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Thread: Gbagok and Iceman present: The Book of Evil part 2 - The Bells of Doom

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    Gbagok and Iceman present: The Book of Evil part 2 - The Bells of Doom

    After 5 long years The Book of Evil part 2 is finally ready!! We thought that now is as good a time as any to bring some new MotU goodness to the forums!
    Gbagok and I are still working on artwork that will appear in this Part as well as Part 3!! Thank you so much for all your patience, we appreciate the response thus far and we hope you enjoy this installment of our Pic-Fic Epic!
    If you have never read the first part before, make sure you catch up here: The Book of Evil Part 1
    So without further ado, we present the second part of The Book of Evil: The Bells of Doom!
    (A special shout out to Sllohcin for his input on the first chapter!)



    Interval:
    The walls of Hordak’s temple echo with a loud crash as the pool upon its altar boils with a vile unnatural heat. Keldor drops to his knee before it quickly as the face of the dark lord materializes in the smoke rising from the pool. The ghostly visage gasps as if it is actually breathing Eternian air, but of course Keldor knows differently. Hordak still lives in exhile, but his power fills the room as if he is there. Then those fearsome red eyes fixate up on Keldor, who lowers his head submissively and fights his growing sense of dread. Then Hordak laughs softly like a growl and Keldor nearly loses his fight.
    “You have done well, my apprentice! I can feel the link is stronger now. Not in hundreds of years have I felt so close to Eternia!
    “Ah, but I see you have adopted the vestments of an Infinitian War Mage. And you honor me by forging my emblem upon its breast plate. Very good. You’ve grown stronger. You have come a long way in the short months since our arrangement began. But...I sense that you are still shielding your thoughts from me. This does not please me, Keldor.”
    Keldor looks up at Hordak. “Was it not this very skill that so impressed you that you made me your new apprentice,” he says with a weak smile, then adds quickly “my Lord?”
    “Yes,” Hordak says thoughtfully. “But the time for secrets between us is drawing to a close, and if I am to be your master, then I demand no less than your full submission.” Keldor is silent and afraid. Will Hordak demand he surrender his only advantage?
    Then Hordak heaves a heavy sigh. “But it matters not for now. You have collected the secret elixirs and ancients relics that I requested?”
    “Yes, Hordak, all but one.”
    “One?”
    “The Staff of Zalecia. It is lost to history. There has been no accounting of it. Even in the oldest texts, there is not but a mention of it after the city’s destruction. I have visited the ruins as well, but they are...guarded.”



    “Ghosts and shadows are of little concern to an apprentice of Hordak! Find the Staff, Keldor. It is indestructible, thus it cannot have been destroyed. Do not fail me,” and his tone drops to such a growl that Keldor knows there can be no answer but obedience.
    “Yes, Master.”
    “Summon me again when you have completed your task.” Hordak vanishes then and the temple becomes quiet and still. Keldor rises and, sure that Hordak has gone, spits at the altar.
    “Are you not enamored with your grand teacher, Keldor,” says a fell voice from the shadows where Hordak could not have seen. The Nameless One emerges, his hood still shrouding his identity.
    Keldor whirls to face him. “How much longer must I endure this humiliation? He is arrogant, pig-headed, and worst of all--”
    “Powerful?” says the Nameless One. Keldor sneers but does not disagree. “Fear not, Keldor. Everything is proceeding as I had foreseen. Hordak has commanded you to retrieve something lost in the past. The only path now is to go to the past to get it.”
    Keldor gasps. “The past? You said that we couldn’t change the past--that I had to stay here. That’s why you wouldn’t go back and save--”
    “Remember, Keldor, I have seen far more of this world’s history than you. It’s secrets are not so well hidden from me. The Staff vanished in the past because it was taken. Not misplaced, not buried to be discovered by some vital but unknown actor. The staff is gone...because you will take it.”
    Keldor shakes his head, “This is absurd! I spent months collecting all those trinkets for him, and in the end he doesn’t give even one of them a second look. All he wants is that staff.”



    “The other relics were just tests of your power, Keldor. Hordak wanted you to learn to use them in a field of battle. It’s the staff that he’s needed all along.”
    “Wonderful. I don’t even know what it looks like!”
    “Then behold,” says the Nameless One, holding his staff out for Keldor to see it. Keldor’s eyes widen.
    “You’ve had it all along?! Why don’t you just give it to me then?”
    “Weren’t you listening,” the Nameless One growls fearsomely. “I said you will take the staff from the past. If you do not retrieve it, then I will never have it in the future!”
    Keldor falls silent. He is appreciative of the Nameless One’s help, for it was he who showed Keldor Hordak’s secret Places of Power, and revealed the means of contacting Hordak through the ensorcelled shrine. He even taught Keldor how to shield his thoughts from Hordak so that the dark lord might never known of the Nameless One’s help, and this ability more than any other had seemed to impress Hordak enough to recruit him. But after all his help, the Nameless One had still never explained why he’d been so helpful. And not knowing had made Keldor feel like a pawn in someone else’s game--just as he had been to the elders.
    “So that’s why you are helping me! So I can get that staff for you? How do I know you won’t slit my throat once you have it? Hordak would be none the wiser.”
    “You are slow to trust, Keldor. That is good. Trust will only hurt you. If you must trust something, trust power. Not the powerful, nor even the weak, but power itself. It is what all men and women crave. Some call it other things. Secruity. Honor. Love. But in their hearts they all seek control that comes only with power. Right now, I am giving you power, and that is not natural. So be cautious. No one gives something to anyone without a self-serving motive, be it delusions of altruism or genuine deceit. If I am going to betray you for the staff after all this however, that is a problem you will have to solve for yourself.”
    Keldor throws his head back in resignation. This Nameless One torments him with winding logic and answers dressed in riddles. Finally Keldor asks, “How do you expect me to travel through time? Is there a talismon somewhere, or some ancient spell?”
    “There are such things, but we have no need of them.” He holds up a device, one he had used to create the portal through space that had brought them to Hordak’s place of power months earlier. It was hardly an ancient-looking item. It was a thing of metal, with gears and pinions that sprang to life and began to actually sing a tune as they moved. Soon sparks fly about the little device and twist into the air like fire melting a glass wall. A new portal opens, and the Nameless One gestured for Keldor to enter.



    Chapter One: Temple of the Sun

    One by one the Elders of Grayskull appear before the Sorceress within the sanctity of the great Castle Grayskull. Not for the first time she wonders if they miss their lives of flesh and blood, or if such memories are as fleeting to them now as memories of the womb. But this is no time for wonderings and she puts the thought out of her mind.



    “There is a great danger rising on Eternia,” she says.
    “We know, Sorceress,” one of them says flatly. “The Bells of Doom will soon toll and the Book of Evil will return in the hands of Skeletor.”
    “Is there no way to prevent it?”
    “He-Man himself wishes to use the Book. He fears losing his family.”
    “He did not know the price...”
    “He knew,” says a deeper voice. Zodak enters the circle of elders now. “Like a child he imagined he would not suffer the consequences. Now Eternia is in peril because of him.”
    “That is not fair, Zodak! He only seeks to do good.”
    “And yet he may accomplish evil. It is better that he learn the difference sooner rather than later.”
    The Sorceress raises an eyebrow. “Then this is a test?”
    “Life is a test,” one of the elders states unhelpfully.
    “And if he fails? We cannot allow it.”
    “He is not the only one being tested,” says Zodak bluntly. “We are as well, Sorceress. How strong is a champion who depends on us to win his battles for him? How long can you help him...when even now you carry the venom of Serpos within you.”
    The Soceress lowers her eyes. It is true, the bites she sustained from King Hiss a year ago were laced with venom taken from Serpos himself. Though the elders healed her at the time, the poison could not be fully eliminated. Even now she feels the drain upon her. She longs to spread her wings as the falcon Zoar, but she knows she cannot remain outside of Grayskull even in that form for long any more.
    “It may be time for you to pass your role here to another,” Zodak suggests. “She is stronger now, and you have already reached out the magic growing inside of her.”
    “No,” the Sorceress says plainly. She cannot bear to think of Teela inheriting this legacy now, so soon. “She does not need to be here. She can still have a life...children of her own to raise before coming here.”
    “Do you hate being the Sorceress that much?”
    “You can never know the joy I have experienced, the honor I feel as the Sorceress of Grayskull. When Koduc Ungl told me that this life would be my choice, I felt only humility and gratitude for being selected. But I made my choice thinking I would not have children, that I would not fall in love. I did not think I would have a daughter I could not raise, a husband I couldn’t love. All Sorceresses of Grayskull have this sacrifice since the beginning. I cannot ask Teela to make the same sacrifice when she is so young and cannot yet appreciate the loss.”



