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Five Runeterrans heard the call of the League of Legends. Each knew it was their destiny to participate, but not just anyone could join the league. First, they had to prove their merit.

Today, we follow Darr, an upstanding, honorable citizen of Demacia; a former soldier who lost his will to fight long ago.

Darr strode forward at a steady pace through the town market. His military background forced him to keep even steps as he marched. It was his nephew’s eleventh birthday and he was determined to find a fitting present. Demacian banners fluttered in the wind. They always reminded him of his ten year service; a service ended abruptly by a Noxian patrol. It had been a routine engagement; the Demacians were crushing the evil Noxians until magic intervened and wiped out Darr’s unit. Only Darr had remained alive to be taken captive and experimented upon.

He didn’t remember much of the torture, only that he endured it until the Might of Demacia, Garen Crownguard, had stumbled upon his captors. The experience had messed with his spirit. Some kind of mix between magic and poison kept Darr from fighting. Every time he attempted to fight afterwards, it had brought him to his knees. Tears of frustration left permanent stains along his cheeks.

Darr found the place he was looking for – a rundown stable on the outskirts of Demacia’s walls. He found the proprietor and procured his nephew’s present. A horse would be what Ian desired most, Darr thought. He could take his nephew hunting if they both had one.

Darr led the brown gelding through the streets of Demacia back to this brother’s home. When he arrived, Ian was waiting. The little boy saw the horse and jumped and squealed with glee.

“Is that for me, Uncle Dare?” Ian asked as he kept petting the animal.

Darr looked at his nephew and furled his brows. It was annoying when his name was mispronounced. “Not if you continue to call me Dare instead of Darr,” Darr replied with a little edge to his voice.

“Sorry, Uncle Darr. I was excited,” lamented the boy.

Darr patted his nephew on the head and led the horse around back where there was a makeshift stable Darr had put up the day before.

“You have to take real good care of this horse, Ian,” Darr instructed and then showed him how to groom and take care of it.

By the time they were finished, Ian was ready for bed and Darr found himself approached by a courier in the Demacian army.

“Captain Darr,” the soldier addressed him by his former title and saluted properly.

“At ease soldier,” Darr said naturally, and then painfully added, “I’m not in the military any longer. What brings you here?”

Truly, it was an oddity for the military to seek him out. He hadn’t been in touch with them for years.

“Demacia requires your strength once again,” the soldier replied and then continued, “your presence is required by the Might of Demacia.”

“Is that all?” Darr said off-handedly as if that was a daily occurrence.

“That is all I was instructed to say, sir,” the soldier saluted again and left the former captain wondering what he should do.

What could he do? He had no strength left to give. His spirit remained at odds with him, but he knew he couldn’t refuse a summons from the Might of Demacia. His honor and semblance of pride didn’t allow him to do otherwise, yet he contemplated still.

“I’d be no better than Noxus scum if I didn’t go,” Darr said aloud, then headed toward the military wing of the castle.

As soon as he arrived, the guards allowed him entry, and he went straight for the meeting hall. Coat of arms, Demacian banners, and weapons of all sorts decorated the hall while a circular table stood alone in the middle with maps strewn about.

There was no one in sight and Darr suspected he was the first to arrive. One by one, armor clad soldiers entered the hall followed by highly decorated captains and lieutenants. Darr felt out of place only because of the clothes he wore. If it weren’t for that, he’d be at home among the soldiers.

“Everyone, take your stations,” a booming voice resounded in the meeting hall. Darr expected it to be Garen, but then he remembered the man had other responsibilities with the League of Legends. “Darr, here,” the man with the voice showed Darr his spot. He was a younger man, one Darr didn’t recognize, but he had attained captain status so Darr showed him proper respect.

“I’m Captain Sevar for those of you who don’t know me,” the man from before started and waited for the nodding of heads and general attention of everyone there before continuing. “The Might of Demacia, our very own Garen Crownguard has called this meeting of strategists for two reasons. First and foremost, we are to stop the threat known as Noxus and their underhanded tactics to expand their borders. They threaten the very existence of Runeterra itself with their usage of magic. They tear at the very fabric of life itself like a game,” Darr wondered why he was even there. He understood the speech and why it was necessary. But he couldn’t fight. Not because he didn’t want to, but his spirit wouldn’t allow it.

