Our journey was relatively smooth; a few vermin here and there but on the whole we got by without any hitch. Our destination was of course the barren land; the outskirts of the once great Shurima. Nothing but mere rubble now, the destruction supposedly caused by creatures called the Xer’Sai. Of course we had sent one of our men, Aelon, there previously, however the fool was nothing more than a coward, claiming that the beasts were nothing short of demons. Creatures that were as little hound could never inspire fear in the heart of one of the captain’s of Noxus’ armies. If not for my orders I would order my men to hunt and kill every single one of these … things. However there was a fair price associated with bringing a reasonable sample back and as I have always done, I carried out my duty.
Last time, we had to hire some peasants as bell boys or something of the sort. This time, we weren’t playing games; I had just short of half a fleet of soldiers at my command. I quickly rallied the troops; those who were on watch out duty knew where they should be. They would rotate periodically, some on lookout, some guarding the camp while the others rested. I urged them to be careful saying as no matter how far-fetched a myth is, there was always some element of truth. I knew that there was nothing to worry about, just something to keep them on their toes.
The first night passed by smoothly; we set off first thing in the morning – the scorching dessert sun at our backs. We walked a fair distance, eventually resting a day or two’s journey away from the Sai. Again we set up camp and again we passed the night calmly. However, when morning rose, we were short 3 members. As captain, I take pride in knowing each and every of my sub-ordinates: a good leader leads from the front after all. I dismissed it a slight paranoia caused by the heat and simply marched on: if they had gotten lost then they were not worthy Noxian soldiers in the first place.
By the time we had reached the Sai, we were missing no less than 20 men. It had taken us three days, the toll of the lost men, no matter how small, had affected the journey. Nevertheless I moved onward; I was a Noxian captain – I had to do my job. It wasn’t long until we got to a dark valley – in between two mountain-like dunes: the proclaimed home of the Xer’Sai. It was dark so we set up camp. Throughout the night the air was heavy, the number of lost men had risen to a bit more than a 100; we had lost a third of our fighting force. I thought of any words that I could say to them but came up blank; at the end of the day we all had our jobs to do and those hundred had failed to do theirs.
I couldn’t sleep that night; the anticipation of the day ahead clung to my chest. We were finally at the end of the goose chase, we would have caught the golden goose. I was in no mood to lead the troops so I went out of my tent and talk a walk. The sand was cold beneath my feet but it seemed alive. I swore I could have felt it move. I walked around the camp, the fires were still blazing: men curled up around them. I got bored of my walkabout, so I decided to do some reconnaissance. I walked around the side of the valley, torch in hand. It wasn’t an easy journey especially not while nearly one handed however I made it down with naught but a few scratches. It was dark, morning was soon to come but here in the valley it was pitch black. The sand was a lot harder here, sometimes scratching my feet. Occasionally I would get glimpses of white rocks, this place must have been a mine or quarry before it run down.
But then I heard it; a scream. It was coming from the campsite. Being the good navigator I am I easily managed walking back to the top of the valley. By now the sun had finally risen past the valley and I turned around to get another look.
They were bones. Bones not rocks, bones of a hundred men. Bones of a hundred Noxian men.
I was paralyzed for a second, but then I heard the screams again. More now; and so I ran towards the camp. My legs moving one way while my eyes looked another way. Even now all I see are those bones, fresh on the ground. Blood-stained bones.
The camp was hell, monsters sprung from the ground like waterspouts; taking men with them as they went back down. They were Xer’Sai but several times bigger, and much deadlier than anything on any battlefield. I could only help but watch as men fell around me. My eyes frozen in place.
But something caught my eye. In the middle of the camp, in the heart of the bloodshed was a massive creature. It made the monsters in front of me look like mere pets. In my heart I knew it could only be Rek’Sai, the strongest Xer’Sai; the Queen.
What I did next I should feel shame but I don’t: I ran. I ran as fast I could, but there was no where to go. Save from the valley. No sane man would go there, it was insanity. But I was no longer in my right mind; I wanted to live even if it was for a few seconds longer – I was a coward. Besides, I knew I could never truly escape those creatures; less than 20 of them took down a fleet of 200 men. What could a single man do?
The valley was big and it was hot so I found a little corner in the shade and hid, slowly counting the seconds till my pitiful demise.
It wasn’t long till the Xer’Sai came back. They still had my men in their mouths, but they were significantly less in number. It was then that I felt it – the tremors. It was then that I understood; those who had finished feeding were underground. And so my fate was sealed.
However, they didn’t seem to notice me even though I was in plain sight. Maybe they were full from their recent feed, maybe they were waiting me out. Maybe it was because their queen was not present. Whatever the reason, I didn’t dare move; taking only the shortest of breaths. My eyes never shut and so I spent the first day.
By the second day my mind had already realized that they didn’t notice me, however my body could not relax and so I stayed that way. Eyes open, barely breathing. My ears grew numb till I could no longer hear my heart beating in my chest. My hands were like strangers. My vision grew hazy. Until there was nothing but silence. Silence everywhere. The earth was cold, the field barren, even the sun above gave no warmth. There was no breeze, no life, no anything as even the world stood still.
When I woke up I was surrounded by an awful stench. Sitting up, I realized it was blood. It was all around me – oozing and bubbling. It wasn’t human blood, it was Xer’Sai. As my eyes came into focus I saw, dead Xer’Sai all around me – their bodies cut in half, sprawled across the valley. At the far corner I saw it one creature who moved, one who could not be silenced.
It was human-like; a male it seemed. But it did not move in the way a human should, it did not walk it pounced. I was far too injured to run away and so I just watched the creature. For a while it did not move, merely turned its head as if it was looking for something. I watched as it single-handedly killed off the remaining Xer’Sai, their terrible screams still ring in my ears.
I tried to move, to run but my body was past the point of death so I just stared as the creature came closer, awaiting my demise. But there was something off, the creature wasn’t human-like; it was human (if one could call it that). A slender build with shaggy hair; the man approached with blood-stained arms. But all I felt was fear. His eyes, were filled with bloodlust; an appetite for blood that could not ever be sated. He gave off cold, so much so that I was freezing under the dessert sun.
He walked passed me, barely acknowledging my existence; dropping a bag of water and some other utilities. And then he was gone, gone in the wind. I waited for a while, pondering whether it was poison or not until my mind eventually gave way to my dying body. Greedily, I gulped down the water, without regard for spares.
Somehow I made it to the camp; scavenging what I could find – what was left. It was a miracle that I managed to escape, managed to find a caravan wandering dangerously close to the dessert.
Now I look back and I still have the chills. Not because of the Xer’Sai even though I still see them in my dreams, no I am afraid of that monster, that thing, that hunter. He plagues my mind day and night – my waking life no longer safe from the terror of my subconscious. I set out to capture a monster instead I have been haunted by another.
The Icognito Writer: A piece I wrote for a character design concept in a game (League Of Legends)