"What’s inside the urn?" ---This was the most popular inquiry (most often asked by the legendary, Bobby ‘The Brain’ Heenan) all throughout 1991 and 1992. And I seem to recall Mr. Perfect at the commentators’ table with Vince McMahon suspecting, suspiciously, that the Undertaker himself was inside of the treasured brass object.

Ever since its initial release, the Windowknocker begged to answer those questions all the while proposing one of it’s own:

‘What if what you thought was only Kayfabe was actually, in fact, reality?'

Windowknocker debut in 1993 as one of several short stories created and offered exclusively through the ‘Plots-n-Tombstones’ Mark Calaway Fan Club. Unlike it’s failed (and often far too embarrassing to admit) novel predecessors, the Windowknocker was the only one that would find worldwide fame on a global scale within the darkside community PNT served with a character that grew to become as much a hallmark to the fanclub as its own mascot ---The everlasting spirit, Kandle, Kane the Undertaker.

It’s been nearly eight years now since the old newsletters and magazines of PNT postal were retired. I had served as its creator and president for all of this duration and still rank the experience (as well as its plentiful collection of artwork) as one of the principal highlights of my profession as an artist. Founded in November of 1991, ‘Plots-n-Tombstones’ was the title of the first and original international fan club created on behalf of the popular WWE veteren wrestler, ‘The Undertaker’. When the club was moved to the internet in early 1999, at that time, it had served strictly as a postal mail only outfit for 7 years ---a traditional service that does it fact continue despite these modern upgrades, though not as much since about 2003.

In 2007, I begun to put forth some effort into cataloging PNT’s classic illustrations into protective binders. As a matter of fact, I had even gone on to share quite a few of them at Vicious Visions’ gallery on DeviantART as I rediscovered them all over again. But imagine my surprise when the phone rang and I heard:

“Druidess?”

Druidess had been my handle during the time when I worked those early club days. I could just laugh myself silly! Here, less than a year before, I was going through all these folders and all this art tucking them into these clear, sheet protectors and thinking to myself, “I wonder what everyone’s been up to now? I wonder where they are?” I had tried on and off to re-establish some connection with my old friends over the years, but with addresses that were often more than a decade old and others who had since married, I haven’t been very lucky. Now here I was on the phone and talking to Sandy again.

“You know, hon,” I confessed openly, “I couldn’t admit it to myself at the time, but a part of me was just so damn sorry that I ever brought PNT to the web. I should have left it to its roots in the mail. Even the fan letters themselves were far more special then. Stamps and stickers, glittering bats and silver ink on black paper ---how can an email ever compete?”

We reminisced for hours! I spoke about how I had been working at creating a section at our website just for the purpose of displaying some of the club’s old art and illustrations for a new generation. At the risk of sounding vain, I was always convinced that the artwork I had created on behalf of Plots-n-Tombstones were, without a doubt, certainly some of the most beautifully orchestrated of my artistic career. It had been a bit of a shame to think of them as sitting away in storage when I knew there still was so much to be enjoyed about them.

Over the course of our conversation, Sandy told me that she was thinking about bringing KaneFanatics back online and about a special ‘Origins of Kane’ section she had in mind for it. Talking about origins lead into talks about the Windowknocker and all of the illustrations I had done for the popular series. She wanted to include it, if she could.

“Lots of these new fans just don’t seem to know who the character of Kane is,” she told me. “They don’t really understand his connection to Undertaker, and still others are unaware that Paul Bearer was even his father!”

Has it really been that long? Glenn Jacobs debuted as ‘Kane’ at Badd Blood ‘97. Deny as we might, that was nearly 15 years ago ---plenty long enough for those who were in Pampers at the time to have grown up. There’s a whole new generation of wrestling fan now and supplying them with an ‘origins’ section sounded like a clear winner. I agreed to help out and got busy immediately going through my binders and dragging boxes out of the office closet looking for anything I had done concerning the Windowknocker. It was while I was sitting in HTML though and previewing Kandle ‘flicker’ to life on line in this animated banner for the first time since 2003, that it really dawned on me everything that Sandy and I discussed only days earlier. The artwork I created special for the banner (which took the better of a week to complete) was the first time I had drawn Kane at all in the past six years since the old PNT ‘Sanctuary’ messageboard was last up. Scrolling down through some of the art I was putting up in the gallery I realized that great descriptions aside, Windowknocker was going to be brand new to a whole lot of fans. I was going to need to put some effort into explaining the novel series, what it was about, how it was created, when. What was its connection to the Big Red Machine? Was there one? Marvelous accomplishment from a stand point, summarizing the collection is an imposing feat. Even today, the Windowknocker has the dubious honor of being Plots-n-Tombstones’ LARGEST accumulation of written works. From 1993-2001 it had spawned 5 novels that included cameos, side stories, a newsletter mini-series, and the joint 30+ plus member effort that was the 'Dark Testament'.

