It was summer in the south: muggy and buggy. The midnight sweaty sheets were as uncomfortable as the midday heady heat. Through these conditions, in a backwoods cabin, Aricame was hard at work. He had procured some of Evan Tim’s narcotics, studied their chemical composition, analyzed their effects on brain chemistry, and simulated the process using a newly developed computer program that was connected to his own brain via electrodes. This allowed him to access a totalizing psychedelic experience, but one that could be turned on/off at will. If he was able to trigger the same parts of the brain as Evan Tim’s drug, at the same time that Evan Tim was using, matching his brain activity, then he hoped to bypass whatever mental defenses had been erected to keep him out. He could then either destroy him psychically or learn his exact whereabouts in order to track him down.

The experiments were partially successful. Aricame was making psychic connections with other southerners who were also tripping on the drug, however none of them were Evan Tim. Worse yet, simply linking minds with a Champion during these hallucinatory peaks drove the mortal mind insane, and these poor innocents would never recover. Aricame was unfazed by this, driven by his lust to exact revenge on Evan Tim (and by doing so, show Stievo an advancement in his power) was making the supposed Champion of Light remorseless. After hundreds of these failed encounters, predator and prey were finally linked. Aricame inhabited Evan Tim’s mind. Just as he was about to act…

…Trouble at Tug Fork once again tugged the Champions back into a dispute they wanted nothing to do with. The latest conflict between Aleris and remnants of the old Counsel had triggered an alarm within both Champions since each knew that they could be drawn into direct conflict with each other due to actions outside of their control. The circumstances surrounding this altercation were inconsequential to Aricame and Stievo (they involved a pig, a grapevine, and a massacre on New Years, among other incitements). As they had done before, both men directed all their efforts to separating and reprimanding the belligerents on their side.

For Stievo, this wasn’t exactly a sign from God, but it was a sign about his godly pursuits – mainly that these loose cannons had a nut loose. The Church of Ahriman had served its purpose and had taken the Champion of Dark as far as it could. Now it was becoming a liability. Stievo needed to scale back the gospel a bit while still keeping the general engine running. He set up puppet leaders around the country so that he could fade into the background and devote more of his time to his continued governmental direction.

For Aricame, the Tug Fork debacle helped to put his work into perspective. His pursuit of kaleidoscopic vision had yielded tunnel vision. He gave up on his needless vendetta against Evan Tim and put his technological developments to use in other ways – ways that would earn him a huge fortune. He also had to reckon with the lives that he ruined while blinded by his short-term mission for vengeance. Aricame vowed to never again succumb to those negative impulses. He had given too much power to his human side, and needed to listen more to his inner Light.

As for Evan Tim, the brief mental link with the Champion did not drive him mad like all the others. Quite the opposite. His lifelong dualistic battle against himself had been cured. He never again suffered from his bipolar bouts and soon left the drug business to become, of all things, an artist in the vein of Ohrmazd.

My life seemed to be a series of accidents
Yet when I look back, I see a pattern
No longer restrained by youthful intransigence
Look forward to the ascent of Saturn