Click here for an overview of current Faction standings, including Military power.
Having placed third and fourth in the great tournament, the Shadow Isles and the Freljord have been granted joint authority to investigate the island of Krocylea, southeast of Nyroth’s mainland.
When shown a map of present-day Nyroth, the ancient Nyrothian reacted with confusion to the image of Krocylea. He frowned, as though doubting himself, then shook his head and scribbled out half of the island. Subsequent consultation of older maps held by the Nyrothians in their floating city above Yoroth revealed that the shape of Krocylea had changed since the cataclysm: it had been transformed into a mirror image of Argyre.
Preliminary scouting reports discovered two civilizations on Krocylea. Their capital cities were mirror images of one another, and they were in a constant state of border war along the center line of the island. None of the natives seemed to have any idea what had begun the conflict, only that it had been going for longer than even the inhabitants’ legends could recall. Both monarchs were willing to aid the Valoranians in exchange for the annihilation of their rival kingdom. They seemed interested in little else. There was no ideological clash that they could define, nor any other rationale that would explain such interminable conflict. The continued existence of the other civilization seemed to pain them deeply, grating on their minds like nails over slate.
Such symmetric bonds are not unheard of in the arcane science of Valoran, but the League’s archives contained no mention of any phenomenon so enduring on such a large scale. The Summoners theorized that the psychic resonance between the two civilizations could manifest as an irrational, destructive obsession with one another.
When the representatives of the Freljord and the Shadow Isles met and exchanged findings, they discovered further signs of symmetry. Most surprisingly, in terms of physical appearance and demeanor, both monarchs appeared to be exact duplicates of one another. Indeed, many of the court functionaries of each kingdom appeared to have duplicates in the other court, in the same or similar positions. Through the use of a Clairvoyance spell, the Summoners confirmed that most of those on the island had a twin in the opposing kingdom.
Locating the island’s nexus was not difficult. It lay, as expected, precisely between the two kingdoms, surrounded by the crumbling ruins of an ancient Nyrothian city. The two warring kingdoms fought especially fiercely around this point, but neither seemed able to establish a secure foothold. Dangerous discharges of wild magic prevented either side from setting up camp within the walls.
When asked, both sides accused the other of being a nefarious magical construct, a representation of their own inner evil. They said they were attempting to seize the nexus and neutralize it to destroy their adversary, but that so long as the other side’s mages were working against them it proved impossible to find the solution to stabilize it.
by Abiwon Kenabi (some bits and pieces from CupcakeTrap’s placeholder)
“My Lord, the Summoners have finished discussing possibilities,” an undead croaked through ancient vocal cords. He bowed to the figure tromping onto East Krocylea’s shore, “There is a Nexus at the center of this island and we believe that we can…make use of it. The leylines are strong.”
“Excellent,” the metal suit hummed deeply. “Only one more thing.”
Mordekaiser took command of the armies of the Shadow Isles, wielding the iron gauntlet Elise had wrenched from the corpse of the tyrant Kaius after slaying him in single combat on the island of Neritum. Its power filled the Krocylean army marching with them with renewed ferocity; they forgot their fear. He ordered his Summoners to draw a summoning circle with the sigil of Aatrox carved in the center. As the storm clouds gathered overhead, he caught a lightning bolt with his mace and slammed it down into the circle. A tremor shook the island, and Aatrox appeared. The Summoners of the Isles fell on their knees and swore their loyalty to the avatar of war, who pledged to lead them to glory. One particularly bold Summoner raised his concern that Aatrox, not having sworn an oath to the Shadow Isles in this dispute, and with his name not yet recorded in the League’s roster-book, could provoke sanctions by crossing the line into Nyrothian land. The Institute of War should be notified. Aatrox swept his sword high and spoke in a voice that carried across Runeterra.
I AM WAR. THE MURDER-KING HAS CALLED ME TO NYROTH.
ON FELL WINGS I COME.
Aatrox conjured forth an ancient tome, taken from the sealed archives of the Institute of War, its cover splattered in the dried blood of those from whose dead grasp it had long ago been pried by agents of the Council. He hurled the heavy book into the chest of the doubting Summoner. The cursed pages were saturated by the death-screams of those who had perished by its dark magic over centuries of Rune Wars, and the impact loosed them in one deafening shriek. Over this din spoke the Darkin, Aatrox.
CLASP IT TIGHT, O SUMMONER OF THE INSTITUTE OF WAR.
YOUR KIND ONCE KNEW WAR. TODAY YOU SHALL KNOW IT AGAIN.
Offshore, Graves lit his cigar despite the howling wind. The ship rocked from the trembling sea, sending one young lad overboard. The crew of theCry of Dangerflew into a panicked frenzy, maintaining the ship while simultaneously recovering from the red glow they had just been gaping at.
“Captain Graves, w-what, what do we…the Shadow Isles—what does that mean?”
“It means,” Graves took a long puff from his cigar, “Freljord’s worm food.”
“Nothin’. Sit and wait,” Graves said, “I ain’t riskin’ my neck getting in the way of the Shadow Isles and their Darkin Blade. Let some other nut take care of it.”
The wind felt good beneath his wings. He took a deep breath as he surveyed the battlefield; he could already smell it. The smell of blood and iron, mixed with the sickly sweet scent of the undead below. It was the smell of the coming battle. The undead army marched through the wide streets of the ancient city in the center of Krocylea. Aatrox smiled. They were making good time.
