LRF Contest \\ Light and Darkness

It was that time of the year again. Down in the mortal realm, the humans hung up the bright, red lanterns around their villages, lighting up the dirt streets with a soft glow. Firecrackers were lit up, the popping bursts of light and sound scaring away evil spirits (and the occasional innocent passerby). Vermillion envelopes decorated with gold designs were passed down to the younger generation, its contents being taken out with small, greedy hands. Children chased each other, weaving through the moving adult’s legs, joyous laughter filling the air. As always, the lunar new year never failed to bring a smile to those that celebrated it. Unfortunately, it didn’t have quite the same effect on Luxanna, better known as the Lunar Empress. She’d always been a symbol of hope, a protector of the heavenly realm, always doing her job with a smile on her face. Never had she failed to help those around her, spreading positivity and joy throughout the lands of Runeterra. However, it was during the lunar new year that she was more concerned than ever, evil spirits, namely Morgana and Caitlyn, gaining more power during this time, ready to strike at the right moment. In previous years, they were fairly easy to hold off. This year… something was different. As soon as the sunlight pierced the dawn, Lux had woken up with a cold sweat, her heart beating in a frenzy. She tried to catch her breath, her chest heaving up and down. For a few moments, the world slowed to a stop, the only thing that could be heard was the twittering of birds outside of the window, and the movement of the mortals in their world below. Breathing a sigh, she willed herself to get up, before being interrupted by a knock on the door. “Empress? Are you alright?” came a gruff voice, one that Lux instantly recognised. “Yes, I’m perfectly fine, Nasus,” she attempted to say with as much casualness as possible. Then a pause. “Alright, I lied. It’s just the nerves, I guess.” “You don’t have to be worried, Lux,” came the response, professional, yet with feeling. “Everything will turn out to be okay, just like in previous years.” “I know, I know. It’s just…” she trailed off, hugging her knees towards her chest. “Something feels off this year. I just know it.” “You say that every year. Just relax, okay? Everything will be fine.” _Everything will be fine_… she repeated those words in her head a few hours later, standing at the gates of the heavenly realm. Staff clutched in her petite hands tightly, a look of determination on her face. Occasionally, a messenger would arrive, delivering large offerings to the gods made by the mortals. As much as she wished to be inside those gates, celebrating the new year like everyone else, she knew that she had a duty. There would be time for celebrations later. That’s when things started going south. It was sometime just after sunset when everyone was slightly drowsy from the long day, and the haze of eating all the food was starting to get to them. Lux stood still at the gate, attentive as ever, but her mind was far off somewhere, sending her into a spiral of miscellaneous thoughts. That’s when she saw a flash of purple. It was difficult to see in the dark, and her weary head wasn’t exactly helping. Her guards, Nasus and Warwick, had gone off somewhere, Lux being the one to insist that they ought to relax a bit. How much she regretted that decision now. Forcing herself to stand up straighter, she retained an aura of confidence, knowing well that simply being brave wouldn’t stop the lunar wraiths from attacking and destroying everything in sight. Finally, a figure slinked out of the shadows, their lean figure practically towering over Lux. “Hello, empress,” purred the figure. Lux creased her eyebrows in confusion. She’d never heard whoever was standing in the shadows before, and the fact that it wasn’t Caitlyn or Morgana speaking that surprised her. “Who’s there?” she yelled into the darkness. “Show yourself!” She threw her staff forward, which returned back to her after the glow just slightly illuminated a man with purple skin. “The other lunar wraiths had told me _so much_ about you,” continued the man, a sly smile never seeming to leave his face. “I decided to visit, and see if the _Lunar Empress_ really is as.. powerful as the rumours say.” “Let us resolve this peacefully,” said Lux, with as much confidence as she could muster. “If you simply wish to test your strength, then I’d really suggest…” “I don’t believe you quite understand, empress,” said the man, using the same nickname he had for Lux. “I wish to challenge you. If I defeat you, you will let me into that lovely little realm of yours, without any form of struggle. Should you even have the chance to defeat me, and perhaps the lunar wraiths will back off, just for a century or two. Do we have a deal?” Lux looked at him with curious eyes. This was a once in a lifetime opportunity, and she certainly knew the risks that came with it. Taking a deep breath, she closed her eyes, confident in her abilities. “Very well,” she breathed out, opening her eyes again. By now, the mysterious stranger had stepped out of the darkness, and she could see the maliciousness in his eyes. “Excellent. Shall we begin?” “... Of course. But first… your name?” “Call me Sylas.” With that, he dashed forward, chains that were hidden in the shadows just moments previously suddenly appearing, glinting in the light. - _He… really is strong!_ Lux barely had time to process the next attack before throwing her staff outwards again, calling the light to shield herself the chains. Once again, she found herself on the dirt floor, mud staining her “What’s wrong?” laughed Sylas mockingly. “Can’t keep up?” He threw the chains down towards the ground, sending up a burst of dirt and gravel, like a small explosion. Once again, Lux barely dodged, but this time, she was able to shoot some light from her hands, momentarily blinding Sylas. Using this opportunity, she rolled out of range, standing up, and running further away from him. Muttering a quick prayer to the gods that Nasus and Warwick had noticed her disappearance, she turned back towards Sylas, a new fire in her eyes. He was gazing at her now, curiously, like a predator hunting for their prey, trying to predict what her next move would be. Grunting, Lux threw out more light, but this time, it was designed to root, not blind. With a yell, and with the wish of finishing as soon as possible, she shot out a laser of light, hitting Sylas squarely in the chest. “Let me borrow that, would you?” came his voice out of the darkness that followed, surprising Lux. “What…?” All of a sudden, she felt something cold on her arm, which then quickly pulled away. Along with it, something from her chest, a piece that completed her. Lux suddenly felt empty, like everything was over, and nothing could be done. Then, for a moment, she wasn’t sure if she saw it right, she saw a light come flashing towards her, gaining up speed, and suddenly-- - Lux’s eyes fluttered open, but the bright ceiling lights seemed to force them to close again, making her head hurt. Badly. What was she doing lying down…? What had happened? Groaning, she tried to sit up rubbing her dirt crusted hand onto her forehead, eyes still closed. “Empress…! You’re awake! Please, lie back down, I still need to clean your injuries,” said a voice, one she did not recognise. With that, a cool hand was pressed to her forehead, and Lux felt herself drifting off to sleep once more. - It wasn’t until everyone in the heavenly realm made sure that Lux was okay before she heard the story of what happened. At least, that’s what it felt like to her, with people coming up to her every few minutes, bringing gifts of food, deserts, and the like, congratulating her for something she didn’t even know. It went something like this. Sylas had somehow stolen Lux’s abilities, although it was temporary. They’d found her collapsed on the road, Sylas searching her for a key, or anything that would let him into the heavenly realm. That was when Warwick arrived, pouncing on top of Sylas before he could get away. Nasus had arrived not long after, ready to help. They’d kept Sylas locked in a prison while Lux was out of comission for most of the Lunar festival, but he’d disappeared shortly after news of her waking up was spread. Neither part of the deal was made, and a single note in cursive writing was left in the cell, shocking the guard that had gone to check on Sylas. _“We will be back -the lunar wraiths”_

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