The picture fades in to an old, battered wrestling ring, dim light shining down on it, obscuring the rest of the surroundings. In its centre lays what looks like the CWF Paramount Championship belt, right above it, glistening in the faint light, a crown. Somewhere in the background suddenly words appear on a large screen in elegant writing:
Some men are born great
Some achieve greatness
But only one man is Jarvis J. King
But instead of Living Colour’s “Cult of Personality” the iconic beginning sounds of “Fanfare to the Common Man” start up and from the off The Shadow’s voice can be heard.
The Shadow: A king will enter the ring at Northern Crown next Tuesday.
Out of nowhere a flaming arrow shoots into the picture, hitting the crown and piercing it.
The Shadow: But when he leaves it, he will be nothing but a commoner, bereft of the title he has been holding so dear for so long…
Fade to black.
The picture fades in to the sight of majestic mountains, their peaks white with snow, towering over low-hanging clouds hugging the rugged sides above the tree border. Seemingly endless forests stretch alongside the valleys and up the lower mountains, the feeling of serenity heightened by bright sunshine reflecting off the absolutely still surface of a lake nestled in between the steep sides of a valley in the distance. As the camera swivels around, it shows Myfanwy sitting at the edge of a ridge, eyes wide, her red hair flying in the wind, enraptured by the scenery in front of her, The Shadow standing a little to the side with a smile on his face.
The Shadow: Welcome to Canada…
Unable to tear her eyes away from the vista, Myfanwy takes a bit before she answers.
Myfanwy: This is - breathtaking! I thought I knew mountains from Snowdonia and I have seen pictures of the Rocky Mountains, but this, this is just - wow.
The Shadow comes closer, taking a seat next to her and putting his arm around her shoulder.
The Shadow: This I draw strength from. The beauty, the calmness of nature, but with this primordial strength underneath, feeding both spirit and body.
Myfanwy: Jarvis is Canadian, too, right?
The Shadow: Yes, but worlds away, from the other side of the continent. He has the wild power of the sea, the strength of the storms right at his footstep, but I don’t think that he pays much heed to either of them. He is far too self-absorbed for it.
She puts her head on his shoulder.
Myfanwy: Is this why you manage to stay calm no matter what is being thrown at you?
The Shadow: Maybe. I never really thought about it like that, but where I grew up, it was close to the Alps, about the same distance like from Calgary to here.
Myfanwy lifts her head and looks at him.
Myfanwy: You - grew up in Europe?
The Shadow chuckles.
The Shadow: Like with you, there are a lot of things you don’t know. Yet.
Putting her head back on his shoulder, she closes her eyes.
Myfanwy: Like Lachlan?
The Shadow laughs out loud, not having expected that.
The Shadow: Yes, like Lachlan.
Myfanwy: I never asked you, why are you going after Jarvis to begin with? Right after you barely survived against Silas you mentioned him right away.
The Shadow: Well, there are actually a few reason. First and foremost he is involved with the Glass Ceiling and they are responsible for what happened to Mia, regardless of whatever Milenko did afterwards.
Myfanwy: What you think Milenko did afterwards.
The Shadow: No, no, I know that Milenko did something, I just don’t know yet what.
Myfanwy: What do you know that you haven’t told anyone yet? There is something, I know it. You didn’t ask Sanford for a close up of Loki’s arm for nothing.
The Shadow: A beautiful brain in a beautiful head you have.
She blushes as he lifts her head off her shoulder and whispers in her ear. Immediately her eyes go wide.
Myfanwy: WHAT?? Loki is…
Fades to black.
Rain is drumming against the windows of the manor, some snowflakes mingled with the water, a strong wind whipping them against the soaked panes. But they are not the only movement outside and as the window opens, the camera shows The Shadow and Myfanwy entranced in an exercise of capoeira, seemingly unaware of their surroundings or the weather, their long hair matted by the rain, but the only signs of the treacherous ground being a few slides during their moves.
A knock against one of the posts of the back veranda interrupts them, though, Stefan Detwyler looking out into the rain.
Detwyler: Boss, du muascht kumma, du wuasch mer ned glauba.
