Bright screen, tuned to a dead channel.
“Looks like Andy is mounting one last stand here!”
The closing moments of the Golden Intentions rumble played, with the visual quality clearly impacted. Slightly blurry, but Eclipse's elimination is still seen clearly. The camera panned backwards, slowly.
“Eclipse as been eliminated from the rumble! The winner of the 2018 Golden Intentions Rumble and new number one contender for the World Heavyweight title - ANDY MURRAY!”
A panel show. Gunt, Rolash, Church, and State.
“I couldn’t believe what I was seeing in front of my eyes. He hadn’t been seen for years, and yet, still at the top of his game.”
“Couldn’t agree with you more. From watching it up close on the monitors backstage with State, Andy Murray has shown that ring rust is simply something everyone else suffers from!”
Click. An arm on a luxurious chair started to make its presence known. The hand is gloved.
A newscaster desk.
“The wrestling world was shocked today as Championship Wrestling Federation alumni Andy Murray returned to the promotion, and won the Golden Intentions Rumble after entering at the number five spot.”
One finger moved quickly, pressing a button on a now visible remote. Click.
Another sports panel, this time with people unknown to the aristocrat and a more brightly lit set. The presenters were cheerful and chipper, contrasting sharply with the unlit surroundings of Silas Artoria.
“It’s truly amazing to wake up and hear one of your old heroes can still dominate a franchise!”
“Agreed, and it sends a message to the others that no matter who you are up against, you will never be the best until you are truly proven. If Andy Murray’s victory has told me anything, it’s that he’s back, he’s ready to dominate, and he’s here to stay!”
Silas’ fist slammed on the remote, shattering it into a crumpled mess with some pieces embedded within his fist. Pause.
“And yet…” the voice of Silas came out darkly and creaking. “...you didn’t turn up the following week.” Silas started to stand up, his silhouette casting a shadow of the centre of the displaying screen, leaving only the presenter who last spoke clearly visible. “You instead sat on your backside and collected the paycheque.” He turned his head slowly, finally facing the camera with the skin crawling stare that could make a tree wither away. He lifted one finger, with the shadow pointing to the bottom of the presenter’s chin. “It’s acceptance like this, that I have a seething hatred for. This attitude that the nostalgia should be at the forefront of everything because they can’t deal with the fact that their time has passed.” His body finally turned around, but the hand remained as the rest of Silas’ figure simply rotated around the wrist.
He grabbed the chair, and with one quick twist of the waist launched it at the screen behind him, shattering the projections and leaving the room mostly dark. The sparks gave the room very little life, and Silas simply looked at the destruction he had just wrought upon his property. “No one wanted you back, not one soul wanted you back,” he spoke, with the deep bitterness clearly evident in his tone, bordering on insanity. He turned suddenly and strode towards the darkness, with the frame struggling to keep up with him. “Such a shame management is so stubborn to realise that now is no longer the time to rely on sagging acts. Now is the time to move forward, past relics.”
The threw open two doors to the sides, with the frame completely overwhelmed by the brightness for several seconds before finally adjusting to an appropriate degree. Silas’ compound corridor, nicely decorated and lit by the candles that cover the red wallpaper walls.
“You’re all likely wanting some sort of explanation for my actions the past few weeks. My arm, disposing of unwanted waste, what I did to Miss Robinson, and my actions towards Miss Flair.
The last one is simple enough for the most inept of our species to understand. Flair reneged on a promise she made to me over a month ago by leaving her potential unfulfilled, and by sabotaging my efforts to at least partially fulfill that agreement. A debt had to be repaid, and I issued her the invoice.”
He placed his hand in an upper pocket and took out a small ring full of keys, each one distinct in colour and design.
“As for Miss Raven, I founded the Coalition on the premise of elevating promising talent to overcome the federations feteshistic desire to cling on to their greying members that previously defined them. Without warning, Coulter sent it into complete disarray, and Sam simply did what he wanted and followed him to inflict some form of retribution, which left me carrying Autumn.”
He pulled out a key and gripped it tightly.
“I don’t have time to elevate those who aren’t on my level, and have an almost primal instinct in holding me in place, holding me down because they couldn’t accept that my abilities would leave them behind. Not any more. I simply dusted away an element that had no real use to me.”
He arrived at a door and started to fiddle with a lock.
“And Miss Robinson...well...no matter how The Shadow and his clique would frame it, play stupid games, win stupid prizes. My arm?”
Click. He turned the handle of the door and pushed is open a slight. He paused, looked down, but looked back at the camera. “Let me show you a prized treasure of mine.” He walked through the door and flicked a switch.
A singular light turned on. A simple floor lamp with the switch sellotaped to the wall. The floor is completely covered in dust, with only a small pathway starting from the doorway and encircling something standing on the marble below. There’s an object in the room, gargantuan in size but no taller than Silas. It’s covered in a white blanket, yet it has clearly been removed before, as the footsteps branching out from the pathway clearly show some sort of inspection to the object underneath. Silas started to circle it.
“I daren’t touch much in this room, for I fear any sort of modification would ruin arguably the most prized of my possessions. Candles may surround us, but they haven’t been lit in over a decade, and that will be the case until I deem it fit, hence that lamp.” He gently placed his hand on the base of the cover. “I can’t run the risk of a fire, not to this.” He grabbed the cover, and pulled it away.
And thus, the object was revealed. Black, finely polished, majestic, and open.
“My mother’s piano.” He started to trace his finger along the casing. “She had the musical fingers of a complete angel, and could play seemingly any song you could name. The gatherers whom we would regularly host would occasionally divert their attention and listen to her play. She could end conflicts within the span of three seconds, just through music.” He calmly walked to a nearby table and picked up a tiny screwdriver. Flathead. “She taught me for many years, but when she left, I didn’t want to touch this thing ever again.” He glanced at the camera. “It’s difficult to conduct the talents loved ones bestow upon us.” He started walking back to the piano, and opened the lid hiding each of the vast number of keys, polished to perfection.
