Chapter 2

Ryder Van Rose-Thank you. Yeah, Crack ships need to have an interesting premise to do well and I think I did...adequately.

As she was being tended to for her wounds, Quinn couldn't help, but think back to when Zed had saved her. Why did he save her? Sure, he could have done it as a way to avoid having Demacia demand for his head after learning that one of their top rangers were killed while investigating his order, but she was just a lowly ranger. The Demacian high command wouldn't care too much if she was killed, even then, they would only care because the Order of the Shadows managed to kill an entire ranger squad. So, why? She was ripped from her thoughts when the final bandage was wrapped around her stomach and she was given a pat on the back.

"Okay, you should be good to go now." Said the healer, a woman that was around her thirties. "You should go find master Zed as soon as possible. He should be done with his mission right now." After thanking the woman for her help, Quinn went outside of the building that was retrofitted to be an infirmary. As she strolled along the temple of the Order of the Shadows, she couldn't help, but browse around. She heard stories of the old temple when it was controlled by the old Kinkou order, of how beautiful and magnificent it was. Now it was just a dark place used to train assassins and dark warriors for the highest bidder or to envelop Ionia in darkness. And yet, she saw people act normally around the warriors. They were few, sure, but people from all ages were speaking to the trainees or fully-trained warriors as if they were normal people, not people who were succumbed to the dark arts. She stopped her observation when a ninja came out of nowhere in front of her.

"You are to meet at Zed at once, Demacian." Said the ninja with an impassive voice, despite the deep growl that came with it. "I will escort you." Sighing to herself, Quinn allowed herself to be escorted by the ninja to the main building of the temple, an extremely tall tower that eclipsed the other buildings in height. After taking a large number flight of stairs, the duo managed to finally enter the floor that Zed was in with, much to her surprise, Valor. After the ninja left, Zed turned to her and spoke.

"Your bird was quite worried about you." Said Zed as the bird squawked at her, happy to see her. Because he was too wounded to fly, Zed had to walked to Quinn and give him to her. After a short pat on Valor's head, Quinn turned to Zed.

"What happened after you dropped me here?" Asked Quinn as she placed Valor on her shoulder.

"We destroyed it, left no survivors." Said Zed. "For assassins, they were poor fighters compared to the likes of Talon or Katarina. Nevertheless, we must discuss about the intelligence you uncovered and mine as well. I believe all of that and this will convince you that we had no involvement in the murders of your diplomats and their muggings." Said Zed before giving her several documents and journals. Though she was reluctant to trust him, she still grabbed the documents and journals before examining them. After browsing through all of them, she sighed in exasperation. This made her job so much harder.

"Alright, I trust you." Said Quinn before placing the evidence aside. "There's too much evidence against the Noxians to not dismiss them. And there's too much to think that your people forged these. That and…my personal check on that leader's journal."

"So, what will you do now?" Asked Zed, pleased that Quinn knew the truth.

"Well, I have give all this to the command post here in Ionia." Said Quinn. "The commander may not believe it at first, but with this evidence, he'll believe it. Problem is the rest of high command. Your people have killed some of our diplomats in the past and we have proof you did it."

"True, we killed them, but only because they were corrupt, paid by the Noxians to damage the relations between our nations." Said Zed, angering Quinn.

"How dare you!" Yelled Quinn, angry at this statement. "No, Demacian will ever compromise their duty for a Noxian."

"It's the truth. Learn to accept it, girl." Said Zed, starring at her hard. "Not all Demacian are what you believe to be. Some are just as corrupt as some Ionian figures I had assassinated in the past. If you can't learn that in time, then it will be your doom." Not willing to hear this, Quinn threw a punch at Zed, who grabbed it and then threw her over his shoulder. Once she was on the ground, he extended his blades to her throat. "You have poor hand-to hand skills. Your punch was off and you were easily disarmed." He then let go of her before picking up Valor, who was screaking in pain from the sudden drop to the ground. "And your pride is a flaw as well. You didn't care to much for you friend here." To her shame, Quinn completely forgot about Valor and his condition. Regret filled her as she took him back from Zed, telling the bird sorry. "Still, you are compassionate enough to actually care about your partner." Said Zed as he watched this happen. "Your other rangers seem not to care about the bird." Quinn had to agree. None of the other rangers even cared about Valor or any mounts of theirs. To them, they were just a means to an end. To serve Demacia.

"Are you done belittling Demacia?" Asked Quinn as she stared at Valor, wondering how her pride made her neglect her closet companion.

"Yes, you should leave now before your high command sends another party after you." Said Zed. "Your other compatriots are at the main entrance, in chains of course. We'll let them go after you decide to leave."

