Chapter Three

The girl had struck a nerve. Multiple nerves, in fact. He had already understood that the Fae Sorceress was unlike the other useless yordles with her cheerful insanity and bravery bordering on naivety, but this…

"Gah!" he shouted to himself as the teleport completed to where he had directed. To think she would dare to comment on his scars. Veigar tossed his gauntlets to his bed, glaring out the window as he did so. The sun was getting low, but some hours would still remain in the day. Below he could see the expanse of the forest from his fourth-story tower. Somewhere out there, that purple monstrosity was likely skipping around making friends with chipmunks and turning them into cupcakes.

The yordle turned away from the window, digging recklessly through the bottom drawer of his dresser across from the bed. It didn't take long to find, the old mirror. It was one of those things that had been in the library when he discovered the building so many years ago. He hadn't quite the heart to toss it away. Perhaps it was a matter of superstition… if so, that was a flaw he'd have to correct. Out came the ornate mirror, raised eye-level by his bare, scarred hands. Unnaturally bright amber eyes shone back, a sight that should put fear into the hearts of any mortal. Should.

Placing the mirror at the top of his dresser, Veigar slowly removed his enchanted hat. What remained was the shell of a yordle. Dull, black fur marred by three sizeable scars on his face along with a knick in his right ear. Lifeless amber eyes. Typical, childish yordle head-shape. He looked weak. Weak and pathetic and certainly not one of those ridiculous things the crazed girl had claimed. Cool? Handsome? Tossing superstition aside he swung at the mirror, sending it toppling to the ground where it shattered. There had been a reason it was hidden away from the start.

Veigar barreled through the doorway to his study downstairs, shoving the comforting hat back on. There was one way to prove himself powerful, and that was to continue his plan. He knew that at his next chance to teleport he really should go directly to Piltover. He might have even gone tonight if Lulu hadn't distracted him. But no matter, he would use the time to prepare. A fresh, new pile of Bandle City newspapers from the last week sat on his desk, ready to be explored.

Scanning first the headlines, the articles were sorted, read, and… for the most part, trash. But a few useful gems caught his eye, verifying what he had initially thought. He would find exactly what he needed in the City of Progress.

Unfortunately, Veigar's chance to make use of the League's teleportation crystals would not come for several days. The yordle kicked himself for not taking advantage the last time his chance came around. He would not allow himself to be distracted again.

It was on Friday that Veigar was finally summoned to the Freljord. As luck would have it, the summons came just as the yordle had sat down to eat breakfast. He was none-too-pleased but took it for what it was: a chance to make use of the League's power. Typically, battles on the bridge spanning the Howling Abyss went fairly well for Veigar. It wasn't difficult to make use of the narrow field with an event horizon. A good stun could spell the death of nearly any soul caught out. There were disadvantages though, namely in respect to the lackluster minion farm… but even an inexperienced summoner could usually make use of his abilities.

It was to his dismay, then, when the battle went horribly wrong. His summoner had allowed the enemy Teemo to kill him countless times. This was the last champion he wished to give an ego boost. … The humiliation stung more than the physical pain. But he suffered through it and when his team's nexus fell, Veigar was finally able to teleport to Piltover.

The crystal deposited him in a pleasant place of memory, the edge of a lush park with a perfect view of Piltover's skyline. Towering ahead was the center of the city, set high above like some temple of progress. Everything about its design was clearly meant to impress and inspire, from the large clockwork cogs to the clean-yet-intricate construction.

There was once a time when Veigar stood here in awe, admiring the sheer vastness and beauty of the city before him. He had been young and naive, entirely unaware of what would shortly befall him. Now the jaded yordle could see the city for what it was: a showy means to acquire power through technology.

Whipping the newspaper clipping out of his tunic he scanned the article once more. Around him, people brushed by unaware or uncaring of the small personage shrouded in darkness. The presence of Yordles in Piltover had grown rapidly in the past years since his first arrival. The city had been welcoming of Heimerdinger's pupils, all-too-happy to steal their technology for themselves.

The article clearly stated that Professor Heimerdinger's latest invention would be on display at the Yordle Academy of Science and Progress for the next month days before being transferred back to his workshop. The Academy was located a short walk away, but the tempting smell fresh tuna caused Veigar's empty stomach to rumble. Perhaps a detour would be in order…

As he shifted through Piltover's crowded streets, Veigar followed the delicious smell to a market stand. For a fraction of a moment the yordle considered doing the right thing, even reaching his hand into his tunic for the coins he had saved for just this purpose but… why? When the salesman chanced to look down the road the opposite way he slipped two cuts off the tray and slunk away with glee.

"Hehehehe," he chuckled to himself in what he was sure sounded quite evil, chomping on the first of the pieces. If anyone thought the little yordle in a spiky wizard's hat might be a little strange, they didn't say anything.

It was just before the second bite, however, that it happened.

A large BOOM reverberated through the city, followed by another. Shrieks were heard, shops were packed up, and a total of three wretched humans had the gall to trip on him as they ran from the apparent explosions. The remainder of his meal was trampled on in the crowd's hurry to get away. The blasts continued, but mostly Veigar was just angry that his attempt to eat had been foiled again. Pulling himself to a stand after the third fall, the Master of Evil looked up in hopes to see who had caused this disaster. With no immediate culprit in site, he turned to the one remaining human in the street. "You!" he shouted threateningly, sending his most evil of glares his way. "What do you know of this?"

