Lore Theory: A Void Invasion is looming, and it's sorta Ivern's fault
Now that title might be a bold claim, especially since we all know Ivern, we all know the Void, and we all know these two things don’t really mix, but stay a while, read on, and you’ll see what I mean.
But first, some sources.
The crux of this theory comes from the four places. They are as follows:
“Frozen Hearts”: https://universe.leagueoflegends.com/en_GB/story/frozen-hearts/ “Roots of a Poisoned Tree”: https://universe.leagueoflegends.com/en_GB/story/malphite-color-story/ Ivern’s Bio: https://universe.leagueoflegends.com/en_GB/story/champion/ivern/ Malzahar’s Bio: https://universe.leagueoflegends.com/en_GB/story/champion/malzahar/
Now this probably seems even weirder. What does a Nunu & Willump story, Malphite and Ivern have to do with anything? Well let’s start with Ivern himself.
Ivern’s and the God-Willow
For those unaware, Ivern used to be a human. A Freljordian human specifically who arrived on Ionian shores over 9,000 years ago. He was looking for magic, some form of power to use against the rising Iceborn empire and their dark masters. We know that Lissandra and her sisters led them and that their masters were the Watchers, but to Ivern, he likely didn’t have any knowledge of those details. They were big and bad and he needed something to fight them.
In this time he was known as “Ivern and Cruel”, and so when he landed on Ionia with his crew, he set out raiding Ionian settlements. Eventually the locals pointed him towards the grove of Omikayalan, where the mighty God-Willow resided.
The God-Willow is a big mystery in the lore at the moment, but based on Rioter comments it’s currently believed that it was both sapient (Sentience is the ability to think. Sapience is when you can think like a human), and it was vitally important to Runeterra, though how so we’re not sure, though said Rioter comments allude to it essentially being a World Tree of sorts, so we can probably guess.
Either way, Ivern went in, and he was immediately accosted by the Vastayashai’rei: the legendary predecessors to the vastaya (this could also be the vastaya rather than the Vastayashai’rei, I just don’t think so). He got through anyway, and cut down the God-Willow, it’s powers immediately flowing in to him, transforming him in to the Green-Father we know and don’t see often in our games. He spent 100 years rooted in place reflecting, regretted everything he had done, was forgiven by nature and then went out in to the world much cheerier than before.
The main take away from this I want you to take is the God-Willow’s existence. It’s what this theory hinges on.
In the story Frozen Hearts, Nunu, younger than he is now, is talking with his mum Layka. It’s all lovely stuff, but something crops up that’s interesting, this passage:
“...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 our ancestors destroyed, and buried in ice. All these things you can find, if only you look. You can go anywhere you can imagine.”
Layka is an interesting figure. She was sought out by Lissandra due to her knowledge of the yeti, since Lissandra stole the yeti’s magic to seal the Watchers in the Howling Abyss, and now the ice is melting so she’s in dire need of more. To our knowledge this makes Layka, aside from Nunu and Lissandra, as the only living humans with knowledge of the yeti’s ancient civilization, which in turn gives credence to the fact that Layka somehow also knew about Ivern.
The line could mean some other event; perhaps Runeterra has had many world-trees, but the fact that it calls out not only such a tree, but also Freljordian ancestors who destroyed it, draws immediate parallels to Ivern pre-transformation and the raiders he brought with them. Going by this, if we assume Layka is in some way talking about Ivern and the God-Willow, then it also gives us some interesting ideas to consider:
The God-Willow’s roots might’ve spread across the entire world, reaching back from Ionia to the Freljord and beyond
With the tree gone, the roots will also be gone, and as such there might be a great network of caverns left behind, also spreading across the world.
Now as said, this all hinges on some assumptions in regards to what Layka is referring to, and given her source of info would be over 9,000 years ago, it’s safe to say she’s not going to have 100% accurate information. I choose to believe it’s true, based on how Layka is presented in the narrative, and also her implied knowledge of the yeti, something very few characters can attest to, so for the sake of this theory, let’s run with this.
