[COMPLETE] Oh What A Web We Weave - LeBlanc

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Byakko null
Before I type out the draft/final draft below, please note that this is the first time I have ever joined a Polycount contest of any kind, and was not aware that I needed to post a WIP thread. The Stickied Narrative Submission Guidelines here in this forum also didn't mention it.

So I am providing this retroactively, and I am sorry if that's not allowed, and I hope I am not disqualified.

The original seed for my entry was actually because I wanted to write a 'parable' that represented Swain and LeBlanc's relationship, from the old lore not the reworked Swain or his lore, which as of writing this, has not debut yet. What I mean is the lore and hints that were presented through LeBlanc's League Judgement, and all the subsequent events that happened and were detailed in the Journal of Justice back when it was still around.

The parable would have been somewhat titled 'The Raven and The Rose' ; yes, no points to me for originality.
'There was a raven with a broken wing, who fell into a bush of thorns.
And in those thorns he was protected from his enemies, but he also could not leave.
Within the thorns bloomed a rose, and she listened to the raven's stories of the skies and lands he'd seen.
But when the raven's wing grew strong, she would not let him go.
Then the raven promised that if he could fly again, he would bring her up to the skies, and to those faraway lands.
And only then did the rose spread her thorns and let him leave.
Free again, the raven flew the skies, but did not return. He visited the rose, but would not enter her thorns again.
High above, the raven tells the rose, "I cannot bring you with me, for without your deep roots to the ground, without the safety of your thorns, you would perish with me."
From that rough idea of a parable above, I had to come up with a reason it would be spoken in the first place. And since it was the idea of a tale with meaning, I actually thought of a typical storyteller figure, such as Anansi. Naturally, that led me to Elise, the resident Spider Queen of League of Legends.

Elise's connection LeBlanc, and overall self-serving personality made her a good vector to play against LeBlanc in order to bring up the story in-context.

However, when writing the scenario and dialogue, it became clear that there was no real way that I could see Elise saying such a story while being in-character. Neither would LeBlanc or her would have the patience for it. In the end, I scrapped the idea of the parable being a centrepoint in the story at all, and focused instead on these two very alpha women personalities going at it, which just seemed much more entertaining.

While I understand that the contest was meant to highlight one Champion, which in my case I would say is LeBlanc, I did not think there is a good way to truly portray the character using a more faceless NPC. Having two well-known champions vying against each other helps to display both of their strengths and personalities far better, in my opinion. When running through the kind of conflicts and witty snips these two in particular would have against each other, I felt this would be a very entertaining duel of wits and skills.

With my research, I had to get a handle on Elise's personality. She had several traits I particularly noted - she came from Noxian nobility, and was controlling and vain. She is centuries' old. The pale woman she made the deal with was highly unlikely to be the current LeBlanc but her predecessor. From the short story, she like easy marks, worshippers who willingly followed her all the way to the Shadow Isles.

You can see the extent of my thought process in the attached notes.

Next came the consideration of LeBlanc. To set her against Elise, I wanted to focus on the idea that the 'deal' was made with a previous Matron, and not the current LeBlanc we have. I remembered her original League Judgement, how she received the mantle of Matron. I feel that she would be uncertain, and beginning to understand her new duties. This includes dealing with Elise.

So the story became set not long after current LeBlanc became Matron, using her League Judgement as the reference point, and considering Elise's history.

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  • Byakko
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    Byakko null
    Final Submission
    -------------------------

    LeBlanc’s steps barely echoed in the halls below the Immortal Bastion, steps hidden among the buried dead. She made her way through long vacant corridors, their winding paths bore deep below the capital, the ancient bones and forgotten veins of the sprawling city above.

    At the corner of her eyes, she noticed the trails of many tiny skittering spiders crawling along the walls beside her. Smaller tributaries of the beasts coalesced together as they moved as one towards their destination further down the path. It was how LeBlanc knew she was nearing her goal, and she wondered at the bothersome nature of it all.

    Even before she entered the crypt, she could smell the stench seeping through the cracks of the half-closed stone doors, and grimaced slightly at the scene she knew she would find. Inside the reek of rotting blood and spilt poison hung heavy in the air. There were many robed cultists strewn into various places around the crypt, but the largest mass of crumpled bodies lay near its centre. There the bulk of the devotees laid, a bed of twisted offerings set before the idol of the Spider God.

    The temple was lit by the barest of candlelight, reflecting off the rounded body of the Spider Priestess as she rested from above. Suspended just above the corpse pile by her threads, she swung slowly and indolently, bloated as she was from her meal.

    LeBlanc picked her way carefully past the corpses as she made her way through to the centre. Elise still hung silently above her, her legs curled at her sides, her many eyes dimmed as if asleep.

