Return to Lines in the Sand (Opener)
Lines in the Sand—Shurima Returns
Azir discovers the spell that will restore Shurima. Sivir gives him some pragmatic advice about modern Runeterra.
Note: This scene is still an in-progress draft.
Azir stood in the heart of Shurima, as the sun reached its apex. He marveled at the notion that mortals could look upon this scene and describe it with a word like ruins. They could see the broken stonework so clearly that they did not see the thousands of years, the million days, that had imprinted this place with the eternal name of Shurima.
He must have been so blind, once. But he could not remember it. How could he? How much he would have to forget, to remember such thoughts.
It was a strange thing, for an Ascended being to contemplate the imperfection of his understanding. But therein he had found the answer to the riddle that the Curator had spoken with such contempt when he asked his guidance.
The power you seek is the Emperor’s alone. You are not Emperor, for you stood not here on that day when Shurima breathed its last.
Fury had risen up within him, to hear Nasus speak so. For the title of Emperor was not his to give, or to take away.
The Curator spoke again, and Azir could not deny that he spoke the truth.
You are not the Emperor.
But Azir had remembered that it was the first duty of the Emperor to proclaim the truth. With all his courage, he willed his truth to overcome the truth Nasus spoke, and ordered Nasus to kneel before his Emperor. Yet Nasus was unmoved.
First, bring him to me.
Azir had seen that an Emperor must not only have courage, but also the spirit of mercy. With an open heart, he had asked Nasus to forgive him his failure, which had cost Renekton his soul.
I can forgive none but the Emperor.
For years he had wandered, sharing his power and his wisdom with the people of Shurima, for an Emperor’s words and deeds are one. And so he had strove, not for his own sake but for the sake of others, until Nasus came to him. Azir had asked, were his deeds not worthy of the name Emperor? And Nasus answered:
You have touched the edge of the door, but still you do not see. Look not to these deeds you have wrought, but to their passing away.
Azir had once again proclaimed his resolve to complete his quest. Nasus spoke again:
You strive mightily, and yet still Sivir is closer.
And so Azir had followed Sivir to the League of Legends. It was within the halls of the Institute that he had stumbled upon unexpected enlightenment: when he first linked minds with a Summoner, touching a mortal spirit, he understood what Nasus had meant.
Ever since his quest had began, Azir had held on to one truth with all his might: that he was Emperor. So long as he held that faith, Shurima could not truly die. But it was not the immortal Ascended Azir who had seen Shurima fall.
The Emperor was a mortal man.
Azir saw that he stood on the other side of a doorway that the mortal Emperor had opened. Shurima still lived on in that timeless moment of Ascension, when mortal will touched the heavens. It was a moment in which the Azir he had been touched the Azir he was now. Only together could they restore Shurima, the finite and the infinite made one.
Day passed to night and to day again as he listened to the stones and remembered the path that had brought him here. His Summoners scurried about, puzzling through the spellbooks he had received from the Curator. They began to see, in their own small way, the true significance of this place. Holding shards of a broken nexus from the League’s archives in their hands, they began their incantation. Azir raised his scepter and received the sun’s power.
The Summoners’ spirits were illuminated with light that shone through their careful artifice to reveal their wonder, their loyalty, their hope, their determination.
He waited for the moment in which his destiny might be changed, when he would command Shurima to rise again, and his people would answer him with rejoicing.
The Summoners raised their eyes to gaze upon the sun above, and he looked upon them through its rays. He had solved the Curator’s riddle—You are not Emperor, for you stood not here on that day when Shurima breathed its last—when he understood that he had undertaken the ritual of Ascension as a mortal man.
Through his Ascension, he had given Shurima immortality, for so long as the Emperor lived, Shurima would live within him. But the key to Shurima’s true resurrection would be found in a mortal heart—mortal, as Azir had been on that glorious and terrible day.
He looked upon his carefully chosen Summoners, each in turn.
One was an old man from Bel’zhun, who had forced the gates of the League open to become its first Shuriman Summoner, that he might lead his people. He was a man of Azir’s own heart, but the key did not lie with him.
