“It’s time to do away with the old order of things, brethren.”
This opening statement gets a nod of agreement from a large crowd huddled together, adorned in their traditional garb with their hooded heads lowered in reverence. This group surrounds the source of the statement, a confident Xander Azula who looks to his inner circle: his beloved Mysti and his confidant Vagn Dahl. The pair give a nod of respect for the newly-appointed Head Disciple’s wishes, a motion that pleases Xander greatly as he continues to speak.
“We were given high hopes and higher expectations up to this point, the idea that we deserved to live in the lap of luxury. I would argue that such comforts would make us content, to the point of being lax…of being lazy.”
He turns his attention to the Mistress, his words clearly directed at her as she hides her face in shame.
“There are those of you who would disagree with what I’m about to say, and to them I offer the chance to walk away right now. But, for those of you with ears to hear, I offer this advice…we strip away all the unnecessary materialism that this world has soiled us with, and we go back to basics.”
Unsurprisingly, this garners some muttering within the crowd…but that only makes Xander smirk as he presses on.
“I truly believe that we cannot pursue our mission from a comfy office building in the middle of a metropolitan area. Corporations cannot create chaos.”
From the distance, a single voice shouts their dissension.
“And where exactly would we go?”
Xander’s smirk widens to a wicked grin.
The murmurs amongst the crowd get louder, and the calm atmosphere of the room has gone out the window as the revolt begins…which only makes Xander grin wider as Dahl steps in to protect him. Those who would dare charge against the new Head Disciple quickly find themselves pushed out the door, some more literally than others. Moments later, Xander looks around, appreciative of those who stayed behind.
Port of Long Beach
Long Beach, CA
“Home is where the heart is, after all.”
We now find Xander stood amongst his brethren, those who remained after the schism all those years ago. On this day, Xander holds a smile on his face as he looks at his itinerary, muttering to himself as he reads its contents.
“Right, so we have all the things we need for our journey to The Rock, including our…precious cargo.”
He chuckles as he glances at Meredith, tied up with rope with a strip of duct tape plastered over her mouth to keep the usually-verbose woman silent. Was her treatment crude? Perhaps, but given her incessant yelling in the weeks since her kidnapping, the methods were completely necessary for Xander’s sanity.
“Let’s set sail for Alcatraz then, shall we?”
Needless to say, a trip such as this could not allow for the luxury of the normal travel methods for a tourist attraction like the inactive prison island, least of all with what–more importantly, whom–they were bringing along. As the ship pulls away from the pier, Xander looks out to the ocean still feeling quite amused about the situation. The expression is particularly noticeable to Mysti, who gives him a tap on the shoulder.
“What’s on your mind, love?”
Xander chuckles, because the question is a loaded one.
“Lots, my dear. Thinking about the future, thinking about what’s to come…and realizing it all starts at the Rumble. Darin doesn’t realize it yet, but the wheels are turning as we speak and he cannot stop what is in motion. We are on the cusp of something great, and he is about to bear witness to his own suffering for the sake of our goddess.”
With that, Xander puts an arm over Mysti’s shoulders, a rare sign of affection from a man normally refraining from such things. They look out to the vast ocean in front of them, their destination far off in the distance…but are quickly interrupted by shouting from the lower deck.
“She got loose!”
Darin Zion, the time has come for your judgement…and I find you guilty.
Guilty of trying to flatter me with false hope, trying to make me feel welcome when in reality, you were trying to “find your edge again.”
You have proven time and time again that, when given the opportunity to excel, you fall flatter than a loaf of bread missing its yeast.
And yet, you stand there with your blasphemous mouth flapping about, insisting that Rumble At The Rock will be your chance at revenge?
You will get no such opportunity against me.
Not when the odds–and history–is rooting against you in these circumstances.
I’ve spent the past couple weeks trying to wrap my brain around your logic, Darin.
You’re the one who demanded to face me in a Guard Tower match, but why?
Do you miss the thrill of falling to your doom from such great heights?
Or do you just that much of a sadist to revisit the trauma of 2019’s outing at the prison?
You’ve allowed your need to get back what you believe to be yours get in the way of using rational thinking.
You put this upon yourself, pal.
You thought you’d play games with ol’ Xander Azula, but I can play those games right back.
That’s why I have your precious Meredith, and I hold the advantage going into this match.
Because to you, this is war…but to me, this is a warmup.
Because my goddess is gearing up for her glorious return to this earth, and she deserves the best vessel possible.
I can see why you care so much about Meredith…and that’s what makes her such a perfect choice for what’s to come.
You have set the stage for your own demise, and how fitting that you would repeat history for the sake of your foolish desires.
Thank you, Darin Zion.
From the bottom of my heart, I appreciate you making this all the easier on me.
I’m looking forward to seeing you atop that guard tower, trying so desperately to save your beloved just as you’ve tried over and over again to ascend the ranks in HOW…because it’ll make seeing your fall from grace all the sweeter.
I have deconstructed you, Darin, into a man desperate to be a hero…but, as you will soon realize, the hero doesn’t always save the day.
And when the hero falls, my goddess will rise.
Praise Eris, praise Discordia.