Nine years prior to present day, the battle of the Placidium
The council members walked out of the room. Young Irelia lifted her head up. She was wearing her training clothes: a long sleeved, dark red top with a white lining; a pair of full cut pants that rested over a pair of long socks and a pair of boots that were bound in place by cloth cords. She had been sitting in the lobby for hours. She had to know their decision. She waited very patiently. She saw them quietly walk past her, heads hung low. Soraka, now resembling her goat form, trailed out after them with a young woman wearing a black and white kimono by her side.
Irelia looked at them, expecting an answer. None of them looked at her, as they walked by.
"What was the choice?"
None of them spoke. Irelia ran over and grabbed Karma, "What was the choice?!"
"...The council..." Karma drew a breath in. Her voice pained, "In a nearly unanimous vote, have agreed on surrendering."
All the color in young Irelia's face drained. She looked at the council, "You...no. What?"
"Young Lito," one of the councilmen softly spoke. "The Noxians have surrounded us with enough force to level all of the Placidium and our armies. Their war machines will arrive in two hours before they start to open fire. We have until those two hours to let them know of our decision. Not every battle in life can be won. At least this way, less Ionians will die. They have the technology, they have the strength, we...we are at a loss. We cannot fight them."
Irelia was completely silent. She was at a loss for words. This could not be happening. She looked at Soraka and Karma, her tongue looking for sound. The councilmen walked away from her, and left the three women behind. One of them spoke up, "Which of us will tell Master Yi?"
"We will all tell him. Hopefully his anger will be too divided amongst us for him to properly react."
Soraka moved towards Irelia. She reached out to the young girl, who was shaking all over. "Irelia..."
Irelia kept her eyes glued to the ground.
Karma finally spoke up, "Maybe...maybe if they were not so disheartened..." She sighed, and shook her head, "I tried, Irelia. I tried talking to them. They...they refused to listen. We just...we just need..." The young Ionian woman hiccuped. She pressed a hand against her lips. She was crying. "We just need to believe we can win. We just-"
"Stop that," Irelia commanded. "Tears will not solve anything."
Her ears twitched. She heard a loud, piercing wail rip through her mind. Irelia glared at Karma, "I said stop that."
"Irelia...?" Karma raised an eyebrow in confusion. She had stemmed her tears, what else was she supposed to stop?
"Go with the others. I will see the both of you in an hour."
Karma and Soraka looked at one another, completely shocked. Soraka motioned to Irelia, "Are you comi-"
"No. Not yet."
Several minutes passed. Irelia stayed in place, staring at the ground. When Soraka tried to touch her shoulder, the young girl pulled away from her, and continued her stare. Soraka's soft voice barely penetrated Irelia's ears, "Do not stay too long, Irelia. I will be with the others."
The two women walked away, leaving Irelia alone in the flickering candlelight of the lobby. Eventually, she looked up at the doors to the Council's room. On the wall, to the left side of the door, rested that sword.
The sword of her father, the late and great Master Lito. It was a truly fantastic blade. It was six feet in length, with no discernible hilt or pommel. It was a double sided blade, with a sanguine crystal that was seamlessly embedded in the center of the blade. She remembered seeing him use it, it was a living, breathing being in his hands. In its current form, it was useless. In the hands of Master Lito, it was anything and everything. She walked towards it, she could hear something coming from the blade. She could swear it was weeping. She reached up, and touched it. It hummed at her touch.
She stared at the sword for what seemed like days. She made her choice.
Soraka and Karma stood at the podium. Master Yi was between them, his face expressing every inch of his rage. He could barely contain it as the speaker for the Ionian council rambled away into a glowing crystal that amplified his voice,
"...We have put up a good fight, people of Ionia, but we must acknowledge defeat. We look at you, and see the pain, see the suffering you have endured, and you know that we have endured it as well. There is no one here who has lost nothing because of this war. The Noxian and Zaunite commanders are listening to us as we speak. Soon, we will ask for our militia to put their arms down, and for them to open the gates to the Placidium. We are sorry, people of Ionia, but...we have lost. We cannot win. We will always be Ionians, but it will be under Noxian orders."
