Galio awoke surrounded by colored lights. He was gasping somehow. He didn’t understand and then realized he was making crying sounds. He clutched at his face to see if there were tears. There weren’t, of course. The man. He had relived his death. Did this mean his own end was near?
He settled down and made note of the lights. He shook his head to clear the confusion. He was in his tower. It was late at night. And Lux was there, chanting and staring at him.
“Lux!” he yelled. He figured out immediately what was going on. “Stop it this instant.” Lux simply shook her head no while she chanted. Galio considered grabbing her arms to stop the spell, but he knew that interrupting Durand’s magic was potentially very dangerous.
He didn’t want her to get hurt, as angry as he was with her. So he simply sat there as the magic washed over her. He even recognized the spell, but he hadn’t seen it cast in years.
After ten minutes the chanting stopped and the colored lights began to fade. Galio folded his arms.
“So how did you manage this?” he asked.
“I conspired with Carowen,” she said, without a hint of shame. “She was keeping an ear out for the next time you were paralyzed by a vision and she informed me and teleported me over.”
“And?” She sighed sadly.
“You were right,” she said. “It’s the necromantic enchantment that is fading. It’s appears to be a simple soul transference, but there’s another enchantment spell entwined within it that I don’t recognize.”
“The vision I just had was of this guard’s death,” Galio said. “He died having done Demacia a great service. I do not wish to see his servitude after death prolonged. He deserves his freedom.”
“Galio, he is you,” Lux said. “He is the personality that makes you who you are. He is the reason you are a moral, upstanding Demacian.”
“I realize this, Lux,” Galio said. “But he was forced to live in me. Perhaps Durand chose him for these qualities. He gave his life to protect Dederick. But that still doesn’t make what Durand did right.”
“I will not let you go without finding out for sure, what he did” Lux said, jutting her chin out in defiance. “Call me selfish all you want.”
Her comment reminded Galio of the guard’s admission of selfishness in protecting Dederick, not to mention Poppy’s comments about Galio’s own selfish, hidden desire to die a martyr.
“What are you proposing?” Galio asked.
“I will find out how these two enchantments work and what they do,” Lux said. “I will explain to you what they do so that you can make an informed decision, not just revert to ‘necromancy is wrong.’”
“Necromancy is wrong,” he insisted.
“We will see,” Lux said.
“Are you prepared to deal with the consequences of this?” Galio asked. “I can’t bear the idea of you rotting in prison because you helped me, of all people.”
“If you agree, Carowen is prepared to lobby the Institute of War’s Council of Equity for an exception in your case,” she said. “If they agree, then I am sure both King Jarvan and the Demacian Council would agree as well.”
“I wouldn’t be so sure,” Galio said. “Demacia has not been pleased with a number of the Council of Equity’s decisions these days.”
“Trust me,” Lux said. Then she gave a sharp smile, “After all, you’re the one who pointed out that more people bow to me than to Prince Jarvan.”
“I’m sorry, that was unfair,” Galio said. Lux shrugged it off. “There still is one important problem.”
“What’s that?” Lux asked.
“Where on Valoran are you going to learn necromancy in such a short time?” Galio asked.
“Oh that,” Lux said, waving her arm dismissively. “It’s time to break out the spellthief kit again.”
“Are going back to Noxus?” Galio asked, alarmed.
“Galio, I would go to the Shadow Isles for you, or any of Demacia’s champions,” she said.
“Please, be careful,” Galio said. “You caught Noxus by surprise last time you spied there. But now they’re well prepared for what you’re willing to do. They’re on full alert.”
“They’re too caught up in their own politics,” Lux said. “Or so my sources tell me. I should be fine. Carowen will be helping me get in and out.”
“Carowen could get in trouble with the Institute herself for doing that.”
“They’ll never have to know.”
Everybody assumed Lux was now an expert on the geography of Noxus after her successful infiltration. In reality, the city was so large and twisted – and a good chunk of it was underground – it was impossible for most people to know every nook and cranny of the city, even those who lived their whole lives there.
