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.