Disclaimer: "He-Man and The Masters of the Universe", their characters, and concepts are the property of Mattel and Hallmark.
"You're crazy, you know that?" Atrius was standing over the rickety wooden table. He was a hardened warrior in his late forties with close-cropped gray hair. His tall, lean frame was clad in red-and-black leather body armor.
"You got any better ideas?" Lysia was sitting on the other side of the table. She was a young woman in her mid-to-late twenties with long, dark brown hair. Both she and Atrius stood inside the tent that served as their temporary headquarters.
"Not even SKELETOR can kill him!" Atrius shot back. "What makes you think YOU can?"
"Skeletor is a doddering old fool … who's surrounded by babbling idiots," Lysia replied silkily. "Unlike Skeletor and his pathetic excuses for minions, I know how to … eh, think outside the box … so to speak." Lysia paused. "He's been a thorn in my side for TOO long."
"I still think this is a fool's errand…"
"He's costing me money ... costing US money," Lysia said icily. She then added, "We must catch him when his guard's down … when he LEAST expects it."
"It seems He-Man has been invited to a wedding," said Man-At-Arms. He and Prince Adam were standing in the Royal Workshop, peering over a scroll that had been delivered via messenger earlier that morning.
"Who's the lucky couple?" Adam asked.
"Prince Jadon of Hamaneel is marrying Princess Mesha of Amidala," Man-At-Arms replied. "The wedding itself is being held in the Emerald Forest." Man-At-Arms paused. "This invitation is being personally extended by King Ungore of Hamaneel."
"I'd … er, I mean … I'm sure He-Man would love to go," said Adam, correcting himself.
"I'm not sure that's a wise idea," said Man-At-Arms. "He could be very well setting himself up as a target."
"It's a royal wedding," Adam replied. "I'm sure they won't be lacking for security." Adam paused. "Besides, if he DOESN'T go, King Ungore might well consider it a personal slight."
"I suppose it'll be all right," said Man-At-Arms. "It's only for a day."
"Great!" Adam exclaimed. "I'll, uh, go tell He-Man."
All the same, I think I'd better talk to The Sorceress about this, thought Man-At-Arms.
The wedding of Prince Jadon and Princess Mesha was truly a festive affair. The assembled crowd chattered happily as bards and musicians circulated freely. Food and wine flowed just as freely.
He-Man stood off to one side, his friend Battle Cat by his side. Nearby stood the royal newlyweds, Prince Jadon and Princess Mesha, cradling goblets of wine and chatting with onlookers. The father of the groom, King Ungore of Hamaneel, stood next to them, injecting the occasional bon mot into the conversation.
Unseen by the revelers below, Zoar the Falcon alit silently onto the branch of a nearby tree, taking care to conceal herself in the branches. As a favor to Man-At-Arms, The Sorceress had agreed to watch over He-Man while he was at the wedding -- just in case.
Off in the distance, trumpets blared, heralding the King and royal couple. At this, the crowd suddenly turned towards the King. "Welcome, dear friends!" shouted the King. "It gives me great pleasure to present to you today a friend of our family, the people and Kingdom of Hamaneel, and of freedom-loving people everywhere!" King Ungore paused for dramatic effect. "I am pleased to present to you today the One, the Only … He-Man, the most powerful man in the universe!"
He-Man smiled and waved shyly as the crowd applauded. He wasn't used to being the center of attention (He didn't go to all that many parties in general. Being … well, He-Man … left him very little time for a social life.)
"A toast, Sir … if you please!" commanded King Ungore. The crowd cheered and broke into cries of "SPEECH! SPEECH!" At long last, a bashful He-Man stepped away from the side and over to where the royal couple stood.
"I don't usually drink … and I'm normally not one for speeches," He-Man began. "However, I will say this…" He-Man paused for effect. "I hope that the Prince and Princess will be very happy together … and I wish them all the best."
Upon hearing this, the crowd applauded wildly once more.
"Are you really THE He-Man?" said a high, feminine voice behind him.
He-Man turned towards the voice. Standing behind him was a dark-haired woman -- Lysia -- wearing a white linen gown and carrying two goblets of wine.
