One of the ancient darkin, Varus was a deadly killer who loved to torment his foes, driving them almost to insanity before delivering the killing arrow. He was imprisoned at the end of the Great Darkin War, but escaped centuries later in the remade flesh of two Ionian hunters—they had unwittingly released him, cursed to bear the bow containing his bound essence. Varus now seeks out those who trapped him, in order to enact his brutal vengeance, but the mortal souls within still resist him every step of the way.
Regardless of what he would later become, Varus was once a paragon of loyalty and honor. A skilled archer of the ancient Shuriman empire, he was appointed as a temple warden in the eastern states, and he held this duty sacred above all else.
During the earliest stages of the war with Icathia, even though it lay far from that cursed place, Varus’ homeland was attacked. While other wardens abandoned their posts to join the defense of the outlying villages, he alone remained, screaming in anguish with every arrow he loosed—for he had chosen to uphold his oaths rather than return home to protect his own family.
Emissaries from the Ascended Host found him kneeling in solemn meditation amid the corpses of his foes. It was said that his cold gaze unsettled even the god-warriors themselves, and yet, in recognition of his noble sacrifice, Varus was offered a place in their ranks.
As one of the great Ascended, he was utterly consumed by his pursuit of vengeance against the Icathians, and the voidling horrors they had unleashed. It is likely that Varus did not even fully comprehend Shurima’s ultimate victory in that war, so twisted had his mind become—nor the empire’s fall centuries later. Atrocity after atrocity blurred together, leaving him as a withdrawn, callous killer, reshaped and sent into battle countless times by his degenerate brethren.
Their name became feared throughout the known world.
Warring among themselves, they destroyed any other who stood against them. With his crystalline bow, Varus assassinated enemy commanders and champions, helping the darkin defeat entire mortal armies with ever greater ease. Eventually, Varus was cornered by vastayan moon-stalkers and human mages in service of a golden-armored warrior queen of Valoran. They bound him within his bow, leaving him to howl in impotent rage. By then, the raw, corrupting influence of the darkin was known, and yet still the queen chose to wield the deadly weapon in the final days of the war, gladly sacrificing herself for a greater victory.
In the months that followed, the queen carried Varus to the First Lands—those that would later be known as Ionia. Now made monstrous by the bow’s power, her last act was to command her followers to bury her alive in a lightless well, sunk deep beneath a mountain temple overlooking the village of Pallas.
And there Varus was imprisoned, both by the natural magic of Ionia, and the ritual ministrations of the temple guardians.
The bow remained hidden for centuries, unknown, untouched, and all but forgotten, until Noxian invaders attacked the First Lands. Two beast hunters—Valmar and his heartlight, Kai—fought against the first wave at the Temple of Pallas. Though their courage was great and they drove off the attackers, Kai was mortally wounded, and a grief-stricken Val carried him inside, believing the well’s forbidden magic could restore him.
But the temple held only damnation, and both hunters were consumed by the unleashed power of the darkin within it. The very matter of their bodies was unraveled and bound together again to craft a new body, a body fit to free Varus from his imprisonment. What emerged from the well was a gestalt creature, pale and inhumanly beautiful, part human and part darkin. After more than a thousand years, Varus was reborn.
Even so, the human and darkin elements of this imperfect form are in constant flux, with each managing to wrest control for a short time before being reined in by the other. Varus fights to silence the two mortal souls once and for all, and wreak vengeance for the destruction of his race. Still, Kai and Val struggle against his malevolent influence, hoping against hope that their love can overcome the darkin’s hatred.
How long they can keep Varus conflicted is anyone’s guess—but should this sadistic and egotistical killer come to fully dominate his new host, it is certain he will seek to reunite with others of his kind, and reduce all of Runeterra to an ashen wasteland.
- Rupturing the world is an ancient and infinite voracity: The Void. We are forsaken. We are the feast.
- Starring , , , , , and .
