Twisted Fate dashed across the hard-packed earth that made up the central lane of Summoner's Rift. The skirmish had gone badly, he was injured and out of every last bit of magic he could muster. Most of the other team were dead or badly injured as well, though the distinct lack of Teemo—who had been wandering around the topmost lane when the fighting broke out—kept it from being entirely fair.
Thresh let out a loud cackle as he followed Twisted Fate. The Card Master was hurt enough that he would be able to finish him off easily if he could snag him with his chain, despite his being weaker in a standup fight since he was supposed to be a "support" champion. He grumbled to himself about "dirty summoner lawyers" and "that damn contract" as he lifted his arm, scythe and chain in hand.
It would have been a perfect shot, had Teemo not suddenly appeared from a nearby bush and shot a cloud of blinding poison in his face. Better late than never, as Teemo would say to his teammates when they scolded him later. It was mostly his summoner's fault for not paying attention anyway.
The Chain Warden howled in anger as he clawed at his face with his free hand. He didn't even know why this stuff was able to blind an undead like himself, what did the little rat even use in it? He threw his chain anyway, at least he would take Twisted Fate down with him!
The chain flew forward, but it didn't hit Twisted Fate himself; it was too high for that. It latched into the card shark's trademark hat as he ran out of Thresh's range.
"You damn hamster!" Thresh howled as he caught the hat and wrenched it off the end of his scythe.
Teemo, however, was quivering in terror as he looked at the hat in Thresh's hands. "Take cover!" the Swift Scout dove into a nearby bush like his life depended on it and disappeared.
Thresh was mystified. Teemo would've killed him if he'd stayed, why leave now? Because of Twisted Fate? That couldn't be right. Sure the rogue was handy with his cards, but he was a complete pansy if you caught him. Thresh shrugged and tossed the hat into a nearby bush.
The Chain Warden was about to turn back when a loud, angry roar echoed through the Rift.
Every champion—save for Thresh, who hadn't the faintest clue as to what it was and didn't care anyway—immediately stopped what they were doing and cast a fearful glance down the middle lane.
Karthus, who had just started back toward the middle of the Rift, stepped back onto the Fountain platform and took a seat. "Someone knocked his hat off again, didn't they?" he scowled, obviously not amused by this new development.
Hecarim soon appeared at the topmost entrance to their base, hurtling past the Nexus at full tilt as if Hell and five whole legions of unholy demons were on his heels. He slowed only once he reached the Fountain, and galloped in a circle to bleed off speed without falling flat on his face in the process. "Do you see him?" the Shadow of War danced a nervous jig, like a horse startled by the sound of a large predator. "I came back as soon as I heard," his hands tightened on the pole of his glaive with an audible creak.
"No, not yet," Karthus grumbled.
Mordekaiser appeared behind them, having finally been resurrected. "So who was stupid enough to take his hat?" he growled.
"Mordekaiser, save me!" Hecarim grabbed the Master of Metal, lifted him off the ground, and held him in front of himself like an angry, flailing shield.
"Put me down, you fool! Have some dignity, for Shadow's sake!"
"But he knocked down a mountain the last time it happened!" Hecarim whined, though he put Mordekaiser down regardless.
"Well you shouldn't have run away," Mordekaiser snapped as he shrugged his shoulders to settle his armor back into place. "At least it taught you not to wave that stupid glaive of yours around so carelessly," he swung his mighty mace up and allowed it to land on his right shoulder, nearly crushing Hecarim's head in the process.
"Both of you shut up," Karthus silenced the two with a glare. "I'm trying to hear where he is."
The Rift was completely silent. The silence was always worse than the screams, it meant you didn't know where the predator was, and that it was too focused on hunting out prey to be bothered with making noise. As the undead listened and watched, the familiar sound of scraping chains could be heard echoing across the base's stone-paved expanse.
"By the by," Urgot materialized behind the group as he too was resurrected. "Thresh did it."
