Previous update: Opener
Sand Hotter Than Blood
A lore snippet from the June 6–7 Featured Matches.
The risen Sun Disc scorches the sands of Shurima with the savage force of the sun above. Ribbons of distortion scintillate over this wasteland—the old dry bones of dead Shurima, ground to jagged grains, bleached in the sun, burning hotter than blood. Zaunite merchants do a brisk trade in pyrikhos cooling collars and refreshing techmaturgically chilled beverages, with the latest ThaumaKola product, ThaumaKooler, selling quite well among the common soldiery. Cassiopeia, appointed by the High Command as its legate here, basks in the sun as she whispers with her advisors. As her Summoners argue over old tomes, she casts the occasional glance at the soldiers drilling nearby. This truce will not last forever, and they must be ready when it evaporates away.
The upstart “Emperor” Azir has repelled the assault of a veteran Noxian legion with his Shuriman sorcery and the fanatic devotion of his nomadic followers. Darius had arrived within the hour, intent on leading a fiercer attack in person. Cassiopeia overruled him, instructing her League delegates to refrain from delaying the issuance of a League truce. While Darius believes Shurima will only grow stronger, Cassiopeia senses a deep weakness in Azir’s temporary alliance of bickering tribes. It is an alliance forged in the fanaticism that boiled over as the Sun Disc rose above the sands for the first time in two thousand years, and as it cools, it will begin to crack. The presumptuous fool believes they yearn to worship him; Cassiopeia knows that in truth they hunger more for gold than for gods. Let him wait with no enemies to fight, with nothing to give his gold-hungry followers, while she sends her agents to speak with those tribes who are most indebted to House DuCouteau, while her Summoners dissect his spellcraft and draw their counter-curses. Let him wait. For the serpent asks two things of its prey: exposed flesh to bite, and time for the venom to do its work.
And for all his pretensions of divinity, Cassiopeia intends to search Azir until she finds a soft place to strike. She will not waste the High Command’s hard-earned strength, and she has no desire to see another Ionian debacle. The time will come to unleash the ferocity of the Noxian legions, but for now, she will probe for a weakness. Her scouts assess his fortifications, her agents treat with the rough tribesmen of Shurima, and her Champions and Summoners array themselves on the Fields of Justice—in the League of Legends, whose foundations were only laid at the sufferance of mighty Noxus, and in whose courts Azir’s “empire” still begs for the dignity of a name. Where the enemies of Noxus expected aggressive motions aimed at the laws of war, and specifically at those “environmental” regulations that might prevent the deployment of Zaunite bioweapons here, Cassiopeia has instead put forth subtler petitions that twist the fundamental doctrines governing the Shuriman protectorate under League law. House DuCouteau has not held its grand stature for so long without learning to outmaneuver a naive fanatic, or to carve a great writhing mob into quivering little morsels.
Swain sent her a terse dispatch with his own seal, demanding to know how many more soldiers she wanted, how many battle-mages, how many Zaunite gas-bombs and how many mind-rending mutants from that wretched smoggy place. She answered in flowing emerald ink traced over thick parchment—not soldiers, but Summoners. Soldiers who cannot fight differ from common ruffians primarily in their greater level of armament; she has no desire to fill her camps even fuller. Give her Summoners of smooth manner and delicate learning, tacticians bred for a battlefield alien to Azir and his kind. Let his “empire” crumble in that arena, before a jeering crowd, surrounded by little yordles selling cupcakes and commemorative baubles. The soldiers’ part will come later.
Next Update: Everyone Has Their Price