The picture fades in to The Shadow sitting on a window seat in a bay window in the living room of Ravenhearst Manor. His forehead is resting against the glass and his eyes are closed as we can hear the sound of raindrops drumming against the window pane. A quiet, almost timid knock breaks the tranquillity.
Myfanwy verch Owain: Hello? I hope I am not disturbing you.
The Shadow opens his eyes and moves his head back from the window. A faint smiles appears on his face as he replies in a soft voice.
The Shadow: No, not at all. Come in.
He motions her over without turning, but she hesitates, still thinking that she is intruding on a private moment.
The Shadow: I promise I won’t bite, ok?
A faint chuckle escapes the redhead as she advances through the archway and slowly walks over.
Myfanwy: Alright, I will believe you.
She takes a seat next to him on the window seat overlooking the backyard of the Manor. The grey clouds are hanging low, a misty haze in the air and falling rain adding to the cheerfulness of the day.
Myfanwy: I can’t even imagine what you must feel.
The Shadow: It has been over a year and in some ways it still feels as if it was just yesterday…
A veil of sadness clouds Myfanwy’s face as she opens her mouth to say something, but The Shadow continues.
The Shadow: There are good days and bad days, it can happen that things go as normal as they can for weeks and then one small little detail, one thing you see or hear triggers memories and from there nobody knows where it will go. It can be memories of good times or everything can go to hell in a handbasket just like that.
He snaps his fingers.
Myfanwy: I am so sorry.
He gives a tired smile.
The Shadow: Thank you, but don’t be. None of us could have done anything.
Myfanwy: I know, but still.
He turns his head towards her.
The Shadow: It is a battle, one day at a time. There is nothing anyone could do to prevent it from happening, nothing that can be done to alleviate any of the pain, the grief, the emptiness. It is my battle that I have to fight, for myself and my son, he needs me to be strong for him, just like he is my rock to lean on.
Closing his eyes he turns back to the window and rests his head against the cold glass again.
The Shadow: I’ll be fine, I have to face this alone.
Myfanwy reaches over and gently puts her hand on his shoulder.
Myfanwy: You don’t have to. Tell me how I can help and you won’t have to do this alone.
Without opening his eyes he smiles, then brings his hand up to hers.
The Shadow: Thank you, it means a lot to me. Now you didn’t come here just to admire the view, I believe?
Myfanwy: No, but what I came here for is nothing compared to this.
He turns his head back towards her and smiles, his hand still on hers.
The Shadow: Well, that might be true, but still, what’s up?
Myfanwy: It’s about your match.
The Shadow: This week against Jimmy and Silas?
Myfanwy: Yes and no.
Furrowing his brow he looks at her quizzically.
The Shadow: What do you mean?
Myfanwy: Well, Silas is in the hospital, he collapsed after his match with MJ. They just transferred him to Toronto, so he won’t be there.
The Shadow: O...K…?
Myfanwy: Yes, they swapped him out. Jimmy’s new partner is Tobias Deveraux.
The Shadow: Tobias who?
Myfanwy: Deveraux. He just signed up. Sanford is trying to dig up some more info.
The Shadow’s face takes on a more thoughtful note.
The Shadow: Deveraux, Thibodaux, is he Louisianan?
Myfanwy: Your guess is as good as mine. I’ll go check in with him.
As she gets up, he briefly holds on to her hand. Looking up at her he says:
The Shadow: Thank you. Who would have thought that sending someone across the Atlantic to partake in an illegal kidnapping and interrogation would lead to - this.
She looks at him with a bemused look.
Myfanwy: Me standing in a foreign country with someone I have only met a few weeks ago, talking about a switch in a wrestling match that someone else I only met a few weeks ago is investigating?
He starts to laugh.
The Shadow: Something like that. Why did you come with Francis to begin with?
She sits back down.
Myfanwy: Because I wanted to meet the man, who would go to such great lengths to get information nobody even knew would be there.
The Shadow: And now you’ve been here for several weeks, no, months, what about your life in the UK?
Myfanwy: Meh, not much to talk about.
The Shadow: Your job--
Myfanwy: Nothing to cry about, my contract was expiring anyways.
The Shadow: Your family--
Myfanwy: They didn’t have much of a choice, did they?
The Shadow: No, I guess not. Your, uh, significant other.
Myfanwy: Nobody significant there...
She lets the words hang in the air and an awkward silence falls over the room save for the sounds of the rain. Just as The Shadow opens his mouth to say something, hurried footsteps can be heard, followed by a thump, a curse and finally a loud thud. From somewhere in the dark interior of the manor a familiar voice can be heard.
Alastair McLean: Ay fur god's sakes! Whit is it wi' thes hoose?
The ever so fragile bubble of magic burst by the Scotsman’s disagreement with the Manor, Alastair walks in, rubbing his temple and cursing under his breath.