"Um, yes … that's me," said He-Man.
"Oh, it's such an honor to meet you!" Lysia squealed, feigning delight.
"Likewise," He-Man said with a smile. "What's your name?"
"Penelope," Lysia lied. "Care for some wine?" she asked, offering He-Man a goblet.
"I don't normally drink," He-Man demurred.
"C'mon, it's a party!" Penelope/Lysia exclaimed. "Live a little!" Lysia paused. "Besides, I hear the wine is excellent."
"Well, I suppose a little bit won't hurt," He-Man said as he took a sip. "You're right," he said as he downed the whole goblet. "It IS good."
An hour later, He-Man was clutching his stomach and bracing himself against the nearest tree, his face contorted in pain.
"He-Man, are you all right?" Lysia asked innocently.
He-Man shook his head. "Feel tired … nauseous, " he said.
Just what I'd hoped you'd say, Lysia thought evilly. "Probably just some bad food," she lied. "Let us leave this place"
Zoar was becoming worried. "Bad food?" she thought. If that's the case, why haven't any of the OTHER guests taken sick? She spread her wings and left her perch, unseen by the revelers below. Something's wrong here.
A few hours later, He-Man and Penelope a.k.a. Lysia had left the party and had made camp deeper inside the forest. Both were now lying on the ground, with Battle Cat lying mere inches from their heads. Penelope's horse stood nearby, munching some grass on the forest floor.
"I really should be going," said He-Man.
"No, please…" said Penelope as she stroked his hair. "…Stay."
"No, I really must go…" As he rose to leave, he noticed that he was unable to move his legs. His legs were now as heavy and lifeless as two bags of cement. "My legs!" he cried. "I can't move my legs!"
"Sssh," murmured Penelope/Lysia as she pulled He-Man back down towards her. "You're just tired, that's all." She pulled him close and stroked his hair once more. "Tired … and sleepy … so VERY sleepy," she whispered seductively into his ear. "Rest now … Sleep."
Exhausted from the strain, He-Man fell into a deep sleep.
He's getting worse, thought Zoar as she sat unnoticed on her perch high above the couple. First his stomach … now his legs. Her mind replayed the events of the past few hours. He was fine up until he had that … that wine.
It was then that realization struck her. Of course … the WINE! She laced it with something … a drug? A potion? A thousand questions now ran through her mind. What did she give him … and WHY?
Night had fallen on The Emerald Forest. Lysia was asleep on the ground next to He-Man.
He-Man woke up to find himself almost completely paralyzed from head to toe; he could no longer move his arms, legs, or head. He couldn't so much as open his mouth to cry out for help. He could open and close his eyes -- and that was about it. He was now quite literally a prisoner inside his own body.
What's happened to me? He thought, panic-stricken. I can't move a muscle!
Zoar was heartsick at the sight of the paralyzed He-Man. Part of her wanted to swoop down that instant and carry him back to Grayskull. No, she thought. Not yet.There are too many questions that need answering.
Over time, her grief was replaced by anger, determination, and outrage. How could she DO this to him? she thought. She needs to be stopped. She needs to be brought to justice for what she did to He-Man. For that, I need evidence -- HARD evidence.
As she focused her attention back to He-Man, an idea began to form in her mind. If I can't take him away from here, she thought, perhaps I can ease his suffering. She then concentrated and silently cast a spell, a spell that put He-Man into a deep sleep. Sleep, He-Man, she thought as He-Man closed his eyes and fell asleep once more.
At that moment, Lysia awakened. Thinking no one was watching, she silently got up from the ground, crept away from He-Man and towards her horse. Where is SHE going? Zoar wondered as Lysia mounted her horse and rode away. She hesitated for a moment, fearful of leaving the now-vulnerable He-Man. Battle Cat will watch over him, she thought as she left her perch to pursue Lysia. He'd give his life for him.
Last edited by Mirage; September 17, 2005 at 05:35pm.
Lysia's base camp -- such as it was -- amounted to nothing more than some tents nestled among a stand of trees. Several horses stood off in the distance. A roaring campfire and a lone sentry greeted Lysia's return to camp.
