Darius sighed. Life had become downright complicated. In the week following the strange events that had started at the new Twisted Treeline, Darius had focused on doing what he did best in the League, but it hadn't let him forget the entire experience. Somehow, he doubted it would ever fade from his memory, no matter how much he wished for it to. "Oh well," he morosely said under his breath, suddenly realizing he was still in the middle of a match.
Across the lane from him, Riven let out a warcry, activating her powerful runeblade and restoring it to full form. This might've made Darius pause if he hadn't been doing so well against her previously in the match. She started to sprint towards him, deftly holding the oversized sword in only one hand, while using the other to push minions in the lane out of her way.
In anticipation for the incoming onslaught, Darius brought his full height to bear, straightening his back, and readying his brutal axe. Just before Riven came within range, he let out a light chuckle. As she started to tackle him, she spun around, whipping the sword this way and that, dancing a dangerous dance of metal and sweat. Although Darius had trouble blocking each strike, he did just that before bracing the end of the axe against his stomach and pushing hard against it, causing it to spin around his person incredibly fast.
The weapon's speed caught the now off-balance exile by surprise, tearing a wound in her shoulder before she managed to slip out of range. Darius didn't really think she ought to get away from such an exchange so easily, so he reached out with the backside of his axe and pulled her right back to him. Riven's eyes betrayed her fear as Darius skillfully worked his brutal axe into her left leg's quadriceps, knowing it would cripple her ability to run away.
Darius looked into Riven's eyes and saw nothing but weakness waiting to be purged. A couple more flashes of his axe later, which the exile before him desperately tried to fend off, Riven was nearing the end. Darius looked down at the feeble woman before him and decided to make her end even quicker than usual. With a quick and efficient flash, his axe separated her head from her shoulders. Before her body even hit the ground, it was entirely dissolved. She shouldn't have turned her back, or exposed her neck, Darius thought to himself.
The Hand of Noxus gave an approving nod of his head at a job well done. "Your teammates are amassing in the middle lane where a large fight will likely take place," the ever present summoner in Darius' head during a match intoned.
"My destination is clear," Darius mentally sent back to the summoner. Afterwards, he lumbered towards the river, thinking about what his plan should be once he got there. If his teammates were to engage before he got there, then he would rush in as quickly as possible to provide a distraction from the members of his team with more of an opportunity to deal damage. If they had not engaged by the time he got there, then he would circle around behind the enemy, and force an unfavorable engagement upon them.
The walk through river was always surprisingly time consuming. The adrenaline response that accompanies combat slowed down Darius' perception of time as he strode through the water with purpose. To keep his mind occupied, he thought about the likely scenario as the fight broke out. Leona and Ezreal had been at bottom lane, meaning Ezreal would be focused on forcing as many bolts of energy into the enemy team as possible while Leona would help initiate and keep dangerous targets off of Ezreal. Leona was able to take up a lot of attacks with her ridiculously sturdy armor; indeed, Darius had been surprised by the thickness of the armor many times before. Their jungler was Xin Zhao, who had remained expressionless during team select, but Darius had known that there was ingrained hostility directed at him. To the Demacian's credit, he had dutifully carried out his duties as jungler without complaint, even when that had been to scare Riven into attacking Darius at the beginning of the match.
And their middle laner was, ironically, the Lady of Luminosity herself, Luxanna Crownguard. Darius tried not to flinch as he thought about her on his way to middle lane. She had done well against the Cryopheonix during most of the game, building her strength through various power talismans and focusing artifacts through the match. Darius neared mid lane and started to hear the sounds of battle.
Arrows whistled through the air and desperate shouts echoed from beyond Darius' sight. He hurried his pace and rushed through the slight brush that blocked his view of the battle. On the other side, he was met with a tableaux of chaos that was all too familiar to a seasoned veteran of war like him. Leona had done her best to protect Ezreal, but Diana was already dashing to the Piltovian, slashing at his frail body with her dangerous crescent blade. Leona had quickly decided that Ezreal was doomed and, as the cunning strategist nobody gave her credit for, used her zenith blade to dash to the enemy back ranks. Xin Zhao was off battling with the Judicator herself, and doing fairly well despite the angel's advantage. The Cryophoenix was also flying in to help Diana with Ezreal.
