Ginevra Mancinelli

Prologue

The sight of the polished plank, the sound of chains being dragged across the wooden platform, the swinging of the bells inside the temple –

She was pushed forward, the bright, blazing sun scorching her tanned skin and blinding her eyes. She fell to her knees, and the scars hidden under the bandages that covered her chest felt itchy. The manacles on her wrists were so heavy that she found herself curling against the floor. She hadn’t eaten for days, and her weakened body was soon dragged to the center of the platform, where a refined guillotine made of iron and adorned with gold stood waiting. Her body was lifted from the ground by two soldiers who were on the receiving end of rotten goods aimed at her head. The dizziness that clouded her senses faded for a moment, right as she blinked, and her scarlet eyes took in the massive crowd that had gathered for her execution.

There wasn’t a single face she could recognize. She had probably eaten and served in the past with many of them, but she couldn’t remember. Then again, several people were clad in gold and blue, the silver steel they carried a dead giveaway of the faction they belonged to. However, they were no different than the iron bearers that stood at their sides. All of them pumped their fists in the air, and roared their approval and admiration as a woman she hadn’t seen in years walked up to her.

Her high, golden heels clicked on the wood as she advanced slowly, almost to the beat of the bells. Her calves were covered by a thin layer of embroidered fabric, the small roses of her crest curling around a wide-winged broadsword. The woman’s legs were otherwise bare, just as her back, her tow-colored dress flowing behind her as it was short in the front. Her long sleeves were sewed to an iron corset that hugged her upper body while leaving an extreme amount of cleavage at the mercy of everyone’s eyes. The way her charcoal hair flew softly around her narrow face was an elegant addition, and if it wasn’t for the curved staff she held in her right hand, no one would have been able to look away from her porcelain face.

Crimson eyes glanced back at the crowd before her, and her chapped lips parted at the sight of the one face she could recognize. His hood was gone, and his chestnut hair no longer reached his shoulders. It was neatly trimmed, and soft bangs casted a shadow over his light brown eyes. The scars on his cheek and chin were clearly visible, but even as she knelt for the last few seconds of her life, he didn’t flinch. He didn’t move.

The curved staff was now in her face, twin dragon heads intertwining around an amethyst orb that shone brighter than the sun. She looked up, even though her thoughts were still directed at the man among the crowd. Why, was her silent question. Why let them bring her here?

“Riven, child of Noxus,” the woman spoke up, causing the entire Grand Plaza to fall silent. “I, Emilia of House Lightshield,

“consort ruler of the Empire of Dawn, the Ravenborn, the Master of All Illuminators,

“in the name of Emperor Jarvan Lightshield IV, sentence you to death for desertion, betrayal against the former Empire of Noxus, and for crimes against the Duchy of Ionia.” Narrowing her eyes at the exiled soldier, she asked, “Do you have any final words?”

Riven’s gaze drifted back to the crowd, only to realize that Talon had left, causing her to wonder whether he had been there in the first place. Letting out a sigh through trembling lips, she shook her head, oily silver hair clinging to her forehead.

As she lowered her head and rested her throat on the crook of the guillotine, Riven didn’t hear the troops that thundered past the crowd, nor did she feel the frosted wind that was now biting at her dry skin.

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