Chapter 9: Bake

Atreus, Aspect of War

I stood atop the sky, staring down at the tumultuous sea below. The waves towered over most houses from crest to trough. Between the waves, on a section of superimposed calm, the beast called Leviathan glared up at me with four, baleful eyes. Even as I watched, the scales I shattered repaired themselves, seemingly without conscious input. Not as fast as Lung, but impressive nonetheless.

With a thought, I sank down below, landing atop the waves. Even after so long, I preferred to fight as a man, with my feet against the solid ground, or near enough to it for my purposes. We were nearly of equal height now, all the better to face him.

I pounded my sandals into the water and lunged, kicking so fast that the sea became solid beneath my feet. My spearpoint was aimed at his head, a thrust I'd perfected long ago with Pylas on the slopes of Targon. Now, powered by the might of a celestial, this single, perfect thrust left heat shimmers that visibly warped the air for hundreds of yards.

Leviathan dodged. He was fast, faster than any opponent I'd faced in a long time. A clap of thunder rang out as he moved, loosing a shockwave that would have bowled over lesser men. The force of his movement was enough to flatten the swells, scattering the waves that would have sunk galleons in my world. He left behind a thousand tons of water, shaped into his form and already following him to the side.

The speed and force of it were impressive. The water echo threatened to drag my spear aside, parrying it and leaving me open for counterattack.

It was as if the water itself was alive, assisting its master like an obedient hound. When I pulled, it enveloped Skyfall in an immense pressure that made me feel as though I was a boy again, pulling stubborn carrots from the dirt.

My foe lunged at me from my right, so that I would have to cross my arms to bring my shield to bear. It was a good tactic, especially for a creature that lacked anything resembling training.

So, I let go.

I let Skyfall slip from my grip as I pulled my speararm back. I used that momentum to pivot my torso like a lever and stepped in at the same time, bashing Leviathan with Aegis. I felt the satisfying sensation of scales being crushed and saw ichor seep from the wound, but I knew he would heal himself momentarily.

Before he could recover from the stunning blow, I immediately followed with another thrust. Halfway through carrying out the motion, Skyfall returned to my hand in a flash of cosmic fire. It was one of my relic weapons, one wielded by Areion and every Aspect of War since, until Pantheon himself ceased to be. It was, in a way, my heirloom, proof of the struggle of my forefathers. It had long since become a part of War.

I delivered a flurry of stabs, so swift that the attacks might have looked like a single haze of starlight to mortal men. Each strike was focused true, aiming for every vital area I knew. Heart. Liver. Kidneys. Lungs. Even harder targets such as his spine, for I knew Skyfall would have no trouble separating the vertebrae or shattering the bone altogether.

A condensed tidal wave erupted with every blow, seemingly conjured directly from Leviathan's skin. I had to fight through a tidal wave converted into a concentrated geyser with every thrust. The heat from my spear turned the water to gas and then to plasma, but there was always more, an unending torrent that acted as ablative armor to blunt my attacks.

I knew then that he had been holding back just as I was. His control over water was greater than any I'd ever known. Greater than the Tidecaller's. Greater than the Seal Sister. Perhaps even a match for Nagakabouros.

I felt my blood boil hotter and hotter as every strike connected. My spear found its mark each time, but he continued on fighting without a moment's hesitation. He was supremely confident in his regeneration and I was happy to put it to the test.

My pattern was disrupted when Leviathan struck the sea with his thrashing tail, launching a lake's worth of water in the form of javelins. The projectiles evaporated to nothing and what few made it through the heat bounced harmlessly against my shield, but the sudden lack of water to stand on made me stumble half a step before I floated into the air.

He took that instant to dart closer, past the point of my spear. He slammed into my shield, hugging me and dragging me into the sea in an effort to drown me.

