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Hey. I'm a pretty big fan of League Lore, and for a while now I've been working on a, well, compendium of sorts for different champions. The major idea that I am going with here is that very few champions exist in a vacuum; the events that effects one champions life surely affect other champions as well. We can use this information to fill in the details of a champion's past, exposing the Lore for being richer than it might seem at first. Most of what I'm doing here is speculation, making logical assumptions, and basically theory crafting for the Lore. Hopefully you'll find it a fun read
There are a couple of assumptions that we're going to set before we get started.
The end of the Ionian War
There's a little bit of confusion about exactly how long the war lasted after Irelia 'died'. A couple sources say a year, but most say 7 so we'll go with that. It ends up making more sense for most people in the long run.
The war would last for another seven years, with Noxus unable to push further inland and Ionia unable to reclaim their southern province. At the forefront of the resistance was Karma.
Before the war, Karma was mostly a student, studying, seeking enlightenment, and helping her parents out at their antique shop. Her village was one of the ones situated in the southern province and therefore one of the ones that first fell. A master of speechcraft (the art of telling people what to do), Karma negotiated for the safe release of her village to the northern provinces as refugees.
It's not certain at what point Karma became a Duchess; she may have held the position before the war, or it may have been something she was granted or elected to after she freed her village's people. But we can say that Karma was very active in her job, serving as a figurehead for the resistance movement. Following the Grand Stand at the Placidium, Karma was one of the voices arguing against surrendering and we can assume that without her Ionia would have surrendered to Noxus regardless of Irelia's efforts.
Details of the actual war are scarce. We know that Karma participated in the war personally, learning how to manipulate magic from Janna. Interestingly, Janna is an orphan from Zaun who eventually made her way to Piltover. Thus Zaun produced not only some of Ionian's greatest enemies, but one of their greatest allies as well. Unfortunately for Karma, wind powered hand held fans might be useful for defensive magic but they're not nearly as valuable offensively. In the last month or so of the war, Noxian forces led by a Zaunite battle crab/tank thing managed to push far into Ionian lines. The tank, piloted by master chemist Warwick, hit karma with an indirect blast that covered her in acid (and acid scars as it quickly ate into her), but before Warwick could finish her off with a direct blast Soraka struck him down with a Sailor Moon style laser beam that turned him into a werewolf. None of the other people in the tank knew which button was the "Shoot Acid" button, which allowed Karma to grab the catatonic Soraka and flee the scene*.
This is an important turning point in Karma's character. Up until now Ionia had done everything more or less on it's own, with small amounts of assistance from other nations mostly in the form of supplies.I would guess that their pride overruled the logical solution of "Join the League so Noxus can't do this anymore". But now, Soraka has lost her divinity. She sacrificed it to save Karma's life. Either this tragic loss by one of her friends or the strategic implications of no longer having a demigod on their side (perhaps both) convinced Karma and the rest of Ionia that their best chances were in bureaucracy rather than battlefields.
This raised an important concern. Ionia didn't have any ownership of their southern province when they joined the League; Noxus owned them all. The League decided that the best solution was to hold a match in order to see who could rightfully claim it as their own, which in retrospect stinks of Noxian influence. Ionia simply didn't stand a chance at winning. The only 5 champions they could have fielded were Karma, Irelia, Master Yi, Udyr, and Soraka (who just came out of a coma after losing most of her powers). No other Ionian champions were either available or on their side at that specific time. And furthermore, this would have been their first match considering they had never done it before. Meanwhile Noxus had nearly 14 years of practice with the system by this point.
We don't have any further details about the match other than that they lost in part due to Soraka's mistakes in the match (likely due to the afore-mentioned coma), as well as possible sabotage from Noxus that was never able to be proven. Noxus was granted control of the Southern Province, which they intended to make use of in order to 'modernize' the poor peasant folk. Ionia would be unable to call for a rematch for 15 years, at least until a certain Blind Monk intervened.
But we've got stuff to talk about before he gets his entry into this little publication. As some of you are no doubt itching to point out, Warwick could not have been piloting a giant battle tank because he was already a werewolf with no understanding of Science. And Soraka could not have given up her divinity to zap him because she lost it years ago when Warwick tried to kill her.
Now, I don't want this to sound like I don't like the new lore for Soraka and Warwick, because I really do. In the new lore, Warwick is a bounty hunter that works for a lot of people in Zaun, Singed included. We know that Noxus was actively seeking to sabotage Ionia before their invasion. Having Warwick kill their demigod before hand seems pretty productive as far as that is concerned.
For Warwick, this gives him motivation for hunting Soraka. Before, he went from being a mad scientist who had to use science to kill things into becoming a Werewolf that could kill things more intimately. He kinda got the better end of that deal, outside of not being able to kill Karma. Now, his transformation is a mark of shame, an outward sign of his failure to kill Soraka on top of the ticking clock as far as his dwindling sanity is concerned. He's got tangible drive to want her dead for a lot of reasons that just weren't there before.
For Soraka, the story is also far more impactful. Her loss of divinity now comes as a result of betrayal, rather than self sacrifice. Her loss of innocence marks the League not as a journey of despair at what she lost, but rather as a coming of age story in which she discovers who she truly is. This is a much better angle from which to develop her character thematically.
