One Final Message
“…I hope you’re paying attention!”
The waifish voice of the Sub-Marquis Bentley Tennyson Farthington-Primrose cut through the air as he stood outside of the Yuengling Arena, dressed as always in his Heraldry uniform. His floppy cap and feather dancing beautifully in the hot summer breeze while seagulls flew overhead. What appears to be a seventy six year old security office standing a few feet away stands at attention apparently there to provide the young Herald with some measure of protection.
It is good fortune perhaps for the safety of the Herald there didn’t appear to be anyone save for a camera crew filming him . Still, neither the guard nor the Herald appear to notice, each very serious about their duty and role that they played. Lifting a long golden horn to his lips the Herald took in a deep breath and blew a terribly flat note; so much so that even the security guard appeared to wince noticeably. As he lowered the horn the youthful Herald pulled free a long scroll from his tunic.
“I, Sub-Marquis Bentley Tennyson Farthington-Primrose, am the Herald of the Prime Minister of Maxopotamia, the Lord of Kaelsalvania, the Powerful and Pragmatic Maximillian Kael, First of his Name, Long May He Maim!” The Herald takes a moment to turn aside, pump his arm and clearly lip the worlds nailed it before turning forward again. “On this day my Lord will be directly addressing the attack upon him after the most recent Refueled. He will also address his opponents this week, probably his feelings about them or whatever, he wasn’t specific he was just rattling off a list. Anyway, he’ll know better than me, bang your Gongs of Adoration for HOW WORLD CHAMPION MAXIMILLIAN KAAAEEL!”
Bentley produces a phone from his pocket and begins playing “The Funerals” by Trevor Jones as loudly as the speaker on his phone will allow him. Max Kael appears from the doors of the arena wearing a black monogrammed tracksuit, his greasy hair pulled back behind his ears while his eye patch glints in the sunlight. He takes his time walking toward the steps, an unpleasant scowl on his face. Cracked lips were pulled downward into a near comical scowl giving him the appearance of a petulant child.. Slung over his shoulder was the HOW World Championship, that #97red leather like fire over his dark tracksuit. Both of his greedy hands clutched the championship, the knuckles white from the grip. As he reached the stairs Bently cut the music and stared adoringly at the HOW World Champion.
Max’s pale blue eye glared out over the empty lot that stretched out before the Yuengling Arena, whether Max realized there was no one there or not it was hard to say. His grimace did well to highlight the deep lines and faint tracing of scars that covered his face, particularly around his last good eye. Beneath his track suit the body brace that held his body together was visible while the lines of what looked like a new neck brace ran up toward his jaw, propping his head up giving him a stiff, uncomfortable appearance. His eye slowly rolled toward his Herald, his lid slowly closing as his hand stretched out; gnarled fingers unraveling stiffly giving his hand the appearance of a dead insect. Bentley shuffled over and placed a customized microphone into Max’s hand which immediately clutched down upon it like a flytrap seizing its prey. Raising it to his scowling lips Max turned his eye toward the camera.
“I have been a patient man.” Max hisses, his voice raspy and strained, his voice is thin, quiet and unpleasant. Despite the microphone there doesn’t appear to be any enhancement of his voice as though it was simply a prop causing the camera crew’s boom mic operator to step closer. “..I have given.. This.. Best Alliance the opportunity to explore their own possibilities. To discover where they fit into the disjointed tapestry that is High Octane Wrestling. I have refrained from speaking openly about them because in all honesty..why? I want HOW dead and they seem to want HOW dead as well. They spent the entire opening segment of Refueled talking.. And talking.. And talking.. And talking.. What did they say? Read their twitter posts, it’s shorter and more creative.”
Max’s expression looked strained for a moment as he clenched his teeth and let loose a hoarse cough, his flesh flushing crimson while the veins in his face bulged. The Herald stepped forward with a concerned expression only for Max to wave the young man off aggressively, his blue eye flashing with anger. As the cough subsided his hands once again latched onto the HOW World Title, the fingers coiling tightly around the #97red leather strap.
“Last Refueled I defeated Halitosis to claim my third reign as High Octane Wrestling Champion. I won back this.. This.. piece of HOW’s soul, a shard of Lee Best’s heart that I keep very, very close to myself. This relic of a bygone age of glory and greatness, I tasted the victory that was always due to me. And then..” Max’s voice trailed off for a moment as his blue eye stared off into space. His frown twitched and perked up slightly. “..then the Best Alliance does what the Best Alliance does. They attacked the Champion in the back. Why? Because.. It’s what you do, right? Because.. Because Eric Dane is, if anything, a man who appreciates tradition. He’s not cutting edge. He isn’t overly creative. He isn’t going to win any awards for ingenuity but he does do what he does very well and that, my friends, is be a bad guy.”