She was in the undercity of Noxus, its massive underground world that represented that side of Noxus that was somehow even darker than the brutal regime that ruled above ground. When the amoral inventors and mad scientists of Zaun created something that most thinking people regarded in horror and disgust, it was brought here for sale.
Fortunately for most of Valoran, the nastiness of Noxus was focused on internal politics. Noxus’s leader, General Boram Darkwill, had been assassinated during the Kalamandan scuffle (and Demacia blamed – a move nobody really believed as Demacia considered assassination immoral, even against Noxians). Much jockeying for leadership in Noxus was taking place. Lux could feel the tension when champions from Noxus appeared on the fields of justice together. Some of them appeared to hate each other as much as they hated her.
The underbelly of Noxus was also the place where mages researched the darkest spells. Magic that was forbidden by other cities, magic even forbidden by the Institute of War, was researched here, if you knew where to look. Because of the power and influence of the summoners, though, these mages rarely stayed in one place for too long. A summoner or two could typically crush one of these mages like a bug if they were caught, so it was important not to draw too much attention, even in Noxus.
Lux didn’t have time to spend to get her bearings. She needed to find a source to bribe and learn quickly. She wandered through the crowd in her plain robes, her face mostly covered. This would normally make her look even more suspicious, but many folks passing through Noxus’s underground with purpose in their step concealed their appearances to some degree. Half of them were probably plotting to have the other half killed.
Lux had luck in her last mission in Noxus with a miserable orphanage in the undercity. Noxus did not share Demacia’s attitude toward finding orphans homes. They left the children to fend for themselves. The city did not tolerate weakness. If the children survived the fight to reach adulthood, they were praised and inducted into Noxus’s military. If they died, nobody cared.
But children who are left to wander the streets see things, and being given nothing, even the simplest of bribes bought fierce loyalty. Her connection with them helped gather information from across the city.
She made her way to the dilapidated shack nestled in a large cave, with a badly smoking bonfire in front as the only source of heat. A few miserable souls were gathered around the bonfire.
Unfortunately, the shack itself appeared empty. She knocked on the door to no response. She looked inside to see the inside was utterly ravaged. Everything of value was taken. Everything else was destroyed. Lux sighed.
“Nobody in there no more,” a man sitting by the bonfire said. “One o’ the generals had them all turned out. Said they were lucky they weren’t executed. Helped Demacia they said.”
Lux carefully walked over and sat next to the man at the fire. The others there regarded her with suspicion. She pulled out a packet filled with dried meat. She handed it to the man. He grabbed a few pieces and then passed it around the fire. They chewed in silence.
“I’m sorry, Roland,” she said, eventually. “Nobody was killed, were they?”
“We don’t see Miss Shaver anymore,” he said. “They didn’t take her, but I think she did herself in. She was just sitting round crying for weeks.”
Lux sat glumly next to them.
“Why’d you come back, miss?” Roland asked. “Seems like Demacia’s doing pretty well now, yeah? Everybody here’s in an uproar with Darkwill gone, but Demacia’s sittin’ pretty good.”
Lux covered her mouth to keep from barking out a pained laugh. She hadn’t thought about it that way, of course. Demacia’s leadership was furious about losing Kalamanda and angry about efforts to blame them for Darkwill’s death. Of course, none of them ever stopped to think about the effect of this on life for the Noxian underdwellers, whose lives were already merciless.
“I need help,” she said. “But I’m not here to spy. You won’t get in trouble for helping me. Nobody will know.”
“That’s what you said last time,” Roland said.
She nodded and stared into the fire.
“I need to find a good necromancer,” she said. Roland stared at her.
“You gonna get us in trouble with Demacia, too, now?” he asked.
“I can pay well,” she said.
“Trying to spend Demacian crowns down here will get us killed in our sleep,” he said.
“I have Noxian currency,” she said. “I can give you a lot in small coins, so you can spend it without people getting suspicious.”
