The History of Freljord: Of Ancient Gods and Ice Witches
In the polar north of the continent of Valoran lies a wild region covered in mighty glaciers and untamed forests, the Freljord. This unforgiving land is unlike the great civilizations in the comfortable south, like Demacia or Noxus. Here the numbing cold of icy winds and ferocious beasts dominate the lands. Despite all the hardships, some tribes still managed to edge out a living among the monsters and glaciers, making the freljordians into some of the hardiest people in all of Runeterra.
Age of Gods:
At the very beginning, before the sentient races colonized all corners of Runeterra, Freljord was a place full of untamed magic and the home of a family of demigods. These immortal beings forged the land of Freljord through mysterious forces, as the legends tell. Soon the first tribes of man settled down and formed close ties with the gods, worshipping them and adopting their ideals as part of their way of life. Among the oldest of the tribes were the Hearthblood whose culture was based around a deity called Ornn, the fire below the mountain.
Ornn is the god of smithing and people from all over Valoran traveled to his forge in order to learn his craft. He was a rather pragmatic and uncaring god, commentating the creations of the Hearthblood only with grunts and nods. Ornn didn’t seem to particularly care about his worshippers but they still insisted on improving their smithing, because they believed that this strife for perfection pleased their god.
Ornn has a brother called Volibear. This demigod has the appearance of a giant ice bear and acts as a god of war for his followers. The tribe that gathered around him are called the Ursine and still exist to this day. Unlike Ornn and his apprentices, who prefer crafting weapons rather than using them, Volibear loved nothing more than warfare and carnage. Therefore the Ursine were a violent tribe of raiders, who seeked out conflict and slaughtered their enemies as sacrifices for Volibear.
The brothers had very different ways of live but this didn’t stop them from supporting each other. Ornn crafted a legendary piece of armor for Volibear, which protects him in the vast amount of battles he fights. Over the ages Volibear earned victory after victory, while Ornn disapprovingly looked away from the butchery his brother commited for glory.
One demigod saw a greater purpose in their existence and swore to protect all of Freljord. Her name is Anivia, a ice phoenix who is the embodiment of the land itself. Even so Anivia was born out of the relentless winters and bitter ice of Freljord, which claims many unfortunate lives each year, she is a benevolent being who uses her power against those who intend to harm her home.
The demigods slowly drifted apart but were never at odds with each other, until a issue arose which tore apart their unity.
It didn’t take long until the ambition of humanity outgrew their devotion to their gods and tried to tame Freljord, seeking to impose order on the tribes, the supernatural forces, the wilderness and everything in between. Three sisters emerged who seeked the power of the ancient gods for this goal. Those were Lissandra, Avarosa and Serylda.
The demigods were divided on how they should handle these mortals. Volibear of course wanted to tackle this threat to his divine authority head on by slaughtering the sisters and all of their followers. Meanwhile Anivia supported them, believing that their goals were for the greater good of Freljord. Ornn just wanted to wait it out, in his mind they were just like any other mortal and would achieve nothing meaningful in their short lifespans.
Volibear couldn’t be dissuaded from killing the sisters and went to Ornn, so he could craft new weapons and armor for the coming battle. Ornn refused to help him however, he wouldn’t become a accomplice in yet another one of his brother’s pointless massacres. Volibear was enraged by his brother’s betrayal and a fight broke out between them. The powers that were unleashed in their battle were as fierce as the force of a volcanic eruption. A giant maelstrom out of ash and fire encircled the battleground and stretched to the sky, for all of Freljord to see. When the dust settled none of them emerged out of the battle as a clear victor. Volibear took of his brother’s enchanted armor, cursing out Ornn before turning his back to him forever.
Ornn was devastated, but not by his brother’s anger at him. Their duel hit Ornn’s home with the apocalyptic forces of two angry gods, turning all of the Hearthbloods into smoldering ashes.
Rise of the Ice Witch:
Volibear sounded the horns of war but couldn’t defeat the three sisters, even when he mobilized his bloodthirsty followers against them. They had already amassed enough power defy the gods. But in their search for the divine power that would allow them to tame this magical and volatile world, they all still had to pay a price. Lissandra’s sight was taken by Volibear’s claws. Serylda’s voice was stolen by Zoe, The First Twilight and Avarosa was never able to hear again after coming in contact with a dark realm of emptiness slumbering in the far north of Freljord.
