A/N: Well hellooo everybody! Have you missed me? No?
Oh... ok... :(
Then I'll just leave and not give you this new chapter I just made, MUHUHAHAHAHAAHA! No really, I just got done with finals and am on winter break. STORY TIME! Gotta say, I've got tons of ideas for new stories but I can't type fast enough! SO. DARN. FRUSTRATING!
Oh, while I'm thinking of it, lemme go ahead and acknowledge those who reviewed the last chapter. *Aherm!* Thank you Ttran2323, Chewie Cookies, Phr33k, Khazad, DelVarO, Ookami88, Shirokama, Peshomaro, RamenKnight, foxeatfox, LordofVirmillion, Cool, HitogoroshinoKirohito, Vallavarayan, Thoketan, sandcrawlr, alichi, Guest, Ixde, Xahn777, Sevenar, mentalkid, Hungry AL, and Kriegmarine. Your encouragements and criticism is what keeps me going day and night :) Thank you.
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That's all I have to announce for now! So I'll leave you all be so you can enjoy the story!
Other world, Chapter 3:
The First of Many
Riven wasn't somebody to appear overly excited, and that was likely due to her early military career killing a part of her soul. She'd killed and seen killed many a soldier and civilian, she'd seen towns burn and children get slaughtered. She'd found herself at the crossroads of despair and confusion. She'd chosen her path, and it wasn't one of happiness or joy. And yet… she couldn't explain it.
For some inexplicable reason, there was a small bounce in her step as she made her way through the halls of the Institute of War. It might have been the excitement of the day before, or it might have been her eagerness to witness them in action; whichever it was, she couldn't deny the energy she felt surging uncharacteristically through her body.
With her trusted broken blade strapped to her back, she headed straight for the entrance to the Fields of Justice, her team likely already there. 'Today's their first match, together… I can't wait to see what they're like!'
As if in response to her thoughts, her body sped up, like it too couldn't wait any longer.
"There you are Riven. We've been waiting on you," came the calm voice of the wind-wielding woman standing in front of her.
"Sorry Janna, everyone, I got distracted earlier," Riven apologized, not wanting to admit she'd lost her focus before a match.
"Hurry, hurry! Want food now!" came the gravelly voice of the Voidborn among them, his hardened silver exoskeleton shivering from hunger.
"Calm yourself Kog'Maw, there will be food enough for us all," came the otherworldly spectral voice of the floating prophet at the door. "These are the rosters for the match," he said, waving his hand and creating an ethereal piece of paper with names and team arrangements.
Riven leaned in close to see, as did everyone else. "Team one, Kog'Maw, Shyvana, Malzahar, Janna, and me… team two, Lux, Draven, Soraka, Naruto and Sasuke." She did her best to pronounce the last two names, but was pretty sure she butchered them. It was always hard to pronounce a new champion's name.
"Two new champions at one time," Janna began, looking at the final two names and shaking her head. "What on Runeterra is the League thinking?"
"I heard they were both found together, so they were inducted together," Shyvana offered, adjusting her gauntlets snuggly around her wrists.
"Actually they were illegally summoned together and found by the Ionians," Riven explained, knowing a bit more of the story then the others.
"Understandable, the League doesn't want otherworldly beings going around unmonitored," Said the purple clad mage. "It wasn't out of any sort of generosity I can assure you."
Janna raised an eyebrow and looked at the man. "Speaking from experience are you?"
His eyes turned to regard her equally. "Yes, actually. The League fears what they do not understand, as do all humans."
Riven was about to retort when the only non-humanoid creature among them began shaking excitedly, acidic saliva dripping from his maw. "Talking is over, match starting! Time to feast!"
They all turned as blue runic rings wrapped around them, and seconds later they were transported with a flash to the summoning platform. Immediately, the presence of their Summoners could be felt in their minds, their subtle suggestions of tactics and plans flowing through their brains collectively. The magical telepathic link shared by each team began to fill with communication and plans.
Knowing her position, Riven immediately went right, passing by the giant nexus and it's armament of purple-adorned turrets on her way to the top lane. Behind her, her teammates were also rushing to their positions, to protect Shyvana during her sojourn into the jungle before going to their own positions.
The large canyon walls on either side of her rose to great heights, and though she was already very familiar with them, she took the time to examine them, as if for the first time. The Fields of Justice were huge, many hundreds of acres of land, magically maintained and repaired by the mages of the League. As she passed by the many towers on the way to her place, she wondered if her opponent would be one of the two new boys.
She blushed as she thought back to her discussion with the others after Sasuke and Naruto both were preoccupied with recovering, courtesy of Sona.
Lux couldn't contain herself. "Wooow! Look at the dark haired one! He's totally hot!"
Ashe inclined her head. "He is attractive, I'll admit. But I'm married, so I can't say too much," she finished with a smile.
"…I dunno… I… kind of like the other one to be honest." Riven blushed slightly, embarrassed that her opinion wasn't the popular one.
The two women took a second look at him before shrugging. "Eh, I guess he's ok. I still prefer tall dark and handsome over there!" Lux exclaimed. Ashe decided not to comment.
In all honesty, sure that Sasuke guy was handsome and sharp looking, but he just gave off a certain vibe that Riven wasn't sure she entirely liked. Naruto on the other hand seemed to be more happy-go-lucky and rambunctious. Not that those were always good qualities, but they were more attractive in her opinion.
She shook her head and put those thoughts aside. No doubt she would fight him today, and when the time came she needed to be able to fight without a clouded mind.
'Now's not the time,' she told herself as she raised both hands to her face and slapped her cheeks. 'Time to focus.'
Ashe held her hands in front of her as she rode the elevator up to one of the many private observation rooms afforded to her and the other champions free of charge by the League. Today was going to be Naruto and Sasuke's first match, and she had no desire to miss it, especially not after what she'd found out the day before.
Flashback no Jutsu
She'd been in the maze for at least an hour searching for the half-human, half-fox creature named Ahri. The Uchiha boy had told her not to allow her to come in contact with Naruto, and she wondered what might happen if she did. More so, she wondered if Ahri knew what would happen if she and the boy met. Apparently just her scent was enough to cause the blonde to go nuts. Because of that, she had an idea that Ahri knew what was going on, due in part to her character-breaking absence.
However, she hadn't expected to find the normally sociable woman isolated in a corner of the maze, legs curled up to her chest and her tails wrapped tightly around her.