The ocean was his domain. The pressure grew immensely. We could not have been a dozen feet below the surface, but it felt as though I was beset by mountains on all sides. Though I remained unharmed, the strain reminded me that I was but a man in a god's body

I relished the trial before me. My muscles burned with exertion as I delighted in the struggle. I let loose a roar of challenge as the stars responded to my resolve. The Solstice of Astrea blazed with constellar flame. Once more, a towering pillar of cosmic fire erupted from me, carving out a valley within the ocean itself, a mile wide and dozens more long, a scar upon Leviathan's domain.

When I emerged from the sea, I saw that a flying golem of some kind had found us but I paid it no mind. It was the desire and privilege of men to bear witness to War, in all its horrors and glories.

Like this, we clashed. Again and again. Each time, Leviathan struck harder, holding back less and less. The exhilaration of battle filled my lungs as I put to test all that I had mastered before an enemy of humanity.

He adapted to me as we fought. With every exchange, I could feel his reactions to my attacks smoothen out, becoming as fluid as the sea that surrounded us. I found myself developing a grudging respect for my foe. Lung had lost himself to the beast within, but here was a creature, a thing, that had never borne the will of a man, yet learned and grew as the battle wore on.

To be human was to learn and grow, to strive to overcome. Leviathan lacked that mortal will, that desperation to survive; he still relied far too heavily on his regeneration and I could feel little of the killing intent I'd grown accustomed to, but he reminded me of Azir's sand soldiers. They too had a sort of intelligence to them, capable of adapting around powerful foes to carry out their emperor's will.

It started quietly. Beneath the roar of the wind and waves and the crackling bursts of starfire, I failed to notice the way the sea sank beneath our feet before a whirlpool had formed around us. It stretched for over a mile from rim to rim and formed a bowl that looked as if a god had scooped out a section of the sea.

We continued our bout even as the towering spiral of water formed around us. Then, when Leviathan's water echo splashed over my face to hide him from view, the colossal whirlpool collapsed on my position.

I responded with a swing of my spear. Waves of starfire matched the whirlpool, dispersing the bulk of it to so much fine mist. But Leviathan was gone.

I looked around and found nothing. I snarled and raged as the stars responded to my fury. My relic weapons shone with a brilliant light as I brought my spear down in a random direction. It was as if I was back in Shurima, chasing down Rek'Sai. When I managed to injure her, she dove beneath the dunes to escape. I was a soldier first and a middling tracker a distant second.

The thought of my quarry escaping my grasp filled me with wrath. My spear split the sea for miles on end, but he was nowhere to be found. Just then, the craft that had been observing our battle hovered down.

I saw that its body was as large as a car and boasted four wings, angled and reminiscent of a bat's. Sleek metal formed a head of sorts.

"Atreus! Leviathan is headed towards the city!" a voice cried from its speaker. I did not know who this was, but the woman was likely a tinker, a builder of weapons and arms, much like Armsmaster. "Brockton Bay is a soft target. If it gets its hands on the aquifer, the entire-"

I grunted in thanks and charged back towards the city. Whatever she had to say, the details did not matter. As part of their S-class response, Armsmaster provided me with videos of previous endbringer battles. Each battle ended when the humans barely managed to drive Leviathan back into the sea. Many times, he suffered injuries far less than those I'd already given him.

It was clear to me that the humans of this world were incapable of facing Leviathan in his unrestrained state. Whatever this tinker had to say, the outcome was obvious: Brockton Bay would sink into the sea and its defenders would perish. All that I knew in this world would be swept away.

I could not allow that to happen.

As I ran, I kept my eyes on the waves below. The ocean was vast but the seafloor would rise as we approached the city. Leviathan would be forced to emerge. All I needed was the hint of a shadow. I occasionally sent out probing swipes of my spear, but the miles of exposed seafloor revealed nothing.

"To your left," the metal construct said. I ignored it. "Atreus! I'm Dragon! I have sensors placed underwater!"

I paused and looked at her incredulously. Even I knew who Dragon was, though I had not made the connection until now. She should have led with that! "Where is he?" I demanded.

"Your ten 'o' clock." When I continued to look at her in confusion, she released an audible sigh and began flying off, faster than any man-made craft I'd ever seen before. "Follow the drone. I'll fly it above its general location."

