The next League of Legends champion, Bel’Veth, is one of the most unusual champions on the game’s enormous roster. She’s an onion of body horror tropes, wrapping an uncanny-valley woman disguise around a manta ray-shaped monster, and she wants nothing more than to eat the world and use it as fuel for a new, nightmarish empire. While fans only met Bel’Veth recently, Riot Games has been seeding the plot for her arrival for some time now.
Evolve and adapt
The Void in League of Legends is an extradimensional force; it’s a realm of nightmare made manifest. Champions like Cho’Gath, Kha’Zix, and Vel’Koz all come from the Void, and they serve as scouts in the world of Runeterra. Each Void monster has a ravenous need to consume, evolve, and destroy.
The lore explains that the Void used to be a place of pure quiet and nothingness, and when Runeterra came into being, the noise of its existence became unbearable to the Watchers that slept within the Void. The Watchers are basically what would happen if the Lovecraftian pantheon had to live in a crowded apartment building surrounded by loud neighbors who are constantly hammering, screaming, or throwing parties.
The Void has broken through into the world of League of Legends in two major ways. The first is in the wastelands of Icathia. Icathia was once a thriving nation of its own, but its leaders decided to stand up to the dominant empire of Shurima. In order to fight back against Shurima’s god warriors, they dug up slumbering Voidborn. The short story “Where Icathia Once Stood” is a terrifying look at how that went, but the tl;dr is that it was a terrible idea.
All of this sets the stage for Bel’Veth, Empress of the Void, and her hideous birth into reality. Ages later, the Void has started to spread out of Icathia and deep into Shurima, continuing to devour and destroy — including the port city of Belveth. “Bel’Veth is made from the DNA of all the lifeforms that were consumed by the Void in the city of Belveth,” says Ryan Mireles, the lead producer of gameplay for League of Legends, in an interview with Polygon via email.
“That included a ton of people as well as marine life found in the harbor (it was a harbor town.) That’s why Bel’Veth is part human, but also has a bunch of different marine lifeforms in her design like manta rays and vampire squids. We wanted her minions to also be aquatic, hence the remora,” adds Mireles.
And because the Void is so heavily based on evolution, and Bel’Veth has eaten so many people, she’s taken on the quality of self-preservation. Bel’Veth doesn’t want the Watchers to win and establish a nothingness of perfect silence — she wants to eat our world and use it for a new Void realm.
Null and Void
This sets the stage for a civil war of sorts. The Watchers have also gained a foothold in the frozen Freljord up north, thanks to a deal they made with the ancient Ice Witch Lissandra. The Watchers gave Lissandra and her sisters, Avarosa and Serylda, incredible powers. The Freljordian Iceborn warriors and powerful True Ice come from this deal. Lissandra only realized how dangerous the Watchers really were when her sisters rebelled against the bargain, demanding their freedom, and she was forced to seal the Watchers’ incursion in a blanket of ice.
That was in “a time long forgotten,” and Lissandra has spent generations preparing for the Watchers’ return. The story “The Eye in the Abyss” is a haunting tale of Lissandra’s warriors scouting out the Watchers’ resting place — and, of course, things go hideously wrong. Bel’Veth is sympathetic to this; she’s anti-Watcher and so she is a natural ally to Lissandra, even if she’s an enemy to literally everyone else, also including Lissandra.
In the Freljord, we have Lissandra holding the fort and ensuring that the Void stays nice and sleepy. In Icathia, the opposite is happening. The prophet Malzahar has been actively feeding the Void; it’s consumed entire villages, and the more it eats, the more it spreads. Kai’Sa, Daughter of the Void, is one such victim. She’s the only survivor of her village due to using a Voidborn as makeshift armor, which grew to become a biological suit fused to her skin.
Kai’Sa meets Taliyah, a Shuriman leader trying to find safe harbor for her people from the Void, in the short story “Hollowspun.” Kai’Sa and Taliyah end up discovering how far the Void has spread, and their battle against the monster queen Rek’Sai is one part of “The Call,” the game’s most recent cinematic, along with battles in the Freljord and on Mount Targon. Interestingly enough, we also see Rek’Sai and her brood resisting Bel’Veth. Rek’Sai is the ultimate momma bear, and she doesn’t want the Empress anywhere near her babies.
After the battle in “The Call,” Kai’Sa escapes Rek’Sai through the void tunnels under the desert. She ends up in a more southern part of Shurima, where she meets the Void Empress herself in the middle of a Void realm called the Lavender Sea. The Lavender Sea, and Bel’Veth herself, were heralded by the prophet Malzahar. Malzahar has found a Void pocket and is aggressively feeding it, with horrible results. As the story “Feast of the Prophet” puts it: “Throughout the day, these cultists throw livestock into the hole. They throw each other into the hole. Sometimes they throw themselves into the hole.”
That hole leads to the Lavender Sea, the realm of Bel’Veth, and Kai’Sa stumbles upon its horror. The below cinematic is followed by the story “Pinwheel,” in which Bel’Veth recruits Kai’Sa in her plan to stop the Watchers — the Empress is the lesser of two evils, but she’s still definitely pretty evil.
The original goal for Bel’Veth was to be more of a monstrous female champion, something like Renekton, Nasus, or Rengar, but female,” says Mireles, noting that the closest thing the roster has to a monstrous female humanoid is Lamb, one half of Kindred. “Over development though she pushed further and further into the creature camp, until we noted that the Void had a lot of unrelateable monsters.”
So what would a relatable Void monster, one that could interact with other champions and humans more, look like? The team went for an anglerfish approach; she’s able to lure in prey or appear as a diplomat, but she’s still very clearly not a person. She’s more like a horde of chittering horrors stacked on top of each other in a trenchcoat and pretending to be a person. “Bel’Veth doesn’t have real human legs. She has 2 kind-of-human-leg-like tentacles hanging from her body. It’s actually creepy AF if you ever see them,” says Mireles. “In the end, we felt that the two forms would be a really interesting addition to our growing roster.”
Bel’Veth is the sort of big bad who could create an event like the Sentinels of Light, and she heralds a lot of change for the League of Legends story. Just don’t trust her pleasant face — she will turn you into a remora, and that’s if you’re lucky.