War In Shurima
Demacia leads illegal assault on Zaun’s pyrikhos mines
by Russbak A. Primaron, Military Analyst for the Herald
Views expressed herein are not necessarily those of the Herald or its editors.
Demacia’s attack on Zaun’s mines in Shurima came as a tremendous shock to Valoran. Many were astonished to see Demacia, a nation known as law-abiding to a fault, violate a League peace edict. Yet I propose that this had been, so to speak, a long time coming.
The Dark Sand, And Zaun’s Rise To Power
Zaun exploits a new power source to build a techmaturgical army
Earlier this year, explorers in Shurima stumbled upon vast seams of purple sand charged with arcane energy and aligned with the alien powers of the Void. The contamination spreading out from Icathia in the wake of the Void War had mixed with the residual enchantments cast by long-dead Shuriman mages to imbue ordinary desert sand with considerable power. It was soon discovered that this dark sand, or pyrikhos, made for an excellent hextech energy source.
Mere months ago this pyrikhos was nothing more than worthless sand, and Zaun was known only as a minor ally of Noxus with a particular penchant for dangerous techmaturgical experimentation. (Examples include the deadly gas bombs concocted by Singed and the cyber-necromancy that created Urgot.) Through risky research and aggressive exploitation of the pyrikhos seams it controlled, Zaun built a hextech army: the HexKorps. Armored vehicles rolling on treads, equipped with techmaturgic deathrays; half-machine soldiers bearing rifles loaded with explosive shot; war golems, walking metal titans fueled by pyrikhos steam engines capable of crushing ordinary soldiers like insects — an army like nothing Valoran had ever seen.
Demacia predictably protested. After all, Zaun’s new army was literally powered by energy drawn from the Void itself! Yet it was difficult to make much headway while Demacia’s own allies, such as Piltover and Bandle City, eagerly devised their own new applications for the pyrikhos.
From a geopolitical standpoint, the rise of Zaun threatened the end of Demacian hegemony. For decades, Demacia and Noxus had held one another in check. That changed when Noxus all but collapsed in the wake of the Void invasion and the disastrous war for Shon-Xan. With Noxus out of the picture, Demacia became a superpower. Few were surprised to see that Demacia objected to Zaun rising up to take the place of Noxus, especially since that rise was driven by invoking the dark powers of the Void.
Celestial Prophecy Pushes Demacia To Attack
Ceruleana’s prophecy confirms Demacia’s suspicions, convinces King Jarvan III to order the illegal attack
Demacia has enjoyed the patronage of Ceruleana, a powerful ocean spirit, ever since winning control of her native island via League adjudication. Sources whose identity we are not at liberty to disclose tell us that Ceruleana appeared during a gathering called by King Jarvan III, and there pronounced a dire prophecy: that unless Demacia immediately destroyed the pyrikhos mines, a portal to the Void would burst open and all of Runeterra would be devoured. After consultation with his advisors, King Jarvan ordered the attack.
It was to be a surprise attack, commenced as rapidly as possible. The entire Demacian military struck out for Shurima. The obvious problem: except by passing through the well-guarded Mogron Pass, which would immediately alert the League, there was simply no way to get from Demacia to Shurima without weeks of marching through the mountains. Or so it seemed.
Although the reports seemed utterly incredible, having visited the site myself and seen the aftermath I cannot doubt what they say. Demacia made its own path, invoking some kind of powerful magic to smash an opening through the Great Barrier. Witnesses report that Garen strode forward and struck the mountain apart with a swing of his sword at the height of the Demacian Summoners’ incantations. An artist’s rendition of this astonishing feat appears on the cover of this issue. The origin and nature of this magic has yet to be determined; some speculate that Demacia may have taken a spellbook from the Rune Wars out of its sealed archives.
Piltover, Bandle City Pledge Their Support
Demacia’s allies agree to march on Shurima
When Demacia attacked, it did not do so alone. Troops from Bandle City and Piltover, including a newly constructed airship armada, joined in the assault. Not long ago, Zaun had rallied to Bandle City’s aid against the undead hordes of the Lich Queen Nefara, and the two nations had gone so far as to sign a treaty renouncing espionage and sabotage. Perhaps the yordles had come to regret the pact, forged in the face of annihilation by Nefara’s armies. Perhaps they were simply persuaded by Demacia’s mention of celestial prophecy. Whatever the case, they made their decision.
