, you should probably have fought me yourself."
Neither Warrior knew was "taijutsu" was, but they both assumed it was the name of his fighting style. Taking his worlds as an invitation, Kennen made a mental note to take advantage of it later when it was more appropriate.
"Regardless of that, what did we all learn today?" he said, raising his voice to the injured around him.
"Learn your own blind spots," they moaned out as one, even as they began to recover from the one-sided beating he'd given them.
He nodded satisfactorily. "Good." His gaze shifted to the coloring sky.
"I think we should head inside; it's getting late."
The other three looked to the sky and nodded in agreement. They'd all seen enough for one day.
The moon was lovely, sitting there all pretty in the midnight sky. Its full circle of pale reflected light shown down on him as he sat on the tiled roof. Insomnia wasn't a common problem for him, but neither was it unexpected. He stared up at the celestial object, basking in its cool glow.
There was a shuffling of steps behind him, followed by a familiar voice. "I thought I'd find you up here."
Sasuke approached and sat down next to him, leaning his hands on his knees as he joined his comrade in moon-gazing.
Naruto sighed and rested his chin on his folded hands. "Can't sleep."
"You've been doing that a lot more recently. How come?"
He shrugged. "Dunno. Just happens I guess. I didn't have ramen for dinner, so that might be why."
Sauske snorted and shook his head. "Pfft, yeah, right. The sad part is I can see that actually being the problem."
Naruto rolled his eyes, only briefly taking them away from the moon above.
Sasuke eyed him knowingly, turning back to the moon as well. "I think I know the problem," he said, not expecting Naruto to respond. "You miss her."
Naruto sighed with a sad smile, now looking down at his hands. "Is it that obvious?"
"You haven't seen her in at least a month. It's understandable; 'absence makes the heart grow fonder,' or so they say."
Now Naruto snorted. "Man, that sounded so much like Sai, it's not even funny."
The Uchiha smirked to himself before blinking, suddenly remembering something. He reached behind him and pulled out a small scroll from his equipment pouch. "That reminds me…" he held out the object to the blonde next to him. "She wanted me to give this to you."
Naruto stared at it in surprise. "When did you…?" he trailed off questioningly as he took it.
"Before we left. I was going to let you read it once we'd gotten away from the village, but then…"He too trailed off. They'd been suddenly stolen away from their world before they get too far from the village. 'I guess it goes without saying our mission is on hold,' he thought to himself.
The sound of unraveling paper signified Naruto opening the parchment. Immediately he smiled as he the scent of sweet lavender wafted to his nostrils. Then his eyes went over the words, his expression switching between sadness and endearment. After several minutes, he finally rolled it back up and placed it in his own pouch. "Hehe…"
Sasuke sent a questioning glance to his partner, but didn't receive a reply. Instead, he simply looked back at the moon, his gaze now taking on a much more pleasant appearance. If Sasuke could put into words, he'd say the blonde was love struck. 'Well, that's not exactly news…'
He and Naruto had been friends for a long time now, and Naruto trusted him with his secrets; secrets he couldn't trust with anyone else, but secrets he just had to tell someone about. For several months now since Pain's invasion, Naruto had been secretly seeing the daughter of the Hyuuga's current head. For reasons that were obvious, they couldn't make their relationship public. However, while Sasuke had no doubt Danzo would disapprove of the relationship, the two of them could probably spin it off as being in their favor to have "the daughter of Konoha's 'most prestigious' clan under their thumb." Sure Danzo would see right through it as being a lie so Naruto could date her, but he wouldn't be able to deny the advantage it had. Besides, Naruto was his key soldier; someone he couldn't lose no matter what. He'd make sure Naruto stayed happy no matter what, just to keep him in ROOT.
Sasuke stayed in ROOT since he saw it as the most efficient way to find and confront his brother, and Danzo needed him in it to help contain the Kyuubi whenever it got out of hand. Sasuke, being an Uchiha, was the perfect compatriot to Naruto.
