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Nunu & Willump
|Title||The Boy and his Yeti|
|Release Date||February 21, 2009|
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|32.1 (+ 1.25)|
Nunu is a champion in League of Legends.
- For outdated and now non-canon lore entries, click here.
- Story #1
- Story #2
|Once upon a time, there was a boy who wanted to prove he was a hero by slaying a fearsome monster—only to discover that the beast, a lonely and magical yeti, merely needed a friend. Bound together by ancient power and a shared love of snowballs, Nunu and Willump now ramble wildly across the Freljord, breathing life into imagined adventures. They hope that somewhere out there, they will find Nunu’s mother. If they can save her, maybe they will be heroes after all…
One of the Notai, a nomadic tribe that long traveled the Freljord, Nunu learned from his mother, Layka, that behind every thing is a story. Together, they gathered tales that Layka turned into songs. For Nunu, nothing was better than journeying from village to village, hearing his mother sing of ancient heroes. With music and dance, the Notai brought one last celebration to everyone they met, as each winter’s chill set in.
Riding the wave of frost spilling from Anivia’s wings, his heart beating the rhythm of a jubilant song, Nunu’s world was full of possibility.
On his fifth nameday, Layka gave Nunu a special gift: a flute, so he could learn to play her melodies himself. In the safety of their cart, the two bundled together and followed the knotted string that served as Layka’s heart-song, recording everywhere they’d been together, as the years came and went.
When the caravan was attacked by raiders, Nunu was separated from his mother. Dragged to safety by a band of Frostguard, the surviving Notai children were taken to a village near their towering citadel. Nunu was left to wonder what happened to Layka, waiting to hear her songs on the wind.
Snow fell. Weeks passed.
Nunu missed his mother desperately, but the Frostguard assured him no child could safely search for her. They weren’t even impressed when he showed them the flute he now called Svellsongur—the name of a mighty blade existing only in his imagination.
Nunu spent more and more time alone, escaping into his mother’s songs—the legends and heroes of old. He yearned to be one of these heroes, a warrior like the Frostguard, who could have saved his mother. He even met their leader, Lissandra, who asked countless questions about his mother’s stories, always seeking information about one particular song.
No one believed Nunu could be a hero, not even the other Notai children, who teased him for his flute when they now had daggers. But Nunu knew the songs in his heart, and one night, he realized how he could prove himself and earn the Frostguard’s help to find his mother.
From Lissandra, he’d learned of a fierce monster that killed all who sought its power, thwarting the Frostguard who were sent each year, never to return. There was a song that Nunu’s mother sang… could it be the one Lissandra would always ask about? Suddenly, Nunu understood. Lissandra wanted to know about the yeti.
Nunu could name the beast. It would answer his challenge, and feel the wrath of Svellsongur!
Using his flute to tame a herd of elkyr, Nunu snuck out into the snow. One lonely child traveled to face a monster, finally living out a legend that not even he could imagine.
An ancient and noble race that once ruled over the mountains of the Freljord, the yeti civilization was destroyed in a cataclysm of ice. Forced to watch his brethren descending into savagery after being stripped of their magic, one yeti swore to protect what remained of their power—a gem that swirled with the frozen dreams of any mortal mind nearby.
As the last magical yeti, the guardian was also shaped by perception. Though he had been chosen to safeguard the magic until it would be needed again, he could find no worthy vessel. The men who intruded upon his ruined home had only malice in their hearts… and so a monster greeted them with fang and claw.
But the guardian knew he was forgetting something. His name… and the names of those he had loved...
Once, there had been song.
That all changed when a young boy stumbled into the ruins. After centuries of unbroken vigil, the monster was prepared to end the boy’s life, snarling as he sensed the human approach.
Unexpectedly, the gem brought forth images of heroes slaying dragons and beheading ancient serpents from the boy’s mind. The child roared, drawing his flute like a fearsome sword. But the blow never came, for even as the boy saw visions of heroes swirling around him, he realized the deeper truths of the songs his mother sang…
When he looked at the guardian, he didn’t see a monster. He saw someone who needed a friend.
Still enraged, the yeti did not expect the first snowball to the face. Or the second. Snowball fight! In anger, then shock, then joy, the guardian joined in, shaped not by fear, but by a child’s imagination. He was growing furrier and friendlier. His growl was becoming a laugh.
