Author's Note: Sorry for the delay in this chapter. I know it's been a month since my last update, but rest assured, I will finish this story. Thanks for the feedback. Reviews and comments are definitely appreciated. Without further ado, enjoy the next chapter.

Bound is the One to a fate so cruel

Forced to submit yet forever to rule

Shackled by such indestructible chains

And in the end, broken by light's bane.

-Sermons of the Prophet Ezra-Isaiah Cyrus, Ancient Atlas

The Archville Edge – Valley of the Magi

Thick clouds peaked over the eastern mountain range, forming smokey plumes of an eerie purple as light from the large portal reflected off of their surfaces in the otherwise moonless sky. For a moment, a sense of tranquility filled the air, interrupted seconds later by the sounds of calamity. A massive claw swung into the ground, digging into the earth as cracks formed in the bedrock that gave way to the overwhelming strength of the attack. Fiora glided through the air, avoiding the attack before landing atop the implanted claw. Feeling an upward force pushing at her legs, she leapt off of the creature's limb while simultaneously rotating her body to deliver a quick slash through it with her Ragnarok. Loud shrieks echoed through the air as her attack instantly amputated the creature's limb; a piercing, demonic wail that sent chills to run along her shoulders.

A swarm of insect-like Voidspawns spawned from the main body of the Hive Mother the moment the heavy claw collapsed to the ground, converging to resemble a cloud of locusts hungering for revenge. Channeling energy under her feet to remain hovered in the air, she cast a fire spell with her free hand while simultaneously swinging her blade forward, casting an Aero Devastation spell from its tip. Screeches filled the air as her elemental attacks synergized, erupting into a field of flames that consumed the incoming swarm within its borders.

Countless trails of orange fell from the core of her attack as though gravity itself was pulling on it, each streak corresponding to the smaller Voidspawn caught in the attack. Dark spots appeared in the conflagaration, forcing her to lunge on instinct as the main creature's spines pierced through the flames. Narrowly dodging the armored limbs in rapid succession, she swung her blade at the closest one, meeting little resistance as her blade easily tore through the creature's carapace.

Streaks of white flew past the corner of her vision, her eyes darting to watch as Vayne's Starfall attack impaled the other two spines in her vicinity. Lunging forward, she caught a hold of the stump of the amputated limb, flinging herself onto its surface before taking off on a sprint towards its main body. She narrowed her eyes as she closed the gap between herself and the creature, noticing the kink caused by Ezreal's attack in the otherwise impenetrable armor comprised of the carapace of countless individual Voidspawn. His attack had…

Countless points of light came to Fiora's awareness to snap her out of her thoughts; a barrage of green orbs rushing rapidly towards her moments later. She let out a snort as she didn't need to wait to figure out what those were capable of, rushing aside on instinct to dodge the incoming attacks. It took her all of her effort to maneuver between the attacks that exploded behind her, cursing to herself with every twist of her body. Damn it, why didn't you bother learning how to defend? There's no end to this! She growled angrily only to realize to her horror that the momentary distraction was all it took to lose track of the incoming projectiles, finding herself head-on with an incoming attack.

Shit! She swung her blade on instinct, releasing a current of holy energy that crashed into the oncoming sphere. The following explosion succeeded in nullifying the attack, but also produced a shockwave far stronger than she had expected, causing her to stagger backwards. She twisted her body around as she descended, forcing herself into an upright stance moments before hitting the ground. Initially satisfied by the move, the feeling left the moment her gaze shot up to meet three additional Chaos Blitz spheres passing through the smoke, far too close for her to dodge. She could only let out a gasp as she braced herself for the indescribable pain that was to follow, bringing her arms to her head as a set of deafening cracks reached her ears. A burst of pain ran up her arm as she felt herself thrown backwards, the temperature around her rising, giving her the sensation of having been thrown into a pit of fire.

