Really well written and spaced perfectly.
Here's a new story for your consumption. This one is a novel. It exists in the same universe as Fervani, but I'm not saying which came first as I do not want to give anything away in either story. Eventually, it will be obvious which one came first. (I swear, there's not a chicken or an egg in sight.)
Anyway, I hope you all enjoy this one. The initial post is somewhat long. See ya around the boards.
Duncan whirled and took aim at the group of Skeletor’s minions swarming around King Randor and his guards. All across the courtyard, similar groups surrounded the Masters, small pockets of conflict in the large open space. The ground rumbled periodically, sending friend and foe alike sprawling. Feet carefully spread to keep his balance, Duncan fired. A howl split the air. Baring his fangs and snarling, his crimson fur singed and smoking on his back, Beastman abandoned his attack on the king and charged at Duncan. Where is He-Man? He should have been here by now. Duncan braced to meet the attack, but Beastman was stopped short as more of the Eternian Guard poured into the courtyard and surrounded him. With a swipe of one great paw, he sent men flying through the air. Yet, for every guard he knocked away, three more surged forward to take his place. The rest of Skeletor’s minions were faring little better. The outcome of this battle was a foregone conclusion; Skeletor would be routed.
The question remained whether he could be driven off in time to save the king. Sword in hand, Randor fought valiantly. But Duncan could see that he was flagging. Chestnut hair drooped into his azure eyes as he fended off blows from Whiplash’s spiked tail. Two guards did their best to protect his back, but they had their own troubles as well. Where is He-Man? Randor needs his help – now. Unfortunately, He-Man was nowhere in sight and the same throng that prevented Beastman from reaching Duncan also prevented Duncan from getting any closer to the king.
Suddenly the ground roiled beneath him and, distracted, he fell. Duncan cursed as he slammed into the paving stones and his hand-cannon sparked and died. Blast! The fall’s blown the last of the charge. He got shakily to his feet and, mace in hand, prepared to fight his way to Randor’s side. But it was not to be. What?! Duncan ducked as Stratos, the winged Avion, suddenly swooped by, flying low overhead. He laughed heartily when he saw what Stratos was carrying in his arms. If they’d flown any lower, He-Man would have kicked me in the back of the head. Stratos dropped his burden next to the besieged king, and He-Man proceeded to send Whiplash flying through the air… without the benefit of Stratos’ wings. Duncan could see that He-Man was shouting something to Skeletor’s forces, but he couldn’t hear him over the roar of another earth tremor and the crackle of Evil-Lyn’s magic. Smiling grimly, He-Man lifted Trap Jaw above his head and sent him flying through the air on the same trajectory as Whiplash… straight at Skeletor.
The self-proclaimed overlord of evil went tumbling end over end, his ram-headed Havoc Staff spinning uselessly away. Just as he should have hit ground, a Griffin swooped down and caught him. Climbing onto the beast’s back, the skull-faced villain made good his escape. His parting words echoed across the courtyard. “This isn’t over He-Man,” he warned. “I’ll be back! Eternia will be mine!”
“Not during my lifetime, Skeletor,” He-Man said, blue eyes sparkling with satisfaction. “But you’re welcome to keep trying.” The scattered Masters laughed and, more surprisingly, so did Randor.
The nerve of the attackers broke, and, as rapidly as it had begun, the battle was over. The cessation of noise was shocking as a blow and, for a moment Duncan’s worldview spun. Shaking his head to clear it, he hurried over to the king and He-Man. Finding Randor blessedly unhurt, he took up a protective stance and began barking orders to the guards for the care of the wounded. From the corner of his eye, he saw Randor and He-Man clasp hands. Both men were smiling. Randor’s smile was tired, barely held in place, but He-Man’s was blinding in its intensity. As always, He-Man basked in the glow of his father’s praise, something seldom experienced by Adam. Unfortunately. No doubt Randor was expressing his gratitude for He-Man’s timely assistance. Duncan knew that Randor found He-Man’s ability to mysteriously appear when most needed puzzling, but the king could hardly demand to know how Eternia’s champion managed the feat. If he knew, he’d probably wish he didn’t. The Elders know that one of us being a nervous wreck every time He-Man’s in danger is probably enough.
