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Duel of the Fates

By cerealkiller49

Fantasy / Action

Chapter 1

Duel of the Fates

A lone figure makes his way towards the faint glow of light in the rapidly darkening evening. The wanderer travels lightly, carrying nothing except for the clothes on his back (or rather, the tattered remnants of his clothes) and the sword strapped to his hip. A few pieces of armor are affixed to his left shoulder, forearms and calves, but it seems the full set of armor has either been lost or destroyed. A coil of rope wrapped around his waist acts as a makeshift belt to hold up his baggy pants. The man’s long black hair is done up in a ponytail that floats upright as if some unknown force is holding it up.

As he approaches the door of the inn that was the source of the light, Yasuo let out a breath of relief. He’d spent the winter in the southern lands of Runeterra (the cold winters of the north didn’t suit him too well as the winters of southern Ionia where he grew up had always been mild), but resurrected emperors, ascended magi and crazed demigods made his trip less than hospitable. At least in the northern lands he only had to worry about the occasional assassin after his head. Or two. Or ten.

Yasuo pushes open the inn door and walks into the dining area. As most hotels are designed on these remote roads, the first floor consists of a small foyer, where tired travellers can sign for a room, a dining room and, at the back, a kitchen.

Although the inn is situated in a rather remote area, the dining room tonight is rather full. Travellers of all kinds occupy every seat in the room. Only one table is vacant. It is occupied, Yasuo observes as he walks towards the table, by a single woman. Though she appears to be in her late twenties, her hair is already white and done up in a messy bun. The woman’s entire body is covered by a big brown cloak that instantly set Yasuo’s survival instincts on edge. In his experience, large concealing cloaks usually hide weapons underneath them.

The woman, however, seems quite serene and is enjoying a bowl of soup and doesn’t even look up as Yasuo takes a seat across from her.

“An Ionian huh?” the woman says without lifting her eyes, though Yasuo can see her hand reach into the depths of her cloak, probably to prepare to draw her weapon. “Are you another one of those that want revenge on me and on Noxus?”

“I don’t even know who you are,” replies Yasuo, not wanting to fight any more than he had to. “Besides, I’m no more Ionian than you are.”

“An outcast, huh?”

“More than that,” continues the wanderer bitterly. “An outcast is exiled from his land as his rightful punishment, and that’s the end of the matter. That’s not the case for me. People are still after my head. I’m not just a mere outcast, I’m an Unforgiven.”

The woman raises an eyebrow at hearing Yasuo’s words but wisely decides to drop the matter and change the subject.

“Well, I know all about being in exile from one’s own country,” the woman says as she finishes up her soup. The Ionian outcast waves over a waiter and orders some food.

“You’re an outcast too?” Yasuo stares at her incredulously. Noxus doesn’t often punish people with exile. Their punishments are usually more severe and…creative, especially for women.

“The word ‘outcast’ doesn’t exactly describe what I am. My decision to leave Noxus was my own choice, because what they did went against everything I believed Noxus should be. So I’m not an outcast, I’m a self-imposed exile.”

This woman…. Years of being on the run has hardened Yasuo, forcing him to toughen up physically, mentally and emotionally. Especially emotionally; the Unforgiven would rarely talk to anyone, let alone reveal so much about his past. Something about this woman, however, made him relax and open up. Maybe because she talks about herself so freely, it makes him feel like he can trust her.

“You’re not much of an exile if you’re going to stay so close to the Noxian border,” comments Yasuo. “By the way, I don’t believe I’ve introduced myself. The name’s Yasuo.

The ghost of a smile flickers on the woman’s lips. “I’m Riven,” the Exile replies. “And I’m returning to Noxus for a special occasion. In a week, it’ll be the anniversary of my exile. Seven years ago, Noxus was weak and corrupt and dishonourable. That weakness caused the High Command to rely on Zaunite war machines to fight their fights for them. Those accursed machines butchered friend and foe indiscriminately, wiping out my company and almost killing me as well. As long as my country relied on Zaun, where their scientists make a mockery of humanity and of war, I knew I could not stand proudly as a warrior of Noxus, so I left. I return every year to see if my country has changed at all. In the meantime, I train to become strong so that one day my strength might lead Noxus back to redemption.”