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Visions of fire dance in my head ...

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The idea of the Undertaker, Kane was already in my thoughts, circulating even as I was preparing to launch the fan club in the Autumn of 1991. I had drawn a number of quick sketches and had written up the start to several story scenarios as well ---all of them in relation to a dream I had only a few months before. I can still remember chuckling, sharing the bizarre experience whenever I was asked about how the story first came to be.

“It is a fact that inspiration knows no bounds,” I said. “And truth is sometimes far stranger than fiction. The origin of Windowknocker’s foundation certainly meets that criteria.”

Today, laugh as I might, it’s still sometimes hard to admit that this was all spurred on by a nightmare.

In my journal in May 1991, I had written:

“Gimmicks aside, on TV, the ‘power’ of the urn offered by manager, Paul Bearer is an invisible force that none of us can see, but is no doubt certainly felt. Once more, the Undertaker rises from the dead and defeat. I saw the invisible spirit suddenly take upon a physical projection that was able to be both witnessed as well as felt. When I saw it, I saw what looked like the Undertaker alive with fire and great plumes of smoke. It was part of the entity rather than against him. He was constructed of flames; like a living torch. As he moved, the physical being of the Undertaker moved in sync.”

When I awoke, there strong smell of wood burn in my nose. It was so overwhelming that at first I thought our house might be on fire. I leapt from my bed in a panic before it dawned on me that I had been dreaming. I wrote down the account in my journal not once ever realizing at all just how that one, single experience would evolve in the few short years to follow.

Some people have inquired about how I came up with his name, and I think the answer to that is easy enough. You can even find it on YouTube. For a very brief time, when Calaway was still being managed by Brother Love, he was announced to the ring as ‘Kane the Undertaker’. It didn’t last very long at all, but that was the marque I went with in distinguishing the wrestler from the gimmick and the fiery phantom I had seen that night.

Short stories were very popular during the first few years of PNT. We were still a few years away from the internet being a fully realized global establishment, so fanzines, club newsletters, and other magazines were commonplace outlets for wrestling fans to express themselves in the company of others who shared similar interest. Some of them were very good, some were bad, and some were just horribly bad. *lol* Sandy knows. I’ve confessed to her more than enough how much I have cringed looking back on some of our earliest works, but we were all young girls then. PNT had a considerable female membership, so it was just something that worked for that period and time .

It was also during this time that I began to write several prototypes based on the apparition, Kane. I had a defiant ‘plot bunny’ there to work with that has never changed since the beginning: ‘What if the spirit of the urn, the Undertaker was real? What if what you thought was only Kayfabe was a reality hidden by the premise of being a clever gimmick?’ But what would happen is that I would start to toy with a new idea, I would get maybe 3, or 4 pages in, and then I wouldn’t like what I had written. I just couldn’t seem to figure how to flesh out this character. Looking back on it today, I believe the reason I may have struggled so hard with it is because I didn’t really know what Kane was meant to be. That probably sounds silly, but believe it or not, it certainly was a issue for me as a writer. There were just so many things: Is he a ghost? Was he alive? Is he undead? Is he pure energy? Is he just an illusion of thought? There were so many possibilities.

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Where life won't grow ...

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In late-1992 early 1993, Plots-n-Tombstones released a story called, ‘Where Life Won’t Grow’. Although it wasn’t directly about Kandle, the premise was there, and it was intact. In the novel, Callous had died, and in a grievous attempt to resuscitate him, Paul Bearer resorts to a centuries’ old family secret that has been passed down to his care in order to call him back. Cautioned about such a course of action, Bearer’s desperation overcame any warnings. When the wrestler does return he has become the Undertaker where, in order to maintain his continued existence in this plane of life, Paul Bearer must nourish and sustain him with the life-giving power of the urn that keeps his soul. The story wasn’t the club’s most celebrated release by any merit, but it was in fact the first to offer the suggestion that there might be some verity to the character of the Undertaker. It was also the first to give the ‘Bearer family secret’ a name ---Kandle.

These early compositions would eventually lay the ground work for the first Windowknocker a few months later.

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Phoenix arises ...

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Its title was meant to imply ‘invitation’... ‘the things we invite’ Maybe even unwanted things, unknowingly or reluctantly.

The Windowknocker debuted with little ostentation in the Autumn of 1993. The ‘Where Life won’t Grow’ was still our going standard at the time so the original Windowknocker was designed to rub off from that as a sort of alternate variation to that particular story. I have been asked before, and I was just as firm in my convictions then as I am today, that I could not have ever anticipated the reaction that Windowknocker was going to ultimately generate. Windowknocker was released along with a handful of others short stories the fan club was offering at the time. Why exactly Kandle’s story was such a success where those others were not ---well your guess is just as good as mine. Some people say that some things were just meant to be. Windowknocker was just meant to be.

