Interlude 27b

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You needed worthy opponents.

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355 thoughts on “Interlude 27b

    • I am not disappointed because it is 4 words. i am disapointed with the 4 words. somehow i expected something more awesome. this is something that eidelon both already knew and had speculated about earlier, and i cant understand why it took the fight out of him. after this it seems to me that eidelons crippling mental dissabilities are even worse than scions, and he just seems pathetic. on the other hand, maybe that is the entire point. eidelon was pathetic from the beggining, he didnt get awesome powers because he deserved them, he got them because he was lucky. try not to take my complaints too seriously, its not so much that the chapter is bad as it is the shock and disapointment of it not being as amazing as i imagined it would be. one of the problems with ending the chapter with a cliffhanger like that is that everyone will expect the reveal to be amazing. when you did it before with jack slash you had a reveal that was even more impressive then what i imagined, but this time i almost think it would have been better to have just put it at the end of the previous chapter.

    • Whoa, wait, hold on. HOLD ON A MINUTE! I totally missed the significance of this.

      Scion just turned Eidolon into his galactic worm-bride. Every single terrible thing that’s ever happened has been meant to strain Eidolon.

      • Allow me to elaborate. I think either of the following could be happening.

        A. Eidolon isn’t dead, Scion fired the lethal shot at Glastig Uaine. Eidolon is what Glastig Uaine thought she was. Eidolon’s ability to reabsorb shards from living heroes is exactly what Scion needs to complete the cycle. The Endbringers were meant to strain him and because he took so long to figure out his full potential millions of people died. Eidolon gave up because he realized every single time he’s won anything is because Scion wanted it that way. He’s a puppet and that killed his will to continue.

        B. Same as above but Eidolon is indeed dead. Scion killed him so Glastig Uaine could absorb his power, then she’d be able to collect shards from both dead and living capes. Eidolon gave up because he realized everything had been planned out this way in advance and it was pointless.

  1. Take a second.

    Not sure how to write this comment, so let me start by saying ‘Sorry for the lack of forewarning.’ Rest assured, this won’t count as a donation chapter.

    Wanted to do this for a while, experiment, see how it rolls out with the impact, as opposed to the punchline of a 9k word chapter. Still learning as a writer, still experimenting.

    Hopefully this isn’t -too- disappointing. The rest of Worm will be regular length chapters.

    • Dissapointing? Hardly. We’ve been speculating for days on what Zion said. And, on top of that, it’s a masterful trolling to those coming for a full chapter. I highly support this sort of post.

    • Not disappointing at all to me. I’d much rather it show up this way(And I think it does have some interesting impact here, as opposed to at the end of a big chapter) than as a sidenote in the middle of the next chapter. Or never finding out at all…

      After all, it is only a Thursday bonus update- and even a four word update won’t put that much of a dent in your average word count.

    • This is disappointing in various minor ways, but… it’s the pinnacle of making something more intense by putting it on the next line.

      It’s VERY damn effective.

      • I should say when I say “various minor ways” that’s my way of saying “I’m sure some people will complain, but they shouldn’t this is great”. They… look nothing alike, but it’s my meaning all the same.

    • I… kinda like it. It was unexpected and I read and re-read three or four times. My face was puzzled, then I laughed, and then I thought about it. Sod to the people who don’t like it. Entitled audience. It was different and that’s worth doing even if it doesn’t work. Although I do think it did here. All that build up for a little puncture.

    • Hm…

      Personally, I enjoyed it and I think the reaction is proving largely positive. It seems to be a haunted house kind of complaining. A fun and kind of respectful laughter at your nerve.

      There is one problem IMO. There are people who wait up right to the deadline for a new chapter of Worm, willingly foregoing sleep or being sincerely unable to sleep due to the excitement and anticipation. For that segment of the community I could see a legitimate complaint. I’d wait and see if anyone seriously complains before I’d take this as a serious issue, though.

      Personally I strongly support this. It is a masterstroke of messing with your fandom. It is completely unexpected, hilarious. You actually built a cliffhanger and resolved it. You aren’t “cheating people out” of any chapters given that you are not using this as a main update week and you are not using this as a monetary donation bonus.

      Good job, wildbow.

      • In reference to those who abuse themselves or risk their jobs/education in order to stay awake for serial fiction, they need help. Seriously. It’ll be there tomorrow, or the next day, or whenever.

    • No update would be better. Some of us set our alarm clock early to read it before work (it is 6am here) and now that. And than it wasn’t even a good line.

      • After thinking about it a hour and a half … it’s sill not a good line.

        Sometimes … no update might be better.

        The 4 Words still does not make sense. Even with the theories in the comments.

        • The words mean perfect sense. Took me a moment, too, so I get the confusion–but when it hits you, it hits like a sack of bricks. If Eidolon’s power created or unleashed the Endbringers, he is responsible for many millions of lives.

      • Agreed, this would work perfectly in a book, formatted so that after the previous chapters cliffhanger you need to turn the page, then boom, Scion’s statement all by itself on the page, with all the more impact for its isolation.

    • I feel a lot of the impact is lost because most readers will be either wondering what’s going on or laughing at being slightly trolled. This one line chapter will be amazing when you package Worm into novels.

    • As it dosn’t count as a bonus chapter and this is a Thursday not a Tuesday or Sat, I think… it works, it’s fun, it’s different it’s WTH inducing. My only complaint was at first not getting how that induced defeat was about to go ‘Oh damn it Red Son’ where the five words that defeat Commie superman just seemed so flat, but then I realised. These are not Red Son style where they make him realise that he is wrong, these are simply words that tell say Contessas power, you can’t win.

      A subtle difference but they do change the scene and help it avoid the Red Son flaw.

      • They mean that Eidelon was the creator of the Endbringers. Remember, his power gives him what he needs. Some part of him needed worthy opponents.

        Why does it crush him? Because he started all this to save lives. To find out that he’s the cause of so many deaths, that the world would truly have been better off if he had succeeded in kiling himself all those years ago…

    • It made me do a double take, then I started smiling and shaking my head. Honestly I am completely ok with this update as is.

      btw, I didn’t say anything tuesday, but the Eidolon interlude was awesome as well. What you’ve managed to do with that character is fascinating.

    • I would have been bothered if this had been a regular chapter, but…this is a bonus. It’s extra.

      Four words is four more than I expect.

    • Like many others have said, I think this will work beautifully when the whole thing story is compiled in a book, with the four words on their own, just a page-turn away from the previous chapter. The same for people archive binging Worm online.

      For me, reading chapters as they’re posted, the last one wasn’t as fresh in my mind, so it took me a while to remember the clues and set-ups for the reveal seeded through the chapter (that is, assuming I’m correct and they are clues and set-ups).

      That being said, I’m still not disappointed in this chapter. I may have clicked the chapter title a half dozen times to make sure, but it still made me smile.

    • It’s funny.

      Don’t know that it works except in serial form, but it works here.

      Improving skill isn’t a truly separate goal from delivering good chapters.

    • Not disappointing….just surprising. I WANTED MOAR!! >:|

      I was nowhere near to guessing what Zion said, but meh. Can’t wait till Saturday. :p

    • “You needed worthy opponents.“
      I read it, and then realized, “Abedee, abedee, abedee, That’s all folks!”
      Brutally hilarious!

      Somebody’s ‘Tears of the Fans’ canteen must be running dry! ;)

      It MUST be because Panacea and Bonesaw are having trouble finding all of the pieces to stuff back into Taylor.

      “There’s a kidney!! Quick! Grab it before someone steps on it!

      • Oh shit Tom,

        I never thought about Panacea and Bonesaw puting Weaver/Skitter back together and healing her. How much would that eff with Taylor’s mind? Maybe give her a second trigger event? One could only hope!

        • Eh, first off, Taylor would have to be conscious for her to realize she wanted/needed one (she blacked out last story update and I’m sure Panacea’s keeping a very tight leash on Bonesaw), and second off, her passenger’s too mature to have a second trigger, it’s already had a kid.

          • That makes sense as far as being conscious, Grue was conscious when he had his.

            Are you sure about Panacea? I didn’t read it that way. Panacea is still pretty fucked up. I could almost see her doing a flip and helping Bonesaw escape with Weaver as a captive or whatever. Kinda like the opposite of what Flechette did when she became Foil and “got” with Parian.

            Her passager already had a kid? Where did I miss that?

            • Aidan, I believe is his name. The boy who can control birds and whose dreams of the entities allowed Tattletale to beat Scion’s mental blocks regarding his nature and that of trigger events.

              • I guess I missed the part where Aidan’s “passenger” was defined as offspring of Skitter’s “passenger”.

                Am I missing something here?

              • Yes.

                It was the Scion interlude where he finally cleared up that the reasons for second gen capes is that passengers produce variants when they become bloated with data. He also saw that Taylor’s passenger had already matured enough to split, shortly before we’re reminded of Aidan, the boy who saw the Worms once in a dream when Taylor was near. The Boy with a Skitter-esque power.