    The elders look amongst themselves. “We shall have to see what the future brings. For the time being, we cannot change the course He-Man or Teela have set for themselves. Higher powers than ourselves have put their hand upon Eternia and guide its people even now. We must have faith both in them and in our champion.” One by one the elders vanish.
    Zodak doesn’t leave. “I too may not be involved. And like you, I suffer for my restraint. Do not forget, I too have a child I could not raise. And unlike Teela, his fate may already be sealed if the Spell of Shrouding remains in effect. Despite that I must remain neutral...I pray He-Man is victorious.”



    The Sand of Time burns hot and dry under Battle Cat’s massive paws and heat reflects on Lt. Andra’s face as she rides the mighty beast across the Eternian desert. “We should find rest soon,” she says to He-Man who sit before her on the saddle, urging his steed onward. “We’ve been riding for a full day. He will need water.”
    “There are wells in Kallesh,” says He-Man. “Every second brings Skeletor closer to the Bells! Battle Cat knows our rest would come at too high a price!” The cat roars in a way that seems to Andra like a hearty agreement with his master.
    She grunts. “You must normally treat your beast well to earn such devotion as this. But the champion I’d heard about was much wiser than to ride his steed to its death.”
    He-Man looks over his shoulder to her, and she thought she saw mortification flash in his eyes. “Battle Cat is no mere beast. He is strong enough to make this journey. I would ask no more of him than I know he can give.” She stares into his eyes for an instant, recognizes that he is not simply boasting, and then nods understandingly.
    “I meant no offense,” she says to Battle Cat, who roars in response. She looks up. The wind warrior Su-Nami flies in a bright whirlwind streaking across the sky, and beside her a windraider flies parallel to Battle Cat’s path. Before them, the Sands of Time appear endless, as if the whole planet were not but a desert. “Scrolls of this region did not prepare me for its arid desolation. It is far more vast than I had imagined.”
    “Few from Eternos or your home of Dyperia ever come so far outland,” says the Royal Archeologist Melaktha via their communicators. Overhead he pilots the windraider along with his students Stanlan and Kira, and the court magician Orko--all of whom Melaktha did not wish to leave behind in Academia so soon after its attack by the Evil Warriors of Skeletor.
    “The outskirts of Kallesh should be over the next dune reef,” he explains, “but I warn you all to be on your guard. This region is unsafe to the inexperienced. Even I have had difficulty in these savage lands. It is no exaggeration to say that mercenaries and thieves lie in wait behind every rock.”
    “And the first Bell of Doom will just be waiting for us in Kallesh, r-r-right?” asks Orko. The nervous Trollan’s stammer makes Andra wonder why He-Man had allowed him to come along. A court jester’s magic was hardly a boon to their cause. Melaktha’s students at least were archeologists in training and possessed some knowledge of the Sands of Time.
    “Don’t bet on it, Orko,” says He-Man. “Whoever hid the Bells of Doom went to a lot of trouble to keep them out of the wrong hands. They’re certain to have left guardians to keep the Bells safe, and after all this time, I doubt even the right hands would be allowed to just take the Bells at will.”
    “Melaktha, what’s that up ahead,” asks Stanlan, the younger of his two students. Andra sees a billow of smoke rising from the horizon ahead of them. She hears the distant scream of weapons fire.
    “It’s the Perimeter Fort of Kallesh,” says Melaktha. “They’re under attack!”
    He-Man urges Battlecat onward, and amazingly the beast picks up speed.
    After they climb over the next crest of dunes, they see the Fortress. Energy blasts pound against its walls, fired from attackers hiding in the adjacent dunes. The windraider is spotted quickly, and the attackers fire into the sky, damaging the craft. “Su-Nami, land them safely,” He-Man orders. The Wind Warrior woman creates a cushion of air to catch the falling ship while He-Man looks for the mysterious enemy.



    “There,” he points to a glare in the sand. A metal device reflects the sunlight. It appears to all the world like nothing but a metal box. Another rises up from the sand next to it, revealing a round shape that opens like an eye glaring upon the fortress. With a red flash, an energy blast pulses from the eye and strikes against the fortress’s front wall.
    “By the Elders, what are they?”
    “Machines of some kind,” says He-Man, and indeed the metal eyes rise up out of the sand to reveal huge spider-like bodies. First two, then four climb out of the sand, their eye-beams firing at the fortress. From beneath the spiders rise many cloaked fighters, brandishing spears, energy guns, and shields. Their reptilian snouts and lithe movements betray their identities.
    “Reptile Men,” Andra says as she draws her sword.
    They charge the ranks of Reptile Men, who scatter to avoid Battle Cat’s claws. He-Man leaps off the saddle and onto the first spider-droid, hacking at its armor with his sword. The droid does not notice him until it is too late and the Sword of Power pierces the metal skin, damaging the vital circuits within. With sparks and smoke rising from its wound, the droid malfunctions and topples over itself while the others march relentlessly toward the fortress. He-Man runs after the next Droid, slashing at its legs and sending it crashing to a halt as well. The other droids now recognize He-Man as a threat and turn to engage him. Two more rise up from the sand and they surround him.
    A voice calls to He-Man from speakers on the spiders’ heads. “Ha! It’s no good, He-Man! My droids were built with you in mind!”
    “Trap-Jaw?” He-Man almost laughs. “How’d a meat-head like you build anything that could walk in a straight line?”
    Trap-Jaw does not hide his rage well, “I’m a not so dumb as you think, fool! Tri-Klops designed these beauties, but I’m the one who gave them their kick.”
    A spider-droid lunges at He-Man. He leaps clear over its head, landing on its back with his sword thrust down. Another tries to crush him with its leg, but he flings himself out of the way, allowing the second droid’s leg to impale the first.
    “You should have let Tri-Klops work on these alone, Trap-Jaw. Then they’d probably take me twice as long to destroy. But thanks for your help!”
    “KILL HIM!!!” Trap-Jaw’s cry is so loud that the speakers squeal.



    The droids open fire at He-Man, who evades their eye-beams but in doing so is unable to approach the others to destroy them. He sees that Andra and Battle Cat are likewise overwhelmed by the number of Reptile Men attackers. Whatever defenses the fortress had, they must have been destroyed in the first wave of the attack. He-Man acts quickly to lure the droids’ fire toward the Reptile Men, who fan out to avoid friendly fire. In his rage, Trap-Jaw has forgotten the fortress and is determined to kill He-Man instead. The distraction works, but He-Man has underestimated the number of Reptile Men. The sound of weapons’ fire at the fort alerts him to a swarm of the green-skinned renegades scaling the walls.
    “There’s too many of them,” says Andra, “and we’re weakened from our trek to get here!” She steadies herself, preparing to fight to the end.
    “Wait,” says He-Man as he sees something on the horizon. It starts as a blur, but quickly takes shape. A man approaches, cloaked in a dark blue cape and hood. He raises a sword that glistens like the sun. From behind him, a wave of warriors runs into the battle. Their swords are like shards of sunlight, yellow and fierce against their dark cloaks. The tide of battle turns against the Reptile Men. He-Man, free to focus on the spider-droids, lifts one over his head and hurtles it into two more. By now only two droids remain, and, sensing his defeat is imminent, Trap-Jaw commands them to retreat.