"Ahri…?" she called hesitantly. The fox-woman jumped in what Ashe could almost call fright, and she saw, briefly, the shining streaks of tears falling down the woman's face.
But just as soon as she saw them, one of her tails covered her face, wiping them away. She didn't respond. Instead, she turned away and resumed her position of solitude.
Now for Ashe, this was quite the predicament; she'd never seen Ahri like this before in her life. She was the one woman in the world that she thought would be unbreakable, but here she was, crying, scared, and alone.
"Ahri what's wrong? Are you alright?" She asked, taking a cautious step forward.
Ahri didn't respond, but she didn't move away either. Her tails coiled about herself tightly.
Ashe approached her quietly, and softly set herself down next to her. She didn't say anything; Ashe knew that sometimes the best way to get someone to talk to you was to simply let them do so on their own. It must have been several minutes. Ahri sniffled every once in a while, something that Ashe honestly didn't think she'd ever see in her lifetime.
Presently, the fox-woman spoke. "…what happened… after I left?"
The silence now broken, Ashe blinked in surprise and explained what had happened to the blonde at the mention of her true species.
Ahri listened quietly, gaining a surprised reaction at the explanation of the boy's reddish energy. But when Ashe had finished Ahri simply sat quietly.
"So… it's true…" she mumbled, hugging her legs to herself tighter. "…I was right…"
"What… were you right about?" Ashe asked carefully, in the sweetest most understanding voice she could manage.
Ahri didn't speak for several seconds, and when she did her voice was nearly quivering. "Inside that boy… is a creature…"
Ashe felt her eyebrows raise. "A creature…?" she parroted.
"…It's a monster… a giant monster of power and destruction… And I'm… I'm-…" Her teeth clenched and her hands gripped her legs tightly, as if in anger. "…I'm… reacting to it…"
"Reacting? What do you-…?"Ashe suddenly noticed the way Ahri was holding herself, and the way she worded her statement. It wasn't until she smelled the scent of female arousal that she realized fully what the fox girl meant. "Y-you mean-?"
"Yes," she hissed out like poison. "I'm human, but part of me is still a fox… and the creature I felt… he was…" she trailed off, but Ashe understood the picture well enough. For whatever reason, to say Ahri wasn't comfortable with the situation would be an understatement. But she couldn't just leave it hanging like that.
"So… what exactly is the problem…? I mean, no disrespect, but you've no doubt 'reacted' to a lot of things in your life… right?"
"Not like this!" Ahri replied with a shout, causing Ashe to recoil. "My only dream was to become human… and now I'm reacting to something that I used to be? That's not…. not what I want!"
Ashe felt her eyes soften. "You know, Ahri, as much as we might wish we were something else, we can't deny who we really are… we need to accept that. You may be human now, but you were once something else. I mean, even you aren't fully human, so why should it bother you to be… affected… by this creature?"
She could have sworn she saw Ahri bite her lip. "Because… it's ok for animals to be attracted to other animals, right? But I'm human, so I shouldn't be…"
Ashe honestly couldn't respond to her. She just sat their silently, allowing the girl some company.
She sighed as the elevator platform came to a stop. 'How on earth do you respond to something like that? That it's ok for a human to be aroused by an animal? But she's also part animal… ugh, this is so complicated.' She stepped into the hallway and made her way to one of the observation rooms.
'But then, since she's part animal, wouldn't it make sense if she's put into some sort of heat or something?'
She knocked on the door ahead of her and it opened for her, allowing her to walk in. As soon as she was in, it closed and locked. Within the lavish room, there was only one other occupant. "I'm here," she called.
Ahri turned and nodded, patting the seat next to her. "I'm glad you came," she said.
Ashe took her seat watched as the champions in the Field took their positions. When Ashe had tried to change the subject the other day, saying that the two boys would likely have a match the following day, Ahri had perked up, and asked if she would join her in watching. The way Ahri had looked… Ashe couldn't say no.
'It looked like she had things to figure out. I hope watching this match helps her.'
"I'm glad you invited me. So what's happened so far?" she said leaning forward to observe the battle overview that appeared in front of her.
"Kog'Maw, Shyvana, Malzahar, Janna and Riven versus Draven, Lux, Soraka, and those two new boys…" Ahri said observing the overview as well. Her eyes narrowed as she read the names. "Naruto and Sasuke…" They rolled off the tongue so easily…
She noted the blonde's name, Naruto. That was the boy Ashe said had had the episode, and likely was the one who held that strange entity inside of him. Ahri herself didn't understand what he was, or what the creature inside him was, or how it was even inside him in first place, but she had every intention of finding it out.
Naruto weaved between the green globule attacks as they flew at him, the silver monster in the distance firing round after round of acidic slime at them. Nearby, a woman floated, sending blasting gusts of wind at them, keeping them from getting anywhere near the creature.
Naruto tsk-ed as he was blown back from a wall of air, only to be assaulted by a barrage of burning acid. Quickly ducking and sliding away, he came to a stop beside Sasuke, who didn't seem to be faring any better.
"You ok Sasuke?"
"Dandy. Their combo is nasty. She keeps us at bay while the other snipes at us, and he in turn provides covering fire if we go after her."
Naruto growled as he lowered himself and threw a kunai at one of the approaching minions. 'Shit, I don't even know what the fuck that thing is,' he thought as he focused on dodging another assault of slime and wind. 'And yet I already know how to fight it. I know both of their attacks and defenses. What's going on here?' he wondered frustrated.
The last thing he expected was a response.
'It's Kog'Maw. He's a creature of the Void; a Voidborn. He's a long range specialist who excels at chewing through even the heaviest of defenses. Essentially, he's from another dimension, same as you.'
'WHO THE FUCK'S IN MY HEAD?!'
There was a bit of laughter, not all from the same source. Another voice spoke up. 'The properties of the magic in the Fields of Justice links our minds telepathically, allowing us to communicate across large distances,' it said, an excited female voice he could have sworn he'd heard before.
'Wait… you're that girl from before!' he exclaimed mentally as he launched an explosive kunai at an incoming blob of slime, using the resulting explosion to dodge the following fire.
'Yup! It's me, Lux!' she replied excitedly. Naruto could practically see her bubbly face as she said it.
He growled in irritation. 'I don't like people in my head…' he muttered as if in warning.
'Deal with it bro, it's how Summoners communicate with each other,' came a more manly voice that sounded suspiciously like that Darius fellow's brother.
