This is a story I've been working on for a while now. It's a mostly Filmation-style tale (with some MYP influences) about Adam's finding the Power Sword.

Disclaimer: This is fan-fic. I don't own, or have any connection to, Filmation or Mattel.

By the Power of Grayskull!

Teela'Na, the Sorceress of Castle Grayskull and Guardian of its arcane secrets, awoke with an inexplicable mixture of hope and dread bubbling inside her. She rose from her bed and went to her window, looking out to watch the sun rise over the horizon as she did every morning. Yet, she knew this day was different; the sun seemed brighter and the sky bluer for some reason and the mixed emotions she felt would not be dismissed.

"I have not felt like this since the day I first came to Castle Grayskull and accepted Kuduk Ungol's bargain to replace her as Sorceress in return for the power to save my people," the ageless woman said softly to herself as she continued to watch the sunrise. "My fear and hope that day are equal to the emotions I feel today."

The Sorceress turned away from the window and walked gracefully from her room. She glided down the dark stone corridor to the Throne Room of Castle Grayskull, past the Travel Corridor Chamber, the Hall of He-Man - wherein lay the two halves of the Sword of Power and the weapons of the He-Men of the past -, and her laboratory as she considered her mental and emotional state and what it might portend. Teela'Na's inner eye envisioned all sorts of possibilities, from the mundane to the horrific, as she prepared a light breakfast and ate before ascending the throne that had once belonged to King D'Vann Grayskull. Little did she know that the futures she suspected would pale in comparison to the reality.

Two hours passed as Teela'Na sent her mind's eye out to view the goings on around Eternia. She smiled as she saw children play and learn in little villages and large cities while their parents worked. In Eternos itself, King Randor and his Queen, Marlena, were busy seeing to the day-to-day affairs of running a kingdom as Man-At-Arms, her good and dear friend, worked in his own lab while the Trollan wizard Orko tried, ineptly, to assist him.

The Sorceress's throat constricted and her eyes suddenly brimmed with tears as she sought and found her beloved daughter, Teela, now Captain of the Royal Guard. The young woman, who was a mirror image of her mother, was searching for Prince Adam, an irritated expression on her face. Yet, there was no sign of the Prince himself. Teela' Na frowned thoughtfully as she continued her search.

Suddenly, the scrying mirror on the left wall of the Throne Room wavered and the Sorceress glanced at it sharply. "What's this?" she asked in her soft voice. The mirror rarely activated without her command and, when it did, it was always prior to a significant event. Her eyes widened and her face went pale when she saw the image within the mirror's depths. "Goddess no," the woman gasped dejectedly. Teela'Na saw the ominous citadel Snake Mountain from overhead, as if she were soaring in the skies in her alternate form of Zoar the falcon.

The vision blurred and changed, until Teela'Na was staring into the throne room of that grim edifice. Her already pale face took onÄa deathly pallor as she beheld the yellow skull which was the face of Skeletor, a demon from another dimension who was once the second-in-command of Hordak, the ruthless leader of the Evil Horde. The Sorceress stared at that grim skull for a long moment, as always feeling some strange familiarity with the demon, before her eyes fell to the crossed femurs on his baldric, an ancient symbol of the duality of matter made corrupt by Skeletor' s dark heart.

Surrounding the Lord of Destruction was a cadre of nefarious individuals. The Sorceress recognized Beast Man, the orange-and-red furred master of monstrous creatures; Tri-Klops, a bounty hunter turned servant of Skeletor; Trap-Jaw, and Evil-Lyn with her staff of power.

Suddenly, the image dissolved and the Guardian of Grayskull was staring at a forest scene. As the mirror enhanced the image the Sorceress noticed a young man of eighteen walking along the edges of the forest. Blonde-haired and tall, with a muscular physique, the eighteen year old wore a pink vest and white shirt with furred purple pants and boots; by his side was a large green tiger with yellow stripes who seemed to view everything with a certain nervous tension.

The Sorceress had found Prince Adam, but she took no joy in the discovery. "It cannot be time yet," she said to herself. "He is still a boy." The mirror, in response, zoomed in closer and the Throne Room darkened, then lightened, quickly. The Sorceress rose from her throne in reply to the Spirit of the Castle's actions as Grayskull himself answered her, and walked to the nearest window."Then, if it is time," she said grudgingly in response to the Spirit's urging, "he must be tested in some way to make sure he is ready." Lifting her arms and closing her eyes, the Sorceress concentrated and said, "Change." A white light enveloped her and she transformed, her body seeming to melt into the falcon known as Zoar. Beating her wings once, she leapt from the edge of the window and flew off toward the Wind Forest.
*****

Adam's senses were overpowered as he walked through the Wind Forest, his blond, pageboy style hair blowing in the soft breeze. The forest's humidity tightened his broad chest and quickly soaked his white shirt and pink vest. The dazzling green leaves of the trees and the underbrush amazed him, as did the earthy, natural smell of this primeval environment. Beside the young prince, the son of King Randor and Queen Marlena of Eternia, strode his ever faithful - if somewhat timid - companion Cringer.

