If you want to join in on the discussion for both Azir and Xerath’s short stories, head on over to the PBE boards. Below Jaredan explains short stories in the client and longer Shurima stories for champions like Sivir.
As a member of the Narrative discipline that works on ideation & story, I’d like to follow up with you about where we currently are with champ bios and backgrounds.
Previously, we’ve communicated two main ways in which the presentation of champ backgrounds is changing: format & location. A while back we started moving away from the older style of ‘historical’ bios in favor of character stories (think Braum & Gnar), but we’ve found that issues like character limits and formatting constraints are preventing us from really pushing things further in the in-client lore tabs. Given that the lore tab is also intended to give players a quick feel for a champ’s thematic and identity, we’ve decided to morph it into more of an introductory space that links to deeper story experiences on the website’s champ info pages.
That said, we’re frankly behind on all of this. We recently released in-client champion intros for Shurima champions without having their deeper story pieces ready to go. We know this is frustrating and we’re working to get them all out as soon as possible.
Additionally, as I mentioned last week, we’ve run into some tech issues preventing us from de-linking the champ info pages from the lore tabs. We hope to have this fixed very shortly, but for now we’re actually unable to deliver completed stories in the way we’ve promised.
Because of this, we’ve taken the interim step of stickying the new Azir and Xerath short stories on this board. We hope you enjoy them, and deeply appreciate your continuing patience as we work to bring you the stories you want and deserve.
I’ll be hanging out in this thread for a bit, so feel to leave any questions you may have and I’ll do my best to address them.
Our aim is to bring you stories with much more regularity than we have in the past. We’re learning and leveling up, but we want to deliver stories to you. While we’re working out a few things, including tech issues, it’s not gone as quickly as we would like, hence putting these first two stories here on the boards while we sort things. More will be coming.
Sivir was left in a very interesting and precarious place by events in Shurima, we will definitely be following her story further to show the immediate aftermath.
This was the moment.
The singular moment that had cost him so much, that had taken a lifetime of planning. A corrupt empire and its strutting princeling would be struck down under the blankly idiotic sun symbol they both so trusted. The key to immortality, jealously guarded and miserly offered, would be his alone, stolen in front of the entire world. A singular moment of perfect vengeance that would finally free the slave known as Xerath.
Though his master’s helm revealed no human expression, and knowing that the lovingly etched metal could not respond in kind, Xerath smiled up at the soulless hawk’s face just the same, his joy genuine. A life spent in servitude, first for a mad emperor and now a vain one, endless manipulations for and against the throne, a near-damning quest for barely remembered knowledge that almost consumed him—all of it led to this grotesque masquerade of Ascension.
The very word when spoken aloud was an assault: We will Ascend, while you are chained to the broken stone as the sands of time swallow you all. No. Not anymore, and never again. The chosen golden lords will not be taken into the sun’s embrace and made gods. A slave will do this; a simple slave, a boy who once had the misfortune to save a noble child from the sands.
And for this sin, Xerath had been punished with a horrible, maddening promise: freedom. Unobtainable. Forbidden. Should the thought even dart through a slave’s mind, it would be punished by death, as the Ascended could gaze past flesh and bone, deep into one’s very soul, to see its dim traitorous glow. And yet, there it was, spoken by the young princeling he dragged from the embrace of the mercurial mother-desert. Azir, the Golden Sun, vowed that he would free his savior and new friend.
A promise unkept to this day. The words of a grateful child, innocently oblivious to the impact they would have. How could Azir upend thousands of years of rule? How could he fight tradition, his father, his destiny?
In the end, the young emperor would lose it all by not honoring his word.
And so, Xerath was elevated and educated, eventually becoming Azir’s trusted right hand—but never a free man. The soured promise ate into what he was, and what he could have been. Denied a small, simple thing, the right to live his life, Xerath decided to take everything, all of the things denied to him, all of the things he deserved: the empire, Ascension, and the absolute purest form of freedom possible.
With each step taken toward the offensively grandiose Dais of Ascension, positioned respectfully behind his emperor and flanked by the inept sentinels who supposedly protected Shurima, Xerath felt an unknown lightness he was genuinely shocked by. Was this joy? Does vengeance bring joy? The impact was almost physical.
At that very moment, the overwrought suit of golden armor that was his tormentor abruptly halted. And turned. And walked toward Xerath.
Could he know? How could he possibly know? This spoiled, self-obsessed boy? This righteous, falsely benevolent emperor whose hands were just as bloody as Xerath’s own? Even if he did, there was no staying the killing blow that was already in motion.
Xerath had planned for every contingency. He had bribed, killed, out-maneuvered, and plotted for decades—he even tricked the monstrous brothers Nasus and Renekton into staying away from the event—but he had not planned for this…
The Emperor of Shurima, the Golden Sun, Beloved of Mother Desert, soon to be Ascended, took off his helmet, revealed his proud brow and smiling eyes, and turned to his oldest and most trusted friend. He spoke about the love of brothers, the love of friends, of hard fights won and others lost, of family, of future, and finally… of freedom.
