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Short Story

The Weight of Expectations

By Amanda Jeffrey

Cithria hacked at the ground with the mattock, her shoulders burning with the exertion.

Lore

This story is from Realms of Runeterra. The whole story is featured in the physical book. Due to legal reasons, only the story summary can be added on this page.

Summary

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Cithria had worked an entire daytime to dig a trench for a new military camp. Proctor-Corporal Pell, who oversees her testing for the Dauntless Vanguard, came to see her, and allowed her to leave so she can get supper before her watch later that night. The training requires her to constantly bring a backpack full of stones totaling half her weight, in addition to exhausting military exercises. The rocks are signed by former comrades in the Ninth Battalion. They go to the mess field, where Cithria gets her stew. Around them, Soldiers of the Vanguard and Regulars are playing Tellstones. Pell asks if she knows the game, and Cithria says she does “all right”.

While eating, she witnesses two games from within a crowd. A war-chef is playing against a raptor scout; the chef wins. In the second game, where Knight Bunder plays against another Vanguard soldier, Cithria had never seen such intensity and speed. She finds it strange that they do not speak to each other to perform moves. In the end, the scarred soldier knocks twice on the stump they are playing on. Bunder seems angry and stands up grinning, seemingly conceding his opponent's victory.

Later, Cithria sits opposite of Sergeant Merrek, and he orders her to lock eyes while performing the game moves, ultimately teaching the Silent Stones variant of Tellstones. Cithria has to identify the Sword, the Scales, and the Shield as he places them. Merrek also glances at various stones and prompts her to name these stones, Cithria realizes that these actions correspond to the game moves. Merrek asks about the Yellow Spring Festival in Cloudfield, and Cithria calms down. Cithria figures out the other moves: Knocking once on the table is a challenge, and twice is a boast. With this, she realized that Bunder just gave up after a challenge. Merrek then tells her about Bunder and explains that it is good he gave up, since he is trying to fight his stubbornness. Before they begin the game, Merrek reveals he knows that she was the four-times tellstones champion of the Ninth Battalion, and they play Silent Stones.

During the game, they talk about this version of the game. She says it’s brutal, impersonal. Merrek counters that looking the other person in the eye reveals much more about them, and you get to know them better. They are often interrupted by other soldiers reporting to Sergeant Merrek. Cithria now understands that these are not real reports and they are instead trying to distract Merrek to help her win. Merrek asks why she thinks the Dauntless Vanguard would play this game. Cithria says that the silent version helps with the communication in the field, and describes Tellstones as a game of memorization, planning and anticipating. Merrek says that it is also about courage and uses the boast move. Cithria mustered the confidence to turn the boast back on him, but he doesn’t fall for the bluff. Now she has to name all seven face-down stones or lose the game. She correctly identifies five of them, but is not sure about the places of the last two. She takes a chance and loses the game. As Cithria sat crestfallen, Merrek notes that she played with courage and he looks forward to their next game.

Characters

Starring Characters

  • Cithria Cithria
  • Proctor-Corporal Pell
  • Knight Bunder
  • Shield-Sergeant Merrek

Mentioned Characters

Trivia

  • This was the first story that went deeper into how Tellstones is played. In fact, it is possible to learn about all of the six moves (Place, Hide, Swap, Peek, Challenge, Boast) in this story.
  • In the book, the seven icons of the stones are printed in the middle of the pages throughout the story.
  • It is customary to place the scales first, representing balance and fairness. In the tutorial Merrek plays with Cithria, he places the sword before the scales, potentially putting the Dauntless Vanguard above the law.
  • During the story, Cithria mentions that she learned to play Tellstones from her father. That bit of her story would later be made into a cinematic for the release of the physical Tellstones table-top game.

See Also

References

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