The Shadow furrows his brow and follows the stocky Swiss to the front door, Myfanwy in tow, both dripping from the rain, where a man dressed in full traditional Swiss folkwear. The moment they step outside, he begins to yodel up a storm that makes Myfanwy’s eyes go wide and as he progresses Detwyler can barely contain his laughter. The moment the yodeler is done, he takes off his hat, takes a bow, wheels around on his heel and departs.
Myfanwy: What was - that?
And she gestures towards the retreating yodeler.
Detwyler: That, my dear, was a yodelgram.
She looks at him as if he just told her Wales was part of the USA.
Myfanwy: A yodel--gram?
Detwyler is openly laughing now.
Detwyler: Yes. It is like a telegram, just yodeled. Pretty well encrypted, I’d say. Back in the days they used yodels to communicate across valleys in the Alps.
The Shadow is looking at the two with bemusement.
The Shadow: So then almighty yodelmeister, what did he say?
Detwyler: Well, it was a cryptic message encrypted in yodels, so I am pretty sure you know who it’s from.
The Shadow nods.
The Shadow: Ataxia.
Detwyler: Correct. And the message is “Underneath a solo in red shall be a trip inside your head…”
Myfanwy: And that had to be encrypted on top of it?
The Shadow: Apparently.
Myfanwy: He still has to tell us where the cup is.
Both Detwyler and The Shadow look at her with wide eyes and incredulous looks on their faces.
Detwyler: The cup?
Myfanwy: “The solo in red” can only be a single red solo cup.
Detwyler: That even makes sense… But what is the trip inside your head?
The Shadow: Guess we’ll find out when we find the cup.
Myfanwy: How about asking yodelheimer where they got the call from to deliver this?
The Shadow looks at Detwyler, who slams his hand on his forehead and runs off, trying to catch the yodelgram before driving off.
The Shadow: Good thinking, better than Stefan here, hehe.
Myfanwy gives him a smile and sets off after Detwyler.
A lake, set in between steeply rising mountainsides, presumedly the same we saw earlier in the distance, its surface gently rippled by a breeze running through the valley. A lone drum starts to sound and the camera begins to set off from the lake’s shore, flying across its surface, as Eivør's “Trøllabundin” begins with her voice as the sole focal point of the song, seemingly in perfect harmony with the majestic scenery at display.
The Shadow: Nature, the true majesty of the world, unattached from any notions of “excellence”, “icons” and “kings”.
The camera continues to glide over the lake, taking in a magnificent waterfall cascading down the side of the mountain, its water crystal clear and creating a rainbow as the droplets sent airborne by the repeated contact with the rock surface catch the rays of the sun.
The Shadow: You are the one that brought all of this down upon yourself, Jarvis, you decided to become part of the Glass Ceiling and even if you did not actually have anything actively to do with this brutal, heinous beatdown of Mia that left her laying in her own blood in the middle of the ring, you are guilty by association. If you don’t stand against them, you stand with them and with that you assume part of the guilt, if you want it or not. This is personal and let’s be honest, you were oh so emotionally invested when Solstice decided to clean out your family, so don’t be surprised that when you stand on the other side of the equation the backlash is just as fierce, because Mia was, IS family!
As if searching for something or someone, the picture swivels from the left to the right bank, finally changing course and aiming for a rocky outcropping into the lake, two figures standing on top, one black-haired in a long black coat, the other in a dark turquoise dress and wild red hair billowing in the wind that seems to be stronger higher up from the lake surface.
The Shadow: Jarvis, I have always known that you were capable of stooping to new lows to achieve what you wanted to achieve and I will not take it away from you that you are a great wrestler. However true greatness will not only be measured against what you have achieved, but also against how you got there and it seems that your moral compass managed to get corrupted somewhere along the way.
The camera comes to a hovering halt in front of The Shadow, whose face is still showing the marks of the brass knuckles that Jarvis King had used to knock him out at the last Evolution show, his left cheekbone and temple sporting different shades of black, purple and yellow.
The Shadow: Does a true king have to resort to these measures?
He points to the bruises.