Less than an hour later, the courtyard was all but deserted. Having completed the transport of the wounded to the infirmary, the uninjured guards and the other Masters had no doubt gone in search of refreshment and relaxation. Duncan could just picture the Masters at that very moment regaling Prince Adam and Queen Marlena with increasingly more impressive tales of the battle and He-Man’s heroic arrival. He knew that King Randor, however, would not rest until he had assured himself that battle’s aftermath was well on its way to being remedied. So it was that Duncan was busily surveying the damaged courtyard, discussing repairs with the king, when Orko called out to them in his cheery, high voice. “Your highness, your highness?” Pointy red hat flapping with the wind of his passage, waving his blue arms in greeting, the little Trollan floated hurriedly toward them across the rubble-strewn courtyard. Randor sighed, and straightened tiredly. His face set in a blank smile that was equal parts exhaustion and resignation, he greeted his court jester in a neutral tone. “Yes, Orko, what is it?”
“Your highness,” the Trollan said, bobbing slightly up and down as he hovered before them, “the queen sent me to find Adam. Do you know where he is?”
Randor’s face hardened briefly, his entire posture stiffening. “He ran off when the fighting started,” Randor replied, his voice flat and all but unreadable. “In the direction of Man-At-Arms’ lab, I believe. He is probably still hiding in there.” Randor grimaced. “He may even have fallen asleep with that cat of his.” Orko’s eyes widened in alarm at the king’s obvious anger. They both knew that Randor was supposed to think that Adam was somewhat cowardly and lazy, but lately it had gone a little too far.
In a recent encounter with Skeletor, Adam had been forced to run away from a battle in which his father had played a major role. Randor and Skeletor had faced off against each other in duel that still gave Duncan cold sweats late at night. When the tide seemed to be turning in Skeletor’s favor, Adam had dived under a blow from Clawful and fled the scene. Duncan knew why he left, but Randor, seeing him go out of the corner of his eye, did not. The flight of the prince distracted him, and Skeletor knocked the king to the ground. He-Man arrived barely in time to prevent his father’s untimely demise. The battle was won, but it had been a near thing. Too near. Far too near. And the king… he had been enraged. The quarrel between father and son – largely one-sided due to the guilt Adam felt over Randor’s near miss – also still gave Duncan cold sweats. Things just haven’t been the same between them since then.
Orko’s gaze darted to Duncan, beseeching.
Duncan cursed inwardly, and rapidly manufactured an excuse. Taking a deep breath, he lied to his king. “Sire, Prince Adam didn’t run away from the battle.” At the bitterly skeptical look on Randor’s face, he hurried on. “I sent him to my lab for a new charge for my hand-cannon. Mine overloaded when one of Evil-Lyn’s spells knocked me down. He may have become trapped outside the courtyard when that last contingent of the Palace Guard arrived.” Duncan devoutly hoped that Randor wouldn’t realize that the boy had disappeared from the battle before Evil-Lyn’s earth tremors had blown away most of Duncan’s power supply.
“Always, you defend him!” the king snapped. Duncan jerked away as if slapped. His jaw clenched. It’s my duty to defend him. Randor seemed to read the thought on his face and took a half-step back, as startled by his outburst as Duncan and Orko were. Then, with a sigh, the anger visibly drained out of him, his posture loosening, his face relaxing. “Still, perhaps you are correct in this instance,” Randor said, attempting an apologetic smile. He turned back to Orko. “I will stop by the lab on my way to the infirmary. If he is there…” He searched for words, his lips shaping and discarding several. Finally, he sighed and rubbed his face tiredly. “I will let him know that his mother is looking for him.”
