A history of Runeterra is a history of war.
For generations beyond counting, this world has bathed in the spilled blood of fathers and their progeny. Towns were displaced by the invading graveyards. As cities burned, their flames were used as forges to create new weapons. Streams of powerful magic coursed across the lands, floods of pure destruction that ravaged the once nurturing earth given to all, but shared by none. It was the apocalypse, played on repeat… and attempts to escape this destructive history, for however bleak it the future may be, are futile. For all the powers a Summoner possesses, they are still enslaved by all the weaknesses and paranoia of men.
Thousands of years of history cannot be undone. The league, inevitably, will fall.
But what will life after the league look for the champions who once served it? What will become of those warriors once the restraints of the League are lifted from their shoulders? How will they shape this world, to try to drag it from the precipice of disaster… or push it to its destruction?
Here, then, is a look…
How funny was it that her quest for humanity lead her to become a mercenary?
She should have seen this coming, she supposed, from the offset—it was war and death that blessed her with this body, so why wouldn’t killing in the service of the league be how she ultimately lived up to the ideal of humanity? It was just as the Summoner’s promised: every match she won, every kill she
secured, she felt just a little bit more human.
But the league was gone, and they hadn’t kept their promise before vanishing, as far as she could tell—she still had tails, these preppy ears that the men just adored, and above all she still felt… unfinished. There was more to do--she felt it in her stomach, the same pangs that she suffered as a fox that told her ‘You are not finished’.
But maybe that’s what humanity was, when it was all said and done: Being incomplete. She’d take solace in that, for the time being. Until then, she’d gotten a taste for fighting--and of the two skill she’d mastered since turning human this one was, somehow, considered the less morally questionable way to make a living.
Humans are strange, strange creatures. And the mystery made them all the more alluring.
Akali: Balance, Pt 1
The room had been prepared for them by their attendants: everything had been mathematically proportioned to illustrate the virtues of perfect balance. Each ninja was exactly the same distance away from each other, and the adjacent walls in the perfectly square room. The temperature was exactly 50 degrees, and they had geometrically measured the very forces of light and dark so as to perfectly find the exact point between the two: equilibrium in all things.
And naturally, they had all eaten a balanced breakfast.
“And thus we find ourselves at a crossroad.” Shen’s even voice spilled across the room like a slowly spreading flame. “A great upsetting will soon befall Valoran, and the whole of Runeterra.”
“How can we three possibly maintain balance when the scales the world rests upon themselves tremble?” Akali asked, her voice pressing on the tip of passion, but restrained nonetheless. “The league was the best tool we had for maintaining symmetry in all things.”
“In our moment of greatest desperation, we rely upon our greatest weapon.” Shen replied without a considerate pause. “A weapon that must not fail, for the sake of our order and the universe at large.”
Akali nodded, closing her eyes, anticipating his wisdom: the fall of the league was a blow to their operations, but not a death kneel by any means; the world was unstabilized by the collapse of the league, certainly, which meant to counter the great storm that was about to fall upon their shores, they had to concoct an equal force to counter it, no matter how dramatic it may be--for they were warriors of balance.
“NO! NO! I’LL KILL YOU ALL!”
“Someone shut that damn animal up.”
The Noxian Summoners interlaced their hands together, a mist swirling from the insides of their fingers—a sleeping spell that drifted to the thrashing gladiator’s nose—it forced itself into his nostrils, but in his rage he merely snorted it out again, rending yet another chain from the hands of his captors.
“NOXIAN SCUM! YOU CAN’T TAKE ME! I’D SOONER DIE!”
The General merely sneered, waving a hand dismissively at the horned beast who stood, barely restrained by the forces of dozens of magically enhanced chains, a mere few feet away from him, his bloodshot eyes boiling with a loathing that promised death the instant they gave him even an inch of freedom.
“Please. Who’s going to save you? Ayelia? That girl couldn’t even last a single round in the Fleshing. Very boring match. Lots of crying.”
His casually presented words struck Alistar like a jackhammer to the chest. The Minotaur’s eyes widened, his limbs, once as tense as columns of stone, went slack—his breathing stopped, and his mouth, once over bubbling with threats and violence and saliva, grew quiet.
“We’re just taking back what’s ours.” The general sighed, patting Alistar on the snout. “Don’t worry, I’m sure you’ll join her soon, once we get bored of you.”
“…you… you monsters…”
“I only see one monster here. Is the branding iron ready? I don’t want to lose this one again.”
He came to the League for one thing only: A home. And while it lasted, he had found one. And boy, what a home it had been! People liked him! They liked him a lot! He was useful, and he met so many nice people, and sure it hurt when he was banned so often but it was only because they didn’t want to fight him. And that’s always flattering, right?
All those times his team would smile and laugh when he managed to turn the tide of a team fights, or the thanks he’d get for saving their lives when being chased… how could he have gotten that lamenting in that moldy tomb? All those times those Summoner’s praised him, all the friends he made… they made him happy. But now… it was all gone. All those smiling faces, all those friendly words, all those people who’d practiced and battled alongside him… all gone. His home was nothing but dust in the wind now.
