Comment below rating threshold, click here to show it.
If anyone actually reads this whole thing I'll be freakin' impressed.
Marius was born on the slopes of Mount Targon to a family of ancient and noble blood. The very bloodline of Kor. His birth was highly anticipated by his village for his father was a great warrior of the Rakkor and his mother had set herself above and beyond the women of her generation. Their offspring was meant for war.
Surely, this child when he reached the age of 16 would have the most glorious Rite of Kor!... had he not been born too soon. Weighing a full pound less than the requirement the Rakkor place upon newborns Marius's parents knew their duty, and disobeyed.
Kaimar, Marius's father, did not begrudge the Rakkor's ancient tradition of their offspring fighting to the death at the end of childhood. His own ancient sires had put the practice in place and it had served them well from that day forward. Only the strong survived. However he and his wife could not give up their son without giving him a fighting chance. Sacrificing him on a mountain road was no fight as the Kor was... it was a waste.
Knowing their crimes against the Rakkor they fled. They fled the mountain tribes of the Rakkor and took refuge in the great city-state of Demacia. In this place they could raise their son to adulthood and perhaps... perhaps... return him to his people some day to fight in the Kor and prove that their decision was honorable.
Raised in Demacia, amongst Demacians, Marius was ever reminded by his parents that he was Rakkor. His father trained him from the age of 3 in the use of all manner of weapons. Physical training became a mainstay of each day as Marius grew. Counting his days until he could be reunited with his honorable people that his parents had told him so much about.
Kaimar had found work in the Demacian courts training young guards and soldiers. A perk of the job was that these men became the sparing partners of young Marius. After the age of 12, he never lost. He had but two battles end in a draw. The first, against a young man scarcely any older than Marius but destined to be a great soldier some day. With his greatsword he and marius fought to a draw for Kaimar feared losing a star soldier or his own son before their time. The second draw was to the young Prince of Demacia himself who gained great respect for Marius for it was his only draw as well.
His fervor for battle was strengthened with each passing day. He felt, no he knew, he was destined to return to the Rakkor in glory.
The Solstice of Marius's 16th year approached. Kaimar and Marius began their journey to the wind chilled slopes of Targon. Little was spoken along the way. Marius knew what lay ahead and his father would only on brief occasion mention a hint that he knew Marius already knew... but it made him feel better. He would say things like "be sure to watch your opponent's hips, not his hands or his eyes. A mans hand and eyes can lie but it's impossible to go anywhere without your middle." or "don't just look for the strike, be ready for their follow-up, or even a simultaneous strike". Marius wanted to be annoyed by this now obvious advice but he knew this was all his father's way of saying "I love you".
As they entered the foothills of Targon Kaimar's spirits seemed to raise as though he was a much younger man. Around them they could see the fields worked by lesser tribesmen who's ilk had been subjugated by the Rakkor in ages past.. Their fields were not like the lush and highly productive fields near Demacia, these fields seemed to take more work for less profit. The herds of cattle and sheep roaming in the distance seemed a more fitting mainstay for a land like this. The close to the mountain Marius became more taken aback... was this really where the Rakkor chose to live?
They came to a village. Above them the mountain loomed like some silent imposing god. Yet Marius knew that around and upon this mountain his people not only scratched out a living, but became the best warriors known to Runeterra. A hearty place for hearty folk. He thought to himself "how much would my people benefit by embracing a few things Demacia takes for granted.." but quickly chased away the thought. He had steeled himself to never see the walls of Demacia again. This mountain was a city unto itself with a wall of warriors harder than stone.
The village was larger than he expected to see when travling through the countryside, but smaller than he had imagined while sitting by the fire in Demacia. Eyes were upon them. Un-trusting, unrelenting eyes. As they walked the thoroughfare of the village some of the lesser tribesmen went running ahead of them toward the mountain. Not a soul spoke to them but the murmuring was like flowing water. Visitors were not a common sight.
Ahead of them was a small brook flowing from somewhere high up the mountain. The bridge over it represented the line lesser men were not to cross. Beyond the bridge was the grand stair leading to Targon and the Rakkor.
Two men stood on the bridge. Each in ancient rune armor. Marius stood in wonder. His father had thought it shameful to take his armor away from Targon so had only spoken of it. The magnificent specimens of war bred Rakkor stood on the bridge as a testament to the lesser tribes... and now to him. His father approached them boldly but spoke with courtesy. "We wish to climb the mountain." His powerful voice reflected back from the rocks surrounding the brook.
"None but the Rakkor may climb Targon. Who are you travler?" The voice was stern and unyielding... it reminded him of his fathers when he trained warriors. "I am Kaimar of the Rakkor, and this is my son Marius. We seek to climb the mountain that he may offer his life at the Rite of Kor."