The little Trollan seemed more alarmed than ever. “Infirmary? OH! Your highness! Are you hurt? Do you need help? Hold on, Sire, and I’ll have you there in no time!” Orko pushed back his long, loose red sleeves and began to wiggle his fingers in an alarming fashion. Alarming, that is, to anyone who knows how his spells usually turn out. The king hurriedly put his hands up and gestured for the Trollan to stop. “No, Orko. Thank you, but I’m fine,” he reassured him, a slightly crazed look on his face. “I merely intend to inquire after those members of the Guard who were wounded in the engagement. Nothing for you to be concerned about.” Orko lowered his arms, looking both relieved and faintly disappointed. Duncan suppressed a grin, thankful that he hadn’t wound up with a bucket of water tipped onto his head yet again. Or eggs, or sand, or cream, or…
“Man-At-Arms, will you accompany me?” the king asked, strangely hesitant and not meeting his eyes.
“Of course, Sire,” Duncan replied, nodding firmly. He hoped his tone clearly conveyed that the embarrassing disagreement had never happened and was already forgotten. You’re not having a good day, are you, my friend? Duncan’s efforts were rewarded with a wry smile and a hand gesturing him onward.
They walked in uneasy, weary silence for a time. Then Orko, who had trailed after them, announced he would check the lab for Prince Adam while they visited the infirmary. Duncan wholeheartedly agreed that it wasn’t a good idea for Randor and Adam to meet right now, but he shuddered to think what Orko, unsupervised, might do to his experiments. I just finished cleaning up the last mess he made. He was looking at the Trollan, ticking off on his fingers a long, stern list of things that Orko was not to touch, when a gasp from Randor yanked him back to their surroundings. They had just turned the corner onto a path that led alongside the palace’s open-air, columned theater, now empty. Ahead of them, piles of rubble lay across the way where most of a wall, no doubt weakened by Evil-Lyn’s magic-induced quakes, had fallen.
A boy’s battered arm, all but obscured by debris, reached out from beneath the greatest mound of stone. A horrifyingly familiar sword lay just beyond his grasp.
To be continued...
Really well written and spaced perfectly.
Greater than the death of flesh is the death of hope, the death of dreams. Against this peril we can never surrender. G'Kar Babylon 5
A warning on a chainsaw
DAVI MUST DIE!!
I love fan fic.
Obey the whip!
Smile like you mean it.
Awww! Poor baby!... erm, I mean poor Adam. I always do that!
I want more!
Darn it, now I have to wait for you to finish two stories. Fervani and Sacrifce and Service. Only one other author has made me wait for two stories at once!
Keep up the good work, and keep the updates coming!
You might be an engineer if:
You try to calculate your BAC in an Excel spreadsheet, but you're too drunk to make the numbers work out properly.
Last edited by Wyldefyre; July 4, 2003 at 02:05am.
We are, we are, we are, we are, we are the engineers
We can, we can, we can, we can, drink all of forty beers!
--Michigan Tech fight song
This is SO good.
I've been thinking about writing a fan-fic about Adam and his father, but after reading this I don't think I need to. Please post more soon.
Next bit... things just get worse from here folks. Poor baby, indeed.
With an inarticulate cry Randor dashed toward the fallen figure. Duncan, too, was running. Running before his mind even quite registered what that sword had to mean. Adam. It’s Adam. Adrenaline pumped through his veins, his exhaustion blasted away by sheer terror. If he’s dead…
Randor was already pulling at stones in a panicked frenzy when Duncan cleared the rubble away from Adam’s arm and felt for a pulse. The prince’s skin was cool to the touch but not yet cold. For several agonizing seconds, Duncan could not find any sign of a heartbeat. But then… There! Thready and weak, but there! Jumping up, he stepped back several paces and studied the heaps of stone, searching for balance points, fulcrums that – once disturbed – might bring the whole mass tumbling down onto the king as well as his son. Randor, cloak and crown tossed aside, was still frantically trying to shift stones half the size of Cringer, careless of his own safety. Orko, tears pooling in his eyes, was levitating smaller stones off to the side. We’ve got to have help. We’ll never reach him in time this way. In an instant, Duncan made his decision. His comlink was still without power from the overload. Knowing that he would never convince the king to leave, he ran forward and grabbed Orko by the shoulder. “Go now. Find the Masters. Bring them here. Hurry!” With that, he shoved the Trollan in the direction of the main halls and began to dig. For once, Orko didn’t argue.
