Candidate: Lee Sin
Date: 31 March, 21 CLE
Lee Sin crosses the Great Hall with an aura of confidence unusual for a blind man. He seems to gather sensory information so efficiently it makes one wonder whether, for him, blindness is a weakness or a strength.
His physique is exceedingly understated, tuned only for practical use by years of martial study. What he lacks in size, he makes up for with presence. His conviction is absolute. He pads straight to the doors, then stomps the ground. His head moves up the door, tracking the resulting sound.
He chuckles at the inscription.
A damp echo trickled outward as the doors thud shut behind Lee Sin, painting the room’s cramped dimensions in his mind. The sound was low and the air was stuffy, distorting the noise and accenting his mental image with a subtle blur. In the crannies of the musty stone, fading but distinct human scents lingered, the trace pheromones of violent emotion.
But Lee Sin was transfixed on the overwhelming stench of ready magic.
Arcane potential loomed in the air around him, more than he had ever sensed before. The Reflecting Chamber swelled with it. To most, it would be imperceptible, likely misinterpreted as jitters or dread. It had the quality of the calm before the storm: a pregnant stillness, a swindling serenity. Lee Sin knew that this room, in its current state, was an amplifier, an accelerant for sorcery. He could taste the magical anticipation, like a static charge waiting to be released.
The aroma of fresh pine was suddenly everywhere. He stepped back.
And fire engulfed him.
The sensation was familiar more than anything else. Before the frantic damage reports arrived from nerves all over his body, he shut down part of his mind. He refused the pain access. Now there was only intensity and focus. Here he was again, amidst the flames.
In a disturbing way, it felt like home.
Five months had passed since he began the protest of the Noxian occupation in Ionia. He lit, without any pretense of survival, the pyre that consumed his flesh for two months. In that time, with agony tugging at his sanity, Lee Sin discovered things which hid deep within the soul, inner truths that revealed themselves only in the face of certain annihilation. Just before the lapping flames were to claim his final breath, his fellow monks arrived with the news that Ionia was free.
“It was a cleansing fire, wasn’t it?” He recognized the bold timbre of his former mentor, Reginald Ashram, as acutely as the blaze surging around him. Ashram was one of the few people in Valoran privy to the secrets of Lee Sin’s past.
“Pain does not heal the heart, it only focuses the mind.”
“In this case, it focused many minds, and led to Noxus’ withdrawal from Ionian territory.”
“A happy turn of events.” Lee Sin smiled, although the flickering heat on his face made him wonder if Ashram could see it.
“But you still haven’t forgiven yourself.”
Lee Sin sank to a meditative pose and the fire billowed in return. This, ironically, was his sanctuary.
“The past remains, no act will undo it.” His tongue knew these words like the grooves of his teeth.
“Why do you want to join the League, Lee Sin?”
“I have much yet to do.”
Remaining seated, Lee Sin raised one hand to his chest, fire dancing upon it. He swept it forward so sharply that the pyre flickered, and the flames on his arm were completely extinguished.
“A decisive strike may finish a battle,” He paused as flames crept back up his outstretched arm, “but the evils of this world persist. To combat them, we must remain diligent.” The fire reached his hand again, and he closed it with such force that a shock wave rippled out, expunging the blaze that consumed him. The wave whipped across Ashram, and he took a half-step back.
“How did you survive that fire?”
“I found the purpose I had lost so long ago.”
“And what is that purpose? What is your ultimate goal?” There was an urgency in Ashram’s voice, a hint of concern that puzzled Lee Sin. Ashram felt threatened.
“One does not need a destination to have direction. Is a drop of water finished when it flows from the brook to the ocean? Is it complete when it rises to join the clouds? Has it failed when it falls upon the land?” An obliging drop of sweat rolled down his forehead.
“What is your direction?”
“To do what is right. To protect the overlooked things which matter most.” The drop of sweat hovered on the edge of his brow. “You can find them in the bubbling of the brook, the shade of the passing cloud, or the coolness of the rain.” On cue, the drop fell to his waiting palm.
Ashram phrased his response carefully. “Your protest moved all of Valoran to action. Nearly to military action. This is a tremendous amount of power for one man to wield. What happens if that one man’s intentions become corrupt?”
“Then I hope other men find the good in themselves to do what is right.”
The inquisitor reeked of frustration. He was unused to vulnerability, uncomfortable with all that Lee Sin could perceive.
“How does it feel to expose your mind?” The question was bitter and hollow, deprived of its usual gravitas.
“I would ask you the same question.”
Lee Sin knew he was alone. The magical potency was gone, spent, and in its place sat an atmosphere of somber fatigue. This was the emotional residue of those who had completed the trial before him. Its flavor was bittersweet.
In one graceful, fluid motion, Lee Sin was on his feet. His clothes and skin were intact, as though untouched by the flames. A fresh breeze swept through the room. Lee Sin could sense the shape of its current as it moved, like a serpent returning to coil in its nest.
Lee Sin lingered a moment, head bowed in appreciation of the champions who had passed this threshold before him.
One life past, one life ahead.
So the Blind Monk joined the League of Legends.