As the words Bad Guy snake their way through Max’s glimmering metal teeth the smile on his face pushes through the frown. Whatever bitterness Max seems to hold onto gives away to a sense of mirth and amusement.
“Being the bad guy is what I assume Eric Dane puts his entire identity into because I haven’t really ever seen anything else out of him. He wakes up wealthy and powerful and instead of using all that for some purpose he spends his life trying to prove to everyone that he is the Only Star and the best way to do that is to trick people into believing that narrative. I don’t mind it, the man clearly needs the attention. He needs to know that whatever sad, broken man he is inside isn’t there.. Instead there is a winner. A dangerous, scary man who dominates people with mean words and physical abuse. He needs the Best Alliance to fall in line and do the same.” Max’s voice grows a little more shrill, louder and stronger only for him to once again fall into a painful coughing fit.
Dark blood flows up from his stomach as Max wretches a few times, his lips becoming stained with his vitae. Lifting a hand Max smears the blood off his lips and stares down at it, a bemused expression washing over his face.
“The trouble is, Eric Dane, I don’t care. I don’t care about your words. I don’t care about your actions. See you and I are playing very different games. You are apparently trying to sell tickets and merchandise. I want just HOW dead. I don’t care what you and your cretins do really because, friend, so long as I hold this.. THIS Championship in High Octane Wrestling..” Max lifts the title off his shoulder and thrusts it toward the camera, his expression once again during into a dour grimace. “..No matter what words you say.. No matter how many tickets you think your name puts into a seat.. I’m still winning.. You can say all the words you want. You can be as spiteful, as petty, as brash, as whiny as you like. Each petulant statement falls on deaf ears because in High Octane Wrestling when you’re the World Champion nobody else is better. And you’re not the Champion, friend. You’re still the guy who lost to Darin Zion. You’re the guy who Mike Best backed into a corner on Twitter and had to roll with blowing loads of cum on old men’s faces. No matter how many of your buddies you get to attack me when I’m not paying attention you’re a joke from where I am standing. You don’t make me angry, Eric Dane.. you make me laugh.”
Max begins to laugh however once again he chokes out a series of cruel sounding coughs, his metal teeth dripping with blood and saliva. Still, despite it Max’s smile slips back over his face.
“Your game lacks depth, Eric. The story of your time won’t be remembered save for when someone needs a good laugh. As we head toward War Games your false confidence will only work in my favor. So keep talking, friend, keep convincing the rest of the Best Alliance words are the best tactic. Come refueled you’ll understand the exact same thing Michael Lee Best learned..” Cocking his head to the side Max spread his lips wide, drool and blood dripping from his bottom lip and onto the tracksuit he was wearing. “..words are just air… to that end this is the last time High Octane Wrestling will hear from me directly. Henceforth all communications with High Octane Wrestling, HOTv and any other media outlets connected to Lee Best will be handled by my Herald, Sub-Marquis Bentley Tennyson Farthington-Primrose. For the last time.. I am the High Octane Wrestling World Champion, Maximillian Kael, Prime Ministers of Maxpotamia, Lord of Kaelsalvania, Aegis of the eMpire.. First of my Name. Long May I Maim.”
“Lee is calling again!”
The Herald skipped across the gym floor of Five Time Academy toward the HOW World Champion who was on a mat engaged in a series of push ups, sweat dripping from his brow. He looked up toward the approaching Herald, his blue eye peeking through the dirty tangle of curly black hair that set atop his head like a dirty, wet mop. There is a brief look of annoyance on Max’s face as he lowers his body once again, continuing his pushups.
“Then… Answer it.. And talk to him..” Max grunts harshly.
“..me?” Bentley stutters slightly, his expression surprised. “.. I don’t know what to say to him, I deliver your messages but you.. You haven’t given me any messages to say to Lee Best!”
The Herald runs his hands through his hair while standing a few feet from the Lord of Kaelsalvania, the phone still vibrating in his hand as he stares at it in distress. Max, irritated by his Herald’s apparent inability to act without his direct influence, snaps up from his push ups and sends a withering glare at Bentley.
“I don’t care what you say to him.. You are now my voice in High Octane Wrestling. You are the one who speaks on my behalf, you are the one who will speak the words I have no time or interest to speak. Do you understand, Herald Bentley? Just don’t agree to anything.. Do what you’ve been doing on twitter. Speak to Lee, tell him.. Things. Whatever you like. Drive him mad.. Irritate him. Make him HATE that I am the World Champion..” Max snarls through his sharpened teeth. “.. I can’t be bothered by him or anyone in HOW right now.. I have.. Things to see through..”
