The Canadian with the voice in his head, yet again looking at the ceiling as if it were their duty to the world. Unmoving, weak, powerless as the female takes her place on top on him, and be announced as the winner of the bout. One, two, three, another stain on the record, another step by, once again by his own volition.
‘It takes a brave man to admit their faults, but it takes a true coward to persistently excuse their failures.’
He was limp, helpless as the female picks up her prized briefcase as she celebrates her victory within the four corners. She departs from the battlefield, basked in a sea of glory while the crowd scream her name, all while Silas Artoria struggles to roll onto his side, and observe the woman leaving.
He wanted the match, he petitioned for the match, it was the last thing the people saw before the show started, and now his credibility was shattered, lying on the floor and shown to the world like circus freak. All he does before medical personal arrive, is simply watch the haze that had defeated him leave.
‘How many times must you fail?’
The compound’s dining area was quite lavish, but was hampered in appearance by the vast amount of cobwebs and dust in the room. Paintings, candles, china, nothing was safe from the natural pest except for recently arrived elements. This included two men, one woman, three plates of dinner, silverware, and lit candles. Chicken and an assortment of vegetables, prepared by Silas Artoria, although there is a sense that it was done to keep his mind off something. The table had Autumn Raven at one end, Sam Braxton at the other, and Silas in the middle, slowly eating his food while the others talk across to each other. His elbow is on the table, and he looks disinterestedly at what he made.
“I’m tellin’ yer, we aint gonna last long like this!” Sam spouts to Autumn whilst finishing a mouthful of chicken. “You got the squabblers expandin’ their arms and engulfin’ the damn fed, an’ now they’re pushin’ it.”
“Which is why we are here, Sam, to stay out of it!” Autumn replied, before she continues to eat her meal in a slow, controlled manner.
“How the hell can we stay out of it now!? You the suits an’ the spooks draggin’ Deano into it, and they’ve bloody gone and warped his damn mind!” He leans forward, firing daggers towards Autumn’s eyes. “You knew they tried to take advantage of me right? After ever’one pushed my damn buttons, after I was forced to tag with a man I don’t recognise--”
“And you turned them both down, which was the correct way to go about it,” Autumn replies, now, too, leaning forward. “Last thing we want is to be put out of action over a war that we won’t gain from.”
Sam slams his fist on the table. “I’m gonna tear it all down, Autumn. I’m gonna get me hands on ev’ry single one of em and rip them all to shreds and destroy the damn fed--”
Silas continues to slowly eat his dinner.
“Sam, let’s not get rash. Destroy the fed and we’ll be out of a job! And I’m not going back to eating crumbs on the independent scene!” Autumn warned Sam as she sat back and started to cut more chicken.
“Right then, so what’re we gonna do then? Continue as normal?”
“For now, yes. If we’re going to be taken seriously then we are going to need to act as such.” She chews and swallows a sprout. “We’ve all failed tonight. I lost my match, you lost your match, and Silas lost his match. We’re in the middle of a rough patch, made worse so by Dean and the fact that Wrestle Fest is soon.” She starts chewing the last of her chicken.
“And what has the status quo done? It’s descended us into the goddamn bush without water!”
Autumn swallows. “I’m sorry, what?”
“As in we’re completely fucked!”
“Now now, not completely. We’ve got Golden Intentions and we’ve got a number one tag team contendership to battle for.”
“An’ I’ll be standin’ by the sidelines?” He drops his silverware on the table. “Sorry shella, but I’m not the kind to stand by and wait it out.”
“Look, we’re a team! We need to think things through. At the moment, we have next week to focus on, and you can take some time to plan your next steps.” Autumn drops her silverware. “We’ve got a possible goldrush ahead when it comes to Golden Intentions and Wrestle Fest, so if we even recapture those tag belts, we can start taking back control of this chaotic situation. Isn’t that right Silas?”
Silas’s still focused on the plate in front of him; his fork now carrying foodstuffs for him to consume.
Autumn looks at Silas. “Silas?”
He doesn’t respond, instead he chews the food he caught on fork.