Darius quickly settled on the nearest target, Ashe. Ashe unleashed arrows towards Lux en masse, driving the light mage to shield herself and remain locked down trying to dodge as many arrows as possible. Darius bade his summoner to use the flash spell to gap close between him and the Freljordian, but only received information that the spell was on cooldown. Instead, he began to run as fast as he could in the full armor he wore.
Before he could get there, one of Ashe's arrows punctured both Lux's armor and shield, piercing her gut. Lux instantly shuddered from the cold, and Darius observed frost gather on her lips. Ezreal had also been seemingly trapped by a wall of ice, until he teleported himself far out of reach as one of his basic skills. Xin Zhao was doing well until Kayle activated her ultimate ability, rendering herself invulnerable to harm. Afterwards, Xin met his end very quickly. Leona had been duped by Anivia's summoner and his use of the flash spell, so she soon turned to run and try to stop Kayle from doing any more damage.
Lux couldn't withstand the level of damage that Ashe was dealing for much longer, but Darius still had another 10 feet to close before he could do anything, and the time it took to close that distance seemed to take forever. In the meantime, Anivia and Diana turned to the only other target they could get to, Luxanna. Anivia spawned a swirling vortex of frost and ice, battering Lux in the frost. Diana threw a curved bolt of moonlight, which struck Lux square in the gut, and then dashed to her now keeling over frame. The force of one attack from Diana's wicked blade forced Lux upright and threatened to throw her back, but the real damage was done when Anivia sent a jagged spike of ice through Lux's breastplate, impaling her clean through where her heart was.
Darius didn't understand it, but somewhere deep within him, a barrier of restraint snapped open, awakening the brutal side of him that he had held back since his days during the war with Demacia. Lux breathed out her last breath into the air, which cleared after the Cryophoenix let go of the whirlwind of frost and ice. Lux's face was covered in a dull white sheet of snow, eyes probably frozen. Her hair itself had been frozen solid, likely to shatter upon reaching the ground.
A guttural roar of pure rage escaped Darius as he spun his axe once around his torso, tearing a large chunk of flesh out of the frost archer's side. He followed it up by hefting his axe far over his head and leaping into the air, before coming down with incredible force, all of his muscles working to perfection. Ashe's body was cleaved straight down the middle, a disgusting spray of gore following.
The next closest target was Anivia, but this time, Darius knew the summoner spell flash was up. His summoner quickly activated it and Darius was suddenly within arm's reach of Anivia. Ezreal had apparently made himself useful, as an arc of energy pulsed through both Diana and Anivia's bodies, shattering layers of ice and snapping bones as it did so. Darius hesitated not, hefting his axe over his head again, letting loose the guttural roar once again, and bringing the monstrous axe down upon the crystalline body of Anivia. She simply shattered into a seemingly endless amount of slivers of ice.
Behind the shower of ice, Kayle was revealed to Darius. Diana was also to his right, but she would simply have to wait until after he had dealt with the judicator. The angel lit her sword on fire, lighting up the nearby area with light at the same time as calling out to her teammates with the familiar cry of, "Into the fray!"
Darius would have replied in kind, but his mind was foggy as he struggled to stare through the red mist of rage which continued to obscure his vision. Instead he charged forward with brutal efficiency, readying himself for the fiery onslaught. Kayle slashed with her sword through the air and immediately a radiating pulse of flame burst forth from Darius' right shoulder where the sword would have hit if she had been at melee range. The strong noxian grunted in pain, yet continued onward with his frantic pace.
Fifteen feet remained. Kayle slashed again, crisping his hair. Ten feet left. She slashed a third time, burning the skin on his face. A mere five feet before she was within range. Kayle slashed and followed up with a reddish bolt of power which dulled Darius' senses and made his actions sluggish. It mattered not, he had already planned out exactly what to do.
Instantly as he closed distance, The Hand of Noxus spun his monstrous axe around his person again, nicking the angelic figure in her hip despite her attempts to dodge it. She flapped her wings with power, sending her up into the air to swing downward powerfully at Darius, but he had already gone into the motion of hooking her right leg with the backside of his axe. As Kayle's strike would surely have landed on the Noxian's unprotected head, he gave a massive tug, pulling her through the air to slam directly into him.
Before Kayle could react, Darius lashed out with the handle end of his axe, keeping her off balance. Continuing the swing, Darius slammed his axe into her breastplate, dealing further significant damage to the general structural integrity. The slightest amount of blood was once again present on the wicked axe. Kayle did not have as much of an added magical bonus from the magical talismans as Darius because of the difference in income during the game. Knowing this, the judicator began to turn in an attempt to at least buy time for Diana to finish off Ezreal.