But in exchange for an improvement for both of them, we know have to do more work for a bunch of other people. In most cases, we can just substitute Warwick for Singed since one crazy scientist is as good as the next. In this instance, we'll come up with something like "Soraka pushed Karma out of the way, taking most of the damage. Singed and the rest of the Noxian forces were then pushed back either by the timely arrival of Irelia or other Ionian forces, or perhaps by a burst of renewed strength from Karma" (her passive does make her stronger at low health, after all). Karma was able to save Soraka with her healing mantra, but the realization of how close they all came to dying was enough to move her into joining Ionia with the League.
We should also address Karma's rework before moving on. I'm absolutely in love with it for a lot of reasons. Symbolically, it better represents Karma after the war is over, where her wounds, troubles, and concerns inspire her to try a new approach to things.
Karma's fan were a relic she acquired from her parent's antique shop. They were mostly designed to heal, to protect, and not to harm. Karma was trained in their use more as a necessity than as a serious combat style. Forgoing them for her more modern magical conduit is reflective of her increasing focus on modern styles and tactics, just like her commitment to joining the League rather than fighting a traditional war.
Karma's new dress is another fascinating point. I'm sure plenty of people are upset that it shows more skin, but the important thing is what skin it shows. Remember that Karma was struck with an acid cannon that ate away at her flesh. Her old dress was as much attesting to tradition as it was hiding those scars from the world. By turning those scars into tattoos and then displaying them for all to see, Karma is making a powerful statement. "While you were busy hiding in your League, we were fighting for our lives. And even though we were hurt, we've allowed the pain to make use stronger and more beautiful. We haven't forgotten what has happened to us and we don't want any of you to forget it either". Except pretend it was more sophisticated than that, poetry isn't my strong suit.
I really appreciate the new look for her, because not only is it visually more cohesive than the old one, it's also far more fitting from a Lore perspective. The only thing I'll really miss is her long hair, but I guess that's what the traditional skin is for
Whew, that was a long diversion, but I felt it was important to get across. Next chapter deals with Lee Sin and the rematch that ended the seven year Ionian Occupation.
*You can find more information about this event from Karma's judgment, which is here:
Lee Sin's great mistake and his search for atonement
We're going to rewind to a few years before the war, because Lee Sin did something that is intimately connected with the war's beginning. Lee Sin was one of the first summoners trained by the League, rather than a surviving wizard of the old wars inducted into the new system. He had great magical potential, but lacked patience; everyone else in his class took longer to learn lessons then he did, leaving him thirsting for more knowledge and etc.
Ultimately, his lack of patience got the better of him. He tried to summon a powerful beast from the Plague Jungles, but something went wrong and he got a little boy instead. Except the boy had no bones and not enough internal organs. And the feedback from his summoning destroyed his entire village. So Lee Sin ended up being responsible for killing everyone who lived there, and the Plague Jungle only has a scant few locations where people are capable of living. In addition to killing all those people, he made an inhospitable land even more inhospitable.
As expected, he took it kind of hard. He was mentored by Reginald "Really Important Guy" Ashram (write this down for later), who was able to waive any expulsion or punishment in light of his otherwise exceptional record. But there was nothing he could do to salve Lee Sin's confidence or self opinion, and the apprentice summoner resigned from the program to become a monk on a mountain and cry for a few years.
It's time to ask ourselves that critical question: Where was Lee Sin when the war started? In a monastery after having withdrawn from the League due to a horrible accident.
Now, as you will recall, Lee Sin is an Ionian and one of the brightest student summoners in the world. Although it's never explicitly stated anywhere, it is logical to conclude that his incident bore some weight in Ionia's decision to not join the League. After all, he kind of destroyed an entire village. And he was supposed to be one of the best. Clearly the forces involved were extremely dangerous, and Ionia didn't necessarily want anything to do with that.
So, in a manner of speaking, Lee Sin is responsible for the entire war. If he had followed his lessons instead of trying to do things on his own, if he had been more patient, Ionia might have joined the League. Noxus would not have been able to invade, which meant that all those people wouldn't have died. Oh, and to make matters worse, his little sister lived in a city that Noxus captured and then occupied, so he's also responsible for her fate. Which is a lot of guilt to pile onto someone.
Now obviously, it's not his fault at all. He didn't make the elders of Ionia choose not to join the League, he didn't convince Noxus to invade, and he didn't inspire Singed to sabotage his summoning platform so that he would accidentally kill an entire village thus imprisoning or otherwise expelling Ionia's only summoner, making them that much easier to invade in a war should Noxus choose to engage them in one.*
But to the man sitting in that monastery on that mountain watching his entire world fall apart, logical conclusions weren't exactly prevalent. His self hatred was so consuming that he could only see one way out. He would light himself on fire in protest of the occupation. Either Noxus would knock it off, which would be a good thing, or he would die, which would still be a good thing as far as he was concerned.
Several years after going to the monastery (somewhere between 14 and 18, to be more specific), Lee Sin emerged, set himself up somewhere public, and light himself on fire. He would continue to burn for 2 months, during which Karma and Irelia lobbied the League for a rematch. By rights, they weren't allowed to get a rematch for 15 years after the first match, which would add up to a total of over decades of Ionia being occupied by Noxus. As far as the timing is concerned, if you add the 8 years of war and the 7 years of occupation, that leads to a total of 15 years of Noxus having the southern province, which no doubt figured into the exact time Lee Sin chose.