The thousands of people that had gathered were completely silent. Karma pushed her way forward, and grabbed the crystal. Her voice clearly cut across the air, "Are we going to lay our weapons down? Are we going to give up? Are we going to surrender and lose our identity, our souls, to the war machine of Noxus? If we do not stand and fight, what will stop them from doing as they please? What will stop them from ravaging our lands more? What will stop them from doing this to other people?"
The speaker for the council tried to pull Karma away to no avail. She continued her short speech, "That is why we will fight! We need to fight! We must fight! Who will still fight?"
The crowd bowed their heads. She could taste the despair in the air. Her heart sunk. This was it. This was the end. Master Yi's fists clenched, his fingernails dug into the meat of his palms. They even took his sword away, to make sure he would not rush into battle. He started to move forward when a loud voice boomed throughout the crowd,
The crowd turned around, and stared at the source of the voice. She had a vocalizing crystal in one hand, and the ancestral sword of Master Lito in the other. Its tip sank into the ground below immense weight. "I am Irelia Lito, daughter of Master Lito, student of the Hiten blade art! I am not surrendering!"
Soraka started to move off stage, worry and fear in her eyes. She was blocked by the crowd of people from making quick progress, however.
"Who are you people?! Are you Ionians or are you pigs for the slaughter?! Are we just cattle, waiting for the day of our death?! We are Ionians!" Irelia screamed. "I will not be subjugated against my will! Just because they have bigger weapons and more bloodlust does not give them permission to trample over us! We are Ionians! Pick up your weapons! We are now all defending Ionia! Men, women, and children, protect Ionia! Your strength is needed! Use your hands, use your pitchforks and blades and bows or whatever! You are no longer citizens of Ionia! What I see now is a whole army of my countrymen, here in defiance of the impeding tyranny! What will we keep if we surrender? Our lives?!"
She tilted her head back and let out a mocking laugh. It was hard to believe that she was no more than fourteen years of age, "Is that living?! Is giving our freedom, our lives, our well being to these invaders worth living for?!"
The speaker took the crystal from Karma, and spoke in defiance, "It is two thousand against ten thousand. We cannot win, child!"
"Then what, we surrender?!" Irelia shouted back. "You may be content dying in your bed in a year or twenty from now, but would you be willing to trade for all of those days that lead up to your death, would any of you be willing to do such an atrocity, instead of showing our enemies that they can burn our fields, they can take our lives, but they will never! Never crush our spirit! They will never take our freedom! We lived as Ionians! We will die as Ionians!"
With that, Irelia shattered the crystal on the ground, turned around, and ran straight at the sealed gates of the Placidium. Before anyone could react, despite the heavy blade, the young girl started to scale the walls with far too much ease. Karma was frozen in place. She could feel her heart swell with fury, with anger, with defiance of their would be conquerors. Soraka, however, tried running through the crowd, screaming, "Open the gate! Open the gate! Irelia! Do not-"
It was too late. Irelia leaped over the wall and disappeared. Silence fell on the people. They broke apart, rushing for weapons, armor, and whatever else they could find. The council looked around in amazement. The fervor of the Ionian people had been restored. Karma looked at them, "So are you going to stand here and let them kill us, or are you going to fight?"
Sparks of magic erupted from their hands. The speaker for the council spoke for them all, "Duchess Karma, you will not join us. Your wisdom and your compassion is worth all of our lives tenfold. You will stay and look over the Placidium, we will go and fight. Guard it in our stead."
When Karma turned to face Master Yi, to ask him a simple request, she saw that he had already disappeared.
Irelia landed on the ground harshly. The weight of the blade dragged her down to its level. She staggered, and saw all of the Noxian soldiers staring at her. She got up to her feet, hefted her sword, and pointed at them. She was beyond angry, as she asked the opposing legions, "Who's first?"
The soldiers stared at her complete and utter confusion. It was one little girl against thousands of them, not including their war machines that were still rumbling into place. Irelia shouted at them, "You expect a whole nation of people to surrender, and I am not! Which of you think you can stop me?!"
None of them broke rank. Eventually, an order in Noxian was given, and several Noxian foot soldiers walked towards her. They unsheathed their weapons, and pointed them at her. "Kid, you're going to die here."
"No. I am not," Irelia hissed. "Why did you ask us to surrender? Because you know if we fought back, you will lose. Go ahead. Try attacking. I am going to kill every single one of you."