Another was a Noxian witch from the Voodoo Lands, whose blood had once flowed with shadow, but who had renounced the darkness for the light when she wandered to Shurima and there learned reverence for the sun’s glory. So too did Azir seek to raise the people of Shurima from darkness and ruin to reclaim their destiny. But the key did not lie with her.
A young man of exceptional imagination and insightful intellect, who more than any mortal Azir had encountered could comprehend the reality beyond human sight.
An artist from Dar’khos, a descendant of a sage from Azir’s own court, who ever since childhood had seen visions of Shurima in all its glory, and whose life’s passion it was to paint her dreams, who had joined the Institute in search of the colors of magic that she might perfect her craft.
A brave warrior who thirsted for adventure. A diplomat who yearned for peace, such as Shurima held for so long amidst all the horrors of the Rune Wars. A broken man looking for a new beginning.
None of them. None of them!
And then, surrounded by the sun’s warmth, he felt cold. He turned upon another of his Summoners. Something was still hidden within her.
Within her he found fear, greed, treachery. He fixed her with his gaze and, in his mercy, showed her the way of life. She turned away, and perished in fire.
And in that instant, he found the key to Shurima’s resurrection: not in valor, but in betrayal. Not in the Emperor Azir, but in the traitor Xerath.
He saw once more the day when Shurima fell, and for a moment, Shurima lived again.
The spell broke as the Summoners fell to the sand, their mortal capacities exhausted by the ordeal. The next day, he commanded them to bring Sivir to him.
When Sivir arrived, the sun was already setting.
“I’m guessing you missed the hexcast. Just got out of a match that I ended with a pentakill.” She tossed her blade into the air and caught it. “So whatever you wanted to talk to me about, go for it. I’m in an uncharacteristically charitable mood.”
“You have won glory this day in the League. And it is of the League that we will speak.”
She glanced to either side. “Are we alone?”
“Well, get to it. Some of us are getting old here.”
He told her of the spell, the one that could bring Shurima back, rescuing the Empire from its fate and leading it to a brighter destiny. He called upon her, as a loyal daughter of Shurima, to aid him in persuading the League to aid him in performing the ritual, and to secure the Council’s approval to invoke such powerful magic. He had studied carefully the League’s laws, which had thus far held Valoran back from another Rune War, and wished to show them due respect. Had the rule of law prevailed in Valoran thousands of years ago, Shurima might never have fallen.
Sivir looked at him strangely.
“How about you try explaining that to me without using the word ‘destiny’.” She tossed her blade again. “Wait. Let me try—you’ve got a spell worked out that’ll bring Shurima back. The city, I mean. And all those artifacts that the Noxians and Pilts are looking for, all that stuff, too. Just ripe for the taking.”
“Shurima will take its rightful place as a member of the League.”
She appeared incredulous. “First of all, no it won’t, and second, even if it did, do you really believe that would stop Noxus? Or Demacia, for that matter? Who do you think runs the League? Maybe you should go ask Nasus to lend you a book about Shon-Xan.”
She shook her head. “I can get you some Summoners to help with the spell, but the Council can’t know about this. Not until it’s done.”
Shurima suffered greatly for its principles during the Rune Wars. For its resurrection to be plotted in secret, a conspiracy to violate the laws of nations, the same laws that had at last ridden Runeterra of the scourge of the Rune Wars…
“To invoke such a spell without the Council’s authorization would violate the laws of the League.”
She snapped back. “And if you really want to act like a League state, violating the laws of the League is a damn good start. What you need is a show of force. You need to get ready to fight. Because I guarantee you, within ten minutes of your spell going off, you’ll have Noxian legions kicking down the doors looking for loot. And ten minutes after that, the Pilts will show up, unless you sync the spell up with teatime.”
He gazed out toward the horizon. Her words rang true; amid the currents of time, he could see Noxian banners whipping in the wind, and the oily glint of black steel below the noon sun.
“Then so it shall be.”