...I hope I've done you proud...
...for I haven't forgotten your words.'
The room is far different to what we’ve seen from Silas’ addresses before. Nothing fancy, nothing antique, just a view of the New York City skyline from across the Hudson. The concrete jungle doesn’t sleep, they said, and the bright lights shining from every building on Manhattan Island made out a familiar silhouette. The unmistakable figure of Silas Artoria enters the frame, crossing the skyline towards a seat and a vinyl record player. He’s holding a glass and a small book, the latter of which he carefully places on the floor near the chair leg as he starts to get comfortable. His calming smile is seen as his lower back makes contact on the cushion placed upon the leather chair.
He swirls his drink around and around, before he lets out a relieved sigh, as if he was finally getting something out of his system. He leans over to the vinyl player, and rests the needle upon the spinning disc. Seconds go by, before the gentle piano of Moonlight Sonata fills the room.
The camera finally cuts to a medium/long shot of Silas in his chair, eyes closed and his hand holding familiar orange juice. He absorbs the music, and his shoulder relax.
SILAS ARTORIA: Never been to New York City.
The aristocrat opens his eyes and looks at the camera lens with a welcoming smile. No hint of hostility or anger, no smugness within his posture. Just a man in a chair about to enjoy a talk with a side of orange juice.
SILAS ARTORIA: My father used to go there frequently, for meetings with businessmen and with the upper echelons of society; the type that would happily indulge in a $15,000 bottle of champagne if it was served on a silver tray.
He closes his eyes and nods, thinking back to the days he mentioned.
SILAS ARTORIA: No. He’d come back and express his disgust, and warned me that my time among the city would be filled with self loathing and grinding frustration. He commonly said, ‘If I could have one wish granted, it would be that I would never have to set foot in that city of blinding lights ever again!’
The camera cuts to a wide shot, with Silas peering over his shoulder to observe the wide awake city in it’s famous glory. He rests on the back of the chair and takes it in, happy with the picturesque privilege he has in front of him. It soon cuts to a medium shot, showing Silas’ face as his relishes in the view.
SILAS ARTORIA: And although the traffic here is not ideal and the outside air in general is, to put it very politely, difficult to breathe in, I must say...I find some affection with New York.
He basks in the view before he slowly turns back around and sits in his chair properly, as the camera returns to the medium/long shot.
SILAS ARTORIA: But this is not about New York City, or my newfound fondness of the city. This is about Madison Square Garden, this is about the biggest event of the year, and this is about WrestleFest. For some it’s a grand finale, for others it’s the start of another season.
He slowly rests his hand gently on his chest, pressing it slightly.
SILAS ARTORIA: For me?
The camera cuts to an extreme close up of the glass as he takes a sip out of the orange juice, his eyes on the glass and its contents as his thoughts press him from within.
SILAS ARTORIA: I’d like to think of it as a time of reflection.
Back to the medium long shot as Silas returns his eyes to the camera. He puts the glass on the arm of the chair, then clasps his hands as he keeps his back in a state of comfort. His breathing is controlled, slow, and unobstructed by worries.
SILAS ARTORIA: November of last year, France. I was one of the first few people to appear on that show, in the first five minutes in fact.
He chuckles to himself.
SILAS ARTORIA: It’s...hard going back to watch my introduction against Aphmau Enders. Cane in hand, I told her that ‘Silas Artoria makes his debut on the grandest of stages.’ Such pompous attitude. Very hard to take seriously this new, nieve, eager rich man from Canada with an address like that. But the match? I took down the home country hero, and showed a few things everyone needed to be weary of. Enders would never be the same after that encounter.
Then there was the battle royal for the now defunct Academy Championship. Thirteen of us, and I was standing toe to toe with two people who would end up defining my entire career. The Shadow, and Autumn Raven. In fact, there was a competitor The Shadow and I eliminated together after a quick scuffle with each other.
He chuckles to himself again.