The merchant, pushing his cart into an alleyway, didn't seem to notice the glare. "You better get out of here quickly, little guy."

Veigar's left ear twitched. "Why? Is this a regular occurrence?"

The man barely glanced at the yordle as he locked the cart up. "It's that Jinx again. Now shoo, go hide." Another boom sent the merchant scurrying.

If this really was Jinx's doing, revenge would have to wait. There was only so much he could do to another League champion before getting kicked out of the program. Veigar took the man's advice and left, if only to take advantage of the chaos the crazed woman had created. Unsure of how long it would last he hopped the stretch needed to reach the academy. The walkways were expectantly deserted but the inner halls would be the true test. For now he kept outside, glancing at the building names as he ran by.

The hallways were nearly silent, aside from the occasional yelp of fear or anger and distant booming of Jinx's latest assault. From the closed doorways of classrooms the whirring of gears and clashing of metal made it unclear if its occupants were either continuing their lessons as planned or prepping to join the fray. A few voices sounded as if they might be familiar but Veigar thought it best not to stray from the goal of observing the machine without being observed himself.

At long last, he dove in, finding the perfectly vacant display room of Heimerdinger's Carrier Ultra-Load 8th-Type Robot.

Veigar stood in awe, genuinely impressed by the sheer size of the machine. The minuscule photograph in the Bandle City newspaper he had stolen off Teemo's front porch did not do it justice. The shiny blue platform at the top took up half the room and three enormous hydraulic adjustable stabilizing legs could unfold to stand several stories tall. Four sets of drone blades large enough to lift the heavy weight. The red, rubber-coated, oversized crane in the center? Taking a quick look either way to ensure he was still alone first, Veigar climbed over the rope to look straight up into the mechanical monster. Perfect. Absolutely perfect for the job that needed to be done.

... Unfortunately, there was no possible way he could learn to control this thing without years of study. The Master of Evil hated it admit it to even himself, but it looked like he would need to find an accomplice if this plan were to work. Was it even worth it?

It was quiet now. As the realization of this struck him, Veigar hopped out and away from the machine. While it might not have been the most suspicious of things to be noticed observing the CUL8TR from a distance in a crowd of Yordles and humans alike, he was not yet ready to be tied to crime he was still devising. He hurried back out into the hall, passing the same noisy classrooms as before. Just as he turned to exit a final, much louder explosion was to be heard.

Veigar whipped around, his gauntlets subconsciously lifted high over his hat to press against where his ears lay hidden. Had Jinx attacked the building or…? A plume of smoke rushed out of the door opening across the hallway. Coughing, gagging, and the annoyed grumble of yordles joined the exit, hardly noticing Veigar's presence as they brushed past him. Perhaps if he snuck out the opposite direction they wouldn't-

"That was perfect!" A fur ball of maniacal glee burst from the smoky room, jittering with excitement. His colleagues groaned in response, making it clear to all they vehemently disagreed. "Well, maybe not perfect for this experiment," Ziggs amended, "but just think if I had connected the capacitor to a shorter fuse and used it to-" the Dean of Demolition stopped, noticing as the air cleared that his intended audience had completed their journey outside, leaving only the shadowy figure with a tall wizard's hat in the distance. "…Veigar!"

The mage cringed. The moment he realized it was Ziggs's explosion that had sent the researchers running, Veigar knew he should do the same. The Master of Evil wanted nothing to do with being placed at the Academy by a League associate, or to be around the champion's famous explosives. Yet here he was, clearly recognized.

Ziggs leapt to catch up, forgetting his experiment for the time being. "What's a yordle like you doing a place like this?" The question came without much judgment, only curiosity.

"League business, nothing you need to worry about," came Veigar's reply as he continued to hop away. How much further until the next exit?

"Oooh with who?" Ziggs laughed, walking beside him. "Heimer's back in his lab if you're looking for him."

Hesitating, Veigar glanced over. Maybe Ziggs could be useful after all… "Oh? And where exactly might that be?"

"South side of campus, big red door, blue sign. You can't miss it. What did you need him for anyway?"

"Don't you have an experiment to clean up?"

Ziggs snorted, "I don't clean. I make things go kaBoom! Nah, someone else will take care of it."

"Tch," Veigar gritted his teeth, speeding up. Apparently it wouldn't be that easy to brush the yordle off. "My business is done here. Get back to your presentation!"

Ziggs must have been satisfied, or at least bored, seeing as he sped off to return to his project. Veigar breathed a sigh of relief, but he knew the danger wasn't over. Until his plan reached its finale, no one could know of his involvement.

It seemed clear now that one accomplice wasn't going to be enough. Fortunately, for this new part he knew exactly who he needed. The problem was that the loss his breakfast would have to wait to be avenged.

an: A BIG thanks to my Beta Reader, Oceanbourne, for helping me work out some of the kinks in this chapter. I'm very grateful for his help as well as the kind reviews many of you have sent. Your feedback is appreciated!