The gentle strumming of an acoustic guitar filled the air adding a traditional warmth to the ambiance while the sounds of a crackling fire joined. Flickering flames danced over a few ember ridden logs that lay in a large stone fireplace. It is a fitting look given that the fire was presently warming a large wooden cabin nestled in some far distant and remote forest. The walls were lined with mounted heads and paintings of the rural countryside that this cabin no doubt inhabited.
Everything, from the furniture to the carpets to the rest of the town and country catalogue decore fit into this cozy little piece of rural glory save for the man seated in a long back reading chair wearing a black and red silk bathrobe baring an MK as well as two red slippers, both of them monogrammed as well. A monocle is tightly pinched over his.. Well it would be difficult to say strange now given that Max’s alternative blue eye is literally a glowing mechanical prosthetic but suffice to say the quote normal unquote eye has its own eerie quality.
His lips, scarred and cracked, were curled up into a hideous rigor grin, his metal teeth, a dark shade of cobalt stuck out of his soured, diseased gums. #97Red leather gloves covered both hands which, for the moment, remained folded in his lap.
“Friends.. Welcome to my cabin del a Kael in the great North.” Though seemingly impossible Max’s lips stretch into an even larger grin as more of his unpleasant mouth is exposed. It is good fortune that nobody watching is exposed directly to the cesspool that is Max’s rancid mandible. “The strain of city life can sometimes get to you and I feel it’s important to get back to your roots, important to get back to what makes you.. You. For me it’s getting out here.. Into nature.”
A hand lifted and gestured around the room he was seated in, once again a departure from what Max himself looked and acted like.
“And sure, you might be telling yourself right now that I just ran up here and found some random log cabin, tied up the owners and presently have them stuffed in a closet,” Max said whilst gesticulating wildly with his eyes. Finishing his thought a laugh exited Max tooth hole wasn’t his traditional one but rather a more stressed, fake laugh, his eye darting from side to side nervously. “Because, as we all know, that’s illegal and everyone in High Octane Wrestling is a law abiding citizen., so stop thinking about it!”
Whether intentional or just a nervous tick Max’s real eye winked and for the first time in over a year you didn’t have to worry about if it was just a blink. The glowing blue eye intensified for a moment, spinning in his eye socket before returning to regular.
“Anyway, friends, as we’re all aware and talking there’s a real gamble coming up. You know what I’m talking about. A chance for one of you idiots-er.. Appreciable talents! Yes.. yes that’s what you people like to be called right? Talents.. One of you talents is going to get lucky enough to rise above the rest and challenge me..” the Lord Supreme Dictator said as his fingers slowly untied the bathrobe he was wearing. “.. I know deep down inside all you..talents.. Are just aching to get what’s under this six hundred and twenty seven dollar #97red silk robe from the Eric Dane Overpriced To Add Value To My Name Collection otherwise known as the Humblebrag Collection, you can find it under the Virtue Signal section of Amazon, you can claim the money you spent goes to charity. I used Cecilworth’s card, I don’t need the Karma, you know?”
Untying the strings Max stood up and pulled the robe back to reveal the LSD Championship wrapped around his waist. Beneath that he was wearing his wrestling gear, the black full bodysuit, the red MK splattered across his chest like blood.
“That’s right, talents, the LSD Championship, a title I have now held since Rumble at the Rock when I stripped it off M.J. Flair, a title I have defended more than any other title has been defended at this point. The World Championship, held by my friend Cecilworth Farthington, is the tentpole in the circus that is High Octane Wrestling. The ICON Championship, held by my adopted brother Michael Lee Best, is the symbol of High Octane Wrestling’s uniqueness held by the elite of our business… but this?” he said in a hushed down as he gestured toward the LSD Championship around his waist. “..this is High Octane Wrestling’s cruelty, insanity and violence put into leather and metal. This title was forged by hatred and tempered by blood, it was not the greatest wrestlers who held onto the LSD Championship nor the most charismatic speaker.. It’s always been the most bloodthirsty, the most cruel, the most demented!”
Max’s fingers danced over the weathered faceplate of the LSD Championship, the sticker of Kim Il-Sung starting to fade from it’s once great brilliance. It is clear from the dried blood, discolored metal and bits of grime stuck into the edges of the belt that Max has not had it washed or cleaned since likely he took hold of the title. Chances are the title itself smells just as bad as Max’s eating orifice does.