SILAS ARTORIA: This might shock a contingent of you but I actually made it to the final four of that scramble, eliminating Shadow in the process! Imagine it! Sadly I didn’t win, but my next target was in my sight.
I got my first loss but I sent a message to a certain someone. A man called Daniel Gordy held a title I was after, and I sent word to management that I wanted a match for the Frozen Over PPV. It was granted, but Gordy quickly took his ball and ran away, never to be seen again.
A shame really, but who really misses him? He’s like tears in the rain, indistinguishable, disposable, but there was a match that had to be done, and a replacement needed to be found.
Enter Autumn Raven.
You cannot sum up our year with the company without mentioning the other. Silas Artoria and Autumn Raven. A pairing as inevitable as money and banks. We met in a Falls Count Anywhere match, and it was there that she saw the full might of the Passenger. The look, the atmosphere, and more importantly the impact of the strikes and kicks.
Silas looks down towards his lap, and quickly grabs the glass of orange from the chair’s arm. He observes it keenly, although with a much grimmer look on his face, almost regretful in a way. Was he sorry for what he did, or was it that the memory was a twisted distortion brought by the eyes of the other within him? He takes a sip of the orange juice.
SILAS ARTORIA: Medics had to take her away to get checked upon.
He looks back at the camera, grim face still maintaining. His lips curl a little, but quickly returns to their natural formation.
SILAS ARTORIA: That’s how harsh the match was.
He places the juice back on the armchair, and a smile returns to his face, the dark moment that clouded his thoughts now having passed.
SILAS ARTORIA: Then came the Modern Warfare tournament, and I was eliminated in the first round by Amber Ryan. Tough competitor to go up against when you’ve just arrived, but if I was going down, I was going to bring someone down with me. Roid Rogers was my nominee, and the next week we had a four on four match on Evolution. In my corner, Autumn Raven and two disposable journeymen.
That match, that match was when the Harbingers were born, born out of disgust for the worship of old timers who were no longer needed nor wanted by the locker room.
It took some time for us to gel. We had our first of many encounters with The Shadow and Ataxia, but won a chance to take the tag team titles after a gruelling gauntlet against four other tag teams. We butched one team in particular, consisting of Dangerous Dan and Crazy Chris. We lost that title match against Caledonia and Eris, but a new formation was made aware that night. Dean Coulter, Sam Braxton, The Lost Boys, now joining a Coalition.
He closes his eyes and takes a deep breath. Tiny amount of frustration escapes him.
SILAS ARTORIA: Started rough with a defeat in singles action…
His eyes opensup, his face now beaming with a look of elations.
SILAS ARTORIA: ...but by Confliction, the four of us dominated the tag team division of the CWF, to the point that one of the people main eventing WrestleFest was pinned for the CWF Tag Team Championships. No more doubters, no more naysayers, the four of us were unstoppable, and the one who lead the force to be reckoned with?
SILAS ARTORIA: Silas Artoria, the Psychotic Aristocrat.
He picks up his orange juice, and his face, again, turns grim, almost cold and unforgiving. His breathing quickens a little, and his shoulders become tense.
SILAS ARTORIA: And then...and then the Unhinged season began.
He quickly downs the rest of his orange juice and places his glass on the floor. His face now struck with sadness and frustration, as the memories flowed back to him.
SILAS ARTORIA: Unhinged qualifier matches, lost to Ryan and lost to Nere--
He stops himself as his eyes close in pain. That match. That damn cursed match. Silas swallows his spit then opens his eyes, looking at the clasped hands on his lap, with the camera catching them slightly shaking.
SILAS ARTORIA: I was lucky to be able to exit South Korea alive. That amount of punishment would kill an elephant.
His tone returns to frustration, with his breath quickening with each passing second and each word becoming more vindictive with it’s pronunciation.
SILAS ARTORIA: Main event of Evolution, our first main event! Lost. LOST!
Silas had bellowed out that last word, but he quickly returns to relative calmness, although the anger and frustration didn’t fade away with the volume. The classical piano played on, and Silas’ hands made the camera aware of its presence.
