“Luxanna. We've received the most troubling of news from the Tempest Flats between our two nations,” the magister explained.
“How...far into the Flats, magister?” Lux asked.
“The mountains near Nockmirch. Dangerously close to Noxian territory, but just as troubling in its proximity to Demacia. The reports showed a string of strange and sudden deaths in the area, citizens emaciated and dry in just one night. Worse, rumours of figures in the mountains, shambling like puppets. All with the smell of iron and the feeling of magic in the air.”
“Do you suspect...?”
“Yes. Our theory is Necromancy. Your task is to ride out and investigate the matter further. If you can, also snuff out this foul misuse of magic, but, at the very least, bring back what you can find.”
Seeing Lux's hesitation and unease, the magister took a steadying breath. “We understand how dangerous this mission is. But your exploits in Fossbarrow, ending the nightmare that haunted that poor town, gives us faith in you. If you so wish, though, you may bring assistance. A guard, or another of the corp.” The magister held up a long, boney finger. “Limit yourself, though. You run a delicate operation. The less who may know of the specifics, the better.”
“But Nockmirch is quite the ride, isn't it, Lux?” Garen asked.
“Yup.” Lux offhandedly spoke with Garen as she saddled up Starfire, giving her beloved steed a soothing stroke of the mane. “And then another day's ride from there to the mountains. But that's where the incidents are coming from, and that's where I need to be.”
Feeling the tension in the air, she turned to address her brother, and offered him a reassuring smile. “I know how dangerous this task is. That's why I'm bringing some help.”
Garen frowned, his arms folded across his chest, and he shook his head. “Would that I could, Lux, but I'm afraid I cannot ride with you. The Raptor Knights are requesting aid, asking for me, personally.” Stepping closer to his little sister, he planted a large but gentle hand on her shoulder. “However... Any one of the Dauntless Vanguard, they can easily excuse themselves to aid you.”
Lux considered that, before smiling up at Garen. “Well, if I could pick any of the Vanguard, I think Lady Varya would be my choice.”
Garen smiled proudly. “No quicker blade in Demacia,” he assured. “Besides,” he said with a chuckle, “you two seem like you'd get along. I will send for her at once.”
Lux's smile turned to a wry smirk. “I can think of one more deft,” she pointed out. “I've already decided on a partner for this.” Guiding Starfire out of the stable, she looked back at Garen, waving for him to follow. “Come. I'll show you.”
Garen stared, blinking in confusion, lips tight in bewilderment and intrigue.
Garen scowled, practically pouting.
Fiora smirked, as she stepped down the staircase in the grand entrance of House Laurent. “This is a pleasant surprise. The last time House Crownguard deigned visit, things grew rather heated.”
Lux nodded sympathetically. “I'm aware of what happened between you and our cousin.” It was her own brother who was chosen to champion her cousin and extract recompense for Fiora's insult. “I come to broker peace, though. And ask for help.”
Fiora cocked a fascinated eyebrow, eyes completely on Lux. Always a fascinating woman, Luxanna Crownguard. “Help, is it? What help would the golden girl of Demacia need from me?”
“I agree,” Garen scoffed, also turning towards Lux. “Sister, I will happily concede, Fiora is the finest duelist in Demacia, today. Perhaps even the finest in its history.”
“You flatter me, Lord Garen,” Fiora cooed with a sneer, not looking away from Lux.
“But a duelist and a warrior are different things,” Garen insisted. “If you are indeed to travel out into the Tempest Flats, dance right along the borders of Noxus, and investigate such blighted matters, you will need a proper knight. Any of the Vanguard would stand with you, please.”
“I will also need someone with a steady tongue,” Lux explained, having not looked away from Fiora since she arrived. “What my mission entails is a sensitive matter, as is how I would be expected to resolve it. I need someone disciplined to be discrete with what she sees.” She smirked at Fiora. “Besides, every Demacian does their tour of military duty. I suspect Lady Fiora's done hers.”