By using her abilities to watch the visions of those around her, Lissandra also gained awareness of this strange, alien force that her sister encountered. She realized that these eldritch beings possessed powers which rivaled even those of Freljord’s deities. This collective is known as The Void and they have lingered under the surface of Runeterra for eons, waiting for the right time to envelop this world with freezing nothingness. Lissandra struck a deal with the heralds of The Void, the god-like Watchers. They would grant the sisters near immortality for the price of their support for the coming of The Void. Thanks to the gifts granted by the Watchers, the sisters and their strongest followers would be able to withstand the freezing cold of the emptiness that is The Void and therefore became known as the first Iceborn.
The day came when The Void heaved its writhing mass out of the abyss and clocked in the end of the world. Avarosa and Serylda raised their banner in rebellion against the Watchers, as they refused to sacrifice a world they originally seeked to protect. Lissandra was faced with a choice, either let The Void consume Runeterra or banish it. Saving the world however would require a terrible sacrifice, but there was no other way. She cast the iceborn, including her sisters, into the glacial abyss The Void crawled out of and trapped the Watchers in a massive barrier of True Ice, saving the world.
However, even True Ice isn‘t save from the corrupting influence of The Void. If Lissandra wants to keep the Watchers at bay she would have to constantly renew the True Ice barrier. This lead to the founding of the Frostguard, the protectors and worshippers of Lissandra, who search the land for sources of True Ice so The Void may not escape its prison and endanger Lissandras‘s ambitions.
Legacy of The Void:
The Frostguard and Lissandra’s intentions aren’t as noble as some might assume, despite them being the only wall between The Void and Runeterra. They are a cult who devote their lives to their queen and her plans. Lissandra still has deep respect for the memory of her sisters and seeks what they originally wanted to achieve, but their vision has been corrupted by evil. She now wants to realize their dream of a unity by dominating the world with the abilities she gained from her pact with the denizens of The Void.
She and her followers now reside in a citadel entombed in the eternal winter of Freljord’s polar north, impossible to reach for mere mortal. There they don’t just watch over the abyss, the Frostguard also safeguard the true story of the three sisters in their vast archives. They erased Lissandra, the Iceborn and their connection to The Void out of Freljord’s history, so nobody could ever learn of Lissandra’s bargain with The Void and the true origin of the Iceborn.
They couldn’t stop the oral history of Freljord however, so stories about the three sisters and their struggle survived as myths to this day. Not just the stories persisted over the centuries, the spirits of the first Iceborn also proved to be very persistent. Those who received the gift from The Void, the first of the Iceborn, became the source of a maternal bloodline that very rarely gives birth to a new Iceborn such as Ashe, Sejuani, Braum and Trundle.
For centuries the Iceborn trait has been passed on from mother to child and alongside it, the spirits of Avarosa and Serylda also carry on through the Iceborn bloodlines. Over and over Lissandra’s sisters are reborn, almost like a curse that won’t go away unless Lissandra and the Watchers are defeated for good. Those special Iceborn pose the biggest threat to the Ice Witch’s plans, so The Frostguard sets out to assassinate them again and again.
The most recent ones who carry the sisters blood in them are Ashe and Sejuani. The two share a very close bond and have the same dream of a united Freljord, just like the original sisters. Their different ways to achieve this goal forced them and their tribes at odds with each other, culminating in a bloody conflict for the future of Freljord. Lissandra helped fan the fires of war, distracting them from the true threat that lies in the howling abyss under the Frostguard citadel.
For now, the conflict between Ashe from the prosperous Avarosan tribes and Sejuani from the ferocious Winter’s Claw has no end in sight. The ancient conflict between the three sisters and The Void is also still left without a resolution, but destiny demands one. The constant cycle of rebirth, Lissandra’s plans for world domination and the unrelenting efforts of the Watchers to break the true ice barrier will inevitably lead to a day of reckoning.
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