The Zed lost his Shadow arc
Plot: Zed somehow ended up losing his Shadow. I have no idea how.
Written in the event of Jhin's reveal (before his lore is released, so there are inconsistencies).
Characters: Zed, Vlad, Lulu, Sona (cameo), Jhin.
"Hmm, did you hear that, Lulu?" asked Vladimir as he heard a thumping noise.
Lulu pursed her lips
"Yeah," said Lulu. She began gliding on her wand, with Vladimir following short. In his opinion, getting lost in the woods was not a good idea, but he trusted in Lulu's sense of direction. Believe it or not, Lulu does not get lost.
After five minutes Lulu stopped. Vladimir glanced around. Trees were cut down, knife marks across their bodies. Some shurikens were scattered about.
"Oh dear," said Vlad "what is an Ionian doing here?"
"Something is wrong." Lulu affirmed.
"I'll look for a vital sign," said the Hemomancer. He could detect a faint sign of life just around that bush.
Vladimir carefully made his approach. After confirming what was there, he sighed in defeat.
"Lulu," he called, and not waiting for the yordle's reply, he said "we have a situation."
Vladimir hauled off the ninja's body down his bed.
"So let me get this straight," he began "you want me to house Zed, the Master of the freaking Order of Shadows, treat his wounds in the heart of Noxus, ignoring any implications and danger his appearance here may produce or even the fact that my life can be endangered?"
Lulu smiled apologetically
"Other than the last part, yeah. Mr. Zed won't hurt you if he knows you helped him."
"What I know about him suggests otherwise. As far as I'm concerned, this man detests weakness. Guess what he'd do if he'd gained yet another witness."
"He won't. I know he won't."
Vladimir sighed "I don't trust Ionians, you know."
"It's not as if you trust everyone," Lulu shot back.
"No, that is unwise," Vladimir agreed "what I'm trying to say is, I don't trust him. By the way, if you know any other scary people who might show up unconscious around Noxus I'd really appreciate a list."
The yordle laughed "Telling the truth, I did not expect this."
"Well, I'd better get started. Honestly though, I'm more wary of whoever did this to him," said the Hemomancer "do you or Pix have any idea who he is?"
"No idea," said Lulu "and I don't like this anymore than you do."
Zed slowly opened his eyes.
He'd been defeated. He'd shown weakness.
His temper flared. He was too weak. Weakness could not be accepted.
But where was he?
The Master of Shadows was aware (somehow) all of his wounds were fully healed, and he could move his limbs with a little difficulty. He was lying in a non-Ionian styled bedroom decorated in red…
"Oh, you are awake," an aloof voice greeted him.
His gaze snapped to the newcomer. The tall man had white hair, pale skin and sharp silver eyes. He was smirking.
"Vladimir," Zed growled.
"Afternoon," said the mage "water? Food?"
All the blood mage got in return was a glare.
"Come now, why are all Ionians so dead on humorless?" Vladimir complained, setting a tray down the left nightstand. There was a glass of water and a bowl of steaming congee "I don't poison food. That is an underhanded tactic."
"Why am I here?"
"Ah," Vladimir drew a chair and sat down next to the bed "shouldn't I be the one to ask that question?"
He got yet another glare
"Long story short, you were injured, Lulu and I found you, she talked me into healing you, boom. Are you sure you don't want some food? Your blood is lacking nutrition."
"You can heal," was the first thing that came to his mind. Not the greatest reaction, but hardly unjustified; homicidal blood magic was not equal to healing capabilities in his book.
"Yes. I can control the substance running through you, in whatever way possible." Vladimir replied patiently.
Zed looked at the mage again. He looked smaller and less intimidating without the large red coat and the claws, yet Zed did not doubt the power was still there. He even thought that this smiling politely Vladimir was twice as dangerous.
"You know, you're really formidable. Your pulse did not even flinch even when you are feeling threatened," Vladimir remarked.
"I'm not feeling threatened."
"Suit yourself," he shrugged "I do suggest you eat, though. You are seriously calling for some calories."
Zed grumbled, but he gave in. He was hungry, he'd give Vladimir that. And that congee smelled delicious.
