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    Heroic Warrior Eternian Poet's Avatar
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    War of Attrition: the Doom of Prince Adam

    War of Attrition: I - Beginning of the End (part 1)

    I am Adam, no longer Prince of Eternia….

    Adam eased his aching body into the cold window seat and stared out at the dusk. His weakened frame cast a thin shadow beside him, distorted and warped as it bled out into the low, dark ceiling. It was night-fall and though the young man shuddered he was not consciously aware of the cold aura that seeped through the glass and prickled the hairs on his skin. Though his skin bore very few warrior's scars, he no longer appeared youthful or vigorous. His flesh seemed to sag from his bones and he had the strained appearance of a sick and desperate man. Years of worry and tension had taken their physical toll, shrinking his appetite, ruining his sleep and threatening his health. Adam's feeble yet unscathed body was an intense source of shame for him. While He-Man received the people's adoration and loyalty, only scorn and contempt were heaped upon Adam.

    He focused his attention outside the window, watching as the shuffling peasants returned from the dark fields beyond the walls. An inadequate and apprehensive armed Guard were their only company, while a single, wan searchlight guided them to their homes. The peasants did not seem to notice the Eternian soldiers as they, like Adam, were wrapped up in their worries and cares - heads bowed, shoulders stooped, fatigue written heavily on their frail bodies.

    Poor people, thought Adam, tied forever to their relentless toils... to the faltering, infertile soil, bound to sick and dying children and terrible privations of war... He turned from the window, his sunken features gouged by the flitting shadows of the pale candle light. All of this they must bear now, without one single, reliable hope...

    He tried to pity them, but instead felt the stirrings of bitterness once more - toward them, toward everyone. Adam squeezed his eyes shut to be rid of the thought. My heart aches, but surely these are no longer my people? Skeletor has made wretched animals of us all. We only continue to live because the walls do not fall. He shuddered - was he terrified for their fate? Or for his own?

    The Night-time - a black and bodiless beast with a thousand twinkling eyes... These silvery pupils glared down with freezing light from the depths of the unshakable cloak that descended to wrap Eternos City in darkness. It chilled and blinded, voraciously devouring everything in sight - invisible itself, but omnipresent.

    Until recently Adam could welcome the Night's cloak and how it would deaden the City's frenetic sounds while masking the miserable sights of the daily world. But of late, he could not forget this everyday world of dilapidated buildings and cratered streets. Something like sickness or insanity forced him to remember the cellars and tunnels beneath these shattered buildings, crowded with dirty refugees and wailing children, grimacing and contorted with illness. Amongst them were people so sickly and starved that one could no longer tell whether they were men or women. He saw the marked faces of the old looking on with helpless indifference, only to turn away and limp to their own end.

    All of this should vanish before his eyes under the unstoppable spell of the Night - yet he could not forget these visions in his mind-sight. Nor did the Night offer any longer the blessed oblivion of sleep - there was no getting away from the pains of memory and fatigue that jarred and stung his weary frame throughout the lightless hours - and then into the next day and every day after. He groaned, reaching for his head to stem the onslaught of blows - it was a gesture that was in vain.
    ***
    Funny Fan Fic: Meet the Rea-Por! (Heroic & Villainous Deaths) & The Mighty Spector's FIRST EVER FAN-FIC
    & not so funny Fan Fic: War of Attrition
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    Beginning of the End (part 2)

    Adam let go of his head and lifted it once more towards the window, blinking at the scene of the exhausted peasants before him. Their pains are distressing, and yet they are simple... pains of hunger and the daily struggle to survive... My own hunger, though, has never been for food or drink. Even here, cloistered in the Old Temple, silenced by vows and my birth-right abdicated, my mother still ensures that I have the basic necessities. And this I resent. There is no escaping my royal inheritance and the fawning concern of the courtiers, masking their suspicious questions and surreptitious stares of contempt...

