So this is my thread for my League of Legends themed book for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). I'm going to post chapters as I complete them in my efforts to write an entire 50,000 word book throughout the month of November.
The book is called "Death Blindness" (which I realize sounds ridiculous but will eventually make sense) and stars our favorite gargoyle champion, Galio. If you have the patience to read through all of this I salute you!
League of Legends: Death Blindness
Galio was already waiting before the crack of dawn, crouched on the battlements overlooking the northern gate into the great city-state of Demacia. It would probably be a good hour before the first wagons bearing merchants and travelers from the scattered villages and farms between the city-state and the Bubbling Bog wound their way up the path to the gates. Thousands came and went every day into this shining beacon of civilization nestled on a plateau overlooking dozens of smaller border towns, as well as the Conqueror’s Sea to the west.
Galio would watch when they came. It was his job. He was a guardsman – and also a gargoyle, a powerful beast made of magically animated rock. His creator and master, the late artificer Durand, had given him a boon of excellent vision, far better than a human’s. From his perch, he was able to look down on the road and spot potential threats or contraband at an angle the guards at the gate couldn’t see.
He came to this gate every morning, typically after a night soaring over the docks, watching for smugglers or thieves attempting to quietly sail into Demacia under the cover of darkness. Night patrol was a role practically made for him. The villains on the boats would stare intently through their spyglasses at the shore and the piers, looking for any sign of a Demacian guard, only to be startled into instant submission when a two-ton animated flying statue slammed down from the sky in the middle of the deck, sometimes crashing right through if the ships were old.
After his night patrol, Galio would report to the northern gate to watch the first travelers as they arrived at the city. Morning was always busier at this particular gate. One of the border towns, Northguard, was less than an hour’s travel from the winding road up the plateau to the city, and it was one of the largest in the region. It was where Galio was born, in a manner of speaking.
He found his comfortable perch, found firm grip with his claws on a stone merlon of the battlement, folded his wings in to his side and simply watched and waited. He now appeared to be just another part of the architecture. The city gleamed with beautiful, intricate stonework, carvings, and columns. A gargoyle carved out of rare blue stone and trimmed with what appeared to be actual gold on its batlike wings did not necessarily stand out atop Demacia’s formidable walls.
The first wagons made it to the gate right as the guards opened it to greet the dawn. Galio recognized the merchants, of course. The same men on the same schedule every morning, hustling to get their wares in front of the relatively wealthy citizens of Demacia. Unlike Galio, they didn’t have all the time in the world. They had families, they had needs, and the clock ticked down on their comparatively short lives day after day. Galio was actually younger than most of them, but he would likely still be around long after these men’s great-grandchildren had died of old age.
After the first rush of merchants, the parade of travelers began. Some came to buy goods themselves in the big city. Some came to work here for the many noble families. Galio would occasionally see a young man or woman, just reaching adulthood, on foot, coming to Demacia to report for their stint of mandatory military service. Some families who had succeeded in their own lives (perhaps from being part of that first crew of merchants?) came in carts laden with all their belongings, having earned enough gold to buy a home in the safety of the great city.
Galio scanned the crowds from above, looking for any sign of something inappropriate, dangerous, or illegal. It was very unlikely anybody would actually risk trying to smuggle anything into Demacia through the front gates. Nevertheless, following the most recent conflict with the hated corrupt city of Noxus, all guards were on heightened alert. War between the two city-states would have assuredly been launched over control of the resource-rich village of Kalamanda had the powerful summoners of the Institute of War not used their magic to take control of the mines and deny both cities. Now the Demacian leadership and military were concerned about possible Noxian retaliation and everybody was on edge.
Eventually Galio took note of a child sitting in the front of a wagon full of tomatoes and corn, next to his mother. They were waiting for the gate guards to inspect their cargo before allowing their horses to pull the wagon into Demacia to set up their stall at the northern farmer’s market just inside the city gate. The boy was young, maybe six or seven years old. Galio hadn’t seen him before. This might have been the child’s first trip to Demacia. He held still and watched as the boy, eyes wide, took in the fortress in front of him. Would he notice Galio? It was always the kids who – yes – there he went. The boy’s eyes widened even further when he saw Galio and he pointed to him.
“It’s him!” Galio heard him shout as he tugged on his mother’s arm. “It’s Galio!” Galio watched, but remained frozen. The mother, who was busy talking to a guard, turned to look at her boy, then up at Galio. Galio stayed still. She looked at him in confusion, then frowned at her son and said something to him Galio couldn’t hear (his eyesight was supernatural, but his hearing was no better than an average person’s), then turned back to the guard. The boy folded his arms and pouted as he stared at the gargoyle.
Then Galio slowly, carefully, moved his arm and waved at the boy. The boy gasped and shouted Galio’s name. As the mother turned to scold her son again, Galio leapt from the battlements, gave out a great, deep bellow and flew off back into the city. The last thing Galio could make out as he flew away was the boy yelling at his mother, “I told you it was him!”
Galio spared a chuckle for himself as he flew over the city. Galio was more than a guard, and more than a gargoyle. He was a champion of the League of Legends. The champions served the Institute of War, engaging in structured, contained battles as representatives of various powerful parties on the continent of Valoran who have come into conflict. These smaller battles were developed in order to avoid the larger wars that have plagued the history of the world of Runeterra. The land was steeped with magical energy that practically bled from the earth, and mortals had been harvesting this magic for centuries. But with great power comes great conflict. The wars involved use of magic so powerful it threatened to tear the world apart. Ultimately all sides began to recognize the danger they were placing themselves in. Even Noxus realized they couldn’t make an empire out of a barren rock, apparently. So the League of Legends was created to help manage conflict that could otherwise result in magic wars.
In these fights, champions were selected and commanded by Valoran’s most powerful mages – summoners, they were called – and faced off on the fields of battle. The team that won the battle won the greater dispute. The system was used to settle matters great and small: it freed the island nation of Ionia from Noxus’s occupation, but also resolved less dramatic property and succession disputes between powerful noble families or mages.
Galio was one of these champions. In general, champions were celebrated as heroes in their communities. They drew a huge following of well-wishers whenever they appeared in public. Thanks to the significant amount of magic on Valoran, members of the public could gather and, through the use of scrying enchantments, watch the champions battle each other. Each champion developed a base of support from the community.