"So, any idea who your assailant was?" asked Vladimir after the assassin finished his meal.
"I'm not sure. It was an ambush. I was caught off-guarded. But I'm sure I've never seen that sort of power before. He was using some sort of magical gun."
"Hextech," Vladimir fixed "or Techmaturgy, if you prefer. Why were you in Noxus in the first place?"
"I got a note. It told me to come here."
"What? And you decided to do what it said?"
"I was unaware the note was slipped in. You will understand if I find it highly alarming."
"Someone outdo you, and you think it's a good idea to give in? Okay, if I were you, I'd never have taken such an obvious trap."
Zed ignored the remark "You said Lulu wanted you to help me."
"Yes. She had to leave, unfortunately, and was sorry she couldn't attend to you. Apparently she was befriending you as well, huh?"
"Sort of. She just can't be turned away."
"I know that feeling, man." Vladimir's smile implied something – he just couldn't figure out what in this state "your weapons are in the living room. I'm taking your suit to the laundry, so you're wearing my shirt. Don't worry - no striped pants."
"You… undressed me?"
Vladimir burst out cackling
"Are you the Master of being insecure?"
"Shut up!" said Zed, regretting his stupid words immediately. Of course he'd have to do that. It was just that… he'd not been taken care of in a long time.
Vladimir shrugged (what an easy going guy)
"The living room is downstairs. Turn left. I'll be cleaning the dishes. If you feel up to it, I mean."
"I can walk, thank you" said Zed sarcastically.
Vladimir was already in the living room with a glass of wine and a book when Zed entered.
"Wine?" the mage asked.
"I don't drink."
"Alcohol deludes one's mind."
"Ah," Vladimir said thoughtfully "you Ionians are dull, as always."
"Don't you get drunk?"
"If I so choose."
Zed picked up his blades from the table. He frowned. The blade felt somewhat strange to his clutch. Normally a rush of excitement would accompany carrying them – and yet…
As if noticing is uneasiness, Vladimir asked
"Is there something wrong?"
"Do you often read people like that?" asked Zed.
"One's blood does not lie. I can even tell the slightest change. You are a tricky one, however. Throughout your whole time awake your pulse stays unnaturally even. The mask may have helped with the facial expressions. Yet I reckon if someone like you makes a facial expression, something serious is happening."
"You are a handful with words," said Zed with half a smile "where's my mask?"
"Ah. That. It was gone."
"Whatever do you mean?"
"You weren't wearing it when I found you. I'd assume the assailant had taken it."
Something was wrong about all of this.
He checked the blades again.
"Just so you know, the bill is on you if you lash out on any of my furniture,' said Vladimir "please, keep it down. Noxians are enough destruction of property any day."
Zed couldn't help a chuckle
"You're pretty funny, you know that?"
"Of course. Thanks for the compliment, anyhow. Is there anything I may do to assist you?"
"Is there anything I may do to assist you?" was a question he'd not heard in quite a while. He should have felt indignant that he was offered help (but that could be for later). Then, he only felt curious.
"Why are you helping me?"
"As I've said, Lulu asked me to help you. And she's my friend. I will do what I can to make her happy."
"Yes, my friend," said Vladimir with a pleasant smile. Zed forcefully reminded himself this man was an unrepentant killer with an innate bloodlust. He was not supposed to be a nice, yordle-loving man.
And yet, Vladimir didn't seem to lie.
"Thank you, I guess," said Zed carefully.
"You're welcome, Master of Shadows. If you can already walk without any issues, you may want to accompany me to where you were found unconscious. Maybe it would give you some clue?"
"Alright, sounds like a plan. But first, I need to change out of this… aristocratic clothing. How's the laundry going?"
It turned out that Vladimir didn't do his own laundry, which is understandable enough, and had a laundry service catering to him weekly. The clothes and Zed's suit would not be available in a day. The blood mage said that one of his acquaintances introduced him to a new Piltoverian invention named "washing machine", which (surprise!) washed clothes automatically, and that he was planning to purchase this appliance when it was produced commercially. Then, he'd be able to watch over his own laundry.
"It's really surprising sometimes what those hextech geniuses can do, even though mostly they make no sense."
Zed shrugged. Ionians weren't so well versed in technology anyhow.