"It's a beautiful day, isn't it Cringer?" Adam said to his pet tiger as they stopped so the animal could bite at his green furred shoulder, attempting to remove a tick that had attached itself to him near one of his bright yellow stripes.

Cringer stopped what he was doing and looked up. "If you say so Adam," he said. "But, to be honest I'd rather be at the palace. There aren't any ticks or fleas there."

Adam laughed. "No, I guess there aren't." He looked up suddenly in response to a prickling sensation in the back of his mind and a motion caught his eye. "What was that?" he said. Cringer immediately rose and began to look around, his hackles raised at the tension in Adam's voice.

The young man looked up to see a falcon flying overhead. Slowly, he relaxed and let out a relieved chuckle. "Just a bird," he said. He gazed at it as it flew overhead. "It's beautiful," he went on, admiring its orange, blue and white feathers. "I don't believe I've ever seen one like it before."

The falcon circled overhead three times as Adam watched it and it seemed to the prince as if the bird's keen gaze was focused on him. After the falcon's third circuit the bird flew off toward the northwest and let out a loud screech.

Adam watched it thoughtfully, feeling almost as if the bird were calling out to him, beckoning him to follow. He stood rooted to the ground, indecision written on his face as he considered pursuing the proud creature. Seeing the look on Adam's face and knowing what it meant, Cringer quickly intervened. "Adam, your parents are expecting us at the palace soon. We can't be late."

"I know Cringer," Adam said absently as he stared in the direction the falcon had flown. Slowly, he began to make his way forward. The bird had stirred something inside him, some yearning, and he knew he had to find the source of that feeling. He looked back to see Cringer resting on his haunches, looking at him with fear in his eyes. "Come on," Adam said, looking back at Cringer with a sympathetic expression on his face. "I know you don't want to go, but somehow that falcon is calling to me." Then he grinned reassuringly as his eyes shone with intense energy. "It'll be fine. Besides, you wouldn't want me to go deeper into this forest alone would you?"

Cringer sighed and walked over to Adam's side. "I guess not," he mumbled. Adam placed his hand on the tiger's head gratefully and then the two began trekking through the forest. His progress became more difficult with each step he took, almost as if the Wind Forest itself were alive and was trying to keep him from reaching his goal.

Branches and limbs snagged at his arms, cutting into him as his purple booted feet seemed to find every hole in that forest. The sky overhead darkened as the forest canopy closed in, hiding the blue dome from Adam's sight.

"Blast it," he swore as he stumbled through the woods. The young man paused briefly and closed his eyes, trying to remember every bit of wood lore that Man-At-Arms and Teela had taught him over the years. When he felt prepared, the prince opened his eyes and continued walking, moving swiftly and surely through the trees. The branches that had snagged him caused him no more problems as he glided through them, watching carefully to make sure his feet didn't get caught in any more holes. The forest felt disgruntled to Adam and Cringer as its prey foiled every attempt to catch it. Eventually, that arboreal discontent was replaced by grudging acceptance as the trees pulled back and no more holes appeared in the ground.

"That's better," Adam said confidently as he continued walking. He traveled through the woods with ease now and a quarter of an hour later he made his way to an area where the darkness of the forest canopy finally gave way to light again. "I was beginning to think we'd be stuck in darkness all day Cringer," Adam said. The cat didn't respond and Adam looked around with alarm; Cringer, his friend, had disappeared! "Cringer!" Adam called, but there was no response.

Fear gripped Adam and he turned around, heading quickly back the way he'd come in search of the tiger. Visions of Cringer caught in some pit or harmed - perhaps even dead - by some other means flashed through Adam's mind's eye as he searched frantically for the cat, brushing aside limbs and vines swiftly as his eyes darted to and fro. He backtracked again and again, certain each time that he had headed back the way they'd come, but every direction he went turned into a dead end.

"Cringer!" he called again, his voice echoing back to him. Adam wiped the sweat from his brow, his hair and clothes soaked with it as he tried to slow his breathing.

"Adam!" Cringer's voice came back to him from a distance. Adam called out again as he ran in the direction he thought he'd heard his friend's voice coming from. Again and again he yelled Cringer's name, trying to pinpoint his location, until he finally found the tiger trapped within a tangle of vines.

"There you are!" Adam said, relief evident in his voice. He took out his knife and began cutting at the vines, careful not to hurt Cringer in the process. When he was done, Adam put his arm around Cringer's neck and pulled the tiger to him in a playful headlock. "You scared me to death!"

"I was pretty scared myself," Cringer confessed.

The two of them got up and Adam traced his steps back to that threshold in the forest where things seemed so much brighter. Slowly, cautiously, he and Cringer made their way into that light. Adam's eyes widened as he looked ahead into a desolate area.

