Chapter 2: Nothing Can Hold Me Back!
Sitting at his dining room table, munching on a plate of bacon and eggs, Eric had expanded the interface again, and was looking it over, with a new appreciation. His late night rendezvous with Ezreal had turned up some interesting information. He was a champion, of some sort of "League", where he regularly fought on the Fields of Justice. But instead of him physically fighting there, instead, a sort of copy of his physical body was created, while his soul and magical abilities were summoned to the copy. This meant he could fight over and over and over again, with death being no obstacle.
'Seems kind of an exhausting way to live. But I suppose it is better than the massive amounts of magically enhanced war his world had suffered under for years. Not to mention the other benefits.' Thought Eric, as he looked at the map of Atlanta on his interface.
The map covered a fairly large area of Atlanta, and there was a blue dot over his apartment, pulsing softly. Eric assumed this indicated him, but then that left him at a loss, as he saw two other blue dots scattered across the city. One was on his campus, on the other side of it, located over one of the coed dorms there. The other was off in the nearby downtown area.
'I can only assume they are other people who were in the same group with Ezreal. If only he'd told me the identities of his teammates, maybe I'd have an easier time identifying them. It would be good to have others in this predicament with me.'
Ezreal explained that his consciousness and magic (called mana, apparently) were now merged with Eric's, similar to how it would merge with the copy of his body on the fields of justice. Only difference is THAT body didn't have a currently present soul and consciousness already. So this was a bit new to Ezreal. But he figured that this meant Eric could use his abilities as he normally would, although was at a loss on how to unlock them. That was the summoner's job. Apparently one of the costs of fighting in the League was a limiter placed upon all magical skills, meaning that synergy between the summoner and the champion was more important than ever.
'You're a smart kid, once you figure that out, THEN the real fun begins.' Was what Ezreal had told him before the pub had started fading away as Eric woke up. Eric shook his head, and looked at the flashing node. The one that, last he checked, had been a personal glimpse at a naked girl. He tossed the idea around in his head and surmised that there was no way she could STILL be in the shower. So therefore it was safe to open.
Tapping the node, it once again expanded into a screen, showing the same blonde girl. And Eric was right, she wasn't in the shower. Instead, she was on top of another girl, a red head, sucking and nibbling at her neck, while the red head threw her head back with her mouth open in what was undoubtedly a moan of ecstasy. They were both still clothed from the waist down but had shed their tops. Thankfully (or not, depending on your point of view) there was no accompanying audio.
As any healthy young man would, Eric watched for a few seconds, before noticing that, on the blonde girl's back, where her shoulder blades met, was a scar, of the same manner as his, although hers was shaped like a curved jagged blade, one that had been broken. Eric pondered this, before noticing that the blonde girl had started to work her way lower onto the other girl's body, groping at the waistband of her jeans.
Blushing even brighter, Eric minimized the screen once again, the node flashing as always, although it was flashing rather rapidly, as if reacting to the activity it contained.
'Who is she? And why can I view her through this thing? Maybe…that would make sense…And I suppose the girl I saw yesterday is also one of them…or us, I suppose. So are there really nine other human beings running around, with all this magical potential waiting to be unlocked? That could be bad...really bad…' thought Eric as he glanced at the other screen, the screen with the large dark skinned man.
He was sitting in a classroom, staring at a board, writing in a notebook. Eric squinted at the screen. That classroom looked familiar. Very familiar. Then Eric's eyes widened, realizing that he recognized the classroom because it was where he had his physics lectures in the previous semesters.
So this man went to Eric's school, probably a senior like himself, if not a grad student. That was good. He shouldn't be too hard to get in contact with then. All Eric had to do was catch a glimpse of something with his name on it through the screen, and then it was child's play from
Eric sat, watching the man as he continued writing. And writing. And writing.
After fifteen minutes of this, Eric grew frustrated, and his eyes left the screen, moving to the map. The map of Atlanta. The one with blinking blue dots that Eric was pretty sure showed their locations.