"So I have to wear this?"
"I hope it's not too uncomfortable. I picked clothes which I find least inhibiting physical movements."
"Yeah, it just feels strange. You seem to like doing things by yourself."
"I like cooking, books and wine. That's all there is, I guess. Turn right here."
They'd walked close to the border of the city when there was a yell.
"It seems like there was a robbery. I can sense a lot of blood," Vladimir observed "There are five of them, armed, heading our way. Seems like there were casualties…"
"Do things like this happen everyday?"
"Noxus is a lively place," Vladimir smirked "oh, there you are!" he exclaimed, to the group of robbers which just showed up "Stealing isn't nice, you know."
"This is Noxus! We're stronger, we take! Don't you dare stand in our way!"
"You are not strong, my dear. You steal, and that makes you a coward."
"You want to die, don't you?"
Zed hissed "and do you often challenge thieves and robbers like this?"
"If they run into me, yes,' Vladimir smiled amiably "as I've told you, I dislike underhanded tactics. That includes stealing."
The first thief charged their way was met with a swift kick from the Master of Shadows. In a split second, he was disarmed and lethally stabbed in the neck.
"If you would,' said Vladimir.
The others began closing in, weapons ready. Zed smirked. It wouldn't have wasted him over two seconds. He unleashed his blade and took down one, dodged the second's blade and called upon his shadows to evade the third.
The wrongness returned.
He couldn't summon his shadows.
Zed reacted in time too late and was kicked in the shin, but he held his ground and retaliated. He didn't need shadows to handle these imbeciles.
He didn't notice throwing knives headed his way until Vladimir intervened. Immediately, crimson liquid flushed from the two robbers in time to block the projectiles.
"You are distracted." Vladimir stated. He approached the knife thrower, who now cowered in fear "now, what do I do with you?"
"The strong shall live, you said. Shall we rectify that?"
Zed didn't fail to notice how Vladimir genuinely enjoyed killing, as if it was a natural urge. The way the man's pupils dilated; how he looked at the blood gushing out of his victims… it spoke of satisfaction. This man craved to see blood spilled.
Vladimir turned around, smiling politely again.
"Oh hey, sorry for the mess. It happens, sometimes. But what is wrong with you? These robbers shouldn't have been able to touch a strand of your hair."
Zed frowned "I can't summon my shadows."
"You heard me perfectly, and I don't like repeating."
"I see," said the Hemomancer "that was what was bothering you. Do you think it was the attacker?"
"I'm pretty sure it was," said Zed "I just don't know how."
"I think I do," said Vladimir "your shadow is literally gone."
The assassin took a deep breath after looking at his feet. He hissed "Shit."
The day could not have gotten any weirder.
"This is where we found you," said Vladimir, showing the assassin the battle field "ringing any bell?"
"I don't have amnesia, so no." Zed said. He looked down the ground, still troubled by the lack of a shadow under his feet. What was he, Peter Pan?
"This ammunition is strange. Very strange," Vladimir commented "I've never seen anything like this."
"Careful! There are traps around!" Zed warned.
"Traps? No wonder you were outmatched."
"Yeah. He can bind people who step on his traps with a pinkish stroke of power."
"Hmm, most intriguing. They also didn't recognize him."
"The former Hemomancers," Vladimir explained absentmindedly "it seems this guy is a rising star."
Right, the Hemomancer was actually a collection identities, Zed noted.
"What does he do? Stealing people's powers?"
"Maybe not for his usage, but apparently he did. He seems powerful enough on his own."
"Whatever his purpose, I need my shadow back."
"Right," Vladimir concurred "have you managed to spill his blood?"
"No, of course he's not dead yet!"
"No, I mean, did you make him bleed?"
"Oh," said Zed "I did."
"Can I see it?"
The assassin handed him the blade. He could still make out the faint blood stain on the metal edge – red. Whatever it was, it was a man. He could handle a man.
Vladimir seemed to be taking sniffs out of the blade
"Hey, you're not gonna taste that, are you?"
