“I’m no hero. Just a yordle with a hammer.”
Runeterra has no shortage of valiant champions, but few are as tenacious as Poppy. Bearing a hammer twice the length of her body, this determined yordle has spent untold years searching for the “Hero of Demacia,” a fabled warrior said to be the rightful wielder of her weapon.
As legend describes it, this hero is the only person who can unlock the full power of the hammer and lead Demacia to true greatness. Though Poppy has searched the furthest corners of the kingdom for this legendary fighter, her quest has proven fruitless. Each time she has attempted to pass the hammer on to a potential hero, the results have been disastrous, often ending in the warrior’s death. Most people would have abandoned the task long ago, but most people do not possess the pluck and resolve of this indomitable heroine.
Poppy was once a very different yordle. For as long as she could remember, she had been in search of a purpose. Feeling alienated by the chaotic whimsy of other yordles, she preferred to soak up stability and structure where she could find it. This drive brought her to the human settlements of western Valoran, where she gazed in wonder at the caravans striping the countryside in an endless file. Many of the people there looked tattered and weary, but they stumbled on in pursuit of some ephemeral better life that might lie just beyond the horizon.
One day, however, a different sort of caravan passed through. Unlike the other travelers, these people seemed to move with purpose. They all awoke at the exact same time each morning, roused by the sound of a watchman’s horn. They took their meals together every day at the same hour, always finishing within a few minutes. They set up their camps and took them down with remarkable efficiency.
While yordles used their innate magic to fashion extraordinary things, these humans achieved equally astounding feats through coordination and discipline. They acted in concert like the cogs of a gear, becoming something much larger and stronger than any single person could ever be. To Poppy, that was more marvelous than all the magic in the world.
As Poppy watched the camp from the safety of her hiding place, her eyes caught the gleam of armor emerging from a tent. It was the group’s commanding officer, wearing a brigandine of gleaming steel plates, each piece overlapping, each an integral part of the whole. The man’s name was Orlon, and his presence seemed to stir the souls of everyone there. If someone became discouraged, he was there to remind them of why they pressed on. If someone collapsed from exhaustion, he inspired them to get up. It reminded Poppy of certain yordle charms, though again, without magic.
Poppy crept in for a closer look. She found herself following this shining commander, as if drawn to him by fate itself. She observed Orlon as he led his soldiers in training exercises. He was not a large fellow, yet he swung his massive battle hammer with surprising alacrity. At night, Poppy listened intently to his hushed discussions with the elders of the camp. She heard them making plans to pull up stakes and head west to build a permanent settlement.
Poppy’s mind was overwhelmed with questions. Where was Orlon going? Where did he come from? How did he assemble this meticulous band of travelers, and was there a place for a yordle in it? At that moment, she made the most important decision in her life: For the first time ever, she would reveal herself to a human, as this was the first time she’d ever felt a connection with one.
The introduction was a jarring one, with Orlon having just as many questions for Poppy as she had for him, but the two soon became inseparable. He became a mentor to her, and she a devotee to his cause. In the training grounds, Poppy was an invaluable sparring partner–the only member of Orlon’s battalion who was unafraid to strike him. She was never obsequious, questioning his decisions with an almost childlike innocence, as though she didn’t know she was supposed to meekly follow orders. She accompanied him to the site of the new settlement–an ambitious new nation called Demacia, where all were welcome, regardless of station or background, so long as they contributed to the good of the whole.
Orlon became a beloved figure throughout the kingdom. Though few had actually seen him wield his hammer, he always bore it on his back, and the weapon quickly became a revered icon for the fledgling nation. People whispered that it had the power to level mountains and tear the earth itself asunder.
Orlon passed the hammer to Poppy on his deathbed, and with it, his hope of an enduring kingdom. It was only then that Orlon told her the story of his weapon’s creation, and how it was never truly intended for his hands. He explained to Poppy that the hammer was meant to go to the Hero of Demacia–the only one who could keep Demacia whole. As her friend drew his last breath, Poppy swore to him that she would find this hero and place the weapon in his hands.
But what Poppy possesses in resolve, she lacks in ego, as it never even occurred to her that she might be the hero Orlon described.
Poppy had nothing against the briar wolf, aside from the fact that it was about to maul her. Its muzzle was stained crimson from a previous kill, and the yordle wouldn’t chance being its next. She was hot on the trail of a renowned monster slayer, and she didn’t intend to die before she found the man and judged his worth.
“You should step back. You won’t survive this,” Poppy told the wolf, holding her hammer aloft as a deterrent.
