Hey guys, thank you for the two reviews! I wasn't expecting any so it means a lot to me :') Hope this chapter doesn't disappoint.
"Goodbye little room, you've served me well,
I'm sorry for all the nail polish and tea I've spilled,
You saw my secrets, my fears, my best friend, my tears,
My loved and loss encased inside these walls,
A little girl grew up in here,
She's far too grown up to live here any more."
- Dodie Clark, Little Room.
For a second time, she woke disorientated. She was floating. Elizabeth was unsure of what to make of this. The only time she had experienced floating was when she had been taken swimming at age 10 and spent hours just floating atop the water while the other kids splashed around her. Of course, she was not swimming. It was the kind of floating one experiences just after they have been roused from sleep and didn't quite feel part of reality yet. I must have fallen asleep at the computer again. She thought, groggily, eyes still closed. Her breathing was deep and even; relaxed. Relaxation would be an experience she would rarely receive over the next few days, especially when she felt grounded enough to get a good look at her surroundings.
I swear I have something to be getting up for... She lazily stretched in her sleep-induced haze. The sheets scratched against her bare arms. The sheets weren't this uncomfy when I last checked.
Suspicion made her crack open one eye. The bed she was in was definitely not her own. The threadbare curtains were not her own, and the blank, white walls were most certainly not her own. The pyjama top slung over the chair in the corner, however, were hers, which she found to be something of little relief.
"Oh my god." She said aloud, almost choked for breath. "ohmygodohmygod." Memories came flooding back to her. The rift, the fighting, the pain, all of it. Peeking under the duvet that sheltered her, a blush coloured her cheeks when she saw that her top half was only covered by a beige coloured strip of cloth. Blood stains had soaked the fabric of her pyjamas.
She closed her eyes again. Maybe if I close my eyes and try to forget everything, it will all just go away... Wrapping herself firmly in the blankets that were not her own, she huffily closed her eyes and thought of her own bed back at home.
Someone knocked at the door. From under the blankets, she froze. Slowly emerging, she cleared her throat and called out, "No one's here!" then burrowed back under the covers, hoping that whoever it was would take a hint and leave. She definitely was not ready to meet any more figments of her over-active imagination.
To her horror, she heard the handle twist and the door being pushed open. The summoner had expected to see a lot of things when he entered the room, such as a little girl, a mage, an all powerful martial arts expert, a very confused women, but what he did not expect to see was a large lump in the middle of the bed.
"Um," He stumbled for words. "Miss, uh..." He glanced down at the file in his hand. "Miss Sparrow, I'm sure you have some questions. I am Summoner Lee and I... Um, do you think you could come out?"
Elizabeth peeked cautiously out from her 'hiding' place. The man in front of her was average in build and height, dressed in curious long blue robes. She reached for her glasses on the bedside table to see him a little better.
He continued, "As I was saying, I am Summoner Lee. I am a beginner summoner and I've been sent to welcome you to the Institute." He smiled eagerly, clearly just proud to say he was a summoner. He paused as if he expected her to say something. She did not. "I've also been sent to tell you that you're a mistake."
She blinked. "What?"
"Well, the League sometimes take people from your world to train as new champions. I mean, Runeterra doesn't technically have all that many people eligible as champions. The High Summoners needed another neutral champion, there are far too many Noxus verses Demacia feuds going on these days, you know how it is." He said. "So they tried to take someone from your world. I mean, it's not what they really like to do, your world isn't exactly full of suitable material and-"
"Yeah yeah, I get it, can you get to the point?" She said, incredulous.
He laughed nervously. "Yes. Well. The point is that bringing someone here isn't an easy job, sometimes things go wrong. Wrong people come through." He shrugged. "Sorry about that." He turned to leave.
"Wait!" She demanded, scrambling out of bed. "What the hell do you mean 'wrong people come through'? I can't stay here, I've got people to see, things to do!" She waved her arms around wildly. "You can get me back, right?"
"Um." He read something on the paper in front of him, running his fingers along lines of text unseen to her. "Well, no."
