[Complete] A Bargain Kept

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TheDjinn polycounter lvl 7

So with Swain's new lore out I was inspired to do a little scene about precisely how his demonic bargain turned out. As I was writing it I discovered an opportunity to humanize Swain a little more, which I felt was worth exploring: I find him more interesting as a man with a deep, burning love of his country and his people, even if he is a ruthless and efficient tyrant. The fact that he'd be someone perfectly willing to sell his soul to ensure Noxus's future seemed fully in character, as did the fact that he'd have a contingency plan just in case.

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A BARGAIN KEPT

“In twenty years’ time you may claim my soul, but until you claim it you are mine.”

That bargain, made so many years ago, has whetted my hunger for far too long. Tonight, in this spartan chamber atop the Immortal Bastion, I finally feast.

Jericho Swain.

The hand before me stops its scrawling, ink blotting on the page.

Our bargain is at an end. Twenty years of power I have granted you. You know the price I now demand.

I can sense his uncertainty, and his fear. Finally, I feel him close his book and nod calmly. I am almost impressed. Mortals past have begged and pleaded, mewling creatures eager to take back their promises when confronted the price. This one stands tall, turning to face the empty room.

“A promise is a promise. The soul of one man is a small price to pay to ensure Noxus thrives. Come forth, Visnathara, and let us make an end of this.”

I scream my excitement as I burst from his mind, my great wings stretching at last as I swirl into being before the man. I unfurl slowly, rising to tower head and shoulders above him. My talons, kept from me for what feels like eons, scar the stone floor. It feels so good to be fee.

Kneel, Jericho Swain, and surrender to me what is mine.

Silently, he does so, head bowed. Even now, broken, beaten, the stump of an arm at his side, he exudes an aura of command. Cold and regal, even at the end. Noxus would be proud.

I run a talon along his sharp check, caressing it gently. What a prize. Even bound within him I could not worm my way into this man’s mind, and I can only imagine what wonders are hidden therein. Twenty years I have waited. I cannot wait another moment.

In a single, swift motion I dig into his soul and tear forth his very essence, savoring the feast I have hungered for all this time. Dark, decadent secrets unfurl themselves for me, and I lap them up eagerly. I see a young boy arriving at the gates of the capital, eyes wide at the looming spires, dreaming grand dreams of the city not as it was, but as he saw it in his mind’s eye. I see a dozen lovers, cast aside in single-minded pursuit of a love and a vision far greater than they. I see bodies strewn before him, victims of his one, burning goal. I see a remorseless tyrant of a man who has achieved so much, yet fears, in his heart of hearts, that he can never give as much as his country deserves. I rip further into him, striking deeper and deeper, desperate for more…

…and something strikes back. It hits me in a torrent of visions, unbearably strong, tearing my secrets away from me and holding them beyond my grasp. Soldiers, beaten, bloodied, rallying at the sight of a raven-crested banner.  A dying archer’s last whisper: “Glory to Noxus.” A mother’s pride, seeing her son march off to war. The feeling of belonging. Of home. Of safety. Of strength. Memories, secrets, lies, dreams…they do not, they cannot come from this man. Yet they pour forth from him in a whirlwind of physic force, lifting me and hurling me into the chamber walls with strength enough to shatter the stone.

Jericho Swain looks up. A knowing smile dances around his lips, and his eyes gleam in victory.

“I thought as much. You will not feast upon my soul this day.”

His gaze softens and he gazes past me to the city outside. His expression, for a flickering moment, is full of a warmth I did not know he was capable of.

“You see, Visnathara, it is no longer mine to give. It belongs to Noxus, and to her people, for they have torn it from me, made it their own, and, in return, given me theirs of their own free will. My strength is their strength, my glory is their glory, my spirit is their spirit…”

He rises unevenly on his injured leg and spits his words at me in a haughty, mocking tone.

“…and until they relinquish their hold you have no claim over me. Take it from them if you can, demon.”

Jericho Swain turns dismissively away, then pauses, raising one single finger as if to make a final point.

“Oh, and Visnathara?”

His voice hardens and he spins around, coat whipping, and extends his arm, grasping fingers closing as if to claim me. I can feel my physical form collapse around me, and I can see my fate clearly reflected in his cold, dark, merciless eyes.

“In twenty years’ time you may claim my soul, but until you claim it you are mine.”

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