And there it was. Fiora knew she saw in Lux a spark, a craftiness that her sunny disposition almost blinded out. “You certainly intrigue me, Lady Luxanna,” she said. “But you ask this of the Master of House Laurent. Who knows what my peers might try in my absence.”
“Garen?” Lux turned, finally looking towards her brother. Fiora also looked his way.
Garen's posture was completely unprofessional, slouched to one side, one arm limp with the other on his hip, face still in a disbelieving pout. He took a long, deep breath in through his nose. As he exhaled, he straightened his back, folded his arms, and steeled his expression. “Master Laurent,” he said, voice deep and authoritative, “your assistance would be of great and vital service to House Crownguard, and to Demacia as a whole. By my honour, I will ensure your family and your house's safety until your return. This, I swear.”
“Hmm. Very well, then. I accept.” Fiora gave a little chuckle. Dull and rigid the man might be, Garen's honour was worth more than gold in Demacia, and it was not given away lightly.
It was a year since Fiora rose to the new head of House Laurent. Since her father... ...The wound still fresh in her mind, she pushed those thoughts aside, and refocused. Honour was not restored so quickly, and scandals weren't forgotten so easily. It had taken a year for Fiora to ensure House Laurent had found its footing. Now she had to reestablish allegiances. And one way to get someone from each Demacian noble house in the same place was the great Summer Gala.
Though she was a woman, as new master of the house, tradition dictated that she wear the master's attire. Frankly, this was one tradition Fiora didn't mind adhering to. By virtue of she, herself, wearing it, she bucked that tradition enough for her satisfaction. She wore a gorgeous white and gold doublet, with a long, white shoulder cape, and almost shining black tights.
Wine in hand, Fiora parlayed with her fellow nobles, discussing the skirmishes along the borders, and Prince Jarvan the IV's exploits during them, ensuring a large, neutral zone between Demacia and Noxus.
“Well, speak of the devil...” one of the noblemen mused, and the rest turned their heads to the entrance to the hall.
“Presenting his highness, Prince Jarvan Lightshield the Fourth! Lord of Wrenwall, General of the First Legion, Slayer of the great dragon Yvva, and heir to the throne of Demacia!”
Fiora smirked, watching as the prince strode into the hall, and waved to the assembled guests. Confident though his poise was, she could see the small twinges of nerves on his face. She had heard the rumours, that he was not the one who landed the killing blow on Yvva. That he hadn't even swung at the dragon, and that it was the legendary half-dragon of Demacia who had done the deed. Still, it made for an impressive title, and it was an easier story, Fiora could give him that.
“Accompanying him is Lord Garen Crownguard, Commander of the Dauntless Vanguard, and Sword Arm of the Prince.”
That, however, Fiora was not so keen to give him. Her expression soured as Jarvan and Garen approached their group, Garen pulling on the collar of his doublet, tight around his meaty neck. Instantly, the crowd bombarded with Jarvan with questions and comments. To his credit, the prince managed to keep up, not be overwhelmed or drowned out, himself. Even Garen received a few questions his way, and managed to answer them with a taciturn stoicism.
All the while, Fiora kept quiet, watching them, watching him. He was merely chosen as the Crownguard champion when her husband-to-be was too pathetic to fight his own battles, bearing no specific ill-will during the whole affair. That, she could not hold against him. Likewise, he was no fool, despite all appearances. Though his mind was more for battle, and brilliantly at that, he was also adept enough in courtly politics.
No, what Fiora hated was his unwavering dedication to Demacia, and its laws and traditions. Everything happened for a reason, and upholding the law to its finest letter was paramount to him. His unbending sense of honour wiped clean any trace of nuance or ambiguity. There was only right or wrong, and, if it was on paper, it was right. That was why she despised him.
Excusing herself, Fiora split from the group, needing to get away. As she marched across the hall, around the perimeter of the dance floor, she stopped when she saw another crowd. This one more...giddy than the group she had just left. And in the center of it was another Crownguard: Luxanna.
