I'm not dead, I swear!
She drifted about, lost in the space between life and death. There was nothing. She was nothing.
The first thing she heard was a distinct clinking sound. She could feel the cold, hard wooden floor beneath her. Wait…
Elise gasped loudly, almost choking in the process. She immediately sat upward, eyes wild, and whipped her head left and right. She could hear the blood pounding in her ears. The sound of her panicked breaths filled the air. There was a green glowing form in front of her, and in the midst of her confusion, she could not figure out who it was. It didn't help that her vision was blurry either. She was sitting on the ground and attempted to get up. Her legs wobbled, and she collapsed. There was a throbbing pain in the back of her skull. She grimaced and closed her eyes. "You have much nerve, Elise, to toy with the spirits as such."
The Spider Queen groaned. "What happened?" she slurred.
"You died." Thresh deadpanned, "Then I pulled your soul out and stuffed it back in your body."
He chuckled at that, his voice unnaturally loud. Elise barely managed to comprehend the sentence. She tried to nod, but the world began to spin again. "You are fortunate I require your assistance for future plans. Otherwise, I would have very much enjoyed simply leaving you be," the Chain Warden continued.
Glaring did not work so well when she felt rather sluggish. "That…was a complete waste of time," the Spider Queen managed to breathe out.
Thresh just shrugged, as if it was not his problem. It wasn't. Elise's vision was beginning to clear, and this time, she was able to stand up. However, she still felt completely drained. Without another word to the jailer, she stumbled out into the hallway. Her room felt like it was miles away, even though it was actually only about three doors down. She tripped over nothing and attempted to brace herself against the wall, but her legs gave out again. The Spider Queen hit the ground with a groan and closed her eyes in defeat. "Elise?"
Before she could have a nice nap sitting in the hallway in public view, Elise found herself being pulled back onto her feet again. She swayed, and the person who had assisted her up grabbed her arms to steady her. "Oh my. What happened?"
It was LeBlanc. Well, more accurately, it was her clone. The real LeBlanc stood behind leaning against her staff. "I died?" the Spider Queen said slowly, the end of the sentence coming out like a question.
Elise's eyes flickered towards the real Deceiver's face. The other woman just blinked at her. The Spider Queen began to wonder if she was actually concerned, but then scoffed internally at the notion. Followed by the illusionist, the clone helped the spider mage into her room, kicking the door open with a loud bang. It swung shut behind them. LeBlanc deposited her cargo on the bed. With a wave of her hand, her mirror match disappeared. Elise just lay there, unmoving. She finally tilted her head to the side and peered at Emilia's blank face. "You look worried."
The Matron rolled her eyes. "I heard that you lost your mind and thought you died."
Elise laughed at that. She didn't know why she found the statement funny. "I got spirit raped."
She chuckled again. LeBlanc silently stared at her. Finally she asked, "So were you successful?"
The Spider Queen waved a hand weakly. "Later. Right now I think I'll sleep."
The Deceiver looked displeased, but Elise closed her eyes anyway, wordlessly attempting to dismiss LeBlanc. She was right to assume she could not rid herself of the illusionist so easily. Elise felt a sudden weight on top of her body and lazily opened her eyes. They widened as she found a pair of lips upon hers. "Mmf!"
LeBlanc had grabbed her head and was kissing her forcefully, forcing Elise's mouth open with her tongue. The Spider Queen struggled for a moment, tempted to bite down on the intruder, but then realized what the Deceiver was doing. When LeBlanc finally drew back, the end of a long string of energy flowed from her lips to the other mage's. Elise gave her a look that said "Really?" She still felt rather fatigued, but it was an improvement. The headache was gone. She ran her eyes over LeBlanc's outfit, paying particular attention to the parts it didn't cover so well. It had been a while…
Emilia smiled sultrily in response, noticing the other woman's subsequent reaction. "I learned it when I visited Ionia a while back," she murmured, running a hand over Elise's cheek, "Now, tell me-"
The Spider Queen quickly flipped her over, pinning LeBlanc down on the bed. Energy siphoning was actually a technique she knew rather well, courtesy of Vilemaw when he initially bestowed her powers upon her. Their lips met again, but only for a moment before the Deceiver pushed the Spider Queen away. Elise was lucid enough now to smirk down at her. "You won't let me sleep, and I did all that work for you. Don't I at least get a reward?" she purred.
