A peerless practitioner of lethal shadow magic, Shieda Kayn battles to achieve his true destiny—to one day lead the Order of the Shadow into a new era of Ionian supremacy. He audaciously wields the sentient darkin weapon Rhaast, undeterred by its creeping corruption of his body and mind. There are only two possible outcomes: either Kayn bends the weapon to his will... or the malevolent blade consumes him completely, paving the way for the destruction of all Runeterra.
Noxian by birth, Kayn and others like him were conscripted as child soldiers, a cruel practice employed by only the most devious commanders of the empire. Ionian compassion was a weakness to be exploited—their warriors would hesitate before striking down a supposed innocent. Thus, barely able to lift the blade he had been given, Kayn’s first day in battle was also expected to be his last.
The Noxian forces landed at the mouth of the Epool River. Kayn and the others were a reluctant vanguard, facing disorganized bands of locals defending their home from these returning invaders. While his young comrades were cut down or fled the battlefield, Kayn showed no fear. He dropped his heavy sword and snatched up a fallen sickle, turning to face the shocked Ionians just as the Noxian regulars swept in from the flank.
The carnage was staggering. Farmers, hunters—even a handful of vastaya—all were butchered without ceremony. Two days later, after word had spread throughout the southern territories, the Order of the Shadow came upon the grisly scene. Their leader, Zed, knew this area had no tactical significance. This massacre was intended as a message. Noxus would show no mercy.
A flickering glint of steel caught his eye. A child of no more than ten lay in the mud, leveling his broken sickle at the master assassin, bloody knuckles straining white. The boy’s eyes harbored a pain that belied his age, yet still burned with all the fury of a hardened warrior. This tenacity was not something that could be taught. Zed saw in this child, this abandoned Noxian survivor, a weapon that could be turned against those who had sent him here to die. The assassin held out his hand and welcomed Kayn into the Order of the Shadow.
Acolytes traditionally spent years training with a single weapon of their choosing, but Kayn mastered them all—to him, they were mere tools, and he was the weapon. Armor he viewed as a cumbersome burden, instead cloaking himself in shadows and slaying his enemies with quickness and stealth. These swift executions instilled fear in the hearts of those fortunate enough to be spared.
And as Kayn’s legend grew, so did his arrogance. He truly believed that one day his power would eclipse even that of Zed himself.
This hubris led Kayn to embrace his final test: to seek out a darkin weapon recently unearthed in Noxus, and prevent it being used against the weary defenders of Ionia. He accepted without hesitation, never questioning why he had been chosen for this task. Indeed, where any other acolyte would have destroyed the living scythe known as Rhaast, Kayn took it for himself.
The corruption took hold the moment his fingers closed around the weapon, locking them both in a fateful struggle. Rhaast has long-awaited the perfect host in order to join its darkin brethren and lay waste to the world, but Kayn will not be easily dominated. He returns to Ionia in triumph, convinced that Zed will name him the new leader of the Order of the Shadow.
- The Blade of Millennia
Kayn stood confidently in the shadow of the noxtoraa, surrounded by dead soldiers, and smiled at the irony. These triumphal arches of dark stone were raised to honor the strength of Noxus—to instill fear and to demand fealty from all who passed beneath them. Now this one was a tombstone, a monument to false strength and arrogance, and a symbol of the fallen warriors’ own fear turned against them.
Kayn relished fear. He counted on it. It was a weapon, and as his brothers in the Order of the Shadow had mastered their katana and their shuriken, Kayn had mastered fear.
But as he felt Noxian soil beneath him for the first time in years, amid the enemy soldiers slain and soon to be forgotten, there was unease. It hung in the air like the pressure before a storm, begging to be released.
Nakuri, Kayn’s fellow acolyte of the Order, reversed the grip on his blade and prepared for a more personal fight. To his credit, he almost managed to hide the tremor in his voice. “What’s it going to be, brother?”
Kayn said nothing. His hands rested empty at his sides. He knew he was in control. Even so, he felt a flickering sense of déjà vu, like something out of a dream. It came in a flash, and then was gone.
A voice rose from the empty space between them—a dark and hateful voice that echoed with the pained cries of a thousand battlefields, daring each of them to act.
“Who will prove worthy?”
Zed had summoned his greatest student.
Spies of the Order had confirmed the disheartening rumors. The hated Noxians had discovered an ancient scythe of darkin origin, as powerful as any magic in Ionia. A single eye of crimson hate stared out from the heel of the blade, tempting the strongest of men to wield it in battle. Evidently, none had proved worthy. All who touched it were quickly and painfully consumed by its malevolence, so it had been wrapped in chainmail and sackcloth, and secured by a guarded caravan bound for the Immortal Bastion.