“The Noxian’s are planning something, something not even our deepest planted spies can figure out,” Captain Sevar finally got to the point. “We are tasked with finding what that something is.” Darr nodded along with the rest and wondered how useful he could be. “I want teams of seven to form up and work out a strategy. Use whatever information our spies have gathered.” The men started grouping together immediately and Darr was left alone after all the teams had formed. Captain Sevar must have counted wrong.

At that moment, Captain Sevar approached Darr and said, “you’re the second reason we’re here,” and Darr raised an eyebrow questioningly. “You are unique, and our newest military division has a use for you. That is, if you’re interested?”

A chance to serve Demacia again? “Of course,” Darr never wavered.

“Good, if you’ll come with me?” Captain Sevar led the way out of the meeting hall and through corridors and doors alike. He explained while they walked. “It’s an off-shoot of our research and development branch that has to do with spirit magic. It was inspired by you and your current condition,” Darr listened intently as they neared their destination. The captain began explaining the mechanics of spirit magic and how they could tap into it if they had the right person. Darr was that person, and when they arrived at the lab, the captain encouraged the older man further. “If we’re successful, you can fight again. And, you’re just what we need to fill the gap left behind by Garen, Xin Zhao, Luxanna, and Jarven the Fourth. Their lack of presence has encouraged the sinister actions of Noxus upon our lands, and the lands of others. I’m not sure if even the League is aware of what’s taking place. And we can only do so much openly, through the bureaucracy of the League.”

Darr nodded in agreement as they entered. Giant test tubes filled with water lined one wall while beds and tables were scattered throughout the rest of the room. Half filled test tubes and beakers adorned the tables. Several different kinds of bubbly liquids fizzled. Darr was just a little skeptical, but he was determined to see this through.

A short man in a stained white lab coat approached them. “This Darr?” He asked.

“See to it that Darr is treated well,” Captain Sevar said. “And get him his spirit back, we need his expertise.” Captain Sevar left as soon as he was sure Darr was settled.

“Alrighty,” the short man began. He had scraggly white hair and his face was matted black from Darr didn’t know what, but he assumed explosions. The man had a small lisp, barely distinguishable. “Just need you to take a quaff of this and that’ll be our first experiment.” The small scientist handed him a beaker filled with a yellow liquid. Darr smelled an extremely pungent odor coming from the drink. He hesitated before drinking the whole thing in one swig. The small man ran from the room quickly.

Experiment? Darr thought and was instantly reminded of all the Noxian “experiments” performed on him while he was captured.

At first, nothing happened and Darr just stood in the middle of the room arms crossed and foot tapping. After the liquid got into his system though, Darr could feel a tingling sensation on the nape of his neck. Then the sensation grew and spread until he felt electrified.

Darr dropped to the ground and began rolling around to stop the pain, but nothing worked. Suddenly, the current escaped from his body and he could see an image of himself, a yellow electric image, standing before him. Darr felt weak, too weak to even get off the ground.

“Freedom!” Yelled the yellow Darr. He struck his arms into the air and twirled around in a dance. The scientist from before had his head halfway through the doorjamb. It looked like he was recording the results. “You just gonna lie there?” The electric Darr asked and Darr still could not move, let alone speak.

Suddenly, the image of Darr cried out and fled back to the original Darr. Darr could move again and was no longer in his weakened state.

The small scientist re-entered the room mumbling to himself and gathered more liquids. “Let’s see here,” he said, grabbed one more beaker filled with a strange liquid and hobbled over to Darr. “First, drink this one,” he said and handed Darr a green beaker filled liquid, “then this. And, finally, this one,” he handed Darr an orange and purple liquid respectively.

“What just happened?” Darr asked as he set the potions down. He wasn’t so sure he wanted to continue with this program.

