A War By Any Other Name
Jarvan scanned the walls until he found what he was looking for once again. Subconsciously gravitating towards the shafts of sunlight stealing their way into the palace, Jarvan pried the panes of glass open and stuck his head outside. There was always something about the fresh air that seemed to clear his head. Familiar feelings of envy were revived as Jarvan watched the seagulls dance in the wind. “How lucky they must be to have no worries as I do, and be able to spend their lives above the problems of the human world,” he thought to himself. A single tear, an amalgam of sadness and joy, fell from his eye as he closed the vista to the free world, pangs of regret starting to resurface. Jarvan steeled himself–this was not what was needed from him, and subsequently resumed his normal stalwart composure.
“I am Jarvan Lightshield, the fourth of my name, Exemplar and the Crown Prince of Demacia.”
He repeated this several times in his head before returning to the High Council chambers. Demacia had been at “peace” for as long as many could remember, but now the whole country was on edge. There was not a soul in Demacia who was unprepared to rejoin the army, not a soul without their weapons by the door. Demacia was known for their military might and obedience, but Jarvan was fearful of it ever coming to using such might. He thought of the innocents in their homes who would leave, never to return. The many farmers who would leave a widow or a child by the hearth, never to lovingly embrace them again. Jarvan quickly recited his vow to protect them before resuming his duties, and walking to the meeting he was supposed to attend.
Jarvan’s mind wandered as he remembered his small stint in the League of Legends. He longed to return to his days in the League, but couldn’t go back to his home battleground anymore. He started to reflect again how the League came to an end, that the Institute of War had dissolved as an entity when factional schisms erupted from within. Jarvan shook his head slowly in disapproval. It was such a stupid and silly affair. He had once felt at home within the League, but knew that its disintegration was probably for the best. The dissolution of the League happened at an alarming rate, and to Jarvan, it felt like only yesterday he was fighting for glory and himself instead of country and the many innocents.
It all started with a simple idea: stacking the rosters. Demacia and Noxus quickly realized that they could try to overwhelm one another by getting as many of their kind to become champions and summoners as humanly possible. It got bad enough that Demacia was training summoners as early as six years old. Noxus was no better; they were taking urchins off the street in hopes of finding a diamond in the rough. The champions were worse, if you could even call them champions. They were inducting random people from both Demacian and Noxus forces and handing them random titles–Thantos, the Blacksmith of Demacia, or Wertuy, the Battle Beast of Noxus. It was quite humorous to some outside the battlefield, but the many different representatives in the League knew what was coming.
Ashe was the first to leave the League. She knew that the League was on the decline, and with her left the Avarosan representatives and summoners. Next left the Ionians with Irelia realizing the potential danger they were in and, wishing to avoid any more conflicts with both Demacia and Noxus, bid a hasty retreat. The Frost Guard, the Shadow Isles and the Void Creatures all followed suit after a short period of time. Even Rengar, who came to the League to hunt new prey, found the ensuing environment less than desirable. Piltover, Zaun, Bandle City and Bilgewater recalled their troops to keep their resources safe. Because of their small sizes comparative to Demacia and Noxus, they needed to make sure what champions they had would be able to defend the city in case of major threats. Following that, even the Winter’s Claw left, and they lived for this kind of battle. All that was left was Demacia and Noxus, both oblivious to the rapid deterioration of the League.
Every battle from then on was the same: Demacia picked five of their champions and Noxus, five of theirs, while analysts on both sides tried to figure out who was a threat. Meanwhile, each side thought that they grew stronger than the other, and that as a result, they should get to deploy more troops, or have more champions, or get more gold during these grudge matches. These arguments persisted until each side started to try and convince members of the League councils to side with them. The fighting ended when the battle for power echoed across the arched ceiling of the High Council, causing the final dissolution of the League. The High Council realized that the old method of settling political disputes in a controlled manner would be impossible as both Demacian and Noxian armies reached critical masses and densities, both in might and arrogance. So ended the “peace” once brought on by the League of Legends, as the High Councilors expelled each side to their respective lands.
