This is a short snippet from The Summoner’s Herald about some of the festivities taking place this weekend on the grounds of the Institute.
The Seeker’s Ball
An Historical Retrospective in Honest Terms
by Gwendolyn Brookleigh
The Spring-Blossom Gala, and in particular the Seeker’s Ball that has become its centerpiece, is generally viewed as nothing more than a party weekend, or a time for regrettable hookups, or an opportunity for those irritatingly perfect over-achieving couples to say their vows in front of the Council. It is, of course, all of those things. But it is also an intriguing case study of the early formative years of the Institute, and a demonstration of the power of informal social networks that develop within multinational institutions. My thanks to The Summoner’s Herald for allowing so blunt a piece to be published in its pages. The views expressed herein are, of course, mine alone. I further add that no disrespect is intended toward the League of Legends, the Journal of Justice, or any other subjects herein mentioned. On the contrary, I believe the League’s success is all the more remarkable given its troubled history.
If you find yourself nonetheless getting riled up, please put this troublesome sheet of paper down, have a stretch, and either give your significant other a kiss or ask…well, you know who I mean…out on a date. The League itself is perhaps the greatest gamble in Valoran’s history, and the Institute has always been a place for taking risks.
—Gwendolyn Brookleigh, Smnr.
“Let’s everyone settle down and have a drink”—How the League’s Summoners came together
When the League was first formed, the Summoners from the various member-states were no more apt to pal around with each other than the Champions were. They fought matches for whoever would pay them, because they had to, but the Rune Wars were still fresh in their memories. Many had already been called traitors for leaving their homelands’ academies to join this ridiculous “League of Legends”—a farcical waste of money that would surely collapse as soon as Demacia and Noxus were ready for the next round of unchecked warfare.
Seeing its ranks so deeply fragmented, the Institute (controversially) dipped into its limited coffers to fund a series of feasts, dances, and parties, in the hopes of luring impecunious young Summoners out of their halls with the scent of free food, the thrill of equally free music from distant lands—or, in some cases, the chance for a date. Many outside the League griped about this frivolous waste of the member-states’ donations, accusing the Institute of being nothing more than a corrupt band of aristocratic wizards entertaining themselves with public coin. Periodicals and pamphlets flooded the streets of Valoranian cities, selling copy with scandalous woodcuts of drunken Summoners gorging themselves on extravagant food, bellies and purses both swollen with largesse.
However, by the end of the first year, a broad network of personal friendships (and some romantic relationships) had spread throughout the ranks of the Summoner corps, and helped hold the fledgling Institute together when the first great controversies hit. Several crises were swiftly defused when Summoners reached across national lines to informally negotiate a compromise, relying on friendships that had been formed as they wolfed down meal-sized portions of “refreshments” to help stretch their meager first-year Summoner stipends.
“We’re legal!”—The Spring-Blossom Gala, and how a loophole became a wedding-arch
In the spring of 2 CLE, the Institute announced that it would be holding the grandest event yet: a massive two-day gala to commemorate the couples who had come together through the Institute, many across national lines. There was an eminently practical component to the event: some of these couples had been having great difficulties working out the legal dimensions of international marriage. For example, the Demacian courts had balked at how an Ionian family tree without any connection to a House or one of its servant-families might be reflected upon a Demacian marriage compact. The High Councilor explained that the League’s lawyers had examined the charter, and found that a provision in Article VII supported the League’s right to issue “diplomatic” marriage licenses, which the member-states would have to respect to at least some minimal degree. (For instance, it was grudgingly agreed that a Demacian House could not arrange a marriage of a Demacian Summoner who was already “married” through the Institute.) It was therefore further announced that, at this Spring-Blossom Gala, the High Councilor himself would be marrying dozens of Summoner couples on the Institute lawn.
Although international couples were the focus of the event, when I hunted down the original program in the Institute’s archives, I also noticed a number of Bandle City couples. I can only presume that then, as now, it was agreed that yordle weddings are adorable.
“What about us?”—The origins of the Seeker’s Ball as a token for the romantically unfortunate
Although these marriages were the highlight of the event, the program also included a smaller item, perhaps added in as compensation for the many lonely Summoners still wrapped up in their solitary academic pursuits: a Seeker’s Ball, where unattached Summoners could mingle. (This was also considered a way to prevent bitter Summoners from staggering into the marriage ceremonies with a flask of fortified Noxian wine and causing a scene.) It turned out that the Seeker’s Ball was much better attended than the marriage ceremonies themselves. And so it is today.
The Seeker’s Ball has become one of the Institute’s most cherished traditions. (Cherished not least by the tailors and clothing shops, who I assure you have been buying up Valoran’s stock of pink and red fabric for months now.) Summoners are a little better paid these days, but we continue to make vigorous use of the enormous buffet, stacked with chocolates and every foodstuff even remotely suspected of having aphrodisiac qualities. It is held in a hedge maze, with many out-of-the-way corners shaded with the sound-drinking thaumivorous vegetation known as hushleaf, ostensibly so that each of the musical performances taking place in its various open clearings will not interfere with one another. Reporters from the Journal of Justice, always a publication to push the line, made a pretty penny snooping around the maze to catch a couple Champions, or failing that some high-ranking Summoners, in flagrante delicto. The Herald seems an altogether more cautious journal, but take my advice, young Summoners—do not neglect the lessons you have learned on the Fields of Justice in “map awareness” this weekend. I’ve got bills to pay myself, and I consider this fair warning: if someone snaps a hexgraph of you snuggling up with someone in the hushleaves tomorrow, I will write about it.
14 February, 25 CLE.