“Well, you see,” the scientist began, “we had to make sure your spirit was still intact so I had you drink that potion to pull your spirit from you. The chemicals reacted positively to the magic inside you, a gamble, but one that paid off.” Darr raised an eyebrow. What would have happened if it had failed? He didn’t think anything good. “And then the quantum structure based around your spirit began to collapse on a molecular level so it had two options: one, dissipate, or two, rejoin the host. Fortunately for you it chose option number two.”

This was too much for Darr to process, “and, what will these do to me?” Darr was really beginning to regret his decision to stay.

“Well, if my math is correct, and it always is…except for that one time with the Yordles. That miscalculation was due to a misunderstanding between the coefficient standard we use and the new theories the Yordles have developed, but that’s neither here nor there,” the scientist stated and then stroked his chin.

“Yes?” Darr didn’t understand a single word.

“Well, your spirit should come back to you, and then you’ll be able to fight again. I won’t go into the details, but good luck. I’ll be right outside if you need me,” the scientist scrambled out so Darr could continue with the experiment. But Darr didn’t know if he wanted to proceed. What if it failed and he lost his spirit forever? Then he’d just be a mound of flesh until he took his last breath.

Darr drank the green liquid first and then tried to remember which to drink next. “Meh, it’ll all end up down there one way or another,” he shrugged and drank the purple liquid followed closely by the orange one.

Again, he had to wait for the effects of the potions, but this time, nothing happened after several minutes. He wondered if he drank the potions in the wrong order and that had caused nothing to happen. He searched his memory for the answer and knew, after thinking back, that he should have drank the orange potion before the purple. Darr started to panic, scrambling around the room, knocking tables and beakers filled with liquids over. The small scientist was observing and guessed the potions had worked.

Finally, Darr collapsed from exhaustion. He hadn’t done a lot, but his heavy breathing made him think he had. Now, he felt worse than before, but at least he wasn’t a mound of flesh. He closed his eyes and immediately passed out.

Upon waking, Darr was in a very comfortable bed. When he opened his eyes, he realized he was in a barracks.

“Rise and shine soldiers,” a voice sounded and Darr reacted without thinking. He was on his feet saluting before the other soldiers. It was routine, Darr wasn’t thinking about what had just happened. “Today’s combat training, so get your weapons and get out there!” Darr found his broadsword lying at the foot of his bed. He snatched it up and headed outside to the training field.

Darr took a deep breath, in through his nose. The crisp fresh air livened his body and brought back memories of battle. Then, he realized he couldn’t battle anymore. His spirit was tainted.

Darr moved his giant broadsword at a diagonal angle behind him, just in time to block an attack. He countered and knocked the man to the ground. Darr’s muscles flexed and strained, and felt alive for the first time since he had been captured by that Noxian patrol. But how could he fight? Darr didn’t understand. He had drank the potions in the wrong order.

Another attacker approached him, a little more cautiously than the pervious and tried to take down the giant Darr, but again Darr was the victor, and this time he knew what happened. It wasn’t his spirit that helped him, it was his enemies’. He drained their spirit energy and used it against them.

Darr smiled a huge smile as he went after other soldiers and battled them to the ground. He could fight again! And, he was thrilled to do so.

Three soldiers approached him this time and Darr felt something else. His own spirit felt charged, ready to be used. He unleashed it and in a devastating display of swordsmanship, he took out the three around him.

“I feel alive!” Darr screamed at the top of his lungs. He was better than he ever had been, even before he lost his spirit.

“Show me what you have gained,” Captain Sevar approached Darr now and the two clashed blades. Sevar was quick, much quicker than Darr, but something happened that took a moment for Darr to sort out.

Sevar feinted left, then came right – Darr had been expecting that, but it was also a diversion. Sevar tumbled around the counter and had a free shot at Darr’s back, but when Darr turned around, Sevar was the one on the ground. Darr’s own spirit had acted on its own, had grabbed Darr’s long knife and deflected the attack from Sevar which had put the captain off balance. Darr felt invincible now.

“I see,” Sevar said and stood up. “Welcome back. Now, if you’ll come with me,” and Sevar left the training field. Darr followed feeling rejuvenated to the core.

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