Jarvan IV stands as if giving a rallying speech but accidentally crushes his toes with his lance and hops on one foot.
2 March, 21 CLE
The Demacian junior summoner who was initially appointed to greet Jarvan, alas, experienced an unfortunate accident. He needed to be replaced at the last minute by a young summoner from Bilgewater with an eye for both coin and advancement. It seems the new boy penciled Jarvan in for an early Judgment, and judged he will be, though not by the League.
He approaches the Great Hall reeking of arrogance. He, like his father, struts as though others should feel privileged to behold him. His armor is flashy and impractical, adorned with bits of slain beasts, a braggart without uttering a word. He has the jutting countenance of all the Lightshield dogs, men better built to wield clubs than authority. He is spoiled, haughty, and altogether undeserving of the respect laid at his feet.
He marches to the chamber doors, a proud, strong beast in need of domestication. He steps through the portal, out of the light…and into the palm of my hand.
Welcome Jarvan, I've waited a long time for this.
Royalty has its perks. The measured tones of his father, King Jarvan Lightshield the Third, interrupted Prince Jarvan's thoughts. Despite his protests, the King had insisted that Xin Zhao recount his League Judgment in detail so Jarvan would know what to expect. This was against the mandates of the League, but, as his father put it, "a necessary infraction". The test seemed hardly worthy once one knew the gimmick. Enter the room, be confronted by a disturbing vision of the past, and answer a couple questions. Jarvan was bitter about having his opportunity to fairly overcome the trial stolen. What worth is a Prince who cheats to best an obstacle surmounted by his subordinates? He frowned; it was an expression often denied to a leader of the public, but one befitting the dark, silent surroundings.
Xin had described the Reflection Chamber as "thick with abyssal murkiness," a depiction which had proven itself overdramatized. It was dark, yes, but altogether ordinary. The absence of light even failed to obfuscate some other person or entity present in the room. Jarvan was content to stand idle, letting him, her, or it carry on with the silly masquerade.
On the opposite side of the cramped antechamber, the figure stood in the shadows. It couldn't have been more than ten feet away from Jarvan. He paid it little attention, waiting for his vision to commence. However, instead of being swept into a fantastic mirage as he'd expected, Jarvan was left in the unremarkable blackness when the being attacked.
Jarvan was unprepared. The form in front of him spread broad, onyx wings and lurched forward. Jarvan attempted to back into a defensive stance, but piercing talons dug up from the ground beneath him, stabbing into his legs and locking them in place. Black creatures swarmed through the air around him, pecking at his exposed flesh. Pain jolted his senses. The shade was upon him now, bearing down with unmistakable purpose. Six eyes burned redder than blood and hotter than embers above him, hatred sizzling the air around them.
Jarvan ripped his legs free of the talons, heedless of the pain as they cut through his skin. His lance plunged forward, thirsty for the heart of its target. It met the winged figure's chest, driving deeper and deeper. With a bloodcurdling cry, Jarvan lifted Swain into the air over his head and hurled him backward into the wall. The looming silhouette crashed against the cool stone surface and slid to the ground in a heap.
Jarvan turned, venom welling in his eyes. "If you wanted a demonstration, you picked the perfect opponent!" He charged, intent on removing Swain's head, illusion or not. He only managed to take one step before energy arced through the air, burning him through his armor. A charred smell filled the room as the beam rushed through him. He was enveloped in anguish, and he could not hear himself screaming.
Torches lit around the room, and Swain, now human, stood where he had been thrown. His raven hovered in the air next to him, the bolt of energy surging from its mouth. A deep crimson stain was spreading across Swain's chest.
"I need no demonstration, Prince." Swain spat the title as though it were a maggot in a bite of steak. "Your 'unfortunate' demise due to an oversight of the League will be quite satisfactory, and I have no doubt you'll provide that. I wonder what your father will think of his treaty then..." He clenched his hands into fists and bright currents of magic appeared, flowing into them. He opened them and the magic burst forth, amplifying the raven's power. Jarvan's eyes went wide as the agony intensified. He fell to his knees.
"You are so painfully foolish, Demacian. No tact, no finesse. It sickens me to call you my rival. I can't wait to be rid of you, in hopes that a fitting opponent will rise to take your place.” As he spoke, Swain's form began to shift. He was swelling, stretching, transforming hideously before Jarvan's eyes. Ravens spawned from his body, descending on Jarvan and tearing him apart. As the birds swarmed, the torches in the room flickered, blinking out one by one. When the last torch was extinguished, all Jarvan could see were six bright, bloodthirsty dots on Swain's disfigured head. The dots blurred together as his vision failed him, and eventually there was nothing left but blackness.
Jarvan was in a place he'd been before, far from the Institute, at the lonely crossroads of life and death. He stood at the precipice of eternal peace, the gateway of slumber. He reached out, as he had many times before, to feel its warmth on his skin. Someday... not yet.
Eyes shut, a sound grew from inside him, somewhere deeper than the body, deeper than the soul. It rippled outward, unfolding and cresting. It burst from his heart, burned through his veins, ignited his muscles. When it escaped his lips, it was a living thing, as formidable and furious as the ravens snipping at his flesh. The sound was filled with the voices of his ancestors. It was the battle cry of a Demacian warrior, the roar of a Prince. When the sound reached his ears, Jarvan's eyes snapped open. They were no longer the eyes of a man. They heralded with fire the arrival of a beast, the awakening of a King. They came to focus on Swain.
Jarvan leapt to his feet, snapping the grips of talons, shattering the clamps of beaks. He dove forward, abandoning his lance. Swain's eyes betrayed surprise as Jarvan gripped his neck with one hand and lifted him from his feet. Jarvan kept moving, slamming Swain bodily into the wall behind him. He tightened his grip against the soft sensation of air struggling for passage beneath his fingers. He grinned wickedly at every choked gasp.
"Tact? Finesse? In war there is only the victor and the dead, Noxian!" Jarvan was loosely aware of ravens ripping chunks from his body, carrying his life-force to Swain. He felt death creeping at the edge of his vision. He poured all his remaining energy into the vise grip, determined to not to die until he watched the life flee from Swain's bulging eyes. The two were locked together, blood pooling on the floor, both unwilling to die before the other.
"ENOUGH!!!" A voice rang out, echoing down the stone corridors of the Institute. Jarvan suddenly rocketed away from Swain, propelled through the air by an unknown force. He stopped just before he would slam the opposite wall, suspended four feet above the ground. Swain dangled at the same height on the other side of the room, now human. Save for his favorite pet, the ravens were all gone.
High Councilor Vessaria Kolminye removed her hood and glared, first at Jarvan, and then at Swain. "What do you think you're doing, Swain? This is a hallowed place. Your treacherous games will not be tolerated here." She turned to Jarvan. "You will be accepted into the League for obvious reasons, but do not think your political ties will protect you against the League should you seek retaliation." She gritted her teeth. "Pray I do not discover you again in the midst of such disrespect or you will yearn for the fates you plotted against each other this day."
Vessaria flicked her wrist and Swain tore through the air, swept from the room as casually as a hurled doll. Vessaria stormed out after him, shaking her head with disgust. Jarvan clattered gracelessly to the floor, grunting as his wounds cried for attention. He leaned on his lance, struggling to his feet. The doors to the League seemed miles away. He contemplated dying. While he gathered the will to limp onward, his father's words echoed in his head. A weak smile played across his lips.
Royalty has its perks…