The match continued on as it came to the final two contenders. The bar patrons cheered with joy as Silas Artoria and Alec Kirkland stood face to face. They lockup as the man in a suit watches within the excited bar, drinking his whiskey slowly. The people boo for Alec and cheer for Silas, a familiar pattern not only in this bar, but around the prefecture who had the opportunity to experience him when he first came over.
He hits the Fall of Man, the crowd hold their breath, and soon erupt into grand applause; stamping their feet on the floor as the Canadian rose from the ring with the WCWA United States Championship.
The man in the suit was impressed, letting going an amused ‘humph’ before finishing his strong whiskey. He picks up his phone and reads his messages, one coming from his rival.
[[I assume you’re watching Worlds Collide?]] it read, dated less than 30 seconds ago.
The man in the suit starts typing.
[[I think it’s time we make arrangements to meet him again.]]
Busy evening. The ballroom lights turned on as Silas charged through the double doors and uncover each of the pieces of training equipment. Fake dummies, gym equipment, and, of course, a ring; elements required for a basic training regimen. Silas himself was dressed for the occasion. Gym shirt with a coat, in addition to shorts.
He examined the room, proud that what he acquired and set up was in good working condition, but he wasn’t satisfied with the layout. A panel, small with numbers and additional buttons, started to beep. He pressed the button, which activated the speaker system. It announced there were three calls on hold, and progressed to the first in the queue.
He got to work, rearranging the room.
SILAS ARTORIA: Hello?
???: Silas, this is Ben Heslop...you threatened me live on PPV in the production truck?
Hellbound. Probably came off as bullish, especially considering he pushed him to commence a match that he wasn’t cleared for.
SILAS ARTORIA: Ahhh, hello Ben! How have you been?
BEN HESLOP: Tired. I got your message and attachment.
SILAS ARTORIA: Lovely! What do you think?
A simple email. It contained an idea he had been toying with since his last brush with Autumn, and a music file.
BEN HESLOP: Interesting to say the least. How long have you been thinking about this change?
SILAS ARTORIA: For as long as I’ve been on the bench. Sitting around gives you the chance to reflect, and I thought it would be nice! New tone, new look, new mood, everything!
BEN HESLOP: You do perplex us. Does that mean I have to commission anything?
SILAS ARTORIA: It’s why I sent it to you! I have no direct reference to anyone in production but you. I’ve sorted out everything else, except one last thing. Can you sort that out for me, Ben? There’s some good Chardonnay within my cellar for you if you do it.
The time out allowed him to dust down the compound. It was in a bad state since he dived deep into despair, and it allowed him to get a good look at a room he had barely seen. Thousands upon thousands of wines and liqueres, most of which he had no need for. Still, there was some use of them.
BEN HESLOP: Very tempting Silas, but I have to take it up with the higher ups before we can allocate resources to personal vanity projects.
SILAS ARTORIA: Oh, no need, already done it for you.
BEN HESLOP: You bypassed me!?
SILAS ARTORIA: I couldn’t risk your refusal to progress it further. I’ve already asked Miss Sawyer to sort out my look, so you just have my email to worry about. Got to go Ben! I’ll bring the Chardonnay at the PPV. Goodnight, bye!
So nice of Ben to get on it without another word. Let’s just hope that his bottles will be allowed on a plane. Do the liquid limits apply on main luggage?
Regardless, the speaker system once again spoke to him, as the screeching of the treadmill echoes throughout the marvelled hall that once was home to thunderous parties. It connects to the second of three callers.
SILAS ARTORIA: Hello?
???: Mr Artoria, this is Catherine Sawyer.
Catherine Sawyer, one of the two seamstresses, responsible for making sure an athletes clothes look good without sacrificing mobility.
SILAS ARTORIA: Ah, lovely! Was just thinking about you, how are you?
CATHERINE SAWYER: Been busy, no thanks to you. Just calling to verify that we’re using the same measurements and if there’s anything we need to be aware of.
SILAS ARTORIA: Aware of?
CATHERINE SAWYER: Material omissions you’d like or need. Some of our past athletes prefer keeping away from leather. Do you have any requirements?
It had been some time since Silas purchased clothes, mainly because nothing really stood out to him, and he wasn’t gaining or losing weight at the rate he previously was. He was happy with his clothes, but did want a change of look.
Still, there was something he was allergic to, or, more accurately, irritated his skin.
SILAS ARTORIA: No wool. Hate wool. Makes me itch.
CATHERINE SAWYER: Noted. Anything else?
Such a lovely woman. Would be nice to pay her back for the inconvenience Silas caused. Does she like wine? Red?