Varus followed a river running through the desert. Its water was gritty, but drinkable. The new body he had wrought to bear his bow was beautiful, fast and strong, but it came with the weaknesses of flesh. It hungered. It thirsted.
Days earlier, a crook-backed creature with a withered arm and birdlike features had told him this was Shurima, but that couldn’t be true. The Shurima Varus remembered had been a desolate wasteland.
"Was I imprisoned for so long?" he wondered.
He despised the human noises his new mouth made. It sounded bestial and primitive, but at least he could speak aloud once more. As to how long he had been imprisoned... it was hard to say. He retained no concept of how mortals measured time, and the bird creature hadn't recognized what he was. She had no idea how far back the Darkin War had been fought.
"My kind all but destroyed this world," he said. "And now we have been forgotten? How is that even possible?"
With enough time, even the greatest horrors can fade.
The voice echoed in his skull, impossible to ignore. Which one was it?or ? He suspected Val, but mortal minds were so simple and muddy that it was hard to tell one from another.
"Any race that can forget staring into the abyss of its own extinction does not deserve to live," said Varus.
We don't forget. This was Valmar, decided Varus. Horrors become myths so we can bear to hear them, so we can learn from them and not go mad.
Such a notion was ridiculous, and Varus knew he would never allow the doom of his kind to fade from memory. He was about to say so, when he heard noises from around a bend in the river ahead; shouting voices, braying animals, and the sound of tools on stone. He darted forward, into the shadow of a toppled obelisk, and scanned ahead.
The new river had exposed the sunken ruins of an ancient structure comprised of pillars and statues of the oldest Ascended. Yes, this was the source of the magic he had sensed. Old magic. The kind the flame-haired queen used to enslave his kind.
The kind used to imprison him beneath the rock of Ionia.
Tanned, wolf-lean men worked the ruins, digging out hidden reliquary chambers as thick-limbed beasts of burden dragged excavated rocks from deeper inside the structure. Warriors wearing boiled leather breastplates and carrying hook-bladed spears guarded the perimeter. Varus grinned and vaulted onto the obelisk, drawing back on his bow as he landed. Violet light built in the living weapon as it flexed, and a coruscating arrow of lightning formed in the air.
Why must you kill them? This was Kai. He hated unnecessary killing.
Varus felt his hands tremble as Kai fought to make him lower the bow.
"Your people destroyed my kin," said Varus, exerting his will to steady his aim. "That’s the only reason I need."
He sighted along the crackling arrow as a burly warrior with a forked beard and shaven scalp saw him, and yelled a warning.
So everyone you see must die?
Varus exhaled, and in the space between breaths loosed the shot. It flashed through the air to pierce the bearded warrior's heart, burning a hole clean through him. He dropped to his knees, his mouth wide with shock. Others hurled spears, but Varus was already moving. He sprang from the obelisk, sending a hail of blood-red bolts toward them, and hit the ground running.
A hook-spear swung at him. He dove to the side, rising to his feet and sending a pair of crimson shots through his attacker's chest. Varus sprinted, leapt, and dashed through the ruins, blazing shafts of light striking his targets with absolute precision.
In seconds it was over. Sixteen dead, and he hadn't even broken a sweat. He felt the anguish of Valmar and Kai within him, and grinned. Every death gnawed at them, weakened them, and made them less able to fight him.
The men excavating the ruined city fled, throwing down their tools and running for the river. Varus let them go. They were an irrelevance, and the killing of mortals without weapons always provoked the two souls within him to greater rebellion.
"Warding sigils. Potent once, but faded," said Varus, crossing the inscribed flagstones to where a towering statue of a great, serpent-headed god-warrior had once stood sentinel. Some past catastrophe had toppled it, and beyond its sandstone remains lay a lightless chamber.
He entered, the glow from the smoldering light at his heart revealing nothing but bare stone, burned black and glossy by ancient fire.
Varus sighed. "Where are you, sister...?"