“That’s a very noble goal. You’re very different from me, choosing to exile yourself because of a reason like that.”

Riven’s hand is still inside her cloak. It seems, despite her warm attitude, she is still cautious about Yasuo, which only attests to her worth. When one wanders alone, trust should be given to no one.

“That’s right, you’re an actual outc- err, Unforgiven. What did you do to cause your countrymen to disown you?”

Yasuo hesitates. Even after seven years, he still dislikes thinking about that fateful event, let alone talk about it with a stranger. The Ionian resolves to only give away a few vague details and hope Riven decides to drop the matter.

“I was framed for the murder of my master,” Yasuo explains. “Whoever the killer was, he must have been studying me because he used a wind technique to kill my master, and I’m the only one capable of performing such a deed. Everyone thought I was the killer, but I knew otherwise. I was miles away fighting the invaders, but no one else knew that. I would have been fine with a prison term or something, but my punishment was death. I couldn’t allow my master’s murderer to get away without punishment, so I ran. To this day, I still run, seeking to clear my name.”

“And you claim my goal is noble,” Riven says with a slight smile. “Fighting for what you believe to be right should never been downplayed like that.”

“Riven….” The Unforgiven breathes as he stares into the Exile’s red eyes. The white haired woman holds his gaze for a tense moment as they both lean forwards and….

The moment is interrupted by a waiter setting down Yasuo’s stew and tea. Both parties sit back down, slightly flushed.

All further discussion stops as Yasuo eats his meal. Hunger is something the black haired swordsman is familiar with. Food and gold is hard to come upon when one is always on the move. The only reason he is able to enjoy a meal and lodging tonight is because the assassins he killed this morning carried a combined total of fifty gold pieces on them.

This woman, Yasuo thinks as he sips his tea. A brief grimace crosses his face as he realizes the tea is black, not green as he prefers it. Even so, tea is tea and his enjoyment will not be mitigated too much. She truly is one of a kind. Even though she’s been in exile for so long, she can still talk to someone so openly. I haven’t felt this comfortable around anyone since... before the war.

Mealtime is abruptly interrupted when Yasuo feels someone’s hateful gaze bore into his back. The Ionian casually surveys the room, not wanting to alert his attacker. To the woman across from him, he says:

“I just remembered that I was going to meet an acquaintance here. If you’ll excuse me, I’ll be back in a few minutes.”

Riven gives him a confused look but does not say anything, simply nodding as Yasuo gets up out of his seat and heads out of the inn.

It’s chilly outside. The sun has set and a waxing half-moon lights the skies alongside numerous stars. Yasuo strolls along the path for a while until he comes upon a grove of birch trees beside the path, which he turns into. His pursuer, never more than a few meters behind, follows him in. The Unforgiven keeps walking until he reaches a clearing in the trees, then he turns around.

“Whoever you are, you can come out now,” Yasuo sighs. He had hoped for a hearty meal and a good night’s sleep in a proper bed, but it doesn’t seem like he’ll be able to relax tonight.

“What? How did you know I was following you?” asks the soon-to-be attacker as he emerges from the shadows. He is a giant of a man, well over two heads taller than Yasuo. The assassin’s upper body is mostly bare, save for two diagonal leather straps that secure spiked pauldrons on the man’s shoulders. Brown bandages are wrapped around the man’s forearms and lower biceps and a coil of rope is wrapped around his waist. The giant dons green pants with brown thigh guards and shin pads. He has short black hair, neatly combed, and lively brown eyes. “My stealth technique should be flawless!”

“You are as stealthy as a rolling boulder.”

“Wha-? Haha, I jokester, I see. However, I will take that as a compliment to my mastery of Hokusei Sanga Ken. [North Star School: Tall Mountain Fist北星山峨拳]”

“Hokusei? So the school of the North Star is finally sending its students after me, and an alleged master of it too. I’m honoured.”