With the dissolution of the League, many summoners who were not allied with either faction found themselves in a precarious position. There were many summoners who fought tooth and nail against each other, trying to better themselves before the start of the collapse. Because of this, they found themselves with ringed targets on their back, as both Demacia and Noxus went about snatching up whomever they could. Once great teams like Team Solo Mid and Counter Logic Gaming found themselves apart of “Team Demacia” or “Team Noxus”. Even small time summoners like Box Box, AnimatedElf, and Produff found themselves with employment against their once fellow allies and competitors. Jarvan knew that he would love to believe that many of these great summoners came rushing to Demacia’s aid against Noxus and willingly enlisted, but deep down, he knew that less than desirable means were used to ensure some of them didn’t fall into enemy hands. Either way, Demacia had secured a plethora of summoner talent, but expected the same level from Noxus, and were not wrong in doing so. Even though both thought they now possessed an advantage, in truth, neither possessed a tangible edge over the other.
Jarvan finished his tangential thoughts rather quickly when he remembered where he was–in the middle of the very meeting he was walking towards. Jarvan looked around and saw the familiar walls of the High Council chamber, and unfortunately, the familiar scowls of the High Councilors. He didn’t like spending time with the old fools and would much rather be fighting or practicing, but his father expected him to learn to deal with the council and glean information when possible. The High Council snapped him back to focus with chancellor Rivington III demanding his attention with a sharp remark.
“Do you have any questions, or shall we adjourn?”
“I profess, I was not entirely present,” Jarvan muttered with mild annoyance, “and I must beg of you to reiterate the message.”
“We have requisitioned an order of weapons from Piltover. David Turley, of House Phreak, has a better grasp of the situation.” Rivington wryly replied.
“Well the weapons are good quality, and it will allow us to use our mages like a fighter with new spellswords, and our fighters like mages with mana infused thrown weapons.” Phreak said exuberantly, obviously impressed with himself. “In fact, I requisitioned a full order of Triforces because of how useful they are. By the end of the shipment, we will have tons of weapons and our army will deal tons of damage to the Noxians.”
This drew worried glances from around the table.
“And how are we supposed to pay for all of this again?” Asked King Jarvan III
“Tons of cash” curtly replied Phreak.
“Your Majesty, we have a large reserve of cash, but the problem lies in that 15% of our budget is going to food supplies, another 11% towards research in the magic arts, 9% towards-“
“Alright Jatt, we get it. We spend a lot of money. At this point, the question is: is it enough? Will we be able to get anything off the back of this–“
“Would you all do me the wonderful favor of shutting up so I can think!” Jarvan IV bellowed over the chaotic chatter. “I’m leaving to do something more productive than wasting my time listening to you all squabble.”
He moved towards the door but was surprised when it opened before him, revealing an out of breath soldier with a single note in his hand. He looked around to see the council still quarreling, failing to notice their unannounced visitor. Without a word, Jarvan plucked the crumpled note out of his hand as one might a tissue from a box. He read the note amidst the squabbling in the background not once or twice, but three times. He looked down at the crumpled form of the soldier while clutching the delicate parchment in his hand before speaking.
“The Noxians are coming.”
There was a stunned silence in the room following that statement. The words tasted foul, like eating a spoon full of capsaicin oil. Unfortunately for Demacia, their foul taste did nothing to ease the candor of the statement.
“You heard me,” he said in a calmer tone,” the Noxian army marches on Demacian soil.”
“Let me see that note and with my own eyes discern what evil awaits my country,” his father spoke. Upon reading the note, the council watched as his eyes widened until it seemed the King’s retinas occupied the whole room. With the demeanor of a man twice his age, the king took a deep breath and let out a long sigh. The council sank into their seats as the gravity of the situation descended upon the room. No one spoke for what seemed like an eternity before Jarvan IV cleared his throat, and verbalized the prevailing thought in the room.
“Shall we mobilize the troops?”
