Garen: First Shield is a novella released by Riot Games Inc. on December 8th, 2020. It is the first novella published, and follows the squad of the "First Shield" in the Dauntless Vanguard on an adventure that brings them outside of the borders of Demacia.
The King is dead. Demacia is mourning. And in the eyes of , it’s his fault.
But can he rise to the challenge when Demacia needs him again?
While on a peacetime expedition beyond the borders of Demacia, , , and the Dauntless Vanguard uncover a plot that threatens to destroy long-standing alliances. As the knight-ranger Quinn tries to get word back to Demacia, Garen and his comrades make a desperate last stand. How long can they last, and at what cost?
About the Author
Hailing from Sydney, Australia, Anthony developed a passion for gaming and the fantasy genre from a young age, which led him to pursue a career as a writer. He’s had numerous stories, games, novels, and audio dramas published over a span of twenty years, and started playing League of Legends around Season One (playing Shaco, badly). He joined Riot Games in 2014, and now lives in Seattle, Washington, with his wife, Beth, his daughter, Maya, and a pair of slightly deranged cats, the brothers Thor and Loki.
|“||“While the Dauntless Vanguard stands, Demacia will never fall.”|
|— King Argostan of Demacia, Second Epoch|
Table of Content
The book consists of 153 pages, divided into twelve chapters. Alternatively, Kindle offers a system categorizing the position in a book.
- The whole story is featured in the digital book. Due to legal reasons, only the story summary can be added on this page.
Two hours before dawn, Great City. He has been training hard since the death of the king, which he blames himself for. This is why he has to be strong: He is training in his heavy armor, with a sack of rocks that he carries on a shoulder, while running his usual path through the city. He passes a group of guards at the Argent Gate, and one of them remarks that is still missing. Garen knows she fled the city, and he let her go and lied about it in the aftermath of the rebellion.is running through the
When day breaks, he arrives at the barracks where the soldiers stationed in the city are training. Merrek, the Sergeant of the First Shield, jokes that he only trained with one load of rocks today. Then he becomes serious and notes that he is concerned Garen has not slept. Garen does not answer, and Merrek introduces him to the newest member of the First Shield:Alys Morn, another member of the First Shield, jokes about how Cithria embarrassed Merrek during their training duel. Kriel, a Stonehorn . Minotaur from their Shield, arrives, and Garen begins his training with him. They spar for over an hour, and Garen fights five of the eight members of the First Shield. The sparring is interrupted by a messenger, who reports that the wants to see Garen at a meeting of the Silver Council at the Tenth bell.
Garen is standing outside the council chamber, waiting to be admitted. The Silver Council consists of eight members, representing the most important branches of the kingdom, including military, noble families, treasury, the mageseekers and other politicians. Usually the king has to approve the resolutions of the council, but has not been sworn into office yet, and does not want to attend the meetings of the council. He prefers to act instead, searching for , who he believes is his father’s murderer.
His aunt Tianna Crownguard, representing the military as "High Marshal", and her husband, Lord Eldred, the head of the mageseeker order, are there. She concludes with the statement that they found an agreement, and the meeting ends. The politicians, bureaucrats and servants leave the room, until Tianna and Garen are alone.
She greets him with the Crownguard family motto: “Strength through discipline”, and Garen finishes it: “Honor through diligence”. Tianna begins that she is disappointed with his leadership of the Dauntless Vanguard, that he lost thirty-seven soldiers in the recent months with Sylas on the loose. He says he underestimated the mage rebellion, and now works with the ranger-knights to coordinate their efforts.
She steers the conversation to the reason she summoned Garen: The council has received a letter from the Demacian ambassador to the Nockmirch - her uncle Hargold-, and Tianna believes it was faked by someone else. Her order is that Garen shall travel there, assess the situation and ensure that his great-uncle Hargold is alive and well. She also advises him to take only three Shields (each consisting of eight soldiers), since a larger force would draw attention, according to the council. She does not share that sentiment, but sends him off regardless. Her hope is that a mission away from hunting Sylas will clear his head, since it is apparent that the murder of the king exacts a heavy toll on Garen.