"Of course not," said Vladimir, looking at him strangely. The blood stain suddenly liquidized and rolled off the blade in a drop "this is good enough a sample. I will conduct a scan to find the person with this blood in their veins. If you'd wait just a moment…"
"I got the location," Vladimir announced. The Hemomancer had been in sort of a trance, Zed guessed, some kind of blood clairvoyance. It seemed to have done the job "it's within Demacia territory though. We have some walking to do."
"Demacia? How did he travel so fast?"
"Not exactly 'too fast', you've been unconscious for about a day."
"A day?" Zed exclaimed.
The mage shrugged "a lesser man shouldn't have been able to stand for a week. You are sure a sturdy one."
"Well that comes with the line of work," said Zed drily "give me the exact location. I'll come looking for him…"
"Wow there, hold the freaking phone…"
"Seriously, you don't know what a phone is? Anyhow, you're not going alone, unless you want to die and stuff."
"Last time I was careless. I know what he can do now. This is my personal matter. I will deal with it accordingly."
"You're walking into his territory without your powers, may I remind you? Are you obstinate or are you stupid?"
"Then what do I do? Asking for help?" Zed retorted before he knew it. He did not intend to say that, but it rang true nevertheless. No one would want to help him.
Except the mage before him didn't have the same idea
"Uh, you're truly dense, aren't you? What've I been doing for the past two days again?"
"What? Because Lulu wanted you to?"
"Because you are an important friend to Lulu, and she is an important friend of mine," said Vladimir in an understanding tone "Zed, it takes a lot of strength to admit you are vulnerable. And I know you hate being vulnerable. But now is the time you are, and you have to cope up with it. You lost your power. You cooperate with someone to get it back. It's simple as that."
I wished it was that simple.
"I guess," Zed breathed. He needed control. Vladimir was still right, practically without his shadows, he would stand no chance against this assailant. He needed back up. And a Hemomancer didn't sound too bad "did you say Demacia?"
"Yes, I did. And he was being quite open as well, walking around the city like that."
"Alright. How long does it take to travel to Demacia?"
"Walking? Pretty long. However an associate of mine provides portal services to other nations."
"Illegal portal services, you mean."
"Non-state organized transportation portals," Vladimir adhered "but yes, sort of illegal. I've already commissioned a portal, what do you say we go get what I paid for?"
"Sounds like a plan," said Zed "and by the way, what's a phone?"
Twenty minutes later the unlikely duo of assassin and caster appeared a mile within the heart of Demacia. Zed was still indignant how a phone had nothing to do with the conversation they'd had before, though he must admit this… phone sounded really convenient. Vladimir claimed "hold the phone" was just an expression…
"No offense, but do all Ionians live under a rock?"
"Some does, but mostly they prefer to live on top of rocks."
Vladimir didn't bother hiding his chuckle
"Honest advice? You need to hang out more."
"As in, going outside and seeing how the world works. I'm always getting the impression you Ionians are old people in seemingly young bodies."
"Well I suppose that is true…"
Zed snorted "Certainly not," he began looking around more closely "isn't it kind of crowded?"
"Oh, yeah," said Vladimir casually "there's a demonstration of a certain Sona Buvelle today. She's also Ionian, I'm told."
"The Maven's concert? How did you know of this?"
"I may or may not have overheard Swain discussing it with his bird," said the Hemomancer sheepishly.
Zed laughed "Fair enough, is he close?"
"Yeah, just around the corner. I can sense his pulse now," Vladimir paused "well, I'd be damned. His pulse is just like yours, albeit even slower. Is he an Ionian?"
"What, are Ionian heartbeats different from others?" Zed asked tauntingly.
"As a matter of fact, yes. Ionian's are generally calmer, second beat less distinguishable, and extremely stable if you are a ninja… which you are."
"Creepy," said Zed "you'd be the scariest stalker I've ever known. Blood stalking is a thing…"
The Master of Shadows paused. The air, it reeked of a presence so familiar…
He felt his heart skip a beat.
Vladimir looked at him, dropping the signature smirk
"Zed?" he asked with a touch of wariness.
"It can't be." Zed whispered despite his pride.
There was no way he could have… there was not a chance…
Then again, if he thought about it, not anyone would have been able to sneak up on him.
"Zed? What's wrong?" asked Vladimir again. That helped him regain control.
