Riven: Crimson Elite – 4

25 Jun

Vladimir crossed the threshold into the house. Personally, Riven thought it looked more like a stone temple than a house. She was trying to keep her eyes everywhere at once, taking everything in. The stone entrance hall was dark and long, ending with an opening that appeared to be a dining room. As she walked, she made sure her gaze was never strayed far from Vladimir. His demeanor was too slick, too assured for someone who lived a hermit’s life in the jungle. When they arrived in the next room, she saw her assumption was correct and the dining table was laid out with two places already set. She thought this was peculiar, but decided not to say anything yet. The meat dish that had been laid out on the table looked perfectly browned and the tantalizing smell made Riven’s mouth water. She tried to measure this pale, strange man, but his face retained that subtle and intriguing smile. “No need to worry dear. Come closer, make yourself at home.” Vladimir had already seated himself, and was patiently waiting for her to join.

Although she was none too thrilled, she continued to play along and sat down next him. He filled their goblets with a wine and toasted, “To new friendships.” Riven waited a moment until he had finished his drink before deciding it was safe and tried some herself. The moment she had swallowed some of the crimson liquid she found herself flushed with energy, almost as if someone else’s excitement was coursing through her. ‘This must be a powerful drink’ she thought to herself, ‘I’ll take care not to have too much.’ After a few minutes of dining, Riven began to speak to her host, “So, Vladimir, how is it that you came to live in this peculiar place?” “Please, call me Vlad,” he replied in a jovial, yet somehow haunting manner. “I actually came out here to learn a type of magic from a monk who called this his home. Unfortunately, he passed away as I was finishing my training and I inherited this manor from him. Tell me Riven, have you ever heard of a hemomancer?”

With those words, Vlad touched Riven’s arm and she felt a strange sensation. It was both pleasant and horrifying, as though she were being caressed by nails from the inside out. She had closed her eyes, half in ecstasy, half in pain, and when she opened them again, she saw the pale handsome man with a red sphere of liquid floating in his hand. She realized that was a ball of her own blood and he was playing with it. As she gasped, she saw the blood seep into his hands and he looked pleased with himself for a second. In an instant she had jumped up and held her mangled sword to his throat. “Try that again and I’ll make sure you aren’t alive to enjoy anyone’s blood. My broken blade is more than enough for the likes of you.” They sat there for a moment, very tense and then Vlad laughed. “Of course, of course. My apologies. That was very uncivilized of me, but sometimes I cannot help myself. Blood can be so… invigorating as I’m sure you noticed from your wine.” Riven was disgusted, but unsurprised now that she realized what he was. “We are done here, Vlad. Take me to Noxus or our agreement is over.” “Yes, I suppose I must” was his quiet reply.

Vlad looked disappointed but beckoned for her to follow and then stepped inside of a circle made of undecipherable symbols. The symbols were made of blood and upon seeing it, Riven stopped. “Why should I trust you when you’ve just shown me your abilities first hand?” “If I wanted to kill you Riven, I would’ve done it then. I’m sure you noticed you were unable to move at first?” Riven admitted he had a point and joined him inside of the strange circle. “I’m just warning you, this will be a bit… unsettling.” The hemomancer looked positively giddy upon saying these words and then grabbed Riven by the arms. While she was alarmed, it was nothing compared to what she felt next. It seemed as though she was melting and the whole world was turning red. The two of them almost fell through the floor, becoming a mixture of blood. She felt trapped.

Riven was not sure what was happening or where she was, and just as she started to panic, they reformed inside a different long hall. It looked like a meeting room, but the place had clearly been violated. The table was split in half, folding in on itself in the middle and many of the chairs were upended and dismantled. Small holes pock marked the room as though acid had burned through it, and a red flag lay half melted in the fireplace. This was the first time Riven had seen Vlad without his cocky demeanor, and he looked quite serious in the low light afforded by the stained glass windows. “Where have you taken me?” Riven asked cautiously. “This was the meeting hall of the Crimson Elite,” Vlad murmured and kept his eyes scanning the premise. “I was here only a few hours before you came and things were fine. Obviously our meeting spot has been compromised.” Riven started to ask, “Crimson Elite-“ but Vlad cut her off. “Later. Right now we need to stay cautious and find what has done this.”

They began to walk towards the entrance, but as they did a woman’s commanding voice burst out of the shadows behind them, “Stop there. You’re under arrest for high treason.” Katarina, General Du Couteau’s daughter stepped out and faced them. From down the hall, Cassiopeia slithered up followed by a hulking specimen of a man. Standing at least six feet tall and wielding an axe as large as she was, Riven wisely dropped her weapon and raised her hands. Next to her she felt Vlad do the same thing and they both looked to the man. He was in full body armor and had a large red cape flowing behind him. “Huh, pathetic. You two should know better than any that to defy Noxus is to taste your own blood.” He began to march down the hall with a precision that clearly indicated a military background. Cassiopeia slithered over and picked up Riven’s sword, while Katarina signaled for them to follow the large man. Riven silently wondered if Vlad’s ability to transport himself only worked on those peculiar symbols when he answered for her.

He suddenly grabbed her and they began to melt into his pool together, but this time they only moved a few feet over. Suddenly they reformed and Vlad launched some of his own blood, showering their three captors. All of them looked pained as though it were burning them and then another splash of blood immediately came flying back towards Vlad. It looked as though he had mixed all the blood together and the three Noxians began to give chase after a moment of revulsion. Riven took this opportunity to dive in and grab her sword back from the serpent woman. She immediately concentrated as hard as she could on a technique she had been able to pull off in life threatening situations. She felt a blast of energy leave her body and she began to run down the hall after Vlad as quickly as she could. As she looked over her shoulder, all three were temporarily stunned. The two escapees vaulted down the hall out into another room that was full of boxes, ‘a store room?’ Riven thought, but before she could get an answer they had burst onto the street.

It was barely noon, and Vlad looked uncomfortable in the bright sunlight. “Quickly, we must get to the backup meeting spot. I can only hope they haven’t discovered that place as well.” Riven nodded, following Vlad with a new found determination. Though she wasn’t entirely sure she trusted him yet, she knew one thing. Her time as a lapdog of Noxus was certainly over.

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