Every city has its dark side, even one whose reputation is already of a questionable hue.
- though its name is already invoked with a mixture of reverence and revulsion - is no exception to this simple truth. Deep within the winding dungeons that honeycomb the earth beneath its dark, meandering streets lies the real underbelly of this sprawling metropolis, a haven for all manner of malevolence. Amongst the cults, covens, and secret societies that call this labyrinth their home, LeBlanc, the Deceiver, presides over the Black Rose, a remnant from a lost, yet similarly unscrupulous time in Noxian history. Ruthless and seemingly ageless, LeBlanc and her ilk were a mainstay in Noxian political affairs during the era before the militarization of the Noxian government. In those days, this guild of powerful magicians met in secret to further their hidden agenda, and to hone a craft more subtle than that preferred by those currently in power.
While their exact motives have always remained mysterious, it was widely believed that the Black Rose was the true power behind the throne while the aristocracy still reigned in Noxus. When raw martial prowess became the ultimate determination of whose will held sway in the Empire, the Black Rose seemed to vanish overnight. Many believed that perhaps their time had simply passed, and that its members had put aside their quests for social and political dominance. When LeBlanc reemerged at the gates of the Institute of War, however, it became clear that these masters of shadow and flame had simply been biding their time, waiting for a new global authority to emerge: the League of Legends.
29 October, 20 CLE
LeBlanc's measured strides carry her along the polished marble with unparalleled grace and decorum. Her ornate magician's garb, stylish and well-kept, lends her a stately appearance seldom seen outside of a royal court. In her delicate hands she clasps a long staff topped with a series of multi-faceted crystals suspended by an unknown force. Pinned in her lustrous hair sits another such crystal, scattering the torchlight in all directions as she passes.
She comes to a halt in front of an ornate door, taking a moment to peruse the inscription. "The truest opponent lies within," she reads whimsically. The irony curls the edges of her lips to a brief smirk, but only for an instant. A moment later, her face is implacable once more; an emotionless puzzle, but still captivatingly beautiful. She reaches out a single perfectly manicured hand, easily parting the doors despite their obvious weight. She peers for a moment into the oppressive blackness before taking even strides into the murk.
The darkness grew cold. She pulled the robe close about her to ward off the chill, suppressing a slight shiver. A cowled figure shuffled by with a hooded lantern in its hands. In the dim lamplight she could make out the stones and mortar on either side. Water was dripping somewhere further off, and the stink of mildew filled her nostrils.
Another shadowy figure shambled by her, part of a procession. Falling in behind the rest of her ilk, LeBlanc took a moment to examine herself. Draped over her traditional court finery was a jet black cloak, bound with an onyx black rose. Her staff was gone, as was the brooch in her hair. Ahead, the tunnel broadened into a chamber, and she could see a crowd forming in the darkness. LeBlanc pushed her way through to the front. The crowd parted before her and she gasped. There, in the middle of the throng of onlookers, she stood face to face with herself. Well, herself in a manner of speaking. The situation was instantly familiar, and she waited patiently for her moment to come.
One of the hooded onlookers stepped forward, addressing the doppelganger. "LeBlanc," he rasped to the woman at the center of the circle, "Why have you summoned us? These are dangerous times for the Black Rose to meet in numbers."
The woman opened her mouth to speak, but a sharp wheeze cut her short. She snatched an embroidered handkerchief, speckled in blood, from the folds of her dress and used it to stifle a cough. She cleared her throat. "Brothers and sisters," she spoke weakly, "I have summoned you because I am old, and I have grown frail. I shall be one with the earth soon." She smiled, "The time has come for me to abdicate my position as Matron of the society." She coughed again, louder this time.
"There is one among you who has shown great promise and leadership," she continued, "One whose talents are outstripped only by her ambition and loyalty." She plucked the sparkling brooch from her hair, and the illusion fell away. Her porcelain skin turned ashen, her hair thin and stringy, and her eyes sunken. She extended a wrinkled hand towards LeBlanc, "Evaine, step forward and be recognized." LeBlanc stepped forward, accepting the bauble and nestling it into her neatly styled hair. Her predecessor offered her the staff. "Strange," remarked the old woman, "It's like looking in the mirror." LeBlanc accepted the staff, and the scene about her fell away.
A moment later she was sitting in her study, the staff cradled delicately in the crook of her elbow as she sipped tea from an ornate cup. Across from her sat a decrepit figure, his fragile body enveloped in a tightly pulled military garb. A large raven sat perched on his shoulder.
"To what do I owe the pleasure of this visitation, Jericho Swain?" she asked. Swain's crooked hand curled around the handle of his teacup and he put the steaming hot beverage to his lips.
"Exquisite," he rasped. "Matron LeBlanc, you have always had impeccable taste."
"I have," she agreed with a smile; but there was only sadness in it. She stretched an arm across the table, clasping his scarred hand in hers. "But then, you already knew that. You knew it before you sold yourself."
Swain pressed a thorned onyx ring into her hand. "It is true. I have made sacrifices. But I made them for us. The Black Rose is yours, Matron, but I have become something greater." As if in agreement, the raven on his shoulder cawed. "The time has come. Join me in fellowship, and we can restore what was taken from us by Boram Darkwill."
She gazed at the ring, "You have forsaken your identity to gain Darkwill's trust. The rest will not be so eager."
"Perhaps. But there are other ways," Swain continued.
A porter arrived in the doorway to announce an additional guest. "General Du Couteau is here to see you, Matron."
LeBlanc shot Swain a curious glance. "Send him up," she replied. The porter exited the study. "Du Couteau is that vulgar General's lapdog," she spat. "He will be of no use to us, Jericho."
"Perhaps you're mistaken, Deceiver. He is of noble blood," said Swain.
LeBlanc held up the ring. "But he is not one of us!"
Swain nodded. "Why do you want to join the League, LeBlanc?"
"I mean to reclaim my people's birthright," she proclaimed, flames burning in her eyes, "And believe me. I shall succeed."
Jericho Swain got up from the table and gently caressed her face. "How does it feel, exposing your mind?"
LeBlanc threw back her head and laughed. "You think that I'm exposed, summoner?" she jeered. "You will never know LeBlanc. She is far older than I. She is older than your precious League." Swain nodded. The doors before her flew open, leaving her alone in the light. The League of Legends awaited her.