Wow, I am most impressed with the fleshing out of the past of Eternia. I suppose I should read Part I now LOL Can't wait to read Part III after that
Thanks for your message, monstarmaster--having fans is a wonderful feeling!
Also, I just learned through my good friend Ofty that he's done an awesome German translation of "Dark Legacies" for He-Man.de, and that it's part of their 10th Anniversary special! Woo-Hoo! You can find it here!
As always, feedback from everyone reading this is greatly appreciated, so please keep the comments coming! Now, back to the story...
The entire camp was searched, but no one could find Captain Miro. Any footprints he may have left during the night had obviously been blown away by now. Melaktha came running over to his brother, stumbling over his own feet along the way. “Dekker!” he shouted. “On the other side of the pyramid…”
“What is it?” Dekker snapped, shaking his sibling.
“There’s an opening that wasn’t there yesterday!”
The Man-At-Arms turned to his soldiers. “Arm yourselves,” he ordered. Dekker took up a stun-rifle and instructed Melaktha to lead the group to the newfound opening. Once there, they filed into the darkness quietly, their weapons primed. “It’s a staircase,” Dekker whispered into his com-link.
They followed the stone steps deep into the bowels of the pyramid. Finally, they spotted a light at the end. “This is it,” he cautioned.
Dekker led the charge, running into the chamber at the end of the stairs as his warriors fanned out around him. “Secure the perimeter!” Within seconds, the Eternian Guard had the large room surrounded.
Captain Miro, his clothing torn and his body bruised, was chained to the floor. Sitting on a throne above him was the evil witch Shokoti, her hand wrapped tightly around the Havoc Staff.
“Stay where you are!” Dekker shouted, as four of his guards moved toward the azure-skinned woman.
“Fools,” she hissed, knocking them into the air with a flick of her wrist. She stood then, and descended the steps of her dais. “I stopped counting how many years I was imprisoned after 357; much has changed on this planet since I was trapped in my very own sanctuary. What has not changed, though, is my thirst for conquest!”
As Shokoti reached her prisoner she kicked him. “My ultimate plan remains,” she continued, rubbing her belly. “And this feeble human, who reeks of Grayskull’s blood, has given me the last piece I needed. Soon, all of Eternia shall bow to me…and their future king!”
The witch raised the Havoc Staff into the air, and vanished amongst a cloud of purple mist.
Dekker ran over to Miro, and removed the chains binding him. “What happened?” he asked.
But the older man would not speak of the horrors he had endured that night. “Irene…” he whispered mournfully. “I just want to go home…”
True to his word, Zodak had not left Eternia for so much as an hour. He appeared before the Council of Elders, and to look at the reunited group it would seem as if not a day had passed. “Greetings, Elders,” the Cosmic Enforcer hailed.
“Zodak,” Duquaine replied, nodding at the celestial being. “What has brought you before us this day?”
“Shokoti is free,” he answered. “The spell we used to imprison her all those years ago was only meant to keep her contained until the forces of good and evil were more closely aligned.”
“This is grave news indeed,” Zilora noted. “Yet, Shokoti’s people are merely long-lived, not immortal. Even if she is still alive, surely her power has lessened with the passage of so many years?”
“It is possible,” the Cosmic Enforcer acknowledged. “Still, she possesses the key to Despondos, and she will likely be reckless after being imprisoned for so long.”
“You think she would try to open the gateway to Despondos again?” Vulcan gasped. “But she doesn’t have the Book of the Ancients to protect her from the poisonous veil!”
Zodak shrugged. “I honestly don’t know what to expect from her. The Higher Power that I serve has only told me enough to maintain the balance.”
Duquaine held up his hands to stave off any further questioning, and then he called for the guards posted outside the chamber door.
When the gray-robed guardians entered, they were stunned to see someone standing before the Elders. The guards leveled their weapons and ran towards Zodak, who merely stood there.
“Stop,” Gnarl instructed calmly. “He is not our enemy.”
The guards lowered their weapons, but looked more confused than ever.
“We will be leaving the Hall of Wisdom temporarily,” Duquaine informed them. “We will return as soon as possible.”
“Sir, is that wise?”
The Elders all smiled. “We have survived this long, young man, and I’m sure we’ll be fine during a brief excursion.”
Without another word, the Elders and Zodak vanished.
Wow, I am most impressed with the fleshing out of the past of Eternia. I suppose I should read Part I now LOL Can't wait to read Part III after that
This book is just as awesome as part II. Excellent work. Now to Part III
Man, I've been waiting forever for more of this story!
Hey there, He-Man54, thanks for being so patient for more of "Dark Legacies." As a reward, here's the next part...
Kodak Ungor had always appreciated beauty. While her older sister—the woman who now went by the name Enchantress—had always made Castle Grayskull look dark and dirty, Kodak Ungor had done her best to bring out the fortress’ former beauty.
The stone walls had slowly turned green over the years, and there were leaks in too many places to count. But Kodak Ungor had brought a grandeur to the throne room that had been unseen since the time of King Grayskull himself. The dais, inlaid with sparkling gold, led up to a giant, gem-encrusted throne. The stonework and the columns had been refurbished, so that they also gleamed once more.
As for her own garb, the present Sorceress had adorned herself in long, silky robes of pale blue and white. Her feathered headdress contained beautiful pieces of crystal woven throughout. Kodak Ungor also had large white wings, like her predecessors, which she kept immaculately groomed.
The Sorceress was only slightly caught off-guard when the Elders and Zodak appeared before her. “Welcome,” her melodic voice floated down from the throne. She descended the stairs of the dais, carrying the same staff that had been passed down since the time of Queen Veena.
“Greetings, Sorceress of Castle Grayskull.”
“What has brought you to my home? Is my older sister causing trouble yet again?”
“No,” Duquaine replied. “Captain Miro has done a fine job of keeping the Enchantress in-line.”
The dark-skinned celestial stepped forward. “Sorceress, I am Zodak, a Cosmic Enforcer. Last night, an ancient evil that I helped imprison ages ago was freed.”
“Was it the Snake Men? Or the Horde?” she asked calmly.
“No,” Zilora responded. “Your connection to King Grayskull’s power would have alerted you if that was the case. The threat that Zodak speaks of is a far more sinister one: a witch named Shokoti. Once, she was the ranking member of the legendary Council of Wisdom. That was before she turned to evil, and came into possession of a cosmic key that opens a gateway to Despondos.”
Kodak Ungor vaguely remembered the story, having heard it during the history lessons her father—a Sorcerer of Castle Grayskull—had passed down. “Where is she now?”
“I’m not sure,” Zodak answered honestly. “However, she was never known to attack Castle Grayskull directly. You should be safe, but all of Eternia needs to be on-guard until she is found.”
“Where is your daughter?” Steagor asked the castle’s guardian.
“Teela’Na is practicing her spells in the library,” she answered hesitantly.
“Good,” Duquaine replied. “Continue your lessons with her, Sorceress. Your daughter should be ready to assume your mantle at a moment’s notice, just as you took over for your sister.”
“But, Elders, she is only six years old!”
“Nevertheless, she must be ready. Shokoti was powerful enough to destroy the entire Council of Wisdom. If she is still as powerful as she once was, even the powers of Grayskull are in danger.”
Shokoti pushed aside a curtain of spider webs as she entered the throne room of Snake Mountain. She was the first person to set foot in the room since King Hsss’ reign. The witch made her way to the seat of power and sat, propping the Havoc Staff against the back of the throne.
Alone, she dropped the illusion that had kept her looking the same as she had when she was first imprisoned. The passage of time had taken its toll on her, though she was loathe to admit it. Shokoti’s raven-colored locks had become streaked with silver, and were dreadfully matted. Folds of wrinkled, leathery skin barely clung to her creaking bones.
“So much has changed,” she marveled to herself. “The Snake Men are gone, but I expected that. My Horde army, on the other hand, should have brought this world to its knees! Where are they? What became of them? And what evil magic has brought eternal darkness to this hemisphere?”
The witch rubbed at her temples. “No matter. Soon, my son will be born, and then Eternia will experience an evil so great they shall never overcome it!”
And then she remembered one of her other pawns, nearly forgotten over the years! Snatching the Havoc Staff from its resting place, she held it so that she was staring at the smooth backside of the skull. Slowly the bone vanished, replaced by an image of the creation she had named Masque.
Shokoti smiled as she looked upon him. “So, you have survived.”
“Mistress,” he replied, his whisper of a voice just as she remembered it. “I have kept faithful to you all these years, and guarded your treasure jealously.”
“Excellent. The time to release that treasure grows near. One year from this date, you will remove the crystal chamber in which she sleeps. Remember your directions: Raise the Lord of Zalesia’s child, and school her in the ways of the dark arts. If she asks about her true heritage, tell her that her father was a coward that abandoned her.”
“Yes, Mistress,” Masque replied, as his image was replaced by the bony backside of the Havoc Staff’s skull once more. She replaced the staff and rubbed her belly. “Soon, my son, our destinies will be fulfilled.”
Just a small section—I meant to include it with the last post, but forgot. Sorry, but no pictures for this part.