    • The only disappointment is that the words themselves were nowhere near as world-shattering and awesome as we had been expecting. But then, I’m not sure that any four words of the English language could have been. (German language, maybe, if we stretch our definition of “word”…)

    • I think if you were going to show us the four words, this is fine. I suspect *no* four words would’ve been sufficient to the magnitude of the mystery. This obviously has much more impact to Eidolon to the readers and just leaving it at ‘a phrase perfectly crafted to have maximum impact on Eidolon’ would’ve worked better to my tastes.

      Of course, then the rest of the readers would’ve lynched you. :P So, y’know…

  2. A lot of people are gonna be pissed by this… but I love it. And that’s saying something considering I hated more chapters than most people here.

  3. Okay, there are two completely plausible possibilities.

    Either wildbow is trolling us, or he seriously messed up the chapter upload.

    I suspect the first one is true. He’s been in a trolling mood lately, mentioned the lack of time to write properly lately, and mentioned not counting this one as a bonus interlude for donation purposes.

    • Those are the 4 words that Scion said to Eidolon before nuking him.

      They’re give their own chapter for a variety of reasons I suspect, but in-story you can think of it as accounting for their weight they held given that they lead to the defeat of the most powerful human of them all.

      • What gets me is that Eidolon should have brushed it off. If he had kept on going he and Glastig may have been able to shut down Scion for some time, then when the Endbringers came up it would be Eidolon and not Scion who was viewed as the ultimate power. In short there would remain plenty of challenges even if the biggest of the big badasses (Scion) was no longer there to spar with. I think that Eidolon never had the mentality of a real hero. If Taylor can lose the lower half of her body and still fight like hell, then it isn’t unfair to expect more from Eidolon.

            • Because he needed worthy opponents.
              So, he or someone else created the endbringers for him to fight.
              Probably Cauldron.

              • The best part of that? It’s been not-so-subtly implied the entire time by his name. Anyone familiar with the etymology of arcane and archaic words know that eidolon means phantom/illusion/apparition in the primary, and an image of the ideal in the secondary meaning.

                More specifically, at its roots we find that the etymology of the Greek word eidolon (εἴδωλον), is, “an image (for worship); by implication, a heathen god, or (plural) the worship of such.” and is derived from the Greek word eidos (εἶδος) (form, likeness, appearance, resemblance; a view; form) (which itself is derived from the Proto-Indo-European root ‘*weid-‘ which means “to know, to see”, but that’s not as important).

                Alternatively/supporting that concept, anyone familiar with the Final Fantasy franchise should be aware that Eidolon is the first term other than the generic “summon” used for the magical beings that can be summoned to aid you in battle. The term was first used in Final Fantasy IV (specifically the DS remake; prior versions did not translate it properly and left it as the generic term, ‘summon’ prior), the second game in the series to have summons, and was also used in Final Fantasy IX and Final Fantasy XIII.

      • One possibility: he failed at a lot of things – stopping the Endbringers, stopping Echidna, even stopping Cauldron from being so crazy evil thinking it was because he was growing too weak when in reality he wasn’t growing weaker, he just wasn’t actually fighting to win the way he was against Scion.

        For a guy who justified a lot of his existence on the good that he’d done to mitigate the evil that he’d allowed to occur, learning that none of it actually had to happen could be devastating.

        I mean take the Endbringers. If he went after them the way he went after Scion, it looks like he might have been able to solo them. Scion didn’t because he didn’t care to. Eidolon did care, but he failed to understand what he was.

        Then Scion confronts him with that, and he sees that not only is he a failure, but that even in his ultimate powered up state, Scion still exceeds him because Scion understands what his limits are more than Eidolon does.

        Gimme 10 minutes though and I’m sure I can come up with a handful of other possibilities.

        • Thank you, that makes a lot more sense. Still don’t see really understand Eidolon just giving up like that but this fits as long as we keep in mind Eidolon is, above all, a pawn.

        • why should he lay low on the endbringers? didn’t he pull tricks now like in his first fights? if he could one-shot them he would have.

    • I think this is it:

      Eidolon’s power gives him what he needs. We saw that during his interlude, last chapter. The best he can do to control it is sort of think about a particular problem and hope he gets a power that fixes it.

      And some part of him at some point needed worthy opponents. Remember his admitting to need the struggle, how he’d prefer to go down in a blaze of glory than step aside or be replaced?

      These words, forcing Eidolon to turn them over in his mind, cause him to realize that yes, his power does work that way, and yes, some part of him did want it.

      Eidolon created the Endbringers.

      Eidolon realizes he is responsible for all the deaths. All the suffering. All the innocents and brave capes who gave their lives. The sorry state of the whole world.

      All of it would never have happened if Eidolon had succeeded in killing himself, so many years ago.

      Eidolon wanted nothing more than to sacrifice of himself to save lives, and yet the world would have been better off if he were dead. In that crushing moment, he feels that the would *would* be better off if he were dead.

      And that’s how Sion kills him.

  4. … I don’t get how this indicates Contessa’s power. Maybe I’m missing something, but it looks more like Glastig Uaine’s power, or Chevallier’s even. Maybe telepathy of some sort. The ability to perceive passengers and their natures. Powerful, but I’m not getting why Eidolon just gave up.

    What am I missing?

      • Yes. But there, the effect was long-term, started showing after a period of time, was compounded by the events during said time, and was applied to a parahuman who was far more f*cked up in the head than Eidolon.

        I just don’t get how those four words would lead to an immediate conclusion of “Scion sees the path to victory” or “Scion has perfect prescience”. Now, “Scion can read my mind” or “Scion knows the nature of my passenger” I can see, but those are not the causes to give up right there.

  5. You know Wildbow, This was the first time I ever felt truly dissapointed with Worm. I would have preferred you just take a rest if you wanted one.

    • Not about taking a rest. I’ve been plotting something along these lines for a while, debating a one-sentence chapter. As I say in a comment above, it’s more about experimenting. Maybe that experiment failed, maybe not. But I’m at a stage in my writing ‘career’ where I can afford to try something more off the wall.

      Sorry to disappoint.

      • It’s not a donation bonus, it’s not a regularly scheduled update, as far as I’m concerned that means anything is fair game. We were neither owed nor promised something tonight.

        Plus, if i’m understanding things correctly, this has as big an impact on the story as any given “long” chapter.

        Just getting it out there that I think this was a stroke of brilliance. Sadistic brilliance, but brilliant nonetheless.

      • Well, it seems most of us like it. It has the same effect as a one page chapter, and those four words say so much. Plus, they build suspense.

      • Hey, my only complaint vanished once I realized once it meant.

        Just don’t overdo it, that’s all. Four-word chapters are fine once in a while–the right four words, said by the right being, regardless of the reasons, can be powerful all on their own, more so than if they were embedded in a chapter…as long as it’s rare. Don’t dilute it.

      • In your opinion, did the experiment work? Did this chapter have the impact
        you were going for? Speaking personally, the shock factor was lessened by the confusion. I’m up to date, and I still don’t understand why these words had such an effect on Eidolon. I understand (I think) that Scion was talking about the origin of the Endbringers but Eidolon knew that Scion could be lying, even if he was using Contessa’s ability. Now, if Eidolon gave up because he recognised Contessa’s ability, these words must have been characterised with her imprint
        of “winning”, but they only win if he recognises them as Contessa’s, i.e. winning. Kind of circular. In other words, the sentence -“You needed worthy opponents.“- must have had the capability of winning by itself, and I don’t understand how it
        did.
        – – -My brain is in knots. I love your story.

        • It didn’t have the impact on me either, but that’s because I was a little slow. xD

          My understanding is that your last sentence is correct: “You needed worthy opponents” was enough to win by itself. When he heard those words, the impact would’ve initially been similar to the impact on the readers “Wait, what? Huh? *blink* Does that mean…? Oh CRAP! O_O”, followed by the crushing realisation that, for all that his goal in life was to be someone who *mattered*, all his ‘victories’ were just meaningless fighting with himself – and getting a lot of good people killed in the crossfire.

          Hypothetically Scion could’ve been lying but it all *fits*. I’m pretty sure Eidolon would’ve heard it and *known* it was true as the meaning sank in…

  6. Not seeing the reason why Eidolon would give up in this line.
    I mean, its insightful, maybe that implies precog power, but it could also just be common sense. Scion’s been at enough fights with Eidolon to pick up on that without any precog power.
    Whatever, I’m sure it’ll get explained later on.

    Also, troll move.

    • Because this means Scion isn’t down, isn’t defeated, isn’t on the run. Eidolon’s problem would have been easily solved… but “worthy opponent” when the Endbringers WEREN’T?

      It means that while it was a great deal, so much more than ever before, it’s still not ENOUGH, I think.

      • Not seeing it. So, Scion counts as a worthy opponent for Eidolon. All the better – this means that Eidolon is a worthy opponent for Scion (because if Scion is unassailable for Eidolon, he can’t be a worthy opponent, just an insurmountable obstacle).

