War Games II
It had been a gloomy meeting with the boss. Today was supposed to be the day, the day when the Herald Sub-Marquis Bentley Tennyson Farthington-Primrose had been promised by Max that they would attend a Renaissance Festival filled with fire eaters, knights in armor, pages, squires and other wonderfully dressed persons. His mind had been filled with great roast meats, swords and axes, the brutality of a life when being a rich land owner gave you the best benefits. Not like today where it just meant you got low expectation management positions at family owned corporations.
But all that didn’t matter now because Max had said no. He had said no and that HOW was more important despite the fact he had gone on and on about how unimportant HOW really was. He was hurt, he felt betrayed and more then that Max had told him to go stand in a broom closet like some common servant. Real men were kept in dungeons, he mused, where they could spout exposition at the walls in a fit of rebellious spirit. A broom closet was where Middle Class kept their orphaned wizards. It was no place for a Farthington, let alone a Herald of Maximiilian Kael.
And yet that had been his command. A healthy fear mixed with servile cunning meant he would follow the order as well as he could. With the HOW World Title slung over his shoulder he dragged his feet in a slow, pitiful pace as he made his way toward the broom closet door. He could see it getting closer each time he lifted his gaze, each time just a little closer to the one place in the world he didn’t want to be. If he could he would turn and run but.. But he knew Max would find him. And if Max had to find him there would be hell to pay..
But again that determined, impressive, unbreakable loyalty was sure to m-
“Hey! You’re the Herald of Max Kael aren’t you?” A voice called out from behind the Herald snapping the young man out of his miserable walk. His little bells jingled as he turned to turn a dramatic gaze upon whoever had spoken his name.
Set before him was a man about his same age with raven like black hair and dark circles beneath his eyes. His face was gaunt, pale and filled with a deep apathy and yet there was something exciting in the sparkle of his eyes. The Herald canted his head to the side for a moment, his eyes narrowing as he tried to identify the person standing in front of him.
“Oh, sorry, I’m a student here and actually Max’s son, Sutler Kael.” the young man said with a bright, toothy smile. The Herald had heard the name before and in some way he supposed always knew Max had a son, adopted specifically but he had never really met him before. He was way more handsome then Max was and definitely had a different dad.
“Oh Sutler Kael! How exciting, you’re like the plot from Get Out!” The Herald exclaims with a wide smile as he reaches out and shakes Sutler’s hand. The Herald had never seen Get Out but made very broad assumptions based on the trailers.
“I don’t.. I don’t know exactly what you mean by that.” Sutler said with half smile, the dawning understanding that the Herald, like Max, was a fucking idiot. “But I’ll take that as a compliment I guess.”
“Sure, if that helps. Listen, I’d love to stay and I have to fulfill my sacred oath as Herald of the Smart and Sneaky Maximillian Kael, FohN, LMHM. I have to go stand.. In a broom closet.” Bentley slowly turns toward the broom closet, his face sporting an over exaggeration of a pained expression.
“I thought today was the Ren Faire day, isn’t that what you’ve been plastering all over Twitter?” Sutler said with an innocent expression. Bentley stopped, his head dipping low as his hands balled at either side of his slender frame.
“What if I just drove us to the Fair?”
In a swirl of a bells, feathers and half-cape the Herald’s bright eyes stare up at Sutler Kael’s own. Then his eyes darken and become shifty, his posture shrinking as he stepped close to Sutler’s side.
“So.. say we left.. I mean.. Hypothetically, I wouldn’t actually do it but.. Say I did. What would Max do? I mean, wouldn’t he find out if he went to check on me? What if he needed me?.. I should stay close by right?” Bentley said in a hushed tone as he began to wring his hands together nervously.