I skidded to a stop and gauged the path of the drone. Starfire swirled around my weapon as my intent made itself known. I took to the skies, careful to keep my eye on Dragon's golem. I could see it in my mind's eye, the trajectory of my spear forming a perfect arc through the air, a radiant comet blazing through the night sky.

"Atreus! What are you-"

"Comet Spear," I spoke, a whisper, a promise, a declaration. The power of a god moved at the will of a man. Skyfall of Areion, the relic weapon of my forefather, lanced out like its namesake, traveling in a perfect arc by Dragon's golem and into the water.

I tried to spare Dragon her golem, it was clearly of excellent craftsmanship, but the mere passing of my spear reduced it to fragments. The ocean's surface did nothing to hinder my throw either, and a tunnel of steam formed through the water for the briefest moment before my spear met the seafloor and produced a titanic eruption.

I barely paid the explosion any mind, instead charging forward into the shockwave shield first to the impact site. As I'd thought, I'd overshot Leviathan. In the first place, hitting a target while so thoroughly obscured by the sea and marked only by some tinker's golem was unlikely. Instead, I aimed for the ocean floor in front of Leviathan so that I might cut him off from the city.

Sure enough, I turned and found him, a faint shadow that moved faster than it had any right to. At this distance, I could not miss. Skyfall lashed out and a section of the sea was erased. The blast caught my opponent on the chest, launching him clear out of his domain and hundreds of yards into the sky.

I could not let him reach the city; the defenders would die. I could not let him reach the ocean either; he was too slippery and I feared releasing more power than the nearby continent could stand. Whatever Dragon used to find him beneath the waves, I had likely just destroyed it beyond salvaging. I resolved myself to keep him in the air.

My shield found his face, bashing him into the sky. When he attempted to use his water echo to slip away, I released my spear and grabbed him by the tail before hurling him further into the air. I'd done battle beneath the waves. Now it was time he battled in my domain.

This, this was why I was here, to be a shield of mankind once more. The Caretaker had not chosen wrong. I was Rakkor, Tribe of the Last Sun. My people believed that the sun that shone above Runeterra was the very last, and that the Void would swallow it one day, ending all existence. And so they trained fervently, that they might stand shoulder to shoulder, shields locked in defense of the universe.

I was no longer on Runeterra. Nor could I stand with my brothers and sisters ever again. Even when I was back home, I had the body of a god, the might of an Aspect. I knew I would never again fit in my tribe's shield wall.

Of course, I had my doubts about the myth. How could it be the "last sun" when I met the celestial dragon who breathed them out?

I knew it was a lie, a folktale to ignite a fire in the hearts of young boys and girls, but I loved that story nonetheless. Buried among its lies was a greater truth, the truth of man's will. The myth was unimportant. The will to carry on, the will to struggle against all odds however, was a treasure more precious than any.

That story had once given Pylas and I the strength to fight, to climb up the slopes of Targon. It lit a fire in us then, the will to eke out every drop of strength in our bodies, and then strive for even more.

I loved that story. And so I recognized the will of Earth-Bet's defenders. How could I do otherwise? I watched and heard every single endbringer battle, as many recordings as could be provided to me. I saw countless heroes put their lives on the line to defend all they loved. I saw so-called villains standing in defense of humanity. I saw enemies find common cause, giving their lives in desperate struggle.

Their actions burned in my mind like a bonfire, a blazing tribute to the ideals of my people. Theirs was everything noble in war, in humanity.

It wasn't about the city anymore. Nor the bakery, nor the civilians. I fought for them, those who would risk it all. Regardless of their past deeds, heedless of their futures, I fought for those who embraced the moment, those who would stand against the gods.

I let out a warcry as a new wave of power filled me. My blood ignited, scorching my veins and bringing me clarity. No more. If I kicked him far above the sky, then surely I could stop holding back. Surely I could stop worrying about the city hundreds of miles away.


Taylor Hebert, Skitter

"Bastion deceased. Phalanx deceased. Bulwark down. Stalwart down. Unbreakable down," my bracelet sounded off in rapid succession. I recognized Bastion, he was the head of the Boston Protectorate, which probably meant bad things for our sister city when this was over. I'd have to ask Lisa about that, assuming I could find her.

