Shurima is a large desert region that is mostly inhabited by nomadic tribes that are trying to make a living as scavengers, raiders, or mercenaries. It is also the home of the Ascended, mortals who were imbued with celestial powers granted through the Sun Disc to become immortal god-warriors with animalistic features. Ascension is a dangerous ritual, and the unfortunate who fail to ascend face complete obliteration or become one of the twisted Baccai. The first Sun Disc was built in the old capital city of Nerimazeth with the guidance of Targonian Aspects, who had tricked Aurelion Sol into wearing a power-siphoning crown to empower the Disc. After its failure, a bigger Sun Disc was built in a more central part of the region within the new capital city.
The Sun Disc looming over the capital city is the most iconic landmark of Shurima.
The Ascended’s eventual downfall started when the vassal-state Icathia, located on the southeastern peninsula of the continent, started a rebellion against the tyranny of Shurima. The Icathians knew they could not match the power of the Ascended Host by themselves, so they decided to unleash the newfound power of the Void on the battlefield. However, Icathia’s mages were also unable to control the chaotic energies and the Void laid waste to the entire city and its denizens. As even the Ascended were unable to stop the Void and their Warrior Queen Setaka becoming one of the fallen, the Shurimans were forced to abandon the rebellious region.
Icathia releasing the Void on the battlefield.
The empire’s doom came 500 years later, during the Ascension ceremony of its last emperor Azir. Driven by his long-standing grudge towards his friend, the newly-freed slave Xerath pushed Azir aside during the ritual, taking his place and forcing the sun priests to continue the ascension. This caused a devastating explosion of power that destroyed the entire capital city and turned Xerath into a being of pure arcane power. When the Ascended brothers Nasus and Renekton hurried back to the capital and saw the destruction, they tried to capture Xerath within a magical sarcophagus, but the Ascended Magus merely shattered it. Eventually Renekton managed to wrestle him into the Tomb of Emperors which his brother Nasus sealed on his orders to keep them away for millennia. However, the damage was already done as the Sun Disc fell and the city’s oasis ran dry, bringing famine to the entire region.
Shurima’s capital city’s ruins buried in sand.
Without an emperor to lead them and still traumatized by their encounter with the Void, the remaining Ascended started slowly falling to madness, turning into the Darkin. These dark beings started practicing blood magic and their growing hunger for power eventually culminated in the Darkin Wars 1500 years after Azir’s fall. The conflict ended when the Aspect of Twilight taught the mortals how to trap the fallen god-warriors within their own weapons by using the power of the moon. As they could not be destroyed, the weapons were hidden and guarded by mortal civilizations.
The time for Shurima’s re-emergence came when the Noxian noblewoman Cassiopeia Du Couteau hired a band of mercenaries, led by Sivir, to guide her into the lost capital of Shurima. Even though many of Sivir’s men became victims of the catacombs’ traps, Cassiopeia urged them onward until they arrived at the doors of the Tomb of Emperors. Noticing how Sivir’s ancient blade seemed to be the key to it, Cassiopeia stabbed her guide and took the weapon. Upon opening the doors, the giant stone serpent guarding it sprang alive and bit Cassiopeia, its venom searing her flesh and transforming her into a snake-like being. The imprisoned Ascended Xerath and Renekton emerged from the open tomb and escaped to the desert, the latter’s mind corrupted by Xerath’s poisonous lies during their time in the darkness.
Unknown to Sivir, she is the last living descendant of Azir, and her blood running to the sands catalysed the resurrection of the last emperor. Seeing the dying woman before her, Azir carried Sivir to the Oasis of the Dawn where its waters healed her mortal wounds. This unselfish act granted him the ascension he was once denied, and with him, the entire capital city of the once great empire rose again from the sands. Azir has woved to return the glory of the empire, and numerous Shurimans have been lured to the city by the rumours of its new rise.
Azir – the Emperor of the Sands
"I have risen, and with me, Shurima!"
Azir was once the youngest son of the emperor and therefore never destined to rule. Instead of training to become a warrior, the slender boy spent his time in the Great Library where he met a slave boy who became his friend. Though slaves were forbidden to have names, Azir started to call the boy Xerath, ‘one who shares’, and appointed him as his personal slave.
While traveling with his father on a yearly tour around the empire, the royal caravan was ambushed in the night. Azir and Xerath had journeyed further away from the others to draw the stars to their celestial maps, but an assassin found them too and would have killed Azir without Xerath’s intervention. Having dealt with the attacker the pair rushed back to find their guardian Renekton protecting the still-alive emperor, but all Azir’s brothers had been killed. Azir told his father about Xerath’s heroism but the emperor ignored the slave boy, and Azir vowed they would be brothers one day.
