I could remember the desperation he feels.
Ten years ago, holed up in a closet, hiding myself from the outside world; the mere thought of brightness was enough to make me want to stay there. Once in a while, the clicking of heels would tap themselves by the small slit of light that managed to creep under the door, and I thought of her. I could see her in those knee-high black boots, walking without a care in the world, and ready to attack anyone who would contradict her.
That was the Devon Drake I'd known. That was the Devon Drake I'd wanted. That was not the Devon Drake who stabbed me in the back. Once she did that, for what was there a reason to fight? The longing had left my body, and everything became inconsequential. So what if I disappeared into the darkness, who was going to care? I spent most of my time in the darkest of night while the rest of the world slept anyway, and if my closest ally, friend, and lover betrayed me, what else was there?
Slowly, that downtrodden mindset turned into one of fury, vengeance, and wrath. However, the prevailing desire that overrode them all was the notion of proving her wrong. Where one has betrayed you on the deepest level, nothing would make sweeter revenge than achieving the highest level of success to spite them. She knew it too.
She knew it when she looked up that ramp and saw a blue fire walking toward her like a hired assassin. The pain was gone, the nightmares ended, but that desire remained in the pit of the damaged soul. As she had to pay the piper for all that she'd done, the steps toward the ultimate goal quickened. Enemies became obstacles, personal vendettas became meaningless stepping stones, and all that mattered was that shiny golden belt that had averted itself from my possession.
While Devon stood next to the man who held it, my focus intensified. That belt was more than a goal; it was a symbol for all those who would care to doubt someone who was different. I'd spent my entire life overcoming the condescending jokes and pop cultural references that everyone had found so original. But if I could hold that championship… If that belt would drape across my shoulder, then they would have to answer for their false judgment. They would be forced to confront the fact that they were wrong, about me and about themselves.
Now, I'd held the world championship in three different companies over the course of the last decade, even setting a record as the only three-time champion in Pure Class Wrestling history. That fire no longer burned, as Devon Drake hadn't been seen in a year. The championship belt was no longer a symbol against the judgment of humans because after winning 71 matches, what critic left was there? The AWA? They would learn like all the others had to. There was no one left to fight against, nobody to prove wrong, and nothing left to seek revenge against.
At least in the wrestling world.
Sean Rhodes was different, however. He'd be considered a legend in most any other company, but he chose to remain with Pure Class Wrestling. Despite having more matches than anyone else in the history of the federation, the one thing that had slipped his grasp was becoming the world champion. In seven years, the title and shots at winning it eluded him like a dandelion in the wind. Seven years to build that fire, that rage, and seek that symbol against the judgment with which he'd had to live through the prime of his wrestling career.
He had every right to be a douchebag, but he wasn't. He had every right to attack me, to take advantage of the injured shoulder, but he didn't. He could've walked away many times, but chose to be a crutch or an ally when the tides were turned. This forced me into a conundrum from which I could not escape.
How exactly was I supposed to fight this man? How was I supposed to unleash the famous wrath of the Elven Warrior on one of the few worthy humans in this world?
Against Joey Cranston, there was the vengeance against Devon Drake and Joey's deceit. Against Ace Anderson, there was the long fight against the hotheaded prick that Ace had been. In Grimm, there was the challenge of overcoming the most dangerous force in PCW history. LoKi had been the betrayal of alliances. All of my most famous adversaries had done something to enrage the elf within.
Now, when I'm distracted, injured, and could be ready to fight for the world's survival at any moment, I'm pitted against a good, righteous human being? What was one to do for motivation? His fire was lit hotter than ever, and what did I have on the line? If I won, what did I prove? That I was still the three-time world champion and could overcome a shoulder injury against a man I'd defeated years ago? That I could get my 72nd win? That I could excel in Pay-Per-View main events?
What would Sean Rhodes have to prove? Simple answer: Everything.