He gently rested his finger on a singular note, and pressed it. Predictably, the appropriate tone emitted, and he observed the mechanics inside the finely crafted work. He pressed it again, but then reached his screwdriver hand inside, gently. Again he pressed, turning his other hand as he did so, until eventually he moved onto the key lower down. Again he pressed it multiple times and turned the screwdriver. He did this five more times, before he played each of the keys in ascending order.
He closed his eyes, took a deep breath, and exhaled. He walked back towards the table. “I haven’t played it properly since she left, hard to return to it without evoking something within.” The screwdriver was back. “And yet, it has continued to call upon me constantly, like a gentle whisper whenever I grace it’s presence.” Back to the piano, tracing his hand over the key lid. “I should have this thing sold off or destroyed, for it’s voices keep calling to me, reminding me of a time long gone, but that’s the thing with memories. We cling onto them, sometimes to the point of self destruction.”
He grabbed the lid and tilted it down, but only half way before stopping. He paused for a moment, then lifted it back up slowly. He looked at each of the keys, before looking at the seat in front that was as finely polished as the rest of the casket. Slowly, he traced his hand among it, then pushed it back slowly, emitting an eerie light screech from the dusty marble. He sat down, and again looked at each of the keys.
“She told me stories with this majestic beast, maybe now is the time tell one of my own?” He looked at his own hands. “But how long has it been? I dare not to count them these days, best not remember the anniversary of a horrific emotional blow.” He delved into thought very briefly. “Maybe, do you? Can you?” he whispered softly. “You remember?”
His hands reached for each other, and gripped the gloves that covered his skin. Left first, then right, they came off smoothly, revealing the black, scaled, almost viscous-looking texture that had covered one of his arms during his match with Ataxia previously, now present on the hand of the other.
Silas froze for a moment, his expression having changed to a softer, more concerning tone. “Yes...of course,” he muttered before gently placing his hands on the surface of the keys; his left hand tapping one of them softly to emit a tone from the centre of the . Another, and another. Deep breath.
“So, I am scheduled to take on Omega.” He went into thought again, tapping a lower key. “From the United Kingdom I hear, interesting in a way, very interesting considering my current position.” His right hand reached out, and tapped a note that was deep then the one before. “Let me beguile you some time.”
His fingers spaced out, and pressed, emitting a soft, introductory chord. “This may come off as a surprise but in the United Kingdom, lords, barons, are still living amongst us. They don’t rule lands or flaunt their titles, but they come together to discuss the proposed reforms of the land they inhabit. They still have power.
They make decisions, they send requests to those whom represent the people, and act as a barrier between proposal and enforcement. They make the final decision before it’s sent to the head of state, so in some way, they are the real power brokers of the country.
Two types of peers. Lords Spiritual, and Lords Temporal. The former is based on faith. Bishops. Run a church, run a country. The latter is an elevation of self based on role. Did you provide money to the ruling party? Do you contribute in some significant way to the culture or economy of the country? Or were you fortunate enough to be born in the right family, gifted the privilege to be part of an eligible pool of people?”
The song grew complex and aggressive, as did Silas’ voice.
“Funny thing about the House of Lords, hereditary peers have a say on bills and laws by sheer virtue of inheritance, but 92 of those over seven hundred families granted with the title of baron or upwards can sit in such a position. Only 2 titles are permanent positions, so if anyone else dies, the 91 meet and make a decision on who can fill the seat.
Thing is, people can be so easily swayed if you pull the right strings, say the right words, and whisper certain facts in their ears. Some wait, some act, and I love to act. I’ve shown you all that I’d rather put my foot forward then await the lowest that those above me so graciously grant me.”
“And standing below me by default is Omega, a sharp difference in prestige and importance comparable to a king and sewer urchin. She scurries around conducting nothing of real importance while I sit atop the ladder, immortalized, and remembered, with everything documented and distributed.
You may call what I will inflict upon Omega inhumane or sadistic, maybe justice for a few,” he slowed down his song. “...not the case. It’s called sending a message, that no matter what aspirations you may have, I ultimately dictate the outcome and the future, because who is Omega? An uninteresting commoner with basic grappling ability, uninspiring in execution, someone who mere got plucked because she provoked the right person.”
He continued slowing down the song.
“Well Omega, you had that opportunity, and what results have you produced that have been immortalised? You were beaten like a sack of meat after you weaseled your way into the title picture. As I recall, you were the one looking at the lights. And what did I do?”
The song finished on the final chord, and Silas rested his hands upon the notes, further sustaining the sound. “Such a beautiful performance,” he whispered to himself. He looked upon his hands, before finally releasing the keys, looking at the dark, smooth texture of what was present under his skin. It pulsated calmly, not reacting abnormally despite the malaise performance it continued to conduct on the surface.
Silas prolonged his pause, before calmly saying, “I showed the world what happens if anyone is vexatious to me.” He rested both hands on the key lid. “Kidnapping and torture,” he muttered. “How unexciting, it means you’re not talented enough for the business. Just the behaviour akin to a desperate labrat.”
He paused, and traced his fingers among the keylid, untouched by dust and clearly reflecting what was lit by the lonely floor lamp. Slowly he rested his head on the lid of the piano, and sighed heavily. He remained in this position for some time, before finally sitting up.
“I hope you have taken note with your current standing, and I also hope you take note what happened to Tara Robinson and Autumn Raven…”
He gripped the lid tightly, creaking it before he spoke through his teeth.
“...because now you should know what happens when you waste my time!”