I lived two lives, and died two times. A mark upon stars, to herald my crimes.
To find my answer, I lost a lot. To save the people, I left to rot.
The queen was my pride and joy you see. But she is a cause I should have left to be.
Was it worth the struggle, pain, and strife?
No. Not for my wife.
I sought to atone for the grief I made. I swore it by soul, by crown, by blade.
My will was my own, and my will is shown. By leaving my throne, my throne all alone.
I kept it this way, by dying that day. The day that I slayed, the Phantom Brigade.
Here I lay, in a plane filled with mana. Resting in peace, as I reach Nirvana.
The rift calls to me, every now and then. To take up my blade. To fight once again.
A Distant Memory
"Gracefully..." With elegant agility, a slice cuts straight through a tree. The lumberjacks holler in approval as the tree begins crashing down.
"Thanks chief! We couldn't even cut em down with a battleaxe--let alone a hatchet," a worker expresses in gratitude for taking down the largest timber in the forest.
"The key is in the form." Zara expresses as he sheaths his sword. "It's our most prominent weakpoint. Practice that and while you are at it, practice calling me King. This is a kingdom afterall."
Returning from the foothills of the Ironspike Mountains, Zara gazed upon his kingdom. Curved in a horseshoe fashion to match the bay jutting between it, Zara hardly could believe that he inherited this at the speed that he did. Building upon the remnants of a war-ridden dominion, Zara was in the process of expanding the grounds of a fallen faction. Not too long ago, Zara was but only the chieftain of a neighboring village. However, after a long series of internal disputes within a fallen empire, one of the factions nearby sought to Zara's village for help.
Zara sprung into action with magnanimous zeal, commanding every villager to gather resources and assessing the efficiency of their labor. It was not long until Zara gained such a large reputation within the faction of the empire that they decided to merge territories and declare him as their new king.
Zara's niece was happier than she could ever be as she could finally utilize her skill with the spear in ways other than hunting. Suddenly Zara rushed back to his castle, as he remembered that she was scheduled to see him. She was going to show Zara a new trick using the weight of her spear to propel herself in any direction. He knew it was possible to propel oneself forward, but backward was something that piqued his curiosity.
"How's the city folk?" Zara asked as he passed a lieutenant of the Iron Order.
"At ease," he grunted in reply--stated contradictory to how the lieutenant felt.
A large portion of the Iron Order were remnants of the fallen empire. The lowly were ruthless, the great were warmongers. After the great chaos of anarchy, the peaceful times was a large contrast for the knights. Too disparate for some to handle.
While Zara found his work to be grand, others knew that the empire was moreso. An expanse stretching along the eastern borders of Valoran was all the domain of the lost empire. While some were appreciative of the kind acts of Zara, others found he pushed too far. Some thought him a great king, others believed him a weak replacement. With that, the story fades into darkness. A darkness I cannot remember.
Conquering the Abyss
Light shimmers and refracts upon my gaze...
Where am I?
It is cold and heavy, drifting toward a dark place.
This place is wet and flowing. Is it the ocean? No, no. I would be drowning. Unless...
Mana? No way, I would be rising rather than falling as mana is heavier. Much heavier, I would know. Falling? Ah, yes it is I who drifts toward the abyss. I'll wade in these waters soon enough, but I can't.
My arms? I move, yet I do not move. I gaze around me. Fish. Yes, I must be in the ocean deep. However, that is a big fish. A really big fish. In fact, it's almost as if-
"Holy shit! A fish is on my arm!"
I yell, but I cannot hear. Nobody can hear. I'm alone. Well, except for this fish.
Is this how I die? Drowning into the abyss, with a fish.
No. I'm in the ocean, deep within. Yet I do not drown. I had a fish gnawing away at my flesh. Yet I did not notice. Thus I cannot die, I will not drown, and I cannot lose. Especially when-
"I eat fish like you for breakfast!" Clamoring to reach my sword as an explosion of light fills the expanse of darkness with a blue luminosity, I look the fish dead in its dead fish eye.
Wait, dead fish eye? This fish is dead, yet it is alive and gnawing as I bash it ruthlessly with my sword. Slicing it's fins, tearing its cartilage, making sashimi from this dead fish until, finally, it lets go.
The fish crashes into the abyss as I stand beside it. Bubbles soar toward the surface as I let out a sigh. I stare upwards at the fading light, my newfound destination. Stuck in a crevice, the only way to go is up. However, it will not be easy.
I'll need to conquer these seas to rise up. That won't be hard. I did not die. I did not drown. I did not lose.
So I take up my sword, tip my broken crown to the shark that challenged me, and I move forward--toward the accursed fish that I see in the dying of the light.
"Accursed fool..." I muttered to myself, as I set up runes to cross the Serpentine River. "Thinking that the World Rune would protect his tribe forever." Glancing over at my glowing satchel I let out a sigh. "This kind of power will only backstab anyone who tries to tame it."
Completing the inscription, I grab my satchel to place the World Rune in a place where nobody can find it. However, as I held the satchel, I could not help but remember those I have left behind as I look back, towards the Freljord. Looking ahead, I see the river and think, "This crossing would only be able to fit five anyways. Plus, I cannot have anyone stealing the World Runes during the pass."
Before I can get into position, I feel a rumble. The rumble grows louder each passing moment.
"An earthquake, in Kaladoun? No, that's impossible. However, if it's coming from the ocean-" I panic and scramble to set up a barrier. If a tsunami truly was coming, it would be coming fast and there would be no time to run. As I finish my barrier and step inside, a wave of dread fills my soul as I see the surface of the ocean resonate with a circular expansion. I take my stance as the head of a leviathan breaks the surface.
"By the scrolls, what is a leviathan doing this close to the shore?" I exclaim as I blast an arcane bolt at the leviathan, but the leviathan continues to rise with an amplifying quake each passing moment. As I barrage the monster with a flurry of my arcane prowess, I cannot help but wonder, "Why does this leviathan not recoil?" As I ponder upon this, I find that the leviathan is lying on top of another rising object. Trying to discern what it is, the quaking amplifies as I finally bear witness to a massive clouded eye.
I fall in complete awe as I see the corpse of a whale rising alongside the leviathan. Upon further examination, even the leviathan was long been dead. Beyond the whale, I witnessed the crushed remains of sharks, giant squids, Kraken, etc. Once the stacked remains rose to as high as a mountain, it crashed upon the shoreline. A crater was formed on the marshland in its wake. I could not help but barf in utter disgust of the putrid flesh that lied before me.
"Where could I sell these?" An unknown voice asks. I look around me to see that a ghastly being snuck up behind me. I scrambled into a battle stance as quickly as possible, but- "Woah, woah! I don't mean any harm." the ghoul interjects. "I just want to know where I could sell these... fish."
Composing myself I replied, "Sorry, but I highly doubt anyone would buy those things."
"Ah," The ghoul releases with a disappointed sigh. "I figured as much. Who would even want to eat this junk?"
"Eat?!" I exclaim in total surprise. "I thought you were going to sell this as game, trophies for collectors."
"Oh, right," the ghoul affirms. "I could have done that couldn't I?"
As the ghoul examined the fishes, I took time to examine his form. The ghoul bore a broken crown alongside a sword he began poking the fishes with, I assume both eroded from the ocean. Despite his absent-minded disposition and rugged clothing, an aura of regal might emanates from his ghastly outlook. It comes to at no surprise to me due to the mighty strength I stand witness to, as he rummages through the flesh, carrying whole sharks with one arm as the other dangling arm fell off. Wait a second.
"Hey." I call out to the ghoul.
"Yeah?" he replies.
"Well, your arm-"
"What about it?" he questions further.
"Well, fell off."
"Oh!" the regal ghoul chortles. "Don't worry about that, it's useless anyways."
Silence in disbelief, I can only shake my head. Suddenly, I notice something peculiar--something dangerous.
"Zara," he replies, " and you are?"
"." I reply to the sudden introduction.
", I see. Okay, go on."
"May I have a look at your crown?"
A sharp silence cuts between us as he ponders. Did I push too far? To incur the wrath of this being would be the end of me. Despite my worries, Zara removes his crown. "I don't see what could spark your interest about this rusty old thing, but go ahead."
Zara passes the crown to me and I touch the jewel within. It is faint, cold, but alive.
"If it does not trouble you, I would like for us to go to my study," I offer to Zara to further examine this crown.
"That's fine with me, I don't have a destination anyways." Zara accepts as he tears away a freshly killed shark. "Can I bring this?"
I nod as I change the destination of the runes to the Freljord. Beckoning Zara inside, I begin the channel to the other realm. I must verify the integrity of the crown. Zara may be a mighty foe, but if it comes to it, I will face him head on. Else the World Rune, that is his crown, may spark another disaster.
Yearn to Learn
Following the strange blue man as we crossed into another dimension, I could not help but wonder who he may be. In any case, he is the only lead I have for understanding this predicament. My head starts pounding as I come to realize, I've transformed. I am no longer the man I once was, but what does it matter if I cannot remember? If only I could remember.
The man, named "," threw his satchel into the unknown plane which fizzled out of existence and at the very next moment, the blistering winds bombards us relentlessly. Just when I was getting used to the warmth of the bogs, I now have chills coursing through my soul. Suddenly, hands me back my crown. As I don my broken crown, I can feel the chills dissipating until the air no longer feels windy. gives me a strange look and then continues forward to what seems like an out-of-place library.
Escaping the from the cold blizzard and entering with the rune wizard, I fathom the architecture of the vast library. From the outside, it did not seem like much. However entering inside, the whole mountain the library was enclosed in was the library itself. Shelves expanding all around the cavern and rising as high as the peak. The regal beauty reminded me of home, wherever that is."Zara," calls out to me, "Let's go, let's go!"
I rush over to see mana., surveying a large scroll that he laid onto the table. It contained elaborate constellations, painted stories, branching paths, cogent equations, etc. The formatting of these scrolls give fond memories of lessons about
Many constellations were strewn across the floor, but a couple constellations were laid bare on his study on large parchment pages. It contained the the common stars of the night sky. I knew, because these were the very first ones he pointed out to me. There was the pylon shaped constellation that represented the architect who watches over the pillars of the world. One I know very well is the halo of the starstruck sun, which represents the perseverance of fallen stars. It showed that even in death, the dust that remained would rise to create galaxies. Then there were... stricken constellations?
Actually, they were crossed out and surrounded by numerous calculations. A triangular constellation was scribbled too hard for me to recognize, but I could catch a glimpse of the trident shaped constellation that he never quite explained to me before getting snatched up by. It's quite strange to think that the stars would play such a large role in our personal lives.
As if aligned to our favor, we were blessed by the stars and given what seems like an endless supply of the magic that we call mana. Though the study being based on runes, glyphs, and pictographs makes this quite cryptic. It's quite surreal how these things can tap into such magnificent power. Although many aspects of mana are grounded in natural law, I still can't wrap my head around how mana is a material force rather than fuel. Before I can wrap my head around it, returned to the study with a new piece of parchment.
It seemed to have a hand drawn figure on it. Actually, it looks like a constellation of... "Is that my crown?"
Examining me and then the scrollarrived at a conclusion, "I knew it." gaze fixated on a constellation of a broken crown, warped by a mysterious mist.
Looking back at me he asked, "For further confirmation, can you tell me the name of your sword?"
"Yes, your blade."probed.
"Well, I'm a king."
"Right, I could guess from the crown."
"My crown has a crack in it."
"So it's ruined."
"Yes, we established that already."
"So that means this blade-""Come on already!"
A deafening silence cuts between the two of us.
"You're joking right?"asks to break the silence.
"Of course I am!"
shakes his head in a display of extreme irritation.
"The point I'm trying to make is that this is no magical sword." I explain in an attempt to ease his frustration. "It's simply one of the many ornate swords from my kingdom. Outside of looking fancy, which it does not even accomplish anymore, it is just a brutish weapon."
"Well, even so. There is more than enough proof with the crown itself."proclaims, "This crown has a World Rune."
"What in the world is that?"
"It is a very dangerous artifact." Ryze explains. "This has cataclysmic power that has the potential to reshape, no, destroy all of Runeterra."
"WOAH! Are you sure this crown can do all of that?"
"I'm positive."reassures me with the grave front he is showing me. "I've seen its power before."
"Well, you can keep your apocalyptic-"
"However,"interrupts me as I began removing my crown. "I fear that it may come at a great sacrifice to you."
Downtrodden by the might of the crown, I release my hand and ask, "What do you mean by that?"
