The next day, the Eternians voyage to Targa with caution. The city is teeming with activity in preparations for the games. A regal and richly dressed woman meets them as they disembark, as does Senator Geldor, who Queen Marlena greets first. “Highnesses,” he says to Marlena and Randor, “Her majesty Queen Balina receives you in her husband King Torgul’s stead. ” Marlena is shocked, as she had visited with Torgul only a month ago.
“Torgul’s health is not what it once was, Marlena,” says Balina firmly. “He regrets to miss you today, but with any luck he will be well enough to preside over the Circos.”
Geldor gives her a sharp look, and quickly adds, “Of course, if Torgul does not improve, Targa would be deeply grateful if the King of Eternia would take his place in the ceremony.” Randor and Man-At-Arms exchange curious looks, but Randor accepts the offer cautiously.
“Wonderful,” Balina declares. “Now, let us show our guests the meaning of true Targan hospitality!”
“Yes, we’ve heard about Targan hospitality already,” Teela remarks coldly, eliciting a stern look from her father.
Marlena relates Lizard Man’s story, but Geldor dismisses it quickly. “Perhaps the Reptons are spreading false propaganda. A few of them have caused trouble in our city since the defeat of the Snake Men. When we started arresting those trouble makers, there were shouts of bigotry. Perhaps your forgetful friend was confused by the same lies.” Lizard Man’s eyes burn angrily, and Adam speaks up for him before he says anything he might regret.
Seizing her moment to change the subject, Balina looks over Adam and laughs. “Marlena, you did not tell Torgul that your son had grown so tall--or so handsome. He must meet my stepdaughter Maran. She too is growing up and will soon need a suitable companion.”
Adam squirms nervously at Balina’s attempt at matchmaking, and Teela teases him later. “Afraid of leaving bachelorhood so soon, Adam?”
“It’s not that,” he tells her. “When I was a kid, I was friends with both Maran and Prince Dakkon of Oberon. Dakkon has been in love with her for years, and I thought Maran felt the same way, about him.”
Dakkon arrives later with the Oberon delegation. He is thrilled to see Adam again, and remembers Teela as well. “I’m the only one who could beat you at Skyball,” he laughs.
“Yeah,” Adam says under his breath, “because she had a crush on you she let you win.” Teela elbows Adam in the ribs but can only manage an awkward smile to Dakkon.
That afternoon at a banquet for the delegates, Adam and Teela describe Lizard Man’s story to Dakkon, but he is very doubtful. “My father and Torgul don’t always get along, but I can’t believe the Targans would allow such a thing. And Maran wouldn’t keep it from me.” But Maran does not attend the banquet, and Dakkon is troubled by Balina’s indifference to him. Soon Dakkon is just as worried as the Eternians.