Darius was able to get in another strike on Kayle as she left, striking her right wing squarely, forcing her to walk with her now weakened physical strength. Blood seeped from several wounds in her armor. With a slight groan from the pain of being forced to use her legs, Kayle betrayed how weak she was. Darius struck while the iron was hot, leaping into the air once again with his axe held between his hands behind his back. Leveraging incredible power through his now sore muscles, Darius screamed in fury as he brought the axe down upon Kayle's damaged form, striking her in the shoulder and immediately mangling her armor as the vicious axe continued through her body, leaving behind a familiar explosion of gore.
There was not but one last member of the enemy team that remained. Darius turned to look towards his team's side of the lane and assess where Diana was. What he saw was Ezreal baiting the heretic further and further into their territory. Certainly he was in danger, but Darius knew Ezreal was sadistic enough to view the fight as more of a game than a life or death situation. Leona followed them, desperate to protect the cute Piltovian from her nemesis.
He set off towards them, rage in his eyes not yet sated, requiring just a little more gore to whet his blade. Ezreal was almost cornered against a thick line of trees, but then he used his arcane shift once again, teleporting to the other side of the trees. Diana sent a crescent slash of moonlight after him in an attempt to follow, but it did not connect. She was obviously white with rage as she let out a truly frightening scream as if she was a banshee.
Turning to the other target nearly within reach, Diana charged Leona, making a forceful impact on the heavy shield carried by the Radiant Dawn. Leona was not phased, opting to instead thrust out with her shield to bash Diana in her unprotected state. The Scorn of the Moon was visibly dazed from the unexpected attack, and Leona capitalized on it by nimbly slashing twice, injuring the other woman's right arm and left thigh. Darius drew closer and closer.
Diana then retaliated by slashing twice in reply against Leona's shield, marking the majestic defense. She then charged up the moonlight in her crescent sword for a second before slashing with visible moonlight upon the blade, knocking the shield away from defending Leona's self. Diana was then quicker than Leona and she shot another crescent moonbeam into the other woman's chest before charging into her once again, this time hitting her chest instead of the shield. Leona was winded and vulnerable, probably doomed.
Or she would have been, if Darius hadn't shown up at that moment. Diana was too focused on finishing off her old adversary to notice Darius spinning the axe in the same familiar manner he had many times in the last couple minutes. This time the axe mashed its way through her meager chest armor and burst through the right side of her ribcage. The breath was stolen from Diana's lungs as she was instantly crippled beyond the damage she had already received from Ezreal and Leona. She fell to the ground directly in front of Leona, who knew better than to steal Darius' final piece of revenge.
Unable to muster the energy required to leap into the air a fifth time in such a short period, Darius merely brought his axe around behind him and began to bring it down upon the nearly finished heretic. Just as he was to finish her off, Diana looked Darius straight in the eyes with such a look of ferocity and anger that Darius had not seen. He was unphased, mind unable to focus on anything other than the frozen, broken body of the Lady of Luminosity while she breathed her last breath.
The axe descended. The battle was over. Red haze lifting from his vision, Darius looked around at the utter destruction he had wrought. It did indeed remind him of his days as a soldier in the army. Gore splattered the landscape, with red trails where his axe had dripped leading from one bloody victim to the next. Amidst it all was Lux's battered motionless body. Amazingly her hair had not shattered upon hitting the ground, so it glittered with the sunlight, merely adding to the morose beacon of light she was already.
Then the summoners' magic kicked in at the end of the fight and all the organic matter from the fight evaporated into blue light before dissipating into the air. The large Noxian watched the cloud of blue that had once been a light sorceress. The feelings he felt at that moment were both uncomfortable, and a mystery to him.
Giving a short grunt and pushing everything to the back of his mind, Darius spun on his heel and began walking back to their base to spend the quite obscene amount of in-match currency garnered by the ludicrous slaughter. Ezreal gave him a funny look as he walked past him, halfway between respectful fear and open curiosity. On any other day, Darius would have capitalized on the opportunity by uttering something suitably intimidating like "Noxus will rise," but today, his heart just wasn't in it.