By this point in time, High Councilor "I am not Jax" Ashram has been missing for 4 years. His replacement, Heywan Relivash, wasn't nearly as interested in Ionia or Lee Sin. However, councilor (not high councilor, mind you) Vessarian Kolymine and a couple other people brought up the loop hole that Noxus could allow a rematch, if they felt so charitable. Under heavy pressure by Demacia, ("Get off that island or I'm going to go over there and personally remove you, you sons of b*****" - Jarvan IV**) Noxus offered a rematch to Ionia which they accepted.***
Regardless, Noxians lost the rematch and Ionians won. Lee Sin's unnamed sister survived her 14 years of living under Noxian occupation and her voice broke through Lee Sin's trance to wake him up right before he would have burned to death. He would later join the League as a champion instead of as a summoner, seeking to fight for what was right and having learned a lot about himself in his 2 months of cooking.
Alright, so that's Lee Sin. Accidentally a whole village, which might have gotten his country invaded, went emo, light himself on fire, and then transcended sorrow to become a pretty cool guy who doesn't afraid of anything. He hasn't really done anything that interesting since he ended the war, but that's still a big enough deal for him to get a mention here.
Next chapter we'll be talking about more Ionians since they've already had a big foundation and it'll give us easier transitions into other countries.
*There is nothing saying that everything is Singed's fault, but it's fun to conclude that.
Ionia has powerful support from outside its borders, however. In a stunningly direct speech, Jarvan IV, the crown prince of Demacia, spoke out against the occupation.
"Who among us believes these Noxian lies? Who among us doesn't know the truth? I'm tired of wading through the political double-talk. Noxus invaded Ionia as no more than thieves or bandits. They continue to operate as such, remaining neatly between the lines of the edicts of the League of Legends. Those who remain silent do so out of fear. I am not afraid. I will oppose villainy wherever I find it, without compromise. If the League is unwilling to remove the Noxian infestation, then I will visit Ionia myself."
-Jarvan "I want to punch things SOOO BAD" Lightshield
***This rematch actually happened and was actually shout-cast by Phreak. If you want more details about the match, you can view them here:
And you could actually watch the recorded Livestream of it... if Own3d TV was still around. But they died, so now you have to watch lower quality recordings of it on Youtube :/
Basically, Noxus had their good jungler (Rammus) banned meaning they were stuck with either Jungle Sion or Jungle Shaco. They chose Jungle Sion, and Guardsman Bob (yes, that Guardsman Bob) went 9/1/10 with Jungle Udyr leading to Ionia crushing them. Also, one of their players disconnected, but Ionia agreed to wait for him to reconnect (I don't think pauses were a thing back then, but I don't really know).
The curious absence of the ninja clans
The next step in our journey through Ionias lore explores the trials and tribulations of the Kinkou ninja clan. We dont have an exact time table for when these events all happened, but we can make some pretty good guesses. What we do know is that for some reasons the Ninjas did not do anything during the war, as there is no mention of them either on Ionias side or as a casualty of Noxus. So with that in mind, lets look at Zed.
Years before the Ionian war (like 10-20) Zed was a student training along with Shen under the master ninja, Shens father. However, Zed was frustrated because his Master spent more time with his son, even though the two were more or less evenly skilled. Jealous and mad in the butt, Zed tried to find some sort of advantage that he could use to become better than Shen. His solution was a box with forbidden ninja techniques detailed inside. Simply peeking inside the box taught Zed a number of shadow techniques, and he eagerly used them to defeat Shen in a competition.
Of course, the Master Ninja immediately noticed Zed glowing with the unmistakable power of shadows and pointed out that he had clearly cheated. Zed was subsequently banished from the temple for being an insufferable moron. I mean, seriously, you steal a forbidden technique and use it in a competition and expect your professor not to notice? Who does he think he is fooling? Is common sense not a part of ninja school?
Anyway, now hes twice as mad in the butt and he doesn't even have a dorm room to sleep in. He wandered for years, eventually gathering other individuals and teaching them the secret ninja arts. In time, he planned to return to his former home and take the box by any means necessary.
But when would be the perfect time to strike? It would need to be a time when the ninja clans were distracted by some greater threat. A time when Zed could get in, get the scroll, and get out before any of the clan's allies could intervene. If only there was some sort of war going on that would keep everyones attention off of him...
Oh wait, one of those happens! Hurray, now he can kill all the ninjas without anyone stopping him!
This explains why none of the ninjas seemed to do anything during the war. You would think that having even Shen around much less a bunch of like minded ninjas would make it hard for Noxus to invade, but he was regrettably occupied with the death of his father and almost everyone he knew or cared about.
In regard to Shens Father, hes a particularly clever individual. An important part of Shens training is that he had to watch his father (and master/mentor/etc) tortured without freaking out about it. Something which surely came in handy when Zed cut his head off and started killing all the other students. I would imagine that this very training allowed Shen to escape, rescuing as many as he could, rather than trying to fight and being cut down.
Zeds motives are rather mysterious. Hes had the temple and the box for years and hasn't really done anything with them. Part of the reason for this is likely because he was added to the story later in its life cycle, but regardless, inquiring minds want to know what he has been up to recently.
We do know what Shen has been up to. He's been diligently rebuilding the Kinkou clan after it's destruction, recruiting Kennen and Akali as well as others that will probably show up later. Although Shen sought to participate in the rematch between Ionia and Noxus, he was banned. Tough cookies for him.
So with that mostly settled, we move straight into Akali and Kennen, Shen's allies. Kennen is really easy to figure out. He was known for being a yordle of boundless energy and speed and lived in Bandle City (where almost all yordles live). One day on a dare he ran straight up the greater wall of Ionia's Placidium. In order to understand how impressive that is, you have to see a map of Valoran.
