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|Release Date||January 25th, 2019|
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|Raised in one of Demacia’s lesser quarters, Sylas of Dregbourne has come to symbolize the darker side of the Great City. As a boy, his ability to root out hidden sorcery caught the attention of the notorious mageseekers, who eventually imprisoned him for turning those same powers against them. Having now broken free, Sylas lives as a hardened revolutionary, using the magic of those around him to destroy the kingdom he once served… and his band of outcast mage followers seems to grow by the day.
As a mage born to a poor Demacian family, Sylas of Dregbourne was perhaps doomed from the start. Despite their low social standing, his parents were firm believers in their country’s ideals. So, when they discovered their son was “afflicted” with magical abilities, they convinced him to turn himself in to the kingdom’s mageseekers.
Noting the boy’s curious ability to sense magic, they used Sylas to identify other mages living among the citizenry. For the first time in his life he felt he had a future, a life in service to his country, and he performed these duties faithfully. He was proud, but lonely—forbidden from associating with anyone but his handlers.
Through his work, Sylas began to notice that magic was far more prevalent than Demacia cared to admit. He could sense glimmers of hidden power even among the wealthy and prominent… some of whom were the most outspoken decriers of mages. But while the poor were punished for their afflictions, the elite seemed above the law, and this hypocrisy planted the first seeds of doubt in Sylas’ mind.
Those doubts finally bloomed in one deadly, fateful event, when Sylas and his handlers encountered a mage living in hiding in the countryside. After discovering it was only a young girl, Sylas took pity on her. When he tried to shield the child from the mageseekers, he accidentally brushed against her skin. The girl’s magic rushed through Sylas’s body—but rather than killing him, it shot forth from his hands in raw, uncontrolled bursts. It was a talent he did not know he possessed, and it resulted in the deaths of three people, including his mageseeker mentor.
Knowing he would be called a murderer, Sylas went on the run, and quickly gained notoriety as one of the most dangerous mages in Demacia. Indeed, when the mageseekers found him, they showed no mercy.
Though he was still just a youth, Sylas was sentenced to life imprisonment.
He languished in the darkest depths of the mageseeker compound, forced to wear heavy shackles of magic-dampening petricite. Robbed of his arcane sight, his heart turned as hard as the stone that bound him, and he dreamed of vengeance on all who had put him there.
After fifteen wretched years, a young volunteer from the Illuminators named Luxanna began to visit him. Even with his shackles, Sylas recognized her as a singularly powerful mage, and over time the two forged an unusual and secretive bond. In exchange for Sylas’ knowledge of the control of magic, Lux educated him about the world outside his cell, and brought him whatever books he desired.
Eventually, through careful manipulation, he convinced the girl to smuggle a forbidden tome into his cell—the original writings of the great sculptor Durand, detailing his work with petricite.
The work revealed the secrets of the stone to Sylas. It was the foundation of Demacia’s defenses against harmful sorcery, but he came to see that it did not suppress magic, but absorb it.
And if the power was held within the petricite, Sylas wondered, could he release it…?
All he needed was a source of magic. A source like Lux.
But she never visited Sylas again. Her family, the immensely powerful Crownguards, had learned of their contact, and were furious that Lux had broken the law to help this vile criminal. Without explanation, it was arranged for Sylas to be hanged.
At the gallows, Lux pleaded for her friend’s life, but her cries fell on deaf ears. As the hangman pushed past her to tighten the noose, Sylas managed to touch against Lux with his chains. As he had predicted, her power surged into the petricite shackles, ready for him to unleash—and with that stolen magic, Sylas blasted his way free, sparing only the terrified young Crownguard.
He left the mageseeker compound not as an outcast, but as a new, defiant symbol of the broken and persecuted in Demacia. Traveling the kingdom in secret, he has amassed a following of exiled mages, all now aligned toward a common goal: to topple the throne, and demolish the oppressive system that has made them suffer for so long.
|"I am no traitor. I am the true Demacia."
The sun was at its peak, just high enough to illuminate the exiles’ camp hidden deep in the canyon. From the shade of his lean-to, Sylas of Dregbourne waited patiently for his scout to return. At last, he saw her rounding the stone spire at the mouth of the crevasse, leading a wide-eyed young stranger into the camp.
“This is Happ,” said the scout. “He wants to join.”
Sylas emerged from his shelter, eyeing the youth casually. “Does he now?”
“I know him from the underground. The seekers took his family. He made it out, by the hair on his hide.”
Sylas nodded, quietly assessing the young man. He could sense the boy was blessed with powerful magic—some black and deadly pall. As for the rest of his character, Sylas could see nothing.
“He’s a good kid,” assured the scout. “And he’s from Dregbourne.”
Sylas’ brow furrowed with pleasant surprise, as if meeting kin he never knew existed.
The youth stammered out an introduction. “I… I thought maybe… I could join your cause… sir.”
The entire camp of outlaws laughed. The boy’s eyes darted around the grinning faces, searching for some hint of what he had done wrong.
“There’s no ‘sir’ here,” chuckled Sylas. “Unless you want to address everyone of us that way.”
“Yes, si— …Yes,” the youth said, nearly repeating his mistake.
Abashed, the recruit seemed to wonder if he’d made the right choice in coming to the camp. Sylas placed a heavily shackled arm on the boy’s shoulder, hoping to quell his embarrassment.
“Be at ease, Happ. No one will judge you here. We’re a long way from Dregbourne.”
He felt the youth relax his posture.
“I know your struggle. They’re always watching you, hounding you, making you feel inferior. Well there’s none of that here. Here, you belong.”
