by Abiwon Kenabi (edited by CupcakeTrap and ShadowKnight1224)
The dark sun rose on Icathia like it did everyday. Grigory rose with it, setting about to start his morning chores. He washed up, made breakfast—making sure to steep the porridge in the distilled ichor of a Xer’Sai after cookin—then swept away the sand the previous night’s storm had blown in and gave several drops of his own blood to the hearth’s Null Blood pool to honor Cha’Har’Gha, She Who Lives in Every Whispered Secret. Finally, he settled next to his wife for morning prayer. They knelt side-by-side on plump cushions, heads bent towards the center of the city as shafts of harsh morning light tried to penetrate the drawn curtains.
Not long ago, Grigory’s routine looked quite different. In place of the sure, deliberate morning chores was the hustle and breakneck speed of corporate work, and the constant clashing and screeching with other Zaunite businessmen and women. Everything was so harsh, and so loud. Too loud, that he could not hear what was important.
Grigory could hear now, though, and the voices brought comfort. Every morning, Icathians everywhere would quiet, hoping to hear their masters more clearly. To catch a scrap of their future or to write a new past. Grigory looked to his wife, her round belly indicating they were expecting. He prayed the voices would assure him of their child’s future, and that her mind may grow to be malleable and deep, so that she may accept the Void’s gifts without being broken.
In Zaun, Grigory awoke to uncertainty. In Icathia, the Void was always. And that brought Grigory comfort.
On this morning, the voices came clearer than ever. One voice rang out above the rest. Grigory listened intently, looking for signs of his child’s birth. Instead, the unintelligible whisper brought him into a crushing darkness. The Void beast surged through it assuredly, the space reminding it of the source lands from which it was born. A light flickered, revealing the area: Grigory saw sand and endless chasms through the water-filtered light. He was in the bottom of the ocean.
The Void creature resembled a Viperfish with its long, translucent body and it’s angler-like light. It rooted along the seafloor, tirelessly searchingsearching…
Searching for what? Grigory queried.
The Void responded with a quickened pace. Grigory felt the icy water flow over its scales—or were they his scales?—feeling the numerous lampreys that clung to his sides. They didn’t matter. His blood would only make them compelled to listen, too.
The darkness felt tight around him. The sea made a far better curtain than his home’s drapes did. Not a shaft of sunlight interrupted his path.
At last, the infinite flat seafloor transformed. Crumbling walls, cobbled streets and even full-sized buildings emerged from the darkness. Grigory darted through a sprawling city. His pupils widened when he caught scent of his destiny. He flipped a fin faster and saw his light join another light source, also kept secret from the surface world by the crushing darkness.
Grigory beheld a massive glowing crystal. A nexus.
His wife’s hand jolted him back. Grigory wiped his brow, now cold with sweat, surprised that it was no longer scaly. He had to tell the High Priest about this. No, he had to go higher.
Malzahar. Where was Malzahar?
The captain of the Bloody Crown shouted orders to his crew. “Drop the anchors! Hoist the mainsails! Get on it ya lazy bums! The beast’s approaching!”
The Crown’s deck creaked and thundered as her crew rushed across it. One swabbie, the Crown’s youngest crew member, complained loudly as usual. Like clockwork, this one, Captain LeTran thought bitterly. He hesitated with his usual scornful retort, glancing at his guests.
A Summoner stood fiddling with a magical device, its odd ends sparking. Next to him, bouncing lightly atop a barrel, was the Playful Trickster himself. Fizz’s head tentacles bounced as though in tune to a song, and his wide eyes drank in the flurry of action around him.
LeTran resumed his Captain’s scowl, chewing out the swabbie before his men readied the harpoon cannons. The Crown’s helmsman bellowed directional orders from his place at the stern. “‘S headed north! Harpoons down a half turn! Steady! Steady!”
All of this was routine for sea monster hunters.
But one look at the monster that burst from the waves blew that routine out of the water. Quite literally.
Its otherworldly screech rocked the ship. The usually muddled gray sea serpent they expected was bright blue and purple. It seemed to hum as it glowed.
“Blow me down, another freaky serpent?” a sailor called.
“The stories were all true!”
The swabbie shuddered violently, “Me cousin was right! I should have joined the temple!”
“What is that?” Fizz exclaimed, his eyes sparkling.
LeTran responded, voice straining over the screeches, “A Giant..er… Gray Angilleforme, sir!”