Young Lux was the center of attention in this crowd, and absolutely shined in his elegant, flowing, silver-white dress and long gloves. Fiora had not seen much of her. Not many had. But there was always talk of the great general's adorable little sister, one of the most progressive minds in Demacia.
But as she watched her talk, Fiora saw something...spark within Lux. There was the fact that, despite the crowd around her, despite the visible nervous twitches, she seemed to be keeping up. No...not just keeping up. She seemed to be leading this little discussion. As she spoke of trade and of culture of the Avarosa to the north, she commanded just as much respect and scholarly authority as she did adoring admiration. Fiora couldn't help but smile.
Then she heard the song the musicians playing come closer to its end. And that smile turned into a coy smirk. Quickly, she made her way to the conductor, and requested the next song, before rushing back to the crowd, pushing her way through to the front. Others in that crowd had also noticed the song was winding down, and were already starting to ask Lux to dance with them, talking over each other, competing for the lady's attention.
The instant Fiora reached the front and spoke up, the noblemen around her had failed: Lux's eyes were fully on her. She kept quiet, looking at Fiora expectantly. From her expression, she knew who she was, but she allowed her the honour of introducing herself.
“Lady Fiora Laurent.” Fiora reached out and gallantly took Lux's hand. “May I have the honour of this next dance?”
“Why, Lady Fiora, how bold! But, very well, I gladl—yeep!”
Pulling Lux away from the crowd, noblemen and women parting the way to the dance floor, Fiora guided Lux to the middle of the floor, surrounded by other couples. The two embraced, waiting for the music...and it began.
Sweeping violins immediately kicked up a quick tempo, and Fiora was just as quick to advance. Her grip on Lux was light, but her movements were firm, forward, instantly taking the lead.
“I-I must say,” Lux gasped, doing her best to follow, “it was a surprise of you to ask me to dance, Lady Fiora. I had thought... I am sorry for the strain House Crownguard placed upon you. Had you declared us sworn enemies, I would not have blamed you.”
“It was that kind of attitude that nearly ruined my family name,” Fiora explained. “I thought it best to see if there was place to repair that connection.” She spun Lux around, dipping her as she smiled coyly in her face. “And I figured you to be a better dancer than your brother.”
As Fiora lifted Lux, she watched the young woman to see how she'd react. They continued to dance...when, after a twirl, Lux suddenly pushed forward. To not stumble and crash, Fiora had to accept, and, in an instant, Lux began to lead. Fiora was intrigued.
The song she had requested, it was a special waltz, one where a pair could dance traditionally, one leading, one following... But, it also provided the unique opportunity for the roles to switch. Frequently, throughout the song. And that was just what they did.
The floor cleared to give the pair some room. All eyes were on Fiora and Lux, as they kept to the rhythm, kept to the beat, all the while battling for dominance, conceding the lead only until an opening was found. Soon, it became less of a ballroom dance, and more of a duel.
All the while, Fiora couldn't help but show her fascination, most of all with Lux's own expression: she watched intently, utterly focused on their moves, and showed no signs of distraction or hesitation at all. It was only Fiora's natural grace and poise that kept her from being overwhelmed in her amazement.
As the swell of violins marked the climax of the piece, Fiora and Lux found themselves back where they started, with Fiora in the lead and dipping Lux low to the floor, but not for lack of trying on Lux's part. Even as the music stopped, they kept their pose, the hall erupting in applause for such a marvellous show. Fiora grinned, catching her breath, as she lifted Lux back to her feet.
“You were phenomenal,” she said, marvelling. “I was right to figure you for the better Crownguard dancer.”
Lux giggled. “At this gala, there's always one couple that dance like this, often to this song.” She grinned teasingly. “Often from House Laurent.”
From that night on, Lux would frequently visit House Laurent between her missions for the Radiant Ones. Often unannounced. Never unwelcome.
“God bless you, Lady Lux,” the grandmother said.