"Who goes there?" the sentry cried. Recognizing Lysia, he snapped to attention and saluted her. "Lysia!"
Lysia reined the horse to a stop and dismounted. "At ease, soldier," she commanded. "Where's Atrius?"
"He's asleep, ma'am."
"Wake him," Lysia commanded. "Wake him and bring him to me." With that, the sentry ran off to find Atrius.
Zoar sat silently on her concealed perch above the camp, counting the horses in the distance. Fifteen … twenty horses, she thought. Almost enough for a scouting party.
Why bring twenty men to kill He-Man … and a PARALYZED He-Man at that? she wondered. ONE could easily do the job.
"You wished to see me?" said Atrius as he yawned and rubbed the sleep from his eyes.
"Yes," said Lysia. "I'm sorry to wake you … but I need to go over the plan for tomorrow."
"Of course, Lysia," said Atrius, squeezing the bridge of his nose.
"We're gonna take out He-Man at dawn," said Lysia. "I want you and four swordsmen to meet me at the campsite." Lysia paused. "I want this to look like a botched robbery."
"Of course, Lysia." Atrius paused. "What about that … tiger … he usually rides?"
"KILL IT!" Lysia snapped. "Shoot it and slit its throat!" Lysia paused for reflection. "That reminds me…" she added, stroking her chin. "Better take the heavy blaster rifle."
"I want that overgrown housecat killed, skinned, and cut to stew meat!" barked Lysia. "HAVE I MADE MYSELF CLEAR?"
Just then, a messenger on horseback galloped into camp. He reined the horse to a stop, dismounted, stood at attention before Lysia, and saluted.
"At ease," said Lysia to the messenger. "What is it, soldier?" she asked.
"I bring news from the front," said the messenger. "Mykonos and Slepik have fallen … but we've encountered heavy resistance at Bormanos."
"I want two brigades of cavalry from Beria and two brigades of cavalry from Belchik sent to Bormanos," commanded Lysia. "I also want you to burn the city's grain stores." Lysia paused. "If all else fails, we can STARVE Bormanos into submission."
The messenger blinked his eyes in confusion. "Are you sure?" The messenger paused. "There's women and children in there!"
"ARE YOU QUESTIONING MY ORDERS?" Lysia snapped.
The messenger snapped to attention once more. "No, ma'am," he replied.
"Do it," Lysia said icily. "That's an order, soldier."
"Dismissed," said Lysia curtly. With that, the messenger saluted, mounted his horse once more, turned around, and galloped away into the night.
Mykonos, Slepik, and Bormanos are good-sized towns, thought Zoar from her perch. This woman is a warlord, she concluded. I'm beginning to wonder what she has in store for Hamaneel.
"He-Man will PAY for what he did to Berylla!" said Lysia angrily.
Atrius blinked his eyes in confusion. "Berylla?"
Lysia shot Atrus an icy glare. "Oh … BERYLLA," he said finally.
"I'd better go," said Lysia as she mounted her horse. "It'll be dawn soon." She paused. "Just a few more hours … 'til the big lug is out of my hair FOREVER."
"We'll be there," said Atrius.
"I'm counting on it," said Lysia as she turned around and galloped into the night.
What's the significance of Berylla? Zoar wondered as she left her perch and flew back towards the campsite. What's her interest in such a small village? I swear, this case has more twists and turns than the Jorvellian Labyrinth.
Last edited by Mirage; September 21, 2005 at 09:55pm.
Dawn had broken. He-Man, Battle Cat, and Lysia (now Penelope again) were huddled together asleep.
All at once, the morning air was broken by the sound of thundering hoofbeats. Atrius -- wearing a heavy-duty blaster rifle slung on his back -- and his crew of would-be "robbers" reined their horses to a stop, dismounted, drew their swords, and marched towards the trio.
Battle Cat, ever on the alert, sprung to his feet and let out a roar (thereby having the effect of both waking Lysia and causing Atrius and his crew to stop dead in their tracks.)
"Nice, Kitty," said one of Atrius's henchmen nervously.