Happ beamed, staring at his feet, as though he felt unworthy of his newfound joy.
“Do you know why I wear these chains?” asked Sylas.
The recruit shook his head, too timid to offer a guess.
“They’re not just weapons. They’re a reminder. Of where we come from. Of everything we’re capable of, and of our liberation to come. Are you with me?”
“Yes. Yes, I want to be liberated.”
“Good,” said Sylas. “Tonight, you will break your own chains.”
Dusk was falling, and the darkened brush on the side of the road was the perfect cover for an ambush. There, Sylas lay in wait with a dozen of his most trusted mages. Beside him, the recruit nervously picked at his fingernails.
“Don’t worry,” said Sylas, with a reassuring smile. “I was nervous for my first one. After a while, it becomes as natural as breathing.”
Before the recruit’s nerves could be assuaged, the thunder of hooves and wagon wheels rumbled in the distance like a coming storm. Within seconds, the carriage came barreling down the road before the lurking hijackers.
An instant before the horses arrived, Sylas signaled to his comrades, and the ambush began.
With a flick of his wrist, a scruffy old mage summoned a thick cord of ironvines that snapped across the road, catching the galloping horses at the knees. The racket was deafening, as the steeds fell neck-first into the dirt, the carriage careening over them.
The mages sprang from their cover, subduing the dazed crew of the carriage with various weapons and spells. Sylas leapt atop the overturned coach, eager to seize the passengers of the unprotected cabin.
“Let’s go, recruit,” he called to Happ, beckoning for the lad to join him.
Happ scampered atop the cabin and began to help pry the door. It cracked open, revealing a very battered nobleman. Sylas’ eyes flashed with a malicious gleam.
“Well… look who’s kneeling now, my lord,” said Sylas, extending his hand.
The nobleman bristled. Though he was gravely injured, his hatred for Sylas remained intact.
“I’ll not cower before the likes of you.”
“Good,” said Sylas. “Because I wouldn’t want you to miss this.”
In minutes, all of the nobleman’s guards and coachmen were lined up beside the road with their hands bound. Sylas paced the line, individually acknowledging each captive.
“I ache for you all. I do,” said Sylas. “You are merely cogs in their wheel.”
Sylas paused, his tone shifting harshly, as he gestured to the bound nobleman.
“But you chose to serve them… and thus, serve their cause.”
He turned to his band of outcasts, loudly offering a question.
“Brothers and sisters—these folk work in the service of swine. What does that make them?”
“Swine!” replied the outcasts.
“Should we allow them to go free?”
“No!” yelled the mages.
“What if they have a change of heart? Promise never to bother us again?” asked Sylas, with a coy smile creeping across the corners of his mouth.
“They’d be lying!” yelled the scruffy old mage from the brush.
“They can’t be trusted!” said another in the gang.
“Then what is to be done with them?” asked Sylas.
“They must die!” shouted a young mage, his hatred beyond his years.
Others yelled out in agreement, until the phrase echoed across the land: “Swine must die!”
Sylas nodded, as if he were slowly being persuaded by their words.
“So it must be.”
Softly, Sylas touched the shoulder of his recruit. His petricite shackles began to fume with a dark smoke. He closed his eyes, savoring the captured power.
The sight sent a quake of dread through the captives. Many fell to their knees and wept, pleading to be spared. Only the nobleman stood proud, defying his circumstances, as Sylas addressed his crew with somber finality.
“It pains me that I cannot show you the beautiful world to come.”
The words sent a chill through the recruit.
“Sylas, no,” Happ protested. “These are just… people.”
Ignoring the pleas, Sylas extended his arms and fingers, and unleashed the magic stored in his gauntlets. A thick black cloud billowed from his fingers and collected above the heads of the nobleman’s crew. Almost in unison, they began to claw at their throats in suffocation. Moments later, they fell to the ground dead.
A grave hush fell over the mages, having dutifully observed the execution. The nobleman wept silently, tears streaming over his clenched lips. The only sound came from the recruit.
“No… why?” said Happ, falling to his knees.
Sylas eased the boy back to his feet, consoling him with a fatherly hand.
“Happ, you wanted to help our cause. This is it! This is our liberation…”
He gently guided the recruit toward the nobleman, and urged him forward.
“…one dead lord at a time.”
Happ looked at the nobleman through tear-filled eyes. He held out a trembling hand, preparing to take the life before him. Then, he let his arm go limp.
Sylas’ tender patience began to slip away.
“This man is not your friend. His fortune is built on your suffering. He would sooner see you hang than show you any kindness.”
The recruit would not budge. At last, the nobleman found his voice.
“You’re a monster,” he said, his voice breaking.
“Yes,” replied Sylas. “That’s what your kind said when you locked me in the dark.”
Sylas held forth his hand, its shackle still faintly glowing. The magic he had taken from Happ mustered one last wisp of blackness. The small, dark cloud enveloped the nobleman’s face, drawing the breath from his lungs. As the man writhed, Sylas looked back at the recruit, not in anger, but mourning.
“I’m sorry, Happ. But you are not ready to be liberated. Go. Return to your chains.”
Sylas watched as Happ turned to leave, his eyes averted in shame. The recruit looked down at the wrecked carriage in front of him, and the long, dirt road that wound back to the capital. Sylas could almost feel the boy thinking, dreading the misery that awaited him in his old life.
Happ bent down, pried a dagger from the hand of the dead coachman, and returned to the nobleman, still struggling for breath on the ground.
As the youth raised the dagger above the nobleman, Sylas’ sorrow turned to unmitigated joy. No matter how many he liberated, it always made him smile.