Sasuke smirked. 'Draven, was it? I assume the reason we already know how to fight these people is because of these 'Summoners' you mentioned?'
'Clever deduction,' came yet another voice, this one calmer and less adolescent. 'Yes, because of the experience of your Summoners, you know what they do, at least in regards to the League of Legends.'
Sasuke smirked as he flew with the wind sent at him. 'They must be weak, I don't feel anywhere near as strong as I usually do.'
'That's because they don't know how to use you. The more you fight in here, the more they can properly sync up to you, allowing you access to more of your abilities.'
Sasuke's eyes narrowed. 'So that's why I haven't felt like using my other abilities; my Summoner doesn't understand how to use them yet.'
'That's how it goes,' Draven said. 'But after a while, your minds meld and they understand you perfectly, allowing you to use your full power.'
Sasuke felt a smirk grace his lips. 'Well, that won't do at all.'
He eyed Naruto who returned the gaze. At once they nodded, sharing a grin. Simultaneously their hands weaved through a series of seals before they brought their fingers to their faces. 'Shinranshin no Jutsu!'
Instantly, a severely loud, shrieking static filled the minds of every Champion on their team, and then all went silent. Draven retreated to the tall grass usually designed for ambushes and crouched down, rubbing his temples. 'What the hell was that?! What'd you two do?'
He was met by silence. As soon as he tried to access their team-shared vision afforded by the Summoners-link, all he saw was the vision given by the friendly minions. He couldn't see through their eyes at all.
'They broke the connection!' Soraka said in astonishment. 'Only the strongest magic could do that!'
'You mean they cut off their mental link?' Lux asked in bewilderment. The loud shriek had almost allowed Malzahar's Void-given powers to hit her. 'Why would they do that?! That only hurt us all in the long run!'
Soraka placed a hand to her head, feeling through her mental link. 'No, they didn't just cut the link between us, but between them and their Summoners!'
'What?! That's impossible!' Lux cried mentally.
'Yes, it is…' Soraka confirmed disbelievingly. 'By all accounts, it should be impossible for anyone, even the most capable and knowledgeable of mages to cut the connection.'
'So, what are you saying? That they're not limited by the sync-system or the skill of the Summoner?' Lux questioned, almost unable to believe it.
Draven grit his teeth, but smiled regardless. 'Damn kids, they don't play by the rules! Glad they're on my team.'
Naruto sighed rolled his neck. "Ahh that's so much better!"
Sasuke raised his hand and felt sparks of electricity dance over his skin. "There's my power. Nice to be in control again."
Narto grinned. "Good thing Fu helped Danzou teach us all how to counter mind control techniques."
Sasuke smirked and placed a hand on his hip, stepping up to stand by his partner. "Now then…" he eyed the two in the distance, their eyes always watching, but their assault having paused.
"…Shall we dance?"
Naruto grinned as he crouched down.
"Yes, we shall. Hehe…"
Ashe was on her feet in an instant; as soon as the magical monitors for Sasuke and Naruto went inexplicably blank she could only assume what they'd done, however impossible it seemed. "They cut their link?!" she almost screamed in disbelief.
Ahri's eyes were wide in shock. "But that's… impossible!"
Whoever these two were, they were already a force beyond her comprehension.
Janna sensed when their tactics changed. After only the briefest of lulls in their skirmishing, they went full on offensive. The black haired boy was fast, capable of cutting through their minion forces with ease and pushing their own forward. With swift, precise slices, he cut through Kog'Maw's ranged attacks with an electrified blade that didn't seem to melt or deform, despite the intensely acidic qualities of the Voidborn's spittle.
Worse yet, it seemed that her wind techniques were suddenly of very, very little use anymore. The blonde, to her immense disbelief, was using wind magic as well! Only instead of creating massive gusts of wind or tornadoes to wall off and batter her enemies, he collected it, refined it into a lethal cutting blade that could slice through even her attacks. 'Wind cutting wind…! Is that even possible?!'
She now realized that this boy, in comparison to herself, was an expert; an absolute master of wind manipulation and command.
And just like that, she knew she was bested.
In that instant, she knew the futility of her own powers. And she knew that she would spend the rest of her life trying to achieve that same level.
'No time to think, we hunger,' came Kog'Maw's surprisingly calm voice as his scales changed color, his alien blood shifting through his body as he over charged his muscles and enzyme production to fire longer and more power bursts of acid. Like a machine gun, his blasting shots tore through the air, and then the landscape, splattering over the ground and vegetation, massacring many an unfortunate minion, even though they weren't the direct targets.
Immediately, the black haired boy interposed himself between them and their target, slashing the attacks out of the sky with such speed and finesse that not even a drop of acid hit him or his ally.
'Such skill…! Does such a level of swordsmanship truly exist?' she wondered weakly.
'What's going on up there you two?' Shyvanaasked as she completed her round through the jungle. 'If you're having trouble just tell me.'
'Stay away! This meal ours!' Kog'Maw almost vehemently commanded.
Shyvana was taken aback by the force of his words; Kog'Maw rarely took charge like that. However, as soon as she took a look through their shared vision, she suddenly regretted her earlier offer to help.
With a flash of light, Sasuke interposed himself between the incoming projectiles and his friend, using his lightning imbued blade to instantly sear the acid hitting it into vapor.
Naruto surged past him, meeting a battering force of wind, which he sliced through instantly. "Hah! Fighting me with wind is useless!" he cried as she sped forward, a blade of wind forming on his hand as he approached his enemies.
"Kaze no Yaiba!"
Janna's eyes widened as the blade grew in size and length, its razor sharp edges clear to her, a wind user. In a desperate gamble, she gathered all of her remaining wind energy and let it explode outward, in an attempt to knock him away.
Like a hurricane, the wind whipped around them, blasting outward and shoving earth, soil and stone away.
Naruto grinned excited as he thrust his hand forward, his wind blade spinning like a drill against the cacophonic monsoon-like windstorm. They clashed for an instant…
…But only for an instant.
With a flash of light and wind, Janna's eyes went wide. She looked down, only to see the young man's arm disappear inside her. Odd, she didn't feel very much pain. As her body glowed before her spirit was extracted from her body, she realized it was likely because her nerves had been severed by the same strike that ended her life.
Naruto watched a white flash of light vanished out of her body, likely her spirit collected by the magic that controlled the arena to be deposited into her healed body at the summoning platform. At least, that what he'd been told happens when you die.