"GET THE BLASTER!" cried another henchmen. Atrius reached for the blaster rifle behind his back, but his hand grasped nothing but thin air.
"Lose something, Atrius?" said a feminine voice from behind the group.
Atrius and his crew turned around. Standing fifteen feet away from them (in all her feathered finery) was none other than The Sorceress of Grayskull, aiming Atrius's missing blaster rifle back at him.
"On your way, lady," Atrius growled. "This doesn't concern you."
"Oh, actually, it does," The Sorceress replied. "He-Man and Battle Cat are both friends of mine." The Sorceress paused. "I wouldn't want any harm to come to them."
"You know how to use that thing?" Atrius sneered.
The Sorceress looked down at the rifle. "It's just as well," she said as she lay the rifle down on the ground in front of her. "I don't normally use these things anyway."
This woman's crazy, Atrius thought.
It was at that moment that The Sorceress noticed Penelope a.k.a. Lysia kneeling behind Atrius and his crew, trying to rouse He-Man from his magic-induced slumber.
"It's over, Penelope," The Sorceress cried. "Or should I say … LYSIA?"
"LYSIA?" Battle Cat growled in confusion.
"I don't know what you're talking about," Lysia huffed.
The Sorceress crossed her arms. "She's not as she appears," she said. "She's a warlord." The Sorceress paused. "A warlord … named Lysia." The Sorceress paused again. "A warlord … intent on conquering the kingdom of Hamaneel … just as she's already conquered Slepik, Mykonos, Beria, and Belchik."
"This is CRAZY!" Lysia shrieked.
"She has a base camp a few miles east of here," The Sorceress continued. "She rode back there last night to plan today's … operation."
"I was WONDERING where you went," said Battle Cat to Lysia.
"You're not seriously BELIEVING any of this, are you?" Lysia protested.
"She has fifteen more men stationed back at her base," said The Sorceress. "Why else would they be there … if not as part of a scouting party?" The Sorceress paused. "The men you see standing before you … are mercenaries. Mercenaries … working for Lysia. Mercenaries … with orders to kill He-Man … and make it look like a botched robbery."
Lysia turned white as a sheet. Where is she GETTING all this? she wondered.
"It seems He-Man has been disrupting her operations," The Sorceress continued. "She knew she couldn't take on 'the most powerful man in the universe' directly … and have any chance of winning." The Sorceress paused. "She felt a need to … even the odds, as it were." The Sorceress paused again. "She crashed the wedding at Hamaneel and laced He-Man's wine with a potion. A potion … that would render him paralyzed … from head to toe."
Lysia stared at The Sorceress, jaw agape. This is crazy, she thought. "Where are you GETTING all this?" she asked, finally verbalizing her thoughts.
"THAT … is a trade secret," The Sorceress replied.
"I never saw you ONCE before today!"
"I wouldn't be doing my job … if you did," The Sorceress replied with a smile. "I still have one question…"
'"WHAT?" Lysia snapped.
"What did He-Man do … to Berylla?" The Sorceress inquired.
"What did he do?" Lysia let out a snort. "It's more like what he DIDN'T do." Lysia paused. "He wasn't there … when we needed him. He wasn't there…" Lysia paused again. "…When Tellus attacked us."
"We" … "Us", noted The Sorceress silently. Berylla must be her hometown. I'm assuming this … "Tellus" … must be a warlord of some sort.
"If He-Man … the so-called 'Guardian of Eternia' … doesn't think enough of us to leave Eternos," Lysia ranted on. "If he doesn't think enough of us … to protect us…" Lysia paused. "…Then … so help me … I WILL." Lysia paused again. Enough talk, she thought. "Soldiers, SEIZE HER!" she commanded.
Atrius and his crew advanced towards The Sorceress. Before they could take another step, The Sorceress stretched out her right arm and fired a series of energy blasts, strafing the ground ahead of them. Before they could react, she fired energy blasts into the right shoulders of Atrius and two henchmen -- causing them to drop their swords, grab their arms, and scream in pain.
The Sorceress lowered her arm. "Anyone else?" she taunted.
Atrius glared at The Sorceress, his face contorted in pain. "Who ARE you?" he cried, clutching his pain-wracked arm tightly.
