CHAPTER 30 (1985-1991) – I

Stievo arrived in Portland in the late evening, weary and ready for a place to lay low for a while. It was the city where his mother, Urissa, lost her mind while hiding out during their family’s first great war. It was also the city that his father, Geryman, burned down with the help of Stievo himself during their family’s second great war. So it was only appropriate that Stievo would take up residence in the City of Roses, looking for comfort, hoping for grounding, and planning for a conclusion to this current third act of his war.

The order that he sought to impose upon the world was beginning to show signs of atrophy: rule of law, faith in transcendence, power in government. He believed himself just/righteous, yet his hold on authority was tenuous. Undermining it was the allure of false happiness (as he saw it) and a new form of idolatry. The individualism of the art and affluence promised by the Ohrmazdian progressive movement chipped away at the very essence of Ahrimanism. He and Aricame had traded blows, alternating power superiority multiple times over the years. Was this just another phase to be played out in the ongoing game between the two Champions, or was this an opportunity for a totally new approach?

Contemplating this new approach, Stievo walked in the rain, in the woods, along the coast. He was consistently deep in thought, playing out different scenarios in his mind, working through possible outcomes. In the city and region that had suffered so much due to the struggles between Light and Dark, Stievo couldn’t help but reflect upon his surroundings. To hold onto his hard-earned portions of the world, he would need to be prepared to fight his Other. But after seeing the vision of that battle and the burned wasteland that it portended, the Champion of Dark had lost his taste for blood. He didn’t want more innocents to die for his cause. Additionally, he knew that this was his human side talking, a sign that his Champion side was losing its grip on control.

More time passed. Stievo did not contact the Ahriman Group, nor his Church. He allowed the continued erosion of power. This inaction was itself an act, one that was meant to send a signal to Aricame. It would surely elicit a response.

Even in war, there are rules
Humanity; Honor…Fools!
When you push them far enough
The most gallant become ghouls