The Shadow Isles, formerly known as the Blessed Isles, is a mysterious island kingdom located southeast of Bilgewater. It is a haunted land populated by undead beings.
"The Shadow Isles. . . They say they don't exist. Mythical islands haunted by ghosts and spectres. Tales to frighten children. But I know better. I have been there. When I first set foot there I immediately knew something was wrong with that place. My skin crawled and in the pit of my stomach I felt a terrible revulsion. Life didn't belong there. But I also knew... somehow, deep inside I knew that the islands welcomed me. They wanted me.
As I wandered deeper I saw death all around me. Ghostly trees, grass and flowers engulfed me in their horrifying radiance. It was so quiet and so beautiful. I passed my hand through a spectral leaf fluttering in the wind; but there was no wind. That was when I understood that death was another world and I was at its door.Then I heard the song; the spider's song. My companion cried out in terror and fell to his knees. I embraced him. I told him he had nothing to fear. He was going to a better place. I will take them all to a better place."― Elise
Little is known about the mysterious Shadow Isles. An eternally thick, unnatural fog blankets the islands from the view of outsiders. It is thought that the islands are home to countless forms of undead, though no one seems eager to perform the exploration necessary to find out the truth.
Most of the Shadow Isles' history comes from the two mysterious altars of the Twisted Treeline, that says fragments of their history to its capturers and from the League records of the Shadow Isles' champions.
Denizens of The Shadow Isles
Mordekaiser, the Iron Revenant seems to hold a high position on the island, but none is quite sure. The dreaded Hecarim marches through Valoran for the Shadow Isles. Thresh, the Chain Warden is yet another creature with ties to the Isles. Legends speak of a prison warden with a fondness for torture, whose preferred tools were chains. It's not surprising that such a monster's spirit would come back, armed with the chains. His sole purpose is finding worthy souls, breaking the minds and bodies of their hosts, and then carrying them back to the Shadow Isles, where an unknown (but most likely terrible) fate awaits them.
Evelynn, the Widowmaker, is also a creature believed to have originated from the Shadow Isles as well. It is clear upon first meeting her, and surviving, that she is not quite human. Some theorize that she was cursed with a mild form of fantastical vampirism as a child. Supporters of this theory contend that her ability to sap the very life essence of her opponents while still being able to tolerate direct sunlight, would account for this belief. Another popular theory is that she abused the use of magic as a child, morphing her into the hungering beast her opponents see on the battlefield.
Immigration to the Islands
Some deviant few willingly make the dreaded islands their home. His perverse obsession with death naturally led Karthus, the Deathsinger to willingly join the unliving. Others, naturally, move for work. There are many shades of death, and each is embrace. To rise from one state to another requires the magical aid of a skilled professional. Yorick, the Gravedigger washed ashore and now acts as a ferryman for the Isles' undead denizens, helping them climb death's many-tiered ladder. Elise, the Spider Queen, traveled there for religious reasons. She worships the Spider God, Vilemaw. Every year she returns to the Isles with a select few disciples. Then she feeds them to their god in exchange for a youth-prolonging gift of venom. She would again return to Valoran preaching her deity and leading a pilgrimage again by the end of the year.
From Grief to Ruin
"Once, he was a noble king, until grief overcame his reason. In the end, it was not his blade that stole our lives."― Kalista
"The powers that govern life and death are not to be trifled with. The Shattered Crown is a king’s reward for defying the shadows’ embrace. I believe we are meant to ponder mortality through poetry and verse, not enslave it to our will."― Ionian storyteller
Before the Shadow Isles became a land of death, the islands teemed with natural life and beauty. This was never truer than in the isles' sacred forest: a paradise of thriving trees and countless species, both animal and spirit alike. Back then, it was known as the Blessed Isles, a land hidden in mist and legend and protected by runic sigils, arcane locks, and potent wards that could only pierced with arcane words that were shared with few.