Kennen ran all the way from Bandle City on the lower right hand side across the ocean into Ionia and then straight up a giant wall at a 90° angle. Shen was suitably impressed by this feat of endurance and speed and offered Kennen a place within the Kinkou to be trained as the Heart of the Tempest, a combination between messenger and assassin. Kennen gladly accepted.
Normally, Yordles go... sour if they don't keep company with other Yordles. They're very social creatures. Stay alone for too long, and you start to turn into a Veigar or an Amumu. It's not clear how Kennen stays Kennen. Perhaps his perpetual search for balance and enlightenment allows him to overcome his nature. Perhaps his camaraderie with Shen, Akali, and the others of the Kinkou clan is enough for him. Heck, there could even be other Yordles in the clan that we just haven't met yet. For whatever reason, Kennen has proven himself to be above that particular pitfall of Yordle physiology.
It is unclear when exactly Kennen joined the Kinkou. Obviously sometime after Shen began rebuilding it. I would imagine several years before Lee Sin caught himself on fire, but we don't have any sources for this. At the very least he was fought for Ionia in their Rematch (went 4/0/14, a good game for him), so it would not have been too close to then in order for him to still have time to be trained.
Akali is interesting for entirely different reasons. As the lore stands right now, she used to be a bad guy! Or, girl.*
Well, whatever. Her title is the Fist of Shadow. Those of you who have been paying attention will remember that Zed leads all the Shadow Ninjas and Shen leads all the Balance Ninjas. And yet, Akali works for Shen. And her passive is called "Twin Disciplines"... Akali inherited her title from her mother, the previous Fist of Shadow. She began her training at a very young age (as soon as she could make a fist), and at age 14 was inducted into the Kinkou.
Which raises a bunch of interesting questions and possibilities. My favorite theory is that although Akali was born and raised as a Shadow Ninja, she left them to join the Kinkou because she disagreed with Zed on some important principle. As far as timelines are concerned, if we assume that Akali was born shortly after the defeat of the Kinkou Clan, she would have been 14-16 around the time that the Rematch ended(which she offered to compete in but was not chosen) when she and Shen performed at the celebration feast. This would seem to imply that Lee Sin's atonement pyre was so moving as to inspire her to betray her mother and clan in order to join with Shen. We know that Zed didn't take any actions involving the occupation because he didn't do anything. Shen was at least trying to do something, considering his clans appearance for the rematch. It might have spoken to whatever moral compass she worked by.
Akali's mother is a bit of an enigma. Akali's lore states that when she was inducted at age 14, it was clear that she would succeed her mother; implying she had not yet done so. I interpret this to say that she eventually defeated her own mother in the ongoing war between the Kinkou and the Order of Shadow. Other fan theorists would say that Akali's mother defected to Shen's side at the beginning of the war, after Zed killed all those people. The big difference between these two theories is who Akali's father could be. If she was born to the Order of Shadow, she might be Zed's. If she was born to the Kinkou, she could be Shen's.
Or her father could be any other nameless ninja we've never met before, but that's a lot less fun.
So, fanfiction writers, I don't know how many of you come to this board, but here's some strong potential for you. A coming of age story featuring a young ninja girl brought up on the dark side who has to struggle against the mysterious motives of her mother and father, only to discover that her true father may be the man she's been raised to kill. And the entire time this is going on, the people of her country suffer an oppression that only she seems to care about.
*If you want more information about Akali, I'd definitely recommend reading both her bio and the 'Zed Creative Design AMA'.
Examining the other Ionians
Most of the other Ionians have fairly generic stories that don't really improve upon considering what we already know, but for completion's sake we'll look at them anyway.
Syndra's story is essentially that she was a gifted child filled with ideals and dreams(like Zed or Lee Sin) but that she did not see eye to eye with her elders (also like Zed or Lee Sin!). But instead of microwaving an entire village or chopping her master's head off in front of his son, she just killed her master and turned his temple into a flying temple.
We don't have any real information about the time frame for any of this. Syndra could be anywhere from a 16 year old teenager bursting with naive enthusiasm and delusions of grandeur to an 80 year old relic of a more violent time who has only now decided to show interest in continental affairs. I would expect her to be somewhere in her mid 20s or early 30s, since that is the average age for a league champion. Which doesn't really give us any interesting timings for her story. We can conclude that her joining the League was a result of the end of the Occupation and that it just took her a while to get around to it (i would imagine that owning a flying house makes it hard to focus on petty things like paperwork) with an ultimate goal of ruining as many things as she could.
Udyr's story is that he was a gifted child filled with ideals and dreams who didn't get along with his... Huh, I just had some crazy deja-vu. Anyway he decided to go live in the woods and eat rabbits and wrestle panda bears for a couple years until eventually he tried to startle a traveling monk. Rather than being scared by the sudden appearance of a smelly man child the monk convinced Udyr to join his monastery. I imagine this was as easy as saying "We have hot water and indoor plumbing" but the exact details aren't known. Udyr learned to control his bestial rage and fine tune it into the various stances he uses in combat.
Udyr did not seem to have much to do during the initial parts of the war, but he played a prominent role in it's end when he decisively won the match for Ionia. Perhaps he was too young to fight during the first 7 years but resolved to help after joining the Monastery. Perhaps he knew Lee Sin personally; the two monk orders they belong to are different, but I wouldn't consider it a stretch to assume there is some connection between them. But yeah, other than that Udyr has nothing interesting going on yet.
