Ionia consists of multiple provinces scattered around the archipelago, known to many as the First Lands. The region is filled with strange magics that have given rise to its fantastical flora and fauna. Despite being the birthplace of multiple different forms of martial arts, Ionia is a pacifistic nation, and its countless monasteries and spiritual orders are united in their pursuit of balance and harmony in all things.

In addition to humans, Ionia is home to many vastayan tribes. The vastaya are a chimeric race with roots deep in the history of the region as their ancestors, the shapechanging vastayashai’rei, once defeated an army of invading titans from skies above. The vastayan tribes still bear the names of these heroes to honour them. Neither mortal nor truly immortal, the vastaya have inherited a close attunement to the magic of the land. The relationships between many vastayan tribes and humans have soured as the latter continue to disrupt the natural magic currents.

Remnants of a forgotten/great war between titans and vastayashai’rei in Mistfall.

Twelve years ago, the peace of the lands was disturbed again as Noxus attacked the region in full force. Due to the pacifistic nature of the region’s inhabitants, the invaders initially faced little resistance, but slowly some Ionians started to fight back. The battle at the sacred Placidium of Navori would become the turning point of the war with the young blade dancer Xan Irelia striking against the Noxian forces and cutting off General Swain’s hand. In the aftermath of the victory, Irelia became the figurehead of a growing resistance that eventually managed to drive the Noxians out of Ionia after three long years of fighting.

The Placidium of Navori, a sacred place located at the centre of the region.

While peace returned to Ionia, the Noxian invasion left a permanent mark on the region. The ultra-nationalistic Navori Brotherhood, named after a Western Ionian province, was formed during the war by people disappointed in Irelia’s leadership of the resistance. They acted against both Noxians and their countrymen that would object to their methods or not fit into their vision for Ionia. Similarly, Zed’s Order of Shadows was formed by the Kinkou members disappointed in their order’s inaction and turned into the forbidden shadow magic as their source of power. They spent the war allied with Navori Brotherhood but have been enemies since Zed killed their then-leader Kusho.

Further Lore

The peace might not last long, as "Awaken" cinematic seems to depict a second Noxian invasion of Ionia as one of its three stories.


Champions

Shen – the Eye of Twilight

Shen Card Image Shen Card Image

“The fate of mortals and spirits falls to me.”

As the Eye of Twilight, leader of the Kinkou Order, Shen is enforcing equilibrium in both material and spirit realms with his swords of steel and arcane energy.

As a son of Great Master Kusho, Shen was immersed in the philosophy of the Kinkou from a very young age. He and his closest friend Zed were the most promising students of the order, and they were eventually taken on dangerous missions with Kusho. One such quest was the long hunt for the serial killer known as Golden Demon, who eventually turned out to be a stagehand Khada Jhin. While Shen managed to control his emotions and accept Kusho’s judgment on imprisoning Jhin instead of executing him, Zed resentfully disagreed.

Eventually, when Noxus invaded Ionia and Shen once again supported his father’s inaction, Zed abandoned the Kinkou and joined the fight. Zed and his followers would later return for the Tears of the Shadow, seizing the Kinkou temple after making a secret pact with Kusho. Presuming that his father was killed in the coup, Shen was devastated but instead of seeking vengeance on Zed and his new order, he took up his father’s title and led the remnants of the Kinkou to safety in the mountains, beginning to rebuild the order.

One of Shen’s most talented new pupils was Akali Jhomen Tethi, who eventually succeeded her mother Mayym as the Kinkou’s Fist of Shadow, an assassin tasked with eliminating those who threaten the balance. Eventually, she too grew frustrated with Kinkou’s inaction and she would leave Shen and the order behind. Shen re-formed an uneasy partnership with Zed to hunt down Jhin, who had escaped from the Tuula prison, and eventually managed to capture the serial killer in Piltover.

Further Lore

Trivia

  • Shen was engaged to a woman called Yevnai in his youth, but the engagement was called off after Kusho's presumed death.