Galio hadn’t quite developed the following other champions of Demacia had found. Brother and sister Garen and Luxana Crownguard were of a powerful noble family known in Demacia well before the League was even founded. Jarvan LIghtshield IV, well, he was the heir to the crown of Demacia, of course. No Demacian would say a word against him. Even Xin Zhao, seneschal to King Jarvan III, had developed quite a following despite not having birth ties to the city state.
But Galio was something else entirely – a gargoyle. He wasn’t born, he was created. Often, when adults met him in person, they were surprised to find that he was actually a real creature outside the league battles. Many of them assumed that he was created by the Institute of the War to participate in the fights, like the golems who lurked in the forests of the battlefield to challenge the fighters. He didn’t inspire the citizens of Demacia, so to speak. There were no moral lessons to be drawn from the acts of a magic statue it seemed.
He found, however, that the children of Demacia loved him. As they grew older they would start shifting their allegiances toward Garen and Lux, but while they were still innocent of their own futures in Demacia’s military, they clapped for Galio. Galio suspected that it was because he somewhat looked like a rather large toy. Indeed, one rather observant toymaker in Demacia started selling carved wooden dolls shaped like the gargoyle and made quite a bit of gold.
Poppy, a fellow champion and Galio’s closest friend in the league, had a different theory. She thought children found Galio’s deep voice soothing. As young adults, all Demacians serve the military for three years. Many, many men continued their military service as they started families, often leaving children behind to be raised by mothers and grandparents as they went off to protect Demacia’s safety. The system put in place with the League of Legends prevented the most dangerous and visible of military engagements, but there were still plenty of violent skirmishes, particularly between Noxus and anybody who got in the way of their generals’ ambitions. And even beyond that, the Institute of War’s methods weren’t too useful in dealing with pirates, slavers, raiders, monsters or any threats not tied to a governmental presence.
Galio’s voice was deep but warm. Poppy declared it was “fatherly” once, and Luxana immediately agreed. Absent the voice of their fathers, children found it comforting to listen to Galio respond to his summoners’ orders on the field of battle. Poppy’s theory gained traction when a noblewoman approached Galio at a ball honoring Demacia’s league champions and told him that when her own infant daughter became temperamental and wouldn’t stop crying, she would take her to the Scrying Hall in Runestone Square and ask a summoner to replay a match featuring Galio. The baby would always stop crying and start giggling when she heard Galio’s voice. Eventually, she would fall asleep, even in the midst of sounds of battle.
The idea made Galio uncomfortable in some undefined way, and he thought about it briefly in connection with the boy at the gate as he flew over the city. Was his father in the army? When did he see him last? Why exactly did this bother him? Sometimes, Galio felt strange about having feelings in the first place. Durand had built Galio as his final masterpiece. He was one of a kind. He was the most advanced golem on Valoran, and subsequent to his creation the Institute of War banned the building of any new magical creatures like him. He had more than the ability to reason. He had morals. Durand had somehow figured out how to give him a conscience. But unfortunately, Durand refused to ever explain why, and after his murder at the hands of Noxian assassins, there was nobody else to explain.
Galio fluttered up to the guard tower that served as his aerie. Technically he didn’t really need a place of his own. He didn’t eat and didn’t sleep. He owned very little, mostly a few inexplicable (and now useless) magical tools from Durand’s home in Northguard that he kept for sentimental reasons (not understanding why he felt sentimental in the first place).But he found it best to have a private place, particularly during the day, when he was likely to be summoned to assist the League of Legends in a battle. The summoners had the power to teleport him to the fields of justice where the battles were fought. The magic was a bit flashy and could unnerve witnesses, so it was best to not suddenly disappear in a flash of bright white light while perched atop a gate.
He climbed into the window of the tower (formerly a prison cell, then more recently a storage room). He had no bed, of course, but small tables were covered with the artifact remnants of Durand’s work. It looked like a forgotten museum storage room. He peered out of a window facing the city this time, to enjoy the view of its gleaming spires and clean roads. The bustle was increasing as the sun separated from the horizon. The markets were active. Soldiers gathered for morning drills in the yard of the city’s massive inner citadel.
Then Galio’s eyes alighted on something that seemed slightly out of the usual. In an alley toward the docksides, two yordles appeared to be having some sort of argument. Yordles, small humanoids with unusual, often unique rodent-like features, were not that common in Demacia. Bandle City, where most yordles called home, was clear on the opposite side of Valoran. Galio’s yordle friend Poppy was a regular visitor to Demacia, but she also served as Bandle City’s ambassador here.
The two yordles were also notable because Galio didn’t recognize them. Yordles, especially the males, had very distinctive features. Of course, no two humans were exactly alike, but the appearances of male yordles could be wildly different to the point that they didn’t look like the same race. Because there weren’t many yordles in Demacia, Galio knew them all by sight. But not these two. One of the yordles had raccoon-like features, but with russet fur instead of the typical dark brown. The second had dark blue fur that appeared matted with filth. The two of them were wearing large packs and were arguing with each other. They were too far away from Galio to hear what they were saying, but the two of them were very angry. The blue one started shoving the raccoon one and it looked as though a knock-down, drag-out fight was going to start.
Galio began to climb out of the window to take wing to break up the fight. Unfortunately, at just that moment –
“Galio, please make preparations,” the polite but firm female voice announced entirely inside his head. “You are being summoned for an official League match on the fields of justice. You will be summoned in ten seconds.”
The yordles will have to work out their problems on their own. He had a job to do.
To be continued ... obviously ...
Well, if it makes you feel better, I'm twice your age and have a degree in journalism. Writing is natural to me.
However, it's great to see you participating at such a young age! I had only written maybe two short stories or so while I was under 20. (And a bunch of Dungeons and Dragons campaigns for my buddies, but those don't count)
Heh fair enough. I only heard of NaNaWriMo last year when my 21 year old sister was doing it, and I'm always keen to try new things..
The only thing I've really written are essays for school, and the odd biology report if I was bored ._. Creativity isnt my strong suit.
Are you going to keep submitting your novel to the forum? If so you igt want to make a few placeholder posts, so if this thread becomes popular, people dont have to look for the story, among vast amounts of posts?