When they got back to the capital, the emperor launched ruthless campaigns against those he thought could be behind the attack. Azir was now the heir to the throne and he started combat training in Renekton’s guidance after the events of the fateful night showed him how little he knew about the art. Azir elevated Xerath as his right-hand man and tasked him into finding knowledge wherever he could to give the best counsel. The emperor tried to conceive another son to rival his least-favored son for the throne but as every infant died before birth, rumours about a curse started to spread. When the queen finally gave birth to a healthy boy, a terrible storm engulfed Shurima and both the queen and her child were killed as the lightning constantly hit their chambers, and the emperor who had rushed to her wife shared their fate.
Azir ruled his inherited empire with harsh but just hand, continuing to expand its borders. He made reforms that bettered the lives of the slaves, and secretly started plan on ending the slavery altogether. As such a bold move would get a lot of opposition if leaked to the public, he kept it as a secret even from Xerath and the two kept arguing over the matter as the latter felt betrayed by his friend. As the empire reached the peak of its power, Azir announced that he would undertake Ascension, and carried through the rash plan despite the resistance of many. Moments before the ritual was to begin, Azir freed all slaves and named Xerath his eternal brother.
However, this act came too late as Xerath would not waver on his vengeful plan he had been forming over the years of yearning for freedom and power of his own. The dark sorcery he had learned had prevented a new heir from being born and he was also responsible for the fate of the queen and the emperor. He had also fed Azir’s vanity and urged him into the path of Ascension just to steal the power to himself. At the height of the ritual, Xerath blasted Azir away from the Dais of Ascension to be consumed by the Sun’s fire and took his place. The disturbance of such a powerful ritual did not end well, as its power exploded outwards, burning the city’s people to ash, and tearing its buildings to ruin.
Azir remained lost in timeless oblivion until thousands of years later the blood of his descendant resurrected him. When he found the dying Sivir, his only thought was to save the woman by carrying her to the Oasis of the Dawn. Due to this selfless act, the magic of Shurima granted him his ascension with which came the ability to command the sands themselves. As he lifted his arms, so did his ruined capital city rise from the sands once more. By recreating the city’s last moments from the sands, he learned of Xerath’s betrayal and vowed to rebuild his once mighty empire.
Sivir – the Battle Mistress
"You've got a problem, I've got a price."
When Sivir was just a child, her entire family was slain by a tribe of marauders. Like many other orphans, the young girl had to steal food from local markets to survive and search ancient ruins for valuables to sell. In time, Sivir joined a group of mercenaries led by the renowned Iha Ziharo, and her skills at arms made her rise to Ziharo’s personal sergeant. Sivir eventually rallied her fellow sellswords and overthrew their greedy leader, leaving Ziharo alone in the desert.
Sivir’s band of mercenaries earned a fearsome reputation, accepting any task for good pay. One such commission was to find an ancient blade called the Chalicar, a weapon once wielded by the Ascended’s Queen Setaka. After months of searching the group finally found what they were looking for. The crossblade felt so natural in Sivir’s hands that she was unwilling to part with it and cut down the commissioner’s search party instead, keeping the weapon.
Sivir’s reputation eventually spread overseas, and Noxian General Du Couteau’s youngest daughter Cassiopeia hired her to lead her to the lost capital of the empire. While the catacombs’ traps claimed many of Sivir’s men, Cassiopeia wanted to continue until they reached the door to the Tomb of Emperors. As Sivir marvelled the ancient statues, Cassiopeia stabbed her in the back and unlocked the tomb’s doors with the Chalicar. As life was slowly bleeding out of her, Sivir watched how the serpent statue guarding the tomb attacked her betrayer and heard the roars of the maddened gods unleashed from the tomb before passing out.
However, as she was unknowingly of royal heritage, her blood resurrected the last emperor Azir. He carried Sivir to the Oasis of the Dawn, and the healing waters undid her mortal wound. Shaken after witnessing Azir’s ascension and the capital’s rebirth from the sands, Sivir fled the city with the Chalicar on her back. Her troubles are far from over as the Ascended Magus Xerath is seeking her with the intention of wiping out Azir’s bloodline. She managed to escape their first encounter at the city of Vekaura with the help of Nasus and Taliyah.
Nasus – the Curator of the Sands
"I walk through the ages."