“Silas!” Autumn calls out, tone louder than usual to get his attention.
Silas snaps awake. “Oh! Oh, apologies.” He composes himself, taking his elbow off the table and grabbing the knife. “You were saying?”
Autumn looks at Silas, more confused than before. “We’re you paying attention to what we were saying?”
Silas swallows. “Well…”
“He ain’t!” Sam interrupts, before he stands up. “He’s been ignorin’ us cause he’s took soaked up in his own thin’s!” He charges towards the doorway. “I’m goin’ train, then bed.” He slams the door behind him, with the dust on the ceiling above flying down towards the ground in response.
Autumn hardens her lips. “Are you actively trying to make things worse?”
Silas put his hands up. “I’m sorry! I haven’t been paying attention, I just…” Silas pauses, and looks down at his food while delved into though. “Well…” He stammers, unable to find the words to describe his thoughts, almost embarrassed.
Autumn sighs. “It’s about your match with Amber, isn’t it?”
Silas immediately places his elbows back on the table, head hovering over the plate as he takes refuge in his hands. “I’m a complete laughing stock. How the hell can I be taken seriously when I talk a lot yet don’t back it up? I’m dragging all of you down though my own stupidity, and I can’t even keep everyone together.” He points to the door. “Sam’s got his problems with Dean…” He points to Autumn. “...I’m putting great strain on you…” He supports his head with his hands. “...and I’m constantly battling the one in the passenger seat.”
He slinks back into his chair; his eyes looking at the cobwebbed laden lights above, hanging down like a limp arm. “Sometimes I just want to walk away from all this, pretend it never happened, and find some other place to dominate.”
Silas nods negatively, without even a lick of joy from him, not even from his memories. “I was born there and I had a match of a lifetime there, but the fact remains that out of the eleven matches I had there, I only won one of them. Reputation or not, you live and die by the numbers, and without any major victories and zero championships, they won’t accept me back.” He sits up, and sighs deeply, almost exhausted. “The only accomplishment I have is just managing to stay out of the way of the slap fight between Shadow and Elisha, and even then I didn’t succeed completely in that regard.”
“We’re still standing aren’t we?”
“Barely. We lost our major matches, Sam is on the fence, Dean and his new owners looking down on us. We’re only still standing because we made veil threats that came to nothing, so they court us around like the local jester company, brought on to make their favourable athletes look good.”
Autumn pauses in silence for a moment. “But Ataxia won the match, hardly their favourable athlete.”
“True, but the company have an interest in raising the status of some athletes, before making sure they crash down from being decapitated by their chosen ones. Makes the challengers look weak in comparison of their top guys. You remember Ataxia’s initial winning streak, don’t you? Major victory after major victory against notable stars on the roster. Then came Modern Warfare and Amber beats him, makes him tap in the middle of the ring, and he slipped on down the card. Sure, he still has that unmistaken aura behind him, but Amber took away the uneasy feeling you got when you crossed paths with him. We’re just fortunate Amber doesn’t really affiliate herself with anyone, but it also means she has a target on her head, not because of the briefcase she holds but because of her aura alone.”
“An aura you tried to claim.”
“Yes, but now it has failed, and I feel like no matter what I do, the results are the same. Ensure defeat, keep to the plan.” He crosses his silverware on the plate, a plate still containing half a chicken breast, some carrots, and a small puddle of gravy. “I need to think of something and fast, to get back in and tell the world that the victory was merely survival. It’s not just about the moment in time, it’s what happens after it. A message after defeat will still send shivers, but a defeat after another defeat will simply devalue you.”
“You could simply challenge for the title, or you could take part in Golden Intentions. That’ll be a way to say that you’re far from done. We have the number one contendership match for the tag titles so you could pull double duty, can tell everyone that you’re solid on work ethic.”
“But work ethic doesn’t produce passion from the world, just very, very minor appreciation.” Silas sighs deeply, and then promptly marches towards the entranceway. “I’m going to weigh the options I have. I’ll see you later.”
Autumn quickly stands up. “What about the plates?”
