A Violent Dance
Beneath a canopy of trees - deep within a forest not marked on any map - leaves crunched loudly under steel boots. On a day like this, the forest would normally be alight with the melodic sounds of its many varied denizens. Gone were the rich songs born from the beaks of many colored birds. Missing, the playful pitter-patter of small feet as critters scurried among branches. Not even the insects could be heard, upturning the soil to renew the ground. No, on this day, there was only the heavy footfall of armored boots on leaves.
Concerned glances passed between the soldiers as they crept among the trees. It was slow going. The area around them was encased in shadow, the sun struggling to break through the many layered branches over head. They did not, however, find themselves in complete darkness. Shafts of light defiantly broke through weak points in the canopy. If the soldiers wanted to press forward safely, they would have to move between these illuminated areas.
From high up in one of the tallest trees, a couple watched the soldiers. At first glance, one might think they were human. And in a way, they were. Yet, it would only take one look at their ears or legs to know they were something... more. Long, furry ears adorned their heads. From the knee down, they had more in common with a bird than a man. And if that didn't give them away, the eyes surely would. Fierce, feral eyes sat on both of their faces. These were nature's eyes, the kind of eyes one would never find in a city.
"Can I go now?" The male creature sat stock still, but spoke with an eager excitement.
The female let out a discontented sigh, "Come on, Rakan. I just need you to wait a little longer. You can do that for me, right?" She raised one hand and gently grabbed Rakan's face, pulling it closer to hers, "We can't have our fun until the stage is properly set."
Passion burned deep within the man's eyes. He moved in for a kiss, but the woman slyly turned her head at the last moment. She gave him a sidelong look, and smirked. "Man, Xayah, you're really killing me with all this waiting today! But fine, you win, I'll wait. Let's go set the stage, baby!"
In one swift motion, acting in perfect unison, the creatures leapt to another tree. Just as taloned feet met branch, they jumped again. As they soared through the air, Rakan took Xayah in his arms and spun her around. Each successive leap was met with an even more dazzling move. The couple danced in the wind, always insync, never once missing a beat. The performance was as intricate as it was intimate, with an audience composed solely of one another.
Xayah stopped them so abruptly that Rakan nearly fell off the branch. "Dang baby, what'd you have to go and do that for? I wasn't done dancin'!"
The woman simply smiled and ran her hand across his back. "Were you so preoccupied with the dance that you missed my handiwork?"
Rakan's eyes grew wide. He looked around frantically, tracing the path they'd taken through the trees. With a wide grin he looked back at his partner, "Oh, you're good. Real good."
Xayah patted his cheek, "The best. Now it's your turn."
Restlessness began to spread through the soldiers' ranks. They grew tired of this slow trek through such a dark and quiet forest. "We ain't gonna find nothin' out here, can we just go back-" A soldier began to say in an agitated tone, but was quickly cut off by the platoon's leader.
The leader gave them a stern look, "Anyone else complains, you'll be strung up by your bootstraps to one of these here trees and left to be eaten by the natives. Got it?"
A few gulps were heard as the soldiers saluted, "Sir, yes, sir!"
They continued creeping forward, watching on all sides for any sign of activity. Suddenly, the scout's hand shot up in a fist. Everyone froze. His hand came down, pointing between two trees off in the distance. The soldiers strained their eyes, trying to see what the scout had seen. A glint of bright yellow - gold, perhaps? - caught their attention. "What's that?.." One muttered.
From behind the trees, Rakan shot out, landing in front of the soldiers with a flourish of his cape. "Soldiers of Noxus! I am Rakan, battle dancer of the vastaya! What brings you here? I do hope it isn't... war, you seek?" A large smile accompanied his speech, his words flowing like a song.
The soldiers exchanged looks, then brought out their weapons. "Freeze, vastaya scum! Don't move a muscle!" The leader shouted, spear poised at Rakan's chest.
