Malcolm Graves was born in the back of a Bilgewater tavern and left there with a bottle of spiked milk. He survived a childhood in the pirate-run slums using every dirty trick in the book. Intent on building a new life for himself, he stowed away on the first ship to the mainland he could sneak aboard. However, the grim realities of the world forced him to eke out an unsavory living in the underground of various city-states, jumping the border whenever things got too hot. At a particularly high-stakes game of cards, he found himself seated opposite Twisted Fate. They both flipped four aces on the final hand. It was the first time either conman had met his equal. The two formed an alliance, swindling marks at the tables and scrapping back-to-back in the alleys afterward. Together, they ran the streets - stacking chips, decks, and rap sheets.
Unfortunately Graves made the mistake of hustling a hefty sum from Dr. Aregor Priggs, a high-ranking Zaunite official and businessman. When Priggs discovered how he'd been played, he became obsessed with revenge. He learned about Twisted Fate's all-consuming desire to control magic and he promptly offered him a trade: serve Graves up in exchange for enrollment in a procedure which would grant his wish. Twisted Fate took the deal - both he and Graves knew the stakes of their arrangement, but the offer was too good. Once acquired, Priggs had Graves taken to a special location built to hold men whose crimes - or more precisely their punishments - were meant to stay off the books. Graves endured years of captivity at the hands of Zaun's wardens before he managed to escape. One of his fellow detainees introduced him to an eccentric gunsmith who modified a shotgun exactly to his specifications. He named it ' Destiny'. After he paid a visit to Priggs, Graves joined the League of Legends with two targets in his sights: Twisted Fate and payback.
- 14 October, 21 CLE
Malcolm Graves is the picture of resilience. His body, a checkerboard of scars and cracked calluses, remains fit despite his age. His expression is grim, determined. He carries an oversized shotgun in one hand. Its weight is irrational for its function, but it complements him well.
However, the real story lies in his eyes. They seem stubbornly fixed on something beyond his vision, something unachievable, some goal that has always remained slightly out of reach. Nothing will steer him from his course. It's as though he has pursued the carrot-on-a-stick for so long that, even though he learned the trick, it's all he knows how to do anymore.
Same old song and dance, Graves thought. Couple of big wigs trying to put on a show.
Graves wasn't one for theatrics. He preferred to keep most of his social interactions 12-gauge and below. Things hadn't always been this way. Once upon a time, he genuinely delighted in the game, fleecing marks and skipping town before the chips could fall. Back then he had a partner with a like-minded philosophy: the longer the con, the better.
Then Twisted Fate turned on him faster than a foal in a firepit.
Graves was no stranger to the double cross, but somehow Fate managed to blindside him. Never again. He paid a fair chunk of his life for that oversight. It was a hard lesson, but then again the most important ones tended to be.
Now all that was left was to even the score.
The clank of crashing steel broke his thoughts. It was a tone of bitter finality, the chime of swindled life. He knew it well. He spun to find a familiar set of bars lined mockingly between him and the freedom he so recently won. Behind them, the oily face of the man who incarcerated him, Dr. Aregor Priggs, sneered in victory. He raised his arm, happy to put a slug between Priggs' beady eyes, but his hand was empty.
He was trapped, again, in Priggs' privately-funded detention facility.
Well, this is a setback.
Priggs grinned broadly, gathering a froth of reeking spittle in the corners of his mouth. He was a bulbous, slimy man whose only redeeming quality, as far as Graves was concerned, was that he had the stones to look his captives in the eye while he kept them holed up like dogs. Graves had worked out that Priggs used this little sanctuary primarily as a place to make high-profile competitors disappear, but he had earned a special cell for taking two of Priggs' more fetching mistresses for a week-long excursion on the sleaze's dime. By the time Priggs' retinue of head-bobbing corporate flunkies tracked all the funds Graves funneled, he and Fate were already in Demacia hustling vacationers on Conqueror Beach.
"I bet you thought you saw the last of me", Priggs wheezed. He always wheezed when he talked.
"The last I cared to", Graves said. "You looked a might improved with that pig face of yours spread across a wall." Every word carried a consequence, so Graves chose to savor them.
"Aren't you curious how I did it?" Priggs was pleased with himself.
"I don't wonder why critters come crawling back, I just stomp harder next time."
"I hope you still have that spirit when I'm through with you", Priggs spat. Graves didn't flinch. He may as well have been a tick for how long he'd held on in that place, with few friends and fewer decencies, tended by whatever trash Priggs found to run the outfit. Pain had long ago become a chore more than any kind of punishment.
"I hope you eat something lighter the next time I make you soil yourself", he returned.
"Why do you want to join the League, Graves?" The question was unusually direct for the wheezing oaf, but when the subject was the most powerful organization in Valoran, perhaps even his chaps got a little chafed.
"Don't know why you'd stop to wonder, he said. "You know my history as well as anyone."
"Miss me that much?" The new voice, a relic from the past, made Graves' blood boil. He grabbed the bars, knuckles white, as Twisted Fate strolled into view behind Priggs.
"Fate! I know you're crooked as a quarryman's spine, but you got a real set of tires throwing in with this sack of stool again!" This wasn't the reunion Graves had planned all these years.
"Why you--- " the fat man sputtered.
"Why do you want to join the League, Graves?" Twisted Fate's face was calm, unreadable.
"You let me out of this cage and I'll show you-- " Graves roared.
"Why do you want--- " Fate started again.
"I'm going to ruin your con, Fate! The world may buy that you're some kind of 'champion', but I'm gonna show them what you really are. I will take everything you have, and when I'm done, you'll be lucky to scam the heat off a campfire." Graves took a deep breath. He didn't realize how much Twisted Fate had gotten to him. He silently vowed never to give Fate the satisfaction of seeing him this angry again.
"How does it feel, exposing your mind?" Fate smirked, a simple gesture that was acid in Graves' veins. He swallowed, determined not to lose his cool again.
"Feels like I just squatted with spurs on", he muttered.
Fate chuckled. "It's good to see you again, Malcolm."
With that, he strode out of sight, Priggs close on his heels. Graves sat in his cell, smoldering, until the bars suddenly opened. Cautiously, he exited the cell...
...and found himself standing in the Institute of War, weapon in hand.
Always putting on a show.
Graves clenched his teeth and cocked his gun. He wasn't one for theatrics, but if it was a show they wanted...
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