Squatting on the other side of a wide canyon stood a large, greenish-gray castle. The front of the fortress was shaped like a human skull with wide, staring eye sockets and a mouth closed by a wooden drawbridge. Atop one of the castle's towers fluttered a golden flag with two crossed swords in its center.

"Castle Grayskull," Adam said in wonder. Castle Grayskull was a place of myth and legend, the fortress of Adam's ancestor, King D'Vann Grayskull. It was also the center of an ancient power - or so the stories claimed. Adam and Cringer stared at it in awe for a long moment as a far away storm shot lightning from its clouds to surround the battlements and towers of that huge, imposing citadel. Adam started as he heard the familiar falcon's screech and looked up to see that beautiful bird soaring ahead to land at the edge of the abyss. His eyes widened incredulously when a light surrounded the falcon and it transformed quickly to be replaced by a beautiful woman dressed in the feathers and headdress of a falcon identical to the one Adam had followed.

"Welcome to Castle Grayskull, Prince Adam," the woman said in a voice that, though soft, still carried easily to him nearly a hundred yards away. Adam paused as he reflected upon that and, with a start, realized that she had not spoken to him; her words had been thought and then placed in his mind. Slowly, cautiously, Adam and Cringer made their way to stand in front of the woman and she smiled into his eyes. Her smile was infectious and Adam felt himself grinning in return. He was drawn to the power in her eyes, and the energy and warmth that seemed to radiate from her very soul. Here was a woman of force, he knew, and one he felt he could trust completely- though he knew not why.

"I have awaited your coming for centuries," she said, speaking now instead of using her telepathic powers. "Now is the time and this is the place for you to finally receive your destiny."

"What destiny?" Adam asked her. "And why did you not come to the palace, my lady? I know my father would have welcomed you with a banquet fit for a queen."

"I did not come to you for many reasons," the woman said. "Foremost among them is that destiny will not come when called. The destined must come to it." She paused briefly and sat on a rock, reaching out to scratch Cringer behind the ears, causing the tiger to close his eyes and rumble in contentment.

"First, let me introduce myself. I am known as the Sorceress and I am the Guardian of the secrets of Castle Grayskull." Adam nodded, having heard of such a personage, though he'd previously written the "Sorceress" off as only a legend. It was obvious now that she was so much more than a mere fable. "I have brought you here today so that you might take up your destined role as champion of this world.

Adam looked at her skeptically. "Me?" he said, and his voice sounded harsh in his own ears. "The champion of the world?" He laughed and shook his head. "I don't think so, Sorceress. Eternia can do a lot better than me." He sighed and smiled a slightly bitter smile. "Just ask my father or Teela or Man-At-Arms. They'll tell you I'm right."

"You only believe that you are right because that is all you've ever heard your entire life Adam," the Sorceress said gently. She stood again, placing her hands on the young man's shoulders and gazing deeply into his eyes. "But, you have a destiny, and more than that you have the ability to fulfill it." She squeezed his shoulders gently and smiled. "You will be He-Man, the most powerful man in the universe, and you will defend this planet from the evil that is growing in the land. It is soon to spill out into your kingdom, Adam, and your people will need you."

"He-Man?" Adam asked despite himself; he'd heard that term before in stories but never really understood it. "Who - or what - is He-Man?" The young man didn't really believe in destiny, but the Sorceress's words were very compelling. What if she were right? he thought to himself. Deep down, the prince had always wanted to be the leader his father was and the warrior that Man-At-Arms and Teela were. If the Sorceress was right about him, this could be his chance to be that leader and warrior'

"He-Man is the embodiment of the powers of Castle Grayskull," the Sorceress told him. "But, more than that he is you Adam. There have been other He-Men before, but you are the He-Man. He-Man is who you have always had the potential to be, that all men have the potential to be if they would merely set aside their doubts, insecurities and selfish desires to find the understanding that comes from self-knowledge."

"Doesn't that type of self-knowledge take time and introspection?" Adam asked her. "From what you've said, I don't think I have that kind of time - if I even believed any of this," he added quickly.

"There is a way," the Sorceress told him. "Long ago, the power to reach such enlightenment was placed in a very special key called the Sword of Power, a Sword which only you may use." The woman looked at him gravely. "I know this is all rather sudden, Adam. But, you must take up your birthright. You must become He-Man. You have the choice of walking away, but if you do so then darkness will spread over the planet forever."

"That's not really a choice at all," Adam said ruefully as he shook his head. "I either take up the Sword and fight a battle I don't want to have to fight or don"t and everyone suffers because of it." He squared his shoulders and stared at her. "May I see this Sword, Sorceress?" he asked quietly. "I should at least see what I'm getting into, don't you think?"

The Sorceress smiled at him, pleasure brightening her lovely features. She turned and gestured and, with a slow, grinding movement the Jaw Bridge that hadn't lowered in centuries came crashing down. "Please follow me," she instructed Adam. He walked after her, Cringer by his side. The cat had been quiet throughout the entire discussion, but Adam could tell by the way he had laid down by the Sorceress, and by how he stalked toward the castle now, that the tiger wasn't happy with this at all.

