|"Frontier's whatever you want it to be."|
Bound by darkness.
Cruel smile, stretching wide. Sharp teeth, spanning systems.
Oblivion given form, coalesced as the dark Harbinger of annihilation.
Immense in power. His own gravity draws me closer, chains of dark matter enveloping me, cradling me in stillness.
Yet behind him, an even greater force looms.
Its ceaseless pull tugs at every particle in my being. I resist, struggling against its call, straining against Thresh’s grasp, calling upon the light. Yet every surge of radiance that wells up within me disappears into the endless maw of darkness, diverted into its ever hungering grasp.
The Dark Star.
Thresh laughs, a vibration that sends pulsating waves of energy radiating into the cosmos.
“Struggle all you want, little light,” he coos. “But you… you belong to the Dark Star.”
A wave of dread ripples through me.
With a heave, he wrenches me toward the emptiness, the vast and eternal silence. I strain against his bindings, but I feel my power wane as I drift closer to the point of no return, the event horizon beyond which the star’s dark pull would prove inescapable.
Thresh’s voice grates. “Do not fear the end, . Embrace it.”
“The Cosmic Court will stop you,” I say. My voice warps and slurs under the immense gravity of the Dark Star, a reverberating mockery of my intended strength, revealing the hollowness of my threat.
I was the one sent to stop him. And I… am about to fail.
Enter the horizon, Lux.
I fall, ensnared by the inescapable tow of the Dark Star.
They came, one by one. Shining beacons, formed of constellations, each burning with endless starfire, the potential of creation aflame within their beings.
arrived first, an elegant flash of his celestial blade cutting a path through the inky space. and followed not long after. danced in, trailed by , and meandered in at the end as she always does, following some whim and whimsy only she understood.
Last, as though summoned only by our collective light, arced into our midst, blazing across space-time like an incandescent arrow. The others bowed their heads in deference as I took stock of all who had come.
The Cosmic Court, assembled together after countless eons. All in answer to my beacon.
Xin Zhao spoke first. “Long has it been since last we all were met.”
I smiled. Though at times a bit formal, Xin Zhao’s focus and dedication in his protection of the nebulas that cradle the birth of new stars always filled me with deep admiration and appreciation.
“Too long,” Kassadin replied.
“Yet some still are missing,” Yi rumbled.
Xayah scoffed and rolled her eyes. “Some are not to be expected. They never show.”
“Yet others’ absences are more… troubling,” Ashe thundered, and all heads turned toward her.
Xin Zhao frowned. “You speak of .”
“And ,” Rakan chimed in. “That grumpy old soul. Where’d he get off to?”
“We’re all old souls. Even if some don’t act it,” Yi replied.
“Jhin’s light, gone.” Lulu’s voice rang out, clarion and pure, drawing our attention.
Some murmurs of surprise rippled out, along with a few incredulous grumbles—yet I knew we all felt the truth of her words.
Whenever a cosmic being ceases existence, the loss echoes through each of the remaining. And we had all felt his light blink into darkness.
Since then, I… I had witnessed first the twisted, broken systems left in his wake. Whatever dark, monstrous thing he had become reveled in destruction, macabre and grotesque. Stars inverted into black holes. Shattered planets left careening around wild, unhinged orbits. Devastated. Splintered.
I frowned and shook my head.
Xayah was asking a question. “How is this possible?”
“Since the Harbinger’s appearance, the Dark Star grows in strength.” Ashe glided between us, looking each of us in the eyes as she passed. “Where we build, he guides the Dark Star to consume. Where we create the possibility of life, and light… he only destroys. For too long, we have watched his actions, tolerating him as, at best, an overzealous hastener of entropy.” She looked directly into my eyes. “Now it has taken one of our own. That cannot stand.”
“So we gather to find and strike this Harbinger down.” Xin Zhao waved his spear, and a trail of glittering nebula bloomed in its wake.
“No.” Ashe continued to hold my gaze. “The Dark Star grows stronger when it devours sources of light. All of us approaching at once could be exactly what Thresh wants.”
What we want.
I squeezed my eyes shut. When I opened them, Ashe had once again resumed her gliding pace between all the others.
“Each of us will hunt down the known corruptants,” she said. “Only one of us shall go to bind the Star and Thresh. Halt them and their marauding path.”
The others turned their gazes on me. I breathed deep to steady my nerves.
“My queen. Why not y—”
“I will lead the hunt of the other corruptants with my celestial bow.” Ashe cut off my question. “Lux’s mastery of starlight and binding constellations means she alone has the ability to stop this threat in its tracks.” Her expression softened. “Though each of our tasks are perilous, yours is perhaps the most difficult of all, Lux. But there is no one else I trust more to hold fast to our cosmic duty.”