“Yes, you should be honoured that Fudoh, the wielder of the FIST THAT CRUSHES MOUNTAINS, WILL END YOUR LIFE!” roars the giant as he surges towards Yasuo with his right arm raised. The wind swordsman shifts slightly to the right and avoids the powerful chop, but he is unprepared for the shockwaves that ripple through the ground when Fudoh’s hand slams into the earth. The vibrations unbalances Yasuo long enough for his attacker to connect a solid roundhouse straight to Yasuo’s gut.

One of Yasuo’s essential techniques is to manipulate the air and wind with small motions. Every time he takes a step and moves, a bit of wind binds itself to his body, protecting him from harm. It is because of this wind shield that the Unforgiven’s soft inner organs did not get crushed into paste by the devastating kick, though the blow still transfers enough momentum to the swordsman to send him flying a good ten meters. Yasuo tucks his knees in and flips through the air to land solidly on his feet.

It seems I underestimated his strength, he thinks. And he did so by a large margin. There is a huge crack in the ground where Fudoh’s hand chopped into it. I won’t be able to dodge his attack narrowly and quickly counterattack; else the shockwaves will unbalance me. I will have to outmanoeuvre him.

This time, Yasuo makes the first move. Drawing his sword, the wanderer dashes towards the mountain sized man, who responds with a straight left jab. Yasuo skips to the right, avoiding the punch and putting him in an excellent position to strike back. Fudoh brings his elbow back to smash Yasuo, but he is already swinging his sword. Flesh meets steel and, incredulously, Yasuo’s sword is deflected as if he had tried to cut a block of solid steel.

“Ahahaha, are you surprised?” gloats the huge assassin. “One of the fundamentals of Hokusei Sanga Ken is the Solid Skin technique, which utilizes one’s chi to make one’s skin become the strongest armour conceivable!”

Of course, he should have known. Chi infusion is a method used by almost every school in Ionia to reinforce the body and objects. In fact, chi infusion is the only reason why Yasuo’s sword did not shatter like an icicle during that collision.

However, it seems I’ve underestimated this man’s speed as well. I can’t be too close or else the shockwaves will do me in, but I can’t go too far either or else he will be able to respond in time. I need to find the perfect distance where he can’t recover from his missed attack in time to block my attack. Unfortunately, I don’t have room for error, and even one hit from him will be the end of me.

With a shout, Fudoh charges towards the raven haired swordsman. Yasuo hops backwards to dodge a punch and lands far enough away that the vibrating ground does not unbalance him, but the titanic fighter steps forward with surprising speed to throw out another punch. The Unforgiven evades again, but Fudoh chases after him, rapidly punching at Yasuo and leaving craters in the ground where he misses.

“You slippery little rat, eat this!” yells the mountainous man as he stomps on the ground. A big chunk of the earth pops into the air and Fudoh pushes it at the Ionian swordsman. Yasuo only now realizes that Fudoh had driven him into the corner of the clearing. Not wanting to dodge into the woods and sacrifice mobility, his main advantage, and knowing that jumping over the boulder will lead to an easy punish for his opponent, Yasuo figures his only option is to block the incoming projectile.

Good thing the Furetsu Ryu (Breaking Wind Style) has a technique specifically for blocking projectiles: the wind wall.

“Face the wind!”

Summoning a burst of chi, Yasuo cuts half a millimeter above the ground. The chi-enhanced slash is executed fast enough to stir the air above the sword into motion, creating a powerful gust of wind blowing laterally, strong enough to deflect the boulder Fudoh threw.

“So the little rat has tricks, eh?” yells Fudoh in annoyance. “Well, let’s see your trick block this!”

The short haired fighter swings his right arm down to pulverize Yasuo. Thinking quickly, the Unforgiven leaps into the air and uses a variation of the wind wall to create makeshift steps, climbing high into the sky.

Perhaps it would be better if I put everything into an all-out attack.

Slicing once more, Yasuo pushes off this time in the opposite direction, towards the ground. The Ionian swordsman plummets downwards with his pommel pressed against his chest and the tip facing down. The wind gathers to him and spirals around his sword, creating the illusion of a gigantic drill of wind.

“You dare challenge the strength of the Hokusei Sanga ken?!” roars Fudoh. He pulls back his right arm and focuses all his energy into his fist, his powerful chi manifesting as red flames around his hand.

