Chapter 7: The Day of Subversion
Summoners of magic who flaunt without care
Born from it darkness, their burden to bear.
Destined is order in Valoran to cease
Under the false mask of peace.
- Author Unknown
“You allowed them to escape.” A low, angry male voice announced, its origin a cloaked figure standing on a platform along with two other similarly garbed individuals on their respective spots.
“Who are you to make such accusations when you failed to dispose of the assassin when you had the chance?” A smoky female voice retorted. “Regardless of their escape, everything else was successful. A few champions remain unaccounted for, but we have enough to proceed without them.”
“Excellent.” Another, more commanding male voice answered. “The moment we have been waiting for draws near. This is the last time we will need to meet like this.”
“Shall I track the remaining champions and dispose of them?” The low-pitched male voice asked.
“Do it. It will be one less problem for us in the future. Once you have disposed of them, proceed to track down and take care of Fiora Laurent as well. It seems she had evaded her captors.”
“Proceed to your designated spots. At midnight tonight, initiate the ritual.”
The Farscape Plains, Valoran
“Sacrifice of the blood and souls of Valoran’s champions? How can you say that, the League was created to prevent war.” Shen objected, a hint of anger in his normally impassive voice becoming apparent as he tightened his fists at his side.
“That’s only the greatest lie in the history of Valoran.” The night hunter answered, narrowing her eyes with suspicion upon seeing the ninja’s reaction to her words.
“But what purpose does killing off all these people serve? It doesn’t make any sense. If they wanted us dead, they could have just gone after us individually. That would have saved them twenty years worth of work.” Talon asked, his appetite now all but vanished upon hearing this.
“It’s a ritualistic killing, isn’t it?” Shen suddenly said, causing the other two to turn their attention towards him. “The moment that mass killing took place this morning, the flow of balance within Valoran erupted into chaos instantly. That was the intent, wasn’t it?”
“Yeah,” Vayne responded as she took off her glasses, shooting the two champions a stern glare. “In order to understand the events to today, you need to know what transpired twenty years ago as well as my true purpose for being in the League.”
“Twenty years ago… the Fifth Rune War.” Talon mused.
“Correct. A time of chaos that seemed to never end. Demacia and Noxus…our two countries actively engaged in a large scale war that practically left no corner of Valoran north of the Great Barrier unscarred. Though it started with conventional warfare, once one of our nations began to utilize Summoners as living weapons in battle, the other followed suit. An endless battle raged on, the casualties of war rising exponentially when Summoners were given authority to use their powers in the war without limits.”
“Yeah…even in Noxus, the casualties of that war were unacceptable. Countless kids flocked to the underground bazaar, turning into orphans like myself at the time when news of their family being killed in battle reached the city. But what does that have to do with whatever happened earlier today?” Talon asked as he stood up from his seated position, taking a few steps towards the opposite end of the room to lean his back against the wall.
“Three years ago, I was in Demacia in the midst of hunting a witch that was leaving a trail of bodies. That night, after disposing of the vile woman, I was approached by a man, my contact that I’m to meet in Piltover. He told me the truth behind everything that is the Institute of War. I had my doubts about his claims initially as I’m sure the two of you do about what I’m telling you right now. As I looked into it further, I became more convinced that what he was telling me was the truth.” She continued before pausing a moment to compose her thoughts.
“And what truth was this?” Talon asked, interrupting the silence that had filled the air.
Vayne let out a sign before continuing, as she still felt hesitant at disclosing the truth about her mission for joining the League of Legends. Ultimately, she decided that at this point, there was no longer any reason to keep it hidden.
“What do you know about the events of The Day of Subversion?” She asked.
“The last day of the Fifth Rune War…I was still a kid at the time, but I still remember it clearly. The day the war ended, not because of a treaty, but out of fear when natural disasters started appearing all over Valoran within minutes of each other. All of Noxus was thrown into chaos and I almost got pummeled by the collapsing ceiling of the underground bazaar.” The assassin answered.
“More than that happened on that day. The uncontrolled use of magic by powerful Summoners during the Fifth Rune War resulted in a fracture of the barrier that separates the Living World of Runeterra and…The Void.”
“The Void?” Shen repeated, a shock running through him at the sound of those last two words.
“The Void, a world of darkness that is intertwined with our world. It is the source of the most sinister creatures to have ever existed. Those horrible demonic creatures Cho’Gath and Kog’Maw are but two examples of creatures that spawn from The Void. On the Day of Subversion twenty years ago, the imbalance in the flow of magic through Runeterra caused a rift to open, connecting our world with The Void. Within seconds, those dreadful creatures that you’ve seen in the Summoner’s Arena crossed into our world. The whole world was at the brink of being thrown into chaos until…”
“Until what?” Talon asked after a short pause.