Roland looked at the other people gathered by the fire. He nodded at one. He nodded back.
“Very well,” Roland said. “There’s a guy named Fathras with a place under the citadel. Rumor has it he reattaches limbs.”
“Why does that involve necromancy?” Lux said.
“They aren’t the orginal limbs,” Roland said, and barked a short, harsh laugh. He stood up and gestured for her to follow him. He led her down a side avenue into the darkness under the city.
After she was gone, one of the other men stood up from the campfire and ran off in a different direction.
Lux was terribly lost. She was not familiar with this part of Noxus and was left with no choice but to rely on Roland.
“Carowen, are you watching?” Lux thought to herself.
“Yes,” she heard Carowen’s voice in her head. “I can pull you out of he abandons you.”
“I really thought they couldn’t possibly track you boys down as my source,” Lux said to Roland. “I’m so sorry.”
“They offered a reward,” Roland said. “Dec gave us up.”
“He did?” she asked with shock. “I thought he was your best friend.”
“Not any more, miss,” he said. “We took care of him good when we found out.”
Lux shivered to herself as they walked in the shadows. She wished she had Galio’s vision. Unfortunately, she couldn’t risk summoning light for fear of giving away her identity.
“Is it much further?” she asked.
“For you, dear it’s the end of the line,” a woman’s voice purred from a side alley. Lux reacted instantly, hurling a ball of light into the darkness.
“Missed, dear,” Cassiopeia hissed as she slunk toward her out of the alley. Cassiopeia was a human once, the youngest daughter of General Du Couteau and sister of champion Katarina. Some unnamed curse had turned her into a grotesque snake woman. Unable to continue her efforts as a beautiful dignitary or diplomat for Noxus, she was left with little choice but to fight for the League.
“Carowen, pull me out!” Lux ordered. She noticed the telltale glow begin to build.
“Stop her!” Cassiopeia ordered.
Suddenly Lux felt a knife at her throat.
“Stop the magic, summoner,” A man’s voice whispered into Lux’s ear. “I can slice her neck open before you finish your spell.
The glow faded.
“I’m sorry, Lux,” Carowen said in her head. “If you can get away from these two somehow I can grab you. But you know how fast they are.”
“Thank you, Talon,” Cassiopeia said. Lux stood there with Talon’s blade at her neck as Cassiopeia grabbed a small sack from around her serpentine waist. She tossed it at Roland’s feet.
“Be sure to share this with your little friends,” she ordered. Roland picked up and ran off, not even sparing a glance at Lux as he left. She guessed she couldn’t blame him. He was just a teenage boy when she met him and she had managed to make his difficult life even worse.
“So what do we do with you?” Cassiopeia asked.
“You know I will not surrender,” Lux said. She felt the pressure of Talon’s blade push a little further into her throat.”
“I would hope not,” Cassiopeia said. “Killing you in Noxus’s warrens would certainly be a boon to Noxus. Not even the Institute would interfere. After all, you are clearly invading so soon after the Kalamanda affair. It has the stink of retribution.”
Lux said nothing.
“Why are you looking for a necromancer?” Cassiopeia asked. “This can’t possibly be Demacian business.”
“I’m not telling you.”
“It’s got to be about that gargoyle,” Talon said behind her.
Cassiopeia approached until they were face to face. Her transformation had turned her into a powerful, deadly mage. She could spit magical venom right into Lux’s face if she wanted, disfiguring her or even killing her.
“We know what is going on with him of course,” Cassiopeia said, continuing to stare into Lux’s eyes. Lux had always thought Cassiopeia had developed slitted eyes like a reptile, but no, they were pale blue orbs. “We heard about you in Zaun. Of course, you tried to disguise your concern for your fellow champion in your research about those silly little portals.”
“Those portals aren’t silly,” Lux said. “They’re very dangerous.”
“Yes, we discovered,” Cassiopeia said.
“You had an attack here? Why didn’t you inform the Institute?” Lux demanded.