In a matter of moments, Galio was magically transported several hundred miles to the east of Demacia onto a large, levitating rock platform. He was now in the Crystal Scar, the result of that recent conflict between his home city and Noxus over Kalamanda’s resources. The summoners of the Institute of War stepped in, using their magic to literally force a stop to war by putting the participants into a temporary temporal stasis. But the damage was done; the area was now magically unstable and would remain so for decades. Rather than being mined by any of the major city-states, it was transformed into a new battlefield for the League of Legends.
As Galio reoriented himself, he took note of his four allies for this fight. Heimerdinger, a yordle inventor (and probably the most famous Yordle in Valoran), was already organizing his tools to quickly build the hextech weapons he used as a champion. He gave Galio a quick nod as he immersed himself in his work.
Master Yi, a powerful bladesman from Ionia, began selecting the gear he would use at the beginning of the match from a merchant nestled on the side of this safe spot on the battlefield. Yi would no doubt be using his speed to great advantage, slipping in and out of the fights to take down enemy champions and to take control of the towers scattered across the battlefield.
“Galio!” a boy’s voice yelled in enthusiasm. “I haven’t seen you in ages!” Galio spun around to see Nunu, a fellow champion, even though he was just a child. But he didn’t fight alone. He rode on the back of a massive yeti named Willump and the two fought together as a team. Their partnership was born of a tragedy. Nunu was separated from his father in a blizzard in Freljord as a baby. His father was never found, but as Nunu lay dying, he was found by Willump and raised by the yetis of the mountains. Some observers of the league objected on moral grounds the inclusion of a child in these violent battles, but Nunu had grown to become a powerful participant and the Institute of War respected his desire to fight to help represent the interests of both the yetis and the humans of Freljord. Galio fluttered up to slap palms with the boy, while the yeti growled in greeting. Nunu was another champion Galio felt close to. Perhaps because Nunu’s “brother” was a creature many Valorans saw as a monster, Galio’s gargoyle form didn’t seem to matter much to him. Nunu was also much wiser than humans often recognized because they insisted on seeing him as a child. Galio was not constrained by those psychological limits. Also, he taught Galio jokes. After the greeting, Nunu rolled his eyes and gestured to his left with his head to their final ally.
That would be Shaco, the demon jester. Shaco was a nasty, monstrous (in personality) murderer, rumored to be an actual demon. He appeared to be a court jester, but armed with vicious daggers and traps that looked like jack-in-the-boxes. He was loathed by pretty much every single champion in the league, even most of the Noxians. It was widely believed that the Institute of War made him a champion to keep an eye on him. It was true that not all champions served voluntarily, another fact that sometimes made Galio uneasy. Shaco cackled madly at them by way of greeting.
Unfortunately, one of the rules of the League of Legends battles is that summoners chose which champions would fight on their behalf and the champions were bound by magic to work with each other on their team. It resulted in some odd combinations as the summoners jockeyed to consider the opposing team’s strategies. While Galio saw Noxus as the primary source of corruption and evil on Valoran, he nevertheless occasionally had to fight side-by-side with its champions to win a battle on the fields of justice. Demacian and Noxian champions would typically spit insults at each other along the way, but they honored their obligations to the league to the letter.
“Good morning, Galio,” said a young woman’s voice, entirely in his head.
“Carowen, a pleasure to serve you as usual,” Galio thought to himself. Carowen Aurum was a summoner Galio knew well. She preferred to play champions whose roles tended to be to assist and protect the others in battle, a role that Galio played well. She was also a Demacian by birth, and while the summoners were expected to rise above such “petty” city politics, she tended to use only Demacian champions or champions from cities friendly to Demacia. She had told Galio once she had never worked with a Noxian champion and hoped she never needed to.
Through her powerful magic, she communicated her commands to Galio telepathically. To the outsider, it appeared as though the champions were merely puppets of the summoners. This was true in the most basic sense, but the challenge for the summoner was to work together with the champion. At the start of battle, this connection was rather tenuous and the champion’s skills were fairly limited. As their bond grew in battle, Galio would grow ever stronger, assuming he and Carowen battled wisely along the way.
“This is a quick and dirty fight for a couple of corporations in Zaun arguing over ownership of the contents of a warehouse,” Carowen explained through her magical telepathic speech.
“We are assisting people in Zaun?” Galio asked. Zaun had a nasty reputation for science and commerce completely unbound by any sense of morality. For every amazing discovery that originated from Zaun came a dozen horrifying abominations (some of whom now served as champions). They had also, on several occasions, offered their skills and “creations” to Noxian forces with horrifying results, particularly during the skirmishes against Ionia. Zaun was certainly no friend to Demacia.
“Our side has a slightly better moral reputation than theirs,” Carowen explained. “Their employees are given one day off per fortnight and families are compensated well when the workers are injured or killed in the line of duty. Not exactly a shining beacon, I know, but better than the alternative.”
“Very well,” Galio responded. “The match begins soon. Who do we face?”
“The enemy team consists of Akali, Gangplank, Malzahar, Jax, and Singed.” Galio nodded.
“Am I correct that you will want me to stay on Singed and Jax as much as possible?”
“Yes, Singed in particular,” she said. “Protect Heimerdinger and Shaco from them as best you can.”
“As you command.”
By that point, the pre-battle preparation was over. A magical stone bridge allowed the champions access to the circular battlefield. Galio flapped his wings to generate a magical gust of wind that made him and his nearby allies travel faster as they rushed out into the Crystal Scar. At Carowen’s command, he headed to the northern edge of the battlefield to prepare to face his foes.
The Crystal Scar was a short but vicious battlefield. The goal was to control the five magical towers scattered around the circular battlefield. If your team controlled more than the opponents’, the towers would drain the magical energy of the enemy team’s nexus, their source of power. Once the nexus of one side was completely drained, they would lose the battle.
Shaco and Heimerdinger claimed the two towers closest to their base as Galio, Master Yi and Nunu headed to the tower at the top of the circle. The remnants of Kalamanda’s mines remained around the battlefield. The tower closest to the windmill was pivotal to a winning strategy. It was equally distant from both bases, making it difficult to defend against a committed attack, but also difficult to attack without a committed force.