SILAS ARTORIA: Yeah. Do you like merlot?
CATHERINE SAWYER: What?
SILAS ARTORIA: Merlot! Red wine! I figured since you were doing this for me I thought I’d get you something nice. Does merlot sound nice? Got some in my cellar.
Ranging in different ages, although a milder, more recent form would be acceptable. Could use the more mature kinds as apology presents. Maybe Tara might like a bottle.
CATHERINE SAWYER: I’m flattered Mr Artoria bu—
SILAS ARTORIA: Excellent! I’ll see you at the PPV then! Bye! Goodnight!
The call went silent as Silas nonchalantly detaches a punching bag from a hook. He positioned it near one of the ring posts, as the speakers connected him to his third, and final call.
SILAS ARTORIA: Hello?
???: Evening. How’s the head?
Dr Harmon Leggett, no doubt. Can’t joke too much, especially with the upcoming match being the first he’s had since that fateful night in Northern Crown.
SILAS ARTORIA: Minor headache, but far better than it was at the WCWA event.
HARMON LEGGETT: I did say it might be an issue.
SILAS ARTORIA: And it was. Didn’t stop me from winning.
It felt right. The disadvantage in both numbers and health he had while doing his damndest to stay in the game was overwhelming. But he did come out on top. Not bad for someone whose head was practically caved in only days prior.
The good doctor chucked at the bravado Silas showcased, as the noisiest of scratches echoed throughout.
HARMON LEGGETT: There was a bar a lot of us went to, to watch the show. Rented out the back room so we didn’t have to watch the miscellaneous sport that was being played to the other patrons.
SILAS ARTORIA: Golf, by any chance?
HARMON LEGGETT: Darts actually. Anyway, we were all glued to the screens while we watched you take on the other athletes.
SILAS ARTORIA: You mean you were more invested in me than the others?
Leggett laughed heartedly at the comment, before he cleared his throat.
HARMON LEGGETT: Calm your ego Silas. You were in the first match, and it’s fair to look at a book’s cover as a first impression. You were going to set the tone of the night for us, and you delivered. The office was quite jubilant.
Silas went wide eyed in light shock.
SILAS ARTORIA: Even those who hate me!?
HARMON LEGGETT: They were...more reserved but you know what I mean. You did look a bit off though.
Made sense, but Silas thought he was able to shroud his pain with some smoke and mirrors. The doctor saw something off about him?
SILAS ARTORIA: Off?
HARMON LEGGETT: You hid it well, but I saw the pain you were going through. You were moving less crisp, you wasn’t getting as much air as you normally do, and you seemed more exhausted than usual after your Fall of Man.
SILAS ARTORIA: That normal for head injuries?
HARMON LEGGETT: Yes. Increased blood flow and oxygen levels enter the brain, and the head injury simply increases the strain, in laymans terms. And it’s why I’m worried about your match on Tuesday. You agreed to a Last Man Standing match of all things!?
He had a point. Silas was already so wreckless with his life the prior months that immediately going into a hardcore oriented match where the object was to beat someone to the point they couldn’t stand, seemed like a thoughtless decision that could only end in disaster. Still, it was the only way.
SILAS ARTORIA: I couldn’t risk losing an opportunity to bury my sins.
HARMON LEGGETT: But couldn’t you hold it off? Have a ladder match or something. Nothing that could put you back in my office!
SILAS ARTORIA: Are you going to block me from competing?
HARMON LEGGETT: What!? No! Of course not. I’m bound by contract to only refuse on medical grounds.
SILAS ARTORIA: Then why did you call?
There was a pause over the phone, before the doctor took a deep breath,
HARMON LEGGETT: One, to check up on you, and two, to at least make a personal plea. Silas, I’m worried what might happen to you. You’re a damn good athlete, but your last spat with Autumn put on you the shelf for a month. You may be more prepared now, but she knows you off the back of her hand. I don’t want you getting hurt again.
Bless the doctor for trying to change his mind. But Silas made the bed, and he now has to sleep in it.
SILAS ARTORIA: I’ll face those consequences. I’ve been running away from Autumn for a while, and it’s only dragged the two of us back together multiple times to the detriment of each other. This needs to ends, even if it means coping with undesirable conditions.
There was a sigh, defeated.
HARMON LEGGETT: Well, I tried. I’ll see you in Omaha. Bye.
The line went dead, ending the last of the three held calls. His new layout was completed, one more suited for high impact and high speed training, while making it as close to a minor simulation as lifeless dolls can make it. It was time to start, time to prepare for the biggest battle he has faced. CWF Championship, nothing compared to the fight with the demon he sculpted and trained.