    “Satisfied, are we?” LeBlanc queried, looking up at the monstrous black and scarlet spider.

    The Spider Queen unfurled each leg leisurely, clacked her jaws as if to savour the lingering taste of her previous prey. LeBlanc kept the model of polite patience, silently examining the corpses at her feet. Their faces were portraits of terror, drained of blood and filled with venom.

    “My dear Matron, you have caught me at a most unseemly time.”

    Elise landed directly in front of LeBlanc, righting herself onto her legs in a movement that seemed unnaturally fluid for such a large creature. LeBlanc considered the crimson eyes before her, the Matron’s own expression implacable save for a small spark of ire in her own eyes. The spider clicked her jaws again, but this time in anticipation.

    “Weren’t these devotees bound for the Shadow Isles,” LeBlanc began, gesturing at the bodies surrounding them, “Or did you feel peckish before the trip.”

    A chuckle rose from the spider, an unsettling mesh of laughter and sibilant whispers.

    “These…’devotees’…did not truly give their hearts and souls to the Spider God.” She raised a single leg and pierced the chest of one of the bodies nearby, “Unworthy offerings all. None ready to give themselves entirely to me.”

    LeBlanc regarded the creature nonchalantly, drumming her long fingers against her chin, “Perhaps your charms are finally failing after all these years.”

    The spider’s rage was immediate, it reared and shrieked at the slight as LeBlanc remained unmoved, with the barest effort to suppress her smirk.

    “What’s done is done.” She continued soothingly, “Now discretion is needed to clear your mess.”

    Elise spoke with a breath thick with fury, “Advice on discretion from the likes of you?”  The creature shook with laughter, but it resembled more of a growl, “Your predecessor understood far better the art of ‘discretion’ and ‘subtlety’.”

    The great spider took a step forward, and still LeBlanc remained motionless. She eyed Elise carefully, the grip on her staff just slightly tightening.

    “Why did you come here so swiftly, Matron,” Elise purred, “None that entered this chamber have left to tell the tale.”

    “Surely, you are not surprised that I would know the fates of even my lowliest fellows.” LeBlanc responded in kind.

    “Oh? Such consideration for such simpleminded worshippers,” With a swift flick of her leg, a blade of shining metal clatters forward, stopping just before the Matron’s feet.

    “Perhaps that is why you kept them all so very well-armed!”

    The ravenous spider lunged at the pale woman before her, but a quick unmistakable grin flashed across LeBlanc’s face as the beast closed in on her. Elise felt her jaws snap shut against each other as they met thin air. As she attempted to search for her prey, she found her legs bound by golden and ethereal chains that began to manifest into view.

    “My dear Elise, it appears your eyes are going as well in your old age.” LeBlanc cooed, reappearing just a few steps away from the struggling spider, “We truly need to provide some better offerings. Otherwise, what use are you?”

    The Matron strode past Elise as she headed towards the crypt doors, “The Black Rose will continue to provide the fattened to you, as long as we no longer question the quality of the artefacts we receive in turn.”

    “Ah, I see,” Elise again laughed, and LeBlanc paused without turning, “A fair trade. But I have many little eyes of my own. They spied that broken raven, ‘fallen’ into your thorns. Is that where you are rushing to now?”

    Without turning to meet the spider’s gaze, LeBlanc continued to the doors speaking not a word in reply. As her palms press up on the doors to leave, the chains binding the giant spider dissipated. Once again, Elise reared and pounced at the retreating form of the Matron, only to again find nothing as her face met sorely against the stone.

    In her study, LeBlanc returned to her true self. Her staff lay cradled in her arms, its power no longer needed to project her illusions. She thought briefly, of tiny spiders that saw too much, but a familiar stride approaching her door drew her back to the present.

    As his knuckles rapped politely on the frame, she called out with a smile, “To what do I owe the pleasure of this visitation, Jericho?"

    ---------
    Wordcount: 1000 exact
  • Byakko
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    Byakko null
    Some Notes

    I only found out about the contest in the last 4 days, and only had the time to really sit down to write it in about 8 hours. As such I do not really have a previous draft.

    There was a version of this that removed entirely the ending that deliberately echoed LeBlanc's League Judgement when she meets Swain, as I was over the wordcount limit. Instead it ended at Elise slamming her face into the stone door.

    However, that version was dissatisfying, without a payoff for Elise's 'broken raven' words and was too abrupt. I then went back and removed several extraneous words, and also decided to remove an early 'foreshadowing' of the well-armed worshippers, as it also diminished the impact of Elise sliding the blade to LeBlanc in the later part.

    After much editing, I was able to keep my original ending, and keep exactly within the word limits. This is the version that I finally submitted as well.
  • Byakko
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    Byakko null
    And here is the submitted PDF copy.
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