    The Night-time deepened rapidly and the peasants felt the dark lurking mountainously behind them, weighing on their bent backs - they hurried on to their shoddy homes. The Guards were already behind the gates... barring them now... manning the parapets now. Beyond them, beyond the cracked walls and toppled battlements, the lone searchlight washed the smashed and pitted road in pools and lines of shadow, evoking a patchwork of black and white. This final beam of light swung left and right of the road-way that had once brought traders, entertainers, and news into Eternos. It shone remote and alone over the rutted and muddy fields that were once farmland and orchard, now a wasteland of smashed weapons and concealed bodies. These unrecovered dead lay under mud and within wet holes, beneath slain horses and crushed war-machines - each unknowingly awaiting their chance to twitch and quiver with treacherous new life under the necromantic command of Skeletor's sorcery. With secretive purpose, the Night thickened, hiding this brutal reality with a dream-like illusion of stillness, cut only by the vacant to and fro of the last electric-lantern Eternos had.

    It had been thus for years now. Eternos had become cowed, defensive, and within its deteriorating walls the royal subjects - man, woman, and child, whether peasant or merchant, devotee or scoundrel, royalty or beggar - prayed to the venerable gods for protection during these long, Night-hours. Adam heard their prayers in his mind, sensed the question upon dried and pale lips: "Great gods, will the walls fall tonight? Or can He-Man end this long war?" In the silence he waited for his heart's answer, but the silence was broken only by the spit and crackle of his solitary candle as the flame burned low and then went out.

    Within his cell, Adam fell into darkness as Night suddenly flowed inside through the window. It emerged from the shadows from where it had hid in corners, to slide down from the black ceiling above, slithering over his flesh and sinking into his outline... until he had vanished, leaving the room bare, solitary and still - as if he were gone forever.

    His heart measured the silence with irregular and anxious beats, but offered nothing more.
    ***
    Funny Fan Fic: Meet the Rea-Por! (Heroic & Villainous Deaths) & The Mighty Spector's FIRST EVER FAN-FIC
    & not so funny Fan Fic: War of Attrition
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    Is this the same War of Attrition you've posted before?


    --Asp'r
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    Beginning of the End (part 3)

    Coward!

    The thought hurt like grief and provoked like an insult. Fighting no longer cleared her head, but instead brought back terrible memories.

    Teela had spent so many years listening to her father's reasonings, to Orko's stupid suggestions, and to Adam's own feeble excuses. At first she had been prepared to forgive, to help the Prince find the courage that she felt was in his soul. As his body-guard, Teela had worked hard with him to build his martial prowess and reach a mastery of the discipline. And as the Captain of the Guard it was her duty to ensure that he was primed to lead his people into a life or death struggle, as their world was a dangerous one. Every territory was beset with tribal wars and prey to ravenous monsters - even before Skeletor had emerged from myth.

    Teela's teaching had honed Adam's body to be ready as a weapon of tribal war, so that by the time he came of age, he could defend his kingdom. But by the time Adam was old enough to spill blood on the battle-ground, Skeletor had begun his merciless war of despoliation. Adam had refused to face Skeletor, and when Teela had pressed him, he would use intellectual arguments and spiritual justifications of pacifism and purity to explain the staying of his hand. Such ideas did not earn the respect of the militant royal court or its allies of harsh warrior peoples.

    Did she blame herself for Adam's fall anymore? It was true that she now felt that she, like her father Man-at-Arms, had done her duty in giving her life in service to the Prince - to teach him war-craft and strategy, weapons-smithing and honourable combat. A great deal had been given to that boy - and much more sacrificed. For what!?

    With a furious ululation she swung her metal pole-ax from her warhorse, smashing open the head of the automated Manikin. As the warhorse's hooves thudded to a stop Teela leapt, using the armoured beast's momentum, towards another Manikin with her sword; it defended itself with surprising alacrity. Teela landed a destructive counter-blow, but her seething mind was not focused on the fight - instead she battled old resentments against Adam.

    Killing blows, crippling throws and lethal weapons were at his command, but what had she ever seen Adam do when he couldn't avoid a fight? Only holds, throws and blocks that stunned or disabled, disarmed or frightened. No, there was no occasion when he had willingly shed blood for his kingdom.