        This means that they have a fighting chance, and a reasonable one. All the more reason to fight.

    • Eidolon inferred that he/his power created the Endbringers.

      Who have collectively ended more lives and destroyed more non-life stuff than any war, possibly more than EVERY war.

      Eidolon feels guilty.

    • It wouldn’t be a troll move in a novel and it’s not a troll move here. In both cases, it’s just an effective way to make the information ‘pop’.

      It’s not counted as a bonus interlude, and as far as I can tell from the publication dates, it didn’t take the place of a regular update. So I’m really not seeing the bad.

    • Hello there, Bufando Bobbins. Good to see you’ve taken off the wing of power that is being hunted by Saur-e and magically appeared to enjoy this crazy world we call the comments. Stick around for awhile. There’s nowhere to run off to. No giant Mount Boom here for you to cast the wing into. Just sit right there, relax, have a fun time, and I’m totally not going to alert those flying guys, the Seagul, to your location.

      Oh, and welcome to the comments section, Bufando Bobbins.

  7. I think I may be missing something here. Does anyone have any theories as to why Eidelon would give up after hearing those four words? Because I do not understand it at all. Like, I don’t even have the remotest idea as to what he could have been thinking.

      • Wow, never contemplated the possibility. If that is indeed true then I can see Eidolon giving up, feels odd that it would be carried on just those four words though.

        • It does feel like … he needed to think *something* relevant to that, last chapter, instead of jumping to thinking about Contessa.

          If that’s what it is!

          The other side of that, though: if that *is* what it is, it is pretty damn beautiful.

      • That… actually would explain a lot. Still wouldn’t explain the “he has Contessa’s power” conclusion, but would be the reason to give up.

        • I think he processed Scion’s words, realised the Awful Truth, then figured that the only thing that would let Scion demolish him so perfectly with so few words was Contessa’s power.

      • …Goddamn.

        Even if it isn’t the Endbringers, and is just like the Siberian or Enchidna or something, that would be bad.

        Well, I understand now, though if that’s true that flips my theory as to what the Endbringers are on its head.

        • I thought Siberian and Enchidna were the direct results of flawed “bottled superpowers” from Cauldron?

          The “his power gives him what he needs” angle to the creation of the Endbringers makes more sense because Tattletale said that they were never human (or natural) to begin with.

          That would also explain why two more Endbringers rose once Behemoth was destroyed.

          Whoa, wait a minute. Twenty-seven years ago is when David meet up with Doctor Mother…when was the first reported incident of the first Endbringer, Simurgh? Damn, went to 17.3 and there wasn’t a date, only the place of Lausanne, Switzerland. I need to go back further.

    • My theory, not sure if this is correct or not(Kudos to Glassware for sharing it in IRC)

      “You needed worthy opponents”

      Translation: The Endbringers are your fault. Your power created them in order to give yourself a “Worthy Opponent”. The reason precogs/Contessa couldn’t find the Endbringer creator is because Eidolon himself is a blindspot.

      In other words, you’ve cause far, far more pain and suffering than you’ve fixed by getting powers.

      It’s the only explanation I can think of that would cause Eidolon to stop in horror, at least. Whether it’s actually true(unlikely) or if Scion was just pushing Eidolon’s buttons remains to be seen.

      • I don’t think this fits. Eidolon somehow arrived to the conclusion that Scion has Contessa’s power, right? And we know that Eidolon is a blind spot fot her. If Eidolon thinks it’s the same power then how come he isn’t a blind spot for Scion?
        Unless Contessa had a cripped shard too, so Scion’s path to victory doesn’t have blind spots!

        Wait, that’s even more horrible than Eidolon creating the endbringers.

      • Lousy theory in my mind. Where is the logic of letting Scion destroy everything by giving up because Eidolon didn’t want to create any more Endbringers (as if that theory is reasonable in of itself). Even if Eidolon’s passenger would want powerful opponents there is a big gap between that desire and creating Endbringers. Doesn’t seem that Scion could create them so why a parahuman (even a powerful one).

        • No logic, it’s the psychological response as those words sink in. His entire reason for existence invalidated in one stroke, leaving him confused at the worst possible time.

          • Yupyup. This is the point at which the individual makes a choice. One option is to go “Oh my god, oh my god, oh my god” as the ramifications sink in, feel like a monster and let Scion kill you. Another option is to go “OMG, that’s terrible but I’m in a position where I could possibly stop or significantly impede Scion and that’s what matters right NOW”.

            Eidolon’s a #1 guy. Taylor would be more a #2. :)

      • thanks El, I would not have figured it out on my own.

        It fits with Eidolon’s deteriorating powers. The more juice he has to pump into the endbringers, the less he has for himself.
        It makes Noelle’s “possible nascent endbringer” status clearer too, and Tattletale being uncertain about it.

        It does, however, bring in a couple of interesting points. Tattletale does not seem to have been able to understand it, even after the block removal, so her workarounds are limited at best, at least at the moment.
        And if Eidolon could blind spot her so, by virtue (I would guess) of a “system” shard, it lends weight to Dr. Mother’s being a sock puppet.

    • Take any of the rest of the theories, and add to that the fact that Eidolon’s willpower is about as fragile as a bunny rabbit. When he came to whatever realization he did, he defaulted to just giving in to someone else.

      • At this point I won’t say for sure that Eidolon making Endbringers is actually the case just yet. I’ll wait for a clearer explination of the words before making a leap like that.

        Funny, at one point though Scion making the Endbringers because he wanted something to fight was my leading thoery. Back before we know he was a cosmic tapeworm.

  8. I come from the “Level Four Revive Materia” achievement in Hate Plus to this.

    Looks like tonight’s a good night for jimmy rustling.

    Bet Scion’s next four words are “What? You mad, bro?”

  9. I think those four words are like, half of all the words Scion’s ever said. Besides him repeating Zion back to Kevin and being misheard in Russia can anyone else think of anything else he’s said?

  10. Endbringers. So Eidolon kills himself when he realizes their purpose. Doubt this comment lasts but this chapter was BRILLIANT.

    (And for the record there are experiments like this in NMAI near the end)

  11. - Dammit, Wildbow! You got me again for the first time!
    – shortest typo thread EVER :D
    – I, um, gotta say; I’m not seeing how hearing that was enough to give Eidolon a blue-screen-of-death there. I mean, he already believed this; after all, that’s exactly why he was first in line for the Echidna fight, no? He figured he needed to be a blood knight to get his groove back. Glastig then taught him that he was wrong and what he really needed to be was a vulture. Now Scion tells him he was right all along? Not getting it … unless Scion was talking to Eidolon’s shard and not David?

    The only other explanation that fits is that maybe it’s a Cauldron-implanted killphrase like “Laputan Machine” or “Welcome to the White House, President Gore.”

    • I don’t think it was a killphrase, last chapter Eidolon stood there for a moment before coming to the conclusion that Scion had Contessa’s power. Then he gave up the fight.

    • Wait. Is it true what they’re saying up there? He is the Endbringer Maker?

      WHOA.

      Well, that just raises the next question. Does Doctor Mother know? If so, perhaps she brought Tattletale in as further misdirection. After all, she’s a big fan of the Exact Words trope and she never said she didn’t know; she asked Tattletale if the Endbringer Maker was in the room (which, if he is in fact Eidolon, he wasn’t.)

      More importantly, does Contessa? If he always sees himself losing to Contessa no matter what power loadout he’s running and his extrapolation of Scion’s statement was that Scion was using a functionally identical cognate of Contessa’s ability, then it would make sense that Contessa knows. On the other hand, if as some readers have theorized, Contessa is her shard’s puppet and just does what/when/how it tells her without knowing *why*, she might not know the reason for her anti-Eidolon phrase’s success.

      On the other other hand, the fact that the phrase works on Eidolon doesn’t mean it is true-to-facts. It simply means it’s a mindbreaking realization guaranteed to shut him down. A lie as deadly as any truth.

  12. Awesome. Very pleased with this chapter and, like was mentioned above, I think it’ll be even more awesome once it’s on its own page in a printed novel (particularly if you have to turn a page to see it).

  13. This has probably been suggested before, but how are we sure that “Scion fired the lethal blast.” means he fired at -Eidolon-? Glastig was fleeing – presumably she had good reason. Perhaps seeing the two so close without fighting meant that Scion had forced Eidolon to surrender, or maybe even switched sides somehow. So that lethal blast could very easily been aimed at -her-, with Eidolon just standing there, watching passively.

    (OK, I know, I know – it’s lame, and I suck at this whole ‘speculation’ thing.)

      • Indeed – I’ve been wondering, because “a lethal blast” could be read as if the narrator is in the future, looking back on the blast that ended up killing someone and hence naming it lethal, or it could be as in “a lethal weapon” – a weapon that CAN kill, but doesn’t necessarily do so at all times or with every use; firing a lethal weapon at someone stands a good chance of killing them, but it isn’t a sure thing.