"...What?" She whispered, dumbfounded.
"W-w-we can only open portals at certain moments, when things are in the right alignment, the next one doesn't open for another ten years."
Elizabeth began to develop a very strong urge to strangle this young man. "So you're telling me," She said, "That you drag me through into this world by mistake and then you can't even send me home again?"
He licked his lips nervously. "Yes. I can take you to the High Summoners if you want to take it up with them. I was instructed to get you come clothing and food first, but if you want-"
"Take me to them." She answered, pulling on her blood-stained pyjama top.
The corridors of the Institute of War were large and ornate. They passed by door after door, engraved with the symbols of Demacia, Noxus, Ionia, and others that she did not recognise. The maze of hallways and atriums seemed endless, marked only occasionally by small gardens and courtyards where a few people sparred with one another. A few doors they passed held familiar names. A shell-encrusted plaque stated 'Nami, the Tidecaller' and she could have sworn she heard the ebb and flow of ocean waves coming from within.
"Would you like a tour later?" Summoner Lee asked her.
"Sure." She mumbled, distracted by what she thought were champions training in one of the courtyards. "Hey, is that.. is that..?
"Yes. The most fabulous fighter on the rift. The gentleman of gems. The most truly, truly, truly outrageous. It's Taric." Summoner Lee said, an exasperated look on his face.
They carried on walking. After a few minutes of passing ever similar corridors and hallways, they stopped in front of a huge door, bigger than the one even Braum held as his shield. The air had gotten significantly colder and the absence of sound was deafening. She tugged self-consciously at her pyjamas. Maybe I should have asked for clothes first...
"Ready?" Summoner Lee said.
I'm not ready for any of this. "Yes."
He pushed open the heavy door, muscles straining with the effort. She shivered. Inside was a large, circular room. Benches lined the walls like some sort of parliamentary chamber, and the floor beneath her bare feet was elaborately tiled mosaic, depicting scenes of battle that were probably ancient history by now. The ceiling was cavernous, stretching far above her and dotted with windows that let weak sunlight stream through. What chilled her the most, however, were the three hooded figures seated at one of the benches, desks in front of them.
She was still stood in the doorway and probably would have stayed there for a long time if Summoner Lee hadn't nudged her forward. Walking towards the High Summoners, a nervous feeling danced in her stomach.
"Elizabeth Sparrow." The middle of the three spoke. The voice was authoritative and demanding, echoing from the high ceiling.
"Yes?" She said, proud that her own voice did not quaver.
"We offer you our deepest apologies for our mistake." The Summoner began. "And it is with profound regret to tell you that we cannot send you back to your own home-"
"Surely you can find another way?" Elizabeth blurted, nervousness forgotten in a flurry of anxiety over the possibility of being stuck here forever. "I mean, I can't stay here, can I? I don't mean to sound ungrateful for your, um, hospitality, but I just want to go home."
There was a pause. "As I was saying," The High Summoner said coldly, "It is simply impossible to send you back. We can see from your match, if you could even call that slaughter a 'match', that you are unsuitable champion material. Therefore-"
"Hey!" She said indignantly, pride stinging. "It's not fair to judge someone on their fighting skills when you just randomly dump them with no warning into a battle arena."
"Whoa," Summoner Lee muttered, "Don't interrupt the High Summoners."
The High Summoner in question waited in icy calm for them both to quiet before starting again. "We can offer you two options. There will not be an opportunity to for you to return home for another ten years at least, so you may stay here and attempt to train as a champion we intended you to be, you may return after ten years. The other being that you stay here under our generosity, cleaning, cooking, doing whatever else is needed of you, until the ten years are over. From what was shown of you on the rift, we suggest the latter."
"You... want me to be your lackey?" She said, unbelieving.
"Even the great Institute of War is in need of maintenance. The rift needs tending to, cleaning after battles. Champions need to eat. The rooms need cleaning."