There was a knock in his head.
PASSENGER: Interesting predicament.
SILAS ARTORIA: But predictable.
PASSENGER: Missed me?
SILAS ARTORIA: A little, although having a doctor to talk to you while living on your own has it’s own benefits.
PASSENGER: Such as dealing with actual people who barely know you.
SILAS ARTORIA: Such as not sounding like a complete nut job while talking to your roommate.
Sometimes the Passenger reminds Silas of himself, in terms of showing off and making claims to superiority. But Silas already claimed his body, regardless of what the Passenger says.
SILAS ARTORIA: If I recall correctly, this is my property.
PASSENGER: ...which wouldn’t be alive if it wasn’t for it’s generous housekeeper.
SILAS ARTORIA: That’s...debatable.
Silas climbed into the ring and stood face to face with the doll he deliberately placed to represent the start. It was going to be difficult, since he was going up against someone who knows him back to front. He, too, also knows Autumn inside out but he wasn’t sure what to do to counter her sharp, verotious claws.
He does, however, know at least one direction he would take.
SILAS ARTORIA: I have a favour to ask.
PASSENGER: Go on.
SILAS ARTORIA: I know you are itching to come out and showcase yourself.
PASSENGER: What gave you that idea?
SILAS ARTORIA: It’s been 5 months, it’s part of the pattern. You’re violent, which is suited for a match like this. But this...this is my match, you will stay quiet.
PASSENGER: Complete idio--
SILAS ARTORIA: You are needed soon, and the last thing we need is for you to be gassed on the most important night of my career. You understand?
There was a long pause, before the Passenger finally spoke again, albeit with near disgust.
SILAS ARTORIA: Glad you’re on board, now. Let’s go!
A dimly lit room, lines of chairs facing a giant screen at the front. Fairly blue, the screen pure white, outlines a familiar silhouette coming into the frame. He stops dead center, and looks at the camera. He smiles, the same familiar smile he entered 2018 with, but not left the year with.
SILAS ARTORIA: Kingsway Theatres. My dad use to take me here every fortnight or so. Used to be called the Etobicoke theatre before management went under and was rebranded. Or...something to that effect. I don't know.
He turns to the screen.
SILAS ARTORIA: But it is the best place to spend some private time without being constantly pestered by the public. Not that I don't appreciate the people, just that we all need some respite from the world every now and then.
He sits down.
SILAS ARTORIA: Please, I invite you to watch this special presentation. I assembled it myself.
The movie starts, although instead of one of the major productions playing, it is instead archive footage of the CWF. It's a match between Silas Artoria and Chris Lee. He loses that match, and turns to the post match beat down he delivers.
SILAS ARTORIA: To understand what I am heading into is to understand the journey we have taken together.
He points to the screen.
SILAS ARTORIA: That was my first lost in the CWF, and by the end of the match I made a claim for a title I wouldn't be able to get a shot at, and my intention to battle a man called Daniel Gordy. Of course, that match wouldn't happen, because the man himself took his ball and ran away; he was released shortly after.
Frozen Over, Autumn Raven vs Silas Artoria, Falls Count Anywhere.
SILAS ARTORIA: Second match on the card. Thanks to Gordy running away, you where plucked from the opening ladder match and placed into a match against me.
The Passenger appears, and systematically duels Autumn successfully.
SILAS ARTORIA: You're the only person who has taken on such a force as my uninvited guest. That took guts, even if you came out in undesirable circumstances.
The film flashes forward. The two are in a tag match with several others. 8 man tag it was, but in the end, Autumn pinned Kaylan El while Silas took out Roid Rogers.
SILAS ARTORIA: But I saw something in you, something that I only I was able to catch. You were supremely talented, but only if there was someone to guide you along the way.
Their heels collide with the helmet of Robot, smashing it to pieces before the two made the pact.
SILAS ARTORIA: We would continue on this long road together. Face every challenge together, and train side by side like siblings. Almost inseparable.
The two take on Caledonia and Eris, The Bright Young Things, and they fail to capture the tag titles.
SILAS ARTORIA: We had our fair share of failures, but after our first one we bolstered ourselves by adding another tag team into the fold. With us, myself and Autumn, and now the Lost Boys, we were shaping to be a dominant force in the CWF. Rough, but our training was taking us to new heights.
Silas is dealt a crushing blow by Nerezza, the giant having pounded him into a pulp.