As unbelievable as it sounds, I would admit years later after the fact that I really hadn’t felt a whole lot of promise for that first novel. In one sense, I was proud that I was finally able to put a period and type ‘The End’ on what had been a long, experimentation with ideas and circumstances ever since I first saw that fiery persona in my dreams two years earlier, but Plots-n-Tombstones was moving away from having story writing as it’s main fixture. We had been doing it for nearly 3 years, and I thought more about shifting our focus off on to something else we could be doing rather than concerning myself about how good, or bad the novel was going to be.

The first Windowknocker again dealt with the impression that there was some truth to the Undertaker. Once more, readers would see Paul as the faithful guardian of this spectral reality. But what makes the Windowknocker differ from the version portrayed in ‘Where Life won’t Grow’ is that the spirit is standing alone. He has escaped the confines of the urn and actually manifest himself as a fully realized character that is, but is not separate from the wrestler, Mark Calaway. This action was much closer to the dream I had experienced where this physical reality was moving in twine to the spirit.

“Because the dream had come in the night,” I explained years later to Sandy, “I saw the entity as a type of psychic, spiritual vampire ---an entity. He thrives off the power of the fans. He was a being of fire and ash because he had come out of the urn.”

Other key elements would also remain the same. Ideas, such as Paul Bearer as the guardian and custodian of this frightful family secret, would endure throughout the whole continuance of the ‘Knocker series. He is the perpetual keeper of that ‘eternal flame of life that cannot be extinguished.’ Paul Bearer knows who Kandle is, knows what he is, and it’s his responsibility (though a loathsome position) to keep the truth of his existence quiet and confidential.

“Kane is a Phoenix.” I said in a matter of fact tone. “And we are really introduced to him and what he is for the first time in Windowknocker.”

Aside from the ability to rise up from the ashes of its own demise and death, according to certain other ancient traditions, the Phoenix was said to be able to regenerate when hurt or wounded by a foe, thus being almost immortal and invincible. I found the characteristics of the Phoenix legends to be nearly identical to the traits of the Undertaker we were all being introduced to in the beginning of his career in the early 90's.

In the Windowknocker, readers would finally learn that Kandle is, in fact, a lost, tormented and tragic past life of Mark’s. As a matter of fact, as the story opens up, fans are all first taken on a brief journey back to the 17th century to the year 1693 where we see Kane and how he died. In the story preface, there is a execution already underway. Some carrying burning torches, accusers point and command the condemned man to atone. A young woman, restrained, cries helplessly for pity upon him.

“Lord!” They cry, “It is not this poor man that we punish, it is Satan, for he has reached out and has taken possession of his body for his will. The Devil possesses and commands, and weak, earthly flesh obeys. Kane!” They necessitate one final time, “For the condition of your soul, do you repent?”

It is apparent immediately, however, that Kane has suffered cruelly at the hands of his accusers. His body beaten and broken, he cannot rise to their barb. As the pyre is finally lit, the reader is returned to the modern day where the story begins with an implication that the vessel that contains Kandle has been passed down throughout the Bearer family tree.

He is the everlasting spirit witnessed in the physical; a gimmick come to life. He is the Undertaker. He’s not alive, he’s not dead , he just simply exists. Accidently released from his urn however, he wreaks a bit of havoc. In one particular scene --which is not only just eerie today to think about today, but is also the earmark moment in the book-- Kane and Undertaker end up struggling with each other in a ring that is on fire because the rage of Kandle’s presence nearly burns down the entire arena.

“I say it’s ‘eerie’ because here we are, and this is 1993,” I informed Sandy. “Anybody and everybody knows we’re still at least 4 years away yet from Glenn Jacobs being introduced as the Undertaker’s brother, Kane, who is a bit of a pyromaniac himself. It’s just uncanny nowadays!”

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Tell me a tale ...

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There wasn’t ever any intention or plan for the Windowknocker to become any kind of a book series. As I said a little earlier on, as the novel was releasing, I was preparing to shift the fanclub’s focus off in a new direction where fiction writing wasn’t going to be our chief objective anymore.

I shared my feelings in a interview conducted by Judy Hansbey in 1998: “All of the sudden --and I do mean all of the sudden-- Plots-n-Tombstones’ mailbox was full of fan letters about the Windowknocker and about Kane. They were all asking questions that the first book hadn’t disclosed: What happened in 1693 that caused Kandle to be executed? Why was he cursed? How did he become the Phoenix? How did Bearer’s ancestors acquire the urn? On and on and on ...they just kept coming! None of us could believe this reaction. By 1994, PNT had quite literally stopped receiving letters regarding any of the previous releases we had done. It was as though everyone’s focus had shifted to Kandle and this yearning to understand his story.”