Both parties clashed with a mighty shout. The two attacks negate each other, but the momentum from the collision is conserved. Due to his huge mass, the student of the Tall Mountain School does not move much (but still sinks a fair distance into the ground). Yasuo, however, is sent flying. The wanderer crashes into a tree trunk hard, winding him, and then he falls to the ground with a thump.

I’ve grossly underestimated this man. The Hokusei School sure trains their students well.

“Heheh, you put up quite a fight,” says Fudoh as he climbs out of the crater that was formed from their collision. “But it doesn’t seem like you’ll be able to run now.” The enormous man advances slowly but menacingly towards Yasuo’s prone body.

Yone, I’m sorry. I was unable to bring the murderer to justice. Now your blood and the blood of all the other honourable swordsmen that I’ve killed have been spilled for nothing. Your sacrifice was in vain. You, my brother, who loved me and cared so much for me, died at my hands when it should have been me.

Tears begin to sting at Yasuo’s eyes, but he bites them back. He would not allow himself to die with tears. That would heap even more dishonour on his already tarnished name. He will at least have the dignity of a warrior’s death.

“Yasuo, stay down!” yells a voice from across the clearing. Not that I can get up anyways.

Hurricane-force winds sweep across the clearing, disintegrating the smaller trees and knocking down the bigger ones. A blade of green energy bisects Fudoh’s torso, killing him instantly. The two halves of his body topple to the ground.

“Yasuo!” his saviour shouts again as she runs towards him. Yasuo can’t believe his eyes. It’s Riven. What’s a random Noxian stranger he just met tonight doing here?

“R-Riven?” questions the Ionian, slightly dazed and confused by the turn of events.

The white haired woman doesn’t say anything but immediately crouches beside him and starts patting him down.

“Hey, w-what are you doing?”

“Good, nothing’s broken,” sighs Riven in relief as she finishes her inspection. “Come on; let’s get you out of here.” The Exile slings Yasuo’s left arm across her shoulders and lifts him up. Under the Exile’s brown cloak must be some armor, for a blunt metal object dug uncomfortably into the battered swordsman’s armpit.

“Thanks for your help,” the Unforgiven manages to stammer out as the two of them begin heading back to the inn. “But why are you here?”

“I followed you here to watch the battle, just in case it didn’t turn out well. It’s a good thing I did too, that was really close. I don’t understand though.” White brows scrunched together in confusion. “You final attack was just as strong as mine, how come your attack did not affect him?”

“That’s probably because he was prepared for my attack but not yours.”

“Ah, I see. That makes more sense.”

“I guess that kind of answers my question, but what I really wanted to ask is this. How did you know I was leaving to fight?”

“Did you really expect me to be unable to pick up on that massive aura of killing intent when I’ve been an Exile for seven years?” shot back Riven.

“That’s a good point…. But that attack, I’ve never seen anything like it. It obliterated that man with the ease of a sharp sword cutting paper.”

Riven adopts a more guarded expression, as if unsure how detailed she wanted to be. “It’s a technique I developed by myself in the early days of my military career. I discovered that, by focusing my fighting spirit-which I later found to be called chi, I could send a massive pulse of energy through the air, causing a powerful gust of wind. At times, if I concentrated hard enough, I could focus the wind to cut things, even strong objects like boulders. I call it the Wind Slash.”

Yasuo almost freezes, but his survival instinct reminds him of his current predicament and he keeps walking. Nevertheless, Riven is sharp enough to pick up on his little stutter.

“What’s wrong?” asks the platinum blonde.

“Nothing, just a sharp pain in my side,” lies Yasuo glibly. “It must be the aftereffect of the fight.”

Riven nods and drops the subject as the two of them exit the woods and start heading down the road back to the inn.

She called that attack the Wind Slash…it’s a wind technique! A foreign, self-taught wind technique! Not only that, but the strength of that attack is also powerful enough to rival even Master Guo’s mastery over the wind. She’s a Noxian too, my enemy at the time of the murder. How long ago did she begin her exile? I-I think she said seven years. She also confessed to being part of the Noxian military. Could it be that this woman the person who mur-murdured my master?