"Thank you." Said Quinn before leaving. As he watched her leave, Zed couldn't help but wonder why he was bothering with her. She was just a means to an end for him. And yet…he was concerned about her. Perhaps it was her friendship to her bird or it was just her bravery to attack him, despite being at a disadvantage. Whatever it was, it didn't matter as Zed had other matters to attend to. With a flick of his wrist, several more ninjas appeared before him. "Is there anything that requires our attention?" Thus, began his usual day of assigning assassination missions and reconnaissance to numerous area in Ionia.

Much Later

Ionia's capital

"And this is accurate?" Asked the commander in charge of all Demacian military operations in Ionia.

"Yes, sir." Said Quinn as she looked at the official. "It appears that the Order of the Shadows is innocent in the murders and muggings of our fellow citizens. Rather, they were framed."

"This is most severe." Said the commander. "I'll send word to the capital of this information. For now, get your wounds checked." The commander eyes her bandaged wounds. "Those clumsy ninjas must have done a poor job tending to you."

"With respect, sir, they actually did a fine job." Said Quinn, having forced to know some first-aid due to frequent espionages in enemy territory. "Their doctors did well, despite some limits in their supplies in first-aid."

"Out of the question." Said the commander, firmly. "Their medical skills are nowhere near the levels as ours. Besides, they may have poisoned you with an unknown toxin." Though she rolled her eyes at the last statement, she nevertheless nodded her head and went to the infirmary. Upon getting checked, she left in irritation. The doctor said that nothing was wrong and that the doctors who tended to her did well. After arriving in the barracks, she was immediately confronted with one of the captains in charge of the garrison in Ionia.

"What happened?" Demanded the man, staring at her with his faceless helmet.

"What do you mean?" Asked Quinn, wanting to go to Valor and see how he is.

"Why did the Order of the Shadow let us go?" Asked the man as he got right up to Quinn's face. "Did you make a deal with them?"

"I did not such thing." Said Quinn, infuriated at the accusation. "They just showed the truth to me. That the Noxians did it."

"Bullshit." Said the man. "Their murderers. Cunning ones. They only let us go so they can kill more people without drawing suspicions from us."

"Are you kidding me?" Asked Quinn, not believing the man. "Why would they do that?"

"Simple." Said the man. "We're enemies to Noxus, right?" Seeing her nod, he continued. "So, they make a Noxian camp, frame them for the murders, and then they keep doing it. Wasting our time on a foe that is innocent when the real killers are free to kill more of us."

"Seriously?" Asked Quinn, incredulously. "That is a stupid plan. They'll risk enraging the Noxian with that stunt. Besides, why can't the Noxians do the same with the order of the Shadows."

'Because they're not smart enough to do such a thing." Said the captain. Quinn rolled her eyes at that. The man was seriously arrogant or stupid to believe that. "Why can't you believe that? Are you infatuated with one of them?" Hearing this, Quinn glared at the man.

"I am not." Said Quinn, firmly. "I simply know who is the real culprit here. Why can't you?"

"I know who the real culprit, the Order of the Shadows. Why can't you see that?" Said the man, glaring at the ranger. "Or are you just in league with them, betraying us." Quinn glared at the man at the accusation. She was about to punch him when she heard Valor screeching, calling for her. Sighing to herself, Quinn stomped her way to the barracks, trying to vent her anger. Upon arriving at the barracks, she tended to her partner, one of the few that actually understood her. As she was tending to her friend, one of her fellow rangers walked up to her.

"You seriously need to stop looking after that bird, Quinn." Said the ranger. "You'll never get a man if you keep pretending that bird is more than a means to an end." Quinn just glared at the man, trying to hold in her anger. "Just saying. Don't you think that your brother would want you to fall in love and have a kid?"

"Yes, he would, but he would also want me to happy." Said Quinn. "And Valor is the only one that's really providing it to me now."

"Okay, I get it." Said the man, nodding in understanding. "But, don't you think that most men would do away with the bird?"

"I know." Said Quinn, patting Valor. "They'll need to treat Valor with respect if they want to date me."

"…Okay." Said the man before leaving. "You might want to hurry in finding one though. You're not getting any younger." As she watched him leave, Quinn looked at Valor. She had to admit, he was right. She wasn't getting younger and she turned down so many guys in the military because they didn't care very much about Valor. As the years passed, she started to wonder if she'll die alone with just Valor there as no one seemed to want a giant bird as an add-on to a woman their dating. Sighing to herself, Quinn applied some healing paste on Valor's wounds before reapplying the bandages. She then went to her bed and tried to sleep.


The Order of the Shadow temple

Zed was silently meditating to himself when a ninja had teleported in his personal quarters.

"Is there something that requires my presence?" Asked Zed as he got up.

"Yes, sir." Said a ninja, a female Vastayan. "We had confirmed reports of another corrupt Demacian official."

"Which one?" Asked Zed, scoffing at the mention of another corrupt official from the so called, "nation of selflessness and honor".

"It appears to be the one in charge of military operations here, sir." Said the ninja.

