A Will and a Shadow

Faultless Crumbling

Talon awoke quickly without making a sound.

It was early, just an hour or so after dawn. Talon dressed himself and tucked a knife in his belt before walking out the door like a greased ghost. Talon walked down the hall, his boots clicking softly on the hard wood floor. He passed by Irelia's room and smiled as he went by.

Talon walked out the door into the sunlight. Demacia always had pleasant smells. Talon admired this quality about the place. He had spent so much time here not relaxing that he never knew what it could be like.

He moved down the street; he retraced his steps from last night down the alleyways until he came to the lake he and Irelia sat by. When Talon walked past the tree they sat under he couldn't help but grin. The kiss they shared was still fresh in his memory.

While Talon was reminiscing, a familiar shape popped out of nowhere to be almost right under his feet.

"Good morning Mr. Talon!" Teemo squealed with glee.

"Er.. hello, Teemo," Talon said uncomfortably.

"Ready to go to the meeting?" Teemo asked innocently.

"Yes, Teemo, I am," Talon said rolling his eyes, "Do you know where it is?"

It was a redundant question for Talon. He guessed where it was. This fact was reinforced when Teemo pointed at the large spire Nasus had looked at the night before. Teemo and Talon walked off then, towards that area of town.

After about twenty minutes, Teemo chirped up,

"Hey Mr. Talon, are you hungry? 'Cause I sure am."

Talon hadn't eaten breakfast yet, and knew he should have had something.

"A little," he said, "Why?"

"Well Mr. Talon, I have nice pocket of change and a good recommendation on this café here," he pointed at a quaint little corner shop, "Want to grab a bite? My treat."

Talon said 'sure' and they went inside. It was a charming little shop with Demacians getting their morning fare. Talon and Teemo got a few strange looks and a few cheers: they were celebrities after all. More Demacians cheered for Teemo, obviously. A few people seemed to just know who Talon was.

When they say down and a server had taken their orders, Teemo blasted Talon with a bunch of questions.

"So Talon, you were from Noxus right?" he starts.

"Originally yes," Talon said patiently.

"So who are your parents?"

"I don't know, orphaned."

"That's pretty cliched."

"Pardon?"

"Well, I mean come on Mr. Talon. Orphan, brooding young man, assassin decked out in knives and plenty of dark colors but also has a soft side?"

Talon blinked.

"It's been so overdone in fictional media."

"I'm not fiction," Talon retorted.

"Yes, and neither am I. I guess it's just funny to me, heh."

After a brief silence, their food and drinks came to the table via their waitress whom Teemo promptly paid.

They ate very quietly.

When they exited the café, it was a little before noon. Teemo and Talon hurriedly made their way to the spire. When they got there, a looming tree was in front of the door, blocking their path. Teemo stepped up to it and kicked it. Talon raised an eyebrow.

"What are you doing, Teemo?" Talon asked curiously.

All of a sudden the tree roared. One of it's branches took a swipe at Teemo who deftly dodged the strike. Teemo then ran up the now flailing tree like a squirrel, laughing like a maniac.

"Now now Maokai, you lose!" Teemo yelled out with glee.

A booming laugh erupted from the tree, and then all of a sudden Talon saw it's face in the bark. Talon chuckled as Maokai let Teemo down. Teemo spoke up, \

"Maokai, this is Mr. Talon."

"Good morning assassin," Maokai said.

"Good morning tree," Talon said, annoyed.

"Heh, go on in," he said moving out of the way for Teemo and Talon to go inside.

When they got inside, they were greeted by the faces of ten or so others. All of them were League champions, near as Talon could tell. Nasus was on a stage near the front. He spoke up, and the murmur of voices silenced at his commanding voice.

"Greetings, friends," he began, "We call together another meeting of the Resistance of the Institute of War, or RIOW, (ree-oh)."

He waited a moment before continuing,

"We welcome a new face amongst us, Talon of Noxus," nobody speaks, "So we should probably go over the Resistance Axioms."

He clears his throat, "The founding of our order was brought about by the unjustified, and otherwise completely felonious alternate purpose of the runes we are awarded for our actions in the League of Legends."

Talon was instantly wired to listening now.

"Furthermore, it is the duty of this order to seek out and implement a way to create freedom for the champions of the League, and ensure that freedom is never perverted again."

Talon was now so curious it was beginning to strain him.

"Our final axiom," Nasus called out into the room, "Is that we will fight for this freedom, for our lives, and for the lives of others so that none shall be held in the tyranny of the Institute of War!"

Cheering could not drown out Talon's ringing brain. As the dozen or so figures began to talk amongst themselves, Talon made his way to Nasus and began his questions.

"Nasus, what's going on, what is all of this?"

Nasus raised his enormous hand to silence Talon, and began,

"Do you remember the rune that the runecrafter gave you shortly before we first met?"

Talon nodded.

"That magical brand is a double edged sword," Nasus said lowly, "The benefits it gives you in battle are absolutely real, but it has a secret, invisible purpose as well. It links your body to the Grand Council of Arch-Conjurers, and gives them the ability to control functions of your body, such as pain. It is a yoke, as well as a banner of war."