Cithria and the other members of the First Shield gather on the docks. She feels out of her depths among these legends, since she idolized Alys Morn in particular. She observes that the First Shield is allowed much more freedom and individuality than her old squad in the Ninth Battalion. All of them have sword and shield, the basic equipment of Demacian soldiers, in addition to a long knife, but Eben Hess brings another sword, and multiple more knives and daggers. The twins Rurik and Saskja Vos join them. The First Shield, consisting of Shield-Sergeant Merrek, Kriel, Alys Morn, Eben Hess, Rurik Vos, Saskja Vos, Aiguo, and Cithria, is complete.They arrive at their ship, the Stormbright. It is a falconship that was made for both shallow rivers and the open ocean, sleek as a blade, with a bird of prey as figurehead. First Shield goes aboard, and see the other groups arrive: The Fourth Shield, led by Shield-Sergeant Reika Kol, and the Eighth Shield, under command of Shield-Sergeant Rosk. The Fourth carries similar equipment to the First Shield, but the Eighth carries the heavy brightsteel kite shields known as bulwarks. Sword-Captain Garen is the last to arrive, and the Stormbright leaves three hours before sunset.
The Dauntless Vanguard rows out into the Bay of Sentinels, and can use the sails of the Stormbright for a while. They angle south-east, following the coastline. The ship passes the white cliffs of Havenfall, and continues past Whitepoint Harbor and up into the Silverrun River. At this point, Merrek orders them to extend the oars once again, as the wind from the bay stopped. The soldiers are working in shifts, with two shields rowing while one rests. When Cithria wakes up for her next shift, she notices that Garen has not slept at all, and has been rowing this entire time to tire himself out. Merrek urges him to at least take the tiller for a while. Garen reluctantly agrees, and Merrek takes over his oar.
In the morning, a breeze comes up, and they unfold their sails, but still have to row to keep up the pace. The ship passes through a farming village that recently celebrated “Last Harvest”, and the prestigious soldiers are celebrated by the locals that toss food and flowers on board the ship. The sun is shining, the landscape is beautiful, there are honest and hard-working people around them. Garen urges them not to forget that they fight to protect all of this.
During their journey east, they come across raptors-knights, which fly down to the river to greet them. Cithria is captivated by their beauty, and Kriel, the Minotaur, notes that they are beautiful, just like their home Everpeak. They later pass the fortress in the Greenfang Mountains, and Cithria marvels at the architecture that houses the raptor-knights. Kriel says that minotaurs built it, commissioned by King Argostan, a few centuries ago.
On a dock at the base of the Greenfang Mountains, having run the entire time here. Her companion, , is flying somewhere above the ship.As the Stormbright approaches the border, they notice a huge chain in the water. In case of an invading force, it can be pulled tight to block enemy ships, but Sergeant Merrek notes that it thankfully has not been needed yet. Then they are stopped by a portcullis on the border. Garen orders them to raise the Dauntless Standard, and after a few minutes the soldiers manning the border fortifications open the riverway for them. The Dauntless Vanguard passes through and leaves comes aboard. She does not row, which leads to disapproving comments by Eben Hess. Instead she stretches and goes to sleep on the deck, Demacia.
The expedition continues eastward along the Silverrun, passing the Arbormark and Skaggorn through pouring rain for two days. They arrive at a major fork in the river and turn North-East, following the Silverrun to its source up in the mountains. Because the journey might become dangerous for the ship if they continue through the night, they make camp on the riverbank. The Shields establish an ordered camp with a rotating watch, but Quinn leaves them and stalks the forests instead. During the night, Cithria overhears a conversation between Sergeant Merrek and Alys Morn. They talk about Helmar, the Vanguard soldier whose death opened up a position in the First Shield. Her position. Her idol Alys Morn doubts that she is ready, but Merrek, who saw her during the Testing, believes in her.
In the morning, Quinn returns, and she and Garen discuss their further path. She claims they can not sail much further, because the river is lower than usual. They have to land on the Gray Claws, and continue to climb the ravine between Rijenland and Nockmirch by foot. Garen and the Shield-Sergeants consider other options, such as landing on the other side and coming to Alderburg from the east, but Quinn’s plan turns out to be the best solution.
After disembarking at the indicated position, they march upward, but the return of the ranger stops them. She leads them to a bridge spanning the ravine, which was newly constructed. This unusual stonework allows the crossing of armies in both directions, and Garen believes it should have been mentioned in the letters of their ambassador. They continue on, following the path up to the bridge.