Long before the rise of Demacia or Noxus, the revenant known as Mordekaiser, the Iron Revenant was once a mortal and brutal warlord-king who ruled the lands of eastern Valoran . He waded into battle bedecked in heavy iron armor and slaughtered all who opposed him, crushing them beneath his ensorcelled mace, Nightfall. After being killed, he managed to gain mastery over the necrotic arts with the help of sorcerers before enslaving them and beginning a reign of terror that would last centuries as time and again, he would be slain, only to return from the dead.
Mordekaiser’s bones were key to his unholy reincarnation, and as the centuries rolled on he became increasingly paranoid about their safety. He constructed a monolithic fortress at the heart of his empire that came to be known as the Immortal Bastion. Locked away at the core of this epic stronghold he hid his remains.
The Immortal Bastion was eventually besieged by a concentrated alliance of tribes and warbands. During the siege, an unknown thief infiltrated the mighty fortress, bypassing its fiendish defenses to steal Mordekaiser’s skull. His skeleton needed to be complete in order for his resurrection to be enacted, yet fearful of their master’s wrath, his enslaved liches kept the theft a secret.
On the walls of the Immortal Bastion, countless enemies fell before Mordekaiser, yet it was not enough to stave off defeat. His fortress was overrun and he was dragged down by sheer weight of numbers. His deadly mace was torn from his grasp and great chains wrapped around his limbs. Confident that he would rise again, he was torn apart and was vanquished for the time being, not aware the his ability to revive had been nullified.
Mordekaiser’s skull was taken across the sea to the Blessed Isles, a land hidden in mist and legend. There resided an order dedicated to gathering and protecting knowledge. The wise adepts of the order inhabiting the land knew of Mordekaiser, and of his weakness. They had stolen his skull in order to rid the world of his unholy presence, placing it in a hidden underground vault filled with dangerous and corrupted magical artifacts and secured behind locks and magical wards. Mordekaiser’s servants were scattered to the corners of the world, seeking his lost skull, but were always unable to locate it. It seemed Mordekaiser’s reign was truly over. Years rolled into decades, decades to centuries.
Some time before the Isles were corrupted, a member of the order by the name of Thresh, the Chain Warden was tasked with guarding the hidden underground vault filled with dangerous and corrupted magical artifacts. Thresh was incredibly strong-willed and methodical, which made him well-suited to such work.
The vault Thresh guarded was buried deep beneath the citadel at the center of an island chain. Spending such time in the presence of dark spells began to affect Thresh as the magic sought out his innate malice. For years the relics preyed on his insecurities, taunting him with his deepest fears and feeding his bitterness.
Thresh’s spite surfaced through wanton acts of cruelty. Examples include slowly tearing pages out of a living book, binding it back together when it was all but spent, scratching the glass of a mirror bound with the memory of an ancient mage until it was opaque, trapping the man in darkness, only to polish it anew and repeat. and flaying a warlock infused with raw sorcery alive while the latter would automatically heal from his wounds time and time again.
He became exquisitely skilled at covering all evidence of his cruelty, such that no one in the order suspected he was anything other than a disciplined guard. The vault had grown so vast that no one knew its contents as completely as Thresh, and the lesser artifacts faded from the order’s memory, as did Thresh himself. With ample charges to torment in the vault, Thresh became even more distanced from the order above. He began to take his meals in his underground chamber lit by a single lantern, rarely emerging from the catacombs. His skin developed a pallid complexion from lack of sunlight, and his face became gaunt and hollow. Members of the order avoided him, and when a series of mysterious disappearances plagued the order, none thought to investigate Thresh’s lair.
Meanwhile, in an empire none now recall, there resided a general by the name, Kalista, The Spear of Vengeance. She lived by a strict code of honor and expected others to do the same, serving her uncle, the king and his queen with utmost loyalty. Her king had many enemies, and when the rulers of a conquered land sent an assassin to slay him, only the speed of Kalista’s sword arm averted disaster. But in saving the king, she damned the queen. The assassin’s deflected blade was envenomed and sliced the arm of the king’s wife. The greatest priests, surgeons and sorcerers were summoned, but none could draw the poison from the queen’s body. Even the king’s magic could only slow its progress. Wracked with grief, the king dispatched Kalista to quest for a cure. Before departing, she tasked Hecarim, the Shadow of War, Knight Commander of the Iron Order, to stand at the king’s side in her stead. He reluctantly accepted this task, bitter at being denied the chance to join Kalista. Little did she know that Hecarim secretly had a thirst for wholesale slaughter and obsessive hunger for glory that was eroding his honor; a thirst and hunger that had caused him to secretly betray the Order's previous Knight Commander.