Actually, in hindsight, Danzo probably already knew, or at least suspected the Jinchuuriki's relationship with the girl. Apparently, she'd just up and proclaimed her love for him during Pain's invasion, which was probably the most awkward event to do so in, but it had apparently worked. Naruto wasn't a good liar; he'd probably made it obvious that he was leaving something out in his report to Danzo after the invasion, and Danzo had probably let him go, deciding to find out himself what he was hiding.
If Sasuke knew Danzo (and he had his character down to a "T"), the old man would do everything in his power to make sure she was safe while Naruto was gone, if only to maintain his hold over the blonde. Not that he probably wanted to, but he didn't really have a choice; as long as Naruto had a reason to stay, he'd stay. Hinata's safety was a big reason to stay in ROOT, especially after how far Sasuke had seen their relationship progress within the past few months.
'They hit it off like that,' he thought to himself. 'The more they talked, the closer they got. I swear they're soul mates or something.' He acknowledged the fact that there were simply those kind of people in the world who were perfect for each other, and Naruto and his girlfriend, Hinata was her name, were prime examples of it.
"You know Sasuke…" Naruto began, disturbing Sasuke from his thoughts. "…as long as I'm in ROOT, we could never have a real life together. We'd never be able to get married, have kids, live together…"
Sasuke looked at him curiously. "You make it sound like it would even get to that point."
Naruto shot him a look that clearly said he didn't plan on anything other than that happening. Sasuke quickly realized he was serious.
"…What about her?" he asked after a few tense seconds.
The blonde pulled the scroll back out and held it up. "You didn't read this, did you?"
The Uchiha shook his head. It wasn't his business.
Naruto held it out, offering him to take it. He did so, warily, and opened it, skimming through the words. Once he was done, he lowered it, staring at nothing in particular. "I see," he said at last. "So you're both serious."
Naruto nodded. "Yeah. I want to marry her, and soon. But now I'm stuck here, and I don't know if we can even get back."
Ah, there was the truth. He was already homesick, and he was worried, not for himself only, but for her as well.
"Logic says if they can pull us here, they can send us back," Sasuke said simply. "If not, we can always ask if they can pull her here."
Naruto shook his head. "You heard what they said. Summoning from other worlds is illegal."
"No, unauthorized summoning from other worlds is illegal. If they say it's ok, then it's ok."
Naruto looked at his friend skeptically, but knew he was right. Leave it to Sasuke to use his logos to get his way. At last, Naruto sighed in defeat, allowing a brief smile to grace his face. "I guess you're right…" He looked back to the moon, now much higher above them.
"…You know why I like looking at the moon?" he asked without looking away. Sasuke didn't answer, so he continued. "It reminds me of her."
The Uchiha thought about it for a moment before smiling and nodded. "I see… Is that so?"
He too looked at the moon, and admitted, it explained a lot. If he had a more poetic mind, he might have seen it earlier; the pale white light of the full moon. It was her eyes. Her pure, round, white orbs. He'd only met her himself a few times, and only in passing, but he, just as Naruto probably had before him, couldn't help but notice those captivating eyes of hers.
He made a sound in the back of his throat. "We'll find a way Naruto. We always do."
Naruto gave a nod, trusting his friend to be right.
Neither noticed the eavesdropper hiding on the roof behind them, but before they even had the chance to, she was gone.
The Next Morning
Akali knew it probably wasn't the best time to do so, but she found herself contemplating what she'd heard last night. In all honesty she hadn't meant to spy on them; they weren't in their rooms, so she had to make sure they weren't getting into any trouble. She hadn't expected to hear them talking about things as personal as the Uzumaki's love life. Having lived at the Order her whole life, she hadn't exactly been exposed to love, what with the intense training and rigorous exercises. Not to mention there weren't any boys in particular who caught her eye. That wasn't to say the Kinkou Order discouraged finding love, as many might believe. The Order centered around perfect balance, and it was their belief that the balance to hate was love. They weren't emotionless keepers of justice or whatever the public might think.
