- 8 April, 21 CLE
The forest burns, blazing with the light of the sun. A lone figure stands amidst the Conflagration, reveling in the blistering heat. It has been so long since he burned, so long since he watched the world fall to ashes under his power.
It is ecstasy.
He emerges from the flames. He can sense that nearby, over the next hill, there is life. People scramble, seeing the smoke from his inferno. Soon, they too will receive his gift of renewal.
"Stop, in the name of the Kingdom of Demacia!"
Then, another presence steps from the shadows. This one wears a cloak, its face buried deep within the hood. The stitching is alien to him, but he can recognize its arcane nature. He decides the girl will have to wait.
He turns and unleashes a jet of burning vengeance at the hooded figure. Hands shoot up from inside the cloak, held in magical gestures. A shimmering shield blocks the flames, directing them harmlessly upward.
"This is my last warning. Come peacefully, or face punishment!"
He decides that the noises coming from the armored man's mouth do not contain enough searing agony. He turns and calls a Pillar of Flame to immolate the man. Again, a magical shield thwarts his efforts.
He awakened. He lay in a pool of harsh light, descending from above. The floor was smooth, but he couldn't tell if this was a room or some magical trap. At this, his mind vaulted through his memories, to a very painful moment in the past.
They had somehow devised a way to shackle him. Kneeling here on the snowy cave floor, the long-haired barbarians around him chanted words he barely understood. However, the icy cage ritualistically placed in the center of the cave told him everything he needed to know about his fate. He strained against the mystical chains that bound him, but to no avail. He shouted, screamed, and bellowed, trying to disrupt the concentration of his captors, but also to no avail.
He could only wait as they ripped him from his mortal shell and trapped him inside the cage. Then, without words, the barbarians took their things and left. He was alone, and would remain so for more than a thousand years.
He screamed in rage. His mind hurtled back to the present, once again encompassed by light.
"So. You can be contained more permanently."
He turned, immediately reaching out to burn the owner of the voice. However, his flames fizzled to nothing at the edge of the circle of light. He tried to leap toward the voice, but a force blocked him. Knocked back to the floor, he peered to see if his eyes could penetrate the darkness.
"That ritual is long-lost, sorcerer. Your power cannot hold me forever."
A figure stepped out from the darkness, the hooded magician from the forest.
"We both know that isn't true."
Again, his mind became dislodged from the moment, traveling back to a time before the ice barbarians imprisoned him. The body he wore was different, one of the simple herding folk of these farming lands. However, he still burned.
The scene before him would have looked like the apocalypse to any mortal observer. To him, it was an image of absolute beauty. The countryside had been reduced to blackened ash. The nearby wooded hills were now nothing more than incinerated stumps and trunks. The charred bones of farmers and animals dotted the landscape, accompanied by the armored remains of the warriors who had futilely hoped to stop his renewal.
The feeling that welled inside him could only be called one of profound satisfaction.
Again, the present, the light.
"You are a creature of destruction."
Knowing that violence was no longer an option, he sat cross-legged in the pool of light and willed the flames that played across his body to burn even more brightly.
"I am a creature of ever-lasting fire. I am a creature who burns away what needs to make way for what will be. I am a creature born to renew the world."
The sorcerer began to walk, circling his cage.
"You and I will have much time to talk in the days and weeks to come, so for the moment I will focus on the now. We cannot allow you to roam free. You are clearly far too dangerous for that. So, I offer you a choice."
Weary of the sorcerer's voice behind him, he stood to track the pacing figure. The sorcerer continued.
"You have two options. You may choose to be stripped from the body you wear and imprisoned indefinitely. Or, you may choose to remain under our control and fight in competitions where your abilities will be of use. That is the closest thing to freedom you will be afforded. These terms are not negotiable."
Neither option was palatable to him.
"These competitions, sorcerer. What are they?"
"You would fight in the League of Legends, battling champions to settle our conflicts in place of open warfare."
He mused for a moment, before sitting on the floor again.
"I must think on your offer, sorcerer."
The hooded man faded back into the shadows.
"I am no sorcerer. You will address me by my proper title. Summoner. How shall I address you?"
"I am known by many names", he replied. "But in this time, in your League of Legends, I believe Brand is fitting."
And then, he was alone, given space to think. However, there was no thinking to be done. A leash was far better than an eternity caged.
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