Fizz blinked. “It’s pink!”
“Aye! That it is!”
It was true that stories about abnormal sea creatures had been spreading like wildfire through the Slaughter Docks. This wasn’t even the first anomaly the Bloody Crown had seen; Just last week they pulled in a Grand Viperfish loaded with half its weight in parasitic lampreys suckling on it’s slimy skin. There was strange magic afoot.
Apparently the Institute had noticed, too. The Summoner pointed frantically at his device, which was whirring and spinning. He shook his head.
LeTran looked to Fizz, who had turned to the Summoner. He nodded intently, waving his seastone trident to LeTran, giving the signal to take it down.
LeTran complied. “Harpoons to starboard! Bring that hellion down!”
Most harpoons missed the long twisting creature, but a few hit their mark. The serpent thrashed, twisting in ways LeTran hadn’t seen a serpent twist in his forty-odd years of hunting the beasts. Several volleys of harpoons and the beast slowed its thrashing. LeTran gave the order to pull it in using the rope from one of the embedded harpoons. He was not one to just ferry Summoners into monster-infested waters out of the goodness of his heart. He intended to profit where he could.
“Two more on the winch! HEAVE!” LeTran spat.
“Cap’n, the crane’s barely holding on as it is—”
“Do I pay you to sputter, Gordy? Just HEAVE!”
A gaping wound on the creature’s neck blasted sailors away, coating the deck in a sticky pink goop. Following the pink goop were several nasty looking eels, bursting out and thrashing about the wood. The sailors panicked, pulling their pistols and shooting recklessly at the eels as they danced away from their biting mouths. Fizz hopped up suddenly, balancing on his trident for a split second before slamming onto the eels with a splash. He dexterously stabbed at the eels, skewering each one until they all stopped moving. LeTran shouted his panicked crew back into order.
Fizz gazed at the water. “I’m going to go take a look.”
The diminutive Atlantean sprang up and over the rail, trident still tight in his hand. Some of the crew paused to watch the bubbles left in his wake. The Summoner stared most intently of all.
Ripples announced his return. Fizz looked up at the tense faces.
“A Nexus is down there,” he called up nonchalantly.
The Summoner blinked. “Excuse me…what?”
“A Nexus,” Fizz repeated, “And there’s all kinds of cool stuff down there. Buildings, a bunch of treasure—”
“BUILDINGS?” the Summoner gaped, “What are…buildings doing down there?”
Fizz shrugged. “Couldn’t get very close. There are all kinds of freaky fish down there. Hey,” he stifled a snicker, “I saw one that looked just like Vel’Koz!”
The Summoner twisted a bronze rod on his machine. “It makes sense now. The thaumic energy of the Void was oscillated variably because of leyline interference. The strongest leyline matrix of all is—”
“A nexus,” LeTran finished, “I understood that much.”
“It’s like the Bearded Lady’s Nest,” the swabbie shouted as he struggled to keep the deck clear of fish guts. This proved practically impossible, so he instead turned to explain himself. “The Bearded Lady was incarnated in a serpent, but the rune magic was killin’ ‘er. So she sank under the ocean wif ‘er eggs.”
LeTran swatted him. “You don’t know if that’s true.”
“Is true, is true. I read it in a book!”
“Can you read?” Fizz asked as he bounded back onto the deck.
The Summoner fixed the swabbie with a gaze. His dark skin and thick hair suggest he was descended from true Bilge natives.
“We’re not far from Bilgewater shores,” the Summoner mused, “This Nexus is going to affect us no matter what.”
Several sailors had gathered, each echoing their own version of the Serpent’s Nest. It was a legion of serpents, or it was a serpent that could fly. Sometimes she built a city, sometimes she destroyed one to make room for her nest. All seemed to end with a prophecy of her “glowing return”.
Fizz turned to the Summoner. “What does this all mean?”
“Well…a Nexus is big news…it’ll need to be reported…but this theological business…news spreads fast, and Bilgewaterns might consider this not just a place of power, but sacred ground. This requires a delicate approach, if Nagakabouros—”
“Nagakabouros?” Fizz’s eyes widened, then narrowed again as a mischievous grin grew on his face.
“…And that’s why I propose, we increase the military detail for our merchant vessels, until the delays due to problems with Bilgewater vessels are under control.”
