“I understand your reservations as a gentleman Garen, but if we turn these Noxian assassins over to Vel’koz the general of this void army we can avoid having to fight them at least until Jarvan returns from the Freljord AND I might add even use them to weaken Noxus’s power. The enemy of my enemy is my friend as the old saying goes,” General Gamerous Ritus barked heatedly. “You have a duty as a soldier of Demacia.”
“And you’re not seeing the bigger picture,” Lux interrupted before Garen could repeat himself. She loved her brother’s integrity and respect for kind heart, but sometimes a more cunning or forceful approach was needed. “From what the foreign ambassadors are saying, this is happening all over mainland Runeterra south of the Freljord. What would our allies think if we abandoned our morals and handed over defenseless prisoners to the enemy? Would Ionia remain our supporters or Piltover for that matter? Moreover general Ritus, if the void has armies invading all these different lands then helping them fight Noxus would only delay our inevitable conflict with them and leave us without allies when we finally do take a stand. Can’t you see reason?”
“Guards, take this pretentious woman out of my sight. And teach her some manners… with your fists if you have to. I’m in charge of the whole Demacian military until lord Jarvan IV returns and this woman dares lecture me?! In the morning I may release her IF she’s repentant and Garen’s sees my point of view on the Noxian assassins he’s protecting at his family’s estate. If not, we’ll see how well the Demacians love her when they find out she’s a mage who uses her powers to spy on others,” Gamerous spoke - looking for Garen’s reaction. Would he defend his supposed lover or his sister?
“You would hang my sister for merely offering her perspective?” Garen asked after Lux had been drug out of the room. “When I turned over a dozen different rule breakers who’d done everything from stealing and selling our equipment on the black market to outright leading a band of troops into an enemy trap to be slaughtered, the worst you did was kick them out of the army. How is what my sister did possibly worse than that?”
“This is war Garen, and you’d do well to watch your own tongue lest you find yourself on stage tomorrow too,” replied the general. “You have until tomorrow morning to decide upon your answer.”
Returning to the estate, Garen explained everything to Kat.
“She… she really cares that much about us and trusts us?” Kat asked, referring to Lux. “It’s not fair to make you decide Garen. I… know how hard that would be for an honest man like you; you’d feel you had betrayed one of us or the other, so allow me to make the decision for you and turn myself in tomorrow at dawn. I could never look you in the eye knowing that it cost your sister’s life for us to have a chance of being together.” With that she made some excuse to find some time alone. Once out of sight she gathered her four remaining friends to sketch up a plan. She wasn’t just going to die tomorrow for some general’s pleasure or allow such an execution by the void destroy both their kingdoms more easily by pitting them against each other again. But she couldn’t let Lux pay the price either. Time to find a trusted informant in the market place… one who knew the Demacian prison intimately and had the power to break out of it.
She was a rational and highly academic girl, but right now all her smarts weren’t cutting it. All she could think about was having her magic forced out of her in an attack she didn’t wish to make in order that it might be absorbed by Galio so he could awaken and crush this ‘threat’ to the kingdom of Demacia. She’d seen it done before to mages - some of whom were dark mages that had actually hurt people and one or two who had meant no harm but simply refused to leave Demacia and abandon all they owned after their magical powers had been discovered. Why did she have to be different? Couldn’t she just be a good fencer like Fiora or an ace sniper like Caitlynn? Someone had once told her that magic was a gift to make the world a better place, but it had felt more like a curse all her life. No matter how many good deeds she had done, how many thousands of lives she saved, none of it would matter tomorrow. Only that she could use magic and almost every Demacian who had looked on her fondly would see her as worse than a Noxian soldier. She looked up into the night sky with tear-stained eyes and prayed with seeming futility what she had since childhood - for some escape from all this.
