CHAPTER 20 – II
Geryman knew that his time had come. The two young Champions would work together to exact revenge for all the evil that he had perpetrated upon them – upon so many. The old Champion crumbled to the floor and thought about the past: the mother he never knew (who was a Champion herself); his father he barely knew, and the Bumgiles who had loved him as their own only to be burned alive by his madness. He thought of Glendan and Carenf; Urissa and their child born of sin. He had turned into the world’s most malevolent force, yet he was once a young child trying his best to be good. As he thought about that child, that past, and that family, he wanted to believe that he was about to head home. But he wasn’t. The truth was that that past was not his true self. It had been an attempt to deny what he truly was, what he would become, what he was now: a cancer…Death.
In one final act of violence, Geryman shot his hands up toward his rivals. His left hand pointed at Stievo, his right at Aricame. He unleashed the entirety of his energy. The two Champions reacted without flinching, redirecting Geryman’s own hands back against his skull whose contents were then sprayed back into the smoking fireplace, extinguishing the flame. Geryman was dead.
Stievo and Aricame looked at each other with expressions of relief, satisfaction, and a bit of “what now?” One of the immediate ramifications of Geryman’s death was that Stievo captured what remained of his father’s strength and he was now on equal footing with Aricame. Both understood this. They were destined to fight, just as every other pairing of Champions had been destined to fight throughout known history…weren’t they?
Victor stepped forward and explained how he had orchestrated this clandestine conference of Champions:
To bring you three together, I lured Geryman as bait
Knowing you’d be close behind and wouldn’t make us wait
What I told him was the truth, though the key’s not meant for him
It will change the nature of the game – the struggle between and within
You are the only two living Champions, the most powerful to date
Relentless, my life’s mission has been to bring about this fate
Victor walked to the bookcase and brought down two odd-shaped pieces of wood, both with dozens of white and black markings spread in mysterious patterns across their surface. He handed them each a board. Holding it in their hands, it was clear that they were each given half of the puzzle. It would not be triggered until the two halves were unified. Everyone’s heart rate began to rise a bit.
Twelve thousand years. One thousand Champions. Two sides.
You are the strongest and best-trained ever, thanks to me, your guide.
Two final Champions.
May the best side win.
Striving together to grow from the start
Continuously growing the love in our hearts
Grow your mind and grow your art
Even when it means growing apart