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Queen's Blade

Chapter Text

"Must you bring this... thing to all our meetings?" the duelist said, disgust and annoyance evident in her tone.

Quinn stopped mid-feeding Valor a biscuit, the bird being perched on her bent arm.
"Who? Valor?" the falcon in question cawed in protest, reaching towards the treat.

"Yes, 'Valor'. The only thing he ever does is make weird noises and eat all my biscuits." she stated matter-of-factly.

Quinn made a face "Well, if you're so bothered by him, maybe you shouldn't have invited me in the first place."

For a moment, Fiora seemed to be baffled by the soldier's words, but she quickly steeled herself afterwards. These meetings had been going on for a while, always on the Laurent mansion's balcony, and always with the excuse of an afternoon tea. The Laurent's youngest had taken a liking to the soldier once she learned of her feats in innumerous Demacian operations, seeing her (and thus her bird) as valuable allies.

"Fair enough."

A not so comfortable silence followed, mostly for Fiora, who was embarrassed by the chewing out she had just received.

"So...” the duelist began " I believe you must have heard of 'The Witch' killing Demacian patrols on the Kaladoun Marshes, no?"

Quinn nodded. "Oh yes, Prince Jarvan asked me to take care of that."

"Well, I need you to refuse it."

Quinn raised an eyebrow "Excuse me?"

Fiora huffed. "It is as you heard. I intend to take on that mission myself and, when I am successful, as we both know will be the case, the Laurent's honor will be restored. Simple as that." she smirked triumphantly.

The soldier chuckled.
"Are we talking about the same witch? The one who killed not one, but FIVE of Demacia’s most skilled patrols?"

"I do not see what is funny about that."

"Oh, that's not what I think it's funny. I find it hilarious that you think you can kill her with your... toothpick." it was now her turn to smirk.

Fiora was dumbfounded. How dare she, but a lowly peasant, speak of Montilyet like that?
"For your information, you ignorant pigeon, Montilyet is a skillfully crafted blade and certainly not a... toothpick." she glared pointedly at the woman.

Quinn giggled. "Wait, you named your sword? That's just priceless."

"She is no simple sword. Montilyet is a rapier. Swords are for brutes, not for nobles such as I. Which brings us to our current predicament. Will you reject the mission or not?"

Quinn thought for a moment. "Well, as fun as it would be to see you fail miserably, I'm actually starting to like your company. I think Valor agrees." at that, the bird cawed aggressively towards the duelist, who flinched almost insensibly. "I also can't refuse to take on a mission issued by Jarvan himself, you know. So, no deal."

Fiora frowned.

Suddenly, the soldier's face lit up.
"Or, me and Valor could go, and you could be our squire!"

Quinn noticed that wasn't a wise thing to say, as Fiora suddenly seemed struck with rage.
"I am no squire and will never be! How dare you even suggest such a thing ?!"

Quinn put her hands up in surrender. "Hey, I was kidding about the squire thing, no need to go all murderous on me. But I wasn't kidding about you coming with us."

The duelist crossed her arms over her chest. She sighed. "I am sorry. I suppose that is the only compromise we can achieve. However, you will mock me no longer, soldier." though her rage had subsided, her accent seemed to be stronger than before.

"You can go now. Do not think for a minute that this is over." she stomped out of the balcony and into the mansion.

Chapter Text

It had been three days since they spoke to each other, and Fiora had spent them making all the necessary preparations for their trip. This had to go without a hitch if it were to work.

"Ugh, Valor, I don't want to go train." the soldier moaned.

"Wake up, imbecile. It is not your bird, it is I."

She immediately got up, as if a bucket of cold water had been dumped on her.
"Fiora? WHAT, IT'S TODAY?!" she started picking her armor up from the ground.

Valor was perched on a wooden chest on the corner of the tent, cawing happily once Quinn scratched under his chin.
She turned towards the duelist, who raised an eyebrow in turn.

"Give me a minute."

Fiora nodded, closing the tent and waiting outside, tapping her foot on the ground rhythmically.

Quinn emerged from within the tent, fully dressed in her usual armor, although she held her helmet under one arm, her stubby red hair free from its prison.
"You're a ginger?" Fiora asked, genuinely surprised.

At that, Quinn quickly put her helmet on, Valor perching on her shoulder soon after.
"Uh, yeah. I know, it's ridiculous." she looked at the ground in shame.