SILAS ARTORIA: This...this is why that music is on. I just cannot think about the Unhinged season without it bringing back memories of anger, outrange, and more importantly, sadness.
He looks back at the camera with a sorry state to display, the meaning of the season a particular importance to him.
SILAS ARTORIA: My obsession with returning to Japan, the place I consider my true birthplace for this sport, as a conquering hero after promising to do so, caused cracks that would reveal the nature of the Coalition. Dean attacked me and my credibility, and I pointed out that I lead him and Sam to the tag team championships. That anger was taken out on an athlete, Chorozon to be specific, and he barely left China alive!
Come Japan, The Lost Boys vs. The Harbingers. The chants of ‘Ganbatte’ echoed towards me. I was being welcomed back by an audience whom haven’t seen me since the fateful ladder match that put me on the map, and what followed was complete, utter destruction, that made for a grand spectacle. I took a beating by the time the end bell rang, and I fear I would’ve killed one of the two boys if it wasn’t for Japan reminding me of what I was fighting for.
A lesson was learned that day, and the four of us got on the bus back to our homes with a renewed sense of worth, and a sense of family among us.
The look of anger and bitterness returns, only held back by the elegant sounds of the piano being played, if only slightly as the vindictiveness became ever more clear.
SILAS ARTORIA: All that, for it to come crashing down. Autumn loses the CWF Championship main event to MJ Flair, a challenge is postponed indefinitely, and more importantly, the utter crumbling of our alliance. CWF Tag Team Titles, gone thanks to Dean’s backstabbing. The Coalition, instantly turned into an utter joke in the eyes of the audience, and most of all…
His eyes grew wider as his tone finally calmed. Anger turned into sadness, and the eyes of bitterness now only showed a sheet of tears.
SILAS ARTORIA: ...Amber Ryan defeated me at Paradise. That...that was most crushing.
He wipes away the light layer of water before it could start trickling down his face, which was now facing his lap once again.
SILAS ARTORIA: Everything I built crashed down, and that defeat was the final swing that destroyed the foundation.
He looks back at the camera, expressionless as the sounds of the piano continued.
SILAS ARTORIA: I hadn’t won a single match since that night, and I ended up needing to cut anything that wore me down. It first started with Autumn Raven, a dead weight, the one whom was frequently pinned in singles and tag team matches, and whose sheer presence reminds me of a significant memory, completely tainted and devoid of all impact and positivity. And more importantly, I needed to…
His smile starts to return again, slowly but clearly.
SILAS ARTORIA: ...reinvent myself. Take a step back and see what needed to be sorted out, and find whom was weighing me down. After the debacle that was Summer Games, I kept myself off the card and reevaluated the situation, and during that time, I ended up with two names that had bothered me for months. They were the final threads to a past that must now be shredded, never to return or reform.
He leans forward and holds up his hand, clearly showing it to the camera, and begins counting the number of people he still has a history with.
SILAS ARTORIA: Autumn Raven, for being the direct representation of my failure, and The Shadow, the man whom has been hovering over me since my downfall began.
He sits back in his chair, once again getting comfortable and now wearing the welcoming smile that he entered the frame with.
SILAS ARTORIA: Which leads us to today, WrestleFest! A match between three people whom have had a history dating back to December of last year, coming to a head with a wonderful, desirable cherry on the top. But!
He perks up unexpectedly, and adjusts his posture as the camera zooms in closer to him.
SILAS ARTORIA: It would be very ignorant of me to talk about this match without mentioning the very clear wild card in the fatal four way, Loki Synn, and it’s a name I haven’t brought up before now because I have no idea who Loki Synn is!
I have no history with them, no contact except for a very brief exchange at the Fan Fest; this will be the very first time the two of us will have any sort of grappling, and it’s hard to really tell the outcome. I don’t know their moveset, I don’t even know what devastating maneuver they have in their pocket that’ll keep the others from getting back up! How can I combat that?
He chuckles darkly.