He found a tower still intact, and perched on its point, the stones shifting slightly beneath his feet. The tower stood on the edge of the ruined city, allowing Aatrox to sweep his gaze across what would soon be his beautiful battlefield; rolling, grassy plains sweeping up to the solid stone walls of West Krocylea. Aatrox drank in the vision of the virgin plains, hoping that they would be well-soaked in blood by the time he was through with them.
Shadow Isles Summoners lined up below him, on the very edge of the old city. As they chanted, they raised their arms in unison and were swept up in the color of Krocylea’s energies: dark red and bright blue twisted around the Summoners, whipping cloaks around them. The lines of energy that stemmed from the nexus readily spewed forth from below their feet, and the Summoners chanting grew louder. At the peak of their chanting, the energy formed together in a mass of swirling chaos. Aatrox gazed deep into it; he could hear whispers of battles past and the skittering of ancient claws, see the Rune Wars of old. Finally, Mordekaiser raised a fist, the shimmering gauntlet bringing the undead to a frenzy, and made a sweeping motion, signalling the Summoners to let fly their spell.
BAM!An echoing noise sounded as the tremendous ball of energy flew forth. BAM! The red stone walls of West Krocylea were torn asunder BAM!The leylines beneath the armies spewed more energy, spurring them forward. Aatrox raised his blade toward the sky.
TONIGHT WE FIGHT. WAR HAS TAKEN ROOT ON THIS ISLAND OF KROCYLEA!
The green plains were soon filled with the grays and blues of the undead and their East Krocylean companions. Spirits were soon flooding through the gap in the wall, falling upon the survivors in the ruins. Aatrox leapt up from his perch to lead the next wave in: mindless skeletons, swinging their weapons in blind fury thanks to his own influence. Aatrox saw the Western Krocyleans let loose a volley of arrows. He swung his sword in reply, cutting a path for himself through the arrows, dashing down upon the mortals below. Some of them had time to screech as he cut them down; He was getting out-of-practice.
The taste of blood was soon on Aatrox’s lips as he sliced down warrior after warrior. He shattered another spear, stabbing deep into its owner’s belly, his blade drinking deeply. His blade tired of the weak Krocyleans, and he soon turned his gaze towards the Freljordians who held the skeleton army at bay. He watched as he saw Mordekaiser raise his fist again, and bones rose from beneath his feet, massive bones held together by dark, glowing magic. The creature towered over the ruined wall, screeching over the din as he flapped his ghostly wings.
A foolish Freljordian screamed back, charging forward with a massive two-handed axe. He landed a blow on the dragon with a dull thud, but even with the big man’s two-handed swing, the undead dragon didn’t flinch; he merely turned to the man and clamped his massive jaws over his torso, swallowing up what he could tear off and leaving a bloody lump of flesh. The dragon opened his maw and let loose a stream of death magic, taking down a dozen more of the Freljord’s vanguard. The undead armies were able to advance in the dragon’s wake, and the limp Freljordians soon rose to greet them.
Aatrox grinned. The League of Legends would have the Shadow Isles restrained to their mystical home, but Aatrox saw their true potential: out on the open battlefield. So often he tired of the League’s strict laws and expectations and far too often he saw potential battles be quelled and go to waste. The Shadow Isles were pariahs in the Institute of War: here, they could finally have their day. Aatrox let loose a laugh as he reaped the fruit of his efforts, diving in behind the undead dragon and slaying the stragglers.
A bright light suddenly bathed the battle in a blue glow: a signal shined in the sky, shot from the Freljord army. Aatrox wasn’t sure what it meant, but he ruffled his wings in anticipation, rushing forward to greet a sword-wielding Ionian. The Ionian blocked several of his blows, but Aatrox could see he was growing weary. Aatrox toyed with him a moment longer before growing bored and cutting him down, allowing the next warrior to take his place. Several times he did this, confronting someone new, playing with them for a bit then quickly growing bored and dispatching him in anticipation for the next opponent.
Until his next opponent blasted him backwards with a flaming energy ball. Aatrox slid backwards several feet, thrusting his sword into the ground to steady himself. He glanced all around him, seeing his glorious battle turn one-sided: the Freljord were slinging spells far more powerful than he’d seen in years. Barriers sprouted in front of the undead, pushing back their advance and allowing the Freljord to cut them down. The mysterious blue woman, who had thus far been flitting about the battlefield unseen to even Aatrox, found herself completely exposed, trapped amidst the Freljord warriors. They swung at her relentlessly. The Spider Queen tried to charge forward with her spiderlings to overrun the Summoners, only to be beaten back by Rune-empowered weapons. Even Mordekaiser was halted at last, stilled by a powerful Exhaust, the target of countless offensive spells.
Aatrox looked at the Summoners ahead of him. They were surrounded by swirling deep red and bright blue energies sweeping up from the ground beneath them: the Freljord were also using Rune Magic. And winning. The mesmerizing ball of the Rune spells floated above them, letting loose echoing screeches and unearthly wails. Aatrox stared deep into it, seeing yellow eyes gleaming back along with a familiar frosty feeling…
Aatrox gritted his teeth, waving his blade above him, calling what Shadow Isles soldiers he had left. Mordekaiser was downed, so Aatrox took it upon himself to organize the army. He could sense that this surge of spells the Freljord had wouldn’t last; even as he watched, he saw West and East Krocyleans alike fall, unable to handle the shift of energies in the air. Every time the Freljord killed their own army, Aatrox’s became stronger. He ordered the Summoners to channel all their power into the undead dragon and the few spectral warriors he had at his disposal. With a mighty roar, his team charged, breaching one of the Rune barriers and slicing apart the Avarosan archers within. That was more like it.