    • I’d guess Eidolon isn’t dead, because Scion wants to use him as the counterpart so would want to capture him instead, and because at some point Taylor needs to find out what happened. I expect we’ll see Eidolon again as a gibbering wreck somewhere near the end of chapter 28 or 29.

  14. My theory, which is IMO not as strong as the “Eidolon IS the Endbringers” –

    Maybe… all he wanted to do was save lives. The fighting was incidental – he wasn’t a glory hound like Armsmaster, or at least not in the same way: he didn’t want to take out Leviathan single-handedly, he wanted to protect the people in the city; it just happened that punching Leviathan was the most expeditious route to that.

    Scion subverted all that: No, sorry, your raison d’être is fighting. That’s it. That’s all you’re good for, all I need you to do.

    So, maybe… maybe his surrender is Eidolon’s way to refute that?

    I dunno, it’s the best I’ve got.

    BTW, Wildbow, well played, sir. Well played.

    • “No, sorry, your raison d’être is fighting. That’s it. That’s all you’re good for, all I need you to do.” After years of Endbringer Attacks … I can’t imagine him not to try a beat the Crap out of them. Can’t imagine him holding back after so many losses.

      • But he always does it “reasonably” making sure to pull out when he’s in danger, think too much about things. He’s never had the kind of “one with the force” moment he had with Scion, where he digs deep and cut’s loose.

        That’s what his power is for, fighting by instinct, and he’s been squandering that all this time.

        • Moreover, he’s TOO powerful. He’s always safe, always secure.

          Taylor has to push herself to her limits, use every whit of creativity and power she has just to stay alive. Eidolon doesn’t. He can just trust that he’ll survive, that he’ll be fine. It’s not just that he’s never done it, it’s that it’s never been something he NEEDED to do. He’s never had to dig down deep like that, no matter what he may think.

          • I wouldn’t be surprised if at some point, during a particularly bad Endbringer attack, he wanted to try to take Leviathan or Behemoth on alone to help everyone else escape (or something) and Cauldron shot him down. He accepts at the time that he wouldn’t win, but he’d never really know.. He’s one of the most power beings on the planet remember.

            He was trying to do just this with the Nine, but they might not have provided a good enough challenge to him.

  15. I vote we call this the Hemingway Chapter.

    (Based on the idea of writing a story – chapter in this case – in six words or less.)

    For example: a six-word description of Star Wars IV: A New Hope

    Farm boy flies; Death Star dies.

  16. Wildbow: Magnificent Bastard.

    I’m pleased with this little experiment, I’ve definitely seen in some of my own writing projects that it’s not necessarily about length, it’s the impact. Here? The impact was a big one.

    I am very curious for future chapters though, for a little explanation on why exactly those words made Eidolon completely give up, and how that links to Contessa’s power.

    My little theory:

    When Scion says: “You needed worthy opponents.” He’s referring to Eidolon’s conversation with Doctor Mother, he says that he wanted to die in a blaze of glory. Up until now, sure, the enemies were strong, but not WORTHY of killing him. This? Scion? Going toe-to-toe with the most powerful being in the face of the planet and giving him a good fight? THAT is a worthy death that he’d accept.

    Of course, the only issue I see with that is that he specifically mentions that if Contessa had used her power to win an argument with him, he’d know it was tainted, so if he KNEW that Scion was using her power, wouldn’t he know THAT was tainted too?

    Ehh, I’m rambling, but I liked this ‘chapter’, it definitely caused a spark.

    • From my understanding of it, Contessa would still win the argument with Eidolon but knowing she was using her power to win would taint it in a way that would make him hate her.

      She’d still win though.

      • True, I guess he may see what she was doing, but that wouldn’t make her any less right.

        In this case too, he could see what Scion was doing, but he also couldn’t argue.

    • hm! maybe knowing that it was tainted made him realise that scion had contessa’s power and that it would be therefore impossible to win against him??

    • But he had just started to regain his old power, and the whole reason he wanted to go out in a blaze of glory was because he felt he was slowly becoming useless to the world as he grew weaker and weaker. It’s all too confusing…

  17. eh, I’m not really “mad” that this is four words, I just think it’s kind of gimmicky and over dramatic.
    ideally, the gravity of the words will be supported by the comprehensibility, not the formatting, of the story.
    that’s just my opinion, though.

    on to theorizing- I don’t know if the eidolon unwittingly created endbringers theory works because I’m not sure why his passenger would randomly create beings?? or do we still not quite understand his passenger? And anyway, if they were worthy, wouldn’t he have gotten stronger, then? As it seems, Scion was the only opponent that made a difference. wouldn’t his passenger be pretty lame if it couldn’t create the right thing to make him stronger?

    maybe I’m missing something!

    • Eidolon did get a boost from fighting Endbringers in the early days, but like a junkie, the rush was fading, and he needed more.

      Eidolon’s power works by accessing ‘shards’ that grant other powers. Endbringers are formed around a central ‘core’ and they asplode when this is pierced. I see no reason why Eidolon’s power couldn’t manipulate a whole shard into manifesting in Earth Bet.

      • That also totally fits with how I’ve often thought of the Endbringers as being like independent passengers with no restrictions.

        The Endbringers being humanoid also might be similar to how when Glastig Uaine collects passengers, they have the appearance of the capes they belonged to.

    • Also consider Bilrog (SP?) who was able to make fantastic creations. Beings of a sort, based on “that” Earth’s biology/physics. Which if Eidolon has a passenger than can materialise other beings, they could be from another alternate “earth”; hell, beings that we have these passengers, they could be from another alien world that is just now being “touched on”.

      puzzled…

  18. I definitely didn’t feel the punch from these four words that I expected. My assumption was along the lines of the Eidolon-created-the-Endbringers one: Scion created the Endbringers to provide Eidolon with worthy opponents. Therefore, it’s essentially his fault that there are Endbringers, even if he’s not directly responsible. Thus, the implication that Scion has set up every major victory Eidolon has ever had, ensured that he would be able to win, and so on.

    Even with that, though, I didn’t feel that “fuuuuck” moment. In order to get that reaction, I think it needed to be a phrase that’s meaning could be understood immediately and whose implications unfolded clearly and decisively. This takes a second to figure out why this is a relevant point at all, then requires speculation to think of the relevant implications.

    Still, it will fuel speculation for a few more days until the next chapter.

  19. Aside from making sense on its own (which it certainly does), the Endbringer theory also fits the known limits of the remaining story. There aren’t many arcs left, and if one intends to wrap up the Endbringer thread at all… this does it efficiently and leaves all the remaining time for dealing with the real big bad in whatever fashion.

  20. I think i have figured it out. Scions words meant somthing devastating to Eidolon.

    “You needed worthy opponents.“ Scion said.

    Are you kidding me? I couldn’t stop the Endbringers the last 40 times. Sleeper made me his bitch. I could not stop the nine from devastating cities. The blasphemies are still around and we don’t even talk about Nilbog. And that was in my primetime. How could you utter such cra….
    *BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOM*

    He was so distracted the Scion could one-shot without even aiming.

  21. =====
    “Some lead by logic, by law, by order and organization. Others lead by the abstract. By faith and the imagination of the public. Yes?”

    “You’re talking about leading… the passengers, the agents?”

    “Naturally so. Plotting, raising the faerie up as objects for worship. They are chosen, cultivated, as the situation demands, to suit the world outside, to best manipulate it. The pantheon in the temple.”

    “Me. I’m this temple?”
    =====

    Now why would people begin worshiping Capes? Maybe because Capes save the world from the terrible Endbringers? They show ultimate sacrifice by fighting an enemy that’s shaped to intimidate and invoke fear, an enemy nobody else can fight – larger then life, almost like gods.
    And they push Capes to use their abilities to the maximum. What if Eidolon’s Endbringer creation isn’t bug – it’s a feature? There wasn’t any mention of the Endbringers in Scion’s interlude – because they are part of the cycle.

    Except that High Priest Shard went to the wrong person and flawed Eidolon is kicking Endbringers into overdrive – instead of providing a manageable challenge they are actually succeeding in destroying the world. His need to fight worthy opponents – somebody he would find challenging, except the mechanism that’s creating them does so under assumption of Eidolon being in his full power and they aren’t supposed to be that strong or vicious in the first place. Heck – Simurgh was clearly created because Eidolon’s shard lacks restrictions it should have.

    Scion is looking at him with disgust because he is messing things up, wrecking the cycle instead of cultivating it.

    Oh, and thank’s Cauldron. Your Power Serum done it again. Gray Boy, Siberian, Echidna and now Eidolon. It’s like you are trying to destroy the world or something :)

    =====

    Oh, what was first – Eidolon or Endbringers? Cause if it’s the second my whole theory crumbles.

    • That is a REALLY good theory. The role of the High Priest shard was to to rally the people behind the forces of ‘the light’ and lead them into battle against ‘the dark’ in order to maximise conflict. Very clever.

  22. You know, wildbow, I woke up at six AM just to read this chapter, so I should have every right to be annoyed. Instead I laughed out loud. Well played, good sir.