Until the beast accidentally broke the boy’s flute.
As the child began to cry, the guardian felt a kindred grief take shape around the gem. For centuries, he had looked into it and seen the end of his people—the threat they had buried, betrayal by the blind one—and now, instead, he saw a caravan burning. He heard a voice on the wind. He sensed something else within the boy, something he had never felt from a human, not even the three sisters who had come to him long ago. It was love, fighting back despair.
In that moment, the guardian knew the Freljord’s only hope lay in the power already within this child. The magic he’d been guarding was a tool; what truly mattered was the heart that would shape it. With a gesture, the magic passed from the gem into the boy, giving him the ability to make his imagination real. To repair his flute, freezing it in dreams that hardened into True Ice.
To imagine a best friend named “Willump.”
Escaping into the Freljordian plains, Nunu’s heart and Willump’s strength now enable the pair to do what they never could alone: to have an adventure! Following the songs of Nunu’s mother, they snowball wildly from one place to the next, holding onto the hope that she is still out there, somewhere.
But Willump knows that with magic and dreams come responsibility. One day the games will end, as the dark ice at the heart of the Freljord thaws, and thaws…
|"Pull the fur outta your earholes, Willump! This is gonna be the bestest story ever!"
“Mom… can I ask you a question?”
“What’s wrong, Nunu? There’s something crinkling your nose, and I don’t think the elkyr can be blamed… well, this time. No offense, Kona!”
“Haha, elkyr smell like doocicles! But… we always make ‘em pull our carts anyway. I don’t wanna leave, mom. I like that village. I found a warhorn in the mud!”
“Then come close, my little grimaceling, and I will remind you. There is a reason the Notai must leave as the snows settle. An adventure that winter’s mother has entrusted to us.”
“You mean Anivia?”
“Mhmm. They say she is a phoenix, with icicles instead of feathers—her wings borne on frigid wind, brrrrrr! But we Notai know, it is hope that carries Anivia, and that she is not a guardian of our realm, as the Avarosans say. She is freedom. She is the spirit that fills you as you follow your passion, no matter how mean the world is. Do you know what passion is, Nunu?”
“Is it when the barbarian kisses the warmother?”
“Hmm, sometimes, and sometimes the warmother kisses the barbarian. But if I had to name it, I would call passion… the feeling of one last celebration as winter hits, the warmth inside even better because the first snows are falling. The dancing, the singing, a lyre in my hands, shivering even as I burn with this—this thing I try to name! This is what Anivia has tasked us with carrying across the Freljord. This is what gives her wind on her migration! Some villages see us as untrustworthy traders, others fear us for the ice that announces our arrival, the winter that can mean life or death. But to them all, we bring song, we bring togetherness, we link each village with our spirit. Can you imagine what a gift this is, Nunu? To know what we know because caravan carts have rattled it into our bones. Life is an endless string of opportunity for songs...”
“Yes, like my song strands. Each string is a song, each knot in the string a note, and each note a place we’ve been while following Anivia. Like this one. This is the droning murmur of pilgrims, gathered beneath the statue of Avarosa at Rakelstake—a frozen lake that glitters like a jewel too massive for anyone to own. But the Avarosans have built a monument beside it, and say they own it anyway. They live their lives as if they are statues. Warmothers, Iceborn, they do not move, they fear the world that exists outside of Avarosa’s shadow. But to others, they have already moved too much…”
“The Winter’s Claw. They hate Avarosinians.”
“Avarosans. But the song binds them together, like this. This is the sound of the chains tying wolfships to Glaserport, and the Winter’s Claw to the past. The old ways. Blood in the snow. They live their lives on shattered ice. They think it is their might that cracks a path to sea, the wolfships prowling through… but it is not strong to cling to chains, and to demand that others carry them as well.”
“I ‘member the wolfships, mom. They were made out of wood. Not wolves! The Winter’s Claw don’t know how to name things.”
“Some things, Nunu, should not be named. Like the Frostguard Citadel, above the Howling Abyss. All those secrets… secrets of my own, of the warmth I have found… They preach there the words of the Three Sisters, but I think secrets are their true faith. How can you rescue someone from something they don’t know? That only this howled dirge remembers, rising from the Abyss. What the Frostguard guard against.”