'For someone with an IQ of 174, I can really be dense at times.' Thought Eric as he sprang up, folding the interface into its travel size. Stepping out and locking his apartment, he set off at a brisk pace to the physics building. On the way there, he opened the interface again, looking at the dark man's screen, seeing that he was still writing, still in the physics lecture hall.
As he walked, the interface started beeping. He looked around, taking note of the fact that, just as no one could see it, no one could hear the odd otherworldly interface. He continued, the beeping increasing both in frequency and amplitude, and he had no idea what it was. As it reached its zenith, Eric rounded a corner, brushing shoulders with someone.
Suddenly, the prickling he'd felt on the back of his neck the night before was nothing. Every sense in his body screamed DANGER and he felt his pulse skyrocket, his muscles tense as adrenalin was sent through his system. Eric sprang away, putting his back to the nearest wall, an instinctive defensive motion, and he looked at the cause of his disturbance.
The person turned around, revealing the face of a pale teenager, probably a few years younger than Eric. Despite this, he was a head taller than Eric, with a scrawny figure and the gangly, awkward limbs of adolescence. He had straw colored hair that fell in limp trails down to his shoulders, and wore a brown leather duster that fell to the floor. Underneath, he wore a cream colored shirt with a set of plaid pants and boots. A large stone ring sat on his left hand, and it appeared to have some sort of blue luminescence about it.
The boy looked at Eric, with eyes of deep, glowing amethyst and grinned at Eric. Opening his mouth, his voice came out as a drawling, Australian rasp, as if he was quite parched, or had a throat made of straw.
"Well, hello there, mate. My apologies, it seemed as if I bumped you, you alright?"
Eric said nothing, looking at the teenager through narrowed eyes. His interface continued beeping and the blond looked at it, smiling, "Well, that's an interesting piece of work right there. Where'd ya get it?"
Eric was jolted, as he realized he was talking about the interface.
"You…you can see it?"
The blond boy smiled and said,
"Well of course I can. It's kind of hard to miss. Oh, my mistake, how rude of me. I haven't even introduced myself. My name is…" He looked thoughtful, as if deciding, before smirking. "…Istvaan. The name's Istvaan. Nice to meet you."
Eric looked down at the extended hand, still feeling a massive sense of distrust and general conflict. Inside, he felt his mana bubbling under the surface, disturbed and agitated, in line with his emotions. Cautiously, he extended his hand, grasping Istvaan's.
Eric felt a shock run through him, as their hands connected, and suddenly he didn't see Istvaan. He saw a skeletal looking creature that towered over him. It had an amorphous sack for a torso and long limbs made of brittle wood. Its head was an extension of the sack and it had burning emerald eyes set above an evil, devilish smirk. While its right hand was grasping Eric's, its left held a long, wicked looking scythe. Overall, the figure seemed to be childish, cartoon like, the product of some child's imagination. But it emitted a keening aura of fear and dread that had nothing childlike about it. And its gaze held nothing but dread and death.
Eric gasped and tried to pull his hand away, looking down and realizing it was once again Ezreal's. He looked up through new eyes and narrowed them.
"So it's you, Fiddlesticks. The scarecrow. Shoulda known. Get your sad excuse for a hand off of me."
Fiddlesticks cackled and only tightened his brittle grip. He leaned down and leered at Eric.
"It seems you're still playing nice with your host, Explorer. That must be really inconvenient for you, can't imagine you're used to being incorporeal for so long. I was barely corporeal to begin with, and I refused to let this weak fleshy being drag me down. I consumed him the second I was summoned here. After all, I have to do my part, as the Harbinger of Doom. And what better place to do it than this new world? One ripe with raw, unutilized magic?"
Eric gasped, looking at the straw figure.
"You're talking, you never talk!"
"What can I say? New world, new ways. I'm also quite excited. After all, it's not every day you get to live up to your name and lead an entire world to its doom."
Eric gritted his teeth and tried to pull away from the scarecrow but with a flash, he had been replaced with Istvaan's form once again. Eric started to feel his strength wane and he gasped, as he fell to his knees, losing the will to pull away. Istvaan grinned even wider as he continued draining Eric's strength. He stepped forward and bent down, putting his mouth close to Eric's ear.
