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Mordekaiser The Final Reign
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Short Story

The Final Reign

By Michael Yichao

A raised fist. A surge of necromantic power. Before him, the final spire of the final tower takes form, inky smoke coalescing into black iron.

Lore

A raised fist. A surge of necromantic power. Before him, the final spire of the final tower takes form, inky smoke coalescing into black iron. Mordekaiser gazes upon his domain with dark pride.

Mitna Rachnun, his Afterworld, is complete.

Once, he stood in this very place, a mortal soul faced with the emptiness of oblivion. Now, a kingdom stretches before him, forged through his works.

He strides down the path toward his fortress, reveling in the satisfaction of his work. Each stone underfoot, his doing. The battlements and ramparts, all shaped from cruel magic and iron will.

Where there was nothing, Mordekaiser forged his own reality—a realm where all souls will soon dwell in eternity, never to fade.

Sahn-Uzal blinked and looked around. Uncertain, his mind blank.

I am dead.

The thought flitted by, a whisper on the wind. As the truth of it sank in, for just a moment, a fleeting sadness flooded his heart. Then laughter welled up, a rumble from his gut that washed over his entire body, overflowed from his chest, and poured out in a rumbling cascade.

Good.

Sahn-Uzal scanned the distance for the grand gateway of souls that would lead to the famed Hall of Bones. Searched for the attendants who would carry him triumphant into the eternal. Savored his growing excitement to meet the great conquerors who came before him.

Yet there was nothing but fog, as far as he could see.

Sahn-Uzal took a step forward—then looked down, surprised. Fine sand—a coarse grit—shifted underfoot. In the distance, discordant voices rustled, too quiet to make out the words.

This makes no sense.

He struck out across the wasteland, determined to find the truth.

Time passed, untold.

Confusion melted into disbelief. Disbelief kindled anger. Anger flared into fury.

Nothing.

There is nothing.

The dessicated sands extended endlessly. The relentless voices whispered on, a maddening itch in the back of his mind. The fog never abated, an eternal haze that hovered, a shroud over all.

Had the priests lied? Or were they false prophets, prattling fools proclaiming hollow superstitions? Or had the ancestors made a grotesque error of judgement, and not welcomed him into the great halls?

These questions gnawed at him, at first. But they did not matter. Sahn-Uzal realized that now. Nothing mattered but the present, pressing truth—there was nothing here. A vast emptiness, devoid of reward. Devoid of promise.

As this truth percolated through him, the shadow of despair stalked Sahn-Uzal, hungry to consume him.

But he was Sahn-Uzal. Conqueror of the wildlands. Master of the tribes. He had built an empire where there was none. In life, he had overcome all odds and conquered despair through will and ambition. Death would be no different.

If death does not hold the kingdoms I was promised… I will forge them myself.

Mordekaiser walks beneath the inner portcullis, fashioned after that of the Immortal Bastion, his mortal seat of power. He walks through the entryway and into the great hall.

Before him, his throne looms.

All around, in constant cacophony, the endless wailing of souls rises and falls, an unholy chorus of anguish. Yet Mordekaiser does not hear them—or rather, hears them as one might hear the clang of metal in a war camp, or the sound of boots on gravel during a forced march—common sounds, unnoteworthy in their banality.

After all, the worthy souls stand at attention along the hall, and none of them dare speak.

All is as it should be.

Mordekaiser steps toward his throne.

The arcane tome floated above the pedestal, serene and untouched. A strange contrast to all of the blood spilled around it.

The last surviving mage raised a feeble hand, blood trickling from his brow. Small licks of fire danced between his fingers—a final spell, one last, desperate attempt.

Mordekaiser spoke, bemused. “Such magics would consume you, mortal. And your precious book as well.”

The mage spat his words. “I don’t matter. Nothing matters but stopping you from obtaining it.”

A gout of fire, burning blue with heat, burst from the mage’s hands. It engulfed the Iron Revenant towering above him. Scorching energy raced up the arms of the mage, the backlash of the spell splitting his own flesh. Still, the mage pressed on, teeth cracking as he gritted them defiantly.

Mordekaiser stepped forward, a spirit encased in a suit of dark iron armor, shielding the tome from the flames. In his hands, Nightfall, his infamous mace, pulsed an ephemeral green. The heat from the fire cracked the stone and melted the flesh of the other, already dead mages. But Mordekaiser stood stoic against the onslaught.

Finally spent, his body broken, the mage collapsed to his knees, his ragged breath resolving in a whispered prayer for his power to be enough.

If Mordekaiser still had a body of flesh, he would have smiled. “Lacking in conviction.”

The mage stifled a sob as Mordekaiser approached. He squinted up at the specter and spoke through a throat dry and cracked.

“You will not find what you seek! A brutish monster could never understand the secrets of the Tome of Spirits and—”

A swing of the mace. A satisfying crash.

Another surge of blood joined the sticky pools coagulating in the room. Another broken mage—the thirteenth—fell still on the floor.

Mordekaiser laughed.

“You mistake brutality for ignorance.”

He gazed around the room at the corpses and whispered a verse in the unspoken tongue of the dead.

Pitiful struggle

Freed from flesh

You are all mine

He tapped Nightfall on the ground. It glowed brighter, almost seemed to breathe—as thirteen points of light rose from the broken bodies, then sank into the earth. Mordekaiser turned his attention back to the book, still floating in its place, ahum with spirit magic. Another piece of knowledge for his plans. Another treasure in his conquest.

He stepped forward to collect his prize.

The throne looms before him. Its back of sheer iron pillars extends upward and tapers to vicious points. Ochnun script, angular and sharp, runs around the throne’s dais. The everpresent whispering is almost a roar here, incessant and desperate. Mordekaiser rests a hand on the armrest, taking pride in his work. This piece subsumed more souls in its creation than any other single part in his fortress. The wails emanating from it are music to him.

With a thought, Mordekaiser calls Nightfall to his hands. With a swing, he obliterates the throne.

A squall of a hundred souls echoes in the great hall as they are released from the throne, dissipating into oblivion. Mordekaiser watches them vanish with grim satisfaction.

Thrones are for mortals encumbered by flesh and human exhaustion. He… is now far more.

He steps atop the twisted iron and looks back across his great hall. His generals, souls that were worthy to die at his own hand when he last walked the physical realm, stand at attention. None so much as flinch in response. None will move without his direct command.

Now, his kingdom is truly ready.

Mordekaiser strides out of the great hall, toward the heart of his fortress, the centerpiece of his power and his machinations. Toward the relic that ties Mitna Rachnun to the mortal realm. Toward the place that gives the secret heart of the Immortal Bastion its true purpose.

In his first life, he thought himself a great conqueror, befitting the eternal halls of his faith. How small, how petty, how mortal his ambitions were then! But where others accepted death as the end, he used it forge the beginning of his true conquest. And now… he can hear and understand every whisper of this realm with stark clarity. Now, the magic of death itself courses through him. Now, he holds the arcane secrets gathered over a second lifetime, wrested from the hidden and unknown places of the world. Few other beings can claim the mastery of spirit, death, and mortal magics that he holds. He will wield them to shape all realms to his iron will.

The time has come to return to the world of the living. All the souls of Runeterra await.

Mordekaiser raises Nightfall in one hand.

And so, his final reign begins.

References

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