"There seems to be a significant connection between you and the World Rune."explains as he studies the scroll. "Normally, ghouls become insane after their revival. Which is why I have been very cautious on our first encounter."
"Oh, I apologize for that."
"No need for apologies, you were not insane so that is a good thing,"assures me. "However, that is exactly what is peculiar. You should have gone insane, but it is as if the World Rune is protecting your sanity."
"What is so strange about that? If the World Rune is protecting me, it would obviously protect my judgement."
"That's what YOU think..." Ryze mutters as he closes his eyes, as if he was reminiscing on disappointing events. "What actually happens is a corrupt hunger for power overwhelms the user. It causes the most sane minds to plummet into insanity. I was thinking your wild strength came from the combination of the World Rune and being a ghoul, but you could carry that fish of yours perfectly fine without the crown." He states as he points at the huge shark I have been nibbling on throughout the whole conversation.
"Yeah, I guess you could blame it on a primal instinct."
"What do you mean 'primal instinct'?"asks to probe for more information.
"Well, I was alive when I should have been dead. So, I knew I needed to live. It's as simple as that." I answerwhile gazing into the dead fish's eye. "Even I couldn't believe my strength. It was as if my will to live became power on its own."
"That's a ghoul's might alright."nods his head in self-confirmation. "Unfortunately, I have no experience with dealing with ghouls like you."
"So, you want my crow-"
"YES!"exclaims abruptly. "I mean, yes, that would be very helpful."
I cannot even reply. My head is pounding with a furious force. The total lack of respect over my belongings, well he did ask first, but now he wants my stuff? My crown of all things? The gall, the impudence-
No way. Did he say what I think he did? You knew I would go crazy, become an insensible monster with this monstrous power of mine. Oh, oh no. Oh, he wants me dead? No. No, he does. Yes. You want me dead. I- no, I don't understand. Why? Wait.
They want to kill me before I become insane? Oh my. No. No! NO! I cannot die. No. Not here. Not now. I cannot, I will not, I am not dying. No, I am dead, how can I die? Did I die? How? Why? Where? I do not understand. Can't wait, must act, must...
Eviscerate the enemy. They want me dead? I'll have their head. No, their heart--their will. Grasp their will in my hand and crush it. Then they will fall. Heartless, bathed in the blood wrought by their own hands. The blood within their own hands. Gouge out the eyes that belittle me. Disembowel those who spat at my feet. Scald those who wish me burn. Then do it all over again. Do it for you? Do it for me? Do it for him? Do it for her.
Opening my eyes, clouded by the black mist that shrouds this cavern. I bear witness to the ruins of the ancient temple. The temple of knowledge, the library. I gaze up at the crumbling shelves and tumbling books from on high. The flickering flames that illuminated this place have long burned out. The lone light comes from above me. I look up, and it still comes from above me. No, my crown? Yes, my crown. This broken, old thing. A bead of water streams down my cheek as I realize how broken this crown truly is. It is ruined, just like I ruined this place.
"" I call out, into the darkness. "I know you can hear me."
I call out once more, but there is no response. Only the fluttering of pages as they fall from the ceiling. In response, I toss my crown into the strewn pieces of literature along the ground.
"If you want my crown, take it," I holler out into the darkness. "I am no longer a king. I do not even remember the name of the kingdom I ruled any longer."
With a deep breath, "However, before you claim my crown. You must kill me." I request from. "The stars and scrolls themselves state that my life would end in ruin. There is no peace for me here."
Coughing hoarsely, I lose my balance and fall to the ground. My hands, chest, no, my entire body is erupting into a black mist. I can clearly see my limbs crumbling before me. I guess this is how it ends. What a pitiful ending, uneventful and melodramatic, although it is an end fit for someone such as myself: The Ruined King.
I close my eyes and await the eternal slumber that befalls me. However, it does not arrive. Rather, I did not arrive. As I slowly peek at what is going on and notice that the mist has ceased its expulsion, the crumbling as well.
"Was my will to die not strong enough?"
"No." A voice from behind states. "My will for you to live is too strong."
I turn my head and seeas he lets go of the crown that is now on my head.
"Don't toss that around carelessly. It may cause another explosion."scoffs at the scene I made. "I must say though, your selflessness is admirable. Everyone I've dealt with so far has given into the power of the World Runes."
"Well, you were right," I stated in reply. "The World Rune definitely does not help with sanity."
"However, you could read the scrolls,"rebutted as he set up some runes. "The scrolls have always saved me from the influence of the runes, so its no surprise you were saved too."
"Its the one of the reasons I changed my mind."
"Wait, what do you mean?" I ask in astonishment.
"Well, this place here,"states while directing attention to the entire cavern "Is a very powerful place for someone like me."
"So this was a trap?"
"Yes, but then I realized I could not take you on no matter how hard I tried,"states in a disappointed manner. "The simple nature of my ability prevents me from doing so."
"Yes, the World Rune."replies while pointing at my crown. "It protects you with a veil that can nullify all the magic I utilize. Watch." throws an arcane bolt at me. I flinch as it approaches me, but then it abruptly dissipates.
"As you can see, this is the main reason why I changed my mind."bluntly states as he continues to work on the runes. "So, why did you change your mind?"
"What do you mean change my mind? Letting this crown go was my original intention," I asked out of confusion.
"Well, it must have been a struggle fighting against both the instincts of a ghoul and the desire of the World Rune simultaneously."
Thinking about it again, it truly was difficult. I normally would have fallen easily into the desires of the World Rune, but-
"I did not come back to life on a conquest for power. I am sure of that. I know how dangerous messing around with power can be." I gaze at the destroyed architecture of the library. "Ah, the magnificence of this shelter from cold air. Something I would expect out of my kingdom."
Downtrodden, I take a deep breath and continue, "Sullied, by the force I possess. I have ruined the one place that feels like home. However, that is not the worst part." I state asprops his head up in curiosity.
"The worst part is, I think I have done this before."
"What did you do?"asks out of curiosity as he finishes the runes.
"I don't know.""Well, you'll find out soon enough," concludes. "Come. The runes beckon."
I step into the rune warp without hesitation. I do not know where it goes, but going anywhere is better this mess of a place.
Forged from Sand and Runes
I thought we were going to a better place. How wrong I was. Traveling from blistering winds to scorching sands, the fish is completely baked. I quickly devour the fish as I followacross the vast expanse of endless sand dunes. As hot as it may be, it is bearable. Perhaps it is due to this fractured crown I've got on my head. Nevertheless, I grow skeptical as I do not see our destination anywhere in sight.
"Where could you possibly be taking me in this desert wasteland?"
"We're going to the Oasis of Dawn."
"Ah, an oasis! That's refreshing."
"Well, this is not your average oasis. It has rejuvenative and hardening properties for swordsmithing."
"Awesome! I guess this sword of mine won't be so useless after-"
"We're not using that sword."
"The main goal is not to forge a sword, but rather contain a portable seal."
"A seal? A seal for what?"
"A seal for you."
The gentle breeze was all I could hear as we blankly stared at each other.
"From that incident earlier, I noticed something peculiar."states as he turns to me. "In a way, my first hypothesis was correct. You are being protected by the World Rune."
"How is that possible? I went insane!"
"That you did, but it's not your sanity that is being protected. It is your physical form."
So that means... No, I still don't understand.
"I went under the false assumption that your ghoulish power was the reason why you are physically stable. However, upon seeing that," mana to quench that ghoulish power."shudders for a moment. That was a terrifying experience after all. "I concluded that the ghoulish power within you is voraciously transforming you into a monster. When you utilize your might without the crown, it is extremely draining on your body. As a response, the World Rune gathers
"Mana," I muttered. "Could that be what I felt?"
"What is it?"probes.
"So, how is a seal going to be good enough for this issue?"
grimaces at the question. "I do not know."
"Ok, you can stop it with that. I'm grasping at straws here."lashes out at me. "I just want to avoid a cataclysm and the solution is not as simple as I thought."
"So, what made you think of coming to this bland place?"
"Well,"stands on top of a dune and asks, "Would you believe me if I said we are already here?"
I look around and see the same exact barren wasteland. An endless stream of sand dunes supported with the vast white sandstorm that surrounds us.
"You mean, the Oasis of Dawn?"
Ah, after all that sandstorm we finally arrive at the the illustrious, dusty sandstorm... Wait a minute.
"This isn't refreshing at all!"
"Never said it was."states as he slides down the sand dune. "However, does this sandstorm seem peculiar to you?"
"Now that I think about it, this is a fairly white sandstorm," I reply looking him in the eye. "Heck, even though it is raging this much, I can still see you clearly."
"Right you are! That's because this is not a sandstorm."proclaims with a smile soon turning into a heavy grimace. "This is a World Rune."
World rune, sandstorm. You're joking right? I stare him down for a couple seconds in total silence.
"I already told you to stop it with that. This is a World Rune, the only one I let slip past me."
"How could you let this giant slip past you?"
"Simple."lets out a sigh and asks, "Can you think of a way to capture this thing?"
I look again at how huge the sandstorm is, engulfing as far as the eye can see.
shrugs when I reply. "Neither could I."
"Fair enough." I nod as I scout around. "So this is the Oasis of Dawn, huh?"
"Yes, well specifically that."directs my attention to a shallow basin, devoid of any liquid.
I walk to the center of the basin. I hear a voice calling out to me.
It was a plea to take shape in these scorched lands. This voice cried out from pained lips. Not one, but a million. It was then that I came to a painful realization. World Runes are not infinite supplies of mana, it is a reservoir, a cup to be filled satisfy the thirst of many. My cup overflows, and their cup ran dry. To think one man had enough mana to fill an ocean, yet an entire nation had not a single drop left to share.
I knew what I had to do. It is what I live for: saving those who cannot save themselves. This will be my first act of redemption.
Zara stood in the center of the basin, pondering on something as he examined the surroundings.
"Mana." Zara mutters as he looks down on the cracked dusty basin with a crestfallen gaze.
Looking to me, Zara asked for reassurance, "So, you said that to quench the thirst of this curse I bear, my crown gathers mana to control it?"
"Well, not so much as control." I replied to the notion that whatever forces he holds could ever be controlled. "Rather, appeasing it so it does not go rabid." As harsh as it sounds, I am relieved that Zara believes it to be a curse rather than a blessing like the others I have encountered with World Runes.
After an eerie pause in discussion, Zara took his crown and said, "Good enough for me," as he laid the crown in the basin. Almost instantaneously, black mist spewed out from Zara's visage and then from the rest of his body.
"Woah! What do you thi-"
I cut off my own statement as I saw the stalwart poise that seemed to emanate from his figure. Zara's figure reminded me of the exaggerated stature of heroes from Demacia, yet his calm disposition in the face of his crumbling life was equivalent to that of an Ionian monk enduring the harsh trials through meditation. This calm manner was further magnified as he took a seat within the dusty confines of the basin. Zara is meditating in the midst of all the chaos. However, I finally could see what he was doing as I looked past the basin and into the storm that surrounded us.
As the storm spewing out of Zara grew violent, the storm enveloping the entire desert regressed into a calmer state. I try to make sense of what is going on, but it is all happening too fast. The sands are shifting, the mist thickens, the basin overflows, but Zara sits still.
"RYZE!" Zara roars with a booming voice that echoes across the dunes.
"Bear witness to a World Rune in its true form."
I have no idea what Zara means, but I can swiftly see something building on the crown. A blue light emanating from the crown with a flowing stream of sand from the storm converging into a crystalline state. A gem of pristine. It swiftly grows larger, expanding to heights greater than monuments.
"Is this the true form of a World Rune?"
In response, Zara took his moldy ornate sword in the arm he still had and began to chisel the monumentalthat laid before him.
"What are you doing? You will break the World Rune within!"
"FOOL!" Zara bellows with a sundering voice that caused the dunes to shift.
"Are you too blind to see it? You are well versed with mana are you not?" Zara hollered as he continued to chip the large crystal piece-by-piece.
"I am, but-"
"Then you should very well know this fact." Zara interjected as he cracked a massive piece of the crystal. "The World Rune does not simply gather mana."
With one final blow on the crack Zara proclaimed, "IT IS MANA!" as the tremendous chunk crashed into the ground.
I am completely taken aback by this huge piece of information and how Zara was even aware of it before I ever was, but then I had a terrifying realization.
"Wait, but why are you destroying the World Rune? It prevents that force from overtaking you, why would you go out of your way to destroy it?"
"Destroying? Do you really think that is what I am doing?" Zara asks with a disgruntled tone.