Following his ordeal in Shokoti’s temple, Miro slowly made his way back to the Hall of Wisdom. He was kept waiting for over an hour, as the Council had left for parts unknown. When they finally returned, and granted him entrance to the Council Chamber, Miro revealed how he had been deceived by Shokoti: He had been used in such a way that a new generation of evil was now a very real possibility.
Though he was not to blame, Miro still felt ashamed as he left the Elders that day. But the shame he felt then would be nothing compared to the shame he would feel when he told Irene…
Miro had scarcely entered his simple home in Eternos, when his wife came rushing from the kitchen to greet him. Her long blonde hair was pulled back into a ponytail, and her face was smudged with flour.
“I’ve missed you so much!” she gushed, tears running from her beautiful blue eyes.
“And I have missed you,” he returned, tears filling his own eyes.
“I heard all about how you captured Count Marzo,” she said proudly, pulling him toward a chair. She forced him to sit, and then she sat upon his lap with her arms folded around his neck.
He tried to downplay the act. “I wasn’t alone.”
She tugged at his white-blonde beard. “But they couldn’t have done it without you, I’ll bet.”
Miro smiled at his wife, so beautiful and innocent. That innocence was something they no longer shared, though. “My darling, there is something I must tell you—”
“Wait!” she interrupted. “I have news for you, first!”
She seemed so excited that he could not deny her request. “Very well, my love, what is it?”
Irene’s pail cheeks flushed pink, and she coyly wrapped her hands around her belly. “Do you remember your last visit…on the night of the full moon?”
Miro’s cheeks began to glow as well. “How could I forget?” he asked shyly.
“Well…something special has happened…”
She bit her lower lip and arched her eyebrows as she nodded. “We are going to have a child!”
The couple broke into spontaneous laughter, and he lifted his wife into the air and twirled her about before setting her down again. They kissed tenderly, and embraced fully.
After a long time, Irene pulled herself away slightly. Still smiling, she asked, “What was it you wanted to tell me, Miro?”
How can I tell her now? he wondered. His mental response was that he couldn’t. “Nothing, my darling.”
Unfazed, Irene wrapped her arms around Miro once more.
Ten Years Later…
Captain Miro and his wife still felt like the proudest parents on all of Eternia. Their oldest son, Randor, attended the finest school in the City of Wisdom. He was even rumored to have a girlfriend (though he would die before admitting it) named Marlena. The young man showed an extraordinary thirst for knowledge, and, despite his young age, excelled in the arts of both weaponry and mediation.
Once, while the Elders were visiting the school, a fight broke out between a Widget and a Paleezian. The scuffle was in full-swing when Randor, not realizing that the Elders themselves were watching nearby, pulled the combatants apart. He convinced them to sit with him at a table, and work out their differences. By the time the trio had finished, the Widget and the Paleezian had even sparked a friendship.
“Good work, lad,” Duquaine commended Miro’s son, as he and the other Elders resumed their tour.
“Th-thank you, Excellency,” the stunned youth stammered.
On the other side of Eternia, the dark sorceress Shokoti was equally proud of her own prodigy. Keldor was already well-versed in dark mysticism, and he was proving to be just as powerful as the Oracle had told Shokoti he would be. Like his half-brother, he too had a thirst for knowledge, and he often displayed a calculating intelligence that unnerved even his own mother.
The young, azure-skinned boy delighted especially in using his powers to torment others. Once he discovered the Snake Men’s torture chambers, young Keldor immediately went in search of prey that he could test the devices on. His first victim was a swamp rat, which he tied to a spiked wheel that expanded as it spun. Keldor reveled in the blood that splattered upon his face as the rodent was torn in half.
Shokoti, having disguised herself in a more youthful guise once more, looked on with pleasure. “Soon, my son, Eternia will bow before you. For that to happen, though, we will need to start looking for suitable enforcers.”
Keldor stared at the Havoc Staff in his mother’s hand. “You have already told me about the staff’s powers: the threat of Despondos should be enough to keep the Eternians in line!”
“But there are those that will try to take the staff from you, and neutralize your threat. First and foremost, there are the Elders. The Cosmic Enforcers may also seek to imprison you the same way they did me.”
“And you’re sure my army is gone?”
“As I’ve already told you, the Horde was trapped in Despondos centuries ago. After so long, there is no guarantee they would be willing to serve even me, let alone a mere boy. It is better to start anew, with fresh warriors.”
“And how will I find these warriors?”
“When the time is right I will help you. For now, though, there is still much to learn.”
“Then teach me,” Keldor snapped. “I am eager to leave these caves and bring Eternia to its knees!”
At the top of the planet, within an enchanted castle built among the Ice Mountains, the creature called Masque had his hands full trying to raise a young girl. Though she was not quite ten years old, the child had a head of snowy-white hair. In stark contrast, her large eyes glistened with lilac irises.
“Try it again,” Masque instructed.
Lyn peered into the crystal ball and concentrated as hard as she could. A hazy image swam into view, but the more she tried to focus on it the more it seemed to slip away. The girl cursed, and hurled the crystal ball across the room, shattering it against a far wall. “Why do I need to learn how to scrry?”
“Because it is an invaluable tool for any wizard or witch.”
Lyn stomped over to a frosty window and stared at the falling snow outside. “I’ll bet he can do it with no problem,” she huffed.
Masque sighed, knowing immediately where this conversation—like countless ones before it—was headed. “Yes, child, I’m sure the Faceless One knows how to using a scrrying tool.”
“He could probably teach me better than you.”
“But he’s not here, is he?” Masque snapped, losing his patience. “No, your father abandoned you to save his own miserable life!”
Tears began to well-up in Lyn’s eyes, but she refused to let her teacher see them. He was right, her father had abandoned her, and only if she gleaned as much magical ability as possible could she wipe the cowardly ghost out of existence!
Blinking back the tears, she spun around and gestured for the shattered crystal ball. The shards jumped into the air and reformed before settling back onto the table. “Let’s try it again,” she said.
For sixteen years, Kodak Ungor had watched her daughter with pride. Not only was Teela’Na well-versed in Eternia’s history, but she had also mastered all of her mother’s spells. What made the Sorceress of Castle Grayskull most proud of her daughter, though, was that she had never complained about the destiny that hung over her like a dark cloud.
Teela’Na was busy practicing her favorite spell, one which created a force-field around her, when she heard a knock at her door. She dropped her shield and entreated, “Come in, mother.”
The most recent Sorceress entered the sunlit room and smiled. “That was a particularly strong shield, Teela’Na; I could feel its energy from the throne room.” She sat on the edge of her daughter’s bed and motioned for the young woman to join her.
Teela’Na curled up next to her and asked, “What’s wrong, mother?”
“Nothing is wrong, darling—quite the opposite, actually.” Kodak Ungor ran her fingers through Teela’Na’s long, auburn colored hair as she continued. “I think the time has finally come to explain to you why our bloodline has always protected Castle Grayskull.”
Teela’Na turned so that their eyes met, and her heart began to beat faster. For as long as she could remember, Teela’Na had wanted to know what made the old fortress so important, but her mother (and her dead grandfather, and the Enchantress prior to her banishment) had always kept it a secret.
“Come, follow me,” Kodak Ungor beckoned, as she led the way out of the room and into the labyrinthine halls of the castle. The sound of the guardian’s robes, rustling with each step, filled the narrow corridor.
“Where are we going?” Teela’Na asked, her curiosity getting the best of her.
“I’m going to show you that which must be kept safe from evil at all costs.”
They eventually came to a halt in a chamber where Teela’Na used to play with her dolls, and Kodak Ungor tapped her staff on a loose stone near their feet. Radiant energy began to shine from beneath, and it spread outward to encompass a large section of floor surrounding the pair.
Teela’Na gasped as the floor began to drop slowly; she reached out and clung to her mother’s arm, while Kodak Ungor merely smiled.
When the floating section of floor stopped its slow descent, the two women found themselves suspended in a chamber of indeterminate size. Crystal structures, larger than anything Teela’Na had ever seen, filled the space. Kodak Ungor held up her hand to stop Teela’Na’s question before it had even formed in the young woman’s mind. The Sorceress spread her majestic wings, and raised her ancient staff of power into the air.
“There’s something coming out of the darkness!” Teela’Na shouted, wide-eyed and still gripping her mother’s arm tightly.
A floating container came to rest before them, and the lid swung open to reveal its contents. Kodak Ungor, her voice ringing with deep reverence, went on to explain what they were looking at: “The Sword of Power, wielded in the past by King Grayskull himself. It was forged by the Goddess, and used by the king to banish the Horde from Eternia. The Elders draw their power from this sword, and one day a hero, akin to King Grayskull, will claim its powers for the good of Eternia.”
She paused long enough to let her daughter absorb this bit of information before continuing. “There is a second sword in the abyss as well—one of Protection—but it has not been seen since it was lowered into the darkness. No Sorcerer or Sorceress has ever been able to summon it, and the legend tells that it will seek out the castle’s guardian of its own volition when the time is right.”