But he had more pressing matters to deal with.
The wind had died down and he was able to see Sasuke get his sword gripped in that void creature's mouth. With a twist, it threw the sword (and the ninja attached to it) away, before bounding over to Naruto, mouth open and tubular tongue lolling out of its mouth like a dog.
Naruto's eyes widened as it leapt up and at him. For what little knowledge he'd gleamed from his Summoner before he severed the connection, he knew Kog'Maw was ranged, and was at home most at a distance, lobbing deadly acidic slime from insane distances. So not only did his head on charge seem almost suicidal against him, who had just proven his superiority at close range combat, but it also caught him completely off guard.
With his maw wide and ready to swallow a grown man, the Mouth of the Abyss attacked.
Ahri's eyes were wide as the blonde, Naruto, completely dominated Janna's greatest techniques, with her own element too! But she could tell that neither boy was using mana, but rather their own energy, like how Akali, Kennen, and Shen did. But even then, it wasn't exactly the same… it was different; unique.
And every time she had the ward-screen focus in on the boy's face, she felt a burning heat spread through her body.
But what drew her attention most was the boy's triple-whiskered cheeks. Gently she touched her own cheeks, which bore eerily similar marks. 'This boy, Naruto… could he be like me?'
However, her attention was diverted from his face to the charging Voidborn running headlong at the blonde. Normally, that wouldn't be surprising, since Kog'Maw had a tendency to create a chemical reaction in his body that caused him to explode violently, almost always guaranteeing that he took someone with him. However, it was always a last resort, and he hadn't taken any hits yet.
"What is he-…?"
Her answer was swift, and completely unexpected.
"What are you doing?!" one Summoner asked to his partner.
"He's… he's not responding! It's like he's out of control!"
Naruto's eyes were wide as he was tackled to the ground, the massive creature pinning to the ground with one, four-toed foot. But instead of rearing back and hacking up a massive acidic loogie, the creature instead leaned down and sniffed.
"…Is he smelling you?" Sasuke asked, barely able to contain his mirth.
Naruto hesitantly raised his head and watched as the monster began snuffling around him, as if searching for something specific.
"Um… I think so... Kog'Maw was it?" he asked the monster carefully, though it ignored him.
After a few seconds, it seemed to find what it was looking for in Naruto's back pocket. "H-hey!" he cried as the living mouth pulled off his utility pouch and dumped its contents on the ground, shifting through the contents until he found one particular scroll and peered at it with two of his four eyes. A small whimpering sound seemed to emanate from his throat as he stared at the piece of parchment.
Suddenly, Sasuke's eyes widened as he realized what the monster was likely after. "Naruto, isn't that your food storage scroll?"
Naruto looked at his compatriot and his face lit up as the answer also dawned on him. "Ohhh! He must smell the food residue on it!"
Taking the scroll from under Kog'Maw's nose, he unrolled it. Kog'Maw watched expectantly as he did so, his short tail wagging faster and faster as his four eyes looked over the strange characters and symbols. But it wasn't what he saw that excited him. Rather, it was what he smelled.
Ignoring the mental cries from his teammates asking what in the world he was doing, he sniffed along the scroll, bypassing several storage seals until he reached a very particular symbol. Naruto's eyes widened as he realized what it was the beast smelled, causing Sasuke to smirk knowingly. "Ah I see what he wants. Naruto give him some."
Naruto whirled in disbelief at his partner. "WHAT?! No way! That's mine; mine! Nobody can have it but me!"
"No! Want food! Starving, starving!" Kog'Maw cried at Naruto's response, mashing his head into the paper, as if to somehow bridge the dimension that separated him from the food on the other side.
Naruto watched with pity as the hungry monster's stomach growled and mouth drooled in anticipation. Finally, Naruto sighed and relented. "*sigh…* Fine… I guess I'll let him…"
Shoving the beast's snout away from the paper, he placed his hand on the seal and with an explosion of smoke, sat a steaming bowl of ramen. Instantly Kog'Maw's four eyes lit up as he took a deep sniff of the beautiful creation of noodles, beef and broth.
"Mmmm, smells so good!" He excitedly exclaimed as his tail waged faster and faster. With a cry of joy, his tongue extended and sucked up the soup like a straw.
"I see, he just wanted your ramen. That's why he trampled you."
Naruto glared at his friend. "Geez, don't make it sound so horrible." He redirected his eyes at the bowl only to see it was empty.
"More more! So good! Noodles are delicious! Can we have more?"
Whether it was from the way the creature seemed (in that instant) to act like a playful dog, or the begging tone he took that pulled at Naruto's heartstrings, or the way he realized in the back of his head that this was another ramen loving being, he sighed with a smile and shrugged his shoulders.
"Can't be helped I guess," he said as he placed his hand against the paper and with an even bigger explosion of smoke, sat three bowls of ramen.
But Kog'Maw shook his head. "No no, not enough. We need more!"
"More? How much can you eat?"
Kog'Maw seemed to deliberate on that before speaking again. "One hundred… maybe… Maybe three hundred."
As soon as the words left his mouth, Sasuke immediately knew that the culinary world was in jeopardy. "Wait, Naruto, don't even think-!"
But it was too late.
Naruto's eyes narrowed as he glared at the Void beast. "Oh, you think you can eat more ramen than me?" he asked, apparently forgetting that the creature was his enemy in this competition of Champions and magic.
Shyvana quickly made her way to the northern lane hoping Kog'Maw had been able to hold his own against those two new boys. She'd heard the announcement that Janna had been killed, but since then hadn't heard anything else, she assumed he must have been able to survive. She only hoped he was in a position to aide her as she ambushed them.
Quickly, she dove into the tall grass ahead of her and waded through it, aiming to spring from it in full dragon from and slaughter the fools opposing her. However, as she poked her head out to assess the situation, she found her jaw dangling very near the ground.
"WHAT IS GOING ON HERE?!" She screamed out at the three beings in front of her.
Sasuke had his face resting in his palm as Naruto and Kog'Maw downed bowl after bowl of some sort of noodle soup. Next to Naruto lay at least a few dozen empty bowls stacked one on top of the other. Kog'Maw however seemed to enjoy eating the ceramic dishes along with the soup itself.
Neither seemed to have taken notice of her, nor paid attention to her cry.
Sasuke palmed his face and waved to her. "Sorry… The idiot doesn't know how to back down from a challenge," he said, giving his blonde ally a glare.
