This update covers the Week 12 Champion highlights, which were connected with the August 13-14 Featured Matches.
A vision from the heart of the Maelstrom has shown Volibear, warrior-sage of the Ursine, that a conflict of mythical proportions will soon be upon the Freljord. He knows that the Ursine cannot survive this conflict unless they shake off their complacency and reclaim their warrior pride, and Volibear has made it his mission to renew his people’s spirit.
The elders of the Ursine stood in his way, and so he cast them down. The Avarosan made his people soft, and so he declared for the Winter’s Claw. His people had no voice in the League, and so he passed the trials to become one of its Champions, even before the Freljord itself was recognized. The fiends he saw through the Maelstrom will attack, and so the Ursine will break them.
Before they turned from the old ways, the Ursine venerated their fallen warriors as guiding spirits who exemplified their highest ideals. At first, Volibear believed that the worship of these heroes of old died out when the Ursine became (in his view) timid merchants. He came to question this explanation, however, when he entered the League of Legends, and encountered Thresh, the Chain Warden.
Volibear recognized Thresh from the loremasters’ tales of the last great battles fought by the last great warriors: a fearsome skeletal figure with a glowing green lantern, roaming the battlefield and stealing the souls of slain heroes. The honored dead had not abandoned the Ursine, he realized, but had been taken captive by this ghastly reaper. The Nyroth conflict offered Volibear a chance to free these souls from Thresh’s clutches—and, to his great shame, he failed.
The Guardian’s Sea nexus brought another opportunity. The Ursine souls that Thresh held were sealed in his lantern with strong necromantic magic that even the mightiest mortal souls could not escape. But Summoners loyal to Volibear explained that such enchantments, strong though they were, could not contain divine energy. The souls of these fallen Ursine heroes were not merely mortal, but also imbued with divine power by their people’s faith. Together, they formulated a plan to call out to those tormented souls through the divine medium of the nexus’ energy, empowering them to break free.
Volibear and his allies soon discovered that they were not the only ones searching for a way to reach the souls of the fallen Ursine. Vel’Koz and his Icathian Summoners were following the same path of clues—intent not on freeing them, but on consuming their divinity.
The Freljord defeated Icathia 2-1, leading to a mostly favorable outcome for Volibear.
Volibear’s Summoners dug through the Institute’s archives and traveled far and wide across Valoran in search of a means to retrieve the souls of the battle-slain from Thresh. They even sought aid from their allies in Nyroth, who owed them gratitude for their role in restoring their homeland.
In the end, the solution was not a long-lost artifact or strange new magic from Nyroth. It lay instead in the yearly rituals of the Ursine, performed to this day, but much faded in power. The incantations themselves were still known, but magic is more than words. Volibear found only one among all the Ursine who still knew the true power behind the ritual: Kruvek, a gruff old warrior with a missing eye and withered left paw from battles with bandits. His injuries pushed him into the priesthood, where his common birth and lack of education consigned him to the lower ranks. But he still had the heart of a warrior, and could speak the words of the ritual with honor.
Volibear brought Kruvek to the Guardian’s Sea nexus, and from atop a craggy ice floe they performed the ritual. They chanted, they bellowed their challenges to the spirits, and they wrestled. Kruvek threw Volibear to the ice with strength he’d never had even in his youth, and roared to the sky. The veil split, and the Ursine battle-slain returned, reforging the link between the current generation and the Ursine who came before.
Yet the portal did not close. Something was holding it open. Something else was tearing its way through. The ice floe turned ashen, and spread outward, curving down into the suddenly still ocean. The winds bore the howls of dark and vengeful spirits, the dishonored dead. They remembered physical forms, ragged flesh and yellow bone, and clawed up from the depths. They were coming to greet their master…
The Freljord drew the Ace of Swords, indicating a Might challenge. The Difficulty is 20.
The Freljord has Might 9. It is also at BoP 22, meaning that if it rolls at least one 9+, it gains +4. If it rolls a 1, it rerolls that die (see: Week 8 event). It gains +4 from its FM wins (+2 per FM victory).
The Freljord rolled: 10, 7. The 10 triggered its +4 BoP bonus. Its total roll was 25. Against Difficulty 20, that’s a success with 2 SLs. It rerolls its next 1 or 2 on a lore event Influence check. It also gets +1 on its next Might Quest check.