LeBlanc scoffed, but placed her hands on Elise's hips, dragging their bodies closer together. Their chests touched. The illusionist leaned forward. "Tell me where the Heart of Shurima is," she whispered slowly into the other woman's ear.
The spider mage sighed and braced herself. The Deceiver wouldn't like this. "Senna…did not take it very kindly when I mentioned it."
Emilia stiffened. "So nothing?"
"I died. Is that good enough?"
LeBlanc just growled at her. The Spider Queen grinned. She suddenly found herself staring at her crisp, white sheets. Ah, well. The illusionist had vanished to reappear standing next to the bed. She held an open palm outward and her fallen staff levitated towards her. Elise leaned on an elbow to look at the Matron. "What do you plan to do now?" she asked.
Emilia simply laughed. The other woman raised an eyebrow at her. "My plans have not changed, my dear Elise," the Deceiver replied.
Then she turned tail and stalked out of the room. Elise rolled her eyes, but then stared glumly at the spot where the illusionist had been. So much for some fun. She raised her head to look at the door. She would need to keep tabs on LeBlanc in the near future if she wanted to get her hands on the Heart of Shurima. With that the Spider Queen rolled over and gladly welcomed sleep.
A pair of hands with sharp red nails slapped themselves on the counter, startling the summoner who had been doing some paperwork with a large white feather. "Where's Soraka?"
"She-uh, I-I'm not sure," the young man stuttered, "Is there anything I can-"
"Find her," the Spider Queen stated.
After a moment's thought, she added, "Please."
The poor summoner scrambled up from his chair and out of the room, eager to get away from the glaring woman who had more legs than anyone should ever have. Elise sighed and put her head in her hands. Her dreams – nightmares actually – had been plagued by events from the night before. If that hadn't been enough, she had also awoken with a pounding headache. Needless to say, she was in a very irritable mood. "This better be important. I have much work to do today," said a brisk voice.
The League's renowned healer entered the room, raising her eyebrows when she saw Elise. The other woman narrowed her crimson eyes at her in turn. "Spider Queen," the Starchild murmured evenly, "How may I be of assistance?"
The spider mage crossed her arms. "Got anything for a headache?"
Soraka cocked her head. "Of course," she replied, "Follow me."
The Starchild led Elise out of the lobby and into a hallway, stopping to open a door to the right. Inside, on the wooden shelves, was a variety of bottles containing various types of medicine. "How bad is it?"
A grumble. "I feel like my head got trampled by Hecarim."
The healer chuckled and removed a few white pills from a bottle. She placed them in an empty one and handed it to Elise. "Just take one. The extras are for if it comes back. Let me know if it gets worse."
The Spider Queen wordlessly snatched it from her. She popped the cap open and swallowed one of the pills dry while the other champion patiently looked on. When she realized Soraka was still staring, Elise glared at the healer. "What?"
"You could have just asked Eldon if you wanted painkillers," Soraka commented, clasping her hands together, "but I think you know that, don't you?"
The other champion regarded her and crossed her arms defensively. The magic in the pill worked quickly, and her migraine was already beginning to fade. The Starchild held her gaze knowingly for only a moment before she turned on her heel and moved to exit the room. "If there's nothing else-"
She was cut off when Elise made a sound of acquiescence. The spider mage hesitated, trying to figure out the most neutral way to say her next sentence. "Katarina attacked Zyra the other day."
Soraka nodded. "Yes. I am well aware."
"Perhaps you should take a look at the damage done."
"From what I heard, it was only a small cut. Judging from the fact that you are talking to me, I would assume that is not true?"
Elise shrugged, still trying to appear nonchalant. "It was bleeding quite a bit."
"Ah, well then, if you would be willing to direct her here later today, I can do a checkup. I'm quite busy, but I should be able to make some time."
The Spider Queen pursed her lips, recalling her annoyance at the situation. "She refuses to come here," she paused again, "I was wondering if you would be willing to go to the forest."
A bit of dismay showed on Soraka's face. "I sincerely apologize Elise, but it's the end of the week, and I have too many duties to take care of as well as attend to the patients in our ward. It's possible I can venture out around noon, but I do not wish to make any promises I cannot keep. Would you like to stop by again tomorrow?"
"Hmm. Nevermind then." the other woman said, shrugging again as the Starchild led her back into the hallway.