Mayor Dennison Jadefellow nodded, adjusting his spectacles atop his bushy moustache to better look at the Yordle who was standing. “Yes, thank you, Elder Lonnie, we will take your proposal into consideration.”
Lonnie frowned, but slowly took his seat at the Council table.
“Any other news to report?” the Mayor asked, hoping for a bit of good news to brighten his busy week.
“I have something sir,” a small voice spoke up from the end of the long table. The Yordle speaking had a pleasant smile on his cream-colored fur.
“Y-yes, Champion Teemo? We did not expect you at the meeting today,” Jadefellow stuttered, trying to return Teemo’s kind smile.
“An intelligence report just came back, it seems rather urgent. A Yordle sub radioed in at 0800 hours, reporting a strange anomaly at these coordinates,” Teemo slid a folder towards the Mayor, “Recently intercepted messages from Bilgewater along with plenty of rumors confirm what our scientists believe the anomaly is.”
Jadefellow grasped his spectacles with a paw, holding them so as to read the the report. He flipped open the folder and let his spectacles clatter onto the table. Among the unencrypted transcripts of the message was a word highlighted in bright pink: NEXUS.
“A nexus? Under the ocean?” Jadefellow said, his eyes scanning over the document.
“Yes sir,” Teemo confirmed, causing a worried whisper to stretch across the room.
One Elder—an aged cleric who had been there as long as Dennison could remember, back when his father was Mayor—stood up shakily, her silver hair quivering. “It’s the fabled Launch Pad,” she declared.
Jadefellow rolled his eyes, but most Yordles’ fur stood up on end. They were all familiar with the story of the Launch Pad–there was even a common nursery rhyme that described it. It was where the Mothership took her maiden voyage, a glorious legendary day in the collective Yordle mind. However, legend also said there was a problem, forcing the Mothership to land in what was now the center of Bandle City. Dennison glanced out the window, catching sight of her bronze metal, steaming hissing out softly.
Lonnie leaned forward. “Do you really think it could be…?”
The cleric screwed her wrinkled face tight. “Surely it is. It satisfies all the requirements of the prophecy. By the sea, almost precisely the right distance…”
“Yes, yes, it fits!” others murmured.
“There’s another thing, sir,” Teemo added, “There have been hundreds of Voidling sightings around the same area, most of them incredibly hostile to Bilgewater. And my spies in Icathia say that they’ve been mobilizing.”
A gasp ran through the room, and then the murmuring increased. Jadefellow furrowed his brow as he looked to Teemo.
“Orders, sir?” the Scout asked.
The Mayor’s moustache twisted as he spoke. “Tell all high ranking military officers about this report. I want them to be ready for anything, but we don’t have the Yordle-power to pursue this topic. And keep it quiet. I don’t want unrest in the City.”
The cleric raised her voice. “You can’t keep this secret. Those devout to the Mothership must know!”
Another elderly voice spoke up. This one was from Deej Eyertt, who had been there even longer than the cleric could remember. “You can’t keep this from getting out, Jadefellow. The people have a right to know. And I’ll be shaved before I have to keep a secret like this from the public for much longer!”
The cleric stood again. “All those in favor of issuing a public statement on the matter?”
The majority of the room consented, leaving a frowning Mayor.
“Tell the high ranking officers,” he repeated, “and quickly. Sugar rush it!”
“Swiftly!” Teemo assured, before scampering out of the room.
The next day, Mayor Jadefellow had to address the city with a speech he didn’t write about a subject he didn’t want to talk about. Sweat formed in his fur in the quickly approaching summer weather, and he mopped it up as best he could, hoping the city could see just how hard he was trying. The citizens’ reaction was expected; many stood in awe and excitement, but also apprehension and anger. They were wondering the same thing as Jadefellow: did they have the strength to take the Launch Pad? Or would it slip through their paws?
A week passed, and not a day of it was slow. Several more delayed merchant reports hit Jadefellow’s desk, indicating Bilgewater ships were coming closer to Bandle’s ports. What was worse was all the Scout reports of sea Voidlings popping up. All he could do was rub his brow. A pyrikhos report came in: they only had enough for one more round trip, so the Yordle Moon Base had to be temporarily closed and evacuated until further notice. This news made Jadefellow squirm. Election time was a brownie’s throw away. He could feel his belly bulge against the double row of buttons on his vest. How many more cupcakes had he been eating because of all this?