The powerful and positive response resulted in the release of ‘A Tale by Kandle Light’. Unlike any of the fan club’s former endeavors, ‘A Tale..’ would be presented as a mini series within the pages of the Plots-n-Tombstones official newsletter as part of the fanzine’s brand-new ‘Spotlight feature’.

“This was an entirely brand new concept,” I had told Hansbey during our interview, “Completely brand new! We had never attempted anything like this before ---and we never did again. But the Windowknocker had such an awesome response and such a dedicated following that I really wanted to do something unique for its follow up.”

‘A Tale by Kandle Light’ officially debuted in 1995 in Vol. #9 of the newsletter. A prequel to the events of the first Windowknocker, the feature’s format was designed to include a new addition/part of the story within each new upcoming issue of the fanzine until the book was completed. It would run from September 1995 to August of 2002.

In the story, Windowknocker’s faithful readers would again be spirited 300 years back in time to the year 1692 to see Kandle while he was still yet alive and working as a carpenter in a small, rural New Hampshire trading community called Evan’s Hill; one of several New England townships that grew up around the settlements of Dover, Portsmouth, and Rye. (Colonial era carpenters were often frequently employed as undertakers and coffin makers.)

“Should you ask one of the fans of which one of the Windowknocker books they felt was most instrumental to the series as a whole,” I once said, “Many of them would immediately choose the ‘Tale..’ because everything is a result of what transpires here.”

Besides being the most poignant of the collection, it has also been ranked as being the most sad.

Upon being introduced to Kane, readers learn what a truly troublesome and heartwrenching life he has actually lived. It is revealed that Kandle’s mother had died in childbirth and his father was a brutal and violent alcoholic who couldn’t ever seem to find forgiveness in his son for the loss of his beloved wife. As a result, Kane suffers psychotic moments of mental illness spurred on by the long history of abuse. It is a terrible condition that a 17th century mind set can’t grasp the understanding for.

“Many members of the Evan’s Hill community see Kane as a bit of a loner and are often frightened of him because of this dark, forlorn nature that they see in him.” I explained. “It’s certainly not anything that Kandle means to exhibit but rather something that he can’t help and has no control over. The only one who wants to empathize with this is a young woman named, Belle. ”

A member of the prestigious Boleyn and Hill family, Belle Von Cortlandt is a kindly, considerate young lady who grows fond of Kandle throughout the advancement of the story. Unlike those who are scared away by Kane’s sometimes unpredictable demeanor, Belle chooses to stay with the lonely cabinet maker and eventually falls very in love with him.

It is this single action that will ultimately doom the couple for the rest of eternity.

Belle’s affectionate interest in Kane doesn’t sit well with Darin Hill. A standing member of the Massachusetts Bay ruling head, Hill has his own personal desires for the woman, Belle, and sees her yearning for the lonesome undertaker as an offense to his stature and political power. It is through his position that Darin learns about the witch trials that have just recently taken place in Salem village. In the 1600's there is no distinction between insanity (or mental illness) and criminal behavior. Under the right implications, a suspect could be incarcerated, tortured, and even killed with little more proof than the pointing of someone’s finger.

“Darin Hill is a very shrewd individual,” I declared. “He’s both hostile and unrelenting. Already resentful and angry about Belle’s rejection of him, Hill fabricates a list of charges against Kane and has him arrested.”

It is while Kane languishes in prison, tortured because he will not plea to the charges against him, that the readers truly learn just how immorally decrepit Darin Hill actually is. During the trial, he uses his stature and fortune to lavish certain members of the community to speak out against the undertaker. One of those prominent members is Alan Thomas Parker.

Alan Parker is originally seen in ‘A Tale..’ as being a close confidant of Darin Hill’s due to his prestige as a important businessman and landowner from Middle Plantation (Williamsburg) Virginia throughout the story. But Parker also takes strong pride in his honor as a distinguished English gentleman and sees the true reason behind Kane’s imprisonment as appalling. Instead of assisting Hill, Alan opts to try and to use his stature against Darin rather than for him in a attempt to rescue the undertaker.

“Before he learned the actual truth behind Kandle’s incarceration, Alan Parker is very prompt to believe Darin wholeheartedly and sees the arrest as justified,” I said. “Instead, he realizes Kane’s innocence ---but it comes too late, and Kandle is sentenced to death.”

For reasons that are never fully comprehended, it isn’t enough that Kandle should just die. Darin Hill has set his eyes on eternity and bargains with two real condemned witches that if they would set a curse upon the undertaker, their lives would be spared. It is during this diabolical pact that he learns that the hysteria is beginning to quail in Massachusetts and fears that Kane may be pardoned by the governor before the sentence is carried out. Initially scheduled to be hanged, Darin Hill instead creates a makeshift pyre and has Kandle rushed to the flame with what is now a notorious, dark promise: “This will be forgotten” he claims.