This was my first endbringer battle, but I could already tell that it was like none other. There was the expected chaos on the shoreline as capes who could make barriers tried to fend off the oncoming waves, but the big bad was nowhere to be found. Atreus, "Dauntless but Shirtless" as Alec called him, had dashed off into the sea to face an endbringer on his lonesome.

The sheer stupidity of his declaration must have stunned the Triumvirate just as it had the rest of us because no one tried to stop him.

Then the explosions began and ended in the span of a single breath. We thought Leviathan had found Atreus and the cape had died, only for Dragon to broadcast the endbringer's unexpected movements. It was, somehow, being shoved back out to sea, far enough that their fighting could not be seen nor felt from shore. It was only because of the early warning system that Dragon buried in the seafloor that we even noticed.

Legend took charge. I'd known he was charismatic, as did every teenage girl in the country, but it was only now that I understood the kind of magnetic charisma he possessed. A seemingly unending stream of lasers covered the sky, exploding into every color of the rainbow in a complex fractal that stunned all in attendance.

Then the shockwave from that salvo struck, pressing down on us like physical weights. A staccato of explosions shattered the sky, sounding for all the world like Thor himself had decided to start a drumline.

And that was the end of the Empire's rampage. It filled me with an equal mix of awe and unimaginable bitterness. Purity, the second strongest blaster in the country, was taken out in seconds. Night? Fog? Hookwolf? Stormtiger? Cricket? The villains who had terrorized the city since as far back as I could remember were laid out unconscious in practically an instant.

It took him a minute, a literal minute, to do what needed to be done and get us back on track. The rest of the Empire, Crusader, Rune, Alabaster, Krieg, and Kaiser, fell in line. What did it feel like to wield power like that?

It was awe-inspiring. And positively infuriating. He could have done this at any time! Was it so hard to ask for a minute of his time? Was Brockton Bay, my home, worth so little to the paragon of heroism?

Still, I swallowed my bitterness and got ready to help as much as I could.

Taking Dragon's advice, Legend had Eidolon lead a barrier team on shore to intercept any incoming waves. He and Alexandria split the city in two and separated us into smaller teams to look for any stragglers who had failed to enter the shelters in time. Though most people quickly shuffled themselves into the shelters, there were others who failed to make it in time or simply could not move.

"Gray building with the green canopy," I told my reluctant partner. I would have loved to join with Bitch, but she'd gone AWOL along with the rest of my teammates when the Empire's names dropped.

Instead, I was stuck with Tammi Herren, also known as Rune, the littlest Nazi. The Empire contingent had naturally been separated for everyone's peace of mind.

I spread out my insects and she ferried us from place to place atop a pickup truck, using the bed to shepherd people through the tracks.

"Fine, what floor?" she asked tersely. I didn't blame her. She was still dressed in a Catholic schoolgirl uniform, with only a stolen baseball cap to keep people from immediately recognizing her.

"Fifth. An old woman and her caretaker are there. The woman's got a wheelchair."

We worked swiftly. I'd been worried that she'd take issue with their skin color, but Rune let them board without protest.

I wasn't sure what to make of her. A part of me felt vindictive glee at the way the Empire got outed. If there was any group the unwritten rules shouldn't apply to, surely it was the Nazis?

On the other hand, Tammi was my age. And her life was over. Forget future employment prospects, she'd have to sleep with one eye open for the rest of her life because of the family she was born into. The aftermath of endbringer battles were by definition times of chaos. There was a real chance that she'd be assassinated within the week. And by the cold sweat running down her back, she damn well knew it.

When Alexandria paired us together, I fully expected her to shove me off the truck as soon as she could. Hell, I had multiple black widows on her person, just in case. But she hadn't. She hadn't lashed out like some of her cohorts. Instead, she'd done her best to plaster a mask of taciturn ambivalence and got to work ferrying me around the city.