Shyvana was left speechless as Kog'Maw downed another three bowls in one gulp, oblivious to her presence. A sudden anger rose inside her at Kog'Maw's complete incompetence. "Grrrr! Fine, I'll just deal with you myself!" she growled as her gauntlets lit up with flames.
Sasuke's exasperated expression gave way to one of entertainment. "I see… you take me out, you have a clear shot at Naruto. However, I doubt you'll be in any condition to fight him by the end of this…" he said as he drew his gleaming katana from its sheath. "…provided that is, if you can even beat me."
Shyvana growled as flames began to pour out of her fists. "I may not know much about you, new boy, but you also know nothing about me."
Sasuke smirked. "That remains to be seen." And like that he was gone.
Shyvana's eyes widened as he reappeared behind her, sword descending with a flash of light. On reflex she raised her left hand up and caught the blade on her armor. Pouring her flames into her other hand, she reeled back and thrust her fist forward, watching as it barely grazed the agile young man. Sasuke smirked as he ducked out of the way, dodging a blast of fire that sped past him, and then another on his other side. With a slash, he cut another burst of flame in half, causing its containment to fall apart and reduce to a barely-singing heat.
But Shyvana wasn't deterred. With a fearsome battle cry, flames gathered around her feet and exploded, sending her flying toward the raven haired shinobi like a bullet. Bringing her hands together in front of her, an enormous wave of flame boiled around her, making her into, if only for a brief moment, a meteor. But just as soon as the flames appeared, they were blown away as the monstrous form of a massive red scaled dragon lunged at Sasuke.
Sasuke's eyes went wide as he witnessed the mythical beast release an ear shattering roar at him, followed by a wave of pure flame. The wall of fire washed over him but for a moment before he took a deep breath.
'Katon: Gōkakyū no Jutsu!' With a breath, the flames around him parted as a massive sphere of flame raced toward the dragon.
Shyvana's surprise was short lived as the sphere slammed into her, sending her many meters back, but doing nothing else to injure her. Growling she roared at the man with such force that the flames around them were put out. "Do you think you can kill a dragon with fire?!" she mocked in anger. "You naïve little child!" She stomped forward and raised her right claws to rend the boy asunder.
However, Sasuke only smirked. "That's my line; do you think you can kill an Uchiha with fire?"
His words surprised her, but only for a moment before she slashed down. But where she'd expected blood, guts, and gore to spill out of the boy's body, to her shock, his body seemed to shift, morphing into a murder of crows. "Wha-?!"
She reeled back as the carrion birds flew into her vision, and then around her. But the boy was nowhere to be seen. That is until her dragon-nose smelled him… above her?
She whirled on all fours and stared up at him, his hands flashing through many strange symbols before they folded together with both index and middle fingers pointing up.
"Katon: Gōka Messhitsu!"
He threw his head forward, spewing out a stream of white-hot searing flames that slammed against her resistant scales. The fact that a human (she assumed that was what he was, though she was now beginning to doubt) could spit fire like a dragon surprised her enough, but now, as the fire roiled around her, she was shocked by another notion…
His fire hurt.
The idea was completely preposterous. She was a dragon! A mythical creature of power and flames! She didn't feel heat! What flames could be conjured that hurt her?
Up until now, she'd have said "none," but here she was, feeling the burning heat of fire upon her scales.
'This cannot be,'she thought as she recoiled under the fire around her. 'This will not be.'
With a flex of her mighty wings, she spread them like a fan and threw them aside, sending massive gusts of wind that dissipated the flames around her. "You damned human!" she called up to him.
Sasuke merely smirked down at her, seemingly comfortable with falling at breakneck speeds toward her now open jaws. "I'll eat you alive!"
"What will you eat alive?"
Her eyed went wide at the voice behind her. Diverting her gaze, she saw the same boy behind her. The same one she was about to bite in half. But as she looked back up, he was not there.
"What…?" Suddenly she felt incredibly weak… Numb even. Her strength was gone. Just a moment ago she was prepared to take on the world, but now…
She looked down, and realized the cause. The boy's shining blade, no more special looking than any other sword she'd seen, had pierced her scale-mail armor, running deep into her chest cavity, and likely penetrating many important organs along with it.
"Know the power of the Uchiha clan, dragon. Know it, and fear it."
And like that the light faded from her eyes.
Sasuke watched as her white life force flew up into the sky, back to her nexus where her body would be repaired. Sighing he flipped his blade around and sheathed it, looking about at the burning, scorched valley he now inhabited. Looking up, he spotted his query and leapt up to meet them.
With a flutter of cloth, he landed next to a spectating Naruto and Kog'Maw, both content to watch his battle while they continued to consume Naruto's seemingly endless supply of ramen.
"I don't suppose either of you two could have… I don't know… helped at all?"
Naruto gestured to his bowl. "Fhut… wamem."
Sasuke sighed. "Naruto, just as Danzou has told you hundreds of times, ramen is not an excuse to not do your job."
"Fhut wou hagh iph cophered!"
"Of course I had it covered. I'm me after all."
Swallowing his mouthful of noodles, Naruto looked as if he might growl at the Uchiha. "Then what's your deal?"
"I don't have a 'deal.' I'm simply stating that you could have helped."
Naruto sighed and ignored him, going back to his ramen consumption.
Sasuke eyed the silver creature and raised an eyebrow. "What's your excuse?"
The Voidborn simply ate a mouthful of soup. "Ramen good."
Sasuke sighed and palmed his face. "…Of course it is."
Ashe watched in disbelief as Kog'Maw, acting of his own volition, seemed to simply sit on the sidelines with Naruto… eating.
"I guess in the end, Kog'Maw's ultimate master is his stomach," Ahri said with a grin, some of her normal personality returning.
Ashe couldn't even fathom the kind of willpower it would take to sever a Summoner's already-established mental link… she just couldn't.
Naruto strolled out of the massive arena like a baller; hands behind his back, oblivious, bright smile adorned, and a small bounce in his step. Next to him followed the Void being Kog'Maw, his large head nearly nuzzling the blonde like a lost puppy.
Regardless of the fact that Naruto had actually lost a ramen eating contest, he felt surprisingly… gleeful. Probably he was just glad to see someone (or something in this case) who enjoyed eating ramen as much as he did.