Soraka glanced back at Elise's blank face and spoke up again. "If it's an urgent matter, maybe you could ask Nidalee for assistance?"
The Spider Queen raised an eyebrow and her, and she continued, "The huntress has healing powers of her own that are quite potent. She should be able to help your friend."
Elise blinked. "Friend?"
The healer just nodded and smiled. The Spider Queen took notice that the clopping of Soraka's hooves had stopped, and she was now standing gawking at the Starchild in the waiting room. Eldon was staring at her fearfully from behind the counter. The mage straightened. "Ah, right," she said awkwardly and moved to exit the ward.
She heard Soraka call to her as she reached the doorway. "You actually have a headache right? Because those pills will make you-"
She was interrupted by Elise scoffing. "Why do you think I came here in the first place?"
The Spider Queen did not bother to punish Soraka for her chuckling as she turned the corner and into the corridor. Instead she mulled over the new word in her mind.
She debated on giving the cougar a visit, but in the end, Elise decided to simply wait until the next day, opting to quietly nurse her headache in the privacy of her room. Zyra would be fine. The Spider Queen lay in bed, flipping idly through a history book. She impatiently slammed it shut and popped another pill down her throat. Stretching out on her back, she glared at the ceiling. Then she sat up. The woman felt awfully antsy, but the reason was beyond her. Her spider legs tapped the bedpost beside her in a steady rhythm. The mage glanced down at her hands, noting that she still wore the ring LeBlanc had given her. The Vigor Gem was its normal onyx color, and it barely responded when Elise attempted to draw energy from it. Its resources were next to completely depleted, she guessed. A thought struck her. Making a decision, the Spider Queen stood up. Luckily, the room did not spin and her migraine failed to worsen. She strode out the door and towards the Noxian wing of the Institute.
Groaning to herself, the mage remembered why she hated looking for LeBlanc. She knocked on the door she had entered the previous day. After a few moments, she tried the handle. There was a creak as she was allowed entrance into…an empty room. Of course. The Spider Queen slid inside, hoping to trip some magical alarm that LeBlanc had woven before she had hid her room again. She glanced around and up at the ceiling. There was a small crack under her. Elise lifted her foot and found herself staring at a jagged piece of a mirror. She had broken a bit off when she stepped on it, but otherwise it seemed fine. The mage picked it up and shook it. Nothing happened. Elise turned it around and then tapped it with a clawed finger a few times. "Oh my, does someone seek my…services?"
The Spider Queen flipped the mirror around again and found herself staring at the sultry smile of the Deceiver. LeBlanc opened her mouth to speak again, but Elise cut her off. "Where are you?"
The illusionist looked a bit miffed at being interrupted, but she answered anyway. "My room of course."
The spider mage just glared. The Deceiver had the audacity to roll her eyes. "Fine, fine. Come out to the hallway, dear. I'll open the door."
LeBlanc's image faded, and Elise simply dropped the mirror where she had found it. She backed out into the corridor, looking left and right. Something leaned on her shoulder and the Spider Queen whirled around. The Deceiver crossed her arms and smiled, cocking a hip. Elise raised an eyebrow at her. LeBlanc raised a delicate hand and made the "turn around motion". A little ways down the hallway, the spider mage could make out an open door. When she turned back around, the clone had disappeared.
Elise felt a small surge of magic as she stepped over the threshold of LeBlanc's room. "Be a dear and close the door, would you?"
The Spider Queen kicked it shut in response. "Now, what can I help you with?" the illusionist continued.
She was lying on the couch with her head propped up by a hand. Her cloak, as well as her belt and what could barely pass for half a dress, had been removed, leaving the woman more naked than dressed. She held a glass of red wine in her free hand. Elise feigned confusion. "Oh? I'm sorry I thought this was the lounge."
The Spider Queen made her way to one of the large plush seats and sank into it. She heard LeBlanc chuckle as she leaned her head back. There was a sudden weight on her lap, and Elise opened her eyes to find the Deceiver, still in the same state of dress that she was in previously, holding out a glass of spirit towards her. "Some wine?"
The spider mage looked to the LeBlanc that had spoken from the couch and then back at the drink. She accepted it after a moment, and the clone disappeared. Still aware that she was being watched, Elise observed the liquid closely and murmured a spell. To her dismay, the alcohol turned a deep blue color, signifying that it had been spiked with something. Not poison, but likely something that would have knocked her out. A peel of laughter from the illusionist. Scoffing, the Spider Queen extended her arm to the side and turned the glass upside down. "Now, now that wasn't very nice. That's the finest brand of Ionian carpeting you just ruined."