Within minutes they had the help of all the Masters currently at the palace and every uninjured guard that could reasonably fit into the limited working space. We should reach him soon, but will it be soon enough? The careful digging guided by Duncan and Man-E-Robot continued for more than an hour. Adam’s arm never moved despite Ram-Man, his eyes suspiciously bright, calling continual reassurances to the young prince. Randor, still weak and worn from the battle with Skeletor’s forces, would allow no one to take his place in the digging. When Stratos urged the king to rest, Randor merely ignored him. Nearby sat Queen Marlena, stiff, pale and not speaking. Her eyes never left the spot where Adam was buried. She held his sword across her lap.
When the removal of a particularly large stone revealed a gap in the rubble, Mekanek plunged in head first, his neck apparatus extending as he wound his way through narrow gaps in the pile. The structure trembled sending a cloud of dust billowing out and causing Mekanek to cough as it clogged his throat.
“Mek! Get out of there!” Duncan ordered in alarm.
“No! Wait! I can almost see him!”
“You can?!” Marlena exclaimed, jumping up and running toward him.
“Your highness, please, do not come too near,” Stratos beseeched. “This structure is unstable—”
“Mekanek, is he hurt? How badly? Is he awake? Can you talk to him?”
“Please, my Queen,” the Avion said as he took her by the arm. “Please, come away—”
“Wait… I – I can see part of his face! His eyes are closed, but… he’s breathing! I can see him breathing!” There was a pause and then Mekanek’s voice came echoing out of the rubble, louder than before. “Adam, can you hear me? Prince Adam?! Come on, kid! Say something! Blink at me, anything! Adam?!”
En masse the Masters froze in their labors. Even the king stopped working for a moment as every soul in the courtyard waited, straining for the sound of Adam’s response. None came. Without a word, Randor returned to his frenzied digging. The queen, hands clenched into fists, refused to return to the safety of the perimeter. Torn between his urgent need to rescue the prince and his equally urgent need to prevent injury to the queen, Stratos kept her in sight as he ferried away fragments of wall. Mekanek was still talking to the prince, desperately trying to coax a response from that silent figure when the precarious mountain of rubble began to move once more. This time he didn’t have to be told get out. His head came whizzing out of the debris, his neck apparatus retracting so fast it sparked. Masters jumped and dodged as a cascade of stone, mortar and plaster tried to sweep them off their feet. Stratos leapt into the air and snatched the queen from the pathway of a tidal wave of rock while Buzz-Off carried the dazed Mekanek to safety.
When the collapse was over, the Masters gazed in horror at the remains of the wall. Adam’s arm was no longer visible. Mekanek gazed fixedly at the mound of stone where his head and neck had so recently been. “That could’a killed you,” Ram-Man said, coming to stand beside the shaken Master. “Don’t do it again, ok?”
“Man-E!” Duncan called when he could breathe again.
“Way ahead of you, Man-At-Arms,” he yelled back. Shifting to his robot form, he quickly scanned the area where Adam was buried. “The subsidence does not appear to have altered the structure of the stones covering the prince,” he said in his robotic monotone. “However, the stability of the overall formation has been greatly reduced. We must hurry.”
Everyone began to dig once more. With extreme care.
A few minutes later, a hand clamped down on Duncan’s bicep, startling him out of the dazed state into which they had all quickly fallen. It was Buzz-Off.
“Man-At-Arms, this is taking too long. We need He-Man,” he insisted, urgency ringing clearly in his voice. “Can’t you call him somehow?” Duncan shook his head mutely, shook him off and continued to dig. His whole world reduced to the rough stone between his hands and the heartbeat he fancied he could hear beneath the stones, growing steadily fainter.
In the end, it was Teela who pulled her childhood friend’s too-still body from the rubble. He did not react to his rescue or respond to the anxious queries of his parents and friends. He seemed, in fact, barely to be breathing. The rescuers were eerily silent as the medics performed a hasty examination. The Masters watched expectantly, waiting to be reassured, waiting for Adam to wake, waiting for someone to tell them that all would well. They waited in vain. Their cursory examination completed, the stony-faced medics whisked the prince away, the king and queen close behind. Duncan started to follow them, but he was stopped by his daughter’s dismayed voice. “Father.” Eyes wide with horror, Teela held her blood-covered trembling hands out for him to see.
