How we think the fight will go
Alvin saw it right away, clear as the sun sparkling on the Hatrack River.
That was the way of the truth. Sometimes it stayed hidden for years. Sometimes it lay undiscovered in the heart of a man all his born days.
And sometimes it just plain shone out, like the easy, free-hearted smile of a child.
Alvin saw it as soon as he and his opponent appeared on the Eight-Face Mound. First of all, he didn’t need Peggy’s knack to figure out a thing or two about his opponent’s heartfire: Thomas Covenant had an affliction that went far deeper than the fleshrot that was consuming his body. And then Alvin glimpsed it, just a vague, dark shimmer at the edges of his vision. The presence of the Unmaker, watching over their battle.
Or perhaps of some other adversary, equal in wickedness. He has faced his own Unmaker, too, Alvin thought.
Alvin had never before put much stock in the legends that claimed that the Unmaker ruled not only his own world—but that there were worlds beyond his world, none of them safe from the Unmaker’s depredations. But now he saw the truth:that he and Thomas Covenant were soldiers in something like the same war.
He knew they were supposed to fight—but was not an enemy of the Unmaker his friend?
When Thomas approached him, Alvin saw that the man was indeed very sick. The fleshrot had taken two fingers off his hand and was consuming his arm. It made the flash of the white gold ring on his left hand shine all the more bright. “Where am I now?” Thomas asked, anger edging his voice. “This isn’t The Land…I don’t think. What world have my delusions brought me to now?”
“All worlds are on the path to the Crystal City,” Alvin said calmly.
“Fantastic. Another prophet. Another quest.” Thomas snorted. “So what am I now? The Chosen One? The Messiah?”
“A brother,” Alvin Maker said, putting out his hand. The man started, and Alvin knew he was right to think that few dared touch him. He extended his hand again. “Come with me and help me build the Crystal City.”
“My delusions continue to deteriorate in literary quality.” Thomas shook his head. “And I’m no longer the hero of my own hallucinations. Now I’m just the sidekick.”
Thomas seated himself on a convenient rock and folded his arms. “This time, I choose to do nothing. I will just sit here until I wake up. I cannot win a fight I do not believe in.”
Alvin wondered over what his mentors—Napoleon, Te-kumsaw, Abe Lincoln—would have done in his place. “I can’t make you believe,” Alvin said at last, “but I can show you that I believe.”
Alvin closed his eyes and reached out with his knack. He searched every fiber of Thomas’ body for that tiny signature that marked every living bit of Thomas. They glowed all over him like bits of gold sparkling in a river—except they were even more beautiful, because they were all alive. Alvin could not only heal Thomas, he could remake him—just by saying to them: “This isn’t how you ought to be. Be like this instead.”
When he opened his eyes, Thomas’s flesh was completely healed, his flesh smooth and unbroken. But then he saw the look in Thomas’ eyes, and saw that even he could not remake the man’s broken soul.
“I still do not believe,” Thomas said. “And I will never believe…especially not in your Crystal City.”
“Then even if I have won,” Alvin said sadly, “I still have lost.”
“You have won,” Thomas said. “I cannot always control the wild magic of my white gold ring…but I feel no magic in it now. It’s useless to me.”
He handed the ring to Alvin. It glowed briefly as Alvin touched it; Alvin saw, for a moment, this place Thomas called The Land, ravaged by an affliction even darker and deeper than the one that corrupted Thomas; and floating over it all, the sickening face of Lord Foul, the dark double of the Unmaker.
“Go and build your Crystal City,” Thomas said. “Save your world, and save The Land, too, while you’re at it. I don’t believe in it. I don’t believe in it any more than I do The Land or in Suvudu Cage Match.”
Predicted Winner: Alvin Maker
NOTE: THIS MATCH ENDS ON THURSDAY, MARCH 10TH, 2011, AT 5 PM, ET
Alvin Maker is a character from the Tales of Alvin Maker series by Orson Scott Card; Thomas Covenant is a character from The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, the Unbeliever series by Stephen R. Donaldson.
Alvin Maker image courtesy of Dennis Nolan. Thomas Covenant image courtesy of Darrell K. Sweet.
Tricia Pasternak contributed to the Cage Match