"Echoes" rang out in the halls of justice, responding first to Morgana's whimsical trial, then to each other. She grinned to herself at the attention- friends, at last. She had enjoyed several hours in the hallway outside of Summoner Nashahago's office, admiring the view from the massive windows that served as walls. The Institute of War had quite a view, both from the village below and to it. Morgana shuffled her weight on the plush, pillowed bench lining her side of the hall. The shuffle echoed, satisfying her with its lack of judgment. An echo is a friend to the lonely.
But the door she was waiting by opened, breaking the charm of loneliness and admitting the charm of Noxus. Katarina exited the office of Bob Nashahago angry. It seemed to Morgana that "angry" was Katarina's modus operandi, but this was different. Katarina was having a problem with her pride, and violence wouldn't solve it. Morgana offered a consoling hand, only to have Katarina slap it away.
"Don't touch me, freak!"
The Sinister Blade of Noxus had been scorned, and was in no mood to play her usual role as diplomat to outsiders like a fallen angel. Morgana had come to cherish her relationship with Katarina. It was consistent, if nothing else. She watched Katarina leave with the mask of contempt over pity, wondering at the Sinister Blade's swagger- A dancer's grace sullied by self-hatred.
Morgana was torn from the sight by the call of her name. She turned back to the door, an ornate, purple wood, and opened it.
Morgana screamed. Her entire body was heaving under the effort as unused muscles came to life, pressing new bones through worn skin. Her wings had been growing for months now, and the flesh above them was red and itching at all times. She was warned the time would be soon, but she had not expected it to be so sudden. Scream, heave, split. The first of many tears escaped. Morgana felt the reassuring squeeze on her hand, heard the reassuring voice.
"Told you it's worse than wisdom teeth."
She laughed through a sob.
Bob Nashahago was a fat bastard. And as he liked to remind everyone he met, he was the only Bob Nashahago. Morgana closed the door behind her, ignoring his well rehearsed introduction of himself. She took the seat opposite his over the desk, crossing her legs under the floor-length leather dress that she favored. Her top had been left as a consequence of previous publicity attempts. The local world had a fascination with the female form that outweighed the functionality of clothing. Morgana had never minded exposure at home, and didn't now, but life was never the same without pockets and insulation. The clothing, her bra and dress, was all that had come with her to this world. No: her sister had come- her clothing and her sister.
"I'll go get-"
"No! Don't tell Kayle."
She gripped his hand, keeping him there with her while she floundered in the grass. A purple sky whirled overhead in slow circles. The cloud would clear soon for two brilliant suns.
In the bushes before her, a butterfly was struggling against its cocoon. Morgana felt another surge of pain as her muscles spasmed out of control, tearing at the skin.
Summoner Nashahago's sausage-like fingers splayed out on each hand as his arms spread wide. Even the billowing, purple robes he wore couldn't disguise his girth.
"Any suggestions, Morgana?"
Nashahago had been monologuing while she thought. Morgana didn't care to know what about. But the summoner returned to a restful pose, elbow on the arm of his chair, fist under chin, sausage-pinkie extended to mouth for ease of eating. He was waiting for her to answer.
"Exercise," Morgana chided.
Nashahago was unable to comprehend of anyone insulting him. His eyebrow raised suggestively.
"That certainly would make you popular, dear." His all-consuming grin was now as radiant as the turquoise gems on his pinkie ring and head circlet. Fat. Bastard. Morgana did not care for gems or innuendo.
"What were we discussing?" She mumbled, blinking away the discomfort of his attention. Nashahago seemed flustered as well. As a summoner, he was attuned to receiving the unadulterated attention that he couldn't reciprocate. His hands clasped together at the center of his desk.
"Morgana, my dear, esteemed champion. You are not popular."
He tried to balance confidence and humility without feedback from her expression. Morgana was trying to remember a recent league match she hadn't participated in.
"Could you repeat that, Summoner?"
Her legs uncrossed and switched position as they recrossed. Bob Nashahago's smile was tight this time.
"You are not popular. You are banned more often than you are chosen."
He was very disappointed by Morgana's grin, but pressed on.
"Noxus believes that you can be returned to play if your reputation can be restored. Do you understand, Morgana? Rep-u-ta-tion." The pudge on his fingers made soft reports as he clapped them against the desk. Morgana was making quick work of connecting Katarina's unhappiness to Nashahago's implications.
"Do I scare the children?"
She was baring her grin still, amusing herself with his discomfort. Nashahago's sausages danced while he thought. Finger wiggling seemed to help that process.
"We... Noxus needs you to be less intimidating. I like to think of it as 'de-clawing the kitty,' so to speak."
He smiled hopefully. Morgana betrayed a mix of pity and humor.
"You want me to throw a game," she nudged.
Nashahago nearly jumped from his chair.
"No! Never! Of course not! This- this 'de-clawing' would happen solely outside of League-sanctioned competition. Purely aesthetic! Good heavens!"
He finished with a laugh of desperation- then, as an addendum, "Could you think of a way to... convince summoners that you have a softer side?"
Morgana felt the joy of her wings bursting free. The flayed skin on her back flapped with the new appendages. Muscles stretched. Pain gave way to pleasure. Feathers brushed against her wounds. She cried out, falling forwards and landing safely in his arms. She reached her face to his. Her first kiss and the next few days were a blur. She stood in the ancient gardens and spun in the sun, brilliant white feathers reflecting beautiful rays around her. They would spin together, her with him, until they were too dizzy to stand. Glowing roses and flowing honey mixed with lush grass and an explosion of newborn butterflies.
Nashahago clapped impatiently, feigning something. He seemed to be trying to pass it off as a thoughtful gesture. Look at me thinking.
"I'm already traipsing around in a dress and a bra, Summoner."
Nashahago's face seemed struck with inspiration. His maw unhinged to spew forth the idea.
"No," Morgana interrupted.
Nashahago shrugged in an attempt to be persuasive.
Morgana's scowl had now cemented itself. Nashahago, wisely fearing the end of her patience, conceded the point.
"How about an interview, then? Katarina agreed to one just a moment ago."
Nashahago thrummed his fat fingers against each other in another thoughtful gesture. Morgana shifted her weight uneasily.
She felt the slight prod at her mind that accompanied a summoner's curiosity. Nashahago's mind felt the sharp zap of a denial.
"Don't test me, Summoner."
Morgana's contract was signed on the promise of her sister's blood. Otherwise, she might have committed another murder on the spot. Nashahago seemed to recognize this. He had made a very serious mistake. Morgana stood to leave, her leather dress turning footsteps into a smooth glide accentuated by the sway of her hips. The distraction was too much for Nashahago, and she made it to the door before his stammering became a coherent, "w-w-w-wai- your sister!"
The spinning had made them too dizzy to stand. So there they lay, in the garden of an ancient race, eyes betraying the longing of the young and old, of the ephemeral and permanent, of the angel and the infinite life ahead of her, and of her human friend. No: her human lover. Morgana reached a hand to his cheek. He reached a hand to hers. They kissed; A simple gesture to some- heresy heralding war to others. Another girl, another angel, saw. Kayle could hardly keep a secret.
Morgana's hand curled and swirled in the beginning of a somatic curse, readying a spell to sling at Nashahago. She stayed facing the door, waiting for his explanation. Nashahago spoke fast.
"Your sister was already interviewed. She's very popular. She says terrible things about you, it's good to tell your side of the story, and there aren'-"
Morgana's hand waived dismissively, a gesture that Nashahago mistook for her intent to release the spell. Morgana's hand uncurled, and the magic dissipated.
"Fine," she turned to him. "Let's set the record straight."