“Child, unlike Demacia, we don’t treat every crisis within our borders as though it’s an attack on all of Valoran,” Cassiopeia said. “It’s remarkably arrogant. We dealt with it, and with the foolish little yordles who brought it here. We didn’t feel the need to go running to the Institute about it, unlike you.”
“Did you kill them?” Lux said. “We were trying to find out who was behind the portals!”
“Yes, we killed them,” Cassiopeia said. “We were doing them a favor, frankly. They had clearly lost their minds, babble about ‘the beast with a thousand mouths’ coming from the Void to devour us all. They made Malzahar seem reserved. They were no longer sane enough to tell us who had put them up to this.”
Lux sighed in disappointment.
“However, it just so happens that we have a necromancer working on getting answers from these yordles from beyond the grave. Would you be interested in meeting him?”
“Now you’re just mocking me,” Lux said. “Are you going to kill me? Ransom me? What do you want?”
“I want to see how far you’ll go,” Cassiopeia said, as she circled around her. “And for a gargoyle? Really? He’s not even a person!”
“He is a person,” Lux shot back, pushing her head forward for emphasis. She stopped, though, as Talon’s knife pierced her skin.
“And what am I then?” Cassiopeia hissed, darting her head forward as though she were going to take a bite out of Lux. “I hear you, you know. I hear what you have to say about me on the fields. Demacia has their friendly summoners yes? So does Noxus. I know much you and the summoners laugh at what has come of me.”
Lux had no response to this. It was wrong to lie. So she said nothing.
“How far would you go for Galio, Lux?” Cassiopeia asked.
“What do you want?” Lux asked back.
“Would you share my curse if it would save him?” Cassiopeia asked.
Cassiopeia never talked about her curse, at least certainly not to Demacians. They all assumed she was cursed for doing something wrong. They all assumed she deserved what happened to her.
And here was Lux, looking to learn the magic to save Galio, magic even Galio himself insisted was immoral and wrong.
“Yes,” Lux whispered quietly. Talon chuckled darkly behind her.
“What did she say?” Cassiopeia asked.
“She said yes,” Talon said.
“Close your eyes then,” Cassiopeia hissed. “It won’t take long. Then we’ll take you to see the necromancer. I’ll teach you to slither along the way, so you will be able to escape once you return to Demacia and they recoil from you in horror.”
Lux did as ordered. Tears welled up at the edges of her closed eyes. Poppy kept asking her how far she’d go, and she didn’t know the answer. Now she truly did. What would her parents say? What would Garen say? Galio would be inconsolable. But it had to be done.
For seconds nothing happened.
“Just do it already,” she snarled. “I don’t have much time left to help Galio.”
“Open your eyes, you silly girl,” Cassiopeia ordered. “I can’t give you this curse. If I could do that, don’t you think I would have figured out how to remove it by now?”
Lux opened her eyes and looked down. She was still completely human. Talon laughed uproariously behind her.
Cassiopeia was looking at her differently now. Her face seemed to have soften a little bit.
“You would do anything for Demacia and for your friends, wouldn’t you?” she asked. Lux said nothing. Her face felt flush with the embarrassment of Cassiopeia’s trick.
“I want you think about that whenever you see me on the fields of justice,” Cassiopeia said. “We all make sacrifices, Demacian.” Lux nodded.
“I will take you to our necromancer. If you’re still a fast learner, I suspect you will not need to study long.”
“So what is the real price?” Lux asked. “There must be one.”
“True, true,” Cassiopeia said. “Someday -- and I won’t know when that day will be -- I will come to you with a spell that I cannot learn and cannot cast. But you can. In exchange for information to save your pet gargoyle, you will learn and cast this spell for me. No questions asked. You cannot refuse.”
“I will not cast a spell that would bring harm onto Demacia,” Lux said. “Talon can cut me down right here, right now, but I won’t do that.”
“I understand, sweetheart,” Cassiopeia said. “The Du Couteaus have bigger fish to fry than your precious city-state. I will not pit you against your own city. Do we have a deal then?”