"What?" Asked Zed, turning to his disciple in shock. If that was true, then Quinn was…

"Yes, my master. He was seen with known Noxian collaborators along with some Noxian guards." Said the ninja. "What shall we do?"

"…I'll handle this myself." Said Zed. "Where will this official be?"

"He appears to be in the Demacian command post in the capital. The ranger you held in interest to is there as well. Shall I round up some men?" Asked the ninja.

"You have five minutes." Said Zed. "Tell them to come here." The ninja bowed in confirmation before leaving.

"This goes deeper than I thought." Said Zed as he recalled all the assassinations he had sent when Quinn left. When the assassins came back, they brought some interesting information.

Demacian command post

Ionia's capital

"What is it, sir?" Asked Quinn as she sat down on a table the commander had set up for them. To her irritation, after getting just an hour of sleep, the commander had ordered her to meet him in his quarters.

"It's a dark day, ranger." Said the commander as he prepared some tea. "While you were here, the Order of the Shadows had eliminated scores of Ionian and Demacian officials and officers." Hearing this, made Quinn's fists clenched into her palms.

"How many?" Asked Quinn, bitterly thinking of Zed.

"At least six. There may be more." Said the commander as he set the tea down, holding his near his face. "This, of course, makes me question if you had something to do with it."

"Sir?!" Asked Quinn in shock. "Why would you suspect such a thing? I'm completely loyal to our nation!"

"And yet, you said during your report to me, that Zed had personally request you." Said the commander. "Why is that?"

"He said that I was…the most tolerant of my squad." Said Quinn, a bit uneased. "That was all."

"Is it? You sure that it wasn't to persuade you to switch your priorities to our rival?" Asked the commander. "Don't get me wrong, Quinn, you have ample proof that it was the Noxians, but this new string of murders are undoubtedly from the Order of the Shadows. I fear they may have just done this to do their own murders."

"That can't be true." Said Quinn. "Why would Zed do this?"

"He is a mysterious figure with unknown objectives in life." Said the commander, passing Quinn her tea. "What I can't fathom is how he managed to find that Noxian war camp."

"He's a ninja, sir." Said Quinn, taking a sip of her tea. "And he's been confirmed to be an excellent leader when the Kinkou are not involved."

"And a master of deception." Said the commander before showing Quinn the evidence she gave him. "When I said that this was ample proof that it was the Noxians that did it, Quinn. I was correct. Too much that some had to be forged."

"With respect, sir, they're all legitimate." Said Quinn. "I personally checked them myself."

"Or you are simply pretending so." Said the commander, causing Quinn to look at him in shock. "In either case, even half of this is enough to convince Garen and the prince that the Noxian are the ones that did this. So…I'm afraid I can't let them see it." Quinn looked at him in shock and was about to ask him why when she suddenly felt dizzy. She eventually fall to the ground, too disoriented to move. "*Sighs* I'm truly sorry for this betrayal, Quinn. But for the sake of my family, I have to do this." He then brought out his sword and slammed the pommel at the side of her head, knocking her out. Sighing again in regret, the commander yelled out for his guards. He told them that Quinn had attacked him and for them to take her to the brig as well as her bird. Once the guards had left with the supposed traitor, the commander then began to write a made-up story about Quinn betraying Demacia to the Order of the Shadows and how they were the ones responsible to the murders, both old and recent. He also made a recommendation about killing her immediately and to wage war against the Order.

Three days later

Somewhere close to the Demacian command post

Zed growled in irritation. Upon arriving in the capital, he was immediately informed by one of his moles in the Ionian guard that Quinn was trialed for betrayal and forging of information. Not only that, but it appears that the Ionian guard and the Demacian garrison are preparing to march against his Order. He had arrived two day ago, using the cover of night to get in, but he couldn't do anything for Quinn because of how extensive the security was around her and her bird. Instead he had to made a plan and make the necessary preparation for it to work. That and making various contingent plans in case the main one failed.

"Master, when should we proceed?" Asked one of his shadow ghosts, his most elite warriors and assassins. He had only brought five, which meant they had to do this quick. They may be highly skilled, but the numbers were against them.

"Soon." Said Zed, looking at the command post. "Soon. For now, get ready to move on my mark. We have a ranger to rescue." The ghost nodded before going to his comrades. As he was watching the command post, Zed noticed one of his moles coming to their safe house. Allowing him in, the mole quickly bowed in respect before telling Zed something that was beneficial to his plans.

"Sir, I had just uncovered a map of the entire complex." Said the mole. "It took a lot to get it, though, I hope this ranger is worth it."

"She is." Said Zed. "Her life is more value than I originally anticipated. Plus, I have no doubt that her faith in her country has visibly shaken. She may even join us with the right push."

"Are you sure about that, sir?" Asked another ghost, curious.

"No doubt on that." Said Zed before examining the map.