The air around her was pounding like a heartbeat, violent and fast, and increasing rapidly in rate. In her bones she could feel it- the life force leaving a wounded form.
The harsh steel of her crescent led through the shrubbery and low hanging branches of the forest with ease as she raced towards The Dying, feeling the rhythm of its heartbeat devour her from the inside. _Ba-dum, ba-dum_, it called to her, and with each step she took upon the Earth, the volume of the heart pulse grew rapidly in stress. She could not cast her eyes to The Stars, but she could feel them watching her, speaking to her in voices that barely transcended the Realm of Men.
_They are near, Soraka._
Soraka could feel them, she could smell their fear and pain and blood. Her moon staff guided her into a clearing, small and cramped with large stones and strange plants of every colour. Her eyes fell to The Dying, and without hesitation she dropped to its side, placing her hands to the gash where the life was escaping. The small creature whimpered in distress, and made a weak attempt to bite Soraka, its small teeth barely leaving a mark on her unearthly flesh. The realization of weakness caused the creature to go limp, its large eyes rolling into the back of its skull. It was waiting for death.
The heartbeat of this creature sank beneath Soraka’s skin, frightening her with its drastic decrease. The Stars above screamed loudly in many voices, and Soraka felt strength beneath her fingertips as starlight grew inside her chest. The crescent moon staff that lay in the soft grass beside them began to glow with ethereal light.
“Stars guide me,” Soraka murmured gently. “Lend me your aid.”
A shimmering radiance grew beneath her palm, illuminating the creature and the red that soaked the soil beneath its body. The small thing was chattering now, letting out confused animalistic gurgles from the back of its throat. Its large eyes rolled back towards her, and when they met with the Soraka’s, vibrant green light exploded from her hands, creating a sound that only The Stars could hear. Surprised by the sudden luminosity, the small animal whipped around from the dirt and sank its teeth in Soraka yet again. She grimaced but did not move. Blood welled around its fangs and dripped onto her tunic.
“I’m sorry I frightened you, poor thing,” Her voice was calm and melodic. The creature released her, watching her cautiously. She sat still, so not to scare it again. The animal took a nervous step forward, licked the red from her hand, and then rushed off into the forest without hesitation.
Soraka sat in the grass, reaching her bleeding hand out to her staff. She could hear The Stars now that the palpitations of death had left the air. They were a collaboration of many parts and voices, like a strange song that would never be heard by Runeterra, the Realm of Men. Her hand shook as she used the staff to pull herself to her feet. The voices of The Stars rustled around her like a breeze.
_You are hurt. You are hurt. You are hurt. You are hurt. You are hurt. _
A smile came to Soraka’s face at the concern, as if it was humorous in a way. The voices stopped all of a sudden, causing the simpering look she wore to slide away instantly. There was an abnormal silence for an irregular amount of time, before The Stars returned to her, one by one. They were hard to focus on at first, but then the words became clear enough for her to grasp her staff warily.
_He is coming. He is coming. He is coming. He is coming. He is coming. He is coming._
“Who is coming?” Soraka pressed The Stars for a name, but instead of an answer, they fell silent again.
She could taste her own panic, feeling it sink down her throat like a handful of mud; thick and suffocating. The forgotten injury now stung, beating in tune with the blood pounding in her head. The Stars are too silent. What on this Earth can silence the sky in such a way?
The Stars spoke loudly, in a singular voice that boomed through the universe.
_HE IS HERE._
A cry tore through the air as a massive figure materialized before her in a familiar, yet blinding light. She flashed her staff forward in a violent gesture, bringing forth a surge of starlight to strike it down. The strange thing let out a mellifluent sound as it met with the starlight, and an odd chiming began to resonate in the forest clearing. The chiming almost resembled giggling.
When Soraka raised her eyes to glance the being, she met with glowing eye holes on a strange mask, engulfed completely in a wild mane of white hair. Its appearance startled her, but there was elegance to him, a soft vibration from within him that settled her uneasy suspicions. She opened her mouth to apologize, but the strange thing gave her a sharp and ungraceful curtsey. Instead of an apology, she let slip a giggle. The chiming joined in.
“Forgive me friend, I hope you are not hurt,” She finally spoke, smiling still.
The masked being shook its head and raised a strange instrument to its mouth. A deep sound bellowed from within it, and then the source of the chiming burst through the shrubbery, dancing before this creature.
_The Caretaker. The Caretaker. The Caretaker. The Caretaker. The Caretaker. The Caretaker._
But Soraka knew before they told her. Of course it was Bard, the Wandering Caretaker of Runeterra.
“You are very far from home, my friend.”
Bard nodded again, and blew into his horn once more. Though the music he created was different from the voices of The Stars, she could make sense of it, though she could not understand how.
I have a duty to attend to.
“Ah, I see! If I can help in anyway, I’d be more than happy.”
Bard shook his head so furiously, she was afraid his mask would pop right off. The chimed chatted in high notes, and started to danced again. Bard made his way to Soraka in elegant leaps and skips, and took her injured hand between his huge fingers. As she watched curiously, a strange flower of blue light grew from the center of her palm, getting larger and larger with each passing moment. Soraka could feel the light from beneath Bard’s mask as it bathed her skin in a warmth that reminded her of home. The flower bloomed brilliantly, and as her hand closed around it, the torn flesh grew back together, as if nothing had ever happened.
The chimes spun around her legs in a cosmic melody, and Bard raised the horn to his mask again. The sound that came from it was cheerful and full of fondness.
_Let us go, Starchild. To heal and protect, that is our duty._
The chimes rushed off before them, into the dark green of the expansive forest. Soraka smiled.
_Yes, Caretaker. With every step, a new journey. The Realm of Men will know serenity now._