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Lux Last Light.png

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Short Story • 4 Minute Read

Last Light

By Graham McNeill

In the wake of disaster, Lux risks all for the sake of a wounded soldier.


The earthquake had struck Terbisia at dawn, the earth bucking like an unbroken colt and splitting apart in gaping fissures. Lux Lux rode Starfire through the toppled ruin of the defensive barbican, the thirty-foot high walls of sun-bleached stone looking like Noxian siege engines had bombarded them for weeks. She guided her horse carefully between fallen blocks of masonry, heading to where a makeshift infirmary had been set up within a blue and white market pavilion.

The scale of the devastation was unlike anything Lux had seen before. Terbisia's buildings were crafted from hard mountain granite and Demacian oak, raised high by communal strength. And almost all of them had been completely destroyed. Dust-covered men and women dug through the shattered ruins with picks and shovels, hoping to find survivors, but instead, dragged corpses from the debris. Entire streets had simply vanished into the many smoking chasms now dividing the town's districts.

Lux dismounted as she reached the pavilion, and pushed inside. She wasn't a healer, but she could fetch and carry or simply sit with the wounded. She'd thought that seeing the scale of the devastation would prepare her for the suffering within the tent.

She was wrong.

Hundreds of survivors pulled from the wreckage lay on woolen blankets. Lux heard mothers and fathers crying for lost children, wives and husbands clinging to their dead loved ones, and, worst of all, bewildered, glassy-eyed orphans wandering lost and afraid. Lux saw a surgeon she recognized in a blood-stiffened apron washing his hands in a pewter bowl and made her way toward him.

"Surgeon Alzar," she said. "Tell me how I can help."

He turned, his eyes haunted and rheumy with tears. It took a moment for recognition to penetrate the fog of his grief.

"Lady Crownguard," said Alzar, giving a short bow.

"Lux," she said. "Please, what can I do?"

The physician sighed and said "Truly you are a blessing, my lady, but I would spare you the horror of what has happened here."

"Spare me nothing, Alzar," snapped Lux. "I am Demacian, and Demacians help one another."

"Of course, forgive me, my lady," said Alzar, taking a fatigued breath. "Your presence will be a boon to the wounded."

Alzar led her toward a young man lying stretched out on a low pallet bed near the back of the pavilion. Lux gasped to see the horror of his wounds. His body was broken, all but crushed by rubble, and his eyes were bound in bloody bandages. From his stoic refusal to show pain, she guessed he was a soldier.

"He dug a family from the rubble of their collapsed home," said Alzar. "He rescued them, but kept looking for survivors. There was a second quake, and another building fell to ruin on top of him. The rubble crushed his lungs, and shards of glass put out his eyes."

"How long does he have?" asked Lux, careful to keep her voice low.

"Only the gods know, but his time is short," said Alzar. "If you would stay at his side, it would ease his passing into the arms of the Veiled Lady. Veiled Lady."

Lux nodded and sat beside the dying man. She took his hand, feeling her heart break for him. Alzar smiled gratefully and turned back to helping those he could save.

"It's so dark," said the man, waking at her touch. "Gods, I can't see!"

"Steady now, soldier. Tell me your name," said Lux.

"It's Dothan," he said, wheezing with the effort.

"You're named for the hero of Dawnhold?"

"Aye. You know the story? It's an old tally against the savages."

"Trust me, I know it well," said Lux with a rueful smile. "My brother brother told it all the time when we were children. He always forced me to play the Freljordian corsairs while he played Dothan, defending the harbor single-handedly against the skinwalkers."

"I tried to be like him," said the young man, his breathing labored and his voice growing faint. A rivulet of blood leaked from beneath the bandage like a red tear. "I tried to live up to my namesake."

Lux held his hand in both of hers.

"You did," she said. "Alzar told me what happened. You're a true Demacian hero."

The lines on Dothan's face eased a little, his breath rattling in his throat as his strength began to fail.

"Why can't I see?"

"Your eyes," said Lux slowly. "I'm so sorry."

"What... what's wrong with them?"

"Surgeon Alzar told me you have shards of glass in them."

The man drew in a sharp breath.

"I'm dying," he said. "I know that... but I should... have liked to behold the light of... Demacia... one last... time."

Lux felt the magic stir within her, but whispered the mantra taught to her by the Illuminators to keep it from rising too close to the surface. Over the years, she'd learned to better control her power, but sometimes, when her emotions ran close to the surface, it was hard to keep the energies contained. She looked around and, satisfied no one was watching, placed her fingertips on the bloody bandage covering Dothan's eyes. Lux eased the numinous radiance of her magic down through the man's skull to the undamaged parts of his eyes.

"I can't heal you," she said, "but I can at least give you that."

He squeezed her hand, his mouth falling open in wonder as Demacia's light shone within him.

"It's so beautiful... " he whispered.