“Bungling fools!” Skeletor shrieked, eyes flaring scarlet. “Incompetent dolts! Your failure cost me the palace of Eternia!” A blast from the Havoc Staff sent Whiplash flying through the air to slam into a sooty pillar. “I had Randor in the palm of my hand and you ruined everything!” A second flare of energy sent Beastman flying. He was headed in Evil-Lyn’s direction, but she used a small bolt of energy from her own staff to alter his trajectory. He howled in rage as he flew from the throne room and out into one of the side tunnels. His impact, though out of sight, made a quite acceptable squishy thud.
Good riddance to fang face, she thought with immense satisfaction. I hope his fur’s singed. Since Skeletor wasn’t blaming her for this latest debacle, she was free to enjoy the show. The others cowered, slinking about, trying to avoid his fury. All except Tri-Klops, who was too busy fiddling with his dials to pay any attention to the Lord of Snake Mountain. Fortunate for him that Skeletor’s too busy browbeating the goon squad to notice. I wonder what’s so interesting. Crossing her legs and cocking a hip nonchalantly, she leaned again the wall to wait for the storm of wrath to blow over.
“Uh, we’re sorry boss.” Whiplash offered tentatively as he got back to his feet.
“Sorry? Sorry! I’ll show you sorry,” he threatened, raising his staff menacingly. Whiplash ducked behind Clawful and the crustacean took the full brunt of the blast. After a nervous look in Skeletor’s direction, Whiplash stumbled over Clawful’s prone form and fled the throne room. The others, save Tri-Klops, hastily followed his example. Even Clawful managed to crawl out.
“Fools and buffoons, the lot of them,” Evil-Lyn purred, carefully watching for indications that the overlord of Snake Mountain was prepared to turn his ire on her. When she saw no such signs, she straightened away from the wall and strolled over to the foot of his throne. “My earthquakes worked perfectly. If those imbeciles had trapped the guards in their barracks as they were told to—”
Skeletor cut her off, eyes mere embers. “You are quick to belittle your comrades, Evil-Lyn. Perhaps I,” his eyes flared brighter, “am to be next.”
“I... criticize you?” she asked in feigned shock. “Skeletor, how could you imagine that I would be so callous as to mention your own failures? Why, to point out that you—” she began, but Tri-Klops abruptly broke into the conversation.
“Skeletor!” he cried. “I think you’ll want to see this.”
“What is it?” he snapped, fangs gnashing together.
“I think you may have hurt King Randor pretty badly after all,” Tri-Klops said in a gratingly cheerful voice.
“What do you mean?” Skeletor asked, clearly intrigued.
“Yes, Tri-Klops,” Evil-Lyn said silkily, annoyed at being so rudely interrupted just when she was about to get in a few good digs at old bonehead’s expense, “do tell us what is so fascinating that it compelled you to ignore your lord and master for the last hour.”
“I think you killed Prince Adam,” he exclaimed, so enraptured by his news that he didn’t even respond to her gibe.
“What?” she demanded. “I don’t believe it!”
“Well,” he admitted, “he’s not dead yet, but I think he will be soon.” He chuckled gravelly. “The Masters are beside themselves. The king’s practically catatonic.”
“But… but that milk-faced sop wasn’t even there during the battle,” Evil-Lyn protested. “He ran away at the start of the fighting just like he always does. I thought that red-haired harpy was going to have a fit on the spot when he ducked by her!”
“For once Evil-Lyn is correct, Tri-Klops,” Skeletor said, smiling beneficently at the fuming witch. “I saw the cowardly little runt run away myself. How is it that Randor’s brat came to be injured?”
“Well, look,” the cyborg demanded as he adjusted a control on his left bracer. Suddenly, the throne was filled with a Doomseeker’s eye view of the palace. It was focused on a ruined wall and a number of milling, agitated people.