The soldiers appeared stunned. The pregnant silence sat seconds that felt like eternity. Until a voice from behind the warriors echoed through the valley to their ears. "Why do the walking dead return to Targon?" Marius's father knew Jagen's voice. The hulking warrior had led the Kor since before Kaimar's family had fled the mountain. He was followed by two young men... most likely his star students.
"Why would you return here Kaimar?"
"For my son to claim his birthright as one of the Rakkor. I made my choice in leaving, but I ask that you grant him the chance to join his people."
Jagen sighed with contempt. "Your weak offspring was deemed unworthy once. There is no Rite of Kor for those already dead"
Seeing the moment he had lived for slipping away Marius spoke in a commanding voice. "I will defeat the greatest of you, I swear it."
"Be quiet boy!" Kaimar hissed to his son.
At the young man's words the young man to Jagen's right stepped forward, meeting Marius's stare. The two warriors began walking toward the bridge never breaking eye contact. Marius analyzed his opponent. He was slightly taller, built leaner, and carried himself with power and speed. Spear and shield he had but they were not the artifact weapons of the Rakkor... he had not gone through his Kor yet...
The young men picked up speed rushing to the challenge that lay ahead. Neither saw fear in the eyes of the other. Sprinting now to meet in the middle of the bridge. An ear splitting shout from Jagen broke their concentration: "PANTHEON! Stand down!" The warrior across from Marius came to an abrupt halt with his shield in front of him to receive Marius should he continue advancing. Marius slowed his pace and stood at ease in front of the young warrior.
"Pantheon, he is not worth the effort, the Kor is tomorrow" Jagen spoke with haste.
"He challenged me. Honor compels me." The fiery eyed young warrior shouted back while staring into one of the few faces his age that showed no fear at his approach.
"He's already dead my pupil. Even spilling his blood on our sacred soil will not give him what he desires. He is not, and never will be one of us."
Anger boiled in Marius... who were they to say he was not Rakkor... his blood was Rakkor... he could fight like a Rakkor... this man across from him, this Pantheon... was it simply one pound of weight at birth that made him Rakkor and Marius dead? A literal pound of flesh was all that separated Marius from this man and yet their lives were so different for it.
The young men stared at each other with respect... respect muddled with confusion for Pantheon for this man appeared a worthy rival he was now bared from facing. Respect muddled with contempt from Marius for the man across from him was separated by two steps and one pound... and somehow that made all the difference.
A peace came over Marius... he now knew he could not be Rakkor... that he would return to Demacia and seek his legend there. As the young warrior walked away Marius spoke with a confident smirk "It would have been an honor to defeat you."
With respect in his eyes Pantheon turned and matched the smirk across the Demacian's face "You would be privileged... to die at my feet."
Returning to Demacia was bittersweet. He had never considered this land home but now saw it was more of a home to him than the mountain of his birth.
Seeking to put his abilities to the test he enrolled in the military academy his father had helped train students in. For the next several years he trained and moved up in rank and in favor with the Demacian soldiers. He grew to respect them, especially the young Prince Jarvan IV whom he had fought once in their childhood.
His true fellowship came from his troops closest to him. His First Cohort. After years of service together he would die for them without hesitation and he knew they for him. The first true comrades he had found outside his immediate family. They cared not if he was Rakkor or Demacian... only that he was their commander who loved them.
The Prince seemed respect to Marius as well. So much so that Jarvan appointed Marius to be a field commander under his control. They fought many battles against Noxus and thanks to Marius's mettle drove the scum back. Looking back Marius thinks perhaps this was utilitarianism on Jarvan's part.
More and more Marius identified himself not as a warrior, but as a soldier for Demacia. He thought he had great honor. He knew he would never grow as close to the Prince as the head of the Dauntless Vanguard, Garen had been childhood friends of the prince. Nor would he know him as personally as Xin Zhao who was an adviser to the king. But Marius took greater pride in that when a key battle needed won, the Exemplar of Demacia called upon him to lead men into the fray.
That all changed, rather quickly first loss the great prince suffered at the hands of Jericho Swain of Noxus. Against Marius's military advice Jarvan chose to implement two pronged attack Marius leading the left, Jarvan leading the right. Jarvan was taken buy surprise, the tactics of swain outdid him. He separated himself too far from his supporting forces and was led into a trap. Despite Marius's troops best efforts to save the Prince's battalion they were crushed and the prince captured before the help could arrive.
As his troops strove to save their Prince, Marius noticed a change in the Noxian battle lines. Were he not quick he knew he would fall into the tactician's second trap! He ordered a full withdrawal of his troops save one a group of his best and most loyal fighters... his first cohort who had been the closest thing to family for Marius since the death of his parents.
His men formed defensive lines, allowing themselves to fall into the ruse to the rest of his commanders could bring save their troops. The tactic worked but Marius and his soldiers were separated and presumed dead.