Master Yi is a bit troublesome. His lore would stat that he fought in a Noxian-Ionian war from before the League was formed, which contradicts other sources stating their war started after the League formation ended the Noxian-Demacian war. The utter devastation of Yi's village while he was at war changed him; even other Ionians won't talk about the horrors enacted there by the mad chemist Singed (it's always Singed) out of respect for the memories of the dead. Yi channeled all of his energy into honing his skill, seeking enlightenment through the art of combat and etc.
Master Yi is surprisingly middle aged. The League has been formed for about 22 years in current game time, and if he fought in wars before the League was formed that would put him at 40 or 50 easily. Considering that he has also taken a student on (Wukong) and is a well respected individual in Piltover (He received his distinctive goggles from Heimerdinger) one could easily infer that Yi is quite the well learned and well traveled gentleman.
Whose entire village was killed by Singed for laughs.
Good thing he's into that whole enlightenment thing instead of the 'eye for an eye' thing, I guess.
Ahri doesn't have a whole lot of lore set aside for her. She was a white fox living in southern Ionia who had always wanted to be human. She suddenly found herself surrounded by dead and dying humans while a wizard attempted to use some sort of magic in order to keep himself alive. When she got close to him, something backfired. Maybe he mumbled over some of the words and the spell went haywire, maybe foxes are the secret ingredient to the "suck the life out of this" spell, maybe it's Singed's fault. Regardless, she absorbed his life essence and magic and became a Nine Tailed Fox demon.
Somehow Ahri learned all the nuances of Ionian culture and how to tempt men into compromising situations allowing her to steal their essence. This could be a byproduct of the Magic, or it could just be that she was quite voyeuristic as a fox and spied on humans doing all sorts of things. Regardless, after years of munching on delicious Ionian essence she began to realize that the very process that made her more human was in itself inhumane. This created an existential crisis within the confused little fox demon; to pursue her life's dream was to damn her to never achieve it.
With no where else to turn, she went to the League in the hopes that their more experienced magicians could help her with her trouble. She's the first of the "I'm a wizard who might have broken everything, please help me" champions that we've looked at. There are a couple of ways to consider how this works. I could say that she is still searching for a cure. Perhaps the easiest way to become more human is to steal essence on the fields of battle, where using such magics does not kill someone permanently.
I could also say that Ahri has already attained her humanity; her voice lines do nothing to indicate she is troubled by her fate or anxious about her budding morality. She seems pretty confident and teasing, more like an individual who already has what she wants. It would make sense that she would continue to work for the League after they helped her if she developed some attachment to the system that solved her problem. This is further reinforced by her nine tails; in other sources a fox demon starts with a single tail and gets more as they grow in strength, so Ahri having nine is a strong indication that she is cured and free to do whatever she feels like.
Or I could say that the League is just using her as a gullible tool. They're certainly alright with using other dangerous creatures to further their own ends, and she would certainly be easier to control if they know where she is at all times. She thinks they're helping her, only for there to never be any progress. Which could be potentially dangerous if she ever found out, except that she's not really on the same power level as Brand or Nocturne or the other imprisoned champions.
We'll ponder these sorts of questions for a couple different champions, as a lot of them join the League in search of solutions for their various magical problems. For some champions, it makes sense for them to have been treated of what ails them before they became champions. For others, it's more clear that they have yet to be fixed. It's open to interpretation, and I'll try to bring up all the possible scenarios as they become relevant.
But that is about all there is for Ahri. We can conclude that she was a by product of the war and then ask ourselves tantalizing questions about how the League actually works.
Varus's background is pretty fascinating. His lore was written by the fine gentlemen at Penny Arcade, and for anyone who doesn't remember it, I suggest you take a quick look. His judgement is quite well done and can be found here:
I have a theory that Varus is now a creature of the Void. The alien nature of the Pit of Pallas, the way it spreads, and more than that the tentacles everywhere all scream 'Voidborn!' to me.If this is a void creature, than it lends itself to yet another theory, that all creatures of the void are dominated by a particular character trait. Kog'Maw is a creature of curiosity; he is most interested in learning as much as he can from this new environment, which he accomplishes by eating things. And people. Cho'Gath on the other hand is driven by malice. He seems to actively enjoy the pain he causes, urging his summoner to reinforce these feelings.
If we are to assume that the Pit is also a manifestation of the Void, then it would seem that it's driving force is to help people. But it lacks understanding of how to do so, much as Kog'Maw does not understand anything about his surroundings. So the pit tries doing everything it knows how to do, hoping one of them is a solution. An adaptive parasite that seeks a symbiotic relationship, able to adaptively form weapons and armor for it's host. Zaun would love to get their hands on such a creature.
Which makes it interesting that he was allowed into the league. Varus is only there to kill Noxians, and he is clearly a threat that we don't understand. But then, many champions are allowed into the League in order to keep an eye on them.
Now, as much as I love speculating that the Pit is of the Void, it's definitely possible that it is not. Runeterra has quite a few, shall we say, holes in it. Holes leading to all sorts of planets and dimensions. Bandle City has some sort of hole leading to the Glade, where Fae live. Icathia leads to the Void. Taric, Nasus, Rentkon, and Kayle are all outsiders to this realm brought here by various magics. The pit could be another hole leading to another dimension we haven't been properly introduced to yet.
Sona and her connection to the Shadow Isles
Her lore doesn't really cover much about her. We know that she was an orphan from Ionia with a magic instrument that never left her side, she eventually was adopted by a Demacian Musician named Lestara Buvelle, and that Sona performed for several concerts before discovering that she could produce tangible musical effects with her instrument (aka she could cut things with sound). She practiced this in secret and then joined the League to showcase her talent.
