|Title||The Exemplar of Demacia|
|Real Name||Jarvan Lightshield IV|
|Release Date||March 1st, 2011|
|570 (+ 90)|
|8 (+ 0.7)|
|300 (+ 40)|
|6.5 (+ 0.45)|
|64 (+ 3.4)|
|0.658 (+ 2.5%)|
|34 (+ 3.6)|
|32 (+ 1.25)|
Jarvan IV is a champion in League of Legends.
- For outdated and now non-canon lore entries, click here.
- Story #1
- Story #2
|Prince Jarvan IV comes from a lineage of kings, and is favored to lead Demacia in the next era. Raised to be the paragon of Demacia’s greatest virtues, Jarvan IV often struggles with the heavy expectations placed upon him. On the battlefield, he inspires his troops with his fearsome courage and selfless determination, revealing his true strength as a leader of men.
Though the Demacian ruler is chosen by a high council from a selection of worthy candidates, the last three kings were descendants of the same line. As King Jarvan III’s only child, Jarvan IV was groomed since birth to continue that tradition. His family’s intentions were reflected in all aspects of his life, from his courtly duties to his name. Educated by the finest historical scholars and tutored in the ways of ruling a kingdom, Jarvan IV also studied the techniques of war.
During Jarvan’s combat training, he was often paired against a young warrior named
When Jarvan IV came of age, his father bestowed upon him the honor of serving as a general in the Demacian army. Though Jarvan IV had studied the theories and tactics of warfare, and could win a duel against his swordmaster, he had never stood on the front lines of a battle, much less taken a life.
Determined to prove his worth through victories in battle, Jarvan IV led his troops against bands of Winter’s Claw reavers, warring tribes, and even a coven of rogue mages. Though he commanded his troops to great success, Jarvan was always flanked on all sides by guards sworn to protect him, and felt that his impact as a fighter was often stifled.
When Noxian warbands raided the farmlands near Demacia’s border, Jarvan IV led his troops to defend the nation. He and his men rode for days in the wake of the Noxians. To Jarvan’s horror, the atrocities were far worse than he had anticipated. The Noxians had razed entire townships and slaughtered hundreds of Demacians, with only a handful of injured survivors left to tell the tale.
His officers advised the prince to withdraw and send for reinforcements. But Jarvan was shaken by the faces of the dead, and he could not turn his back on survivors in need. He would protect the wounded while ensuring the enemy forces did not escape without a fight. Besides, he reasoned, a secondary force of Demacian soldiers could not possibly arrive in time to face the Noxians. He was convinced that he had to act now.
Jarvan split his troops, ordering some to remain and care for the injured civilians, while he led the remaining soldiers onward. They ambushed the Noxians during the night, but in the chaos of battle, Jarvan was separated from his guards. He fought fiercely and slew many enemies, but was ultimately overwhelmed. The Noxians took Jarvan IV prisoner, to be paraded through the Immortal Bastion in chains upon reaching Noxus.
As Jarvan was dragged further from Demacia during his weeks of captivity, he was ashamed that the rashness of his decision to pursue the Noxians had led to needless Demacian deaths. Crushed by the loss, he came to believe he no longer deserved to live in Demacia, let alone inherit its throne.
One moonless night, Garen and an intrepid band of soldiers known as the Dauntless Vanguard attacked the Noxian encampment. Though the Demacian warriors could not reach Jarvan, he used the distraction to fight his captors and escape. As he ran, a Noxian soldier shot an arrow into Jarvan’s side, but the young prince persevered and fled into the wilderness.
Jarvan sprinted until he collapsed, hiding in the hollow of a fallen tree and bandaging his wound as best as he could. He lay for days drifting in and out of consciousness, knowing his death must be near. Unsure if he was awake or dreaming, Jarvan would later recall a purple-skinned woman with eyes of fire who carried him to a remote Demacian village. There, he rested under the care of local healers, who treated him with medicinal herbs as they nursed him back to health.
As Jarvan regained his strength, he found solace in the small settlement nestled in the wild hills of outer Demacia. For the first time in his life, he was free from the pressures and demands of his royal duties. He felt at peace in the village that had welcomed him so openly, though he was a stranger. Jarvan also learned that his strange, purple-skinned savior was a fellow newcomer known as
The serenity of village life was disrupted when a monstrous dragon terrorized the nearby communities, burning buildings to cinders and farmlands to ash. Jarvan knew the settlement would not survive a dragon attack, so he led the villagers to a nearby stronghold - Castle Wrenwall.