Elise set the glass on the table in front of her and crossed her legs, pretending to have not heard the Noxian. LeBlanc smiled and grabbed the bottle of wine nearby, pouring the Spider Queen a generous amount. "Aren't you chipper today," the Shadow Isles champion quipped as she did so.
She knew LeBlanc rarely drank, even though she possessed a high tolerance for alcohol. Liquor dulled the mind, the Deceiver had said. Why would she subject herself to it on a daily basis? "I can't enjoy a drink with a friend? How upsetting."
"You have another lead for the Heart of Shurima?" Elise picked the glass up and took a sip. The liquid ran pleasurably down her throat.
"Oh? Are you volunteering to help?"
The Spider Queen cleared her throat. "No."
LeBlanc chuckled again with a hand over her mouth. "You seemed to bring that topic up rather quickly."
Elise set her drink down and fingered the ring. The Deceiver took notice, but said nothing, waiting patiently for the Spider Queen to speak. "Know anyone who excels at tracking…magic signatures?" the spider mage finally asked.
The illusionist cocked her head and smiled pleasantly, signaling her to go on. "This ring was used during the Rune Wars. There were an ample of amount of Vigor Gems at that time, but I doubt every mage had one. Every time this ring was used, it must have given off a massive signature. Supposedly, if the particular mage wielding it was harming people, there would have been many souls to collect, which means the Heart of Shurima was also being used. It's a shot in the dark, but if we could find a few signatures that are consistent with the one in this ring, it might be easier to track the Heart down…"
She trailed off, but LeBlanc was already nodding. The gold and black clad mage held her hand out for the trinket, and Elise tossed it at her. She observed it, frowning when she realized it was practically devoid of energy. "You couldn't even be bothered to place a little magic back in? My dear Elise, I am so disappointed."
The Spider Queen rolled her eyes. "Charge it yourself. I'm sure you're very capable."
The Matron continued to frown for one more second before she placed the ring to the side. "It's been a rather long while, but I suppose magic signatures as big as that won't fade too quickly. This is assuming that the ring was actually used to fight and was not a simple decoration of a noble with too much gold on his hands. That's a nasty amount of field work, but I suppose it can be arranged."
Elise shrugged a shoulder and went back to her drink. Without warning, she found it taken from her hands. In an instant, a near naked LeBlanc was straddling her, and the Spider Queen found herself staring at a generous amount of cleavage. "I knew I kept you around for a reason," the Matron cooed as she placed her pale hands on Elise's shoulders and began to massage them.
The spider mage's eye twitched at both her words and her tone. She sounded like she was talking to a small puppy. "Yes, and maybe it's time for me to attend to other matters," the Shadow Isles champion said tightly.
The Deceiver laughed lightly and pressed herself closer. "Mmm, you sure?"
Her hands began to wander, running up and down Elise's sides and tantalizingly close to her chest. The Spider Queen weighed her options. Sleep. Sex. Sleep. Sex. Damn, the headache was getting worse again. "Evaine. Off."
LeBlanc pouted. "But you were so eager last night."
"Too bad. You missed your chance."
Elise shoved the illusionist away, standing up in the process. The Matron hopped backwards lightly and fell back against the couch. She was still pouting, but was ignored. "I would advise you get something for that headache of yours, Elise. It seems to be interfering with your duties."
She grinned. The other woman huffed at the implication and opened the door. She strode outside. "Turn right!"
Elise had turned left and stopped herself from running into the wall just in time. She growled and spun around to glare at the Matron. LeBlanc's room was now at the end of the Noxian wing on the opposite side of the hall. The illusionist was giggling from where she sat. The Spider Queen shot a strand of webbing towards her, but the door slammed shut, causing the projectile to splatter harmlessly over it.
After another night of little sleep, Elise awoke to a loud knock on her door. She glared towards the direction of the sound, wondering who was bothering her. "Elise? It's Soraka! Are you in there?"
Oh. The mage sat up slowly, wincing. The throbbing of her head was still enough to irk her. "One moment."
She quickly made herself presentable in the washroom and opened the door. Her crimson eyes flickered to the Starchild's amber ones. "I apologize for bothering you this early, but I found myself with some time. Does Zyra still need some help? I'm afraid I don't know where to find her in the forest."