With their main damage source now a turn-coat, the entirety of top lane was demolished in no time as Sasuke drove his minion forces to victory against Janna multiple times. Janna, not being a direct combat fighter, and Sasuke, being the nimble and agile speed-demon he was, out-played her every time. Without Kog'Maw, the purple team's chances of victory died quickly, leading to an expedient surrender.
Sasuke stepped out of the doorway into and out of the Fields with a victorious smirk, but a mellow attitude. He knew what they'd done had probably upset many a Summoner and that in all likelihood, the authorities of the League would be extremely upset.
Behind them, the rest of the two teams shuffled out as well, heads hung in defeat and confusion. Everyone wanted to ask, but no one dared to voice it; "How did you escape the Summoner's control?"
Sasuke had no intention of telling. That kind of technique was special and important; it was an anti-Yamanaka technique, taught by Fu to the top echelons of ROOT operatives in the event of a rogue ninja encounter, however unlikely that was. From what he'd seen, the Yamanaka clan was rather complacent to live in Konoha. In fact, there was a Yamanaka his own age in the general Konoha ninja corp.
Who knew the technique would have come in handy like this?
"Congratulations on your win."
Sasuke and Naruto's heads snapped up at the new voice, both of then noticing the figure that stood in the shadows of on the hall's pillars. "Truly, I expected nothing less from the both of you."
Naruto's eyes narrowed. He'd heard that voice before… "You… I know you…"
The figure seemed to chuckle in amusement as it stepped out of the darkness.
Sasuke's eyes narrowed dangerously. "Akasuna no Sasori… so this is where you disappeared to."
The red headed young man smiled and applauded, presenting himself to the ten individuals in front of him. "Well met, Uchiha Sasuke, Uzumaki Naruto. Your reputations precede you both."
Naruto growled, ignoring his praise. "ROOT's been tailing you for weeks, and then you up and suddenly drop off the face of the earth. I guess it makes sense now…"
Sasori smiled. "Ahh, so it was ROOT that was following me, eh? I should have expected something like that, but I'd figured it was Kiri ANBU. I had planned on catching those little rats, but… well, you can guess."
"Let me guess, they inducted you into this little political game as well?" Sasuke accurately questioned.
Sasori shrugged. "They offered, but I declined. I am a rouge after all; I don't work for anyone but myself."
"I should kill you right now," Naruto growled, his fists clenching. "Those are standing orders upon contact with any Akatsuki."
"I'd welcome the opportunity, were it permitted," Sasori said with what could almost be called a smug grin. "Any fighting outside the Fields of Justice, or whatever they call them, is strictly prohibited, and of course, no one can die inside, so you're stuck with me until we find a way back, just as I, unfortunately, am stuck with you."
"Since when do Akatsuki follow the rules?" Sasuke snorted with a disbelieving smirk.
"Since we said so!"
Naruto and Sasuke both flinched at the imposing figure of a League official approached them. "I am Institute Guard Commander Rogan Runemancer. The council has ordered your presence immediately."
Everyone cringed at the harsh tone of the guard's voice; those two boys were in for it for sure. But to their surprise, neither Sasuke nor Naruto seemed to be affected by his tone.
"And if we were to refuse?"
Thei man's gaze narrowed and he snapped his fingers, quintuplet of guards fanning out on either side of him, spear-like weapons leveled at the two boys.
"That would be… most unwise."
Naruto's grin turned a shade darker at the appearance of the twenty soldiers aimed at him. "'Unwise you say?' Talk about the pot calling the kettle black."
Rogan raised an eyebrow as Sasuke placed a hand on his sword. "What's truly unwise, is you… threatening us." His burning gaze turned to glowing crimson, and his white blade flashed out into the light.
"I am Uchiha Sasuke, the last of the honored and noble Uchiha clan. You will treat me with respect."
Rogan's eyes narrowed as well, his visage darkening with a scowl. "Unless you intend for your 'honored and noble clan' to die out today, I'd recommend you do as you're told."
Everyone waited with baited breath, not knowing who would bow out first. However, from the way Naruto was standing, his muscles flexed in preparation to attack, showed it wasn't going to be him or his partner.
However, all tension was shattered by the cry of the guard's name from behind.
The man immediately whirled with wide eyes at the man approaching them. "Brother!" he cried as he bowed to a knee in Rastor's presence. However, the elder would have none of his feigned piety.
"Rogan, I specifically told you not to provoke them. Mr. Uchiha is from a very prestigious noble family, and will be treated as equal to that of our own. Is that understood?"
"But… sir I-"
"-I SAID… is that understood… Rogan?"
Naruto smirked at the man in front of them, and how he was practically sweating in his older brother's presence.
"Y-yes… Councilman… as you command…"
Rastor nodded with a wave of his hand the guards raised their pikes back into the air, standing at attention. "In addition, Mr. Uzumaki is likewise to be considered a VIP until such a time as the order is rescinded. Clear?"
"Yes Councilman," his brother repeated.
"Very good. Now, overlooking my brother's hasty and ignorant actions, would the two of you please accompany me to the council room? We have things we need to discuss…" he finished with a polite but serious tone.
Sasuke gave a small hmph, sheathing his blade while Naruto smirked.
"Well, since you asked nicely…."
"But I don't want to talk to him! I don't even want to be near him!" Ahri said as she tried to grab onto anything secure as Ashe dragged and pushed her through the halls.
"If you don't talk to him, you won't sort out your feelings!" the archer said as she struggled to get the former fox to comply.
"I don't have any feelings!" she almost cried comically as she held onto the corner of a wall with all her strength.
"Oh please…ugh! I can tell you're confused… ugh! Would you let go already?!"
"Nooo! I don't wannaaaaa!" she cried pitifully as she clawed at the ground for an anchor.
Ashe was about to freeze the woman's hands together to keep her from resisting, when the sound of footsteps alerted both of them to the presence of others. Quickly deciding it best to hide, they both zipped around a corner and peered around it.
"…again I feel I must apologize to for my younger brother; he can be bold and brash at times."
"Sounds like someone I know…"
"Talk to the finger, Sasuke."
"Regardless, I must convey my incredulity at your skills. I wouldn't have guessed soldiers like you would know abilities capable of snapping a Summoner's from their synchronization. I must ask you don't do so again."
"In case you didn't notice, I don't do 'other people in my head' or didn't you get the message during that 'reflection' thingy?"
Three figures came into view, one of them being Rastor Runemancer, the head of the three councilmen who ran both the Insitute and the League. The other two were clearly the two boys from the match just before.