As they near the bridge, they notice the military design of the bridge and gatehouses, angular and ugly, but effective nonetheless. The demacians approach the bridge; a lax sentry spots them way late and calls the Warden. The Warden introduces himself as Vigrid and invites them in. He says Garen could get a room, but he would rather stay with his soldiers in the barracks. The Warden also mentions that the lord’s wife passed recently, and wants to know what brings the group here.Garen asks to speak with the Lord Castellan, and the warden says there is a banquet prepared, where he can talk about matters of state.
Cithria, Eben Hess, and the Vos twins are left in the barracks, while Garen and a few other soldiers of the Vanguard are invited to the banquet. A young soldier brings them food, but Hess lunges at him, blade drawn. He says he feels cornered in here and leaves to get fresh air.
Garen in the meantime sits at the high table in the hall, among Eldwyn, the Lord Castellan, and his daughter, Lady Odelyn. Warden Vigrid is present, but there is no sign of Garen’s Great-Uncle Hargold. Garen doesn’t eat much, he has not had an appetite for weeks. Instead, he tries to start a conversation and extends his condolences to the lord of the Nockmirch. Lord Eldwyn snaps back that it would not make a difference, and his daughter continues instead. She says she is also sorry for Demacia, for they have lost their king. The Lord Castellan asks about the bridge, and Garen explains that he doesn’t understand why they need a heavily fortified bridge when they only have allies to the west. Once again the lord speaks up and accuses Demacia of wanting to hold them down, that they do not want an ally, they only want a servant. Again, his daughter talks back to him and explains that Demacia has been an ally for centuries. They get into a heated argument, and Garen thinks to himself that she reminds him of his sister Lux. The lord dispatches a pair of guards to send his daughter to her room, and asks Garen why he really is here. Garen finally demands to see the ambassador, Hargold Crownguard.Outside of the Alderburg, Quinn examines tracks; She notes that someone heavily armed passed through there. It can not be the soldiers of the Nockmirch, and so she sets out to hunt them. She follows the tracks into the forest and sneaks past their sentries to find a war camp. There are warriors of many different cultures and languages, and even a huge beast. Quinn wants to bring word of this to Garen, but is almost spotted. She kills the man with a bolt, and leaves hastily before they find her. She and Valor fight her way back through the sentries, which turns into a hunt for the intruder. She realizes that the Lord Castellan must know about the army camped close to his keep, and finally sees that they must be Noxian.
Finally, the ambassador arrives at the high table. A short exchange follows, where Lord Eldwyn teases Garen for thinking something happened to him, and Hargold explains that he had been sick for a while, and that this is the reason for his late arrival. Garen greets him with the Crownguard words “Strength through discipline”, but his great-uncle ignores them. Garen finds this suspicious and asks about his letters and the reason why he didn’t inform the council of the new developments in Alderburg: The new bridge of military importance, and the passing of the lady of the Nockmirch. Once again, Hargold gives his illness as reason, and begins talking about the weather. Garen lets him talk, while thinking about the entire situation.
This is when Quinn arrives. The guards in the hall try to hold her, but she evades them. When one of them steps in her way, Kriel stands up and stops them with his giant hand. He sends away the curious little children that surrounded him during the feast, and the Vanguard close ranks around Quinn. She says that she found Noxians, and Garen states that the Vanguard are leaving. His uncle says they have to stay, and Garen confronts him, repeatedly asking about the Crownguard words. The ambassador keeps dodging the question, until Garen declares he is no Crownguard at all.
He takes the ambassador in a lock with his arms behind his back and turns to face Lord Eldwyn. Garen tells him that enemies have infiltrated the Nockmirch, but the Lord Castellan already knows: He invited them. He speaks of his pleas for help that did not reach Demacia, and how they failed to protect even their own king. His people are suffering for Demacia, keeping outer politics away from their borders. His duty must be to his own people, and that’s why he chose Noxus.
Outside, the horns sound, and Quinn urges them to leave. But then, Garen notices the ambassador standing next to Warden Vigrid, who seems to be behind all of this.He pushes the one he is holding away, and the figure walks toward him and . For a split-second, Garen sees a overlapping the other ambassador. Then Warden Vigrid orders the guards to kill them.