Galio stood in awe in Demacia Castle’s great Hall of Light. The hall was built of marble with elegantly carved alabaster trimmings. It gleamed white. Sconces and chandeliers were fitted with magical crystals that provided light, rather than with open flame. The color of light could be changed to set the mood for whatever ball was taking place there.
Wedding receptions for noble families were often lit with a soft pink. Induction balls for the latest crop of soldiers in Demacia’s military, a sharp crimson. For Galio, the crystals glowed with a brilliant gold to match the trim of his ceremonial uniform.
The halls were decked with beautiful blue trim, banners, and flags. A deep blue carpet led to the receiving line in the center of the ballroom. Galio was surprised to see two large banners on display. One was decorated with the crest of Demacia, hardly a surprise. But a banner of equal size bore the crest of the League of Legends. He was not sure why the banner surprised him. He hadn’t seen one at a Demacian ball before. The Institute of War tried their best to keep their air of independence from city-state events.
The castle had arranged for all of this in less than a day. It was amazing. Galio had spent the day working with Durand’s bats to scout the sewers. They had found no other yordles. When he wasn’t working with the bats and working with Garen and Prince Jarvan, he was worrying about Lux. He knew she was working with Carowen, but he hadn’t heard from them all day. The plan was that Lux would learn what necromantic magic she thought she needed and she Carowen would put their heads together to try to figure out how it applied to Galio.
He kept his worries to himself as he approached the front of the receiving line. He, of course, would be part of the line as the guest of honor, at the end, followed only by Prince Jarvan IV, then the king and queen.
Garen and Prince Jarvan had already arrived, resplendent in their military dress. There was a little bit of stiffness in their greeting. It was an odd switch to formality. The three of them had been communicating all day about the investigation. Now they had to switch gears for the ball. Galio bowed deeply to them both by way of greeting. They bowed back. Jarvan gestured Galio to his side. He stood between the two men as the guests began to arrive.
“Another portal was found in Piltover,” Garen whispered to Galio. “But Caitlyn took care of it before it could activate. Fortunately she was able to take it out from a distance with that gun of hers.”
“Her eyesight is as amazing as mine,” Galio said. “And mine is due to magic. It is good that she was there to assist.”
“Unfortunately, when she found the yordles involved, they were dead in the same fashion as ours,” Garen said. “So we’re still no closer to determining the mastermind of these attacks.”
“What about Malzahar?” Galio asked.
“The Institute interrogated him and claim that he was not involved,” Jarvan muttered. He didn’t sound happy about it. “He was in Institute custody when these two yordles were killed. We know he has followers, but none that we know of with enough magic skill to burn people to death.”
They ended their conversation as King Jarvan and his queen arrived, with Xin Zhao in tow. The music stopped and the crowd bowed to their king and queen. As was the custom, the king and queen bowed back.
The receiving line began in earnest with the king and queen present. Hundreds of well-wishers lined up, greeting Galio with their brittle smiles, thanking him for his service to Demacia. There was a slight air of discomfort. Usually the veterans they honored were quite old. They could barely hear what was being said to them or understand. They just nodded and smiled at everybody and laughed when a pretty girl kissed them on the cheek. Galio didn’t look at all like he was dying and it made the oddness of saying goodbye to a gargoyle in a uniform even odder.
More surprising to the Galio was the number of champions from other city-states who had made their way to Demacia so quickly for this affair. Soraka led a contingent from Ionia, including Akali, Kennen and Shen – the three champions who formed the triad known as the Kinkou, charged with helping maintain the “balance” of all things on Valoran.
A contingent of yordles arrived, their natural cheerfulness noticeably dimmed. Yordles are a particularly social and communitarian species, and Galio had heard many yordles in Bandle City felt guilty that their own were apparently involved in this attack, even if they might have been brainwashed.
“I can’t believe yordles are responsible for destroying such a magnificent creation!” Heimerdinger declared as he met Galio in the receiving line. “I cannot express my sorrow enough.”