"Ah, yes," the Spider Queen blinked a few times, trying to get used to the sunlight that streamed in from the window behind the healer, "I'll…show you where she is."
The two made their way through the Institute in silence. Soraka was carrying her staff as well as a medical kit. She attempted to make small talk as they walked, but Elise was silent for the most part. Even though she would occasionally hum in response, the Starchild soon gave up. The Spider Queen rubbed her temples. Why was it so bright everywhere? "Oh Zyra! Good morning!"
Elise blinked in surprise to see the Rise of the Thorns with an equal expression on her face. Soraka had nearly run into her when they rounded the corner. "Good…morning."
They regarded each other for a silent moment, until Elise looked down and cocked an eyebrow at Zyra's right arm. It was absent of the bandage, as well as the ugly wound and stitches. The plant mage took notice and grabbed it with her left hand. "The summoners healed it after I spoke with them."
"I see," the Spider Queen responded.
They continued to regard each other without speaking while the Starchild looked back and forth between them. "Well!" she said suddenly, causing the other two parties to jump, "I suppose you won't be needing my assistance anymore. I must get back to my work."
Elise just nodded tersely. With that, Soraka scooted off back down the hallway. If the either the Spider Queen or the Rise of the Thorns had been paying attention, they would have seen her hide a smile behind her hand. Zyra shifted slightly and looked down, not meeting the other woman's gaze. Elise just crossed her arms and leaned against the wall, waiting for her to speak. The Spider Queen was about to turn tail and leave when Zyra finally opened her mouth. "Mmm…about the other day…I apologize for walking out like that," the plant woman murmured eventually.
The spider mage waved her hand dismissively, but secretly, she felt rather annoyed. "Why?"
The question was vague, but both knew what she was referring to. The markings above Zyra's eyes knitted together in concentration. "…does it matter?" she said hesitantly, "It's healed now."
Elise held her gaze. "No, I suppose it doesn't," she said finally, "Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to grab something to eat."
She pushed off the wall and strode past the Rise of the Thorns. She felt a soft hand grab her own before she could move further. The spider mage glanced backward. "What?" she asked sharply.
Zyra looked like she was having an internal debate, but in the end, she shook her head and released her grasp on Elise, looking rather passive. The Spider Queen continued walking.
She took a deep breath to cool her temper as she emerged into the dining hall. Zyra's matters were her own, but it irked Elise on an irrational level when the plant mage refused to tell her what the issue was. She stopped her train of thought momentarily to wonder why the Rise of the Thorns had been inside the Institute. "YAHOO! AHA! ZIPPY!"
Elise blinked and barely managed to dodge the purple-clad yordle that was shooting towards her. Still laughing, Lulu held a large cupcake above her head as she zoomed past. She disappeared into the hallway with Pix flitting about eagerly next to her. The Spider Queen heard a distinct "YEP! THAT TASTED PURPLE!"
"Sorry cupcake, but I don't think we're getting that one back. Compared to all the ones you already ate though, it's not much of a loss."
Caitlyn and Vi were sitting at one of the long tables, staring (along with a number of other people) at where the yordle had disappeared. The former was surrounded by a group of her signature bear traps, supposedly preparing them for her next match on the fields. She turned to glare at what the enforcer had said. A few unused cupcakes sat off to the side. Elise rolled her eyes. The Sheriff's workplace was rather ill-chosen if you asked her. Rubbing her head again, the Spider Queen grabbed breakfast and sauntered back towards her room, unwilling to listen to the loud chatter of champions and summoners in the mess hall. She finished it quickly and took another one of Soraka's pills, settling down in her chair to read the history book she had been perusing the day before. She had been at the task for no longer than five minutes before a bright blue circle lit up at her feet. The familiar words of a summoning began to echo around her. The mage grumbled quietly but stood up anyway to allow the spell to complete.
She blinked to accustom herself to the change in scenery. She waited for her summoner to speak, but nothing came. Shrugging internally, Elise glanced at her companions. Jax, Amumu, Leona, and Lucian. The Demacian carry was glaring at her, but he said nothing. Elise sneered at him in reply, feeling the hatred come off of him in waves. Everyone was beginning to head off to their lanes, and the Spider Queen cocked her head when she realized she still had yet to receive instruction. Jax, she assumed, would be taking the top lane and Amumu the jungle. She was neither a support or attack damage carry, so that left her in…the middle lane. Oh! Apologies for the delay, Spider Queen.