Evil-Lyn and Skeletor exchanged a baffled, annoyed look.
“Sooooo…” they said in unison.
“Wait.” Tri-Klops adjusted the controls again and the picture began to whiz backwards. It was amusing for a time, watching all of the Masters and guards run about in reverse, but then Evil-Lyn’s breath caught in her throat as she finally caught a glimpse of the Prince of Eternia. Then he was gone as the picture continued to rewind.
“Wait!” she cried. “Stop and go forward again.” She looked up at the throne. Skeletor was leaning forward eagerly, red eyes flashing in hostile pleasure. Goodness, the three-eyed wonder may actually be right. I may really have gotten the prince. Evil-Lyn watched in delighted amazement as the Doomseeker’s images moved forward once more. When Man-At-Arms’ snipe of a daughter pulled the battered and bruised body of the prince from beneath the rubble, she laughed aloud. The horrified faces of the Masters only made her laugh all the harder.
“A wall,” she said bemused. “A wall fell on him. Oh, how droll.”
“Evil-Lyn,” Skeletor sang, “I am positively overwhelmed. How considerate of you to do away with the callow Prince Alan.”
“Adam,” she corrected automatically, too stunned to say more. A wall fell on him. A wall. It would be more impressive if I’d actually planned it that way, but I don’t think I need to point that out to Skeletor.
“Yes,” purred the Lord of Snake Mountain. “Adam. Randor’s precious boy. Well, well, well. Not even He-Man could save him from this. How utterly delightful, and I thought this day had been a complete and utter disaster. You’ve done well, Evil-Lyn. Very well.”
“Thank you, Skeletor. It’s a good for a girl to know she’s appreciated.”
“Yeah, but, he’s not dead yet,” Tri-Klops pointed out unwisely. Skeletor promptly scorched him with a wave of eldritch fire. The tri-optical idiot was still screeching in pain when Skeletor turned an unnervingly toothy grin on her. “No one cares to be surrounded by doomsayers,” he confided conspiratorially. Evil-Lyn cocked an eyebrow in agreement, but before she could comment her lord and master continued. “Still, Tri-Klops is essentially correct.” He tapped the tips of his pointed fingers together in a staccato rhythm. “Dear, dear Evil-Lyn, it would seem the stars shine favorably upon you this auspicious day. Let us hope the constellations do not change alignment until such time as the callow Prince,” he smirked at her, “Adam is dead.”
Evil-Lyn smiled savagely back, hoping that her uneasy, reflexive swallow was not visible. One must never show weakness before Skeletor. “Yes,” she agreed. “Let us hope so.”
Awesome. Keep it up.
Obey the whip!
Smile like you mean it.
That was AWSOME!!!!!!! I want more!
Tah Dah! Here begins the next section...
It was Cringer’s blood.
Duncan sat with the king and queen outside main surgery in the infirmary’s critical care ward, feeling useless. His area of expertise was mechanically induced problems. Was your friend turned into stone by Tri-Klops’ latest invention? Don’t worry, I can fix it. But this… I can’t fix this. There was nothing he could do for Adam now. It was up to the medics and healers. Duty meant he should be off doing any one of a dozen more useful things: supervising repairs, checking on the battle wounded, watching for signs that Skeletor might strike again while their guard was down. He should go. He should. The king and queen should order him to go, not just sit there in silence, their hands clasped tightly together. Randor… Duncan couldn’t bear to look at Randor. The bottom had dropped out of the king’s world. Why don’t they tell me to go? Why…? Maybe they’re just too tired to care… too tired to think about anything but him. Duncan studied their worn faces, seeing in each visage a vision of the bleak future before them all if the prince died. If their son died. I know how I’d feel if it was Teela in there. Duncan lowered his face into his hands and began to rub his temples. How I feel that it’s Adam is bad enough.
Time limped by.
When a hand lightly settled on his knee, Duncan looked up to find Queen Marlena squatting daintily before him. Her intent eyes searched his face. “Man-At-Arms, are you all right?” she asked softly. Looking around, Duncan realized that the king was no longer in the hall. “Randor left to go and thank the Masters for their assistance,” she said, “and to let them know that we won’t have any word on Adam for another hour or so.” With a slight smile she added, “We think they’re getting impatient.”
