This plaque is duly dedicated to the honor of those of our number who
Have fallen in the defense of their homes, their cities and their countrymen
Though gone, never forgotten.
Champions of the League
Requiescat in Pace
Cassiopeia - Deceased - Noxus
Ezreal - Deceased - Piltover
Fizz - Deceased - Institute of War
Gangplank - Deceased - Bilgewater
Jax - Deceased - Ionia
Jayce -Deceased - Piltover
Lux - Deceased - Demacia
Miss Fortune - Deceased - Bilgewater
Pantheon - Deceased - Mount Targon
Riven - Missing in Action - Presumed dead - Institute of War
Rumble - Deceased - Bandle City
Shyvana - Deceased - Demacia
Sion - Deceased - Noxus
Talon - Missing in Action - Presumed dead - Noxus
Taric - Deceased - Institute of War
Teemo - Missing in Action - Presumed dead - Bandle City
Twisted Fate - Deceased - Institute of War
Twitch - Missing in Action - Presumed dead - Institute of War
Urgot - Deceased - Noxus
Varus - Deceased - Ionia
Vayne - Deceased - Demacia
Zyra - Missing in Action - Presumed dead - Institute of War
The Institute of War, once a proud bastion of civilization and promoter of tolerance, stood mostly empty, abandoned by many of its former champions and reduced to a shadow of its former glory. The cool marble pillars remained, and the premises felt, to the uninitiated, exactly the same as they had before. He wasn't sure exactly when things had gone to hell, exactly.
Maybe it was when Swain took the reins of power in Noxus, or probably before that, with the disappearance of the General du Couteau. Maybe it was when the League, left without a leader in Reginald Ashram and unable to force the city-states to reduce their armies, became an irrelevancy except in the power plays of those it strove to protect, a rubber stamp on policies already ratified and in popular use. The Council of Equity remained a political power, of a sort, naturally. With champions like the mighty Nasus, clever Orianna and seemingly ageless Kayle, it held a roster of authority, but nothing to match the incredible militaries of Noxus or Demacia. How could any arbitrated decision be binding when any party involved simply threatened to mobilize and upset the peculiar balance of power in Valoran? Noxus, well-supplied with Zaunite siege equipment, had finally pushed for a serious strike.
He shook his head, a pained expression crossing beneath the folds of the hood he wore to hide his face. The plaque above the door never seemed to run out of space for the dead, though it never seemed to get bigger, either. The magic of the Institute saw to that as well, and the list of names grew ever longer.
The first name on the list had always given him a pang - Cassiopeia, executed by the Noxians for treason during the exile of the du Couteau regime. Ezreal, Twisted Fate, his own name - friends, compatriots, enemies. All gone now, with the tides of war and the ever-present Noxian war machine finally moving out for the next Rune War - the du Couteaus had only been the first in a short but brutal series of depositions. Katarina had managed to escape, as had he. She resided in the Institute now, he'd learned, using it as a base of operations for a Champion without a home, organizing a resistance of a sort, if it could even be called that - The Sinister Blade was a great many things, but not even she could face the might of Noxus alone.
Bilgewater had been next, a victim of its own strategic location and fleet, overrun in days. Gangplank and Miss Fortune had both made heroic stands, but against impossible odds, they fell in the early days of the war. Both were publicly executed, rupturing the morale of the remaining pirates and ending any attempt at a resistance. The pirates were happy enough to serve their new masters in exchange for their skins - Bilgewater raiders harassed the coast of Ionia and served on reconnaissance patrols for Noxus. They were lucky, though, next to Bandle City and Piltover, the first annihilated and the latter now mostly Noxian colony. Piltover was the only city to give any serious resistance - Ezreal, Taric, Lux and Shyvana had all fallen there, holding their scant defensive lines steady for reinforcements that had never come. Their efforts resulted in the cease-fire that annexed the majority of the progressive city into the Noxian fold - a Pyrrhic victory at best.
That was in the past, though, and this was the present. Talon, the Blade's Shadow, stepped inside the hallowed oak doors and into the shroud again, three years to the day he'd left as a champion with no patron, no ties to sever and no city which called him their own. War was coming again indeed, but he sincerely doubted anything that had been before would rival the storm that was surely brewing. Now, Noxus had again marched arms on Ionia, certain of an inevitable victory there. If what he'd learned was true, maybe Swain had finally bitten off more than he could chew.