To Galio’s surprise, Rumble stood right next to Heimerdinger.
“I’m setting aside our issues for now,” Rumble said grudgingly. “I will have vengeance for what was done to our brothers. Heimerdinger and I will work together on this. But only on this!” Galio nodded and thanked them both for attending.
“Where is Lux?” Garen asked. “It’s not like her to be ‘fashionably late.’ It’s not her way, she says.”
“She had some business to take care of,” Galio said. “But she told me she would be here to make a magnificent entrance.” Lux and Galio had worked out what they would tell Garen when he inevitably asked, without actually lying. Galio was still worried about her safety, though. Carowen was not here yet either among the contingent from the Institute of War. Hopefully they were both safe.
His fears were pushed aside by the distraction of Poppy’s arrival. Much to Galio’s surprise – to everybody’s surprise – she was wearing a shimmering aquamarine dress. No armor tonight.
“You look lovely tonight!” Galio said as he held her hands in his own. “Are those earrings?”
“They’re borrowed,” Poppy said, blushing. “I figured if I was gonna doll myself up for anybody it might as well be you.”
“I insist on a dance later,” Galio said.
“Oh, you know I don’t dance,” she said.
“Well, you don’t have to worry about stepping on my feet,” Galio said. She smiled at him.
Galio’s “special guests” arrived next. When asked if he wanted anybody in particular to come to the ball, he asked if Miss Freeson and the orphans of the Courage House could come. The orphanage was close to the guard barracks Galio served from and he visited the children regularly. Occasionally they would get to go to the Scrying Hall to cheer Galio on in a League of Legends battle.
The children made their way down the receiving line, Miss Freeson following along behind to make sure the children greeted the gathered dignitaries properly. But when they got to Galio, they screamed his name and hugged his legs. Miss Freeson looked flustered, as she typically did when she took the children out.
“It’s quite okay,” Galio said to her. “As long as they don’t hug Prince Jarvan’s legs.” Nevertheless, Miss Freeson scolded the children and they carefully returned back to the appropriate greeting etiquette for the prince, the king and the queen. Miss Freeson smiled at him, then suddenly broke into tears. She covered her face as the kids looked at her in confusion. They didn’t understand what was going on. She regained her composure and led the kids away, apologizing to the royal family the whole time.
Finally, Captain Ironwood and his crew came down the line, the captain’s booming voice preceding him.
“Here’s our man of honor,” Ironwood declared as he got to Galio. “We took a vote, and we decided we aren’t willing to let you go.”
“Really?” Galio responded.
“Nope,” the captain said. “So we’re going to have them cart you back into the guard house when it’s all over so we can hang our jackets on you before our shift starts!”
Garen’s eyes widened in horror at the suggestion, but then Galio burst out laughing with Captain Ironwood.
“No use letting a good guard go to waste!” Ironwood boomed. The line settled at the realization that the men were handling the coming tragedy the only way they knew how – inappropriately. Captain Ironwood’s face turned serious suddenly.
“Is there anything you need at all, boy?” he asked. “Want us to set you up somewhere nice? Maybe over the northern gate? You can watch forever if you want.” His eyes pleaded for Galio to make some sort of last request, to make it all seem normal.
“That would be wonderful, captain,” Galio said. “If the city allows it, of course.” Captain Ironwood nodded. The men all then more politely paid their respects to Galio and the royal family.
The king would give his speech later, but for now, the orchestra began to play and the attendants took the dance floor. Galio insisted on brining a protesting Poppy to the floor.
“I’m the guest of honor,” he joked. “You can’t refuse a dying gargoyle, can you?”
“Oh, Galio, don’t make fun,” she said.
“Durand taught me to dance,” Galio said. “He thought it would make me less threatening at social functions. I never really get the chance to try it.”
He was twice her size, but they gave it their best try. Galio laughed as she kept stepping on his stone feet.