Kalista traveled the world, seeking a cure from learned scholars, hermits and mystics, but always without success. Finally, she learned of a legendary island beyond the ken of mortal eyes, a place said to hold the key to eternal life – the Blessed Isles - and set sail on a last voyage of hope. The island’s inhabitants knew of her quest and, seeing the purity of her intent, drew her boat to the shores of their island. Kalista begged them to heal the queen, and the master of the order instructed Kalista to bring her to the island, where they would cleanse her body. As Kalista boarded her ship, she was given arcane words to pierce the glamours protecting the island, but was warned against sharing that knowledge.
While Kalista had been away, the king had descended into grief-stricken madness, locking himself in his tower with the queen’s festering corpse once she died. Hecarim remained with the king as he descended into grief-induced madness. Gripped by paranoia, the king raged at those who sought to separate him from his dying wife and despatched the Iron Order to quell what he saw as dissent throughout his kingdom. Hecarim led the Iron Order in bloody suppressions of discontent, earning a dreadful reputation as a ruthless enforcer of the king’s will. Villages burned and the riders of the Iron Order put hundreds to the sword. The kingdom was in darkness, and when the queen died, Hecarim spun falsehoods around the king, speaking of how he had uncovered the truth behind her death, seeking sanction to lead the Iron Order to foreign lands and earn yet more dark renown.Before he rode out, Kalista returned from her quest. She had found a cure for the queen’s malady upon the legendary Blessed Isles, but was too late to save her.
Once the king learned of Kalista’s return, he demanded she tell him what she had found. With heavy heart, for she had never before broken her oath to the king, Kalista refused, remembering the warning given to her and being horrified at what had become of the kingdom. The king named her a traitor and imprisoned her until such time she relented. Hecarim saw an opportunity to win yet more favor and visited Kalista’s cell. He urged her to let the king find peace, either in his wife returning to him or in finally accepting she was gone and allowing her to be buried on the Blessed Isles. Between them they could assuage the king’s madness and bring him back with no harm being done. Hesitantly, for she sensed something amiss in Hecarim, Kalista agreed.
And so the king sailed for the Blessed Isles with a flotilla of his fastest ships. Kalista spoke the mystic words to undo the veil shrouding their destination and the king cried out as its glittering coast was revealed. Accompanied by Hecarim and Kalista, the king, now ruined both physically and mentally, marched towards a distant white city at the centre of the island where he was met by the master of the island’s guardians. The king ordered the man to bring his wife back from the dead. The guardians offered their sympathies, but told the king his wife was beyond their help and warned him that trying to cheat death went against the natural order of the world. The king flew into a fevered rage and commanded Kalista to kill the guardian.
Kalista refused and spoke of the great man he had once been, but her appeals fell on deaf ears and he again ordered the guardian’s death. Kalista refused and stood between the king and the island’s inhabitants before called on Hecarim to stand with her. Hecarim recognized a crossroads in his life and now saw a chance to realize his long-simmering ambition of replacing Kalista as the king’s favorite. He stepped towards Kalista as if to stand at her side, but instead made a decision that would damn him for eternity by driving his spear through her back in a monstrous act of betrayal. The Iron Order joined him in treachery, their own spears plunging into Kalista’s body as she fell. A brutal melee erupted, with those devoted to Kalista fighting desperately against Hecarim and his knights. Despite their courage and skill, their numbers were too few and Hecarim's men slew them to a man. As Kalista’s life faded and she watched her warriors die, she swore vengeance with her dying breath upon those who had betrayed her. With Kalista and any potential dissenters dead, Hecarim and his men proceeded to slay the inhabitants of the Blessed Isles until a lantern-bearing wretch finally led the king to what he sought - the secret to resurrecting his wife.