The faint voice was feminine and sounded very young. A green summoner? May I suggest you pay attention in future, summoner? Elise responded as neutrally as possible.
Of course…I'm so sorry. I'm a bit new to this, you see.
The Spider Queen snorted when she realized her suspicion was correct. Just her luck to be dealing with the new batch today. She was pretty sure she wasn't on the "Recommended List" of champions for the newer summoners, so she had no idea why she was even in this match. Then again, the newbies weren't restricted to just that list. Picking a champion off of it was just…not recommended. The mage automatically grabbed what she needed from the shopkeeper and headed down the lane. So…um…
Elise interjected before her summoner could say more. Who is my lane opponent?
I believe it is…There was a pause as the Spider Queen waited impatiently. Zyra?
The mage raised an eyebrow. Her summoner must have sensed her surprise. Is there something wrong?
No. Not at all. Please do not speak to me for the duration of the match unless I talk to you first.
With that, Elise easily cut the link between her and her summoner. She smiled at the weak grasp the girl had on the telepathic connection. There was no effort on the other end to re-establish it. The Spider Queen leaned against her turret and watched lazily as a line of purple minions waddled past her. The fog of war cleared a bit and she was able to make out the Rise of the Thorns by her own tower. Something flickered across Zyra's face as she saw Elise, but it was gone as quickly as it came.
The two champions fell into the familiar rhythm of last hitting, occasionally poking at each other with thorny vines and jets of venom. The Spider Queen was pretty sure the plant mage was pointedly not looking at her, but she was sure to use that to her advantage. She watched as a blue minion directly in front of Zyra fell to the ground. The Rise of the Thorns took no notice of the fact that Elise had a clear shot and found herself bound in webbing not a second later. The Spider Queen shifted forms and launched herself aggressively at the struggling plant. Zyra managed to free herself just in time to shoot a group of vines at the giant spider. Elise hissed as she was rooted down, but her spiderlings continued their pursuit, causing Zyra to dance away and out of range. The black widow backed away slightly as the vines retreated, but kept herself in front of the minion wave to deter her opponent from approaching. There was a rustle from the lower river bush, followed by a cry.
Elise barely sidestepped the sonic wave that rushed towards her. The force as it flew past caused her to stagger slightly. Lee Sin was not deterred and leapt in front of her, landing by an allied minion. The Spider Queen dodged a punch, but the next one caught her in the abdomen. She screeched and made to bite at him before using a web to hoist herself over the martial artist and closer to her tower. Zyra lagged behind slightly. Her vines attempted to make a grab at the spider mage, but Elise quickly retreated, growling. She shifted into her human form again as Lee Sin got in tower range. The mage was about to trap him with her webs but felt a sudden sense of vertigo overcome her. She gasped and staggered to the side, leaning against the tower. A call from Zyra deterred the Blink Monk from continuing his pursuit. He nodded towards the Rise of the Thorns before turning back towards the jungle. Summoner, bring me back to the fountain.
Elise continued to use the turret for support as the recall spell was weaved around her. She breathed deeply a few times and closed her eyes to keep the world from spinning. Her headache had returned at full force. She tilted her head up to look at Zyra right before she disappeared and saw that this time, the plant mage was staring directly at her.
The healing magics at the fountain only relieved her pain lightly. She felt something probe her mind. Elise? called a faint voice, Are you alright?
The Spider Queen swallowed hard. I'm fine. Leave me alone.
She winced as she descended the steps. The dizzying effects had stopped, at least. For the moment anyway. The blue minions were battering away at her tower as she approached, and she summoned an explosive spiderling to do away with them. The action drained her much more than expected, causing her to stagger towards the nearest wall. She stood there for a few moments, panting. Her turret managed to clear the enemy wave, and the purple minions advanced. Elise stepped forward slowly, determined not to lose her footing as her head throbbed. Her laning opponent was nowhere to be seen. The soil around her feet abruptly burst apart to admit a jungle of writhing plants. "Briar!"