Roots of a Poisoned Tree
In the story Roots of a Poisoned Tree, a Shuriman surveyor named Shoorai encounters Malphite. He warns her not to dig in the place they currently are, cuz it’s infested with Voidborn. The exchange goes like this:
”I know them,” she said. “But they only dwell in the deserts of the southern continent.”
“ONCE, PERHAPS, BUT NOW THEY THREAD THE CRUST OF THE WORLD LIKE THE ROOTS OF A POISONED TREE.”
Shoorai looked uneasily at the ground.
Now this is notable for the description Malphite gives, as it once again draws parallels back to the idea of tree roots spreading across the world. This is especially notable because in all of Runeterra’s history, we’ve only seen void rifts remain in 3 known locations without being sealed later: the Howling Abyss, Icathia, and the Marai Territory, the place where Nami comes from. The story itself takes place near Zaun, which is hundreds of miles removed from any of these locations at minimum.
Just like with Layka, Malphite is a character who knows his shit. During Shurima’s war with the Void, the Ascended named Ne’Zuk created the Monolith: a floating fortress of elemental power, and unleashed it against the ruined Icathia. The Monolith ultimately fell, but a shard survived, which became Malphite after some centuries of dormancy. He’s always retained some instinct for destroying Voidborn wherever he can, so he’ll have been at this for a long time. The fact he notes that the Voidborn are spreading across the whole world is important, to say the least.
There’s also the nod in the title of the story itself. Riot doesn’t name their stories randomly, I mean just read “The Bow, and the Kunai”, and then think on why it’s named that way, specifically with a comma. So the fact Riot has this story titled after a direct quote from Malphite in the story shows that this detail is important somehow.
So, if we’re going under the assumption that there’s a cavernous underground left behind by the now dead God-Willow’s roots, and Voidborn are in it, the question is: How?!
Malzahar is our answer, and it’s honestly pretty simple to explain:
Among the nomads of the deep desert, he found his first disciples. Before their astonished eyes, he used his new Void-given powers to rend the very earth itself, summoning chittering, nightmarish creatures to carry away any who dared to deny him. Within a matter of months, strange rumors began to travel with the merchant caravans; rumors of men and women gladly sacrificing themselves to unseen powers, and of powerful quakes opening up the bedrock of Shurima in new fault lines hundreds of miles long.
Basically, Malzahar’s using his magic to rip open the earth and create earthquakes, allowing for further Void rifts to be opened. It’s not a stretch to say that he might’ve inadvertently, or deliberately, breached the God-Willow’s old root system, and from that, allowed the Voidborn to start scuttling their way across all of Runeterra.
Ok, so TL;DR?
Glad you asked! Basically:
Ivern cut down a giant, magical tree called a God-Willow.
It’s roots potentially spread across the entirety of Runeterra, and when the tree died it’s roots rotted away, leaving a vast underground cave network.
Malzahar is using his Void powers to rip open the earth and create earthquakes, which has opened up access to the God-Willow’s old root system.
Voidborn are now using the root system to spread across all of Runeterra.
Now of course this isn’t an iron clad theory, there’s holes to pick, like the fact that Layka might not be specifically talking about the God-Willow, or something else I’ve otherwise overlooked, but either way I do wholeheartedly believe this theory. I wouldn’t have thought of it without Malphite’s story “Roots of a Poisoned Tree”, and while I’m here, go read it. It’s a nice story all things considered!
As an aside, even though in the title I say “This is sorta Ivern’s fault”, and it technically is, it's also something that’s like 9,000 years removed from Ivern’s own actions, and Ivern’s spent those last 9,000 years repenting for his mistakes and making the world a better place. I could never actually blame him for this, it’s just kinda amusing to me when I say it like that.
Some of the biggest revelations and mysteries you find in League lore come from the most unlikely and esoteric of places!
That’s all I’ve got at present, so thanks all for reading, and I hope you have a great day!1,384 Read the full article on Reddit