Upon further inspection, all of thehe chipped off disappeared. The only one I saw was the gigantic chunk and it seemed to be shrinking, as if it was dissolving into the basin. Wait, dissolving?
"You are offering your World Rune to the Oasis of the Dawn?"
Zara nods in response, but I cannot understand his logic.
"Why would you do such a thing?" I asked and Zara's visage grew grim. "We are not even sure if the Oasis of the Dawn can even aid you, we don't even know how! Why would you risk your life when we came here to try and save your life?"
Zara ceases his methodical chiseling and a deafening silence cuts between us.
I can't help but feel anguish as I witness what Zara has become. The mist has completely overtaken him. His body is pitch black, and the outlines of his face was not even present--as if the mist devoured his entire head. Zara would not even be able to don the crown that was important enough to be a constellation deemed worthy of the scrolls' recording. I could tell that Zara pinned all of his hopes and dreams into the success of this endeavor. I could tell that Zara is willing to throw his life away for this oasis. I could tell that there something about this that was very important to him. I couldn't tell you what his reason was at the time. However, his answer was something too noble for me to fathom before this event.
"Why would I deny my water to the dying?"
Taken aback by Zara's response, I could only listen as I saw his mist slowly consuming him.
"You said that travelers came to sharpen their blades and heal the wounded." I nod in confirmation. "Where are they now?"
Upon further thought, I did not even think to question why the Oasis of the Dawn became inactive. There were no reports of vandalism and from what I've seen it does not seem like anyone ruined this place but time. It was just the mysterious storm that enveloped this entire land that crumbled the entire nation.
"You may not hear it, but I can." Zara knelt down and pressed his hand on the basin. "The numerous cries of the fallen who have resided here long ago.
"It is horrifying," Zara utters as his stature seems to shudder for a moment.
If I remembered correctly, a vast metropolis used to reside in this area. The scrolls have shown it enveloped in a great storm, could this be what it was referring to?
"However," Zara carried on, breaking my train of thought. "All of their cries converge here. To this dried up oasis. They are reaching to me, clinging to this basin. Clinging to the one thing that I know very well."
"What is that?" I ask, awaiting his response. Turning to me he says a single word that I expected all too well.
Raising his ornate sword once more, Zara continues to chisel the crystal before him. "Mana may quench my thirst, but mana will sustain their life."
Despite all my worries, I take ease in his bold reason. It is something that I myself have avoided for far too long. Suddenly, I witness perhaps the most divine thing I have ever seen in my entire life. Mana began pouring from the skies above. Drops of light crystalline spheres enveloped in a droplet of liquid mana descending from the sky like lamenting in the selfless resolve that I have had the fortune to bear witness to. This play that is cast before me reminds me of the resolve I had for my master a long time ago. No, this far transcends that resolve into a need for complete devotion. I would have never expected to find such strong will in a being of the underworld.
As the teardrops fall, I notice something peculiar. They slow down and dissipate into an ethereal vapor until it vanishes from the naked eye. While it may be hidden from my view, I can sense its presence. It surrounds us, filling this shroud with mana in an ever growing density. Soon, the droplets cease their appearance and mana permeates this entire space. I feel a gentle wind brushing against my back, pushing me towards the direction of an exceedingly violent torrent from the converging sandstorm. I bury my feet in the sand to remain steady to cast a spell to root myself in place.
I look towards Zara to see if anything major has changed, but he is still chiseling away at that. However, it is significantly narrower than before. He is grinding an edge out of it as if it were a blade. I turn back to witness an awe inspiring sight. The storm was converging into a blade jutting out of a gigantic hilt hovering 10 yards above the ground. I bore witness to the same phenomenon in two instances: World Runes being forged into swords.
Zara was forging a blade from pristine. The gods were forging a blade forged from the sandy rune. However, the black mist seemed to dissipate as the behemoth of a sword was being built. The blade stretched from the hilt to the sands below, casting a shadow that could whether a storm for a small caravan. Upon its fuller, I was surprised to find engravings appear on the sword. Ancient engravings that I've seen before. No way. The tremendous blade shone with rune engravings representing a sword of infinite power. It was unlike any other infinity rune I have ever seen. Rather than a blade with infinite precision, this blade focused on the sheer might in size and in scripture.
"Woah, it cleared up in here." Zara commented as the black mist engulfing the basin disappeared.
I almost smiled, but I soon found that Zara was still missing his head. In replacement, a revenant flame resided with no expression. His whole body was tattered and felt transparent as the the eerie light from the flame coursed through his entire body. Zara was even less alive than he was before. Nobody would be able to recognize him, let alone see him as a king. It pained me greatly to discover this. As soon as I find that royalty in Zara as a king, he looks less like one. It reminds me of the sacrifices I needed to make to carry out my quest.
Deciding to inquire his health, I asked, "Are you okay Zara?"
"More or less," Zara swiftly responds as he waves his arm through the flames that now engulf where his head used to be.
"This is actually kind of neat."
I'm disturbed at the relief I get in those words. It is fortunate that Zara doesn't see this as a burden, but it makes me wonder whether or not he realizes that these reckless actions are inching him closer to the beyond. I don't even know why I'm even concerned about his survival when I have no reason to. At least, not until he presents thethat he forged.
"Well, are you going to take it?" Zara asks, pushing the sword onto me. "You need to handle this thing right? This big one too. It's kinda heavy though."
As I see the revenant handing me his blade and leaning on the colossal one, I can only imagine his genuine phantasmal smile on his nonexistent face beckoning me to free him from these chains that bind him to this world. To set his soul free. There are many things I do not understand about him. How does he know so much about World Runes? How can he read the scrolls? What kingdom does he hail from? Why did the World Rune of the Oasis of the Dawn come to him? Zara was chosen for this task, but I do not know why. I cannot let him go, not yet.
"You do realize that if I take both of these things, you'll crumble into dust?" I probe in a snide manner.
Another one of Zara's awkward pauses...
While I normally would have chastised him for this, I could not help but burst into laughter upon hearing this response. Zara seemed perplexed, I wish I could see the look on his face. As my laughter subsided, I gazed upon the titanic sword. It is brimming with an extremely tremendous mana densely permeating the claymore.
"How are you even going to handle this thing?" I asked Zara knocking on the sword to verify it filled with extremely dense material.
"Well, it certainly is heavy." Zara states as he walks towards the blade. He grabs hold of one of the sharp ends and raises the blade above the sand. Suddenly, he flings the tremendous sword skybound. As the sword spins in the air it descends upon us like a meteorite. With his arm still raised, Zara catches the blade by the hilt as it crashes down on him, sending a shockwave that blows a crater in the sand and knocks me to the ground.
"It's nothing I can't handle though."
Zara's strength never ceases to amaze me. "Well, I'm pooped so I think I'll do you a favor," I tell Zara as I skim through my ancient textbook.
"Oh and what are you going to do?" Zara asks as he tries to figure out a way to hold his that gigantic sword in a more suitable manner.
As I find the text on the cosmic realm, I answer Zara. "I'm going to show you how I travel through dimensions."
Zara turns suddenly and looks at me. Actually, it's hard to tell if he's actually looking at me since...
"WHAT?!" Zara suddenly drops the titanic sword, causing a torrent of sand to rise.
"Be careful with that thing! We're going to need it for the trip." I yell as I vigorously rub sand out of my eyes.
"We are leaving already?" Zara asks in a distrodden manner.
"Yes of course we are." I reply, but contrary to my expectations I see Zara gazing back at the Oasis of the Dawn. He examines his the sword he chiseled out of his crown. Then walks towards the basin.
"Wait what are you doing?" I ask in fear of what he's attempting to do with his transformed World Rune.
"I'm making my final offering." Zara replies as he stabs the crystalline sword into the center of the basin.
As soon as he does this, the sword dissolves and the Oasis of the Dawn springs to life as it is filled with mana. Trees and other vegetation grows spontaneously and structures start rising from the sands. Pillars and walls surround us and restructure themselves into ruins adorned with a gigantic circular monument that resembled the sun floating in the air. A wave of fear floods me as I remind myself of the chaotic force of a World Rune.
"What have you done?" I ask as I edge closer to the basin, bolting into a swift hunt for the World Rune that escaped my grasp. I wade through the place where Zara dropped his hand crafted blade to try and find traces of the World Rune, but none were to be found. In my endless despair of chaotic nightmares, with a roar almost as loud as Zara's voice, I yelled in fuming rage,
I glare at Zara menacingly, awaiting what articulate reason he comes up with to explain this absolutely idiotic decision.
Locking him down with arcane force I pull him towards me sneering in response, "What? Really now? Did my warnings not permeate through to your head? Not that you have one..." I could imagine Zara looking at me with a blank face. Too soon. So, I let him go while undoing the binds. "Don't get me wrong, I came here to protect you, but I did not say you could just throw away a World Rune for another."
After a brief moment of reflection, Zara finally responds, "I am aware."
"So why?" I interject. "Why did you do something this stupid? To save these dead souls? To raise an empire you don't know? To give them a chance that you didn't have?"
"To follow what the scrolls told me."
What? The scrolls? I take a look at the scrolls to grasp what he even means, then I swiftly see the connection. I was traveling through the Freljord to try and decipher the purpose of these constellations after hearing of what occurred at the Mountain Shrines. However, with the events surrounding Zara, it must mean that the World Runes must appear in a reversed order from what is shown in the scrolls. This means that the resurrection of Shurima must be in order. I am completely taken aback by Zara's awareness of this.
"When did you glean this knowledge?" I inquire Zara with curiosity.
"During our time at the library, looking at the scrolls." Zara responded. "The patterns were very familiar to me ever since I was shown this from someone else."
"Who exactly?" I probe even further to try and grasp where he obtained such vast knowledge.
"Hmm..." Zara taps his feet as he raises his arm to his nonexistent head in a very awkward fashion before giving up and then placing it on his hip. "That would be an enigma." He finally responds pointing at me with complete faith in his answer.
The desert winds blow across this sun-beaten desert sands as I await a further explanation...
Wait, is that it...
I was not satisfied. "What?"
Zara laughs and slaps his knee before saying, "Looks like you're saying it too. Well, he claimed to be a prophet for one of the Three Great Kingdoms."
"Wait, you don't mean-"
"It's exactly what I mean. The alliance that brought all of Runeterra together: Shurima, Ionia, and Targo. To commemorate their alliance, they forged a seal crafted from their finest weapons:, , and ."
"Well,is no longer a part of it anymore." I interject.
I must admit, it's surprising how he knew about whatused to be before-
"Well, ever since Shurima fell, the production of was not enough."
"So what became of the seal then? Don't tell me the name was changed tonow. That would be incredibly stupid."
"Oh no, they replaced it with another signature item:."
"Shurima. Well, I'm glad that I'm not completely outdated~!" Zara chortles and I alongside him. The historical knowledge Zara has is completely astounding. It is as if I am speaking to a living scroll. Filled with the purest intent and otherworldly duty, I resolve myself to say:? Ah! That is also another blade from
"Zara, how would you like to learn the arcane arts?"
Zara shoots me a quizzical look and asks, "Aren't I learning just that if I'm learning how to travel through dimensions?"
Forgetting that I suggested that before, I brainstorm an excuse for teaching him, then I reply "Well, I never said I would teach you how, but since you need to learn how to control mana to survive, learning all the arcane arts will help you the most since it directly utilizes mana."
Zara shrugs, "Fair enough. So where do I begin."
"Certainly not in these barren lands, I'll first take you to where I learned the arcane arts myself." As I draw from the Oasis of the Dawn's pure mana to create a monumental rift to the cosmic realm.
"Why so big?" Zara asks. I simply point at his new sword on the ground and he replies. "Oh, right." Before Zara comes into the rift with that monstrous sword of his, he looks back at the large circular monument and says, "I wonder if your empire will be as great as mine, Starstruck Sun." He bolts into the rift before I can respond, so I decide to let the question pass as we go to back to where it all began for me: home--if I can call it that anymore.
The Blue Sea
It's heavy. The whole place is heavy. A realm of cerulean blue where I ride the currents that surround me.
"Going through here never took this long."
"Well this is a special occassion," he answered in reply. I couldn't see the blue man, but I could tell he was somewhere ahead of me.
"Where the heck are you?"
popped his head out of the edge of my gargantuan weapon. "I'm over here." As he hangs off the edge of my sword, he asks, "What are you all worked up about?"
"Nothing really," I replied, "I was just wondering what you meant about 'special occasion.'"