Carowen pushed Galio to actually press past the Windmill’s tower in order to intercept the approaching enemies, Akali, Jax and Singed. It was a dangerous maneuver so early in the match, but it could serve a purpose if they took the bait. The smart choice would be to ignore Galio. The goal was to control the towers, not to defeat the enemy champions. But caught up in the enthusiasm of the battle, sometimes summoners would obsess over a target, like a cat playing with a string.
They fell for the bait. Akali, a skilled ninja, disappeared in a cloud of smoke to prepare an assault. Jax leapt at Galio, his weapon (a lamppost, of all things) ready to slam him to pieces, while Singed spread one of his toxic creations, an extremely powerful glue, on the ground to capture Galio once Jax knocked him down.
Galio, though, had more magic of his own to bring to bear. First, he summoned his magical bulwark on himself, a shield that increased his stone form’s natural resistance. Next, as the enemy champions converged, he looked directly down and his eyes flashed. A grenade of magical energy burst forth and struck the ground (and glue) beneath his feet. It exploded in a circle surrounding Galio, harming his opponents. But more importantly, the magic infused the muscles of his enemies, slowing them down to a crawl, away from the contested towers.
The enemies realized the mistake too late: Yi and Nunu working together claimed control of the tower. Unfortunately, they took their frustrations out on Galio. His defenses at this stage could not hold against three enemy combatants. They beat the rocks out of him, sending him crashing to the ground in pieces.
But only for a few seconds.
This was the scariest part of being a champion of the League of Legends. You died. A lot. The fights between the champions were to the death, but there was a catch. The battlefields were chosen in areas of such high magical background activity because the powerful summoners had the ability to undo these deaths. It could only be done on these battlefields as the magic flowed during these fights. A champion could be killed, and after a few seconds, be magically restored as though nothing had happened. Galio understood though that the death actually felt like dying to the champions, so great care was taken in their selection. Not everybody could endure the role of a champion. Galio, of course, felt no pain. When he died, he felt an intense pressure pushing on his body and then suddenly releasing, like a powerful spring. And then nothing.
But then he would suddenly be back at the base, good as new. Sometimes champions would die more than a dozen times in a single match. It was remarkably stressful for the mortals at times. Soraka, a priestess and champion from Ionia, had begun examining the psychological effects of the fights on the participants to make sure they weren’t coming to permanent mental harm. The League of Legends would be no good if everybody ended up as mad as Shaco.
“Did it work?” Galio asked Carowen.
“Yes, thank you for your sacrifice,” she said. “Singed is aggressing on Heimerdinger’s position to the south. Help push him back please.”
“Understood.” Galio flew toward Heimerdinger’s position, where he had manufactured his thaumotechnical turrets to assist in keeping the enemy champions from taking the tower. He was extremely fragile, though, and could be taken down quite quickly if an enemy champion caught him off guard.
Galio was often called on in matches to “deal with Singed.” Singed was a mad alchemist, one of the amoral scientists from Zaun responsible for the creation of a number of horrifying chemical weapons. He was ultimately responsible for the deaths of thousands and didn’t seem to notice or care. His name was also a description -- the man was covered with permanent burns and scars as a result of his constant experimentation. His concoctions had made him strong, fast and tough, and he used his poisons on the battlefield, making it difficult for most champions to get near him.
Galio was an excellent counter for him. Galio was also sturdy and fast, and most importantly, Singed’s poisons were more of a nuisance than a threat to him. As the battle dragged on, the two of them essentially cancelled each other out. They both grew so tough that they couldn’t hurt each other, but they both had powerful slowing effects to keep them away from other team members.
But Galio had one advantage, particularly on the Crystal Scar, he was about to use to cut off Singed’s efforts. He flew to Heimerdinger’s tower. Heimerdinger had two of his turrets set up to keep enemies from claiming the tower. The tower itself had defenses. Once claimed, it would shoot magical bolts of energy at enemies that approached. But it would stop whenever an enemy champion began the spell to gain control of the tower. The turrets were intended to disrupt the efforts.
Singed, though, was tough enough to ignore the turrets and head straight for Heimerdinger. With his mighty elixir-infused strength, Singed grabbed Heimerdinger and hurled him over his head away from the tower. He intended to take Heimerdinger down safely away from the tower and turrets. But Galio arrived just in time to use his strongest magic, designed by Durand to serve Galio’s role as the ultimate bodyguard.
Galio slammed down onto the ground at the edge of the tower and emanated a powerful circle of magical force. The magic drew Singed toward him, instilling him with an uncontrollable rage and forcing him to strike Galio instead of the yordle. In the meantime, Heimerdinger, his turrets, and the tower all pelted Singed with magic and bullets (and missiles, in Heimerdinger’s case – he was really quite the inventor). Suddenly Galio’s magic ended with a loud BOOM and all the energy he absorbed from Singed exploded outward, magnified, blowing the mad alchemist off his feet and killing him instantly.
“Excellent!” Heimerdinger declared.
“Indeed,” Galio added and continued on through the battlefield on patrol duty, by Carowen’s command, making sure enemy champions were harried and hassled whenever they tried to take a tower Galio’s team controlled.
It was a tough battle, but Galio’s team ultimately won. The enemy summoners found it hard to resist attacking Galio when they encountered him patrolling the map, but as the fight went on, it became harder and harder to kill him, allowing his teammates more and more time to defend or take towers. Eventually the magic of the enemy team’s nexus ran out and the battle ended. Carowen and her allied summoners were declared the winners. The slightly more moral corporation would gain ownership of the contested warehouse.
“Much appreciation for your assistance, Galio,” Carowen said. “Are you ready to return home to Demacia? Is all going well there? I must find time to visit again soon.”
“I live to serve, milady,” Galio said. “Demacia is as beautiful as always. Be sure to let the royal family know if you come for a visit. They wouldn’t want to miss out on a chance to throw a ball.”
“Of course,” she chuckled. “Prepare to be teleported back to your point of initial summoning in 10 seconds.”
Galio felt satisfied as he waited for the spell to take. Matches on the Crystal Scar can turn around so quickly if teams overreached and failed to defend. Carowen knew how to use him. Beyond that initial gambit at the windmill, she was patient with him, waiting for the best time to use his skills and realizing that Galio’s charge was to delay, interfere, and protect, not necessarily to kill or destroy.