“They’re all very concerned. Adam is, well he’s… he’s well liked.”
“I know,” Marlena said quietly, her deep brown eyes intent on his. “But Man-At-Arms… Duncan, how are you?”
He took one deep breath. Then another. “I’m fine, your highness.” He could not quite meet her eyes.
“You’re not… blaming yourself?” she asked.
Startled, he looked her square in the face, their gazes locking. Blame myself? God, yes.
“What? No of course not,” he replied, but he suspected that the queen could read the real answer in his eyes.
“Duncan, Randor told me what you said – about sending Adam for a power pack – but you must realize that doesn’t make this your fault. It could have happened to any of us.”
Power pack? Oh, yes, of course, yes. Naturally, the king and queen would think of that. What else could they think? They didn’t know that He-Man was really Adam. So, they couldn’t know that He-Man and Battle Cat had almost certainly been in the process of transforming back into their true selves when the wall collapsed onto them. They have no idea how deep my guilt really runs.
“I should check on Cringer,” he said, swiftly rising to his feet. The queen also rose.
“Cringer will recover, won’t he?” she asked, anxiety creeping into her voice. “Adam… he’d be devastated if he lost Cringer.” Duncan hastened to reassure her.
“He’ll be fine; he just needs time to heal.”
Duncan turned to go, but the queen stopped him one more time. “Duncan, you don’t think that Skeletor did this deliberately, do you?” she asked, her voice so rough that it pained his heart. “Do you think that one of his… people… made the wall fall on Adam?”
Duncan stared at her in horror, his blood suddenly feeling chill in his veins. If Skeletor saw him changing…! No, no, we’d have heard something by now. He could never resist gloating if he thought he’d actually killed He-Man. “No, your highness,” he said, his voice catching slightly despite his best effort to keep it calm. “I think… I think Adam was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.” He shook his head, sadly. “It’s still Skeletor’s doing, and I promise you that he’ll pay for this, but… I don’t think it was some kind of plot.” Marlena nodded, looking relieved, and Duncan turned and fled before the queen could think of any more questions he might have trouble answering.
Sitting on the polished basalt floor of her workshop, Evil-Lyn threw a handful of light into the air, creating a magic window. Through it, she watched intently as the King of Eternia, standing atop the dais in his throne room, finished addressing the assembled Masters and an assortment of guards, courtiers, servants and other palace hangers-on. The news was hardly bleak: Prince Adam was in surgery, they would have no further news for several hours, the king would give the Masters another update in the morning, they were to assemble in the Infirmary Gardens. Blah, blah, blah. Randor’s words were hardly interesting. They certainly did not merit the intense, respectful silence with which the gathered throng listened to his announcement. Perhaps it was the look on his face that held the throng in check.
When he was finished speaking, the king rapidly left the room, dodging the anxious queries that were tossed his way. He strode seemingly purposefully through the halls of his palace, and Evil-Lyn’s spell followed him. It was only when he reached an intersection in the hallway that she realized he had no idea where he was going. Randor gazed numbly at the three possible routes before him. The path to the right, she knew, lead to the royal family’s private wing where their bed chambers were located. Where the others went, she was not certain.
Finally, taking a deep breath, the king turned to the left, walking quickly. Within minutes he was outside under the star-strewn sky. He appeared once more to know where he was going. He continued walking for several minutes, and when he turned a corner, she spied the open palace grounds, the green, grassy fields where the Masters sometimes trained, playing at war games. In the far distance, across that unblemished expanse of ground, was a grotto. And within that copse of trees… a kind of chapel, the King of Eternia’s private shrine to the Elders. It was filled with small statues of the Elders, all made of marble so white that they glowed even on the darkest of nights. How revolting, and how typical. The statues themselves were surrounded by beds of flowers, burners filled with the finest incense. A small waterfall created little streams that wove around the marble figures. It was the perfect spot for meditation, for wrestling with an intractable problem, for contemplation… for desperation.
