Date: 31 May, 20 CLE
Malzahar glides into the Great Hall, his feet mere inches from the cold stone beneath as small ethereal bubbles of unearthly energies effervesce from the soles only to dissipate into the air moments later. His robe billows softly on an unfelt, otherworldly wind, the presence of which courses through his body, screaming into the deepest crevasses of his mind, an eternal reminder to where his loyalty would forever lie.
He pauses for a moment before the inner chamber, gazing upwards towards the etching inscribed above the looming marble doors, his breath hot on the cloth that covered his face.
The truest opponent lies within.
For an instant, the crisp inscription becomes barely visible, eroded and faded, an endless span of time passing by in a moment. The marble walls of the League, mere decades old, suddenly were possessed by the decay of eons. Malzahar gazes past the crumbling, ephemeral stone, through the chasms in the roof of the structure, into an alien sky blacker than anything that existed in this world.
The moment passed, and Malzahar was once against staring at fresh marble. As the doors to the inner chamber open, he directs his attention to the mistaken fools within.
A brilliance sears Malzahar’s gifted eyes. Blistering heat cooks his skin beneath layers of feeble cloth, wrapped around his flesh like the crusty outer skin of a bird after roasting in an oven. He pressed his cracked lips together and pain splintered across their surface as they started bleeding. An incredible exhaustion strangled every muscle in his body, and he struggled to stand. Sand blew into his eyes like so many tiny stinging insects, and Malzahar tried to blink the specks out, his eyes slowly adjusting to the searing light.
When he could finally see more than a yellow-white blur, before him stood a enormous obelisk, the edges of the stone soft and rounded from the desert wind, bizarre inscriptions lining the sides from top to bottom worn and unreadable, enormous cracks running through the length of the structure and chunks missing at random intervals.
His eyes continued to adjust. Beyond the obelisk lay a grotesque cityscape, the geometry of which was so bizarre and ludicrous as to almost be beyond comprehension. The ruins, half-buried by sand, had clearly been decaying here for untold centuries, passing through the pages of history into mere myth. Only the roofs, adorned with the stone idols of hideous, surrealistic creatures to which no mortal origin could be traced, still stood clear above the sand.
A tremendous voice boomed from deep in the fissures within Malzahar’s mind. What it said he could not identify, for it was at that moment that exhaustion took him within its dark embrace.
The darkness of death, however, was a divine radiance next to the utter blackness that Malzahar now had the curse to see. There he lay in the burning desert, the blazing wind driving the sand to cover his body so that the desert might swallow him whole. Yet some will, some terrible, horrible will, would not let him die. Instead, Malzahar found his eyes forced open by some mind not his own, staring straight up into the sky.
The heavens had been torn open. Huge gashes had been sliced through the blue backdrop, revealing a purplish-black nothing within. It was as though an enormous claw had reached out and torn apart the canvas onto which Runeterra was painted, revealing something behind that was abhorrent than anything the figures in the painting could imagine. And from the gashes poured through an unending swarm of hideous creations that beat and clawed their way through the sky in numbers that blotted out the sun and covered the sands in darkness. They descended upon the desert, devouring everything they encountered, animate and inanimate, and spread out towards the horizon, and beyond.
In his mind Malzahar knew none of this was real, that it was a vision, like the ones he had always had since he was a child. Yet this was so visceral, echoing within the fibers of his being, that he could not accept it for anything except real. An invisible force took hold of Malzahar, and he found himself being borne up into the sky, into the gashes that had sliced through the fabric of space and time. The flying creatures passed him by, their ranks parting to let the human through, their eyes, some beady, some enormous, all hideous, passing over him, wondering what this strange creature was doing their midst, a creature that they could tear apart and consume at a moment’s whim. But whatever will brought Malzahar here deterred them, and he passed through the portal unharmed.
The sky here was ethereal and ever-changing. Patterns of purple and black and colors Malzahar could not describe swirled and mixed in ways that no human could appreciate. Huge orbs hung in the sky, their surfaces textured with an intricacy unknown to mortal creations; something told Malzahar that these were entire worlds, the size of the one on which he had been born.
Beneath, an alien landscape rolled beneath him from his position high up above the surface. This world was of enormous size, perhaps larger than Runeterra, but despite its extent, all that Malzahar could see was tessellated into alien geometries that must have been miles on every side, like the jigsaw puzzle of a giant that played with worlds. And dots moved across its surface, tiny splotches of color that must have been creatures of gigantic size to be seen from this height. Malzahar’s mouth involuntarily opened to draw in air, but there was none of that here, and yet, he did not suffocate.