Shen's bio and short story in the League of Legends Universe.

Shen is heavily involved in Zed comics (6 issues) and mentioned in Jhin's short story that is part of the comics' story.

Shen is a minor character in the short story "The Bow, and the Kunai".

Tales of Runeterra (with Akali):

Zed – the Master of Shadows

Zed Card Image Zed Card Image

“I am the blade in the darkness.”

Zed is the founder and leader of Yánléi, commonly known as the Order of Shadow. Born as a mere peasant named Govos, he managed to impress Great Master Kusho and was trained as a Kinkou warrior, becoming close friends with Kusho’s son Shen. The two were the most promising students of the order, and they were eventually taken on dangerous missions with Kusho. During the hunt for the serial killer Khada Jhin, Kusho was so impressed with Zed that he renamed him as Usan and appointed him as his eventual successor as the Eye of Twilight. When Jhin was finally captured, Zed could not understand why Kusho insisted on imprisoning him instead of executing him.

His underlying resentment caused him to struggle in his studies. When Noxus started its invasion, Zed’s frustration on the order’s inaction to protect the lands saw him leave the Kinkou behind. Zed and his new followers would later return to the temple for the Tears of the Shadow, magical ichor that grants the ability to use the forbidden shadow magic when consumed or tattooed. Zed managed to secretly persuade Kusho into faking his own death in order to preserve the Kinkou on the path of balance while allowing Kusho to take control of the Navori Brotherhood. As Zed’s warriors cut down all Kinkou that resisted, his new Order of Shadow was born.

During the invasion, Zed came across a Noxian child soldier, Kayn, and took him as his personal student. Kayn eventually grew up to become his second-in-command in the Shadow Order. When Jhin escaped the Tuula prison, Zed managed to negotiate an uneasy partnership with Shen to hunt him down. With the murderer captured in Piltover, Zed fled to confront Kusho who he realized to be behind Jhin’s escape. Disagreeing with both Kusho’s methods and goals, the two fought with Zed killing his old master. As he finally committed the crime Shen had accused him of for so long, he also ended his order’s friendly relationship with the Navori Brotherhood.

Further Lore

Zed's bio in the League of Legends Universe.

Zed comics (6 issues) and the related short story of Jhin.

Zed plays a small part in the short story "Piece of Shadow Cake", featuring Rakan and Xayah. A part of the story is also shown in the pair's champion teaser video.

Yasuo – the Unforgiven

Yasuo Card Image Yasuo Card Image

“Death is like the wind, always by my side.”

Yasuo is an Ionian swordsman who has mastered the legendary wind technique. Despite having a very different personality than his half-brother Yone, the two were inseparable in youth. When Yone began his studies at the local sword school, Yasuo soon followed. The younger brother showed a natural talent for the craft and was the only student that caught the attention of Elder Souma, the last master of the legendary wind technique. The Elder took Yasuo as his apprentice and personal bodyguard.

When the Noxians invaded Ionia, Yasuo wanted to join the fight but was told to stay behind and protect the elders. One rainy night, Yasuo could hear the war drums from a nearby valley and abandoned his post in hope of turning the tide of the battle. When he arrived to the battlefield, nothing but tainted land and corpses remained from the Noxians’ use of chemical warfare. When Yasuo returned to the school the next day, the remaining students faced him with swords drawn. Elder Souma had been killed during his absence, and he was accused of the crime. He fought his way free despite knowing it would all but confirm his guilt to the others.

Yasuo travelled around Ionia in search of clues of the real killer and was often forced to defend himself against those who were after him. One of the most relentless pursuers was Yone, and eventually, Yasuo was forced to face him as well. Before killing his brother in self-defence, Yone told him that Souma’s death was caused by the wind technique, and Yasuo was accused as he was the only one to master them.

