Galio wears a face as though he is lost in concentration. One may mistake this look to mean the great beast is dumbfounded. His facial features, especially his massive jaw with the exaggerated underbite, give the massive gargoyle the look of a simpleton. This look is intentionally deceptive, magically crafted to lull an opponent into thinking that Galio is mentally slow. The reality of the situation is that he is intently studying what lies before him. The double doors – and the sign above it – are all that matters.
“The truest opponent lies within.”
Galio nods knowingly, but does not move afterwards. His form is literally statuesque.
After a lengthy pause, Galio springs to life, lumbering toward the door. Broad, powerful wings spread wide and slowly beat against the stillness of the air, propelling the gargoyle forward with a not-so-gentle whoosh. He moves as gracefully as a being made of stone and metal can.
The doors swing open, revealing the inky blackness within. The engraved obsidian panthers that flank the doorway point the way inward for Galio. He obliges his stony brethren.
With a sudden flood of light, Galio knew where he was. There was never a chance of him forgetting this place. The clearing was surrounded by a thick copse of fruit trees. In the center of the clearing were Durand’s bones, blanched from countless days of weathering. He could smell the peaches and cherries ripening on the branches.
Galio loathed that smell; the stench of sweet fruit growing, ripening, and rotting in a never-ending cycle reminded him of his failure to save Durand, his creator. He had failed to protect his master from the Noxian assassins who ambushed them, and it was here that he kept a penitent vigil for years afterwards.
I wish they killed me instead. He thought it now as he did back then, but this time he knew something was different. An unwelcome thought masquerading as his own edged its way into his consciousness.
No. I do not.
Galio shifted in place, trying to shake the invasive notion out of his head. He knew it was impossible for him to actually be here, but everything felt real. The sickly-sweet scent of the fruit made him anxious. Was this still the Judgment?
“It is, Galio of Demacia.” The squeaky, yet powerful yordle voice belonged to a female.
Sitting on a nearby stump was a familiar face. He recognized the female yordle, but she was not wearing what Galio remembered her wearing when they first met on this very spot. She wore the armor of a Demacian warrior. He now knew the yordle as Poppy, though when he first met her he did not know her name. He never spoke to Poppy then; in fact, he never even let her know that he was aware of her presence. Poppy had seen Galio standing in the clearing, but she never gave any indication that she thought he was anything more than an inanimate statue.
“You are Poppy.” Galio spoke with words that were carefully chosen. “I know you. This was before you joined the League. I saw you. Here.”
The yordle girl smiled, though she shook her head slightly. “Here... yes, you met Poppy here, but alas – I am not Poppy.” The yordle girl stood and approached Galio, extending her hand. “You know this to be true.” The girl smiled again. “It’s okay if you want to keep calling me Poppy.”
Galio had watched this place for years, but for the first time, he permitted himself an examination of the environment without analyzing for ambush points or areas of defensive weakness. A sudden slight breeze carried the scent of the trees away. He could hear leaves gently rustling. He noticed how the drifting blossoms twirled with each pulse of the wind.
Galio extended his talon-like paw and took the yordle girl’s tiny hand into his own. He could feel the warmth of her flesh on his sculpted hide. “Thank you, Poppy.”
She nodded. “Why do you want to join the League, Galio?”
The pungent fruit smell wafted back into the clearing, making Galio slightly jittery. “I must fight for Demacia. It was my creator’s home.”
Poppy clasped the gargoyle’s remaining free hand. As she stood facing Galio, she looked up at him with kind, yet serious eyes. “Why do you want to join the League, Galio?”
Galio thought carefully about Poppy’s question; he knew this was not the real Poppy, but he could surmise that her image was being used for a reason. He remembered that it was the sight of the determined yordle that broke him from his exile. He knew that she herself bore a tremendous burden. It was the same sort of burden that he too struggled to cope with – the burden of failure. Galio had later learned that Poppy lost her father in an ambush also perpetrated by Noxian assassins.
They had such a horrific event in common, but they addressed it so differently. Poppy became even more resolute to complete her mission – to deliver a crown crafted by her father to a Demacian general. Galio chose... a different path. He now realized that it was his choice and his choice alone to stand vigil not over the remains of his creator, but rather over his own hubris.
He looked away from Poppy for a moment, ashamed. He now knew the answer. “I want to join because it is my choice. It is my own free will. I want to fight for my creator’s... for my home.”
“How does it feel, exposing your mind?”
The pungent odor had dissipated once more. Galio looked down upon Poppy, smiling a slightly fanged grin. “It is... familiar to me. I shared my mind with my creator. I am sharing my mind with you. I will share my mind with any summoner.”
Another flood of light washed over Galio. He stood alone in front of a new set of double doors. There was no pause this time – Galio swung the doors wide and entered the League of Legends.