The Ursine warriors held their ground against the wraiths, but the Summoners could do no more than delay the opening of the portal. Though they bound the portal with every enchantment they could devise, the fiend on the other side was steadily wrenching them apart. They looked to Volibear and Kruvek for guidance.
Kruvek snarled. “Break it and let them come!” He slashed a claw through the sigil in the center of the spell-circle, and the portal broke open.
Hooked black tentacles shot out from the portal, followed by a beaked maw surrounded by red eyes. From the depths of oblivion to which it had been exiled, it screeched its name once more:
“I AM AKLATHOS OF THE ABYSS!”
The wraith-warriors surged forward, and forced the Ursine back to the portal.
Volibear spread his arms and drew in a great breath. The spirits of a generation of slain heroes struck him as a bolt of lightning, and he loosed a roar that blasted the undead Ursine into dust and drove Aklathos back into nothingness. Thunder rolled and lightning flashed, blasting geysers of steam from the frozen ocean and setting the waves in motion once more.
The Freljord’s dramatic victory here will return to the story on its next Quest check, where it will grant a +1. The next time it rolls a 1 or 2 on an Influence check, it will get a reroll.
Vel’Koz, the Eye of the Void, roams Runeterra in search of new knowledge, which he acquires one experiment at a time, stripping each subject apart piece by piece. He has already gathered a wealth of information about this world, concerning such topics as heat, bravery, magic, fear, cartilage, soup, sadness, and elbows. In trying to determine which of these elements stood out as Runeterra’s defining attribute, he first settled on water, then, after some consideration, revised that to the subset of water called soup. Mere fractions of a second later, he discarded this entire line of analysis and came to a new conclusion: Runeterra is defined by magic. The League of Legends offers a wealth of opportunities for him to “study” the mightiest mages in Runeterra. He is aware that the mortals are also trying to use this arrangement to study him. He welcomes the competition, and looks forward to someday reviewing their findings, piece by piece.
Vel’Koz had studied a broad range of magic since arriving in Runeterra. The League of Legends had been a particularly rich source of specimens. The emergence of the Guardian’s Sea nexus offered Vel’Koz a new subject for investigation, with an ambiguous relationship to the magic he had studied thus far: divinity. Though intriguing, this also proved a most difficult challenge. Hunting down Nagakabouros, for example, would likely result in a premature end to Vel’Koz’s mission, and his inconvenient obliteration.
Vel’Koz was therefore pleased when one of his Summoners reported to him regarding inquiries being made by Volibear and his assistants. The Ursine souls they described would be ideal specimens: charged with divine energy, yet nowhere near as powerful as a deity such as Nagakabouros. Though perhaps, Vel’Koz considered, the lessons learned through these deconstructions would suggest a means of approaching larger specimens in the future.
Icathia lost its matches against the Freljord 1-2, resulting in a net negative outcome for our tentacled friend.
The Ursine shaman had been plagued by nightmares for weeks. He heard the voices of his ancestors cursing him for failing to do something, to go somewhere. But he could not understand what they wanted. It all became clear one night, when they told him to dive into the ocean and follow their voices through the currents. The Icathians took him in the depths, and brought him to their floating fortress.
Atop the crystalline spire, Vel’Koz pried into the shaman’s mind, trying to find the lever that would begin the ritual to summon the Ursine ancestors, so that he could begin his experimentation. But the shaman’s mind proved more twisted and stubborn than he expected. When Vel’Koz sensed the manaburst from above the nexus, and felt the dimensional fabric parting, he concluded that Volibear had beaten him to it.
“This is a great disappointment,” he intoned, ensuring that his Summoners heard him as well. He fixed his enormous eye on the shaman. “But then, I expect you are at least a little divine…”
Icathia drew the King of Pentacles, indicating a Vision test. They have a Vision reroll stored up from Week 8, so if they roll a 1 or a 2 here, they get a reroll.
Icathia rolled a 1 and a 4. Rerolling that 1. It rolled a 5. Total is now 9. Add 6 for Vision, for a total of 15. Add 2 for winning one FM, for a total of 17. It fails the Vision check, and thus takes a -2 (the number of FMs it lost) on its next lore event check.