The trio moved into a large, dark throne room and past that into a corridor which led to a large Hall. Within that Hall Adam saw a myriad of weapons placed strategically around the room. Holstered on a peg on the far wall was a silver laser gun with the name Wun-Dar etched on a bronze plate beneath it. Directly across from it a large battle axe was crossed in front of a shield with the name Vykor under both. In the center of the room rested another battle axe on top of a silver shield quartered in crimson. Both lay on a large wooden table with a brown leather baldric to their right. The baldric had an odd stylized design on it, and directly to its right were two crossed swords. Gilded letters were etched into the edge of the table, spelling out the name D'Vann Grayskull.

But, it was to the wall nearest the entrance to the Hall that Adam's eyes were drawn. A bright Sword hung against the wall in a glass case. It was an oddly forged Sword, all of one piece from what the prince could tell, with a guard that rose into two curved-in sides which were part of the blade itself. The Sorceress walked over to the glass and, with another gesture, easily disintegrated it. Carefully, she took the Sword down and walked over to Adam.

"It's an extraordinary weapon," Adam said in a hushed voice as he stared at it. He could almost feel power rolling off of it and his heart began to beat quickly in his chest as his hand rose involuntarily and wrapped around the blade's hilt. Immediately, he sensed an intense anticipation coming from the Sword, directed at him. "It feels alive!" he said as he held it in both hands and raised the blade to his face in a salute, studying its keen edge.

"It is alive, Adam," the Sorceress said to him as she watched him. Her eyes pierced Adam as she stared at the prince and hope shone on her face. "Now Adam," she said. "Hold aloft your Sword and say, 'By the Power of Grayskull'!"

"By the Power of Grayskull,' Adam said to himself, looking at the blade and then at her, suddenly anxious. Tossing aside that anxiety after a moment's hesitation, he did as he was told. His right arm rose and the Sword with it as he said in a firm, clear voice, "By the Power of Grayskull!"

Lightning surrounded Adam, boiling up from his spirit, as he said the words and an immediate change came over him. The illusion of himself that he'd built over the years, partly due to other people's views of him, melted away and he saw himself for who he really was. His heart soared with pride as his mind opened to the vastness of his potential. His physical being, every electrical synapse, sang in response to his sudden understanding as power surged from his groin to the crown of his head.

Adam's skin darkened to a healthy tan, his hair went from yellow to golden, and his frame, already muscular, increased in size as his vest and white shirt transformed into a gray baldric which sported a red cross pateé. Adam knew instinctively that the symbol would represent forever more that he was a witness to the Truth and a defender of the Good and that, for all his life, he would sacrifice himself for that Truth and for that Good. Gold bracers covered his wrists and a golden belt rested over the furred brown loincloth which had transformed from his purple and violet furred pants. Brown boots took the place of his purple ones.

Adam brought his Sword down and held it crossways in front of him to grip the blade firmly with his other hand, yet no blood poured from any cut to his skin.

"I have the power!" he cried out joyously as he examined the blade and realized that the anticipation he'd felt previously was gone; now it was a symbol of intelligence, reason, and justice, of truth and clarity. Then, because he knew it was the right thing to do, the illuminated man pointed the Sword of Power at his faithful friend while Cringer flinched in fear. A bolt of pure energy pulsed out of him, conducted through the Sword, and struck Cringer full in the chest, driving right into his soul. The tiger drew into himself as the energy coursed through him, melding with his spirit and changing him.

Cringer resisted mightily at first, his fears rising to fight against this enforced illumination. That luminosity quickly prevailed, however, and then the cat was suddenly on his feet, twice as large as he'd been previously and covered with red armor from head to tail. Cringer, knowing his name in this form to be Battle Cat, let out a roar that was equal parts triumph and trepidation.

"Well done!" the Sorceress said, her voice exultant as she clapped her hands together. "Well done indeed, He-Man!" Adam reversed his Sword and sheathed it behind his back as he turned to the Sorceress, his eyes piercing and his expression resolute. She gazed back at him and smiled. "What are your thoughts He-Man? Why do you look at me so?"

"Because I know you," he said in a deep baritone and there was a gentleness in his eyes. Adam knelt before her and lowered his head. "I must thank you, Sorceress. You have shown me who I am and I swear to you, from this day forward I will be Eternia's champion. I will protect her and her people with all of my power and, furthermore I promise that I will never take an innocent life. Should I ever do so, then on that day will the power return and the Sword be thrown into the Bottomless Abyss."

"I hear you He-Man," the Sorceress replied as she took his hand and guided the champion to his feet. "Know that your oath, as all oaths taken in Castle Grayskull, is binding. Should you ever forfeit it, you will lose all forever."

"I know Sorceress," Adam said. He walked over to Cringer, placing his hand on the top of the helmet that covered the cat's face, revealing only his lower jaw. "How do you feel old friend?" Adam asked the transformed cat.