Silas stops just short of completely exiting the room, and turned his head to inspect the table. Candles still burning, Sam left his plate behind, and Silas was going to do the same. A few seconds went by, before he answered, “Just leave them. I’ll pick them up later.”
Let me ask you all a quick question. How many of you on the roster were brave enough to challenge Amber Ryan at the main event of an Evolution?
Not one of you.
What a bunch of pathetic disgraces.
At Paradise, Amber and I stepped into the ring, and we unleashed hell on each other. I disassembled her, but in the end, she did have some tricks up her sleeve. My second bout against her, and she comes out on top yet again. But there were things to be learned from that match, as there should be with every match, and one of them is that if I challenge you to a fight, you better be prepared for what’s coming. Amber learned that at Paradise, and as a result, she came out of the fight scarred and barely alive.
Caledonia is the new champion, Sam is no longer the tag champion, and now Autumn and I return to the tag team scene we as a unit dominated for the good part of several months. Each match, either us, or the Coalition, and sadly that came crashing down when a snake in the grass decided that joining one of the two pathetic circuses infesting this promotion was a good idea. He’ll likely have his reasons conjured up, just in case we see each other face to face again, but I’ll send out a warning to you.
You better do your damndest to avoid me Deano, because you and I know what I will do to you come the day should we meet again. And mark my words, you’ll be staring at the lights for days, and I’ll send you back to Australia in a body bag.
Until that day, he’ll have a chance to confess his sins and beg forgiveness, but until then, I still have what’s ahead of me to consider. Golden Intentions is where legends start carving out their legacy, and as such, I shall be doing the same, starting with the tag team championships.
There’s still a road to go down, and it’s one I tend to lay out in front of me and define it as I will it. First step, is to know your opponents.
The Danger Boiz, Dan and Chris. How many times have we met in the ring? How many battles have we fought out? One fall matches, elimination matches, they all end the same way. We knock you out, you lie down, we get the one-two-three, and you two disappear back into obscurity. If I’m not mistaken, despite the numerous championships you’ve won, it feels like your job is now to make me look good. Maybe I should bring in baseball bats to hit you with during the post match celebration, since it’s now become a tradition. Be prepared gentlemen, you’ll have to have some surgery to take the splinters out of your chest.
Revenant and Azreal. I don’t believe we’ve ever met, have we? In fact, I don’t know how close I’ve ever come to facing you. I’ve normally kept my well deserved spot closer to the top of the card while the pair of you have made a nice career out of opening matches. In fact, if recall correctly, Revenant despite his geurish presentation and pompous attitude, failed to win a match that was basically a cat fight in an abandoned casino. Not even an occupied one, only one filled with rust, dust, and the memories of bankruptcies on an individual level. You failed Revenant, so why should I take you seriously? As for Azreal, you haven’t been around for some time, have you boy? You’ve been sitting around believing you should have equal opportunity at a title despite being a lazy part-timer. Here’s some news. I’ve been to every single Evolution and pay-per-view since my debut in November, I haven’t missed a single day, and I’ve mastered the art of single and team competition. The pair of you have not had a match together, zero chemistry, zero nuance. Like two lambs to a slaughter. Pity.
And finally, the Forsaken. Shadow and Mia. I won’t beat around the bush. I don’t like either of you. I like the pair of you more than the people you are raging war against, but that’s like saying you prefer holding one metal bar to the other because one isn’t as rusty. Mia is nothing more than a yapping, obedient puppy salivating at the chance to obey her master, despite her talents telling her that she should follow a different path. We may have never faced each other, but we do know how you tick, and we know precisely how to counter that into something truly destructive.
And Shadow. I feel like we’re becoming best of friends due to the amount of shade and messages we’ve thrown towards each other, and I will concede on a few things. Yes, I made a checklist that’s vital to becoming a force to reckon with, and you are correct in saying that a fairly good amount came at the expense of results. That is undeniable, and that it my biggest strength. I take defeats. I study them. I mould them into who I am today as a competitor, and I am fairly certain that when we meet in the ring, you’ll get a fraction of understanding in what I am truly capable of. Victories are good, but you learn the most in defeat.