Sneaking into the heavily guarded prison fortress at night was something Kat and the others had done a few times before without too much difficulty. Sneaking in without killing the guards was unusual and added a bit more challenge to it. Especially with a clunky guest in tow. It was a challenge she’d have relished if not for the gravity of the situation. Hopefully with the help of their informant they could free Lux and all would be forgiven when Garen woke up in the morning and realized she’s mislead him. Once past the outer wall with it’s diligent patrol, their acrobatics easily let them dance across the rafters and through the hidden ducts running through the prison. Led by their informant, they found their way to his old room… the only one that could temporarily contain such a powerful mage. Grasping his shackles which he still wore although now they were more energy than physical material, Sylas slammed them into the heavy door and tore it off its hinges.
“Lux,” Kat whispered loudly, “it’s time to go.”.
Startled out of her grief, Lux looked up to see Kat and a bare-chested mage holding magic imbued chains - Sylas, the escaped Demacian criminal she recalled - standing before her near the door to her cell.
“They’ll have heard THAT,” Kat spoke in a mildly annoyed tone. “So much for my friends keeping everything clean and quiet in this section. We have to run NOW if we want to avoid having to kill anyone.”.
“Generalll,” hissed a kha’zix to Vel’koz. “The cho’gai (plural for Cho’gath if you aren’t used to void language) have arrived from the Ionian front. Shall we prepare to breach Demacia at dawn?”
“It pains me that these insolent creatures destroyed our gates to prevent ours from passing through,” general Vel’koz replied. “Yes, prepare for the invasion at dawn when they are to hand over the Noxians. If they fail to deliver, we now have the means to smash their walls thanks to the cho’gai’s arrival. I’ve heard rumor of a stone giant that eats magic though, so be careful and leave him to me. We’ll see how well he eats void magic disintegration magic.”
Crownguard Estate - Somewhere in the Capital of Demacia
There was beating at the front gates. It seems a sizeable troop led by General Gamerous Ritus had gathered there as though prepared to siege the place. Probably due to what Garen had just learned of Kat doing when she’d returned from prison with his sister not long ago. He didn’t know what to think for sure because he’d always followed orders faithfully, but then again, they’d never asked him to betray good people before. And since he couldn’t make up his mind, the Demacian troop kept waiting and sending a soldier every few minutes to knock on the gates although their patience wouldn’t last much longer. He reflected again on the words said to him by the retired general Poppy when he was just a boy joining the Demacian ranks. That someday he would have to choose between protecting the literal law of Demacia or protecting the heart of Demacia. He hadn’t understood back then what she’d meant, but he thought he did now. Well as dawn arose, it was time to make that choice.
Outside the City
“Break the gatessss,” hissed the kha’zix platoon leader. Across the battlefield others followed suit - issuing commands sent to them from general Vel(‘koz).
A rumbling could be heard as the giant cho’gai sent huge void spikes through the ground shooting towards the walls. Walls that supposedly had withstood the strongest sorcery of this world, a thousand catapults firing against them, and even the most powerful agent of destruction if not the fastest - the aging that comes with time due to weather. But these walls had not faced the void before, and with the first hits of void spikes a mere half hour after the Demacians had failed to produce the demanded Noxian prisoners, their soldiers on the wall felt an ominous shudder which tossed their feet slightly into the air. The first round might leave them with some question as to if their blessed walls would once again shrug off any such attack against it… the second and third would leave no such doubts as to the power of the cho’gai’s attacks as seams began to form and multi-storied chunks crumble.
“Keep formations. Storm city. Kill alls of them. But save stone giant for General Vel,” spoke a kog’maw squad leader in another section of the void army.
With so many soldiers beginning their siege of house Crownguard on the orders of General Gamerous Ritus, there weren’t enough to defend the breached walls against the horde of the void. But this wasn’t some barbarian or even disorganized Noxian guild. This was Demacian troops defending their homeland. In small squads or even pairs, they offered the stiffest resistance possible as they retreated. Their goal to buy as much time as possible for the civilians to retreat and escape the slaughter as someone rang what no Demacian ever thought would have to be sounded - the bells calling for the Capital to be abandoned.
