"This is my throne, and I will defend it with all my might!"
Tara had left the locker room, leaving Silas and Hidetaka in said room, already smelling of sweat and body odor. It was unpleasant, and the quick wash and change Silas had only expunged the source but the was already present still lingered. He was still breathing quite heavily.
HIDETAKA ITO: [[So what does our champion do after their victory?]]
SILAS ARTORIA: We got to the steakhouse.
He put his hat on, twisting it to ensure it was secure on his head, still moisturised from water and shampoo.
SILAS ARTORIA: A short trip to Taste of Texas, my treat, for the victory.
Ito chuckled with the familiar, teacher-esque tone that Silas was getting used to. He was taking it as a sign, and thus quickly looked towards them with confusion.
SILAS ARTORIA: You not up for it?
HIDETAKA ITO: You’re going to celebrate by indulging in a vast amount of food?
Silas’ confusion intensifies.
SILAS ARTORIA: The portion sizes aren’t grand.
HIDETAKA ITO: Ah! But how much is a main course meal? How much would it cost for us to eat?
Silas calculates within his head, working out how much a main course and about two glasses of a chosen drink each would amount to. Not cheap.
SILAS ARTOIA: About two-hundred dollars.
Hidetaka simply smiles and nods.
SILAS ARTORIA: It’s an expense I can personally afford.
HIDETAKA ITO: But it is not what a defending champion should take pleasure in.
Silas’ confusion is only furthered, to the point that his target, the door, had become secondary. Hidetaka’s posture hadn’t changed, it wasn’t like they were convulsing at the possibility of having a grand meal in one of the best restaraunts in Dallas; it looked like they might actually enjoy it. The tone of their voice, their posture, the enigmatic nature of their current movements puzzled the canadian. Part of him wanted to just disregard the direction Ito was leaning towards, but Silas brought him along to his matches and into his home for a reason.
Silas crossed his arms and leaned his shoulder against the locker room wall, still smelling of rotting sweat in stark contrast to the well dressed individuals that currently inhabited it.
HIDETAKA ITO: Tell me, Silas…
Ito picked up the Paramount Championship and gazed upon the plates.
HIDETAKA ITO: What kind of champion do you want to be?
Ito looked back towards Silas, whose face expressed one of ease, like he was given the world’s easiest question.
SILAS ARTORIA: I want to be a strong champion, one that elevates the belt.
The answer seemed to have impressed Ito, who nodded in relative agreement.
HIDETAKA ITO: Understandable...Yuka Suzuki was a strong champion. He wanted to do his championship justice and face the best the company had to offer.
HIDETAKA ITO: His lost his championship after the manager of his opponent successfully hit him with a dustbin lid and knocked him out. The fool was unaware that his strength cannot anticipate surprises.
Silas’ eyes widened. The curveball wasn’t expected, and his ambition for making the championship the most talked about in the company felt like it was thrown back in his face, albeit in an intriguing, educational way. A wicked smirk escaped from the Japanese man.
HIDETAKA ITO: Try again. What kind of champion do you want to be?
The question forced Silas to delve back into thought, much deeper than before. He was caught off-guard by Ito-san’s rebuttal for his answer, and soon he scoured his memories for some of the most formidable opponents he has ever faced.
SILAS ARTORIA: Quickness? In thought process and movement?
Ito seemed impressed, again.
HIDETAKA ITO: A fast opponent can catch someone off guard, especially larger opponents, and you’ve certainly got the speed to match some of the legends of the industry. Junya Ishige was a fast champion. He moved quickly and struck down his enemies with remarkable efficiency.
They cheekily grinned.
HIDETAKA ITO: And yet I was able to take the championship off him because I was able to withstand his speed and agility, causing him to get tired just as quickly as he expected me to go down. It took one move, and he was out. Try again!
By now, Silas was getting increasingly worried. What was he missing? He had both strength and the speed on his side yet Ito managed to dismantle his answer with an example. It was almost humiliating, that his experience in the ring was being successfully taken down by a retired Japanese man with knowledge within him. Still, there was one other answer.
SILAS ARTORIA: I want to be an adaptive champion, one who can take any kind of opponent on and showcase my abilities?
HIDETAKA ITO: An interesting answer, Silas.
They simply stood there and looked at Silas.
HIDETAKA ITO: Ryosuke Igarashi was a famed athlete, known for how he could use his opponents strengths again them, and adapted his preferred style to counteract each and everyone on their movements.
Here we go again.