However, such concepts and ideas were far from her mind, and consequently, she hadn't felt the least bit comfortable when listening in on the two boys last night. It was awkward, different. 'Foreign.' That word fit them so well it seemed. If she was forced to admit it, they were both handsome, and they were probably the only boys of her age she knew that she could actually say that about. Chronologically, Ezreal was the youngest boy in the League, maybe a year younger than herself, but she'd never considered him handsome.
He was always more of an…. annoyance. 'Always blinking away…!' She'd gotten to loath that ability of his, and him by origin.
But these two… they were different. The Uchiha was cold, calculating, but not unapproachable; his dark hair and eyes holding a serious, but understanding look to them. The Uzumaki was more open, emotional, and free. He didn't hold himself in like his comrade did. If she had to compare the two with a simile, Sasuke was sympathy, and Naruto was empathy.
But she didn't have time to think about that right now. They would be heading to the Institute this morning; her, Kennen, Irelia and their two guests. Normally they'd be there now, but they'd been called back to Ionia to investigate the illegal summoning that had apparently brought both "Shinobi" to Runeterra. The Captain had been there already, having been on a small vacation from the League when she heard the news. However, that time was just about up anyway when the event occurred, so they hadn't exactly interrupted her time off.
They had all been gathered together in a relatively large room, along with a dozen or so robed mages, the nature of which had to be explained to the newcomers.
"They will combine their power and transport us to the Institute. It's instant, so we won't waste time on a long journey."
Naruto and Sasuke gave each other a small glance, which the Ionian caught. "What, you didn't think we were going to ride there on horseback did you?"
They shook their heads. "Well, no. But I hadn't expected long-distance teleportation." The Uchiha looked at the room around them as the mages encircled them.
"You needn't worry. The nauseous feeling is only temporary and slight. It'll pass in a few seconds," the red armored woman said. She, like the two Shadow Warriors, were garbed in the same clothes they had worn the two days earlier. Irelia stood between them, her four sword blades latched together and locked to her back in a similar fashion to Akali's kama and Kennen's golden shuriken.
"Now, if you're all ready…"
Everyone nodded, Naruto and Sasuke doing so with slight hesitation.
One by one the mages raised their arms, palms out towards the quintet and went to work. Magic runes slowly spread around them, covering the room in foreign symbols and runic figures. A cool bluish-purple glow filled the chamber as the mages' hands began to glimmer with the same light, small luminous spheres appearing around their palms. The gravity of power suddenly descended as circles of energy suddenly formed around them, each one spinning in the opposite direction of the one before it. Within the lines of magic were even more symbols that neither Naruto nor Sasuke could decipher. Even as their eyes traced the circles around them, the swirling tides of energy began to whir, culminating in the circles constricting around them tighter and tighter until, as one, they lifted upward.
With them, the pull of gravity and the reality of space warped, and in the next moment, they were standing in a different place all together, minus the encircling mages. Instead, they'd been replaced with a humungous atrium, with numerous grand pillars running from the ornate stone floor up to the distant ceiling. But where there should have been a roof, there was instead a cut-out around its edge, revealing the beautiful star field beyond, traced by laces of green and red energy, blended with a yellow hue and purple glow. The tendrils of light danced gently, as if swayed by an unfelt breeze somewhere above the building. Their twinkling lights shown down on the floor, reflecting off of the numerous metallic decorations around them and coating the entirety of the massive hall with speckles of multicolored light that was both strong, yet soft on the eyes.
Massive floating crystals brilliantly shown with a transparent azure glow along both sides of them, the power-filled gems sitting atop smaller, less ornate pillars that acted as stands. Along the middle of the floor was a soft, yet sturdy bright red rug, decorated along the edges with gold trim. The rug led straight from their feet and down the hall to a massive door. Between pillars, numerous large entryways and doors could be seen, no doubt branching off into side corridors and hallways to other parts of the installation.