Alastair: Glaikit divit, who put 'at glaikit shelf there?
Trying her hardest to stifle a laugh, Myfanwy turns towards McLean.
Myfanwy: Would you like some ice?
Alastair: Aye, preferably in a glass ay Laphroaig.
Rolling her eyes she walks past him, giving him a slap on the shoulder.
Myfanwy: Ice pack it is then.
The Shadow turns around as Alastair plops into one of the armchairs.
The Shadow: To answer your question, I’m the one that put the shelf there and it’s been there for several years. Anyways, what is so important that you try to go through the wall instead of the door?
Alastair: Thibodaux checked it 'at Deveraux bloke an' yoo'll ne'er guess whaur he's comin' from!
The Shadow: New Orleans?
Alastair: Close, but that's nae it. He was in Hostility…
The Shadow’s eyes widen upon this revelation.
The Shadow: And so it begins.
Myfanwy walks in with an ice pack just at that moment and hands it over to McLean, who puts it to his temple.
Alastair: Thank ye, lassie.
Myfanwy: What did I miss?
The Shadow: The puzzle just got another piece.
Myfanwy looks at him with a puzzled look as he sweeps past her.
The Shadow: You coming?
Alastair: Ugh, ah jist got here.
The Shadow: Wasn’t talking to you.
With that he grabs Myfanwy’s hand and pulls her out of the room.
Alastair: Hey, where’s ma Laphroaig?
The picture fades in to a view of the backyard, where the rain has changed to snow, which is now covering the grass. A boy in a snowsuit can be seen running and jumping and rolling around, enjoying the first snow of the season. As the camera turns around we see the study and nobody here pays any heed to the weather as all eyes are on the wall, where a picture of CWF’s latest signing Tobias Deveraux is projected.
Sanford Thibodaux: Tobias Deveraux, 32, from Baton Rouge. Been around for quite a while, States, Europe, sVo, but also Hostility and that’s where things are getting interesting.
The Shadow: Interesting. Just a week after Milenko comes out and proclaims his war against CWF, we sign a guy that used to be in Hostility. I’ll have to talk to Ataxia about our talent acquisition process, we’re aiding and abetting our own downfall if we continue like that.
Myfanwy: Was he in Hostility when that whole invasion thing went down?
Sanford: No, but that doesn’t mean that Milenko isn’t connected to him suddenly showing up here, it’s just too convenient.
The Shadow: Well, better be safe than sorry, expect the worst. This is getting uglier by the minute.
His mien has visibly hardened.
Sanford: Yessir, I took the liberty to send Selkirk out to see, if he can keep an eye on him or something.
The Shadow: Thank you gentlemen, and lady, please let me know, if you dig up anything new. Where are Walcott and McLean?
Sanford: Walcott has taken a few days off, he’d been on these files almost non-stop, needs some time away to clear his head.
The Shadow: Understandable. McLean?
Myfanwy: He found his secret stash of Laphroaig and went on a date with it.
As hard as she tries, Myfanwy just cannot keep a straight face and finally bursts out laughing.
Myfanwy: Says it helps with the trauma from his fall. And he mumbled something about Lachlan.
The Shadow: Ah, if he’s with Lachlan, he’s fine.
Myfanwy: Who is Lachlan?
Sanford: It’s not who, but what.
Myfanwy looks at him.
Myfanwy: I would appreciate, if people would finally tell me what that whole Lachlan deal is!
Sanford: You’re not ready.
Her eyes narrowing Myfanwy clearly is getting annoyed.
Myfanwy: Yes, I am ready!
Sanford: Nobody is ready for Lachlan.
And he bursts out with laughter. In turn Myfanwy turns on her heel and storms out of the room.
The Shadow: Sanford, that was unnecessary.
Sanford: Sorry boss.
He turns and strides off.
What started as a misty rain has now turned into heavy snowfall, the wet flakes quickly accumulating and covering everything with a thick, white blanket, muting all of nature’s sounds. There is barely any sign of the boy’s playing in the snow from earlier with almost all tracks already covered with more of the cold, white substance falling from the heavens. The Shadow steps out onto the back porch to find Myfanwy sitting in one of the chairs, legs pulled up, chin resting on her knees. She is shivering in her dress just having thrown on a thin coat, her unruly red hair sticking out of the hood. Either she has not heard him come out or she is ignoring him, either way she is not moving.
The Shadow: Here, put this on, I don’t want you to catch death.
Without looking at him, she responds.
Myfanwy: I’m fine, I’ve never been good at catching.
He walks over and puts a thick winter coat over her shoulders before taking a seat on the other side of the table.
The Shadow: I apologize for Sanford, tact is not his biggest strength.
Myfanwy: Yeah, I noticed.
Her voice is dripping with sarcasm.
The Shadow: He doesn’t mean bad, but I talked to him and he will try to reign in his tongue before talking.