HIDETAKA ITO: And yet the last Crescendo tournament he took part in had him finish 3 wins to 7 losses, landing him second to bottom in his bracket.
Clutching the Paramount Championship, Hidetaka started a slow walk from one side of Silas to the other, with each step emanating a foreboding and light pitched contact sound.
HIDETAKA ITO: So, we have a champion who was taken down by the power of a dustbin lid, one who gassed out quickly, and another whose biggest strength couldn’t save him from a pathetic win-loss record.
They finally reached the other side of Silas, with the aristocrat looking with more curious confusion. What the hell was the point of this?
HIDETAKA ITO: There is one fatal flaw that they all share and were completely unaware of. They might still be unaware of it today, but in this room, right now, you can learn from their mistakes and catch your opponents unaware. You want a long title reign, don’t you?
Silas slightly nodded positively, Although much of his attention is turned to finding the answer he needs.
HIDETAKA ITO: Then tell me, what do they lack? What is the secret to a long reign? What makes a champion a symbol of their prize? What creates a legacy?
Skill? Matches were the two athletes put their best in to create a spectacle for the ages? Those were easy answers but Hidetaka was testing him. There was something he wasn’t seeing, to the point that what should seem like an easy question to answer becomes some sort of trick. Silas wanted to answer, but there wasn’t anything he could confidently put his finger on.
SILAS ARTORIA: Knowledge? Skill? Wisdom--
HIDETAKA ITO: Yes!
SILAS ARTORIA: Wisdom?
HIDETAKA ITO: Yes! Exactly!
Silas froze for a moment. Wisdom felt too abstract for him to comprehend, but at least he had an avenue to explore.
SILAS ARTORIA: So...learn more?
Ito nodded his head. No.
HIDETAKA ITO: It’s one thing to know a lot of things and they do help, but Ryusuke learned a lot and finished with a pathetic record. Wisdom is everything encompassed. Surroundings, movement, personal limitations, opponent limitations and behaviours.
HIDETAKA ITO: A wise and mindful champion knows what he does and doesn’t know, and draws his lessons from the latter. They listen to their critics, mentors, and analysts, and keeps listening even if they disagree or make you angry.
They hold out the Paramount Championship to Silas, with a pleased a proud look upon his face as his student made no effort to counter his argument. Silas hesitated but ultimately took the belt he successfully defended upon his hands.
HIDETAKA ITO: So, with that in mind. You successfully defended your title four times in succession, coming close to defeat but ultimately overcame the odds. Considering the endurance test, would the best thing to do be driving to an expensive restaurant and feast immediately?
SILAS ARTORIA: No.
HIDETAKA ITO: Of course not, and not because of the price. You should be modest with your money but the point is that you’re still worn, and any amount of food would be counterproductive.
SILAS ARTORIA: Shall we head to a spa?
HIDETAKA ITO: As soon as possible. You have a lot to recover from.
Hidetaka crossed over to the locker room door, and opened it slightly. Some of the vile stench that defined similar rooms finally seeped out into the cooler corridor; it’s presence unnoticed by other athletes and staff. Either because they were distracted by the ongoing show, which was ending with a new champion on top, or because they were so used to the smell that it simply became white noise. Ito turned to Silas.
HIDETAKA ITO: Besides, you broadcasted your intention to the world. It wouldn’t be much of a celebration if you were bombarded with fans and photographers.
A playful chuckle escaped Silas in agreement.
A pale, tiled room with an abundance of wood-supported surfaces. There’s a glass panel with steam coming out of it, and nearby is a human-sized indentation in the ground full of icy water. Within that cold bath sits Silas Artoria, alone, slightly uncomfortable, and making the most of the situation as he indulges in his drink of orange juice. A sports spa, where athletes undertaking extreme training get some time to rest while indulging in the methods that’ll reset their body, with some being more comfortable than others.
Though the slightly steamy atmosphere, Silas looks at the frame, and begins his address with a charming smile, typical to the point of being iconic for the canadian aristocrat.
SILAS ARTORIA: Ahh, good to have you here with me today.
He takes a sip of his drink.
SILAS ARTORIA: I should probably start by apologising to the Taste of Texas regarding my absence. I know I called in to book a table and even had my chosen meal selected, but in the end, unforeseen circumstances forced me to withdraw from the arrangement.
A wicked smile escapes him, albeit a friendly one.
SILAS ARTORIA: Still, I sent over the money as an apology. I don’t like wasting people’s time. A bit rude.