The Sorceress folded her arms across her chest once more. "I … am The Sorceress … of Grayskull," she announced.
"What're you waiting for?" Lysia barked. "FINISH HER!"
Atrius stared at Lysia as if she had suddenly grown another head on her shoulders. "Are you CRAZY?" he exclaimed. "You want US … to fight a SORCERESS?"
Lysia screamed in frustration. "Must I do EVERYTHING myself?" she ejaculated. With that, she marched over to He-Man, grabbed the strap of his harness, and pulled a knife out of a hidden sheath on her belt. Before she could make the first cut, the knife suddenly disappeared from her hand.
Lysia turned around. The Sorceress of Grayskull held up the missing knife in her right hand.
"It's over, Lysia," said The Sorceress. "You lose."
"This time … Sorceress," growled Lysia, spitting out the word "Sorceress." She then turned towards her men and commanded, "Soldiers, RETREAT!"
"Lysia!" The Sorceress called after the retreating Lysia.
Lysia turned around. "What did you give him?" The Sorceress inquired, "him" meaning He-Man.
"It wears off after 36 hours," Lysia replied. With that, she turned back around and sprinted towards her horse.
As Lysia and her henchmen rode away, The Sorceress raced towards He-Man's side. She knelt down beside him, cradled his head in her arm, and checked his pulse by touching the side of his neck. Pulse is strong, she thought.
"Will he be all right?" asked Battle Cat with a note of worry in his voice.
"He's alive," The Sorceress replied flatly. "Let's get him back to Grayskull."
Last edited by Mirage; February 27, 2006 at 05:21pm.
Back at Grayskull, The Sorceress let He-Man sleep off the effects of the potion in her quarters. He-Man slept in The Sorceress's bed whilst The Sorceress herself caught some much-needed sleep in a chair at the side of the bed.
All at once, He-Man began to cough and gurgle. Hearing the sound, The Sorceress suddenly awoke with a jerk, switched on a light next to the bed, and shook He-Man's shoulder, attempting to rouse him. "He-Man … He-Man…" The Sorceress called to him.
It was then that He-Man finally opened his eyes. He sat up in bed and looked around the room. "Where am I?" he asked.
"You're at Grayskull," The Sorceress replied. "You're in my quarters."
He-Man looked at The Sorceress. "Where's Battle Cat?" he asked, worried. "How did I get here?" He-Man paused. "The last thing I remember, I was lying in The Emerald Forest with Penelope."
"Battle Cat is fine," replied The Sorceress. She took He-Man's shoulder and gently eased him back down into bed. "He's downstairs … in The Great Hall." The Sorceress paused. "As for how you got here … that's a long story."
"I'd like to hear it," said He-Man.
"It sounds like you've had quite an adventure," said He-Man. The Sorceress had just related the events of the past two days to him.
"I frankly wasn't expecting ANY of this," The Sorceress replied.
"Since when have ANY of our missions ever gone according to plan?"
The Sorceress smiled a knowing smile. "That's true," she said.
"I should take you on missions more often," said He-Man with a grin. "You're quite the spy."
"Thank you," said The Sorceress quietly. "But my work is here … at Grayskull."
He-Man nodded. His face suddenly turned grave.
"What's wrong?" The Sorceress inquired, noting He-Man's changed expression.
"I keep thinking," said He-Man. "She's right."
"Lysia," said He-Man. "I HAVE been neglecting that area lately."
"He-Man, powerful as you are … you are not a god," The Sorceress countered. "You can't be everywhere at once!"
He-Man sighed. "I know," he said. "At the same time, those people need our help."
The Sorceress sighed. "Why didn't I arrest her when I had the chance?" she said bitterly.
"You'll get your chance," said He-Man. "I have a feeling … this isn't the last we've seen of her." He-Man paused. He then added, "Thank you."
"For what?" The Sorceress asked.
"For watching over me."
"It was my pleasure," said The Sorceress quietly.
"And to think … all of this … started as a simple wedding," He-Man said finally.
Last edited by Mirage; September 27, 2005 at 08:39pm.