She hadn't even attempted to question me about Lisa, not that I believed ny friend had been the one to out them, or knew anything about where Lisa was for that matter.

Rune looked so… defeated. I'd seen that look before, in the mirror.

We continued onward. As one of the most mobile and far-reaching cape combinations, locals familiar with the city at that, we had one of the largest territories to cover. Halfway through our patrol, I noticed something, something below ground.

"Stop. Hover," I ordered. It still felt strange, ordering a cape, a villain, and expecting obedience, but obedience, I received.

"What is it?"

"Disturbance down below. A shelter maybe? I don't know. Is there a shelter beneath the college?"

"Yeah. My cousin would've gone there if…" she trailed off, but I heard. Her cousin was Othala, college age, she would've known about this shelter from the college orientation.

"People are screaming. I don't have many bugs in position, but I think someone's hurt."

"We can't open it."

I reported it anyway. I depressed the button on my wristband for two seconds until Dragon's voice rang through. "Skitter?"

"There is a disturbance in the shelter beneath the college. Someone's down. My bugs smell blood."

"Do you have visual?"

"No. I can't hear what they're saying either," I said, frustrated. "I didn't think I'd need bugs down there!"

"Calm down, Skitter. Stand overwatch and report. One person may be having a medical emergency, but there are supplies already on-site in every shelter. If it gets worse, report back. Rune, please ferry the civilians to the processing site."

I frowned. I wanted to do more. I scolded myself for not having more bugs inside. With the way the shelters were built, I probably wouldn't find a way to get more insects inside, not in the quantities needed to matter. I hated that I understood. One person wasn't enough of a reason to open the shelters. Hell, even a hundred people wouldn't be enough.

"Understood," I bit out.

Rune left me by the college fountain and zipped off. While I kept an eye on the situation, I also scouted out the nearby blocks. My range had increased yet again, as it had during Bakuda's rampage. By the time she flew back, the truck bed empty, the noise had died down.

"Anything?" she asked.

"No. The person was moved somewhere. No one else is hurt," I said, getting onto the truck. "False alarm. Let's continue."


Atreus, Aspect of War

Leviathan could match me no longer. I had seen the heights of his power and speed and magic. Though I relished the challenge he presented, I could not condone this escalation any longer. It was time to end this bout.

I continued to lift him into the air, my shield lodged against his toros. The air grew thinner but I cared not. More and more celestial magic flooded my body, growing taller than Leviathan, taller than the one called Behemoth, until I was of equal height with Pantheon's original form.

This state was unpleasant to me. A part of me rejected this power. I was no god who would look upon the mortals from on high. I was a man, a soldier, nothing more. It left me at war with myself, a good's divine magic and a man's mortal will. I could almost imagine the heat burning me up from within, a power as oppressive to me as it was to my opponents.

And yet, as every time since the day Aatrox ripped his sword from my chest, I persevered. I leashed the celestial fire in me, pouring it out with such force and heat that the beast's water echo ceased to exist in my proximity.

His outer scales, paradoxically weaker than the organs they protected, disintegrated and reformed constantly as starfire warred with his innate regeneration. Slowly but surely, it was apparent to me that my flame was winning. He had layers, I now realized, scales upon scales that grew faster from within. Like peeling an onion, I was flaying the beast bare with my aura alone.

Leviathan squirmed and thrashed. Had he had a mouth to speak from, I had no doubt the entire world would have heard his tortured cries. Yet I did not relent. My spear dug into his shoulder and, with a titanic twist and the sound of shattering crystal, I ripped off his arm and threw it to the earth.

His healing was slowing down. As fully as I had embraced my divinity, War had ceased to become a mere word thrown around by greedy old men and green boys. It was an observable force now, a concept embodied by my body and soul so thoroughly as to warp the natural order. As I had with Lung, I imbued Skyfall with the end of War, the natural conclusion of its course.

Mortality blazed from the tip of my spear in a radiant corona, standing out even amongst the countless constellations that dotted my mantle.

