Bright lanterns scattered light up and down the main streets of the festival, illuminating the night sky above and casting vibrant webs of red and yellow across the mossy cobbled ground. A gluttonous grin grew across Tahm’s face. His olive green skin shimmered from the dim light trickling into the quiet side street. Only the brave or desperate ever approached Tahm Kench, the gigantic man-eating traveller of the waters, quite possibly the reason the street had become so still. He had just successfully swindled another victim in one of his carefully crafted bargains. Oh how he loved the thrill of twisting people into irrefusable deals. This year’s Lunar Revel was quickly becoming the River King’s most profitable yet.
As usual, Tahm had set up a little stall cluttered with various magical items for sale, although most weren't what he advertised them to be, not that that mattered. There was always a consistent flow of people in good spirits on New Year’s Day with many feeling the urge to spend their coin. Feeling quite content with himself, he decided to close up shop for the night. He began shoveling his fresh loot away when a cloaked figure approaching the stall from the bustling main street caught the corner of his eye.
“My apologies,” Tahm said still grinning, “this stall is now closed for business.”
The stranger continued to approach the stall.
“However, for a misfortunate soul such as yours, I may be willing to lend an ear.” Tahm gestured to come closer.
Muffled clinks and clanks of heavy armour became audible to Tahm over the crowds of voices on the main road. It was becoming apparent this stranger was no ordinary individual. Now just in front of Tahm, he could feel a radiant presence concealed under the cloth.
The stranger stood for a moment before replying, “where is she?”
Tahm’s eyes narrowed and his grin fell. Garen had returned. “Ah. So, the brave might of Demacia finally makes his appearance. I must admit this is quite different from your usual attire. Have you brought the item I requested?”
Garen paused, briefly looking around, as if hoping to see someone.
“I want proof she’s unharmed.” Garen raised his voice.
“I give you my word, not a hair on her head. She’s in a safe place.”
“Your word isn’t good enough, demon.”
“Now now, don’t test me boy, I’ve got an appetite to appease.” Pulling a gold embroidered handkerchief from his pocket along with a pork bun he’d been saving for later, Tahm wiped away some slime from his nares while chomping down on the bun. The consistent waft of his favourite foods in the warm air was making him quite hungry.
Tahm could sense Garen was becoming provoked by his words. Garen was livid from not having control over the situation, and Tahm could feel it.
Tahm leaned in closer, his bright green eyes peering down at the bulky soldier, glowing through the haze of smoking food around them. “Hmm, such a troublesome situation. You wouldn’t be in this mess if it weren’t for her, would you? Her family must be so disappointed after all, becoming a user of magic. Why not teach her a lesson?”
Extending his large scaly hand to Garen, nails like knives. “Everything could be different...if only you wished it so.”
Before Tahm could react, a swift swing of a sword had stopped just by Tahm’s neck. Cold jade brushing against his skin. He looked back and Garen’s unwavering eyes, now visible, were fiery with rage.
“Don’t you dare use my sister against me. If it weren’t for _you_, none of this would have happened.” Garen said sternly, grip tightening on the hilt of his sword.
”Careful with your next move, Demacian…” Another voice snapped in Garen’s direction.
Suddenly realising what he was doing, Garen withdrew his sword back to where he had been hiding it. He’d completely forgotten where he was. He couldn’t do anything to Tahm with all these people around. He was too well-known.
Tahm chuckled. “Allow me to introduce my newest partner in business, Sylas.”
Garen was met with the cold gaze of a wraith who appeared from behind Tahm’s shop. Long metal chains hung from his arms, dragging along the pavement. Ornate tattoos and glowing veins ran down the length of his body. Just looking at him gave Garen a chill down his neck.
The wraith spat in disapprovement of Garen’s presence.
“Come now, let’s not insult one of our treasured clients.” Tahm broke the stare down between the two, rubbing his neck. “Meet us at the abandoned temple in an hour...your sister will be waiting.”
No sooner had he finished his sentence, the demon had disappeared along with the little shop, down into the abyssal voyage. The wraith had also vanished, leaving Garen alone in the street.
People passed by, their murmuring clearly directed at the scene that had just unfolded. Garen stood feeling frustrated and hopeless. If only he had a way to change his situation. As things were, he had no other option except to play along with Tahm’s demands. This was a deal with a demon after all. He couldn’t afford to risk Luxanna’s life by going against him.
A stray firework had been let off just down the road. Garen squinted and could just make out a thin looking girl playing with dragon-shaped fireworks. Jinx!
A genius idea toyed with Garen’s thoughts, but it would involve going against everything he stood for. One thing was for sure, this night was going to end in a marvelous bang.