Once all was ready, the king ordered his sorcerers to crack open the barrier separating life and death, using the Isles' sacred forest as a well of power from which the magi drank deeply from as they tried to bring his beloved queen back to life. But when the queen returned to life she was a horror of decayed meat and maggot-ridden flesh who begged to be allowed to die once more. Repulsed at what he had done to his beloved wife, the king enacted a spell to end their lives and bind them together for all eternity. His conjuration was successful, but unwittingly empowered by the many potent magical artifacts stored on the island, its power was increased a hundredfold. The sorcerers' ritual had succeeded in corrupting the cycle of life and unleashing forces they could not hope to contain.
A hurricane of black mist surrounded the king, spreading across the island and killing everything it touched. Vitality seeped from every living thing in the Shadow Isles: great trees withered into gnarled husks, people warped into twisted shades, and forest spirits became hollow wisps. Hecarim abandoned the king to his doom and led the Iron Order back to their ships, killing all in their path as the spirits of those slain by the black mist arose as undying wraiths. One-by-one, the knights were dragged down into undeath until only Hecarim remained. As uncontrolled sorcery filled him, he and his mighty steed were fused together in a monstrous abomination that reflected the true darkness of his soul.
Howling in rage, the titanic beast known as the Shadow of War was wrought in an agonizing transformation, a brazen monster of fury and spite. The sins of his former life were heightened by the maelstrom of dark magic, birthing a creature of endless malice and terrifying power.
Meanwhile, during the great sorcerous explosion, the vaults securing Mordekaiser’s skull were torn asunder and Mordekaiser’s liches made their way to the newly born Shadow Isles like moths drawn to a flame. They bore with them their master’s bones, and digging his skull from the ruins, were finally able to unleash him upon the world once more. Mordekaiser would then proceed to carved out his own empire upon the Shadow Isles, enslaving a growing army of the dead. He looks down upon these newly formed undying spirits as a lesser breed, for he chose his path freely, while these others are merely lost souls. Nevertheless, he sees their use; they will be his foot-soldiers in the conflicts to come. Once he consolidated his power, he would begin to look across the seas, towards Valoran. He has set his sights on the empires and civilizations that have risen since his absence. In particular, he would pay special attention to the upstart empire called Noxus, whose capital city was unknowingly built atop his former fortress, the Immortal Bastion.
At the same time, the cataclysmic event had reach the order's citadel and turned everyone inside into wretched undead. While others screamed in agony, Thresh reveled in the ruin. He rose from this cataclysm as a spectral abomination, but unlike many who have passed into the shadow world, Thresh did not lose his identity. Rather, his penchant for cruel torture and ability to discern weakness was only heightened. He relished the chance to continue his cruelty without fear of reprisal, unfettered by the limits of mortality. As a wraith, Thresh could torment the living and the dead endlessly, delighting in their despair before claiming their soul for an eternity of suffering.
Even Kalista herself was not spared from undeath. When she next opened her eyes, they were filled with the dark power of unnatural magic. The Blessed Isles had been transformed into a twisted mockery of life and beauty, a place of darkness filled with howling spirits condemned for all eternity to the nightmare of undeath. She knew nothing of how this had happened, and even as she clung to her last memories of betrayal, they slowly faded until all that remained was a thirst for vengeance burning in her ruined chest. A thirst that can only be slaked in the blood of traitors.
Deep in the sacred forest, Maokai, the Twisted Treant, the strongest spirit of the sacred forest, watched in horror as his world crumbled and died around him. He fought to mend the wound in the world, but could not halt the destruction wrought by the human folly. As the ghastly energies sought to overwhelm the great spirit, he made one last desperate attempt to preserve the life of the land. Maokai inhabited the ancient oak at the heart of the forest's spiritual power. There he gathered the essence of the isles into the tree as the corruption of undeath clawed hungrily at anything within reach. Fortified by boundless magic, Maokai could not be consumed entirely, though the spirit was not left unscathed.
Maokai, now saturated with the essences of life and death, became fused with the ancient oak and contorted into an abomination. For ages, pain and grief were the only companions the spirit had. His boughs grew heavy as he wept at the desolation of everything he had known and loved, and his roots tore from the earth as he raged at the reckless sorcerers that had ruined his home. But all was not lost. Maokai had preserved the last vital spark remaining in the Shadow Isles, and with it, the hope of returning life to the land.