SILAS ARTORIA: Well, I know the perfect welcoming gift for them, but I must warn you it does come with a warning note. Because Loki does not know what lies within the confines of the CWF. They haven’t experienced the power myself, Shadow, and even Autumn has to display! Granted, we don’t know what they have in store for us, which is a huge disadvantage, but I’d confidently say that the one I’ve selected to represent me at WrestleFest will most certainly not yield to whatever you have in your pocket, but I’ll give you this, Loki.
He leans forward, and draws up his hand again, counting names whilst staring directly into the cameras sensor. There was a little rumble from the camera, almost as if there was a presence surrounding it.
SILAS ARTORIA: Danny Gordy...Aphmau Enders...Chris Lee...Roid Rogers...Dangerous Dan, all of them either left the company, was never the same again, or both after even the briefest of encounters with me. Their reputation was left in the dust, and that was during my first three months in the company. If I, as a rookie, could do that to icons of the company and the industry in such a short amount of time, what chance do you have?
Until you prove otherwise, your appearance tells more than your dreadful puppet shows. A joke, starry eyed with high ambition but with no sense of self awareness. Trust me, I’ve been there recently, and whatever you face within the ring will either wake you up, or drive you out of the company. It doesn’t matter if you compare me to that pathetic bird Ataxia carries around with him, if you don’t have the bite to back it up!
He leans back into the chair, back to comfort.
SILAS ARTORIA: Just ask Autumn Raven, a woman who is more synonymous with me! More than any other person on the roster or even in the wrestling world. We competed alongside each other for many months, I’ve already told you that, but what I haven’t mentioned much of was what she encountered during her journey to WrestleFest.
His smile grew more sinister, as he clearly revelled in the retelling of his bouts against her.
SILAS ARTORIA: She has seen the otherside to me, one fuelled by blood and violence. A side where slowing down is not an option, and whose only method of keeping me down is incredibly vague at best. An uncontrollable, unstoppable, unpredictable entity that strikes fear in the eyes of those unfortunate to encounter them. Ataxia got a diet rendition of that side, but Autumn received the full extent of that entity. And let me tell every single one of you all right now, if you think Autumn knows the Passenger from the back of her hand, then you are all sorely mistaken.
He leans forward closely, addressing Autumn with the same intimidation as he had done before, both when they teamed up and faced each other.
SILAS ARTORIA: Don’t think they’ll hold back on you, my dear. Your streak of failures is going to continue to add up, and after months and months of you suppressing what I sorely needed, they are going to revel in dismantling you piece by piece. We, you and I, know that our encounters will not end at WrestleFest, but it will most certainly be a turning point. And Autumn, the only turning point that’ll be for you, will be the difference between merely surviving or ending up needing shoulder surgery.
We’re going to relish in your agony, and we know exactly what points to focus on to exacerbate that agony.
His voice gets softer as he sits up straight, picking up the empty glass and ending up disappointed in its lack of contents in the process.
SILAS ARTORIA: And the Shadow?
He lingers on that name, almost in glee, as his thoughts look back at their previous encounters.
SILAS ARTORIA: Well, I could continue lingering on our rivalry and call back to our previous encounters, but I’ll predict that you’ll simply address me as if I am an adorable yapping puppy. ‘Someone with potential, but completely ignorant of their failures and limitations.’ Such confidence you have Shadow, but I’d only be repeating the same tired and regurgitated speil we’ve all hear time and time again, so instead…
The camera follows his hand as he puts down the glass carefully, and finally picks up the book he entered with. It’s relatively flat with a green cover; quite antiqued but no bigger than a novella. No title, the lack of which forced Silas to flip the book over once he opened it, just to get it the right way up. He turns a page, and his posture relaxes into a homely, more comfortable state. He shuffles and clears his throat, while his smile slightly grew wider, but not to the point of discomfort, and his voice grew softer and welcoming to the ears.
SILAS ARTORIA: I’ll read you a “Shadow and Mia” story.
‘Shadow Does Housework.’