But the briar wolf was not discouraged. It padded toward her, propelled by some strange desperation that Poppy couldn’t identify. Then she saw the telltale foam at the corners of its mouth. This animal was not driven by hunger or territorial instincts. It was in pain, and it wanted release. The wolf leapt at her, as if it had made up its mind that its next act would be to kill or be killed.
Poppy swung the hammer, using every ounce of her strength to move the weapon’s considerable weight. The blow she delivered collapsed the animal’s skull in an instant, ending its torment. Poppy took no pleasure in the kill, but she supposed it was the best possible outcome, for her and the wolf.
The yordle looked around at the empty meadow, but sensed no trace of the monster slayer she’d come to find. She had roamed the countryside, following rumors of his activities, hoping this mysterious hunter might be the fabled hero she had sought for so many years. But thus far, all she’d found were wolves and wyverns and highwaymen, most of whom she’d been forced to kill in self-defense.
She had spent weeks traveling from hamlet to hamlet in the far-flung corners of Demacia. She walked as fast as her tiny gait would allow, but the monster slayer always seemed to be one step ahead of her, leaving naught but tales of heroic exploits in his wake. For a yordle, time is a curious thing whose passing is seldom felt, but even for Poppy, the search was beginning to grow long.
One day, just when she was beginning to doubt herself and her mission, she spied a notice nailed to a roadside post:
“All are invited to attend the Festival of the Slayer!”
It was a celebration to honor the very monster hunter Poppy had been seeking. If there was any hope of locating this elusive hero, she would certainly find it there. He might even make an appearance, and then she could size him up in person to determine if he was worthy to carry the hammer Orlon had bequeathed her. The prospect put a spring in her step, and she marched with renewed purpose toward the celebration.
Poppy was anxious when she arrived at the village, its banners and streamers gaudily proclaiming the day’s festivities. Ideally, she would have arrived early at such a public event and claimed a spot in the rear of the crowd, so as not to draw attention. But the main market was already packed with spectators, and Poppy found it hard to maneuver through the press of bodies. She squeezed through the legs of the townsfolk, most of whom were too inebriated to notice her.
“I’d buy ’im a pint if ’e were here,” slurred one voice above her. “Saved my goats by killing that monster.”
Poppy’s heart raced, as it always did when she heard tales of the hunter.
What if he turns out to be the one? she thought.
But deep inside, Poppy asked a different question. What would she do once she was rid of the weapon? Would she find an entirely new purpose? A yordle without one was a pathetic sight indeed. She stopped her mind from wandering and brought it back to the task at hand.
The tiny warrior finally managed to weave her way to the back of the market. She found a tall lamppost both easy to climb and behind the eyes of the crowd. She then shimmied up the post, just high enough to see over the throng.
Poppy was just in time. On the far side of the market, a speaker stood with several Demacian officials on a dais, and behind him, something tall was draped in a ceremonial veil.
Even with her keen yordle senses, Poppy could barely hear the man’s words. He was talking about the monster hunter, and how he had saved numerous farms and villages from wyverns, rabid wolves, and bandits. He said that although this revered warrior had chosen to remain anonymous, it shouldn’t stop them from celebrating his deeds. The slayer had been spotted several weeks ago near the town of Uwendale, leaving the first eyewitness accounts of his appearance. With that, the speaker pulled off the veil to reveal a stone statue.
Poppy grew faint with excitement as she saw the hunter’s likeness for the first time. He was the paragon of a Demacian warrior—seven feet tall, armored in heavy plate mail, and rippling with sharply defined muscles. Beneath him lay the corpse of a wolf he had presumably slain.
Just as the image had begun to settle in Poppy’s mind, she heard the sound of a child’s voice a few yards away.
“Look, Da. It’s the slayer! The one from the statue!” declared the wide-eyed girl.
Poppy saw the girl was pointing in her direction. She whirled around to see if the slayer was standing behind her. But no one was there.
“No, lass,” said the girl’s father. “That one’s no monster slayer. Too small by half.”
The girl and her father quickly lost interest and strolled through the village to partake in the various amusements.
As the crowd in front of the statue dispersed, Poppy moved in for a closer inspection. Now she could see the fine details of the hunter’s marble depiction. His hair was long, fair, and bound in two separate side knots. His hands were gnarled from a hundred battles, and in them, he held a massive battle hammer not unlike the one Orlon had given her. If there was a truer hero in the kingdom, Poppy had never seen him.
“He has to be the one,” Poppy said. “Hope I’m not too late.”
She turned and left the festival as fast as her legs could carry her, taking the swiftest route to Uwendale.