Continuing his exile in the mountains, Yasuo came across the Shuriman stone mage Taliyah, who had fled the Noxian military. He spent some time teaching her about the elemental magics until rumours of Shurima’s rise from the sands made Taliyah return to her homeland. Yasuo, too, returned to his home village, where it was revealed that Elder Souma’s death was accidentally caused by the Noxian exile Riven. Absolved from the crime, his inner struggles over his brother’s death continued until Yone mysteriously returned from death to defeat a disguised demonic creature that was about to devour Yasuo during the spirit blossom festival. As Yone sought no vengeance over his brother, the unburdened Yasuo set sail to Bilgewater with Ahri.

Further Lore

As Riot’s upcoming game "The Ruined King" is supposed to be lore-driven, Yasuo’s Bilgewater adventure might see him travel to the Shadow Isles as well.

Yasuo's bio and short story in the League of Legends Universe.

The (very) short story "The Road to Ruin".

The short story "The Bird and the Branch", telling the story of Yasuo and Taliyah.

The three-part short story "Confessions of a Broken Blade", telling the story of Riven's trial: Part 1 / Part 2 / Part 3

Kin of the Stained Blade, the story of the two brothers:

Awaken cinematic, depicting another Noxian invasion and Yasuo as part of the Ionian resistance:

Karma – the Enlightened One

Karma Card Image Karma Card Image

“Ionia speaks through me.”

Karma is the living embodiment of an ancient Ionian soul that has reincarnated countless times. Born in the northern highlands as Darha, her life took a turn when she started having weird visions at the age of twelve. As the visions grew in intensity, it started to look like she would be spending her life in the healing huts until a group of monks from their sacred Lasting Altar came into the village. Their leader Karma had passed away and they performed tests on the villagers in search of the new incarnation. As the monks were about to leave the village empty-handed, Darha ran to them as she recognized the monks’ voices from her visions, and the monks knew they had found what they were looking for. Darha traveled to the Lasting Altar with the monks and was taught how to connect with her ancient soul as well as the philosophy Karma was supposed to stand for. Darha found herself disagreeing with some of the teachings, which left her followers confused.

When Noxus invaded Ionia, she was torn between the voices of the past incarnations supporting inaction, and a far deeper truth compelling her to act. She ended up confronting a Noxian commander on his war frigate and, unleashing her powers, destroying the vessel and its crew in an instant. While many Ionians rejoiced, the monks thought she had tarnished her name and the undying soul with her actions. While even some of the previous incarnations of Karma stopped talking to her, she remains convinced that the Spirit of Ionia itself is stirring in her to defend the lands. Instead of the ancient teachings, she now follows a new guideline - to peace when possible, to action when necessary.

Further Lore

Karma's bio and short story in the League of Legends Universe.

Karma is shortly seen in the Ruination cinematic:

Awaken cinematic, depicting another Noxian invasion and Karma as part of the Ionian resistance:

Lee Sin – the Blind Monk

Lee Sin Card Image Lee Sin Card Image

“Only I can endure the dragon’s fury.”

Lee Sin is a master of ancient Ionian martial arts who was blinded by the dragon’s spirit within him.

Lee Sin arrived at the Shojin monastery as a boy, claiming to be the chosen of the dragon. Seeing his talent but sensing his pride, the monks kept him busy with chores while others advanced. As Lee Sin wanted to fulfill his destiny, he secretly learned a powerful technique which he used during a combat lesson, unleashing the dragon’s rage, and paralyzing his instructor.

Banished and ashamed, Lee Sin’s years of traveling eventually led him to Freljord, where he forged a bond with the spirit walker Udyr, who too struggled with his inner powers. As the pair traveled to Ionia, they learned about the Noxian invasion and rushed to help the monks that had fallen back to the northeast to defend the Monastery of Hirana. While Udyr was swift to join the battle, Lee Sin hesitated but seeing no other options, he eventually decided to invoke the dragon spirit. The monks were victorious, but the monastery was left in ruins and the spirit had burned the sight from Lee Sin’s eyes. He finally understood that the spirit could never be fully controlled, but when he tried to leave, the surviving elders stopped him, seeing that their humbled student was ready to begin anew. After helping to rebuild the monastery and bidding farewell to Udyr, Lee Sin has continued pursuing enlightenment and learning how to master himself and the destructive spirit within him.