Kha’zai swarms flew through the air in short spurts descending on and devouring squads of Demacian soldiers and civilians with equal ease as though some sick locust plague from the pits of Tartarus. Packs of kog’mai chased down stragglers on the retreat and tore them to pieces only to then spew the viscous acid-drenched bones of their freshly digested meal at those who had been fortunate enough to escape for the moment. While Demacian steel was reknowned to be the best throughout Runeterra, it’s superior construction seemed irrelevant as such acid ate through shield and armor plating to leave skin burned and blistered an angry red. And that’s to say nothing of what it did to unarmored civilians as the horde spilled through multiple openings herding it’s victims towards the city center as their last bastion of hope for a stand.
Near the Crownguard estate, local bakers, shopkeepers and others had managed to organize a respectably organized retreat - fending off mostly voidlings as they headed towards the only military presence in that section of the city - those sieging the Crownguard estate. Leaders from the group were selected and sent forth to beg General Ritus to break the siege of the estate and direct efforts at least temporarily to helping evacuate the city. But these found an unwavering General before them and an ever-increasing gathering of void soldiers behind them. For their trouble, they only gained the ire of the General.
“These civilians would ask us to suspend our just punishment of the treason of the Crownguard family and the Noxian assassins they harbor,” spoke the General. “All true Demacians not directly assaulting the Crownguard estate should direct their attention to helping our void friends slaughter the treasonous Demacian rabble before us which would have us abandon our pursuit of justice against the Crownguards. Anyone who does not participate shall be considered an enemy of the state and executed.”
The soldiers looked on in stupor for a bit. Then the battlefield there turned into a microcosm of the whole Capital as some naive soldiers joined General Gamerous Ritus and those he’d secretly initiated into the cult of Nagakabouros in slaughtering the bewildered Demacian civilians while others hesitated in confusion before rallying to defend their defenseless countrymen.
Only two things lead to the salvation of some of the poor shopkeepers, blacksmiths, wives, and children pincered between General Gamerous Ritus’s troops and a growing number of void monsters… The first was that this seeming betrayal of General Ritus led many Demacian soldiers to break the siege of house Crownguard and even join forces with its members who came out of their refuge to defend the civilians from being slaughtered. The second was the arrival of a certain stone giant awoken from his slumber and empowered to move thanks to a tired and dishevelled Kat and Lux with the latter’s casting of her ultimate destruction magic - the only spell strong enough to fuel Galio enough that he could move from a single mage’s magic. Most of the time it would take repeated bombardment by a flurry of mages to awaken him. Galio swooped down placing his wings protectively around the mass of civilians while crushing a large number of void troops.
“We have to make for the underground emergency tunnels and run for it,” called down a tiny figure with Lux’s voice from atop Galio’s shoulders.
Making a quick two trips between the estate and the public square in the center of Demacia, Galio ferried all the surviving civilians and then Garen and those troops loyal to the heart of Demacia out of immediate danger.
With many other civilians and soldiers having been ushered along the same evacuation route, these were the last survivors to arrive at the entrance for the emergency tunnels. Lux looked up sadly at the stone giant realizing he couldn’t come with them and knowing what the void was likely to do to him. When he was actually given the full story, he was quite and understanding and nice being - not at all the cold-hearted mage killing monster she had once believed him to be.
“Go now my little friend,” Galio called down to her. “I’ll hold them off as long as I can and join you in time for tea. Don’t go crying on me now. You’re a big strong girl and lots of others will be looking up to you, looking to you to lead them. If you do cry, then they’ll cry too and I suppose you’d end up flooding Noxus with all your tears and then where’d you go?”
With one more sniffle, Lux wiped the tears from her eye as she let Galio push her towards the entrance to the escape tunnels to join everyone else. Descending flight after flight of stairs, she kept looking back up to see what she could of her giant friend as he stood over the entrance to the tunnels defending it from the horde for as long as he could. Then she saw a giant beam like purple lightning streak across the opening… disintegrating Galio in one long blast. With that, she had reached the bottom of the stairs and headed down the tunnel while fighting hard to hold back tears for the friend she’d just made only to lose.