He slumped at his desk, studying the pyrikhos numbers, when a pair of Yordles barged in.
“I’m sorry, sir, I couldn’t stop her!” his secretary called.
“Her” was a lean muscular Yordle in a military uniform. Her short blonde hair hung in her eyes, slightly obscuring the fire in them. She was dragging another Yordle, whose brown pigtails cowered at the presence of the other female Yordle.
“General Camellia. To what do I owe the pleasure?”
“I think I have a solution to our Bilge problem,” she turned to the other woman and barked at her, “You! Tell Jadefellow what you told me!”
She nodded vigorously, pigtails flopping. She had on the purple robes of a Summoner. “Y-yes. Yes ma’am.” She slowly stood and straightened herself. “Mayor Jadefellow, I…I’ve received an offer of alliance. From…Icathia.”
The Mayor blinked, slowly removing his spectacles. “Who?”
“I-Icathia,” the Summoner repeated. Her paws trembled slightly. “Another…Summoner. Approached me. She says they can help get Bilgewater off our vessels. She…she also said we could bring the ownership of the Launch Pad under dispute…before the League.” She gulped. “Jointly.”
The Mayor scowled; his paws were full enough as it was with all the problems that plagued Bandle City. “I do not like being toyed with, Summoner—”
Camellia stepped in and waved a hand. “It’s legitimate. I’ve already contacted an envoy and had a discussion with him.”
Camellia turned to the Summoner. “Leave us.”
The Summoner nodded and rushed out of the room, leaving the two Yordles to glare at each other.
“You contacted the Void? Behind my back?”
“Not the Void. Icathia.”
“This is preposterous, this is outrageous, this is—”
“Bandle’s best chance at getting what we deserve.”
The Mayor harrumphed. “Look, Camellia, I have trusted your counsel so far, it has been most on point. Ever since your heroic charge in Shurima, I’ve known I could trust you with practically anything…but this…this is…”
The Mayor shook his head. “Mad.”
Camellia crossed her arms. “Bandle City is already drowning, Jadefellow. The Mothership’s grounded. Commerce by sea has ground to a halt thanks to Bilgewater interference, especially since the Voidlings have claimed a chunk of the sea. We can make Icathia handle Bilge, we can make them help us find a power source like dark sand. Make it their problem for once. Are you going to just let the Launch Pad slip through your fingers!?”
The Mayor fingered the pocket watch in his breast pocket. It had belonged to his father. What would he do in this situation? His father served four terms in this office, more than any other Yordle. Dennison was on his third term. Would he make it to the fourth?
Camellia’s gaze softened. She was quite cute when she wasn’t scowling all the time. “Dennison,” she said softly, “I don’t think you want to go down in history as the Mayor who led the Mothership on it’s last launch. A True Launch is within the realms of possibility. But not if we let Bilgewater step all over us.”
“And Icathia won’t?” Dennison snapped.
“Leave that to me,” Camellia assured, “We may be allies in a dispute, we may use their power, but isn’t that what strong factions do? Look at Demacia. They’re in alliances all the time. No one tells them what to do.”
She started marching back towards the door. Jadefellow looked worriedly after her. “I’ll…I’ll think about it.”
Camellia nodded, assuring him again: “Don’t worry about Icathia. No one tells me what to do.”
“TELL ME WHERE THE MEMORY IS! TELL ME!”
The woman cowered under the big man’s bellowing, pulling her tattered shawl tighter around her. “I-I…don’t know! I just sell seashells, please…”
Olaf glanced around, seeing the dingy mat the woman knelt on. It had a plethora of shiny shells sorted by type with little cards denoting the price of each group. He tugged on his beard.
“I guess you are,” Olaf said. He beckoned the other Winter’s Claw warriors to follow. His eyes fell on the next merchant’s stand, a large man selling fish.
“You! Fisherman! Tell me where the Memory is!”
The bald man flinched, but raised an eyebrow. “Memory? What memory? I don’t even know what that is!”
Olaf grumbled to himself, giving the signal to move to the next stand.
They had been wandering the streets of Bilgewater all day, asking everyone they saw. Sejuani’s order rang fresh in Olaf’s mind. There are rumors that Ylsa’s Memory has returned, in Bilgewater. Find it! Olaf was reluctant at first, but he reminded himself that there would probably be a struggle over the famous medallion. Maybe someone would even use it’s power on him and kill him! What a story that would make!