After Vel’Koz disintegrated the shaman, his ruminations upon the data so gathered were interrupted by a shockwave that shook the Icathian spire. The distortion produced a brief but fascinating phenomenon whereby the divine plane became visible, and he saw an ethereal Ursine spirit, one of the Slain-Takers, bearing the shaman’s spirit away on a silver sled.
The ritual circle they had drawn around the shaman destabilized amid this planar flux. The overcharged energy field detonated, preventing any further experiments by Vel’Koz in the near future, with “the near future” being most crucially the amount of time it would take to recorporealize from a fine purple mist. Icathian Summoners raced about the twisting, spinning crystal spire, trying to regain control.
Icathia’s crystal spire has become a little crazier than usual, and this will come back to bite them on their next lore event check, where it will apply a -2.
Twisted Fate is a gambler and outlaw from the Serpentine River. He exhibited unusual psionic powers from childhood, such as instinctive precognition. Unfortunately, with his distinctly humble background, the most he could achieve through these talents was to cheat at cards and get out alive. By the time the League was founded, he was a restless young man who didn’t mind the risk himself, but who was increasingly uneasy about the possibility of his family ending up on the hook should his luck run out. He therefore set out for the rest of Valoran, newly open for international travel but still smoldering from the Rune Wars, to find his next adventure.
The more “TF” traveled, the more astonished he was by the displays of magic he saw, and more dissatisfied he became with his own talents. Without the social standing, patience, or academic talent required to enter a traditional school of magic, he chose to instead take a risk as an experimental subject of Dr. Xavier Rath in Zaun. Rath’s apparatus unlocked bizarre abilities, such as intuitive teleportation and instantaneous temporary enchantment of objects. The criminal career that followed left TF’s mark on every nation in Valoran (the League’s museum contains a poorly drawn Wanted sign from Bandle City, depicting a gigantic hat and beard with hypothetical facial features scribbled in the space remaining between), and introduced him to Malcolm Graves.
TF and Graves subsequently experienced a serious professional disagreement. With Graves locked up, TF struck out on his own once more, winning infamy and renown as his powers increased. He eventually made his way to joining the League itself in 19 CLE. (Graves followed a few years later, and his Judgment made it plain that he continued to vigorously disagree with his former colleague about the controversial decision to “leave me caged up like a rat.”) During the Hextech Revolution, he aided Zaun, and together with Zac founded the Mutant Academy.
Shortly after Gangplank seized power as Reaver King, Graves and Twisted Fate signed on with Miss Fortune in a series of League matches that solidifed her authority on behalf of Bilgewater before the League, but failed to unseat Gangplank as the Pirate King of Bilgewater. She instead turned to more direct methods. She hired Twisted Fate to break into his stronghold, ostensibly to procure an artifact for her. Meanwhile, she tipped Graves off to his whereabouts, and suggested that now might be a good time for him to settle his score. They had, however, both been played, and served merely as bait to bring Gangplank into Miss Fortune’s sights. After their ordeal, they agreed to move on as partners, but resolved to cool their heels in Piltover while Gangplank and Miss Fortune fought a smoldering internal dispute over which the League had no cause (nor desire) to assert jurisdiction. Caitlyn was never able to pin anything on either of them, or at least, hasn’t yet.
Lady Luck had always smiled on Twisted Fate. The night the Guardian’s Sea nexus appeared, he had a dream in which he was playing cards with a lovely lady. (One who, quite unusually, made TF nervous.) He lost the game, and she swept his stakes over to her side of the table…then smiled charitably, told him to meet her back in Bilgewater, and (explaining “for the fare”), flipped him one of her newly won coins. And so he went. After all, he fancies himself a gentleman, at least in certain romantic respects, and it wouldn’t do to keep a lady like her waiting.
Twisted Fate found that the nexus had indeed changed Bilgewater. He discovered underground societies of Bilgewater street kids, organized as card clubs. They had banded together in mutual recognition of their latent but swiftly developing supernatural abilities. TF contacted Zac at his Mutant Academy in Zaun, and set about establishing a Bilgewater campus that could provide these youths with the sort of magical training that he had so desperately desired. To accomplish this, he would need some local political capital, and in Bilgewater, that means pirates and scoundrels. He found several who were willing to assist, in exchange for the kind of leverage that a Champion could provide at the League.