The match ended shortly after, Darius and Ezreal were too fed for the enemy to keep them from pushing through the inhibitors and eventually the nexus. When it did end, Darius requested his summoner drop him back at his room in the Institute instead of at the typical room that also functioned as an organization room. Since it was the last match for the day that Darius was available for, his summoner acquiesced, leaving Darius alone in his room with only a faint trace of blue powder that had left to melt into the air after the magic faded.
The proud Noxian drew a deep breath of relief before moving over to the single comfortable chair he kept in his apartment and flopping down. Today had been more exhausting than Darius had anticipated. He leaned his head back and looked up at the ceiling. "Feels like I'm back at the academy," he whispered to himself thinking about the drama mixed with on-campus residence.
Quickly deciding his apartment was too uncomfortable to be in, Darius decided to continue to check the back hallways of the Institute of War as was his entire purpose for living there in the first place. He had always been reluctant to join the League of Legends, wishing instead to make significant differences. The League had lately become a site of stagnation. Political leaders flared and locked horns, but it was all just posturing. The summoners themselves had enough power to end all potential disputes. After the stunt in Kalamanda, Darius knew he had to join the League eventually to grasp an understanding of how the place worked. So in his off-time, the Hand of Noxus would wander dark passageways, searching for hidden secrets kept from the world that he could exploit to Noxus' gain.
So far he had found cobwebs. A lot of cobwebs. All the same, he kept at it and it was a nice distraction from the day, so the large man got up, strapped his axe to his back, and strode out of his room, headed for whichever corner was the darkest. It wasn't long before he lived to regret his decision, as the day's stresses caught up to him and he found himself spending more time trying not to think about it than he did having anything else to do at all.
A sound echoed down the hall he was walking. There was someone, or something, ahead of him in the dark. Whoever it was wasn't tripping the automatic hextech lanterns that were designed to keep any typical human from getting completely lost. Darius unstrapped his axe and held perfectly still so the lantern nearest him would go out.
As it did, he was left in absolute darkness while the slight sound from down the corridor continued to echo. Eyes still adjusting, Darius was as good as blind for the moment, so he relied on his sense of hearing to tell when the unknown presence would approach. The sound suddenly became somewhat louder, indicating a probable turn of a corner. Excellent, Darius thought, knowing the other person/thing would be unaware of his presence then until it got into extreme proximity. The sound grew in definition, becoming a slight scraping sound as if the soft side of metal against the stone floor. There also appeared to be some kind of . . . high heels?
Before he knew what was happening, the other being bumped into Darius' breastplate. Maybe it was the smell, or the sound jogged his brain, but before he jumped and the lantern burst to life once again, Darius had an inkling as to who it was. Then he did jump back and yell wildly, bringing his axe to bear as the light burst forth.
In response, the sun itself shone back in all its brilliance, practically blinding the poor Noxian before he knew what was even happening. His yell twisted into more of a scream of pain as he desperately tried to shield his eyes from the insane brightness. Moments later, Darius forced himself to look up at what could only be Lux. Sure enough, there she was, blond hair and light complexion reflecting every ounce of light spilled upon her.
"No," Darius categorically denied the whole situation. "No," he repeated again in weak intensity. He started backing up, completely unable to accept that he had randomly come across the very person he was trying most to avoid. Lux's face twisted from blank surprise into one of maniacal anger.
"NO?" She yelled with surprising power, clearly about to begin spilling. "WE LITERALLY BUMP INTO EACH OTHER AND ALL YOU HAVE TO SAY IS 'NO'?"
Darius felt tempted to say something in response, but Lux went on. "WHAT THE HELL IS EVEN GOING ON?" she demanded, but didn't leave enough time for him to respond. "WHY? WHY DIDN'T YOU KILL ME?" she yelled, golden hair billowing around her head in angry curls.
"You were useful," Darius said at a new low tone he hadn't heard himself use before, nearly making the tight corridor vibrate with the harmony.
"I WAS NOT," Lux screamed in flat denial. "WHY DIDN'T YOU KILL ME?"
Darius once again searched his mind for any kind of response, but the Hand of Noxus knew only the political and martial battlefields, never before had he experienced this. Tears appeared from Lux's now reddening eyes as she shouted on at full volume, "DO YOU WANT TO KNOW WHAT MY BROTHER SAID?"