“Why couldn’t you be a yordle?” Poppy sighed as they finally found an awkward rhythm together on the dance floor.
“Why couldn’t you be a gargoyle?” Galio shot back. It was a joke between the two of them that had developed over the years, a recognition of a deeper realization, and something that was sadly not meant to be.
“I heard from Carowen,” she whispered as they danced. “There were some issues, but they think they might have worked their way through them. They wouldn’t give me the details, but they should make it here tonight.” Galio nodded.
“No matter what happens, Poppy,” Galio said seriously, “remember that I would still be sitting guard in that field had you not inspired me. Anything the king acknowledges of me tonight is partly due to you.”
She looked up at him, her eyes gleaming. She opened her mouth as though she were going to say something, but changed her mind. They continued to dance in silence.
Eventually the horns in the orchestra announced the king, who had made his way up a spiral staircase to a beautiful dias that overlooked the dance floor.
“Ladies and gentleman, your King, Jarvan Lightbringer, the Third,” the attendant announced. The crowd all bowed together, then applauded their liege.
Jarvan looked over the crowd and bowed in return.
“Thank you for coming here tonight to honor our guest, Galio,” the king said. “He has given all he has for Demacia and as the time approaches for him to leave us for his next adventure, it is only appropriate that we thank him for his sacrifices.
“I have a number of speeches we use and modify as needed for each man or woman we honor here,” he continued. “When we were deciding what to say about Galio, I was asked, ‘Do we keep all the references to what a great man he is? Do we change the term to gargoyle?’ They weren’t quite sure how to progress.
“So I asked them, ‘What is a man, then?’ They said a man is a person who uses his strength to help others. A man is a person who protects the weak. A man is a person who provides for others, if not for his family, then for his community. And they went on like this for a time until I said to them, ‘Are there any of these definitions of a man that do not apply to Galio?’ And they could not think of a definition of ‘man’ – other than the most literal, of course – that did not apply to Galio.”
“So we are here tonight to honor this man, Galio. He, without any thought of his own safety, has done whatever necessary to keep Demacia safe. He has represented us on the Fields of Justice. He has been a brick in the mortar of the fortress of Demacia. He has been a coal feeding the flame by which we shine brightly. On the day he passes we will mourn a man who gave us all and asked for nothing in return. No pay, no pension. Everything Galio has done for Demacia was because he wanted to.”
The crowd interrupted the speech with a large round of applause. The crowd then bowed to Galio, who nodded to them, feeling terribly uncomfortable with the attention.
“It is customary for the king to grant a boon of some sort in the name of a family who has sacrificed a member to bring honor to Demacia. Unfortunately, Galio bears no family name, does he?” The crowd murmured at the question. “What sort of man doesn’t have a family name? It is not appropriate. Something must be done about it. Galio, what was Durand’s family name?”
“It was Brightward, milord,” Galio responded. The king nodded at him and smiled.
“My boon to you, Galio, is Durand’s family name,” he said. The murmur spread and grew around the crowd. “You are Galio Brightward. Durand didn’t just create a golem. He instilled in you the morals a man would his son. It is only appropriate you keep his name, even if only briefly.”
Galio was stunned. He bowed deeply.
“My lord, this is indeed a great honor,” Galio said. For a moment, all his anger at Durand’s use of necromancy melted away.
“We have long treated you as a true Demacian,” the king said. “You should have a Demacian name, yes?”
In response, the crowd began to cheer, led by Captain Ironwood’s piercing whistle and the guards’ whoops of joy. If Galio was capable of blushing, he would have been pink from his head to his toes. While Galio was taking in the cheers of the crowd, an attendant rushed up to the podium and whispered something in the king’s ear. The king looked down to the end of the hall and nodded back at the attendant.
Suddenly the orchestra began playing “The Challenge and Victory March,” the theme for the League of Legends, played prior to the start of each match on the fields of justice. The sudden music caused the cheering crowds to stop and look around in confusion.
