Date: 4 October, 20 CLE
Swain arches his neck toward the words that hang over the massive double doors. “The truest opponent lies within.”
Swain’s voice sounds surprisingly robust for such a seemingly frail figure. His uniform – more robe than military dress – is wrapped tightly about him, especially around his face. He stands crookedly; he leans on a cane to support himself, but not overly so. It does not seem out of place to see a strange-looking raven perched on his shoulder. Perhaps this is to whom Swain is speaking.
“Let’s see who the League believes my truest opponent is – shall we?”
The raven nods its head in affirmation.
Swain deftly raps on the double doors with the head of his cane. They split, revealing blackness within. The engraved panthers along either side of the double doors point inward.
There is a slight smirk on his face as he enters.
The ink on the Noxian and Demacian armistice had been but a few years dry before the first “incident” took place between the powerful city-states. It was right in the midst of that botched mission, at the moment of execution, where Swain now found himself at. He could see the platform where the young prince was standing, his back turned, oblivious to his plight. The poison-bolted hexbow felt heavy in Swain’s hands.
“I am impressed. I didn’t expect it to be so real.”
He scanned the darkened balcony overlooking where the Demacian royals were standing. The cold night air was brisk. Swain breathed, inhaling deeply. “And accurate. This is nearly intoxicating.”
“What is, Swine?” A commanding voice mocked the Noxian. Jarvan IV, the Exemplar of Demacia, Crown Prince of the same, now stood on the balcony. His presence lorded over Swain. Jarvan was no longer the thirteen-year old child prince that Swain had been sent to dispatch. “How’s the leg?”
“You even know about that. Powerful,” Swain commented, raising his cane to his chin, “but, alas, not powerful enough for me, summoner. Enough.”
Jarvan looked stunned, and just a little bit confused.
“I do not play games – I make them. We are both aware of what I think happened during the mission you’re recreating here. You know how I truly feel about my weaknesses. You clearly know who I am, seeing as how you’re so blatantly ransacking my memories.” Swain happily leered at Jarvan. “Unless I am mistaken, this should satisfy half of your prerequisite needs for a champion’s entry into the League.”
“It does?” a less-commanding Jarvan asked. His countenance was considerably less Demacian now. He paused for a moment, and then nodded. “Yes, perhaps it does. We acknowledge your power, Swain of Noxus.”
The Demacian prince was no longer standing before Swain. Where he had stood there was now an older, strikingly beautiful woman in a purple summoner’s robe. The robe was highly ornate, unlike most of the other robes Swain had seen in his time. The female summoner bowed. “We would ask, however, that you please honor the League with a formal acknowledgement.”
Swain chuckled and nodded. “High Councilor Vessaria Kolminye – I am honored. I was not aware that someone of your stature conducted screenings personally. Is there a chance I could expect you to personally summon me into a battle arena?” Swain was clearly enjoying this exchange.
“Charming, as always, Master Tactician.” The High Councilor smiled thinly. “Your formal acknowledgement, if you would be so kind.”
Swain bowed deeply, kicking his cane out with a flourish. “Of course. With all due respect.”
The Noxian clutched his cane to stand straight. “You would ask of me how it feels to share my mind with a summoner. As you can see, I face little challenge in managing such a relationship. While my secrets are laid bare to the summoner that calls upon me, I know that they would not be used against me by the League. Such a violation of trust is against everything the League stands for... especially in these most tense of times when the League needs the cooperation of its client city-states.”
High Councilor Kolminye nodded approvingly. “Thank you, and yes – the knowledge exchanged in the bond is private between champion and summoner. You have nothing to fear.”
“Nor do you.” Swain bowed again, keeping his eyes locked on the High Councilor.
A tense pause was broken by the High Councilor. “Why do you want to join the League, Jericho Swain?”
Swain took the question in. The slight smug look that he had worn throughout the entire Judgment was gone. He stared straight into High Councilor Kolminye’s eyes. “To become the next ruler of Noxus, of course.” Swain pointed the head of his cane at the High Councilor. “The League will help me accomplish this.”
“The League does not arbitrarily choose sides in the matters of the city-states of Valoran, nor does it –”
Swain put his index finger to his lips. “You know what I mean... don’t you, Vessaria?”
The High Councilor paused once more. “Yes, I do. But you’ll have to earn the influence you need. It won’t come easily.” The High Councilor permitted herself the slightest of sneers. “Especially for you.” Her eyes were as two red embers, flickering intensely. “But that is not all, is it, Master Tactician?”
Swain nodded. “Indeed, it is not. Your Judgment... it is quite the ritual. It is more powerful than I had given you credit for.” He leaned in to the High Councilor’s left ear, a breath’s distance away.
Swain’s voice was soft, but every word hung on the air as he spoke. “I want to kill Jarvan IV, the ‘Exemplar’ of Demacia.” He smiled at the High Councilor, still close to her ear. “I will kill him too, Vessaria.”
High Councilor Kolminye locked eyes with Swain for one last time. She raised her right hand to his cheek. “We shall see, Jericho.”
A flood of light washed over them both, and Swain found himself alone in the chamber. A new set of double doors were in front of him, already opened. The League had found its latest champion.