“A miracle? What’re you talking about?”
“A gift from the Goddess Terras. When all hope seemed lost and Valoran was doomed to be thrown into chaos, she restored balance to the world of Runeterra by closing off the rift that was created with a seal…one that restored the balance in the flow of magic in our world, and also prevented the further crossing of creatures from The Void into our world.” Vayne explained, stopping momentarily to examine the other two champions, whose faces were held in a mixed expression of shock and disbelief. “However… those creatures weren’t the only things that crossed into this world. In those few moments before the Goddess intervened, a dark force that had no place in this world reached out to the most powerful Summoners in Valoran and offered them power beyond anything they could imagine. To achieve this goal, they were instructed to perform a ritual that would open up the Goddess’ Seal in a way that even she could not close from where she resides in Edenrealm. This ritual called for a large sacrifice of blood at three points in a Rune Circle carved into the earth of Valoran, followed by the sacrifice of the souls of the strongest champions with the power to protect our world at the center of those three points.”
“Blood sacrifices at three points in a Rune Circle and a sacrifice of souls… You don’t mean-“ Talon exclaimed as a realization suddenly hit him.
“Those three blood sacrifices would eventually be known as the three Summoner’s Arenas, and the fourth is none other than the newest arena that we were all instructed to attend… The Valley of the Magi. Playing on the fears that the natural disasters throughout Valoran had instilled into its citizens, the most powerful Summoners that fell to the temptation of the darkness created the Institute of War. Using it as a façade of peace, the Institute created the League of Legends, attracting Valoran’s greatest champions to enlist into it under the guise of fighting for their own country. Two key battles during the Fifth Rune War left the area filled with magic. Nexuses were installed in those areas to control the magic and utilize it to create the first two Arenas, the Twisted Treeline and the Summoner’s Rift. Years were spent to find similar locations to create a third Arena and when it didn’t exist…it was created.”
“Kalamanda… An all out war between Demacia and my nation that the League mysteriously did not intervene in until significant bloodshed had been spilled.” Talon mused as the realization hit him. “Before he went missing, General Du Couteau had been suspicious about something that was brewing involving that town. I don’t know what it is that he found, but he had been acting strange the two days prior to his disappearance. Two months after he went missing, tensions began to run high when Noxus came under suspicion of causing the collapse of a Demacian mine.”
“Except that the tension didn’t just end there.” Vayne continued to explain after raising an eyebrow to examine the assassin’s face. “What began as a suspicion of sabotage by Noxus turned into a high tensioned game of accusations, both sides fully believing that the other side was at fault for the events at that mine. In reality, that whole ordeal was orchestrated by none other than the Institute of War itself, culminating in the manner that the Summoners hoped it would. The area became scarred and largely unstable by magic, save for a small field that allowed for the installation of a Nexus to control the magic, transforming it into a third Summoner’s Arena…the Crystal Scar. The ones who orchestrated it were the same ones who created the Institute of War…powerful Summoners who would eventually be given the title…The High Councillors.”
With those last words, the room fell silent. Neither Shen nor Talon knew how to react to what they had just heard. For them, their perspective on Valoran had been turned upside down, as the world they knew never existed. Shen, along with the rest of the Kinkou Order, believed in the Institute’s ideals of preserving peace and balance in Valoran. Since his decision to join the League, he had held the High Councillors in the highest regard, as the epitome of those who believed in a peaceful resolution to conflicts. Words could not express his disappointment, finding out that the people he trusted to maintain order in this world were the very ones who aimed to throw it into chaos in exchange for power.
Talon, on the other hand, was furious at the thought of being nothing more than a pawn to be sacrificed for the personal gain of a few Summoners. He came to League looking for answers to the disappearance of General Du Couteau, the only person he ever saw as his superior. Over a year had passed and he was not even a step closer to finding the truth. All this time, he had been acting as nothing more than a bug, waiting to be squashed for a sick ritual. It was then that a truth had finally dawned on him.
“Seems actually answers a question that had been on my mind for a very long time.” The assassin finally said, breaking the tense silence.
“And what question is that?” Vayne asked, turning her gaze towards him.