Fiora huffed. "Nonsense. Do not diminish yourself for mere appearance, Ms Quinn...It doesn’t do you any good.”

Wait, was Fiora...blushing? No, a Laurent, much less the grand duelist, does not blush. Right?

The soldier chuckled. "Ok then."

Ok, now she was definitely blushing.

"A-anyhow, I have taken the liberty of getting you a horse from the Laurent stables for the journey. I imagined you wouldn't have a mount of your own."

"As a matter of fact, I don’t. Thanks Fiora." Quinn smiled.

"No matter, we must depart immediately if we want to arrive at my encampment before dark." she started to walk towards the entrance to the barracks, where two horses were waiting.

"Wait, your encampment?"

"Ah, yes. I have thought this through, Ms Quinn. The servants of the Laurent house were sent to set an encampment for us since the day you went to my house."

"Cool. Is it one of those fancy camps that the higher ups have? I bet it is. Is it?" Quinn insisted.

Fiora stopped."No, imbecile, it isn't 'one of those fancy camps'. We have no time to lose." she huffed, resuming her pace.

Suddenly, the soldier's eyes widened. "Shit."

The duelist sighed. "What is it now?"

"I, uh, forgot my bag..."

Fiora made a disgusted noise in turn, waving her hand in the direction of the tent.

"Ok, just a sec." Quinn ran towards her 'home', Valor flying behind her.

She came back a moment later, a medium-sized leather bag on her back. The soldier took a moment to admire the woman before her. The duelist's armor shone in the sun. Her black hair with deep red streaks framed her face perfectly, one perfectly manicured eyebrow arched in question to her. Quinn wasn’t blind, Fiora was obviously physically attractive but, between her fiery temper and difficult personality…

"Well?" Fiora asked.

"Now I'm ready."

"Good."

The two of them mounted the horses and, after a few minutes, left the capital Demacia.The roads to the Marshes were mostly plains, with the occasional farm or two.

Between the three of them, a skilled duelist and Demacia's Wings, this mission shouldn't be too hard. Quinn, the only non-noble to be a part of the Elite Ranger Team, had proved herself to be one of Demacia's most valuable assets. Fiora, however, had yet to recover her honor as the grand duelist of Demacia, as many still believed she had no skill whatsoever, and her victories were only products of the treason her father committed. Both were skilled warriors, in their own way.

"So, why are we camping if the Marshes are only half a day away from Demacia?"Quinn asked, breaking the silence that had held between them for the last two hours or so.

"Isn't it obvious? I don't know how you and the...bird work, but I'd rather the sun is still in the sky when I have to fight this witch." Fiora replied, her serious expression ever-present.

"Oh, so I'm not even going to be allowed to fight, even though I'm doing you a favor by bringing you along?"Quinn scoffed.

"Yes."

"Really?"

"If you defeat the witch, the whole purpose of my coming along would be for naught."She stated as if it was the most obvious thing in the world.

"...Fair enough."

Fiora smirked triumphantly.

"How long until this encampment of yours?"

"A few more hours. You shouldn’t worry, we’ll make it in time.”

Chapter Text

Finally, just when the sun started to go down, the encampment was in sight, as Fiora had said.
"We are here, although I don't remember telling my servants to leave. Odd."Fiora frowned even deeper than usual.

They strapped the horses to a tree, Fiora taking much more than necessary from her horse's saddlebags. It was obvious she didn't do this often. Quinn got her bag and moved into one of the two opposite tents. In the middle, there was a place destined to a bonfire.

As Fiora was still tidying her things, Quinn had already started the fire, and was now sitting on one of the logs surrounding it, petting Valor.
Fiora could hear her speaking to the bird from inside the tent. She shook her head.
She got out of the tent, now dressed in a cotton shirt and black pants, along with brown boots up to her knees.

"You don't do this often, do you?" Quinn asked, Valor now nestling in her lap like a cat.

"Do what?"

"Get out of your posh mansion and into the wilderness."

"This is hardly the wilderness. And I do not have any reason to leave Demacia, no."Fiora responded, her air of superiority ever present.

Quinn scoffed. "Figures."

"And what is that supposed to mean?"

"Well, you are a noblewoman, a typical one at that, that claims to be the best duelist in all of Valoran, but you have never even left your hometown." Quinn stated.