Fiora was afraid of opening her eyes to look at herself, feeling only a mild dull pain a heartbeat later that she suspected was because every nerve ending in her body had been destroyed by third degree burns. "What the-?" Shock ran along her spine as she saw her skin intact underneath charred clothing, the only visible injury a set of dark marks on the forearm that was directly hit by that last spell. She felt the searing flames coursing over her skin, only it caused her no pain. She was certain that the oncoming attacks connected and was dumbfounded over why the effects had been so mild. Doesn't matter how, for the moment, the end result is what matters.

Dashing forward through the flames, she emerged on the other side in time to see the approach of additional Chaos Blitz spells fired towards her. With a solid ground to move on, the duelist sprinted through the battlefield to evade attacks, finding to her horror that she was not making much progress to close the gap between herself and the base of the towering beast. Damn it, there's no end to thi- A bright flash appeared at the corner of her vision, causing her gaze to shoot towards the appearance of four spears of light flying past her, impaling the Hive Mother at the origin of its attacks.

"We'll cover you," Lux's voice was confident as she ran next to her, contrasting the tone that she was used to hearing from the blonde during prior battles. The moment that the massive behemoth swung its tendrils towards them to counterattack, she unleashed her Divine Javelin attack without hesitation, impaling them before they came within striking distance.

A flurry of Voidspawn rose from the massive behemoth's shell; countless insect-like creatures spreading through the air to converge into a large swarm, rolling ominously towards them like a storm cloud. Feeling the ground shake underneath her feet, her eyes shot forward to catch sight of countless Void Walkers and scorpion-like Voidspawn approaching in a stampede. She bit her lower lip angrily, stopping her movements the moment she realized that at the current rate, her intent to focus on the Hive Mother would be suicide. "There's too many of them. It's not going to let us get close!"

"I know. It figured out our plan. They've stopped attacking everyone else and is focused on us." Lux let out a sigh, frustration setting in as she felt more restricted with every passing heartbeat. Her options were becoming limited and it won't be long before they would be completely surrounded by Voidspawn.

A struggled look appeared on Fiora's face; her eyelids narrowing as swirls of energy appeared, imposed over icy blue orbs. The flower-shaped crystal in her gauntlet began to glow as she contemplated summoning Kairos to put an end to this seemingly futile battle. It's risky, but we're running low on choices here. This enemy…it gets stronger as we drag this battle on. Only…what happens if I end up like the other day, weakened to the point of helplessness?

As these thoughts plagued her, filling every recess of her mind with hesitation, a katana flew from the sky to embed itself into the ground a few feet away from where she stood. She focused her gaze upon the blade, glinting with a purple aura that flowed along the edge of the blade. Her eyes shooting upwards, she watched as Shen leapt from a perched position atop a nearby tree. Placing his hands onto the hilt of the blade as he landed, streams of energy erupted from the blade to extend into the distance.

"Negation." Shen's voice was low as he focused his attention on channeling natural energy around him into the blades, his face held in a stern scowl under his mask. Screeches filled the air above them as the movements of the insect-like Voidspawn ceased, as though paralyzed by an unseen force before falling motionlessly. A wave of soft thuds against the ground like the pattering of rain drops in a storm reached their ears, followed by a strange silence broken only by the low roars of the Hive Mother trying desperately to escape its bindings.

"Now's our chance, let's finish this!" Fiora shot into the air, gliding in a collision course with the towering beast as energy flowed from her blade, creating a brilliant streak in her wake. She landed moments later on the vulnerable part of its body, previously exposed by Ezreal's attack, swinging her blade confidently in a downward stab into its flesh. Intensifying the amount of energy being channeled into her blade, she dragged her blade along its surface, effectively shaping her energy into a long spear from the tip of her blade that pierced through the Hive Mother. She felt very little resistance as she sprinted along the disgustingly moist and fleshy surface under her feet, her attack tearing through the chaos energy that held the creature together with relative ease. With one final swung of her blade, a bloodcurdling roar echoed through the night's sky as she felt the surface where she stood begin to tilt. Leaping off without hesitation, the swordswoman watched as its blood flowed profusely from the wound she had inflicted. Countless Demacian and Piltover soldiers took off on a sprint the moment they determined the direction of the creature's fall, escaping the weight of the collapsing creature that would have buried them instantly. A loud crash resounded through the air, the ground below trembling violently moments later, followed by an absolute silence as every one held their breath in anticipation.