I strode up to stand next to my queen and spoke with more conviction than I felt. “I know where the Dark Star is. Or at least, where it was. When Jhin… disappeared, I… I felt it most strongly.”
The others nodded, accepting the half truth.
You feel us. You see… yourself.
I clenched my teeth, pushing the voice out of my mind.
My gaze swept over my cosmic brethren. Each forged from pure light, birthed from the primordial to shine eternal. I have crafted entire galaxies with them, willed wonders of the universe into existence by their side. Over the eons, we have danced together, then split apart, painting the inky fabric of space with delicate complexities. Yet I cannot deny the truth.
I have always heard the call of darkness.
Some days, I could almost pretend it wasn’t there. But it was always a part of me. The sliver that resonated with the pulsations of the Dark Star, that spun in a tangled waltz with that cursed unspeakable void, whispering ceaseless torment into my mind.
My brethren of the Court do not know. I did not know why I was born with this seed of darkness, this inversion of all we stand for. But Ashe was right. I was duty incarnate. The power of light fortified me against the betrayal of my heart. And when I best Thresh and seal the Dark Star into a fixed point in space, away from the brilliance of the creation we have worked so hard to build… perhaps at last I will also quiet the tireless voice, and be free of this cursed part of me.
I must be enough.
But I was not enough.
'You are more than enough.
I have failed.
'Embrace the darkness.
I plummet to my end.
'You are more than light. You have always been more.
I… must stay true. It cannot end like this!
Duty binds you. When you could be… more.
I tumble toward the unending emptiness, accelerating in its inescapable gravity. I feel myself tearing apart, immense pressure and force pulling and compressing and splintering my very essence.
I reach into my heart, calling to the last vestiges of light, grasping at my waning strength.
A glint of bright. A final spark.
But right beside…
A mote of darkness. Dancing in tandem with the spark
Calling my name.
Let ambition reign.
My form flickers
Tattered starlight fraying in the gravity well
A final choice
One last chance
Nothingness encroaches. Consumes my vision. For a moment, silence reigns.
Then, a voice whispers in my head.
See what you have refused to see.
Surprise jolts through me, replacing the fear that flooded my being.
A new voice. Not the voice of darkness. Or the Star. Something different… yet familiar. Thresh, calling me to madness? Some strange torment before the end?
No. Something far more ancient. More… intimate.
Before I can identify it, flashes of my moments with the court bloom in my mind. Final memories before the end, I assume. Familiar faces, blazing light. Warm, comforting, regal…
But something is wrong.
I see them, but for the first time… I see through them. See all of them. The tiny reactions, the subtle glances, the quiet mumbles of concern. Little grimaces, lips curling in muted sneers. Cracks in their perfect, golden masks. Shadows dancing among the light. Small gestures from beings composed of stars.
They saw you. They all saw you.
They all knew the truth.
I see Queen Ashe, most of all. Every gesture, every glance, every exchanged touch. What I had always seen as warmth and compassion, peeled back to reveal something else.
Holding me close, not to nurture me as her second. But to keep watch on me. To hold me tight.
To reign me in.
They saw your potential.
The truth rushed through me, an icy slush, robbing me of breath.
Throughout my whole existence, I bathed in the light, desperately grasping it for sustenance and strength.
But it wasn’t a source of power.
It was a cage.
Binding, restricting my true self.
What a fool I am.
So long, I denied the darkness in my heart. The one seed of truth that had yearned for the freedom to hush the endless howl and hubris of creation.
Embrace your true self.
A calm washes over me, and for the first time, I… let go. Relax. Release the voice of endless worry, the constant vigilance and strain, the impossible hypocrisy of light and the cosmic.
All falls hush.
And the voice that speaks rings clarion and true.
And I know what it is. Who it is.
I open my eyes
And I am one with the Dark Star
Its power my own
As it always has been
And always will be
Pure ambition given form
My dark will reaches out
Piercing time and space
Bending past and future into an infinite curvature
And I see—
Shattered in the Dark Star’s wake
Reformed into a revenant Of dark metal and destruction
Born from my malice
Coalesced through whim and breath
Obliteration birthed from rubble
Cleaving a path through space under my beck and call
Dark forms twisting to my will
Bowing before their true Queen
This I see
Awaiting in my future
And I smile
And I see
Poor, inconsequential Thresh
Self-appointed Harbinger of darkness
Unaware what he heralded was me
Clinging to my unleashed form
As though they could bind or hold me
I draw upon the void and darkness
And a rush of power
Limitless in scale
A beacon of pure destruction
Erasing all in its path
Shredding light itself
Carving a path of blissful silence
In the noisy entropy of space
And Thresh cowers
Who he stood before
I stretch my limbs
Reborn in darkness
Reforged from the Dark Star itself
And their self-appointed hunt of dark corruptants
And I laugh.