    One last Droid stands over He-Man, taking him by surprise with its menacing laser eye glowing red and about to fire. Trap-Jaw’s voice cackles “Ah-hah! Say goodbye, He-Man!” Suddenly a funnel of wind encircles the droid, twisting its head around and around until it spins right off its body. The rest of the droid collapses. Su-Nami lands beside He-Man as the wind storm she had created subsides.
    “‘Good bye, Trap-Jaw’ would be more fitting,” she observes.
    Thanking her, He-Man breathes a sigh of relief. He turns to Andra, and sees two Reptile Men charging her from behind. He starts for her, but one of the sunblade-wielding warriors stops him.
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    It says ICEMAN oICEMANo's Avatar
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    “Hold, man of Eternos. My brother is more than he appears.”
    He-Man starts to protest, but at the last minute one of the two Reptile Men attacks the other. Andra’s reptile man savior wields his own sun-blade and blue cloak like the other warriors that came to their aide. The renegades soon follow Trap-Jaw’s remaining droids in retreat, hissing spitefully in their flight.
    At last He-Man and Andra face their new allies. The leader who stopped He-Man earlier greets them kindly. “Welcome to Kallesh, strangers, and thank you for your help defending our city. We did not expect to find comrades in arms upon entering the battlefield.” He pulls back his hood, revealing a surprisingly young face. The other warriors, including the Reptile Man, gather around them.
    “I am Dodon,” says the young man. “My brother Theydon,” he indicates the reptile man, “and I welcome you here, as do all the Keepers of the Sun.”
    Dodon sees Andra’s confusion about Theydon and addresses it quickly. “Our father, Soldon, is the leader of the Sunkeepers. He adopted us both as his children when we both were orphaned in a raid by desert pirates. We are used to such hostilities, you see, but never have I seen Reptile Men attack in such large numbers and not with such powerful war machines.”
    “We in Eternos made peace with the Reptons before Skeletor attacked our allies in Targa,” says Andra. “Perhaps if we explain it to the Reptile Men--”
    “They are not the same,” says Theydon hotly. “The Reptons at Targa have no sway in the Sands of Time. The clans here are mercenaries, with no allegiance to Pythos or other autocracy. They only worship wealth.”
    “In that case,” says He-Man, “we’d best hurry. Skeletor is employing them to obtain the first Bell of Doom, and according to our information--it’s located here in Kallesh.”
    Later in the safety of the Fortress, He-Man and Melaktha explain what they know of the first Bell. Though Dodon has never seen it before, he confirms that there are many sacred relics within the Temple of the Sun. However, the soldiers of the fortress look grim and battle-weary. They have fought off reptile men before, but an organized invasion is clearly more than they can withstand.
    “In the past, when Eternos could not send us reinforcements, the defense of Kallesh’s border fell to the Sunkeepers,” observes the garrison commander. “But they are not enough if Skeletor is as powerful as you say. Can we count on your aid, He-Man?”



    “Our efforts would be better spent removing the Bell,” says Melaktha quickly, saving He-Man from having to answer. “Skeletor has no interest in Kallesh if the Bell isn’t here, and without it, we have no chance of saving Eternos and Avion.”
    The commander is confused. “Avion? But their ambassador arrived here only yesterday. He said nothing of its fall!”
    The Eternians stiffen in alarm. “What ambassador?”
    Dodon answers, “He is with our father now. It was he who warned us of the reptile men’s attack--”
    “barely,” Theydon adds. “He ate a full meal and slept as our guest before bothering to remember. If not for He-Man, we’d have been too late to prevent them from breaching the walls.”
    “What was his name?” Melaktha asks.
    “Calls himself Batros.”



    Melaktha is alarmed and orders his students back to the transport as He-Man tells Dodon to gather as many of his Sunkeepers as he can. Batros, they explain, was a renegade during the Great Unrest and an enemy of Eternos. The attack, He-Man concludes, must have been a diversion to leave the Temple vulnerable all along.
    “What if you’re wrong, and this is the distraction to leave the Fortress wall vulnerable to another attack,” says the Garrison commander.
    Dodon and Theydon suggest going with the Eternians to the Temple and leaving the rest of the warriors to guard the city’s perimeter. He-Man agrees, and tells Su-Nami to guard the wall with them until he and Melaktha return.
    Melaktha and the Sunkeepers take a Kalleshian transport into the city while He-Man and Andra ride after them on Battle Cat. The people of Kallesh are tense, disturbed no doubt by the sounds of battle. Some even seem frightened of the strangers entering the city beside the returning Sunkeepers, though Dodon and Theydon nod reassuringly to the onlookers.
    They come upon a gathering of children sitting around a village elder in the midst of telling stories. "And so He-Man slew the beast, and the green woman revealed herself to be a Goddess of--" he stops and looks up. "Here children, look! It is He-Man himself!" The children cheer and run at the warriors, surrounding Battle Cat and feeling his armor and fur. The boys nearest his head took many steps back when they see his great fangs.
    One little girl waves to Andra and asks her, "Are you the warrior goddess who marries He-Man?" The other girls giggle.
    "Well I, er," a startled Andra looks from He-Man to the children, "where did you hear that?"
    "That's the story! Did He-Man already bring you back to life? I love it when he brings you back with the Liquid of Life!"
    Andra’s eye brow arches quizzically. "Do your parents know what kind of stories you're hearing," she asks.
    He-Man clears his throat. "We're very flattered, children," he says, "but Andra and I are just friends. You should all go home until the current emergency is resolved. It's safer there, and I will be relieved to know you are out of harm's way--and Battle Cat will too," he adds when Battle Cat roars in agreement. Disappointed but appeased by He-Man's gentle tone, they nod and scatter back to their homes. The elder thanks He-Man for doing what he could not, as the sounds of the battle in the distance had unsettled the children.
    "You have a good way with little ones," Andra tells He-Man as they continue on their way to the temple. "One might even think you’re a father yourself. I’d never heard of you being married to a goddess before.”
    He-Man laughs. “They are only stories, Andra.”
    “I see. But where do they come from?"
    "The ancient myths are quite malleable," Melaktha observes. "They used to tell them of the Elders, and before that the Father of the Elders."
    "I suppose stories are one thing, but they're confusing myth with reality. In a hundred years, they'll think He-Man is just another myth."
    "So long as they're free of Evil, I don't mind if they do," says He-Man.
    "Your legacy doesn't concern you," says Andra.
    "No one lives forever."



    The Temple of the Sun is a large structure in the city of Kallesh. Dodon notes that absence of the template guards, and He-Man orders Battle Cat to watch the entrance as they proceed inside. The Temple’s walls are rich and ornate, as elegant as the Palace of Eternia but ancient and mysterious like Castle Grayskull. Dodon is concerned, for there are no guards manning any of their stations--only ominous piles of lifeless sand. They make their way into the main audience chamber, but still they see no one.
    The Sun Stone hovers over a raised dais in the middle of the chamber, its power filling the space with a warmth unlike that of the desert sun. It is kind and gentle, a soothing feeling as if stepping into warm water. The Eternians’ sense of wonder upon seeing the great stone is quickly eclipsed as the concern of the Sunkeeper brothers increases.



