Long before the League's regulation of such magic, mages experimented with the creation of artificial life. Now forbidden, instilling golems with reason was once not so uncommon a practice amongst the more expert of craftsmen. One such visionary was the Demacian artificer, Durand. Peerless at crafting sentient beings, Durand's constructs served as tireless guardians for the border towns of his beloved city-state, affording them protection from their Noxian neighbors. For his own defense, however, Durand kept his magnum opus: Galio. This mighty construct forged in the image of a gargoyle kept him safe on his journeys, allowing him to perform his important work without fear of reprisal from those hostile to his homeland. That is, until dealing with his taxing sentinels finally roused the ire of the Noxian High Command.
As Durand crossed the Howling Marsh with his masterwork in tow, he was set upon by Noxian assassins in force. Outnumbered and overwhelmed, Galio looked on in horror as the murderers cut down his charge, executing him swiftly before vanishing back into the mists. Stripped of his reason for being, Galio despaired. For years he remained in solitude, standing vigil over the bones of the master he had failed to protect... a literal monument to his own everlasting shame. Then, on one nondescript day, a sad but determined yordle girl carrying a mighty Demacian crown stopped in the shadow of a great statue to rest. Hidden in plain sight from his unsuspecting visitor, Galio studied the forlorn yordle. She looked as though she too shouldered a tremendous burden. As quietly and as stoically as she had arrived, she departed in the direction of Demacia. This encounter lit a spark in Galio's eye. Remembering the cause that his master had died defending, Galio arose from his silent purgatory and followed in the wake of this brave creature. He had a new reason to live: to join the League of Legends and fight for the will of Demacia.
"There is no such thing as redemption. Only penance."
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.
Gatekeeper Galio concept art (by Riot Artist Larry Ray)
Debonair Galio concept art (by Riot Artist Larry Ray)
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Champion Sneak Peek
With this next champion we had a couple of goals in mind. For starters, we wanted to show our continued commitment to the monster enthusiasts by bringing those monstrous champions into the lineup. On the other hand, we wanted to appeal to those sensitive types who don't identify with anything that's capable of vomiting toxic bile, devouring its victims whole, or shaking the very ground on which it treads. We know that it's a pretty tall order, but we're pretty sure that Galio, the Sentinel's Sorrow, should just be able to bridge that gap. If you're a fan of monsters, just imagine a swooping, deadly predator perched on the edge of a building, waiting patiently to strike. And if you're one of those artsy types who doesn't appreciate the grotesque, well then, think of him as a piece of elegant statuary.
The Underworld Has a Doorman
Sometimes your travels around the world of Valoran are going to take you on the road to some exotic locales. If you stumble upon this menacing, red version of Galio in your travels, however, the odds are good that you’ve taken a wrong turn – especially if he's perched on top of a massive, terrifying gate that’s emanating an eerie green glow. Then you might want to consult your cartographer to find out why he plotted you a course to the gates of the underworld before you set off.
Of course, with the Legendary Gatekeeper Galio standing watch, you might just want to be grateful you’re not trapped on the other side.
Galio assumes the form of a statue, taunting nearby enemies and storing concussive energy as they attack him. Galio then bursts from his statue shell, releasing the stored energy to damage surrounding foes.