At these words, the guards flanked Xerath, moving in, weapons drawn.
So the princeling did know. Had Xerath’s plans had been undone?
But the fools in armor were saluting. There was no menace to them, they were honoring him. They were congratulating him.
On his freedom.
His hated master had just freed him—he had freed them all. No Shuriman would ever wear chains again. Azir’s last act as a human was to unfetter his people.
The foundation-shuddering roar of the assembled masses drowned out any response Xerath could have had. Azir donned his helmet and strode out onto the Dais, his attendants preparing him for the godhood that would never come.
Xerath stood in the shadow of the monolithic Sun Disk, knowing that an empire-destroying doom was but seconds away.
Too late, friend. Too late, brother. Far too late for us all.
Azir walked the gold-paved Emperor’s Way. The immense statues of Shurima’s earliest rulers – his ancestors – watched his progress.
The soft, shadowy light of predawn seeped through his city. The brightest stars still shone overhead, though they would soon be snuffed out by the rising sun. The night sky was not as Azir remembered it; the stars and the constellations were misaligned. Millennia had passed.
With every step, Azir’s heavy staff of office struck a lonely note, echoing through the capital’s empty streets.
When last he had walked this path, an honor guard of 10,000 elite warriors had marched in his wake, and the cheers of the crowd had shaken the city. It was to have been his moment of glory – yet it had been stolen from him.
Now, it was a city of ghosts. What had become of his people?
With an imperious gesture, Azir commanded the sands beside the roadway to rise, creating living statues. This was a vision of the past, the echoes of Shurima given form.
The sand figures looked forward, heads tilted toward the immense Sun Disk hanging above the Dais of Ascension half a league ahead. It hung there still, declaring the glory and power of Azir’s empire, though no one remained to see it. The daughter of Shurima who awakened him, she who bore his lineage, was gone. He sensed her out in the desert. Blood bound them together.
As Azir walked the Emperor’s Way, the sand-echoes of his people pointed up at the Sun Disk, their joyful expressions turning to horror. Mouths opened wide in silent screams. They turned to run, stumbling and falling. Azir watched this all in despairing silence, bearing witness to the last moments of his people.
They were obliterated by a wave of unseen energy, reduced to dust and cast to the winds. What had gone wrong with his Ascension to unleash this catastrophe?
Azir’s focus narrowed. His march became more resolute. He reached the base of the Stairs of Ascension and began to climb, taking them five at a time.
Only his most trusted soldiers, the priesthood, and those of the royal bloodline were allowed to step foot upon the Stairs. Sand versions of these most favored subjects lined his path, faces upturned, grimacing and wailing in silence before they too were swept away by the winds.
He ran, taking the steps faster than any man could, talons digging into the stonework, carving furrows where they caught. Sand figures rose, and were then destroyed, to either side of him as he climbed.
He reached the top. Here, he saw the final circle of onlookers: his closest aides, his advisers, the high priests. His family.
Azir dropped to his knees. His family was before him, rendered in perfect, heartbreaking detail. His wife, heavy with child. His shy daughter, clutching his wife’s hand. His son, standing tall, on the brink of becoming a man.
In horror, Azir saw their expressions change. Though he knew what was to come, he could not look away. His daughter hid her face in the folds of his wife’s dress; his son reached for his sword, shouting in defiance. His wife… her eyes widened, sorrow and despair writ within.
The unseen event blasted them to nothingness.
It was too much, but no tears welled in Azir’s eyes. His Ascended form rendered that simple act of grief forever lost to him. With a heavy heart, he pushed himself to his feet. The question remained as to how his bloodline survived, for it most assuredly had.
The final echo awaited.
He advanced, halting one step below the dais, and watched as it all played out before him, reenacted in the sand.
He saw himself, in his mortal form, rise up into the air beneath the Sun Disk, arms wide and back arched. He remembered this moment. The power coursed through him, infusing his being, filling him with its divine strength.
A newcomer formed in the sand. His trusted bondsman, his magus, Xerath.
His friend uttered a silent word. Azir watched himself shatter like glass, exploding into motes of sand.
“Xerath,” breathed Azir.
The traitor’s expression was unknowable, but Azir could see nothing but the face of a murderer.
Where did such hate come from? Azir had never been aware of it.
The sand image of Xerath rose higher into the air as the Sun Disk’s energies focused into his being. A cadre of elite guards rushed toward him, but they were all far too late.
A brutal shockwave of sand flared out, disintegrating the final moment of Shurima. Azir stood alone among the dying echoes of his past.
This is what killed his people.
Azir turned away, just as the first rays of the new dawn struck the Sun Disk overhead. He’d seen enough. The sand image of the transformed Xerath collapsed behind him.
The dawn sun reflected blindingly off Azir’s flawless golden armor. In that instant, he knew that the traitor still lived. He sensed the magus’s essence in the air that he breathed.
Azir lifted a hand, and an army of his elite warriors rose from the sands at the base of the Stairs of Ascension.
“Xerath,” he said, his voice tinged with rage. “Your crimes will not go unpunished.”