"It's about time I get one up on the prodigal explorer. It seems first blood…belongs to me."
Eric started seeing spots, a sensation that was becoming all too familiar. He mentally screamed out,
'EZREAL! If ever there was a time for intervention, it's now!'
There was no response, other than his mana growing even more erratic. He waited desperately, but no response was forthcoming and his mana surged even more testily.
Eric struggled to hold on to consciousness as he felt his very life force being drained away and, suddenly, his mana flared up, filling his limbs with new energy. He held out his free left hand and the interface responded, coalescing under his palm, the screens stacking until they were before him, in a neat pile, with the silhouette screen on top.
He looked down in confusion at it, and saw that the silhouette, once a gently blue, was slowly being overtaken, having become yellow, with a rapidly growing red tint. He looked again at the flashing icons and it hit him. If he wasn't in mortal danger, he would have laughed at his missing such an obvious clue. He slammed his hand down, striking the first flashing icon, the ball of white light, and in response, he felt a power thrumming through his hand, seeing the outline of a large amulet embedded glove over it.
With a cry, Eric swung his hand towards Istvaan, a ball of bright light flaring out in response and slamming into the Aussie's chest, sending him stumbling back, his grip on Eric being lost. With the loss of contact, the clutching feeling of despair faded away, although Eric still felt very weak. He got to his feet woozily, stumbling back. Istvaan glared at Eric, snarling angrily.
"So it seems you have a bit of fight in you after all. I was almost disappointed you didn't struggle more, Ezreal." Istvaan held out his palms, wind surging around them, forming into two crescent blades that he held in each palm. He flung them at Eric, who moved sluggishly out of the way, only for the blades to curve, striking him in the chest. They shattered, as if made of glass, but Eric felt the impact, stumbling back further, gasping.
'Getting drained sucked way more, but those blades aren't exactly fun.'
Now, this was the point where, in the movies, the hero would feel a sudden burst of skill and power, and slay his foe, who had come to the battle stronger and more prepared than him, and who had let his own arrogance force him to toy with his foe, leading to his ultimate demise. This wasn't a movie. So Eric did the only logical thing. He bolted.
Eric heard Istvaan scream in frustration and soon heard the pounding of boots pursuing him. Still he ran, faster than he ever had in his life, feeling the shock of each step as he sprinted around the corner. He kept moving, surprised at his speed and looked down, seeing that his shoes had disappeared to be replaced by the boots Ezreal had bought him (them?) earlier. He heard Istvaan still in pursuit, but could tell he was moving slower, his angered pursuit growing quieter by the second.
Pumped by the near death experience, the run and the fact that he was going to live, Eric threw a quip over his shoulder,
"Boots and pots for the win, Fiddles! Boots and pots for the win!"
That reminded him; he had those potions Ezreal had bought earlier! He grinned, only for it to fall as he remembered that he'd left them on his kitchen counter. Suddenly, he felt a weight in his pocket, along with a tinkling noise, one associated with glass. Reaching in, he felt the test tubes and grinned wider.
'May not have been affiliated for long, but magic, I love you.'
Drawing a vial from his pocket, he downed the blue elixir and felt his mana surge in response, growing and replenishing itself. He grimaced.
'So blue for mana, red for health, makes sense.'
He drew out a red colored vial, downing it and throwing the container away, hearing it shatter. He felt the strength start to return to his body and the cold, chilling feeling that had permeated his body started to dissipate. Drawing up the screen, he saw the silhouette slowly start to lose—shit!
Eric's foot struck a curb and he went flying, rolling across the ground, falling in a heap. He scrambled up, seeing Istvaan smile as he approached, readying more blades of wind. Eric clenched his left fist, feeling the light – 'Mystic shot' – surge around his fist and he flung it out. Istvaan leaned, the projectile flying harmlessly past. Eric started stepping back, looking around and tried to throw another mystic shot, only to feel a strange lock on his power.
'Must be those cooldown things Ezreal was talking about, I can see why he hates them so.' Thought Eric, as he continued stepping back, while Istvaan continued stepping forward. He threw the blades of wind at Eric, who tried to dodge the blades again, only for them to curve, striking him in the back. He stumbled forward due to the impact and Istvaan's eyes flared green as he threw his arms out, in a spread eagled position.