The guards, having just been ordered to kill them all, hesitate for a moment, and Garen grabs the halberd of one and orders the Vanguard to form up. They have not brought weapons, but defend themself as well as they can, and grab weapons wherever possible. A group of crossbow-bearing men come through side entrances, and Quinn takes down two of them. One bolt hits a man of the Eighth Shield but doesn’t go through his heavy breastplate. The massive Kriel flips over a table to throw some enemies off-balance, and finds a young kid caught in the crossfire. He takes him under his arm. Garen orders the vanguard to join up and run through the doors now that most are armed. The soldiers from the Nockmirch try to seal the doors, but it is far too late. Outside, Kriel hands off the boy, and again, they hear the Noxian horns.
Hess is playing Tellstones against Nockmirch Soldiers, and just realizes he was tricked. The enemy is not nearly as drunk as he had thought, and answers his challenge with ease. He is about to lose a lot of money. A horn sounds. Eben Hess takes the money and, after a short struggle, escapes back toward the rooms where the vanguard was sent. He joins with the rest of the soldiers from the barracks, and they prepare to face the Nockmirch soldiers and the Noxians.
They head outside with the brightsteel shields of the Eighth Shield in front, and are met with crossbow bolts. This however does not slow the Demacian advance, and as soon as they are close enough, the Eighth splits, allowing the others to surge forward and shatter the Nockmirch line. In this struggle, Cithria runs her sword through a young soldier that she recognizes as the one who brought them food earlier. The Vanguard reforms, carrying with them the weapons of their comrades who were allowed into the hall. They hurry to rejoin them.
At full strength, they exchange the inferior weapons for their own ones, and Garen and Quinn discuss how to get out of here. Merrek suggests to dig in and hold one of the fortifications of Alderburg. Garen discards this because they have to get the word out to Demacia. They decide to take the bridge, but suffer the first casualty while running there: A crossbow bolt did finally find its target under the helmet of a Demacian. Heavy-heartedly, they decide to leave the body of the fallen, since there is no time to recover him.
The Shields arrive at the first gatehouse just in time, the portcullis is dropping, but Kriel catches it. Together with Garen, he manages to hold it up for long enough so the Demacians can enter the gatehouse. The First Shield clears the tower, and in the meantime, Garen and Quinn discuss their strategy. She wants to help them take the second tower, but Garen needs her to leave so the news reaches Demacia as soon as possible. In the end, he gives her the chance to take on the tower, but also orders her to leave if it proves too risky.
Quinn calls for Valor and jumps from the bridge. Together, they, before Valor turns their momentum upward and carries them over the gatehouse, where they take the posted soldiers . Valor drags one of them over the edge, Quinn quickly fires at two more, but one of the remaining soldiers manages to fire a bolt at Valor. Quinn plunges her knife into his neck. The last one reloads his crossbow, but she hurls the knife into his chest.
Looking over the edge, she only sees a single feather in the water below. Yet she has to open the gate for the advancing demacians. As she is working the mechanism, she hears a keening cry from above. She runs up to the top of the gatehouse to find Valor wounded, but alive. Valor tries to warn her, but she realizes it too late: The soldier with her knife in his chest manages to fire his crossbow at her. She is struck in the chest, and her enemy limps down the stairs to release the portcullis.Garen arrives at the gatehouse. He sees Valor take flight towards the west, and the portcullis crashes down.
The Vanguard discusses their position. They are trapped on the noxian-built bridge, but Garen saw the eagle take off, so Quinn must have gotten away. They can’t break down the portcullis or gatehouse without siege weapons, so they decide to stand and fight to buy her time.
They take their formation: The Eighth Shield form an impenetrable wall with their bulwark shields again, with the First Shield behind them. The Fourth stays behind as reserve. Cithria observes the enemy, they have superior numbers, about two-thousand enemy warriors, and two hundred soldiers and guards from the Nockmirch. The Warden Vigrid had taken command of both, and makes them fly the noxian flag.The first wave approaches: Soldiers of Nockmirch. Apparently they were chosen as expendable by the new commander, and thus the first to test the defense of the bulwark. They begin to fire volley after volley of crossbow bolts, but the second line has raised their shields to protect the heads of those in front of them. Not a single bolt finds its target. The infantry approaches, and the Demacians manage to repel them too as their shield wall holds. The first line bashes them with their shields, and sets after the enemy as long as they are weak. When their ranks break, Garen orders a speartip. The second line, led by Garen himself, breaks through the shieldwall and surges into the enemy ranks. They manage to drive away the enemies, but do not pursue them. They have not suffered any casualties, but this was no victory: This was just the beginning.