Lux smiled back at her, before turning back to the house, running her fingers along the vines she just conjured. “This isn't one of my stronger spells, so this won't hold forever. But it should hold long enough for repairs to be done.” She grinned. “Get a skilled carpenter or two here, and your family home should last for another century.”
“Oh, we cannot thank you enough for that,” said the old woman's son, the father of the house. “There's a master carpenter in the next village over, I can ride out and bring him here by the 'morrow.”
“Master carpenter, huh?” Lux dug into her purse, and produced a handful of silver Demacian ducs, which she placed in his hand. “That should help cover the cost of his work and of getting him here.”
The family stared at Lux's further generosity, before the old woman and the mother both embraced her tightly. With one last bid of thanks and goodbye, the father left to charter a horse and ride off.
All the while, Fiora watched from the side, leaning against the house opposite the one Lux conjured supportive vines around. She smirked as Lux approached her. “I thought you were a Light mage,” she mused.
“Light mage?” Lux grinned, waggling her eyebrows as she lifted her hand. She extended three fingers, one at a time: on the tip of her index finger was a small fire, like a matchstick; on her middle finger was a swirling gust of air; and on her ring finger was a bubble of water. “I'm just an ordinary mage,” she teased. “You pick up on a few things when you go out and study magic extensively.”
“Speaking of, I thought we were here to solve Nockmirch's necromancy problem, not its dilapidation problem.”
“Yes, well,” Lux looked back to the family they just helped, “sometimes the greatest magic you can practice is altruism.”
Fiora chuckled, shaking her head. “It's amazing there can be a Demacian as sentimental as you.”
Lux grinned teasingly back, nudging Fiora. “You dove right in to help, too. The way you pulled that dog from the collapsed beam and held up the rotten wood until it limped to safety. You big softie.”
Fiora turned away, blushing a little, unable to stop smiling. “I'm as hard as petricite.”
“That we don't have to be as hard as petricite,” said Lux, summarizing what she had learned from her various missions for the Radiant Ones. “I have seen it, on the fringes of Demacia and in the neutral lands, we can do so much good. We're not wrong for wishing to protect the weak, to fight for those who cannot.”
“What, do you propose with stretch our arms even further?” Fiora jibed, sinking into her reading chair. “Embrace those fringes and contested lands to our breast like a smothering hen?”
Lux shook her head, and looked up from the fireplace, back-lit by the crackling fire. “Of course not. Demacia can gain so much more from having allies than having vassals. By being an example and a friend, not a conqueror. By being a symbol.”
“Yes, a symbol of a nation that detests who you are. Who spits on what you do, and tries to make it better by saying you're one of the good ones,” Fiora pointed out with a grim, weary smile.
The room fell silent but for the popping of kindling. After a moment, Lux lifted her head to smirk derisively at Fiora. “I suppose I can just duel them.”
“Anyone who insults me like that. Or any insult at all. I can just challenge them to a duel. We'll have peace and friendship once all the rowdy boys have been defeated in honour duels to the death.”
Fiora rose from her seat, smirking, amused. She and Lux approached each other, back lit by the fireplace, staring each other down.
Illuminated by the campfire, Lux straddled Fiora as they passionately embraced. Holding each other close, they kissed, passionately, desperately, sloppily. Lux dove in without care or understand. Fiora easily took advantage of that to take the lead, even as Lux sat on top of her, pressed her down into the bedroll.
Fiora's hand curled in Lux's hair, causing her to gasp and go limp as Fiora pressed forward, smothering her with her kiss. Finally, she let Lux go, letting her break off and gasp for air. She smirked, and licked her lips, still tasting Lux's on it. “Come now, don't tell me a girl who danced like that kisses like such an amateur...” she taunted.
Lux shoved Fiora down, who looked up her with an intrigued and excited grin as she pulled her top off over her head...
Leaving their campsite at the foot of the mountains, Lux and Fiora began their slow ride up, their horses carefully climbing up the mountain path.
Fiora smirked over at Lux, who was still blushing and looking forward, sitting rigid stiff atop Starfire. She leaned closer, raising a teasing eyebrow. “Don't tell me that was your first kiss, Lux.”