Calm down Yasuo. Maybe this is just a coincidence. There has to be other Noxians that know wind techniques. Anyways, I won’t know anything for sure unless I ask.

“This might be a little personal,” begins Yasuo. Riven tilts her head slightly at his odd choice of words “And I don’t mean to pry, but I really need to know. Seven years ago, when you were still in the Noxian army, did you carry out any assassinations?”

The guarded look is back on the Noxian’s face, but even more apparent this time. “What is it to you?”

“I need to know the truth. Please.” Something in the Unforgiven’s voice must have made Riven yield, because the cautious look on her face crumbled completely. Even so, one of her hands slip inside her cloak, ready to draw her weapon in a moment’s notice.

“While on the official profiles I was merely the vice-commander of Fury Company, I secretly doubled as an assassin for the Crimson Elite, a group of skilled hitmen working directly under General Darkwill. During the Ionian invasion, I killed several high priority targets. Does that satisfy you?”

Yasuo hesitates. Everything points to the fact that she killed Master Guo, yet a small part of him still wanted it to be untrue. He’d finally found someone he felt comfortable with, someone who could understand him. It seems fate really has it out for him.

“Did any of your targets pose a challenge to you?” the black haired swordsman asks, his voice barely above a whisper.

“One in particular. For an old man, he was extremely agile, and he could control air currents too, not unlike….” Riven’s voice fades as the two of them comes to the same conclusion simultaneously.

The Exile reacts fast, pushing Yasuo away, but the Ionian is faster. His sword is out in a flash and he lands a deep gash on Riven’s underarm. The cut isn’t as deep as he would like it, as Riven’s large, loose cloak conceals just how far her body really is and the slash mostly just cuts fabric, but from the position they were in, Yasuo could not have missed.

If the blood dripping out of the gash on her axilla is bothering her, Riven does not show it. The white haired wanderer tears off the tatters of her cloak, revealing the weapon it concealed. Although there is less than a third of the weapon left, Yasuo can tell that the greatsword that Riven wields is just as, if not heavier, than his own weapon. With her injury, it is surprising that the Exile can even lift such a sword with one hand, let alone wield it in combat.

Riven’s attire seems to be extremely light and frugal. Apart from the pauldron on her left shoulder and the metal wrist guard on her right forearm, only light cloth covers her body. Bandages wrap around her torso from her chest to her thighs, with only a purple corset to keep it in place. A scabbard for her broken sword is affixed to a strap that runs diagonally from the top of one hip to the bottom of the other.

“You do not want to fight me,” cautions Riven as she holds her weapon out. “You just fought, and took a beating. You cannot defeat me in your current state.”

“Even if my body gives out, my anger will sustain me!” retorts Yasuo. He charges at Riven, swinging his blade. “I’ve finally found the person who ruined my life; you’re not going to get away so easily!”

Riven deflects his attack easily with an upwards block. A combination of her sword’s weight and Yasuo’s fatigue knocks the katana away like a bat hitting a ball, exposing Yasuo’s entire side and stomach. The Exile, however, does not deal the killing blow, instead pushing the Ionian away.

“Why did you not kill me?” questions Yasuo indignantly after he recovers his footing. “You could have easily finished me.”

“There’s no need for you to die,” comes Riven’s simple reply. “You fight for a just cause, and I admire that. However–“ Riven’s eyes harden –“just because I have sympathy for your cause doesn’t mean I’ll let you take my life. Until I’ve restored Noxus to its former glory, I shall not die–I cannot die.”

“Enough of your talk! Just die!”

This time Yasuo steps forward with a straight stab. Riven hops to the side, avoiding the blow and retaliates with a slash of her own. The black haired swordsman deflects the attack and quickly stabs outwards again. His sword, however, is stopped by a barrier of Riven’s chi.

Chi reinforcement? Where’d she learn to do that? I guess if she can invent a wind technique all on her own, then she can learn chi reinforcement by herself as well.

Undeterred, Yasuo continues his assault. The two fighters continue their deadly dance of steel, slashing and blocking back and forth. Yasuo’s style seems to incorporate a lot of straight stabs, which is odd considering his sword is better designed for cutting. One of his stabs eventually gets through Riven’s guard, nicking her left shoulder and drawing blood. The white haired Noxian grits her teeth in pain but continues fighting.

