CHAPTER 30 – III
Steivo entered the Manlius home through the same back door that he had 46 years ago. He proceeded through the kitchen to the living room cautiously, but made no attempt to conceal his arrival since he did not believe a surprise attack was likely. Upon entering the living room, he met eyes with Aricame who stood on the very spot where the two men had collaborated to defeat Geryman.
(Stievo) Would you say that your loyalty is reserved for democracy, wealth, and liberalism? Are they so great? Didn’t they give birth to empire and inequality? Aren’t some of the leaders who abandon their people chosen by the free will of the people?
(Aricame) Your words are as if the value of fire should be denied simply because arson exists.
(S) That may be true, but wouldn’t you say the same applies to authority? You cannot deny the efficiency of institutions by a strong leadership simply because tyrants do exist.
(A) The right to violate the rights of the people belongs to the people – no one else. The sin of authority is that the people can push off the failures of institutions onto someone else.
(S) I feel that your ideology is bold and novel, but a little extreme. Do you mean to turn me to your point of view?
(A) No, not at all. I only offer a counterpoint to your ideology. I believe that an ideology, seen from the other side, gives rise to a counter-ideology. I merely point out that such a counterpoint exists.
(S) So no ideology is supreme, and no ideology stands alone? Is that your conviction?
(A) No, that’s just what I was thinking. I wouldn’t call it a conviction. Perhaps, in this universe, there exists a solitary, absolute truth. Perhaps it clarifies every question. But that’s beyond my reach, at present.
(S) I don’t believe that the absolute truth is necessary. I only need the power to freely accomplish my dreams. One could say that it’s the power to not have to take orders from those one despises, who think me inferior. Have you ever thought that way?
(A) I despise those who hide in safety while they glorify war and tribalism and send other people to the battlefield while they relax behind the lines. You are different from them. You are on the front lines. It is admirable.
(S) It is the only thing you approve of in me. I’m honored. Long ago, when I swore to seize the universe, I made an oath that I would never give in to my Darkness. I would stand at the fore and fight, and accept the outcome. I am now ready to sacrifice for that oath.
With teary eyes peering out from an otherwise hardened and determined face, Stievo extended his hands, relinquishing his piece of the Victor Strife Board to Aricame. He then knelt down on one knee and bowed his head before the victorious Champion. The two Board pieces, each in opposing hands, began to glow with the anticipation of reunification as Aricame’s own powers began to flow through their mysterious pathways. Aricame could begin to see visions of the past and future coming into focus as if he was experiencing the entirety of eternity all at once. He looked down at the defeated Champion, unable to disguise the subtle dimple in his cheek that betrayed his self-satisfaction. It was then that Stievo’s bowed head began to lift up, elongating and exposing his neck to be severed by the connection of the pieces. Aricame raised his arms above his head like an eagle displaying its wingspan before a rival, and with one last surge of pure force, he began the downward thrust to bring them together.
At that precise moment Stievo lifted his face from the floor, exposing his teeth like a bear before a challenger, linking his blackened eyes with Aricame’s. The Board pieces slammed through flesh and bone, connecting at the spinal cord, completing the beheading. Life left the body of Stievo, Champion of Dark…and entered into the mind of Aricame, Champion of Light. A whirlwind of light and weight swirled through Aricame as he was bonded with his nemesis, his adversary, his Other…His other half.
All of Stievo’s prior actions and memories had been absorbed by Aricame and he immediately understood Stievo’s gambit. Stievo knew he was defeated, that there was no way to come back, and that any attempt to do so would kill billions of people. His human side had taken control and admitted defeat, or so he had convinced himself. His Champion side, also acknowledging its weakened position, put the previous training into practice: the transfer of Championship power from one being to another, along with the cerebral game play that came from mastery of the Board, combined for a ploy that Aricame did not know was possible (indeed, Stievo’s Champion subconscious did not know for sure it would work until that very moment). Stievo had transferred his Dark nature into his piece of the Board at the last possible moment, which, when connected to its other half, created a unified consciousness with the Champion who held the unified Board, thus connecting the Dark Championship nature with that of the Light, inside the body of an able, flawed, human being.
Stievo’s human side had wanted peace – an end to the twelve thousand year conflict. That earthly being sacrificed itself and laid decapitated on the floor. What was left was a continuation of the final battle, within the mind and body of but one person, and the world (and beyond) would feel the fallout.
Keep pushing and reaching me up toward the forms
Complacency comes easily; acceptance of norms
But shushing and preaching, history informs
Act against nature and bring apocalyptic storms