“And one of you has the chance to find out just how deep you want to go, just how wicked you think you can be, just how far you’re willing to go..” Max’s voice deepens as his gloved hands pull the LSD title off his waist.”..when you sign up for Max Kael’s LSD Raffle!”
Perking up Max’s face lights up like a sunrise, slinging the championship over his shoulder before pulling random piles of dirty blue raffle tickets from his pocket. Like a child excited by the seasons first snow Max tossed the tickles before they fell back to the ground with about as much elegance as trash being thrown into a dumpster.
“..but first I guess we have this Lethal Lottery thing to deal with.”
The Lord Supreme Dictator plopped back down into his reading chair, his expressions smarmy mixed with a hint of poisonous amusement. A low giggle burbles its way out of his throat as his smile remains stretched painfully across his face.
“So I guess you numbnuts.. Er.. Talents will get two potential chances to get your eager little hands on my LSD Championship. In a Lethal Lottery the Champion has no advantage and I know both Michael and I will both be putting our titles on the line. My adopted Brother has different tactics then I do when I come into this. He prefers to go on the attack, it’s what he does best. He’ll shotgun blast the lot of you with a very accurate breakdown of your shitty drawbacks. He’ll go after the people he considers a threat and let the weak links weed themselves out, but me?”
Taking a deep breath Max looks toward the window of the cabin. The world beyond is pristine, beautiful, the chill of Spring clings to the damp landscape as a light rainfall feeds the natural cycle of life. The trees and bushes have begun to bud adding their green to the enduring evergreens that are sprinkled throughout the woods. The sight captures Max for a moment before he turns to look forward once again.
“I have a different approach. See I’m not going to worry about who my opponent is because I’m not sure any of you have what it takes to be an LSD Champion. Not just to defeat me but to survive the concept of what this title is. I don’t think any of you really want what being an LSD Champion takes which is years off your career. I don’t think any of you want to put your bodies through the pain and the suffering that this title demands. I.. I don’t mind. I’ve come to accept my own sadomasochism, it’s just a part of who I am, it’s how I’m programmed but are any of you that dedicated? This is an abusive relationship, the one shared with the LSD Championship and I love it like my mother loved my daddy’s fists.”
His brow raises slightly as he asks the question out loud. His smile falters for a moment as he sinks further into the reading chair. His eyes slide away to the side slightly, his mind traveling down a path that distracts him from what he is looking at.
“..I know what it takes to take the Title.. And to keep it. It takes a willingness to have your eyes stabbed out of your head. It requires suffering from being lit on fire, having your flesh roasted off the muscle and bone while continuing to fight. It takes fighting with broken bones and shattered limbs. It takes being lacerated, stabbed and poisoned while managing to take down every single lunatic that wants to prove their brand of crazy is better…and I’m still here. I endure because I can take it.. Do you really want this responsibility?”
Shaking his head slowly Max mouthed the word “no” before he let his head tilt to the side, resting on the cold unfeeling metal of the LSD Championship.
“Friends.. Talents..this burden is for your Lord Supreme Dictator to hold and me alone. Only I am strong enough, powerful enough, willing enough to hold all the madness, blood rage and violence this title is cursed with. Only Maximillian Kael has the power to keep this title under control. Gone are the days when mere men could hold this Championship. Gone are the days of Scott Woodson and his barbed wire hockeystick gimmick. Gone are the days of Silent Witness desperately grappling with whether he should be hardcore or wrestling icon. Gone are the days of two or three month reigns as bodies crumbled beneath the savage cost of being the master of Lee’s Special Division. If you’re willing to die for the LSD Championship though.. If you’re excited about the prospect of being beaten by the #1 ranked wrestler in High Octane Wrestling.. If you’re up for adding another three points to my score… if you’re up to be another sacrifice for the LSD Championship.. Well…heh-heh..”
A harsher laugh this time, throaty and dry, crawled out of his chrome toothed cavern as his normal blue eye sizzled with a maddened zeal.
“..then you know where to find me at the Lethal Lottery. I’ll be making my way to the ring sometime in the second half of the show with this LSD Championship. May fortune favor you as regardless of who I face it has already blessed me.”
Max hissed as his teeth clamped together with a heavy metallic crack.
“I am the Worthiest, the Merciless and Monstrous Maximillian Wilhelm Kael, Lord of Kaelsalvania, Prime Minister of Maxopotamia, the General of North Kaelrea, the Lord Supreme Dictator of High Octane Wrestling, First of my Name, Long May I Maim!”