Their charge was halted by a volley of arrows, one finding it’s way into Aatrox shoulder. Normally Aatrox would shrug off such an attack, but he felt his swings slow as ice spread all the way up to his forearm. The Frost Archer. She was standing some feet away, firing arrows and halting the Shadow Isles’ advance again.
Aatrox was there in moments, swinging at the Frost Archer and tearing deep gashes into her sides. She laid motionless in the mud, her blood pooling around her. That takes care of her. He turned to take flight, but was immediately halted by a sharp pain in his wings: they were frozen solid. Aatrox turned, seeing the archer standing again. He growled and leapt forward again, this time landing several hits as she tried to reply with her own arrows, stabbing one deep into Aatrox’s leg. Unable to keep up, she fell again. Aatrox wrenched the arrow from his thigh, turning to take stock of his army. He was halted by a blinding light and a sharp pain from above.
He faced the Frost Archer again. This time she was not alone; a figure kneeled over her, so engulfed by the power of the stars that Aatrox had to turn away. The wound that he had just inflicted on the Archer faded away with the sickening spiritual aura. The figure turned to glare at him, and Aatrox instantly knew why he felt such anger. It was the Fallen Celestial, bringing with her a death worse than any death Aatrox brought: peace.
Aatrox snarled at the pair, lunging forward. The Fallen Celestial dashed away from him and he gave chase, slowed by a sudden arrow sprouting from his shoulder. He turned back to the Frost Archer, who had already let her second arrow fly. Aatrox charged at her, slowed by the stars that rained upon him. All around him he could feel the battle shifting against him, the surge of the Rune Magic enough to push back his armies. He was all alone, being lead around by these two.
After slogging after the Archer and taking half a dozen arrows to the chest, Aatrox shouted, blasting the frost away from him. He turned back to Soraka, who returned his stare.
“The stars do not favor one with such hatred in his heart, but they may yet bring you peace,” her face coiled in disgust.
The mere thought of her condescending expression made Aatrox’s blood boil. It made him remember why he hated the League, and Soraka may as well be it’s avatar. Peace stilled the joy of swinging blades, the courage of leaders and armies, their very reason to live. Her healing took away the toughness of shouldering through pain. By her own actions, she had spoken against the stars: it was evident by the goat hide that now covered her legs. Now she dared to preach to the Darkin Blade.
PEACE BRINGS SPIRITUAL DEATH. I AM WAR! YOUR STARS CANNOT STOP ME!
Ashe had known fear in her life; fear of dying, fear of sickness, fear of losing what she cares most about. But never like this.
The creature that sprung in front of Aatrox was enough to be feared, but the ground beneath Ashe had suddenly shifted, sending her tumbling backwards. She expected to hit the ground hard, but instead she kept falling. She looked around wildly, still seeing the battle all around her. The undead surged against a band of her archers, and her Summoners rushed to halt them. Ashe never saw the resolution though, as the air around her popped suddenly and she stared at the swirling energy of the leylines all around her, reds and blues mixing together and forming purple streaks. It was blinding, and Ashe shut her eyes tightly.
Ashe’s fall stopped just as suddenly as it started. She opened her eyes, but still she saw nothing but the leyline energy. Even the floor beneath her was a raging mass. She glanced around the space, using Avarosa’s bow to prop herself up.
Hello? Hello? Hello?her words echoed back endlessly. She clamped a hand over one ear.
“Ashe? Ashe!” a voice echoed faintly, joining with her own. “Ashe? Ashe!”
“Soraka! Is that you?” she shouted back. She raced forward into the abyss, not knowing how large a space she was in.
“Ashe? Ashe!” the voice said again, this time louder. Ashe leaned into a sprint. Out of the darkness, a figure emerged. It wasn’t Soraka. This woman had icy blue hair just like her own.
“Ashe,” her mother replied calmly. “You must do what’s best for our tribe.”
“I…I know Mother, I’m trying. But I want to do what’s best for all of–”
“Ashe. You must do what’s best for our tribe,” her mother repeated.
“Y-yes…” tears stung in Ashe’s eyes. “Mother, can’t you see? This is what we needed to do all along. This is what Avarosa did.”
“You aren’t Avarosa, Ashe. What…what have you done? What have you done to our tribe?” Her mother’s hands flew to the bow on her back.
“No! Mother please, I haveto do this–”
“What have you done?!” Ashe’s mother knocked an arrow, drawing back, “You aren’tAvarosa, Ashe.”
Ashe tightened her grip on Avarosa’s bow, its familiar coolness coming to greet her. This is just what her mother had told her, before she…
Ashe screamed. “No! This isn’t just about us! It’s about all of the Freljord.” She knocked her own bow, mirroring her mother’s movements, staring back into her eyes…her yellow, glowing eyes.