That night, Jarvan caught Shyvana leaving the compound. She confessed that she was half-dragon, and that the ruinous creature plaguing them was her own mother, Yvva, who resented Shyvana as a blemish on her bloodline. The monster would not stop until Shyvana was dead. Like all Demacians, Jarvan had been raised to distrust the magical beings of the world - but he saw Shyvana’s goodness and strength, and was determined to repay his life-debt to her. Only together could they take down such a fearsome enemy.
With the dragon’s return an ever-present threat, Jarvan trained the Demacian villagers to fight alongside the soldiers of Castle Wrenwall. He chose the ancient petricite ruins to the west as the scene of their battle. The structure had once been a high temple built during the cataclysmic upheaval of the Rune Wars, but now the magic-nullifying stones would serve as their best defense against the dragon. He even tipped their arrows with sharpened petricite, knowing that only by drawing all their efforts together did they have a chance of killing such a mighty beast.
Jarvan and the soldiers hid themselves nearby, while Shyvana stood in the center of the ruined courtyard. Jarvan watched in awe as she transformed into a dragon, roaring plumes of fire into the sky as an open challenge to her mother. Though the villagers backed away in fear, Jarvan steadied their courage, reminding them that Shyvana would help destroy their enemy.
Soon enough, an even more fearsome silhouette blackened the sun, and Yvva, the great dragon, was upon them. On Jarvan’s command, the soldiers loosed dozens of petricite arrows into the dragon’s back, weakening her powers with every strike. The dragon reared up in pain and exhaled streams of flame. Soldiers were charred in their armor, but still more arrows flew and the close confines of the nullifying ruins anchored her to the earth.
Jarvan stood in awe as Shyvana and her mother collided with earthshaking force. The colossal beasts battled in a furious blur until Jarvan could hardly tell them apart, and he held his archers back in fear that he would wound his friend. He despaired as Shyvana collapsed back into her human form with blood streaming from her neck. But she looked her mother in the eyes and, with flaming claws, tore the steaming heart from her breast.
With the threat vanquished, Jarvan IV finally felt worthy of returning home. He had come to understand that true Demacian values were not simply about victory, but about standing together as one, no matter their differences. To reward Shyvana’s bravery, he promised that she would always have a home in his kingdom. But they both knew Demacia as a kingdom remained deeply suspicious of magic, and Shyvana vowed not to reveal her dual nature as she fought at Jarvan’s side. Together they traveled to the capital with the skull of the dragon Yvva in tow.
Though many were thrilled to see their prince return safely, others questioned Jarvan’s judgment in recruiting Shyvana into his guard, and suspicions grew as to why he had not gone to the capital immediately after escaping the Noxians. No matter what King Jarvan III himself thought, outwardly he welcomed his son back into the court. As Jarvan IV resumed his royal duties, he swore to uphold Demacian ideals by building a nation that valued each one of its citizens, uniting them together against whatever threats they faced.
|"Words may make a ruler, but only actions make history."
The first rays of dawn brushed the rooftops of the Great City, turning pale stone to gold. The air was still, and the only sounds filtering up to the high garden terraces on the east side of the citadel were the gentle chorus of morning birds and the hushed murmur of the waking city below.
Xin Zhao sat cross-legged upon a stone dais, hands resting upon his spear, laid across his lap. He stared down across the lower garden tiers, over the battlements and out across Demacia’s capital beyond. Watching the sun rise over his adopted homeland normally brought him peace… but not today.
His cloak was charred and splattered with blood, and his armor dented and scratched. Strands of his iron-gray-streaked hair—no longer the full inky black of his youth—hung wild over his face, having escaped his topknot. Under normal circumstances he would have already bathed, washing away the sweat, blood, and stink of fire. He would have sent his armor to the battlesmiths for repair, and secured himself a new cloak. Appearances mattered, particularly as the seneschal of Demacia.
But these were far from normal circumstances.
The king was dead.
He was the most honorable man Xin Zhao had ever met, and he loved and respected him above all others. He was oath-sworn to protect him… and yet Xin Zhao had not been there when he was needed most.
He took a deep, wracking breath. The weight of his failure threatened to crush him.
The mage uprising the day before had taken the whole city by surprise. Xin Zhao had been wounded in the running battles as he fought to make his way back to the palace, but he felt nothing. For hours, he’d sat here, alone, letting the cold of the stone seep into his bones as the shroud of grief and shame and guilt descended upon him. The palace guards—those that hadn’t been killed in the attack—had left him to his misery, keeping clear of the tiered garden where he sat in silence through the hours of darkness. Xin Zhao was grateful for that small mercy. He didn’t know if he could cope with the accusation in their eyes.