Nasus was an intelligent child who had a passion for knowledge, while his younger brother Renekton preferred to fight with the other children. Nasus was eventually welcomed to the Collegium of the Sun, where he grew to a master military strategist under the empire’s best teachers. He became the youngest general in Shurima’s history, and due to his empathetic nature, he always made sure that his soldiers were treated well. While Nasus led his troops into countless victories, he did not enjoy war itself, but instead believed his greatest contribution to be the knowledge added into the empire’s libraries from the conquested areas.
After decades of service, Nasus was hit by a gruelling illness that left him with a week to live. As he was beloved throughout Shurima, the emperor himself pleaded with the Ascended’s queen Setaka to grant the general an Ascension. As the wish was granted, the now-warleader Renekton returned home to be with his brother and was shocked to see Nasus’ frailty. As Nasus was unable to climb the final steps onto the Dais of Ascension on the day of the ritual, Renekton carried his brother to it, fully prepared to accept oblivion as the Sun Disc’s powers were not meant for him. However, both brothers Ascended that day, Nasus gaining the likeness of a towering jackal and Renekton becoming a massive crocodile.
Nasus’ concerns about Renekton’s increased savagery after his ascension were proven true when he razed the grand library and massacred anyone standing against him during the siege of Nashramae. Only the disappointment on Nasus’ face saw Renekton’s bloodlust replaced with shame. After encountering the horrors of the Void at Icathia, Nasus studied for centuries trying to understand the implications of the changes that the Ascended had faced.
On the fateful day of Azir’s Ascension, Xerath had ensured that Nasus and his brother were away but the pair hastily rushed back to witness the chaos first-hand. After a failed attempt at capturing Xerath within a magical sarcophagus, Renekton managed to wrestle the Ascended magus into the Tomb of Emperors, where Nasus reluctantly sealed them at his brother’s request. The following centuries saw Nasus withdrawing entirely and mourning everything that was lost.
He was reinvigorated when the Tomb was opened again by mortals as he felt Xerath breaking free. Nasus was stunned to see Azir reborn and the Sun Disc risen once more but was nevertheless prepared to help the emperor as well as he could. His hopes of a reunion with Renekton were quickly shattered as he learned that he had fallen victim to Xerath’s poisonous lies during their time in the darkness and was now swearing vengeance on his brother. In the city of Vekaura, Nasus protected Sivir from Xerath’s plan of wiping out Azir’s bloodline by fighting the Ascended magus and buying enough time for her to escape unnoticed with a protective pendant given by Nasus.
Renekton – the Butcher of the Sands
"As I live, all will die."
Even as a child Renekton yearned for battle and regularly brawled with much older children despite his brother Nasus’ disapproval. When Nasus left for the Collegium of the Sun, he helped Renekton enlist in the Shuriman army despite officially being too young as he feared where Renekton’s violent nature might lead him. The military discipline helped his honor and bravery grow to match his ferocity, and he was eventually made a captain by the emperor himself. Renekton’s presence on the battlefield inspired everyone and his reputation grew to challenge even the god-warriors of the Ascended Host.
When the word of his brother’s crippling illness reached Renekton, he raced back to the capital. While Nasus was deemed worthy of Ascension, his remaining strength was not enough to climb onto the dais before the Sun Disc on the day of the ritual. Without hesitation Renekton carried his beloved brother beneath the blinding radiance, fully expecting to be obliterated by the Disc’s power. However, both brothers were granted ascension that day. His new crocodile form made Renekton even stronger, and he led Shurima’s armies into many bloody and merciless victories. His exploits earned him the nickname Butcher of the Sands, which he fully embraced. Despite some, his brother included, thought that some of Renekton’s humanity was lost in the ascension and he had become crueler, he continued to dutifully serve the emperors through the centuries.
After Azir’s failed Ascension Renekton and Nasus fought the betrayer Xerath, and knowing that they could not destroy him, Renekton wrestled him into the Tomb of Emperors and ordered his brother to seal them inside. For centuries, the two continued their fight in the darkness, and slowly Xerath’s poisonous lies about Nasus’ jealousy and betrayal started to take hold on Renekton’s mind. When the tomb was finally opened by mortals, Renekton emerged hungry for vengeance against his brother. Despite his deranged frenzies, Renekton has since gained a following among the bloodthirsty raiders of the desert.
Taliyah – the Stoneweaver
"I will weave my own path."