If that was indeed him, then why was he here? What would that man be interested in? Art… Art!
"Vladimir, is Jhin close to Buvelle's concert?!"
The Hemomancer raised an eyebrow curiously
"If 'Jhin' means the guy we are looking for, then yes, he's just around the corner. The performance will be held at a clear area – turn right in two blocks."
"We've got to hurry," said Zed "now!"
Vladimir seemed like he had questions, but nodded. If something could upset the Master of Shadows, it must be pretty urgent. He sank into a Sanguine Pool to match the assassin's sprints.
The mysterious man watched the Maven from a distance. Take a second to look awesome, time to go. Walk in slow motion, so you still look awesome… wait, we're getting ahead of ourselves.
He sneered. Yet another Ionian who misused her exotic talents. Her art, it was too hopeful, too full of life, it was not real art. She lacked the cruelty that made his masterpieces beautiful, and yet these blind people were drawn to her.
She'd see. No one would usurp his beauty.
Her connection with the Etwahl was impressive, nevertheless. That only brought him more disappointment. If she would only show them, how perfectly terrifying the thing could have been.
Too concentrated was he on Sona Buvelle that he barely managed to dodge the shurikens heading his way. They seared past his skin, drawing a touch of his blood.
The man smirked. Only a handful of people could do that to him.
"Ah, Zed," he addressed the angry ninja "you caught up."
"Jhin," Zed growled "how did you escape?"
"Art cannot be stopped, Zed. You've never understood this. There will always be willing audience," Jhin stated "I see you have changed too. No longer working with that old man's precious son."
"Right, which willing audience let you out again?"
"I'm afraid my audience's identity will have to remain a secret. You know, customer's confidentiality. But why are you so upset about it?"
"I think you know why. You stole my shadow. I want it back."
"Ah, yes," Jhin spoke slowly "I'm sorry I was being so rude. I should have had a chat, for old time's sake. But you can see I have a tight schedule to run."
"I don't give a damn. Give me my shadow back!"
"I'm afraid it will not do," said Jhin "my desire is to make you beautiful. Your shadow is a necessary means to that end."
"I don't have time for your games, Jhin. My shadow,"
The "artist" didn't reply immediately. He looked over Zed's shoulder
"You have a companion, a Noxian! Oh, how far have you strayed? Hello, Noxian. Do you know how many boring performances I have been asked to perform at your nation?"
Vladimir smiled, rising from the blood pool
"Oh, I think I've heard of you. High Command had been buzzing about it. Some time ago there was a serial killer at Noxus, killing four prominent figures and arranging them in grotesque artful scenes. Rumor was that it scared the Command into a truce with Ionia. You were called the Death Virtuoso, if I'm not mistaken."
"Oh yes, what did you think about them?" Jhin spoke in quite a passionate tone "so glad to find someone aware of my masterpieces. Do excuse me, you are?"
"Vladimir, Hemomancer," said Vladimir pleasantly "you didn't have this fancy gun back then."
Jhin's eyes glinted "You realized? You must be a professional yourself."
"Well my tastes aren't that sophisticated…"
"Vladimir! We are not here to discuss the art of homicides!"
The mage blinked
"Oh, yes. A pity. Anyhow, nice gun."
"Thank you," Jhin replied in the same civil tone "my countrymen can be so humorless sometimes."
The mage nodded
"You have no idea. Anyhow, you'll need to give the Master of Shadows his shadow back. So he can be the Master of Shadows and stuff."
"And why are you interested in this affair?"
"Because I think Zed is the safer option if I have to place shadow powers into anyone's hand," Vladimir replied "case and point, you don't even need his powers to be OP, just give it back. Then, you can do whatever you want with Sona Buvelle."
The three of them stared at each other in silence (for different reasons)
"I see. How disappointing," Jhin said, pulling out his gun "I was hoping you'd truly changed, at heart. But no, you are still the same man intent on killing me all those years ago. Very well, I will make you perfect."
As the first shot was fired, the crowd erupted in silent terror.
"One," said Jhin. How he had missed having direct audience. This would be fantastic.
He looked at the gash Zed gave him and smirked. Hemomancer, huh?