The sun reached him, finally, like the light of judgment, forcing him to squint against its glare.
He sighed deeply, steeling himself. He pushed himself to his feet, and took one final glance across the city he loved, and the garden that had always before brought him solace. Then he turned, and walked back toward the palace.
Many years ago, he had made a promise. Now he intended to keep it.
Lifeless and hollow, Xin Zhao felt like a wraith haunting the location of its demise. Death would have been preferable. Falling while protecting his lord would at least have been honorable.
He drifted along corridors of the palace that seemed suddenly cold and lifeless. The servants he saw did not speak, shuffling along in shocked silence, their eyes wide. The guards he passed wore mournful expressions. They saluted, but he looked down. He did not deserve their acknowledgment.
Finally he stood before a closed door. He reached out to knock, but paused. Did his hand tremble? Cursing his weakness, he rapped sharply on the solid oak, then stood to attention, planting the butt of his spear sharply to the floor. The sound echoed along the corridor. For a long, drawn-out moment, he remained motionless, staring at the door, waiting for it to open.
A pair of patrolling palace guards turned a corner and marched past him, armor clanking. Shame kept him from looking at them. Still, the door remained shut.
“I believe High Marshal Crownguard is in the North Ward, my lord seneschal,” said one of the guards. “Overseeing increased security.”
Xin Zhao sighed inwardly, but gritted his teeth and nodded his thanks to the guard.
“My lord…” said the other guard. “No one blames you for—”
“Thank you, soldier,” Xin Zhao said, cutting him off. He didn’t want their pity. The pair saluted, and moved on their way.
Xin Zhao turned and marched down the corridor in the direction the guards had come, toward the northern wing of the palace. It was no reprieve that the High Marshal, Tianna Crownguard, was not in her office. It merely drew out this matter.
He walked through a hall hung with pennants and banners, pausing briefly beneath one of them—a standard depicting the white-winged sword of Demacia on a field of blue. It had been woven by the king’s late mother and her handmaidens, and even though almost a third of it had been destroyed by fire, it was a work of astounding beauty and artistry. It had fallen at the battle of Saltspike Hill, but King Jarvan himself had led the charge to reclaim it, Xin Zhao at his side. They’d cut their way through hundreds of fur-clad Freljordian berserkers to reach it, and Xin Zhao had been the one to lift it high, even as flames licked at its embroidery. The sight of the reclaimed standard had turned the tide that day, rallying the Demacians, and securing an unlikely victory. Jarvan had refused to allow it to be repaired on its safe return to the palace. He wanted all who looked upon it to remember its history.
Xin Zhao passed a small room, a remote library in a little-used corner of the palace that was one of the king’s favorite places to spend his evenings. It was his place of escape, where he could get away from the fussing of servants and nobles. Xin Zhao had spent many long nights here with the king, sipping fortified honey-wine, and discussing the finer points of strategy, politics, and the now-distant memories of their youth.Jarvan was ever the stoic, stern leader in public, yet here, in this inner sanctum—particularly in the early hours, when they were deep in their cups—he would laugh until tears ran down his face, and speak with passion about his hopes and dreams for his son.
Fresh pain wracked Xin Zhao as he realized he’d never hear his friend laugh again.
Without having noticed it, Xin Zhao found himself passing by the halls of training. He’d probably spent more hours there over the last twenty years than anywhere else. That was his real home, where he felt most himself. There, he’d spent untold hours training and sparring with the king. That was where, to the king’s amusement and delight, his son had adopted Xin Zhao into the family. Where Xin Zhao had taught the young prince to fight with sword, spear, and lance; where he’d consoled him, wiping away his tears and helping him back to his feet when he fell; where he’d laughed with him, and cheered his successes.
Thought of the prince struck him like a blade to the gut. Xin Zhao might have lost his dearest friend the previous day, but young Jarvan had lost his father. He’d already lost his mother in childbirth. He was now alone.
With a heavy heart, Xin Zhao made to walk on, but a familiar sound gave him pause: a blunted blade slamming against wood. Someone was training. Xin Zhao’s brow furrowed.
A sickening feeling grew in the pit of his stomach as he slipped through the heavy doors leading within.
At first he couldn’t see who was there. The arches and pillars around the edge of the vaulted room conspired to keep them obscured. The sound of sword strikes echoed loudly around him.
Rounding a cluster of pillars, he at last saw the prince hacking at a wooden practice dummy with a heavy iron training sword. He was covered in a sheen of sweat, and his chest was heaving with exertion. His expression was one of anguish, and he attacked wildly.