Which isn't exactly a unique background, there are quite a few champions that join the league in pursuit of mastering their skills (Wukong, Heimerdinger, etc). What makes Sona so interesting is the layers that encompass her story.
Let's start off with our timeline. Where was Sona during the Ionian war? We know that she was adopted when she was in her teen years after being dropped off at the orphanage as an infant, which would be anywhere from newborn to about 3. So we can say with some confidence that she was at the orphanage for about 14 years, which neatly coincides with the entirety of the war. The good news about this revelation is that we learn Sona's parents did not abandon her because they didn't love her. They most likely abandoned her because they were killed by Noxians. Which still sucks, but isn't quite as heart breaking. We can also speculate that Sona's inability to speak is built upon whatever tragic circumstances took her parents from her. It was a war after all, who is to say that Singed didn't bomb her village with some horrific chemical?
But for now we will assume that it is not Singed's fault but rather that her disability is magical in nature. The other thing we know about Sona is that in addition to not being adopted for a decade and a half she had a magical instrument. The orphanage tried to sell it several times in order to save up some money in anticipation of her becoming an adult and leaving the orphanage, but for a variety of circumstances it always came back. We could make all sorts of fun conjectures about this, amusing ourselves with the thoughts of the orphanage being kept afloat financially because they had Sona's instrument to sell over and over again, but that doesn't really affect her Lore at all.
Lestara learned about Sona because she heard rumors about the instrument. She originally visited the Orphanage to buy it, and upon examining it began searching the house for something, stopping at Sona's room. Lestara then instructed Sona in how to use it. We don't know if Lestara had anything to do with Sona discovering the other applications of her song. We can assume that she knows now (Champions are fairly well known to the public) but with Sona practicing in private we're left to speculate that she did not.
Next, let's talk Sona's visual design, because it's intimately related to her lore. I have no way to tell at the time of writing this, but I'm pretty sure most people will say that Sona's physical appearance is what they think of first about her. Although she wears a traditional style opera dress with a shawl, the color scheme, exposed shoulders, and dyed hair all serve to draw attention to her.
Remember that Sona is a war orphan. Most humans learn the fine art of communicating by practicing with our peers as we grow up. Sona wouldn't have experienced this. Most of her peers would be adopted and replaced with other orphans who wouldn't know her. Combined with her inability to speak, and Sona most likely has a poor foundation for communicating with other people.
So, how does a young teenager who doesn't understand how to communicate with people go about trying? Well, the first step is to get people to notice her. Hence her outfit being specifically designed to attract attention. Once she has done that, she can attempt to convey her feelings through her music and facial expressions.
You could loosely generalize Riots champion visual design into 3 categories. You have the designs that work, like Irelia. She a woman in oriental armor, so it's easy to connect that with her lore of being the Captain of the Guard for Ionian. You have visual design that conflicts with character design, such as Vayne. Vayne is supposed to be a no-nonsense hunter of evil, and yet she risks breaking her neck every time she tumbles because she's wearing high heels for no discernible reason. Her visual design goes against what we are led to understand about the champion. And then you have design like Sona's that reinforces what we know about the character. She's a lonely musician with poor communication skills who relies on her physical appearance to make her presence known in any situation where she cannot use her music.
Furthermore, her animations, her sound design, the way her music filters in and out of the audio as if it were an ethereal aura around her, the chaotic nature of her hair and shawl juxtaposed against the order of her silhouette... I could go on and on about the genius behind her visual design, but the point is that it's well and beyond what most other champions achieve. As I mentioned, there are a couple other champions who meet this same level of excellence and I'm super excited to talk about them when they get their turn, but that probably won't be for a while >__>''
Alright, so all of this buildup was so that we could talk about Sona's Judgment, the examination of her mind before she officially joined the League. If you haven't read it before, you can find it here:
We learn (well, confirm since I covered some of it) a lot about Sona in her judgement. About her loneliness growing up, about her desire to be noticed, about her desire to defy her fate, her love of her adopted mother, and so on.
We also learn quite a bit we didn't know. For one, her instrument is both a tool and a guardian. It seeks to protect her, almost as if it has a mind of it's own. Furthermore, Sona wasn't always... Sona. Pay special attention to this line:
Opening her mouth, she began to speak for the first time in her life. Her breath caught in her throat, short of uttering her first sound, when a booming voice from the recesses of her dim memory resounded in her mind.
This instrument will be the key to unlocking the world. It will speak for you more truly than a voice ever could. Nothing else not us, them, or any magic in this world will ever own you again.
Almost of its own accord, her hand flung outwards and slammed down on the ethwahl next to her. Dissonance erupted, deafeningly loud, drowning out any sounds that might have spilled forth from her lips. As the tones faded away, so did the foreign tingling in her throat. The enchantment was gone, never to return.
From this, we can determine that at some point Sona was controlled by something else. Something that at the very least still had control over parts of her body, though it claims that it shall never own her again. And her Ethwahl is not only a guardian, it's also a key that can unlock the world.
So basically Sona is a mute orphan hero that uses an instrument to invoke magical effects and is also a key to unlocking her world. She's basically a combination between Hatsune Miku, Link from Ocarina of Time, a Keyblade user from Kingdom Hearts, and Little Orphan Annie. I'm on board with this.
Alright, so not only is Sona really well put together, she's also pretty significant in the Lore. Not in the Ionian War; Sona joined the League shortly before Lee Sin's protest, but she didn't have a role in the rematch. No, Sona's major lore contribution comes from Pentakill.