    And though when Skeletor first appeared upon Eternian soil and Eternos thus lost its warrior-prince, the City had at the same time gained the aid of a powerful warrior - the Sorceress of Castle Greyskull had sent He-Man to fight against Skeletor for King Randor. It was a strange and inspiring turn of events. He-Man was a foreigner and had never before been seen outside the Castle, for he was thought to be the defender of the forbidden Secrets hidden deep within - and it was a mystery as to why the powerful and solitary Sorceress would send her champion to help Eternos. She was well known to be above the constant warring between the humanoid tribes throughout the vast lands of Eternia. She and her vassal, He-man, had no need for allies, being known as too frightening and powerful to attack. But then, when Skeletor tipped the local balance of power between the tribes and gathered a vast army, He-Man had let it be understood that his aid to King Randor was secondary only to Greyskull. When Eternos finally faced the new threat and He-Man fought alongside them all, the Sorceress would summon the Castle's terrifying defences. In all of the time He-Man had fought for Eternos he would return to Greyskull only if the awesome power of the Sorceress faltered and Greyskull itself was threatened.

    But ten years had since passed and He-man's devotion to Eternos seemed to be at an end. These days, the Messengers of the City to Greyskull saw no signs of life therein. He-Man no longer arrived at the critical moment during the night-time assaults, but remained absent. No-one knew why. Had the Sorceress sent him to another world? Or had he succumbed to some horror that they were yet to learn of? During these cryptic latter days, Teela herself had beseeched the great Jawbridge to open - but the Castle remained shut, while around the massive walls of blackened stone silence reigned and the fathomless eyes of Greyskull stayed blind to her entreaties. A wretched feeling of abandonment had sunk into the hearts of her warriors, while the kings of the lesser tribes of Eternia demanded explanation from Randor. Of course Adam did not take up the sword to rally the allies. He had become a pariah from the fractious court and had drifted away from real life into a pitiful isolation.
    ***
    Funny Fan Fic: Meet the Rea-Por! (Heroic & Villainous Deaths) & The Mighty Spector's FIRST EVER FAN-FIC
    & not so funny Fan Fic: War of Attrition
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  5. #5
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    Beginning of the End (part 4)

    Through all of the years that He-Man had fought for Eternos, the
    Prince had become more enervated. Adam's compassion had fallen into
    weariness, his loyalties turned to skeptical wavering, and his sharp
    mind degenerated into a dulled muddle of philosophical uncertainty and self-doubt.
    Teela knew well that years of continuous warfare had worn on everyone,
    but despite the trials and tragedies, Adam should have endured - his
    failure to lead could have easily brought Skeletor's tyrannical rule
    upon his people.

    But not only did Adam fail to provide leadership
    throughout this broken decade of war, he had this past week finally
    turned his back for good. Adam was now no longer a Prince, having
    dealt his father one final humiliation by abdicating and withdrawing
    into the Temple for a life of prayer, meditation, and charity. It
    seemed he had chosen the Temple in particular because the brothers
    therein took vows of non-violence, silence, chastity and alms. They
    were withdrawn from life, except where the sick and aged were
    concerned, and even then she had heard rumour that Adam had taken the
    vow of solitude... perhaps even to withdraw into the desolate caves in
    the hilly wilds beyond Greyskull. Teela held the monks he had joined in scorn for their naive belief that their prayers for peace would be heard, for the gods themselves were said to be at war.

    "It's just like you!" she raged, jabbing the artificial
    Manikin-warrior with her weapon, "A selfish boy in every way!" She
    landed a blow the archaic Manikin failed to calculate and smashed it
    down onto the pitted and cracked courtyard. There was a tinkling, then
    silence. The Eternian Sun was falling into darkness, the late Autumn
    day drawing near to the time when Skeletor's slaves might mount
    another attack. For some time to come, these nights would get longer and longer.

    "Have you slain another Prince, Captain?"

    Teela started in surprise and quickly twisted towards the gentle voice
    that sounded as grey and smooth as the gathering twilight. Manefred,
    known to his audiences and patrons as Man-E-Faces, looked at her with
    sad eyes and an uncertain, sympathetic smile as he stooped to pick up
    the Manikin's rolling, robotic eye-ball. Man-E's appearance had
    startled her all the more because, of late, there was an ominous
    tension about him that could erupt into brief but frightening rages.

    "I have no Prince, Man-E," she growled, her heart pounding as she
    wiped the rolling sweat from her face, afraid that it might lend her
    the appearance of weeping.