Bilgewater went 1-2 against Bandle City, leading to a negative outcome for TF.
Twisted Fate could see a lot of ways for this plan to go wrong. Miss Fortune and Gangplank wouldn’t take too kindly to TF starting up some kind of unorthodox magical academy full of talented students (soon to be trained mages) loyal to him. For that matter, Bilgewater has a long history of wariness toward magic, going back to the Rune Wars. And with many of his potential students wielding powers that straddled the line between conventional magic and psionic abilities, TF wasn’t sure they’d be safe from PsiKorps agents dispatched from Zaun.
What he had not expected was to face serious opposition from a bunch of tin can-worshipping fluffballs. But Twisted Fate’s plans were in fact thrown into disarray when the Summoners and Champions of Bandle City thwarted him on the Fields.
In the aftermath of this unexpected setback, Miss Fortune and Gangplank each snatched up some of the students whose significance Twisted Fate had inadvertently highlighted. Fortunately, TF had long been used to salvaging situations that had gone to pieces. The kids might not have become as organized as he’d have liked, but through his efforts, they came to appreciate their potential.
Bilgewater drew the Fool. This represents the intervention of the Gambler from the previous lore event.
Bilgewater drew the Knight of Wands, indicating a Balance of Power challenge. Its Balance of Power this week was -6, so 6 + BoP/10 gives 5.
Bilgewater rolled 5 and 7, for a total of 12. Adding 5 gives 17. Adding 2 for its FM win gives 19: a narrow failure. This gives them -2 on their next lore event check (because they lost 2 FMs).
Gangplank and Miss Fortune quickly secured the loyalty (or at least the obedience) of the most talented of Twisted Fate’s prospective students. Gangplank used threats, while Miss Fortune used generous promises of compensation…backed by threats. One particular individual resisted them both. This young man, who went by “Ace” but acknowledged the surname Hebbern, thereby proved his strength of will and also established for himself a very short life expectancy.
After Gangplank’s thugs failed to bring Ace in, the Reaver King came for him personally. The woman from TF’s dream drew him to an intersection mere seconds before Ace came running past. When Gangplank’s pistol suddenly misfired, blinding him with a cloud of gray smoke, Twisted Fate seized the opportunity to grab Ace and take him to safety. Over his protestations, he put him on a ship for Zaun, and sent word to Zac. Bilgewater was no longer safe for him, but at the Academy, he’d have a shot.
Both Gangplank’s attempt to gun the kid down in the streets and his failure to do so have embarrassed him, and Bilgewater generally. Morale among his recent recruits has, understandably, fallen.
Bilgewater will take a -2 on its next lore check, as fallout from this incident.
Gnar is a yordle from the ancient Freljord, frozen in True Ice by Anivia when the Watchers came. Over twenty years after the end of the Rune Wars, the True Ice melted, and he ventured out into the strange new world, searching (hopelessly) for his family and tribe. He found his way, eventually, to Bandle City. The yordles there took him in and introduced him to the League of Legends. He took to it both as a way to help out his new friends and as a source of unlimited playtime.
During the exploration of Nyroth, the Freljord discovered the island of Argyre, home to tribes of yordles who resembled Gnar more closely than “modern” yordles. Their civilization centered around Lanpoa, a Mothership-like artifact. Yordles from Bandle City succeeded in communicating with Lanpoa, but the information held within remained cryptic.
The appearance of the Guardian’s Sea nexus allowed the Freljord to get more information from Lanpoa. Anivia discovered an image of ancient Iceborn and ancient yordles (looking much like Gnar) together, along with other evidence that Argyre may have been part of the Freljord landmass in ancient times. And if so, then Lanpoa may be able to reconnect Gnar with his past.
While wandering out in the glades surrounding Bandle City, Gnar stumbled into a clearing and found a ring of dark blue stones that glittered purple when the light hit them just right. He scampered over, and yelped in surprise when another yordle hopped out from behind a stone and squinted at him. This other yordle didn’t look like the ones from Bandle City. He looked like…
And then it was all gone. Just a clearing. The other yordle vanished. Gnar saw small, ordinary rocks arranged vaguely in a circle, where the sparkling stones had been. He heard a shrill giggle, saw a faerie zip-flutter around him, and found himself looking up at Lulu.