Then he noticed, above the plain, just on the horizon, was the pile of debris that could only be the carcass of a truly gargantuan creature. The scale of the corpse sent shudders down his spine; heaps of flesh the size of mountains, bones that reached out into space like the frozen fingers of a god, a ribcage that could have housed all the people of Runeterra comfortably.
Then he forgot it, for the will that had brought him here was now taking him away from this world, out into the vacuum between places. Malzahar was being drawn deeper and deeper into this horrific realm. He saw worlds beyond his comprehension, baffling patterns of geometry and space that he could not describe, creatures living in the nothing that dwarfed the corpse he had seen earlier with wills that could be felt, possessing raw, incarnate power that needed no material on which to express itself. He did not even attempt to grasp the scale or the logic of the dimension into which he was descending. It was all too abominable, too unholy, too unreal to process; he could do nothing but accept the images that were flooding into his mind, without attempting to interpret them.
And then, he saw him. Suddenly Malzahar realized that it was to here that he had been heading from the beginning. This was not the location of the will that had brought him here; no, he much too far beneath the notice of the entity that resided in this place, the heart of this realm, home to an entity that could only be described as the Lord of the Void.
The being that had controlled Malzahar’s journey stopped his motion, and he was still, unable to avert his eyes from the terrifying, revolting, hellish images, of which were only a tiny, insignificant fraction of the true horror of this being. His mind was obliterated; he lost all sense of past and future, all his history, every memory, every kind of logic or thought was expunged as the presence of this hideous god filled every little crack and corner of his existence.
And then, intensifying a terror already magnitudes beyond that which any human had ever experienced, the entity’s attention began to focus past him. He was not paying any consideration to Malzahar, of course—how could he! Here was a being that contemplated the very foundations of the universe, planned to grasp every individual fiber of existence in its hands and dictate the laws of reality itself; how could he possibly ever even notice a creature so lowly, so insignificant as Malzahar! It would be like a human paying attention to the germs, the microscopically small primitives that crawled across his skin! Nay, that was altogether too generous a description; to this unholy deity Malzahar was less than the most ephemeral thought of the lowliest creature that Runeterra ever knew. No, he was not paying any attention to Malzahar, but the mere attention of that implacable Will in the general direction of him obliterated him. All went black.
When he woke, he was lying on the cold, marble floors of the Reflecting Chamber. There was the taste of blood in his mouth.. He could scarcely recall the visions that the summoners of the League had pulled out from his mind, and was glad. At least, being mere memory, there was no way they could convey the true terror of what he had seen. He had not gone insane. Again.
Slowly, for every movement threatened to send him teetering to the floor, Malzahar stood back up again. He no longer floated above the ground; it was too much to call on the powers gifted to him while the memory of the gifting was so fresh.
He waited for a long time. Possibly, he thought, longer than any other champion-to-be had waited. The mages that had extracted the memory from his mind were probably incapacitated, reduced to gibbering heaps on the ground, their minds much too weak to handle what they had seen. The summoners would not know what to do with him.
Eventually, the doors to the depths of the League opened. But they closed as soon as they had let through a single cloaked figure, his hood hanging heavily, obscuring his face with shadow more completely than Malzahar’s own attempts to hide his.
He spoke. Slowly, and with great trepidation. Fear, even. “Why do you want to join the League?”
Malzahar strode forward, every step growing with confidence. This was the moment. His chance to fufill the first task that his master had assigned to him. His hands spread into the air and his face towards the sky with dramatic flair.
”Skies shall scream. Oceans shall boil. Continents shall turn to fire. The living shall know only fear before the final moment, and the dead shall be bound to their will unto eternity. They are coming. They are here. A black wave, a cursed wave, to drown all that stands, in its wake, leaving naught but an infinite void.
There was no reaction from the summoner. An age passed, in which the two men exchanged gazes, through which Malzahar saw the whole history and future of the creature before him. The man, sensing the vision, shook his head and turned away. He started walking towards the door from which he had entered. As he did, he called out a question. “How does it feel, exposing your mind?”
The doors opened, and the summoner passed through them once more. And this time, they did not close.
“There is no greater joy than to share my prophecy.” The words left Malzahar’s lips as a whisper. “Save seeing it come to pass.”
His steps echoing softly within the chamber, Malzahar strode forward into the League, knowing that it did not matter what they did.