"Wonderful!" Cringer roared, tamping down his hesitancy. He butted his head against Adam's side affectionately and growled softly. "I have never felt so free and alive before." Then he raised his lip in a snarl. "Though, I fear there is a part of me that will always be anxious. Do not look for me to ever enjoy this transformation."

"I understand," Adam said with a laugh. Stepping back, he slowly removed the Sword from its sheath and raised it over his head again. Immediately, there was a flash and the prince stood in place of his true self, Cringer shaking by his side. Though his strength and physical prowess were now nowhere near what they were during his illumination, the prince knew that he was forever changed and would be equal to any task put before him.

"You must keep your identity secret Adam," the Sorceress cautioned him as if reading his mind. "You may tell only two trusted friends about He-Man. Should you tell any more, those you care about could be in grave danger."

Adam sighed and nodded. "I understand Sorceress," he said. "Thank you for this gift/" he said as he held the Sword of Power up. Quickly sheathing it again, he looked around. "I think it's time I got back to the palace, though. Father will have my hide for being so late as it is."

"Have a safe journey, Your Highness," the Sorceress said. Adam nodded his thanks and he and Cringer began their journey back to Eternos, the young man pursued the entire way by thoughts of his newfound powers and responsibilities. It would not be easy hiding who he was, he knew. He would have to learn to exaggerate his already eccentric attitude and possibly even let others come to believe him craven during those times when he needed to unlock his potential and take on the guise of He-Man. He continued thinking about the issue, talking with Cringer about it, until he finally saw the road to Eternos.

The young man continued his journey home, but stopped when he heard an ominous sound. Looking at Cringer, Adam slowly approached the city to see it being attacked. His eyes widened as a blue-skinned being in purple, sitting astride a purple panther, raised a rams-head staff at the city walls and fired bolts of mystical energy at it while others used different means to assault Eternia's capital. One, a coldly beautiful woman, attacked with similar mystic bolts from her own staff while a furred, bestial looking man ordered monsters to attack. A green-garbed man fought Man-At-Arms sword to mace as his three eyes switched back and forth, and a mer-man battled against a beleaguered Teela and a soldier from the garrison. Lastly, a metal-jawed man with a green face and blue skin used various weapons ranging from a laser to a hook to fight off several palace guardsmen. Behind them all were menacing robotic knights, swooping in again and again to attack the soldiers.

"Come out, come out wherever you are Randor!" the blue-skinned leader said in a nasally voice. "Let's not dawdle now. You wouldn't want your people to think you a coward would you?" The figure cackled and turned its head. Adam blanched as he saw the yellow skull hanging within that purple hood. He'd never seen such a ghastly sight before.

"I'm not the coward here," Adam heard his father say in his deep voice. King Randor appeared in his crimson battle armor, sword in hand. "Go back to the snake pit you crawled out of Skeletor. We defeated you once before and we can do so again!"

"Strong words from a man whose army is being crushed," the skull-headed man said sardonically. "Give up the crown of Eternia, Randor. If you do, I promise not to harm your wife and your precious son." He laughed again and raised his staff to blast a hole in the ground near the king. "Once I have Eternia's capital and her army, I will be able to launch a successful attack on Castle Grayskull and take the powers held within its walls!"

"Come with me Cringer," Adam said grimly. He and the cat made their way to a secluded area and Adam raised his Sword high. "By the Power of Grayskull!" When the change was complete, he climbed onto Cringer's saddle with a creak of leather and the two charged to the battle. Cringer, now in the form of Battle Cat, roared as they came into view of the attackers and the evil force turned to gape at him, as did the defenders of Eternia. Adam raised his Sword and brought it down quickly, knocking the orange-furred villain aside before moving ahead, his Sword deflecting energy beams and sorcerous attacks alike while Cringer trampled the metal-jawed one and the warrior with three eyes.

"No one is conquering Eternia today!" Adam said loudly as he eyed the leader of the group. He heard the woman call out to Skeletor and his eyes narrowed. "Take your ruffians and go back to whatever hole you crawled out of Skeletor. I won't give you a second chance."

"Who are you to give orders to me?" Skeletor demanded indignantly. "I am Skeletor, the Lord of all that is Evil in Eternia! You will bow down to me, barbarian!" He raised his staff and fired a bolt straight at Adam. Eternia's Champion easily the magic.

"I am He-Man," Adam replied. "And I am the defender of this planet. You will leave here now." He pressed his knees to Cringer's flanks and the cat charged forward, even as Skeletor's own beast began to run toward him. The two felines met in a loud crash, clawing and gnashing at each other while Adam and Skeletor fought grimly, Sword to staff. Finally, Cringer pushed his counterpart away and Skeletor fell from his saddle. There was a large gash in the purple panther's side, but thankfully only a few scratches on Cringer. "Good armor," Adam muttered and Cringer rumbled his assent. Then, he nudged his companion into a steady walk, slowly stalking toward Skeletor. " !"