Back in Bandle City, Gnar snatched a crayon in his mouth, paw-pinned a sheet of paper, and scribbled out an image of the ring of blue stones, and him with another yordle with big Gnar-like ears. He shoved the drawing into Summoner Abiwon Kenabi’s hands. She immediately recognized it, and, digging through the papers in her pack, found a recent report from a submarine expedition near the nexus. It showed a sketch of a ring of blue stones that sparkled brilliantly when the submarine turned its lights on them. She brought Gnar to the Mayor, and somewhat freely translated his hops, growls, and yips into a request for aid in fetching these stones back to Bandle City. Once the Summoner succeeded in convincing her purple-robed colleagues that this was worth using some League capital for, the order was sent.
The ship that carried the stones, The Last Mango, was a merchant ship specially outfitted to carry magical items across the waves. It was also, in a separate compartment, carrying rare and valuable magical items procured by Bilgewater Summoners to help establish Twisted Fate’s magical academy. The ship’s captain had gotten dangerously greedy, however, and paid off a League official to look the other way while the hold was packed beyond safe capacity. When it hit a storm, insulating walls snapped, and a slew of potent magical items crashed together. The crew barely had time to throw themselves overboard before the ship collapsed into an arcane distortion, looking as though it had been frozen in a block of multicolored glass. Retrieving objects from inside would be difficult, and each item removed would risk triggering a total collapse. (Or something worse: one could never be sure when so many divergent magical signatures clashed together like this.) The League took jurisdiction over the dispute.
Gnar and his friends gathered their forces for the Fields of Justice, intent upon retrieving the stones.
Bandle City defeated Bilgewater 2-1, leading to a generally positive outcome.
Bandle City prevailed on the Fields, and reclaimed the stones from The Last Mango before it collapsed into a singularity. They brought them to Argyre, and arranged them into a circle before Lanpoa. When the last stone was placed, Gnar looked hopefully up at Lanpoa, and a beam of light from the ship summoned the spirits of Gnar’s tribe into the stone circle with him. He tried to pounce on his family, but fell right through the image. But they could talk, and for hours they did, until at last they said they had to go, but would see him again soon.
Bandle City drew a Nine of Swords, signifying a Might challenge.
Bandle City rolled a 10 and a 2, for a total of 12. They have a Might of 4, which brings it up to 16. They won two FMs, for a total buff of +4. They JUST BARELY make it, with 20. Bandle City already has x2 buffs on Influence, so this reroll goes to Vision, granting a reroll on its next 1 or 2 on a Vision check.
The images vanished. Gnar began to cry, and then to howl. Lanpoa itself seemed moved by his grief, and enveloped him in a beam of light. He stopped howling, but the sound continued, projected first from Lanpoa, then seemingly from all directions. Mists swirled around the circle, carrying the howls with them. As the mists coalesced, the howling grew louder and deepened into a roar. Gnar stared up at himself, in “Mega Gnar” form—and barely dodged in time to avoid being crushed by a gigantic fist.
Gnar battled himself, or (as some later speculated) an ethereal manifestation of his anger, and after many close calls succeeded in bonking the great beast over the head with his boomerang and toppling him to the snow, whereupon he vanished.
Lanpoa chirped a cheerful tune, projected the sacred words “ACHIEVEMENT UNLOCKED”, and ejected a fist-sized crystal ball inscribed with the positions of stars and constellations. The ball rolled over the snow to Gnar, who stopped it with a paw, peered at it, and gave it an experimental chomp. Though it proved not particularly tasty, he recognized that it was something that those people in robes might like. He picked it up and trotted over to Summoner Abiwon Kenabi, giving it to her with a serious-faced “Shung Shuu,” followed by a quick, “shugi shugi.”
When it was brought back to the Mothership, it was revealed to contain fascinating information about the stars around Runeterra, allowing the completion of several astronomical and arcane problems that had vexed Bandle City and Piltover for decades.
The next time Bandle City rolls a 1 or a 2 on a Vision check, the results from this scholarly work will find application, granting a reroll.