“Of course not,” Lux insisted.
Fiora chuckled. “But it was your first--”
“Yes. Yes it was.” Lux turned and smirked back, cheeks still pink. “So, was that why you spurned all those suitors who came before?”
“Pfft.” Fiora scoffed, tossed her hair. “I spurned them because they were unworthy fools, in ever sense of the word. My preferences played little role in my rejecting them.”
The two shared a laugh, Lux catching her more annoying giggles and snorts and trying to suppress them around Fiora, which only made the noblewoman chuckle more. The laughter died, though, as the ground became blighted.
The grass gave way to barren dirt and tiny stones. Even the ground seemed blackened or greyed. Worst of all, it was though the very moisture in the air had been sucked out. Fiora smacked her lips and took her canteen to wet her suddenly very dry throat.
Their trek led them to a broken temple in the side of the mountain. The area was completely grey, absolutely drained of anything remotely alive. Worse, the steps were littered with emaciated corpses, brittle and breaking apart in the gentle mountain wind.
Fiora looked back to Lux. “Are you sure you can handle this?” she asked, sincerely. “You have the option to go back with what you've found.”
Lux stared at the temple, steadying her nerves. “...For... For the sake of Demacia... For the sake of the people of Nockmirch, we have to try to end this, here and now.” She and Fiora dismounted, and approached the temple.
“Are you sure you can do this? Change Demacia, change the world, like that?”
“...Of course not,” Lux admitted, sadly, rubbing her arm, looking aside, into the fire.
Though Fiora wanted to chide Lux, reprimand her for her defeatism, she couldn't help but sympathize with her in this moment. There was the face she knew all too well. A look of regret and defeat in the face of insurmountable odds, when she considered her crusade against Demacian traditions.
But then...Lux smiled. Still a sad smile, but, light returned to her face, and not just from Fiora's fireplace. “Not in my lifetime alone, at least.”
Fiora blinked and hummed, her expression changing from pity to curiosity.
Lux looked up at Fiora. “Because, you're right. Demacia is like this after centuries, a millennium, of tradition built upon tradition built upon circumstances of earlier, challenging times. I can't change that in one generation. Certainly not on my own. But...”
Her expression grew brighter. That confidence, that brightness, that sunniness returned to her face. “But I can inspire people. If I can impart my message, if my ideals can live on beyond me...in time, Demacia can become what I know it will. There will always be people like me, who can carry on my mission.”
Fiora relaxed her shoulders, sighing with a soft, approving smile on her lips. That she had Lux's optimism... No. Lux had seen things as bad as Fiora, if not worse. The black heart that festered in Demacia's core. And still she carried this torch, this faith. That she had Lux's idealism.
Lux's smile turned to a cheeky grin. Folding her arms behind her back, she leaned forward, looking up into Fiora's face. “You know, it might go a little easier, a little faster, if I had support of House Laurent. If we could restore it to its former greatness, make it an example...”
Cautiously, the two made their way through the crumbling temple halls. Fiora took point, hand on the hilt of her rapier, while Lux lifted her wand, a shining ball of light shimmering above, illuminating the path around them.
Whatever reliefs or murals were on the temple walls, time had worn them away, or saw them buried beneath broken rubble of the temple. However, as they advanced further into the heart of the temple, dried splatters of blood caked the walls, and tatters of old clothing lined the floor.
The worst of it, though, was when they reached the temple's antechamber. Lit already by torchlight, Lux dismissed her staff's light. “Someone's here,” she whispered.
“And that's not the worst of it...” Fiora muttered, drawing her sword.
The room looked less like a temple and more like the laboratory of a Zaunite scientist. Buckets of fresh blood were scattered along the floor, as were splotches of blood that had slipped out. More dried out corpses were propped up against the wall, shoved aside, drained of what use the sick master of the temple had for them. Desks and tables lined the room, filled with papers and journals written in quite elegant cursive, as well as beakers and vials for alchemy.