"Well, let's just say you are my first pupil so to speak."declares as he swims towards me. "Somehow I think you may know a bit more than me on some topics. However, I doubt you know about this place at all."
"What is this place anyways?" I ask in response. I feel like I've been through here before, but it was for less than a second.
stops to spreads his arms and asks, "Well what do you think this place is?"
"It's blue that's for sure," I answer almost immediately. "However, it's not exactly wet nor is it difficult to breathe."
"You still breathe?"
"HAH! I don't even know to be quite honest." I take a second to relish this whimsical feeling and lively energy of this empty blue space. Then it hit me.
"That's right," mana."replied almost immediately. Looking upward at the faint vortex in the distance, he continues, "This is a whole expanse filled with nothing but
"So, it's an ocean of mana?"
"Not quite. I'm sure you know that mana is very dense for a fluid, right?"
"Of course, dense enough that almost anything would float straight to the surface."
"Indeed, but tell me, where are we going?"
"We're going up, wait no down. Now, lef- I mean right..." Now that I think about it, we are moving fairly erratically for being in a calm part of this expanse.
"Figured you would say that. Essentially, there is no surface here to float to."
I can feel that blank stare even though I can't see it. I might have blown his mind just-
"The traditional expectations of the world simply don't apply here. There is no falling down to the ground, because there is no ground. Also there is no rising up to the surface as there is no surface."
"So what the heck is this place then?"
mana."looks at the growing vortex and responds, "I guess I would call this the dumping grounds for
"Where does all this mana even come from then?"
"I'm not quite sure."looks at me and continues, "but if I had to guess, I would say it comes from the World Runes."
I gaze into the vast plasma of this ocean of mana, brought about by World Runes...
"Here is the thing,"starts as he is glaring at the raging vortex we are approaching. "I collect World Runes to keep them from harm's way."
"Yep, noble cause if I do say so myself."
"Thanks, so I need to put these World Runes in a safe spot."
"However, someplace where I can't entirely understand myself. So I don't have the urge to go out and use that abuse power myself."
"Wait, what place could possibly be out of your reach if you can get- Oh wait."
I think I understand- wait a second.
"You dumped all the World Runes-"
"In this place."
Hah, so this is the culmination of all of your efforts. An entire dimension filled with mana and crazy vortexes like the one right next to us...
Pain and Pride
We got caught in the vortex and was flung into a volatile current that resembled a broken spiral attached to a chicken eating orange juice at the lemon barn, crumbling into foreign staves fashioned in oblique fires of coconut bastions of furry portals. At least, that's what I thought when I came to. I found myself in a woodland slope as I stared at a bear that was staring back at me.
That's not good.
I reach for my sword as the bear comes charging towards me. I have no idea why the bear is charging towards me. I also have no idea why I can't reach my sword. I turn around and see trees and rocks. I look the other way and seeslapping the bear with spells that do little to stop this bear. So, I decide to get one of these trees and wack it across the face.
I don't know where the bear went. I don't know where my sword went. I guess I still have this old thing though. Not like it compares to a tree at all.
"What?"suddenly says. It appears I am vastly underestimating the ability to uproot a tree.
"Well, I didn't have my sword so I had to use something," I answer to try and explain myself.
Dumbfounded,replies, "I wouldn't have thought a TREE was an option."
"Well that's just you. Why did a bear even charge at me though?"
"Oh..." stated in disbelief. A leaf falls as a moth brushes past it. It lands on a rock rolling over to a patch of brown grass. The scarce brown grass was surrounded by green grass that rustles in the wind which causes another leaf to fall on a muddy red puddle.
The moth rests on a log for a moment, but it quickly flutters to a rock as the log is not smooth enough. However, it soon soars over to a leaf deciding the rock was not flaky enough. When the wind blows a bit harder, the moth flies off of the leaf deciding it was not stable enough. The moth simply can't make up its mind, so it rests on a sticky, calcified object alongside a fly that buzzes around eccentrically.
I catch a glimpse of a bead looking at me in the patch of brown grass. Looking under me, I see a large muddy pool of brown grass and what looks like worms and fur. I also see a red puddle right under me.
Drip. Drip. Drip.
The bead looks at me.
I reel back disgust towardswiping the guts off my clothes. Completely dumbfounded, I turn towards for an explanation.
He can only shrug and say, "You don't mess with family."
I know that all too well. That profound despair mixed with anger, transforming into a vengeful spirit.
Why do I know this extreme feeling? Perhaps it was because I lost my kingdom. I lost my friends. I lost my family. I lost everything.
"Yeah, that would do it."
"What would do it?"asked curious to my thoughts.
"Well I piledrived into a baby cub. I would imagine this would bring an instinctive animosity against me wouldn't you say?"
"No need to complicate it."expresses as he turns and walks away from the cliff face. "You killed a bear cub and mama bear got pissed. Simple as that." stops suddenly as he stares that the large Utopian city before us. "Then again, I kind of feel for the mama bear."
While scrubbing the congealed blood off of my garments, I walk towardsto get a better view of this utopia. It is mechanized beyond my comprehension. Back in my day I knew the smiths were working on some interesting little gadgets, but there are gigantic balloons with what looks like people inside. The gears that would fit in the palm of my hand were the size of monuments and buildings that tower towards the clouds. Then again, that came at no surprise to me given Targo easily achieved that with its mountain library. What really surprises me are the foreign things I just can't understand. I would need to get closer to even get a grasp of what these things are.
"So, this is where you learned your magic."
"Technically, yes."responded monotonously. "This used to be my home."
"Well then, I'm impressed. I didn't expect your home to be this technological. Then again, I guess you do study quite a lot with all the scrolls and tomes. It would make sense for you to have come here. However, I have yet to see an actual... Um, what do you call it? Ah, gadget! I haven't seen you use any gadgets so I just thought that you came from a standard vill-"
"This isn't my home."
"-age?" I'm stumped. "I thought you said this was your home?"
takes a deep breath before replying, "Yes, this used to be my home."
I watch the mechanical balloons soar as I wait for his response. I am getting the vibe that this is a fairly sensitive topic. Whenprocessed what I said, he finally replied, "You weren't wrong you know."
A bit caught off guard, I ask "Not wrong about what?"
"I did come from a small town village."
Hold on now. I look to the city. I look back at him. I look at the gigantic balloons. I look back at him. I look at the elaborate metropolis. I look back at him.
"I don't know about you, but that," I abruptly point at what looks like a person floating in the sky within a spherical vessel with gears spinning at the speed of typhoons before I continue by saying, "is not small town."
looks at the spherical vessel I am addressing, that now is struggling to keep afloat, but somehow seems to stay in the skies. nods before blunting replying with, "I know."
I think my brain just exploded. I don't know for sure though since I haven't got one. Not anymore at least.
points at the same vessel and continues. "That-" suddenly the vessel loses its lift and starts wobbling towards the ground. is tracking his finger in its path, but not for long.
Okay, I'm positive. My brain just exploded. Cringing a bit,awkwardly puts his accusing finger away and continues. "Is not a part of my home."
"Okay, so what the heck is this place then?"
"It's Piltover, a place where magic and technology combine."
"Heh, you didn't need to tell me that. I figured that out out on my own." After all, it's pretty obvious just by looking at it from the mountainside.gives me a distraught glare as I finish scrubbing the gore off of me. "Now that the gore is gone, I'm feeling gore-geous!" I could feel the cringe felt from that joke as I laughed away. "So, shall we begin our training."
shrugs and turns to me in reply, "Sure, let's go."
We move downhill, trying to find a flat cliff we can work with. We settle with the grassy hills due to how jagged these spiky rocks are on all parts of the mountain.gives me some . I don the charms, across my body given my lack of a neck to wear as intended, while browses his .
"Try this spell,"suggests when giving the book to me. Browsing it, I see a lot of familiar things.
"Glyphs?" I ask.looks a bit flabbergasted when I make this observation. "These, are glyphs right?"
"Yes, yes they are, but how did you know this?"
"The prophet showed me these things," I reply. "However, I never got to use them. As much as I admired mana, I was just not adept to his form of magic."
"Fascinating,"states with a gleam of awe from his eyes. "I wish I could have seen this prophet myself. Actually, what was he like?"
"I'm not sure."
Which I find quite odd.
"Eh, what do you mean you are not sure?"implores with great disappointment.
"I mean I don't know much of anything. There are a couple passing memories, but not enough for me to describe to you any personality."
gives me a menacing glare and declares, "I highly doubt that."
Huh, well that's a surprise. I did tell him that my memory is screwed up.
"What makes you say that?"
"Her."responds instantaneously, "That was what you said at the library when you came to. So," points a finger at me and asks, "Who is she?"
"Not going to talk? Well, I'm sure you can get a grasp of her personality even if you don't confirm it with me. You would not have calmed your ass if you she wasn't at least important enough to understand."
A dark mist forms within me. I do not let it show.
"So tell me, why are you hiding these facts from me?"probes onwards. "Why do you not trust me?"
A gentle wind rustles the grass that I step on as I inch closer.
An eagle soars through sky and turns back around, but soars away while I draw near.
Clouds gather round as I come around.
With a thunderous cry, from the skies, I ask, "Do you want to die?"
The sound echoes across the woodlands, and the words that echo back to me bring me back to my senses.
I must look a lot more menacing than I intended, given I have a volatile flame spewing from my head and this titanic sword just suddenly crashed behind me. Althoughwas just as intimidated as when he first met me, with the load of fishes, he stood strong with a fire in his eyes and proclaimed,
"No, I do not want to die!"
I don't know if the fire from his eyes was a reflection of the fire that is my face, or if it was the fire that represented his spirit.
"I showed you something that I never showed anyone else. I showed you the realm of all World Runes. A source of power that is enough to destroy all of Runeterra. A source of power that can even destroy the moons surrounding us. Do you have any idea why?"
Piquing my curiosity, I ask, "Why?"
"Because I believe in you!"declares as he points at me. "I believe in Zara, the reverent revenant who will save the world. Through will, through merit, through destiny. There is only one thing I ask of you," He jabs his thumb to where his heart lies. "Believe in me. Believe in me, who believes in you."
I don't know if the fire from his eyes was a reflection of the fire that is my face, or if it was the fire that represented his spirit. I was satisfied either way. As it is the fire in his spirit ignited by the flame that is me.
"Good. Good! Yes! I like your resolve, and I have acknowledged it." It's about time I tell him all the things I have hidden. Even from myself.
"So, if you truly desire to know more about me. I require that we be on the same page. So I must ask you some questions before I begin, is that fine with you?"
sits on a rock before he answers with, "That is fine."
"Have you ever had a massive loss in your life?"
"Did you bear witness to something horrifying so as to cause great calamity with its existence?"
"Indeed, I did."
"Were you the cause of this calamity?"
The vibe changed very swiftly. It's a shame that this is where we differ.
"Have you ever abandoned those you cherish in order to save one you loved."
"No, I have not."
"Did frustration manifest into a malevolent force that gnaws away at your very life?"
cringed a bit before replying, "No."
"So," with I deep sigh I continue by saying, "It seems you can't grasp my scenario very well."
"So it seems."replied while scratching his head.
"Now to clarify, I cannot learn how to use the portal unless I tell you some history?"
"Well, I hate to be stingy-"says, "Actually that's a lie. It's moreso abusing my rights to satisfy my curiosity."
Well then. I can only shrug and say, "Fair enough. I'll try to be as brief as possible. My kingdom was more like a village transformed into a kingdom."
"Is this why you are..."mulls over a thought for a bit and finally states, "Gregarious?"
"HAH! That's rich. Everyone in my village was 'gregarious,' but I was defined more as zealous."
"Zealous. I can see that."
"You better. A long time ago, when I was was not a king, I was dubbed 'Zealous Zara's you know."
"Nope, but I like to think that." I laugh offmenacing glare. "This is where he comes in."
"The prophet guy." It's best to just cut to the chase. "Rather I barged into his life. Even when the tribe was settling in, I would see him on occasion. Though, he would really only talk to me."
"Eh, why is that?"
I merely shrug at the question, "It's fairly simple, I was the only one who actively looked for him. He seemed a bit suspicious so I decided to talk to him."
"I wouldn't just go out looking for strangers."comments in disbelief.
"Not many would," I affirm. "But I did. Fortunately, he turned out to be a pretty interesting guy. He explored many places and told me extensively about all of them. Most importantly," I take out my rusty old sword. "He taught me how to strike."
"What? How to strike?"
"Wouldn't that just mean he told you how to use a sword."
"Eh..." I ponder on it a bit and it didn't really seem like that was the case, "I wouldn't put it that way. What he taught me was fairly basic."