A lancing beam of green flew out from his chest, attaching itself to Eric, who felt the drain start to overtake him again. He stepped back, swiping at the leash with his hands, only for them to pass through with no effect. He continued moving back though, as he felt the leash grow taut, and then snap, the drain effect passing. He flung his mystic shot at Istvaan, hitting him square in the jaw this time, snapping his head back, and causing him to take a step back.
He swung his neck back down eerily, cracking it to the side as he glared at Eric. Blood flowed from his split bottom lip and he grimaced.
"So you've grown a spine have you? Well, bring it then, map boy."
Despite his brief show of bravado, Eric felt his stomach sink and cold sweat on his brow. This was a new situation. A deadly situation. He was running half on instinct he didn't have a few days ago and half on instinct that was his right as a human being. He felt energized and primed, but nervous and scared. How was he supposed to fight this thing?
And Ezreal was no help. The explorer-turned-mental-presence was nowhere to be found and a peep hadn't been heard since their conversation in the dream pub. Eric focused on his left hand, but felt the lock again. However, his mana shifted, moving in a different way, and he flung his hand out, throwing a mass of lightning out and hitting Istvaan in the chest.
'So these are the unlimited attacks. Weaker than any skills, but still better than nothing.'
Eric flung more lightning at Istvaan, throwing it at him rapidly, causing Istvaan to step back as they thumped into his chest. He countered with his wind blades and Eric threw his lightning to meet them in mid-air, causing the attacks to cancel each other out. Eric stepped back, ready to beat another escape, but hit a wall.
Looking around, he saw that he'd backed himself into a corner. A building lay at his back, with more to the side, creating a sort of alley. The only way out was past Istvaan, who smiled menacingly as he saw Eric's predicament. He opened his mouth, no doubt ready to deliver more demeaning remarks, but was suddenly swept off of his feet as a large, dark mass collided with him, slamming him into the side of the building, cracking the stone and sending dust into the air.
Eric looked at the building as the dust settled to see Istvaan stunned and held against the wall by the man Eric had journeyed out to find in the first place.
He was wearing a blue button down shirt that we wore unbuttoned, revealing his bare chest. He had on dark black jeans that were frayed at the bottom, overlapping his boots. He had two curled scars on his chest and his bright blue eyes glanced over at Eric, who was grinning wryly at this unexpected development.
"Seemed like you could use a hand. Not to mention your eyes are blue like mine, and this guy just gives me the creeps."
Istvaan came to, groggily shaking his head. He looked at the man holding him in confusion, before glaring.
"You idiotic bovine. Get off of me."
Gripping Istvaan, the muscle bound man flung him down to the floor, causing him to roll over, towards Eric. He panted, struggling to his knees as he glared at the two young men. He felt so weak, and was sure that a few of his bones were broken from that collision with the wall. He got to his feet, wincing as he felt his bones protest in response.
'It's been so long…I'd forgotten of the fragility of the flesh…' thought Istvaan as he slowly stepped away from the two.
"It seems you got lucky, Ezreal. The cow stepped in to save your life. Regardless, I have nothing but time, you better watch yourself."
Istvaan continued stepping back, keeping his eye on them as they watched him retreat.
"I'm not sure if it's safe to just let him leave. He's very dangerous." Whispered Eric, as he stepped forward.
"Well, what do you want to do? Kill him? Call the police?" asked the black man.
Istvaan smirked at their indecision, and gave a mocking wave but before he could continue his exit, another person stepped into the alley. It was the girl Eric had seen before. She stepped calmly towards Istvaan, who had his back to her. She then thrust her hand out, grasping him by the back of his neck.
His eyes widened but before he could react, electricity started surging through this body, provoking an unearthly scream and a seizing fit. The girl's crackling hand stayed in position as Istvaan convulsed, until finally releasing him, letting his charred form fall to the floor. His amethyst eyes faded, to be replaced with vacant green eyes as he shakily drew breath.