Teela’Na reached out hesitantly, and rubbed the gleaming blade of Grayskull’s Sword of Power. “When will these heroes come?” she asked.
The box’s lid closed slowly, and it sank back down into the darkness. Kodak Ungor answered her daughter’s question as they were carried back up to the main floor of the castle. “I cannot say exactly when, but I suspect it will be soon.”
Kodak Ungor met her daughter’s eyes once more, and sighed. “I have had a vision,” she said. “My time is coming to an end, and when that happens you must be ready to take my place.”
“No!” the shocked, red haired girl cried out, as she reached for her mother’s arm. “Your vision was wrong!”
“It is possible, though unlikely. That is why I have decided to pass the mantle on to you now, rather than later.”
“I don’t want it!”
“It is your destiny.”
Teela’Na gave her mother a tearful embrace. “I don’t want to lose you,” she sobbed. Long minutes passed, as the women held each other and cried together. Finally, Teela’Na was able to begrudgingly accept what her mother was saying. “What do I do?”
“If the Spirit of Grayskull accepts you as the next protector of his home, then he will take care of the rest.”
Without warning, the floor beneath the Sorceress’ daughter began to lower, just as it had before. This time, however, it sucked the young woman into a deep pool of glowing water.
Teela’Na was afraid, and began to struggle, but her feet seemed rooted to the stones beneath her! Suddenly, she began to feel strange, and lightheaded, and then it was as if something was trying to tear out of her back! The pain was excruciating, but still, there was nothing she could do! Just when she thought she could take no more, Teela’Na was comforted by familiar spirits—her grandfather’s, and his mother’s, and her mother’s, and so on. She could even sense the legendary King Grayskull and Queen Veena, their ghosts swirling around her and infusing her with their powers!
Kodak Ungor stared down into the pool below, but she could not see what was happening. Until, a falcon came bursting out of the glowing depths!
Kodak Ungor clapped proudly. “The king has accepted you!” she cheered.
Telepathically, Teela’Na called out, How do I turn back?
“Think back to your transfiguration lessons.”
After a brief moment, Teela’Na transformed from a falcon back into her human form. Her plain green tunic was soaking wet, and her red hair was a mess. And then there was the set of enormous, white wings that had sprung from her shoulder blades, just like her mother’s.
The women embraced once more, and as they did so Kodak Ungor’s wings began to molt; the once-beautiful white feathers turned gray, and fell to the floor, until all traces of the appendages were gone. Similarly, the ornate headdress faded from her head, revealing long strands of red hair with silver streaks.
“Now,” she said proudly, “you are truly the Sorceress of Castle Grayskull.” Mother bowed before daughter, and presented Teela’Na with the ancient falcon staff.
The young girl held the staff aloft with a sense of pride, and set about creating her own regal raiment.
Hey folks! I know everyone's been busy with the holidays and whatnot, but I'd love to get some reviews on how you think the story's going. I know the time-jumps and broad backstory in this part has been a little different than what you're used to, but don't worry--things are about to pick-up as we approach the rivalry between Keldor and Randor!
And now, on to the next part... Enjoy!
A few weeks later, an owl with reddish-brown wings began circling Castle Grayskull. It landed silently, not far from the broken footbridge that led to the castle. There was a flash of red magic, as the owl transformed into a menacing looking woman clothed in robes of reddish-brown feathers.
“The time to strike is now!” she vowed to herself. “My wretched niece will be no match for my magic!”
“Stay right where you are, Enchantress,” Captain Miro commanded, charging out of the forest upon his white steed. His soldiers were right behind him, as was the Man-At-Arms.
She glared at the brigade and narrowed her eyes. “Miro! How did you find me?”
“You may be safe upon your flying island, witch, but we started tracking you as soon as you left it.”
“No matter!” The Enchantress gestured, and the nearby trees sprang to life. The branches reached downward, and entangled the entire group. As the heroes struggled to free themselves, the fallen-Sorceress laughed. “You should have known that I would not be undone as easily as Marzo!”
She turned her attention back toward the castle while Dekker began tinkering with a device on his wrist. “I’ll have us free in a moment, Captain Miro,” he whispered confidently.
Meanwhile, the Enchantress had made her way to the edge of the footbridge. “By the power of Grayskull, I command the jaw-bridge…open!” The wooden entrance to the ancient fortress began to glow, and slowly it spanned the gulf between the witch and her destination.
Standing in the center of the foyer was Kodak Ungor, completely unarmed. “Stop where you are, sister.”
“You cannot stop me, sister,” the Enchantress sneered. “You have always been weaker than me, and it was only with the added powers of the castle that you kept me out for so long. Now that you are without those, I shall reclaim my birthright!”
“You have already tried—and failed—to harness the powers of Castle Grayskull. What makes you think you will succeed now?”
“My powers have grown immensely since you helped the Elders banish me! Nothing can stand in my way now!”
Suddenly, the eye-sockets set into the castle’s skull-like façade began to glow. Huge balls of fire spewed from the deep crevices, striking at the evil woman! When the barrage finally stopped, and the smoke cleared, the Enchantress could still be seen, standing beneath the magical protection of a force-dome.
The newest Sorceress appeared at one of the castle’s many windows. “You are no longer welcome here, Enchantress. Leave at once, or you will suffer the consequences.”
“You are more powerful than I had imagined, Teela’Na. No matter…” She pointed at her niece, and a powerful explosion erupted behind Grayskull’s protector. The Sorceress, though slightly dazed, was able to flutter safely to the ground thanks to her new wings. The Enchantress pointed at the young woman again, releasing an arc of lightening from her fingertip this time.
Although Kodak Ungor was no longer the Sorceress of Castle Grayskull, she still possessed her own magical talents. She moved swiftly, creating a protective barrier between her daughter and her sister’s assault.
The former guardians of the castle—one good, one evil—launched into a powerful, magical duel. At the same time, with the Enchantress distracted, Dekker was able to free his comrades using a tiny laser embedded in his gauntlet.
The Enchantress was winning the battle against Kodak Ungor. One final spell sent the gentle, graying sorceress to the ground. Teela’Na, who had finally reoriented herself, saw her mother fal, and rushed to her side.
“Now, you shall both perish,” the Enchantress said coldly, as the Sorceress helped her mother to her feet. The witch pointed at her counterparts and unleashed an enchanted fireball meant to destroy them both.
Everything that followed happened in a flash:
Dekker and three of his men tackled the ex-Sorceress to the ground. While they held her, Captain Miro bound the Enchantress’ hands with a special rope, given to him by the Elders, which would nullify her powers…
At the same time, a young soldier jumped into the path of the fireball! As he did so, a mechanized blade of steel unfolded from his gauntlet, and fanned out to create a shield. The Enchantress’ hex hit the device and destroyed it instantly, but the young soldier and the two Sorceresses were safe.
Once things had settled down somewhat, Kodak Ungor hobbled over to Captain Miro and Dekker. “What will happen to my sister?” she asked.
“Her fate is in the hands of the Elders now,” Miro answered.
“It’s a shame that she chose to follow a dark path,” Dekker said.
Kodak Ungor nodded sadly. Then she turned to look back at her daughter, who was smiling and talking to the soldier that had saved them. “That boy is wearing armor akin to yours, Man-At-Arms. Who is he?”
Dekker followed her gaze. “That is my pupil, Duncan. He was in training for the Eternian Guard under my friend Rohad, but he excelled in engineering so I invited him to study under me instead.”
Miro chimed in, “It looks like you’re not the only one he’s made an impression on…”
“I created that shield, you know,” Duncan said to Teela’Na proudly. He was not yet 18, but he had the air of confidence befitting a soldier. His face was chiseled, yet smooth, and he wore his long brown hair in a pony-tail.
As the Sorceress listened, he continued talking about his device. “Man-At-Arms was so impressed with it that he’s going to start incorporating them into all of the uniforms.”
“That’s quite an invention, then,” the Sorceress agreed, smiling warmly at him. Having grown up in Castle Grayskull, unable to interact with other children, this was her first conversation with someone else her age…and someone not of her sex.
He smiled back, his cheeks blushed. The young woman, who lived in a castle that he—like most Eternians—thought was nothing more than abandoned ruins, was the first he had ever felt shy around. Duncan had spoken to girls before, having attended classes and trainings with them, but there was something that was different about this one (besides the wings).
“Duncan,” Dekker said loudly, slapping his protégé hard on the back. The lad stumbled with the force of the blow, and the Sorceress reached out to steady him.
Thoroughly embarrassed, Duncan turned to face his mentor so that the Sorceress wouldn’t see the look on his face. “Y-yes, sir?”
Suppressing a chuckle, the Man-At-Arms answered, “It’s time to go. We’re going to follow Captain Miro and his men back to the Hall of Wisdom for added security.”
As they worked out the details, Kodak Ungor returned to her daughter’s side. “There is work to be done, child,” she said.
“There is?” the Sorceress replied, staring dreamily at Duncan.
“Yes, my dear. May I remind you that a large portion of the eastern tower exploded during the battle? We need to fix that.”
“Oh…oh, right.” She was still staring at Duncan, who had finished with Dekker and was coming to say goodbye.