With a flash he was back in his aerie at the windowsill. It took a moment to recover from the spell before he realized something was wrong. He could hear bells, lots of bells. Alarm bells were ringing across Demacia. Something had happened while he was gone. Something bad.
Demacia had a dozen large bells scattered across the city to ring in times of an emergency. More than one bell was ringing, and for the moment, Galio was not able to determine from which direction the bells were coming from.
Though Galio was capable of understanding and feeling many emotions, he could never achieve the kind of extreme states mortals felt. “Something in the biology,” Durand simply said, never explaining. Galio could feel concerned or nervous, but he never felt panic. Some might consider this a boon, but he sometimes wondered what he else he might be missing.
Calmly he climbed out the tower window and quickly fluttered up to the pointed roof to get a better look across the city with the help of his powerful eyesight.
His first thought was a fire. Most of Demacia was built of stone, but there was certainly plenty of wood and plaster construction inside buildings (not to mention people’s belongings) and fires were not uncommon. He searched across the rooftops for tell-tale signs of smoke, but found nothing.
Next, he turned his gaze to the battlements encasing the city. If they were under attack, archers would be manning the walls and the ballistae would be brought to bear. The battlements appeared eerily empty to Galio. That suggested that guards had been called away to deal with a problem inside the city.
Pirates or an assault from the docks? That was an extremely foolish idea, but not unheard of. A long time ago, Demacia was considered vulnerable to attacks from the sea, due to the challenges of getting masses of troops down the steep roads from the elevated city to the docks. But three generations of Lightshields had worked very hard to build battlements and a smaller citadel at the base of the city at the docks, and soon potential invaders learned that Demacia was now a fortress all the way around.
With no obvious answers from his perch, Galio took wing. Once he was further above the city, he could look down upon the streets as though he were looking at a map. The idea was to take note of where people were moving toward … or where they were running away from.
Now he could see movement. He could make out guards rushing in the direction of the docks and other citizens rushing to get away, heading toward the city walls to the east and north. He looked for combat, men fighting each other. As his eyes scanned over toward the docks, he could make out guards in combat stances with their swords and pikes at bear … but he couldn’t make out what they were fighting. Eventually he noticed what were to him at this height just small dots. Some sort of creatures? A monster incursion? He summoned a gust of wind with his wings and flew toward the site of the battle.
As he approached, his eyesight was able to make out better details. The guards were battling strange, but aggressive, small purple, four-legged beasts that were skittering down the alleys. They crawled up the walls of buildings and leaped at anybody passing by, attempting to slash them with their claws or bite them with sharp teeth.
“Voidlings?” Galio muttered out loud as he approached. These creatures appeared to be voidlings, the nasty little creatures that the mage Malzahar would summon to assist him in battles of the fields of justice. He was normally able only to draw on the help of two at the most. There appeared to be dozens, maybe even hundreds of them skittering through Demacia, attacking anybody they came across. How did they get here?
That was a question for later. Galio’s role was to protect, first. As he approached the battle zone, which appeared to be spread over several blocks, he looked for telltale signs of his fellow champions, particularly Garen Crownguard. As the leader of the Dauntless Vanguard, he would no doubt be here shouting out orders and slicing through as many voidlings as he could.
Before he could track down Garen, though, another champion drew Galio’s attention. A bright beam of light burst down a narrow alley, obliterating a pack of voidlings. That had to be Garen’s sister, Luxana (usually called Lux). She was both a powerful mage and a skilled spy for the Demacian military. She was young, but a magical prodigy, able to pick up some magic spells just by watching others use them.
He saw her at the far end of the alley in her lightweight metal armor with gold trim. Several city guards were by her side and they advanced down the alley. However, Galio, still fluttering above the alley, could see voidlings approaching across the rooftops. He shouted a warning as the creatures ambushed the guards from above. But fortunately, Lux was prepared for the attack. She threw her magic wand down the alley. It sparked with magic energy and as it passed near each guard, the wand pulsed, granting each of them a temporary magic shield. The men and women were able to slice the voidlings to pieces with their swords without suffering injury, as Lux’s wand magically returned to her side.
“Galio, where were you?” Lux shouted to him as he flew down to her side.
“I was summoned to the Crystal Scar,” he said. “How long ago did this happen, and where’s Garen?”
“He and Prince Jarvan are organizing the army and the Vanguard for a coordinated sweep across the city. I came out here to help the guards in the meantime. I thought that you would be here with them. Poppy is here as well somewhere, no doubt crushing these things to a pulp with her hammer. Xin Zhao is of course organizing the defense of the castle, in case the voidlings approach.”
Galio nodded. Galio technically had no “rank” with the city, given that he wasn’t even technically a person. However, he was afforded the same sort of deference and respect with which a captain of the guard would be treated. Most city guardsmen treated Galio’s advice as commands, so he tended to be even more careful about what he said around them.
“Captain March was injured in our initial containment efforts,” one of the guards volunteered to Galio. “The best we can determine is that the creatures are coming from somewhere within the dock district, but not from the docks themselves. They have not been seen beyond the battlements leading down to the sea.”
“Malzahar has lost his mind if he thinks he can indulge in a terrorist attack on Demacia and not pay dearly,” Lux said. “The Institute of War will not stand for this either.”
“Malzahar was one of my opponents in the Crystal Scar,” Galio said. “I would not be so certain he is responsible for this. Are there any casualties?”
“Guards have been injured by not killed,” a guard volunteered. “We saw a few civilians down, but these things have put us on the defense, and we have not been able to stop to determine if they were just injured or killed.”
The group continued down the alley quickly and approached a large intersection where several warehouses stood. A pack of voidlings skittered toward the northern alley. Galio and Lux’s group prepared an attack, but suddenly Poppy burst into the intersection from the south with another group of guards. She rushed with blinding speed and slammed into the group of voidlings, stunning them.
She then quickly finished them off with her massive hammer. The yordle’s move was made all the more impressive given that she was wearing a full set of armor (functional, unlike Lux’s) and a shield. The yordle was not known as “The Iron Ambassador” for nothing.
“Galio, where ya been?” She asked, only slightly out of breath. Poppy didn’t live in Demacia but spent a lot of time in the city as the ambassador from Bandle City (the home town of the yordles). She had been here ever since the conflict over Kalamanda began, representing Bandle City’s interests.