    “Father,” Dodon and Theydon call out, both hoping he might still appear and explain everything.
    “Now, now, there’s no cause for alarm,” a strong, malevolent voice purrs from across the chamber. “Your father is well in hand.” The speaker steps out from behind one of the chamber’s massive pillars. He is tall, powerful, possessing a sinister wand and a menacing glare. He is not Batros, for he appears human, but he is clearly no friend of the Sunkeepers.
    “Intruder,” cries Dodon. He and his brother both raise their sunswords and charge at the stranger.
    The stranger sneers and lifts his arm at them. Suddenly the light of the sunswords flashes across the chamber to him, drawn to his body like metal to a magnet. Soon the glow of the sunsword blades is gone, fully absorbed by the stranger. He clenches his hand and the Sunkeepers fall to the floor as if bound by invisible ropes.
    He-Man and the others begin to charge, but an energy barrier appears in their path. “Let’s not interrupt the family reunion,” says another intruder. This one emerges from his hiding place near the main door, the barrier projected from a device mounted on his forearm. “Batros,” says Melaktha bitterly. Indeed, Batros greatly resembles an Avionian, yet he appears to be one of the Corropterian bat creatures that attacked He-Man and Stratos months ago when Skeletor had used the Elixir of Schneidor to penetrate another dimension.
    Batros scowls at Melaktha. “Do I know you, old man?” He unleashes an energy snare from the weapon on his arm, but the heroes scatter and avoid it. “Oh wait, did you come from one of those Eternian regiments I helped slaughter? What good times those were.” Suddenly he hears Battle Cat’s roar from the main entrance as the massive tiger bounds for him. Batros barely escapes the cat’s claws and fires another energy web to trap Battle Cat.
    On the other side of Batros’s barrier, Dodon and Theydon struggle to break their bonds while the stranger stands over them laughing. “Who are you,” Theydon growls.
    “The Sons of Soldon do not recognize one of their own? Such a pity Soldon neglected to tell you of your older brother.”
    Dodon gasps. “This cannot be! Nepthu? You...you died--”
    “No, little brother. I lived. I lived to return and claim what was rightfully mine. The Sun Stone’s power flows in me. You never imagined such a use for it, did you? Nor did Soldon before you. Or if he did, he lacked the will to take it. Now his profound lack of vision has become his undoing.”
    The energy barrier fades as Batros battles the Eternians. He snares Andra and Melaktha in energy webs, but He-Man is able to damage his weapon, forcing him to fly. He-Man catches him by the ankle before he can rise out of reach and forces him to the ground.
    “No, no, we can’t be having that,” Nepthu interrupts and unleashes a furious blast of the Sun Stone’s power. The blast forces He-Man against the chamber wall, pinning him off the ground.





    “You’re a strong one,” says Nepthu. “You must be this champion of Grayskull that I’ve heard about in recent months. I wonder how much power you can withstand from the Sun Stone.” Several volleys of raw power bolt from the stone and strike He-Man like lightning. He-Man cries out and struggles against the magical grip, but his effort only amuses Nepthu. “You’re still alive? You are powerful...”
    Batros grunts as he stands up again, checking his wings for injury. “Finish him off and be done with it.”
    Nepthu glares over his shoulder at his bat-winged co-conspirator. “You do not command me, worm. You only live because I allow it.” With that he releases He-Man from his magical hold. The grip had been so strong that He-Man has to wretch before he can catch his breath. In that moment, Nepthu addresses him.
    “Warrior of Eternos, we need not be enemies. As one God among men, to another, I offer friendship.”
    “Believe none of his lies, He-Man,” cries Dodon. “He is a traitor to the Sunkeepers! He’s stolen the powers of the Sun Stone!”
    “I have fulfilled the Stone’s purpose,” Nepthu corrects him. “It has waited for an avatar all along. None of the Sunkeepers were worthy before me. Now that I have bonded with it, the Stone obeys me completely.” He steps closer to He-Man. “Through it I know of your quest, He-Man. I know you are seeking this Book of Evil. What if I let you have the first Bell of Doom, the first of the seven keys to summoning the Book?”
    Batros gasps. “What?! We had a d--” his voice chokes inside his throat at Nepthu’s magical command.
    “Well,” Nepthu prompts He-Man, ignoring Batros.
    “Why would you do that?”
    “To validate my rule of course. I give you the Bell, and your King Randor--once you have freed him--acknowledges my authority in the Sands of Time. It seems like a more than charitable offer, He-Man. I could, after all, take what I want by force. I could take all of Eternia if I liked, but I’m content...for now...to explore my newfound godhood to its fullest. You know you need allies, He-Man.”
    For a brief instant, He-Man wonders if Nepthu might honor this offer. But quickly the reality of Nepthu’s ambition falls over him.
    “You have taken what is not yours and trapped our allies. Randor would never agree to your terms, and neither will I.”
    Nepthu sighs angrily. “Fool. I’d hoped for better sense from the champion of Eternia.” He waves his hand and the stones of the floor begin to slide apart like blocks in a push puzzle. They open to form a pit into which Nepthu casts He-Man, Battlecat, and the other prisoners as if they were toys being thrown into a box. He-Man feels the sand against his face as he hits the floor below. “Remember,” Nepthu chides as the stones close back over them, “you had your chance.”

    Melaktha pulls a light crystal from one of his belt puches and holds it up to illuminate the pitch black tomb into which the heroes have fallen. He-Man shakes off the daze that had numbed his wits since his fight with Nepthu. He looks around at the others. Like him, they are still stunned but otherwise uninjured. Batros’s energy webs and Nepthu’s invisible bonds have dissolved now that the the Temple itself has become their prison. The walls around them are decorated with pictograms and ancient long-forgotten writing. The room alone is not their cell however. An open door leads into what appears to be a network of corridors.
    “Do you suppose there’s a way out,” Andra asks.
    “Considering that Nepthu commands the very walls of our temple, I doubt he’ll let it be that easy,” Theydon grumbles.
    “Let’s see if we can change that,” He-Man says. He leaps up at the ceiling and hurtles his fist into the stone. The ceiling cracks and breaks, but quickly glows with the Sunstone’s magic. By the time He-Man lands back on the floor, the ceiling has healed itself completely. “Okay, maybe that won’t work.”
    “Do you always hit first and think later,” asks Andra.
    “I’m testing our options,” He-Man answers defensively. “Do you have any ideas?”
    “Well for a start, I’d like to know what we’re up against. Batros seemed to be controlling null energy, which is too unstable to use for long. I’d say he just caught us unprepared. We’ll need to be better about that. I’m not sure who this Nepthu is though.” They all look to Dodon and Theydon.



    Dodon sighs almost shamefully. “We were all orphans once, we Keepers of the Sun. Our father Soldon found us, saved us from lives of poverty. He gave us love and purpose. As his master before him had done, he taught all of the SunKeepers how to harness the powers of the Sun Stone into our sunswords. But one of us, Nepthu, was too ambitious. He wanted to take more of the Stone’s power than Soldon had allowed. When Soldon forbade him to abuse the skills he’d taught him, Nepthu left us and sought his fortune in the world outside. We did not see him again, but we heard tell that he had become a charlatan, using the skills our father had taught him to swindle and cheat people in neighboring cities. Soldon would have put a stop to him, but our powers are limited. If we stray too far away from the Sun Stone, we can no longer summons its powers.”
    “That’s why Nepthu doesn’t intend to conquer Eternia,” says Andra. “He doesn’t know how to leave the Temple without losing his power.”
    Dodon nods. “Later we learned that a town he had swindled banished him into the desert with no water. Soldon regretted his fate, but believed he had brought it upon himself.”
    “Well that’s one weakness,” says He-Man soberly. “But he seems more than aware of it. Even with his delusions of godhood he’s not taking chances. Let’s hope he’s not going to trust Skeletor with the Bell either.”