Shieda Kayn knew what would be asked of him. This would be his final test.
He had reached the outskirts of the coastal city of Vindor before he ever considered the journey’s significance. Taking the fight to the enemy in their own land was audacious. But so was Kayn. There was no other who could match his talents, none to whom Zed would entrust the fate of Ionia, and so there could be no doubt: Kayn was destined for greatness.
He set his trap shortly before sunset. The approaching caravan was just visible in the distance, as wisps of dust rising into the orange sky—ample time to dispatch the three guards at the noxtoraa.
He moved in silence across the archway’s lengthening shadow as the first guard paced out a patrol. Kayn summoned his shadow magic and stepped into the black stone wall as if it were a passage open only to him. He could see the guards in silhouette, grasping their pikes tightly with both hands.
He lunged from the edifice cloaked in shadow, and snuffed the life from the second guard with his bare hands. Before the third could even react, Kayn dissolved into tendrils of pure darkness and darted across the cobbled road, reforming in front of his victim. In a flash, he wrenched the man’s head around, snapping his neck with ease. The first guard heard the bodies fall, lifeless and limp, and turned toward Kayn.
The assassin smiled, taking time to relish the moment. “It paralyzes, does it not?” he hissed, slipping into the shade of the noxtoraa once more. “The fear...”
He rose from the quaking soldier’s own shadow.
“This is the part where you run, Noxian. Tell others what you witnessed here.”
The soldier threw down his pike and sprinted for the safety of Vindor. He didn’t get far.
Clad in robes every bit as dark as Kayn’s, Nakuri leapt from behind the noxtoraa and plunged his katana into the belly of the fleeing soldier. The other acolyte locked eyes with Kayn. “The vaunted strength of Noxus? Such delusion...”
“I knew you were impetuous, brother,” Kayn spat. “But this? Following me all this way, hoping to share in my glory?” There was no time for further admonishment. They could hear the caravan of soldiers approaching.
“Get out of sight, Nakuri. I will deal with you later. If you survive.”
The long shadows of twilight hid the bodies until the approaching soldiers were almost beneath the grand arch.
“Hold!” the first outrider cried, drawing his sword. “Fan out! Now!”
Confusion set in among the others as they left their horses and, for the first time, Kayn laid eyes on their cargo. It was just as Zed had described—wrapped in chainmail and sackcloth and strapped to the back of a sturdy Vindoran steed.
Patience was a virtue that Nakuri did not possess, and he heedlessly dove for the nearest soldier.
Kayn always selected his targets carefully, and so struck with precision at the lead outrider, felling him with his own sword.
He turned again to the Vindoran, but the scythe was gone.
No. He had come too far to fail.
“Kayn!” Nakuri yelled as he cut down one soldier after another. “Behind you!”
A desperate Noxian had freed the weapon, its red eye now revealed and glowing with inhuman rage. The soldier’s own eyes grew wide as he swung in vicious arcs at his own comrades. He was clearly not in control, trying in vain to release the scythe.
The rumors were true.
Calling again on his shadow magic, Kayn dove into the writhing Noxian’s darkin-corrupted flesh. For the briefest of moments, he saw through the eyes of this ageless being, witnessing millennia of inflicted pain and suffering, screams and lamentations. This thing was death reborn again and again. It was the purest evil, and it had to be stopped.
He burst from what was left of the Noxian—the soldier’s flesh having warped into scales of hardened carapace that shattered into black shards and choking dust. All that remained was the scythe, its eye now closed. Kayn reached for it as Nakuri dispatched the last of their enemies.
“Brother, stop!” the acolyte cried, flicking blood from his katana. “What are you doing? You saw what it can do! It must be destroyed!”
Kayn faced him. “No. It is mine.”
The two of them drew up, neither willing to back down. Beyond the city boundaries, warning bells began to toll. The moment seemed to stretch out.
Nakuri reversed the grip on his blade. “What’s it going to be, brother?”
The scythe spoke to Kayn, then. It seemed as if it was echoing in his mind, and yet the other acolyte’s widening eyes showed he had heard it too.
“Who will prove worthy?”
Kayn conjured fingers of darkness that snatched up the weapon, lifting it into the night and spinning it into his waiting hands. It felt like a part of him, like it had always been a part of him, as if he alone was born to wield it. He spun it with a comfortable flourish and leveled the blade toward Nakuri’s throat.
“Do what you must.”