"I see, but what makes it important then?"continues asking. I think back to fish.
"Well, I wouldn't be here if I didn't remember this much. Do you remember where you first met me?"
"Yes, it was on the coast of the swamps."
"You did see all the fish I brought, didn't you?" I ask again.
"Obviously, it was towering like a mountain. I can't believe you just left it there."
"Keeping them was secondary. The main point is I killed all of them and dragged their bodies across the entire ocean. Now as you know," I wave my hand across where my arm should be. "This kind of shut down a long time ago. As such, I had to beat all those colossal monsters with this dinky piece of metal."
"I've heard legends of people doing that, so it's not all too strange."
"Well it's one thing to be fighting them on the surface of the ocean." I state. "It's another thing to be fighting in the abyss, with one thousand tons of water above you. Everything was heavy: swinging that crusty sword, the corpses of fishes I dragged along, and that boundless rage that egged me on."
"You talking about that darkness?"
"Hmm?" I had to think for a second what he was referring to, then I saw that black mist which was seeping out of me. "Yeah, I guess so."
"It seems to seep out every time you think about the past."
"Nah, it's more like whenever I think about that moment," I take a gander at the concern look on face. "That darkness, I cannot quite remember."
"How could you not? If it affects you this much that is."
That's a very good question, but "It's because it affects me this much that I cannot remember. Most of the things I do remember are subjective with little context."
"What do you mean by that?"
"Just a bunch of incoherent, emotional trash. A bunch of animosity, guilt, and malevolence. Again, it's way too vague for me to even describe." It was nothing worth discussing just a bunch of voices of antsy vague accusations that are completely baseless. "If I had to describe it, I would say it is something chaotic enough so as to not know anything that's going on."
"Hmm..." It seems thatis pondering on an idea. I have no clue what could possibly help me organize these chaoti- "Have you tried meditating."
Have I? Actually, I did at the Oasis of the Dawn. Although it was only for a brief moment, that is all it takes. "Now that I think about it, I was calmed when I meditated in the desert. I already know how to meditate quite well so just hang on for five seconds."
Dive into the cold void. Rage, rage against the dying of the light. There was nobody "two..." rely on. She was gone. A curse I was holding to try and delay the inevitable. A curse I was holding, as I was holding her arms, trying to stop her from bleeding. It was to no avail. The curse was in her blood, she let me know this. This was too much to simply heal off. Even though I knew this, I had to try.
I had them gather all the sapphires we had. It was time for me to put what he taught me to the test. I closed my eyes as I began the most powerful meditation the universe would probably ever see. Heavy. Extremely heavy. The burden of a thousand tons of mana poured into these gemstones. I opened my eyes and saw these streams of mana seemingly appear from thin air as they wrapped around and me. It was beautiful, but not be enough. I could feel it. So "three..." of my finest staff to work on the long term solution.
The little one would go to see if there was a way to cure the poison. A lieutenant stood by me to aid me in nourishment, both for myself and her. I greatly appreciated his work. I knew he did not care at all for the work he was assigned, as I could tell he was more enticed with action, but I'm sure he decided to bear with it to marvel at the magic show I was putting up. The chieftain, who I appointed to maintain our old traditions, would keep the town running. This was all so I could bury all my focus into healing her.
Too much time has passed...
Days became weeks while weeks became months. Time kept ticking and the poison kept striking. I grew weary, very weary. Though not nearly as weary as she. Her health was debilitating by the hour. I could not sleep, I was both restless and devoted to fixing this mess. My only hope was that the little one would return. I hope she returns soon.
cough cough "Zara?"
In what seemed like ages, her consciousness was coming back. Through the exhaustion of this accursed poison, she has yet to utter a single word.
"Hey, what is it dear?"
She looks at me for a few seconds and utters, "You look like shit."
Oh. What? Heh, oh dear.
"I said, you look like-"
"I heard you the first time."
"SHIT!" She yelled anyways. "What you saying, 'wut?' for?"
"Well, you're in worse shape than me in all honesty."
"Hmm..." she ponders on the the thought as she observes all the sapphire crystals strewn across the floor and the hundreds ofshe is adorned with. "I guess you are right about that at least."
"The queen is awake?" The lieutenant asked as he arrived with more sapphire jewelry.
"Oh, is this that rowdy soldier I keep hearing about?"
He dropped the jewelry and declared, "That's LIEUTENANT as a matter of fact!"
"Hey now, know your manners!" I yelled, but she slaps my hand and says.
"Settle down you bumbling fool. I guess that confirms it though." She looks at him for a couple seconds and says, "I heard from Knight Commander, Demacia, that you are quite harsh in the field."
"Hmph," he snorts, "The fools deserve it for making themselves enemies of the kingdom."
She looks at me. I don't know what to say, so I just shrug. "Hah! Hahahaha. Wow, he really is as crazy as they say."
The lieutenant flushes from embarrassment as she continues laughing at his brash demeanor.
"Okay," she states while chuckling a bit. "Okay, okay, okay. It's okay to be confident. In fact, I encourage it. You know that man keeps going on and on about being bold, brave, and-"
"Just." the lieutenant interrupts. "I heard that too many times to count now."
She nods and continues, "It is a very good moral code, but I don't expect you to forget your roots."
He gave her a quizzical look. I guess I really do need to give a bit of context here. "You see, we care about all of our people." I look at her for confirmation and I affirm when she nods, "Of course we do, it's our duty. We may be masters of this monarchy, but our power is only in our command. So it would make little sense not to care for everything under our command. However, what makes us different from the other kingdoms out there is that we care the most about troublemakers."
"Troublemakers like you." She states towards the lieutenant for emphasis.
"As such, we did a background check and know a bit about your history. Your parents were in the Old Iron Order, weren't they?"
There was no response from the lieutenant and this silence was swiftly becoming eerie.
"While they were alive that is." She stated. I got her signal that this was a fairly touchy subject so I backed off "four..." now.
"We kept the name, because of them you know: The Iron Order." She coughs a bit, so I clamber across the floor to gather all of the jewels the lieutenant dropped, scrambling to remove the sapphires in order to aid in the healing. "I heard it was a vast kingdom. You know, I can't even imagine it. Ruling over the entire eastern coast. Perhaps I could before, but now that I'm a queen... Well, I just can't imagine how anyone could manage all of that land. Like, holy cow!"
"Perhaps it was their steady supply of milk," I suggested sarcastically.
She tilts her head and looks at me quizzically. "What?"
"You know, their milk. From the holy cow."
We all glare at each other for a few moments before I suddenly get a weak punch to the arm. "I heard it is quite divine."
She barrages me with punches until I actually drop the amulet I was attempting to desocket.
She expels a melodramatic sigh as I pick up the amulet. She then directs her melodrama at the poor lieutenant.
"Oh woe is me! Who married he. Who is thee? This clown, this flea. The king is he, the king: crappy."
"HAH!" The lieutenant jeered. "She called you crappy," the lieutenant sneered.
"Don't listen to this banshee. Listen to pappy-
"Listen to pappy? You aren't my pappy! My pappy was strong, unique, and almighty. You are just wrong, too meek, and blighty."
"You think it is okay talk to me that way?"
"It's colloquial I say, for one flamboyant and gay."
I drop my amulet once more. As this Pantaloon chuckles under his breath.
"AHAHAHAHA!" she hollers.
"He called you GAY!"
"That- That doesn't even make sense," I retort as she struggles to contain herself. It's to no avail as she merely bursts out yet again, slapping her knees to hyperbolize her boisterous demeanor.
"HAHAHAH! *cough* My spleen. *cough cough* Hah... I am dying here." *COUGH COUGH*
"My queen?" He was killing her, in more ways than one.
"Oye! Get some water."
The lieutenant rushes out hurriedly while I pick up the amulet and force the sapphire out.
"Zara," she mutters while I am trying to resume my meditation and healing. "I really appreciate how much you are helping me."
"It's no probl-"
"However, you really do look like shit," She suddenly interjected. "You should rest, my love."
"What are you talking about," Before I could reply to her blunt assessment, she is already unconscious. An anchor weighs on my soul. My head sinks as I gently brush her bangs away to rest my head on hers.
"There is no rest without you dear."
I turn around to see the lieutenant dumbfounded, hands shuddering as he holds a glass cup of water.
"Damn..." he says as his hands bleed and the broken shards of glass fall to the ground. "Gods damn it!" He punches the glass shards on the ground. "Why the hell- I was gone for 5 fucking seconds. Fucking, fuck man. I- I-."
"Hey dumbass." I yell to stop his stupid antics. "Get your ass over here."
The lieutenant pauses for a moment and takes a while to collect himself as he slowly edges towards me.
"Come on now. Let me see your hand."
He rushes over and takes out his arm towards me. It twitches in pain as he brings it towards me and I stare at his wounds for a bit.
"Woah," the lieutenant comments as he notices his wounds healing by merely being in my presence. I directed some of my magic towards him. I can't focus all of this magic on her anyways given the sheer volume of the mana flowing around.
"Call me King," I swiftly correct him.
"Well, King. I'm sorry."
"It's alright," I assure him. "People aren't really used to thinking of me as a king."
"No, not that."
I glance over at him as he averts my gaze by looking at her. "Well, what for then, the broken glass?"
"No- I mean, well that too I guess."
I find it quite strange. Although I have seen this lieutenant quite a bit, never have I seen him like this before.
"I guess," He finally continues. "I'm sorry about a lot of things."
He looks fairly downtrodden, as if he is encumbered by the burden of guilt. I guess there is a lot going on in his mind, especially with what happened now.
"Don't worry too much about it," I try to cheer him up. "Knight Commander."
He looks perplexed, "How did you know?"
"I actually heard from a while back. When the Demacia fell under siege, you took the initiative to command the ranks."
"Why didn't you mention it then?"
"Well," I look at her pained expression as she sleeps. "I didn't want to mention it, given how you seemed to be hiding it and she has no idea he joined the martyrdom."
The commander's expression grew even more grim when I said this. "You know I didn't mean it right? I didn't mean any of it."
"Any of what?"
"Well, those insults and well..." the knight commander hesitates to say this. "Calling you gay."
"Heh," I smirk at his meager attempt at an apology. "Don't sweat it, this is the norm for me and her. In fact, I'm glad you caught on. What I don't appreciate is how you are using gay in a negative manner. We have some fine men in our ranks that are gay after all."
Many fine men indeed... Oh wait.
"You do realize how gay that sounds right?"
Soon, I fully healed the knight commander's hand and he clenches his fist to see if it's fine, but also in an overbearing sense of guilt and disappointment. "I wasn't gone too long, was I?"
I close my eyes and respond, "No, not at all." I couldn't blame him, it really did feel like...
"Five seconds have passed."
looks directly at me and asks, "Well, did you figure out anything?"
"That was not five seconds."
shrugs, "You're right, I took a brief pause cause of what was going on. However, it was no longer than seven seconds--I assure you." gaze wanders as if he is looking right through me rather than at me. "So you have any idea where we are?"
Where we are? Hold on, at that very moment an eerie blue wisp passed between us. No, rather this blue has completely consumed us. I don't know how I didn't notice. There is a swirling blue fluid surrounding, just like when we traveled into through...
"The realm of-"interrupts me by placing a hand on my shoulder and shakes his head.
"Look at the ground."
I stare at the ground and notice that we are standing on the same hilltop as where we started. "Oh, so this is just Runeterra right?"
"Yes."mulls, "That is what is strange."
Strange? I shrug and ask "What's so strange about it?"
"Wait..."turns and finally looks at me directly. "You are meaning to say you really don't know?"
I shake my non-existent head.
"No," I state after I realize how stupid that was.
"You-"suddenly stops and scratches his head. "I guess it would be easier to show you instead of explaining it," he states as he points to skyward. "Do you see that?"
Looking directly upward, I saw a raging torrent, similar to the one that got us to the mountainside. "You mean that crazy thing?"
"Yes, that crazy thing."shifts his finger towards me and continues, "This is what is special about this phenomenon."
"Isn't this the same as before?" I ask while I gaze upon the fading streams of mana.
sighs as he shakes his head. "Hardly. If you notice, there is actually a force keeping us grounded here. Even so, you could easily rise and jump into that vortex yourself. I would suggest this, but..." as looks up, the vortex fades completely into wisps that dissipate into the air. "As I guessed, this particular phenomenon was over just as quickly as it started."
"Even so, what was special about this particular vortex?"
