The world is not always as civilized as people might think. There are still those who would follow the blackest paths of magic and become corrupted by the darker powers that flow through Runeterra. Shauna Vayne knows this fact well. As a young privileged girl in the heart of Demacia's elite, her father tried to convince her of the constabulary's ever-vigilant eye. Young and naive, she truly believed that her world was one of perfect safety, until one night, when a twisted witch took interest in her father. The malevolent woman overcame her father's conciliar guard, then tortured her family before murdering them. The young Shauna escaped only by hiding herself and then fleeing once the hag had departed, plagued by the screams of her loved ones as she ran. A burning hatred was born in her that day, one that could never be denied.
Vayne was able to take care of herself using her father's money, and she began to train as soon as an instructor would have her as a student. By the time she was a fully grown woman, she had become a grim warrior. However, the fields of battle were not to be her home. Demacia needed a protector, one who hunted those lost to the darkness. Shauna used her family's contacts to become the first Night Hunter, and now her prowess is the stuff of legends. It is said that those who practice the black arts quake when they hear that the Night Hunter is on the prowl. Despite her crusade, Shauna has looked at the League of Legends in horror. There are champions who have clearly lost themselves to the blackest of magics, and who have been embraced within the League even though they should be put down for the safety of all. The time has come for the Night Hunter to execute her secret mission - to purge the League of Legends.
6 May, 21 CLE
She doesn't need to bend to examine the road. The witch's trail is obvious, even by moonlight. That last silver bolt had hit home, if the blood is any indication. The prey is slowed.
The trail leads her past a public house. Though a few of the patrons cast wary glances as she walks past, the ruckus will cover up any unwanted noise. She hopes none of them have the sense to call the constabulary before she's done.
The glow from the end of the alley reveals her prey. The witch is attempting to use hemomancy to close her wounds. From the looks of things, more than one of the silver bolts has landed. However, now the witch sees her and the magic changes. Droplets of blood fly towards her like a cloud of razors, but she effortlessly tumbles over a barrel and out of the way. Her crossbow is up before her feet even touch the ground and she fires. The bolt flies true, impaling the witch's casting hand and halting her vile spells.
"Haley Manner, you have fallen to the practice of the black arts. You have willingly harmed others. You are condemned."
She does not wait for the witch to respond with lies. She draws the great crossbow over her shoulder and unleashes its massive projectile. It strikes the witch with such force that it carries her back and into the wall of the public house, impaling her there, limp and silent at last.
She can already hear the hue and cry. Though she is an agent of justice – many would say vengeance – Vayne's activities are not sanctioned by Demacian law. Nimbly, she leaps up, grabs hold of a ledge, and flips herself on top of the building. Leaping from roof-top to roof-top, she fades away into the darkness.
Such is the way of the Night Hunter.
The summoners stared at her uneasily. After all, few potential champions have ever broken into one of the inner sanctums of the Institute of War, startled powerful summoners, and plainly demanded to be allowed into the League of Legends. Fortunately, Vayne's reputation had preceded her, so there was no need for violence.
The room in which she sat now was sparse – nothing more than a fireplace with a few chairs. Vayne reflexively adjusted the crossbow on her arm. "When do we begin?" she asked.
The summoner who seemed to be in charge of this process turned away from the fire. He was a gracefully aging man, approaching middle-age, with a quiet authority borne of true power. "In moments. First, I want to ask you how you managed to get past our defenses to gain access to the deeper chambers of the Institute."
"The same way I know that you are Senior Summoner Ezekiel Montrose and that the woman with you is Summoner Lessa Carin. The same way I know that you take rose-hip tea every day, the route you walk to your home, and that you sleep on a very uncomfortable bed. I am the Night Hunter. Now get on with it. I have already submitted to your authority."
After a moment of stunned silence, Senior Summoner Montrose finally spoke. "Since you are not one for pleasantries..."
In an instant, it was as if the world had exploded. Then, as quickly as it came apart, it was back together again. However, it was many years ago, when Vayne was just a girl. She was back in the cupboard again.
"Come out, little girl. Come out, or I will do to mummy what I have already done to daddy." The crone suspended her mother above the floor of the moonlit kitchen, the poor woman's limbs painfully and helplessly outstretched. Blood slowly dripped from her, dribbling from a hundred impossibly small cuts.
The young Shauna Vayne was too terrified to move. There she was, trapped, frozen, and forced to watch through a crack in the cupboard door as the twisted witch brutally tortured the woman she loved more than any other.
"I'll give you one last chance to come out, lassie." To punctuate, the crone made some mystical gesture that caused her mother to cry out in agony.
Even if she'd wanted to, Shauna couldn't even cry out. The vise-like grip of fear prevented that.
The crone cackled, the horrible sound echoing off the walls. "You are an awful child, girl, to make your mummy die this way."
With each more horrifying shriek of pain and suffering that issued from her mother, something warm and bright in Vayne died. However, in its grave were planted the first seeds of a searing, merciless, and never-ending hatred...
Disorientation, a blur of reality, and she was back in the Institute of War. Senior Summoner Montrose did his best to keep his composure, while all the color had drained from Summoner Carin's face. He broke the silence first. "I'm sorry for your loss."
Vayne took several measured steps towards him. "Stay out of my head, summoner," she said in a surprisingly even tone. "You won't like what you find in the shadows."
"We must," replied Summoner Carin, whose tiny frame carried a core of inner strength. "It is the way of the Judgment. How does it feel exposing your mind?"
However, Senior Summoner Montrose raised his hand to stop her. "I think the answer to that is obvious, Lessa. Shauna Vayne, let me ask you one simple question. Why do you want to fight in the League of Legends."
"To know my enemies. Though your magics keep them alive through defeat, I will learn more hunting those champions who are abominations than I would hunting their inferiors in the world."
Senior Summoner Montrose considered her for a moment. "You will be a part of the League of Legends, Night Hunter. However, you must never violate our trust again. Agreed?"
Vayne only nodded in assent. With that, she turned and walked from the room. Summoner Carin, confused for a moment, followed shortly behind her.
A voice spoke from the shadows. "I do not trust her. Her mind is not an open book. She will only show us what she wants us to see." Emerging, as if one with the darkness around him, stepped Senior Summoner Sander Grieve. The intense-looking man was clad entirely in black, the Noxian cloak-clasp the only clue as to his heritage.
"Yes," replied Montrose. "But I would rather have her here where we can watch her."
Grieve sighed. "This will end badly. Mark my words."
Montrose gave Grieve a piercing stare. "End badly for whom?"