Zaun’s warpgate network, a pyrikhos-driven technology which allows the instantaneous teleportation of troops and equipment from one gate to another, would allow Zaun to rapidly reinforce its mines. Although not yet confirmed, it is believed that secret agents from either Piltover or Bandle City laid hexplosive charges around the Shuriman warpgate, primed to explode and disable the gate when next activated.
Zaun rejects Demacia’s ultimatum; Demacia assaults the mines
At the time of Demacia’s attack, Zaun had become entangled in the Noxian Reformist uprising. The forces that it had on the ground were swiftly overwhelmed by the combined might of Demacia, Piltover, and Bandle City. They called for reinforcements, but the warpgate’s activation triggered the charges that had been placed there by saboteurs. The warpgate went offline, temporarily cutting off reinforcements.
The HexKorps deployed gas bombs and other techmaturgical weaponry created by Singed and Viktor. Demacia suffered significant casualties. They would have been much worse had Piltover’s newly constructed airships not shot Zaun’s war zeppelins from the sky and dispatched medics to treat the wounded with the latest hextech curatives. (Piltover had recently developed remedies for Void sickness and techmaturgic poisoning in the course of treating the so-called “lost legion” of Noxian refugees and veterans.) A charge led by Prince Jarvan IV himself broke the back of the Zaunite defenders and opened the pathway to the mines. Yet time was running out.
Noxus Strikes Back
Grand General Jericho Swain crushes the insurrection in Noxus and deploys his legions to Shurima
Demacia fought its way to the entrance of the mines, when Malzahar appeared and sent forth a massive swarm of Voidlings. (Malzahar, allegedly impressed by Zaun’s command of Void magic, had declared for Zaun in the League dispute over the pyrikhos.) This held Demacia and its allies long enough for the warpgate to be brought back online. The remainder of the HexKorps, combined with several legions of Noxian soldiers, collapsed upon the Demacian formation.
By all accounts, the fighting was ferocious. Noxus had not forgotten how Demacia had destroyed the Noxian fleet in the Shon-Xan conflict. Zaun’s hextech artillery split the Demacian ranks, and the Noxian legions seized their chance. The Demacian infantry was driven into rout, and Zaun’s techmaturgical war machines proved swift enough to run down even the Demacian knightly cavalry. Luxanna Crownguard, Champion of the League and a crucial part of Demacia’s plan to exorcise the pyrikhos mines of Void influence through ritual magic, was shot by a HexKorps heavy weapons team. (Although she later recovered, sources say that at the time it was believed she had been struck dead.) Zaun retook the mines and celebrated its victory over what had been considered the mightiest army in Valoran.
The apocalpyse begins
These celebrations were soon cut short. The sky darkened, then filled with countless yellow eyes. Tremors shook the ground. There were sightings across Valoran of bizarre apparitions and alien voices. Many recognized the signs that had preceded the Void invasion, now present on a much larger scale.
Malzahar broke into maniacal laughter as another swarm of Voidlings poured out of the entrance to the mines. A portal opened, from which emerged Cho’gath, Kha’zix, Vel’koz, and Kog’maw. It appeared that Demacia had been right.
The Portal Is Sealed
Yordle scientist Merricurry uses Zaunite techmaturgy to close the opening Void rift
Seeing this unfold, Demacia’s broken forces rallied behind their King and charged back into the fray, now fighting alongside the Noxians and Zaunites who had been running them down as they fled not an hour ago. Together, they defeated the Void’s Champions and fought their way into the mines. Demacia proposed to destroy the portal with the exorcism ritual they had prepared. Merricurry, the scientist whose groundbreaking theories paved the way for the so-called “hextech revolution” and had since accepted a contract with a major Zaunite research consortium, instead found a way to shut the portal without damaging the massive pyrikhos deposits within the mine.
King Jarvan III taken to the League under guard
Summoners dispatched from the Institute of War arrived on the scene soon after. King Jarvan III astonished onlookers by surrendering himself to the League’s custody, pledging to submit to the Council’s inquiries and answer personally for Demacia’s actions. After rendering aid to the wounded and taking statements, the League ordered all remaining forces to depart pending a League inquiry into what had transpired.
That inquiry is still underway at the time of this writing.