He pauses for a moment then continues with a light chuckle.
The Shadow: That’s what I tell my son. Guess Thibodaux is just a big boy…
Myfanwy: I’m- I’m sorry I just stormed off like that. I know that I am just the new girl here, but if you don’t want to tell me, don’t make fun of me.
The Shadow: You are not just “the new girl here”. It’s- it’s good for everyone here to have you - here.
She turns her head towards The Shadow, resting her cheekbone on her knees.
Myfanwy: Why? So you guys have someone to poke at, because I don’t know who is who and what is what?
The Shadow: No, no, not at all! Do you really feel this deeply about this? I’m going to kill Sanford!
A smile comes to her face.
Myfanwy: Don’t, I think he must have a use somewhere still. That whole Mia thing really shook you, didn’t it?
He looks over at her.
The Shadow: Yeah. She’s been through a lot in her life and finally had found a place, where she could find herself, be herself, find some stability. And then out of nowhere she gets attacked like that and then disappears. Ataxia is devastated, but they made a mistake when they decided it was a good idea.
Myfanwy: So now what?
The Shadow: Not sure, all we can do is try to find as much information as we can to be a step ahead and use it against them, but it could get ugly.
Myfanwy: Can I help out there?
The Shadow: I don’t really want you out there.
Any trace of a smile has vanished from her face and her voice got a lot colder.
Myfanwy: Aha, so you don’t think I am ready either.
He closes his eyes and takes a deep breath before continuing.
The Shadow: I do think you are.
Myfanwy: Then what’s the problem?
He opens his eyes and gazes deep into her emerald eyes.
The Shadow: I do not want you to get hurt, I don’t to lose you, too.
Her features soften and a faint smile returns. Just in that moment the door opens.
Alastair: Ur ye a bampot sittin' out here? Come hae some tea!
At this Myfanwy gets up and storms past the Scot inside, angrily muttering.
Myfanwy: Ydych chi'n ddifrifol, dyn? Ydych chi'n gwneud hyn i bwrpas? Bob amser!
Alistair looks at The Shadow with a befuddled look on his face.
Alastair: Whit? Was it somethin' Ah said?
The Shadow gets up with smile and a shake of his head. He puts a hand on Alastair’s shoulder and turns him, then pushes him into the door.
The Shadow: No, it was not anything you said.
Alastair: Burds, Ah will ne'er understand them.
The Shadow chuckles as he closes the door behind him.
A fire can be heard crackling as the picture fades in to a shot of outside, twilight settling in, the snow still falling. Zooming out, The Shadow is sitting back on the window seat, deep in thought, looking at the swirling flakes.
The Shadow: Strife, mankind seems to be thrive on strife, one way or the other and if you look at the wrestling world, it is all just exponentially blown out of proportion. Look at the world of the Forsaken. We were a tight-knit team of four so very different personalities, yet each of us would complement the weakness of another. Now we seem to be under attack from all sides, either as individuals or as a group. Does that mean that others fear us? That they are afraid of the tightness we have as a group? Or would that thought in itself be pretentious already?
He shifts a little, picking up a steaming mug of tea.
The Shadow: At first Ouroboros, then the Glass Ceiling, Silas, Loki, Jimmy turning on Dorian, now Milenko coming out. Yes, I know that Milenko is not necessarily targeting us per se, but through his association with Loki he is part of it. And now Tobias Deveraux, guilty by association? I know that he has not stated his case yet, but then again, should he get the benefit of a doubt?
He takes a sip, staring into the tea for a moment or two.
The Shadow: No, we do not have the luxury to give benefits, not in a situation as we are in right now. If you would have come in at a different time, it would have been very different, but the timing is just too convenient to be coincidence. Loki, from Hostility, runs roughshod over Evolution, Milenko, from Hostility, comes in and stakes his claim and now you, from Hostility, enter the picture. No, there is too much at stake than to take you lightly. Interesting, too, that your first match would be against Dorian and myself. Sure enough, it is just because Silas is in the hospital and you just so happened to stroll through the doors at the right time, but at least it will set the tone.
You know, I had said it before to Jimmy, when I faced him just after he joined the federation and it applies just as much to you as well. You come in with a distinct advantage over me, over any of us. If you’ve done your homework, then you will have taken the time to see what you were going to get yourself into, who is who, what is what, scout your potential opponents and their strengths and weaknesses, a luxury none of us can claim to have.
He points to the outside, at the swirling snow and the greyness beyond.
The Shadow: You know what they say about Calgary? If you don’t like the weather, wait five minutes and it will change. While this, of course, is an obvious exaggeration, it holds as far as the unpredictability of the weather goes. Since I have lived here, I have seen snow on the ground in any month both July and that is not just because we’re in Canada, trust me. The weather forecast is seen as a loose suggestion, but Calgarians will take the weather and all its capriciousness as it comes and tackle whatever challenge it presents us.