Ashe fired, and the creature pretending to be her mother launched to the side, it’s legs moving unlike any human Ashe had seen. She stared as her mother’s face split down the middle, revealing a maw of wicked teeth. Her arms and legs were suddenly a roiling mass of sharp appendages, pulling apart from the coil that once mimicked human flesh. It lashed forward, and as Ashe dodged to the side, she hit hard wood. The wood rocked beneath her, ropes wiping overhead.
“Hold tight, Sum’ners!” she heard a voice shout, right before a deafening explosion sounded. Her ears were ringing when she found the source: the Outlaw, teeth clamped tight on a cigar, held his smoking gun over a charred purple corpse.
“Captain, what arethese things?”
“Looks like Cho’Gath’s cousins have come to join us,” Graves replied dryly. As he turned, he spotted Ashe, whipping his gun up defensively. “Are you the real deal, Archer?”
Ashe looked bewildered. “Yes, of course it’s me,” she said, grasping the mast to steady herself on the rocking ship.
“Well, you can’t be too careful. I’ve had to blow ‘bout five Twisted Fates to kingdom come. Good thing I know that yella-bellied insect wouldn’t come twenty feet of this place.”
Ashe thought of her mother again. Her grip on Avarosa’s bow tightened. She had an army to lead. “I need to get back to–”
She was cut off by a violent wave washing over them, bringing several Voidlings on board. She knocked an arrow, planting it in the Twisted Fate hovering over Graves. TF crumbled sickeningly in a mass of tentacles.
“Well, at least I know you’re not pullin’ my leg,” Graves said, raising his gun to another skittering Voidling. The shell flew into its carapace, blowing chunks all over the crew.
Their battle was cut off by another wave; this time the wave sent the ship tettering steeply, sending most of the crew careening into the sea. Ashe clutched a rope tightly, gritting her teeth as she cling to the ship. I will not lose here.Glancing up at the wood of the deck, she spotted a slithering creature, nearly the same color as the wood. It lashed out, narrowly missing her and Graves. The second attack snapped their rope and they tumbled toward the sea. Ashe closed her eyes, bracing for impact. But instead of hitting seawater, she landed on solid, cold ground covered in freshly fallen snow.
“What in tarnation…?”
She blinked in the sudden brightness of a snowy day. “Queen Ashe! Thank Serylda you’re here. The Ursine are attacking the village!”
She glanced around, trying to get her bearings; they were north of Avarosan territory, a large field that she knew bordered Ursine territory. A familiar roar told her she was right: an Ursine warrior was upon them and it’s large claws made quick work of the archer helping her. Ashe aimed an arrow at it’s heart. It bounced off the Ursine armor, but the frost was enough to slow it’s paw. Seconds later, Ashe was on her feet, ordering the rag-tag band of Winter’s Claw warriors around her.
“Form a line here! You two archers, stay behind the shields!” Ashe commanded. The warriors’ pale faces nodded, obeying her orders. It was obvious from the magically charged scorch marks that some of them were just on Krocylea with her. Graves limped to the front of the line as well.
The group fired at the nearest Ursine, halting its attack. The bear roared, lashing out with it’s tentacles, knocking down one of Ashe’s frontline. A second Ursine opened its jaw so wide, its neck split apart to reveal even more of it’s jagged fangs. Graves shouted as he sank several shells into a third, though he seemed more concerned with re-lighting his cigar using the hammer of his gun.
“Damn you Ursine!” one warrior yelled in anguish. She swung wildly at the bears. “Is this the thanks you give to Sejuani for allying with you?”
“Ursine? What are you prattlin’ on about?” Graves exclaimed, sending a shell towards the enemy. It went wide, blasting snow all around them.
The Ursine replied with swift swipe. It’s claws scraped the Winter’s Claw armor of the warrior, but it was able to capture her with a tentacle emerging from its paw.
Something isn’t right,Ashe realized. She turned to one of the archers. “Warrior, why did they attack?”
“They’re bloody Ursine, why do you think?” the archer spat in response before letting an arrow loose. The arrow bounced harmlessly off the Ursine’s purple exoskeleton.
Ashe shook her head. “No they aren’t, they’re–” a blood curdling screech cut her off, followed by the panicked shrieks of the captured Winter’s Claw. The Ursine holding her was devouring her from the inside out. Ashe shot an arrow and it wedged itself between the shoulder plates of the creature.
The warriors around her broke rank as more Ursine emerged from the ground beneath them. “Ambush!” one warrior cried, swinging his axe at one of the new-comers. Ashe rapid-fired all around her, one-by-one slowing each of the Ursine. The frost of her arrows took easily to their slimy skin, but after a moment, they would each break free of the ice, charging forward once more.
Another Ursine came careening onto the battlefield, this time attacking the other Ursine. As she ripped them apart, she revealed the sharp tentacles within, similar to the one’s making up Ashe’s fake mother. She fired an arrow into the creature’s guts, freezing it solid. The realUrsine continued her charge, tearing each Ursine apart with Ashe following with a freezing arrow.
At last, the Ursine slid to a halt in front of Ashe. “Your Majesty,” her low voice rumbled, “Things are not as they seem. Come with me.”
Ashe nodded, and the Ursine allowed her to climb onto her back. The she-bear trundled forward, through the snowstorm that whipped up around them. Ashe leaned against the blizzard, pulling her cape around her and grasping the Ursine’s armor. Soon, the blizzard subsided: they were now in a long tunnel, with a trickling stream at their feet. The Ursine slowed.