His harsh expression diminishes as his eye flickers toward the crimson band of the High Octane Wrestling World Championship which is proudly displayed on a weight rack nearby. His expression diminishes slightly as his blue eye stares at the golden plates, his mind seemingly lost in through.
“He stopped calling!”
Max is snapped out of whatever strange thoughts he had fallen into by the Heralds words, his expression souring once again as he tears his eye away from the championship. Looking down at the excited face of the young Farthington-Primrose Max is unsure how exactly to word what he desires the young man to do. Despite his cleverness and wit Bentley was often times just a plain old cowardly idiot. Max couldn’t fault him to greatly, he reminded him of himself when he was younger.
“So.. just so we’re clear.. My mission is to ensure that High Octane Wrestling crumbles. Part of that mission is keeping this World Championship out of the hands of anyone who might represent HOW in a positive light. That’s where you come in. See.. you aren’t just the kid who delivers my messages you.. You’re..” Max clacks his teeth together as they make a loud clicking noise, his mind churning over how best to word his conceptual idea. “..you’re like my extended brain in HOW, ok? I trust you to say the things that you would believe I would say. I trust you to represent me to the fans of HOW in the best possible way. That way I can focus 100% of my efforts on winning.”
The young Herald stared at Max for a few moments before he nodded his head slowly, a goofy grin spreading across his face like cream cheese on a bagel.
“Ohh.. Oh I get it! I do all the social work, right? I do all the talking, I do all the networking, I represent you to the world and you.. You just.. Uh.. train?” Bentley said, the smile dimming as he looked around the gym, still not fully aware of what exactly Max was doing.
“Yes, well, train and study my opponents, find their weaknesses and also drive Lee mad. He hates.. HATES when he doesn’t know what I’m up to or what the condition of his World Championship is. See.. that title? That’s a piece of Lee Best, probably the piece he loves more than his own children. That’s his whole legacy there, the most important piece of metal in HOW.. in the entire company. In the hands of Halitosis it was representative of change, of the new Era. In his glorious grasp this company had a future because, as a good and respectful champion, he wanted to represent the High Octane Brand.. But me? Heh-heh..” Max’s eye turns back toward the World Title as he crept toward it slowly, his fingers stretching out toward it possessively.
“..don’t you have a tag match with Halitosis?”
Once again the Herald cut through Max’s fixation and drew him back into the present, even if the question at hand felt convoluted and perhaps a little guided. Max turned on his heels to look back at the Herald, his hands clasped back together as he seemed to hiss through his dagger like silver teeth.
“Yes. As a matter of fact I do. Seems Lee thought it would be a good idea to build a little hype leading into War Games by placing Eric Dane and.. Uh.. Robert Dean against Halitosis and myself… not a bad pairing really. For me at least. Eric Dane and his chubby friend, Bobby Dean, are a little less convincing as a team.” Max said as he furrowed his brow, that thoughtful expression passing over him once again. “…what made you ask in the first place?”
“Oh, I mean, Lee sent a few texts asking if you had contacted Halitosis over the last week and I just remembered about it. Like, why would the owner of High Octane Wrestling care if you had talked to the guy named after bad breath you had just defeated for the HOW World Championship.. I mean, other than to gloat I mean.” The Herald chortled at his own joke though Max didn’t seem to share his sentiment.
“I.. well.. I probably should have spoken to him. I mean not much of a tag team if we are not talking to each other right? And Halitosis is a much stronger opponent then dear old Eric Dane passes him off as. The man did win the World Championship Tournament defeating me in the process. The same tournament that Eric Dane was knocked out of in the second round, something that our dear friend seems like to ignore while dredging up any bit of history that makes him sound better or his opponents sound worse. Classic Dane.” Max scoffed as let his hands rest on his hips, his blue eye slowly turning toward the World Championship once again.
“But.. but.. You defeated Halitosis.. And.. if Halitosis wins in the Tag Match then it might make.. It might make HOW look good, right?” The Herald stammered through his slow addressing of the potential risks of a victory at Refueled. Max’s lips pursed together as he considered this, his face looking like a pouty child though he still seemed captivated by the HOW World Championship.
“While it is true a victory for Halitosis might become a more interesting side story in the current affairs of High Octane Wrestling.. He isn’t the Champion. His impact on the survivability of the federation is greatly reduced now that I have removed him from a position of importance.. The defeated of Dane and Dean will ultimately play a larger role in the slow dismantling of this Best Alliance. Eric has never been one to recover well from loses, he’d prefer to ignore them, push past them and play like it never happened. It’s a winning strategy in other federations perhaps but.. He won’t develop very far if he can’t address the humbling facts of his stay here.” the HOW Champion said in low tones as he took a step toward the HOW World Championship, his hands slipping from his hips, rising once again toward that #97red title.