In the center of the room were two high tables, upon which were laying two more corpses. These ones were different; instead of the corpses of civilians from Nockmirch or other nearby settlements, these were armoured men. Lux quickly recognized the make of their armour: both were light plate, one was resplendent white and silver, the other black and red. A Demacian and Noxian, both of them scouts. Their corpses still had their weapons sheathed at their sides, two different makes of short swords. But like the others, they were drained dry, with hollow eyes, the Demacian's still open with a shrivelled look of horror.
Fiora crinkled her nose, almost gagging on the stench of it all. “Do we have time to look at those notes?” she asked. “What could possibly be going on here?”
“I can answer that,” came a voice from deeper in the antechamber.
As Lux and Fiora looked to the opposite end of the room, from one of the other entrances sloshed in a large puddle of blood, moving on its own. As Lux's face turned green, the puddle finally came to a stop between the two tables.
As though emerging from a bath, a figure rose from the sanguine pool. A man, with long, wiery white hair, and skin that would be pale if not for its red tinge, like a full body blush. He was adorned in a luxurious, though pointed, red cloak with a high collar. His nails were finely manicured, and adorned with fake, steel talons. The puddle vanished around his feet, as he stood to his full height, greeting the two with a wide, rictus grin.
“Introductions are probably in order,” he greeted, straightening his striped, almost clownish pantaloons. “I am Vladimir, master of this temple. And you are intruders.” His solid red eyes sparked with wicked intent. “And rather fancy looking intruders at that. Demacian nobility, perhaps?”
“So,” said Fiora, “this is the Necromancer we were sent to stop?”
“Necromancer?” Vladimir asked with an amused chuckle. “Is that what you think this is? No no, my dears, I am a Hemomancer.”
“Semantics,” scoffed Fiora.
“Not quite,” said Lux, before turning her attention back to Vladimir. “Blood Magic? You used the corpses for their blo—oogh...” She swayed a bit, queasy just thinking about it.
“Oh yes. I think I need higher quality fuel to achieve my ends, even greater than these soldiers, but, in a pinch, commoner will do.”
“Okay, but why, though?” Fiora demanded.
“Ah, that. You see, my employers, some actual necromancers, had a little experiment of their's go wrong. The poor sod they tried to bring back, they couldn't control it.”
Vladimir stroked the cheeks of the two corpses on the tables. “So I'm looking to harnessing blood magic to bring him in line. Right now, I've been experimenting with these fine fellows to see if I can manipulate them, and I've been finding some success. Would you care for a demonstration!?”
With that shout, Vladimir stabbed his talons into the chests of the two corpses. As trails of blood seeped from his shoulders through the air and into the wounds, the corpses shuddered and spasmed, eyes glowing blood red as they let out dry, cracked shrieks of unlife.
“Gods above!” Lux shrieked, recoiling, as Fiora shifted her stance, defensively.
With a wickedly giddy chuckle, Vladimir wiggled his fingers, thin, silver lines connected to the corpses lifting them off the table like marionettes. Feet on the floor, the two rushed at Fiora, swords drawn.
With ease, Fiora deflected and parried each attempted strike. Smirking defiantly, with a flick of her wrist Fiora threw the Noxian's sword out of its boney hand. “The finest swordswoman alive would not lose to such amateurish display. Do you even know how to fight, Monsieur Vladimir?” Fiora taunted, driving the Demacian corpse back.
Vladimir grit his teeth, attempting to move the Demacian corpse defensively, holding back Fiora's own attacks. His pull on the Noxian was doing no better, as Lux was doing a decent job of using her light magic to hold it in place.
With a flourish, Fiora drove her rapier through the shoulder of the Demacian corpse. Though it felt no pain, the shock of the impact did jostle its armour, causing it to slip around its emaciated form. Not fitted to stay put, it slipped down the corpse's shoulders, exposing its neck. “HA!” With a spin, in one motion, Fiora severed the corpse's head from its neck, and kicked at the body. The head was sent flying back, and the body crumbled to the floor.