“I do not know how long this tunnel reaches, but I fear that we must continue,” the Ursine said.
Ashe used her bow to send a light ahead, but the tunnel seemed endless in either direction. “Let’s take a rest for now.” She climbed down from the Ursine’s back, wiping the melting snow from her clothes. “Are we still on Krocylea?” she asked the Ursine.
The Ursine shook her head. “It’s hard to say. Before I ran into you, I had just been in–do you hear that?” Her ears perked up, turning to the direction they came from.
Ashe held her breath and heard a low buzzing sound. “What is it?”
She sent another light, but it was immediately muffled by many fluttering figures. A swarm of locust-like creatures dashed to their resting spot. “Run!” Ashe cried.
As she sprinted forward, the Ursine flipped Ashe onto her back again. Sloshing through the stream, the Ursine breathed heavily. Ashe looked back at the swarm: they were giant, nasty insects with countless emerald eyes all trained on the pair. Their yellow wings beat furiously in a blur of speed. They quickly gained on them, and the tunnel seemed endless. Soon, wings were buzzing all around them. Even though Ashe could dispatch several with one arrow, twice as many took their place. She pulled her hood around her tight and the Ursine roared in frustration. Is this the end…?Ashe thought as she stared into the infinite swarm.
Mercifully the tunnel ended, and the stream careened off the end in a steep waterfall. There was no sun, as Ashe had expected, only vast darkness. The waterfall sprayed into nothingness and soon even the roar of the Ursine and the buzz of the swarm were distant echoes as Ashe fell into the darkness that stretched below, falling falling falling…
A hand grabbed her shoulder, pulling her as if she were just hanging from a cliff and not tumbling into an abyss. Her hands hit warm dirt and she tasted blood. Ashe’s eyes grew wide as she took in her surroundings. A circle of Ionian monks chanted from their cross-legged position, and in the center bloomed a huge shield, which blocked the swirling leyline energy that raged just outside. What happened outside of the warm glow of the barrier, it was hard to tell.
“Queen Ashe, are you alright?” Soraka asked, her hand still clamped firmly on Ashe’s shoulder.
Ashe breathed hard. “What…happened…?”
“Your little Princess friend messed up, that’s what happened darling,” a coy voice answered. It came from a woman nuzzled with a nest of spiders. She stroked the largest one lovingly; it didn’t move.
“Lissandra?” Ashe asked, her voice trembling.
“She was rushed off the island not long ago,” Soraka assured, “Unfortunately her efforts could not stop the coming Void rush. Only this, the stars could not see.”
“Hang your stars!” Elise spat, “My poor darling Gabriel perished in this damned Void Rushand it’s all you muddy Freljordians’ fault.” She stroked the head of the spider, who was as big as her. “Poor Gabriel…you were going to make such a fantastic prince…”
“It matters not who started this,” Soraka told her sagely. “Only that we end it.”
“You know a way?” Ashe leaned forward.
“Perhaps,” Soraka said, “This barrier may be expanded if we pool our energies. We need only to expand it to the Nexus, then the invasion will end.”
“The island? It’s only on Krocylea? We’re stillon Krocylea?”
Soraka nodded, her golden horn shimmering lightly. “We will need all the help we can get. Can you protect me and my Ionian Summoners as we channel your energy?”
Ashe nodded, adjusting her bow to a ready position. “You can count on me.”
Soraka turned and tilted her head up, eyes closed. As she raised her arms, she began to speak: “Celestials of the heavens, look upon this ill-fated land, lend us your power of healing to protect this broken world.”
As one, their rag-tag group followed Soraka’s gaze. Far above them, in a gap in the clouds, they saw the stars against a backdrop of endless black. Ashe’s eyes felt useless, like they were there merely to reflect the stars above. She wanted to speak to them, get drawn up into them, smile at them. The stars couldn’t smile back, but they instead bathed the group in their warm glow, giving Ashe a feeling of peace that she had never known in the tumultuous Freljord. Is this what I’m fighting for? Is this what Soraka feels?She wasn’t sure, but as the lifting sensation grew, she shivered despite the warm feeling.
Hissing from beside her broke her trance. “My spiderlings do not like your healing, Starchild,” Elise said, though her voice was shaky as well.
Ashe gazed around, seeing shapes in the mess of color. Void spawn surged against the slowly expanding barrier; some looked like normal people, but as they passed through the shield their skin turned purple and their heads split apart to show thousands of teeth. Ashe shot one after the other. In her never-ending volley, she nearly shot the Ursine who had saved her.
“You made it!” Ashe cried, pulling the Ursine into the safety of the barrier. “Can you still fight?”
“I can always fight, your majesty.”
More and more of her army materialized as the various figures tumbled into the light. They swelled Ashe’s ranks and they were able to advance with the light of Soraka’s barrier. Even some of the undead rose to defend their haven from the endless Void creatures. A stray tentacle nearly found it’s way through one of the Summoners, but Elise leapt up at the last second, pulling it back into her web, babbling something about Gabriel. From then, her spiderlings joined the advance, devouring the purple waste that attacked them. Loud explosions joined Ashe’s frantic arrows as Graves stepped in.
“Nice weather we’re having,” he growled, indicating the increasing gap in the clouds.