“When I first joined the League, a Summoner probed into my mind to find out why it was I wanted to join the League. I openly admitted that I had a personal agenda, to investigate the League for evidence of General Du Couteau’s disappearance. Had I been in their shoes, I would never have allowed someone who was accusing me of being involved in a conspiracy to enter the League. It was clear that I didn’t trust them, that I was not there for a remotely honorable reason, yet they allowed me to join. It all makes sense now, when from their perspective, I was to be nothing more than a sacrificial lamb.”
“Yeah. That was the fate that had been decided on us by the High Councillors the moment we joined the League.” Vayne continued.
“So where do you fit into all of this? If you knew exactly what you were signing up for, why’d you do it?” Talon asked in a low voice, his eyes narrowing in suspicion to examine the night hunter’s face.
“I joined the League as a mole for my contact. I was given a charm that allowed me to manufacture what the Summoners would see when I underwent their Judgment. Under the guise of honing my skills to become a better hunter for Demacia, I joined as a champion with the true purpose of spying on the inner workings of the Institute of War. Along with it, I manipulated the Institute’s systems to get certain people out of there when this day neared.”
“So this whole time, you knew that this was going to happen and you didn’t do anything to stop it?” Talon asked, anger rising in his voice.
“And what do you expect me to have done?” Vayne retorted, shooting him an angry glance before lowering her eyes. “How could I possibly have orchestrated the mass departure of every champion in the League without attracting the attention of the High Councillors? This whole time, I had to work in secrecy. I didn’t know who I could trust, and even if there was a Summoner who was honorable enough to be willing to help, seeking them out would only get them killed without effort. That’s the difference in the powers of the High Councillors compared to the others. All I could do was get a select few people who would become valuable in the near future out, while I had to stand by and allow the rest to suffer their day of reckoning. You can say and judge me however the hell you want. It won’t make me feel any more guilt than I already do.”
Another silence filled the air after her last words, as the three champions sat quietly pondering their circumstances. The relief that Talon and Shen had felt after their successful escape from the Institute had all but dissipated, replaced by horror as they now knew what it was they were up against.
“This morning…the LeBlanc that killed Akali and Kennen. She was-“ Shen began after a long pause before being cut off.
“Controlled by one of the High Councillors to do their biddings as a puppet.” Vayne quickly replied. “In the same way that Summoners control how we fight in the Summoner’s Arena, she was being controlled outside of the Arenas by one of the High Councillors. Unlike the other Summoners, the High Councillors do not even need a Nexus nearby through which to channel their magic and control someone. Now do you understand the power gap between the rest of the Summoners at the Institute and the High Councillors?”
“Yeah.” Shen replied in a quiet voice, a look of mourning in his eyes.
“Well, now that you know what it is you’re dealing with,” Vayne began to say as she stood up. “Where you want to go is up to you. In just a little over two days from here, I’ll make it to Piltover to decide what my next move will be. We’ll pass a few transportation hubs along the way there, so I can drop you off at one of those and let you go wherever you please. Keep in mind, however, that you angered the High Councillors by surviving this morning’s purge so moving around may be a lot harder than you think. The choice is yours.”
“You’re going to continue your fight against the High Councillors on your own?” Talon asked in disbelief.
“I don’t expect you to follow me down this road, but it is something I have to do.” She responded, the expression on her face become softer, something that others have rarely seen in her. “When I was a child, I witnessed everything being taken from me by evil. I was helpless then, but not anymore. As long as I have the will to fight, even if it is an impossible goal, I won’t stop until things are made right.”
With those last words, the night hunter walked to the door, leaving to return to her own room before being interrupted by Talon’s words.
“Shauna Vayne,” He called out, causing the night hunter to stop and turn her head, shooting a glance towards him. “If you would allow me, I shall accompany you on the rest of your journey.”
“What?” She responded, her eyes opening wide in surprise. “I appreciate the gesture, but why would you of all people want to go out of your way to help a Demacian?”
“I don’t really know. Maybe it’s because for the first time in years, I feel like I have a purpose again.” Talon said, his voice rising in an almost excited tone. “Earlier, you asked me why it was that I almost sacrificed myself to help the two of you in a dangerous battle. I wondered about it myself for the longest time, and realized that I did it because it was the first time that I was fighting for a reason. It wasn’t about survival nor was it about following orders, but rather it was about stopping someone so twisted that they’d kill off all those people like they meant nothing.”
Vayne and Shen said nothing, but nodded their heads in acknowledgement at the assassin’s words.