His warriors followed anxiously, also thinking of that promise of dying to Ylsa’s Memory. One of them, a shield-matron named Frea, shouted angrily, “We don’t even know what Ylsa’s Memory does! Will it even kill us? Or just make us immortal?”
Olaf cringed at the thought. “Pipe down!” he spat.
While it was true no one knew what Ylsa’s Memory was capable of, everyone revered it. It was one of the only artifacts touched by all three Sisters of the Freljord. And everyone knew about the Legend of the Three Sisters. The pendant was forged in honor of their mother, Ylsa, and broke into three parts, one for each of the sisters. The pendant was reunited after the sisters’ passing, and it was lost to all for centuries, with only rumors and prophecies from the Frostguard that heralded its return. It would be a great day indeed if Olaf were to track it down, and though he didn’t think much of the Frostguard’s scribblings and book-things, he knew better than to question Sejuani.
Since Olaf was already in Bilgewater, he had the honor of searching for Ylsa’s Memory.
“Spread out, ask more of these whelps,” Olaf hissed to his warriors. They nodded and shuffled in different directions.
Olaf nearly hit his head on a hanging sign, which hung only by a single chain link. Serpent’s Tooth Inn it read. Olaf shrugged and entered the scuffed doorway. He could go for some ale.
Inside was a constant loud motion. Many of the Serpent’s Tooth’s patrons were already well into their seventh or eighth mug. Their faces shone red with crooked smiles stretched across. Olaf shimmied his way through the crowd up to the bar.
“What can I get for you?” the barkeep asked.
“Tell me where the Memory is!”
The barkeep frowned. “I don’t answer questions unless you’re a patron.”
Olaf grumbled through his beard. “Give me an ale.”
The barkeep stooped over, pulling up a mug and filling it from a tap. He slid the mug to Olaf, who slapped a few silver serpents on the bar. He’d forgotten to visit a money-changer on his way, but fortunately, there’d not been much moonlight last night, and someone had tried to mug him.
“Thanks. Now, tell me where the Memory is!”
“No idea,” the barkeep replied shortly. His bloodshot eyes narrowed. “Do I know you?”
“Olaf? Zat you?” a shaky voice from the other side of the bar asked. Olaf looked over as a massive man approached him.
“You lookin’ fo’ Ylsa’s Mem’ry, too?” Gragas slurred, wiping his mouth with a large hand.
“What’s it to you, Gragas? Ylsa’s Memory belongs to Winter’s Claw.”
Gragas let out a hearty guffaw. “Das rich, I tell ya. Rich.” He wiped more slobber from his beard before halting his laugh. “The whole of Freljord’s lookin’ for dat fing. Dats what I’m here fo’. Queen…you know, the Queen, she’s sents me here.”
Olaf rolled his eyes, then took a deep draught. “You don’t look like you’re looking very hard. I’ll find the pendant first!”
Gragas chortled again. “Olaf, you’re a laugh! You think you’s and I gonna find it? No no no no no…I’m lookin’ fo’ information. There’s rumors, and I’m gonna find out if they’s…if they’s is…if it’s true.”
Olaf frowned as Gragas took a drink from own mug. Olaf took this as an opportunity to question the barkeep further. “You sure you don’t know anything about the Memory?”
Before the barkeep could reply, Olaf was showered in a thin mist of beer and spit. Gragas let out his deepest laugh yet. “Ya bloody idiot! They’re not gonna know what dat even is!”
Olaf curled his fists. The drunk was usually decent company—tolerable at the least—but Olaf had reached his limit.
“Look, look, look,” Gragas waved a hand, but Olaf was already looking. “Mr. Jibbins,” Gragas began, looking at the barkeep, “Have you’s heard any rumors ‘n’ things about somfing fishy in the sea? Other than fish, I mean.” He chuckled at his own joke.
Jibbins nodded. “Sure did. Few days ago, some men came in from the Slaughter Docks. Says there’s all kindsa kooky creatures comin’ in.”
Gragas nodded knowingly. “Ah, the Slaughter Docks! See Olaf, ole boy? Tha’s how ya—”
Olaf landed a hard punch to Gragas’ stomach, which sent him flying through several barstools. This only made Gragas laugh harder.