The footsoldiers looked at each other, shrugged, and surrounded her. Her ears twitched. Her father's training echoed in her mind. Her sword hummed in unison with her thoughts, it was as if her father were behind her, whispering the words into her ear, Air is the same as water. You simply must heed the ripples.
The swords came down on her. She barely lifted the blade in time to block the simultaneous strike. One of the Noxian blades sliced her forearm open. She did not notice. She shifted the weight of the weapons, and dragged her sword along the blade of one of her attackers. In one strike, she cleaved him in half, including his armor and shield. Her father's blade was disgustingly sharp.
For every ripple is the messenger of something yet to come.
She could feel some sort of strange intent from behind. It was a gross, vile feeling. It turned her stomach. She could feel their want to kill her, their killing intent. She remembered her father talking of it many times. However, she had never felt it. She tumbled forward, barely evading the attacks as they advanced on her. She needed to react quickly.
She dashed forward, gripping the middle of the sword near the crimson jewel, the only place where the blade were wrapped with bandages. She drove it through the stomach of one man, ripped it out in a fluid strike and sliced the arms of her nearest attackers clean off. She tumbled forward yet again, and cut at the legs of the final man still standing. His shins were bisected by th strike. He screamed in pain as he fell forward, clawing at the ground.
Irelia rose back to her feet, readied her blade, and glared at the Noxian soldiers staring dumbly at her. She growled, "Next."
One of the men, dressed in black robes stepped forward. She could taste the death that hung off his shoulders, the miasma that surrounded him: A necromancer, their commanding officer. He shrugged his shoulders and laughed, "Impressive, young one. Impressive, but foolish."
Dark magic ripped the air, he waved his hands for a bit, then fired it at the young Irelia. She awkwardly evaded the magical blast and she stepped towards him. The magical blast twitched and reversed course, striking her back. She could feel the inside of her body tear at itself. Blood spewed from her mouth and nose. She staggered, and sank to her knees. The necromancer tugged at the dark stream, and made it race back towards him. She could feel her soul draining out of her body, and race towards the necromancer.
"You said that we can never break your spirit. I assure you, we can take it."
Irelia disappeared. The soldiers that were in front of him that were meant to defend the necromancer did not have time to scream as blood spurted out from the new gashes in their bodies. Before the magic returned to his fingertips, the necromancer was impaled at the end of her sword. He gurgled a bit, grabbed at the blade, and crumbled to the ground.
Irelia's body shook. She was wracked with pain she never thought imaginable. She wanted to scream out and cry, she wanted to tear at her boiling skin, she wanted the pain to end, but she knew she had to keep fighting. She vomited a thick pool of blood and bile. Her body was going cold already. She could feel her life slipping. She looked around her, and the dozens of armed men pointing their weapons at her.
Her father's blade was at her feet. She could see the doors to the Placidium slowly open. They were coming. She had done her role, she moved them to action. She looked down at her feet, she could feel her life slipping quickly. Whatever the necromancer had tried, he failed, but it was still killing her. She could rest.
Irelia clenched her teeth. She made a promise.
She picked the sword up, readied it, and glared at the soldiers. She breathed in, breathed out, and said, "Next."
Their heads flew off. Twenty makeshift fountains of blood gushed their contents around her. She heard a stern voice speak to her from her side, "I apologize it took me this long, Irelia, I needed my sword."
Irelia breathed in and out, and looked over, and saw Master Yi. He flicked his sword and spoke pointedly, "You have moved them, Irelia. You have moved their hearts to action. They come. You have done well."
He looked about, his eyes narrowing from the absolute rage burning in him, "May I go ahead and complete your work?"
"Yes..." She nodded. "Go, Master Yi, plunge the art of Wuju through their hearts. I will catch up..."
"You have grown up exceptionally well, Irelia. If Zelos were here, he would be proud."
Master Yi disappeared from view. The only tell of his existence was the path of corpses that dictated where he once was. Irelia's hand violently shook. Blood flowed from her mouth, staining her clothes. She slowly reached to her neck, and with a shaking hand, pulled up a wooden talisman. She examined the characters on it, she could barely see anymore. She clapped it to her chest, exhaling a mixture of air and bloody mist. The gates to the Placidium fully opened. Armed men and women rushed out with whatever weapons they could get their hands on, the Council of Ionia marched with magic lining their bodies. The parapets were lined with archers and their longbows, firing into the Noxian forces. Irelia pointed at the Noxian legions, and screamed at her fellow Ionian, "Push forward, Ionians! Push forward! For Ionia!"