Talon felt like he got the wind knocked out of him.

"But why?" was all he could manage.

"The Institute of War developed an interesting theory that isn't altogether unreasonable. When they created the League of Legends, they knew that the most powerful warriors or Runeterra and beyond would congregate to one place. Such congregations could wield world-shattering power. And if tensions rose..." Nasus made a crashing sound when his staff slammed against the floor, "Disaster. So they implemented the runes to keep everyone in line so that if an uprising arose, they could quell it with minimal damage."

"But why would an uprising occur?" Talon asked.

"Ask Skarner about that," Nasus said when he motioned to the giant crystal scorpion in the corner, "I have others to speak to now, good day."

As Nasus walked off, Talon turned to the scorpion known as Skarner and walked towards him. When he got to that section of the room, Teemo was already there, sitting on top of Skarner's head.

"Skarner?" Talon asked.

"Yes," Skarner replied. Talon noticed his voice was low, and angry, but also filled with a kind of sadness Talon couldn't describe.

"Why would an uprising occur in the League?"

"Not all of us are volunteers," Skarner said solemnly.

"How do you mean?"

"I'm not here to tell you my life story, boy," Skarner said harshly, "But I will answer your first question more thoroughly. I was part of the Vanguard of my people. We were crystal guardians who buried themselves long ago, during the Rune Wars."

"And he was buried closer to the surface to asses the readiness of the world before awakening his people!" Teemo said lightly.

Skarner sighed.

"And when I was awoken, it was by the magisters of the Institute. They promised to not pervert the land with intense magic, allowing my people to the surface to live again. While at first I judged my kind were not ready for this world, or more the world was not ready for them, I asked to be returned to my slumber."

Skarner spat with anger then,

"And they refused! They then branded me with magic like barbarians and make me fight in the League like a spectacle for the glee of others! Only do they refuse the plight of my kind but the prevent me from helping them alone! And they do them further harm by continuing to pump the Crystal Scar full of magic."

Talon stood there with his jaw tight.

"And this story is not new. Many others have a tale similar to mine, such as Maokai at the door. We are shows for amusement, not given any freedom they don't allow. We are prisoners, human."

Talon and Teemo then went around the room and heard all the stories like Skarner's. When they finally left, it was late in the afternoon. Talon and Teemo parted. Talon went back to the inn, but Irelia wasn't there. He went to his own room and laid down on his bed.

The days thoughts were buzzing around in his head. Skarner's words echoed in his mind like a cave.

We are prisoners, human.

Talon then remembered that Irelia wasn't there. He quickly got up and and stole away into Irelia's room. The room smelled sweet, like her. Talon went into secret agent mode and started snooping quickly. He found what he was looking for: Irelia's writing kit. He unfolded the leather bag to find ink bottles, quills, and unused parchments.

He rifled through them and found an unfinished one. He glanced over it, and it contained incriminating evidence of Irelia's brother and the Ionian government devoting supplies to the rebellion against Noxus. A massive contingent of Demacian troops were being sent to aid the Ionians.

Talon looked over them and knew they would be a massive benefit to Katarina. But at what cost? Talon took the parchment and wrapped up the rest of the kit while he got an idea. He took the whole kit with him.

He was just about to leave when he heard footsteps outside the door. Irelia was back. Talon slipped over to the door and hid behind it as it opened. Irelia's slim figure walked over the threshold and she swung the door closed behind her. Talon was about to shadowstep outside the room when the door clicked shut.

Damn, Talon thought, I can't go through solid objects. Think fast.

Talon set the kit down lightly by the door and faced Irelia,

"I've been waiting for you," he said in a low, sultry tone.

She turned around smiling just as Talon descended on her with a whirlwind of kisses.

They fell on the bed, Irelia laughing, "Knives! Hahaha, where've you been?"

"Out and about," he said quickly as he kissed her neck.

She happily took the kisses when Talon suddenly got up and headed towards the door.

"Be right back," he said. He pretended to fall down like he tripped when opening the door so he could grab the kit. He quickly left while Irelia giggled.

Talon went to his room and packed the kit in his stuff and then quickly searched around for something to surprise Irelia with. He jumped out the open window onto the ground and sprinted like lightening to the trinket stand. He quickly swiped a handful of jewelry before heading back.

"No, no, no... yes. Perfect," he said, tossing some of them away.

He leaped back in the window quiet as a cat. He'd only been gone about thirty seconds. He desperately tried to get his breathing under control when he stepped back in to Irelia's room. She was lying on the bed, propped on her elbows looking at him with a devilish grin. God she looked sexy right now.

Talon got his jewelry ready, a bracelet with gemstones, and headed over to her. She gasped at the sight of it and tried it on immediately. She squealed about how she loved it, and told Talon all sorts of things he didn't hear. Every word sounded like 'liar' to him. He was disgusted with himself, but kept up the smile and idle chatter.

He knew he'd be paying for this someday, but not today. Today, he just smiled and spent time with the woman he adored.