Grimmsteel Games

Shadows of the past

Damon Fang

Damon Fang

“What’s this, then?”

The wrestler known only as the Cryptokeeper dropped his hand on Damon Fang’s shoulder, pulling him away from his locker and leaning over his fellow wrestler’s shoulder to look inside. Old newspaper clippings, photos, handwritten notes … the interior of the locker, its walls and the door … every inch covered in memorabilia.

“I didn’t take you for a collector, Damon. Guess I was wrong.”

Instead of responding or shrugging the other wrestler away, Damon Fang reached inside the locker and peeled a photo off the wall, handing it over. The photo, faded with time, showed a group of circus performers in front of a colorful, circular tent. Everyone wore big smiles, from small children to elders of the troupe, their joy in each others’ company evident despite the years that had passed.

Damon pointed at a small boy at the front of the group, wearing the outfit of an acrobat or tumbler. “That’s me, many years ago,” he said, the faint trace of an Eastern European accent still in his voice. “I was the pride of my family, the youngest ever to headline our traveling circus. We traveled the breadth of Europe and Asia, never staying in one place for long. It was, well, an interesting childhood.”

“I learned to flip and tumble, climb, and balance. I was very, very good my friend … the best the troupe had ever seen so young. Some still talk about how I’d walk the tightrope meters above the tent floor with nothing, no pad or net, to save me if I fell. I never fell!”

The last, said with pride and wistfulness, painted an image of cheering crowds, aghast as the young Damon stepped onto the swaying rope, every muscle taught with concentration as he worked his way across the unprotected expanse.


“How’d you end up here, then?” Cryptokeeper asked after a moment of awed silence.

Damon chuckled a little, placing the photo back in his locker and closing it. He turned to face his fellow wrestler.

“As I grew older and stronger, I began trying all aspects, all stunts in the circus. Now and then, another group would join us, featuring wrestlers whose strength and brawn were their only advantage. My older brother, Alexei, was injured in what was supposed to be a friendly sparring round. His arm, broken so cleanly you could see the break through the skin.”

“In my anger, I challenged him to a match. He must have been double my weight, but I didn’t care,” Damon said with more than a touch of frustration and remembered rage. “I didn’t stand a chance. I’m lucky I wasn’t seriously hurt, so badly did he beat me. I don’t think I landed a blow or a hold at any point in the match. It was humiliating.”

“Getting beaten doesn’t explain why you’re here, though.”

“No, it doesn’t,” Damon agreed. “For the next few years, I became consumed with combat. I trained relentlessly, sparring with whoever would agree to, building my physique at every opportunity. In my early 20s, about four years after we’d last crossed paths, the same troupe joined us again for a show. I didn’t hesitate, challenging the same man who’d beaten me so thoroughly to another match, this time in front of the sold out crowd.”

Damon paused, his fists clenched as if he could strike his tormenter again. Taking a deep breath to relax, he looked Cryptokeeper in the eyes with a small smile.

“The match lasted less than a minute. That’s all it took for me to pin him. It was no contest.”

Cryptokeeper laughed, landing his hand on Damon’s shoulder, a belated congratulations. “I guess you had your revenge, then?”

Damon shrugged, the smile disappearing. “Well, yes, but the leaders of our show, including my own father and uncle, saw the growing problem before I could. I’d become consumed with anger and a thirst for revenge, not the spirit of our circus, so lauded for entertaining small children and delighting their parents. They sent me away, telling me I needed to find my own destiny, or at least peace, before I returned.”

“That’s when the DWC found me. I was making a living wrestling in no-name circuits in Europe when I met Dave. He saw something in me and took me in, mentored me. He even helped me trace my family tree, using his resources to help me discover my lineage. Did you ever wonder where this all came from?”

Damon held up his cape, smiled theatrically to show the vampire fangs that made up such a large part of his supernatural gimmick.

“It turns out, of all people, Vlad the Impaler is one of my forefathers. Many, many generations removed. I suppose the anger and thirst for violence remain, his legacy for the modern age. But now I control it, and I compete with purpose, not for blood. It is a better life, I think.”

Before Cryptokeeper could answer, a buzzer sounded outside the locker room. Throwing his cape over his shoulders, Damon Fang gestured theatrically.

“It’s showtime, my friend. Time for more stories later. This time, I want to hear your story!”

With a flourish, Damon Fang led the Cryptokeeper out of the locker room, toward another evening in front of the DWC’s jubilant crowd.


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