“Well,” he said to his new, feathered friend, “it looks like we’re leaving.”
The Sorceress whispered a question to her mother telepathically, and Kodak Ungor gave a slight nod with a smile. “Duncan,” she said nervously, “now that you know I’m here, I hope you…” She paused. “That is to say…I would enjoy it if you visited from time to time.”
He smiled, his teeth sparkling white. “You bet,” he answered, pecking her on the cheek before she knew what was happening. He ran to rejoin his group.
The Sorceress rubbed her cheek, and Kodak Ungor chuckled. “Let’s go, Teela’Na. Repairs now, dreams later.”
I am really enjoying your work. You have done an amazing job writing the Dark Legacies story, and you should be very proud. I know you have really drawn my interest, and I always look forward to the next installment. Keep up the great work, and thanks for giving us such a creative story.:
"Evil Lyn Sorceress of Night."
Your work is really good Telkan!
The gleam of the Power Sword lights your way as you enter the fantastic world of Eternia...
The story unfolds and gets better each time. Good work
A fascinating read.
It's great being Lord of the Thundercats - especially hanging out with Cheetara - but the one draw back is that He-Man can still beat me up.
Somewhere In Exo-Squad, a fan art by Matt Tyree (just in case you're curious)
Hi folks! Sorry for the long delay in responding, but the hoildays and end-of-semester were quite distracting.
Thanks for the compliments and feedback everyone, please keep it coming!
Spring had blossomed across Eternia eight times since the Enchantress’ capture. As they had done with Count Marzo, the Elders handed down a befitting punishment: trapping the ex-Sorceress on her very own floating island for the rest of her life. The nefarious Shokoti remained free, having eluded the Elders and Zodak since her return. Worse still, rumors had started to spread across the dark hemisphere of a young warlock who claimed to be Shokoti’s heir. The evil creature went by the name Keldor, and it was said that unspeakable acts of violence and torture followed in his wake. All of that had been pushed to the back of Captain Miro’s mind for the day, though. He would not allow himself to dwell on such thoughts, especially the nagging feeling that Keldor may share his blood.
The captain had asked for a personal favor from the Elders, and they had consented unanimously; so, on this day, he was able to give one of his real sons a wedding like none other on all of Eternia...
Randor and his bride, the beautiful Marlena, stood excitedly before the Elders’ pedestals. The groom stood tall in the dress robes of a Second-Lieutenant in the Eternian Guard. His brown hair, though still long, had been trimmed, and he had a dusting of a goatee upon his chin. The bride wore a slender, pale blue gown, cinched by a golden tie around the waist. The young lady’s soft face was framed by a golden tiara in the shape of a cat’s visage.
Miro, who like his sons wore ceremonious military garb, and his wife stood behind their son. Randor’s mother wore a simple, green dress that reflected her plain nature. Miro wrapped his arm around Irene's waist and reached over with his other hand, wiping away a tear of joy that caressed her beautiful face. The groom’s younger brother, Stephen, was also in attendance, looking upon his brother proudly.
Marlena’s parents stood behind their daughter. The bride’s father, a scientist named Glen, was head of the Eternian Space Program. His daughter was determined to follow in his footsteps, and had spent her school-career studying Astrophysics. Although he liked Randor, and he was thrilled for his little girl, Glen could not help but silently wonder if those dreams would disappear into a black-hole now that she was getting married.
Marlena’s mother was a striking creature whose father was Gar Farian and mother Felis Qadian. She had velvety, pale blue fur, shockingly white hair that tickled her waist, and golden eyes. As High Priestess for the Farians, Catrine wore regal purple-and-blue-robes over her sleek form. While she watched the wedding proceedings, the catlike woman couldn’t help feeling sorry for the time she had missed while Marlena studied under her father in the City of Wisdom. She had silently hoped that her daughter would one day follow in her footsteps and become High Priestess of Gar Farian, but that would probably never happen. Regardless, Marlena’s happiness was more important to Catrine than anything else in the world. She tucked her hand into Glen’s, and he turned to smile at her.
The Elders concluded the intimate ceremony, announcing proudly that Randor and Marlena were now tied by the bonds of matrimony. The young couple kissed and embraced, and then joined their families for more happy embraces. A small handful of their friends were also present to share in the festivities.
The Sorceress of Castle Grayskull was not in a mood to celebrate that day. She walked slowly toward the hidden entrance to the Crystal Chamber below the castle. Using the staff that had been passed down since Queen Veena’s time, the Sorceress tapped on the floor and it carried her into the darkened depths below.
She descended for a long time, going farther down into the chamber than she had ever gone with Kodak Ungor. When the enchanted section of stone finally stopped, she sent out tendrils of magical energy into the shadows around her.
A vessel emerged from the blackness below, but it was not the same container that held the Sword of Power. This container was both wider and longer, and it had been fashioned from one of the smaller crystals in the chamber. It finally came to rest opposite the Sorceress, suspended over the void below. She peered through the translucent casing while rubbing a hand across its smooth, cold frame.
Kodak Ungor was inside, with the look of someone who was having a peaceful dream. Her red and silver hair had been combed out beautifully, so that it framed her nearly unwrinkled face. The body was clothed in a gown similar to the one Kodak Ungor had worn during her own time as Sorceress of Castle Grayskull, and a replica of her jeweled headdress rested near the top.
“Hello, mother,” the Sorceress said softly. “I can hardly believe it’s almost been an entire year."
The specter of Kodak Ungor appeared above her resting place, looking more radiant than the Sorceress had ever seen her mother when she was alive. “Teela’Na,” the spirit whispered, “grieve not. I am in a far better place now. You would not be able to fathom the beauty and serenity that abounds.”
Though the image and words were nothing more than an enchantment of the younger Sorceress' own devising, it didn't stop them from causing tears to stream down her face. “You shouldn’t be there, yet. You were too young! I should have been able to save you!”
“There are some things that no one can change, and death is a perfect example. No one is to blame for the illness that claimed my life, and no one—least of all you—is to blame for not being able to stop it.”
The Sorceress was silent for a long time, staring at her mother’s rippling likeness. “I’m so lonely now.”
“What about your friend Duncan?”
Her cheeks turned red. “He comes to visit when he can, but Dekker has started giving him more and more responsibilities, so we don’t get to see each other as often as we…or I, at least, would like.”
Kodak Ungor nodded. “Reach out to him, my darling; I sense a great bond between the two of you.” She paused, as if someone had called to her. “I’m afraid I must go, but never forget that I am near. I love you…”
The Sorceress began to cry harder, and her voice trembled as the specter faded away. “I love you, too, mother.”
Sadly, she lowered the crystal casket back into the depths of the abyss.
Elsewhere, Duncan was half-heartedly monitoring the control panel in front of him. Dekker was gone, filling in for Captain Miro while he took some time away for his son’s wedding. Since Duncan was protégé to the Man-At-Arms, he was thusly left to pick-up the slack.
One of the duties he had been saddled with was Dekker’s shift monitoring the Eternian Prison’s Control Center. It was a tedious enough chore when Duncan had his own shift in the small room, staring at the blinking panels and monitors, but two shifts in one day was unbearable!
His mind began to wander, and his thoughts traveled as they so frequently did in recent years to the Sorceress of Castle Grayskull. Since their initial meeting the two had remained very close friends, forming a deep and loving bond. As much as they both cared for one another though, the timing never seemed right. Duncan was doing his best to ensure that he would be worthy of the title “Man-At-Arms” when his time came, and the Sorceress had to worry about protecting the swords she had confided in him about.
I’ll give you a coin for your thoughts, a voice whispered in the back of Duncan’s mind. It was the Sorceress, speaking via telepathy.
You weren’t reading my mind were you? he replied hesitantly.
Of course not! Her psychic voice sounded offended at the suggestion. I just sensed that you were feeling lonely like me, so I thought you might want to talk.
He relaxed a little in his seat, and closed his eyes. I’m sorry. I’m just a bit grouchy because I have to do Dekker’s shift in the Control Center. It’s so boring! No one could escape from here—we’ve got our best guards protecting the place.
The Sorceress did not respond right away, but when she finally did there was an air of urgency about what she said. You should be careful what you wish for, Duncan! I sense a dark presence headed toward the prison!
The young man scurried to his feet and scanned the monitors. Everything appeared to be normal, but he knew that the Sorceress was not prone to giving false warnings. Duncan pressed a small button on his right, and activated the internal communication system.
“Attention, all units!” he barked, and he could hear his voice echoing down the corridors outside of the Control Room. “We are now under Yellow Alert! Report any suspicious activity at once!”
The prison was embedded in the rock-face of a steep cliff, with a swiftly moving river below. It should have only been accessible via the turbo-lift that was cleverly concealed (yet well-guarded) near the base of Mount Eternia. None of that seemed to be of consequence to the shadowy, cloaked figure that was climbing down the side of the cliff though.
Two Eternian Guardsmen stood on the roof, their laser rifles at the ready. They were surveying the perimeter, but only half-heartedly since it seemed so improbable that an attack would be launched from above. Too bad for them…
The cloaked figure jumped from the side of the cliff, and landed silently on the roof ten feet below. Two flashes of steel later, and the guards were laying on the ground in a pool of sticky blood.