"These vortexes are teleportation channels. They can only exist if a portal is created. As you've noticed, I use these portals quite frequently to travel."winces a bit and continues saying, "However, the longer you stay in the realm the more violent the departure is."
No kidding there, but even so, "What does this have anything to do with that vortex then?"
"You still didn't catch the hint?"takes a deep sigh and explains, "You never entered the realm in the first place."
I'm not in the realm, but swirling mana. You mean...
closes his eyes and shrugs. "I don't know what this means as well, but I sure wanted to see what would have happened if you actually went through that portal."
"Are portals supposed to close this quickly?" I asked out of a whim.
thought about it for a while.
A long while.
"No," he finally responded, "They are definitely not. If you had the intention of traveling through this portal, it would not have disappeared as quickly as you became aware of its formation. Rather it's as if..."suddenly pauses and his eyes grow wide. "No way."
Eh? "What do you mean 'no way'?"
"Right here."points at two vortex styles. "It was impossible to begin with."
I look at the vortex styles which looks exactly the same. "I don't see what you are getting at-"
"It's the direction, not how it looks, that matters,"interjects. "The entrance of a vortex has the medium swirling clockwise, as it converges into the realm while the exit swirls counterclockwise to diverge out of the realm. The vortex we saw swirled counterlockwise which meant the flux was positive."
Spinning vortexes. Wait, left is counterclockwise, right? No left, right?
"To put it simply, that was an exit portal not an entrance one."
"Wait, why the heck did I make an exit portal? Wait, how the heck is meditating even related to portals at all?" Am I in over my head? Wait, I don't have one.is still pondering about this and I could only think of one thing that was possible.
"Did this ever happen while you were alive?"
Now that I think about it, "The mana did swirl around a lot whenever I meditated like this."
"I mean, did it ever swirl into a vortex."
"It never made a vortex like this."
"In that case,"looks through his scrolls, "There must be a part of you somewhere else in this world."
Just as I thought. "So there is a part of me left out there."
stopped flipping through his tomes and glanced at me. "What, you mean you expected this all along?"
"Don't get me wrong, I thought of this just as you were mentioning it." I think back to her. "However, it does explain a lot of things. Things like why only some parts of my memories are absolutely clear while others aren't. I was guessing that perhaps I was reaching out to my other self to try and find what I was forgetting. Like a vortex for the passage memories rather than people."
"A passage of memories." I caught a glimpse ofgulping silently as he looked back at his tome.
"What do you think make of this?"
stares at me frozen solid, as if hesitating to state something. Eventually he manages to state, "There is a great secret in the study of magic. It is called Reminiscence."
"Wait, so reminiscence as in remembering?"
"Yes, as in remembering."scratched his head and continues saying, "I must admit, I believed it to be preposterous. However, it was passed down through generations within the scrolls. I would be preposterous to doubt them."
"Eh? What's so strange about magic with memories?"
"Magic with memories?"waves the idea off. "That's perfectly normal. What isn't normal is memories traveling across the cosmos. What isn't normal is a spell that utilizes all the four forces of the universe simultaneously."
Memories across the cosmos? Forces of the universe? "Can I take a look at this?"
"Oh, by all means scour through all the dangerous secrets of magic known to carve galaxies."
I can feel the snark emanating from his words, but even so...
hands me the tome he was looking at. The title apparently says, "The Universal Will of Mankind."
Wait, what? I've seen this before. These characters...
"Oye be careful with that! Did you figure something out?"
No. This is impossible. Is it impossible? Wait. Hold on.
"You can read that title?"
"No, it's something he told me."
"You know, the prophet."
drops all the scrolls he had.
I flipped through all of the documents and found all the things he shared with me. Memories were coming back. Hymns of the Ballad of Streams came back to me. I remembered the mechanics behind the creator of the universe literally being the largest physical element, which the prophet dubbed: Life. I felt all the stories of his adventures showering my mind.
"Uh, Zara? Why are you crying?"
Waves of guilt passed through me as I realized. "You are way in over your head."
"That said, there is no reason you should be ashamed of what you don't know. Nor should you be of what you can't do. You only need to have faith in what you do know, so you may save yourself in the future. Then you can look back and Reminiscence on the things you have done."
"You mean 'reminisce'?"
"No," The prophet said. "I mean Reminiscence."
Wait. "That's it."
"What is it?"
"How do you cast this spell?"
"Reminiscence, wait how did you even-"
"Yes, that spell, how do you cast it?"
opens the tome and stops at a page with many glyphs. "You must channel mana into a pattern like so," answers as he creates a large circle with from string of arcane bolts. If I had to guess, the certain something I did must have something to do with this super sword I got.
"Where is my sword?"
"What? You mean the one on your belt?"
"No, not this crusty old thing, my big sword."
"Oh, well in that case,"weaves this arcane circle a bit to remake one of the patterns in the tome. "Just think about it."
"It? Like the sword?"
"Yes, the sword."
I reach out my left hand to the sky and imagine a titanic sword crashing down from the- Oh.
"Well I guess you have your sword, so now what?"
I have done so much already. I cut through all those... fish. I don't want to go anywhere near those... fish. I got this sword, well I still have it. Nothing is happening though. Dang, I betwould know what to do right now... Wait.
I guess this makes sense. It's the only way. "Catch my sword."
"Wait, hold on. Why me- oh shit."
A shroud of mana fills the air.
"I can see him do you see him?"
falls silent. Well, it only makes sense, he is him after all.
I don't get it. "Master, can you help me with this?"
"Sure, what do you need help with?"
I point at the glaring issue. Like two runes? Two runes, seriously? Two runes parallel to each other with one spell. "How is this even possible?"
"Oh, this again?"
"Please, just tell me how it works."
Master Tyrus just laughed and asked sarcastically, "Seriously?"
"I've been working on this thing for a whole week, I haven't made any progress with the arcane ever since this!"
"For good reason too," Master glances over me and points at the center of the moment-flux diagram. "If I recall, you are still a bit rusty on accurately centering your target."
"Come on now, what good is that in this scenario?"
My master raises an eyebrow at the question. "Really now, did you just ask me why keeping the center of mass aligned with the snare zone is important for a telekinetic spell?"
I felt a bop on my head, which was the tome he was reading if I had to guess. However, it rolled off my head and started to fall. I scrambled to try and grab it, but before it even hit the ground, the tome was surrounded by an arcane veil supported by two runes of tribulation. The tome was then rubber-banded back into the center of the two runes.
"Telekinesis is largely based on gravity. We are the ones who give this gravity form through electromagnetism. In the end, the result is gravitic friction. If you know diddly squat about the nature of friction, you should know that static friction is higher than dynamic. Well, in this case it is ridiculously higher, more than tenfold. If anything overcomes the static friction, the dynamic friction is going to make the snare feel extremely weak."
"As you just learned," He taps the center of the diagram. "The strength of the friction in general is based on the the mass of whatever is contained within the snare zone. And since you are using a regular shape to contain an irregular object, you need to rely on aligning the center of mass of the object with the center of the snare zone."
"That's easy for you to say," I attempt to snare the tome as well. As always, it ends up a bit lopsided, swiveling like it's on a hook. "But how do you even control where it snares, doesn't it just happen automatically?"
"Automatically? You dunce. It obviously can happen automatically, but the state of lowest entropy is not at the center of mass. That's why you need to apply a strong electromagnetic field in the first place. It means you are not putting out sufficient magnetic force."
Jeez, so I need to polarize even more. I can't argue with Tyrus anymore. I feel like my head is spinning with every moment I think of this.
"In other news, we're here."
Here? Ah, home sweet home at last. The soft glow of the wisps of fire. The humble bellows of women alongside their children. The cleaved flesh of warriors rotting away in the burning prairie. "What the hell?"
"Hold on," Master Tyrus implores as he looks off in the carnage with an arm holding me back. With a grave and stern glare, master turns to me and declares, "It's here."
No way. Impossible. They wouldn't do that. They know.
"Let's go." We change course to the council of mages. "It has already begun."
At the council of mages, there is nothing but chaos. Summoners are barking at each other slapping scrolls depicting convoluted occultic magic. Shamans scour through tomes in search of some answer. Druids call upon the ancient wisdom of the forest to see if fate can be averted.
Master Tyrus steps forward and examines the entire temple. He abruptly grabs the shoulder of a passing shaman and asks, "What happened?"
"I'm sorry sir really got to get to-"
"I'm asking a fairly simple question." Some mages start to notice master and stop in their tracks. Tyrus then turns and directs the question to everyone, "What happened?"
"Rune Sage Tyrus, is that you?" One of the druids ask.
"Yes, it is I. Now can you stop wasting my time?"
The mages are quite taken aback. Why the hell are they the ones surprised? They are the ones responsible for this mess. If anything, it is moreso that nobody wants to say anything.
"We made a huge error," one summoner steps up and admits. "You might have noticed that none of the warlocks are here today."
"I noticed alright. What does it matter?"
The summoner goes silent for a moment, and before anyone else steps up to answer, she continues, "Unfortunately, world runes fell in their hands."
Oh god. My head- ears. I didn't hear that correctly, right? My head is pounding now, I don't think I did.
"You let the warlocks, the battlemages, the generals of mystic warfare, get their hands on world runes?"
The army has a foundation of this world-
"World 'runes' as in more than one?"
"Two world runes."
Foundations of this world...
"What is happening."
"Targo Warlocks have engaged with the Shuriman Warlocks."
"With world runes?"
They are playing around with it?
"NO!" I scream insane fury. "You let those monsters duke it out with World Runes?"
"We didn't inten-"
"WORLD RUNES?" I bellow horrific rage. "We trusted YOU to keep this from ever happening. Look what you monsters have done."
"We aren't the-"
"LOOK AT IT!"
"BAH! Who is this blundering fool? We are here trying to fix the shit that we didn't even cause. You're yelling at us that we didn't do our job? It's not our fault that the World Rune was snatched away from us. It was the traitorous warlocks who schemed a plot to use the explosive powers of the world runes for some loony reason of displaying the 'Maker's Might' to the world. Where were you when these fools crashed through our heavily fortified defenses with the god forsaken Watchers at their side? Hell, who are you to even judge our-"
"Pipe down," my master states in disappointment. "Know that you are talking to, the Rune Mage. My only disciple. Know that I have indeed trusted you to keep the World Runes secure. Know that the World Runes are now not secure."
A lingering rage sparks from the mage. "We couldn't do anything, no matter how hard we tried. We can't stop them, no matter how hard we try."
"I understand, and we must move on." The pressure rises as every mage in the room lets out a deep melancholic sigh. "How bad is the warzone?"
"So far it has been only physical carnage, in attempts to interrupt the opposing warlocks. It's at a standstill right now."
"How long has it been like this?"
Master Tyrus looks out of the temple into the warping skies on either side of the battle field. "This world burns."
"The battle field will detonate in about an hour."
No no hold on, "My family is down there. What do we do?"
Master looks at me and all the other mages look away, "Run."
"Run? As in flee? No, my village. My- no. You want me to just abandon my village?"
"I don't want you to abandon anything." Tyrus then addresses the entire council of mages present asking, "Who is brave enough to charge into war ridden grounds to rescue your families?"
Many mages fall silent, some break down in tears.
Tyrus turns to me and reiterates, "Run."
In complete disbelief I can only shake my head. An hour should be enough time to save some people right? It doesn't take long at all to make a teleportation gate. Suddenly one of the crying druids holds back his tears and calmly states, "We must live, so no one else dies."
I direct my gaze to Master Tyrus. He answers my gaze by saying, "You are not the only one."
Waves of dread fills my soul as the mages part their own ways to avert the blast zone. Before I knew it, I was atop a mountain following Tyrus. It felt like the world collapsed beneath me. No. It actually did collapse beneath me. I didn't want to turn around, but Tyrus caught me before I fell in the pit of our greatest failure. I bore witness to the manifestation of anxiety. The nightmare that is a Nova-Class Ion Bomb.
It looked like a cloud, but I knew better. The plasma had lightning coursing through it. The mountain, the village, the war-zone ascended into a cosmic state. The state in which galaxies are created. The cataclysm that is akin to a star nova on a minute scale. Such power coursed through this plasma which replaced what I known and loved.
Tyrus shook his head. "I am sorry. I have failed my duty as The Rune Sage. Entrusting the safety of the world runes to some fools who don't even comprehend. We who know the runic arts are not on some bullshit quest passed down from the gods. The truth is we are the only ones who can protect this world from the destruction this world gave us."
My master grabs my hand and picks me up. "When this world burns, we burn with it. We remember these scars so as to never be set ablaze again." A burning determination of justice and rage, Master Tyrus looked past the atrocity and moved forward. So I followed.