If Fiora was offended, she didn't show it. She simply huffed, shaking her head.
"While you were allowed to roam freely through the world as a low-life, I had to hold my family together by myself, when my brothers refused to help. I had political matters to attend to. Demacian laws sometimes-" she suddenly interrupted herself "My point is, not everyone has the luxury of having an easy life." Venom dripped from the duelist’s every word.

A deadly silence took over the encampment.

"Take that back." Quinn mumbled.

"What did you say? Frankly, you'll have to speak louder if you want me to listen to-"

"I TOLD YOU TO TAKE THAT BACK!" Quinn abruptly stood up, fist clenched on both her sides, her yellow eyes almost red with fury.
"You don't know what I've been through, what WE have been through, so don't say it like my life was any easier than yours, you spoiled BITCH!"

Fiora flinched with every word out of the soldier's mouth.

Quinn stood there, breath ragged, before her posture relaxed, and she slowly sat back down on the trunk. She sighed.

"I will be retreating to my tent now. Goodnight, Ms Quinn."Fiora said quickly. Before Quinn could say anything, the duelist was already inside the tent. The silence was now back with full force.

The soldier put her face in her hands.
Valor cawed from where he stood on the ground, nudging Quinn's leg with his beak.
"I know, Val, she IS a spoiled brat but...Ugh, I don't know."

The eagle made another noise.

"Ok, ok. You're right. Let's go to bed."

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Hours later, Quinn woke with her brother's name on her lips, sweating profusely. She left her tent and was surprised to find Fiora sitting in one of the logs, arms around herself, staring at the embers of the fire, which was long out by now.
"Couldn't sleep?" Quinn asked.

She nodded. The soldier had never seen Fiora look this small, this vulnerable in comparison to the usual rude and superior act. It was unsettling.
"What about you?" the duelist asked quietly.

"Nightmare."

At that, Fiora nodded again. It was a few minutes before either of them spoke again.
"Ms Quinn?"

"Yeah?"

"I am...sorry for my behavior earlier this evening. It was way out of line and I shouldn't have assumed about your life like that."

Fiora was...apologizing? This was rich.

"No problem, I guess. Sorry about calling you a spoiled bitch, too." she rubbed the back of her neck sheepishly.

"I guess I can be... difficult at times but" her mannerism suddenly changed back to the usual persona."We will have to get along if we are to kill this witch." Quinn could swear she saw the beginning of a smile on the duelist's face.

"Oh, so I'm helping now."

"Do not make me change my mind."

"Alright, whatever you say." she got up, smiling widely. "I'm gonna hit the hay, we have a long day ahead of us. I suggest you do the same."

"Oh, and drop the 'Miss', will you?" she winked playfully, entering the tent.

Chapter Text

It was morning. Fiora and Quinn had just entered the Marshes of Kaladoun. There were trees filled with moss surrounding them, and the place was hot to the point that it bothered them, but nothing they couldn’t handle. The ground was littered with puddles of thick mud. No matter how much they walked, they didn’t seem to be going anywhere.

Fiora groaned."Why does this place have so much...mud?"

"Well, it IS a Marsh. I guess ruining your pretty clothes is the price to pay for honor, no, Miss Laurent?" The soldier mocked.

The duelist huffed indignantly. "Shut your mouth."

"That is also why I brought my armor here" she gestured to the bag on her back "unlike some." Quinn smirked. She wore simple peasant clothes, what she usually wore under her armor.

"Well, if the witch decides to attack, at least one of us will be ready."

"You'll be ready, alright. To be stuck on this mud while I run to safety." the soldier laughed at her own joke, Valor also making a noise as if he was laughing from his perch on Quinn's shoulder. Fiora was slightly put off by the way the bird seemed to copy human mannerisms.

"That wasn't even a good joke. And the bird laughed, too. What does IT have against me?" Fiora asked.

Quinn thought for a moment. "Well you haven't been so much of a sweetheart to him either, have you, Fiora?"

The way in which Quinn said her name made the duelist shiver briefly before composing herself.
"...I guess that can be true."

The bird cawed.
"What's that Valor?"

Valor cawed again, as Quinn leaned her head closer to him, as if to hear him better.
"He said he likes you, and-- " she interrupted herself. "Valor! You little bastard." she giggled.

Fiora watched the whole exchange with amusement, deciding to play along.
"Well, tell him he isn't the worst bird I've seen, either." blood would be spilled if anyone heard of this, but the smile that took over Quinn's face made it worth the risk.

Suddenly, the playful air changed into something grim as they heard a noise coming deeper from within the Marsh.