Slowly, but surely, the sounds of cheers began to fill the air as Fiora slowly descended to the ground, her heart beating rapidly as countless Demacian swords were raised to the skies in celebration. A gasp escaped her lips as she realized that the chants of Demacia and Piltover turned into another name- her own. Her eyes darted around as the name Laurent echoed through the air before it turned silent, save for the sound of metal shifting as the soldiers around the battle field united into a kneel. The moment her feet touched the ground, the soldiers of Demacia and Piltover alike lowered their heads in a bow of honor.

"I…I-" Fiora found herself dumbfounded to the scene around her, never once expecting such praise from anyone, much less the united armies of two nations. For as long as she could remember, she had done everything in her power to prove herself as a gifted fighter, but for all the wrong reasons. She never expected that it would be when she had given up the selfish desire to do so that she would achieve what she had wanted for so long. "Thank you…for all your help."

With a quick swing of her arm, she dispersed her blade as a warm calming sensation reached her chest, a strange sensation that she never even thought possible just hours ago. The burdens of hesitation and doubt felt lifted from her heart. Closing her eyes, she breathed a sigh of relief as for the first time, she felt like she had a hold over the life that had previously been an endless path of destruction, spiraling out of control from one fight to the next. This time, it actually meant something…all of these people…we've done it…we've managed to protect them. A soft smile tugged at the corner of her lips as she closed her free hand into a gentle fist, holding it softly over her chest to feel the sensation of her heart beating against back of her fingers.

Her eyes shot open the instant that she felt a pair of arms wrapped over her shoulders, her heart jumping for a moment as she felt the weight of a person carried on her shoulders. Shifting her eyes slightly, she watched as long strands of smooth blonde hair tinted a light shade of purple by the nearby portal drapped on her shoulder. Loosening her hold moments later, the warm blue eyes of Lux met hers with a beaming smile on her face.

"You did it!" The lady of luminosity's voice was soft as she spoke, examining the features on Fiora's face. One look was all it took for her to realize just how much the other needed this. She looks…better! In the past, even though Lux had always looked up to her as a strong and protective figure in her life, there were always times where she worried about her as well. Before, no matter how much she tried to hide it, the pain was always there…in her eyes. But now…she looks genuinely at peace.

"No, we all did." Shifting her eyes around as the celebratory cheers of nearby soldiers continued to roar through the air, she spied the approach of the others that had joined her on this quest. Though a tinge of sadness reached her at the thought that the one person who had been with her since the beginning was not amongst them, she felt a sense of hope that perhaps death isn't the only certainty around her. We can do it…maybe there is hope…I have to believe that. Even as these thoughts flooded the corridors of her mind, she couldn't relax; this was only the beginning of the war.

"Captain Isengard reporting in!" A man displaying the emblem of Demacia on his chest plate spoke as he entered the tent being used as the command outpost, kneeling with his right leg flexed forward while simultaneously bringing his chin close to his knee.

Turning to face him, Fiora felt slightly irritated that the ones who had called the meeting and were responsible for their countries military campaigns were the same people currently missing rom the room. She slid a slender hand along her face, burying the top of her face within the fingers of her left hand as she rubbed her temples to relieve the headache that began to latch onto her. Uncovering her eyes again, she stared at the soldier still maintaining his bowed position as though a dog waiting for its master to call to it. Why are we here…and why are you still on your knees? Her eyes narrowed in annoyance, pinching the bridge of her nose before shifting her gaze over towards Lux, who had her head lightly rested on Ezreal's shoulders. A subtle smirk appeared on the corners of her lips the moment she caught sight of this innocent but unexpected gesture of affection.