Five words that many on the council hoped that they would never hear uttered. The councilors sunk back into their seats, the tension in the room coming to a boil and the squeaking of chairs came to a standstill. The anxiety and gravity of the situation hung heavily down upon the assembled group, displaying itself through sagging shoulders and weary eyes. They knew what was at stake: tens of thousands, even millions of lives could be lost in the ensuing struggle, with many populated towns becoming ghosts of their former selves. No one wanted to think of the innocent blood that would be upon their silken robes, hanging over their heads for the rest of their lives. Each realized that this was a point of no return–an indelible mark in history that would be forever written into the history books. Not a single councilor was unprepared for the answer, but dreaded consequences they hoped they would never deal with.
“The choice has been taken out of our hands,” his father slowly replied back. “Reactivate the reserves and call into service every eligible man, mercenary or beast willing to fight for us. Send out warnings to the villages and towns, and recommend the immediate evacuation and relocation of all unfit for combat civilians to be prepared to run at a moment’s notice.”
The silence of the room was broken, and the chaos of the moment caught up with the group, bringing them out of suspended animation. With that, the High Council scattered to do the king’s bidding, leaving a father and his son alone.
“We are going to need every resource we can muster to combat the Noxians. A single grain of rice can tip the scales,” the king muttered as he walked towards the door. “Son, I want you commanding the troops, but not from the front. We can’t risk losing you to the Noxians.” Jarvan tried to protest, but the King dissented and ignored his pleas. “The nexus technology is good, but if they capture ours, then we lose you–a loss not easily recovered from,” the king mused.
Jarvan was disappointed, and yet, slightly relieved to be fighting again. He really did miss the days when he could just stab people in a battle instead of a practice room. The only problem was that he, in theory, wouldn’t be fighting anyone. They would be sending out many of their “lesser” champions into the field to command the troops, along with some summoners to accompany them. He figured that he should talk to a couple of his comrades before they set out for the impending battle.
Now that he had obligations to a distant warfront, he suddenly found every detail of the castle interesting. Every stone was suddenly a book, each beam of wood a scroll and every window a portrait. Jarvan went up to one of the windows to complete his ritualistic cleansing, until he identified Garen and Lux in the palace gardens. He took his time walking down the stairs to meet them, savoring each sight as if time might stand still.
“I don’t know what you see in Ezreal, Lux. He’s weak and I think secretly, he would rather be seeing other people. You know, Sona, or Soraka, or… Taric…” Garen muttered.
“Well you just don’t know him like I do, he’s so nice to everyone, and he goes on romantic outings with me by the lake, and he takes care of injured animals, and-“
“Alright, I get it, he’s a decent guy. I just don’t think Ezreal is cut from the same cloth as us.” Garen conceded. Jarvan slowly walked over and sat down in the grass beside the siblings.
“So, things are the same as always?” Jarvan asked. How they remained so cool when there was so much pressure eluded Jarvan at that moment.
“Well we figure that the war is coming either way, and that there is no use worrying about it. We might as well enjoy what time we have before we become embroiled in battle,” mused Garen. He leaned back, exposing his enormous frame to soak in the sunbeams. Xin Zhao, decked in his ornate armor, came over to rest upon the grass next to the group.
“Enjoying yourselves I see. I always make sure that I am well-rested before battle, as it keeps my mind clear. A good soldier may prepare his weapons before battle, but the wiser soldier realizes his mind is just as much the weapon as the blade he has sheathed,” Xin Zhao said as he tapped into his inner philosopher. “I assume you have all packed up your supplies for the front?”
Jarvan and Lux nodded their heads in agreement while Garen signed a thumbs-up from the ground. They sat down and watched the birds play in the wind for a while, until a strange sight disrupted their peaceful reprieve.
Running as fast as her legs could carry her, Quinn ran in to meet the group with Valor trailing her ever so slightly. Although he knew that the run had contorted her usually normal, calm face, Jarvan shot up to a seated position after seeing that the alarm present on her face was no mere illusion. Quinn’s feet ground to a halt in front of the group, as the fear on her face became apparent to the rest of the group. She stopped to catch her breath, letting her small lungs sap the oxygen from the air. Quinn struggled to take in a deep breath before speaking.
“It’s a trap, the Noxians are going to destroy Demacia in one swift strike.”
She managed to give voice to the last syllable before she toppled over. Jarvan lunged to catch her before Quinn’s body struck the ground.