The assassin pulled back his hood, and shook-out his long, raven-black ponytail. He reached down and removed the com-link from one of the soldiers’ ears and placed it in his own pointy, azure-skinned canal.
“…Repeat: Unit 37, this is Duncan. Do you see anything from the roof? Over.”
The cloaked man tapped the ear-piece and answered, “Negative, sir. Over.”
“Why did it take you so long to answer? Over.”
With a devilish grin he answered, “My com-unit fell out. Over.”
Duncan could be heard sighing on the other end. “Be more careful up there and stay focused, someone's disabled our cameras up top. Over-and-out.”
Still grinning, the intruder made his way into the prison proper.
The Lord of Zalesia’s daughter was standing along the black shores of the Pool of Shadows. In her hand she carried a long black staff, with an outstretched gray claw at the top. She lifted her arms into the air, the ragged cloak attached to her gauntlets blowing in the wind, and her white hair seemed to come alive. A purple glow surrounded the young woman’s eyes as she started to chant.
“Hear me, Darkdream, Lord of the Nightmare Realm,” she called.
The Pool of Shadows began to ripple, and lightening flashed overhead.
“Your secret servant beseeches you, grant me the powers that I seek!” She followed the call with an ancient incantation.
The Pool of Shadows began to ripple more quickly, and black bubbles started to pop along the surface. Slowly then, one of the bubbles jumped out of the dark mass altogether and flew toward her. It solidified into an onyx orb, and settled onto the top of her staff, at which point the gray claws clamped down around it.
The area around the Pool of Shadows returned to its normal state, and the Lord of Zalesia’s daughter looked at her staff with great pride. “Now, with the powers of the Nightmare Realm at my beck and call, even Masque will tremble before me!”
Reports were coming in from all areas around the prison. Someone had definitely breached its walls, but none of the guards or cameras had been able to locate the intruder yet. Everything was happening too fast!
Duncan tuned the communicator to Dekker’s frequency and activated it. “Man-At-Arms, the prison is under attack! We need help!”
“I’m on my way,” Dekker answered at once.
Looking good Telkan2, can't wait for more
Glad you're enjoying it, Optimus Prime! Unfortunately, I don't have any images for this particular post but here's the next part...
A lone soldier was all that stood between the assassin and the doorway to the Control Center. No ordinary soldier though, this young man stood tall at 6½ feet, and he was as solid as a brick wall. His red armor had been designed by Dekker to withstand almost any force, and a gleaming, silver helmet protected his head. This human battering-ram was known as “Ram-Man” to his friends.
“Stay where you are,” he ordered the assassin.
“I think not,” the intruder responded, brandishing his two swords.
“Don’t say I didn’t warn you!” Ram-Man sprang from his post and shot toward his blue-skinned adversary like a bullet. The two collided, and crashed through a nearby wall. A brief flash of light broke through the resultant cloud of dust and debris.
When the mess settled Ram-Man was laying unconscious on the ground as his opponent wiped the dirt from his cloak…
Captain Miro had both of his hands on his son’s shoulders. “No, Randor, you stay here. The rest of us can take care of whatever is happening at the prison.”
“Stephen is ready with the ship,” Irene pointed out. “You had better hurry if you plan on catching up with Dekker and the others.”
Miro kissed his wife and son, and then his new daughter-in-law. “I love you all, and I’ll see you soon.” With that, the captain fled the chamber to join the rest of his soldiers.
Marlena pulled her new husband aside. “I knew I was marrying a soldier, so if you feel you need to be there I understand.”
Randor regarded her lovingly. “Are you sure?”
“As sure as I am that I love you.”
The two kissed, and then Randor took off just like his father and younger brother had. Marlena’s parents joined Irene at the newly wed bride's side as she looked after her groom proudly.
“I fear that they will be outnumbered,” the Elder named Zilora said.
The group turned and found all of the Elders with their heads hung low. Then, Marlena was struck with an idea: “Father, is the Rainbow Explorer ready for flight, yet?” The vessel she spoke of was an experimental spacecraft built by Glen.
“For terrestrial flight only,” he replied. “I can summon it via remote if you think it can help the others somehow.”
The young woman nodded. “Good, then all I will need is a flight suit…”
Duncan deflected another sword-strike with his shield. Jumping from the path of the next blow, he grabbed his modified mace from a nearby shelf. Duncan lashed out with the weapon, but his enemy stopped it by forming a cross with the blades of his swords.
“Who the devil are you?” spat Dekker's protege.
“A fitting choice of words,” the other answered, taking another swing. “I am Keldor, Lord of Destruction, and future ruler of Eternia!”
Duncan reached out with his mace again, this time managing to knock one of the swords from Keldor’s grasp. “One down, one to go!”
“Ha!” Keldor gestured toward his fallen weapon and it flew back into his hand. “You were saying?”
Keldor continued his attack, forcing Duncan back. The young man was putting up a ferocious defense but he was simply no match for the cloaked warrior.
Blows continued until Keldor finally managed to push Duncan out into the hallway. Before the heroic warrior could move, Shokoti’s son had created a force-field that blocked the entrance to the room.
Duncan pounded on the barrier but it was no use. Keldor stood on the other side, smiling smugly. With a swish of his cloak he turned and made his way to the main control panel. The trespasser studied the console for a moment before activating the prison’s public-address system.
“Now hear this: This facility is now under the control of Keldor, Overlord of Evil! In a moment your pitiful cages will be unlocked, with the expectation that you will join me. Anyone who does not will be hunted down and destroyed!”
With the press of a single button, the main lighting panels shut-off, replaced by an eerie flashing series of red lights. Klaxons blared, and the cell doors could be heard opening en masse throughout the prison compound.
Duncan, still trapped outside of the Control Center, ran toward Ram-Man, who was just starting to get up. “We need to move—now!”
Together, the heroes made their way to a series of secret escape tunnels…
It is great that you continue this story, Brett!!!
Thx a lot! You rock!
I'm glad you continue to enjoy it, monstarmaster! Here's the next segment, just for you...
Meanwhile at Snake Mountain, Shokoti was using the Havoc Staff to communicate with her servant, Masque, and she liked what he had reported so far.
“Not only is her power greater than we expected but she is also far more cunning than either of us ever anticipated, Mistress. She has taken to calling herself ‘Evil-Lyn’.”
Shokoti smiled. “Good. My son must have a powerful queen.”
“But one you can still manipulate, of course.”
Suddenly Masque’s image disappeared from the staff, only to be replaced by that of a frightening looking creature. Blue flesh sagged off his bones, and he was adorned with black tattoos that seemed strangely familiar to Shokoti. The tusk of some beast pierced his nostrils, and small bones had been woven into the creature’s matted white beard. His right eye was completely blind, and the other looked cloudy.
“Who dares?” the witch demanded, her eyes crackling with charged energy.
The gnarled creature cackled, revealing broken and jagged yellow teeth. “Surely you remember me, Shokoti. I remember you.”
She stared at his visage, but there was no spark of recognition. Then she began to study more carefully the tattoos that lined his face, and she realized with a start—although distorted by his wrinkles—they were Infinitian in origin!
“Yes,” the other confirmed, “we come from the same land, Shokoti.”
“But how can that be?” she gasped. “The legends say that Infinitia was completely destroyed when Eternia was torn in two by Hordak!”
“It was,” the man replied. “But I was not in the village; I was living in exile in the jungle at the time.”
Shokoti allowed her mind to wander, trying to dredge up the identity of her long-lost countryman. Finally, she thought she had him pegged...
Shokoti, her mind still reeling from the prophesy imparted by the Oracle of the Crystal Sea, had finally returned home. Though it had been months since her departure, no one—not even her hated family—seemed to care that she was back. Instead, they were all focused on a boy who had just returned from an even more ridiculous rite of passage quest.
As the son of the Shaman, he had been expected to make his way to the Valley of Power and establish communication with his ancestors’ ghosts. Apparently he had made it to the Valley of Power but was never able to commune with his dead forefathers.
While the other villagers watched, the rotund Shaman beat his son with a thick wooden club. “Our ancestors have rejected you!” he shouted. “You are weak…Pathetic…You cannot be my firstborn!”
“Father, please,” the cowering boy whimpered. “Let me try again! Please!”
“No! You will be cast out so as not to bring my ancestors’ rage upon Infinitia!” The older men in the village nodded approvingly, while the women turned their children’s eyes away.
“Where will I go?” the bleeding boy cried out.
“I don’t care,” his father snorted. “Go into the jungle. Maybe you’ll be lucky and get eaten by a manticore!”
The boy turned in tears, and ran from his father’s home. As he neared Shokoti at the outskirts of the village he tripped and crashed to the ground. The men laughed at him, but Shokoti helped him up and brushed off his tunic.
“Don’t worry,” she whispered. “Soon they will all pay…”
Her mind returning to the present, she said, “I remember you now. You were the Shaman’s son.”