Oh, how I will enjoy
Hunting each of them
Breaking each cosmic fool
And remaking them to bend and bow
To their true, dark
- Alternate Chapter IV
The alternate Chapter IV published by the author.
|"Paradoxes. I hate those guys."|
Nothingness encroaches. Consumes my vision. For a moment, silence reigns.
Then, the voice booms in my head.
Behold what you could be.
A flicker. A flash! One by one, members of the Court blossoms into being in my mind. Yi. Xin Zhao. Lulu. Xayah and Rakan. Kassadin. Even Mordekaiser and Jhin.
All stand before me, gleaming bright. A blinding, dazzling assembly of power, the full, unbridled potential of creation.
Yet their eyes are cold. And I know. They can see.
They can see my secret. They can see the truth - the fragment of darkness in my heart.
Their faces sour with disgust. Judgement. Horror.
But in their judgement of me…
…they do not see the Dark Star bloom behind them.
Its black radiance saps them of strength. Yet it pulls new, unmatched powers to the surface within me. I blossom, darkness coursing through my being, inverting light to shadow, matter twisting into anti-matter.
They stagger in my presence. And one by one, I reach out... …and touch them.
The void of night seeps through their skin
And silent gasps escape their mouths
As the corruption takes hold
And rise remade
Twisted into something new
Dark cosmic servants
Loyal to their Dark Queen
Your true form.
I gaze across this new formed Court
Each being tied to my whim and will
Embrace me… embrace ambition.
The tiniest flicker of light stirs within me.
I… reject you.
I pull new breath into my being, and open my eyes.
New light, powered by newfound conviction, erupts from the core of my being. I focus my powers, and an impossible beam sears forward, burning through the darkness, tearing past the impossibility of the Dark Star’s event horizon—and pierces Thresh’s dark form with pure flame.
He cries out, a ragged, guttural howl filled with shock and rage. In my head, the voice roars in fury and disbelief.
What fool rejects infinite power?
The uncontained potential of the dark?
I channel all my focus into the beam, growing its intensity and burn, drawing another howl of pain from Thresh.
My duty and faith reside in something far greater than these dark temptations.
Star fire burns away the dark matter that makes up Thresh, purifying all in its path.
I feel the final spark of my blast begin to wane. I pant, sapped, my breath sending gravitational waves rippling into the aether. My work is not yet complete.
I reach my hands out, calling upon the cosmic forces at my command. Constellations bend into alignment, refracting and connecting in a prism of light, binding what remains of Thresh where he stands.
For even with the burst of all my cosmic strength, Thresh still breathes. Reduced to a shattered shell of his full form, but not unmade.
“Impossible…” he croaks.
“No,” I reply. “Inevitable.”
I cast my gaze around, realizing the presence of the Dark Star had vanished. For a moment, my heart leaps, wondering if I had vanquished the impossible -
From the corner of my eye, I see Thresh reach for his dark chains. My hand clenches into a fist, and the stars spin in their orbits, tightening the bindings on his form. He lets out a wheeze, too broken to even cry out.
That’s when I see it. The Dark Star. Cradled in Thresh’s clawed hand. A tiny, delicate orb - a splinter of its former glory.
“You are bound here, Thresh. You, and the Dark Star. Its path of corruption and consumption ends. The Court has spoken. Here you remain until entropy and ruination takes you.”
With the last dregs of my power, I beckon the stars around us to further strengthen my prison of light, pulling pulsars to deepen the gravity well that now moored the broken Thresh to this point.
You chose poorly.
The voice sounds in my head, but it is now a whisper. I ignore it as I finish my work.
You can never bind us. Bind me.
I turn to go. Behind me, I hear Thresh’s rasping voice cackle with laughter.
The voice whispers in my ear, more urgent than before.
I am the infinite. I am still within you.
Woven into the very fabric of your being.
Bind my harbinger, but you cannot deny…
You are what he heralds.
You are my true form.
It is my turn to smile.
I have faced the darkness. And while a sliver remains, and its whispers tempt me still… I know I have triumphed. That I can triumph again. Duty strengthens my resolve. I have bound the darkness, and I will continue to temper the whispers within me. If I am the true form of the Dark Star, then it will never unmake what we have created.
For I am , Beacon of the Cosmic Court. And I still stand in light.
- The final outcome in the story was voted by the fans between and options, with the latter winning.