Naruto and Sasuke both marveled at the sight, having never seen any architecture so beautiful in all their lives. Naruto could only gape. "T-this is… waaay over the top…!"
Sasuke simply stared, mouth threatening to open in wonder. The three Ionians looked at them with slight hilarity. They'd all seen the expressions of various future Champions when they'd first stepped into the gran hall of the Insitute of War. And each time, they never failed to amuse.
Kennen shrugged his little shoulders. "I don't even remember what my first day was like. It was all a blur."
Irelia snickered and stepped forward, down the stairs of the small platform they'd been summoned to, with the Warriors following suit. Both Shinobi were broken from their trance at their movement, and they did their best to compose themselves. Giving quick, subtle glances at each other, they followed in in descent.
The hall was filled with people, each of them sparing passing glances at the three Ionians, but lingering in surprise at the two Shinobi. Without any sort of sense of propriety, they simply stared at them, as if they were seeing some sort of spectacle.
Neither felt particularly comfortable with how they looked at them like pieces of art. They'd become used to the looks from the villagers, be them kind, fearful, or distasteful, but this… this was different.
"We already told them you would be coming with us," Irelia said, noticing their slightly perturbed looks. "The whole institute probably knows you're here by now."
Naruto grumbled under his breath. "Wonderful…"
The woman laughed lightly and gestured them to follow. "Here at the Institute, there are a multitude of things to do should you get bored, including, but not limited to, alchemy, magic training, physical combat practice, meditation, you can read at the library (and I might add that you will never run out of books to read), or even trying your hands at socializing." She looked back to them with a humorous smirk, which she noticed irked the blonde, to her amusement. The other boy said nothing.
"But what we primarily do here is what you've probably been wanting to see," she said as they continued their way through the large corridor. All around them, large and ornate objects hung from fastenings on the walls and edges of the open ceiling.
"If the report I read this morning is correct, then there should be a match going on right now. If you'd like, we can go to the observation spire and watch."
The three stopped walking and looked back at the two. Naruto nodded. "Sure. Lead the way."
It took a few minutes, but at last they made it to a relatively plain looking door, which Akali opened for them. As soon as all of them were in, it shut behind them, and a sudden, though vague sense of vertigo registered in their inner ears as the floor (unknowingly to them) lifted like an elevator. The darkness in the room gave way to light as it rose to the top of a large tower. Instead of walls, there were numerous open, arched, windowless openings. In front of them, lavish seating placements were arranged.
Clearly this room was only available for the wealthy.
Outside was a large expanse of territory, rocky terrain and grassy plains. Glowing structures in the distance were barely noticeable.
"This is one of many observation facilities in the Institute. The windows are special, allowing anyone who looks through them to use them like remote eyes, able to look at any part of the battle field at any given time," Akali explained as she stepped up to one, commanding it to examine the arena. Both Shinobi blinked as the peaceful scenery warped, and they zoomed in on a figure running on a dirt path. The figure was bulky, with equally large armor on his shoulders and waist. In one hand was a large broadsword that didn't look to be hindering him in the least.
"Oh, we came at just the right time. Its mid-match by now," Irelia commented as she looked over to a timer attached to the wall to their right. Currently it read "20:43" and continued to ascend.
"Who is that?" Sasuke said, gesturing to the man they were observing.
"Garen Crownguard, personal guardian of Prince Jarvan IV of Demacia. He was one of the first to become Champions of the League."
Behind him, a team of small, robed creatures followed obediently. "And those are the minions you were talking about?" Naruto asked, remembering having heard it in their discussions earlier that morning.
"Correct. They are controlled by novice Summoners, sort of as practice for the real deal."
Sasuke silently looked around the room. Beside the clock was a glowing scoreboard, reading numerous stats regarding the match, such as the progression of Summoner-Champion syncing, the kills per team, and the gold earned for each Champion. "Explain to me again why there is an included currency," Sasuke said after several seconds, genuinely curious as to why a gladiatorial game would feature a method of reward during the matches.