In the eyes of the PCW faithful, Rhodes was a man to be admired, but not immortalized. He was a man with a long history, but had yet to reach the pinnacle. Everyone knew he was good, perhaps even great with over 60 wins, but the championship was what everyone was waiting to see. Could he achieve the unattainable? Could he win the big one, or would he falter when it meant the most? Could he carry a company? Could his face represent Pure Class Wrestling? Could he defeat a Hall-of-Famer, arguably the most successful wrestler in the history of PCW?
All of that was festering in his soul, and he still managed to be a decent man. Knowing full well that I could be put out possibly for good with just a simple twist of the shoulder after he'd already defeated me, consequential or not… And he chose to be a crutch. Why? Respect? Admiration? The desire to defeat the best without being a sandbagging son of a bitch? Saving the worst for when it mattered? All of these things, along with the fact that I couldn't move my shoulder without searing pain, gave him the distinct advantage, and I think he even knew it.
No good man could lose an opportunity for which he'd fought seven years. I would never expect one to. Once that bell rings and the championship is on the line, he is a professional wrestler. He's doing his job and nobody could blame him for using everything to his advantage in the main event of Return to Glory; a place where I'd made plenty of glory myself in years past. That is what a wrestler is supposed to do. That is what a man is supposed to do. That is what a champion is supposed to do.
I attempted gripping my sword with both hands, and I couldn't. Crying out as the sword clanged against the concrete floor, I massaged my shoulder the best I could. Looking at myself in the locker room mirror as a single tear stained my cheek, I knew this could be it. What good would I be to anyone if I completely tore my shoulder apart? What kind of legacy would I leave if the last memory anyone had of me in that ring was of the supposed Warrior clinging to his shoulder and screaming?
Not only that, but what kind of detriment would that be to Sean Rhodes' title reign? I'd like to think that I've built a fine reputation for myself, not only as a champion, but as a species representative and competitor in the eyes of all the PCW fans. If Sean Rhodes ended my career, or even put me out of action, what would the crowd do? The man did not deserve that. It wasn't his fault that my arm got tangled in those ropes all those weeks ago and was only getting worse. If he did manage to achieve this victory, he deserved his moment, not scorn for damaging a legend.
"You're just making my job easier, aren't you?"
That voice. Had the time come? Of course, it would make the most sense to do it now. I shot to the ground and attempted to grab the blade, but a boot stepped on it. The other boot stepped right into my shoulder, and I screamed in pain. Forced to my back, the sword handle digging into my ribs, two red eyes peered into my soul. A firm hand grasped my jaw, clenching as hard as it could.
"I could destroy you right now and no one would even know," he threatened. "Everything you've ever held dear could disappear in an instant, and you could have all the memories you wanted in the plane where I will send you permanently."
Tomas threw my head into the ground, and I felt dazed. The room started spinning, and I was seeing six eyes now. The swelling in my shoulder from the boot was throbbing worse than ever. "This is it," I thought to myself. "This is the moment of eternity."
As I expected a blade to pierce my skin, instead there arose such a clatter. A ruckus ensued, as it sounded of a struggle between Tomas and someone else.
"Who are you? What do you want?"
"All answers in good time, you insolent cretin. For now, let's just say I'm everything you fear when you're at your worst."
"I fear nothing," the voice responded. "Are you a hired hit or something? Answer me!"
"Don't worry. You'll get your turn. You'll all get your turn," Tomas snickered.
I could make out the figure of someone else diving toward Tomas again, but he disappeared. Someone frantically searched around for a few seconds, and I could no longer keep my head up.
"Lantlas! Wake up, Lantlas!" a voice called out to me as a hand lifted my head gently. I tried opening my eyes, but I couldn't. All I saw was blackness.
I heard the dialing of a phone. "It's Nacho. You need to get here now." Nacho? He'd stood up to Tomas?
"We need help in here!" I heard him scream. There were good humans here. The class was still alive. But I knew, sooner than later, I'd have to protect Nacho from the wrath he'd incur. Hey, maybe that's for what I could fight. Would I be allowed to fight?
That was the last thing I could remember. The darkness overtook my consciousness.