The old man on the other end of the link nodded. “We are all that’s left, Shokoti. You were right. They did all pay…with their lives!”
She nodded. “Tell me, why have you contacted me after so many years?”
“My father thought I was weak, but he didn’t know that I had sipped from the magical spring in the Valley of Power. I became more powerful than he ever was, but that didn’t matter to me. I had been exiled, and so I was determined to carve out my own legacy.
“I started hearing rumors about one of my kind being granted a seat on the Council of Wisdom. I followed your career closely, but I was far more interested in the movements you made when you thought no one was looking. I knew from the beginning how you were manipulating the Snake Men, and how you created the Horde, and every other wicked deed you instigated.”
Shokoti narrowed her eyes as she looked at him. “If you really knew all of these things, then why didn’t you do something—help me, or stop me?”
The old man cackled again. “Because the time was not right. Since I was following you so closely, I also knew of your plans for a son, and what you wanted for him. You were so close to victory, and I was about to offer my aide, when the Cosmic Enforcers stepped in. I was no match for their magic.
“It all happened so long ago that I had nearly forgotten about you. But, one day, I sensed a slight weakening in the spell that kept your sanctuary trapped beneath the desert sand. Being too old and feeble to make the journey there myself, I manipulated the Elders’ men into coming across it.”
“I see,” Shokoti replied. “I would offer my thanks, but I’m sure you have something else in mind already.”
“Perhaps…but, for now, let us turn to the subject of Keldor’s army: I know he is laying the foundation for an army to replace the Horde, and he will need strong lieutenants to help him keep those forces in check. I know of a fitting creature—brutal and loyal to a fault—right here on the Berserk Islands.”
“And why should I trust you, or this warrior of yours?”
The wrinkled old man laughed. “Because, if you ever expect to have the satisfaction of ruling Eternia through your son—and I know that you care more about your own power than his—then your plan needs to move along more quickly, and you will need to accept help when it is offered.”
“Ha! I’ve waited countless years for the day when Eternia would be at my mercy. A few more won’t hurt.”
He narrowed his bulbous eyes at her. “Don’t forget who you’re talking to, Shokoti—we’re cut from the same cloth: Long living we may be, but not immortal. I feel Death’s icy breath upon my neck every moment, and you are even older than I am.”
He shrugged, adding, “I suppose the choice is yours. If you truly desire Eternia’s conquest you’ll consider my offer.”
As the man’s visage vanished from the Havoc Staff Shokoti slammed her fist upon her thigh. The fool is right, she admitted loathingly. I must speed things along if I expect to obtain the power I’ve always dreamed of!
The moment the prison cells were de-energized there was mass rioting. Hundreds of Eternia’s most dangerous and conniving villains were suddenly free, some for the first time in over fifty years. Keldor’s instructions had already flown from the inmates’ minds, leaving only a desire to escape.
There was a rush toward the main exit, where Shokoti’s son was eagerly awaiting his new soldiers. “Move it, blue boy!” barked one particularly nasty, oozing beast. He swung at Keldor, but the attempted assault was deftly dodged.
The goateed liberator plunged his fist deeply into the larger man’s chest, and ripped out a handful of his organs. “Does anyone else having something to say?” Keldor asked calmly, as the other crumpled before him.
A resounding silence filled the massive room.
“We will make our way to Snake Mountain, in the dark hemisphere. Don’t even think about trying to escape along the way.”
A battle-scarred man made his way to the front and met Keldor’s gaze. “My name is Kronis, and I lead these men.”
“I know who you are, Kronis,” Keldor replied. “You single-handedly massacred three villages in Echo Valley before you were captured. You are the most powerful inmate in this facility, and I am counting on you to be my field commander.”
Kronis was not expecting this. He pondered the proposition, and finally acknowledged to himself that this Keldor figure could probably destroy him just as easily as he had the other prisoner. “Very well,” he agreed uneasily. “We will follow you, Keldor, and I will serve as your field commander.” To himself he added, At least until I overthrow you.
“Lord Keldor,” a voice from the crowd called. A scrawny, balding man pushed his way to the front. “I am no warrior, but my skills in the field of science can surely be an asset to you.”
The other inmates laughed uproariously.
Keldor stared at the little man. “And who are you?”
“Modulok, and I—”
He was cut-off by another round of guffaws. “That’s not his real name,” Kronis broke in. “It’s Galen Nycroft, and about all he’s good for is polishing my boots!” Another round of heckling followed.
But Keldor did not join in. “Galen Nycroft, eh? You know, you share that name with a rather notorious scientist from Eternia’s past.”
Modulok straightened his shoulders proudly. “Yes, the creator of the Horde super-soldiers; he is my ancestor.”
The Lord of Destruction nodded. “If you are equally talented, then perhaps you can be of use to me.” He turned to Kronis, who looked visibly deflated. “We’re going to Snake Mountain.” Keldor spun about, walking toward the prison’s turbo-lift.
“You heard him,” Kronis barked, waving the other prisoners on, “move out!” But before Modulok could scamper away, he grabbed the frailer man by his collar. “Hope you enjoyed your moment in the sun, worm, because it won’t last.”
Keldor brought his black steed to a halt, as the heroic forces of the Elders moved to intercept his new army. From his vantage point atop a mount, the son of Shokoti could easily see that his emancipated followers outnumbered those that sought to keep them imprisoned by at least three-to-one.
Kronis joined his rescuer at the top of the hill, and quickly made the same estimation. “This is all they sent to stop us? Pathetic.”
“Indeed. Destroy them all…except for the old man with the beard.”
“Yes. I will deal with him personally.”
“By the Ancients, is that Kronis?” Dekker asked in disbelief. It had taken the Man-At-Arms and his men months to put a stop to the mass-murderer’s rampage. “The prison must have fallen!”
“We must stand our ground no matter what,” Miro said gravely. “That was a maximum security stronghold, designed specifically to house our most dangerous prisoners. They cannot be allowed to remain free.”
At that point Randor rode up alongside his father and the Man-At-Arms. “Forgive me, father, but I could not stand by while such a threat looms over Eternia.”
The captain nodded at his son. “I forgive you, but you had better hope that Marlena is as kind as I am.” The two men smiled ever so slightly.
And then the floodgates burst! The Lord of Destruction’s new army, following in Kronis’ wake, came thundering down the hillside. The vile villains had obviously plundered the weapons that were kept in the prison complex, and they all seemed more than ready to use them.
“Attack!” Miro and Dekker shouted simultaneously, and their men launched forward at once, their own weapons poised for action.
Laser fire erupted from both sides, seemingly blasting at anything that moved. Swords clanked, and battle axes crashed down upon shields, yielding large fissures in the metallic armaments. Cries of aggression, fear, and death filled the air.
All the while Keldor remained calmly at the top of the hill, surveying the carnage he had unleashed.
The battle raged on, trudging through the sweltering heat of midday and late afternoon, and on into early evening. And while the heroes managed to put up a good front, their forces were slowly dwindling.
I must put a stop to this! Miro thought to himself. His battle togs were soiled, torn, and bloodied, and a large gash ran down the side of his face. The captain dug his boots into the sinewy side of his stallion, and it charged through the fray. Miraculously, he emerged on the other side relatively unscathed.
The self-proclaimed Lord of Destruction watched calmly as Miro dismounted and steadied his sword. “Come, old man, and embrace the destiny your son offers.”
Miro staggered to a halt, his face became ashen, and his trembling hands found it difficult to hold the blade. “Y-you are no son of mine.”
Keldor swung from his saddle and approached the other, a devilish grin upon his countenance. “Ah, but I am, and deep down you know that it is true. I am Keldor, son of Shokoti, with whom you shared a single—”
“If you are the spawn of that witch, then you were created through duplicitous means and I reject you! I have only two sons—Randor and Stephen—and you are not worthy of even treading the same soil!” Regaining the familiar feeling of steel in his veins, Miro swung at Keldor with his sword.
The evil one launched into a backward somersault, and landed out of the weapon’s reach. Unsheathing his own twin swords, Keldor smiled. “So be it, father!”
Randor could see his father engaging the enemy on the hilltop, but there was nothing he could do. He was trying his hardest to cut a swath through the escaping prisoners, but there were too many of them. The other soldiers seemed to be having similar difficulty.
“I’m coming, father,” he whispered to himself, as he deflected another assault.
“Duncan!” Dekker shouted, seeing his protégé emerging from a cloud of dust. “Thank the Ancients you survived, lad! I was worried about you.”
“So was I,” Duncan replied, striking at one of the villains with his mace. “That creature on the hilltop—he single-handedly took out all of the guards, including Ram-Man and myself!”
“None of that matters now. We need to recapture these fiends!” The Man-At-Arms used his wrist-mounted laser blaster to take out one of the convicts.
“You won’t be recapturing anyone, old man,” Kronis grunted, throwing part of a broken spear at Dekker. The projectile embedded itself deeply into his leg.
Dekker cried out in pain before collapsing.
Meanwhile, Keldor was proving far more of a match than Miro had anticipated. Not only was he skilled with his swords, but he also seemed well-versed in the arts of hand-to-hand combat and dark arts.