The men and women rushed past her, following the direction of her blade's point. The moment they rushed past her, she gripped her talisman tighter. She pitifully called out, "...Zelos? Where are you, Zelos...? Did I do right...? Where are you...brother...I can't...I can't see..." She fell to her knees, another dribble of blood flowed from her lips. "Where are you...? Are...are you proud of me...? Did...did I keep my promise...?"
Irelia slumped over, her body draping itself atop the sword of her father, her blood flowing onto it. Soraka rushed out of the gates and grabbed the still form of Irelia. She rested the young girl on her lap, soaking it in blood, and allowed her tears to fall on the young girl's face. While she wept, she wished, and prayed to the stars and to the heavens, and allowed her magic to flow from her corrupted, celestial body as best as it could. She wanted with all her heart and all her soul for this young girl to remain, for in her opinion, such strength had never been seen in anyone else before.
A crimson shadow prowled the top of the Placidium walls. A vicious smile curled about the Noxian assassin's lips. The Starchild was a target she had never been able to have a clear shot at. The honor she would receive for killing a being such as her. Now? Now would be the best time to strike.
The crimson shadow flew at the unsuspecting Starchild. Her daggers raised, and aimed at her back. A pair of emerald eyes fluttered open, staring straight at her. The sword that rested near the two Ionians flew to life, and pinned the assassin to the ground. Irelia got back to her feet, Soraka astounded at what was happening. Irelia looked over at Soraka, her eyes looking more like that of a doll's rather than the liveliness of a person.
After confirming Soraka's safety, Irelia looked over at the would be assassin, and asked her, "What were you intending to do, Noxian?"
The Noxian woman pulled her hand free, dagger in hand, and attempted to slice at Irelia's neck. Her blade cut into the Ionian girl's collarbone, and sliced off the talisman that hung off her neck. It clattered to the ground and away from her. Irelia looked around and saw the blade of a fallen Noxian soldier nearby. She picked it up, and shoved it through the offending shoulder of the assassin. She hissed in pain, "Ah **** you, Ionian!"
The Noxian struggled to try and take the sword out to no avail. It was firmly embedded into the ground. When Irelia spoke, not even Soraka could detect emotion in her tone, "What is your name, Noxian?"
"It's 'I'm going to kill you when I take this sword out!'"
An eerie smile crept onto Irelia’s face. Irelia raised her foot up into the air and thundered down with a powerful axe kick. The force of the strike shoved the sword so deep that the hilt kissed Noxian skin. The assassin grimaced, biting her lip in pain but refusing to call out. Irelia beckoned to her father’s swords. They rose up around her, poised to strike. Irelia's toneless voice calmly spoke, “Watch me, Noxian. Watch the despair you inflicted on us, and see what it has done to dampen our fervor.”
Soraka wanted to reach out and stop Irelia, but the young girl's presence was too disconcerting. She had never seen anyone, never mind Irelia, in such a state. What had she prayed for just now? Was this another punishment from the Stars for her selfish wish?
Irelia turned around and walked towards the heart of the battlefield, the heart of madness. The sound of wood crunching underneath her heel could be barely heard amongst the clatter of weapons and the screams of pain.
The Ionians were being pushed back, the Noxians were advancing when both sides saw a the young Irelia walk towards them. The Noxians reacted first. The sky darkened inexplicably. Irelia had to look up to see that it was a barrage of Noxian arrows that blocked the sun. She could hear the arrows themselves all scream for blood, uncaring for their target. They landed shortly, promptly, and precisely. Many of the arrows firmly embedded themselves into the battlefield, yet Irelia was unharmed. An entire pathway of arrows stayed suspended in midair, creating passage for Irelia to walk through. They hovered only inches above her outstretched hand. A flick of her wrist sent them flying back to their owners, pointed end first.
The first screams of pain from the lips of Noxian soldiers finally broke the silence that had fallen amongst the soldiers. The Noxian soldiers faced Irelia, and rushed straight at her. Her father's sword split apart once more, vermillion energy crackling from it as she walked towards her attackers.
She would not retreat. She would not beg. She would not quit, for this was the beginning of the end of the war. She would make sure of it, no matter the cost.