You also have one, glaring critical weakness Shadow, and that is that your heart is not fully committed to it. A match like this requires unrivalled attention, and you are instead focusing your attention to your discount Pirates of the Caribbean act in Atlanta. Your main focus is simply on other matters than the sport, while mine has always been about the sport. The present, and the future, the squared circle has always been my priority. It’s an ethic that got me a championship opportunity, the second week I was here, and the man who got it, cowered away into a punchline because he didn’t want to take me on like a real man!
You’re going to meet a very different man, Shadow, than the one you jumped into the ring with many months ago.
All of you, focus on surviving, then you’ll be able to live into your forties.
Double doors open, and Silas comes charging through with a target in mind. The desk at the far end, list by a lone candlelight, and currently housing the tome that keeps him in check. Day by day he read those texts, some recent and some long ago, but their methods had only placated the Passenger. It needed something he could provide constantly, and music was causing him sleepness nights lately. He scurries over, and starts frantically reading the notes; his finger tracing the sentence he is focuses on.
"No, too difficult," he mutters to himself, turning the page to continue his research, but he knew he was being watched by his passenger. Soon, the deep skull piercing hims of their amusement resonated through Silas' skull.
'Back here, at this useless book?"
Silas slams both hands on the tome. "If it's keeping you at bay, then it's far from useless."
'And yet, look at yourself.'
Silas quickly turns a page, doing so with such force that a slight rip could be heard.
'You're getting more inconsistent. One point in deep thought, the other in panicing erratic, with nothing in between. Such is the fate of scholars.'
"And I'm not a scholar, so do me a favour and leave me to my own devces!" He turns a few pages more, tracin his finger again. "Gah! Ow!" he muttered. Papercut.
'I've been observing our methods of suppressing me, and it's impressive on how quickly you've implemented them. But it's costing you so much, Silas. You obstruct yourself, you limit yourself, and week after week when you believe you've finally proven you can go on without me handling your skills, you fail each and every time. The book may tell you a lot of things, but supplimenting lost effort and ability it does not. Centuries they've written that guide and not one of them have figured it out.'
‘You’ve read the text, you’ve implemented them in your approach to those within the roster, and yet they still stood tall while you fell.’
Silas stopped tracing his finger on the page.
‘Each of your victories you used only a speckling of what is within you. Everytime I surface, even just a little, you survive multi-person battle and succeed in one on one contests. That aggression burning inside you, enhances you. A haven yea, but locked behind self imposed barriers.’
Silas kept his eye on the book, but did not continue reading it’s contents as the Passenger continue their whispers.
‘There, now you’re thinking properly. Look back, Silas, and ask yourself why, precisely, you succeeded in clawing your way up the steep ladder. Was it because you learned, or was it because I seeked to push you to success?’
His arm went limp; Silas’ hand slid away from the words that had guided him for the past few months.
‘I ask you, embrace what you truly are, and allow me to guide you towards greatness. Take your first steps, and give in to your instincts.’
Silas posture relaxed, his shoulders less tense, his breathes more controlled with a constant tempo.
‘Embrace, and see the results for yourself.’
Silas had blinked three times as the final words spun within his head for sometime. The book that had allowed him to control the Passenger to some degree was still open, it’s pages full of hypothesis and its reference to third party experiences. It is a useful tool, but it had been difficult for him to completely silence the entity within him. He stares at it, and starts to trace his finger along the spine.
He hardens his lips, and violently slams the book closed. He grabs the book, turns his back, and heads towards the labyrinth of text in front of him; the valuable verses trailing behind. The gap in the bookshelf, Silas slides the text back to where it was housed before, and took a few steps back to observe it’s destination; his eyebrows almost narrowing as he keeps a sharp eye on it.
“The struggle ends today.”
‘And you shall now see the light at the top of your ascent.’
Silas turns, and heads towards the library doors, not taking a second to even glance back towards the compound’s knowledge. He opens the doors, passed through, and locked them.
‘We receive what has too long been denied.’