A playground. Children are running, playing, having fun, being able to just be children, free from any worries. The picture is being overlaid with a picture of Mia Rayne laying in the ring in a pool of blood.
The Shadow: What has this world come to?
The overlay changes to Autumn Raven in full psychotic makeup, while in the background children are playing tag.
The Shadow: Is this the future?
The picture changes to Loki Synn in her jester’s mask, the children are falling to the ground, laughing.
The Shadow: Many decry the fall of civilization and the depravity of humankind.
Now the overlay shows Silas Artoria with the odd scales on his body, a look of maniacal intensity on his face, his red eyes glowing. Two children sit across from each other, hands entwined, looking each other in the eyes.
The Shadow: You don’t have to look far to see examples for everything that is wrong these days and we have to act to avoid this becoming every day for our children, for our future…
Slowly the picture fades.
Ravenhearst Manor, the study, usually a place of serenity, now a scene of utter chaos. Extra desks have been brought in, full of files and documents, medical textbooks, dictionaries, laptops and more. Francis Walcott has set up shop at the big desk, a laptop off to his side, brooding over a two inch thick file folder, scribbling notes into a worn notebook, while Andrei Dolgopolov seems to be translating a document with the help of a Russian-English dictionary for medical terms. Alistair McLean is sorting through another stack of documents, while The Shadow is pacing back and forth in front of the window, restless, like a caged tiger.
Myfanwy verch Owain: You’ve been pacing for an hour now, you have to calm down. Would you like some tea?
The Shadow: No.
Myfanwy: Some water?
The Shadow: No.
The Shadow: No.
Myfanwy (brow furrowing): A kiss?
The Shadow: No- what?
Myfanwy (laughing): There we go, finally got your attention. You have been in a completely different world from us for an hour, is there anything I, we can do?
The Shadow: No, thank you, but something is wrong, really wrong.
Myfanwy: Well yeah, Mia is gone and Loki is playing her tricks on you and the others.
The Shadow stops pacing.
The Shadow: No, it’s not just that, there is something else, something that does not make sense, something that is off.
Myfanwy: OK, what is it?
The Shadow: That’s the problem, I don’t know. It’s right there, just out of sight, but I know it is there and it is driving me berserk!
Myfanwy walks over and puts her hand on his shoulder.
Myfanwy: Then let it go for a bit and come back later. That’s what you always tell us.
The Shadow: Practice what I preach, hm?
She nods. He sighs.
The Shadow: Yes, you are right. I have a match to prepare for as well. Who’s hungry?
Without looking up everybody raises their hand.
The Shadow: OK, I guess we shall feed the pack.
Myfanwy: On it. You sit down and calm down for a bit.
The Shadow: Yes, ma’am.
He curtsies, causing Myfanwy to give him a slap to the side of the head before walking off with a smile.
The Shadow: Has anyone heard from Sanford?
Sanford Thibodaux: Nope, no idea where that guy is.
The Shadow whirls around.
The Shadow: Were you waiting for me to say your name or something?
Sanford: Well yeah, I’ve been standing there for half an hour, but you didn’t say it.
The Shadow: Yeah right, Velveteen…
Sanford: Anyways, we have some news. The mysterious guy that nobody claims to have seen, well, someone DID admit that he really exists. Signed in as Alfred Messick, with a pass that claimed he was part of the hospital’s quality control team for the night shifts. So nobody thought anything wrong with it.
The Shadow: Makes sense, but how are we going to find out who he really is?
Sanford: Yeah, that’s the problem, the US are kinda big. But we have some description of him. Red hair, fairly short, slight build. Nothing more on his features or anything, though, so we’ve narrowed it down to about 6.5 million people in the US. IF the guy is American to begin with. So I think we’re finally getting somewhere.
The Shadow: Well, eliminated over 319 million people, I’d say that’s progress.
In this moment Myfanwy comes through the door.
Myfanwy: Pizza is on the way, boys.
Cheers from across the room.
The Shadow: Well, we have something to celebrate - we only have a few million people to go through now.
Myfanwy looks at him with a thoroughly confused look on her face as The Shadow walks over to her, puts his hand on her arm and fills her in. Fades.
The dark, hypnotic opening sounds Heilung’s “Fylgija Ear” start to play as the picture slowly fades into the flickering of flames. As it ever so slowly zooms out, it becomes clear that there is not just one fire, but other than the one the camera had been zoomed in, there is a whole circle of fire surrounding it. Only the outlines of Druids are visible, sitting on the ground, unmoving, the glow of the central fire unable to penetrate the darkness of their hoods, giving them the appearance of dark sentinels. Slowly the camera turns in a circle and there are twelve hooded figures, with one additional one sitting right next to the blaze in the middle, it’s flickering light playing off the features of The Shadow, black and red warpaint smeared across it, giving him a darker, grimmer look than usual. He starts to talk in a low, grim voice.