Further they went, into the ancient city, onto the main thoroughfare. Ashe glanced back to see Soraka in the distance, still holding her staff aloft and letting it’s magic swell the barrier. At last, the Nexus was on the horizon, and Ashe caught a glimpse of the gray sky. The shield bloomed until it engulfed the Nexus in a healing light, and the Void subsided.
Around them was the smoking remains of the Void, and those who had survived it. Western and Eastern Krocyleans alike stood side-by-side, gazing around at the Freljordians, the Ionians, the Bilgewaterns and the undead. Even Mordekaiser joined their group, sauntering up the stairs that led to the Nexus. Soraka led the stragglers to the Nexus, meeting Ashe’s smile with her own. Ashe felt a swell of joy, that the fighting had finally ceased.
The Chief of East Krocylea–or so Ashe presumed, from his slightly smoldering blue headdress–limped up to where Mordekaiser stood. “Mordekaiser, my lord, you have rescued me and my people from this horrifying evil, how can we ever–”
The Chief’s speech was cut off by Mordekaiser’s swift blow, his mace crashing into the body. Ashe gasped, as did many around her.
“Krocylea belongs to me now. It will be home to the undead and you Krocyleans will be raised to serve ME! THAT IS HOW YOU CAN THANK ME!”
“Enough,” Soraka called, halting Mordekaiser’s heavy steps. “The fighting has ended, the threat is gone, there’s no need–”
“You presume too much, Starchild. The fight is over when I say it is. Or whenhesays it is.”
Mordekaiser indicated Aatrox, who joined his side on crumpled wings. He scowled at Ashe and Soraka.
Mordekaiser laughed, a deep, throaty sound that screeched with metal. “Krocylea belongs to the Shadow Isles. Ionia will keep its head down if it knows what’s good for them.”
Soraka held her head high, poised calmly. “I refuse to subject these people to your tyranny. Ionia stands against the Isles.”
Soraka turned to Ashe, her gold eyes hopeful. Ashe hesitated, not wanting to repeat the disaster that had been the result of their last defence attempt. She looked to the Western Kroyleans, then the Eastern Krocyleans. She remembered, her mother’s words. You must do what is best for the tribe.
Ashe nodded to Soraka. “The Freljord stands with you and Krocylea.” I will Mother. I will.
“Down Bristle,” Sejuani barked as the boar scuffled about the deck. The waters had become rough as they approached Krocylea’s shore.
Sejuani leaned back over the rail, straining to catch sight of the battle that they sailed towards. She came at the behest of a bedraggled, pathetic group of Frostguard, towing an unconscious Lissandra. Sejuani wasn’t sure what to make of it, but the stuttering Frostguard made it out to be pretty bad; the battle had taken a turn for the worst.
It’s because they left me out, Sejuani though bitterly, How can we expect these two to get anything done? They’re too soft.
Merely thinking of the word “diplomacy” made Sejuani spit onto the deck in disgust. She gazed back over the gray waters. Finally, Krocylea floated into view. She caught sight of the canons first, bright specks firing on the island. As they drew closer, she saw the hodge-podge of Bilgewater bows, circling the shore hesitantly.
They don’t want to commit, Sejuani realized. Her eyes scanned the shore, which appeared to be the port of some great city. Beyond that, the figures were still too far to make out.
“Give me an idea of what’s going on there!” Sejuani shouted to the crow’s nest. The lookout fumbled with his spyglass, which was tangled in his long red beard. Sejuani scowled at him. “Hurry it up!”
The lookout squinted. “It’s…it’s undead sir! An undead army, attacking Freljord an’…Ionians I think?”
“Are they or aren’t they attacking Ionians?”
“It’s hard to say. Every time one of them falls, they get righ’ back up and attack their own army. And they’re…well, there’s something crazy about ‘em!”
Sejuani groaned, climbing up to the crow’s nest and wrenching the spyglass from the man’s hands. She gazed at the shore. The lookout was right about one thing: masses of undead surged against the opposite force. She recognized the Avarosan armor and even some of her own Winter’s Claw warriors still held banners aloft, but they were clearly on the losing side as the undead continued their relentless attack. The undead attacked with inhuman frenzy, more quickly than even most Champions Sejuani had seen. Something unnatural spurred the undead to hysteria.
Sejuani slapped the glass back into the lookout’s hands, leaping down right onto Bristle’s back. “Hear me, warriors of the Freljord!” she called to her Boar Riders. She waited a moment as they wrestled their mounts into position. “The Avarosan need backup and they need it right now. That army is ten times the size of our own, but each of our men is ten times one of theirs. We have to cut straight into the heart of this undead army.”
“Undead!?” one the Riders exclaimed.
Bristle jerked forward at the Rider, quieting him. “Yes, undead! They are overwhelming Avarosan forces and we’re going to flank them! This will be a battle sung by the hearthfires for centuries to come: each of you is stronger than any warrior on that island, dead orliving. Even if you run…well, cowards under my command always fall. Now, we ride!”
The ship finally hit the shore, and Sejuani spurred Bristle forward, thundering down the gangplank. The boars behind her followed, digging their hooves into the wet sand. She felt Bristle restrain himself, his muscles roiling beneath her in anticipation of the battle.
Their march was immediately halted by a scuffle that cut them off on the shore. Sejuani didn’t recognize either of the party’s armor–one side blue, the other red, both scaled chest pieces. Sejuani was about to slam her flail into them until she heard their shouts.