"Well, you have a psychopathic serial killer/artist now?" asked Vladimir, irony in his tone "wonderful. What've I just got myself into again?"
"Says the guy who's just been having a chat with him on artistic homicides," Zed retorted, drawing his blades.
"Hey, you've got to at least be polite," Vladimir protested in mock indignation "anything I should watch out for?"
"Do what you can to dodge the fourth shot. Mind the traps. Just… watch out for the fourth of anything…"
"This guy has a four fetish, doesn't he?"
"Tell me about it," Zed grumbled "I'm taking him. Try to not stand in my way."
"Duly noted. After you."
The assassin charged.
"Two," Jhin's mask was still smiling that punch-able smile. Zed dodged the bullet with a maneuver. He slashed at the Virtuoso, who took a step back to dodge. The onslaught continued, Jhin must not have an opening.
"I see the scar I've given you had not dwindled through time."
"Well it's a scar, you fool. Scars don't heal."
"Ready to have another?"
The ground under his feet flared. He cursed "Shit."
Before Jhin could root him, a tide of blood had intervened. Zed noticed the blood was drawn from Jhin's wounds.
The Virtuoso laughed
Then he shot himself at the wound.
"Watch out, Zed!"
Jhin shot first.
A blinding light accompanied the shot. Zed guarded himself.
"You're very quick," said Jhin to the Hemomancer.
Zed realized Vladimir had drawn his own blood to block the explosive fourth shot. He took back a step to converse with his 'partner'.
"Is it fine, drawing your blood like that?" asked Zed. Vladimir hummed.
"I've had worse," said the caster "my blood can clear the ground of traps. It'll be better if you can make him bleed – drawing out his blood would take less effort then."
"That's why he shot himself?"
"Yeah, the blasts deny my magic. I can't draw blood from that point anymore."
"I can't be faster than him without my shadow," said Zed "he gets faster after each shot. See anything?"
"He's limited to four shots at once, which means he needs to recharge the gun, manually," Vladimir observed "it takes about two seconds. If you wait for the opening, we can overpower him."
The assassin nodded "I don't like letting him fire that fourth shot though."
"Me neither. So destructive, and fancy as well. See, the blood I used was turned into some ash flowers. What a weird ass guy."
Both of them quickly sidestepped the bullet.
Jhin was holding out a small box.
"My shadow!" Zed said. He could feel it squirming against the inside of the container.
Oh how he would love to skin this guy before he could say "art".
"Yes, your precious shadow," said Jhin "how hard will it be for the Master of Shadows to not have a shadow at all?"
"I will kill you this time." Zed said coldly "he is not here to stop me now."
"We shall see, ninja," Jhin aimed his gun "Come take what is yours."
Zed didn't need a second invitation.
"Stick to the plan. Corner him, and wait for the fourth shot," he thought "control, Zed."
Zed was a better close-to-mid range combatant overall, but the Virtuoso had stood his ground fairly well for a hunchback cyborg who often plan his attacks rather than charging into fights. Nevertheless, the Master of Shadows was a more prominent fighter, and with the help of a backline, Jhin knew he was overpowered.
Zed let the Virtuoso fight two shots at Vladimir's blood attacks and left two deep gashes on him so that the blood mage could utilize his blood. Any moment now, he needed to act fast.
Realizing the fact he was at a disadvantage, Jhin tossed the box into the air as Zed slashed him across the chest. Blood spilled, and…
"You want your Shadow, Zed?" the Virtuoso took aim at the box.
"No!" Zed cried out, alarmed.
"The curtain calls, Master of Shadows. Four!"
The box exploded in flowers of ashes.
The next thing Zed knew, his world was consumed in darkness.
"Oh, Zed. You fail to understand. I did not steal the Shadow, it left you."
"You'd do yourself a favor and refrain from any ideas," said Vladimir, his voice now menacing. Entered the homicidal, dark mage the Hemomancer was famed for. The voice filled Jhin with anticipation. "I can drain you dry any moment I want."
"Calm down, Hemomancer," the gunner said smoothly "I won't budge."
"What happened to him?"