Skeletor jumped to his feet and climbed back astride his cat. "Back to Snake Mountain!" he cried to his followers. "Retreat!" Then he turned and his eye sockets glowed. "You haven't seen the last of me, He-Man. I will return!"

"And I'll be waiting," Adam promised him. He sheathed his Sword and turned back toward the city he'd grown up in, his gaze taking in the devastation and the weary faces of his father the King and the Heroic Warriors who defended the realm. He looked upon each of them with new understanding, and a sense of pride washed over him that he was a part of their company.

King Randor approached slowly. "Thank you for your help stranger," he said as he held out his hand. Adam took that hand, shaking firmly. "Your timely arrival saved Eternos. Know that you have the friendship of Randor, King of Eternia. Should you ever have need of anything, you only have to ask and it will be done."

"Thank you f-Your Majesty," Adam said, catching himself at the last moment. He released his father's grip and sat back in Cringer's saddle."My name is He-Man," he said, and noticed a subtle recognition in his father's eyes, as well as in the eyes of some of the other Warriors. The look on Duncan's face gave him special pause."The Sorceress of Castle Grayskull sent me to be a Champion to Eternia against Skeletor's dark ambition. I swear to you that so long as I draw breath he shall not triumph."

Randor nodded, his dark hair bobbing slightly. "There have been tales of a warrior known as He-Man for centuries," he said after a moment."A mysterious man who arrives when Eternia most needs him. This He-Man comes from North and South, East and West, to protect the planet from evil. He first appeared after the fall of our Great King, D'Vann Grayskull. There have been many times, like today, when we would not have triumphed without your assistance."

"Oh, I don't know about that Your Majesty," a high-pitched voice said. Adam turned to see a floating creature dressed in purple and orange, his face covered by a blue scarf. "I think we were doing just fine." The creature, who Adam knew to be Orko, the court jester, turned to look at the transformed prince. "No offense," the Trollan wizard said quickly. "But, I think we had everything taken care of, He-Man."–

"I'm sure you did Orko," Adam said in his deep baritone, sharing an amused glance with his father. The Trollan floated diffidently, wringing his hands. "Still, I wanted to help."

"And we're very glad you did He-Man," Duncan, otherwise known as Man-At-Arms, said quickly. The mustached man smiled, his brown eyes crinkling. "You're Majesty, if you don't mind I think I'll let Teela lead the cleanup. I would like to speak to He-Man alone for a moment."

"Of course Duncan," Randor said. "Thank you again He-Man." The King walked away with his Warriors to begin the cleanup with Teela's assistance. Adam turned to his old friend with a curious expression on his face.

"Why don't we go to my lab?" The older man suggested. Adam slid from Cringer's saddle and walked with the general into the palace and from there to his lab. When they entered, Duncan turned and arched an eyebrow. "I see you've finally learned of your heritage Adam," he said proudly. "It came not a moment too soon."

"Adam?!" Orko exclaimed. He looked back and forth between Duncan and the prince, who was staring at his friend with a shocked expression. "This is He-Man, Man-At-Arms, not Adam!"

"How did you know?" Adam asked. He unsheathed his Sword and raised it over his head, reverting to his usual appearance with a flash of light that caught Orko off guard. The wizard stared at him with wide yellow eyes.

"I've known for a long time Adam," Duncan said with a smile. "The Sorceress and I are old friends. She told me that some day you would take up that Sword. I didn't believe her at first, but I'm glad to see she was right." The man smiled. "You've done well today, my prince." He reached out and placed his right hand on Adam's shoulder, squeezing gently. "I'm very proud of you. I know your parents will be as well."

"Thank you," Adam said with a lump in his throat. "But, my parents cannot know. I was told that only two others could share my secret." He looked between Duncan and Orko with a wry expression on his face. "I guess that's you two."

"Well, we're honored to share that secret. Aren't we Orko?" Duncan gave Orko a meaningful look.

"Oh yeah," Orko said exuberantly. "Definitely! This is great Adam. Can I see your Sword?" The two humans, and Cringer, laughed loudly as Orko started to blush.
*****

Queen Marlena Glenn, wife of King Randor of Eternia, watched the battle below with a stoic expression on her face that belied the anxiety and frustration roiling inside her. She feared both for her beloved husband and his warriors as they contended with the demon Skeletor (who they had all thought banished years ago) and for her son, Adam, who had left earlier that day and was still gone. Yet, she also wished to be down there with those brave men and women, her Higuchi 1141 rifle in hand as she fought off the invaders attacking her peaceful home.

Her dark gaze swept the battlefield, watching her husband leading his troops with the aid of their friend and general, Duncan. Nearby, his daughter Teela, the Captain of the Royal Guard, strove mightily against the foe. Others fought as well, each man and woman determined to push back Skeletor and his Evil Warriors.