“Your alliance with the Shadow Isles brought this upon us!” one woman shouted.
“Youralliance ruined our fair Nexus!”
Natives, Sejuani rolled her eyes. “Restrain them!” she barked to her Riders.
When the two sides were restrained, Sejuani saw that the shouting women were practically identical: both had olive skin and thick dark hair. Their shouts continued even while the Riders pinned them to the ground.
“Get up! Both of you!” Sejuani pulled them from the sand, shaking them until they quieted. “What are your armies fighting for?”
“We fight against the evil West Krocyleans!” the woman in blue spat, glaring at her opposite number.
“Krocylea belongs to us! The East brings it to ruin,” the woman in red retorted. She mirrored the blue one’s glare.
Sejuani slapped each of them in turn, silencing their shouts. “Right now Krocylea belongs to the Shadow Isles unless we do something about it! Now, you two are going to help me take it back.”
“Why must we join forces?” the pair whined simultaneously.
“Because your force is pathetic alone. Together you might be of use to me. Now see where that bone dragon is there?” The two gulped, then nodded. “You’re going to cut right through the Isles’ force and attack it.”
“Just do it!” Sejuani snapped, climbing back onto Bristle. “Their flank can’t stand up to two attacks.”
With that, she charged down the shoreline, further to the rear of the undead army. Somewhere, she heard bones snap behind her: her Riders taking care of stray skeletons. They ignored most of them and continued down the line, her eyes turned towards the necromancers in the rear.
Further back, she saw the Krocyleans cut through the zombie swarm. They weren’t able to make it to the dragon, which Sejuani had expected, but they drew the attention of the rear reserve. The reserve was made up of mostly giant, hulking bodies, powered by death magic. They rushed forward to join the Shadow Isles’ vanguard, slaying several hapless Krocyleans.
Sejuani grinned. “Forward! Onto the back line!”
The boars stampeded to where the necromancers stood weaving their spells. The lines of energy were cut off abruptly as Bristle and the others speared them on the ends of their tusks. Sejuani spun her flail above her, creating an ice storm which halted any response the necromancers may have had. She felt the satisfying crunch of her flail colliding with a necromancer skull.
Sejuani laughed. “Onto the main force!”
With their backline in shambles, the Isles’ main force spun around to face them: the Boar Riders had cut off any escape route, effectively forcing them to press even harder against the Avarosans or face Sejuani’s wrath.
The bone dragon swept in, halting their advance. The Riders were able to dodge the landing, but the skeletons were not so lucky. The dragon crushed them underfoot, stretching its long neck and snapping up one of the Riders. His mount thundered away into the chaos.
Sejuani gritted her teeth, flinging her flail all around her. She counted the corpses she felled: one, two…five…six, seven, eight…ten, eleven…more came….twelve, thirteen, fourteen…Sejuani briefly wondered if she killed more than Ashe had…twenty, twenty-one…
A layer of slime and blood coated her fur-lined armor. She felt Bristle slow beneath her. Another two Boar Riders were gobbled up by the screeching dragon along with their mounts.
“ENOUGH!” Sejuani shouted. Reaching down, she grabbed her bola from her saddle, flinging it forward in a cry of fury. The bola sailed over the heads of the combatants, finding its mark around the dragon’s exposed spine. It roared as it was encased in ice. In no time, it was an icy monument to the battle that still raged around it.
Moments after Sejuani’s cry, the heavens split apart, making way for a rain of stars. Sejuani looked to the sky, eyes wide as she beheld the dark wings above her, being pelted by celestial spells. Sejuani dug her heels into Bristle’s sides and the boar launched forward, deeper into the battle towards the side the Avarosa fought. Bristle speared undead as he ran but Sejuani paid his kills no mind. Her eyes were on the dark figure above them, who tilted into a dive. Sejuani’s eyes followed his eventual path: a glowing humanoid, sparking with the light of the stars. Her staffed was raised against the flying figure. Sejuani bowed forward, urging Bristle faster.
The Darkin beat her to the destination, slamming into Soraka and flying across the battlefield. As Aatrox poised his sword to finish her, Sejuani raced forward, plowing Bristle into him and knocking him into a nearby building.
Hear ye, and be warned! This affront to the peace of Runeterra shall not abide.
The Council so declares on this sixth day of December, 24 CLE: that all member-states of the League of Legends are hereby ordered to refrain from the initiation of any hostilities against one another, or against the peoples of Nyroth, in order that the calamity witnessed on the island called Krocylea may be investigated, and Runeterra secured against further danger.
Let the word of the League be as Law, lest all the powers of Runeterra arrange themselves against ye. There may be no appeal.
Councillor Kolminye took a deep breath, as she usually did in the face of such a catastrophic event. It came as no surprise that Nyroth was the site of some leyline shenanigans, seeing as its Rune energy was so out of control.
What did surprise her was that it was the Freljord who managed to mess it up so completely.
After a last adjustment of her robes, she pushed open the door, letting loose the din that raged within. Voices chattered from every corner of the room, and even Kolminye’s entrance didn’t slow them. She walked purposefully to her place at the front of the High Council and raised her hands for quiet.
“I ask that all member-states not involved—”
“Demacia asks that the High Council allow us to lend aid to those in Krocylea—”
“Prince Jarvan,” Kolminye snapped, her lips tight. “I ask that all member-states not involved in the Nyroth dispute and not involved in the Krocylea incident remain silent while I address the issues at hand.”
