CHAPTER 28 – III
Within the framework of human society, the two most expansive and powerful inventions in history (up to that point) were business and government. The battle lines had once again been redrawn as the epic struggle between the Champion of Light and the Champion of Dark moved to its biggest arena of the contest. Aricame’s strategy was that of water: his influence spread naturally, finding lower ground and filling any cavity it came across, yet doing so in ways that were harder to control. Stievo’s strategy was that of rock: it could be erected in a determined fashion, to shelter what was desirable or to crush that which was not. The water approach had greater inherent reach, yet with more uncertain outcomes and inequities. The rock approach was more direct with more predictable results, and when done correctly could rival the reach of water, but was subject to more severe unintended consequences. These competing forces would determine the victor.
It was the Irresistible Force meeting the Immovable Object.
Scrambling to claim more human potential for their side, through proxy battles, each began collecting populations as if they were pieces in a board game. They were two apex predators competing over resources across the globe, with their opposing ideologies spurring conflict among the people, but also throughout the animal kingdom as no sentient being could escape their call to action:
Cobras clashed with mongooses in the streets of Southeast Asia.
Jaguars jousted with caimans along the riverbanks in Latin America.
Sperm whales sparred with colossal squids off the coast of Africa.
Bees of all sorts brawled with tarantulas and other spiders in the Middle East.
Rats wrestled pigeons on the rooftops and in the sewers of Europe.
As fear and disorder spread, either Ohrmazd Corp or the Ahriman Group swooped in to repair the damage done and offer a new way forward for the decimated peoples. And yet, with all this expansion, both Champions were still vulnerable to events taking place out of sight. There were those who cared not for either vision of the future that was being offered; those who cared not for the future at all; who instead sought to plunge the world back into the darkness of centuries prior. And it was these figures – who were born into the conflicts that began back when Glendan and Carenf destroyed Moon Tat and his Counsel – who have been fighting off-and-on in the backwoods of the Tug River Valley, who became a new breed of nihilistic warriors.
Through want, excess, and yes, progress
Best to leave counting to the rest
Lest you think you know what is best
Beware those who preach happiness