“Are they heroes, like in the songs? I want to be a hero, too!”
“Listen to these notes, Nunu. They are the fortress at Frosthorn Peak and the crypts beneath. They are quiet. Empty. Whatever the Iceborn fought against has been forgotten. And now, with nothing else to fight, they use their power to rule. Avarosans, Winter’s Claw, Frostguard, they are the same. They use statues, chains, secrets, to push men down onto their knees. But you… When I look out onto the road, I see your future, Nunu. The joy you will bring to so many, as you have brought me. As winter’s mother wills it, and as she sends her winds to carry you, I will send love. You are my heart-song, Nunu. What notes should we add next? Where should love take us?”
“We’re probably going to another village. But this one won’t have warhorns...”
“No, Nunu. There is always more out there, you only need to imagine it! We could travel to a bridge that once spanned the sky! Only it collapsed in a forgotten age, and most of it lies hidden behind the clouds. But, can you hear that? Someone is step, step, stepping along its edge. We could pass into the tombs of creatures who ruled the Freljord before humans, find the mist that freezes in mid-air, giving ancient dreams shape. What is that in front of you, Nunu? Can you catch a dream on your tongue? Or find glacial tunnels that branch, as if tracing the shape of a world-tree that our ancestors destroyed, and buried in ice. All these things you can find, if only you look. You can go anywhere you can imagine.”
“Could we go to the top of the whole wide world, so I could play my warhorn? I bet then even Avarosa would hear it, and she’d come back!”
“We can go there right now, Nunu, if you tell me all about it. What would you see? What is the story in your heart?”
“I know how it starts! Once upon a time, there was a boy named Nunu, and Layka, his mom… and she was beautiful, and they lived in a caravan, and… they were trying to think of where to go next.”
“And what did they decide, Nunu?”
“They decided they could go anywhere together! And so their caravan flew off into the sky when Kona grew wings out of her butt, and flapped harder than Anivia! And the two of them were warm, and safe, even though snow was falling. What’s that feeling, mom? Like a hug, only…”
“It’s home. It’s home, my little hero. And that is where we will always be, no matter where we go. It is how we know, though the cold comes with us, though it can be hard and demand hope… it will never be winter, Nunu, if you love the person beside you.”
I wake up suddenly, like a story that starts in the middle of the action.
The song. I heard it!
“Willump!” I shout. “I heard the song again! Wake up!”
I shove aside the snow that serves as our blanket and look my flufferific friend in the face. His whiskers are twitching like they can feel my dream slowly fading. He growls, and his breath swirls into all kindsa shapes. But even though he’s old and has hair in his earholes, still, he’s my best friend! I laugh as his beard tickles my nose.
Nothing like a magical yeti to bring me back to reality!
Willump rolls over and starts scratching his grumbling belly. “You’re always thinking about food,” I laugh again. Laughing feels good, it helps me remember.
We’ve been following her song across the Freljord—my mom’s heart-song. Everywhere we’ve ever been, she made a verse, and if I could only remember what each place was, I could find my way back to her. I could save her, like a hero in her stories!
But I can only remember parts of the song when I’m not trying, and sometimes… it’s like my mom is out there, singing.
Like that! Did you hear that?!
“It’s coming from that village,” I bellow, pointing towards a patch of darkness beneath a frozen waterfall. Something inside me knows that’s where the song came from. “Sword first, Willump, I’ll cut through the wind!”
I shiver as we enter the clearing a few moments later, though I’m surrounded by scrazzly fur. Even this close, the village is mostly shadows. There are no people—if there were, I’d know, ‘cause it’s so cold I’d see their breath. “What is this place?” I ask.
Willump growls wisely.
“‘Naljaäg’? That can’t be its name. How would anyone know how to spell that?” Then Willump grumbles that it’s the yeti word for “stone.”
The buildings are stones heaped really high, the pathways are stones, too. Stones. Got it. So… it’s not weird that the flowers are carved out of stone, right? And those furs, hanging over a door. And that old rope! At least, it would be rope if it wasn’t hard and gray.
“Is everything around here stones?” I ask. It’s not fair—in the stories, stones at least have runes carved into them or something.