“It is cruel irony that makes ‘A Tale by Kandle Light’ such a sad and woeful story,” I once told Sandy. “The grief isn’t found so much in that Kane suffered so badly (although it is very awful) but rather that Darin Hill’s whole premise for wanting to hate him so appears to be his own envious love interest in Belle. Darin wants her for himself, and here he never gets her anyway. That is the bitterness of the entire story, that it is just so in vain.”

As the sentence is being carried out and realization begins to settle upon her that she will never see her lover again, not knowing what Hill has actually done to Kandle, a distraught Belle resolves that if she cannot be with Kane in this life that she will be with him in the next. In a single and final act of defiance, Belle commits suicide using one of Darin Hill’s own swords.

‘A Tale by Kandle Light’ concludes with Alan Parker overseeing her burial on the outskirts of the town line. Alan is leaving Evan’s Hill; leaving this tragedy. His inability to save Kandle’s life and the resulting death of Belle Von Cortlandt will plague him with guilt and anguish for the rest of his life until his own death in 1733. Solemnly as Alan climbs into his carriage and we watch it slowly disappear over the first crest, a figure is witnessed standing and looking down at the freshly turned earth ---It is Kane! The Undertaker does not rest in peace.

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The Bearer Family heirloom ...

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‘A Tale by Kandle Light’ was finally finished, but Kane’s story was not over. In fact, it was just only beginning. Further volumes of the Windowknocker would go on to feature side stories and ‘flashbacks’ that would see the risen Phoenix in the days and weeks proceeding his death ---Even years. Situated between the ‘Tale’ and 1997's ‘Altar of Illusion’, Paul Bearer shares a story about his ancestor, Joshua Bearer who was the first to inherit the sacred urn in 1696. Joshua Bearer had been briefly mentioned in the first Windowknocker in 1993, but it wasn’t until these memoirs that ‘Knocker fans would finally have a detailed understanding about how he had became first involved. These handed down family memories became the Bearer family heirlooms, or just simply ‘Heirlooms’ released in 1996.

Paul Bearer explains that upon learning that Kandle is somehow still ‘alive’ after his death, Alan Parker takes Kandle to Joshua in a desperate attempt to try and remove Darin Hill’s curse. A minister originally from Massachusetts, Joshua Bearer had spoke out against the witch trails 4 years earlier and what he saw as senseless, unjust and violent measures taken against ‘ridiculous, imagined’ offenses.

Although he is unsuccessful in trying to exorcize the sinister conditions that are keeping the deceased carpenter fastened to the world of the living, Joshua Bearer is sympathetic and agrees to console the vampire and keep the truth of his existence a secret until a cure might be found. He entrusts this secret and Kane’s urn to his son, Samuel that same year.

Other of Heirloom’s side stories focus upon Alan Parker’s relationship with the Phoenix. When Alan dies in 1733 at the age of 74, Kandle realizes that the generation that knew him in life has finally passed away. “Now I am truly alone.” He mourns.

At other times fans of the series are allowed to pay witness to a growing and expanding America. Through Kandle’s eyes, we see the birth of a new nation. Colonists come together in unity against the British crown during the Revolution and fall apart in division during the Civil War. Kane’s world is constantly changing, but he does not change.

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The fire, Undertaker! Remember the fire! ...

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I will never forget that evening when a disgruntled Paul Bearer screamed those exact words across my TV set. Little more than a curious statement at the time, I had no clue what was coming to the Federation.

In early 1997, the Windowknocker was an established fan favorite in the Plots-n-Tombstones Mark Calaway Fan Club. The story was in it’s 4th year run and PNT was just preparing to release the 7th installment of ‘A Tale by Kandle Light’ in Vol. #15 of the newsletter. For a few years now, I had been performing regular presentations at area WWE house shows to keep the Undertaker and Paul Bearer abreast of fanclub happenings, updates, and to turn over any fan mail that might have come into the fanclub since the last get-together.

“I had no idea what was coming.” I shared the events leading up to Kane’s arrival in the WWE with Sandy many times over. “No idea at all! I was still two years away yet from owning my first computer, PNT wouldn’t even have it’s first website until 1999. I just didn’t browse rumor boards. Even with a computer, I wouldn’t because I always enjoyed the element of being surprised.”

In 1997, most of the members of PNT learned about unfolding events the same exact time everybody else did ---by watching RAW and seeing what happens.

“I had just seen Paul at the Erie Civic Center.” I said. “I remember it most because I have a photograph of it. I gave him some mail and a copy of issue #14. Even though he and Undertaker had parted ways on screen, I was close to Paul and so I continued to keep him on top of what the club was doing. I can still remember the very strange looks I would get from fans at the time. It was so very obvious that I was a ‘Creature’ and here I was gabbing with ‘Uncle Paul’ who might as well have been public enemy #1!”

At the pinnacle of Undertaker’s feud with Paul Bearer, I was there talking to him when another obvious Undertaker fan that was standing nearby whipped a glass Snapple bottle at him! It didn’t hit us, thank God, but I threw it back. Uncle Paul might not have been able to retaliate, but I wouldn’t be here come the morning.