The vastayan man tapped his foot, the talons kicking up leaves with each motion. "You guys have no flair, no style! Here, I'll show you how it's done. Look!" With a flick of the wrist, Rakan procured a mirror and tossed it high into the air. It shone brightly as one of the shafts of light caught it, casting smaller beams on all of the soldiers. Necks craned back, watching the dazzling object.
"Oh come on now, don't watch the mirror! You should be watching... Me!" As the word left his mouth, the vastaya jumped, spinning in mid-air with his cloak brought in tight around him. The quills that made up the cloak caught the light, creating a far brighter reflection than the mirror.
For a brief moment, the soldiers were mesmerized. With a start, their leader shouted, "Get him, you fools!"
Heads shook as they struggled to remember why they were supposed to harm such a majestic creature. They looked at one another, questioning their leader's decision to bear arms against the vastaya. A few moments passed, and the murmurs gradually turned to shouts of anger and confusion. "Magic! He used magic on us! Don't look directly at that damned cloak!"
Rakan chuckled, "Oh, they think it was the cloak? Well that's no good. They aren't appreciating how damn sexy I am!" In one quick motion he threw the cloak back. He lept from tree to tree, spinning and tumbling through the air with each bound. In the distance, a bird call carried along the breeze. The first the soldiers had heard since entering the forest. The vastaya scolded himself, "Focus, Rakan!" He directed his attention back to the soldiers. His hand shot forward, and a beautiful quill streaked through the air. "Catch!" With a mirthful laugh, the battle dancer began heading deeper into the trees.
"After him!" The leader shouted. Next to him, a soldier fell as the quill hit him in the chest. The others simply stepped over the downed man and ran after the fleeing vastaya. "We got 'im on the ropes, boys! Just don't let your guard down!" As they chased Rakan, the soldiers stopped paying attention to the shafts of light. Before long, there was barely enough light for them to see each other, let alone the surrounding area. "Damn, someone get a torch!"
The sound of footsteps was replaced with hurried digging through packs. "Are you boys ready for the finale?!" Rakan shouted from behind a nearby tree.
The soldiers looked around frantically, but couldn't spot him. "Find that damned vastaya!" The leader shouted.
As the soldiers began to spread out, Rakan let out an excited, "Let's go!!" He sped toward the group of humans, magical light radiating off of him.
His body seemed to contort unnaturally as he threw himself into the middle of the platoon. Lowering himself to the ground, the vastaya was briefly surrounded by a golden halo before shooting upward. With him came half the soldiers, yelling in fear as they were tossed into the air. Before they crashed into the ground, Rakan caught himself and sped to the outer ring of soldiers. He ran in a circle at a speed the humans could only dream of achieving, trapping the soldiers inside. "Hit it, Xayah!"
"With pleasure." The female vastaya's sultry voice echoed out from somewhere in the branches overhead. The soldiers were panicked, jabbing their weapons in vain at the foe keeping them bound in place. A whistling sound penetrated their ears, assailing them from multiple directions. Screams began and were abruptly cut off, as several razor sharp feathers raced toward the men. The feathers cut through the platoon, tearing them to ribbons in a matter of seconds. Their bodies fell to the ground, and a pool of blood began to form under them.
Xayah stepped out of the trees, her hand full of bloody feathers. Rakan stopped running and leapt to his lover, scooping her up. "The way you figure out the perfect places for your feathers is so... so... hot!"
Xayah laughed and lowered her legs to the ground, "Put me down, Rakan. I want to find out who these soldiers were." The man sighed, clearly annoyed, but went along anyway.
As the vastaya walked over to the soldiers, the natural sounds of the forest were already starting to return. Xayah smiled a bit as a bird began to sing. The smile quickly faded as she plucked an emblem from the fallen leader's armor. "Noxus. What are they doing here?"
Rakan frowned at the emblem, "Now those guys really know how to rain on my parade. Don't worry, baby. We'll make sure they don't hurt the forest."
Xayah gave him a soft look, and allowed him to take her in his arms, "I know, my love. That was... exhausting. Come on, dance with me."
The couple laughed and danced, not a care given to the blood clinging to their talons, or the scent of death filling the area. For now, the forest was theirs again, and that was just how they liked it.