“Stop laughing ya old drunk!” Olaf grabbed Gragas by the arm, heaving him overhead and sending him flying into the nearest table. Drunks all around scattered and hollered. “Ya still laughing now?”
Gragas replied with a loud “Ha!” and hefted his body forward, slamming into the Berserker belly first. Olaf crashed into the bar, glass flying all around. He rose quickly, muscles bulging as he launched Gragas from on top of him to the other side of the room. He dug his heels into the ground, bellowing as he sprinted the length of the Serpent’s Tooth and slammed into Gragas with a fist. Gragas got his thick arms wrapped around Olaf’s torso, causing Olaf to yell even louder and flip them both onto another table.
The two grappled until a gunshot into the ceiling halted their fight. “Enough!”
They rose from the ground, Gragas swaying slightly. The red-haired woman who had fired the gun glared at them for a moment, before softening her gaze. She looked at them with sultry eyes.
“Now boys, I don’t want you to fight. We don’t have to be enemies, we could be allies.”
“Well, we’s sorta are, but not you.”
Miss Fortune waved a hand. “Maybe not yet. I couldn’t help but overhear you were looking for something on the ocean floor? We are too…Let’s talk somewhere more private and less…rabble roused.”
Jibbins showed the three Champions into a side room, bowing with a glare as he closed the door behind him. Miss Fortune turned back to the two men. She was much shorter than both of them, but her gaze reached them all the same.
“Alright. I know you’re looking for Ylsa’s Memory—”
“No we’re not,” Olaf interrupted. He wasn’t sharing this glory.
“Yes, we are. We was just talkin’ about it remember? Then you got mad and we started fightin’…”
Olaf glared at Gragas, but Fortune diffused the mounting tension. “It’s alright, we’re on the same side here. We can help each other…Freljord can help Bilgewater. I might know where your beloved pendant is.”
Olaf straightened. This was what Sejuani wanted him to find.
“Regrettably,” Fortune continued, blue eyes forlorn, “Someone else might have found it too…someone a little less pleasant.”
Olaf scowled. “Who?”
Gragas shuffled beside him, uncharacteristically quiet.
“There’s a…point of interest in the ocean, not far from Bilge’s shores. We’d like to take control of it, for our safety, but the Void is already there, preventing us from taking it. I’ve been considering taking action before the League…would you two be so kind as to pass along my proposal to your Queens?”
Gragas gulped. “Anyfing for a pretty fing like you.”
“I’m glad to hear that,” Fortune smiled, “There’s just one more thing I need your help with. It’s much more urgent.”
Olaf thought of the Voidborn he fought on the fields, of their terrifying tactics and wicked killing techniques. To die to them meant dying defending the realm of Runeterra, far greater than anything Olaf had fought for. More than once he had died to them, on the Fields of Justice.
He stepped forward. “I’m right behind you, Miss Fortune.”
Unbeknownst to the Champions within, a masked figure—who had thus far been quietly guzzling her drink amidst the chaos—crept quietly towards the door of the private room and leaned on the wall just outside it. Summoner Sasha “Pinky Lotus” did not appreciate the errands that Lissandra sent her on, and she wasn’t particularly keen on being in a city-state where there was a bounty placed on her. Still, that bounty had been placed years ago, and she was eager to hear any dirt on Sarah Fortune. Magic twisted in her hands as she cast a scrying spell in on the meeting. Lissandra would be interested to know about Miss Fortune’s intel.
As Miss Fortune was surely batting her ridiculous eyelashes at the pair of Freljordians, she proclaimed to know about Ylsa’s Memory and it’s possible location. Sasha frowned. It was unlikely that Fortune would have access to any information of the sort. She had more likely been informed about these two buffoons’ search and pieced things together. She had bluffed. From the sound of their assenting voices, her bluff had worked. Sasha felt the urge to grumble at this.
A light ping in the Summoner’s head signalled the trio was leaving. Satisfied she knew enough of their plans, she rose from her place near the door and slid away before they could spot her. The Frostguard would need to hear about this…but maybe Sasha would have another drink or two before falling back into Lissandra’s yoke.
“The High Council recognizes Icathia,” Kolminye declared. A rush of whispers ran across the room as Malzahar rose, floating ominously above the heavily robed Summoners around him.
“Icathia has a legend about an ancient city, that existed long before this League, in the days of the Shuriman Empire,” Malzahar hissed. His eyes narrowed at Azir, who sat at his place in the back with his arms crossed. He looked back at the Council before continuing.