Upon blocking another stab, Riven notices something odd about her opponent. Wind seems to be exuding from his body, as if he was the eye of a hurricane. Yasuo leaps backwards and slashes diagonally upwards, unleashing a whirlwind at the Exile. Riven reacts quickly and dashes out of the way and the tornado howls past her.

“Is that one of your wind tricks?” asks the Noxian with a smirk. “Let me show you one of my tricks then!”

Dashing well right into Yasuo’s face, Riven raises her sword straight up into the air and lets out a mighty shout, drawing on her chi. A ripple of runic energy bursts out of the ruined weapon, crashing into the Ionian. He might as well have been kicked down a flight of stairs for how strongly he was affected: his vision swims, his orientation does flips and his mind blanks. Riven kicks her stunned opponent away and settles into another defensive position.

That’s twice now that she’s dishonoured me, thinks Yasuo as he rises to his feet. She also managed to trump my Steel Tempest, Gathering Wind technique. I’m not going to hold anything back now.

The black haired wanderer begins to emanate chi, spreading his spiritual energy into the air so as to better control it. In one wind-boosted bound he crossed the five meters separating him from his quarry. Riven parries the incoming thrusts and lunges forward to retaliate, but Yasuo seemed to float past her, avoiding the counterattack. The white haired Exile swivels to meet her attacker with a horizontal slash but her sword meets only air. Yasuo had already dashed away to assault her from another angle.

He seems to be going all out, observes Riven as she blocks another strike. His whole strategy, however, seems to hinge on him being able to move in and out of my range to attack me without me being able to attack him back. He doesn’t know about my additional ability though, and that will be his downfall!

Summoning all her resolve and determination, Riven channels her will and energy into her shattered sword, and the remaining rune etched on the blade, as well as the rune embedded in her glove, alights with a viridescent light. The Noxian fighter focuses on the image of her greatsword, reforged and whole. Enough energy fill the runes to activate their magic, materializing three giant chunks of metal and various other shards that arranges themselves around the stub of her sword in a manner that effectively reforms the weapon.

The process completes just as Yasuo leaps in for an attack. Riven answers his thrust with a stab of her own. The Unforgiven’s eyes widen in surprise as Riven unleashes her trump card. Acting quick, Yasuo flicks his wrist in a full 180o, forming a mini-wind wall. Pushing off the wall of air, he does a back flip to avoid the incoming greatsword by a hair’s breadth.

Riven’s eyes narrow. Now that she’s revealed her trump card, Yasuo won’t fall for the same trick again. The black haired swordsman is seemingly floating through the air, spinning around Riven and popping out now and then to thrust at her.

He’s really quick and nimble when he needs to be, thinks Riven as she struggles to come up with a strategy to end the fight quickly. He can float through the air and…climb up trees?

Indeed, the Noxian had launched a Wind Slash to try to snipe Yasuo out of the air, but he evades the attack by running vertically up a tree. Leaping from the trunk, the Ionian wanderer torpedoes towards Riven. The Exile responds with a stab, using her sword’s weight and reach to get the first hit. Yasuo acts before contact is made, swinging his sword outwards and unleashing a massive gust of wind that completely halts his forward momentum. Riven shields herself from the wind with her sword, but it leaves her completely defenseless for Yasuo’s follow up.

“You’ve fallen for my trap!” exclaims the Ionian as he lands gently. Yasuo slashes outwards, again unleashing a whirlwind at his foe. This time, when Riven attempts to dodge out of the way, she finds herself surrounded by identical whirlwinds coming at her from every direction. “Furetsu Ryu: Swirling Dervish!”

The tornadoes converge upon Riven, knocking her into the air, allowing Yasuo to unleash his final technique: The Last Breath.

The Unforgiven leaps into the air, letting the air currents carry him to his foe. Upon arrival, he begins cutting at Riven from multiple angles. If not for the protective barrier of chi around her, the white haired swordswoman would be mincemeat in a matter of seconds.

“If your will is unbreakable, you will be unbreakable.” The words of one of her mentors come back to her. “If your resolve is indomitable, you will be indomitable. If you want to be invincible, you will be invincible. Let me demonstrate. Attack me with your little sword.”