Vladimir's left hand contorted and cracked, fingers breaking, blood seeping from his psychic wound. Hissing in frustration, he gripped his hand, before that scowl turned into a grin. “I don't,” he admitted, before lifting his good hand. “But he probably does.” Focusing all of his blood magic on the Noxian corpse, Vladimir curled his hand, digging his talons into his palm. The silver lines severed.
With a howl, the Noxian corpse tore himself free from Lux's binding, causing the mage to stumble back, as it charged forward, tackling Fiora from behind. Ignoring the sword she had planted in its chest, the corpse soldier tackled Fiora to the floor, before grabbing her head, and slamming it into the stone tiles. Raising a vicious fist, a resounding punch came to Fiora's head, causing her to convulse and bounce, and spit out a cough of blood.
Seeing the duelist cough up her life fluid brought an elated grin to Vladimir's face...before he noticed the light in the room suddenly got too bright for his liking. Squinting, he then noticed his chest felt warm. He looked down at his chest, then up, past the corpse, who had straightened its back, hands clenched together to drive his balled up fists into Fiora's skull. Because, behind him, Lux had finished channeling her spell.
“By the LIGHT!”
With a powerful cry, a burst of prismatic light streaked from Lux's hand, and tore through the Noxian corpse, atomizing its upper body, its legs harmlessly slipping off of Fiora's lap. The burst further streaked and slammed into Vladimir, sending the hemomancer stumbling backwards, before crashing into the back wall.
Dragging himself onto his feet, Vladimir scowled at Lux. Were it not his motif, he'd now be seeing red. “Well, aren't you a little wellspring of magic,” he hissed. “You'd make an excellent corpse to--” His attempt at a threat, stomping forward, talons raised, blades of blood shrieking towards Lux, was interrupted when Fiora dashed past him, sweeping her sword against his left side. “Oogh!”
Spinning on her heel, Fiora turned and dashed the other way, past his right. Vladimir was sent stumbling a few steps after her. “Agh!” Finally, Fiora charged right at Vladimir, who turned just in time to have her sword buried in his chest. “Ochk--!” Vladimir choked, blood seeping from his mouth.
Fiora grinned triumphantly, pressing her sword harder against Vladimir's chest. “Ready to bleed out, necromancer?” she taunted with pointed words.
“Looks...looks like I am...” Vladimir admitted. But then...he grinned. He lifted his finger, pointing at Fiora's still bloodied mouth. “I'll have to borrow your's.”
Fiora had just enough time to open her eyes in horror, before she could feel her blood draining from her mouth, the hemomancer pulling it out from her and into his hand. Dropping her sword, she clenched her throat, howling and choking in pain as she felt herself growing weaker, sicker, light headed, dying...
“Blood!” Vladimir chanted, as Fiora's blood started to circle him. “Blood! Gallons of the stuff! Give me all that I can drink, 'cause it will never be enough! Give me blood! Blood! BlooooooAAAAHHAHAHA!”
His mad cackling was interrupted when he lifted his arms. Or, rather, tried to. His eyes shrunk as the blood he channelled splashed down around him. “Why can't I move?” he muttered. “Why...” He turned, and noticed Lux still standing there. Face slashed with those blades of blood, she regained her footing to raise her wand. That same magic she used to disable the Noxian corpse before was doing just enough to keep Vladimir pinned down.
“Oh no...” Vladimir muttered weakly, before he felt Fiora's sword drive into him once more, through his back, piercing his heart, out his chest.
“Just shut up and die,” Fiora hissed, legs shaking, head spinning, keeping just enough focus to keep herself up against him.
“...oh to hell with this.” Fiora could feel Vladimir...melt around her sword. She backed off, as the hemomancer collapsed into a literal puddle of blood. Not the sanguine pool as when he arrived, now much smaller, weaker, but still slipping away from the two, retreating into the temple, seeping into the floor for escape.