    "No, not now that he's…" and he dangled the eye-ball, "...out of sight."

    Teela did not look at him and Manefred closed his hand around the orb
    of metal, saying nothing for a few moments. The Captain bent down and
    set to the task of picking up pieces of the smashed body of the robot
    fighter, ignoring Man-E's comment. The actor decided to change the
    subject, and cleared his throat. "...Should we really be using such
    valuable resources for -" and then just as suddenly stopped himself.

    Angry eyes glowered up at him. "These Manikins may well be of the
    Ancients, but I'm not going to have these few tools locked away, no
    matter how venerated. We need to use them, so they will sometimes get
    broken. Must you question me so?" she hissed.

    Manefred had sought Teela out, anxious to prevent her from
    over-exerting herself. He was afraid that grief and demanding duties
    were weakening her. With affectionate concern, he started to reach
    towards her in an attempt to forestall a predictable spiral of angry
    exchanges - but the rigidity of her muscles and quick, violent
    movements were like armour that repelled his touch. Like his comment,
    his hand faltered in mid-air and then he withdrew it. He bent over the
    stone ground instead, working with her to pick up the pieces.

    "You know less about these machines than me…" she muttered.

    "You and Duncan have taught me a few things. I feel that we all should
    learn what we can now."

    She remained distant. "I've told you before to leave me alone when I
    am training," she said flatly.

    With a keen sense of sadness Man-E-Faces realized that he was only
    aggravating Teela's bellicose mood in referring to Man-At-Arms. "It is
    almost dark - you must finish here and take your post." Teela did not
    respond, and Man-E fell silent. In that moment he was suddenly caught
    off-guard by the potent, creeping sensation that burgeoned up from
    inside him. Man-E shook his head, but failed to completely rid himself
    of the growing feeling of wrath.

    "Headache again?" It was the first time Teela's tone had changed and
    now she paused briefly to look at him before returning to her task. It
    was just a slight change, with nothing of the usual softness of a
    woman, or the care of a lover, but it was enough encouragement to
    prevent Man-E from bidding her goodnight.

    "Not exactly." Man-E ground his teeth while scowling heavily.

    Teela, noting his tension, reconsidered her harsh manner with a frown.
    She had to be more mindful of herself and avoid these petty
    confrontations with Man-E - a recurring fear that he might
    unexpectedly lose his will to Skeletor's old curse had made her
    suddenly uneasy. "You've done well without the potion these last few
    months," she said, attempting to encourage him.

    But his anger did not
    subside in being reminded that he must go without it. He felt
    resentful of the certainty of shame if he failed to control his
    moments of violent rages. For many a year, Man-E had felt bitterly
    towards his fate, and raged at Skeletor for cursing him. Too often he
    felt himself to be cold, a persistently disconnected machine, and it
    was alienating. It seemed he would never be rid of his curse.

    Teela ceased her furious gathering of Manikin pieces, but still
    without looking at him said, "You are no longer relying on it." Then
    she turned to face the man beside her, trying to hold his gaze.

    Man-E's eyes fell. His feelings hardened in his defense, and his voice
    was barely even. "The addiction could not be helped. The Sorceress
    warned me. It was either addiction or.. or I would remain a threat."

    "But now you've proven that you don't need it." Teela looked away.
    "You have been monstrously enraged only once since the your medicament
    ran out. Your sickness is one of spirit, and so the cure is one of
    will, not potions. Can you not see that now?"

    "I... " Man-E made a vague gesture, as if to elaborate, but paused.
    Aren't sorcery and willpower much the same? he thought, but
    aware that he did not know magic. Then before he could put his
    thoughts into words Teela sighed and turned earnest eyes upon him.

    "Man-E, if you don't believe that it is up to you to control your
    curse, then you will always be afraid that others will take control of
    it, you will always depend on this alchemical crutch. Doesn't all of
    this time without the potion show you that? I still trust that you
    will not succumb to the curse."

    Man-E's eyes wavered around hers, ashamed and uncertain.

    ***
    ***
    Funny Fan Fic: Meet the Rea-Por! (Heroic & Villainous Deaths) & The Mighty Spector's FIRST EVER FAN-FIC
    & not so funny Fan Fic: War of Attrition
    Trade feedback & WANTED: Bow/SLL style boots!