    Now going on the words and their meaning, my take on what happened last chapter is that it wasn’t the words themselves that caused Eidolon’s blue screen of death but rather the fact hat they showed without doubt that Scion had Contessa’s power. And thta’s all the input I have, sorry.

    And yeah, I agree with those that said that the impact of this chapter in book format, with those four words on an otherwise empty page, would be great and is slightly lost here. It would be a bit like that Pratchett book where Discworld’s Death is talking to the Death of the Universe and we turn the page and find out that it takes to entire pages for the Death of the Universe to utter one small word. Medium is important.

        • Mmm, I’m of two minds about this. There is a lot to be said for planting a seed in a reader’s head that just quietly goes churn, churn, churn in the background until suddenly “Oh crap! O_O I get it!”.

          A lot of media nowadays seems to lean towards instant gratification and spoon-feeding the audience information as they need it. It’s not necessarily a *bad* way to go, but it’s not the only way and it has strengths and weaknesses.

          Writing that you have to actively think about to grasp still has it’s place.

  23. Ok, this is complicated.

    I both really liked and really disliked this update. Wildbow bear with me a moment while I ramble.

    I LIKED it a lot for various reasons.
    It is a nice piece of meta-writing. It makes sense to have Scion’s words as a standalone chapter, and it’s cool and symbolic on various levels.
    It is a nice piece of medium play. I can see it in an ebook, with page breaks, the text alone in the middle of the page.
    IF you understand what the words means it’s a massive forehead slap moment, it makes a lot of stuff just click in.

    I DISLIKED it for only one reason.
    It’s confusing.
    I did not get at all what the meaning behind Scion’s words was. While this can, and I suppose will, be remedied later on in the story, it detracts a lot from the “just click in” moment.
    I fear that some part of this is to blame on the recent 3-4 chapters: Eidolon’s interlude should probably have been more focused on giving us the means to grasp this one more easily. (It was good in itself, but imho should have served another purpose)
    Another downside of the last chapters was the amount of questions put in, and, sorry to repeat myself endlessly, the fairy queen’s rambling did not help at all. They were a distraction when focus was needed.

    And finally I have a SUGGESTION: tweak Eidolon’s internal monologue at the end of the last chapter, right before he understands Scion pulled a “way to victory” on him, and he gets he has Contessa’s power.

    Even a simple “it was our fault they appeared” would work. It would dilute the wham value of this chapter somewhat, but better to be less whammed by confirmation than not at all whammed.

    • A couple of additional notes:

      I like Agreyworld’s solution better. if the words had been “You needed worthy opponents, so you created them” we would have got the full wham and everything would have locked into place.

      What adds to the confusion of the worthy opponents, is that the logical train of thought, at least for me was.
      Eidolon needs *WORTHY* opponents -> Scion is worthy in some metaphysical sort of way -> Eidolon got the required powers to beat him up -> that’s it. why is Eidolon having a bsod?

      • “You needed worthy opponents, so you created them”
        I agree that this would have been a much better line, simply for clarity.

          • Don’t get why he should not have wanted to be clear.
            The lack of clarity greately reduces (or totally eliminates) the impact of this chapter.

            • Also there is still room for another surprise. The four words may lack Clarity because we aren’t understanding what they are supposed to mean correctly.

              • I don’t know…now, forgive me here, no tomatoes because I love this story an I’ve been a faithful reader for a long time…but if Wildbow’s prose has a major fault, it’s that sometimes important occurrences in the story get lost, because they aren’t set well off, and the narration doesn’t retard its pace to take it in. I get that the battle scenes are usually chaotic for the characters and sometimes it’s appropriate that we share their confusion, but other times (and I think this is one) it really needs to be clear as a bell. Scion’s meaning is devastatingly clear to Eidolon, but not to me; WB could mean that his power somehow spontaneously generated the Endbringers, but it’s not by far the only possible interpretation.

                Something for the editing process, maybe :)

      • I’m so disappointed by those four words. I all but bet the house on “Yo momma’s so phat” as being the suicide inducing WORDS OF DOOM.

        Have to agree these last few chapters have been confusing…
        What exactly does Doctor Mother know about Eidolon’s power that he doesn’t? Why do they need another one of him?
        Did they know he has the ability to go toe to toe with Scion ?
        Did he drop his reactive teleportation?

      • LoL, over the course of reading these comments I have flipped from 100% agreeing with your position to being, say, 70% opposed.

        Clarity is generally a good thing, but it involves a trade-off. If you’re trying to get maximum emotional impact from the audience by making them work through the “I don’t get it. Oh. OH. Crap! o_O” stages of dawning realisation themselves then too much clarity works against you.

        You need to find that balancing point where the audience *can* work it out, but it takes them a little while. That’s pretty subjective, and pretty much depends on how much credit you give your audience.

        I think it’s nice that Wildbow gave me that much credit even if I didn’t quite get there at first. xD

        (I assume, incidentally, that he will probably callback this revelation in a later chapter so that those audience members who didn’t quite twig can do so then).

  24. I actually sent this to my Kindle before I glanced at it and saw it was just one line. You made me log in to Amazon for nothing!

    I’m not disappointed by the length. I just don’t understand why this made Eidolon give up. I read about half the comments, and the prevailing theory is that Scion created the Endbringers to push Eidolon. But the cycle is broken, so why would Scion care if Eidolon’s shard matured?

  25. I wonder if the reason Contessa has trouble coming up with a viable path to victory against the Endbringers is that *the Endbringers are already built to lose.*

    It’s like trying to come up with a game plan for winning a tug-of-war against a toddler; no matter how hard you think, your brain keeps returning this useless “… I dunno, tug on the rope, maybe?”

  26. Waitwaitwaitwait… wait… so Eidolon made the Endbringers? Oooooh noooo~oooo.

    Also, Jeebus, if ya made ‘em then whip those suckers out and go to down, dude!

  27. My problem with this chapter is that it should be a big “oh fuck, of course!” slap in the face 4 words and I (and it appears 90% of everyone else) just don’t get what its significance is…

    It doesn’t answer any questions or resolve anything or, maybe because I’m a bit slow, just doesn’t mean anything to me.

    Unless your aim is to have me sitting here going “huh, Wtf? What does that even…” In which case it did a good job.

    I like some of the comment theories, but they are based on so little, even if it turned out to be right I’d be frustrated.

    If it was “you created the endbringers” (but better) I’d read it and be shocked, and it would really hit me and all that. I feel that this is just too cryptic. Which is fine! But not on a chapter that is supposed to blow my pants off.

    But I have nothing against the chapter length, certainly not as a bonus. And the last few chapters have been brilliant!

        • Because Contessa’s power = victory. Once Eidolon recognized that Scion had pressed the “I Win” button, it was all over.

          • But why is this an “I win” victory? I mean, these words don’t reveal precognition of any kind or even long-distance clairvoyance. All that’s needed is Glastig Uaine’s ability to see passengers and some knowledge of Eidolon’s history.

            I’m just not seeing how this makes Eidolon conclude that Scion has Contessa’s power. Seems like circular logic to me “this message is an “I win” button because Scion has Contessa’s power => Scion has Contessa’s power because this message is an “I win” one”

            • My read is that the words were self-evidently true to Eidolon and their impact so staggering that he realised Scion must’ve accessed Contessa’s power in order to have the perfect thing to say to stop him in his tracks.

              The message is a “This is how bad you dun screwed up, son” one.

        • in the last chapter, it was mentioned that he recognized that something was iffy when contessa used her power. so it’s within his power to know when the “i always win” card is played
          …I should find a better name for that card.

          • Maybe capes in general can sense when she’s directly using her power on them. When Contessa whammied Bonesaw she caught on immediately and went for the knives.

  28. Well, if he really is the source of the Endbringers, that is powerful.

    Though the short nature of the chapter was well telegraphed by the “interlude” and the “does not count” heads up.

    Makes it more likely that “fatal blast” refers to result (normal usage) than type.

  29. The other thing to consider is that here is Eidolon, having transcended anything he’s ever known, being well in the ‘deep end’ of the pool as it were, and now completely out of his depth gets confronted with a mind-shattering revelation of the nature of the beast that was *his own fault* in some way, shape, or form.

    If he is gone (this being Worm and ‘mysterious deaths’ are all too common), then Scion actually doesn’t have a reason to keep pounding on the world for shits and grins… namely, if the ‘Eidolon is the Endbringer Source’ theory is correct, then he will not invoke the Endbringers, and will in fact end the largest and biggest source for fighting and conflict for this ‘failed’ experiment. Scion still has enough power to crack the planet, but doesn’t have enough to recover the data, and he knows this. But he has to keep going…

  30. “You created worthy opponents”
    -Just feel that would be a slightly better four words. Doesn’t require changing the last chapter and reduces the confusion. Love the idea, love the effect, but the punch was slightly lost. Then again, it’s hard to make a double Grand Reveal in just four words.

    P.S. First time commenting. Got my bomb disposal gear on to safely accept Psycho Gecko’s welcome.