“No time to explain,” Galio said. “If these creatures are being drawn here from the Void, it would be dangerous for us to assume there’s only a limited number of them. My suggestion would be for the two of you to continue leading the guards until the military begins their march.”
“Why us and not you?” Lux asked.
“I think my skills might better serve the city if I were to take to the air to see if I can determine where the voidlings are coming from and try to stop them at the source, if I can.” Poppy and Lux nodded. The guards gathered with the two champions and they split down different streets to look for more beasts as Galio took wing.
“The Void,” Galio muttered to himself as he scanned the streets for any clues to the creatures’ origins. The idea of The Void, an inexplicable area beyond space and time, but full of horrible creatures and malevolent forces, was a source of controversy within the League. Several champions in the League claimed to have ties to the Void. Malzahar’s magic allegedly drew from this dark unknown and the twisted prophet’s alleged goal was to bring these awful monstrosities to Valoran. The official position of the Institute of War, however, was that the Void did not exist. While there were certainly creatures from other dimensions beyond the world Runeterra (in the League, no less), there was no truth to the idea of a vast, boundless space full of demonic forces with the strength to crush their world like a bug underfoot.
The argument waged on. Galio held no position, preferring to wait for evidence one way or another. The evidence in front of him right now certainly held some weight. From the air, he could see hundreds of these beasts, many dead, but other still scuttling through the streets. He could also note some difference in sizes. The voidlings that Malzahar summoned in battle grew in size during their time on the field from the size of a dog to the size of a bear, but then died relatively quickly for reasons Galio didn’t grasp. Unconstrained of the restrictions of the fields of justice, would these voidlings continue to grow? How large would they get? And did they have the same limited lifespan? Galio realized at this point it was probably good that he lacked the capacity to panic.
Eventually Galio began to see a pattern of density, triangulating a possible point of origin. The creatures seemed to be traveling away from a warehouse near a canal that served the southern part of the city. It wasn’t far from the gates leading down to the plateau toward the docks but it was indeed inside the city. Galio also realized the general area looked familiar. This was not far from where he saw the two unfamiliar yordles fighting. He filed that information away as he fluttered down to the warehouse.
As he approached he could see broken glass and many of the warehouse’s massive doors in shattered, shredded pieces in the street. This was certainly significant evidence. He also began to hear a strange sound – both a buzz and a hum, as though two swarms of bees were mingling, one content and one enraged.
As he landed, a trio of voidlings scuttled out of the building in front of him. Galio activated his magical bulwark, expecting an attack. Instead, the creatures chattered to themselves, and began to crawl away, ignoring Galio entirely. He tilted his head for a moment and watched. Did they not sense him?
“I’m not alive,” Galio muttered to himself. The creatures must be able to detect life in some fashion, through blood or body heat, or simply magic. On the fields of justice, Malzahar had direct control over his voidlings, and had certainly had them nip at Galio’s wings, but perhaps in the wild they sought prey like some other animals did? Before the three creatures could scuttle away and possibly threaten others, Galio emitted one of his magic light grenades from his eyes, smiting the three beasts. They flopped over on their backs and died instantly.
The buzz-hum was definitely coming from this warehouse. This was logically the point of origin for this invasion. Galio considered flying back to alert the others, but if he brought Poppy and Lux and the guards here, they would be in far more danger. If the voidlings didn’t notice Galio, perhaps it would be best for him to determine the threat by himself?
Carefully, making as little sound as possible, he made his way through a splintered hole in the warehouse wall where a sturdy door once stood. He remained calm when he saw dozens of voidlings scuttling all over the walls and contents of the warehouse. He also saw two voidlings the size of minotaurs thrashing around, crushing crates and whatever was inside them. So the creatures could grow to a much larger size than he had seen before. Would they grow as large as Cho’gath, a freakish predatory monster who served as a champion and claimed to be from the Void? Indeed, could Cho’gath actually be the adult form of these creatures?
No time to deal with that now. The creatures still did not acknowledge his presence. Nevertheless, he made sure not to come into contact with one of them in the event that might prompt them to change their minds. The buzz-hum was much louder, and he noted there was an odd purple light coming from somewhere in the warehouse.
Galio made his way around piles of destroyed boxes and tables in the shadows, watching the voidlings fight their way out of the building out to the street. He had to stop this. He found a hallway leading to a smaller storage room in the warehouse. It was crawling with voidlings. The purple light was coming from the smaller room. But there was no way to get through the hall without coming into contact with the creatures.
It was time for a calculated risk. He was not actually sure if these creatures were strong enough to truly harm his rock body if he was wrong, but he hoped he wouldn’t need to find out. He focused and flapped his wings hard, sending a magical gust of strong wind down the hallway. The force of the blow knocked the voidlings in the hallway down and killed them.
He heard angry squeals behind him. He looked to see all the voidlings thrashing around attacking boxes, statues, tables, anything in front of them. They realized there was a threat in the building, but couldn’t determine the difference between him and the other objects in the warehouse. Turning back he rushed down the hallway and into the room.
And there he found himself immediately staring into a man-sized portal, pulsing with purple energy, filling an odd metal frame that looked like a hextech device. Galio was possibly staring into the Void. He simply stood for a moment, waiting for something to happen. He heard the squealing and thrashing behind him in the warehouse, but it faded in the background.
He took a step forward toward the portal and felt a crunch under his clawed feet.
So early for so much snow at this time of year. His mother must not have been prepared, the poor thing.
His feet felt cold. He looked down briefly, but there was nothing there but floor. He looked back up at the portal. What was that? What was happening?
Now he heard the squeals behind him. The beasts had made their way down the hallway, having destroyed everything else in the building. They began to pour into the room. At the same time, more voidlings began skittering out through the portal, ready to join the fight. There was nowhere else to go. If he didn’t make it out of this, he was going to go down fighting.
He planted himself on the floor and folded in his wings. He focused his magic, pushing outward briefly and drawing the voidlings toward him. They were enraged. He could feel their sharp teeth biting against his stone. He could feel them beginning to penetrate. He could feel the pressure of rock giving way. He had to hold on. After a few second he howled, releasing all that contained energy and violence. A burst of magic slammed through the entire room, slaying all the voidlings in an instant. The magic also shredded the metal frame of the portal, causing it to crash with a violent purple burst of its own magic.