Most champion skins are non-canon. We assume that they exist outside of the Lore unless we are told otherwise. So Riven never dressed up as a Bunny Waitress in order to attack Swain, Cho'Gath doesn't have a top hat, and Nami doesn't have a sister named Koi-Nami. However, some of the skins showed up in news articles, which makes them canon. Shen and Akali performed at the celebration after the Ionian Rematch in their Blood Moon Skins. Ashe and Tryndamere actually got married in their King/Queen skins. The ninja trio are all certified doctors who helped apply immunizations to champions during a viral outbreak at the League. And far more interestingly, Mordekaiser and Sona gave an interview about their newly formed heavy metal band, Pentakill.
Actually, to be accurate Morde responded to the interview, Sona mostly nodded at appropriate points.
Pentakill being canon presents an interesting challenge. Sona doesn't really have a lot in common with Mordekaiser, Olaf, Yorick, or Karthus. Or really much of anything in common at all. But it has to exist for a reason, or it wouldn't exist at all. And that reason will give us a nice transition into the Shadow Isles.
The Shadow Isles are kind of a huge Lore problem right now. There's a lot that we don't know about it, but the recent Twisted Treeline update does answer a few questions. At some point in time, the Isle was united under a rule that currently does not exist. The island appears fractured, which obvious points of tension between Mordekaiser and Hecarim. This is all gleamed from the Souls in the capture points of Twisted Treeline, who will talk to Shadow Isle champs that capture them. If you want to check out those messages, I recommend this Youtube video.
Knowing that Hecarim and Morde oppose one another, we can assume that the members of Pentakill align behind Morde (since they work together and all), which leaves Elise, Evelynn and Thresh behind Hecarim (a 5v4? How unfair!). It is unclear whether or not Maokai or Nocturne have any allegiance in this matter; they were created within the Isles, but otherwise don't seem connected.
For the most part, Champions that are convicted threats to society are imprisoned within the League. Brand, Nocturne, and Fiddles have all killed tons of dudes. And while there are other evil champions, they either haven't done anything evil yet (Syndra, Veigar) or are protected by a nation that endorses them (Singed, Swain). Which makes it's own perfect bit of sense, up until Hecarim leads a bloody charge across half of Demacia, slaughtering tons of innocent people and leaving desolate, lifeless ground in his wake. He then marches to the League of Legends and demands entry, at which point he was promptly imprisoned for killing all those people and awaits interrogation before being locked awa- Oh wait, no, none of that happened at all. He was allowed access to the League where to this day he amasses Influence in preparation of his war.
This is another one of those things that doesn't make sense. Hecarim isn't exactly subtle. Neither is Thresh for that matter. At least Elise and Evelyn have some discretion about their murders, with some appropriate amount of cleanup. And their victims are practically asking for it by the end of the process. But the only way to justify The League not acting on this issue is to assume that something or someone is.
Which is where Pentakill comes in.
Pentakill's place in the Lore
Now, how seriously are we willing to take Pentakill? If we say to ourselves "Yes, this should be considered as a part of the Lore and used to explain things about the Shadow Isles", we can use it to answer a lot of questions about the champions and workings of that place. Or we can say that it's nothing more than a band shared by people who enjoy metal rock, which leaves it open to other interpretations.
For the time being we'll continue to assume that Pentakill exists as a thing for reasons beyond "We like this music". What does this do for us? What do we learn about the champions?
We'll start with Karthus. Karthus's lore has a few different interpretations, depending on how you read a few key lines. Those being:
"He commands magic with oblivion as its source, and seeks to bring his grim truth to the rest of the world: only in death does life gain clarity and purpose. "
"He had always chased the elusive purity of the moment of death, when life passed and in a single instant achieved meaning. Karthus saw that undeath was like that moment, preserved in dread stillness forever."
"An undying lich with the keys to life and death, he seeks to bring his dark requiem to the world."
The obvious interpretation is that he is an insane wizard seeking to kill as many people as he can. However, there is a more fun interpretation. His lore talks about how his motivation for choosing death was that he saw a truth, a clarity, and a purpose in it. But it doesn't tell us what truth he saw. I'd consider it to be an important factor in discussing the Lich.
Let's consider our time line. Karthus is said to be the first living creature to willing choose Undeath. I interpret that as saying he is really old. Ancient, even. Old enough that anything he would have learned about the present day Runeterra would have happened well outside his lifetime. What if he discovered some important factor, some key detail that would require him to be alive now in order to act upon it? That could be the purpose, the clarity mentioned in his Lore. Knowing that he would not survive the Rune Wars leading up to present times, he sacrificed his humanity to preserve his mind for when it was really needed.
Something to help reinforce this: Riot has said that lore rewrites don't change the canon unless they specifically change the canon. So Warwick is no longer a chemist because he was specifically said to be a bounty hunter in the new lore. But Karthus's new lore specifically talks about his origins, and says nothing about his current activities in the League. So, it doesn't really conflict with his old lore, it only clarifies, except the part where he moves to the Shadow Isles instead of the Howling Marsh. His old lore has Karthus as a bit of an altruist; he serves the League as a volunteer, without accepting money or Influence. He's also worked behind the shadows, interfering in a fight between Kassadin and Malzaharr to protect one of them.* Something that wouldn't be necessary for him to bother doing if he didn't care about the fate of the world.