The Shadow: Preparing for a match is like a ritual. You try to find out the most about your competitor and figure out the best way to beat them. But sometimes, sometimes things go beyond that. Sometimes things get personal and sometimes things go too far.
The distorted German vocals of the song set in over the slow, steady beat and the camera zooms out again, showing the circle of fire once more.
The Shadow: A Fatal Fourway - how many casualties will there be? One? Two? Three! Fitting that the prize is a shot at the big title at Hellbound out of all shows… Some would be chomping at the bits, but this is more, so much more. It is like a daisy chain of grudges, Autumn vs. Silas, Silas vs. me, me vs. Loki, who will win the actual match will just be fallout from what will be on the line at that moment.
As Maria Franz’ voice sets in for the first time, soaring over the slow, hypnotic beat, the camera goes in on The Shadow again, whose head is down as he continues to speak.
The Shadow: Autumn Raven - we’ve met several times, always with the same outcome one way or the other, but I have no beef with you. You pride yourself to be the psychopath, you pride yourself to walk your own way and do your own thing, but let’s face it, your abysmal record in CWF speaks for itself. You don’t walk your own way, but you have to be led and you follow. Now while it would be a grave mistake to underestimate you, you have wasted away every single opportunity you ever received, you even had a World title match, a chance you squandered as well. When you were a part of the Harbingers and Coalition, you would always be there, but just merely followed Silas around like a psychopathic sheep, seemingly more intent on whacking the Passenger back in his place than actually taking charge and leading the way for a change. Ever since he broke up with you, you’ve been aimlessly wandering around, like a mastless ship at sea, following the currents, unable to forge ahead and walk your own way, as you always so bravely proclaim you do.
He pulls out a figurine of a raven, only visible as a silhouette against The Shadow’s face, the flickering of the flames making the outline dance across his features as if alive.
The Shadow: Look at it, Autumn, what have you managed to achieve in CWF so far? You have managed to be seen as the laughing stock of many, doggedly showing up to every match you’ve been booked for, but despite some bright moments the end was the same, week in, week out. Now I must commend you for your spirit to not just give up and quit, I know many who would have readily thrown in the towel and called it quits, yet still, here you are. But what for? You’ve had your shot at Silas, your chance for revenge and guess what? Again you missed it. Maybe you are a psychopathic groundhog after all, since it seems to be the same thing over and over and over for you? A raven is a symbol for freedom, for independence, soaring up into the skies. But then again, it also is a harbinger, no pun intended, of bad luck and looks like the messenger got it this time, our wings clipped. And it also is a sign for death - an ominous omen for your career?
He tosses the figurine into the flames.
The Shadow: Quoth the raven Nevermore...
As his eyes follow the figurine’s path into the fire, the female vocals of Heilung soar up once more and he closes his eyes. A few moments later, the song fades back into the background as the male voice comes back, reciting a mysterious ritual. The Shadow opens his eyes again, the look in them harder than before, the tone of his voice matching it.
The Shadow: Then there is the “Psychotic Aristocrat”, the “Canadian Reaper”, Silas Artoria. We, too, have met more than once and coincidentally with the same outcome as Autumn, despite all of your attempts and efforts and even a flirt with the Passenger coming out. Again, I must commend your spirit to not have given up, but I have a feeling that contrary to Autumn your ego just will not allow even the thought of giving up, because that is the one thing you have proven more than enough that you have of in spades. What you also have shown in the past was an extraordinary amount of cowardice. Despite all your grand proclamations you have proven that there is one thing you are actually very, very good at - attacking the innocent and beating others when they are already down. Look at Tara, that guy in whichever bar you stumbled into, just Autumn last week. You complain about people taking shots at you, yet at the same time you will be the first to do so. While you might try to call an attack like on me two weeks ago resourceful and clever, you still do not manage to face your challenges like a man, face to face, and let’s be honest, it is telling. You can apologize however much you want for it, saying that it will not happen again, “honest”--
His fingers sign mocking quotation marks.
You have shown your “honesty” many times and give me a reason, just one reason, why I should believe anything that is coming out of your mouth? Until then I will not. If you look back at your career here in CWF, it is littered with hollow promises, false expectations, acts of cowardice and plenty of smokes and mirrors. And it is an approach that you tried, it did not work and yet you continued on, undaunted, resistant to any kind of ability to learn. Basically you are the living proof for the definition of insanity. You are familiar with it, right? Trying the same thing over and over again, expecting a different outcome? You are like the grasshopper attacking the lawnmower. Admirable in courage, yet not in judgement.