    • It’s not over till the fat lady sings. Too bad the Fat Man is dancing to the Tzar Bomba instead of waking up the wife. She can eat no lean anyway. She’s busy, you know, being the Mother Of All Bombs and trying to keep up with Little Boy all day. She doesn’t even have time to properly cook the food, instead having to nuke it in the microwave.

      So, you came here prepared, did you? We got a smart aleck, do we? I’m asking questions, am I? Well let me tell you somethin’…

      *pounces!* Have you ever been snuggled to death by a naked man covered in Vaseline from head to toe? I don’t think they have any gear that saves you from that.

      Welcome to the comments, mycelliate.

  31. Well, regardless of anything else, this chapter is guaranteed to blow away any other contenders for highest ratio of comments to chapter words. In fact, it’s the only chapter with a value greater than one. As of this comment, its score is 48.5.

    Hg

  32. Umm, wow, this truly makes Eidolon the priest of capes – he created the cape gods, Endbringers, so he would have enemies worthy of him, and so others would respect him as one of the only capes in the world who could fight them.

    Based on his reaction, and his prelude, it might have even been intentional, but it might have also been Simurgh. If Eidolon didn’t create her, she might have been his inspiration to make more like her, and perhaps even the source of a bit of clonable materials.

    Simurgh might have even used Eidolon to help mask her from Scion, by mindscrewing him into making the other Endbringers so she could conceal herself better.

    This might also explain Scion’s occasional distasteful looks at Eidolon, if he knew all along where some or all of the Endbringers came from, and found it repugnant that Eidolon was interfering in the growth of Scion’s offspring in order to gain influence.

    I still think Simurgh is a predator Entity, the one that attacked and killed Scion’s mate, and will make another appearance soon, after Scion has been weakened, and finish him off.

  33. I’m actually kind of glad for this update, I think another one full of game changing information would be a bit much to parse right before we get back to what Taylor’s up to (not dying, I hope). This way we have something to chew on without too much baggage.

    I really like the idea of Eidolon creating the Endbringers. I mean, it’s fucking hilarious. Assuming that Cauldron didn’t know this, which isn’t unlikely, fighting the Endbringers never even seemed to be on their radar. I can see Doctor Mother trying to play it off as a benefit like she does the Nine.

    But it’s kind of unlikely. There’s also the possibility that this was Eidolon realizing that he’s wasted his life and power. By playing by Cauldron’s rules, by remaining blind to his power he failed to live up to his potential. Maybe he should have thrown everything he had at the Endbringers, and the adversity would have made him stronger. Thinking that you’ve hit your peak is one thing, but knowing that you’re about to die having never hit your peak could be even more harsh.

    And why does this information get him to stop? Well, he’s not exactly the most strong-willed or stable person. I don’t have a hard time believing that one little realization can get him to lose it.

    • To make thing’s more clear, don’t think of what Scion says as a standalone statement. Think of it as the answer to Eidolon’s unsaid queston of why his power is a fading and what he needs to do to bring it back. There’s the possbility that his passenger was trying to push him towards worth opponents the whole time.

      “I’d rather die in a blaze of glory than go out ingloriously. I just- It feels like it’s something I need to do. I can’t put my finger on why.”

      Idle thoughts. He was angry, the desire to harm them in retaliation was one his agent responded to, but not one he would act on. Frustrating, that the distinction was lost on the agent.

      His passenger wanted him to fight Contessa, even though he was sure he would lose. But if he get’s more powerful in worthy fights, he may have been able to win. But his loyalty and pessimism held him back.

    • Uhm, why? She helped Eidolon throughout the fight, revealed a way to defeat Scion or at least make him desist, was pretty much the reason Eidolon returned to his previous level and only fled when the fight was clearly lost.

      • I meant that if she knew that about Eidolon, why didn’t she tell him earlier? He could have done so much more good (and I guess possibly the Endbringers wouldn’t have existed(?)).

        • Maybe because Glaistig is a crazy mass murderer who killed lots of capes to steal their powers and wouldn’t want to help Eidolon (one, if not the only, of the very few individuals who pose a threat her) unless it’s absolutely necessary?

          I mean I imagine it would go like this:

          GU: Hey Eidolon your power works by actually stealing shards. You know just like I do, except with living capes. [TRANSLATE IN FAUX SHAKESPEARIAN]

          EIDOLON: Why thank you GU. Here let me yank your power so you’re no longer the greatest menace short of Endbringers anymore.

          [GU GOES FROM BADASS CAPE WITH A QUIRK NO ONE DARES TO MOCK TO SOME RANDOM LUNATIC]

        • She had no reason to help him. She never had a conversation with him until just now. She’s been in the Birdcage for like seven years. He’s notorious for not listening to people. His role, as she sees it, is one who preaches, not listens. I’d say there’s an awful lot of good reasons for her to not tell him until now. I don’t think that’s among her dickery. I would argue that she’s a dick because her ideal endgame involves the world being blown up, though.

  34. You know what I hate about this chapter? Now we have to figure out what those four words mean. The most likely meanings are either that Eidolon is somehow responsible for the Endbringers, or maybe capes in general. Or Scion made them as a way to encourage the shards growth for the cycle. But that one doesn’t seem like it would be cause to make Eidolon stop fighting, as the response to that would be more of a “You Bastard!”

    Scion is responsible for the Endbringers in some way, that is just another example of how bad the worms cycle is for all other forms of life.

    • Basically what I’m thinking is this. “You” is ambigious. Does it refer specifically to Eidolon? Or does “you” apply to a group, in this case Parahumans?

  35. I think this “chapter” is kinda brilliant for a number of reasons, but primarily because Wildbow sent us from rampant speculation as to what the four words were, directly into rampant speculation as to what the four words MEANT. She managed to tell us exactly what we wanted to know without reducing out curiosity one iota. That’s talent.

    My personal speculation as to the meaning of “You needed worthy opponents” goes like this: Eidolon was seeking something, and he knew it, and he was willing to sacrifice everything of himself to get it. His problem was that he just didn’t know what “it” was.

    By revealing to him that what he needed was “worthy opponents” Scion made sure that Eidolon would never again be part of the solution to the end of the world. Anything with enough power to qualify as “worthy” would also be a potentially world ending threat, and Scion just forced Eidolon to admit to himself that he would do anything to make sure that there would always be world ending threats around to try himself against, even if he were able to defeat Scion.

    In this, Scion is Eidolon’s dark mirror. Scion also recently found after feeling lost. That goal caused Scion to turn murderous, and Eidolon would be no different. That’s why he gave up. He knew that after finally understanding what he really wanted, it didn’t really matter which of them survived the battle.

    Of course, this could all be a lie. the only thing that matters is that Eidolon BELIEVED it to be true.

  36. Finally Caught up! Wooohooo! :D

    Masterfully done. The impact is less on me because I’ve been reading this for about a month or more. Sometimes devoting whole days consuming 5+ updates. Now, I can join most of the rest of the readers in waiting in angst for the next chapter/update!

    One thing, Wildbow; my goodness you put Taylor through the grinder. I would’ve thought by now she would’ve had a second trigger event. Sigh.

    • Sort of off-topic…in the light of the Entities chapter, what *is* a second trigger event? It’s not a second shard, it’s the same shard. I read some speculation suggesting that second triggers were much commoner than they looked but mostly happened when a cape seeded a near non-cape, but that doesn’t seem to square with the idea of second triggers being caused by extreme stress. I don’t see much similarity between Grue’s gruesome (awww) second trigger event and Aiden getting powers off Taylor’s shard. Sure, both Taylor and Aiden are under stress, but not trigger-level.

      Anyway, didn’t WOG say we won’t see any more second trigger events? Talk about a Chekov’s gun.

      • Maybe a second trigger is the shard’s emergency fall back mechanism. When the host is put under extreme stress that they can’t deal with the shard is allowed to access more of the power blocked off by Scion.

        Maybe a seeded cape can partially access the shards of the birth parents?

        • Might also be the result of a sort of “cumulative stress xp gauge”. Grue managed to max his in response to Bonesaw’s work though he’d also been active for a while before that helping it along. Taylor didn’t have a singular event that stressful but her cumulative stress was way up there too.

          That might also explain why “The Alexandria Package” was so common. Constant stress, constant fighting of the Endbringers might have helped her max out her gauge several times over with the new shards dropping off on random people all over the world.

          • Maybe as a shard grows, it develops new powers and countermeasures. But the host can’t access them until he’s put into enough stress to need to use them.

        • IIRC, it’s a function of passenger “growth”. Patrick’s theory of “cumulative XP stress gauge” is possibly the closest, although his analysis of the Alexandria Package flies in the face of Cauldron shards being stillborn. To use his analogy, shards gain XP when their capes go through stress. When they gain a level, they get better somehow, culminating in the ability to produce offspring. A second trigger is basically gaining enough levels at once that maturity is a surety rather than a possibility.

