Vladimir: Crimson Elite – 6

26 Jun

“Remind me again why we aren’t just transporting there using your pooling technique?” Riven’s voice was mocking and full of frustration, a sentiment Vlad understood well. “As I’ve told you before, I haven’t placed blood runes there because I didn’t want them being found by someone else. Now quit asking and let us continue.” Tempers had been running high between the two for a number of reasons, not least of which was the uncertainty of what lies ahead. The pair had been moving for two days and had opted against taking the trail for fear of being spotted. Vlad had refused to tell Riven where they were headed, but he knew they were making for the pass in the Ironspike mountains that led to Zaun. From there they would head west a short ways before finding a well hidden cave. The cave was one Talon had transformed into a readymade second base, equipped with everything they’d need.

Although the journey had been arduous off the road, both had agreed it was a better idea than being found on it. They had been openly declared traitors by Noxus and any citizen who caught them would find their status highly elevated. Despite the difficulties this brought, Vlad surmised they would arrive at the pass tomorrow. “Keep your eyes out for a place to rest,” Vlad told the exile. After trekking on for a while longer, they came across an unusual rock formation that left room to sleep underneath. Deciding to make camp for the night, Vlad took the first watch and reflected upon his traveling companion. Though he wasn’t one to make friends or keep any company beyond shallow meetings, Vlad was gaining some affection for the woman. Certainly, it was only the kind of bond that occurs when two people share life or death situations, but the bond was growing nonetheless. He quickly shook it off, knowing that they were really only united under a common goal, and that could change at any moment.

Right then, Riven stirred, looked up and said, “Do you trust Talon?” Vlad was shocked, and chose his words carefully before speaking. “Yes, for now. He needs us, now more than ever since Cassiopeia clearly betrayed him. He will not backstab the only people that can help him achieve his goal so readily. In the future… it’s hard to tell, but suffice it to say I wouldn’t be surprised if we were expendable in his long term plan.” Riven considered his words and replied calmly, “That is the measure I have of the man as well. I suppose we shall see.” From there, the two stayed up trading tales of how they came to their current station in life. Riven spoke of the military, how she had once been the poster child of Noxian recruitment, until she one day found herself being eliminated by their orders. Vlad told her the complete story of his flight from Noxus and subsequent training with the Blood Mage Dmitri. He chose not to tell her the circumstances of his master’s death, rather just that it had happened.

After a while the two simply sat there in a silence, absorbing the events of the past few days as well as the tales they’d heard that night. A few hours later, the sun came up and they continued their journey onwards. Upon reaching the pass, Vlad stopped them and handed Riven climbing gear. She scaled herself up the sheer cliff wall and Vlad oozed his way to the top behind her. He expected her to look disgusted, but the warrior seemed at ease around blood. ‘She has probably shed her fair share of it,’ Vlad thought to himself. After a few more miles travel they reached the cave and ducked inside. Immediately they were set upon by a hooded figured, but Vlad dodged the first knife by sliding his torso into a blood pool and Riven yelled, “Stop! It’s us!”

Talon walked out of the shadows and looked Riven up and down before saying, “Yes, of course. My apologies. Please, come sit down. There is much to discuss.” The cave they were in was surprisingly well furnished, complete with a round table that seated up to five, and five mats in the back that Vlad supposed were for sleeping. As they seated themselves, Talon wasted no time in bringing them up to speed. “Obviously, we have been compromised. Cassiopeia betrayed us, and it was my fault for not seeing it earlier.” There was no shame or regret in his voice upon saying this, he was merely stating a fact. “It is unfortunate, and it sets us back more than I would like because now the Noxian high command knows our plan. This will make it far more difficult, but-“ Riven interjected, “Our plan? You haven’t told me anything about who you are, or what your plan is yet. How do I even know if I want to help you?” Talon smirked, clearly anticipating this question. “Does it really matter anymore? You have nowhere else to turn, and you want to help Noxus as I do.” Riven sat stony faced and signaled with her arms that he should continue. Vlad had watched the whole exchange from his side of the table, taking in everything, but contributing nothing yet.

“Excellent, now that we’re all on the same page, taking down the high command is not going to be easy. We are going to need to penetrate some very high security places and now they’re expecting us.” He was clearly gathering steam, and had been practicing this speech for a while. “As things stand, I believe the only thing we need to do is neutralize General Swain. If we can do that, the seat of power will be wide open, and with you two on my side, any who question my rule will die.” Vlad sat back with a smug smile and said, “You’ve got a lot more going on under the surface than you let on. I’m in.” Riven looked surprised at how quickly he had given in, but after a moment’s pause said, “Ok, I can help you.” Talon’s face broke into the first genuine smile Vlad had ever seen, but the effect chilled him.

“Well, it looks as though we have a job to plan for then. Go ahead and get some rest, I’ll keep the first lookout.” Riven and Vlad went to lie down, weary from their travels. Upon his head hitting the pillow Vlad couldn’t help but think that the smile Talon had displayed during their brief meeting did not bode well for anyone standing in his way.

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