“May it please the ladies and gentlemen of the court and the royal family,” the attendant announced. “Accompanying Luxanna Crownguard tonight are summoner Carowen Aurum of Demacia and High Councilor Heywan Relivash of the Institute of War.”
Several gasps were heard from the crowd and the murmuring began again as the trio walked the carpet to the center of the hall. Galio remained in the center as the crowd backed away from him. The king remained up on his dias. The trio bowed to him, and the king bowed back.
“To King Jarvan and Lightguard family, as well as the ladies and gentlemen attending tonight, I want to thank you for your hospitality in allowing me to appear tonight,” Heywan said. “As you may or may not know, the Institute of War has become involved in the investigation of this horrible attack that may yet claim the life of one of our champions. First, the Institute and the League would like to join Demacia in honoring Galio for his fortitude on the Fields of Justice. Every summoner who has worked with Galio has praised him for his unshakable sense of duty.”
The crowd began to applaud again, but Heywan raised an arm to calm them.
“I apologize for rudeness, but time may be growing short,” he said. “The Institute’s High Council has been approached by Summoner Carowen with news of Galio’s condition and a request for action. As you all may know, the Institute of War has forbidden the furthering of Durand’s work. The general argument was believed to be that the Institute was concerned that an army of sentient golems would create more havoc to Runeterra. While this is true, it wasn’t the complete reason. However, it seems that in their efforts to save their friend, Luxanna and Carowen have stumbled across the rest.”
Here the crowd began to murmur again. Galio looked down at the floor.
“In order to make Galio function, some necromantic magic was used in his creation,” Heywan said. The murmuring grew louder and there was a shocked tone.
“Just to make it clear to you all,” Heywan said, “Galio himself is not an undead creature. You have no reason to be afraid of him.” Nevertheless the crowd looked stricken.
“Carowen has approached the council to ask that she and Luxanna be given permission to attempt to restore Galio’s enchantments to keep him from reverting back to an inert statue. After a lengthy private debate we voted to allow Carowen to arrange a match to settle the affair on Summoner’s Rift. She will lead a team of champions in battle. Should her team win, we will allow an exception to our policies this one time to attempt to restore Galio. Should she lose, then we will have to say goodbye to our resident gargoyle.”
“Who would perform this magic?” King Jarvan asked. “My understanding is that much of Durand’s studies were lost.”
“It appears Luxanna Crownguard has been using her prowess at learning new magic to learn how Durand’s enchantments operate,” Heywan said. “She says she’s not able to recreate Durand’s work, but she believes she has learned enough to weave Galio’s enchantments back together.”
“Lux is learning necromancy?” Garen blurted out in shock. She stared daggers back at him.
“Only to help Galio!” She shot back.
“That does not matter,” Garen said. “It is immoral!”
“Please,” Heywan interrupted. “I think that is a matter best left for the Crownguard family, if you would.” The two of them settled down, glaring at each other.
“As I said, it’s the council’s decision to allow for an exception,” Heywan said. “However, because Demacia has its own laws regarding magic use, this match can only take place if the leadership of Demacia permits it.”
“So Galio isn’t the only one seeking a boon,” King Jarvan said.
“I apologize on my sister’s behalf, milord,” Garen said, “She doesn’t know … .”
“Don’t you dare, Garen!” Lux snarled as she stomped over to him. “I know full well what I’m doing. I’m helping my friend. Demacians never abandon each other, right!” She looked up to the king for support.
“You are correct child,” the king said. “But allowing the dead to rest in peace is not the same as abandoning them. Calling on them for protection is immoral and cruel.”
“I agree, milord,” Lux said, “But by analyzing the spells of Galio’s enchantment, we believe Durand managed to do something extraordinary. He found a way to draw on necromantic magic without resorting to slavery.” Galio looked at Lux in surprise.
“How does that work exactly?” King Jarvan asked.
“Unfortunately, I won’t know until I try to recreate the spells, milord,” Lux said. “If there is a price to pay, I will pay it, but I would request the opportunity to save my friend. He has earned it.”
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