Miro crashed to the ground, his feet having been swiped out from under him. He barely managed to deflect a blow from his ******* son. “You may eventually defeat me, Keldor,” he spat, “but the forces of Evil will never claim Eternia for their own!”
“You’re right—because Eternia will be mine alone!” Keldor kicked his father’s sword from his gnarled hand, and then kicked him in the face on the return.
Miro groaned piteously and his sight started to fail him. Fortunately, he was too numb to feel Keldor’s swords as they pierced his chest. But he did feel Keldor’s rancid breath near his ear as he whispered, “Your precious Randor is next.”
Randor fell to his knees when he saw Keldor liberate his swords from Captain Miro’s chest. “No,” he muttered, losing track of everything else around him.
Kronis, meanwhile, was sneaking up behind the young man. In his hand he carried a large, hooked piece of metal that had broken off of another weapon during the battle. He was about to drive the hook deep into Randor’s back, when a blast of energy knocked him to the ground.
The noise from the blast was enough to jolt Miro’s son back to reality, and he spun about. Kronis was sprawled on the ground, moaning in agony as he tried to remain conscious. In the sky above, a silver ship was swooping over the battleground, firing similar laser blasts at the escaping inmates.
While Randor tried to make sense of the events unfolding around him, a blue hand placed itself on his shoulder. The young man turned, and found himself staring up at his father’s murderer, sitting triumphantly upon his dark horse.
“You will be next…brother.” Keldor pulled out a small grapple from his belt, and tossed it so that it caught on Kronis armor. “Retreat!” he shouted, galloping away and pulling his dazed ally behind him.
At once, the others took off after their new master...
The Rainbow Explorer landed nearby and its pilot disembarked. Marlena, now wearing a white flight suit, emerged from the cockpit and ran toward her husband, who was kneeling over his father. She saw Miro’s life-force pouring from his chest, and sank to the ground beside Randor.
“Father,” Randor choked. “We’ll get you to a Healer. You’ll be all right.”
“No time…” Miro choked. “Tell your mother… I love her...”
“You can tell her yourself,” Randor pleaded.
“You will be captain now. You must defend Eternia…from the evil forces…of Keldor. From…your…half…bro…ther-r-r-r…” The broken old man made a slight gurgling sound, as his body released its final breath.
Randor began to weep, and Marlena wrapped her arms around him. Duncan and Dekker—the Man-At-Arms’ leg wrapped tightly in blood-soaked bandages—hobbled to their side.
“Your father was a noble man, lad,” Dekker offered, placing a hand on Randor’s shoulder. “One of the finest warriors I ever had the honor of knowing.”
“Where is Stephen?” Randor asked grimly.
“Your brother is with a Healer,” Duncan replied. “His arm was badly broken.”
“The one named Keldor is to blame for all this,” Randor muttered through gritted teeth. “He will pay for what he has done, even if it takes my last breath!”
Some time later, the doors to Snake Mountain’s throne room flung open, and Keldor entered with pride. “It has begun,” he proclaimed. “The first of my warriors are here, and they have proven themselves to be a mighty force indeed.”
Shokoti, who had been sitting upon the throne, cleared the way for her son. “Excellent! Miro won’t—”
“Miro is dead. I killed him.”
Shokoti’s felt her blood turn to ice as she saw the wide smile upon her child’s handsome face. She had known this day would come, but the cavalier way he announced committing patricide had Shokoti wonder, for the first time, if she might one day meet a similar end. “That’s…well done, my son.”
Keldor reveled in the discomfort of his mother’s inflection, but then a lingering sense of magic caught his attention. “Someone was here,” he said accusingly.
Shokoti was glad for the change of topic. “Yes, Keldor, an old acquaintance of mine. And he told me of a powerful warrior that could be of use to us.”
“Of use to me, you mean. Tell me more.”
She stopped herself from giving the retort she would have liked. Instead, she said, “This warrior lives on the Berserk Islands. Before you can subjugate him, though, you must visit the acquaintance I mentioned. He’s a would-be Shaman that lives near Grark. He will tell you where to find the creature, but before you leave him there is something else that must be done.”
Keldor regarded his ancient mother suspiciously as she handed him a tiny vile. “Bring me his life-force, so that I may add it to my own.”
The dark wizard shrugged as he accepted the vile. “Very well. But there is something I expect in exchange for this…favor.”
Shokoti looked at him coldly. “You call this a ‘favor’? I am your mother!”
“Phah! And Miro was my father until a few hours ago. I am no fool, woman! You want to be around a little while longer so that you can rule Eternia through me. That’s always been your goal. Were you really naïve enough to think that I didn’t know?”
“I-I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“Keep up the charade if you wish,” he mocked. “It doesn’t matter. As I said, I will do as you have asked, but I want something first.”
“What is it?”
“The Havoc Staff. You have always promised it to me when the time is right. That time is now, and I will have it.”
The old witch regarded the skull-topped staff in her hand, and cursed herself for ever saying that she would relinquish it to the boy. She had not expected him to get it until after her death. On the other hand, her death was exactly what she was trying to stave off, which made bequeathing the rod a necessary sacrifice.
“Very well,” she agreed ruefully. Shokoti hobbled up the stairs to the throne, and handed the Havoc Staff to him. Currents of magical energy flowed back and forth between them, as she transferred full control of its dark powers to Keldor.
“It is done,” she said finally.
He yanked the staff away from her with such force that she almost toppled down the stairs. “Excellent!”
Just then, Kronis made his way through the open throne room doors. He was still badly bruised and injured from being dragged back to Snake Mountain. “Your warriors are familiarizing themselves with Snake Mountain. This fortress of yours is amazing, Keldor…and terrifying at the same time.”
“Not nearly as terrifying as me, Kronis. Keep that in mind while I am away.”
“Yes, I am going to the Berserk Islands. I won’t be gone long, and while I am away you will follow her orders”—he pointed toward Shokoti—“as you would my own.”
Reading between the lines, Kronis realized that he was also being charged with keeping an eye on the woman. The scarred man grunted his acknowledgment, and saluted as Keldor, Havoc Staff now in-hand, strode past him.
Once the Lord of Snake Mountain was gone Shokoti approached Kronis, a scowl upon her face. “I may look old and weak, boy, but I am feared by the Elders themselves. Don’t even think of crossing me while my son is gone.”
He sensed a dreadful truth in her words, and cursed himself for unwittingly becoming caught between his new master and the older sorceress. “Yes, ma’am,” he replied sheepishly.
As the night entered its deepest phase, a blazing fire reached toward the starry sky. Through the blistering flames, the fiery bodies of Captain Miro and the other fallen soldiers could still be seen upon a massive funeral pyre.
The Elders had arrived a short while after the battle’s end, with the exception of Zilora and Gnarl who had volunteered to stay behind and console Miro’s grief-stricken widow. From their bowed heads a collective drone could be heard, as they chanted ancient prayers and rites.
Marlena had tucked herself under Randor’s shoulder, where she did her best to keep him steady. The young man swayed slightly, and his skin felt clammy. He had settled into a state of shock, and his brown eyes, cast partially downward, looked glassy and disconnected.
Ram-Man had been charged with taking Dekker to a Healer. He placed the older man on the first available cot he could find, which was, unfortunately, next to Miro’s youngest son.
“How did we fare?” Stephen groaned, his voice still creaky from the Healer’s enchantments. “No one will tell me what happened.”
Ram-Man looked to Dekker for an answer, but the Man-At-Arms had faded from consciousness again. “We…uhm…we lost most of the prisoners,” he grunted, as he turned to leave.
The larger man stopped and sighed, and kicked at the dirt with his large boot. “A lot.” Ram-Man steeled himself for what he was about to say. “Your father…he didn’t make it. I’m sorry.”
“Eternia has lost one of its bravest warriors today,” Duquaine proclaimed to the mourning assemblage. “Miro was a good man, and an even better friend.” He cast his eyes toward Randor before continuing. “Yet, we must take heart during this sorrowful time, because one of his greatest wishes has come to pass: Randor has taken his father’s place as a captain of the Eternian Guard, and liaison to the Elders.”
The young man was aware of the Elder’s words, but they weren’t sinking in. His mind was in terrible turmoil. The day had started so joyously with his marriage to Marlena. And then the most formidable prison in all of Eternia had fallen to a single man: A man named Keldor, who would take his father’s life a short time later. And then there were the words that Miro had whispered with his last breath. How could he have a half-brother, especially one as evil as Keldor? None of it made sense, and the more he tried to sort it out, the more confused and angry he became.
From where he stood, Duncan could see the fury building in Randor. His gaze was suddenly broken, when a large falcon landed on his shoulder. A flickering glance by the Elders was the only reaction the young warrior noticed.
The Sorceress, he realized.
From her perch, the guardian of Castle Grayskull silently watched over the conclusion of the tearful gathering. As the other warriors started to clear out, she spoke to Duncan telepathically. Many more dark days lay ahead. This is just the beginning.
To his annoyance, it had taken Keldor over two days to find the Shaman’s tiny hut. When he finally reached his destination he stormed in with a vengeance. He was only slightly thrown off guard when the aged, hunched creature stated calmly, “I know of the one you seek.”