Next big question: What exactly is Karthus doing in this time period, if we are to assume he's not making evil plans of doom and despair? To answer that we look at Mordekaiser.
Mordekaiser has also been through a few lore revisions. The key thing that I take from his new lore is that he does whatever he needs to do to accomplish his goal, but that he doesn't act with malice. He kills a wizard to learn some secret, but he doesn't kill the wizard's apprentice. He's not afraid to murder if he needs to, but he doesn't go out of his way to hurt innocents or civilians. Between this, his "noble stance and clever tactics", and the fact that he is referred to as a Lord on the Twisted Treeline map, would lead me to conclude that Mordekaiser is one of the leaders of Island.
What's his goal? We don't know. I feel as though he and Hecarim don't get along, and he is referred to as a Prisoner by one of the altars. Perhaps he is trapped somehow? If that were the case, he definitely benefits from working with Sona. She's a key that unlocks things, after all. We're working udner the assumption that Karthus knows something about this time period that is important, so it makes sense that he would seek out one of the rulers of the Shadow Isle in order to work it out. Mordekaiser is likely not as altruistic as his friend, but their allegiance makes sense.
Yorick is the next piece in the puzzle. He's a gravedigger, and not the only one. Gravediggers serve a specific purpose; most Undead cannot progress through the afterlife without their assistance. But unlike most gravediggers, Yorick started remembering his previous life. His ultimate goal is to fully remember who he was and prove it to the world. Which is oddly similar to Karthus's whole deal about how death can create clarity and truth and so on. I could definitely see their partnership being one of "You provide us with endless ghouls and we'll help you discover your past", or it could simply be a sympathy of sorts from Karthus. We don't really have a way of knowing that right now.
Olaf is the oddball of the group. I can easily say why the three dead guys are working together. And Sona's Ethwahl is otherworldly enough to reasonably explain her actions. But Olaf specifically distrusts magic users, and his concerns lie in returning to his home, Lokfar. So why would he join up with Pentakill, and why would they want him in the first place?
The other person who comes from Lokfar is Brand. Spoiler alert, Brand is probably the scariest thing in the League. Of all the champions, he's the only one whose entire existence is dedicated to ending the world. He's a threat that can't really be ignored. And Olaf's ancestors were the first to bind him. Karthus's purpose may well involve Brand, in which case he would have as much of a vested interest in getting Olaf home as Olaf does. And one would expect that Mordekaiser is okay with the extra help regardless of where it comes from.
With that, we can come up with reasons why each champion would be in Pentakill outside of the music. What started as a mutual interest becomes an alliance to determine the fate of the Shadow Isle.
Another unstated benefit of the whole band thing... It would be conspicuous for the champions to travel across the continent as champions. Quite a few individuals would raise an objection to three dead guys and a viking hanging out in their city. But it's a different story for a band. As musicians they can go places that they couldn't as champions. Something that surely proves convenient.
But what about the other Shadow Isle inhabitants? It's hard to really make speculation on them outside of what I've already done. Thresh, Evelynn, Maokai, and Nocturne have yet to get voice lines for the Altars. I'm expecting that we can more easily draw up sides when those are done. Perhaps the others are all aligned against Mordekaiser, or perhaps some fall behind Hecarim and some others fall behind Elise in a 3 way struggle. Either way, I'm excited to see what comes next.
What else could Pentakill be, besides a band and a covert Avengers style Alliance?
In the interest of exploring other possible lore interpretations, here is the Four Horsemen theory that I think originated on Reddit... but I lost the link for it. Sorry
as most people will know the Four Horsemen of Apocalypse myth gives us Four Riders associated with the end of the world. They are Death, War, Pestilence, and Famine.
You may notice a particular similarity between these horsemen and the members of Pentakill. Karthus is Death (the whole book of the dead and all), Mordekaiser is Pestilence (he's big into the whole Plague thing), Olaf is War (Vikings are kind of known for the whole pillage and burn thing), and Sona is Famine (this one's a bit of a stretch, but being a war orphan she would definitely know about hunger. And besides, dancing works up quite an appetite).
For Yorick, he's the link that combines them. Each of his ghouls is an aspect of the Horsemen and is also connected to what the other 4 do. Omen of War increases movement speed; running people down is what Olaf does. Omen of Famine helps Yorick win a war of attrition, which is how Sona's poke/sustain kit works. Omen of Death lets Yorick keep someone alive for just a little longer, which is what Karthus's passive does. And Omen of Pestilence does a decent amount fo AoE magic damage and slows people, which is what Mordekaiser does... once he has Rylais's scepter. Again, that one is a bit of a stretch, but let's just roll with it.
The theory is that each member of Pentakill is an aspect of the Apocalypse. Olaf's ult is Ragnarok, which is the Norse equivalent of the Apocalypse. Sona is the key to the world, which we could assume is relevant to it's end. Mordekaiser grows stronger from the infection and disease of people, so he'd definitely benefit from spreading woe and destruction. And Karthus's Requiem, the song he sings when he ults, is said to kill everyone on the planet if he sings the whole thing instead of the first 3 seconds.
I personally don't like that theory. For one, the Horsemen don't otherwise exist in Runeterra and aren't ever mentioned in anything. It doesn't make sense to apply real world mythology to Runeterra as if there was a 1-1 relation. And there's the problem of motivation; the champions of Pentakill aren't really interested in ending the world. I also can't remember where the source is stating that detail about Karthus's ult. I know I read it somewhere, but I can't remember where.
Plus, the whole thing is very silly. Silly, but hopefully fun regardless.
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