"What was that?" Fiora asked.

The soldier put a finger to her lips signaling her to be quiet, and they heard the noise again. It seemed like some kind of creature.
Quinn took a few steps forward, before turning around.

“We have to be on alert. We don’t know what kind of creat--“it seemed as if something pulled her into the water, and she fell with a frightened yelp.

Fortunately, it didn't seem to be one of the muddier parts of the water. Fiora looked anxiously over the surface, waiting for any signs of the soldier. Quinn wasn’t swimming up.

The duelist then started to worry and debated diving into the water. It wouldn't be a surprise if Quinn was messing with her, after all. When bubbles started to appear, she knew she had to act. Quinn got her head out of the water for a moment, inhaling deeply. Anyone could see it: she was scared, desperately trying to make it to the surface.

Fiora jumped into the water, trying to get close to the soldier, only to have her punch her in the face, stunning her for a moment. She could hear Valor making distressed noises above them, flying close enough to the water so his silhouette was visible.
She swam up for a breath before diving again for a second attempt. Time was running out, she could see Quinn's movements getting slower. Fiora grabbed her under the arms and swam as fast as she could to the surface, pulling the soldier along with her to the shallower part of the Marsh.

Quinn immediately started to cough, water coming out of her mouth as she did so, and Fiora put her hand on the other's shoulder, more to ease her own discomfort for the situation than Quinn's.
It seemed like hours until she stopped coughing. Seeing as the danger had passed, Valor landed on Quinn's chest, nudging her chin with his beak.

"Merde. Quinn, are you alright?" Fiora was genuinely concerned.

Quinn laughed weakly, coughing a few more times from the strain.
"You didn't call me 'Miss Quinn'. Glad to see you listen to the peasants." she joked.

Fiora frowned. Her eyes glistened.
“Do not make jokes now, imbecile. What just happened.?"

"I guess I should have paid more attention at swimming class." with that, Quinn sat up. She was still visibly shaking. The duelist narrowed her eyes, she was hiding something. However, Fiora wouldn’t intrude.

Fiora nodded, getting up from where she was kneeling beside the soldier.

Quinn rubbed between Valor's eyes. "I'm ok, bud." The bird nuzzled her hand in his own weird way, and all Fiora could do was stare at the interaction.
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The two had decided to go back when they noticed the sun was starting to go down and there weren't any signs of the witch. However, an hour after the sun had set, the women realized: they were lost.

"What do you mean you don't know where we are? Weren't you the one with the map?" Quinn yelled.

"Yes but said map got wet when SOMEONE decided it was a good idea to go for a swim!" Fiora retorted. "And I thought I was the one to be inexperienced in the wilderness. Use your wonderful abilities, oh miss adventurer! Find us a way out of this place!"

"If it was that much of a bother why did you save me?!"

"What was I supposed to do? Leave you to drown? I am a Laurent, for God's sake."

Quinn was quiet. "Is that the only reason you saved me? Because you are a Laurent?" she said her family name as if it was venom in her tongue. "Do you really care so little about anyone but yourself?"

"No! Idiot, that is not it. You are not understanding what I mean-"

"Then make me understand, damnit!"

There was silence.

"I saved you because… you are a valuable asset to this expedition. You have abilities in battle that cannot be replaced. I wouldn’t want you to die, much less if I could have done something about it.”

Quinn scoffed. "So you care? Ha, don't make me laugh, Fiora. I appreciate the sentiment, though."

"Can you shut up and listen for a second, bird-brain? I, Fiora Laurent, care about whether you drown in a mucky marsh or not. Get it?" the duelist blurted out.

"I..."Quinn was speechless. It was almost as if Fiora was being truthful. "Thank you, I guess."

Fiora sighed."Do not mention it. Seriously. Do not mention this to anyone, or I will ruin you."

Quinn shrugged.

The duelist turned away, arms crossed over her chest. She wasn’t about to get attached to this woman. But why was she so scared at the idea of losing her?

"We should set up a fire somewhere dry." she suggested.

"Yeah. I agree with you on this, at least."

It wasn't long when they collapsed from exhaustion, the cold from their wet clothing and the strain from the walk and the incident getting to them.

Quinn sat with her back to a tree. A sudden breeze passed through them, the air now much colder.

"A-aren't you going t-to make the fire?" Fiora said, teeth clattering. You'd think marshes wouldn't be this cold.