“You can tell that this whole situation between the Undertaker and Paul Bearer had upset so many people. The energy that surrounded it was just so very intense,” I told Sandy. “I know. I hurt, too. I told Percy this many years later, but I was at Summerslam ‘96 live in Cleveland with one of my fellow club members when he and the Undertaker first separated. I’m able to reason it now and see the benefits that it offered, but my God when that happened! The fans had this emotional investment in them as a set and to sever that ... I bawled the WHOLE three-hour drive home. I sincerely, honestly did.”

At the Erie Civic Center however, Uncle Paul never smarted me up to anything. He’s still like that to this very day in fact. All we knew was that there was a condition that he was holding over Undertaker’s head. Whatever it was, I, and the whole world, was about to find out.

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Kane told me ...

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If anybody thought that the comment about ‘remembering the fire’ had tweaked my brow just a little bit, listening to Uncle Paul reveal the Undertaker’s dark secret at last completely took the speech out of my mouth. No less than a week later, PNT’s mailbox was beginning to expand!

“We didn’t even know who was going to be Undertaker’s brother just yet,” I said to Sandy. “It didn’t matter anyways. All anybody in or slightly familiar with Plots-n-Tombstones had to know was that we had this brand new angle that had fire and a guy named ‘Kane’ in it. For way to many people, it just couldn’t be a coincidence.”

Plots-n-Tombstones received more mail about Undertaker’s ‘secret’ than any other moment in fan club’s entire 20 year history. There were some letters that were not even from regular club members. They were just wrestling fans who knew about us or knew about the books. Some of them wanted to know whether or not WWE had ever received any of the Windowknocker stories. Other times I would get asked if Undertaker’s brother was going to resemble Kandle at all. I remember another that asked if the TV ‘Kane’ would be a ‘Phoenix’ as well. Those are a few of the different inquiries I remember PNT getting at that time.

Truth was that I didn’t know anymore than anyone else did, but people felt that I knew and so as a result, many assumed that I knew what was coming. I had one person who wrote twice promising me that she wouldn’t tell a soul if I would please just reveal to her which wrestler was going to play Kane ---I gotta admit that was pretty funny. She didn’t believe me either when I told her I didn’t know.

“I would have to say now that I was probably a lot more stressed than excited in the beginning,” I confessed to Sandy. “I just didn’t know how to answer a lot of the fan mail that we were receiving concerning the new Kane. In my defense of Windowknocker’s history, I couldn’t say ‘No’, but at the same time I felt I had no right that I could see in which to say, ‘Yes’ either. Undertaker and Paul always received whatever Plots-n-Tombstones happened to have out at presentation time. That included the fanzines and any books so yeah, the possibility was certainly there, sure. What they did with any of them was their choice and up to them.”

When I spoke to Sandy, I had told her that the most difficult experience I had was having to deal with wrestling fans who didn’t know about the Windowknocker or any of it’s history, who thought that the book’s ‘Kane’ was a rip on the WWE’s ‘Kane’.

“That hurt,” I said. “I think I have to confess that there were a few moments of resentment on my part in the beginning as Kane debuted. The series was being compared to the WWE angle occurring on TV. That couldn’t be helped at all. You try to expect that and prepare. I wanted Windowknocker and its accomplishments to stand on its own merit as its own story, but it was getting harder to do so. There was just a lot of confusion then. Later on Windowknocker would become symbolic of both brothers and very much a symbol of both of them.”

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Altar of Illusion ...

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As the world waited in eager anticipation for the arrival of Undertaker’s brother, Plots-n-Tombstones was debuting the second adventure of the Windowknocker. Called the ‘Altar of Illusion’, the full-length novel was the largest and longest of the series until the release of ‘Dark Testament’ in 1999. It would consist of two separate installments, Vol. 1 that released in 1997, and Vol. 2 that was released in 1998.

What was so interesting about the ‘Altar’ is that I had told myself that I was done with fiction writing. We had ‘A Tale by Kandle Light’ running still in the fanzine that was now going into it’s 8th installment, but apart from that, there hadn’t been a separate book release since the original Windowknocker.

“This just goes to show you how much interest this secret and the brother was actually generating at the time,” I told Sandy. “As a writer, I was very inspired by it all. We were doing ‘A Tale by Kandle Light’ in the fanzine then so we (PNT) hadn’t had a book release in three years.”

The plot to the story was generated primarily by the fact that nobody knew what this brother looked like at all. Kane had yet to be debuted at Badd Blood, and weeks were going by since Bearer had revealed the secret. Because of that, some of the WWE announcers and interviewers were trying implicate that Paul Bearer might in fact be lying as a means to further torment the Undertaker because nobody had seen this ‘brother’ yet.

