Maokai was once a peaceful nature spirit dwelling in an idyllic forest, but the arrogance of humans brought an end to that life. Now he is a gnarled shadow of his former self, twisted by dark magics that defied the natural order of life and death. Infused with power he never asked for, the mighty treant has become a vengeful force of nature, sundering his enemies with wild magic and iron-hard limbs as he searches Valoran for the means to restore the Shadow Isles to its former glory.
Before the Shadow Isles became a land of death, the islands teemed with natural life and beauty. This was never truer than in the isles' sacred forest: a paradise of thriving trees and countless species, both animal and spirit alike. When the king of the Shadow Isles ordered his sorcerers to crack open the barrier separating life and death, the forest served as a well of power the magi drank deeply from.
The sorcerers' ritual succeeded in corrupting the cycle of life and unleashing forces they could not hope to contain. Vitality seeped from every living thing in the Shadow Isles: great trees withered into gnarled husks, people warped into twisted shades, and forest spirits became hollow wisps. Maokai, the strongest spirit of the sacred forest, watched in horror as his world crumbled and died around him. He fought to mend the wound in the world, but could not halt the destruction wrought by human folly. As the ghastly energies sought to overwhelm the great spirit, he made one last desperate attempt to preserve the life of the land. Maokai inhabited the ancient oak at the heart of the forest's spiritual power. There he gathered the essence of the isles into the tree as the corruption of undeath clawed hungrily at anything within reach. Fortified by boundless magic, Maokai could not be consumed entirely, though the spirit was not left unscathed.
Maokai, now saturated with the essences of life and death, became fused with the ancient oak and contorted into an abomination. For ages, pain and grief were the only companions the spirit had. His boughs grew heavy as he wept at the desolation of everything he had known and loved, and his roots tore from the earth as he raged at the reckless sorcerers that had ruined his home. But all was not lost. Maokai had preserved the last vital spark remaining in the Shadow Isles, and with it, the hope of returning life to the land.
Like moths to a flame, the tormented shades of the Shadow Isles were drawn to the living essence within Maokai. The spirit guarded the seed of life from the relentless undead, but Maokai knew he could not fend them off forever. He needed to escape the land of death his home had become, so he cast himself into the sea and trusted in nature to guide him towards a living land. There he hoped to find the means to cast out the forces of undeath and restore life to the Shadow Isles.
''To defy the natural order has consequences.''