Looking up at her, Istvaan gurgled something unintelligible and held his hand out, but then the last vestiges of life faded from his body, and his hand fell again.
Eric and the unnamed man looked on in shock at what had just occurred. The girl looked at them, smirking softly and said
"Thanks for doing all of the work. Sorry for kill stealing there, but it seems like you two weren't going to finish the job, so I was forced to step in."
Eric closed his mouth and looked at the girl, a hint of fear in his tone.
"You…you just killed a man! How could…how are you so laissez faire about this?"
Rolling her eyes, the girl said
"Relax; he'll come back, unfortunately."
Gesturing, she brought their attention to his body, which had started glowing white and it broke into streams of light that flew into the sky. Eric was even more confused now and the girl sighed, "You've gotten into contact with your champion, right?"
Not sure what this had to do with anything, Eric nodded, and the other man nodded as well.
"Well, essentially, our world is now a Field of Justice, unwillingly so. We've been given the pseudo-immortality that comes along with it as well. I'm assuming you two have been to the shop?"
Eric nodded while the dark skinned man shook his head.
"Well, for your sake, Mr…."
"Adam. The name's Adam."
"Right, Adam. The shop is that new pawn shop, over by Ms Marquet's bakery, on 10th and Williams. It also acts as our spawning area, for when we die, and for when we need to heal as well. As we progress and develop, the spawning time grows. But, as it were, this thing's just starting out, so our scarecrow friend should be back among the world of the living in a few hours."
"I'm assuming his spawn point is different than ours."
Nodding, the girl explained that, just as in the arena of Summoner's Rift, their spawn points were opposite to each other, with the enemy's point being a few blocks from theirs, on the opposite end of campus. Her words made Eric pause.
"So wait…you're telling me…"
"Looks like you catch on quick. Yes, this college campus is apparently our battlefield. It seems we're going to be stuck in pitched battle until this is done with."
"And how will we know when that is?" interjected Adam. "We don't have any nexuses or turrets, and those were what defined the end of a conflict, not to mention the recalling of the champions by the summoners. We can't really do that here."
"Well, I don't have all the answers; I think Ryze has done pretty well, with what he's given me so far."
Eric raised an eyebrow.
"Your champion is Ryze huh? Isn't he the purple tattooed one? Gotta say, the resemblance isn't exactly apparent."
"He's a mage. He went more for mental similarities and synergies, as opposed to physical ones. Although he did leave more than a few scars, let me tell you."
"Really? You seem pretty unscarred."
Smiling, she didn't address Eric's point and continued on.
"Well, I'm not sure what we do from here. We've been thrown into a conflict that has nothing to do with us, what do you think our next move should be?"
She tapped the side of her left eye,
"Well, we are on the same team. Like it or not. I think that means we should stick together. And work on finding the other two members of our little party."
Pulling out a cellphone, she tossed it into the air, where it expanded into the same kind of interface that Eric had. Grinning, he brought out his own and it folded out, merging with the girl's, to give a larger, more comprehensive view. Without a word Adam threw his out as well, making the display even larger.
Grouping around it, she pointed to the map
"As you can see, we are this cluster of blue dots. And you see that red skull, near us? It means we just killed an enemy at that location. Its presence also indicates that they haven't respawned yet."
"Sorry to cut in, but how do you know so much?" asked Adam.
"Ryze explained it all to me. He let himself into my dream a few days ago, and gave me a rundown on the inner workings and mechanics of this situation, the parts he was familiar with at least, and some educated guesses at the rest. Didn't get to explain much else, but did see fit to give me a basic description of his teammates."
"That's useful. I mostly got an overarching view of Runeterra, and what the League was, and the different champions involved, etc. We talked a lot about the land itself though; Runeterra seems to have some amazing places to explore."
"Getting distracted by the geography? I can see why Ezreal chose you."
"Alistar didn't really do much talking. He trained me in what he, and as a result, I could do. " said Adam.
"So we have practical experience, background knowledge and mechanics between the three of us. Seems to be a good mix. Now, as I was saying, we're the dots on the map. But there should be five of us. We can only see three dots though. My theory is that the other two haven't been fully summoned yet. They have been chosen though, as you can see here."