Next up are warriors, more beast than man, with long hair and beards, covered in warpaint and mud. They use heavy war-axes to break the bulwark shields of the Eighth Shield, and short blades to take advantage of the gaps in the shield line. They charge the line, and deal heavy damage to the shields. One of them manages to stab a blade into the helmet of a shield-bearer. Garen retaliates immediately, slaying the man half a second later, but it is too late for the man of the Eighth.
Garen orders the first rank back, and in a practiced move, the lines change. The First Shield pushes to the front again. Usually, the right side of the line is vulnerable because there is no one to cover them, but in the First Shield, Kriel is there. The Stonehorn serves as their anchor. Together with Merrek and Alys Morn, Garen holds the middle. They fight on. Garen calls another rotation to keep all soldiers fresh, but he himself stays in the frontline.
When two horns call for the enemy retreat, they don’t immediately follow, but launch a last desperate attack. Finally they leave the Demacians, who can count their fallen. Three more members of the Dauntless Vanguard have died, including Rurik Vos of the First Shield.
Twice more, the fur-clad barbarians attack the lines, and twice more they are repelled. Finally they start to clear the bridge of their own fallen: They push them down into the ravine below. The Demacians once again try to rest and tend their wounds, but another member of the Eighth shield succumbs to their wounds. Cithria, looking up at the stars, suddenly sees a flicker in the air. She calls for the Vanguard to raise their shields, but still her friend Aiguo, a young member of the First Shield, dies to an arrow.Again, enemies form their lines, but Cithria observes they are different this time: The Warden decided to bring out the elite warriors, clad in thick, black plate. They flow on the bridge, but then form a corridor to allow a beast-rider to come to the front.
Kriel notes that the new enemy is a basilisk, a young one that had been trained to be ridden. The rest of the Vanguard make sarcastic comments about how useless that knowledge is, but Garen rallies them again. The basilisk rider smashes into them, crushing a soldier and breaking their ranks. It keeps running behind the Demacian lines, and the rider fights to turn the beast around, but it already broke the line, and the enemy elite is advancing. Shield-Sergeant Kol takes command and orders them to reform the line, while Garen goes to deal with the beast.
He leaves the line and follows the basilisk to the end of the bridge, where the rider is still fighting to control his mount. While it is distracted, Garen drives his sword "Judgement" deep into its neck. It roars and kicks in pain, and breaks free of one chain holding it. Garen, holding on to his broadsword, is dragged along with the beast. The rider jumps out of the saddle, before the basilisk crashes into the gate tower.
The heavy crash wakes up Quinn, and she forces herself to rise despite her wound. The basilisk has fallen off the bridge, and almost took Garen with it. She is able to save Garen from the rider just in time, and he climbs on top of the bridge again.
With their chieftain fallen, the Noxians lift their weapons in salute, and retreat. The Demacians try to get some rest again, though the enemy will undoubtedly return. Garen catches Quinn who falls unconscious again and from the tower, and calls for Alys Morn, the soldier among them with the most experience as medic. She was just treating Eben Hess, who took a blow meant for Cithria. Luckily, the tellstones winnings he had taken earlier and stowed away under his breastplate saved his life, though his ribs are broken. Cithria and Morn split the coins between them and join Garen, treating Quinn’s crossbow wound.Once she has been taken care of, Merrek sends Cithria to scout through the mist. She reports that the strong, armored enemies from earlier are gathering again, and the warden is among them, urging them to attack. Garen then orders the remaining troops to gather. He wants to attack before they do.
The Dauntless Vanguard runs across the bridge, taking the enemy by surprise. Garen leads the arrowhead formation, behind him Kriel, Alys Morn and the rest of the soldiers who can still fight. He is going for Warden Vigrid, who refused his challenge during the night.