“So winning the tag match will help set up your long game of winning War Games and ending HOW even if it means Halitosis picks up a win?” Bentley said, his eyebrows arched upward. He looked very much like a puppy desperate for it’s owners affection and was trying very hard to earn it.
“…yes. Yes I think so.” Max said in a dismissive manner, his focus slipping toward the title as he took another slow step toward it. “And with you handling all my personal matters in High Octane Wrestling I can focus on.. Victory.. On the plans within plans.. On titles.. On the World Championship..”
Max’s voice grew softer and more distant as he finally reached the HOW World Title, his thin fingers caressing the golden faceplate. As his index finger crossed over the golden Asia he imagined the terror and fear of it’s millions of people as their homes were crushed beneath his cruel finger. The title was so.. Empowering. He had forgotten how it felt.. How addictive it was to be the World Champion.
“And with HOW destroyed we can destroy the World Title live for Twitter! Oh man, imagine the followers we’ll get.. The views.. THE VIEWS!” The Herald cried out as a bright dumb grin sprang up onto his face.
Max’s expression darkened considerably at the Heralds suggestion, his lips curling into a sneer while his blue eye flashed with a spark of madness. His nails scratched across the surface of the beld before he spun around, his physical form towering over the Herald in an intimidating manner. His silver fangs bore the Prime Minister of Maxopotamia lashed out with both hands, his fingers curling around the Herald’s thin neck as he lifted the young man into the air. Bentley’s face went pale as his feet kicked helplessly in the air, his hands clawing at Max’s grip in utter futility.
“The HOW World Championship is MINE. We are going to destroy HOW but the title will remain untouched, do you understand!? IT IS MINE.. It will be the trophy I hang over my mantel with HOW is gone and Lee Best is left a broken and sad man without his precious #97red leather belt! NOONE is going to take it from me.. Not Eric Dane.. Not Dan Ryan.. Not Halitosis and most certainly not you, not for a few… fucking.. Twitter views..” Max snarled, his eye burning with a cruel and selfish fire. The Herald’s face slowly turned crimson as he desperately gasped for air.
Then, as quickly as it had changed Max’s mood shifted back into a calmer, more collected state. His fingers released their grip as Bentley’s body crumbled to the floor. Gasping for air the young man entered a coughing fit, his fingers massaging his neck where Max had so recently fastened his fingers. Max looked down at his Herald with an apathetic expression as he watched the young man wriggle and writhe on the ground.
“..so let’s not bring that up again, shall we? Oh.” Max snapped his fingers and reached over toward the Championship belt to reveal a scroll carefully rolled up beneath it. Snatching it up Max tossed it onto the Heralds chest who looked up at Max with pained, watery eyes. “I do need you to deliver that message to John Sektor.. You need to convince him to join Michael’s War Games team, now more than ever. Depriving Lee of another weapon in this war will only go toward furthering my own destructive goals. Oh.. and John’s memory can sometimes be a little fuzzy thanks to years of drug abuse so..”
Reaching into the pocket of his gym gear Max produced a smaller, folded note which he also tossed down on his still recovering Herald, a shark-like grin flashing on the Lord of Kaelsalvania’s face.
“If he gives you any lip about me read that note. That should make shut him up.”
The Herald’s coughing fit slowly ended as he stared down at the scroll and the note that had just been dumped on him. The tears in his eyes slowly dried as he nodded his head in submission to Max, the two items finding their way into his tunic. Folding his arms behind his back Max looked down at his Herald as he slowly pulled himself up to his feet. Standing there, his head held high as he looked down upon a human he had harmed for his own petty reasons Max shared a striking resemblance to his uncle, Wilhelm. He might have noticed if he had seen himself but already his attention seemed to be drawn toward the World Title once again.
“..y…yes my Lord. I’ll.. I’ll be sure to get it done..” Sub-Marquis Bentley Tennyson Farthington-Primrose managed to rasp out between deep breaths. The young man turned and slowly started to walk, his balance a little off as he stumbled every other step or so. Max watched the kid wander off to do.. Well.. whatever it was that his Herald did when he was not in Max’s presence.
With Bentley gone Max turned toward the World Title in full, sauntering toward it like a man approaching his favorite meal. Once again his fingers reached out and carrassed the title as a soft smile touched his lips.
“..nobody is taking you from me.. I own the heart of High Octane Wrestling.. And together we’ll watch this whole rotten era die.” Max hissed as he stared at his own twisted reflection in the polished faceplate of the world title. The smile stretched wider as he stared at himself, at the monster that he had become in his time in HOW. As he stared at his one eye and the metal plate that covered up the empty socket where the previous two had been.
And as stared at his golden reflection he felt like something else was staring back at him. Something.. Old. Something cruel. Something far to familiar.