The trip had been considerably longer then he remembered in the past. Had it been sixteen hours? Twenty hours? Six? Was time even real?
The short answer is no, it is merely our way of measuring the slow decay of the Universe known as Entropy. That said that was a concept that was a little heavy for the Lord Supreme Dictator so we’ll gloss over it for now.
Chicago to North Korea wasn’t a trip he liked to take and over the last three months he had made it more than he would have liked. The demands of his patron, Kim Jong-Un as well as his health troubles had necessitated such travel however the LSD Champion wasn’t any happier about it. Paired with the Lethal Lottery Max Kael had found himself in a generally unpleasant mood.
“How was your flight, General Kael?”
The voice of the one of the North Korean officials who had gathered him at Pyongyang dug into the side of Max’s head and caused his lip to twitch. It was something about the pitch of most Korean’s voices that seemed to bother him but he couldn’t exactly tell why. Turning to eye the man Max’s mechanical blue eye made a series of whirring noises as the light narrowed. The aid wore a green military uniform which was covered in ribbons and medals that seemed to far outstrip the man’s youthful look.
“..that’s a lot of awards and ranks you have there..” Max mused loudly as he peered at the man’s uniform. “You must be a real achiever.”
The round face of the North Korean office lit up as Max acknowledged his decorations.
“Yes, I single handedly stopped seventeen traitors from reaching the South Korean border. I was promoted to Captain and now serve as a liaison for the Supreme Leader’s honored guests, like yourself.” the Captain beamed at Max as he spoke. “..and I’m very excited to actually be riding with you, General Kael. You’re run here three years ago was inspirational for us all. The way you defeated that grandfather who stole rice to feed his dying wife.. Magnificent. A real folk hero.”
Nodding his head Max let his mind roll back to remember which match that was exactly. Kim had always liked to feed Max locals who had misbehaved in order to keep the locals in line and entertained. Being back in North Korea reminded Max that there were people in power that were arguably worse than he or Lee.
“Uh I think I remember. Su Kam-Dah was his name I think.. I faced him in the late July ALL GLORY TO THE SUPREME LEADER show. Funny enough his grandson challenged me to a match in his honor after he was defeated.” Max nodded to himself before letting his eye wander back out the window.
“Oh? I don’t remember a follow up match, did he ever face you?” The captain asked out of curiosity, his face painted with surprise that he did not know about it.
“Yeah, he was only twelve though and his mother died of starvation so, you know, he was just summarily executed.” The Lord Supreme Dictator said quietly, his lips pressing together tightly. It wasn’t said with pride or as a snide comment, the actual reality of what he said sitting gravely with him.
His silent remembrance was interrupted by a shrill laugh followed by the sound of the Captains knee slapping his leg. Turning to stare at the Captain Max could feel the man’s entertainment at his story. Max’s lips parted into a very insincere smile before he looked back out the window in order to hide his disgust. He had no idea why he felt the way he did when he was in North Korea but somehow being around people as awful as he was..
“The site is ready for me?” Max asked as a way to avoid any future questions about the sorted and unpleasant career he had enjoyed in North Korea following the death of HOW in 2016.
“According to what I’ve been told, yes everything at the site is as you requested. Oddly specific but as always our Glorious Leader has provided from his own pocket. With his endless wealth and incredible power he was able to gather all the necessary supplies.” the chipper Captain replied as he thumbed open a folder with pictures and files of things Max had apparently requested.
“Excellent. Once I’m there I am to be left alone, understand? I’ve got a lot of work to do..” Max muttered as he stared at the world rushing past the window. Despite the suburban crawl of Pyongyang the rest of the country was densely packed with deep forests and tall mountains. Now and again the odd village would pop out but otherwise it was an undeveloped wilderness.
Though the Captain spoke a few more times the rest of the ride was filled with silence as Max’s mind mulled over the coming week. Outside of dealing with the Lethal Lottery, which had stepped over his own LSD Ticket Raffle, he would have to appease Kim Jung-Un who was growing impatient with his ongoing war against High Octane Wrestling.
He’d have to figure out a way out of the current tangle he had himself wrapped up in..
But there was time for now.
The only thing Max knew for certain was that, no matter what he decided all the next week hinged on one thing. To walk out of this week with his LSD Championship and his head he was going to need more than just pure physicality and cleverness..
As the car approached it’s destination Max saw the log cabin he had requested be built for him during his stay in North Korea. Taking in a deep breath Max prepared for what awaited him.