“Oh you know Max, he’ll probably forget you’re even there. He always takes War Games super serious, particularly since he’s already won it once already. He feels he has to keep up a certain image plus Uncle Mike is relying on Max to get something done and Max has this weird thing where he wants Mike’s respect. It’s really kind of sad.” Sutler whispered back to the impressionable Herald. “In fact I suspect that he’s stay locked up in that room all night getting meetings and reports on each of his opponents. He’ll work out how to beat them in his brain and then take to physical training. He’ll get lost in it and in all the business… no Renaissance Fest for poor little Bentley.”
A single tear runs down the side of the Heralds face as his lip quivers at the thought of being left behind by an obsessive Max. Taking a shakey, sad breath the Herald shakes his head slowly.
“..Sub-Marquis.. Bentley.. You heckin plebeian..” He manages to choke out as he uses his cape to dry the tears on his damp cheeks. The attack is half hearted and Sutler offers a smug shrug before patting him on the back.
“Ok Sub-Marquis.. So instead of being a sour puss why don’t we go to the Renaissance Festival and have ourselves a great time?”
The Herald lets his cape drop as his hands fall to this side. Sutler had made a good point, Max was probably going to get lost in his prep. He was going to obsess over the bad brain of Eric Dane. He was going to worry over the bulk of human meat known as Dan Ryan. He was going to work himself into a dither over MJF and of course going to get into a dawdle over Lindsay Troy. And then the late joiner, High Flyer, was such an ancient unknown that Max might even bring in a cryptids expert to help identify potential weaknesses.
The Herald was loyal to a fault sometimes..
Loyal to his own wants and desires that is.
“..Ok well then the real question is..” The Herald whispers before lifting his cape up, the little brass bells gleaming in the light of the fluorescent lights that flickered above them. “TO GO TO THE RENAISSANCE FESTIVAAAAL!”
Screeching loudly the Herald turned and ran toward the front door as a smirking Sutler stared a the lamb running head long to the slaughter. Reaching into his pocket Sutler retrieved a cloth and a bottle of what appeared to be chloroform, his face darkening a twisted glare that followed the Herald’s movements.
His encounter with John Sektor have done nothing to improve his mood or help move him into the direction he required to ensure victory at War Games. The Herald had vanished with his World Title and John Sektor wanted to talk about team tactics. He wanted to get the band together or some shit..
..this was War Games not some kind of a lack luster Tag Team match. Michael’s team was made of some of the best talent had to offer, they didn’t need team meetings, they needed to figure out their opponents weaknesses and pulverize the ill prepared invaders!
At least that was what Max thought that was a workable strategy. The exchange between the two of them had been heated and clearly Max had offended his former friend. Still, it had been true that he had extended John an olive branch if he had chosen to join Team Michael Best over the As Good As It’s Gonna Get Right Now Alliance, Maybe. Maybe if Sutler hadn’t disappeared with the HOW World Title the conversation might have been more pleasant.. But right now figuring out how to do three man moves or maybe even four man moves just didn’t seem that important.
What seemed important was making sure he had a HOW World Title to show off come War Games. If he lost it, if he had to walk into War Games without the World Championship..
Lee would probably shoot him in the head and be sure to aim for the parts not made from metal. He might survive it, he’d survived countless other terrible near life ending situations.. He wasn’t interested in testing that theory just yet and instead his mind had been racing on ways to find that which he had lost.
“Maxy, Baby, I just got a call from a friend!” the flapping lips of the Great Googley Moogly called out toward Max as he appeared from one of the back offices pushing past Sektor as the man angrily left. Googley didn’t seem to pay him much mind as he waddled toward Max with his hands in the air. “I just got a call, a call about your young Herald and that BEEEEEUtiful title that you usually carry around with ya, you get me baby?”
Max snapped around as his blue eye fell over the Googley One. He slowly paced toward the elderly manager with purpose, the bitterness of his exchange with John Sektor still sharp on his tongue.
“And.. who.. Might this friend of yours be that you’d trust them to know the location of my dear HOW World Title and the Herald?” Max snarled between his sharklike teeth.
