The Lone Hero

„They said, ‚The hero’s just across that mountain ridge.‘ Now I’m here, and no one in sight,” Poppy muttered under her breath. White fog formed in front of her face every time she exhaled, and she rubbed her hands together to keep them from freezing. Her hammer lay in the snow to her feet.

In the west, the sun was slowly setting over the mountains, sending an orange hue across the scenery. When Poppy looked around, she couldn’t help but feel a sense of serenity wash over her. I may not have found the hero here, but this certainly is beautiful. She took a deep breath of fresh, crisp air, and then picked up her hammer again. “Time to get moving if I don’t want to be caught up here all night.”

As she plunged her way through hip-deep snow, she kept her eyes open for a cave or any sign of a home of sorts. The moon rose and illuminated the snow-covered peaks just enough to keep going, but still there was no place to rest in sight. Her legs started to hurt from the cold, and still she moved on, eyes fixed on the ground to prevent slipping.

###

Braum was feeling restless that night. His poro lay by the fire, contently snoring, but he somehow couldn’t sleep. Something was in the air, and he couldn’t figure out what it was. At last, he pushed himself up and left the house. The snow was crunchy under his shoes and the full moon cast an eerie light over the mountains. He scanned the area. There! Was that a wolf he was seeing? He rubbed his eyes. No, it was too tall for a wolf. Slowly, he approached the figure. When he had almost reached it, the silhouette suddenly slumped down and disappeared in the snow. Braum ran towards the spot and knelt down, his hands carefully lifting up—a yordle? And a huge hammer?

###

Poppy woke up to the sounds of a crackling fire. She felt warm, too warm, and her head was throbbing.

“Ugh…where am I?”

She slowly opened her eyes and cast a look around. It looked like a simple log cabin with a jolly fire burning in the hearth. Then she turned her head, and jumped.

“What–!”

Steps came closer, and a booming voice said, “Oh good, you’re awake! Good morning, young yordle. How are you?”

Poppy blinked a few times and then just stared, mouth agape, at the huge man in front of her. He wore a big smile on his face, half covered by a huge moustache. The creature that had scared her that much jumped towards him and rubbed its head against his leg.

“I…my head hurts. Where am I? Who are you?”

“I am Braum, and you are on my farm in the mountains. I found you outside in the snow last night. Oh, and this is my poro. Don’t worry, it’s not dangerous, but it loves to cuddle.”

“I…saw light, and tried to get there, but it was so cold…and my legs hurt. Thanks for saving me, Braum. I’m Poppy.” She looked around and frowned. “Um…where’s my hammer?”

“That huge thing? Oh, don’t worry, it’s over there at the wall.” He watched her with a curious look in his eyes. “Say, Poppy, can you really wield that hammer? Isn’t it a bit…big for you?”

She laughed. “Oh, I’m just the Keeper of the Hammer. I only keep it until I find the true hero it belongs to. You don’t know of a hero around here somewhere, do you?”

###

Braum’s heart leapt at the sound of her laugh. This young yordle was delightful.

“I’m sorry to disappoint you, but I don’t know of any hero around here. It’s just me and my poro, and the villagers down below. Simple mountain folks, so to speak. But you must be starving. Let me cook you breakfast and tea while you just lay back down and rest.”

He turned to the fire and started tea water, then turned to the stove to fry some eggs. For some reason, this morning, he felt like whistling while cooking, and the sun seemed just a tad warmer and brighter than usual.

###

Poppy laid back and watched Braum while he prepared breakfast for her. Even though he was a giant of a man, he possessed some gentle, caring quality that appealed to her, probably more than she cared to admit. When was the last time someone cooked me breakfast? She felt her heart ache with longing. Longing of a home, of somewhere to belong, of someone to be with. I can’t…I have to find the hero first. It’s my duty. With a sigh, she closed her eyes and drifted back to sleep.

###

When breakfast was ready, he brought it up to her makeshift bed. The sight of her peaceful face, and of his poro cuddled up in the crook of her arm, made him smile. He put the plate and mug down and gently shook her awake.

“Poppy? Breakfast is ready.”

She yawned and stretched, and when she sat up and saw the plate, she gave him a wide smile that made him feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

The poro stayed on her lap while she ate, and afterwards they sat together and talked for hours. The more he learnt about her, the more he dreaded the moment she would leave, and the more he hoped that she would just stay for a while longer.

###

When the sun set that afternoon, Poppy grew sad. She knew she should be on her way to find the hero instead of sitting here talking to Braum, but part of her didn’t want to leave. Not yet. Not before she had the chance to get to know Braum better. Finally, when the sun was gone, she gathered all her courage and began, “Maybe I could…”, just as Braum started, “Maybe you could…”

They stared at each other for a moment and then burst out laughing.

“You first,” Braum eventually said.