This confirmation was met with a group moan, followed by a whimper from Hecarim. Thresh's crap aim was about to get them all violently murdered, possibly several times over depending on how long it took to actually find Twisted Fate's hat, which Thresh had no doubt lost since he didn't know how important it was.
Hecarim considered trying to use Urgot as a meat shield next, then decided against it. Urgot was just too gross, even for one of his fellow undead.
"Hey, newbie!" Mordekaiser called as Thresh passed their middle Inhibitor. "What did you do with the hat?"
"Hat?" Thresh paused for a few moments, looking as confused as possible given his skull-like face. "Oh, that. I threw it away."
"We are so dead!" Hecarim cowered behind the three other champions and tried to make himself as small as possible. "So dead!"
"What are you talking about?" Thresh snapped, suddenly aware of the loud thundering of fast-approaching footsteps that pounded the beaten dirt behind him. He turned just in time to see Twisted Fate hurtling toward him from the other end of the Rift's middle lane.
The unearthly howl that Twisted Fate voiced as he charged toward Thresh was enough to chill the undead's ectoplasm to near absolute zero. Save for the distinct lack of hat, the only thing off about Twisted Fate was the fact that only the whites of his eyes were showing. As well as the expression of livid fury and incredible speeds he was moving at. The Inhibitor turret shot at the Card Master once before it was leveled in a single blow by one of the man's bare fists.
"What the fu—" Thresh's exclamation was cut off by one of Twisted Fate's fists slamming into the middle of his face. The impact was strong enough to throw Thresh toward his Nexus, chains trailing behind him.
Twisted Fate grabbed the two chains as Thresh flew backward; just punching him in the face wouldn't be enough even for touching his precious hat, let alone losing it. Thresh slammed into the right-hand Nexus turret with enough force to break it to pieces, which then fell on top of him in an uncomfortable, bone-crushing heap. He was just considering how effective playing dead might be when the chains yanked him back out of the rubble. It was then that he realized the beating probably wouldn't stop until he had been reduced to a completely-dead mass of quivering ectoplasm.
As Thresh soared into swinging range, Twisted Fate landed a direct hit on exactly the same portion of the phantom's face that he'd hit before. This sent him hurtling into the remaining Nexus turret, which also buried him in a large heap of rubble as it collapsed.
"Somebody... Help... Me..." Thresh gazed forlornly at the champions on the Fountain and raised his arm in a pitiful begging gesture as the chains pulled him back toward Twisted Fate yet again.
The Nexus was much tougher than its turrets had been. And much tougher than Thresh. Twisted Fate continued to pummel him like a morbid yo-yo while the other champions looked on in horror.
Back down the middle lane, Teemo was still hiding in his bush. He'd watched as Twisted Fate hurtled past to get at Thresh, and he could now hear the Chain Warden screaming as the Card Master pulverized him. The yordle relaxed slightly and glanced around. There was Twisted Fate's hat, caught on some tall grass just a few feet away. If he could sneak up and get it onto the Card Master's head before the entire Rift was leveled, he would surely be hailed as a hero by everyone involved.
Teemo grinned, grabbed the hat, and ran straight for the enemy base. By the time Teemo arrived, Thresh had been reduced to green ectoplasmic paste that was now smeared all over the frontmost side of his Nexus. Twisted Fate was currently chasing Hecarim around the base, demolishing any and all structures that the Shadow of War tried to hide behind. Urgot had taken the opportunity to scurry into the forest and away from the destruction.
"You fool!" Mordekaiser bellowed from his perch atop the Fountain's megaturret as he shook his mace at the scene below. "Stop making him destroy our base!"
Karthus still sat on the Fountain platform, still as a statue in an attempt to make Twisted Fate mistake him for a piece of scenery. It had worked thus far, but he worried that Hecarim might try hiding behind him next, in which case his efforts would be utterly pointless.