It was beautiful up here. I'd only ever seen the curve of the world twice before, both atop the peak of Targon, and I'd had other concerns than the gorgeous vista on my mind both times. Now, with Mortality encroaching upon the endbringer, I took a moment to appreciate the world beneath me.

It shone like a blue gemstone, more precious than any gem valued by Piltover's elite. All of man's tribulations and struggles took place here. All of their wars, all of their glories and tragedies. I found the last of my bitterness towards the Caretaker fade; this was a place worth fighting for.

In our dozens of clashes, Leviathan had not been the only one learning and growing. He fought on with careless abandon, heedless of mortal wounds. He fought like none of them mattered, as none of them did.

But he guarded one point, one location he avoided taking my spear. The first time, I had not even noticed, one of thousands of spear thrusts. The third time, it was an oddity. After trading many more blows with him, I could only conclude that Leviathan, like golems I'd seen on Runeterra, had a core, something vital to his function.

I found a location on the ocean as far from every shore as I could see and took aim. Here, at the edge of the earth, I could feel the light of the stars clearly. My relic weapons shone brighter than ever, filled with enough magic to rival the radiance of Mihira at her zenith.

And, with the full weight of War concentrated on the tip of my spear, I skewered Leviathan through the chest and launched us both towards the sea, a warcry rising unbidden from my lips, "Grand Starfall!"

It was over in a blink. The mantle of stars that stretched out behind me and filled the horizons folded onto itself. No mortal eye could track the speed at which I fell to earth, but a stream of constellations announced my passing, forming a singular funnel that erupted from Astrea.


Keith Jameson, Legend

I thanked the heroic sacrifice of the man called Atreus. Without a doubt in my mind, it was a sacrifice; no one, not even Eidolon, could hope to face Leviathan in its domain alone. Atreus might last for a time. Ten minutes. Twenty. But he could fall eventually. There was a reason no one tried to engage the endbringer at sea: It was insanity.

And yet, this sacrifice was what allowed us the luxury of preparation. Subduing the Empire was an unneeded distraction. Without Atreus' actions, I did not know what kind of chaos might have resulted.

Off in the distance, I saw the faint hues of purple and gold, twinkling stars dotted throughout like the world's most captivating aurora. And by it, I knew he continued to fight.

"Any visuals, Dragon?" I asked.

"None. I cannot fly anything close at this point. All I know is that Atreus is still alive."

"Are we clear here?"

"We are," Alexandria said as she hovered beside me. "The city is stable at this time. You want to go reinforce Atreus."

"We need to make sure he lives. His power-"

"Would be useful to us. He is the best thing to come out of the Bay for our plan."

I nodded. I disliked thinking of capes in such pragmatic terms, but the power Atreus continued to demonstrate was… I couldn't deny that I'd love to have him by my side when we fought Scion. "The three of us?"

"Yes. Dragon can manage things here."

"Then our goal will be to reinforce him, ensure he survives, and if possible, drive Leviathan off without it ever making landfall."


With instructions to Dragon to maintain defensive operations, the three of us headed off towards the battle.

As we approached, it became abundantly clear that I had greatly underestimated the size of Atreus' aurora. That it was visible at the edge of my vision at all was a testament to its breadth. The sky quickly took on various shades of golds and purples and blues, as if replaced by a grand nebula of some unknown world. Given his status as a Case-22, perhaps it was.

We traveled for hundreds of miles, a feat no one else on-site could replicate. Even had we wanted to bring other capes, they simply would not have made the distance in time.

And then we saw them.

I heard Eidolon curse and couldn't blame him. Atreus had been described as having "Lung-like" powers, a giant hoplite warrior projection superimposed upon his form that scaled bigger as the fight wore on.

That report utterly failed to describe the sheer presence of the man. He was bigger than Leviathan now, perhaps closing on Behemoth's size. He had the endbringer on his shield and was rising up into the air.

We wanted to intervene, but there was something here, a palpable presence that weighed on us. Even Eidolon, the most impulsive of us, found himself transfixed. I felt as though I was watching something monumental, something that, in hindsight, I could only describe as a religious experience.