He falls silent for a moment, as the incantation in the song becomes more intense, borderline frantic.
The Shadow: With Passenger, without Passenger, you aim for the stars. How many times did you try to engage whoever was the champion at the time, presumedly trying to wrap one of your tentacles around whichever body part you could reach and suck them into giving you a title shot? So last week you finally, FINALLY picked up your first win, far removed from any kind of title or even an opportunity for one, but still, you finally have some sort of a momentum you can maybe build on, especially since it was Autumn you vanquished. Or will you just squander the opportunity once more? Blinded by all the delusions of grandeur you have displayed for months now. Getting all hyped up and all, but then falling short.
He pulls out another figurine, this one of what looks like a medieval nobleman, in fancy robes and attire, spinning it around in his fingers.
The Shadow: Well, this is your big opportunity, Silas, you can lay waste to Autumn once more, shut me up and roll over Loki to be in the big one, all in one fell swoop. And finally get your coveted shot at the world title. Sounds easy? I hope so, this way at least you will be able to come into Madison Square Garden with the delusion of winning and not mope right from the get go… Just one thing - your talk of the Passenger and unleashing it or losing control over it or whatever you would want to call it - it does not scare me. So far I have not seen anything that would have me scared or overtly worried, Driver, Passenger, it does not matter. Once you have looked death in the eye and laughed it in the face and lived to tell the tale, then we will talk. Other than letting all of your inhibitions fall to the wayside your biggest argument is fear, instilling the fear in the opponent of what you might do, hoping for them to be paralyzed, hesitant, trying to anticipate what may be and remaining vulnerable to what will be.
Just like before with the raven, he tosses the figurine into the fire.
The Shadow: You tell yourself to stay strong, to keep fighting, but you don’t understand - you have already lost.
The female vocals return once more as The Shadow closes his eyes after the figurine has been swallowed by the flames in front of him. The music returns to the hypnotic beat as he opens his eyes again and the look on his eyes matching the intensity of the flames in front of him, his voice a tense whisper, steely and cold.
The Shadow: And finally Loki Synn, the evil jester that seems to have taken offense to my being. The beginnings of your story are steeped in the murkiness of mystery, yet you broke loose of the shackles of obscurity and staged your entrance into CWF, into my life and that is what matters right here, right now. I do not know your intentions, I do not know your goals or how you want to achieve them, but you made a mistake when you crossed over from whatever dark place you were in before, a grave mistake. You and whatever entity you represent, your intention to end The Forsaken shows ambition, yet as much as you claim to know about us, you do not know what we are truly capable of, both individually and as a group. What you have seen so far does not come close to the fury that shall be unleashed upon you…
A third figurine appears in The Shadow’s hand, this time a jester. For a moment it almost seems as if the bells at the tips of its hat could be heard in the distance.
The Shadow: Ironic that you chose Loki as your nom de guerre, the Norse god known as the trickster and in the end the betrayer by initiating Baldr’s death, thus kicking off Ragnarok. If you want war, then you will have war, just don’t expect to win it… If you know what really happened to Mia, you are obviously involved with whatever befell her and you will be made pay. It does not matter, if you are involved with the Glass Ceiling or acting on somebody’s else’s orders, you and whoever stands behind you will be made pay. You see, the group you are trying to disrupt, to destroy, is one of the tightest knit units you will find anywhere in wrestling and beyond. I know that you are trying to sow the seeds of sorrow, doubt and fear, but it would take more, a LOT more to really pry us apart. I know that you have not yet played all of your cards, obviously, but all three of us have faced adversity before, some bigger, some smaller, both as individuals and as a group and we have managed to overcome it and emerge stronger than before. No, it was not always pretty or glamorous, but we got the job done and there is no way this is going to change. We will not stop or even rest until we have sent you back to the hole you crawled out of, never to be seen again. You like playing with fire, Loki, but you can be burnt only so many times until it loses its edge, until it loses its heat. You promise the storm, but I have steered my ship through maelstroms before that others could not fathom, emerging on the other side. Not unscathed, but alive, which is more than most could ever claim.
He raises the jester figure higher, focusing his gaze on it.
The Shadow: Queen for a day, fool for a lifetime…
With these words he tosses the figurine into the flames, which suddenly roar higher and a grim smile plays around the corners of his mouth. The camera zooms in on his eyes and barely audible as a whisper, The Shadow’s last words come through.
The Shadow: You shall burn...
As the female vocals return, he closes his eyes, reaches up and pulls down his hood, showing a runic pendant shimmering in the firelight. Slowly the camera circles the druids and one by one they pull down their hoods, all of them bearing similar black and red war paint and runic pendants.
The Shadow: I am ready, but are you?
Slowly the picture fades to black…