Riven had hesitated. She did not want to kill the man who had promised to train her. The monk picked up on her indecision.

“Do you think you can kill me with your weak, untrained sword skills?” he laughed. “Attack me!”

With a shout, Riven swung at the man. Although she had destroyed her sword, the blade was still sharp and the jagged tip can deal lethal damage. She did not, however, expect the man to match her shout nor did she expect the burst of energy to come out of the man as it did. A barrier of green energy surrounded the animalistic man like a turtle shell, completely deflecting her blow.

“Observe, young one, the power of the spirit, the strength of the will. If you refuse to lose, victory will come to you. Allow your resolve to never bend, and you can resist any attack. Now, let us begin the long training that will cause your spirit to become this strong.”

That training all those years ago is saving her life right now. However, each blow causes her mental concentration to slip a little; Riven cannot keep this up for long. Riven notices that each hit is angled so that she rises with every strike. She also notices that each consecutive hit is stronger than the last, as if Yasuo is building into a powerful final strike.

“Sorye ga ton!” with a final cry, Yasuo smashes Riven towards the ground, finally breaking her barrier with his final blow. The Noxian plummets to the ground, but at least she remembers proper falling protocol and exhales before the impact and tucks her chin in. A big cloud of dust rises from the crash, blocking out the moonlight and casting a shadow over the clearing.

Exhausted, Yasuo stalks slowly towards the crater formed from Riven’s descent. Though the Last Breath did not finish her, it should at least have incapacitated her. He can still take her head and bring it back to clear his name.

Yasuo is completely unready for Riven to come to him by bursting out of the crater. Her sword is back to its normal, broken state now that she is too tired to keep it whole, but she is still very much capable of fighting.

“How?” croaks Yasuo. “How are you still standing?”

“Do not underestimate me,” says Riven. “My spirit is not lost. You’ve shown me your techniques; now let me show you mine. This is a technique that I’ve developed during my time in exile. I call it ‘Clipped Talons, Broken Wings.’ I think you’ll like it.”

Launching into action, Riven slashes at Yasuo with an upwards angle, forcing him to block awkwardly. Not giving him time to recover, the Exile spins and attacks Yasuo’s other side from the same angle, forcing another awkward block from him. Riven dips low and explode upwards with a powerful slash that shatters the Unforgiven’s katana and sends the man backpeddling. She is not done with her combo yet though. Stepping forward with a backhand slice, the Noxian cuts from one side to the other, leaving a gash on Yasuo’s left leg. From there, she takes another step, bringing her arm back to the side it started on, wounding the Ionian’s right leg. Finally, Riven raises her sword overhead and brings it down, slamming the blade into the ground. Although she could have easily bisected the man, killing him was never her intention. A blast of runic energy explodes out of her blade on the sixth swing, knocking Yasuo into the air. Without a sword and with both legs incapacitated, this fight is truly over.

“This is a technique I developed by myself after I left Ionia,” says Riven as she turns to leave. “First I clip your talons, taking your ability to strike back. Then I break your wings, crushing your mobility. It’s served me well in the past.”

“Why won’t you finish me?” asks Yasuo, his head hung in shame. “My honour as a warrior demands a proper death.”

“Your death will not be at my hands. Like I said, your fight is a righteous one. However, I hope you realize that my death will not clear your name. Your countrymen won’t even pause to listen to your explanation if you go back to them with my head.”

“That’s fine by me. As long as the blood I’ve shed is not in vain, I could not care less if I die or not.”

“You should. A goal like yours, making something right that has been wrong, is one that few people would fight for. I would not mind atoning for my sins either, but not before I fix Noxus. Perhaps if you ever get stronger and fight again, you can hasten the day when I may return to Ionia and set things right. Goodbye, Yasuo. Do not lose your spirit.”

With that, Riven walks down the road. In a minute, all sounds of her movement are gone. Yasuo lies by himself at the side of the path. In spite of his defeat, a smile works its way onto his face.

No, my spirit will not be lost either. We will meet again, Riven. And when we next meet, this fight will turn out much, much differently.


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