"Each Summoner platform has a shop where you can buy items," Akali explained. "The nature and power of these items are imbued into you, enhancing your powers as you see fit. Naturally it would be difficult to carry all the items themselves, so transferring their augmentative abilities was the better alternative."
It was then Sasuke noticed another board, this own showing small icons of objects that apparently each Champion had in their possession.
"Huh… cool, I guess," Naruto murmured, not sure what to think of it.
There was a resulting silence that flowed throughout the room as Naruto and Sasuke both stood, rather awkwardly, taking in their surroundings. Finally, there was a dainty throat-clearing and the armored woman gestured to some plush seating in front of the magically controlled windows. "Please, have a seat. The match can last anywhere from twenty minutes to well over an hour."
Begrudgingly, they accepted her offer, plopping down on one of the three couches. There, they settled in to watch the match, letting their eyes wander about the magic viewing device. There were several windows, and though each one combined to make one massive screen, it was also possible for them to show a different image to each person individually, and simultaneously. The two Shinobi subsequently found this out when they commented on two different events at the same time.
It lasted an hour.
The end came with a thunderous explosion resulting from the destruction of the blue nexus crystal. With it came the quiet groaning as the spectators stood up and stretched their muscles. Though the three Ionians opted to remain seated, the two Shinobi were the ones who stood.
"So, what did you think?" Irelia asked, wondering, with admittedly a bit more enthusiasm than she intended, how the two would consider the League, having now seen it firsthand.
Naruto shrugged noncommittally. "Well, I'm game, as long as Sasuke is. Seems like a great way to hone our skills and keep 'em sharp while we're here. I'm all for it. What do you think, Sasuke?"
The blonde looked over to his partner curiously. He liked it here well enough, though there was definitely the culture shock he'd have to get over, but aside from that, he had no direct, nor immediate qualms with staying. And as far as manners went, it wouldn't hurt to repay the country who'd found and introduced them to their new surroundings.
The Uchiha was contemplatively silent for several seconds, internally pondering his own decision. As far as dangers went, the Ionians had explained well enough that fighting between Champions could only be done on the Fields of Justice, the fancy name for the battle arena they'd just observed. So there was likely very little danger to them if they accepted. On the other hand, they would be linked directly to Ionia as a sort of representative for the nation in the games. In all honestly, he also, like Naruto, felt interested in what the League had to offer. 'What the hell; why not?'
He smirked, standing up to stand by his partner, halfway turning to the three warriors beside him. "Fine then. We'll give it a go."
In an instant, all three of the Ionians expressions changed from apprehensively nervous to those of pleased joy. Irelia looked very glad, and relieved to hear it, as her shoulders relaxed slightly at his words. Kennen, well, it was difficult to gauge his expressions from beneath his mask, but the way he hoped off the couch and jumped up and down excitedly (small sparks of energy zapping from him in the process) spoke well enough to his emotion. Akali was probably the mildest of them; she neither excitedly celebrated, nor sagged in relief. If anything, she seemed pleased, but not entirely assured that this was a good thing. In reality, she was probably just uncertain of the choice to allow them to join as agents of Ionia.
Regardless, Sasuke smiled, despite himself. 'Institute of War… League of Legends… Not bad names at all. We'll see how this goes.'
A/N: And there's chapter one! I hope you liked it, since I'll probably update it every once in a while. Honestly, there aren't many serious Naruto/LoL crossovers out there, and I hope this one becomes one of the best! That said, how did I do? Tell me what you liked, what you didn't, and don't be afraid to tell me what you'd like to see! If there's one thing I've learned, there's nothing like posting a review to get your own creative juices flowing. If I hadn't begun posting reviews of my first favorite stories, I'd never have gotten the drive to start writing myself!
Also, some of you might be wondering why this story is rated T when all my other stories are M. I'm actually trying T out to see if I get more viewers than I would if it was M. Granted, I chose a very sparsely searched crossover combination, but regardless, it WILL eventually become M, if only for safety's sake. But for now, it's T.
Untill the next time!