###

“Maybe I could…I mean, I have been thinking…with all the snow, and me being so small…maybe I could stay here till spring?”

Braum’s heart leapt with joy at that question, and he responded, “Well, of course, that’s a great idea! Poro and I have plenty of room for you, and we would enjoy the company.”

While he sat there with a big smile plastered on his face, watching her eyes light up, he secretly wondered when he should tell her that the snow never melted this high up in the Freljord Mountains…

Story of Vi’s Death (LoL fanfic)

It was a day like every other: drab, rainy, and boring. And it had started with an argument with Officer Caitlyn–again.
Vi was standing on top of a high building overlooking the city of Piltover, angry and with the intense need to punch something–or someone, when it happened. A scream somewhere in the streets that abruptly stopped. Vi focused on the streets, and when her eye caught a movement, she jumped. She knew the best route down, jumping from roof to roof until she hit the dirty street from where the scream had come. No sign of violence. No body. No blood. Confused, she looked around. Then, from the corner of her eyes, she spotted a figure moving away. The hunt was on.

Caitlyn looked out of the window. From her office, she had a nice view over part of Piltover. All she could see now was the heavy curtain of rain, though. She sighed and turned back to her paperwork. Vi…what am I supposed to do with you? She shook her head to clear the thoughts of today’s argument from it, got up, and fetched herself another cup of coffee. It was true that Vi brought in more criminals than any other member of the Piltover Police Force, but her measures were questionable more often than not.
While she was standing in the kitchen waiting for her coffee to brew, her boss peeked in. “Caitlyn, what are you doing here? I thought you were on patrol with Officer Vi?”
“We blew it again this morning and she just stormed off, so instead of wasting my time trying to find her, I decided to write those reports you’re still waiting for.”
Her boss watched her as she poured the coffee. She offered him a cup too, and when he accepted it, he said, “Cait, I know Vi isn’t always easy to deal with, but look, you two are partners. You should really put your differences behind and start acting like partners. Finish your coffee, and then go out and find her. The reports can wait, but I can’t have two of my best officers either collide or avoid each other.”
With that, he turned around and left Caitlyn to her thoughts again.

Vi was chasing someone through the streets of Piltover. She wasn’t even sure who it was or what he or she had done; all she knew was that that chase revived her. She was finally able to get rid of her frustration and anger that had been boiling inside her the whole day. Stupid Caitlyn…who’s getting her all those arrests? Who’s helping her career move forward? And all she’s doing is complaining about the way I do things…argh!
She rounded another corner and ended in a cul-de-sac. Empty. She frowned and looked around. Carefully, she moved forward, one step at a time. Her senses were on alert. Something felt wrong…

Caitlyn took her time sipping her coffee. She didn’t really want to leave the office on a day like this, especially since she knew it was futile trying to find Vi if she didn’t want to be found. Eventually, she pushed herself up, took her hat, and left the building. It had been an order, so there was no getting around it anyway. The sooner she found Vi, the sooner she would be able to return to the dry comfort of her office to finish that report.
As she walked through the streets, memories of her patrols with Vi flashed back to her. Vi complaining about the rain causing problems with her gauntlets, and how she had helped her fix them again. That was when she had seen Vi smile for the first time. Another memory of how Vi had saved a little girl from being smashed by a heavy flower pot, and how they had later rambled about how people found it sensible to keep something like that on the window sill. “They should define flower pots as weapons”, Vi had joked. The memory made Caitlyn chuckle even now.
With a sudden sense of urgency, she quickened her steps. She wanted to find Vi, to apologize for earlier.

When Vi had made her way about halfway into the drury cul-de-sac, she heard movement behind her. “Caitlyn?” No answer. Shit, I should have taken her with me…she always has my back. Slowly, Vi turned around, ready to charge whoever was behind her. But the street was empty. Someone is playing with me…
“Jinx? Come out, I know it’s you!”, she yelled while turning a full circle scanning the area.
No response. Vi waited for a while longer, but when nothing else happened, she turned her back to the cul-de-sac and started moving to its entrance. That’s when she heard the clicking sound of a pistol being readied–right behind her.

The shot echoed through the streets in downtown Piltover. Caitlyn froze, and then ran. She ran as if her own life were at stake, and maybe it was… Terrible images of her partner dead in some alley formed in her mind, only to be confirmed when she rounded yet another corner. There she was, slumped down against a wall, her gauntlets lying next to limp arms, eyes shut.
“Noooooooo!”
Caitlyn was on her knees, hugging her dead partner to her chest, before she realised. Tears streamed down her face, mixing with the rain, but she didn’t care. This was her fault. Had she not argued with Vi earlier, Vi wouldn’t have left the police station alone, and then she wouldn’t have been shot like this…
“I’m so sorry, Vi… I should have been here with you… This is all my fault…”, she sobbed.

Somewhere in the distance, a figure in the shadows cleaned a pistol and grinned.