SILAS ARTORIA: I remember this night, it was difficult for all involved. I sometimes call it "The Longest Day", due to how drawn out it felt. Nerezza hurt like hell, I hoped to have him counted out, but I failed.
The Lost Boys leave him at ringside, while Autumn enters to tend to Silas.
SILAS ARTORIA: We was straining as a unit, but you still stood by me, helped me. That's something I won't forget, rewatching this.
The Unhinged match in the Tokyo Dome, the two teams demolishing each other. Silas himself hitting the referee over the head with a chair so Autumn didn't get counted out.
SILAS ARTORIA: I didn't want you to suffer the humiliation, Autumn. It's why I kept us in the match. I disgraced myself, I disgraced myself in front of the country I call my second home, and I did it for us. We failed, but...
The four combatants embrace.
SILAS ARTORIA: We were stronger than every.
Silas relishes the moment. The cheers from the crowd, the embrace of a unit finally one, and a force to be reckoned with.
Suddenly, his smile fades, as the images turn into those of betrayal, misery, and failure.
SILAS ARTORIA: If only I knew what would come of us.
Paradise, Silas is defeated at the hands of Amber Ryan, while Autumn is laid out during the Impact Championship match.
SILAS ARTORIA: If there was a moment in time I could pinpoint, the moment where the two of us began our downhill spiral, it was Paradise. I hate this event within every inch of my being. It was the catalyst of what would become the seasons of pure humiliation.
He places his head within his hand, as if he was sorting out a headache.
SILAS ARTORIA: I did some stupid things during this period. I allowed my uninvited guest to make an appearance in a cage match, I played poor hands, and worst of all...
A video showing a frustrated Silas powerbombing Tara Robinson through a table, and soon decimated Autumn before saying "Best of luck in your future endeavors."
Silas turned away.
SILAS ARTORIA: I can't watch this moment. It pains me too much, but it's a moment worth noting because it's the moment I would call our split. Our alliance crumbled, and yet...
Silas and Autumn awkwardly pushed together to take on several teams. They didn't fuse, in fact Autumn knocked him out and fed him to the wolves.
SILAS ARTORIA: Despite our very public split, they meshed the two of us together. Adam and Eve, inseparable by sheer force of stubbornness from management. We never got along again, but they pushed us together in tag team matches anyway.
WrestleFest IV. Loki Synn, The Shadow, Autumn Raven, and the Passenger. They dueled each other for eternity, as the crowd begged for more.
SILAS ARTORIA: We continued fighting each other, relentlessly, but I did, honest to god, want to change! But sadly we were, on a collision path...until it reached it's peak.
Northern Crown. Defeat, but Autumn carried Silas out in a moment of seemingly genuine concern. Soon, she grabs his hair. She slams him in the stage, and begins to systematically dissect the Canadian. Silas watches the footage, and lingers on the moments Autumn beat him to pieces.
It's not a pleasant watch, and Silas himself winces at the beat down. He stands and continues to watch, before the footage runs out. His attention lingers on the white screen, before he turns to the camera, somber.
SILAS ARTORIA: That event occurred at the beginning of July, yet we've been tied together since. We entered and exited 2018 in the same sentence. We've united, grown, and destroyed each other, yet there is no conclusion.
SILAS ARTORIA: I have spent the majority of December on the shelf because of you, Autumn. Your relentless attack kept me out of the CWF for a full month, without an idea of when I'll return, and in that time you have finally begun your ascend into the athlete I knew you could be when I first offered an alliance. You got the Aversion Championship, you successfully defended it, and you've entered 2019 with a lot of momentum. In contrast...
He lifts up the WCWA US title from a nearby seat.
SILAS ARTORIA: I won the WCWA United States Championship, before being sidelined on a technicality. I couldn't do anything but watch you, and I enter 2019 with only a pledge to permanently end the grand tale of Silas Artoria and Autumn Raven. So...
SILAS ARTORIA: We face each other, one year beyond our first encounter, with our titles and reputations on the line, and at the end we will finally wash away our sins. We can finally move on while the other can only look on and rebuild.
SILAS ARTORIA: I'm afraid, Autumn. I'm afraid of how far we are going to go to preserve our positions on the card, but you and I know that our clout cannot exist as is, and I don't desire to be in the same breath as you. You feel the same, and our mixture of similarities and differences mean that we need to fight one more time.
He lowers his title, and looks long and hard into the camera.
SILAS ARTORIA: I don't hate you, Autumn. I hope you know that. But I am not losing this title to the harbinger of my sins.
SILAS ARTORIA: I'll see you at Frozen Over. Have a nice day.
He seeps out a smile before the feed cuts out.