This, Tobias, is no different. What do I know about you? Next to nothing. Yes, I know you were in sVo and Hostility before, I know that you prefer the technical side, holds, bars, takedowns etc, but that is pretty much it. You have to admit, it is not a very advantageous position to be in, but at the same time I will not go into this match with any preconceived notion of what to expect, but I have to have my senses sharpened and my alertness at its highest at all times.
Another sip of tea while it looks like he is sorting his thoughts.
The Shadow: And speaking of alertness, Loki, I know that you will not be far and might want to drop by for a little visit. Sure, Jimmy and Tobias will highly likely give us enough to do to keep our attention in the ring, but that does not mean that we do not have eyes and ears elsewhere as well…
And then there is Jimmy Allen. The Catalyst. The generous old friend of Dorian Hawkhurst, who with the help of his “uncles” hand-delivered Jace Valentine to us just a few weeks ago. So jovial and friendly, finally reconnecting with Dorian after all these years and then - BAM--
He makes a corresponding motion with his hand, spilling some of the tea.
The Shadow: All of a sudden the Yin becomes the Yang. So it looks like you are on a warpath of your own now, not just forsaking your old Japanese connections, pun not intended, but also trying to pull an Azrael and try to bring salvation to Dorian by prying him away from us, The Forsaken, just in a far more sinister way. I am still not sure what your motivation is behind viewing us so toxic for Dorian, but he came to us of his free will, we did not coerce him, we did not have anything on him to make him join. We have not cast any spell over him to bring him to our side, last time I checked, Jimmy, it means that he is an adult person that is capable of making decisions on his own.
Granted, some of his decision in the past, as he himself admits, were not necessarily the best that were available to him, but nevertheless, he is his own man and he does not need you to make decisions for him. I will admit that caring about someone this much and try to steer him on what you perceive is the right path does show empathy, yet the way you go about it is disconcerting.
He shakes his head as he finishes his tea and puts the mug down.
The Shadow: You know, all of my life I have tried to understand people, understand how they think, how they tick and all too often things just don’t make any sense. What triggered somebody like you to rise from the proverbial ashes after years away from the business to suddenly come here and after a short time break down the facade and jump headfirst into what feels like a vendetta of some sorts?
I don’t believe that you just woke up one morning and thought ‘Ooh, I have to go and rescue Dorian from the evil clutches of the dreadful Forsaken.’ No, there is more behind this, something to give you some sort of satisfaction, this warm and fuzzy feeling of having achieved a goal that you obviously must have been working towards for a long time. Be it resentment, envy, rejection, dislike, I don’t care what the reason is. Yes, go see Loki, go see Jarvis, see if you can get them on your side or join their cause, whichever way you want to go about it, and see what they say.
Slowly he gets up and begins to pace around the room.
The Shadow: See, as I mentioned above, we have dealt with adversity before, starting with Ouroboros, who despite all of their psychotic tendencies worked off a firm belief system. A horrendously skewed belief system, but a system nonetheless. As sick and twisted as it was, there was a valid reason to them that, while difficult to objectively defend, at least had conviction. With you I see either something that snapped in you that made you go off the deep end and reverse whatever feelings of camaraderie and friendship you had or that this has been a plan that has been in the making for years and that you now finally are able to act on.
What difference does it make to me? None, because all I know is that whatever the reason behind it is, you made a grave mistake when you decided that you could turn your back just like that and switch sides. I know that it is an old trope with the whole “One for all, all for one” musketeer shtick, but the Forsaken are not just a random assembly of misfits that could not function on their own, we are not a safe haven for the evil and depraved, the mad and the insane, but we are more than just a group, as odd as it may sound, we “get” each other and we have each other’s backs. You might strike one of us down, but not only will we get up every time, but you attack one, you attack us all.
The sound of laughter from the outside draws his attention towards the window. The camera follows him and shows his son playing in the snow again, but he is not alone, as a chock of wild red hair stands out against the stark white of the snow. He smiles at the two throwing snow at each other and just having fun.
The Shadow: Tobias, Jimmy, there is one more factor you have to calculate with. Dorian and I have been working together for a long time and we are a well oiled machine. The two of you just met for the first time, or rather WILL meet for the first time in the ring, so it might not go as smoothly as you might hope it would. Well, you will meet two of the biggest speed bumps you will ever encounter in Louisville and you will need far more than a Slugger to get past them…
Tobias, if you are here in Milenko’s behalf, you are trying to find retribution for the past, a past you have not even been part of. And Jimmy, you are also trying to solve something that has been festering deep within you, another grudge from the past. The past is in the past, you will not be able to change any of it, so why waste your time on it? We are the future. Welcome to future world!
With that he turns and leaves the room as the camera zooms in on the falling snow and blurs to black.