"The Shadow is merging, Hemomancer. But it is greedy. Shadows tend to crave sovereign. It is overwhelming his senses. If he lives, then he will emerge. If not…"
Vladimir's glare would have made many brave men shiver. Not a psychopathic artist, though
"It is Zed's battle now, Vladimir. Neither you nor I can intervene. Killing me would not assist him in anyway."
"So this is why you've taken his Shadow in the first place."
"Well yes. I want to see if Zed has become more masterful, if not artistic – but no. He was good. That is why he cannot tread the path of the Shadows. The Shadow will overtake him."
"And should he succeed, you will kill him instead."
"You're very intelligent, Vladimir. That does not align with your reputation." Jhin spoke "to be honest, though, you're unexpected. It seems I cannot claim Zed's life today."
Vladimir looked at Zed, whose body was erected and consumed by a dark haze, his red eyes emotionless.
"Zed is not going to die today," said Vladimir.
"Is he not? You wouldn't be so sure."
"I am sure," said the Hemomancer "and I am still watching you – try not to reach for that shoulder cannon just yet."
Jhin laughed "You knew."
"I hear your blood. I know which part of you is human flesh and which part isn't."
"This isn't supposed to be for Zed, though," said Jhin "I have other plans for it."
Vladimir stared at the man currently in a trance, fighting his own darkness.
"You are not gonna die today," he thought "you don't get to die today."
You are weak.
Zed opened his eyes.
You are vulnerable.
Right, he got to deal with his Shadow. He forgot.
You do not deserve to be my Master. I am the Master now.
"The hell if you are," said Zed.
You were sentimental. You showed restraint. You showed weakness.
"Because you chose to leave me!"
Is it? Or because you were too weak to hold me back?
"Well, you came back. What's the drill?"
I will take over you. No one will master the Shadows.
The first hit came too abrupt Zed barely had chance to dodge.
Give into me. I will drive your talents.
After all, you have your weaknesses, as all humans do.
They kept coming at a pace Zed knew he'd be overwhelmed.
You showed the Hemomancer weakness. You worked with him.
You know he was a threat. And you failed to eliminate the threat.
"You think Vladimir is that easy to kill?" Zed spat. He wondered if Vladimir had to deal with stuffs like this sometimes, having more than one person in his head.
You were always the loser, Zed. You're not strong enough. Never strong enough.
Don't make excuses, Zed. Tell me, are you weak?
Zed gasped, falling down the floor of darkness. His Shadow appeared over him, taking up his exact appearance except being shrouded in darkness.
Are you weak?
He wanted to say he wasn't. He knew what he could do. He took back his Shadow. He wanted no one's help...
It was a blatant lie. The Shadow knew it. He knew it.
He was weak.
"Mr. Zed, is weakness such a bad thing?"
"Of course it is, Lulu." He had replied "that is why we become strong, to eradicate weakness."
"If you're weak, you are easily manipulated, forced into submission. You are not free. That is most unbecoming."
"Hmm, but if you say you're weak, it means you are strong, no?"
"If you say you are weak, then you're making yourself vulnerable. It takes a lot of strength to admit that, don't you think?"
"Well, aren't the two of them sort of the same thing?"
The same thing…
But now is the time you are, and you have to cope up with it.
Coping up with… vulnerability?
Either he was stupid or strong, he did not know.
Well, he could care less.
"I am weak," said Zed "I am mortal, flesh and blood. I am a man, with emotions and passion. I do not deny you, I do not subdue to you. I accept you."
"You are my darkness. I will embrace you. I accept that I am weak."
So you are. Subdue to my will!
"You heard me. I accept that I am weak. Does that not make me strong?"
Hahaha! The yordle's driven you insane.
"Well," Zed smiled, reaching for the Shadow's face "aren't they sort of the same thing?"
No! You could not have! It could not be so easy! The Shadow shrieked.
"I am weak. But I trust Lulu. That is why I trusted Vladimir. They could help me be strong. I do not get lost in my darkness, I control it. I master my fear. I am the Master. I don't deny you, I'll control you."
Very well, Master of Shadows. You've found your answer. The Shadow will not leave your mantle ever again.
Zed's eyes snapped open.
"You're back," Vladimir said in a neutral tone, brushing something off his coat "how did the adventure go?"