His places his glass on the side, and places his hands behind his head. His toes emerge from the ice bath; clean cut and finely trimmed.
SILAS ARTORIA: So, about my match. I entered the ring as the Paramount Champion, and four matches later - back to back - I left the ring battered, bruised, exhausted, sweating, and still your Paramount Champion. What does that say about me, that I successfully withstand the onslaught from multiple competitors of many shapes, sizes, and skills?
The toes dip back into the ice cold water, but his overall posture did not change.
SILAS ARTORIA: It means that I am firmly ready for the challenges ahead, regardless of what handicap is placed upon me. Ladder match, successfully captured the title, and four successful defenses in the span of twenty-five minutes later solidifies your champion. Undisputed, the one and old.
He stands up, grabbing his glass of orange juice as he does so. He’s wearing swim shorts, soaked with pieces of ice falling from them as he steps out of his self inflicted chill. A quick sip from the glass as he crosses over towards a pale-white surface, a mirror against the wall and the Paramount Championship standing up on the same surface; it’s belt near blending in with the room’s colour.
He places the glass down, picks up a white towel, and gazes upon the defended title.
SILAS ARTORIA: Look at it. Beautiful isn’t it? I called it the Ivory Belt for a reason; it’s flawless colour, the unrivalled texture, it’s rarity, and it’s beauty. You can’t look at this and not think, “I must capture it! I must succeed in winning this championship!”
The towel wraps around himself, covering the bottom half of his figure whilst leaving his top half, still soaking from the ice bath, exposed.
SILAS ARTORIA: It’s what I did, and now I am highly sought after.
SILAS ARTORIA: My current championship record is unmatched by my compatriots. My former colleagues at the Coalition and your new world champion? No match for me. In the span of a month I captured and defended the championship, so it makes sense that they would put Dan Ryan and yours truly in the main event of Evolution.
A chuckle escapes him as he wipes down his body with a dry flannel.
SILAS ARTORIA: Funny, I remember my last main event fondly. It was the transformation match that lead me down the path to who I am now, and now the opportunity has sprung up again. What could become of Silas Artoria after Evolution? Would he become the new CWF Universal Champion and Lord of the Universe?
Another chuckle escapes as his flannel drying technique starts to focus on his hair.
SILAS ARTORIA: I don’t know, you don’t know, nobody knows. But I do know this…
He throws the flannel to the side and picked up the Ivory belt, and fixates his eyes to the frame, gazing through the screens of the audience.
SILAS ARTORIA: There is a lot to admire about you. You’ve got many championship accomplishments behind you, near unrivalled skill within the ring, you even learned from the country I personally consider the genesis of the man you are paying attention to right this second.
He takes a look at his belt.
SILAS ARTORIA: But I am the Paramount Champion, the man who withstood four men of varying types within a condensed time just to keep his hands on this belt. You took the same amount of time just to beat one man for their belt. It is an accomplishment, but a title reign is not defined by its successful capture. It is defined by your defenses.
He looks back at the frame.
SILAS ARTORIA: I am on a streak, Mr Ryan, and you can call yourself The Ego Buster all you want but the fact is that I’ve been in the CWF long enough to know the types of athletes that populate the roster. You have someone accompany you to the ring that adds little to your repertoire, whilst I am tutored by the greatest mentor who ever lived, who opens my eyes to even the smallest of things that change the winds in this company.
He places the championship back on the surface.
SILAS ARTORIA: You have eight wins and three losses. I have sixteen wins to eighteen losses. What does that mean? It means I’ve got a palace of knowledge gained from experience. You name it, it’s happened to me. I’ve lead a stable, gone through a civil war within it, been through a messy breakup, spiralled into the abyss, and rose like a phoenix to the point of becoming one of the main fixtures of the CWF.
SILAS ARTORIA: In comparison, you’ve successfully completed one semester of school.
He leans back, and grabs a towel to wrap around his shoulders, finally covering his upper body for the first time since ascending from his bath.
SILAS ARTORIA: I’m sure you are skilled, you are carrying a championship, but if you expect me to be a pushover then you are sorely mistaken. You’re going to be fighting a tiger who will know you inside and out, because those are the lessons experience and tutorlidge gives you.
He picks up the title, and his glass of orange juice, and heads towards the bright archway that indicates the exit.
SILAS ARTORIA: Au voire, Mr Ryan. I look forward to meeting you in the ring!
SILAS ARTORIA: BANG!
The lights go off, leaving the frame alone in the misty darkness.