The insanity of the situation astounded her. She could either become a fighting machine and kill in the name of peace, or she could spend ten years in servitude. There was no telling which would be weirder. Fighting alongside the characters she had once played herself or serving them food and cleaning their rooms.
"What is your decision?" The High Summoner said expectantly.
"I... I want to train. I want to fight."
"So be it. Instructions will be sent to you tomorrow. In the mean time, get some rest. You will need your strength for the training. You are dismissed."
Summoner Lee took her arm and led her out of the chamber, closing the door behind him. I just agreed to become a League champion. That's a thing that I just did. Why did I do that, I'm going to be so useless and I don't know anything about fighting and oh my God what have I done. She stared at her arms, slender and practically devoid of muscle. "I have so much work to do." She muttered.
"This is so exciting!" Summoner Lee said, giddy. "A new champion on the rift! I'll hopefully be the one to oversee your training, I might even get to summon you soon!"
"Yeah, maybe..." She said. "Could I maybe get some food and clothes?"
"Oh yeah, I'll take you to the dining hall and then I'll drop some fresh clothes off at your room." He trotted off and she followed, still dazed and hardly able to complete a rational thought. Her stomach growled loudly and she realized how hungry she was. When was the last time she had even eaten? Yesterday? Longer? Time seemed split up. How long had she spent out on the rift? Was this the next day?
As soon as they came into the cafeteria, Elizabeth made a beeline for the food, grabbing a plate and loading it full. "Do I have to pay for this?" She asked, mouth filled with bread.
"Uh, no. Listen, I'll go and drop you off some clothes, just ask someone how to get back." She was too preoccupied with her food to say anything. Once satisfied with her plate, she turned to find somewhere to sit down, and was met with a shock.
Nibbling delicately on carrot sticks was a fox. Or at least, half a fox. Her dainty ears twitched and all nine of her tails were splayed out behind her, perfect rose coloured lips curved upwards in a smile. Smiling at Elizabeth. She blew her a kiss, eyes glittering. Helplessly, Elizabeth stepping forward, a dopey grin on her face, thinking about just how irresistible the fox looked until the magic wore off. Ahri gestured to the seat opposite her. Oh boy. Did I just get charmed? Blushing, Elizabeth sat in the appointed seat, suddenly self conscious about the food on her plate, when she looked at the heaps of fresh vegetables and salad on Ahri's.
"I was mid laning on the rift when you fought." She said, a curious look on her face, amber eyes glowing. "You were brave for one so inexperienced with war."
"How do you know I'm inexperienced with war?" Elizabeth asked, surprised that Ahri was even paying attention to her. She took a bite of sandwich.
"The way you handle yourself. It must be nice to be so untainted by war." She spoke. "But also that you could not hit a target even if it was standing still." The Nine-Tailed Fox snickered.
"Yeah. I know" Elizabeth said glumly, embarrassed. "Maybe I should have just become the League's lackey instead."
"Perhaps you are more skilled with magic than a blade."
"We don't have magic where we come from."
Ahri looked shocked. "No magic? How dull."
Elizabeth shrugged, chewing. "I guess, but it's not like I've ever known anything else."
"There is a possibility you could access magic in this realm. If you can be affected by it, chances are you can access it." Her whiskers twitched.
This is so weird. "I hope so. I'd love to be able to use magic."
"I could help you, if you wished."
"What?" Elizabeth was confused. "Even the High Summoners practically said I'd be useless. Why would you want to help me?"
Ahri laughed. Jesus, even her laugh sounds like bells or fairies or some shit. "I see something in you." She cocked her head. "And it won't be long before Noxus or Demacia tries to recruit you for their cause. The game of the Institute goes far beyond settling disputes. It's politics."
"And you want me on your side?" She said slowly, brows creasing.
"I do. You can never have too many allies in this world." The fox smiled. "I'll see you tomorrow, Elizabeth."
Ahri left the table, fluffy white tails springing up behind her.
"Yep." Elizabeth said. "This is officially the weirdest day of my life."
Hope you enjoyed :) If anyone has any advice, I'd be glad to hear it 3