She felt conflicted over how to react, a mix of indifference, satisfaction, and jealousy pulling at her in an internal struggle for dominance. Relationships, love…things I had never longed for because they weren't worth the pain. I shouldn't care. Even if for a short time, I allowed myself to give into those desires that I had kept buried for all these years…I… She bit down on her lower lip, trying to keep herself grounded as that moment of weakness caused memories of what she had lost to come flooding back mercilessly. She fought to take a deep breath over the pain that was beginning to well up in her chest, stifling the panic that was trying to make itself known in the form of heaves at the back of her throat. Get it together, Laurent. First guy you let yourself get close to and you're moping like a lovesick puppy. What's wrong with you?

If she had manifested physical signs of sadness on her face, Lux missed it because moment the blonde realized that her own action hadn't gone unnoticed, her cheeks began to flush bright red in embarrassment. Pushing strands of smooth blonde hair off of the explorer's shoulder, her eyes darted around the room, looking for evidence of anyone else having taken notice of her. Letting out a subtle breath of relief, she quickly got up from her position that had felt a little too comfortable to address the bowed soldier.

"At ease, Captain." A subtle, but noticeable unease was heard in her voice as she spoke, hoping to draw attention away from a sensitive topic. It wasn't that she was embarrassed about the person of interest, but rather she hadn't figured out how to interpret this relationship, this…whatever it has become. Prior to being sent to the military academy, she had lived a life sheltered under the shroud of the Crownguard family. Even after she was forcefully inducted into the Demacian army, she was constantly under the alienating but protective watch of her brother. She could only imagine the outrage he would hold against her, had he become aware of her desire to pursue a love interest in the midst of this catastrophe. Is this how it will always be? First my parents and then my brother…am I forever to be loathed because I don't want to live my life as an obedient mutt of the military? To be be forever the black sheep that mars the otherwise impeccable Crownguard legacy?

No sooner had the Demacian captain stood up than drapes that made up the opening of the pavilion draw aside, flooding the interior with the rays of the morning sun peeking thorugh the edges of the nearby mountain ranges. The silhouette of the heavily armored Garen Crownguard stood in its threshold, causing Lux to tense up at just how convenient it was for him to show up at that particular moment. Following him into the command outpost was Caitlyn, dressed in a tight modified blue and purple officer's uniform with a long gray overcoat trimmed with yellow and blue bands that ran along her sleeves. Numerous older men that wore highly decorated Demacian and Piltover uniforms trickled into the room, each of them carrying themselves in a highly dignified manner reflective of their status.

Lux nervously struggled to take a deep breath as she watched the procession of people entering, trying to overpower the sensation of a behemoth sitting on her chest the moment she realized that each of the Demacians were high ranking commanding officers. Why are they here…or more importantly, why are we here? They don't exactly include the rest of us in their strategic debriefings so why have us here?

Lux only felt her unease worsen when the military officials gathered around the main table and began addressing each other, outright ignoring her presence and the rest of her companions. Rather than asking questions inappropriately in this forum, she forced herself to remain complacent, instead focusing on holding back the pandemonium of thoughts that raced through her mind to listen to the discussion taking place. Taking a moment to look around the room, she caught the gaze of Ezreal, whose face held a concerned expression, clearly recognizing her discomfort over the situation. She could tell that at lease a part of him wanted to comfort her, but knew that doing so under such inappropriate circumstances would only turn her current mindset into a miasma of conflict.

As she listened to the officers around the table arguing over troop formations, Fiora curled the fingers of her left hand together into a fist, nails digging into the palm of her hand to leave a lasting imprint. It took every last bit of inhibition to hold back the urge to leave the room. Being here is absolutely pointless. Why the hell do I need to sit here and listen to a bunch of old men talking about stuff that I can care less about? People are dying and we're just sitting here. Drawing in a deep breath while closing her eyes; the fingers of her left hand found the bridge of her nose, rubbing it a few times before unconsciously pinching it tightly. Reginald…

"And then, onto the matter of them," The gray haired Demacian general spoke with emphasis on that last word, causing the rest of the room to turn towards her and her companions. The sudden change in the atmosphere within the room suddenly felt freezing, shocking her out of her thoughts before the memories could fully close its talon over her heart again. Scanning the room, she felt her heart sink to her stomach as numerous pairs of eyes had became fixated on them, the majority of which were focused particularly on her. "It seems your group has been dealing with this far longer than any of us. What do you know of the situation?"