In this burning rage, I remembered the part of me that became a monster.
The mana coursing around us swiftly converged upon the arcane circle until it became volatile and exploded into a wisp.
"Huh, so my sword can do some pretty weird things."
I tried to warm the mood a bit, buthad no words for me. I felt a chill as the flame that represents my presence started dying down.
"I'm sorry." I paused as I looked at blank expression then continued saying, "I didn't know this is what happened here."
For a moment I thoughtwouldn't say anything with his vacant demeanor, but he surprisingly replied with, "I guess it makes sense that you are, but you don't need to be."
looks at Piltover and says, "Everytime I go here, I remember this anyways. Call me insensitive, but I've grown numb to this shit now."
"That's not insensitive, that's desensitized."
"I guess you are right there,"chuckles lightly. "But now I can't even invite myself to an atrocity like this." Eh? glances over at me and continues saying, "The fools here on Piltover are stuck in the mindset of using magic like fuel. They think they can control the powers that be to use it for commercial use. If I ever collaborated with these fools, they would legitimately believe they could use the world runes to power their toasters."
"Hah, that's pretty ridiculous."
"It's all very ridiculous."glances over at me for a second then looks back at Piltover. "I would ask why you did what you did, but I don't even want to think about it. All I want to know is if you figured something out from it all."
I'm not quite sure what to make of this. "If anything, I would say the other part of me is a monster."
"Why do you say that?"
"I felt a familiar presence with Tyrus near the end. It was along the same lines as that black mist."
He fell silent once more. I don't wish to stir up bad thoughts, but this is the truth. I cannot lie, I cannot hide from what is to come.heaved a melancholic sigh...
"Do you think you will make the same mistake as Tyrus, Zara?"
Mistake? "Yes."looks a bit unnerved with that response. "I will certainly make the same mistake. I have made the mistake in the past."
"Why would you make the same mistake if you have done so already?"
"It is because I didn't die."didn't quite understand what I meant, so I clarified by saying. "I didn't die, I didn't drown, I didn't lose. So I must live." I stared directly at and declared, "My greatest mistake was to live when I clearly should have died. I will repeat the mistake Tyrus made for the same reason you fled instead of saving your village: We must live, so no one else dies."
"Well, aren't you dead?"
"Ha, HA! HAHA! Isn't that the point? If a dead fool like me can't rest, there is no peace in this world." Taking in the somber reality of the brief duration of my potential life, I finish by saying, "So I must live until there is peace in this world. Then maybe, I can rest peacefully."
stares at me with what seems like a vacant, disappointed expression, but a tear rolls down his cheek. "You are a foolish king. However, your foolishness comes in the form of selflessness that knows no bounds. I will trust in this selflessness and have faith in the world rune that is your titanic sword. You may have given up your crown, but you now inherit the weight of the world. When we met, you carried the . Now you carry the ."
"Hey bro, why are you crying? This isn't really a goodbye."
"I'm afraid it is Zara. There is no way in hell I'm going into Piltover."picks up his tomes and scrolls then starts drawing runes on the ground, "This is where we must part ways."
"How unfortunate. Do you really think I know enough about arcane magic?"
laughs and assures me, "I'm sure you know enough, after all you are a Disciple of Skrolle's."
"Hmm, disciple of scrolls. I like that."
mana realm and asks, "Are you intent on going into Piltover? In all honesty, we could go somewhere else."then opens a portal to the
"Well," I gaze outward at the horseshoe shaped landmass with the city of Piltover somehow plopped in the center of the aquatic bay. "Let's just say I am chasing a memory. A memory I will remember."
waves farewell as he disappears into the portal. I take a deep breath of the forest air and the magnificent stench of the rotting bear corpse nearby. I descend the foothills of the Ironspike Mountains towards Piltover with fond memories of long lost homelands.
Dawn Upon Zaun
Tick. Tock. CLANG!
That thing left with a bang.
I arrived at the outskirts of Piltover, but it's not considered that. Rather it's considered another place, plagued with vile rats.
I looked at my chest and looked at the rest. I look like a pest. No way can I go in city streets. In a place so high, it's called PiltOVER, I need to look better than this.
I'll make my start with glum slum pawn, in the suburbans they call Zaun. And so I go, into the unknown, at the crack of dawn.
Who am I kidding, this place is garbage. Literally, it is garbage. There was no underestimating it, the streets were plagued with rats. Noxious fumes filled the air and poisoned all who breathed. How fortunate am I to not require breath, but how unfortunate am I to be stuck here. Well, I have to make due with what I have.
I look up and see metropolitan skyscrapers. I gaze in awe as the gears fall in place in the city bursting with innovation. I look away and happen to find a youngster admiring the skyline. I guess this is why they call it Piltover. The land of overachievers casting big dreams to any would even look their way. However, this is a place that is down in the dumps in a literal sense.
"This place sure has changed," I muse while leaning on a stone slab. "It was a shoddy little kingdom last I remember. My how things have changed Daedalus."
I gaze at Icarus, written on the stone slab in front of me. "I wish your sons and daughters could have told me about it. Alas, it seems your only son fell even before you did."
I scratch my shoulder as I move off of Daedalus's gravestone. "Well, I'll figure things out one way or another. You are relieved of your duty Chieftain Daedalus. You have served me well. May you rest in peace." There is nothing left for me here, but I am going to take out the trash while I'm still here.
I firmly grip my blade as the Zaunites scurry in the shadows. None dare face me, but it seems that is the norm around here. This is a place where individuals seek to advance their secret ambitions, and so everyone is a stranger to each other. Unfortunately, that means it is quite difficult to learn anything about the culture around here. The history of this place is shrouded in rumors. Of all the rumors only one of these rumors caught my attention.
From what I've gathered, there exists a bewitching assailant known to eviscerate and impale the most prominent of men. The devil who strikes from shadows and disappears before witnesses can address the dead man's cry. These rumors are fairly commonplace as Zaun is known to be a fairly shady district. Rather, what caught my attention was-
"The Shadow Isles?"
"Yeah, I heard she was from the Shadow Isles." The butcher hollered as she struck down the joint of a raptor leg.
"Shh! She might be listening." A lady with a black veil over her face warned.
"Eh. Don't be such a worrywart. She only targets men anyways, fine men that is. So, I have nothing to worry about here." The butcher's husband, working at the Bridgewaltz stall alongside her, pauses as they stare at each other for a while. "Heh, don't worry! You're still fine enough to me. Can you pass me the hog scraper honey? So lady, you got nothing to worry about. You're already a widow aren't you?"
The widow's expression contorts to a frown as she glares at the butchered raptor.
"As always, I'm sorry for your loss." The butcher wraps up the raptor legs alongside some ground bison she scraped together.
"Thank you for your sentiment," the widow responds as she takes the wrapped up meat. "However, I'm not worried about myself. It's my sister."
"What about her? Didn't you hear? She doesn't do women."
"Well that's just it. Her husband is coming to town."
The butcher stays her blade, mulling for a moment.
"Dear god..." The butcher despairs, staring the widow down.
"Yeah, that gaudy bastard," the widow scoffs.
"What the hell is that guy doing here anyways?"
"Oh, probably to brag about his success to her. All while we are stuck here barely scraping by. The widow releases an audible sigh and groans, "Honestly, I don't know what she sees in a guy like that. However, regardless of what I think, he is going to be targeted by that fiendish widowmaker. I don't want her to go through what I've been through."
Scratching her head, the butcher suggests, "Well, the only thing you can do is tell him about it. I mean, what else can you do?"
The widow clenches her fists. "I want to stop her."
"Eh?" The butcher's expression contorts from confusion to scorn as she asks, "Have you lost your mind? If she is from the Shadow Isles then she's most likely a ghost. You can't kill the dead."
"Well, I need to do something. If I just sit around, doing nothing, then it's just going to happen again," the widow implores, but the butcher isn't having it.
The butcher slams her knife on the table. "Be realistic woman! If you are so eager for a death wish, how about you try picking a fight with that ghost over there?"
She is pointing at me.
The widow turns her head towards me slightly, but swiftly faces the butcher. "Don't point at it. It's watching us."
She called me it.
"What do you care?" The butcher barks. "Have you not heard about the Shadow Isles? It's haunted to all hell. I mean look at that thing. It doesn't even have a face. How can you even tell it's watching you in the first place?"
"Shut up, I can just tell okay. Don't make this any harder on me." The widow shudders at the thought of me watching her.
Grimacing, the butcher points a bone at her and replies, "Then don't make up stupid ideas you imbecile. I think we both know this is just about revenge for your hubby, but that's ludicrous. Don't pick a bone with someone you can't handle."
"God damn it, I know already!" The widow wails, tearing off her veil. Letting her adrenaline die down, slowly the widow slumps over her desk. "But I seen it. I seen what the kill looks like. Just imagine if he," the widow says as she points to the butcher's husband, who pauses in confusion. Then, the widow directs her finger to the meat he is handling, "Was reduced to that."
The butcher's eyes twitch as she imagines such a case. She clasps her mouth with her hands and winces sharply as she glares at the guts she's handling. "Unfortunately, I can picture this better than most can," she comments as she forces her eyes shut and rubs the cold sweat off of her forehead.
"It's as ugly as you imagine." The widow leans on the table, covering her eyes as she weeps.
I heard enough. I slowly rise from the bench I was resting at and leave the bazaar. Although I have no relation with the widow's folly, the butcher and the widow seem to freeze as I pass by them. It comes at no surprise to me. Wherever you go, paranoia plagues this place.
Even so, to think there was a place where ghosts reside. In the middle of the ocean though? Shadow isles, hmm... Never heard of it. Then again, I was stranded in the middle of the ocean. It wouldn't be all to strange if I was swept away from that said island. It's at least worth looking into. The widow slips away into seclusion while I follow the sunrise to lighten the way.
Good Morning Ghost
Devoue Inc., a weapons manufacturer that creates practical weapons that could be used in large scale wars. It wasn't hard at all to find, since news of the organization is plastered everywhere here. Zaun sure loves weaponry, especially chemically enhanced ones. Perhaps it's by force of habit since Zaun is a toxic place in a literal sense. More importantly, I saw the widow discussing with their associates while investigating.
I would just waltz in there and ask her about the situation, but apparently people fear me since I am not as alive as they are. It's a pain in the rear to do anything around here.
I turn around to see the waitress calling to me.
"You can't stay here if you aren't going to order anything."
Damn, I can't even loiter around to get more intel. I continue observing the Devoue Inc. as I reply, "Well I don't have any money, so there is a problem there."
Tilting her head, she suggests, "You could always just order water."
"I can't drink either." I tap my finger on the desk and continue, "My head hurts just thinking about it. Oh wait, I don't have one. You get the point? Now run along."
Pouting she puts her hands on her hips and complains, "Well, no need to be rude about it."
I shrug and ask, "Well what did you expect? That I was your neighborhood friendly revenant?"
Wait- I turn around and look at her. Her face is blushing even more. Is this really happening?
Fidgeting she explains, "I mean, I only hear of ghosts in horror stories of the Shadow Isles."
"Really? To be honest that's all I care about." I turn towards the company saying, "This is only a means to figuring that out."
The waitress steps forward and gazes at Devoue Inc. "Oh, I see." Turning towards me, with a quizzical look on her face, she asks, "Why in the world would you turn to them to figure out about the Shadow Isles?"
"Well, it's not them. You know Evelynn?"
She freezes. The waitress still stares at the company for a while. "You mean The Widowmaker?"
"I guess. I mean, that's what I've heard."
Relaxing a bit, she asks me, "What business do you have with her?"
"Well I am planning on stalking one of her victims. So I can catch her."
The waitress tenses up again. "Then what?"
"Well," I mull over it a bit and answer, "I guess I'd have a friendly chat with her."
The waitress freezes again, with a stupefied look on her face this time. She shakes her head and asks, "A friendly chat?"
"Well of course. She's a fellow ghost like me right? All I need to know is how to get to the Shadow Isles and what it's like over there."
Wincing her eyes at me she implores me to confirm, "You know she's a serial killer right?"
"Well, I heard she doesn't do women. Goes to show she got morals. I got to make a good impression if I don't want to get killed again."
Covering her face with her hands, her reaction reminded me of the disappointment a parent feels when they found out their kid is an utter failure.
"Come on, I know I don't got an arm and a head on my shoulders, but at least I'm trying." The waitress starts chuckling in response. Waves of despair fill my soul as my eerie flames are reduced to wisps. "Who am I kidding. Everyone here is afraid of me and..."