“For countless years, I spent my early life in the underground slums of Noxus, fighting one day at a time just to survive. I had no goals until I encountered General Du Couteau, the only person to ever outwit my skills. He spared my life…I respected him and his will became mine, as I carried out every assassination he had asked of me. When he disappeared from Noxus two years ago, I knew I no longer had any reason to continue serving Noxian High Command. But instead, I spent the next two years continuing my loyalty to Noxus for the sole purpose of finding the General. I thought it was all out of respect, but in reality, it was because once again I was lost. Without a master to follow, my life had no purpose. When that was taken away from me, I didn’t want to think about what my life meant and so I kept searching, going so far as to join the League in hopes of finding clues in my spare time about what happened to the General.”
“Clinging to that which gives life meaning, no matter how small and remote a possibility it may seem.” Vayne mused upon hearing the assassin’s words.
“Yeah…only thing was, I realized after this morning that even if I did find General Du Couteau, it wouldn’t give my life meaning.” Talon continued as he stood up, walking towards the window to look up at the twilight sky. “That whole time, I was merely helping someone else achieve their goals. Until our fight earlier today, nothing I had done up to this point was for what I had believed in. Now, here I stand, an enemy of the most powerful entity in all of Valoran and one of the few people left who can help save a world where all hell is about to break loose. I’d say that for the first time, this is me…fighting for a something real.”
“If that is what you truly believe, then I accept your offer to accompany me on this journey.” Vayne replied, taking a few steps back away from the door to face the other two champions. “It will be a far more treacherous journey than anything we’ve encountered in the past. But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. We were destined by the High Councillors to die this morning, but instead here we stand. Against all odds, we changed our destiny and survived. From here on, no matter how hopeless things seem, we will fight and decide our own fate.”
“Hmm… Never took you for the inspirational speech type.” Talon remarked with a grin on his face.
“Shen, though you have proven today to be a great ally, I don’t expect you to follow our paths. I know that you’ve witnessed the deaths of your friends and I’d understand if you wish to return to Ionia after we reach Piltover. The decision is entirely yours and-“ She said, ignoring that last comment, which did its job at ruining the moment as she turned her attention towards the Ionian, who had been standing quietly.
“As part of the Kinkou order, I have worked towards maintaining balance in the world.” Shen began, his voice low and impassive. “I was sent along with the others to the Institute in order to uphold its belief in peace. For me to openly defy the Institute means turning my back on everything I stood for.”
“I understand. If that is your decision, I have no right to change your mind.” The night hunter replied, turning around to leave.
“However,” Shen continued, causing her to stop and turn her head to shoot a glance in his direction. “In the end, it was the Institute that turned its back on the rest of the world. For years, the Order saw them as a great ally to preserve peace. That alliance meant nothing, as they killed my comrades without hesitation. Shauna Vayne, Talon… my blade shall follow you in your journey. Though it means turning my back on the Order, allowing this atrocity to take place would mean turning my back on everything it stood for.”
“Then it’s settled.” Vayne began after a short pause, opening the door to leave. “After we arrive in Piltover and find out more, we take the fight to them. Get some rest, tomorrow we move out at 0700.”
Meridian, Bordering District of Demacia
A small explosion rang through the large metallic corridor, causing smoke and dust slowly rise from the ground. Fiora was kneeling on the ground panting, strands of purple hair covered the left side of her face, dancing with every breath she took. A look of frustration was apparent on the exposed side of her face, now covered in a thin layer of sweat that glistened in the light.
“**** it… this is no good.” She said quietly to herself in between breaths as Leon stood silently at the side.
More than a day had passed since she had begun training herself in the use of magic. What seemed like endless hours had been spent during those past two days, and while the duelist had gotten better with the timing of drawing out magic energy for use in battle, the strength of her spells was all but pitiful. Regardless of what element she manipulated her energy into, her spells would do nothing more than cause small puffs of smoke to rise or small streams of water to appear at random locations in the room. With every failed spell, she became more and more frustrated, as it felt as though she had hit a road block for the past day. Over half of her designated training time had passed, and it felt as though there was barely any progress.
After catching her breath, she turned to look at her mentor to find a look of concern on his face. She knew immediately that things were not progressing as he had hoped.
“Leon, this is not working.” She said, frustrated at herself. “I’ve been doing everything you’ve told me, but even then, I feel as though I’m hitting a brick wall every time I try to draw out magic. No matter how hard I try, I feel like I’m doing nothing more than encountering some strange entity in my mind and trying to drag a part of it out kicking and screaming. Every time, it ends up the same way, with me pulling out what feels like scraps and crumbs of it, enough to barely make a recognizable spell.”
“You’re timing has improved, and so has your ability to direct the spells properly. And also, for some reason, you seem to have talent for manipulating your magic energy into almost every type of element.” He replied in a low voice.