Suddenly, there was a roar and Marlena looked quickly to see a large, muscular man astride an armored green tiger join the fray. She watched him intently as he and Skeletor fought together. Marlena saw the warrior's lips moved as he spat defiance at the skull headed villain, but could not understand him from her place so high up in the tower. Marlena studied the warrior as he and his cat did battle, sensing something very familiar about him. She sighed in frustration as she racked her brain, wondering what it was that had caught her attention. If she were down there assisting in the battle, she would be able to learn more about this mysterious hero. But, ever since the loss of her daughter to Skeletor and Hordak when Adam and Adora were just babies, Randor had been excessively protective of his wife's safety. The two monarchs had argued heatedly over Randor's stubbornness for years, but the King was adamant about protecting her.

In moments the malevolent sorcerer was defeated. Marlena watched him quickly call his forces to retreat, leaving the victorious Eternians behind to begin the cleanup. The redheaded Queen continued to examine the scene carefully while her husband and the stranger talked together. She studied his features, his muscular physique and the strange gray baldric covering his muscled chest. Her gaze sharpened when she took note of the cross on his chest and she realized immediately that symbol had been what had caught her attention earlier.

"Where have I seen that before?" she asked herself as she slowly moved away from the window, her green gown hissing along the floor with every step she took. The Earth woman's mind churned, thinking about the cross and why she would recognize it. Shaking her head, Marlena squared her shoulders and walked down the steps of the tower. Perhaps the royal archives held the answer, she mused.

Marlena moved through the halls of the great palace, glancing absently at the banners flying above. Each banner had been taken from a defeated foe of the House of Grayskull, from the Snake Men and the Horde, to the armies of Count Marzo. "So much war," she murmured to herself. Her former home, Earth, had put aside internal wars centuries ago to maintain the species against greater threats from outer space. "Think of what we could do if we weren't constantly fighting one another," the Queen added.

Slowly, she made her way to the archives and began thumbing through several books and data chips. Marlena's search took her as far back as the records would go, all the way back to the Great Wars which had returned Eternia to an era of barbarism until D'Vann Grayskull had risen to the Kingship. That great man had become part myth and legend, much like King Arthur and King Solomon back on her native planet.

Nearly three hours passed, but the Queen could find nothing. Finally, the woman sighed and walked through a nearby door into the Hall of Kings. Her eyes took in the larger-than-life statues there, starting with her own dear husband as she moved back in time. Soon, she came to the first three Kings of Eternia, D'Vann and his sons, Tamusk the Elder and Tamusk the Younger. One of those men had been the founder of Eternos, but the records were sketchy as to which Tamusk deserved credit. Marlena let her gaze fall on them for the briefest of moments before turning to the Great King. She gasped, her eyes widening as she stared up at the King's countenance.

It was him! The man who had saved Eternos from Skeletor had the same features as King Grayskull. His hair was certainly shorter, and unbraided, but the face was the same. D'Vann's stone features were grim as he surveyed his surroundings with rocky eyes. In one hand he held a large battle axe and in the other a round shield. Strapped to his back were two swords, the weapons which would become his standard during his lifetime. Marlena had read that he'd possessed another sword, a magical weapon which had been lost to time, but that blade was not depicted here. On his chest was a baldric similar to the barbarian warrior's, but with an odd symbol, not the cross pateé she'd seen.

"There you are," a voice called out. Marlena turned to see her husband approaching her. Randor had exchanged his dented armor for a red doublet and blue leggings, over which he wore his blue robes and chain of office. Atop his head sat the golden crown of Eternia. "I searched for you in the tower," he said as he wrapped his arms around his wife's waist and kissed her gently.

"I was doing some research," the Queen replied. "I saw the fight from my window and noticed our benefactor's arrival." She smiled at Randor. "Something about him was familiar to me." She nodded at D'vann's statue. "Once I came to the Hall I realized what it was, at least in part; they share the same face."

"They do indeed," Randor agreed. He gazed up at his ancestor's statue for a long moment, his expression pained. "You know, my brother Keldor was a great admirer of King Grayskull," the bearded man said sadly. "He tried to pattern his life after the man, even training and fighting with two swords in emulation of the King." King Randor sighed softly. "It's too bad that he fell under that monster Hordak's sway." He paused, hugging his wife tightly. "What's worse is that I don't even know what happened to him. Skeletor must have murdered him when he took Keldor's armor and staff as his own. I'll wager Hordak watched and laughed." The man shook his head. "Enough of such maudlin thoughts," he said finally, quickly changing the subject. "You said 'in part'? What else struck you about our champion?

"The symbol on his chest," Marlena said gently. "I know it from somewhere, but I can't recall where and the archives have nothing."

"It is a strange symbol," Randor said. "I have never seen its like before." He stepped back and scratched at his beard. "Perhaps Melaktha knows what it is," he offered, referring to the royal archaeologist.