Like moths to a flame, the tormented shades of the Shadow Isles were drawn to the living essence within Maokai. The spirit guarded the seed of life from the relentless undead, but Maokai knew he could not fend them off forever. He needed to escape the land of death his home had become, so he cast himself into the sea and trusted in nature to guide him towards a living land. There he hoped to find the means to cast out the forces of undeath and restore life to the Shadow Isles.
Tales of the Black Mist: The Harrowing
The Black Mist rolls over land and sea, seeking the living—leaving them helpless to the half-glimpsed horrors it carries. The poor souls return with the mist to the Shadow Isles. In time, they’ll forget friends and lovers, even themselves, becoming part of the terrible force that grows stronger as time goes on.
A ghastly puppet show recounts a familiar tale in Bilgewater, but tonight the fog’s come down especially thick...― Pass along the warning of the Black Mist
Many are the grim tales told of the Shadow Isles, and the Black Mist that shrouds them... And while all good folk shun this cursed land, sometimes its darkness comes... FOR YOU. The Black Mist ebbs and flows like the tide, yet now and then, on a night much like tonight, it reaches far across the sea... Searching... Seeking... Killing... This time is known as... THE HARROWING. During the Harrowing, the spirits of the Shadow Isles go forth within the Black Mist. Preying on the living, feeding the darkness. There's no coming back once you're claimed by the Harrowing. You're cursed, condemned to haunt the Black Mist forevermore... Well, what were you expecting?! There ain't no happy endings when the Harrowing comes for you. Right on cue... Prepare yourselves, friends. The Harrowing is here.―
First Light after the Harrowing
"Though the Black Mist fades and the souls it claimed will soon forget their past, the threat of the fell tide will not be forgotten. Worse than all previous years, those who lived are left to wonder where it will return, and whether anyone will survive when it does.
I - 1 Year. The Battle of Knife Straits. An armada from Bilgewater, led by Miss Fortune and Captain Gangplank – sailing together under an uneasy truce – meets the Black Mist head on. Heavy casualties sustained. Fleet scattered.
II - 1 Year. The Drowned Anchor. One element of the Harrowing stalled. Reports of a large figure encased in a rusted diving suit seen in the heart of the fighting.
III - 1 Year. The Reaping of Smuggler’s Cove. No survivors.
IV - 3 Years. The Battle of the Serpent. A Blue Flame leviathan is goaded to the surface by a serpent caller to face the Harrowing. The Black Mist is dispersed before it reaches Bilgewater, but the giant from the depths is slain in the process.
V - 9 Years. The Shadow Falls. The Black Mist overcomes the defenses of the Southern Beacon, and it sinks beneath the sea. Its guiding light is now lost to Bilgewater.
VI - 4 Years. The Wild Hunt. Hecarim marshals a spectral host and lays waste to the port of Grey Harbor. Despite valiant resistance from the fishing fleet anchored there, all souls are lost. Grey Harbor remains uninhabited to this day.
VII - 21 Years. The Death of the Conqueror. The mighty galleon Conqueror is lost to the depths, along with 30 battleships. Some have claimed to have seen the Conqueror riding the Black Mist in subsequent Harrowings.
VIII - 32 years. The Battle of Port Mourn. The revenant Mordekaiser leads the Harrowing on a night of slaughter, and Port Mourn falls to darkness. It is said that specters now haunt its empty streets.
IX - 17 years. The Crimson Armada. A Noxian war fleet is caught in the Black Mist. Over 30 vessels lost. No survivors.
X - 37 years. The Maelstrom. The frigate Light-Bringer’s Bane is swallowed by the sea while sailing to outrun the Black Mist.
XI - 49 years. The Shroud. Up until half a century ago, this was the furthest extent of any known Harrowing.
XII - 33 years. The Flower of Ionia. An Ionian fleet of unknown size lost to the Harrowing.
As evinced here, the Harrowing has grown bolder and stronger over the last half century. I fear for the future should this trend continue."