Spent of his limited magical resources, Galio slowly collapsed to the ground, wondering why he was smelling snow.
The hut was freezing. He was amazed the boy was still alive. His mother had been found outside, frozen to death, no doubt trying to find food for herself so she could nurse the child. It wasn’t supposed to snow for another month. She wasn’t ready.
He picked the boy up without thinking. He wasn’t crying. He pressed the infant’s body against his own chest. He could feel a faint heartbeat.
“We will take him back to the post immediately,” he said to his companion, another guard. “We can come back later, but this boy is dying. He needs food and warmth.” The guard nodded.
“We didn’t ride any horses out here, though,” the guard said. “Too much brush.”
“Then try to keep up. I will be running.”
They were in front of a fireplace now. He was dribbling milk into the boy’s mouth from his fingertips. He had made the guards milk the goats.
“We have a couple of options if you don’t want to send the child to Demacia,” another guard said.
“It is too far, it is too cold, and the boy is too weak,” he said. “I am sure he wouldn’t survive the trip.”
“The obvious choice would to find a local woman who was nursing to assist, or even take the child from us, but there is a problem there.”
He nodded. There was a reason the woman was living alone. He noticed her jewelry, carved with runes, frozen to her flesh in the snow.
“She was a witch.”
“Yes, that’s what the people here say,” the guard said, sighing. “The boy is cursed, they believe. They don’t want to deal with him.”
“A witch is just a mage who hasn’t been to a school of magic and gotten the king’s blessing,” he said, frustration creeping into his voice. The guard nodded.
“Demacia’s shadow stretches far but our influence hasn’t caught up yet,” the guard said. “We are still working to encourage these northern villages over a few superstitions. They love our swords. They are ambivalent about our ideals.”
“We have other choices, though?” he said. “I will push harder for their help if I need to, but I’d rather not. People are scared. Too many raids from the north.”
“The wives of three of our men – Percy, Karl, and Jorvald – have recently weaned their children onto soft food. They could still nurse for a time. We could bring one up here to live through the winter with us. We have enough supplies.”
“They must volunteer,” he said. “I will not force any woman to spend the winter away from their children. Whoever volunteers, the family will receive an extra ten gold per month.”
“Understood, sir. I will pass along the offer.”
The guard left the hall. He stared down at the baby, as it suckled on his finger. Color had started to come back to his cheeks.
Galio felt a hand on his face. He shook his head. He was still in the inner room in the warehouse. What had happened? Where had his mind gone?
It was Poppy’s hand on his face.
“Are you okay, buddy?” she said. “We thought we had lost you.”
Galio peered around to see that he was crouched on the ground, wings folded in and head curled down. He had taken on his guard pose that made him appear as a typical inert statue. Lux, Garen, Prince Jarvan were watching him while a few guards and soldiers milled around the warehouse. All the voidlings appeared to be dead.
“How long was I inert?” Galio asked.
“I don’t know. You were like this when we got here,” Poppy said. “It’s been about fifteen minutes since we separated.”
“Is this where the beasts came from?” Jarvan asked.
“Yes, milord,” Galio said as he straightened up. “There was a portal here in this room they were coming through.” He gestured to twisted metal pieces on the floor.
“Excellent work, Galio,” Garen said. “You are a credit to the city as usual.”
“Thank you, sir.”
“But what happened next?” Poppy asked. “Why weren’t you moving?”
“I don’t know,” Galio said. “I felt strange and far away. I wasn’t me. Is that what a dream is?”
“You were having a dream in the middle of a fight?” Jarvan asked.
“I don’t know, milord,” he said. “I just know that my mind went to a different place.”
“I’ve sent a runner to the city’s records halls to pull the deed for this building,” Garen said to Jarvan. “In the meantime, we are sweeping up the rest of the voidlings. We have not found any other incursion sources. It appears Galio did shut them down at the source.” Jarvan nodded.
“Expect another commendation, Galio,” Jarvan said.
“Thank you, milord.” Commendations didn’t mean anything in particular to Galio, but he noticed they seemed to mean a lot to the city guards. They often felt slighted by the attention paid to the flashy, formal full military men and the Dauntless Vanguard.
During this whole discussion, Lux had just been staring at him, frowning.
“What’s wrong, Lux?” he asked.
“You said you went to another place,” she said. “What did you see?”
“I don’t think we need to get into that now, Luxana,” Garen said. “After the city is declared safe. …”
“No, brother,” she said, raising her hand up to cut him off. “This is a magic issue and very important.”
“I was in a hut, then later some sort of outpost,” he said. “It was winter. There was a baby. I wasn’t myself. I was a human, some sort of officer.”
“And you’ve never had any dreams before at all?” she asked.
“No, I don’t sleep. I’ve never had a dream or a fantasy on anything of the sort.”
“Galio, this is very important,” she said. “Did you look directly into the portal?”
“Yes. Why?” Lux’s face practically crumpled, and she put both of her hands in front of her face to hide her expression.
“Is something wrong?” Galio asked.
“Yes,” Lux said. “You may have been directly exposed to the Void. We need to take you to the Institute of War immediately.”
Galio was not a regular visitor to the Institute of War. He had come to the Institute on his own to be judged worthy of serving as a champion on the fields of justice, but otherwise he preferred to stay in Demacia and its nearby townships. Also, the Institute and its summoners were responsible for forbidding the practice of creating golems with the ability to reason, like Galio. His visits to the Institute always felt a little uncomfortable.
The attack of Demacia had prompted several different meetings at the Institute. He was not privy to all of them, but no doubt Prince Jarvan was representing Demacia trying to track down Malzahar through the institute for questioning.
The journey to the Institute didn’t take long, despite the fact that it was halfway across the continent. Summoners had been authorized to magically teleport any necessary parties to the Institute for this investigation. Galio, Lux, Poppy, Garen, and Jarvan had been summoned to the massive temple-like building.
Lux had arranged a meeting with “some folks in the know” she said to examine Galio. He had no idea what they expected to accomplish. Durand was the only person who really understood how Galio worked. If he was developing some sort of problem, he had doubts that anything could be done.
He found his way to a magical indoor garden full of colorful trees and flowers with a moderately sized central pond where a swan couple apparently lived. Carowen had told him about this place. She would come here to meditate and refocus herself whenever she lost a match. Despite the lack of access to the sun or fresh air, the summoners used magic to keep the plants growing and flowering and the pond impeccably clean.