Further Lore

Lee Sin's bio and short story in the League of Legends Universe.

Lulu – the Fae Sorceress

Lulu Card Image Lulu Card Image

“Yup, that tasted purple.”

Lulu is a chaotic and fun-loving yordle mage that has left her home in Bandle City to travel around Runeterra with her fairy companion Pix.

Lulu met Pix while wandering the material world and coming across a bird with a broken wing. The empathetic yordle quickly run to help only to see the bird turn into the mischievous faerie that grabbed her walking stick and fled. Giggling, Lulu chased the faerie for a long time, even crossing into the spirit realm unnoticed. When Lulu eventually caught Pix, the faerie turned her walking stick into a spiraling staff and tossed it back to her, and the pair’s long-lasting friendship had started.

Lulu noticed that Pix had led her to the Glade, a place of raw primordial magic that no yordle had ever found before. When Lulu noticed that her own magic was magnified by the place, she spent what could have been a thousand years in reshaping reality and creating whatever her imagination told her to. Eventually, Lulu found herself back in the material realm and was joyous when she noticed that she had been able to keep some of her powers.

Lulu has been causing chaos and mayhem around Runeterra ever since, always acting based on what she sees as fun. She has grown to miss the Glade as well, but as Pix claims having forgotten the way, she has been unable to find her way back yet. Convinced that the path there is ever-changing, she picks whatever direction she fancies each moment, and is more than happy to have a fun adventure or two along the way.

Further Lore

Lulu's bio in the League of Legends Universe.

The short story "The Whispering Doodad", featuring Tristana and Draven.

Tales of Runeterra:

Irelia – the Blade Dancer

Irelia Card Image Irelia Card Image

"I must become the leader they need."

Xan Irelia loved dancing already in her early childhood and learned the traditional silk dances of her province from her grandmother. She eventually left her home to study the art further at the Placidium of Navori.

When the rumors of foreign invaders reached the Placidium, Irelia returned home to find the village already occupied by Noxians. The Xan family home was now serving as quarters to Admiral Duqal’s fleet officers and Irelia’s entire family had been killed. Seeing the Noxians carry out a metal crest with the family emblem, Irelia rushed to grab it from them. Admiral Duqal himself hurled the young girl to ground, and his soldiers shattered the crest with an iron maul. When the soldiers closed in to kill the defiant Irelia she felt a strange rhythm rise from her soul and the shards of the crest started moving. With a sweep of an arm, she sent the pieces flying and sliced through two invaders. While the Noxians were still in shock, Irelia grabbed the crest’s pieces and fled the village.

When the Ionians eventually started forming a resistance, Irelia would join them and perform her dances in the woodland camps in effort to preserve their vanishing culture. She was fourteen when she returned to defend the Placidium, but the Ionian resistance fighters were captured by General Jericho Swain, who wished to lure reinforcements into a trap by holding their compatriots as hostage. However, Irelia managed to free herself from her bonds and lashed out with a deadly blade dance that killed a dozen Noxians and severed Swain’s left arm. The victory that followed would be known as the Great Stand at Navori and lifted Irelia as the figurehead of the resistance movement. She reluctantly accepted her new role, and after almost three years of war the Ionians were victorious, with Irelia claiming vengeance on Admiral Duqal at Dalu Bay.

Despite the war being over, many still look to Irelia for leadership while she herself remains uneasy with her role.

Further Lore

Irelia's bio and short story in the League of Legends Universe.

Irelia's League of Legends Champion teaser:

Awaken cinematic, depicting another Noxian invasion and Irelia leading the Ionian resistance: