Call 1.1

3 BN: Khom, Pre-Noxus

A man with skin of ocean-blue sank to his knees as the world tore itself apart. His bald head and shirtless torso were covered in ancient scripts, a language only he now knew. Tyrus, his master, could read it; he was the one who carved these very runes onto a young Ryze, but Tyrus was dead. Ryze gazed down at his hands and mourned. He could practically see his master's lifeblood staining them.

And all around, Khom, his birthplace, burned.

"The World Runes are power incarnate," his master had said with a voice like gravel and filled with warmth. "They are fragments of creation, crystallizations of celestial might. Once, all the world was empty and these five runes transformed fields of barren stone into wonders of life and magic. Theirs is the power of creation, of life itself."

Ryze could picture the face of his master, so easily wrinkled with smiles for his young apprentice, turn solemn and serious as he spoke in warning. "All that creates can destroy, Ryze," he'd said. "All that gives life can take it away. Theirs is the power of creation, but terrible is that same power when turned towards destruction. Theirs is the power to carve mountains, drain oceans, and burn skies."

And all around, his home burned.

"Master," he choked back a sob. "Why?"

In the distance, the earth sank into the sea and the sky wept mana. Tremors shook the land, as though Runeterra itself was undergoing its death throes. Ryze stared at the body that had once been Tyrus, a mere husk of dried and mummified flesh. Both men had heard the Call. The World Runes beckoned. They promised an end to the fighting. They promised peace. They promised life, reborn anew from the ashes of the Rune Wars. They promised hope, if only a man of supreme will and unshakable virtue would wield them.

Ryze resisted while his master failed, and so Tyrus died by the hand of his student.

And so, Khom burned even as Ryze watched his master's body age a thousand years in a blink, the mana of his very soul drawn out to become a catalyst for two of the World Runes. A man touched the power of the gods and was found woefully wanting.

"You were the one who taught me… warned me…" His hands reached out and grasped the robe his master once wore. They crumbled to ash, even such perfect mortal enchantments unable to withstand their power. "Tyrus… master… father…"

Runeterra shook itself apart. Khom burned. And for once, Ryze couldn't give a damn.

Yet he stood. There, before him was ultimate power, two World Runes, one an ominous red and the other a tranquil blue reminiscent of the cloudless sky. He wanted nothing more than to throw them away, to leave them in the depths of the earth as Runeterra yawned to its core. Still, he took them in hand and bid his master farewell.

Thus his quest began.


97 AN: Howling Abyss, Freljord

Ryze stood at the northernmost edge of the world, a gaping chasm that imprisoned terrors even gods feared. A century after his quest began, he was at his journey's end. The magic of the World Runes flowed through him despite his utter loathing for them. The raw mana they exuded was enough to change him, make him more than mortal, an archmage with one foot into the realm of gods.

The Rune Mage stood at the edge of the world and held the five keys to unlimited power for one last time. They were beautiful, utterly breathtaking even. Five gems bound in Petricite pyramids, the only way for Ryze to hold them for an extended period without being driven mad with power.

They sickened him.

Yet still they beckoned.

With them, he could forge a new era. He could guide the fledgling kingdoms into an age of peace and prosperity like none other. He could see it now, harmony among the nations and peoples as far as the eye could see, a world where no one would go hungry, where no injustice would go unpunished, where-

Ryze flinched back as though struck and the World Runes fell into the Abyss. He shook his head as he strode away.

"The only power I truly have… is the strength to let go."



The Watchers saw all. They were there before Runeterra began, before all but the eldest celestials came into being. They would persist long after the stars burned out.

They saw.

They saw, but could do nothing.

The bonds of the Forgelord were absolute, should have been absolute. Would have been absolute, unbreakable even to the gods of the Void, had it not been for the Third Sister. Her enchantment entombed the Watchers, but also ate away at the bridge, weakening the Forgelord's work. One day, the bridge would fall and the Watchers would among mortals once more.

Yet, today was not that day.

And so the five World Runes fell. The passed the Watchers and crossed the Void into the space between worlds. There, they scattered like birds into cosmos unknown.

Each World Rune traveled aimlessly through the space between worlds, until one met a soul, all but expended and ready to fade. The probability of this meeting was infinitesimally small. The probability of that World Rune meeting this specific soul even more so. And yet, the probability was not zero and so, in the space between worlds, the Rune of Inspiration found a master.


1999, November 2: Busan, South Korea

I was drowning. I'd never been much for waterpsorts. My father and uncles loved to fish; they even owned a dingy little boat for the purpose back in California. I knew how to swim, or at least how to float and doggy-paddle, but I was woefully unprepared for the storm that took the cruise ship. To be fair to myself, neither was the captain.

So, my Korean-American ass swam for his life like a rat in a toilet bowl, thrown from the ship my sister and her husband had promised would be so fucking fun.

We were off the southeastern coast of Korea, near Busan, when the storm hit. It was supposed to be a cruise around Korea, Japan, and the Philippines, a vacation within a vacation as we visited our relatives in the motherland. God obviously had other plans. Of mice and men and all that…

I was drowning. Then, there was blackness and a flash of blue, purer than the cloudless sky. After that, everything felt detached, as though in a fever dream.

"I've got you!" someone shouted over the howling wind. He must have been a giant because his forearm wrapped around my entire torso with ease.

We were lifted by helicopter, the rescue worker holding me in one arm while he grabbed on to the rope ladder with the other. Mad respect for that, the upper body strength was damn impressive. 'I didn't even know the cruise ship had a copter; Guess I didn't give the crew enough credit,' I thought as I shivered in his arms.

Then, the copter rose higher and I saw just how fucked Busan was. The streets were flooded, water extending as far as the eye could see. Even as I watched, waves upon waves and torrential downpours battered at the broken city. I could see little dots in the distance, law enforcement and even the military trying to guide civilians away from the shoreline in organized chaos.

We landed in the courtyard of a school, likely because it was one of the few places in a metropolis like Busan where there wasn't a giant risk of something falling on us.

I still felt like I was in a fever dream, like there was a cellophane bubble between me and the rest of the world. The obvious disaster zone wasn't helping matters. Hell, this whole ordeal was reminding me to brush up on my Korean. Sure, I hadn't been back in Korea in eight years, but that was hardly an excuse for my spotty understanding.

'I think I heard something about a sea monster…'

"Come on, kid. You gotta let go now," the giant rescue worker said, firmly but not unkindly.

'Kid? I know I'm short, but I'm twenty-eight!' I thought indignantly as I forced my frozen fingers to unclench.

A thermal blanket was wrapped around me as I was ushered inside the medical tent. There, a doctor or orderly gave me a quick once over before confirming that I had no untreated injuries.

"Everyone is bigger than me," I mumbled to myself, still in shock.

"Do you know where your parents are?" an orderly asked. I must have been shunted off as a noncritical patient because the middle-aged, balding man was replaced by a woman in her early twenties, far too young to have an MD. She had to stoop a little to put a lanyard around my neck.

"No, they must still be on the boat."

"What boat? Oh, child," she cooed and hugged me. "I'm so sorry. It's going to be okay."

I struggled to escape her grasp, but she was too strong. Or rather, I was too weak. The frigid ocean and a helicopter ride where I made a passable impression of a koala weren't helping matters. Then, I caught my reflection on a stainless steel counter, one of those rapid-deploy foldout tables used by emergency personnel.

'Oh, I'm a kid again.'

Realization struck me like a bucket of ice water and thunder rumbled in the sky.

As in, thunder literally rumbled in the sky. Several somethings crashed to the ground in the distance.

"We've gotta go!" Someone in gray fatigues shouted. He yelled something into a walkie-talkie then began to round people up and command them. "Road's cleared! Grab all civilians and load 'em up!"

"You heard the officer," the orderly said with a watery smile. "Follow them okay? They'll protect you. Don't worry, this noona is staying behind so she'll find your parents for you."

'What the fuck is going on?'

I was shoved unceremoniously onto the back of a truck alongside eight civilians and four officers. Then, just before the doors closed, I saw a man in traditional Korean hanbok drop down from the sky. He wore a pale, featureless mask that covered his entire face along with a navy-blue and jade-green hanbok outfit. All around him, the rain stopped falling, levitating in the air. For a moment, he appeared to literally be standing on the raindrops.

'Oh… I'm dreaming. Makes more sense. I must have passed out in the water.'

"Hwarang-nim," one policeman called. "What's going on?"

Whatever the man said back, I didn't hear because that's when the van was shut and started to roll. We sat there, twelve people crammed like sardines, as the driver tried his best to navigate a city shattered by disaster.

"That fucking Akk-ryong," one man swore. That sent several men in the van into a fury.

"Husband, enough," one woman said, placing an arm on his. "There are children here."

"Let them vent. Anger is good. Anger keeps you going." This time, it was an officer who swore. "Fuck that dragon. There will be time for calm later when you pick your lives back together again. Now? Be angry so you can put one foot in front of the other."

We were interrupted again by the sound of static from an officer's walkie-talkie.

"Hang tight, another building collapsed. I'm going to try to drive around it," came the driver's voice.

A middle-aged man seated next to me made sure my seatbelt was fastened securely. Not ten seconds later, the car lurched and a loud banging noise filled the cabin. He grabbed me, pulling me towards him and shielding me with his own body. I heard a grunt of pain and screams of fear before the car stopped rolling. Slowly, he let me go.

"Thank you, ahjussi," I felt compelled to say. The car was on its side, which meant I was hanging from what was now the ceiling, attached by the seatbelt that likely saved my life.

"You're a good kid."

One by one, the officers let us out into the waterlogged street. I stood there in the rain as the adults in the situation tried to figure out what to do. The street around me looked familiar even in its destruction.

"This is the street where Sunyeop lives," I muttered. My cousin, younger than me by two years, was a good man who was training to be a pilot. 'Or, he will be?'

I found myself walking towards his childhood home, a two-story affair with a tiny yard. That there were houses at all made this Busan's wealthier district. Otherwise, we'd be surrounded by high rises and apartments. In hindsight, the lack of tall buildings was probably why we were driving this way in the first place.

I stopped in front of the home and read the bronze plaque. "Hong… That's not their surname…"

Lightning flashed in the sky and struck a power line with a thunderous boom, sending us to the ground.

"Kid!" I heard behind me.

I turned, just fast enough to see the power line come down around me. There was a whipping sound as broken cables cut through the air.

There was a buzz.

Then a zap.

Then agony.

Then blissful silence…




A flash of blue filled the nothingness of the void, a blue clearer than the cloudless sky pulsed with a power no Shard could comprehend. It was unfamiliar. It was potential.

It had found a master. It would not relent.





2000, May 9: Phoenix, AZ, USA

I tapped my way through the corridor, my telescopic walking stick making soft clicking noises as it collided with the wall. It was surprisingly well-made. Surprising as in there's a surprising amount of thought that goes into engineering one of these. From what I could tell, the tip had a pliable rubber cap with a spring attachment to give me a better sense of pressure and hardness. The telescopic body could extend to almost my full height, not that I was particularly tall at eight years old. The handle was perfectly ergonomic, with a hardened foam grip to fit snugly into the swell of the palm. There was even a strap I could loop around my wrist so I don't accidentally lose it. All in all, a perfect example of human-factors engineering at work.

Oh, I'm blind. And eight. In Worm. More than a decade before canon.

I felt cold sweat run down my back as my breathing shortened. Then, a comforting hand rested on my shoulder.

"Breathe, Andy," Redbird said, his smooth voice far gentler than one would expect from a man built like a brick shithouse. "No need to be nervous. The Wards are all good kids."

'Not why I'm freaking,' I thought, but flashed him a smile anyway and took several deep breaths. "Thank you, Redbird."

Leviathan was seven months ago. Turns out, when Kyushu went the way of Atlantis, it caused a whole lot of trouble for surrounding countries. Tidal waves struck the Korean peninsula and while it wasn't as bad as Kyushu itself, that was cold comfort to the nine thousand people who drowned. My father among them.

Over the past seven months, my memories blended together until I couldn't tell where the Yusung of this life and the Yusung I was ended. My father was a part of the Korean military, specifically the declining Coast Guard. It really existed for only two reasons: to crack down on smuggling and illegal migration, and to be a national warning bell in the event of an endbringer attack. My dad, Captain Namjoon Kim, did his duty and died for it. Hell, in a city of millions, that only nine thousand died from even a tangential endbringer attack was impressive.

That's what mom told me. It's what the twenty-eight year old me told my eight year old self.

Shortly after I was evacuated, I was reunited with my mom. I didn't have the full story, but she pulled some favors from dad's old military contacts and arranged for two tickets to America, just one of many refugees fleeing the decimated region. We settled in Phoenix, about as far from the rain and the sea as we could get.

"We're here," Redbird said, his words bringing me from my melancholy.

The customary buzzer went off, a thirty second grace period for Wards to scramble for their masks. While they did that, I reached into my pocket and brought out a Gatorade bottle filled with a neon-pink fluid. I brought it to my lips and took a sip.

"Alright," I breathed, "let's meet the team."

Author's Note

Ryze's cinematic is honestly one of my favorites because of how tired that man looks. I could definitely believe that in another universe, Ryze, broken and exhausted following his quest, did not hide the World Runes away and instead tossed them into the Void, "returning" them to the origin of the universe in his own way. That's what happened in this alternate universe.

Interestingly enough, there are three distinct myths regarding how the howling Abyss came to be. One says that there was a great battle between the Three Sisters and the Watchers over the bridge in which the sisters triumphed. A second says that the battle was actually between the sisters, Lissandra against Avarosa and Serylda, in which Lissandra realized her mistake and betrayed the Watchers, entombing them, and her sisters, in True Ice. The third myth, the one I'm going with as factual, says the sisters came to Ornn and asked him to build the bridge, a crossbar to bar the Watchers from ever entering the Freljord. Lissandra fucked it up trying to improve it with her magic and put Ornn's prison on a time limit.

악용, or "Akk-ryong" literally uses the Hanja for evil and dragon, which is how I imagine Koreans (and many Asian communities) would refer to Leviathan.

Power Description: Andy is fused to the World Rune, specifically the Rune of Inspiration. He's effectively a Runeterra-tinker, able to draw upon the world and its Champions for inspiration. The World Rune acts as an infinite source of mana that can power anything and everything he makes without fail. It, being quite literally a godly artifact of creation, can transmute earthly materials into Runeterran analogs as necessary to make up for the lack of materials of esoteric powers. Because he is not a standard cape, Andy lacks a conflict drive common to most parahumans.