"Do not fear the winds of change - they will always be at your back." - JannaSquare Janna
Armed with the power of Runeterra's gales, Janna is a mysterious, elemental wind spirit who protects the dispossessed of Zaun. Some believe she was brought into existence by the pleas of Runeterra's sailors who prayed for fair winds as they navigated treacherous waters and braved rough tempests. Her favor and protection has since been called into the depths of Zaun, where Janna has become a beacon of hope to those in need. No one knows where or when she will appear, but more often than not, she's come to help.
Many of Runeterra's sailors have strange and unusual superstitions, which is no wonder as they often live or die by the tempestuous whims of the weather. Some captains insist on pouring salt onto the deck so the sea doesn't notice they're from the shore. Others make sure to throw the first fish they catch back into the water as a show of mercy. It's not surprising, then, that most implore the wind itself for steadfast breezes, calm seas, and clear skies.
Many believe the spirit Janna was born out of these prayers.
She started small. Seafarers would sometimes spot a bright blue Zephyr bird just before a healthy tailwind billowed their sails. Others could swear they'd hear a whistling in the air right before a storm, as if to warn them of its approach. As word of these benevolent omens spread, sightings of the bird grew more common. Some swore they had seen the bird transform into a woman. With tapered ears and flowing hair, this mysterious maiden was said to float above the water and direct the wind with a flick of her staff.
Seafarers created ramshackle shrines of seasparrow bones and shining oyster shells which they tucked into the bows of their ships. The more successful vessels built their shrines as figureheads on their masts, hoping their more ostentatious displays of faith would be rewarded with even better winds.
Eventually, Runeterra's seamen agreed upon a name for this wind spirit: 'Janna', an ancient Shuriman word meaning 'guardian'. As more sailors came to believe in Janna and made increasingly elaborate offerings to gain her favor, she grew ever stronger. Janna helped explorers traverse new waters, blew ships from treacherous reefs, and - on particularly starless nights - wrapped the comfort of a warm breeze around a homesick sailor's shoulders. For those sailing with ill intent - pirates, raiders, and the like - Janna was sometimes said to blow them off course with sudden squalls and storms.
Janna took great joy in her work. Whether helping people or punishing the deserving, she felt happy to watch over Runeterra's oceans.
For as long as Janna could remember, a single isthmus separated the western and eastern oceans of Valoran. In order to move from the west to the east, or from the east to the west, ships would have to brave the long, incredibly dangerous waters around the tip of the southern continent. Most ships subsequently made offerings to Janna for strong winds that would expedite their perilous journey around the rocky coast.
The city fathers of the bustling trade city on the isthmus' coast tired of watching ships make the long trek around the southern continent, which could often take many months. They hired the most innovative scientists to use the rich chemical resources recently discovered in the area to create a massive waterway that would unite Valoran's major seas.
Word of the canal spread like a pox amongst sailors. Such a passage would open up boundless trade opportunities, allow for easier passage through dangerous waters, reduce time at sea and introduce the transportation of perishable goods. It would bring the east to the west, the west to the east, and above all: it would bring change.
With the canal in place, sailors wouldn't need Janna's winds to keep their ships safe from Valoran's cliffs. They wouldn't need to build elaborate shrines or watch the stormy horizon for bluebirds. Their ships' safety and speed no longer depended on an unpredictable deity, but the ingenuity of man. And so, as construction progressed over the decades, Janna fell out of favor. Her shrines grew ragged, picked apart by gulls, and seldom was her name whispered, even as the waters grew sharp and choppy with winter.
Janna felt herself weaken and her powers fade. When she tried to summon a squall, she'd only conjure a light draft. If she transformed into her bird form, she could only fly for a few minutes before needing to rest. She'd meant so much to those at sea only a few years prior - was this how easily they could forget someone who just wanted to keep them safe and honor their prayers? Janna was saddened by her slow decline into irrelevance and, as the canal reached completion, all that remained of her was a faded breeze.