“Fiora!” Lux cried out, rushing over to her companion, holding her by the shoulders to keep her stable. “Are you alright? Oh, gods, you look bad. We have to hurry, before he recovers, we need to destroy everything in this chamber. I picked up some fire spells in my travels, we can use that to burn this all—mmph!”
Lux's panicked ramblings were interrupted when Fiora suddenly grabbed on tight to her, and pulled her into a deep, heavy kiss. Lux's eyes were wide with shock. She could taste the blood on Fiora's lips, feel the weakness in her breath, all her energy being used for this kiss. And yet, through it all, she could still taste her, feel her warmth, just as before, just as last night...
Finally, Fiora broke the kiss, brushing a hand through Lux's hair. “Je pense avoir une commotion cérébrale...” she mumbled.
Lux blinked a few times, before she softly smiled, chuckled, and helped Fiora to the side of the room, guiding her to her knees, holding onto her hair...
“Presenting her lordship, Lady Fiora Laurent!” the courtier cried before the grand, royal hall. “The Grand Duelist of Demacia, slayer of the Necromancer of Nockmirch, and Master of House Laurent!”
It was several days later. After a slow, stumbling ride back to Demacia, Fiora was given another day of bed rest to recover, as Lux gave her report to both the Radiant Order, and to the Demacian court. Fiora smirked; judging by the titles she was granted when announced, it seemed Lux was true to her word, that she insisted House Laurent take the credit for this win. After all, it made for an easier story, than to explain she had help from the golden girl of Demacia, who was, surprise, a mage.
Dressed in her finest doublet and cape, Fiora marched down the red carpet, towards the throne. Looking up, she smiled in fascination: standing on either side of the throne were the Crownguard siblings, but sitting there was, “Prince Jarvan. Forgive me, my lord, I was informed that the king would...”
Jarvan smiled, stroking his square jaw as he regarded Fiora. “It's alright,” he assured. “I requested a switch just this morning. To allow my father to tend to other matters. And to be here personally, to congratulate a friend.”
Fiora smirked, shifting her stance. She still felt weak, still a little light-headed, but she knew that she wasn't exactly the friend in question... Not yet, at least. So this was Lux's game. Impress the prince so much by rescuing his best friend's sweet little sister, she, and House Laurent by proxy, rose massively in his eyes.
“Lady Fiora, you have done a great service to Demacia. Though technically outside our kingdom's borders, the Tempest Flats are still our allies, and the threat this necormancer posed could very well have put a dark cloud over our kingdom. Perhaps even over Noxus as well, throwing all of Southern Valoran into chaos. For your valour, we are forever in the debt of House Laurent. A symbol of the king's favour will be brought to your manor shortly. And let it be known that, officially, you and your family have been forgiven of the mistakes of your past. I am willing to welcome House Laurent back into my council.”
“Prince Jarvan, you flatter me,” Fiora said with an appropriate bow. “I am humbled to accept your forgiveness and most gracious offer.”
“Then let it be...um...Luxanna?” Jarvan was interrupted, watching as Lux suddenly stepped forward, down the steps leading up to his throne.
“Sister...?” Garen called after her, curious.
Fiora's eyes went wide with alarm, as she rose to her feet, as Lux marched quickly towards her. “Lux, what are you...?”
“What, and do you propose now, after all that's happened, I accept some sort of union with House Crownguard?” Fiora asked with a teasing smirk. “That is what I rebelled against in the first place, you know.”
“Because it was a political power move,” Lux pointed out, grinning up at Fiora as she bent forward. The brightness of her teasing smile managed to outshine the fire in Fiora's hearth. “But if you were to make your own choice, out of ideals rather than politics or tradition...”
Jarvan's eyes went wide with fascination, as a collective gasp rose from the assembled nobles.
Garen's jaw dropped to the floor, gripping onto the seat of Jarvan's throne, and to his own chest.
“Mmph...!” Fiora's eyes popped in amazement, as Lux gripped onto the lapels of her doublet, and pulled her in tight, passionate kiss.