Despite the attempts at reassuring the duelist, the look of concern did not fade from his face.
“What is the point of being able to do that if none of the spells I can cast have any power behind them? With the exception of making my enemies die of laughter, they don’t serve any purpose.” She snapped as she managed herself off of the ground.
A moment of silence filled the air, as neither of them said anything. Finally, Fiora turned around, taking a few steps to leave the room.
“I need a break. I don’t even see what good it is for me to keep do-“ She began before a bright light blinded her, causing her to cover her eyes.
Moments later, as the light faded, she looked around to find herself encased in a sphere of silver colored energy.
“Leon, what is happenin-“ She began to ask before stopping in mid-sentence.
Her eyes caught sight of her mentor, a look of malicious intent now on his face. His right hand was outstretched in her direction, surrounded by an aura of energy similar in color to that which surrounded her.
“Leon, what do you think you’re doing? Is this some sort of sick joke?”
“What a disappointment you really are.” He began, his voice deep with a strange, inhuman echo behind it. “I was hoping there was going to be some use for you, but it seems you have failed every one of my expectations.”
“Use for me? Expectations? What are you talking about?” She demanded, her voice shifting into one of fear.
“Poor, ignorant Fiora Laurent. Your whole life, you’ve kept yourself distant from everyone until now, only to blindly befriend someone without even thinking about the circumstances. Even going so far as to ignore the only friend you had left, letting her get taken away to be executed. All in the hopes of promises of powers to defeat an unseen enemy without even a thought that the enemy had been in front of her the whole time.” Leon taunted as his eyes narrowed, appearing more sinister than she had ever seen them.
Anger shot through Fiora instantly, as she quickly drew out her rapier and lunged towards the sphere surrounding her, delivering a quick slash to it only for it to be deflected by a bright flash of light. She felt herself thrown backwards in a fashion similar to the first time she had attacked one of the Void Walkers a few days ago. Landing on her feet, she lunged forward a second time, aiming for the same spot as before, in hopes of her first attack having weakened the barrier around her. Instead, her attack was met with similar results, causing her to stagger backward as her arm was twisted upwards into a strained position.
“I’m afraid, that won’t work. This barrier that I’ve surrounded you with is completely impenetrable to even the sharpest steel.” Leon explained as he circled around the duelist a few times to examine her. “It really is a shame that it has come to this. I thought I would have had some use for you, but in the end, you were nothing more than a disappointment.”
“Use me? For what purpose?” Fiora demanded, anger filling her voice.
“To destroy Piltover, of course.”
“Destroy…Piltover?” She exclaimed in shock.
“Don’t tell me you didn’t see it coming. It was the perfect set up. With your friend Lux taken by Piltover, you would have been willing to do anything to get her back. By the time we got there, she would have been locked away in their maximum security facility, PSION. To be able to break her out from there, you would all but practically have to destroy the entire city’s power grid and throw it into total chaos. By myself, that was too great a task, but had you become powerful enough, you would have helped me do exactly that without even realizing you were helping my plans succeed!” He explained, a sinister appearing smile now crossing his face.
“You *******! You were the one who summoned those creatures in Demacia, weren’t you? You set us up didn’t you?” She yelled furiously.
“I wonder about that… Let’s just say that was a test. One which you failed miserably at, but Luxanna excelled at. After all, she was the only one who could disperse the dark aura around those creatures, which makes her a threat. All the while, you were able to do nothing more besides watch helplessly until she did her job.”
“So you… purposely kept me here to prevent me from saving her…” She said in shock, the realization that she had been manipulated perfectly hitting her.
“A contingency plan. In the event that this happened, and you really had no way of becoming the powerful mage that I needed to help me destroy Piltover, the mage who specializes in light magic would have been taken out of the picture, making it one less threat to deal with.”
“You *******…When I get out, I will spend every waking moment hunting you down.”
“When you get out?” Leon asked, stopping his movements to look at the duelist in the eyes. “Such a bold statement coming from someone who has no idea what they’re up against. This barrier around you is a powerful one that is meant to last forever unless it is destroyed by magic equally as powerful. What’s more is, this barrier will constrict onto itself and along with it, its contents. In fifteen minutes, it will be reduced to the size of a watermelon, and every bone and organ in your body will be crushed.”
“You coward! Let me out of here!” She screamed out loud desperately.
“Yell all you want. Not even the Goddess herself will hear you down here. Farewell, Lady Laurent. You will die here a pathetic, lonely young woman.”