It was then that the clouds of confusion in Fiora's mind parted and the truth as to why they were brought here became embarrassingly clear. After all of the time you've wasted arguing amongst one another, you still haven't the slightest clue of how to deal with this, do you? She gritted her teeth tightly, nearly giving into temptation to throw something at the military officials were it not for the delicate voice of Lux interjecting at that moment.

She sat at the edge of the table as the blonde shared her knowledge to the military officers. "Thank goodness," Muttering softly under her breath when the details of her relationship with Ashram had been purposely left out, Fiora crossed her arms over her chest as she stared aimlessly into the distance. The last thing I need is a room full of old men making remarks about my personal life.

"So that's how it is. So much for trust in those goddamn Summoners. My question then is, just what in the world are you?" Animosity was evident in the voice of a middle aged man amongst the Piltover officers. One look at the large number of medals on his uniform was all it took to understand that he was a high ranking general in their army. "It seems that ever since all of this began, you've been somehow involved at every step along the way."

Fiora narrowed her eyes into an icy stare as she felt the piercing gaze of everyone in the room focus on her. She quickly scanned the room, taking note of any potentially hostile actions as her armored hand twitched instinctively, ready to summon her blade the moment something felt off. "How should I know? Aren't you the one who sent your troops to hunt me down up until just a few days ago? Doesn't that mean you already know the answer, or is this how you always handle things…strike first and ask questions later?"

"How dare you speak so defiantly in this forum!" The rough slam of a hand against a wooden surface shifted their attention towards the Piltover general, a look of burning animosity in his eyes as he stared at the Demacian swordswoman. His right hand flew behind him, closing his fingers over the grip of a pistol strapped to his back. "I should execute you right now for killing that many of my men…men that could have served us in this battle instead of being slaughtered like dogs."

Fiora noted the way the silver barrel of the pistol gleamed even in the low indoor lighting within the canvas, a sign that it had seen barely any mileage since its production. She felt her heart beginning to beat faster, but did not find herself alarmed at the situation as it paled in comparison to the dangers she had the misfortune of recently encountering. Tactful wording could easily defuse the tension within the room; only just like in the past, resolving conflicts with words was as impossible for her as moving an ocean. "Pull that gun and it'll be the last thing you ever do."

Her voice was eerily composed as she spoke those simple words, causing a sense of fear to suddenly wash away the anger that the general had previously held onto. The muscles in his body tensed as he processed those words, hesitation flooding every corner of his mind as it only took a moment to realize the harsh truth behind that statement. Though he had never personally seen the purple haired girl other side of the room fight, he had read enough reports to know that her statement was anything but an empty threat.

"Enough, both of you!" Caitlyn barked with harshness that contrasted her normally calm and composed tone. Dark circles and subtle bags hung under her eyes, evidence of the stress that dragging at her previously unmarred skin. Countless hours spent investigating the Institute and mobilizing her forces had not been kind to her. It was apparent that sleep was evading her with greater deft than even her most cunning foes in the past. "Forgive me, but stand down, General Blackburn. The situation is dire enough as it is. The last thing we need is conflict amongst ourselves."

"Indeed." A coarse voice echoed through the air, causing the heads of those gathered to shift towards the doorway, their eyes focusing on the silhouette of Prince Javan IV. His golden trimmed armor gleamed in the early morning sun that poured through the now parted curtains, streaks reflecting to create wisps in a celestial dance against the ceiling. "Though it pains me to admit this, Demacia alone shall not be enough. For the time being, we set aside our differences."

Despite the Demacian prince's crude personality unfitting of his title, that status made its presence known amongst those that had gathered. Fiora let a sigh of resignation as she felt herself concede to the prince's command, simultaneously watching the animosity fade from the Piltover general's face like soil being washed away. I have to let it go. Even if he blatantly hates me, can I blame him? How many obedient soldiers were sent to death's realm by my own bloodstained hands? In the face of the authority held by the official that had convened, pushing her inner demons aside was the only acceptable option. But even doing that is only a temporary calm in the storm. What if somehow we miraculously survive this? What will happen to us then after we've murdered so many people? If it is my fate to be punished for sending countless men to their deaths by my own bloodstained hands, then so be it. But what about the rest of you who chose to help me on my tainted path? Lux, Talon, everyone…what will happen to you for being caught up in this, even though you only wanted to help?