…but you know? He was smiling. Even now, as he sat on the steps leading up to the abandoned league, a smile crept on his face for the first time since he was brought back to this world. Because for as much as he loved the league, loved his home… he was only ever welcome when he was sad. He was fueled by sadness, and if he cheered up, well… he’d just be a little green mummy, wouldn’t he?
So was he sad that his home was gone? No… with that burden gone, he could finally be happy.
“Amumu!” A little girl’s voice cried out, urging him to look up at Annie as she darted up to him, a big grin across her face. “Hurry up, mom and dad are waiting! Let’s go!”
Besides, there was one beautiful truth he’d learned in his travels, and in his time at the League.
No one was ever truly homeless.
To call her ancient would be an insult, for she predated the language.
“I suppose some would consider it odd for us to talk, but I quite enjoyed our battles,” Anivia started, her chilled but soothing voice lulling into Brand’s ear, “And I wanted to know what your plans are.”
“Why? Intend on getting in my way?” Brand sneered, cackling as the flames bounded off his flesh—what a sad display. It was fitting such a being should be so rash and immature, for flames are synonymous with youth—passionate and hot, but fleeting. “Do you want to save your precious human masters from the flames I rear?!”
“I never said that.” She soberly reminded him, nodding her head from her perch. “If that’s what you intend, burn away, my friend, burn away…”
“What?!” Brand choked on the words, unable to comprehend her wizened words. “You aren’t going to stop me?!”
“It hardly matters at this point.” Aniva cooed, “This world is bound towards a path of destruction, and it is better that way. It has been impossibly corrupted, and is in desperate need of a reset. Be it by your hand or the Summoner’s, this world will end before too long.”
“THEN LET IT DIE IN FLAMES!” Brand cracked, the fire swathing his body ignited by the short-sightedness of his hopeless ambitions. “LET IT BURN WITH SUCH FURVER THAT NOT EVEN YOU ESCAPE ALIVE!”
“Well, you can try.” She chuckled in response, a little grin tugging on her beak. “But when the kindling runs out, and the flames fade… only the cold will remain.”
“Bah!” Brand waved a hand dismissively, completely ignoring her point as he strove away, plotting where to start. She merely watched on, her cool gaze upon the beasts back as she prepared to take flight: it was a real pity; too, she’d grown quite attached to this world.
Oh well. The next one should be better.
She never had any ambitions for a normal childhood. Nor did her parents. Nor did her tutors, what few dared teach her, anyway. The league had aided in making her childhood as abnormal as possible, but now that it was gone, what was left for her?
That was pretty simple. Grow stronger.
“N-no…” Ryze gasped, clutching onto his burnt chest as he tried with what remained of his strength to grab the scroll from her hands. “I… I can’t…”
“Tibbers, I think he wants more!” She giggled, cheering with delight as the bear backhanded the tattooed mage, causing him to fall to the ground.
All the time she had known him, he had protected this scroll with his life—every spell he had ever invoked had been in the service of protecting this scroll. It had made her curious… and hungry. So she sought him out. Found him in his isolated studies, and did what any child would do: she took it. And now it was in her hand, throbbing with immense power, just WAITING to be used…
“N-no good can come of this! Don’t…” Ryze begged, clawing his way back to his feet—his mana reserves were dried, and there was no power left in his withered form: Annie hadn’t exactly escaped without a scratch herself, mind, and because of the many wounds she’d sustained she wasn’t feeling charitable.
“No!” She shouted at him, stomping a foot in protest. “It’s mine, I won it! Now, let’s see what’s inside~” She sang, slowly rolling the scroll open to gaze at its contents.
…her heart stopped in her chest the moment her eyes saw the scripture within. Her mouth dried. And her face paled.
“…I…” She gasped in an uncharacteristic display of fear, “…I...”
She bit her lower lip, then looked up at the collapsed and confused Ryze, frustration and humiliation building up in her quickly reddening cheeks.
“…um… can you read this to me, mister?”
Of course, between her magical training and her time in the league, it’s easy to neglect some of the fundamentals of growing up. Like learning how to read.
“It’s… so dark...” She whispered to herself as she gazed upon her thawing domain. For as distant and foggy as the horizon was, she could see the war machine as clear as day: she had strove so hard for peace, but it seemed all that she built was founded on the league—with that gone, what did she have? She had a war spurred by Sejuani and her growing number of allies. She had summoners preparing for another rune war, stirred by the former master of the league. She had a newly reinvigorated Noxus and a husband all too eager to cut them down to size. Worse still, she feared there was no number of arrows she could shoot at this problem to make it go away.
She had fought for so long in the name of her people: and now they fight against her. Without the stability of the league, a steady monarchy seemed impossible. There was too much greed. Too much ambition. Too many hands, with no pot big enough to fit them all.
She sighed, fingers strumming the instrument of bloodshed, listening to the single-note melody of her bow as the string vibrated under her expert touch. The noise was a comfort to her, for as much as it might have filled her foes with terror, and it soothed her aching mind—she couldn’t lose herself in her fears of the future. There was too much to do today to exert any attention on tomorrow.
She had fought for a hope that was gone now. Where there was once prosperity and promise, there was now only chaos and confusion and despair. But even though her dream of a perfectly unified Frelijord and a world bound to peace seemed like a longshot…
…she’d made longer.
Next time--Robotic Revolutions and Fiery Schemes: What becomes of Blitzcrank and Brand?