- Although they are not Shadow Isles champions, Wukong, Twisted Fate and Vladimir have a Shadow Isles-themed skin.
- On the Shadow Isles, there is a saying, "Death is but a new beginning."
"As the fog parted and I first beheld the Shadow Isles, I sensed immediately that something was amiss. From the mysteriously placid waters of the bay to the dead calm of the night air, an eerie stillness gripped the place – even the sea and sky. Even as I made ready to go ashore, the crew begged me to return at once to the mainland."
"Despite its size, the immense forest loomed like a sepulcher around us, and the dank air and unnatural stillness bred increasing feelings of paranoia and dread. My companion begged me to turn back, but some primal yearning spurred me onward, deeper into the gloom."
- The altars on the Twisted Treeline suggest :
- The quote of the western altar; "I serve you, because I must, Mordekaiser."; and the eastern altar "I serve you gladly, Mordekaiser.", Mordekaiser holds some rank in the Shadow Isles, further evidenced by his old lore which stated that he was an undead general.
- The quote of the Western altar; "Mordekaiser is not to be trusted Hecarim!", taking in count that Hecarim fights for the Shadow Isles, Mordekaiser actual goals aren't linked to the Isles, but to his personal benefits.
- The quote of the Western altar; "Are you also a prisoner Mordekaiser", likely means that Mordekaiser's affiliation to the Shadow Isles is forced, and he fights this by following his personal objectives, not of the Isles.
- Apart from the altars, the quote (from his old lore) "The common perception is that the encompassing armor protects him, I fear that – for the fragile time being – it actually protects us.", somewhat confirms the Western Altar quote, as his armor might be his prison.
- The quote of the western altar; "Remember who you once were, Hecarim.", suggests that Hecarim was once human, and lived on the pre-cataclysmic Shadow Isles.
- Hecarim marches across Valoran in the name of the Shadow Isles.
- The Twisted Treeline was initially described as the last living forest of Zaun but was retconned to be a location in the Shadows Isles.
- As Indicated by the Black Mist map, the next target of the Mist after Bilgewater is Piltover and Ionia.
- Certain kinds of Poros reside in the Shadow Isles, they were most likely betrayed or dead Poros.
- The , , , , , , , , and are Shadow Isles artifacts.
- The Black Mist can manifest anywhere in Valoran during the Harrowing, though it strikes Bilgewater most.
- Headless Hecarim [ | , Haunted Maokai [ | , and Underworld Twisted Fate [ | champion skins were released to celebrate the remake of the Twisted Treeline map. A poll  was conducted to allow the community to decide if these skins would be limited edition, permanent additions to the store, or legacy skins. At the end of the poll, it was decided that the skins were to be available for a short time as Legacy Skins.
|Elise, the Spider Queen||Origin of power; priestess to the Spider God, Vilemaw|
|Evelynn, the Widowmaker||Probable place of origin; deadly assassin|
|Hecarim, the Shadow of War||Probable place of origin; herald for the Shadow Isles|
|Kalista, the Spear of Vengeance||Origin of power; punishes betrayers|
|Karthus, the Deathsinger||Origin of power; Sermon of the Black Myst|
|Maokai, the Twisted Treant||Birthplace; Keeper of life of the Blessed Isles|
|Mordekaiser, the Iron Revenant||One of many places of origin; The Ruler of the Shadow Isles|
|Thresh, the Chain Warden||Birthplace; Jailer of Souls for the Shadow Isles|
|Yorick, the Shepherd of Lost Souls||Point of reawakening; ferryman for the undead denizens|
Other Related Champions
|Kindred, the Eternal Hunters||Seeks to end the abominations of undeath|
|Lucian, the Purifier||Seeks to purify the Shadow Isles and its denizens|
|Nautilus, the Titan of the Depths||Defended Bilgewater against The Black Mist|
|Nocturne, the Eternal Nightmare||Physically manifested in the Twisted Treeline|
|Warwick, the Blood Hunter||Obtained silver from the Shadow Isles|
|Geography of Runeterra|
|Valoran||Factions & Nations|
|Other Planes of Existance|