Dragging her hand over, she brought the video screen cluster to the center. As they were already there and present, the three of them were excluded from the video feed, leaving two large monitors of video running.
One held the girl Eric had compromisingly glimpsed before. She was writing down something on a notepad, and was wearing a uniform. Squinting, he saw that her nametag said 'Roxy' and her shirt had a cup of coffee with a bee over it on the crest. She had bright green eyes, which indicated that she was still normal, for now.
"Well, she works at the café at the student center, that much we can tell. I wonder when she's going to be summoned. Should we track her down?"
"I think that would be best. After all, don't you wish someone had been able to explain to you why you had a wrenching pain, complete with light show, in your chest?"
Eric gave her a half smile and a thought occurred to him then.
"If you're on my team, then why did I get a bad feeling from you last night? When I saw you in front of my apartment?"
She grinned wickedly and said,
"Well, I didn't know which champion you were. For all I knew, you could have been Swain, or Brand, or even Cho'gath. Regardless of team, I don't think any of those champions would be very friendly to anyone in this world, as they were free to do what they wanted, unbound by the League's usual rules. I couldn't be sure. So I established you as an enemy. Only today did I realize we're on the same team, and you're possessed by one of the champions that Ryze actually likes."
Eric nodded, choosing to say nothing and instead turn his head to the other screen, the one he'd not paid much attention to since arriving. This one worried him though.
It displayed a man, somewhere in his mid forties. He wore a plain flannel shirt, with straight pants and tennis shoes. He was filling out a form and handing it to a receptionist. The worrying factor was that this occurred at the local precinct. The girl sighed and said,
"Now this guy…he concerns me a bit. I didn't get to see why, but when I checked him out yesterday, he was sitting in a jail cell. I have no idea why or for how long he was there, but for all we know, he could've just finished a stint for anything from fraud to assault. We have no way of knowing, and I don't fancy someone with a criminal history possessing mystical powers."
"Well…maybe it was some sort of misunderstanding? Maybe he's an alright guy and was just in the wrong place at the wrong time?" suggested Eric.
"At this point, that's all we can hope for." Stated Adam solemnly as they all pondered the implications of someone with bad intentions having this kind of power.
"Well…if he becomes a problem, I guess we'll have no choice but to take him out." Said Adam.
"And when he respawns? What do we do then? Do we just keep taking him out, having to put him down every few days?" shot back the girl.
"I don't know, if Istvaan–" At their confused looks, he included "—Fiddlesticks. Well, Fiddlesticks' body, to be more precise. If he's any indication, we're about to have several problems of that nature running around. I mean, what do we do? Do we call the police?"
"How exactly would that call go? 'Sorry to bother you, but we're reasonably sure that, in the next few days, you're going to have several magical beings running around Atlanta, wreaking havoc and mayhem.' I don't think we'll be taken very seriously."
"Well, for now, I say we let things play out. At least until we have some sort of tangible evidence to present the authorities." Stated the girl as she walked off.
"Where are you going?" asked Eric, as she continued walking. A matrix of runes expanded below her feet and a blue glow started forming at the outer edges. As the glow crept inwards, her body started glowing as well.
"I'm headed to the shop. Got lots of first blood gold to spend. You guys should probably go and track down that girl; I'll meet up with you all later."
The blue glow was almost at her feet now, when Eric had one final thought.
"Wait! What's your name?"
With a laugh, the girl said,
"Wow, I haven't introduced myself yet. My name is—"
The blue glow hit her feet and she vanished in a bright flash of light. Adam chuckled.
"Well, that was cliché."
"You're telling me."
- 0.o.0.o.0 -
Well, first A/N! How's everyone liking the story? It's a little plot bunny that's been hopping around my head for a bit, so I said might as well. Granted, I probably won't update quick enough for everyone's tastes, especially when college starts at the end of the fall semester. But I'll let it keep going as long as I have the inspiration. And it sounds corny, but reviews really do help. They motivate us authors, meaning the chapters come out faster, which is better for all! Also, there are a few in-game jokes so avid LOL players will get those. Anyway, see ya next time!