Today, Shadow has to do some housework. Mia says she’s nothing but a slave, and is sick and tired of all the mess. Mia says ‘I’m going to the the fish market!’
His impression of Mia is a slightly higher pitched rendition of his own voice, reading the story like a parent to a child.
SILAS ARTORIA: ‘By the time I come back I want all the washing on the line, and I want you working on the cockleshell path around the pond! That sand and cement has been there since Christmas!’
But Shadow says, ‘but I have a stiff neck from window shopping on Saturday!’
His voice for Shadow is also high pitched, but far more squeaky in addition to an added lisp.
SILAS ARTORIA: Can you do a cross face? Mia can. Shadow puts on some old clothes, including a tattered monks robe and a fez, with some flip flops for his feet. When Mia is gone, Shadow empties the washing machine and takes the clothes out the hang them on the line. Shadow doesn’t know you can take down the clothes prop, so he has to stretch.
He looks at the camera lens, and smiles softly.
SILAS ARTORIA: Silly Shadow.
His focus is back on the book.
SILAS ARTORIA: Shadow is hanging up his best silver silk pyjamas, when he sees Mrs Robinson from the bank. ‘Hello Mrs Robinson!’ says Shadow.
‘Hello Shadow,’ says Mrs Robinson.
‘I can see you are in pain, can I give you a hand?’
‘Yes please!’ says Shadow. ‘I have a very stiff neck.’ Soon, Mrs Robinson and Shadow have hung up all the washing on the line, and Shadow says, ‘thank you Mrs Robinson! I thought I would have to take some junior aspirin before I could start work on the path around the pond, but it feels much better now! I even have some time to go on the swing! Will you give me a push?’
See Mrs Robinson push Shadow on the swing.
Mrs Robinson says, ‘if you sit sideways on the seat, you can pretend you’re on a horse and swing sideways. I used to do that when I played with other boys and girls. I really must pop back to see Mia sometime.’ Soon, Mrs Robinson has to go.
See Shadow wave goodbye.
When Mia comes back, Shadow is hard at work on the path. ‘Hello Shadow,’ says Mia. ‘I don’t think you’ve even started the path!’
Shadows says, ‘Mrs Robinson saw me in the garden, hanging out my pyjamas, and could see I was a bit stiff, and wanted to shake it off. So she lent me a hand and I told her I’d be needing a couple of pills before the cockle work.’
Silas’ smile grew ever wider, and at times struggled to contain his composure. Some wheezing escaped from his teeth.
SILAS ARTORIA: ‘With her help, I managed to have a quick swing. Mrs Robinson said that when she played with the other boys and girls she used to swing both ways, and said she’d have to call back when you’re next in.’
Silas wheezed a few more times and clearly broke his composure, completely losing it after reading the story. He closes the book, carefully places it by his side, and looks back at the camera, his voice still soft spoken.
SILAS ARTORIA: Do you know how to insert a frozen mackerel into a cultic wrestler?
Silas starts slowly clapping, amused by his own performance art.
SILAS ARTORIA: See that, Shadow? That is how you win battles. Not through doing the same thing over and over again with the same tired tropes and structures, but with imagination and creativity. Your address was the same tried and true scripts you’ve churned out week after week, and the problem is that you lack what you sorely need.
His face turns grim as he grips the arms of the seats, changing the tone from comforting to iscolating.
SILAS ARTORIA: Because come WrestleFest, come our match at Madison Square Garden, you cannot rely on old formulas. The Passenger is far more dangerous then you can comprehend, so regardless on if you, Autumn, or Loki win or lose, you are all going to have to reserve a spot at the morgue come the finishing bell.
The arms of the chair rips apart from the pressure caused by his hands, revealing the stuffing inside. Silas’ eyes grew wider.
SILAS ARTORIA: So...come prepared, you’re going to sorely need it.
Silas’ smile starts forming again, before a cackle starts creaking out. And it got louder...and louder...and louder….
SILAS ARTORIA: ...dear god….you are all completely DEAD!
Camera cuts out to a dead channel.