"I'm sorry, he's making me panic!" Hecarim darted behind another Inhibitor.
"Be a brave war pony and lead him out of here if you want to flee so much!"
"Nooooo, get back! I didn't take it this time, I swear!" Hecarim screamed as he galloped away from Twisted Fate, who had just crushed the Inhibitor he was hiding behind with his fists. "Please don't violently destroy me!"
"Fool! He's too far-gone to reason with now!"
Sure enough, the Card Master ignored Hecarim's pleas and kept chasing him. His focus was intense enough that Teemo would be able to pop behind him and put the hat back on without getting in the line of fire. He sprinted after Twisted Fate and caught up just as the Card Master cornered Hecarim—who had again curled up into a fearful, whimpering ball—and prepared to beat the everloving snot out of him. The Swift Scout leapt forward as Twisted Fate drew back his fist for the first painful blow.
It was like flipping a switch. As soon as the hat touched Twisted Fate's head, he slumped to his knees and fell silent. Teemo landed beside him, head held high in his triumph.
Now that Twisted Fate was no longer acting like a rage-filled berserker demon, the announcer felt it was safe to finally speak up. "MATCH CANCELLED DUE TO RULE VIOLATION. ALL CHAMPIONS, PREPARE TO BE REMOVED FROM SUMMONER'S RIFT AT ONCE."
Hecarim looked up to see Twisted Fate sitting quietly before him. "I'm never gonna pay you back for this, but thanks anyway!" he dashed off in the direction of his Fountain, just to be on the safe side.
After a few moments of silence, Twisted Fate's head snapped up and he looked around in surprise. "Gah I blacked out for a second there, what happened?" he paled and lowered his head so that his hat kept his eyes from view when he saw that the enemy base was in ruins. "Ah... Someone took my hat again, didn't they?"
"Afraid so," Teemo folded his arms over his chest with a grave nod. "Thresh got it when he was trying to kill you."
"Please tell me I didn't break anything big this time..."
Teemo threw a glance behind him at the Nexus that was fractured, sparking with magical discharge, and still had Thresh's pulverized remains smeared on it. "Nothing very important," he shrugged.
"You can say that again!" Mordekaiser hollered from where he'd fallen off the Fountain's turret. He was climbing out of the crater that was the result of his fall and heavy weight when everyone was teleported out of the Rift.
The other champions grumbled about the cancellation while Thresh regained his bearings. He spotted the Card Master in the waiting room once he was oriented and pointed an accusing finger at him, "Stupid human, I hope you get punished for this insult to my dignity!"
"What are you blathering about this time?" Mordekaiser sounded more bad-tempered than usual as a result of what had just taken place. "It's against the rules for anyonebut Twisted Fate to remove the hat from his person. You're the one who will be punished." He seemed to be considering dishing out a bit of punishment himself for what Thresh did.
"Yep, he's right," Teemo quipped, having heard the conversation with his sharp yordle ears. "They put that one in way before you even joined, didn't you read it?"
Thresh gave a nervous chuckle and fiddled with his lantern. "I skimmed them..." in truth, Thresh had not bothered at all with reading the rules and had been finding out what they were the hard way ever since he joined the League.
"Yep, nobody touches the hat," Twisted Fate smirked, then flipped the hat off his head and back on with a flourish, pretending not to notice how Hecarim flinched when it was lifted off his head. His face abruptly became serious as he locked eyes with Thresh, "So seriously, don't touch it."
In the end, Thresh was put on probation and given a heavy fine for touching Twisted Fate's hat. Hecarim had to see a psychiatrist after the match but still ended up suffering from waking night terrors, and Mordekaiser maintained his bad mood for over a week. Teemo was given a medal for his bravery in putting a stop to Twisted Fate's rampage, and Twisted Fate himself spent the rest of the day sleeping, as such explosions of violent emotion always made him extremely tired afterward.
As his saying goes: "Nobody touches the hat."