"Later. I need to rest."

Fiora sighed, seeing that fighting about this would be pointless. She sat beside Quinn against the tree. The duelist wrapped her arms around herself in a failed attempt to warm up.

"Ok fine, I'll light up the fire." she got up. "But only because the noise your teeth are making is unnerving me.”

Fiora smiled despite herself. Reaching into her bag, she found a wool blanket. Guess her bringing half her mansion to this expedition did pay off.

After Quinn left briefly so she could bring firewood, the fire was lit, bringing immediate warmth to the both of them. Quinn returned to her spot against the tree, only this time, closer to the other woman. So much so that Fiora's entire right side touched the soldier's left. The duelist wouldn't dare herself to move.

"There. Are you happy?" Quinn said.

"Very much so." Fiora replied in a small voice.

Quinn laughed. "I was kidding."

Valor, to the surprise of both women, landed on Fiora's lap instead of Quinn's, making the duelist cast the bird a look of disbelief.

"He's a smart bird. He wants the blanket." Quinn giggled.

Fiora opened her arms holding the ends of the blanket, allowing the eagle to nestle into her chest happily, cawing in approval.
"Stupid bird." she said, petting his head.

Quinn took a second to observe her companion’s –if she was even able to call her that- face, illuminated softly by the firelight. A purple bruise was forming on the left side of her face.

"Was that...me?" she said, pointing to the spot right under her eye.

"It doesn't matter. You were panicking." Fiora paused. "I do not blame you, if that's what you're asking."

"If it matters, I'm sorry."

"Well, I would've been sorrier if you ended up dead." Fiora was once again doing that thing where she stares into the fire and seems to turn off everything else. Her voice was cold.

Quinn sighed. "I'll take the first watch. You can sleep, life-saver." she smiled sadly.

Without the energy to complain, Fiora muttered a simple "Thank you" before closing her eyes.

That moment was when Quinn realized: she would've been upset if Fiora died, too.

Chapter Text

               Quinn woke up in a cold sweat. Yesterday’s events did little to help with her near constant nightmares. She always dreamt the same thing, her brother and herself running in the woods near their family’s cottage- he was always faster than her- while she yelled at him to wait for her. Then, they would arrive at the only place in the woods their parents told to be wary of: the lake. They used to tell the both of them stories about how there was a monster in the lake.  Caleb never believed any of them, obviously.

                She remembered it as if it was yesterday. How her brother reassured her it would be fine to swim, just for a second. They were both very good swimmers, after all. She was convinced and, for a few minutes, they had fun playing in the water.  But suddenly, Caleb was pulled into the water, and she found herself panicking. She called out for him- Quinn was never the bravest out of the two of them- before finally diving beneath the water. Her brother was being pulled all the way to the bottom of the lake. She swam as fast as she could, but freezed when she saw what seemed to be two bright yellow eyes appear behind her brother. Then suddenly, he was gone. Later she would find out that he was eaten by the monster that lived in the lake. Since then, she hasn’t stepped foot in any body of water.

                Quinn shivered at the memory, turning to look at the woman beside her. She was still sleeping, and her eyebrows furrowed at something she was dreaming about. The soldier had never seen her look so at peace. She sighed, getting up. No use staying still when they were supposed to look for a murderous creature.

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                Later, the both of them decided to continue looking for the witch. They didn’t dare mention yesterday’s events.

                They walked in silence, Valor flying ahead in search of anything. After several hours, their search was proving to be fruitless once again. Which in turn made the two women quite irritable. They stopped once they reached a slightly elevated clearing with a big tree right in the middle of it.

                “Are you absolutely sure this is the spot?” Fiora asked, surveying their surroundings.

                They had managed to salvage what little they could of the map, although it seemed strangely different from before.

                “Yes, Fiora, for the third time, I am sure.” Quinn quickly checked the map again for good measure before continuing “From what Jarvan’s report said, the witch’s lair should be somewhere around here.”

                The duelist groaned. “And where exactly is here?” she motioned to the marshes surrounding them.

                “Well, maybe you’re just not looking at it the right way.” The soldier suggested in irony.

                Fiora extended her hand towards Quinn. “Give me the map.” When she failed to do so, the duelist added a “NOW.” Before forcefully pulling the paper from the other’s hands.