I’m starting to wonder why the song led me here, when finally I see a person, their back turned beneath an archway!
“My name is Nunu, and I’m here to help!” I yell, and I pull at the person’s shoulder—but when they topple into the light with a dull thwunk, I immediately realize… they’re stone, too!
Beyond the archway are all the missing people from the village, huddled together like statues. There’s one who looks like a warrior, now dull and gray. There’s a farmer and his wife, holding each other tightly, like they were carved from one slab. A little girl, a pebble beside them.
It’s a curse. A real one.
“Willump,” I say. “We gotta do something!”
That’s the thing about mom’s songs. My favorites were always tales of heroes, more than a match for any curse. With the lessons I learned, we can save these people, right? I have to believe, otherwise… how am I gonna save her?
I remember one song, a myth about how Avarosa healed the turtle that carries the sea, by giving it a big kiss! But I don’t want my first kiss to be a statue. I make Willump kiss ’em just in case, and watch as the stone gets stuck to his fur.
I try saying the prayers Lissandra taught me, just in case. I make a dragon out of snow to scare the curse away, like Anivia did to fight the southern army! I even try pulling the sun closer, like how Braum thawed his village in the song my mom sang. But the sun’s too far.
Braum must have really long arms.
Willump tries to comfort me. He says some curses can’t be fought. Sometimes, heroes don’t win. But I remember what matters. I can feel it, even though my mom is missing, our caravan buried in snow. The feeling of being loved.
That’s what this village deserves!
“If we can’t help these people,” I tell Willump, “then we’re gonna help these statues!”
I smile and reach for my flute. I mean, my sword! Svellsongur!
Hero time, hah!
I can smell the curse. A hateful stench, like troll. It has the weight of centuries; weight that could grind the years this child has left down to mere days. Here is where even heroes of song would question how they could fight, blades powerless against ancient magic.
But Nunu is no mere hero. He is something better.
He is a boy!
He whoops, and calls my attention to the frozen waterfall above us. We are close enough now that we can see them, nestled atop stillness. Krugs. Stone creatures animated by magic, more than at home living above a village such as this one.
Their nest has dammed the waters’ flow, holding back the Freljord’s lifeblood. I taste a hint of Nunu’s intentions.
It tastes like krugs. Delicious.
“Hey, stoney crabs! You took something from those statues!” Nunu yells, and hops onto my back without losing a beat, for the music is in his heart.
The magic is his now. Swept up in his imagination, snow forms before us, gradually taking shape into a mighty snowball! I laugh as we ramble wildly, our merry burden growing so large that beneath us the village trembles, buildings stretching themselves awake. And still the snowball grows larger. The krugs make only a tiny chitter as we leap into the air to the top of the waterfall, blotting out the sun.
The Freljord goes white, the dam embraced by snow even as it’s torn apart.
And then, the earth roars.
Icicles crack like bones made brittle by winter. The roar grows louder as the river coughs and clears dust from its throat, water tumbling into the village below.
“Did you see that, Willump?!” Nunu asks. But my eyes are already closed.
I can feel a magic more powerful than the curse welling up to fill the village, casting shivers through my fur and bringing warmth to a world that is cold. It is the only magic that can save the Freljord. Even the frozen dreams of my people, coveted by the Frostguard, pale in comparison to this magic, held in abundance by a child.
His arms are around me now, and I hug him back with all four limbs, looking away so he does not see the snowflakes falling from my eyes.
The curse has not lifted. But still, life has returned. And as it spreads, stone flowers washing away to make room for living ones, what curse could stand in its way? No evil can last, if life embraces joy, and refuses to hide…
I reach onto the ground and pick up a chunk of ice, crushing it to snow between my paws.
“Hey!” Nunu yells as I hit him in the face with a snowball, trailing the magic that swirls in his heart.
As we play, the wind whips through the flute on Nunu’s back, casting up stray notes. Then I finally hear it, too.
- June 28th, Snowballing to Victory: Nunu and Azir from LoL Esports
- Nunu's Champion Page
- Universe of League of Legends Page
- Champion Update: Nunu & Willump, the Boy and his Yeti
- 9 Fun Facts from Nunu's Development
Journal of Justice