"Jhin!" he exclaimed "where's he?"
Vladimir gestured around. Smokes were flying off the ground. Flying ashes scattered through the air.
Zed hit his face with his hand.
"That flowery bastard…"
"Sorry about that," said Vladimir "he caught me off-guarded. Threw a smoke bomb and fired his shoulder cannon. I did draw a lot of his blood, but with that many mechanical compartments he's not dead yet."
"Not your fault, Jhin always has some tricks up his sleeve. Makes for a 'true artist', I guess, all that bull crap."
"Why, you're being nice," said the mage, then added with an understanding smile "you've found your answer."
"I wouldn't say answer, more like existentialism paradox," Zed groaned "more to keep me occupied, I guess."
Vladimir shrugged "By the way, Zed…"
"If you don't want to pay for this, let's get the hell out of here."
"Sure as hell," Zed smirked, as both men vanished from sight.
That left a smiling Sona Buvelle the only remaining witness. And Sona didn't speak.
"So, what's about that Jhin guy? Can I get my hands on any non-classified information?"
"Oh, he was once a serial killer who made death his plays, as you've already known. He appreciated beauty in death. That is, until the Old Kinkou Order declared he was too dangerous a threat and had to be contained. The then Eye of Twilight and his son managed to do just that. Now, some esteemed councilor decided he should take a walk and boom! There goes Demacia."
"Demacia is still there, you know."
"Point is, that makes Jhin a killer-for-hire, though. You said due to his killing Noxus made a truce with Ionia? I really don't like the thought of him killing for someone."
"You said it was an Ionian councilor."
"Only someone of such power could have been able to pull this off. Apparently Ionia still has shadier forces at work." Zed grinned. "My mask, Vladimir."
Vladimir tossed him the mask Jhin'd left behind.
"So, what did you have to do with him?"
"Ah, that. I wanted him dead."
"The then Eye of Twilight and his son contained him, but they weren't the only one subduing him. I happened to get involved, too, and thought the best course of action was to kill him off. But… the old man didn't agree. The rest is history."
"Then he hates you for trying to kill him?"
"Yeah, that's a part. The other part was that I killed the old man, I suppose. He couldn't have his revenge now," Zed shrugged "I told the old man that bastard shouldn't be kept alive, he just didn't listen."
"Interesting," Vladimir mused "and you were not aware of his escape the slightest?"
"No. Whoever let him out was pretty quiet, and must be hell a lot powerful. I'll probably be discreet. Besides, Jhin always has his agenda. I doubt he'd reveal much about his personal enemies."
"Look who's the hero now?"
Zed gave him a pointed glare.
"Mr. Vlad! Mr. Zed!" a familiar voice called to them. There Lulu was, gliding on Whimsy towards the duo "you two seem to be getting on well!"
"Apparently," said Vladimir with a meaningful glance at Zed, who shrugged
"I'm glad you are," said Lulu "did everything go alright? Did you find the attacker?"
"We did, but he escaped. There was a complication."
"Oh! Tell me! I want to know!"
"Next time, Lulu." Zed promised "I have to return now. Should not be away for too long. Vladimir, my attire."
"You can ask nicely, you know." The mage said, handing the assassin his washed clothes.
He got back a wide smirk
"Nope. Can't do that. Goodbye, Vladimir."
"See you around, Master of being insecure."
Zed shot him a death glare before smiling lightly to Lulu. Then, he entered a portal and disappeared.
The Hemomancer turned to the yordle and smiled
"Now who would want some stories?"
Bonasu Shiin (most pointless bonus scene ever):
Sona smiled at the two interrogators.
"Can you give us any description of the assailants?" asked Quinn.
The musician shook her head, her smile still intact.
"How about the number of those responsible?"
Sona shook her head again, smiling
"Alright," Quinn sighed "this is a serious attack on the people of Demacia. We'd really appreciate it if you could let us know if you remember something."
Sona nodded, and with the automatic smile and some notes, excused herself from the questioning.
Quinn sighed again. There was simply no other eye witness. Sona "convinced" them all to leave.
She looked over to Lux.
"I think the Maven is hiding something." She said.
The light mage nodded "same here." Why, though, was the question.