                Quinn put her hands up in surrender.  Fiora examined the map carefully, looking around for any reference points in the scenery. She noticed a big tree drawn on the map, the same one they were currently facing. There was a smudged red X right next to it, signaling the supposed ‘lair’. Fiora was absolutely not pleased by this situation. A couple of hours from now she had seriously started to consider giving up on her quest, and debated suggesting they spare their energy for finding a way out of the marshes. But she couldn’t possibly give up, not when she was so close to restoring her family’s honor; her honor.

                “I think we should sit down for a while, and actually plan our next move instead of walking in some random direction blindly.” Quinn suggested. At some point, Valor had come down to land on her shoulder, and now made some kind of… bird noise.

                “You say it as if I was the one that suggested that.” Fiora retorted drily.

                “It doesn’t matter. My offer still stands.”

                The duelist thought for a moment, before nodding. They each chose somewhere to make themselves comfortable, entering a very long (and very awkward) silence. Fiora studied the map while Quinn whistled a random tune.

                Suddenly, Fiora got up. “Resting is over; I know what we should do.” At that, Quinn sat up from where she was laid on the grass. “We will follow the direction of the X, using the tree as a reference.”

                The soldier nodded. “I guess there’s no harm in trying it.”

                So they once again turned to walking the marshes, though not so aimlessly as before. When the sun went down and they were engulfed by darkness-their only light being an oil lantern Fiora brought with her- they found themselves once again staring at that tree.

                “How are we back here?! We can’t be walking in circles!” Fiora exclaimed.

                “No, I know for a fact that we weren’t walking in circles, so it’s impossible we’re back at the same place.” Quinn added “Maybe it’s just a different tree.”

                The duelist glared at her. “Do you truly believe that, Miss. Quinn?”

                She was silent.

                Then, they heard an impossibly loud noise, both falling to the ground and clutching their heads in pain. It vaguely resembled a war-horn.

                As suddenly as it started, it was over, and they were left with ringing ears, slowly recovering from the strain. They looked at each other, fear and confusion reflected in their expressions.

                “What the hell was that?!” Quinn shouted.

                “I don’t know!”

                The tree started to move. Its branches twisted and cracked as it was divided in half, a completely unexpected sight beyond. On the other side, there was a different place. It wasn’t another part of the Marshes, it was the Witch’s lair.

Chapter Text

They both got up slowly, ears still ringing from the sudden loud noise.

                “What is that?” Fiora asked, hand reflexively reaching for the rapier on her belt.

                “I think this might be the Witch’s lair.” Quinn replied, bracing herself on the tree’s roots so she could peek inside the “portal”.

                “Don’t get near it, idiot! It could be dangerous.” The duelist pulled her away from the tree roughly.

                “Well, if I am right and this really is the Witch’s lair, we’ll have to go in sooner or later.” The soldier explained.

                Fiora huffed. “You have a point.” At that, Quinn grinned. “Of course I do.”

                The duelist took the lead, passing cautiously through the considerably narrow gap in the tree’s bark. The second she stepped on the ground of the other side, she felt a shiver grow through her. The atmosphere seemed darker in this place.

                It would’ve been a normal forest at first glance, if not by the blue-ish glow some of the plants seemed to posses, and the obvious mist covering the whole place. The top branches of the trees seemed to twist downwards as if to grab anyone that dared go near them.

                “I really don’t like this.” Fiora said. Quinn crossed soon after, coming to stand beside her.

                “Hey, look. That looks like a trail.” The soldier pointed towards a path lined on both sides with the glowing plants.

                “A very suspicious one, at that.” Fiora remarked.

                “Yes but, isn’t it supposed to be suspicious? I mean, we are looking for a witch.” She paused to look around for a bit. “In fact, I don’t think we are even in Demacia anymore.”

                The duelist nodded. “I got that feeling too. This place seems like something you would find on the Shadow Isles. But how are we here, then?”

                They both turned to look at the tree they had come from, only to find it nowhere in sight.

                “Well, now we have no choice but to move forward.” Quinn said.

                Fiora scowled. “How can you be so calm about this situation?”

                “It won’t do us any good if we panic now, will it?”

                The duelist didn’t answer that, instead starting to walk towards the path, rapier ready for combat. Quinn followed suit, grabbing her crossbow from behind her back. Valor landed on her shoulder, cawing in what she interpreted as a sound of distress.

                “There you are, buddy. I was starting to get worried.”

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                They walked down the path for a few minutes, before reaching another clearing-like area-although much bigger- like before. This one had what seemed to be the ruins of a mansion on it.