"A day has passed and even the combined powers of all the Summoners recruited from all over Valoran has failed to do anything more than restrict the number of creatures coming through. Even then, its efficacy has been intermittent at best, as that giant monster that appeared last night demonstrated." Caitlyn spoke dryly as she paced slowly along the end of the table, picking up a thin electronic screen placed at the edge of the table where she previously sat. Touching its surface lightly with slender fingers, images appeared on its surface as she twisted it around towards the others that were quietly mulling over her words. "This is the scene from our recon team in the Institute of War"

Groans echoed through the air as their eyes focused on the images that flashed on the surface of the device. A cringe ran along her spine as Fiora gazed upon the pictures of Summoners she had recognized from her time in the League, their bodies mangled and mutilated in ways that she never imagined possible. All thoughts of annoyance with being forced to attend this meeting died in her mind as she stared at the images in the nightmarish slideshow, trying to push back the urge to vomit.

"All of them dead on arrival. The Councilors anticipated they would try to close the portal…this is the result." The commander rubbed the bridge of her nose with a free hand as she continued to demonstrate the aftermath of the Councilor's operation. A few more images scrolled smoothly past the screen, each showing horrors of bloodshed that seemed worse than the last. "You get the idea."

Nimble fingers made their way to Fiora's temples as she turned away from the electronic tablet, disgust rising in her stomach. Brushing aside a few smooth locks of purple hair, she pushed against the surface of her skull, trying to claw at the images of the murdered Summoners as though it would make a difference. Swallowing against the nausea rising at the back of her throat, she pulled in short, even breaths, forcing herself to relax. For years, she had been surrounded by death, personally having dealt that fate on numerous occasions to people unlucky enough to challenge her to a duel of blades. At the time, the sight of humans being mutilated didn't bother her nearly as much as it did now. A few heartbeats were all it took for her to realize why. For years, I lived my life detached from others. Life meant nothing when I was living mindlessly that way, only now something has changed. Everyone means something to someone…just like…

With a quick swipe of her hand, Caitlyn opened an image unlike the others. No death or carnage was seen in this one, but rather it depicted a rectangular metallic plate aged by years of weathering. Symbols lined its surface, giving off a dim blue glow that seemed to contrast its otherwise dull and rusted appearance. Confused looks appeared on the faces of the military officials, as it was clear that the symbols meant nothing to them. It wasn't until Ezreal took a step forward to examine its writing before it piqued the interests of the others that had gathered.

"This plate…I recognize it. It looks just like the one in Piltover…in the chamber of the Crystalis. But this is different, it has writing on it." Holding out his hand, Ezreal took the electronic tablet from the Piltover officer, holding it close to him to examine the symbols displayed on its surface. Scratching his head before running the fingers of his free hand through his blonde hair, he came to a shocking realization. "This is the same plate…it's in the Crystalis chamber under Piltover, but it was blank…so how?"

"When the power failed and the city was thrust into chaos, we sent people to investigate the chamber. They found the Crystalis almost dead, the once dominating energy coming from its core now on its last reserves." Caitlyn cleared her throat, fully aware of the damage the people in front of her had caused to her troops during the ensuing chaos. Justice had to be served, but for the moment, her inhibitions held her back, knowing that there were more important issues at hand.

"How did it fail in the first place? I thought it was supposed to be self sustaining." The explorer's hands clenched into a tight fist, his usual enthusiasm and self-confidence now replaced by a look of disgust.

"It was. We had been under the assumption that it had failed but we now think more than just that happened." The nimble fingers of Caitlyn met the screen again, a few keys illuminating the moment her skin met its smooth surface. Lines of text appeared imposed on the image of the metallic slate, the image dimming immediately meld into the background to yield attention to the words.