"I'll ask him," Marlena said.
*****
"There he is!" Teela shouted as Adam walked towards the palace with Cringer by his side. The Captain of the Guard jogged over toward Adam, her boots and tight body suit accentuating her form as she moved, several guardsmen following along behind her. "Where have you been, Adam?" she demanded sternly. "We've been looking for you forever." She took a deep breath, letting it out slowly. "I thought Skeletor might have captured you," she told him. "He and his forces attacked the palace." The young woman hid her concern for her friend with an angry mask.

"Easy Teela," Adam said, raising his hand. "I'm okay. Cringer and I were in the Wind Forest and got lost." He looked down at the cat with an amused expression on his face. "He was trapped in some vines and I had to cut him out." He looked around, seeing Man-At-Arms, Orko and several guards nearby. He turned back to Teela. "What's this about Skeletor attacking?" he asked, feigning ignorance. "I thought he was imprisoned behind the Mystic Wall on the other side of the planet."

"Well, he escaped somehow," Teela told him. They made their way toward the palace, the young redhead detailing the battle as she walked with the prince. "And then this muscular man on a green cat shows up out of nowhere and defeats Skeletor and his minions," she finished, her tone awed. "He called himself He-Man." Her eyes were bright as she finished. "He was magnificent Adam! You should have seen it - and you would have if you hadn't been galavanting in the woods."

"I'm sorry," Adam apologized, secretly pleased by her reaction to 'He-Man''s appearance. "This He-Man sounds like a powerful warrior. Did you learn anything about him?" he inquired.

"Only that he came from Castle Grayskull," Teela said. "He claims to have been sent by the Sorceress of Grayskull. I thought she was just a legend, but I guess not." The two of them, and Cringer, made their way into the throne room, where King Randor was sitting on his throne discussing matters of state with Man-At-Arms and his other advisors. He looked up when Adam entered.

"There you are, Adam," he said, relief evident in his voice. "Your mother was worried about you." The King stepped down from the throne and walked over to embrace his only son. "I was too," he said softly. "Where were you, son?"

Adam quickly recounted the tale he'd told Teela and the King nodded. "Are you all right Cringer?" he asked the cat, who'd sat down beside Adam as father and son spoke.

"Yes, Your Majesty," Cringer replied. "It was frightening for a few moments, but Adam freed me." He sighed ruefully. "The worst thing that happened was getting a tick." Randor laughed at that and lightly petted the tiger's fur.

"Well, I'm glad," he said.

"Father, I can see that you're busy," Adam said. "If you'll excuse me, I'd like to go back to my quarters. It's been quite a day and I'm tired."

"That it has," Randor agreed. "Go on, son. I'll see you at supper tonight. Though, I'm afraid it will be a cold one. There's still much to do now that Skeletor has returned from Snake Mountain."

"Yes Sir," Adam agreed. He turned and walked from the room, stopping at the portal leading to the hallway. "Father?" he asked, concern in his voice. "Where's mother? I just realized she isn't in here with you. Is she okay?"

"She's fine Adam," Randor assured him. "It seems she's caught up in a mystery concerning the hero who saved us today. Something about him seeming 'familiar' to her". Adam's face registered alarm for an instant before he blanked his features. He nodded, his heart beating in his chest, and walked from the room.

"What could mother find so familiar about He-Man?" he asked himself quietly. Shaking his head, Adam walked briskly to his room and fell onto his back on the bed. Putting his arms behind his head, he glanced up at the ceiling. "This is not going to be easy," he mused. "How do I keep my secret from my parents, Cringer? I've always told them everything."

"I don't know Adam," the cat said, looking up from where he lay in a corner of the room. "Frankly, I kind of wish this had never happened to us." He sighed, licking his chops and laying down again. "We should have never followed that stupid falcon. If we hadn't I wouldn't have had to turn into that horrible Battle Cat - twice!"

"You are Battle Cat," Adam reminded him. "You didn't turn into anyone else, just like I didn't turn into He-Man. That's the power of the Sword." He sat up, pulled the weapon from his back and stared down at it. The blade was still bright and silverly, not a single chip in the edge from the recent battle. "It releases us, Cringer. It strips away the illusion and, suddenly, we're who we have the potential to be."

"I didn't ask for it though Adam," Cringer said almost accusingly. "You just pointed that Sword at me and I changed." The cat's tail swished back and forth anxiously. "I didn't have a choice."

"And I did?" Adam asked mildly. "It was either use this power to fight evil or let the evil win." He paused, arching an eyebrow at the cat. "Besides, even though I didn't ask, would you really want me to go off and fight without you to protect me?" Cringer blinked at that.

"I guess not," he said sullenly. "But, I still don't like it."
*****

Outside Adam's room, Orko quietly wrung his hands as he listened to the conversation. "No," he said softly when he heard Cringer's transformation. "Oh no, Adam. That's not how the power's supposed to be used." He started to float away, shaking his head. "You can't force someone into enlightenment," he muttered as he moved along, wondering what he would tell his colleagues on Trolla.