                “The structure seems old enough, though I’ve never seen designs like this before.” Fiora said, observing the mansion.

                “Well…”

                “…Well what?” Fiora raised an eyebrow.

                “We’re going inside, right? If it’s supposed to be anywhere, it’s here.”             

                The duelist sighed. “We can go inside, I suppose.”

                Quinn smirked triumphantly. Fiora scoffed, shaking her head in amusement.

                They entered the mansion, if it could even be called that, still. The main hall was huge, and the walls were littered with stained glass windows, though neither of them could make out what the pictures were. There were two sets of stone stairs in the middle of the room. There were some rotten pieces of furniture scattered around the room, and some long dead plants.

                They shared a look, and made for the stairs. The second floor wasn’t much different from the first, aside from the holes on the floor and missing ceiling. They could hear a distant humming coming from one of the rooms.

                Fiora frowned.

                “Do you think that could be the witch?” Quinn asked. Valor was perched on one of the ruined columns, observing.

                The duelist nodded. “It’s our best bet. If we are to enter, be ready for a fight. Also…” she paused, looking at the ground “If you die, I will personally dig your body out from your grave and kill you again. So don’t.” she said seriously, a blush covering her cheeks.

                “The same goes for you. Except the whole killing you again after death thing.” Quinn laughed nervously.

                “We shouldn’t be afraid. We are both exceptionally skilled, and no Witch is match for us both.” Fiora said more to herself then to her companion. They were both scared. “I will go first, and you can cover me in case anything bad happens.”

                “Yeah…”

                This was it. They neared the room, and the humming grew louder. Fiora positioned herself in front of the door. She nodded once to Quinn, before kicking the door opened. Inside, there was a woman. She didn’t seem to be too old, and her beauty was… mesmerizing. She sat on a bench in front of a broken mirror, brushing her long dark hair with an old comb.

                She turned towards them.

                “You know, it is highly impolite to keep a lady waiting, much less barge into her room unannounced. Isn’t that right, Lady Laurent?” she said in a sickeningly sweet voice.

                Fiora frowned. “But we were hardly unexpected here, were we not?”

                The woman’s eyes widened. “No, you really weren’t. I know who you both are, but do you know who I am?”

                They thought for a moment.

                “You are the Witch, aren’t you?” Quinn asked quietly.

                She giggled. “If you absolutely have to use that name, yes. I am the one you call The Witch.” Her eyes seemed to posses the same blue-ish glow as the plants.

                They both tensed at that, hands tightening around their respective weapons.

                “You killed all those people!” Fiora yelled.

                The Witch laughed, the sound chilling them both to the bone. “Those men and women were worthless. If I wasn’t the one to kill them, they would have eventually died by another’s hand. I gave them a chance of being a part of something bigger; after all, if it weren’t for them, you wouldn’t be here. You two have potential.” She smiled. “So, I will give you a choice: You can either leave this place now and never look back, or, you can die right where you stand.”

                “I’m not afraid of you. I won’t let you get away with your crimes.” Fiora said defiantly, teeth gritting in anger.

                “….” The Witch’s smile faded. “Wrong answer.”  She raised her arm above her head and moved it quickly to the left, just as a whole part of the wall detached and move to hit Fiora.

                “Watch out!” Quinn yelled, just in time for the duelist to jump back, away from the threat.

                Fiora scoffed. “Was that really supposed to hurt m-“

                The Witch grinned, and the air around Fiora glowed a blinding blue. After the light faded… the only proof the duelist was every there was her rapier on the ground.

Chapter Text

“No!” Quinn yelled, hand reaching out towards what was now thin air.

With a piercing cry, Valor flew towards the Witch, claws aiming for her eyes. But before he could reach her, another piece of rock flew from the wall, hitting him on the side. The bird crumpled to the ground. The way he laid… it seemed as if he was… No.

Tears welled up on the soldier’s eyes, and she fired as many bolts as she could in a fit of rage. She yelled as she loaded her crossbow again. Then she repeated the process until she ran out of bolts. With a simple movement of her hand, the Witch took out all of them, the projectiles falling to the ground harmlessly at her feet. The Witch grinned, and everything went black.

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Quinn woke up in the middle of a field. If it wasn’t for the rapier and the wounded bird laid around her, it would be possible to question if she was ever in that mansion at all. The sun hurt her eyes when she dared to open them. The field was eerily similar to the ones they passed on the way to the Marshes. The soldier was confused, how had she gotten here? Why didn’t the Witch kill her?