Taliyah is a stone mage, who was born to a tribe of nomadic weavers on the rocky foothills of the fallen Icathia’s borders. As her father was the headman and master shepherd of the tribe, Taliyah spent her childhood herding goats. At the age of six, she wandered from the caravan into the night to track a lost goatling that had been placed on her charge. The animal had managed to climb high on a rock wall but could not get down. Taliyah felt the stone calling for her, but as she opened herself to the magic it overwhelmed her and brought down the entire canyon wall. Her father managed to find Taliyah under a blanket of woven stone next morning and brought the girl to the tribe’s grandmother Babajan’s tent, where she woke up two days later. While telling the story of what happened, Taliyah decided to hide the fact that she had been the one pulling the desert stone. The elder woman saw the patterns of rock as a sign that the Great Weaver, the tribe’s mythical protector, was watching over the child.
As was accustomed, the tribe’s children would perform a dance under the full moon in a certain age to demonstrate the talents they would give to the tribe as adults. As Taliyah’s powers had kept growing over the years, she was fearful of what her dance might reveal. While Taliyah tried to concentrate on her dance, she ended up losing herself to her powers and spinning a braid of sharp rock out of the earth. Her spell was broken by the frightened cries of the onlookers, and as the stones came crashing down her mother ran to her to protect Taliyah. Seeing the shocked faces of the tribesmen and the cut on her mother’s face caused by the falling rock, she knew she was a threat to them all and ran away into the night. Her father managed to find her from the desert again and Taliyah told him about her magical talents. With his encouragement, she returned to the tribe and completed her dance. While everyone had recovered from the initial shock and were now in awe of her skills, Taliyah realized none of them could show her how to truly control her elemental magic and she left the tribe behind to venture into the world.
As she was journeying towards Targon, she came across Noxians who told her that in Noxus magic was celebrated and promised her a teacher. Taliyah was unsuspecting on these promises but eventually found herself at the shores of Ionia, where the Noxians tried to use her talents as a weapon. When Taliyah refused, she was thrown overboard from the warship. She survived both the sea and the war on the shores and wandered aimlessly in the Ionian mountains before coming across Yasuo. As a master of the wind technique, Yasuo understood the elements and was able to teach her how to use her talents. When the rumours of Azir’s return and Shurima’s new rise reached Ionia, Taliyah felt she had to return to protect her tribe despite her training being unfinished.
After a long journey through Freljord and Valoran, she finally reached the shores of her homeland in the Noxian-controlled Bel’zhun. When stopping in the city of Vekaura to buy supplies, she came across a wounded mercenary, Sivir, whom she helped as well as she could. Taliyah ended up using her stoneweaving abilities to shelter Nasus and the inhabitants of the city when they escaped Xerath’s destruction.
Zilean – the Chronokeeper
"Icathia is depending on me!"
Zilean is an Icathian elemental mage who wanted to master the time itself. He joined the vassal-state’s governing council as a young man, and through it he could witness the growing discontent of the citizens towards the Shuriman empire. Despite numerous petitions, no Icathian had even been deemed worthy of ascension, which gave the people the impression that they will never be seen as equals. While Zilean too grew resentful, he knew that Icathia was no match to Shurima’s Ascended Host and open rebellion would be doomed. Instead, he seeked aid from Icathia’s neighbouring states but none would defy Shurima.
When he returned from this diplomatic journey he was shocked to find out that, in defiance to the empire, a new Mage King had been crowned, the first since Shurima conquered the nation and dethroned Axamuk almost a millennium ago. The council told him about a newfound power called the Void which would surely guarantee Icathia’s victory. He saw only madness in this plan and was proven right when the horrors of the Void were unleashed in battle as they overwhelmed the mages trying to control it and started destroying the city. In desperation, Zilean urged as many people as he could to take refuge in his tower and managed to do the impossible – he removed the entire structure from time.
While the towers denizens were saved from the destruction, Zilean seems to be the only one capable of moving within the temporal anomaly he created and does not know how to undo it. Having spent decades studying the mysteries of time, he has invented devices that allow him to travel through the ages. Having witnessed both Runeterra’s creation and its end, he now effectively exists everywhere and keeps searching both the past and the future for a way to save his nation from its horrific fate.
Zilean's bio in the League of Legends Universe.
Rek'Sai – the Void Burrower
Rek’Sai is a merciless predator that stalks her victims beneath the dunes of Shurima’s deserts. She is the queen of her Void-spawn species, the xer’sai. Having annihilated entire regions with her insatiable hunger, all caravans now avoid these areas in fear of the apex predator.