Xin Zhao paused in the shadows, heart aching to see the young prince so raw and hurt. He desperately wanted to go to him, to console him, and help him through this awful time, for the prince and his father were the closest Xin Zhao had ever had to family. But why would the prince want him here? He was the king’s bodyguard, and yet he lived while the king lay dead.
Hesitancy was not familiar to Xin Zhao, nor a feeling he was comfortable with. Not even in the Fleshing pits of Noxus had he ever second-guessed himself. Shaking his head, he turned to leave.
Xin Zhao cursed himself a fool for not having left immediately.
They were not blood relatives, of course, but the prince had started calling him uncle soon after Xin Zhao had come into the king’s service, twenty years earlier. Jarvan had been just a boy, and no one had corrected him. The king had been amused by it, at first, but over the years Xin Zhao had become as close as blood kin to the royal family, and he had watched over the king’s son as if he had been his own.
He turned slowly. Jarvan was a boy no longer, standing taller than Xin Zhao. His eyes were red-rimmed, and surrounded by dark rings. Xin Zhao guessed he was not the only one to have had no sleep.
“My prince,” he said, dropping to one knee and bowing his head low.
Jarvan didn’t say anything. He just stood there, looking down at Xin Zhao, breathing hard.
“My apologies,” said Xin Zhao, his head still lowered.
“For interrupting, or for not being there to protect my father when he was murdered?”
Xin Zhao glanced up. Jarvan glowered down at him, heavy training sword still in hand. He had no good way to answer, to say all that he felt.
“I failed him,” he said at last. “And I failed you.”
Jarvan stood for a moment longer before turning and striding to one of the many weapon racks arranged around the room.
“Rise,” Jarvan ordered.
As Xin Zhao did, the prince threw him a sword. He caught it reflexively in his off-hand, still holding his spear in his right. It was another training blade, heavy and blunted. Then Jarvan was coming at him, swinging hard.
Xin Zhao jumped backward, avoiding the blow.
“My lord, I don’t think this is—” he began, but his words were cut off as Jarvan lunged at him again, thrusting his sword at his chest. Xin Zhao batted it aside with the haft of his spear, and stepped back.
“My prince—” he said, but again Jarvan attacked, more furiously than before.
Two strikes came at him this time, one high, one low. Jarvan may have been using a training blade, but if those blows struck, they would break bone. Xin Zhao was forced to defend himself, deflecting the first with a side-step and an angled spear, the second with the blade of his own sword. The impact rang up his arm.
“Where were you?” snarled Jarvan, pacing around him.
Xin Zhao lowered his weapons. “Is this how you want to do this?” he said, in a quiet voice.
“Yes,” said Jarvan, his anger simmering, his sword held in a deathgrip.
Xin Zhao sighed. “A moment,” he said, and moved to put his spear on a rack. Jarvan waited for him, hand clenching and unclenching on the hilt of his sword.
As soon as Xin Zhao returned to the center of the room, Jarvan attacked. He came in a rush, grunting with effort. There was little finesse to the strikes, but fury lent him strength. Xin Zhao turned those blows aside, using Jarvan’s power against him, not wishing to meet the heavy blows directly.
At any other time he would have berated the prince for his poor form—he was thinking only of attack, and leaving himself open for ripostes and counter-strikes—but Xin Zhao would not interrupt the prince’s justified anger. Nor would he take advantage of the gaps in his defense. If the prince needed to beat him bloody, then so be it.
“Where—were—you?” Jarvan said between strikes.
“I should have done this long ago,” the king said, not looking up from his desk, where he sat penning a letter.
Every dip of the quill was an irate stab, and he wrote in fast, furious bursts.
It was rare to see to see the king’s emotions so close to the surface.
“My lord?” Xin Zhao said.
“We have been so fixated on that which we fear,” the king said, still not looking up, though he did pause from his angry scratching for a moment. “We’ve been fools. I’ve been a fool. In trying to protect ourselves, we’ve created the very enemy we sought to protect ourselves from.”
Xin Zhao blocked a heavy blow aimed at his neck. The force of the strike drove him back a step.
“You have nothing to say?” demanded Jarvan.
“I should have been with your father,” he answered.
“That is no answer,” snarled Jarvan. He turned away abruptly, tossing his sword aside with a sharp, echoing clang. For a moment, Xin Zhao hoped the prince was done, but then he retrieved a different weapon from its place upon one of the racks.
Now the prince leveled the lance toward him, his expression hard and unflinching.
“Get your spear,” he said.
“You are not armored,” protested Xin Zhao.
Training weapons could easily break limbs, but the slightest mistimed parry with a combat blade could be lethal.
“I don’t care,” Jarvan said.
Xin Zhao bowed his head. He bent to retrieve Jarvan’s discarded training sword, and placed it carefully upon a rack, along with his own. Reluctantly, his heart heavy, he retrieved his spear and moved back out into the open area in the center of the hall.
Without a word, Jarvan attacked.
“I’m not sure I follow, my lord,” said Xin Zhao.
The king paused, looking up for the first time since Xin Zhao’s arrival. In that moment he looked suddenly old. His forehead was deeply lined, and his hair and beard had long since gone to gray. Neither of them were young men anymore.
“I blame myself,” said King Jarvan. His eyes were unfocused, staring off into empty space. “I let them have too much power. It never sat right with me, but their arguments were convincing, and they had the backing of the council. I see now I was wrong to have ignored my own judgment. With this letter, I am commanding the mageseekers to halt their arrests.”
With a deft flick, Jarvan extended Drakebane toward Xin Zhao. The legendary weapon’s haft almost doubled in length, its lethal blades slicing blindingly fast toward Xin Zhao’s neck.
The seneschal swayed aside, deflecting the deadly strike with a circular turn of his spear, careful the blades did not hook his own weapon.
Even in the brutal contests of the Fleshing, Xin Zhao had never seen a weapon like Drakebane. In truth, the secret of how to fight with it had been lost in the reign of the first kings of Demacia, and in unskilled hands it was as deadly to its wielder as to the enemy. As such, for centuries it had been little more than ceremonial, an icon of the ruling family. However, when the prince was still just a boy, he had dreamed of fighting with it, like the heroes of old he idolized, and so Xin Zhao had promised to teach him when he was ready.
Jarvan leapt forward, bringing the lance down in a scything blow. Xin Zhao turned it aside, but the prince followed up instantly with a spinning strike that missed him by scant inches, the bladed tip slicing by his throat. Jarvan was not holding back.
Before Xin Zhao could teach the young prince how to wield the weapon, however, he had to master it himself. With the king’s approval, he began training to learn its secrets. Surprisingly light in the hand and perfectly balanced, it was a sublime weapon, created by a master at the peak of his abilities.
Forged in Demacia’s infancy by the renowned weaponsmith Orlon, the lance was a revered icon of Demacia, as much a symbol of its greatness as its towering white walls or the crown of the king. Wrought to defeat the great frostdrake Maelstrom and her progeny who had plagued the early settlers of Demacia in ages past, it had long been a symbol of the royal line.
For years, Xin Zhao had practiced with the lance every day before dawn. Only when he felt he understood it well enough had he begun to teach the teenage prince how to wield it.
Jarvan grunted with effort, lunging at Xin Zhao. The seneschal thought only of defense, stepping neatly away and always aware of his surroundings. His spear was a blur before him, knocking the lance from its intended course each time it came at him.
Young Jarvan had already been learning the uses of sword and spear and fist—as well as the more cerebral arts of military history and rhetoric—it was on his sixteenth birthday that he was finally presented with Drakebane by his father. He trained hard, sustaining countless self-inflicted injuries along the way to mastery, but he eventually fought with the weapon as if it were an extension of himself.
Jarvan pressed Xin Zhao hard, striking furiously. He gave the seneschal no respite, each attack blending seamlessly into the next. A foiled lunge became an upward, sweeping slash, which in turn came around in a pair of scything arcs, first in a low, disemboweling cut, then back across the throat. All were avoided by Xin Zhao, his body swaying from side to side, and his spear flashing to turn each strike aside.
Nevertheless, while Jarvan had long been Xin Zhao’s student, the prince was younger and stronger, and his tall frame gave him a greater reach. No longer was he an awkward aspirant; he’d been hardened by battle and training, and Jarvan’s skill with Drakebane now easily outstripped his own. Jarvan harried him mercilessly, forcing him to retreat with every step.
It took all of Xin Zhao’s considerable skill to remain unscathed… but it could not last.
The king looked down, reading over his letter. He let out an audible sigh.
“Had I the courage to do this earlier, perhaps this day’s disaster could have been averted,” he said.
He signed the letter, before dripping heated royal blue wax next to his name and stamping his personal seal into it. He blew on it, then held the letter up, shaking it lightly in the air to aid its cooling.
Satisfied the wax was dry, the king rolled the letter before sliding it into a cylindrical case of cured white leather, and sealing the lid.
He held it out to his seneschal.
Xin Zhao barely avoided a vicious slash, turning his face at the last moment. The jagged blades of Drakebane sliced across his cheek, drawing blood.
For the first time since they began, Xin Zhao wondered if the prince was actually trying to kill him.
There was a certain balance in dying to the son of the man he had failed to protect.
Jarvan slapped Xin Zhao’s spear aside with the butt of Drakebane and turned swiftly, bringing the weapon around in a tight arc, the blade seeking his neck.
It was a perfectly executed move, one that Xin Zhao had taught the prince himself. Jarvan’s footwork to set up the strike was sublime, and the initial hit to his weapon was weighted just enough to knock it aside, but not so hard that it slowed the final strike.
Even so, the seneschal could have blocked it. It would have been a close thing, but he trusted his speed—even tired as he was—to have ensured the strike did not land.
And yet, he made no move to do so. His will to fight was gone.
He lifted his chin ever-so-slightly, so that the strike would be true.
The blades of Drakebane hissed in. The blow was delivered with speed, skill, and power. It would slice deep, killing him almost instantly.
The killing blow stopped just as it touched Xin Zhao’s throat, drawing a series of blood-beads, but nothing more.
“Why will not you say where you were?” said Jarvan.
Xin Zhao swallowed. A warm trickle of blood ran down his neck. “Because I am at fault,” he said. “I should have been there.”
Jarvan held the blade at Xin Zhao’s throat for a moment longer, then stepped back. He seemed to wilt suddenly, all the fire and fury draining out of him, leaving just a grieving, lost son.
“My father ordered you away then,” he said. “And you do not wish to blame him for your absence.”
Xin Zhao said nothing.
“I’m right, am I not?” said Jarvan.
Xin Zhao sighed, and looked down.
Xin Zhao remained silent and unmoving. He eyed the sealed letter the king held out to him, but did not reach out to take it.
The king raised his eyebrows, and Xin Zhao finally accepted it.
“You wish me to give this to a runner, my lord?” he said.
“No,” said Jarvan. “I will trust its delivery only to you, my friend.”
Xin Zhao nodded gravely, and attached it to his belt.
“Who is it for?”
“The head of the mageseeker order,” said the king. He held up a finger. “And not to one of his lackeys, either. To him directly.”
Xin Zhao bowed his head. “It will be done, as soon as the streets are clear and the whereabouts of the escapee have been determined.”
“No,” said the king. “I want you to go now.”
“He could be so stubborn,” said Jarvan, shaking his head. “Once his mind was set, there was no changing it.”
“I should have been there,” said Xin Zhao, weakly.
Jarvan rubbed his eyes.
“And defy your king’s order? No, that’s not you, uncle,” said Jarvan. “What was it he had you doing?”
Xin Zhao frowned.
“My place is by your side, my lord,” he said. “I would not wish to leave the palace. Not today.”
“I want you to deliver that message before events worsen,” said the king. “It’s imperative that the mageseekers are reined in before this escalates. This has gone far enough.”
“My lord, I do not think it wise for me to—” Xin Zhao said, but the king cut him off sharply.
“This is not a request, seneschal,” he said. “You will deliver this decree. Now.”
“Delivering a letter,” said Jarvan, flatly. “That’s why he ordered you from his side?”
Xin Zhao nodded, and Jarvan let out a bitter laugh. “How very like him,” he said. “Always thinking of state matters. You know he missed my blade ceremony, on my fourteenth birthday, because of a meeting of the Shield Council. A meeting about taxation.”
“I remember,” said Xin Zhao.
“You delivered this letter, I take it?”
“No,” Xin Zhao said, shaking his head. “I turned as soon as I heard the bells. I made my way back to the palace as swiftly as I was able.”
“And ran into trouble in the streets, by the looks of it,” said Jarvan, indicating his battered appearance.
“Nothing that could not be dealt with.”
“Mages?” said Jarvan.
Xin Zhao nodded. “And others who had thrown their lot in with the murderer.”
“We should have executed them all,” hissed Jarvan.
Xin Zhao looked at the prince in alarm. He’d never heard him speak with such vitriol before. Indeed, he knew the prince had always been troubled by Demacia’s treatment of its mages. But that was before.
“I do not believe your father would share that view,” said Xin Zhao, in a measured voice.
“And they killed him,” snapped Jarvan.
There was nothing helpful for Xin Zhao to say, so he remained silent. That moment’s fire was extinguished within Jarvan almost immediately. Tears welled in his eyes, even as he tried to hold them back.
“I don’t know what to do,” he said. In that moment, he was a boy again, scared and alone.
Xin Zhao stepped forward, dropping his spear, and took Jarvan in his arms, hugging him tightly. “Oh, my boy,” he said.
Jarvan cried then, deep wracking sobs that shook his whole body, and tears he had not yet shed now ran freely down Xin Zhao’s face as well.
They stood clinging to each other for a few more moments, held together by shared loss, then stepped apart. Xin Zhao turned away to pick up his fallen spear, allowing them both a moment to gather themselves.
When he turned back, Jarvan had thrown off his sweat-stained shirt, and was pulling on a long, white linen tunic emblazoned with a blue-winged sword. Already he looked more composed.
“Now you will do what you were born to do,” Xin Zhao said. “You will lead.”
“I don’t think I’m ready,” said Jarvan.
“No one ever does. At least, not the good ones.”
“But you will be with me, uncle. To help me.”
A coldness clawed at Xin Zhao’s heart. “I… regret that will not be possible,” he said.
Xin Zhao was conflicted. He was sworn to King Jarvan, and had never once defied an order from him, not in twenty years of service.
“My place is here, protecting you, my lord,” he said.
King Jarvan rubbed his eyes, looking suddenly tired.
“Your duty is to Demacia,” the king said.
“You are the king,” said Xin Zhao. “You are Demacia.”
“Demacia is greater than any king!” snapped Jarvan. “This is not up for debate. It is an order.”
Xin Zhao’s inner sense for danger was screaming, but his devotion to duty silenced it.
“Then it will be done,” he said.
With a bow, he turned and strode from the room.
“I made a promise, long ago,” said Xin Zhao. “If harm ever befell your father, my life was forfeit.”
“And how many times did you save my father’s life?“ said Jarvan, suddenly stern. In that moment he seemed so much like his father, in Xin Zhao’s eyes. “I personally witnessed you do so at least three times. I know there were others.”
Xin Zhao frowned.
“My honor is my life,” he said. “I could not live with the shame of going back on my word.”
“To whom did you make this pledge?”
“High Marshal Tianna Crownguard.”
“When you entered my father’s service, you pledged yourself to Demacia, did you not?” he said.
“Your pledge was to Demacia.” said Jarvan. “Not my father. Not anyone else. Your duty to Demacia overrides all.”
Xin Zhao stared at the prince. He is so like his father.
“But what of the High Marshal?”
“I will deal with Tianna,” said Jarvan. “Right now, I need you to do your duty.”
Xin Zhao let out a breath that he didn’t realize he had been holding.
“Will you serve as my seneschal, as you served my father?” said Jarvan.
Xin Zhao blinked. Moments earlier he’d been certain Jarvan was going to execute him… and he didn’t feel that would have been unjustified.
He hesitated, his emotions in turmoil, his mind reeling.
“Xin Zhao… Uncle,” said Jarvan. “Our kingdom needs you. I need you. Will you do this? For me?”
Slowly, as if expecting Jarvan to change his mind at any moment, Xin Zhao dropped to one knee.
“It would be my honor… my king.”
Jarvan walked with Xin Zhao up through the palace, toward the council room. His father’s advisors—no, his advisors, Xin Zhao corrected himself—awaited.
Soldiers were everywhere. Demacia’s most elite battalion—the Dauntless Vanguard—had been brought in to supplement the palace guard, and they stood at every doorway, watchful and disciplined.
Jarvan’s expression was stern, his bearing regal. Only Xin Zhao had witnessed the outpouring of emotion down in the training room. Now, in front of the palace servants, the nobles, and the guard, he was in complete control.
Good, thought Xin Zhao. The people of Demacia need to see him strong.
Everyone they passed dropped to one knee, bowing their heads low. They continued on, striding purposefully.
Jarvan paused before the great council doors.
“One thing, uncle,” he said, turning to Xin Zhao.
“The letter my father wanted you to deliver,” he said. “What happened to it?”
“I have it here,” said Xin Zhao. He loosened it from his belt, and handed the leather case over.
Jarvan took it, broke the case open, and unfurled the sheet of vellum within. His eyes flicked back and forth as he read his father’s words.
Xin Zhao saw Jarvan’s expression harden. Then he crushed the letter in both hands, twisting it as if he were wringing a neck, before handing it back.
“Destroy it,” Jarvan said.
Xin Zhao stared at him in shock, but Jarvan was already turning away. He nodded to the guards standing on either side, and the council doors were thrown open. Those seated at the long table within stood as one, before bowing low. Flames crackled in the ornate fireplace set against the south wall within.
There were a number of empty seats at the table. The king was not the only one who had fallen in the previous day’s attack.
Xin Zhao was left holding the crumpled letter, stunned, as Jarvan moved to the head of the table. He looked back at Xin Zhao, still standing in the door.
“Seneschal?” said Jarvan.
Xin Zhao blinked. At Jarvan’s right, High Marshal Tianna Crownguard stared at him, her gaze dangerously cold. On Jarvan’s other side, his gaze equally icy, was Tianna’s husband, the intended recipient of the king’s letter—the head of the mageseeker order. Xin Zhao’s gaze passed between them, then returned to Jarvan, who raised his eyebrows questioningly.
Without further pause, Xin Zhao strode into the room, and threw the letter into the flames.
Then he took his place, standing behind his ruler. He hoped none of the deep concern he suddenly felt was visible.
“Let us begin,” said Jarvan.
| IVORY, EBONY, JASPER
General Miesar slid an ivory cone across the map. Jarvan wondered at the simplicity of the white piece. No head, no features denoting a face. Just a simple rounded shape, neutral and plain, with no resemblance to the hundred Demacian soldiers it represented.
“If we lead our knights south now, we can attack the argoth head-on before they reach Evenmoor,” said General Ibell, a stout woman with commanding eyes.
“The argoth are fiercest in swarms,” said General Miesar as he paced the length of the tent. “They rely on overwhelming numbers to defeat direct attacks. If we cannot divide them, they will slaughter us long before we reach their queen.”
Jarvan strode to the edge of their tent, parting the fabric and gazing out across the valley. He might have enjoyed the view – morning light made the verdant landscape sparkle with dew, and the village of Evenmoor looked peaceful from a distance. But an ominous gray shape swelled on the the horizon as the horde thundered in the distance.
The argoth were not enormous creatures; fighting one alone would be easy enough, but in large numbers, they were subject to the dominating will of a queen, able to move and fight as one vicious unit. This swarm was bigger than any Jarvan had seen before.
Miesar wiped sweat from his brow. “They’ll be here by this evening?”
“Sooner,” said Ibell. “We have an hour, maybe two if we’re lucky, until the argoth overwhelm Evenmoor.”
Jarvan turned back to the map. Ten ebony cones representing the argoth stood at the outer edges of Evenmoor, overshadowing the single Demacian cone. The queen was marked by a smaller figurine of red jasper, right in the heart of the ebony mass.
“Any charge would need to fight through hundreds of argoth to get near her,” said Jarvan, gesturing to the red stone. “What do you propose?”
Miesar halted his pacing. “I’m afraid you won’t like this, my lord, but we could retreat. Surrender Evenmoor. Return on the morrow with forces strong enough to cut through the horde and slay the queen.”
“Leave Evenmoor to the argoth?” asked Ibell. “That’s a death sentence for these people. They will be overrun in a matter of hours.”
Jarvan stared at the ebony and ivory until they merged in his mind’s eye. All he saw was the red queen stone.
Ibell raised her eyebrows. “You see something?”
“A desperate plan,” Jarvan replied, “but it is all we have. We conceal our fiercest fighters within Evenmoor and lay an ambush. With such a small band they won’t anticipate our attack. Then, when the queen is within reach, we strike hard and fast. With her death, the swarm’s unity will be broken.”
“Into the center of the argoth, my lord?” Miesar said. “That, too, may be a death sentence.”
“But we give Evenmoor a chance of surviving the attack,” said Ibell.
“No plan is without risk,” Jarvan said. “I will lead only those willing to join me, and will not engage until our hope of victory is greatest. We bide our time until the eye of the maelstrom is upon us, and then strike from within. With the queen dead, it will be a simple matter to fight our way out.”
Ibell slid a single ivory cone to the village on the map, then moved the circle of ebony pieces forward until they overlapped Evenmoor entirely. The jasper queen stood at its center. With a flick of her finger, she tipped the red stone over. That done, she slid two more white cones to join the fight.
“This is our plan,” said Jarvan. “Ibell and Miesar, you and your troops will lead the second wave.”
“Aye,” said Miesar.
“And you, my lord?” Ibell asked. “Where will you be?”
“I have a queen to kill,” Jarvan replied.
- Jarvan IV's Champion Page
- Universe of League of Legends Page
- Champion Sneak Peek: Jarvan IV, the Exemplar of Demacia
Journal of Justice
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- Kalamanda in Chaos
- The Mailbag of Justice (1)
- Reinforcements Arrive in Kalamanda
- The Mailbag of Justice (2)
- War in Kalamanda
- Our Forward March
- Intruder Discovered in Kalamanda's Prison
- Jarvan IV Returns to Demacia
- Institute of War Accused of Conspiracy & The Path We’ve Tread
- Heywan Relivash and Ralston Farnsley Arrested
- Fortune Favors the Lucky | Lunar Revel 2019
- Making the SSG 2017 World Championship Team Skins - Behind the Scenes
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