She shot up when she heard a meek sound coming from her right.

“Valor.” She choked out. Her throat was sore, and her voice weak.

She reached for her fallen companion, ripping pieces of her clothing so she could bandage –however poorly- his wounds.

“It’s gonna be fine, buddy. We got out.” She gathered him into her arms after she was done, hugging him gently to her chest, taking care not to disturb his bandages.

The soldier turned her head to look at the rapier to her left, the metal now pulsing with what seemed to be a glow similar to that of the Witch’s eyes, though this time it was red.

Quinn closed her eyes and sighed. She would have to come back to the Marshes at some point. Fiora didn’t deserve to die like this. The Witch had to pay.

She laid Valor gently on the ground so she could pick up the rapier, strapping it to her belt. She picked the bird up again and looked around her. A look behind proved that she was indeed close to the Marshes, as their encampment was in sight. She decided to go there before anything else. She was just so…tired.

Quinn dragged herself step by step until she got to the encampment. She opened her tent and almost fell down on the cot there. She slowly place Valor on the camp bed, then left the rapier on her other side. As soon as her back hit the cot, she was out.  She slept for what seemed like minutes. The soldier opened the tent slightly, only to be met with the already setting sun. It had to have been at least midday when she went to sleep.

Something on the other side of the encampment caught her eye. A bag, presumably left there by Fiora. She debated if the duelist would be mad if Quinn looked for her stuff. The knowledge that it didn’t matter anymore was all the encouragement she needed to get out of the tent.

There wasn’t much inside, just a few random objects. After further inspection, there was a letter folded on the bottom of the bag. The edges were crumpled from use, and it seemed the letter was old.

“My dearest daughter,” the letter said “before I begin you must know that all that I ever wanted was to protect you. I know you will probably destroy this letter as soon as you see my name on it, but if you still have even the littlest of love for me, then please read it.”

“This is from her father.” She thought.

First I must tell you: you are not who you think you are. We Laurents aren’t noble in any way, my dear, at least not here. You see, you were originally born in Noxus, as were I, your mother and brothers. You were too little to remember, but when I was requested in the war, I realized this wasn’t the life I wanted for my family. So I fled to Demacia, and did what all Noxians do the best: I lied. I used up some of the money given to me by my father upon his death to bribe minor nobles into covering our rising to nobility, and the Demacian Laurents were born. Your Mother insisted in teaching you what would later turn out to be your mother-language: Native Noxian. It is why we told you to never speak close to the servants when you were young, it would arise suspicion.”

“You must believe me when I tell you I intended to inform you ok this sooner, but was unable to. Your engagement with the Crownguards prevented me from doing so. Truly, one of them- your husband-to-be’s father- discovered our origins, and used them as blackmail so we would give your hand in marriage to his son. So when you chose to duel him… I couldn’t risk our shame being exposed. I am actually quite surprised they haven’t chosen to inform others of their findings. Then again, this situation is humiliating enough for our name. Fiora, you must know that I have faith in you, and I believe you are to one who will rebuild the Laurent’s honor, once and for all. This letter will only come to you after my execution, so I want you to know that I love you. Please help your Mother with your brothers; they were never the smartest of ours.”

And finally, it was signed by Benedict Laurent. As soon as she finished reading it, she threw the letter to the side. Had Fiora been lying to her, all this time? She trusted her. Now she only knew of the duelist’s true origin trough a letter. Of course she didn’t expect Fiora to tell her right away that she was Noxian, but Quinn deserved at least a little bit of respect, didn’t she?

Quinn sighed. “It doesn’t matter now, anyway. She’s gone.” She sat down with her face in her hands. She stared at the letter on the ground. This piece of paper could ruin everything Fiora had fought for-died for- in a matter of seconds. Never again would the Laurents be welcome amongst Demacian Nobility, let alone Demacian territory. They would be exiled at best, executed at worst. Of course the right thing to do was to turn the letter in, and expose the Laurents for the fraud they were, but did Quinn really want to be responsible for that? For ruining everything Fiora had worked so hard to protect? For destroying the lives of all of the duelist’s family?

Quinn had never lied like this before. Before she could change her mind,  she got up, and picked the letter from the ground, crumpling it in her hand before stuffing it back in the bag. She would leave for the capital in the morning.