26 November, 20 CLE
A distinctly foul odor permeating the air announces the troll's arrival. The sounds of scraping nails, labored breathing, and dirty feet scrabbling across the pristine marble floors reach the Great Hall before Trundle does. He is frighteningly out of place in the halls of the Institute of War, surrounded by gleaming decor while barely discernable rags hang off his body in some semblance of modesty. He shifts his grip on a makeshift club, an unwieldy weapon that is as long as his entire body. His skin bubbles with sores and scars, sloughing off in chunks from his body. It is amazing that he still has any flesh at all.
Trundle's weary eyes pass over the Great Hall - he lingers not on the inscription above the door, or the fine statues representing Valoran's greatest craftsmanship. These material objects mean nothing to him. A mangled tongue flicks over his unshapely lips, and he reaches out to open the doors leading to the Reflecting Chamber. As if the doors themselves are afraid to come under his touch, they part before him. He shrugs, apparently used to this type of behavior, and slips inside.
Trundle's eyes flew open as something sharp pricked his hand. He was surprised to find himself strapped down to a makeshift altar, surrounded by a circle of runes. The shamans of his tribe stood hunched over him, ready to begin the ceremony that would change his life forever.
This time, he felt a distinct detachment from the entire scene - a far cry from the raging wave of excitement, fear, and pride that had consumed him the first time it happened. He had been so young then, freshly wounded from the daily ritual of being bullied by the younger trolls. Looking back at his former self, he almost couldn't blame them - he had always been funny-looking, even by troll standards, and being the runt of the entire tribe didn't help the situation. Had any other smaller or uglier troll been born into the tribe, Trundle was sure that he would have redirected the bullying to the new target, and happily joined in himself.
What he distinctly remembered was the elders' whispered promises - that if he were to bear the weight of the entire tribe's curse onto himself, it would be the noblest sacrifice in the entire history of their race. They told him that he was the only one who could save them all when they beheld the innate regeneration that only he was born with. The young Trundle had gotten carried away with what they told him - he fantasized about the admiration in the eyes of those who had once ridiculed him, the adoration of his entire tribe, and the riches and comfort he would enjoy as they lauded his sacrifice.
Most importantly of all, he saw his life without all the bullying.
So he gave himself to the disease, letting it ravage his body. In many ways, it was a success - the Ruhgosks rejoiced in their newfound freedom and lavished their adoration on Trundle. But it was not to last – before long, his kin began to keep their distance from him. Seeing his open sores and diseased flesh was apparently too much for even trolls to handle, despite having been similarly afflicted mere weeks earlier.
It was during these times that he sometimes thought that being bullied was better than being alone. At least people could stand to be around him, even if it was just to make fun of him.
Someone spoke, snapping him out of his reverie. "Why do you want to join the League?"
Trundle turned, sitting up on the altar as the straps pinning him down disappeared. A summoner swathed in a blue robe stood behind him, towering over the troll. His face was hidden within the recesses of his cowl.
"To search for a cure for this disease," Trundle intoned wearily.
"And what if I told you that I already have your cure?"
"You're a dirty liar!"
"I've studied you, Trundle. The League knows everything about our candidates before they even pass through our doors. Your disease eats you alive, but your incredible regenerative power prevents your disease from spreading to your tribe again."
Trundle snorted. "Tell me something new. Any idiot can see the flesh tumbling from my bones and smell the stink of rot. I may be a troll, but I'm not stupid."
"True, but what you don't know, Trundle, is that you bearing the disease of your brethren will also be their downfall. While the plague that your tribe bore was debilitating, eventually their bodies came to rely on the disease. Yes, it caused them immense pain and constant disease, but it became inextricably fused with your race's inherent ability to regenerate." The summoner's tone was clinical as he spoke. "Thus, when the plague was extracted from their bodies, it took along with it their regenerative capabilities. Now their bodies do not even know how to sustain themselves."
The summoner paused. "What they did to you did not cure them. It barely even prolongs the tribe's inevitable extinction."
Trundle closed his eyes, overwhelmed.
The summoner continued on, unrelenting. "So, I ask you, Trundle of the Ruhgosk tribe, do you want the League to restore the disease to your tribe?"
The images flashed unbidden before his eyes - his tribe once again plagued by the debiliating disease, all equally humbled by their affliction. He imagined telling them how this sacrifice saved them all from a potentially worse fate, and his tribe finally seeing him for the savior that he was.
And suddenly, the sting of naiveté that caused him to make this same choice before shattered his train of thought. His decision to bear the burden of disease never changed the fact that he was the runt. Nothing he ever did would change that.
A crooked smile snaked across his misshapen face. "Let them suffer. I'll keep what they so generously gave me."
"So it shall be. Then I will ask you again – why do you want to join the League, if not for a cure?"
"It seems this is the 'cure' I was looking for after all."
"How does it feel, exposing your mind?"
Trundle thought for a long moment. "For once, it felt like I wasn’t alone anymore. Thank you for that."
The summoner nodded and disappeared. Trundle stood alone in a long corridor, with a trail of dirt and peeled skin marking the way he had entered. He shrugged, triggering another avalanche of shed flesh, and strode forward into the League of Legends.