“I thought, ‘Well okay. What if Paul were lying?’” I said. “Seriously. What if Kane really was actually dead? And what if he really did die in that fire 20 years earlier?”

The ‘Altar’ would become the Windowknocker’s first attempt at trying to incorporate the new WWE Kane angle, so the events in the story were in fact taking place in 1997 in sync with the lead up to the eventual debut of the Big Red Machine. The title, ‘Altar of Illusion’ was given to the book because it was not Undertaker’s brother that Paul Bearer intended to present to the audiences, but Kandle himself under the guise that Kane has survived.

Also for the first time, Kandle would be depicted as being a ‘true’ vampire. This was done purely for cosmetic purposes.

“The nature and image of the traditional Hollywood movie vampire was just so much easier for readers and fans to relate to, verses my having to constantly explain the psychic-type variety (such as incubus) that are thought to exist in certain haunting cases and legitimate paranormal research studies,” I explained.

In the ‘Altar of Illusion’, divided from the modern-day Undertaker, Kandle has been feeding off from a fragile, Paul Bearer. It confuses him and causes hallucinations that make the mortician believe that Kane is somehow truly alive as he attempts to draw Undertaker back into spiritual alignment with himself. Sometimes Bearer becomes aware of the reality, but he’s so smitten by Kandle’s powerful allure that he seems content to uphold his commitment to keep the Phoenix’s existence (just as he had since first Windowknocker) a closely guarded secret. This was a throw back to the Kane that was first seen in the original Windowknocker as opposed to the individual that fans of the book had been introduced to in reading ‘A Tale by Kandle Light’ when he was still alive and human.

“Kandle is quite horrendous in the ‘Altar of Illusion’,” I admitted in discussion. “Especially in that first volume. He’s cruel, he’s bitter ---he’s a fairly detestable creature. It was easy to forget that Kandle was in fact dead when you’ve been reading ‘A Tale’. When he was first introduced in 1993, it’s clear what he has become and it’s never anything nice. He’s undead! As reluctant as he might be to his status, he is still subject to the whims that such creatures invoke. He’s been wandering in defiant existence for three very long centuries and that’s plenty long enough to know such hostilities, and to use them if he feels he has too.”

In one very horrific moment in the ‘Altar’, in all magnificent description and detail, Kandle quite literally bites and rips one WWF employee's throat out when he appens to learn the truth about Undertaker’s supposed little brother and confronts Paul Bearer at his home with the accusation. After killing him, Kane incinerates the body and puts the ashes in his own urn on the mantle place. I was forced to agree with many that it’s quite possibly the most vile act that Kandle ever committed in the entire series as a whole. It goes to show the length in which he was willing go to keep his existence on a ‘need-to-know’ basis.

The clincher though is that the ‘Altar’ was itself, an illusion. When the story opens up and we see this nightmare that Paul Bearer is living through, it is being proposed to the readers that it is Kandle who is the root of this evil and ought to be destroyed. Two characters, Tamara and her best friend 'Lady' Sheila Lasot in the story are described as Creatures of the Night; fans that have been drawn into this frightful truth about the Undertaker and his past by a spirit of a child that had come to them with warning. As they investigate the Undertaker and come to learn about Kandle, a seemingly benign preacher meets their acquaintance and at first, appears to assist them.

“A Catholic priest named, 'Father Aristedt' meets Tamera, and it is assumed that he has come to do battle against the wayward soul of the Undertaker.” I said. “Because he is a holy man there is a moment when you’re inclined to believe him and what he advises.”

In truth, Aristedt is actually the infamous, Darin Hill, who has assumed this form in order to secure his curse upon the Undertaker and destroy him forever. Instead of fighting against Kandle, the Creatures of the Night must save him from the demon minister’s intentions.

“But do not think that we do not hear from Kane,” I laughed as I told Sandy. “The identity of the spirit of the child that is first seen in Vol. 1 is revealed at last to be Undertaker’s little brother.”

In one of my personal favorite scenes in the ‘Altar of Illusion’ the child manifest in a crypt belonging to a William Joshua Bearer III, Paul Bearer’s grandfather. It is here that Kandle has been hiding away during the daylight hours. As he sleeps in his coffin, little Kane’s ghost, believing his older brother is there because he is being punished, innocently opens the coffin lid and says: “I could let you out. You can sneak out and play with me.”

When the offer fails to arouse the sleeping vampire, the little ghost pouts, “Mark are you sleeping? Now you’ll be up all night again.”

It’s actually such a sweet and sad moment.

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Kane meets Kane ...

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By 1999, Glenn Jacobs had been introduced as ‘Kane’, the ‘Ministry of Darkness’ era was just beginning, Undertaker had his own comic book, the ‘Brides of Kane’ was the most popular fan site for the Big Red Machine anywhere, and for the first time ever, the Plots-n-Tombstones Mark Calaway Fan Club was available on the world wide web.