  6. #6
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    Beginning of the End (part 5)

    The moons and stars shone through his small window, glinting with a
    cold, distant light that Adam knew to be the long dead eyes of the
    Night. Silhouetted within the window frame, he turned and groped in
    the darkness towards his low, hard mat. It was not the discomfort of
    this new life that wearied him, but rather, the endless nightmares -
    the nightmares and the memory of battles. He could not go on like
    this, struggling against sleep while the Night pressed downward its
    smothering cloak. It was time to lie down and give in - yet once
    seated on his mat, he made no move to do so. Some time passed, his
    head hanging in darkness. He swooned as a wave of fatigue pulled down
    at his body.

    Once, almost 10 years ago now, nothing could have shaken Adam's
    resolve to be victor, to repel Skeletor and safeguard Eternia under
    the rule of justice and the King. A decade ago, he had felt no
    disconnect between himself and He-Man. They were as one, with the
    power of Greyskull suffused into Adam's soul to make him He-Man. If he
    was not respected for his unknown efforts, it did not matter - he
    embraced the sacrifice of Prince Adam's life and posterity. But after
    the brief, glorious beginning as a demigod, Adam had felt himself grow
    slowly and steadily more aged, eroded, spent through his experience,
    while Skeletor remained not only ageless and powerful as ever, but
    more canny and perspicacious, learning his weaknesses.

    Skeletor had had many years to assail Adam's flesh and spirit, to torment him, to grind down his mind and strength of will with the incessant conflicts against He-Man that fueled the young man's nightmares. The fell sorcerer summoned, bound and bribed the foulest daemons of the Universe to annihilate He-Man, or created lethal servitors and weapons to attempt to slay him. He mounted waves of invasions by enslaving the nearby tribal-kingdoms, then raising all of the fallen as unquiet dead, driven only by killer
    instinct, to burn and spread plague among surviving towns and settlements. He-Man resisted and defeated them all, but every success bore more heavy a price - a life-long burden of loss and pain for Adam.

    The Power that was so potently imbued within Adam inevitably
    returned to Greyskull - for the Power belonged to Greyskull - and Adam
    was left with nothing but his own inner resources to heal himself of his
    experiences - those experiences designed to rend He-Man, the most powerful
    of all men, guardian of the most profound mysteries. Will my
    nemesis simply keep up the struggle until I am too old and weak, or
    finally insane?
    With a sick and dizzying feeling, Adam suddenly
    felt that this Night had conclusively brought along that very time of
    reckoning... insidiously at first, but now starkly revealed to him,
    swiftly and pitilessly. My life truly ended when He-Man's was begun
    - yet I am still alive, it seems.


    Adam had not stirred from his comfortless mat, a vanished form in the
    darkness of his small cell. Slowly and quietly within the lucubratory
    silence of the Temple, Adam took up the ominous short-sword beside
    him, where it lay unsheathed as if readied. This instrument he
    dreaded, yet it alone offered him protection and some measure of
    comfort and familiarity. The edge was as keen as ever and the sheen of
    the metal - pale as water in the moons-light - had never dulled.
    Here is evidence of perfection.... He laid it
    across his lap. This weapon, the Sword of Power, was never far away.
    At its touch, Adam shuddered - a shred of possibility, portending
    regeneration - the greatest power was only moments away, words away.

    But the transformation itself took its toll and had become an almost
    unbearable process. Now when the awesome Power struck down upon him,
    he felt that he would not be able to stand it - only to be saved
    moments later by the very same Power that threatened to shatter him.
    His thoughts would cool and steady as he became He-Man - his body
    would no longer be weary, his spirit would be refreshed and
    invigorated. This evocation of god-life seemed each time to sustain
    him, to provide him enough strength to continue. Like a drug, it
    augmented him temporarily, then beckoned to him when he was once more
    vulnerable, a mere man.

    ***
    ***
    Funny Fan Fic: Meet the Rea-Por! (Heroic & Villainous Deaths) & The Mighty Spector's FIRST EVER FAN-FIC
    & not so funny Fan Fic: War of Attrition
    Trade feedback & WANTED: Bow/SLL style boots!

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