The waitress waves me off saying, "No it's not that. I'm sorry if I laughed at you, it's just you're too cute Mr. Ghost~!"
I flare up alongside my wispy flames. "Eh-Wh-What are you saying all of a sudden?! I'm a revenant! REVENANT!"
"BAHAHAH! You're adorable, getting worked up over nothing!" the waitress chortles as she slaps her knees excessively. "You're nice for someone who looks so terrifying."
"OYE!" someone yells from behind the cafe counter. "What are you doing out there so long!"
"Oh! I'm sorry, I gotta take care of this." The waitress swiftly exits the balcony.
Despite the cool breeze that wafted by the balcony I swung by, I felt warm. Out of all the Zaunites who have encountered me here thus far, she was the first to see me in a positive light. It may have just been etiquette for being a waitress, but it served as a reminder to me of how people are in this place. In what is discarded as junk, Zaun finds treasure. That perseverance is something to admire. Before I could think about it anymore, she returned to the balcony.
"I'm back! I just went on break so I could chat with you." She explains as she rests her tush in the seat on the other side of the table.
"I'm honored, but you didn't need to go out of your way for me."
"Out of my way? Hah! It's no trouble at all." She leans forward, resting her head in the palm of her hand. "Even so, I felt obliged to stick around."
"Obliged?" I ask as I believed this was just small talk.
The waitress extended her right hand to me and, with a big smile, stated, "I'm Evangeline. I don't think I caught your name."
I awkwardly clasp her hand with my left hand and respond, "Zara, it's nice to meet you."
Brimming with happiness she shakes my hand, as if to tease me with how awkward this handshake was. "You're so silly." Evangeline gazes towards the factory and finally answers me with, "Devoue Inc., we know quite a bit about the place already. The cafe is right next to it after all. Their accomplishments come on the news every now and then. Heck, some of the workers even come here for their coffee break."
"Coffee? They come here to break coffee?"
"Hah! Seriously? You came to a cafe and don't even know what coffee is? You're a bigger dunce than I thought." Evangeline picks up her cup and takes a sip. "What I'm drinking here, this is coffee."
I take a hard look at the cup of piping hot darkness. "Lady, what is this black magic?"
"Geez, I told you already. It's coffee." Eyes cast downwards and blushing, she continues, "You can try some, if you'd like."
I audibly sigh responding, "I would if I could," waving my hand through the flames where my head should be. "In any case, what is it that you know about Devoue Inc.?"
Visibly disappointed, Evangeline shrugs stating, "Well, they are weapons manufacturers for one. However, the engineers also work within the same factory. It's not strange over in Piltover, but down in Zaun it's one and only."
"Oh? What makes them so special?" I press on.
Evangeline circles the cup with her finger as she mulls over it. "Nothing I guess. If anything, it's just that the head engineer insists on hanging around this dump. The mechanics who frequent this place don't really talk or even care about it. However, the few engineers that do come around here complains about the guy all the time."
"I don't know what engineers do, but I guess I'd be mad if I had to stick around this toxic place just because of someone's preference," I comment while wondering why anyone would want to even hang around here purposely.
"It's not just that. While some can tolerate the environment here, they all complain about his standing as head engineer. They go on and on about how incompetent he is."
"Who is?" I ask for clarification.
"Well Devoue obviously. Gabriel Devoue, the guy who runs the place."
Ah, so that's where Devoue comes from. Though something doesn't quite sit right with me. "Hold on. If this Devoue guy is incompetent, how the hell did he get a place named after him?"
"Pfft," Evangeline scoffs. "That'd be cause he's a one-hit wonder."
"He can knock someone out in one hit?"
Evangeline leers at me, "Seriously? Did you die under a rock or something? How do you not know lingo that simple?"
Oh, that was slang? "Heh, I'm sorry about that. Even I'd like to know if I died under a rock."
"Sigh," the waitress vocally exhales as her tone of disappointment is wiped away with a smug grin. "It's okay baby. Just joking that's all."
What did she just call me?
"What I mean by that is he made a single amazing invention: the." She points behind her with a thumb at a rugged fellow reading a . The fellow seems to have a contraption that looks like a metal rod with a rotating mechanism and a rubber handle strapped to a leather belt. "That gun he has on his belt is what I'm talking about."
Evangeline gives me a stupefied look before declaring, "Holy hell, you really are ancient." Scratching her head to mull over her explanation, she states, "Well, I guess all you need to know is that it shoots things fast."
"Bullets, they are like metal pebbles."
Pebbles? "You mean like the little stones on the side of a road?"
"Yeah, a gun can shoot those things real good."
"HAH! Is that it?" I scoff, "Isn't that just a glorified slingshot?"
Leering at me again, she points towards the skyscrapers, standing gloriously high in Piltover. "See those things?"
"Yeah? What about it?"
She gestures to the "gun" the man has and continues saying, "That glorified slingshot can shoot someone standing at the top of those towers. In fact, it can hit a guy on the top in a mere second."
I lay my hand down, since I cannot gesture with my face, "Are you serious?"
She nods in response.
"By the gods, no wonder he is famous."
"No no no! Gabriel didn't invent the gun." Evangeline quickly waves me off to correct my thoughts. "He made the."
"Right, what's so special about this one then?"
"Imagine a gun that not only shoots people down, but it also heals your deepest wounds." Evangeline states emphatically as she waves her hand, resting at her heart. Snapping her fingers, she continues "Like magic! Well, that's what it used to do anyways. It was replaced with revolvers that just blast magic bursts every now and then."
"Oh, that's lame. Why did they make a change like that?" Slinging magic pebbles at hyperspeed seems spooky.
She shrugs and explains, "I guess people would rather have more 'bang' for their buck."
"Hmm, explosive impact is pretty nice."
"Mmm..." the waitress purrs softly with the smugest smile on her face. "I must admit, explosive impact sure is nice."
I tap all of my fingers on the desk as I ponder on a crucial piece of Gabriel's situation. "So, despite his accomplishments he's on a hit list. You have any idea why?"
"Why?" Evangeline perks up quizzically. "What do you mean why?"
"Well," If I've heard correctly, "All you have stated were good accomplishments. I don't see why anyone would go as far as to try and kill the guy."
"Don't you think she would just kill him cause she wanted to? Does there really need to be a reason?" The waitress shakes off the question with her words. However, even so...
"Of course, there doesn't need to be a reason. However, he's quite an odd target for someone who would kill without reason. I'd sooner believe she cull all of Zaun instead of just singling him out." I shrug to emphasize that, "It just doesn't seem all that worthwhile."
Evangeline stirs her spoon in contemplation and then suggests, "Maybe an employee, business partner, or whatever hired her to get rid of him? He did give his employees bad work conditions after all."
"I guess that's more plausible, but wouldn't they just quit?"
"That's true, some have already. There are plenty of better places to work, that even pays better apparently."
"As for a business partner, you said it yourself. He kind of just sucks. He's most likely not even well respected if he had to open up his factory here."
"Yeah, that's also true," Evangeline agrees as she taps her spoon on her coffee cup. Looking up at the roof as she leans back on her chair, cupping the back of her head with both arms, she finally comes to a conclusion. "To be honest, she might not even be paying it much mind. I mean it is a hit list, it's not strange at all if she's just doing it for business."
For business. Killing for business. Not strange at all. "Business settled by blood."
"Mhmm, that's what I mean," she confirms glancing towards me.
"Such conflicts are better solved honorably." I am no stranger to such conflict. It happened quite often for me with what memory I have left. Yet every death I dealt brought great despair for my foes, and for me as well. Such despair is fine for barbarians and monks, but it is toxic for those the evolutionary progress of Zaun and Piltover. Thus, "If that were the case then, I would be very..."
Zara froze as the world got a little bit darker. The voices in the air faded. Zara's index finger was stuck in the air mid-tap. Yet time flowed as normal. His flames crackled in the ambiance. Waiters moved around unfazed by the mist. Evangeline grew unsettled.
"Disappointed," I concluded as I continued to tap on the coffee table.
If everyone is complaining, but some are still working in this hell hole regardless, then there must also be a compelling reason to stick around. "I bet whatever's going on in that factory lies the reason he's got his head marked for death. I'm going to investigate."
I get up from the coffee table to leave the porch, but before I can even start walking, Evangeline stops me by clasping my hand. "Wait, you shouldn't-"
"Sneak in? Don't worry, I was planning on going through the front door. I know I'm not the sneakiest nor the friendliest face around here."
"That's not what I mean-"
"Heck, I don't even have a face. So the least I can do is greet them."
She tugs harder and firmly commands, "Just stop."
The woman looks me dead in the fires of my soul. She's serious. I exhale a puff of soul fire and then let her know, "I'm listening."
Letting go of my hand, she sternly asks for confirmation. "You don't have any connection with this guy. You only want to talk with the Widowmaker right?"
"There are ways to get in touch with her without resorting to such complicated matters. I could let you in on some ways."
"Evangeline," I pause in my suspicions, then continue when she eggs me on with a nod. "How exactly do you know these things?"
She props her head back in confusion. "What do you mean how? It's no secret. She's just one of the many assassins to hire."
Upon getting hit with that piece of info, I need to massage my aching shoulder. "Jeez, this place is worse off than I thought." I bring out my palm to gaze at my ethereal hand, glowing in my worn down leather gloves with an eerie hues of mana. The mana seeping out of my gloves reminds me of my ephemeral existence. "It's all the more reason that I need to confront him."
"What the hell are you talking about? If you just meet with her before she does anything, don't you think you could prevent the matter altogether?"
"No," I'm fortunate not to be able to show the grimace after this line of thought. "The undead are monsters. I am no exception, nor is Evelynn." I stare down the cup of black magic in my bitterness of the lack of control I have at times and express to the lady, "I've thought about this for the extensive time I've lived thus far. I thought of why I am still here. Was it just to suffer? Honestly, it could have been." With all the fish I had to deal with, that'd be no surprise. However, "Even if it could have been, I deny that destiny ferociously. Why?" I press my thumb to my heart and say, "Cause that's who I am."
"What? How does this have anything to do with that assassin?"
"Simple," I lay my hand down and lay the concrete foundation of how, "Assassin is who she is." Raising a finger I continue declaring, "There is only one thing that takes higher importance than everything to the undead: identity. So tell me," I point to Evangeline. "How would you feel if you lost your identity?"
She is frozen since she is put on the spot, so I conclude, "Exactly, you don't know what to feel. Yet even so, you could always build another identity for yourself." I quickly tap my finger on the table rhythmically as I assert, "Yet it's not, so, easy, for: The Undead. The undead have already lived their life. The bet of life has a debt set to death."
"That's a dark way to look at life."
"Well, life's a gamble and everyone bets their soul on it. Souls are judged solely by soul identity. So long as souls must be judged, soul identity cannot change. That's where problems settle in." I lean on the desk to rest my body so I can focus on my theory. "The undead are vessels that simulate life, yet not truly alive at all. So what's the difference between live souls and undead souls? A live soul can change, and all its changes become a part of its soul identity. The undead soul cannot change and only has one sole identity."
"But people can change, right?"
"The vessel can change while the soul cannot. When that happens," I take a moment to remember the vengeful rage at the mountain and the cataclysmic wrath in the seas. "The undead soul loses itself to madness."
No response. A silence cuts through our conversation as the ambient breeze, creaking wood, and flapping pages can be heard throughout the cafe. It's about time I make my exit, but before I do so, I rustle Evangeline's hair a bit.
"Tch. Hey, what are you doing?" She slaps my arm away and shimmies back in her seat. The waitress feels her hair and groans excessively, "Guh! It took me ages to do my hair like this. Do you know how much effort a lady puts in her hair? Jeez!"
"I sure do," I haughtily snicker at her dismay. "I guess you got your hands full now, so I'll be off now. Sorry about the lecture, I know your only used to light banter as a waitress."
"No, no, I learned a lot," Evangeline waves off the concern and assures me, "No reason to be sorry about that. Apologize for this catastrophe instead!"
I gesture in apology with my one hand as a step out of the balcony.
"Hmm?" I respond to her final interruption, yet she suddenly grows silent. She quickly nods and sends me off with a smile, "Good morning."
Hah, is she new or something? Anyways, I redress her statement with before completely leaving the cafe "I think you meant goodbye." It's about time I figure out just what's going on in this factory.
When Evangeline lost sight of Zara, her work smile falls into dismay. "No, that's not quite right. You'll only have a good morning for now."