    “Ingrate,” Batros coughs in the chamber above. “The Bell was to be mine! You would never have made it this far into the Sunkeepers’ sanctum if not for my help.”
    “Still your wagging tongue, inter-dimensional swine. I knew he would not accept my conditions.”
    “You waste our time to play mind games?”
    “I do as I--”
    “Please! Spare me.”
    Nepthu’s eyes sparkle with angry and power. “You tempt fate, Batros! I could destroy you with a thought. No one, not the Gar wizard or that lich from Snake Mountain will shed a tear for you or lift a finger to save you.”
    Batros reaches for a button on his undamaged forearm module. “I’ll take my chances.”
    Nepthu lashes out at him with a thrust of magic power, but the blast archs around Batros, leaving him unharmed. Nepthu stares in surprise. Batros smiles and presses another button that causes blue energy to crackle around Nepthu, causing him pain.
    “I took precautions when I chose to enlist your help, Nepthu. For all your boasting, the Sun Stone and yourself share a more symbiotic relationship. And you’re not so much the avatar--or even the host. You’re the parasite. So imagine how much it hurts to have the Sun Stone’s flow of power interrupted by null energy. Oh wait, you don’t have to imagine it now.” He presses the button and the blue energy intensifies. Nepthu cries out and the Temple itself trembles as if shuddering in empathetic pain with him. Batros deactivates his weapon. “I trust I’ve made my point. Rule these pathetic sand dwellers all you want, Nepthu. My master will not care. But do not obstruct us any further. Where is the Bell of Doom?”
    Nepthu gasps for breath, appalled at the sensation of pain that he never thought he might feel again. He says a word and a stone pillar rises up from the floor. It turns to reveal an alcove containing the Bell. Batros grins triumphantly as he takes it from the alcove.



    Through clenched teeth, Nepthu curses him. “Take it and be gone, fiend. If the stink of your hide crosses the temple threshold again, I’ll--”
    “You’ll regret finishing that threat,” says Batros. He punches a communicator ring on his module. “Batros to Trap-Jaw. I have the item. Start the exit party. I’m coming out.”
    Nepthu scoffs under his breath as Batros leaves the chamber. Then slowly he turns to the Sun Stone. “Go while you can, dog. The last secrets of the Sun Stone are nearly within my reach. Once I have it, I’ll not let a band of second-rate rogues with a moldy old book obstruct my full ascension!”

    The heroic warriors explore their prison in the hope of finding some means of escape. Despite the urgency of their situation, Melaktha’s academic mind cannot resist examining the various writings and images on the walls. “A whole history has been inscribed here,” he marvels.
    “Our father used these writings to teach us the history of the Sun Stone,” says Theydon grimly and not liking to refer to his father in the past tense. “It fell from the sky in ancient times and was the harbinger of a great army--the army of day who fought back the army of night.”
    “Fascinating,” says Melaktha. “There is more here than just the Sun Stone history. These symbols here describe the battle over Eternia. If I’m reading it correctly, it’s describing the first battle against the masters of the Demonichron.”
    The others stop. “Does it say how they were victorious,” He-man asks eagerly.
    “It’s not exactly detailed, no. There’s talk of a great wizard, the father of many heroes, whose battle was world-wide against a great foe...or perhaps it says friend...or brother. It suggests here that there were many martyrs. These marks here translate as Spell Stones. Healing...Defense...Protection, I think. Yes, or maybe it’s a Shield of Protection.”



    “As opposed to a shield that does something else,” says Andra dismissively.
    “Even a shield can be a weapon if the need is great enough,” He-Man says and prompts Melaktha to go on.
    “It’s not clear. This symbol can mean many things. If I knew the context better, it could even turn ‘shield’ to ‘sword.’ At any rate, it seems to have been instrumental in allowing the forces of the light to vanquish the Demonichron’s master.”
    “Could it mean the Sun Stone,” asks Dodon.
    “No, these are distinct and different markings. Though it does describe the Avatar of the Sun Stone as well--who Nepthu claims to be. It says the avatar will be instrumental in the downfall of Darkness--and Darkness here is personified for some reason. If only we knew more about these ancient languages.”
    Andra shakes her head, “Prophecies are always vague, they can be interpreted however the listener wants to interpret them just like those children’s stories. If we’re really going to get out of here, we’re not going to find it in some old fortune tellers’--”
    A noise in the far chamber puts them all on the ready. Could Nepthu’s prison have come with some angry beast to finish off his enemies? Battle Cat growls, and the others advance, weapons leveled. In the nearby chamber they find a semi-conscious old man sitting bound in a throne by chains of magic energy.
    “Father,” Dodon and Theydon exclaim and rush toward him. As if awakened by their voices, a mound of sand rises up from the floor like a cobra. The sand quickly takes the shape of a fearsome monster and swipes at the brothers with its claw-link arms. Their sunswords, depleted of their magic, are mere blades that cut through the beast as if brushing through a sand bank and leave the beast uninjured. It bats Dodon aside first and advances on Theydon.
    He-Man and Andra run to the brothers’ defense, but their own swords are no more successful at falling the beast.
    Dodon, momentarily stunned by the beast’s blow, hears his name being called. He looks up to his father Soldon, who speaks like one on his deathbed. “My son...Nepthu used the Sun Stone--”
    “Yes, we know, father! Don’t talk now, we’ll--”
    “Listen...these bonds...sun stone’s energy...nothing more. Remember what I taught you about the power of the stone.”
    Adrenaline focuses Dodon’s mind and he realizes what his father is saying. “Theydon, we can channel the energy from the bonds into our swords!” He puts his sunsword to the bonds and concentrates. At first there is no change, but then his sword begins to glow like fire. The bonds melt away and Dodon’s sunsword is once more intact.



    The sand beast throws the heroes around like a child playing with mere dolls. When it sees Dodon and the newly freed Soldon, it roars with malevolent fury. Dodon gives it no time to respond further. He leaps at it, slashes down with the blazing sunsword and cleaves through the sand beast’s body. The magic of the sword splits the beast asunder, and in an explosion of fire and magic, the beast crumbles to nothing but burnt, glass-like shards.
    With the monster defeated, Dodon and Theydon attend to their father. He is weak and, according to Melaktha, much older than he had ever looked before. Nepthu appears to have not only drawn power from the stone, but sapped Soldon’s life force as well.
    “He must not...complete his mystic bonding with the Stone,” Soldon warns. “He will try to use the Eternian Sun to finish the spells he has begun. When he is finished...he will be unstoppable.”
    “He’s not exactly stoppable now,” He-Man observes. “Does he have a weakness we don’t know about?”
    “None that you will ever know,” says the familiar voice of Nepthu. A new pillar of sand arises and takes the shape of Nepthu’s smug, smiling face. “So you found the pitiful former master of the Temple of the Sun and disposed of my guard as well. Impressive. I trust this family reunion will serve to remind you, Soldon, of my mercy.”
    “Mercy? Your monster nearly killed us,” Theydon cries, but Nepthu only chortles with amusement.
    “Yes, pity it failed. But I forgive your defiance, Theydon. Why fight me when such opposition is futile?”
    “What are you playing at,” Theydon demands.
    “He wants worshippers,” says Melaktha.
    “And why shouldn’t I? I am a God among men. How else would you know if I do not show you?”
    “Spoken like a fearful bully with something to prove,” says He-Man. “If you were truly divine, you wouldn’t need to keep proving it like this.”
    Nepthu turns angry. “If you want an end to this so badly, He-Man, then I shall oblige.” Suddenly a wall rises up from the sand, cutting off He-Man and Andra from the others. The door of the chamber and the walls outside turn and shift, making a long passageway. “Follow this path back to my audience chamber...and I will show you a true god among men!”

    Trapped in the room behind the newly risen wall, Battle Cat claws angrily at the sandy barrier to no effect. Theydon and Dodon assist their father to his feet while Melaktha examines the wall. “This is only sand, but it’s dense as stone,” he says finally.
    “Through the Sun Stone, Nepthu can command the entire temple,” Soldon confirms, “but his mind is still that of a man. Though he can sense everything the Sun Stone’s power touches, he cannot comprehend it all. If he did, he would already know that he is not the destined avatar.”
    “Then there is an avatar as he says, father,” Dodon asks, disappointed that any of Nepthu’s words might be true.
    “My son, the Avatar of the Sun is one who would use it’s power for good, and would unite with it for selfless reasons. Nepthu has desired power all along. I see it more clearly now, though it grieves me to accept his evil.”
    “If he is not the true avatar,” says Melaktha, “then does he have weaknesses we can exploit?”

