A Champion for the Rest of Us

Salaam Aktelon I is the champion spoken of in the Talevala, the epic poem that describes the history of Malvada. He is a giant of a man, standing four and a half telbows tall and weighing five hundred and twelve spall. By these measurements he is a spot over seven feet tall and three hundred and twenty pounds. He is a Selessian, one of a race of solitary highlands hunters who live in the Gar–Arlach Mountains, beyond the reach of the Teilarata. I took the name Selessian from Emperor Haile Selassie, the Rastafarian Messiah who they believe will lead them to a new, golden age of eternal peace, righteousness, and prosperity. In the Rastafarian tradition of God within individual man, the “I” at the end of his name is not pronouned “one” or “the first”. Instead, it is pronounced “eye” like “eye and eye”. Salaam Aktelon I does not drink, although he probably smokes a bit. He eats only natural foods, and does not let anything chemical touch his body, washing only with pure water.

I needed the champion when I invented him. My wife and I were in the midst of trying to conceive, a frustrating and drawn out seven year ordeal in which she subjected herself to doctors and all of the marvels of medical science, at great expense and with no positive result. In the end, it did not bring us what we wanted (a child) but it did bring us what we needed, which was closer to one another. It was painful and difficult, and when I thought up the champion, it was as a fictional character who couldn’t be hurt by anything. That’s what I wanted in my life at that point–to not be hurt by anything. Of course, that is ridiculous, and as I evolved the champion has as well. He is still physically unassailable, but he also has feelings, though they may seem inscrutable.

Our doctors also make an appearance in the Peaceful, Brave, and Just. They come in the form of Niisteen, which is an anagram for Einstein, just in case you were wondering. Niisteen is the last of the scientists in Los Lewr (an anagram for Roswell–how about that?) the lost ward of matter, located beyond the river of fire, which the champion is going to have to put out in his quest to reunite the wards. That’s a plot for book three, which I haven’t started yet, so you will have to read on to see how he does it. I have an idea already. Niisteen is the last scientist, surrounded by fertility icons and knowledge but without the ability to bear children, which is what he wants the most. He creates the mistral and the kapala stones, surrounds himself with riches, and convinces Mesopotamia Wrath to marry him in the hopes that he can continue his race, but in the end he is doomed to loneliness.

As I reach the end of book two, Kavela pledges his loyalty to himself, his friends, and the champion. That idea came from Gale Sayers, the fantastic Chicago Bears running back and his book “I Am Third” in which he pledges himself to God first, his family second, and himself third. I realized as I was writing that this left me with the problem of creating false idols–I have made the champion into God, and I don’t really want him to be God. Instead, I want to emphasize the concept of God within each of us. Over the course of the books, Kavela will have to learn to depend on himself, as all of us do in life. The champion can guide him, but in the end he will have to realize that he is on his own, and on his own he is strong enough to do what must be done. This will have its greatest moment in book four, when Kavela travels to Chalcis and realizes that the pallbearers and the brunos don’t have it all figured out either, and are no better overlords than the Teilarata. In the end, we are all just regular people, and it is up to all of us to live our lives well and take care of those we love. There are no magical solutions, and there are no champions, except that we are all champions in our own way.

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