The stars above stirred something in my soul, rooting me in place. They demanded that I be still, that I witness something bigger than myself.

Atreus only grew bigger. He was quite literally larger than life now, so tall that he looked like a mountain come alive, like Ares himself shrugging off his mortal shroud. He stood atop the earth, like an angel of the Old Testament who was said to cover the sky, from horizon to horizon, with the breadth of their shoulders.

"Lung-like," the report had called him. Hysterical laughter bubbled up from me. What about this was "Lung-like?"

The three of us, the supposed greatest heroes in the world, watched, completely and utterly spellbound, as a god of war walked the world once more.

He skewered Leviathan through, the enemy of humanity looking like a mere lizard against the sheer size of the weapon.

Then, spear pointed down, he fell.

I would never forget that moment, the moment the stars touched the earth. My mother liked to tell me to wish upon a falling star, to dare to dream of things beyond my grasp. In that moment, as a pillar of starlight consumed the sea, as my friends and I bore witness to the end of an endbringer, I was reminded of her words.

I dared to hope.

Author's Note

And that, my good friends, is how you make sourdough. For those who aren't familiar with League, this is the War constellation. Yes, he's fucking massive.

This wouldn't be a Worm fic without Taylor, right? Actually, I've written several fics in this fandom but this is the very first time Taylor's ever had a POV. Weird. It's not like I dislike her or anything. It just… kinda ended up this way.

I'm going to be honest. This is just about the end of Let There Be War.

The goal of this prompt, as provided by my commissioner, was, "I want Pantheon to stab Leviathan in the face." I've achieved this. I might consider a brief epilogue, but I don't see it continuing beyond a few thousand words.

There are plenty of things that still need to be done. Rose still needs to rebuild her bakery. The Empire got outed. With no one to stop him, Coil left the city with Dinah. Taylor doesn't know Lisa's dead. And of course, there are the other endbringers, Scion, and the Cycle as a whole.

But not every story needs to be a giant epic. Most of the above would be considered trivial for an Aspect like Atreus. I feel that every chapter following this one will end up like an episodic cartoon in which a villain of the day shows up, Atreus is annoyed he can't bake bread, and the villain promptly realizes how fucked he is.

Don't get me wrong, that can be funny too, but I don't think Atreus is the right character to write a crack-ish story like that. He's too… serious? austere? I think I'd be doing his character a disservice.

So I think this is a fair stopping point.

This is the point at which people look out into the sunset and know that the day is saved, that the sun is setting on a chapter of their lives. They saw mortal will clad in divine power. They saw the miracles of a god harnessed for the salvation of man. And for the first time in a long time, they felt hope.

This captures Atreus' character perfectly. In some ways, he is not simply "War," he is the embodiment of the human experience, the struggle to overcome things that, at first, seem greater than us. He is a paradox that strives to surpass the divine, yet embraces the mortality of man.

Many of you have heard me say that everything about a story is subservient to character. I still believe that, and so I am choosing to pull the plug on this story at the moment that best encapsulates Atreus' character.

To the commissioner, please choose a different story to sponsor next month. Or suggest another set of prompts that I can choose from. I have a few story ideas I wouldn't mind starting either, though that will likely annoy people who want more frequent updates of my other fics.

Thank you for a wonderful prompt. I really think it challenged me in the best ways.

Thank you to all of my patrons. As many of you know, I update one of my stories once every weekend publically. However, I update much more frequently on Pat-re-on, usually about 10 chapters a month spread across various stories. That means the number of chapters available on Pat-re-on is always growing. As of now, this is how far along each story is:

- A Colorful Life: Quest. It's the same as public.

- Godslaying Bunny: Quest. It's the same as public.

- Homeless Bunny: 22

- Legendary Tinker: 8.4

- Let There Be War: 9 (Finished)

- Plan? What Plan?: 4.12

- Pokemon: Apocalypse: 1.11

- The Holy Grill: 2.3

- Troll in the Dungeon: 15

- When is a Spoon a Sword?: 4.11

Total Chapter Difference (Pat-re-on - Public): 29