One could never imagine the thrill of war until you were among it. The fear, the desperation, the agonised screams, all caused by a mortal man’s greed. That was how great nations always fell. A wonder that mankind never learn from their mistakes.
Crows cawed, delighted at the feast presented to them, fresh corpses staining the once colourful plains before the Placidium of Navori, the heart of Ionian culture turned slaughterhouse as Noxian and Ionian alike fought tirelessly. None saw the demon that lurked in their company, picking her way across the battlefield, happily plucking up souls as they left their bodies in a dance of writhing shadows and long, wispy white hair. Crimson eyes roved over the piles of felled men as she feasted on their dying breaths but with each one she began to lose interest. Most of her ravens joined her in her banquet, not daring to roam far from their master, yet some insisted on circling ahead.
A sudden growl of torment rang through the ashen sky, tearing the demon’s attention to a peculiar scene; a man kneeling before a child, his severed arm held high above her head as he bled from several wounds. The ravens circled the two like vultures, ready to strike.
Gliding before the man, she slowly examined his features with a judgemental eye, wondering how it would feel to open his wounds with her nails, gauging just how much pain he could feel, when their eyes met. His silver hair was unbound and tinted with his own blood, as it whipped around his face, seconds stretching on for eternity as the demon bristled her wings. His brown eyes were so very interesting, wreathed in shadow but seemingly glowing a fiery gold in the sunset light as he bled out from what was to be a fatal wound. Pure, unbridled rage seethed from that stare, like an uncaged beast, burning with a passion so intense it threatened to scald her; the demon was giddy with excitement. His fervour spoke intimately with her own – this human was as much a monster as she was.
It was then that the demon decided: Jericho Swain would not die today.
A devilish grin on her lips, she snapped two clawed fingers, bathing the battlefield in shadow, an eerie red moon illuminating her back. Ravens flocked to her, cawing and screeching in ecstasy as she released her shadows, towering over Swain as he knelt before her, entering his psyche.
_‘Jericho…_’ she contemplated. _‘What a lovely name.’_
Time itself stopped before him as Swain saw the woman. The agony from his lost arm, the exhaustion from blood loss melting away as if they had never been in the first place.
Her form was hard to discern, pulsing and writhing, the only constant a pair of glowing red eyes, lit like fires from the deepest volcanoes, ancient magic flowing from the source. One could only imagine what those eyes had seen. He could barely make out a pair of smirking lips, pale skin and flowing white hair that tapered off into shadow. It was like looking through a rippling lake. What he could see was beautiful, there was no doubt, but it seemed wrong, almost criminal, to compare her to a human. Huge wings graced her back, broad and magnificent, with feathers fashioned from shadow, matching the ravens that stood at her command and the darkness that caressed her skin.
He knew when she spoke why he could barely muster a breath. He had seen her before.
Images flew through his thoughts, distant memories he’d thought long forgotten. Not her body, not her wings, he’d glimpsed the ravens but never in detail. No, he had seen her in a way he could never begin to describe with mortal words. Her scarlet glare, her darkness shrouding the streets of his city, her magic in the longing eyes of the Black Rose as they’d breathed their final breaths. It was all but confirmed.
She was not a demon. She was the demon.
Remaining eerily still, the tactician within him set to work, calculating advantages as she smiled in understanding, as though she had granted him the information herself, despite not having spoken another word.
_‘How would you like to live, my dear?’_ the demon finally asked, extending a clawed hand towards his injured arm, the words not matching the masked venom.
He finally was able to peer down at the stump that was his left arm, the blood frozen in a gruesome cascade but the general did not show despair, regret or weakness. Instead, his lips spread into a fierce grin, a cruel laugh barking between them as the passionate fire behind his eyes was reignited.
_Oh how you’ve failed, Pale Lady!_ He thought as he glimpsed the demon for what she could be to him: the most destructive weapon Noxus had ever seen. The Black Rose’s manipulation had sent him to a battle they knew would be his end, how wonderful it would be to return strong enough to take the throne himself. He could not only rule his kingdom – he could rule the world with her help.
Reaching to meet her hand, their gaze met once more and a bond was formed, an agreement, forged in the face of death: glory, power, victory in return for his soul and humanity. The stump glowed like the crimson moon above, a hand twisting from shadow to grasp hers as the ravens took flight around the pair. The deal had been settled, the partnership commenced.
‘Make me strong,’ he said with a smirk, tightening his grip. ‘And I’ll let you feast on the souls of millions of our enemies.’ The red moon started to fade, shadows receding as she thrust her very being into his body however just as her face faded, he asked, ‘What is your name?’
The demon whispered in his thoughts, a name he never thought to hear again.
‘_My name is Beatrice.’_