If upon these words a human eye befalls

Lost has the power that hath parted from the heavens

Its binded core that gives spark to life fallen to fates not fitting of this world

Like the fading of the crystal's might, so follows the bonds of hope

Inevitable is the Desecrated's ascension to its throne

In its wake a taint to consume all light in its shadows

- Ezra-Isaiah Cyrus

"Ezra-Isaiah Cyrus…that name…I've heard it before." Clenching his jaw in anger, Ezreal tried to recall the significance of that name as he held the tablet close, staring intently at the words plastered upon the screen.

"Most of our central electronic systems have been lost, but the auxillary bases relying on traditional electrical systems remained operational. We cross-referenced that name with a backup copy of our electronic archives and located a few hits." Caitlyn's fingers flipped through an unorganized stack of papers that sat a few feet away from her on the table. She stopped upon laying eyes on a sheet of paper containing photocopies of ancient looking pages, many of which appeared tattered and poorly reproduced with digital imaging. "He was apparently a prophet of an ancient civilization that once existed on this world."

"Atlas." Pinching his forehead between the fingers of his free hand, the explorer let out a contemplative groan. "An ancient civilization that was highly advanced in magic and technology, as well as the origin of the Crystalis…or so I thought."

"What is that suppose to mean?" Those words piqued Caitlyn's interest, raising an eyebrow of curiosity towards the blonde man standing in front of her.

"The Crystalis was my most proud discovery. All of my life, I was a vagrant, traveling this world as an explorer to avoid being tied down by responsibility. Any benefit out of the work I did was purely coincidental until this particular discovery." Ezreal's eyes stared into the distance as he lowered the electronic device onto the table, a feeling of nostalgia making its presence known in his expression. "The Crystalis was the exception. I had learned of its existence through ancient scrolls written by a prophet, the one named Ezra-Isaiah Cyrus. In them, he mentioned a lot of stuff that made no sense, but one thing that caught my attention was the mention of the Crystalis. He referred to it as a gift to mankind."

"Yes, we located a copy of the same scrolls in our electronic databases. What are you getting at here?" A look of impatience was beginning to manifest itself on the brunette commander's face, her eyes looking around to notice that she was not the only one.

"I pursued it, believing that it was created by their civilization as a gift for generations to come. I wanted to believe in his writings and sought out this technology. When I finally found it, it was to be my gift to this world, a beacon of light for all of humanity. For the first time, my discoveries would amount to something that would benefit everyone, and so I handed it over to the Science Academy. Behind closed, doors, it took Piltover far beyond what was thought possible in such a short time…and that was just the beginning." Lowering his head, his words began to trail off as his voice softened, the enthusiasm previously behind his voice now replaced by an almost solemn tone. "I though this discovery…this gift would change the world. But looking at the words that have appeared in the Crystalis Chamber, I wonder if I had misinterpreted everything."

"Make your point already!" The brusque voice of Jarvan IV flew through the air, his hand clenched at his weapon that he had refused to relinquish prior to entering the command outpost. "Until a few days ago, I didn't even know such a thing existed. Why does any of this matter?"

"Because I think the core of the Crystalis has been depleted…no…sacrificed to open the portal you see in front of you."

Shocked mutters echoed through the air as the Piltover military officials began to whisper amongst one another. Words of disagreement flew wildly as the explorer's words sparked a rather significant controversy amongst them.

"Hold it, just what do you mean by sacrificed?" It was an elderly looking military officer that spoke, standing up to reveal the uniform of a well-decorated Piltover general. "It's a goddamn piece of technology, how can you say sacrifice about something like that?"

"No, I thought it was a piece of technology, we all did. But looking at these words…'The power that hath parted from the heavens'. I think it's referring to the Crystalis…or rather whatever this 'binded core that gives spark to life' is. The crystal's core, whatever it is, descended from the skies. The civilization of Atlas turned it into a form of usable energy, but it's still the same core…one that seems to be its own entity according to these words that had appeared in the chamber. Look, a lot of what this prophet had said has come to pass over the past few years. If we are to take these writings seriously, then this prediction has also come true, and this Desecrated that he referred to is none other than Genesis."