Garen breaks through to the Warden, and a duel ensues. The enemy commander is wielding a wicked warhammer, with which he deflects a sword strike, then jabs at Garen’s face with the spiked pommel. Garen strikes again, but the warden manages to hook his hammer behind Garen’s knee, and then slams his forehead into his face. The next strikes knock him down and the Warden goes for a finishing blow, but Garen manages to impale him on his sword with his last reserves. While he dies, he tries to strangle Garen, and says he would have been great in the Trifarian Legion. Finally he embraces the.
However, the few remaining Demacians are overwhelmed. The death of Warden Vigrid has not stopped the Noxians this time, and they surround the remains of the three Shields. But as the end draws near, there is a keening cry above. Valor returned and brought Raptor-Knights from the west with him. The raptors land around the army, then take off again, scattering and disorienting the noxians. Within moments, they are routed.
Garen and the survivors meet Lord Eldwyn. Although outnumbered ten to one, they guard the Nockmirch soldiers who surrendered. Garen asks the Lord Castellan and his daughter about the mage that posed as Demacian ambassador. Lady Odelyn says they probably slipped off during the battle. The lord claims he asked for Demacia’s help many times, and none came. Demacia however, has not received the letters - which the ambassador was supposed to send. Nonetheless, the Lord Castellan willingly allied with Noxus when Demacia did not come to their aid.
His daughter Odelyn asks Garen to spare the remaining Nockmirch soldiers, but says she will not beg for her fathers life. He seems to have accepted his death and is ready to join his wife. Garen readies Judgement to execute him, but then he looks toward Cithria and halts. He asks her opinion of Lady Odelyn, and Cithria replies that she would make a better ruler than her father, since she takes after her mother. She also remarks that he may not be blameless, but that Demacia can be better, and this choice affects how all of their allies view Demacia.Garen thanks her, and spares his life, under the condition that his daughter will rule the Nockmirch instead. Garen lays out a plan for the future support of Demacia, their battlesmiths will ensure they carry good steel, and their masons will strengthen their fortifications to the east. Demacia stands with their allies. Then the Dauntless Vanguard departs, save for Kriel, who will stay behind in Alderburg and coordinate the matters of Nockmirch until an official deputation is appointed.
Back in the barracks where everything began, Cithria is sharpening her sword. They returned to the city with a cheering crowd welcoming them, and it felt weird for her to be on the other side. Some years ago, she was a part of that crowd, celebrating the return of the Dauntless Vanguard. She had idolized them, but learned the harsh reality of war since. Her Shield-Sergeant Merrek comes to find her and brings her a gift: A small raptor in flight carved from a single piece of wood. He explains that Kriel made this for her in the Nockmirch, and sent it with his letters. He says the First Shield is lucky to have her, and so they begin to talk about the battle. Cithria feels uncomfortable that Eben Hess took a heavy blow from the basilisk for her, which should have killed her, since she failed. Merrek lectures her that this is what they do, and that she should learn from it to never let it happen again. In the end, she understands that this is where she is supposed to be.
Garen reports back to High Marshal Tianna. She asks about his wounds, and he replies that they are healing and that the expedition helped clear his mind. Tianna assures him that he did well, and that it’s a miracle any of them survived. Garen credits Quinn with their survival, and inquires about her recovery. Her wounds were far worse than the others, but she had already left the city as soon as she was able to. They also discuss the reports from Kriel: He writes that they are making good progress. The Bridge has been demolished, and the aid that Garen promised has arrived. They have also found out that the death of Lady Odelyn’s mother was not natural, but a Noxian assassination. Tianna notes that she would have imprisoned both rulers, so Demacia can install someone else, though she admits that Garen’s choice worked out well in the end.The conversation turns toward the mage that killed their uncle. Garen regrets letting them escape. Tianna offers another view on the problem: If a mage could pose as an ambassador, they could already have infiltrated the highest positions of power, even in Demacia. What if they have already done that? She also says that the mageseekers campaign for ever more power, and that young Jarvan is listening to them. Garen wants to focus on hunting Sylas, in the hope that it might help to sway Jarvan off this destructive path. Tianna says she received a new dispatch, which has a trail from the rangers. Garen says he will leave immediately, taking the First Shield with him.
- The First Shield of the Dauntless Vanguard
- Shield-Sergeant Merrek
- Kriel Stonehorn
- Eben Hess
- Alys Morn
- Rurik Vos
- Saskja Vos
- Shield-Sergeant Reika Kol of Fourth
- Shield-Sergeant Rosk of Eighth