Varus: Beyond Justice, Beyond Salvation

Two-hundred battle-ready soldiers stand before the gate, the blood-red banner of Noxus billowing above. One-hundred metres away, one man stands in defiance, the tails of his blood-red scarf billowing behind. Varus opens his palm; a shape resembling an arrow materializes in his scabbed, gnarled fingers. It shimmers like oil, refusing to decide on form or colour. He hears it pleading with him, pleading to give it direction and purpose. How long had he been like this? He could not recall the taste of food or the embrace of sleep – he should not be alive. But he was – The Blight had since permeated his very being; it continued to pump breath into his gaunt, haggard corpse. He was truly on borrowed time - simply because The Blight needed him. Even now, Varus knew its eagerness for the blood of the assembled men. They should have run. They didn’t. Such was the Noxian way – a way he could but know well. His other hand _changes_, the kaleidoscopic flesh growing and twisting, until he holds a gruesome parody of his old weapon. It’s length is alien, jumbled, contradictory - it didn’t even have a string - yet it was now more familiar to him than that bow ever was. His purpose is clear: Hold the entire Noxian empire to account for what they did. A task almost laughable in magnitude. Indeed, he could just recall the moment, everything and everyone he knew torn down around him, where he realized the folly of his mission, that he could not do it alone. In defiance of the Blight that pestered him, he remembered uttering the first portion of the call to Lady Vengeance. All was forsaken - his life was nothing to lose. Surely the Lady would prove a kinder ally than the Blight? But he had stopped. She had only one spear – one spear for one man. He needed more. Far more. It was not _justice_ he seeked – _justice_ is finite, restrained; thus insufficient. He did not bother disillusioning himself by embracing such a mantle – he knew exactly what he craved. A statement proclaimed across Runeterra, so that no other nation may make Noxus’ mistake. The tears and blood of a nation spilled upon their soil. Pay them back thousand-fold for what they did. He needed _revenge_. He needed the Blight. At their leader’s command, the soldiers stand to attention. Each raises a large rectangular shield above them, and an impenetrable ‘turtle’ marches steadily toward Varus. Not a typical Noxian approach. Varus nocks, draws, then releases: a motion he has practiced and applied countless times. A purpose that is all he has left. His arrow flies skyward, seemingly unperturbed by the wind. At its apex, the arrow splits into innumerable oil-drops; each becoming an arrow that hiss downward toward the Noxians. They cower beneath their shell as judgement hails upon them. The arrows are not sated with wood - they return to liquid, run into the soil, turn it black. Then the ground begins to _writhe_. Otherworldly tendrils grasp and claw at the soldiers from beneath, the soldiers sinking into mush as though the earth intended to swallow them. They shout with bewildered terror as they clamber over one another, intent on escaping this pit of death. Varus’s next arrows are already in flight. With fluid, practiced and impossibly fast motions, Varus looses arrow after arrow. Each seek the hearts of their victims as though they had minds of their own; Each tears through any wood or fabric that dares deny them their feast, then lodge deep within Noxian flesh. Each is a kill. The worth of a life is beyond measure; the cost of a life is a single arrow. Varus’s mind is devoid of emotion, he does not feel anything: not anger, not euphoria, not grief - not even satisfaction, for he knows he will never find it: he is simply reclaiming what was owed. By contrast, the Blight surges with every death, howls for their breath, urges him to continue his massacre. Varus complies. The Noxians charge haphazardly toward him, their screams and curses lost to the wind. Varus holds his ground, feet firmly planted, and well-placed shots to their exposed regions dispose of them, one by one. A group of especially foolish soldiers throw aside their shields and charge, as if speed would grant them the time they needed. He draws back, the arms of his ‘bow’ splitting into an ‘X’ - _five_ men fall to the single piercing arrow. It wouldn’t. In his peripheral vision, Varus sees a crossbow quarrel bury a metre from him. Scattered on either side, a cluster of arbalesters take position – another decidedly un-Noxian instrument. His inhumanly keen eyes track the trajectory of each bolt, knowing that the wind is too strong and the range too far. _For them_. He identifies one of the barrage as a threat, even as it barely leaves the contraption; in a remarkable show of mastery, he deflects it from its course with an arrow of his own. Varus returns their favour; soon, no more bolts seek him. Arrows of wood can only but pale in comparison to arrows of _wrath_. The flow of soldiers ceases, their will to fight wholly extinguished, but Varus does not relent – he places an arrow into every back exposed to him. The last of the soldiers pour into the city for refuge – he doesn’t pursue. They knew. Whether it was his retribution or Kindred's mercy, The Arrow will always find its mark. A lone man stands amongst the corpses of his comrades. Spiked, black chains are draped across his bare, tattooed chest. He holds aloft a wicked scimitar as long as he was tall. Red spittle flies from his mouth as he bellows: > "Lay down your bow, then fight me like a man!" A man’s death should not be given to a dog. The arrow in his throat was his only answer. The sound of thundering hooves heralds the arrival of horsemen. Varus turns, and sees a wedge of mounted Dreadnoughts barreling toward him, their heavy red capes swelling in their wake. At the fore is a knight garbed in angular armour of gleaming copper, cavalry sword leveled at a perfect angle. Varus looses at him – the arrow is deflected expertly by his shield. > "Now, damn you!" The Blight cannot contain itself any longer – with an indescribable roar, two columns of otherworldly flesh leap toward the lead rider, knocking both him and his horse to the ground. The Blight is clearly not satisfied; squarely anchored onto his helmet, thick tendrils spread outward, leaping from person to person, dragging his comrades down as well. Varus unblinkingly observes as the tendrils crush the life from the thrashing men and horses. One by one the doomed riders cease to move. A gleam of copper shines in the dark. A blade severs the coiled tendril gripping it, and the lead knight erupts from its grasp – flowing golden-blonde hair in absence of the helmet. Resolve is written plainly across her face – a woman’s face. Varus looses – with surprising precision she again blocks the arrow with her shield. Varus fires another, twisting it so it curves toward her sword side – she desperately revolves, barely catching it. Varus nocks and pulls back to full draw. This close, all he sees of her is the shield: three deep, glowing scours gauged into its surface. Her sword rises upward. His bow forms an ‘X’. Varus releases. His arrow hits the shield squarely in the centre with terrible force, punching _through_ the steel, _through_ her arm, then into her stomach. She staggers backward, dropping to one knee. Yet, she still breathes. Admirable. > "The Order sealed away The Scourge for good reason." The Blight recoils at her words. She knew of the ones that sealed it away for so long. > "Then they are guilty of looking the other way while Noxus walked its march. When it bows its damned head, I shall hold _them_ to account next." She shakes her head, her golden hair sagging limply, and in her sharp, grey eyes Varus sees pure, blatant fear – not for her own fate, but for what was to come. > "You don’t understand. You cannot allow it..." The Blight’s interest in her is evident, and his expression darkens – would it really discard him as its host? His work is not yet done. Varus couldn’t permit it. > "I cannot turn back." An arrow sprouts from the miniscule gap between her chest and neck plates. Grace. Silence. The Blight's initial snarl of annoyance gives way to a purr of contentment. He had served it well today. Varus was neither its master or equal - he never was. Even now, he felt its veins spreading along the side of his face, claiming even more flesh for itself. There is truly no salvation – not for the innocents that died, the Noxians that killed, or the Retributor bound to a doomed and damned task for the rest of his days.
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