The Shadow: Well, it cost you your shot at the WCWA Heavyweight title, thank you very much, but that is a thing of the past right now, what is important in the here and now is not the title you will not win, but the title you wear right now. You’ve had the Paramount belt for months now, yes, a truly unparalleled show of domination, holding it for so long without anybody as so much as getting near it, but all good things must inevitably come to an end, so they say, and Northern Crown will mark the time when you fall from grace.
A smile begins to form on his face.
The Shadow: You know, a few weeks ago you said something quite interesting. You so grandly proclaimed that ‘when it comes to Shadow’s rise, there’s one thing that will always be there to stop him. The Glass Ceiling.’ Well, maybe you should start digging through your attic and find your old physics books again, because glass will not stop a shadow… But I’ll let that oversight slide, since you will very soon have the practical demonstration of this.
Now one thing that is an obvious concern, though, is your cohorts’ propensity for doing whatever they can to get your job done. Duce, Freddie, Jace, may he rest in peace, Elizabeth, your faithful vassals that will not shy away from anything themselves, but I will not be at the ring alone. Myfanwy here will be with me--
The fiery redhead takes a step forward, her emerald eyes blazing.
Myfanwy: Elizabeth, I knew I could not trust you and you proved why. Come Northern Crown you will not be able to get away with this and you know it. I don’t care if I have to stand in front of you, next to you or on you, but this will not happen again, do you understand?
With a smoldering look she steps back again.
The Shadow: I will have, let’s say, some insurance with me to make sure that it will be you and me in this, not anybody else. But I know that you have set your eyes on the bigger, grander prize, the “big one”, no? See if you still have it in you, go for it one more time. Now I know that you are not old by any means, but your body is. Your knees, your neck, your pride, they all have taken more than one beating over the years and any hit, any fall, any bump could spell the end for you. Is that why you have to take the shortcuts now? Is that why you need everybody else in your entourage to ensure that these situations don’t arise? Or incapacitate anyone not to be able to take advantage?
The screech of an eagle breaks the serenity of the surroundings and both The Shadow and Myfanwy follow the majestic bird soaring on the air currents high above.
The Shadow: I know that you want to soar one more time, hold your middle finger in the face of all the upstarts that have held the belt since you fell off the edge. Well, the Paramount title is only going to weigh you down, so me taking it off your hands will be nothing but nudging you into the right direction, allowing to take its weight off your shoulders and enabling you to soar, right? But make no mistake. I will not let this cloud my vision, I will not let this make me feel as if I am doing you a favour, because that would make me no better than you.
His eyes have now taken on a harder, unforgiving look.
The Shadow: You do not deserve favours. Not after everything you have done. After you betrayed Jace and there are grounds to believe that this may have sent him into his final downward spiral. What did it feel like at Evolution, when you got the first hit to the knee? Did you feel your age? Did you feel what others have felt at your hands before? The pain you caused? The pain that your cronies inflicted upon others? Or when you needed the help of brass knuckles to beat me when you realized that you couldn’t hack it? You know your weaknesses, but I know them, too, Jarvis, and expect no mercy…
So far things have gone very well for you since coming back, but the cracks are showing, you lost your shot at becoming the first ever WCWA Heavyweight Champion, now you are standing to lose your precious belt and when you go for the big one, who knows what will happen, will it be MJ? Will it be Loki? Or will it be somebody completely different? Either way, it will be one of the strongest challenges you have faced yet throughout your career. And what if you will lose that match as well? Are you going to tuck your tail again like in the past and disappear for six months or are you going to face your failures like a man?
Think about your famous tag line.
“Some men are born great
Some achieve greatness
But only one man is Jarvis J. King”
At Northern Crown the world will see that indeed only one man is Jarvis J. King, but that he is neither of the other two. You are neither born great nor will you ever achieve true greatness, Jarvis. You may have been a King for a Day, but you will be a Fool for a Lifetime...
As he speaks the last words, the camera is slowly backing up across the lake again until The Shadow and Myfanwy are barely specks in the distance.
"The concession stands are now selling those cheap hotel room round soap disks that I have personally blessed for $100’s a bar….AND SINNERS….I suggest you buy one, and use it, because if you think your God wants you in his heaven smelling like a 3am New York City uber ride you got another thing coming."