    “You’re sure about this,” says He-Man minutes later.
    “Soldon believes it will work,” says Melaktha through his communicator. In his overconfidence, Nepthu forgot about their communication devices when he separated them. But even with the small advantage, their chances of victory seem slight. “Besides, we have little choice.”
    He-Man and Andra agree and proceed down Nepthu’s corridor. “This is a mistake,” says Andra after a moment. “We've been journeying for several days, and been in combat twice now with no rest in between. We just had our hides handed to us, and we’re going back in with only a slim chance at victory. And you--you’ve been in action for days even before I met you.”
    “I don't require any rest,” says He-Man confidently.
    “So you say,” she murmurs at first, then more forcefully says, “but if you don't mind an observation, you're looking worn around the edges.”
    He-Man hesitates. Andra doesn't know about the Sword of Grayskull. Should he risk calling on the power of Grayskull again? Would it even work in this foreign fortress? Though he has little reason to doubt it would, he fears using it before another. Though as Adam he often wished to reveal his secret to his friends and allies, as He-Man he knows an ever-present foreboding about his secret. To reveal it was to reveal a vulnerability, and there were ever watchful eyes.
    “I appreciate your concern, but resting now could be even worse. If Nepthu finishes his spell before we can stop him, then Eternia is doomed twice over.
    “You know this is a trap,” she says plainly.
    He shrugs. “It always is.”
    Last edited by oICEMANo; July 30, 2012 at 07:12am.
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  3. #3
    It says ICEMAN oICEMANo's Avatar
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    Back at the perimeter fort, Su-Nami joins Orko, Stanlan, and Kira as they wait with the garrison soldiers for the next inevitable attack. Stanlan asks questions excitedly, painfully oblivious to the peril of their situation. Kira, who is older, is more sober to the danger, and Su-Nami assures her of the Heroic Warrior’s resolve not to let the enemy win. The garrison alarm sounds, and they look to see a wave of Spider Droids and Reptile Men charging the wall. The defensive canons discharge to little effect, only scattering a few of the warriors and hardly slowing the droids.





    At Stanlan’s insistence, Orko attempts to aide the battle with his magic, but he succeeds only in attracting the attention of several raiders, who fire their pulse weapons at them.
    While they duck out of sight, Stanlan notices a suspicious character approaching the wall from the inside. He resembles a cross between an Avionian and a Spelean, but he walks with a slight limp, one wing twitching sightly as if injured. “Who do you think that is,” Stanlan asks Orko.
    The Trollan studies the figure and an object he carries under one arm. “I’m betting that’s Batros! And look, he’s got the Bell!”
    “We’ve got to stop him,” Stanlan yells.
    “Uh, we do?” Before Orko can say anything more, Stanlan grabs a stun gun from the nearest weapon rack and charges down after Batros. Orko calls to Kira, who sees Stanlan’s foolish endeavor and yells for him to stop. Batros meanwhile fires a device that attaches to the wall. A second later and it explodes, punching a hole in the perimeter. As the smoke clears, Stanlan fires his stun gun, narrowly missing Batros’s head. The villain smirks and fires one of his energy nets, snaring the boy and dropping him off his feet. Kira tries to save him, but Batros catches her as well. “Ah, good, I’d forgotten to collect hostages. Very considerate of you,” he smirks.
    Suddenly a gale of wind sends him flying backwards. Su-Nami lands, Orko flying over her. “That’s him,” he yells, pointing at Batros.
    “So I see,” she says and moves to free the others. Batros recovers and shoots tranquilizing darts at Su-Nami, but her instincts are faster and her wind blades spin, deflecting the darts. “I see that Eternian bounty hunters have even less honor in this new age,” she says, facing her enemy. “You attack from behind, and not even children are safe from you?”
    Batros scoffs. “They started it.” He reaches for something in the sand, but Su-Nami’s wind power pushes him away.



    “Is that another of your treacherous tools,” she demands, and directs the wind at the ground to uncover the hidden weapon. The sand however blows away to reveal the Bell, which, being pushed by the wind, chimes once. The bell’s enchanted sound causes pain for all who hear it. The magical sound causes Orko to pass out, and Su-Nami crumples in agony, but Batros, perhaps owing to his evil nature, is not so affected and this time fires cutting darts that crack her armor. With a quick stroke of a laser cutter, he breaks off a portion of her wind blade. With Su-Nami incapacitated, Batros wraps his wing around the two hostages, and collects the bell.

    Back at the Temple of the Sun, He-Man and Andra reach the end of Nepthu’s passageway and discover him and the Sun Stone on a platform directly under the main sky light of the temple. “Very good, I was hoping you would not disappoint. The Eternian sun has reached its zenith, and the Stone will be in proper alignment to absorb its full power. You should be honored to witness such an occurrence.”
    “This posturing is getting old, Nepthu,” says He-Man, raising his sword. “Why don’t you make this easy on yourself and cooperate. You’ve caused enough trouble.”
    Nepthu stares at him a moment, at first not sure to laugh at him or be angry. He chose the former. “Did you think he’d say yes to that,” Andra asks, a little confused herself.
    “No, but that gave me time for this.” He-Man punches the floor, sending a shock wave crashing into Nepthu. The would-be godling stumbles off his feet, and He-Man charges for him.
    “Fool, did you think I am without defenses?” Nepthu calls upon the Sun Stone, from which of bolt of energy strikes at He-Man, narrowly missing him. At first He-Man thinks it was only a single attacking bolt, but then he sees a shape rising up from where the energy had struck. A demonic creature stands over him, at least several heads taller and twice as wide as the mightiest man in the universe.
    “Sun Demon, destroy him,” Nepthu roars. The terrible titan swipes at He-Man with clawed arms and bites at him with razor teeth. A lunging arm finds He-Man’s back and knocks him across the floor. The beast makes a sound like wicked laughter, sharing it’s mad maker’s malicious nature.
    With Nepthu distracted, Andra approaches the stone. She pulls out her communication device, but just as she gets close to the stone, Nepthu turns and seizes her in a choke hold. “And you, woman? What treachery did you intend for me?” He stops to smell her, savoring the moment as if he were a starving wanderer leering hungrily over a meal. “I could make you a maiden of the sun, to serve at my side...or I could let you burn in the fire of my glorious ascension. I haven’t decided yet, but you should be honored either way.”
    Despite his grip on her, she does not lose hold of the communicator. “I think...I’ll pass, lover.” She activates the communicator, which lets out a loud squeal. She drops it and it explodes on the floor, letting out a discharge of energy that, to Nepthu’s surprise, disrupts his connection to the Sun Stone.
    “Agh! What have you--” Nepthu cries, but Andra kicks him away from her. Back in the room behind the sand door, Melaktha’s communicator squeals as well.
    “That’s the signal, she’s done it,” he says.



    “Now,” Soldon orders, and both Dodon and Theydon focus their sunswords on the wall. With Nepthu’s concentration broken, the Sun Stone’s energy, which had been holding the sand in place, flows into their sunwords and allows the wall to cascade back into a pile of sand. Battle Cat roars triumphantly and careens down the corridor to the Sun Chamber with the young Sunkeepers close behind.
    The Sun Demon holds He-Man underfoot, snarling malevolently as he begins to push down with his inhuman might, when Battle Cat hurtles into the chamber and pins the Demon to the floor. He-Man thanks his loyal steed, but the Sun Demon is not defeated and throws Battle Cat against a wall. It strikes at He-Man, only narrowly missing his head. The Sunkeepers arrive and yell to He-Man, “The Sun Stone feeds it power, He-Man! So long as its light shines upon the demon, it will be too strong!”
    “Thanks for the help,” says He-Man quickly and faces the Demon head on. “I think it’s time we take this outside, ugly.” With a mighty punch he sends the Demon crashing through the very wall and into the sands outside.
    Dusting himself and Battle Cat off, He-Man congratulates himself. “Well I think that should--”
    “Look,” Theydon cries. In the full light of Eternia’s sun, the Demon begins to grow larger, expanding like a sponge cast into a lake. Soon it is a giant, and the people of Kallesh flee from it’s viscous form.
    “This just got harder,” He-Man groans. “Stop Nepthu,” he tells the others, “I’ll handle his monster!”



