“We need to get going,” said Ryze, as the sun set and the ruins grew dark around them. “The wraiths will be rising within the hour.”
“A minor detail,” Ezreal said dismissively. He was studying a scrap of old parchment that was, apparently, not a map. “We can’t leave until we’ve found the Celestial Eye.”
Ryze was unmoved. “Don’t be a fool. Even if we find the Eye, we’ll be dead when the wraiths catch us. Then what will you do?”
“Haunt someone I suspect.” Ezreal grinned. “But there’s no need to worry. We’re safe as houses — Quinn is on lookout, and you can just warp us away at the first sign of trouble.”
Quinn frowned. She, as a rule, did not support stupid plans. “We aren’t staying out here, Ezreal. You might as well put a noose around our necks.”
Ezreal scoffed. "You clearly don't understand how important this is."
Quinn could see tiny flickers of magic in Ryze’s jade tattoos, a sure sign the old mage was angry, despite his calm exterior. Ryze had more years on the road than she and Ezreal combined twice over, and was no doubt frustrated once again by Ezreal’s pride and utter inability to take advice. Yet Quinn would have happily bet good money that there was more to the mage’s anger than Ezreal’s grating arrogance. She could tell by the way Ryze’s fingers were twitching, and his eyes constantly shifted, that the man was nervous. Afraid, even.
Quinn couldn’t blame him. Ancient ruins, hours from the closest settlement was no place to be when the wraiths came. Impervious to iron and steel, the only sure defence against the night-spirits was light, and short of torching the forest, there was no way the three of them could produce enough light to guarantee their safety. And yet all Ezreal seemed to care about was the bloody Eye. It was enough to make her scream.
“Don’t give me that look, Quinn,” said the young man, backing away slowly. “We need the Eye. It’s more important than you could possibly imagine.”
“More important than our lives?” Quinn said hotly. Ezreal’s arrogance was staggering. “Did you know that’s what they said when my brother died? When he sacrificed himself so that I could live? When the wraiths tore him apart, inch by inch, one agonising second at a time?” Her voice dropped to a whisper. “Nothing was more important to me. Nothing.”
Ezreal at least had the decency to look ashamed. “I’m sorry, Quinn. I really am. It’s just that—”
She cut him off with an angry look and reached for her crossbow. But before she could draw, Ryze laid a hand on her shoulder.
"Half an hour," he said firmly.
Ezreal looked puzzled."What?"
Ryze continued, "You get half an hour. Then we leave. And we leave before then if Valor spots something dangerous. Agreed?”
Quinn glanced up at the gold eagle keeping watch far above them. Her truest companion since her brothers death.
“Agreed,” she said.
"Agreed," said Ezreal. Then he jabbed a finger at the old mage. "But you have to help me find the Celestial Eye. If we want to be quick, we’ll have to use magic.”
Ryze looked at Quinn and she said, "I'm fine. The sooner we leave the better."
The mage studied her for a few seconds before shrugging. "Alright, Ezreal, let's get to it."
"I am so sorry to interrupt," came a sultry voice. "But I take umbrage with your current plans."
Quinn saw it first. A shadowy figure, standing amongst the rubble. It had a womanly form and pale skin with a pinkish hue. Great gold constructions, floated around her shoulders like wings, and a ghostly green light ran down her forearms to the tips of her clawed fingers. She wore a stately red dress, a mockery of ancient fashions.
Most telling however, where the eyes. They pale points of light in the darkness, glowing with a terrible hunger and rage.
"WRAITH!!" yelled Quinn. She drew her crossbow and launched to two fire-bolts at the thing. The wraith smoothly stepped clear of the bolts, and thrust a clawed hand into the ground. In response, a sickly darkness welled out of the soil between them, spewing great gouts of green and red fire.
"The Celestial Eye belongs to me!" the wraith shrieked, walking towards them.
"Do we fight?" said Ezreal, priming his gauntlet.
Magic sparked along Ryze's hand. "If we can."
Quinn fired another bolt at the wraith, while Ezreal and Ryze attacked together, firing magic at the thing. But before the magic could connect, a shimmering black light appeared around the wraith, dispersing the energy into a cloud of arcane steam.
"That's not good," said Ezreal, warping away. He appeared outside the ruins. "Time to go!"
Quinn needed no encouragement and started to run. Ryze was beside her, and at one point, slowed down to face the wraith again, some distance behind. The creature wasn't running, but it was unstoppable none the less. The mage made a complex gesture, tattoos flaring, but nothing happened to the wraith. "We need a new plan," he said. "That black shield seems to disperse magic, but your arrows made it through without any trouble."
"I doubt that'll be enough to put it down."
Ryze grimaced. "You only need to buy me enough time to make us a portal out of here."
"How long do you need?" Quinn asked, glancing back at the wraith.
It had stopped, and was watching them. Like a wolf. Suddenly it slammed its hands together, and flung a great orb of green-red magic at them. Quinn could only stare at the orb, so like the one that claimed her brother, until Ryze shoved her out of the way, his tattoos glowing once more. A green-gold aura appeared around him an instant before the orb hit him, absorbing the impact. But the magic was not dispersed; the mage was surrounded by a thin sheen of sickly black magic.
He pressed against sickly light. "I'm stuck," he said. "But I can feel it dispersing already. Just keep the wraith off me, and I'll start opening the portal now."
Quinn nodded, and turned back to the wraith, making a sign with her hand. "Gouge 'em, Valor!" she yelled.
The gold eagle cried and swooped in along the ground, rushing towards the wraith. At the same time, Quinn dashed forwards, waiting for the perfect shot on the creature.
As Valor backed off, the wraith's gaze followed bird, and Quinn got a single shot into the wraith's side.
"You filthy worm!" it screeched, flinging several orbs of green-red magic at Quinn.
Ezreal appeared beside her in a corona of green light as she dodged another orb. “What's the plan?”
"Keep this thing busy until Ryze can open us a portal out of here." she said, unloading a few more bolts at the wraith.
Ezreal glanced at the mage. "Is that what he's doing?"
"Yes, you idiot. Now just shoot it already."
Just then, the wraith screamed, and three lines of black light shot out of its chest, smashing into three of them. As the light touched her, Quinn could hear a horrible wail echoing inside her head, slowly growing in volume.
"Do you hear that?" she asked.
"Doesn't sound good," said Ezreal.
Behind them Ryze yelled, "I'm good to go." He was standing on broad circle of shimmering light. "I have no idea where this leads."
Ezreal grabbed her hand and warped them to circle. "I blindly teleport long distances all the time."
The circle brightened, just as the wail inside Quinn's head grew almost unbearable, and then it was gone.
Quinn found herself standing face to face with a woman in black stockings and a slim red dress, trimmed with gold. On her wrist was a strange contraption shaped like a stylised pig.
"I'm sorry," said Quinn. "Where are we?"
The woman grinned. "You have found yourself in the greatest Lunar Revel in the world."