"The council is aware of your… aversion to mind reading and other similar techniques. Our mages are still suffering from the trauma you caused in the reflection process."
Both Ahri and Ashe's eyes widened when they heard that. Giving each other a glance, they knew they were thinking the same thing.
"Hey, don't blame me; I told you it was a bad idea from the get-go."
"I never said I blame you; in fact I'm rather regretting the choice it ignore you. Who knows when or even if they will fully recover?"
"Weird, I've never caused anyone that much pain before in that situation… You guys must not be used to people capable of throwing you out of their mind."
"Such people are indeed few and far between," Rastor admitted.
Naruto shrugged at the man's honesty, but then stopped short. Sasuke caught his perplexed gaze and placed a hand on his shoulder. "Hey, you alright?"
Naruto turned and sniffed the air. "Yeah… I just… I thought I smelled something."
Sasuke gave him a knowing look and pushed him along. "You probably did; ignore it for now."
Naruto sighed and relented, allowing himself to be moved along by his partner, while unbeknownst to him, Ahri was breathing a sigh of relief.
Collapsing to the ground, her legs no longer able to support her, she placed a hand to her chest and took a calming breath. When he'd turned around and sniffed the air, she knew… she just knew that he'd caught her scent. That realization sent her body into a frenzy; her heart suddenly pounded within her breast, and her legs felt like jelly. Her breathing hitched and her voice was caught in her throat. As soon as the 'danger' passed, all energy left her body.
Ashe was by her side instantly. "H-hey, what's wrong? You feeling alright?"
Ahir took a few calming breaths before shaking her head. "Yes… and no," she admitted with a slightly laugh, though it seemed a bit forced. "I'll be fine… I think. Just help me up."
Ashe nodded and obliged, helping to fox-girl to her feet. Dusting herself off, Ahri gave a thankful smile to the Frost Archer and her tailed resumed their usually swaying behind her back. But to the queen's surprise, Ahri simply about-faced and began walking away.
"H-hey, wait a minute! Where're you going?"
Ahri stopped and turned slightly. "Thank you for joining me today, but I need to be alone for a little bit."
Without waiting for an answer she continued on, back to her own quarters.
Ashe simply stood there, not entirely understanding what was going on with the other woman. What she did know was that Ahri's discomfort and agitation obviously stemmed from Naruto, for whatever reason. All Ashe had were clue at the moment, but she wondered if piecing together the puzzle was impossible…
Sighing herself, she also turned and walked away, wondering if it was even worth looking into or whether it would all play out?
For Ahri's sake, she hoped it would.
"Here she comes…"
"Keep an eye on her tail. He's slippery."
The two individuals sat completely still on the room of one of the street-side buildings, their silhouettes clear, but immobile against the light of the full moon in the sky. With their dark clothing, they blended in with the shadows around them perfectly. Their query was running through the empty streets, her breath loud and heavy.
Both silhouettes watched her carefully, the first of the two, also a female, keeping her eyes trained on the street, while other eyed the girl warily.
The girl was their charge; their objective. At least, her safety was their objective. Her name was Hinata Hyuuga, veritable princess of the Hyuuga clan. For whatever reason she was being chased by another individual, and it was their job to make sure she was safe, no holds barred.
Hinata huffed loudly as she dashed through the streets, hoping for the safety of pedestrians or shop-lights. None were present however, and considering the time of night, she wasn't surprised. It was nearly three in the morning. Using her Byakugan, she looked around, noting nobody in the immediate vicinity, to which she was thankful. Letting her legs slow to a stop she leaned over and breathed in deep mouthfuls of air.
She was being pursued. By whom, she didn't know, only that he wore an ANBU mask. Even so, he clearly wasn't from the main ranks. 'Could it be… ROOT? But why would they want me? Naruto told me I would be safe from them.'
A light crunch of gravel caught her ears and she whirled Byakugan blazing as she spotted her pursuer. "Come out! I know you're there!"
She was met by silence. However, he couldn't hide from her, so she dashed forward and 'round the corner where she knew he was standing. What she saw stunned her.
There was nothing there. She blinked and flinched back in surprise, bumping into something not-quite-solid behind her. Whirling again, this time with a gasp, she made to smash her palm into the masked being's chest. Before her blow could connect, it was caught by the wrist with a single hand and a cold, sharp blade pressed to her throat before she could make another move.
"Don't move. Answer my questions and you might live."
She growled at him through clenched teeth. "Who are you? What do you want with me?!"
"Like I said I simply require information."
His voice was quiet and impassive. Becoming more convinced of the ANBU's allegiances, she decided she'd go ahead and play his game. "If you have something to ask, then ask it!"
"Three days ago you contacted Uchiha Sasuke. He left on a mission soon after and disappeared. You were the last person to have made contact with him."
"That doesn't sound very much like a question," she grumbled before he pressed the blade against her neck harder. "What was the nature of your meeting?"
Hinata, knowing exactly what she'd met him for, and also knowing it might not be best to reveal anything too prematurely, simply said, "We just talked. That's all."
"And?" Clearly he didn't believe her.
She would have sighed if she weren't so tense. "…I gave him a note… a note to give to his partner."
"Uzumaki Naruto, you mean." It was a statement, not a question.
"…Yes…" she almost hissed out.
The ANBU continued. "What is the nature of your relationship with Uzumaki Naruto?"
"W-wha…?" she whispered out, doing her best to act innocent. What she received was a light cut on her skin.
"We are aware of your relationship with Naruto; we simply ask the nature of it."
She flinched as a trickle of blood ran down her neck. Could she really trust this person? Could she tell him that they were in love? She couldn't risk that knowledge getting out, especially on the off-chance he wasn't ROOT and was actually just someone out to ruin her life. It wouldn't have been the first time that someone had staged an event just to mess with her.
"W-we're just friends…" she said through clenched teeth, though now clenched from pain and the fear of more.
"Don't lie." He ordered, spinning her around and placing the blade against her throat again, this time in a tighter hold. "What is the nature of your relationship with Uzumaki Naruto?"
"I-I just told y-"
She was silenced by the blade slicing through her skin, releasing her blood to the air. She immediately lifted her hands to her throat to staunch the flood of her life-blood.
"A shallow cut. No organs were damaged; you can still speak. The next will be deeper." He rambled off efficiently. "What is the nature of your relationship with Uzumaki Naruto?"