“This great city appears in ancient texts as ‘Uun’Zek’Nare’, a city of the ocean. In it, ancient Icathians lived in harmony with Marai and Atlanteans. This was a city of knowledge and… progress,” Malzahar gave a glance to the Piltover section, their expressions grim. “Tragically, the city was a victim of the second Rune War, and magic used by the Magelords sank the city into the depths, where it was lost to all time.”
The Council hall was eerily quiet. Every whisper that struggled to escape felt strangled out by Malzahar’s gaze.
“However, there is a prophecy of the city’s return. One of our own citizens has had a vision of the city, found again, brought forth by the same power that might have lost it to oblivion: Uun’Zek’Nare returns to us thanks to the power of a nexus.”
The oppressive silence finally broke as several city-states laid claim to the nexus. Kolminye called for order, to try and confirm the rumors that had been circulating for weeks about a nexus just off the shore of the Blue Flame Isles.
Kolminye’s gavel finally rang out over the din. “The ownership of the nexus in the Guardian’s Sea will be addressed. Those who believe they have valid claim will make their plea for standing.” Her eyes swept the room.
“Icathia is recognized by the council once again,” Kolminye added, seeing Malzahar’s hand raise again.
“Seeing as Uun’Zek’Nare was historically Icathian territory and that the prophecy relates to the Icathian faith, not to mention its initial discovery by Icathian sources…I make a motion before the League to grant immediate ownership to Icathia.”
The buzz of voices returned to the hall. Several figures from Bilgewater tried to make motions, shouting about the nexus’ proximity being a far stronger claim. Kolminye allowed them to shout, before calling for order once again. Several city-states quietly signalled to be recognized, but one in particular stood out.
“The Council recognizes Bandle City.”
The portly Yordle exchanged whispers with the Yordle next to him. She nudged him, causing the Mayor to slowly rise. He wasn’t much taller once standing. His voice rang out through the quiet hall.
“Bandle City…supports Icathia’s motion,” he gulped, “Bandle City stands by Icathia in this conflict. As allies.”
The other delegates lowered their call for a motion, quickly exchanging glances with their comrades. No one was sure how to react to Bandle’s solid declaration. The Piltover section in particular dropped their calm facade and and started jabbering to the Yordle delegates. Caitlyn’s gaze seemed far away, as if calculating whether the railway to Bandle City was a security risk. Demacia was no less quiet, with Jarvan’s fists clenched tightly. The Yordle next to Mayor Jadefellow sat with a smug smile, her fiery eyes oblivious to the glares she was receiving.
“The Council acknowledges your declaration,” Kolminye replied. The Mayor nodded, slowly taking his seat. Kolminye turned back to Malzahar. “It seems through the combined efforts of both these Factions, I must defer to Icathia in regards to access to the nexus. This will be discussed and announced amongst the High Council until we come to a consensus—”
The door burst open violently, and a tall figure strolled through, flanked by two smaller figures in sea green robes. The tallest imposing figure held her idol tight with muscular arms. Her piercing gaze eyed the Council.
“That is enough talking for now. This Council grows too idle. The Serpent’s Nest belongs to Nagakabouros, and we will be the ones to take it for him. No Council can stop his followers.”
“The Council recognizes Champion Illaoi,” Kolminye acknowledged dryly, “Have you provided the necessary documents that prove your faith’s connection to the site in question.”
Illaoi waved a hand. “If you want proof, ask a library, not me. I hear they have great libraries here in the Institute,” Illaoi sneered. “You will find Bilgewater’s claim is truer than any of these lies. Nagakabouros will prove it so. Let his people decide who the Serpent’s Nest belongs to. Or…let our spirits sit here and wilt as they wait for the Council to talk.”
Kolminye knew what Illaoi was doing. In her own way, she was discrediting the Council’s power, giving it to the people. Through all her boasting, she was rallying not just Bilgewater, but all of the factions.
“The Freljord stands with Bilgewater!” Ashe declared. Her delegates surged around her, excited by the Kraken Priestess’ speech. “The Freljord’s prophecies have come true. It is our destiny to find a relic of our people, lost at sea. If this council holds any value in its oath for a united Runeterra, it will grant us permission to join Bilgewater in this dispute.”
“Very well. Let this dispute be decided on the Fields of Justice.”