Durand would have been horrified by the place. “Artifice should always have a greater purpose,” he told Galio. “If you are going to create something artificial through magic it must because there is a real need for it. Otherwise it is just vanity and narcissism, a waste of magic energy. Runeterra faces enough problems and threats to be throwing around magic recklessly.”
He had intended to make more gargoyles like Galio – once he had Galio perfected -- to protect Demacia. He would have been able to defend the city and its surrounding communities without putting human lives at risk. That was always his goal. Unfortunately Noxus saw this as a threat and eliminated Durand right as he was reaching the height of his skill.
He found Lux sitting on a marble bench next to the lake with two other champions. She was chatting with Soraka, the Starchild, a powerful priestess and healer from Ionia. She was once so powerful she was able to draw magic from the cosmos itself, but she used it recklessly in anger to curse an enemy of Ionia in battle and ultimately had a good chunk of her magic stripped away. She sought out peace and wisdom from the League of Legends to recover her power (and find a way to undo the results of her own curse, which turned her enemy into a powerful werewolf who now served as a league champion himself). Galio had expected her appearance. She had taken upon herself to monitor the health of the champions (those not of Noxus or Zaun anyway), even though Galio was not alive and didn’t have anything resembling “health.”
Hovering nearby (literally, his feet a few inches off the ground) was Kassadin, the Void Walker. Galio was surprised, but realized quickly he shouldn’t have been. Kassadin was Malzahar’s nemesis in the League. He had been exposed to the Void as well, and used magic allegedly from the Void in battle. However, unlike Malzahar, Kassadin managed to hang on to his sanity and rather than attempting to bring the monstrosities of the Void to Runeterra, he was devoted to trying to stop it. He was dressed in his mysterious battle armor that hid him from view, except for his purple glowing eyes. Nobody actually knew what Kassadin looked like anymore. He had once been human, but clearly his exposure to the Void (or whatever it was) had changed him.
“Greetings to you both,” Galio said as he flew slowly over to join them. “I apologize if Luxana has bothered you unduly.”
“Galio, stop it,” Lux ordered. “He’s just like a man. He doesn’t want to admit anything’s wrong.”
“We don’t really know that anything’s wrong,” Galio said.
“Tell us what happened,” Soraka asked. “We just want to make sure you’re okay. Luxana cares about your safety, even if you don’t.”
Galio made note of the end of that sentence as he explained what happened with the voidling invasion.
“Malzahar,” Kassadin growled, his voice sounding alien and almost mechanical through his mask.
“He was in a match with me at the time of the invasion,” Galio said. “Also, the portal to the Void appeared mechanical in nature, or at least technomagical.”
“How are you feeling right now?” Soraka asked.
“To the extent that I feel things, I feel fine,” Galio said.
“Kassadin, is there any way to determine if Galio has been affected by the Void?” Lux asked.
“In these visions you beheld, were there any twisted unfamiliar cities or creatures?” Kassadin asked. “Did you hear strange voices or whispers?”
“No,” Galio said. “I was in a hut and it was winter. The people were all humans. I think I was between Demacia and Freljord somewhere. I also believe it was in the past.”
Kassadin slowly circled around Galio as he described the fantasy. “That doesn’t sound like a typical Void vision.”
“Nunu had been an ally in the match at the Crystal Scar,” Galio said. “The vision seemed somewhat like his childhood, but with a different outcome. Could there be something there?” Kassadin didn’t respond as he circled.
“Galio, I know the Institute seems adamant about denying it, but I am certain the Void exists,” Soraka said. “I felt it when I was at one with the cosmos. Something alien and evil and beyond my touch, even with all that power.”
“But it seems to draw on life,” Galio said. “The voidlings didn’t recognize me as a target. The exposure to the Void alters the minds and bodies of those exposed. I am not alive. I am a construct. How could the Void do anything to me?”
At that question, Kassadin stopped in his tracks and just stared at Galio for a moment. Then he gestured and a large ball of purple magical energy flew from his hand and knocked Galio right in the chest, knocking him to the ground.
“Kassadin!” Soraka yelled as she stood up. “What has come over you?”
“You may not be alive,” Kassadin said to the gargoyle, ignoring Soraka, “but you are not immune to the magic of the Void. I have faced you on the Fields of Justice and my magic affects you just as it affects Lux and Soraka. You may not have a brain, but you have a mind. It would be extremely reckless for you to assume for one moment that the Void may not affect you.”
Galio clambered back up to his feet. Soraka put what she no doubt thought was a comforting hand on his shoulder.
“Galio, you went in that warehouse and faced these creatures all by yourself and may have stared directly into the Void,” she said. “We are just concerned.”
“You are going to bring up Death Blindness, aren’t you?” Galio asked.
Death Blindness was part of Soraka’s latest study into the psyche of the League of Legends’ champions. She at first studied the trauma new champions went through as they first joined the League as a result of being killed repeatedly. As the champions adjusted to this pain and violence (assuming they did) she theorized there was a risk they would develop something called Death Blindness. Because the champion was so used to facing death on the fields of justice, he or she often underestimated the potential dangers of everyday life. After facing Noxian General Jericho Swain on Summoner’s Rift, what threat did a couple of brigands present? The reality, of course, was that the brigands could kill a champion (permanently) if he or she underestimated them. Soraka feared that some champions were beginning to develop a false sense of immortality from their life in the League.
“Galio, there is no reason to get defensive,” Soraka said. “I just don’t think you properly considered the dangers.”
“I did my job, Soraka,” Galio said, his voice growing louder. “Death Blindness is my job. I was created to take on these dangers to protect others.” He turned and began to flap back toward the entrance to the garden.
“Galio, I just think you should … ,” Soraka began.
“I should what?” Galio said, spinning back around for a moment. “Should I have waited and possibly exposed Lux, or Poppy, or Garen, or the crown prince of Demacia to the Void? Think about what you are asking of me.” He turned back around and continued toward the entry arch.
“Galio, please don’t’ go … ,” Lux pleaded.
“I am not important,” Galio said. “You are. You are not to die. None of you are. I will not allow it. I will instead. I will not fail again.”
He left the garden, the three champions staring at him, speechless.
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