Previous Update: Scarlet Spring
Here is an account of the final day of the war for Shon-Xan, and the many fateful decisions both sides made. Bear in mind: much which happened goes unwritten here, and not all is as it may seem.
Ionia had won. The final matches had been held on the Fields of Justice, and Ionia’s Summoners and Champions triumphed over their Noxian adversaries. Beyond the Institute, Ionia had survived the vicious Noxian sneak attack and, with Demacia’s decisive intervention, rallied against the invaders.
An edict from the Council proclaimed that, at last, there would be peace on the island of Shon-Xan:
Hear ye, and be warned! This affront to the peace of Runeterra shall not abide.
The Council so declares: that by sunset on the 28th day of March all combat on the island of Shon-Xan must cease. An accounting shall then be made and terms of peace enforced.
Let the word of the League be as Law, lest all the powers of Runeterra arrange themselves against ye. There may be no appeal.
Only one day remained for each side to stake its claims with blood and steel, before the kinder ways of peaceful times prevailed once more.
Ionia had the refugee settlement surrounded. Its army had met the Noxian legions in open battle and broken them. The legions had been driven back into the wilderness, leaving only Riven and her volunteer soldiers — a small band of weary defenders, no match for the massive Ionian army now encircling them.
This left the question of what, precisely, Ionia was to do with the refugees. Although Ionia had refused them entry when they first came seeking refuge, some had begun to sympathize with their plight. Several influential Ionian leaders urged leniency, arguing that this was a time for Ionia to show its moral strength and commitment to peace. These few were eventually able to sway the majority.
After much debate, during which the Elders of Ionia consulted many learned and powerful Summoners as well as their civilian and military advisors, they adopted the following plan of action.
Ionia would seek an audience with the refugees, and attempt to make peace. The proffered terms would be generous: lay down your weapons and disperse from the fortified encampment, and you may stay in Ionia, subject to supervision but otherwise free to live in peace here. In case this effort should fail, however, they would storm the settlement and ensure that no Noxian flag flew overhead when the sun set and the Council’s edict took effect.
Meanwhile, Ionia dispatched most of its troops to pursue the fleeing legions. These elite shock troops were the vanguard of the Noxian war machine, critical to its ability to wage war overseas. If Ionia could run them down, they would free not just Ionia but all of Runeterra from the threat of Noxian aggression for years to come. This plan did not pass without dissent: some argued that Noxus was a necessary buffer against the Void, while others protested that running down already-defeated soldiers to kill or capture them was itself a bloodthirsty act unbecoming of Ionia.
But time was short and decisions had to be made. Ionia would seek peace with the settlers under generous terms they would surely accept, freeing up its main force to destroy the Noxian legions once and for all.
For the second time in recent memory, Noxus had suffered a bitter and shameful defeat at Ionian hands. A single day remained before this chapter of history would forever close. Some doubted anything more could be done, and urged the High Command not to embarrass itself with any final desperate acts.
Grand General Jericho Swain, however, silenced these Summoners with a sharp admonition that a day was plenty of time to win a war, and convened an emergency session of the High Command. The most influential Noxian Summoners were called to attend; all who dared to do so would be permitted to address the High Command. A pair of scrying flames brought the visages of Darius and Riven to the chamber.
The first proposal was to redeploy the legions to reinforce the settlement, risking the best of the best Noxian soldiers to make the settlement’s extremely slim odds just slightly better. Argument was fierce: records show that during the allocated discussion time, in true Noxian fashion, not only were fifteen written summary proposals presented, but three duels were fought over words such as “coward”. In the end, the decision was made that sending the legions back into combat would be a foolish waste. Darius stiffly acknowledged the order to retreat and said nothing else.
Partway through the conference, Riven received some shocking news, which she conveyed to the High Command at once: the Ionians had presented terms of surrender that would allow the refugees to stay in Ionia. She said she did not know why the Ionians had offered such terms, but suspected that they did not have an accurate count of defenders, or perhaps that they feared a second surprise deployment of troops. Whatever the cause, she said, she believed the offer was genuine. Furious debate circulated around the room. But when Swain spoke at the end of it, it was to order Riven to prepare her troops to defend the settlement against an Ionian assault.
Riven’s soldierly composure broke. She saw no purpose in defending a trivial patch of wilderness against an obviously and overwhelmingly larger force. There were families and children here. They had lost in the League, and that was on them, the Champions, the Summoners, who had not been able to overcome Ionia, but now by some miracle they were being offered victory: their first and most crucial objective, to find homes for these refugees.
Swain refused to hear any more. You came to us before, he said, having broken your oath and deserted from the battlefield, begging to serve again. You’re a soldier. You have your orders. Defend your post until the sun sets. Riven stared in silence as a terrible weight seemed to settle on her heart. She nodded her assent, and with a wave of his hand Swain extinguished the scrying-flame.
It was then that Swain informed the gathered Summoners not to worry: for you see, Riven would be receiving some surprise reinforcements from a very helpful friend of ours.
As the audience with the settlement defenders began, the Ionian army rushed to catch up with the fleeing Noxian legions. They tracked them through the thick wilderness, and their scouts eventually found them hunkered down as they waited for evacuation by air. Battle was met by dusk, and it was a rout: the legionaries were killed or captured nearly to the last. Only a few fragmented divisions were able to hold out until nightfall.
The assault on the settlement was a routine affair, conducted slowly and cautiously. They had not expected an assault to be necessary in the first place: it seemed insane for Noxus to try to hold out against such a larger force. The walls were breached and they began moving in to seize the flag.
Panic exploded through the Ionian camp when the Zaunite zeppelins flew overhead. Gas bombs burst, drenching the Ionians in murderous chemical fog. Hextech distortion rays shot through the gas cloud, gruesomely annihilating every living thing they touched. Though the Zaunite ordnance was aimed deep within Ionian lines, soon toxic tendrils of deadly gas began to creep up the settlement’s walls.
Ionian magic finally prevailed, nullifying the bastardized techmaturgy with pure astral energy, but too late. Many were dead, the ancient forest was destroyed, and Ionia’s terrified soldiers refused to launch a second assault. The sun set and it was over. The settlement stood.
The Council’s edict went into effect. Riven and the Noxian troops were ordered out. The settlers were disarmed, but the small patch of land on which the settlement stood, ruined though it was, remained theirs: a ghostly parody of victory.
Many centuries ago, a Noxian scholar had written a few incisive words, which in the days after the Shon-Xan dispute were often repeated in the halls of the Institute of War:
They make a wasteland, and call it peace.
Next Update: Pax Monstro
Images are from the LoL wiki; I believe they are Riot’s.