She looked up at him fearfully, his blade poised to strike again. Wincing in pain, she responded again, "I t-told you… we're just f-friends…"
The ANBU let out a sigh and slashed again, this time aiming to lop off one of her hands.
Hinata watched as the blade sank deep into flesh, splitting skin, muscle, bone and organs. Thick blood splattered across her face and clothes, her eyes wide with fear and surprise.
Funnily enough though, so were the ANBU's.
He didn't even have time to cry out before his body fell in two; split diagonally through the collar bone and the pelvis. He hit the ground with a sickening splash of blood and organs.
His killer smiled and lifted his ridiculously large blade over his shoulder. "Hehe, that's what you get for tryin' to be an asshole."
Another figure landed beside him and kneeled down to Hinata's level. Noting Hinata's injury, she pulled back a sleeve an offered her bare arm to the surprised Hyuuga. "Here, bit me."
Hinata blinked in surprised, but the other girl simply pushed her arm closer. Not understanding why, but realizing they were both her saviors, if not directly her protectors, opened her mouth and sank her teeth into the other girl's wrist.
She winced in pain but bore with it. Amazingly, Hinata could feel healing chakra enter her body and circulate around her neck, sealing the cut rapidly. With a sigh, Hinata withdrew her fangs from her flesh and wiped her mouth.
"Are you alright?" the girl asked her, also wiping off her arm with her sleeve.
Hinata nodded hesitantly. "Y-yes I am, t-thank you. But… who…w-who are you two?"
The boy with the giant, now blood covered blade, turned and smiled at her. "Suigetsu. Houzuki Suigetsu. This girl here's Karin. We were ordered by Sasuke to keep you safe from ROOT, or whoever else might try to hurt you while Naruto's gone."
Hinata blinked in shock. "S-Sasuke-san did…?"
"Sasuke and Naruto are like brothers." The newly identified Suigetsu continued. "As soon as Sasuke saw you were someone Naruto was interested in, and considering your… *ahem* social status, he realized there could be problems if people got nosy."
"S-so… you're saying Sasuke-san hired you to protect me because he was afraid of something happening to me, for Naruto-kun's sake?"
Karin nodded. "Yes, but he didn't need to hire us. He asked us."
Suigetsu looked at her strangely. "He's paying me; don't know what you're talking about."
"Yeah well you're stingy!"
Suigetsu snorted and looked away toward the full moon. Karin returned her gaze to the Hyuuga. "We've been watching you for a while now, making sure nothing happened to you. Sorry we didn't jump in earlier, but we were told ROOT wouldn't dare to hurt you. When we realized he was serious, we jumped in immediately."
Hinata shook her head. "No, i-it's fine. I'm alright now…"
"Whoa, hey you two. I don't think this guy's ROOT?" Suigetsu called from behind them. Turning around, they spotted him lifting the mask off of the dead ninja. They never expected to see a Kumogakure headband strapped to his head.
"K-Kumo?!" Karin gasped. "Are you kidding me?! That's the second time they've targeted this girl!"
Suigetsu nodded reached down between the two halves of the man's body. "Don't look like that's all either."
They blinked when he lifted a grime-covered scroll from the man's split stomach. Wiping off the filth, he opened it up and looked through what was left. Stomach acid did a wondrous job on fiber materials.
Suigetsu's eyes narrowed as he looked it over. "Well, things just got a bit more interesting," he commented with a knowing tone.
"What? Let me see!" Karin shouted as she tore the scroll from his hands, and holding it open so she and Hinata could read it together.
What they read left Hinata's veins frozen.
'Hyuuga Hinata. Five-foot, two inches. Waist-length dark-blue hair. Pale skin. Usually wears white/purple jacket. Interrogate. Eliminate if necessary.'
The message itself was astonishing enough, but what they saw at the end of it shocked them even more. Part of the page had decomposed from the would-be-assassin's stomach juices, but there was a faint remnant of a small brand at the end of the message. A small, but terrifyingly familiar seal.
The seal of the Hyuuga clan.
If Hinata's blood hadn't frozen inside her, it surely had now. No words left her mouth, and her body refused to move; her mind almost refused to even think.
All that came out of her mouth were small garbled bits of words that couldn't seem to make sense.
Karin, wasn't known for sympathy, but even she knew that in the past few seconds this girl's world must have been turned upside-down. Comfortingly placing an arm around the terrified and confused Hyuuga's shoulders, she pulled her tightly close to herself.
"What do we do, Suigetsu?" she asked, her tone coming out more soft and concerned than she'd intended.
The sword-wielder was silent for a moment before he reached down and plucked the scroll from her hands, rolling it up and attaching it to his waist. "We do as we were told. Get her up."
Karin scowled and nodded, lifting the girl up gently. "Poor girl's in shock," she commented as Hinata didn't seem to react at all.
"That's just as well. Let's go."
She nodded and followed the young man, leaping into the air after him with Hinata's arms around her shoulders.
As they left though, they failed to see the flicker of darkness from a nearby alley. Out stepped a white-cloaked individual. His eyes followed the retreating trio as they fled the scene, but they weren't his primary objective. Stepping up to the rapidly cooling corpse, he stooped down and picked up the ANBU mask that had fallen on the ground. So much like his own, he spared it only a glance before noticing the Kumogakure headband. 'Just like they said…' He'd heard enough of the three's conversation that he didn't need to have the scroll to know what had transpired. Unlike this imposter, real ROOT operatives were far more capable. Not to mention deadly.
'Hyuuga conspiring with Kumo agents… Danzou-sama will want to know this.' With a fwip of his hand, two more ROOT appeared beside him and got to work retrieving the corpse. In truth, they'd been assigned to keep track of Sasuke's old partners, Suigetsu and Karin, even as they were assigned by Sasuke to keep track of Hyuuga Hinata. In the course of their duty, this wouldn't be the first bifurcated corpse they'd have to clean up.
'That Suigetsu needs to learn to clean up after himself,' he mused silently.
Trusting his comrades to do their jobs, he flickered away back to base to report.
A/N: And there you have it! I'll be honest, this wasn't as serious a chapter as I'd liked to have made it, but whatever; I tried to remedy that by going back to the Naruto-verse there at the end. You see, I like to think of the world of League of Legends to be wrought with corruption and darkness, despite the fact that the game is rather light and funny, and I have a hard time transitioning from what I want and what I'm familiar with. I will endeavor to do so in the next chapter!
Until next time, I bid you all good day, good night, and a merry, merry Christmas!