In actuality, they fought valiantly. Making a shield testudo to protect them and fight for as long as necessary to save the others as they retreated...they held strong surrounded on all sides with the enemy crashing around them. "It's been an honor serving you sir!"... "The RAVEN COMES!" A dark wave of magic... a flock of ravens picking at the bodies... a cry of "BREACH IN THE LINES!"... he turned to shout an order and knew no more...
Marius was in a place he’d never been before, far from the battlefield, at the lonely crossroads of life and death. He stood at the precipice of eternal peace, the gateway of slumber. He reached out...
He awoke to circling carrion birds... the sounds of carts being laden and bodies being stripped of valuables and metals. The weight of several men's armored bodies pressed hard on his chest... he realized what awoke him. A raven pecked at his left cheek. Violently moving his head to the side he scared the bird away.
Inching his hand under the bodies of his fallen comrades he found the hilt of his sword. He heard a whisper as if on the wind... He realized his soldiers must have used their own bodies to shield him... he was laying where he fell. He felt a swelling in his chest at their bravery and a sickening in his stomach that he had lived while they had died.
A group of Noxian's approached with a wagon. Cleaning bodies from the field.
"Patience" he told himself...."Patience"
They removed one body from atop him... then another... as they rolled the third and final body off his he leaped to his feet and drove his short-sword into his throat. Before the nearest one could react he bull-rushed him shouldering his diaphragm and stabbing twice quickly in the abdomen.
Seeing his shield on the ground he ran to it, cutting down another Noxian in the process. These were no soldiers, they were the scavengers and stood no chance. Picking up his shield and affixing it to his arm he heard the whisper again.. as though on the wind. He tried to place it's origin but had to leap to defend himself from two more assailants armed with spears. He made quick work of them.
The commotion had not gone unnoticed. A great many of the scavengers and now some soldiers resting after the battle began to rush to his position seeing that there was one soldier still drawing breath. He grabbed a pilum from the ground near him to hurl at the nearest charging foe... but as he grabbed it his mind began to ring... more voices... on the wind? In my mind?... He snapped back to attention in time to thrust the pilum into his attacker's chest. What was happening to him?!
The scavengers and soldiers began to form ranks. spears toward him many with shields. Regular Noxian troops were in their midst now... more gathered... thirty?... forty? More. They began rushing him as one. He took a defensive stance, it appeared he really would die today. What better way than insurmountable odds. They charged and he let out a war cry fierce and strong.
The advancing Noxian's slowed... and stopped... many of which appeared to be in shock. Standing slack jawed they started to back off. The scavengers began to run. What had been a group of battlefield hangers numbering upwards of fifty began to route, only the strong or stupefied stood their ground.
"We're with you commander." A voice on the wind, stern and strong. He felt it more than heard it. Looking to his right and his left he saw his First Cohort standing in eerie silence translucent and determined. Standing in formation as perfectly as in life.
The enemy walked away. None wanted to try their Noxian might against soldiers that refused to die.
The soldiers then did something Marius did not know how to react to. They began to file, march even... into him. More specifically into his battle regalia. He could feel them enter his helmet, shield, sword, pilums and armor. Is this of what the Relic Armor of the Rakkor is made?... he did not know... had he died with his men?... of that he could not be sure.
He simply left the field in a daze and returned several days later to Demacia.
"In war there is only the victor and the dead." Jarvan said to him. Marius knew this all to well now.
The Dauntless Vanguard under the command of Garen Crownguard went on a daring mission and saved Prince Jarvan from Noxian captivity. However as any who knew Jarvan noticed... he was no longer the man he was before. Xin Zhao was quoted as saying: "His eyes never seemed to look at you, only through you to something he could not look away from."
He had become a grim and aggressive man.
Marius did not know how to deal with his own... were they demons? No... But he did not know how to cope with what was happening to him, especially with so few answers. When Jarvan asked to meet with him he already knew what was happening before the words left the prince's mouth. Whatever had afflicted Jarvan's mind had turned him against even his closest friends... Marius could not hope to weather this storm, especially being the one blamed with losing the battle. No one wants to make their future king look reckless.
He was not exiled... not dismissed... simply asked to leave military service. Embarrassing? Perhaps Jarvan himself blamed him for the slaughter on the field of battle. Perhaps it was simply meant to be... funny... this was the second homeland that didn't want him. His heart broke silently, it seemed no matter what he did in life he was destined to be pushed away from what was rightfully his. At least now his soul did not suffer alone... But what becomes of a man who carries the souls of the dead? Would his own be lost?
No matter now... the only souls who understood his pain were within him.
"Why do you want to join the League?" The summoner asked sternly.
"To belong." he said sadly. "And to honor those who have sacrificed for me."
Marius, why do you want to join the League?" More harshly this time...
"To show them" his voice wavering "... To show them all."