Jarvan slumped back in his seat, his face stern.
“The Shadow Isles,” Kolminye began, turning to Karthus’ seat among the undead. Karthus’ expression betrayed nothing, and he merely regarded the Council calmly. “You were given joint jurisdiction over the island of Krocylea along with the Freljord. However, you misused your position, endangering an entire race of people with your reckless actions. The League does not approve of your aggressive behavior, particularly that of calling forth the Darkin Blade, who was not only an unregistered Champion in this dispute but also incites the sort of warfare that the member-states of the League vow to avoid. What does the Shadow Isles have to say?”
Karthus’ pale skin was tight against his skull. His lipless mouth opened to speak. “The Shadow Isles acted within their rights, Councilor Kolminye. You see, we wanted to provide the denizens of Krocylea with equal rights to our own undead citizens. We were treating them as equals, introducing them to the glory that is undeath.”
Kolminye frowned. “Be that as it may, Champion Karthus, the citizens of Krocylea and indeed all of Nyroth are under the protection of the League. You gave them no choice in the matter of undeath, and thus you threatened their well-being.”
Karthus frowned, his hands noticeably grasping his tome tighter. “My colleague’s methods are indeed quite forceful but I cannot argue with their…effectiveness. The Shadow Isles takes full responsibility for those Krocyleans that fell in battle. They will be welcomed to dwell among their fellow undead on the Isles—”
“I don’t think you understand the gravity of the situation, Champion Karthus,” Kolminye interrupted, “The Shadow Isles no longer has any say over the fate of Krocylea, and the League is considering moving for sanctions against the Isles.”
At this moment, the Freljord section of delegates rustled about. Tryndamere rose, dressed in his best leathers. Under normal circumstances, Kolminye might have found it amusing that, for all of Freljord’s leaders, none of them managed to show up. But Kolminye was having a hard time finding anything amusing today.
Tryndamere’s hard voice sounded clearly over the whispers. “The Freljord has every intention of restoring Krocylea, including stabilizing its Nexus—”
“Oh, and I suppose they sent the Barbarian King to delegate for this? You Freljord are such an uncouth people,” an undead Summoner know as Raptirius spat. His decaying face was twisted with anger and he crossed his metal arms in front of him. “What a pathetic attempt at diplomacy.”
“You are one to speak, you foul creature,” Tryndamere snapped back through gritted teeth.
“You can’t possibly be serious about doing what’s best for Krocylea? You can’t even do what’s best for yourself,” Raptor turned to the Council, “The Council can’t possibly be seriously considering the Freljord for jurisdiction over—”
“The hell we areserious, now still your tongue worm fodder!”
“Silence!” Kolminye rubbed her temples, before continuing. “The Freljord will not be granted jurisdiction over Krocylea, same as the Isles. They will retain their access to their other islands.”
A roar overcame the Shadow Isles, with many of the Summoners glowing in angry death magic. Kolminye held a hand for quiet.
“The High Council is seriously considering sanctions against the Freljord, but for the time being, we will simply take their right to Krocylea away. Seeing as the Freljord deliberately invoked dangerous Rune magic—the very reason for this Council’s existence—they will not be in good standing with the League of Legends. Considering their stand against the Shadow Isles and their actions to contain the Void rifts, they will still be allowed to keep the resources they earned on the Fields of Justice.”
Karma rose slowly, addressing the Council much more calmly than the others. “What of Ionia’s fate? Will we be punished for our actions as well?”
Kolminye shook her head. “After much deliberation and several recounts of the event, it is clear that Ionia did everything in it’s power to rein in the situation, saving many lives. We regret that we are unable to help you recover from your heavy military losses, but nevertheless, the League thanks you for your efforts.”
“If I may be so bold, Councilor,” Karma hesitated, clasping her hands in front of her, “What will the League do with Krocylea, in light of the circumstances?”
“I defer in this matter to Bilgewater. Being the official ambassadors of Nyroth to Valoran, the decision falls to the Union of Bilgewater.” Kolminye looked to Nami, who had been silently listening from her seat among the Bilgewater Summoners. “We heard of Bilgewater’s attempts to assist against the Shadow Isles’ invasion.”
The hall erupted into another argument, the loudest heard from the Freljord section. “Ionia and Freljord did the work! Bilgewater hid on their boats.”
“Backstabbers, you pirates!” an undead Summoner croaked.
Kolminye wasn’t sure if she could frown any more intensely. She raised her hand for quiet for the umpteenth time. Nami let the whispers dwindle to silence before diving into her speech.
“Bilgewater is honored with the decision, and requires some time to decide who receives jurisdiction over the island of Krocylea. In the meantime, we of Bilgewater are glad that we could assist, even in a small way—”
More grumbles echoed over the crowd, but the delegates behaved themselves.
After a few more addresses, the meeting was adjourned. The Freljord and the Shadow Isles left in fits of rage, with the other city-states shuffling behind them. Kolminye could sense bad moods everywhere. No one was happy with this state of affairs, least of all Kolminye. Still, she was relieved that the situation had not been worse. Nyroth was already a constant reminder of the importance of the League’s presence: she didn’t want to think about what would have happened had Ionia not fended off the Void and defended Krocylea from certain reanimation.