The son of Shokoti, his hood still drawn, decided to play dumb until he could determine just what this shell of a man could do. “How could you possibly know who I seek? I am not looking for any person in particular. Only one savage and strong enough to aide in my conquests.” As an added warning he said, “I’ll not abide any cheap parlor tricks, old man. I am a master of the dark arts myself.”
With his one (barely) good eye the Shaman studied Keldor. “Yes…I see that one day your powers will be equal to none.” He paused briefly before adding, “But that day is yet to pass.” The Shaman nodded, indicating that Keldor should join him on the floor. “Please, peer into my vision pool and the one you seek will become clear to you.”
“If this is a trick, Shaman”—he pointed his finger across the scrrying pool—“you’ll pay dearly.”
“Fear not my betrayal, your doubt is unfounded. Look before you with ease—you will be pleased with what you see.” To himself, the old Infinitian thought, And then I can be rid of that loathsome, bumbling brute once and for all.
Keldor looked into the bubbling waters of the cauldron between them. After a few moments the water began to glow, and an image started to form on the liquid’s surface. It was that of a hulking beast, with coarse fur the color of burning embers. The creature was ransacking a village, and mindlessly attacking its citizens. The Lord of Destruction stroked his goatee. “Most impressive indeed.”
“I trust he is to your liking.”
“Oh, yes,” Keldor answered, as he finally removed his hood. Shokoti’s son hated to admit it, but the enraged monster would be a formidably ally if he could induct him. “He will do nicely. Now, tell me how to find this creature!”
The old man struggled to his feet, and as he did so another image appeared in the cauldron: this one of the savage creature working alongside the old man at one point in the past. Noting the image, the Shaman whispered, “One does not speak so lightly of betrayal if he is not intimately familiar with it. You will know how to find him once I am paid.”
Keldor handed over a heavy pouch and the Shaman answered his question. “What you have seen has not yet come to pass. Follow the setting sun to the village in the west and your paths will cross. Be on guard at all times…crossing paths with those as ferocious as the one you seek does not always result in triumph…often, quite the opposite.” The Shaman went on to say, “Your mere presence among my talismans and artifacts will boost what little powers you have for a matter of days. Expect to use this power boost on your quest.”
Keldor smiled arrogantly as he pulled his hood back up. As he walked from the hut back toward his chariot, the Shaman called out, “You have been warned.”
Shokoti’s son listened as the Shaman made his way back inside, and then Keldor waited. A radiant burst of green light filled the hut for a single second, and then there was a crashing thud.
The cloaked warrior made his way back into the old Infinitian’s home and found him sprawled out on the floor next to the upturned cauldron. In his lifeless hands the Shaman still clung to the vile that had been wrapped-up in the moneybag. The tiny container was now filled with the Shaman’s remaining life-force, which Keldor would pass on to his conniving mother later.
He made his way back to his chariot and started the westward trek as he had been instructed. Soon, he would have another mighty warrior under his thumb.
The rain had been coming down for quite some time, which did little for the brutish Beastman’s mood (or his stench). The creatures of the forest had been whispering to him of a stranger on the island, one that had held a brief audience with the Shaman prior to his destruction.
The simian fiend worked his way across an obstacle course of slippery vines and thick tree limbs, growing angrier with each pass. For years he had allied himself with the Shaman, doing his handiwork for him while benefiting from the magical protection the tiny man offered. That alliance had recently come to an end, however, when Beastman stole a potion from the Shaman that would give him the power to control Eternia’s land animals. Fearing what Beastman would do to him should he become even more power hungry, the Shaman had apparently betrayed him to a rising warlord from the east.
Beastman paused atop a tree near a primitive village, where the stranger’s scent still lingered amidst the torrential rains. He narrowed his yellow eyes and trained his powerful ears.
Suddenly, the wall of a hut on the outskirts exploded, expelling a cloaked man and a werewolf from its interior. From what Beastman could hear, the man—obviously the foreigner that had come looking for him—had apparently gotten a little too friendly with a female the werewolf had marked as his own.
He watched the skirmish for a moment, gleaning what he could of the warlord’s formidable fighting skills before making his move.
Keldor was doing his best to fend off the werewolf, but the rain and mud were slowing him down greatly. His animalistic opponent, however, did not seem to suffer the same problem. Suddenly, the werewolf was yanked away; rather painfully by the sound of his yelps. “Wha—?”
The sight that met Keldor as he staggered to his feet was a terrifying one, even for him. The orange brute from the Shaman’s scrrying pool was mere feet away, and his clawed feet appeared to have ripped out the werewolf’s innards.
Beastman let out a deafening roar as he turned his attention toward his would-be captor.
“My, you are a vicious creature, aren’t you?” Keldor said calmly. “I have no doubt that I could have eventually bested him on my own, but you saved me the trouble.”
The hulking simian’s shoulders rose and fell with each deep breath.
“Oh, yes,” Keldor commented approvingly, “you’re perfect. You’ll be of great use to me in all my future conquests. You’ll make a nice addition to my army.” Lost now in his own ideations, he continued, “It’s just a simple matter of learning how to control you…yes, that will be the trick. In time, savage beast, you will become one of my greatest assets.”
“I’ll taste your flesh instead,” the creature retorted, leaping into the air with another roar.
His revere broken, Keldor shouted, “So be it! Have it your way, animal!” He unleashed a stream of black magic, but it had seemingly no effect. As the creature landed the Lord of Destruction was forced into a backward somersault to save himself.
The beast grabbed Keldor’s ankle, and began swinging him like a rag-doll. “I think you underestimate me,” he growled. He slammed the wizard into the ground, but was hit in the face by another spell.
The orange furred behemoth cried out in agony. “You’re going to wish you never came here,” Beastman seethed, grabbing Keldor by both legs this time. He slammed the son of Shokoti into the trunk of a tree repeatedly, interrupting the warlord’s rambling threats, before flinging him as far as he could.
Keldor hit the ground hard, and slid into the base of a hut on a bed of slippery mud. While the jungle creature raced toward him, Keldor rasped, “That was a fatal mistake, Man-Beast.”
“That’s Beastman,” the attacker corrected, leaping into the air once more.
“Not for long,” Keldor spat, using his magic to summon the Havoc Staff. He unleashed its wicked energy upon Beastman, sending him careening across the village. “Fool, you face Keldor, Master of the Dark Arts.”
He marched toward his debris-covered foe, the Havoc Staff still trained on the beast. “Now, swear your—”
Beastman jumped up, and knocked the Havoc Staff from Keldor’s hand before renewing his assault. He pounded and pounded, until the son of Shokoti was an unconscious, bloody lump. He was just about to bite his would-be-captor’s head off when he felt tiny darts bury themselves in his hide.
He released Keldor, and turned to face the new group of attackers. They were undoubtedly King Trinok’s men, trying to put a stop to his tyranny of the island once and for all. He ran at the pig-like soldiers, but the tranquilizing effects of their darts rendered him unconscious before he could do anything.
When Keldor regained consciousness, it was not a pleasant experience. He carefully opened one eye, but it was enough to make his head feel as if it were being slammed by a sledge-hammer. Reluctantly, his body managed to sit-up so that he could take stock of his whereabouts. Unfortunately, those whereabouts consisted of some kind of dungeon area that smelled like a dirty stable.
Beastman, sitting in the corner of an adjoining cage, grumbled, “Look what you’ve done. Now we both die.”
Keldor turned his bruised face toward his would-be-servant. “Where are we, animal?”
Instead of Beastman, a mangy, dog-like beast who shared Keldor’s cell answered. “You are in the kingdom of Trinok, ruler of all the Berserk Islands. You are to be the feast at his grand festival tonight.”
“What?” Keldor bellowed, forcing his cellmate to cringe.
The malnourished animal answered carefully. “You…are to be…prepared before him…as part of the festival…in a few…minutes.”
Although his body was racked with pain, and he was sure that at least two of his ribs were broken, there was no doubt in Keldor’s mind that he would do whatever it took not to wind up on a roasting spit.
He turned to face the simian brute in the cell next to him, realizing that this could be the opportunity he needed to gain control of the monster. “What of it, Beastman? Is this a fate you wish for yourself?”
“Why do you care? You should be happy that I die too. Maybe you’ll get lucky and they will cook me first.”
Keldor shook his head, though it pained him to do so. “No, my goal is to recruit you, not to kill you,” he explained. “Now you will serve me because you have no choice. Together we can escape this, without me you will die. The choice is yours, Beastman. Life or death…”
Just then, two of Trinok’s guards appeared. “Up, worms! Time has come.”
Beastman glanced at Keldor, and realized that the wizard was probably his best chance for escape. Their eyes met momentarily, and they nodded...
Great installment again, Brett!
I have been busy during the last weeks...sorry that I did not leave a comment earlier. I am really looking forward to where this story is heading.
Hope to read another chapter soon!
PS: I would really like to see Hiss interactíng with Skeletor later on. It would be cool if Skeletor was the one to free him from the void. I always liked this mini-comic scenario...