“The stars and planets just seemed to align,” I told Sandy. “Although there is a part of me that does still have feelings of regret about bringing the fanclub to the internet, it is the internet that was responsible for the creation and development of the final, and probably the most popular chapter in the Windowknocker’s chronicled existence.”

Hosted originally by the ‘Brides of Kane’ website and initially dubbed as, 'The Theater' the 'Dark Testament' began as a wrestling inspired RPG (Role Playing Game) that invited WWE fans to participate as their favorite wrestlers and/or original characters. It premiered on January 26, 1999, and for the next three years, it would incorporate the writing talents of over 30+ different individual authors and fans. It produced one of the most imaginative fan-fiction spectacles ever written!

“I really cannot go on any further without first giving some major, deserved ‘kudos’ to Sarah ‘Reivyn Poe’ Whitaker. Reivyn was our official gamesmaster, and she was just so very talented. Really. What a wonderful storyteller,” I said. “She had a clever way of managing our battle sequences specifically because she would use game dice. The higher number you got, the better outcome your character’s effort was going to be. It made for some very random, unexpected and unique results for us all during the course of the story. I haven’t spoken to Sarah in a long time now. I really do miss her.”

The plot to ‘Dark Testament’ incorporated a collective blend of current WWE angles that were going on at the time ---The Ministry of Darkness and Kane being forced into the Corporation were huge stories happening on TV. We were bridging all of this around the UT CHAOS comic script where you had these demonic, beings and their sinister intentions that were existing in secrecy; completely invisible to the naked eye. Plots-n-Tombstones had just finished the ‘Altar of Illusion’ a few months earlier and both plots just really seemed to rub very well off from each other in that, for example, Kandle had been cursed. It was decided then that the two witches that Darin Hill had forged his evil pact with three centuries ago had used the ‘Bibles of Stygian’ (from the CHAOS script) to achieve that.

“What can I say, honestly?” I told Sandy as I struggled to find the right words. “I think that the main reason why the ‘Dark Testament’ was so unique --and still is-- is because for the first time in the Windowknocker’s history, I wasn’t the only person involved in making this story happen. You got to see Kandle and all the other characters from the personal prospective of so many different people and fans of the series, and they all had their own unique way of interpreting those characters.”

As the story opens, readers are introduced to the mysterious ‘Widow’ (Played by Paula ‘Darkhag’ Walker) who has summoned the Kaninites and Creatures of the Night to her in preparation for war against an immortal, unseen world of good verses evil in order to silence a prophecy of absolute damnation and retain the sacred bibles of Stygian that is it’s root. But new evils arise to challenge the reluctant warriors --as well as untold secrets-- when the dark priest ‘Father Aristedt’ (first introduced in the ‘Altar of Illusion’) appears as the ‘Higher Power’ and ultimately possesses the body and mind of the modern-day Undertaker to the command and whim of an ancient vaticination not yet revealed.

The truth is unveiled when the Undertaker’s brother, Kane, remembers the ‘ghostly man in the fire’ (Kandle) that he had always sworn saved his life from the flames as a child, that could very well be the answer they’re all looking for ---as well as the embodiment of all the rationality that has survived of the everlasting spirit of the Undertaker.

This was yet another key first for the Windowknocker in that it’s Kane and WWE’s Kane finally would have a true and honest working relationship with each other in the ‘Dark Testament’, as well as a sensible history that evolved a lot since those first, original reluctant feelings about the WWE angle regarding Undertaker’s brother when I was writing the ‘Altar of Illusion’. I had really come to like Glenn Jacobs’ ‘Kane’ character since then, and I made my amends with it clear in ‘Dark Testament’.

When the ‘Brides of Kane’ unexpectedly closed down in 2000, the RPG was relocated to the Plots-n-Tombstones website where it remained until 2002. The move marked the first of several efforts put forth into saving and preserving the transcripts. Those scripts would be released in 2001 as the basis and platform for the Windowknocker’s third and final full-length book.

“And that was the last time that we actually see Kandle and his story.” I concluded. “We were still in progress on a addition to the ‘Dark Testament’ at the time that Plots-n-Tombstones closed the old messageboards.”

Aside from this, one of our lead characters in the DT story, who had also been the fanclub’s vice-president since 1994, passed away suddenly. That had been especially hard for me personally and so it became yet another reason for me to want to move head with my life. I had given nearly 12 years at this point to managing ‘Plots-n-Tombstones’. I had a new job offer in art that was demanding more and more of my free time. Conditions in my life had changed. It was just time to make for the fan club’s evolution.

“There’s an old expression that says, ‘Never say never,’ and I believe it,” I said. “Over the past few years, I’ve often thought about Windowknocker, about old school PNT and all of its members. It feels so good to see these things be enjoyed again by either a whole new generation, or by those who remember it and want to relive it'

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