    Nepthu looks up in time to see the Sunkeepers and Andra surrounding him. “What is this? Did you fools think I couldn’t defeat you again as easily as I did before?”
    The brothers laugh. “Actually, we did.” Together they cross their blades and point them at the Sun Stone. The Stone radiates power at them, directly through their swords.
    “What?! No!” Nepthu realizes too late that the Stone is reaching out to them as if to find another avatar. He throws an energy blast at them, and Dodon, wanting to protect his brother throws himself in its path. As the energy strikes him, he disintegrates in a blaze of light.
    “Brother,” Theydon cries and attempts to kill Nepthu then and there with his Sunsword. Andra joins his assault, but Nepthu delivers a backhanded swipe with supernatural might and knocks Them both aside.
    Outside He-Man and Battlecat wrestle with the massive Demon, trying to keep him away from the villagers. The Sun Demon’s size continues to grow until it can threaten to crush He-Man with a mere step.
    Nepthu chuckles at his fallen enemies. “Stupid lizard,” he says, kicking Theydon’s sword from his grasp. “Dodon was a fool to challenge me at all, but even more a fool to sacrifice himself for the likes of you.” Nepthu returns to face the Sun Stone. “Enough of this farce! My Ascension is at hand!” With that the platform on which they stand lifts them up to the Sky Light. They rise up over the temple roof, in the full light of the Eternian sun where the stone shines like a mirror of the radiant star. “And so it begins! My destiny, at long last, complete!”
    “Not quite yet,” says a determined voice. To Nepthu’s amazment, something moves within the Sun Stone. It climbs out of the stone’s round shape as if hatched from the egg of a burning phoenix. The warrior lands on the platform and grows, extending many heads above the stunned Nepthu. “You’re too late, Nepthu. The Stone already has an avatar, for I am a tower of power!”



    “Dodon?! No! This cannot be! This destiny is MINE!” Nepthu hurtles force blasts at his enemy, but the Tower of Power easily deflects the attacks.
    “I’m not Dodon any more, Nepthu. You saw to that, yourself. For all your claims that you understood the stone, you failed to recognize one thing--it would only bond with one who didn’t want its power. I only wanted to save my brother. In your zeal to claim the power for yourself...you gave it to me.”
    Below them, the Sun Demon stomps over He-Man, trying to crush him. But He-Man resists the pressure of the growing Demon. “I think...if you like the sun so much...why don’t I give it to you,” and with that he punches upward with all his might to send the Demon hurtling upward. The higher the Demon goes, the greater the sun’s light fills it with power. Greater and greater it becomes, until suddenly it cannot contain the power it has absorbed and explodes like a bomb high above Kallesh.
    Distraught by his looming defeat, Nepthu screams at his enemies. “No! Stop talking! I will not accept this blasphemy, curse you, Dodon! This is wrong! WRONG!” As Nepthu speaks he hurtles magic blasts at him, yet with each attack, Dodon only grows stronger.
    “Nepthu, stop, your connection to the stone has already failed. You’re only depleting yourself!”



    “Lies! All lies!” Nepthu yells, and with every blow he grows smaller, thinner. His muscles shrink, his armor grows loose, until he finally starts to resemble an aged corpse. His voice dwindles until it is only a dry whimper. “Lies. It’s supposed to be mine. Father! Why can’t it be mine? Dad? Daddy? I can change, if you’ll let it be mine. I can...” With that, his body crumples into a pile of sand that blows away in the wind, leaving only his ornate armor, which dissolves like ice in the sun.
    Theydon helps Andra to her feet as they stare after the departed Nepthu. “How horrible,” Andra breathes.
    “I could not save him,” says Dodon. “But with his poison gone, the stolen energies can be re-channeled.” The Sun Stone crackles and forks of light burst down into the Temple. Suddenly the piles of sand rise up and fuse into the temple guards, dazed by their transformation. Melkatha and Soldon emerge from the prison below as Soldon’s body grows younger and stronger.
    Outside the heroes regroup where He-Man tends to Battle Cat’s wounds. “Is he all right,” Andra asks, feeling Battle Cat’s fur. The large tiger leans into her touch and lets out a rumbling pur, surprising Andra.
    “They’re only superficial. He can still ride. I think he likes you, by the way.” She tries to hide a blush from him. He turns to the others and looks upon the Tower of Power. “Dodon?”
    “No. Dodon is no more. The Sun Stone had other plans for me. Call me...Extendar.”
    “Then Nepthu is...”
    “Like all men who crave ill-gotten power,” says Soldon mournfully, “he met his destiny.”
    “He-Man!” come the cries of Orko, flying frantically into the city. “He-Man, that creepy Batros guy has taken Stanlan and Kira prisoner!”
    “What,” Melaktha cries in horror. “When did it happen? Did you see where he’s taken them?”
    “They were headed into the desert! It, er, well it all looks alike to me!”
    “I can find them,” says Extendar. “Batros has taken the Bell you seek, He-Man. The Sun Stone affords me a psychic connection to everything that has been kept so long in the Temple.”
    “But can you travel far? If Nepthu could not leave the Sun Stone--”
    “The Stone is part of me now, He-Man. I am it’s avatar, and carry its power wherever I go.”
    “We have no time to lose then,” says He-Man, and the heroes begin their pursuit of Batros and the children.

    To Be Continued...

    What other evils await our heroes as they search for the Bells of Doom? Find out in Chapter Two: The Once and Future Duke!
    Last edited by oICEMANo; July 30, 2012 at 07:13am.
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  4. #4
    it means "red head" roykop's Avatar
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    AWESOME! Totally worth the wait
    Proud member of the Arizona MAZTERS since 2003

  5. #5
    Lightning League Leader kylun flac's Avatar
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    That was a great read!
    Skeleton-Warriors, Ra-Jar, Spinwit, Rock Golem, Evil Seed, Lord Masque, Prahvus, General Tartaran, Hawke, Slob-Boar, King Agho, Hunga the Harpy, Sh'gora, Masks of Power Demons, Nocturna, Lizzor, Horde Wraiths, Sagitar, Crimson Fury, Lodar, Vizar, Angast, Negator, Melaktha, ABC Giants, Stridor

  6. #6
    I need a MOTUC... 2-bad's Avatar
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    Back with a bang!!! God I loved it. Art , story everything!
    My DA Page

    www.TheBeastLegion.com is officially online. You can read the Manga in it's entirity there! Hope you give it a try enjoy it.

    Beast Legion FaceBook Page ...Join me & help spread the word!!

  7. #7
    Gaul Warrior danbrenus's Avatar
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    This is an astonishing work! I mean, if MOTu needs some goodness then you really hit the jackpot here.
    I've not started it yet but I can already see how all the MOTU canons meld in perfectly, anybody recognized the dnue beast as the Filmation's lava-lock from Blackstar?
    You guys are the best!!!!
    Danbrenus
    uomo libero e guerriero delle schiere Boiche

    http://danbrenus.deviantart.com/
    My pre-Filmation minicomics:
    http://www.he-man.org/forums/boards/...d.php?t=184385
    http://www.he-man.org/forums/boards/...d.php?t=189337
    Of course I do commission, after all I have to live!
    Chiaramente accetto commissioni, dovrò pur campare...