          • >>IIRC, it’s a function of passenger “growth”. Patrick’s theory of “cumulative XP stress gauge” is possibly the closest, although his analysis of the Alexandria Package flies in the face of Cauldron shards being stillborn. <<

            A level 1 Beholder is still more powerfull then an level 1 Goblin.

        • … shard’s emergency fall back mechanism. When the host is put under extreme stress that they can’t deal with the shard is allowed to access more of the power blocked off by Scion.

          That *would* explain Narwhal. It’s canon that her force fields couldn’t breach the Manton Effect at first, then suddenly they could. The Manton Effect itself is essentially an as-above-so-below reflection of the shards being DRMed so they can’t be used against the Worms.

      • Off topic I agree. With regards to second trigger events it was just something that was on my mind and didn’t think by posting it earlier it would’ve gotten read or replied to.

        Regardless, just some musings is all.

        Even if WOG said/implied that there is no reason to believe that it still couldn’t happen.

      • My understanding is as follows:
        1. Shards want to experience lots and lots of conflict so they can learn strategies and counter-strategies that will help the entities thrive better in their next iteration. (Notice how the entities have outsourced innovation to whatever native species they’re preying on, by the way? They don’t seem to be a very smart or creative species themselves).
        2. Once a shard has collected enough conflict data that they’re full, they bud off a second shard. Normally this shard will go to a new person (like Skitter’s did to Aidan) but if their current host is in enough need they might stick around and help them out instead.

        It seems to mostly be a matter of timing. Had Grue run into Bonesaw a couple of weeks later after his shard had already budded off to someone else, there would’ve been no second trigger for him and he would’ve been completely boned (pun definitely intended. :P).

    • I’m not sure I know this cadbrowser person, but you have caught up. And while you have other comments up here, this is your big “I’ve finally caught up with the story and joined the comments” comment, so I’m going to go ahead and welcome you.

      And you’re going to feel welcome, whether you want to or not! You hear me? I’m slapping down a big “Make yourself at home” mat, handing you hot cocoa, and sitting you on a plushy soft sofa and you’re going to like it. And if you dare not like it, I’m going to have someone come in and give you a shoulder massage. That’ll teach you not to feel welcome. And on top of that, there will be food! We don’t know yet what kind of food you like, but dadburnit, we’ll do what we have to to make you feel welcome!

      Welcome to the jungle, we got fun and games. We got everything you want, how do we know the names? We are the people that can find whatever you may need. If you got the money, honey, we got your disease.

      Well, no, just welcome to the comments, illlogicmedia.

  37. OK just spitball-en here, but what if it was not a case of you needed so you created, but if you did have not crazy strong opponents but that were still challenging, you would have become better and won more overall. Not just against Zion but against all the S Class threats. He shut down not because he made the the problems, but because he was doomed to suck. Fights were either too easy so he did not learn anything, or so overwhelming that the best he could do was skate by and not grow. If he had come across the right opponent before he could have figured out the drain thing on his own and beat the S class guys. That’s why Zion always looked at him like a turd. He was wasting his gift, its like if you knew someone was a great artist but only did caricatures.

    Though if I am wrong and did make the Endbringers because he needed worthy opponents, what is to say he did not have some kind of a subconscious precog ability that made him do things that would create other types of threats. Say he does something in a social situation that has a domino effect and creates a social situation that makes someone trigger. He could responsible for all the really bad guys.

    • That was my first thought – not “you needed worthier opponents, so you made them” (which is really kind of a tangent, since nowhere were the Endbringers mentioned in Eidolon’s conflict with Scion, other than in the flashbacks as the yardstick by which measurement he was coming up short) but “you needed worthier opponents – had you gotten them…” things would be different somehow. He wouldn’t be losing his potency. He would be able to challenge Scion somehow. This whole chain of events that lead to Doom!Scion wouldn’t have happened. Who knows? I have a hard time believing that Eidolon’s shard was using his mind to craft monsters and conflicts of which he was totally unaware, because shouldn’t we have had some little inkling somewhere? Eidolon isn’t one of the capes who slaved himself to his passenger, like Jack or Contessa. I’m certain that he, like Taylor, probably acted in ways that would surprise him under its influence, but something huge like creating Behemoth stretches credibility.

      I have no idea what is actually going on here, but the prevailing theory doesn’t make sense to me.

      • Note that Scion’s words were perfectly tailored for Eidolon via Contessa’s power, so taking into account things like flashbacks are perfectly legit. (Not sure you were saying they weren’t, just clarifying).

        Part of the problem was that Eidolon was actually vastly more powerful than he realised because he kept playing it (comparatively) safe with his powers. His shard, on the other hand, knew exactly how powerful he actually was and furnished him opponents at *that* level.

        Like many human beings, Eidolon’s dreams and desires (face worthy opponents and grow ever stronger) often didn’t match his actions (skate by using just enough power to get the job done, never seriously look into the upper limits of his power).

        As to whether it could happen without him knowing? Taylor once woke up to find her passenger had already woven silk threads for her in an attempt to be helpful. Her abilities are limited to ‘control bugs’. Make silk, stand guard, keep an eye out for trouble are basically the only things her passenger can do to express her unspoken wishes.

        Eidolon, on the other hand, has literally *any power he needs*. His passenger has a *lot* more scope for being ‘helpful’ without him knowing.

        P.S. One of the first powers Eidolon used when he started realising how powerful he actually is, was to create crystals. The Endbringers are made out of crystals. Not definitive, but interesting.

  38. Eidolon concludes that Scion is using Contessa’s power. Ergo we can reasonably assume something along the lines of the following sequence.

    1. Scion Says X
    2. Eidolon Realizes the meaning of X
    3. Eidolon gives up
    4. Eidolon realizes that Scion said X because he knew it would make Eidolon give up.
    5. Eidolon assumes Contessa’s power was used because that is how it would function.

    From this, Eidolon has no reason whatsoever to trust a factual statement from Scion. Because he believes that Scion said whatever was necessary to beat Eidolon, there is no need for it to be true. In fact, it would LIKELY be a lie. Ergo, a major revelation on the scale of “You created the Endbringers” could summarily be dismissed. preys on Eidolon’s psychological vulnerabilities might keep him defeated even after he realizes WHY it is working.

    In this, Eidolon has constantly been seeking out hard fights. We know objectively that he’s found them, but his subjective experience has been that of being pushed to the side more and more. He feels like he couldn’t prepare, like he couldn’t build up his power as he needed to. To that a statement like “You might have won if you had the thing you were looking for” is just what would be needed to crush Eidolon. Eidolon realizes how neatly this fits his weaknesses, concludes that it’s Contessa’s power (which he thinks could beat him as per the last chapter) and promptly gives up.

    I doubt it’s exactly like this sequence, but something along these lines feels reasonable.

    I think the only reason such speculation is occurring is because of the organization of the text, IE: it being set off as a separate chapter. If we had seen the words in context, I doubt people would be moving toward such big theories about what it might mean.

    I mean, there are many more effective, less ambiguous ways to convey “You created the Endbringers” in four words. Starting with “You created the Endbringers”

    • First off, Eidolon’s dead, so he fell for it either way. Second off, Scion might not know or care what the puny humans call them. Third off, the question is whether we believe Scion.

      • But he wouldn’t have a reason to believe Scion if convinced it was Contessa’s power, since that would make Scion say whatever Eidolon would find convincing versus the truth.

        Ergo, it doesn’t make sense that it would be the Endbringers versus something that would effect Eidolon even if he knew it wasn’t likely true.

        Also, we do not know of Eidolon is dead. It just seems likely.

        • The next logical step from “He’s using Contessa’s power to construct just the right phrase to demolish me at a critical moment!” is indeed “This need not be believed, neccessarily” but by that point you’re vaporized because you’re stopping to have this thought chain in the middle of a cosmic-supers firefight you were barely keeping up with to begin with, and it was, after all, the correct four words to get you.

    • “I mean, there are many more effective, less ambiguous ways to convey “You created the Endbringers” in four words. Starting with “You created the Endbringers””

      True!

      However, there may not be more effective ways to convince EIDOLON that he created the Endbringers.

      • Still, if it was a conclusion of “Everything I’ve built my whole life on is wrong.” you think the immediate conclusion would be “I’m a monster” or something versus “Oh, you figured that out because of Contessa.”

        Put the line into context. Does it really match well with Eidolon’s reaction which is focused more on the Contessa angle than what it means about him.

    • >>I mean, there are many more effective, less ambiguous ways to convey “You created the Endbringers” in four words. Starting with “You created the Endbringers”<<

      I think I like this theory espoused on darklorpotter forums better. The words don't mean he created the Endbringers but rather that, at least at first, he was powerful enough to kill them but subconsciously held back because he wanted to fight worthy opponents. Maybe not as powerful a revelation, but, at least to me, it makes more sense and fits better.