Surprised, the Spider Queen barely managed to keep her balance as she lurched backwards. Zyra emerged from her hiding place among the bushes, smirking as she waved her hand once more. Vines behind Elise came to life, and the champion found herself surrounded. The carnivorous beings snapped and roared at her, showing off their gaping maws full of long, sharp teeth. The Shadow Isles mage summoned a few of her spiderlings to hopefully distract the plants, and then attempted to focus on the approaching Zyra through her narrowing vision. She was suddenly very aware of her own panting and blinked slowly. Elise held her arm out to shoot a web at the Rise of the Thorns, but it barely even made it three feet.
A sharp pain exploded in the back of her head, and she groaned loudly, falling sideways. The hard ground rose slowly to meet her, but her descent was interrupted as something grabbed her arms. Elise heard her name called, but it sounded from very far away. She dumbly watched through blurred vision as amber eyes floated above her. Zyra's mouth was moving, but the Spider Queen heard nothing. She writhed once more as agony erupted in her skull. She thought she was screaming but couldn't be sure. Eventually, the she ran out of breath and curled into a ball, holding her burning head and praying that she would pass out soon. Each labored gasp somehow managed to bring a whole new round of pain. Someone wrapped their arms around her, and Elise squirmed with discomfort. They did not let go however, and soon, she gave up trying to get out of the embrace and went limp. She had no idea how long she stayed in that state, nor did she notice when she finally fainted.
Fire. It blazed from all directions, obscuring her vision of any window or entrance into the house. She took a breath, but only ended up coughing violently. She looked up, tears streaming through her eyes, at the small form that lay in the middle of the room. Minutes earlier, it had been writhing, but now it lay still. The long sword that had been impaled through its chest reflected the flickering flames, and she felt another sob rise to her throat. She bowed her head, unwilling to move and choking from the smoke. Liana…
There were shouts outside, and the locked door suddenly burst open. The wooden beams that had blocked the entrance were blown out of the way. She felt hands roughly grab her and yank her to her feet. They began to pull her towards the doorway, but she resisted. "No! Let me go!" she screamed hoarsely through her tears.
She continued to struggle, but in her weakened state she was no match for one person, let alone the multiple people that had a hold of her. She reached her hand out towards the still burning body on the floor. "Liana! Liana!"
Elise's back exploded off the bed as she shouted the name. She was abruptly cut off as the pain in her head made itself known once more. The Spider Queen swore out loud, closing her eyes and wincing. Hands gripped her shoulders and pushed her back down as she thrashed. "Elise, Elise! It's me, Soraka. Can you hear me?"
The Shadow Isles mage swallowed hard and opened her eyes to small slits. She gave a barely perceptible nod. There was a cool hand on her forehead. "How's the pain?"
Elise opened her eyes a bit wider to give the healer a glare that said, "How dare you have the nerve to ask me that question?" The Starchild chuckled in response and held up an empty syringe. "I gave you something for your headache. It should begin to work shortly,"
The Spider Queen only grunted in response. She felt a sharp prick on her left arm and turned her head to look, taking note of the IV needle being inserted in her forearm as well as the finger clip that lead to a heart monitor. Akali stood there, adjusting the various tubes that had fallen off during Elise's outburst. "Soraka, all her vitals appear stable for the time being. Do you require anything else?"
Her regular green outfit had been exchanged for the traditional white and red clothes of a nurse, complete with a small cap sporting the first aid sign. It was common knowledge that the Kinkou offered their assistance whenever it was needed in the infirmary, but the Spider Queen had never met one of them on the job until just then. "No, that's all for now. Thank you, Akali."
The Fist of Shadow bowed and, picking up a clipboard, turned to exit the room, not bothering to spare the patient on the bed a second glance. Elise uncomfortably fingered the hospital gown she was wearing and watched as Soraka moved to a corner to carefully dispose of the needle. When the Starchild returned, she pulled a chair with her, sitting next to the bed and giving the other woman a soft smile. The Spider Queen raised her eyebrow in question. The healer interlocked her fingers and put her head on her hands. "Elise, how long have you had that headache?"
"About a couple days. Why?"
"Was there anything noteworthy that you happened to be doing before you got it?"
The Spider Queen glared at Soraka suspiciously as she said this. "...Why?"
The Starchild pursed her lips. "I'm sure you can tell from the amount of pain that this headache of yours is very abnormal. Aside from it, your body is physically fine. Have you been really stressed out lately? Have you been taking something besides the pills I gave you yesterday? Did Zyra give you anything that your body may have reacted-"
Elise had been shaking her head slowly but as soon as Soraka mentioned the Rise of the Thorns, she sat up again. "Wait, what? No!"