Again, Darius felt like he should answer, but he felt as if an observer to someone else's life. This couldn't be him in this situation, it must be Draven or someone else stupid enough to incur this kind of situation. "HE SAID 'What information did you glean from him?' LIKE I WAS SUPPOSED TO BE ABLE TO DO SOMETHING TO BENEFIT DEMACIA AT THE TIME!" Lux dropped her voice and did a low and stupid impression of her brother's voice before going on with the yelling, nearly making her voice crack.
"I WAS DEAD, YOU WERE GOING TO KILL ME. WHY DIDN'T YOU JUST DO IT?" the light mage continued on, "THEN MY BROTHER WOULD'VE BEEN HAPPY BECAUSE I'D BE A MARTYR." Tears openly streamed down her face, dulling the brightness typical for her complexion. She began sobbing lightly before repeating the question again, but softly this time, "Why didn't you kill me?"
Against all odds, Darius realized he was talking. "I don't know," he admitted softly, for once in his life being unsure of what was to be done.
Lux brought up her baton and hugged her arms to her chest, still clad in the day's battle armor, trying in vain to keep herself from openly sobbing. Darius stared, completely unable to understand what was going on. Not a thought in his mind flew through the space between his ears, still ringing with the now sobbing girl's accusations.
Lux sniffed heavily and wiped her face with a single swipe from one of her graceful hands. Starting forward, Lux said under her breath, "It doesn't matter, nobody cares." She forcefully, yet not too much so, pushed Darius out of the way while she walked past him. He watched her walk past, her typically luminescent figure not setting any lanterns off as she walked out into the darkness.
Darius couldn't recount the hour after that. Somehow he had found his way to the Noxian summoners to ask to be returned to his private residence within Noxus itself. A short teleportation later and he was free to take the stairs to his personal training facility, filled with automatic minion spawns, assorted talismans, and more weapons than one could literally shake a stick at. He dove right into his rigorous training session he hadn't engaged in for far too long.
Darius started disengaging his armor, content to let it simply fall to the ground. The massive axe he had worn all the way there clanged to the ground with a clatter. Eventually, the proud Noxian's body was left wrapped solely in an athletic top, thick leggings, and standard issue Noxian combat boots.
Grabbing a massive axe just like the one he always used, Darius strode out into the main area of the enormous room, beginning the stream of minions. It hadn't taken Zaun long to discern how the minions were summoned automatically without direct functioning summoners behind each one, and after that it was relatively easy to set up League fight simulations. The Hand of Noxus didn't think about that though, instead he spun and twirled, dashing apart summoned material right and left. The waves of enemies became increasingly stronger and more difficult to destroy, yet Darius made short work of all of them.
A late wave into the session, every minion spawned was a 'super' minion. The sweat dripped off Darius' every muscular protrusion, indicating that his body was indeed being strained despite his mental focus, or lack thereof. The minions streamed at him with massive numbers, but the great warrior merely began to yell in defiance while the automated enemies threatened to overwhelm him. Yelling with greater intensity, a flash of memory began to force its way into his mind.
Darius was forced to relive the experiences where he recognized Lux's face. Before the incident at the treeline, Lux's face shone as a beacon, but it was replaced shortly after by her pained expression after being wounded in the jungle. Next he saw her face while she slept in the cave, but this too was replaced by her face overcome with tears. The yell of fury drew higher to a point where Darius almost worried others would hear. Minion matter melted away before bright flashes of his axe, leaving greenish, dissolving sparkles to fall upon the ground.
More minions streamed out of summoning corners, all too pleased to get a chance to die at the hand of the pure nightmare their clones still fought. Darius continued his yell beyond what should have been possible, haunted by the thoughts arising within his own mind. The minions continued onward with still greater numbers, the axe still somehow finding its way into each slight weak point in the armor. As Darius began to feel as if he were running out of air, a final image of Lux flitted into his mind. She was waving to him in the hallway before the fated event that was to follow. Intense pressure smashed against the base of Darius' skull, and the world melted, leaving only the image of the light mage until that too disappeared.
Author's Note: Let me just say one thing right here. You know who you are, this isn't a personal attack, I just didn't feel like rewriting it. It was humor, and I mean nothing other than humor by it. And second, to everyone who continued to review asking for more and following despite the story saying it was complete, here's to you all. Honestly, a lot of crazy crap has been going on lately, and I'm starting to feel like everything is balancing out again. So hopefully more writing more often than once every three months. Anyway, as always, do review if you have something to say, I love the feedback, and I'll see you all at the next installment.