As Lord Raven just pointed out that there exists a Wiki article on Myth, I got to reading it, and it made me think of something.
It never really stuck me that each Leveller returns stronger than the last, but in retrospect that does seem to be true. As soon as that clicked, the reason for this became obvious: to defeat the Leveller, the Hero must be more powerfull than the old, fallen Hero-become-Leveller was. Perhaps the Leveller's powers leave the old fallen Hero after the thousand(*) years of darkness are over, which is why none could defeat him up until that point and then suddenly someone could - but it still takes someone with more power than just the corrupted Hero originally had.
Thus, when that Hero becomes corrupt the next time the Leveller comes around, he will be more powerfull than the previous Leveller. And so on and so forth.
So then I got to wondering, wouldn't the Leveller eventually win? Assuming that people don't just go up to arbitrarily high levels of power - couldn't the Leveller eventually become someone so powerful that no one could defeat his incarnation, even after the godly powers had fled? How could you possibly stop the cycle?
Simple. Make sure the next Hero to take out the Leveller dies in the process.
Now, remember in TFL, how it seems Alric was originally supposed to die at the Great Devoid - and still seemed likely to die fighting off Balor's armies at Rhi'anon? I think I know why that should have been the case, for literary aesthetic reasons; and perhaps Myth II should never have been made.
Originally, the Cycle was meant to be 1000 years cumulatively; 500 years of light and 500 years of dark, according to an interview with Jason Jones, and vestiges still in the games. Hence why Balor was recruiting Myrmidons 300-odd years ago: he was already around doing evil nasty things. This Great War was just the climactic end of that dark era, and the beginning of a new age of light. That always kind of bothered me: it doesn't seem like you've accomplished much if everything is going just how fate has predestined it.
But what if Alric had died? That makes it a bit different. Tireces lived and became Moagim. Connacht lived and became Balor. But what if Alric died? There might still be a next Leveller, but he wouldn't be as powerful as Alric. Possibly there wouldn't be a Leveller at all. Either way, it'd make a nice climactic ending to the game: we have won, at a horrible cost, even our great leader Alric is dead, but perhaps this time we have won permanantly?
That's obviously not how Bungie took the story, though I think it might have been better that way. However, it *does* still seem like they meant for this to be an (expected) Light age, what with Soulblightere's return "forcing" the cycle, rather than restoring it to the Dark age as it "should" be, according to all of our old theories and GURPS and Myth III. But that majorly messes with timelines; Connacht defeated the Myrkridia a thousand years ago. Surely that wasn't the beginning of a dark age, but the end of one, right? How can that be if the eras are one thousand years long, and we're just now entering a light era on schedule? The past thousand years must have been dark. Right?
But now I'm wondering: could we have been wrong all these years? What if the cycles aren't 1000 years for each era, but are 1000 years total, 500 for each era, like originally planned? GURPS contradicts this, as does Myth III, but we ignore them where they contradicts the orignal games.
I used to argue that the cycle still must be 1,000 years each era, based on the quote from Myth II's epilogue, Soulblighter was not The Leveler. He may have been if he had survived into the next millennium - but, in his attempt to force the cycle, he perished and almost certainly will suffer at the hands of those who set it in motion. It is even conceivable that because of his actions the cycle has been broken, but we cannot be sure - at least not for another nine hundred and forty years.
But now it occurs to me that that doesn't necessarily mean that this cycle of Light is expected to be 1,000 years long. Rather, that once we've had 1,000 years of Light, we can be sure the cycle is broken. This makes sense if you're taking a 500-era (1000 year total) cycle as correct, with the Leveller slowly coming into power climaxing in a Great War at the end of that era, as Balor seems to have done. You won't know the cycle is broken after only 500 years, as the Leveller might still be slowly building power. But if 1,000 years of light go by, you can be pretty sure there won't be a new dark era.
So I'm starting to think that we have been wrong all along, and so are GURPS and Myth III. This is a scheduled light era, not an unprecedented turn of events where it's light when it should be dark. The past 500 years have been growing progressively darker as Balor built his forces and then finally emerged in full on war. And if, in a thousand years, we've not had another such war, then we'll know that the cycle is broken - ironically, thanks to Soulblighter in this version of the story, not thanks to Alric's sacrifice as it seems was originally intended.
Now I've got a challenge for all of you. See if you can find any references in the original two Myth games that would contradict a thousand-year cycle of two 500-year eras. If that works, it solves a lot of apparent contradictions: it basically means we ignore large swaths of GURPS as many people originally advocated, against which I once fought tooth and nail. It means that there was only one Moagim, the original, none of this weird Reborn crap. In short it would make a whole lot of things a whole lot simpler.
So can you find anything that goes against this hypothesis?