“I’m a Wizard, Maxy Baby! My sources help make my Maaaaaaa-Jik flow real smooth, makes me the foremost mind in predicting the future and, Maxy Baby, finding loooost sooouuls!” The Great Googley Moogly let his fingers dance through the air while his feet skipped excitedly from side to side.
Max looked unconvinced but having no other options willing to indulge the old man’s story.
“I’m taking a big chance here, G.G.O., if you are wasting my time..” Max said while pulling his phone out of his pocket. “I’ve got a lot to read and I need to use my time smartly. You’ll have to drive while I get into a quick background check of Dan Ryan. Then I have a threat assessment with Fartharder and Shitemoore, they have some footage that might prove fruitful from CWF.”
“OOoooh boy, Maxy Baby, we’re gonna track us down a Herald and a hunk of High Octane Hardware! Alright, we must prrrooooooosseeeeed on out to my powder a-blue Buick Roadmaster, a fine charity for a fine old Manager such as myself!” The Great Googley Moogly pointed toward the door and began to power walk toward the exit. He waved Max on whose blue eye was focused down at his phone as he diligently continued to study whatever he could scavenge on his opponents.
The two men were quick to embark on their journey, both tumbling into the low bucket seats of the Great Googley Moogley’s immaculate Roadmaster. A gold chain covered in various different holy symbols hung from the rear view mirror and Max could swear it still had that new car smell and perhaps that was the most magical thing of all. Max didn’t recall if he ever had a car as nice as this Roadmaster felt.
And then there it was. Station Wagon envy, a black crackle of hate that ran down his spine as he pretended not to be impressed. He kept his eye locked on his phone while a deep, obvious frown appeared on his face.
“Just get me to my title and the Herald.. The sooner this stupid adventure is over the better, I’m a very busy man!” Max snarled as he let a little of his bitterness lash out at his former manager.
If the Great Googley Moogly noticed it he didn’t draw any attention toward it. In fact he didn’t seem in the least bit put out, a large smile pulled tight across the lower part of his face. A single gold tooth peeked over at Max giving the Googley One his magical appearance.
“Oh, Maxy Baby.. I promise you gonna seeeeeee dem soon.. Very, very soon.”
“..face hurts.. Molar.. Uh.. probably cracked. Left eye hurts, can’t really see out of it, probably black!.. Bestie’s gone and I’m just here alone now. The Herald of.. Blah, blah blah.. I think this is my 8th day of captivity. I haven’t seen the sun in such a long time I fear I might have an acute case of jaundice..” Bentley smacked his lips together, his tongue dampening his lips as his eyes scanned the walls of his small dungeon cell. “This is a pretty intense Ren Fair and honestly, for the first few days I was into it.. But I’m bored now. I’m lonely. I feel like I’m back at home with Mama and Daddums..”
His fingers ran over his bruised and beaten face, dried blood caked over the left side of his face where his eyebrow was swollen. Hidden in the dark cavern of his eye socket was a red eye, the capillaries having been burst staining the whites of his eyes. Dark stains covered his Herald uniform and his belled cape ripped, the bells mostly all crushed. Despite is disheveled appearance his chin was still held aloft, defiant either through some manner of blind arrogance or perhaps unwavering faith.
“I can only imagine what the Daring and Dauntless Maximillian Kael, First of his Name, Long May He Maim, has been up to in his search for me and Bestie. I wonder if he knows that it was Sutler who took me? Did he set me up to run into Sutler? Is this some kind of terrible test that I am failing at?” Bentley mused to himself as he looked back up at the light. He imagined it was the sun and he was outside. Then he remembered it was terrible to look directly into the sun and yelped loudly while burying his face into his hands.
A low gurgle in his gut churned and burbled through his large intestines. A terrible hunger panged through his body as he remembered he hadn’t been fed in days. Clutching his gut Bentley began to accept his fate. He would die here, abandoned and starved. When Max would discover him he would know that his Herald remained loyal until death. Maybe he’d rename his next Herald Bentley in honor of his noble sacrifice. Or maybe he’d make him some kind of patron saint in the weird ass religion Max apparently purchased from Michael Best a few years ago.
