Lines in the Sand
This opens the Lines in the Sand storyline.
Also available in sock puppet form.
This provides a succinct overview of the opening of this arc. The highlighted links lead to additional sub-scenes.
Two thousand years ago, the last sun set, and the last grain of sand fell through the hourglass. An Empire of unrivaled splendor had perished from Runeterra forever. Or so it seemed, until 16 May, 25 CLE—the day the hourglass turned.
The voice of Azir, Ascended Emperor of Shurima, resounded throughout Valoran as he brought his Empire back from oblivion. At his word, the imperial capital surged up from the sands, the Sun Disc blazing overhead. The glorious Shuriman Empire had returned.
The armies of Noxus and Piltover had been scouring the desert for artifacts, while sizing one another up and carefully preparing for the seemingly inevitable outbreak of war between them. It had not occurred to them that their brinkmanship would be interrupted by the impossible return of an ancient empire whose only holdings were within the pages of history books, alongside the likes of the Magelords and the Protectorate.
Soldiers standing guard over the Piltovian colonial governor’s mansion, in anticipation of a gala celebrating the progress of a new leg of the velocitronic railway that would link Demacia with Bandle City, were suddenly set upon by an army of fanatic cultists with Renekton at its head. Champions and Summoners who had been sipping cocktails on board Piltover’s finest airship saw the Sun Disc rise, and moments later, heard the crew panic as the airship’s pyrikhos-driven engines gave out, plunging them into the sand in the heart of a battlefield.
As the walls of Shurima rose, Noxian legions charged forth to claim the honor of battling one of the great powers from the days of the first Rune Wars—whether to meet glorious deaths, or to strike down their foes and seize their power for themselves. (Zaunite corporate security forces stationed in the pyrikhos mines nearby held back, not seeing the profit potential in a war with a self-proclaimed God-Emperor and a horde of fanatics. But they did watch closely, in the Zaunite fashion—which is to say, for the possibility that one side or the other would offer them money, or at least explode in an interesting way.) Cassiopeia Du Couteau, whom the Noxian High Command had appointed as their legate to Shurima, quietly began to draft a missive to her contacts within the League. She had learned long ago the dangers of underestimating Shuriman magic.
Reports soon arrived at the League, and the Council met in emergency session. Piltover had mobilized hidden detachments from their hextech-driven New Model Army and formed a new defensive line along the railway. The Noxian legions had been repelled from Shurima’s walls, but would surely rally to renew their assault. The Council fearfully contemplated what someone like Azir might turn to as a last resort, when Noxus inevitably breached his defenses and stood poised to destroy his Empire once more.
With so terrible a prospect so terribly near, still it seemed there was nothing to be done. They had neither the votes to issue a proclamation, nor the power to enforce one if they did. Demacia was still seething over the indignity of their King being put on trial for the Battle of Shurima, and refused to deploy its still-recovering military for the sake of the very League that had so grievously insulted its honor. As for Ionia, while it acknowledged the possibility that Noxus would come away from this with some new offensive spellcraft, it seemed much more likely that it would end with the utter destruction of much of Shurima, accompanied by massive Noxian losses—and all things considered, Ionia was more confident in its ability to counter new spells than its capacity to fight back an invasion. High Councilor Kolminye tersely thanked Bandle City and the Freljord for their offers of support, and resigned herself to watch the catastrophe unfold.
It was then that two letters arrived at the Council chambers.
The first was a petition for Shurima’s admission to the League as a member-state, and for the nullification of all territorial claims imposed upon Shurima since the Empire’s collapse two thousand years ago. Delivered by Summoner Charles “ALordHelix” Helion, it was politely accepted, and, once the young Summoner left the chamber, became the source of a few grim laughs from Kolminye and her advisors. “File that one away, in case Azir comes back from the dead again once this is all over.”
A few hours later, the second came, borne by Cyrus Elibe, a handsome and understated Noxian Summoner of aristocratic bearing, whom the Institute’s Book of Names had given the peculiar moniker of “(Summoner) Summoner Tempest”. It was a letter from Cassiopeia herself, informing the Council that she would be willing to consider any proposed peace edict or adjudicatory order that satisfied certain Noxian requirements. Kolminye stared at the letter in disbelief, and tested the arcane seal herself—finding it genuine. She ordered the emissaries of every League nation roused from their beds for an extraordinary session of the assembly.
As the sun fell toward the horizon, heralds of the League rushed forth onto the battlefield, bearing a proclamation of peace. The Noxian soldiers scornfully yielded to the edict, but the Shurimans, long abused by the great powers of Valoran, had no inclination to respect this latest line drawn across the sand. The League’s startled heralds readied defensive spells as the enraged Shurimans bore down on them, until Azir’s command halted their advance. He would have no more blood spilled this day. Shurima would rise to its destiny, or suffer its fate, upon the Fields of Justice.
Next Update: Sand Hotter Than Blood