  8. #8
    Heroic Warrior SAMURAI36's Avatar
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    God Almighty, this was amazing, and well-worth the wait. Thanx so much guys!!
    200X Power Sword, 200X Toon, 200X Continuity.... Yeah, it's all about 200X!!

  9. #9
    Snappy Threader
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    Just read it. Amazing work! Truly amazing!

  10. #10
    Asp'r the Contrarian SnakeMenPriest's Avatar
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    This is nicely written and arted, but so far it's not worth 5 years. 1 maybe, 2's a stretch, but not 5.


    --Asp'r
    In Kansas, it is a crime to eat rattlesnake meat in public.
    You are upsetting the blessing of the Snake God. ALL HAIL RATTLOR!!

    Check out 2-bad's Original epic: Origins of The SnakeMen!

  11. #11
    Heroic Warrior gbagok's Avatar
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    Thanks guys! I hope people can find it now that it's not where it's always been before. We'll be posting one chapter a week from now 'til Power-Con.

    Quote Originally Posted by SnakeMenPriest View Post
    This is nicely written and arted, but so far it's not worth 5 years. 1 maybe, 2's a stretch, but not 5.


    --Asp'r
    Good thing it's free.

  12. #12
    Lightning League Leader kylun flac's Avatar
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    I would pay for this work.

    This is very well written & the art is great. It truly feels like the MYP continuation.
    The characters feel the same as they would from MYP, the written descriptions give great imaginary imagery.
    The addition to new/old characters like, Batros, Melaktha, Lt. Andra, Su-Nami, Nepthu & Dodon are how MYP would have handled them.
    The story is full of surprises & suspense. Character placement is well balanced in the story.

    I truly feel like this is the official continuation where MYP/MVC Comics left off.
    Skeleton-Warriors, Ra-Jar, Spinwit, Rock Golem, Evil Seed, Lord Masque, Prahvus, General Tartaran, Hawke, Slob-Boar, King Agho, Hunga the Harpy, Sh'gora, Masks of Power Demons, Nocturna, Lizzor, Horde Wraiths, Sagitar, Crimson Fury, Lodar, Vizar, Angast, Negator, Melaktha, ABC Giants, Stridor

  13. #13
    It says ICEMAN oICEMANo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SnakeMenPriest View Post
    This is nicely written and arted, but so far it's not worth 5 years. 1 maybe, 2's a stretch, but not 5.


    --Asp'r
    As usual thanks for the constructive criticism Priest.
    Not sure if you mean it's not enough art for one chapter or if you think this is the whole story... but BOE2 has a lot of artwork still to come. (but then it's not just about the art...)

    We hope you all enjoyed the first chapter!
    NOW DOING CHARACTER ART COMMISSIONS - PM FOR DETAILS
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  14. #14
    Heroic Warrior HordeMonkey's Avatar
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    After FIVE. LONG. YEARS.

    It has arrived! *praises the heavens*

    I always knew you guys would follow through! Dang.

    I've only feasted my eyes on the art for now, but I'll give it a proper read when I've got some time. Thanks for coming through with this, gents, even though you never really owed us anything.

    I call this a "Positive MOTU Moment(TM)", very rare these days!
    Evil Simian Mechanic of the Horde!

  15. #15
    Warrior of Evolution 13977's Avatar
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    So glad this has finally seen the light of day, I'm really looking forward to reading it
    MOTUC NA Most Wanted: Darius, Kayo, Vizar, Hoove, Lizorr

    Wanted:
    Trade my Red Stone He-Ro Staff for a Green one
    HE-MAN UK Adventure Magazine #26

  16. #16
    Heroic Master of 200X MegaGearMax's Avatar
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    Wonderful stuff guys!

    The Blonde Teela (Battleground and Alcala Teela) Thread
    MegaGearMax's 200X/MYP Screen Grabs

    Sagitar • 200X Prince Adam • 200X Sorceress • Evilseed (MYP)

  17. #17
    Kickin' It Old Skool! Alex The Kid's Avatar
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    Only 5 years? Great job guys! Really looking forward to Part 3!

  18. #18
    Master of Dreams Sandman's Avatar
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    Whoa, you actually got it done? Nice job guys.

  19. #19
    Heroic Warrior Bearshow's Avatar
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    Fantastic stuff, guys!

    Once again, you guys are picking up the torch in some of MOTU's darkest days !

    Can't wait to see more, and happy to see you guys are stil enjoying doing this.
    Visit me at www.cjedwardsart.com

    Now with more Facebook! Personal: http://www.facebook.com/welcomeback/...cj.edwards.142 and Official CJ Edwards Art page: http://www.facebook.com/cjedwardsart

    For more Bearshow art, please visit my DeviantArt account: http://cjedwardsart.deviantart.com/

  20. #20
    Lightning League Leader kylun flac's Avatar
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    I love both intros to the book of evil, giving Keldors origin.
    At first I believed the Nameless One to be the Faceless One, but his cloths don't match. so, maybe its Skeletor from the future with the Cosmic Key. If not how did the Faceless One get it? Or it could be a character that remains a mystery.

    Very suspenseful!

    With the unofficial bios by Gbagok relieving small telling's of Keldors origin it gets a little confusing. Evil Lyns is the same way. I'm also speaking about the MYP series and MVC comics. Those MOTUC bios throw me way off. Its that whole time travel thing thats messing me up.
    I'm sure the time line for Keldor & Evil Lyn will make more since with the rest of the story and more bios.
    Skeleton-Warriors, Ra-Jar, Spinwit, Rock Golem, Evil Seed, Lord Masque, Prahvus, General Tartaran, Hawke, Slob-Boar, King Agho, Hunga the Harpy, Sh'gora, Masks of Power Demons, Nocturna, Lizzor, Horde Wraiths, Sagitar, Crimson Fury, Lodar, Vizar, Angast, Negator, Melaktha, ABC Giants, Stridor

  21. #21
    Master of 3D printing Neo's Avatar
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    Heh, cool little Bravestarr easteregg you guys put in there.
    Take a look at my deviantart. http://kaassouffle.deviantart.com/gallery/

  22. #22
    Heroic Warrior Cheshire Moon's Avatar
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    MOAR MOAR MOAR! Loved it as expected. Great Art, Great Story - Can't wait for the next bit... Thank you for all your effort and dedication
    A fabulous new wardrobe was revealed to me the day I held aloft my sword and said...

  23. #23
    Asp'r the Contrarian SnakeMenPriest's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by oICEMANo View Post
    As usual thanks for the constructive criticism Priest.
    Not sure if you mean it's not enough art for one chapter or if you think this is the whole story... but BOE2 has a lot of artwork still to come. (but then it's not just about the art...)
    It wasn't "constructive". That's called "Praising". And I was referring to BoE part II in general, not any certain aspect of it.


    --Asp'r
    In Kansas, it is a crime to eat rattlesnake meat in public.
    You are upsetting the blessing of the Snake God. ALL HAIL RATTLOR!!

    Check out 2-bad's Original epic: Origins of The SnakeMen!

  24. #24
    Heroic Warrior Clawful94's Avatar
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    That was really awesome. Love the new origin of Extendar.

  25. #25
    It says ICEMAN oICEMANo's Avatar
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    Well in that case I don't see how you can say its not enough as this is only the first chapter

    Quote Originally Posted by SnakeMenPriest View Post
    It wasn't "constructive". That's called "Praising". http://i3.photobucket.com/albums/y92...rzu/rltung.gifhttp://he-man.org/forums/boards/atta...1&d=1172823325 And I was referring to BoE part II in general, not any certain aspect of it.


    --Asp'r
    NOW DOING CHARACTER ART COMMISSIONS - PM FOR DETAILS
    DeviantArt Gallery
    Week Daze - my webcomic
    The Return to Anwat Gar

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