He felt his gut rumble again as pain wracked his body. He doubled over and curled up on the floor, his fingers curled together as he grimaced.
“..it’s coming.. My time. I.. I’m so weak.. And tired.. And hungry.” He wheezed pathetically. His body shivered and shook as his eyelids sank low.
A soft breath escaped his lips for the last time on his 12th day at the Ren Fair Dungeon….
The Herald flailed and scampered up from his place on the floor, his weird little one man act getting cut short as the door to his room was knocked open. The Herald’s wide eyes stared into the bright threshold to his room as a familiar silhouette appeared.
“..The GREAT AND GLORIOUS MAXIMILLIAN KAEL! FIRST OF H”
Before the Herald can complete his sentence Max slithers from the doorway with uncanny speed, his fingers curling around the Herald’s collar pulling him eye to eyes.
“Where. Is. The HOW World Championship, Bentley?” Max spoke as evenly as he could while repressing both fear for his own survivability and the outrage that the Herald had lost the title in the first place.
“Oh yes, funny story actually, it started two weeks ago when you refused to take me to the Renaissance Fest when I met your son Sutler Kael.” The Herald started before Max quickly held his hand up.
“Okay for starters that only happened this morning, like, six hours ago not two weeks. Secondly you can tell me about all of this on our way out and, if I were you, I’d pray.. PRAY.. that you can answer where that World Championship is at.”
“It’s right here.”
Max shot up as he heard a familiar voice call from behind him. He released the Herald as he narrowed his blue eye on the doorway where stood, like a ghost from the past, Sutler Reynolds-Kael looking more like Shane then he had ever done before. His hair dropping down over his face, hateful eyes burning from dark sockets. In his hands the #97red HOW World Championship while a sick smile glittered in the reflective light of the gold plated belt.
Before he could finish the line the immense speed of Sutler Reynolds-Kae overwhelms the surprised Lord of Kaelsalvania. Max doesn’t even register what is about to happen as the golden globe in the center of the HOW World Title connects with the side of his skull not covered in metal. The world goes dark almost instantly and Max should be glad for it as he does not feel his head hitting the concrete floor.
Blood begins to slick the tangled mass of hair that covers his face. Not before long a pool of crimson blood begins to form on the floor around Max’s hidden visage. A terrified Herald stares down at his fallen Prime Minister before he looks up toward Sutler Reynolds-Kael who is slowly swirling one of his index fingers through the smattering of Max’s blood on the faceplate of the HOW World Title. Then, like a treacherous shark fin cutting through a bloody sea, the golden turban of the Great Googley Moogly popped up over Sutler’s shoulder.
“Ooooh Good Job, Sulter-Baby, greeeeat job! Oh bing, bang boom! That title, SMASH, right down over this piece of trash’s face! Look at him down there! Look at him Sulter!” The Great Googley Moogly instructs, his fingers, each covered in a gold ring, wriggle through the air as he motions down toward Max’s bloodied head.
“You should have taken me more serious, Dad. Now?.. Now I can’t wait for you to wake up so I can tell you exactly how Sutler Reynolds-Kael is going to get the ultimate revenge on his dead beat dad..” Sutler said with arrogant smirk. He looked down at the HOW World Title and tapped it’s blood stained surface. “..but I ain’t gonna beat you dead..dad.. Not yet any time soon..”
Sutler spat on Max and turned an eye toward the Herald who immediately cowed and hid his face, the sudden defeat of Max Kael had taken a great deal out of his personal confidence. The adopted son of Max Kael let out a cutting chuckle and left the dungeon with his new manager, the Great Googley Moogly. Through the sound of the door clanging shut and the locks being engaged a distant comment from Sulter managed to float into the terrified Heralds ears.
“What a little bitch..”
And the Herald began to cry.
Like a bitch.
– To Be Continued..