      • That was my first thought – not “you needed worthier opponents, so you made them” (which is really kind of a tangent, since nowhere were the Endbringers mentioned in Eidolon’s conflict with Scion, other than in the flashbacks as the yardstick by which measurement he was coming up short) but “you needed worthier opponents – had you gotten them…” things would be different somehow. He wouldn’t be losing his potency. He would be able to challenge Scion somehow. This whole chain of events that lead to Doom!Scion wouldn’t have happened. Who knows? I have a hard time believing that Eidolon’s shard was using his mind to craft monsters and conflicts of which he was totally unaware, because shouldn’t we have had some little inkling somewhere? Eidolon isn’t one of the capes who slaved himself to his passenger, like Jack or Contessa. I’m certain that he, like Taylor, probably acted in ways that would surprise him under its influence, but something huge like creating Behemoth stretches credibility.

        I have no idea what is actually going on here, but the prevailing theory doesn’t make sense to me.

    • >>Because he believes that Scion said whatever was necessary to beat Eidolon, there is no need for it to be true. In fact, it would LIKELY be a lie.<<

      I don't think Scion is creative enough to lie. Or to think around three corners like that

    • I agree that there are easier to state that Eidolon created the Endbringers, but then, there were easier ways to convey the messages that Contessa gave to Bonesaw, and she didn’t use them.

      If Scion’s statement was a straightforward statement about Eidolon’s powers, that’s not really a Contessa thing. Rather, that’s the kind of statement that Tattletale would make (and has made), so if that’s what Scion was saying, it shouldn’t have had this kind of impact.

      For Scion’s statement to work for me, its meaning has to be something that, by itself, causes Eidolon to want to give up. Then, Eidolon’s second realization–that Scion had Contessa’s power–is a secondary thing, a realization as to why Scion could make him suicidal in four words.

      If we take Scion’s statement at face value, that’s not the sort of thing that should really affect Eidolon that badly. If Eidolon then jumps to the conclusion “Oh, the reason why Scion had insight into my powers is that he is using Contessa’s power, so even though this statement is somewhat meaningless, the rest of the fight is pointless” and *that* makes him give up, well, that’s certainly within the realm of plausibility, but it requires Eidolon to be a bit of an idiot.

      There are a lot of ways that Scion could have insight into how Eidolon’s powers worked, so that knowledge shouldn’t have, in and of itself, destroyed Eidolon.

      I’m not sure that I like the idea that Eidolon created the Endbringers (in large part because it kills a lot of personal theories I had about what they are), but it certainly qualifies as a concept that would immediately shatter him mentally.

    • I don’t understand your complaint. It wasn’t a lie, it was 4 words that specifically made him REALIZE something that he already knew, at least on some level.

  39. Mr. Gecko is regretfully unable to attend the grand opening of this chapter at this moment. He is currently in a dangerous situation which requires his full attention because he’s in chains in a room full of people who hate him, but this time without a safeword. He left instructions telling me to suggest that he may be getting manhandled by seacows, but that seems crude.

    Provided he survived his battle against a Japanese villain with tentacle powers and not been arrested by a talking gorilla hero with a jetpack, he will probably catch up with comments during a spare moment of fleeing for his life and/or freedom.

    This is inconvenient, he has written, if anybody new catches up and was eager to have a welcome as soon as possible or was unsuspecting and someone turned on the Gecko Signal.

    New commenters, you are not forgotten. Psycho Gecko shall return and do you a great (in)justice! (Hopefully)

  40. It’s possible this means cauldron created a significant portion of the threats that aren’t endbringers specifically so eidolon could fight them.

    Probably not though, but it could be enough to make him freeze. How many people did gray boy and siberian kill again?

  41. Been thinking a bit about this.

    Eidolon never seemed to judge his own self worth based on anything internal. Remember his conversation with Weaver, when Weaver threatened to kill him? His entire life is defined by his power. I’m leaning more and more towards believing that Eidolon created at least some of the Endbringers because the only thing in his life that had meaning to him was his power, and most of the capes who might seriously challenge him were allied to him.

    So he whipped up an artificial life creating power, knowing that his power masked him from being read by most if not all thinkers – he’s not readable by Contessa, for example, other than by normal senses. Tattletale probably can’t read him either. I believe they met at one point and just stared at each other? Vaguely recalling that, and I can’t recall for sure what Tattletale’s reaction to him was.

    His entire life before powers was structured by his body being crippled. His entire life afterwards was structured around his powers. He was a one dimensional personality, obsessed by proving his worth based on his power. I can easily believe he created the Endbringers. I can also believe that he might be the only one who knows it. Except maybe Simurgh if he drew inspiration from her or was mindscrewed by her in some way.

    • Actually Eidolon had to create a soundproof bubble because Tattletale was going to spill his secrets (presumably tied to Cauldron and /or his weakened power). Apart from that it’s a good analysis. Still not really convinced about the Endbringer creator theory, though.

      • Yeah, I’m one of the people who’ll wait for clarification before assuming Eidolon conqured up the Endbringers. They’ve got to much build in wierdness, especially with their impossibly dense, reality warping cores.

        • Remember that Accord provided Blasto with samples of Simurgh tissues, and Blasto was able to start a Simurgh clone, and he had very little time to play with it, and only one power to use on it.

          If Accord had Simurgh tissues, you can be pretty sure that Eidolon could get them too. And Eidolon could search through tinker and thinker powers until he had three powers suited for creating artificial life. We know that there are tinker powers that exist along those lines… That’s where Dragon came from.

          So Eidolon pinches a few Simurgh bits after a fight. Gets a Richter / Panacea / Blasto power set, and makes himself some high powered playmates since Simurgh only shows up every once in a while.

          That doesn’t mean that it was his idea – I’d say it’s very likely it was Simurgh’s idea that she infected him with. That doesn’t keep him from keeping it as his deepest, darkest secret, and freezing when he realizes that Scion might know.

          • Except that Simurgh was the THIRD Endbringer to appear so your theory makes little sense. Oh and Blasto failed. He thought that mixing Myrddin’s DNA with Simurgh’s tissues would create a viable clone but it didn’t work out.

            • Aye Blasto couldn’t make it work, which is why I was thinking that Eidolon would need multiple powers to make it work.

              As for Simurgh, I thought she was the first Endbringer to appear, in Switzerland, and she sang for a couple days before doing anything else?

              • Nope. From Chevalier’s interlude:

                Behemoth: Marun Field 1992

                Leviathan: Oslo 1996

                Simurgh: Lausanne 2002.

    • Except when? While sleeping? While writing his popular webserial, his creations come to life? Eidolon might be a pathetic character in some lights, but we’ve seen him in enough unguarded moments to know he’s not a monster. He doesn’t automatically know what powers he has at a given moment, but he does know that he has them. Shouldn’t he have noticed this odd long-range biotinker power at one point or another? And think about it – if there were a shard out there in charge of gaining xp for the parent creature, and the shards have enough control to cause a hero to create monsters…why wouldn’t the shard cause the hero to BE the unstoppable monster? Much simpler.

      • Some of the things people will do for fame and notoriety are really quite insane. And a lot of the people who do them seem like reasonable, normal people on many levels. If he did create some or all of the Endbringers, and Scion’s four words stopped him cold like that, it was because he created them and knew he created them. It wasn’t something subconscious or a hidden power, or the words would have had no meaning to him.

        • So you’re suggesting that he’s a sociopath who was just conscience-stricken? Or who thought he got away with it but now someone knows and he’s too concerned about his reputation to deal with the lethal threat in front of him? I suppose it’s possible, but it’s kind of a daemonium ex machina, if you’ll pardon the phrase. And thematically I don’t think it works.

  42. And they lost their most powerful hero and only guy who can go toe to toe with Scion….to his own issues.
    I kind of hate Eidolon now. At least Skitter pushes all of her personal problems aside for the greater good.

    • I blame Cauldron (SHOCKER). For stringing him along and using him as a tool. So he never really got the chance to grow as a person from when they first recruited him. They gave him the powers, but they made sure he would always sacrifice part of himself for their plan, and he didn’t really get the chance to enjoy whatever freedom he had.

  43. This line is confusing and 90% of people won’t have any idea why it made Eidolon suicide while the remaining 10% will have half a dozen different theories.

  44. Sweet. My first post. Didn’t read any of the interludes so didn’t make the endbringer connection immediately. Anyway, I have to say, this is one well thought out web serial.

  45. You know, I had remembered Eidolon saying something to the effect of “My power gives me what I need!” before Eidolon’s statement. Probably because that makes Scion’s statement even more…badass.

  46. Well so Eidolon was the Endbringer source. That is…well fuck. So sure the guy just went toe to toe with Scion for a while but he can also be tracked back as the direct source of several hundred million if not several billion deaths not to mention the lack of a settlement on the Moon, more helpful AI creations, the loss of Japan nearly all their lack of useable defense/offense forces against Scion…yeah fuck.

    I see why he gave up now. Even potentially taking out Scion that’s not really the type of thing you can come back from and even attempting to kill yourself isn’t likely to succeed with his shard so it’s probably best for everyone to just let Scion kill him. Maybe we’ll get lucky and the after we kick Goldie to the curb the Endbringers won’t want to go on rampages anymore since their entire purpose for existing is gone? A man can hope right.

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