The healer just blinked at her, and the Spider Queen, realizing that her reaction had been much more defensive than it should have been, slowly sank back into the bed. "It doesn't have anything to do with Zyra," she said quietly.
"So you do know what's causing it?"
Elise sighed. She had a notion, yes. However, it was impossible to tell Soraka about it without seeming suspicious. "Can't you just give me a few days?" she asked instead, "It should be better by then."
"And wait for you to have another attack like you did on the rift? That's perfectly fine, but I don't know a lot of people who would want to experience something like that again, and I think both you and I know that it will happen again if we don't do something about it."
Soraka's voice was stern, and the spider mage just huffed in response, crossing her arms stubbornly. There was a minute of silence. The healer bit her lip as she realized the Spider Queen was not about to reveal her secrets to anyone so easily. Elise remained staring forward. Soraka finally put a hand on her shoulder. "Elise, I promise I won't breathe a word of what you say in this room to anyone, regardless of evil intent or anything like that. Please tell me what happened."
The Spider Queen looked offended at the first statement and still said nothing. Sighing, the Starchild stood up, preparing to leave. She was replacing the chair when she heard Elise speak. "I took a trip into Thresh's lantern to talk to someone."
The healer turned back around, smiling when she realized the Spider Queen was finally talking. "Yes, and?"
"I," Elise raised her arms to make air quotes, "died."
Soraka's brow furrowed in confusion and she took a step closer. "I don't understand."
The Spider Queen exhaled and continued to face the wall. "While I was inside the lantern, I fought with some spirits. They drained me and I blacked out. Next thing I knew, I was in my body again with a massive headache."
She said no more, but the Starchild nodded. "I may know someone who can help you then. Thank you for telling me."
The Spider Queen just grunted and turned her glare at the healer. "If I hear people whispering about this in the League, I'll-"
Soraka held up a hand. "There's no need to worry. I always keep my promises. However, when you…plan for the future, I hope you will take your time here and the people who have assisted you into consideration."
No response. Hesitantly, the healer spoke once more, "Elise?" she asked, as she moved to the counter to grab something and hide it behind her back, "If you don't mind me asking, who is Liana?"
The Spider Queen looked up at the name, but her eyes hardened again. "Doesn't matter," she answered stiffly, "She's dead."
"I see…I'm sorry for your loss."
Elise just shrugged a shoulder. Soraka eyed the blank expression on her face. "Well then, I suppose I'll take my leave. If you require anything just press the button on the side over there and someone will come to assist you. I've instructed that all your visitors hold off until tomorrow, so no one should be bothering you for the remainder of the day."
The Spider Queen cocked her head slightly. "Visitors?"
The Starchild smiled. "Yes. The young girl who summoned you to the rift earlier today wished to see you. She was convinced she had done something wrong when you collapsed and was quite concerned."
Elise snorted. "You can tell her I'm fine and that she shouldn't come bother me."
Soraka laughed lightly. "I'll be sure to pass on that message, but if she insists, I won't say no."
The Spider Queen rolled her eyes. The other woman continued, "Also," she took the object that was behind her back and held it out to Elise, "Zyra left this for you."
The healer was holding a familiar fruit in her hand. Elise looked at it with interest and took it slowly, noting that part of a vine was attached to the top. Odd, considering that it normally came from a tree. She glanced briefly at Soraka for an explanation, but the champion just shrugged. "Well, I'll leave you to it then. Good night, Elise."
The Spider Queen didn't appear to have heard her, and Soraka slipped out of the room with a grin on her face. Elise tapped the vine curiously and almost dropped the whole thing when the creeper came to life. Detaching itself from the fruit, it coiled loosely around her wrist, forming a bracelet of sorts. She watched as what looked like very small suction cups emerge from the vine and attach themselves to her skin. The mage gave it an experimental tug, wondering what she should do with it. It was tempting to pull the bracelet off, but it didn't hurt, so…
The Spider Queen decided to just leave it. She placed the peach-mango on the bedside table and leaned back against the pillows. Whatever Soraka had given her, it was working; the headache was absent for the time being. The darkened sky through the window told her it was rather late, but she didn't feel tired. Elise lay and stared at the opposing wall, thinking. Above her head, the clock ticked a monotonous tone as the night went on.