"Basically if anyone has any bright ideas, now would be a good time to share them." General Blackburn interjected as he shifted his body towards the other side of the room, examining the faces of the Demacian officers present before finally proceeding to focus a gaze of disgust towards the purple haired girl.

"We stop them on the other side." Fiora finally said, the words passing through her lips with frustration as she contemplated the implications of this idea. A chaos of shock and doubt rose into the air the moment her words registered in the minds of the military personnel and her allies, raising looks of incredulity on their faces. "It's the only way. Nothing your Summoners have tried has amounted to anything. With every passing moment, Genesis comes closer to being unleashed onto this world. I'll go, and those of you who wish to come can-"

"Absolutely not!" Caitlyn's voice roared through the room, cutting her thoughts short the instant they escaped her lips. A loud thud filled the room as the Special Forces commander slammed her fist onto the wooden table, causing the surprised gazes of everyone gathered to shoot towards her. "Right now, the six of you know more about the situation than anyone else. What's more is that you are by far the most effective defense against their forces. To send all of you into the Void without backup would risk losing our main line of defense."

"Then I'll go myself!" Icy blue eyes of defiance returned the Piltover officer's stare, anger apparent in her voice from those few simple words.

"What? Fiorie…no, you can't!" Lux stood motionlessly, in shock over that sudden outburst. All proper etiquette involved in attending a high ranking military forum came crashing down the moment she processed those words. "There's no way I'm letting you go in by yourself."

Turning her head to peer through strands of purple, dangling as transparent streaks in her field of vision, her gaze met the blonde's face. "And why not? The moment Genesis sets foot into this world, it's game over. I've already lost one person because of of my own failures…I won't stand around and watch all of you get picked off one at a time when they invade." She stared with arched eyebrows, trying to control the emotions rising inside.

"Fiora…stop it. You're doing it again, blaming yourself for something that wasn't your fault. You don't want to see us get hurt. We get that, but the same is true for us." Her eyes were held in an expression of pleading, a reminder of the innocence that Fiora had come to expect from the blonde. It served as a swift reminder that she represented the pureness reflected in her light magic; that no matter how dire the situation, she would keep the light in this world from fading. "We don't want to see you get yourself killed because of some belief that carrying this burden on your own will absolve you of something you were never guilty of."

"Lux, enough, this isn't open for discussion. It's my decision and my burden to carry." Biting down hard on her lips, she wanted to stop the blonde from any further objections. Please, stop it, just stop arguing. Why can't you just let it be? This was not a decision she had made out of spontaneity, but rather one that she knew was coming. From the time that her drug-induced stupor wore off, thoughts of how she could possibly live through this predicament plagued her; coming to the conclusion that this was the only way. The old her would have had no problems maintaining her composure in the face of Lux's objections, but now she was simultaneously fighting against her inner state of turmoil that threatened to consume her again. Even if she didn't want to admit it, she felt vulnerable and one stare into the sentimental eyes of her friend was all it took to open up these vulnerabilities, ones she was trying to bury in to the deepest recesses of her mind.

"No…Fiora, it's not your decision to make. All of these years, even if I never admitted it, I looked up to you for strength. I think for the first time, I understand it enough to know what it's like." Her voice was soft, almost pleading with every word she spoke. What had surprised both of them was that despite the weakness in her tone, contrasting the content of her words, it somehow overrode the intensity in Fiora's decision. "You're right, it's dangerous to enter the Void; and yes, we may fail and lose our lives. But you said this once before, if we don't do this together, there won't be a future that we'll live to see anyways! None of us will be able to stop it without you. Don't you see? You aren't doing us a favor by trying to go at this alone."

The sound of forceful throat clearing filled the air, their eyes shifting to find Caitlyn as its origin, her face held in an annoyed scowl. "Absolutely not. Under no circumstances are any of you to cross into the Void. This discussion is over. We can't afford to lose any of you when Valoran is facing its darkest hour."