Once inside grotto, Randor fell to his knees before the life-size statue of the leader of the Council of Elders. “Please,” he said hoarsely. “Please, my lord, help him. Please.” He dropped his face into his hands and began to sob.
“Well,” she said aloud, speaking only to herself. “Now this is getting interesting.”
omg, This rocks! more please!
For everyone who has been wondering what happened to Cringer...
Duncan found Cringer still caught in the midst of a drug-induced slumber. The large cat had been so agitated when Adam did not appear to comfort him and ease his pain that Duncan had been forced to sedate him to prevent further injuries. It was a miracle Cringer was alive at all. Moments after Adam was rushed to the infirmary, the Masters had all been shocked to hear soft cries coming from the rubble. With a shout of, “Cringer!” Teela had plunged back in. She dug desperately near the spot where Adam had been buried, leaving bloody handprints on the stones she moved. The rescue effort was renewed in force. Minutes later they pulled a piteously mewing Cringer, his fur matted dark with blood, from a small hollow in the mass of stone. A long jagged gash in his side still bled in sluggish spurts. Duncan’s mind had flashed back to the day, so many years gone, when Adam had brought home a wild cub, sickly and injured. He’d warned Adam, already hopelessly attached to the frail creature, that the small tiger might not live. The earnest young prince had looked up at Duncan, complete faith shining in his blue eyes. “You’ll fix him, Man-At-Arms. I know you will.”
“Get him to my lab!” Duncan had ordered, gazing worriedly at the now grown tiger.
Cringer had rubbed weakly against the gentle hands which lifted him onto a stretcher. His nose twitched feebly as he searched for the particular hands that were always there to comfort him. When he didn’t find them, his howl of grief and fear made them all jump. I won’t let him die. How could I face Adam if I let him die?
Duncan had worked feverishly over the wounded tiger for two hours. Though he’d lost a great deal of blood, explaining Adam’s sopping clothing, his injuries were actually moderate. Duncan had closed the wounds and replaced the lost blood. In the end, he’d been able to tell the Masters with confidence that Cringer would live. No such verdict had yet been rendered for Cringer’s master.
As much as Duncan had dreaded the thought of having to tell Adam that Cringer was dead, he now feared that… that he might have to tell Cringer– I can’t think like this. I have to be positive. Adam will survive. He’s He-Man. The Elders won’t let him die. Not like this. Not the hero of the people. Defender of Eternia. Champion of justice. Strongest man in the universe. Sixteen. Young. Insecure. Soft hearted…
Duncan wandered the confines of the lab. He tried to work on his inventions, to do something productive, but he couldn’t manage to concentrate on anything for more than a couple of minutes at a time. I’ve been promising He-Man those scanners for monitoring Snake Mountain for two weeks. If those had been in place today, we would have known that Skeletor and his minions were on their way before they ever got near the palace. Duncan sat down on the pivoting stool before the workbench where the prototypes were mounted. He stared at them – wires, casings, circuits, diagrams, useless – for five minutes before an anemic cry from the other end of the room drew his attention.
Swiveling around, he called into the shadows. “Cringer?”
Duncan bounded to his feet and rushed to the tiger. Cringer, drowsy but most definitely awake, was fruitlessly attempting to stand. Paws kicked ineffectually as the great head lifted itself off the table. “Cringer,” Duncan soothed, a smile in his voice. “Cringer, you’re all right. You’re safe.” He stroked the cat, careful to avoid the bandages. The tiger’s head pivoted, eyes searching the shadowy lab. The eyes settled on Duncan for a moment, then began the search again.
Duncan sighed. “He’s not here, Cringer. I’m sorry.”
Huge golden eyes suffused with pain and longing gazed up at him. He squirmed internally under the intensity of the feline scrutiny, but he did not stop petting the soft green and yellow fur. “You’re ok, boy. You’re ok.”
Though he lifted his head periodically to search the shadows, Cringer gradually drifted back to sleep under the gentle rhythm of Duncan’s caresses. When the compressor powering one of his experiments suddenly kicked back on, the dozing cat nearly leapt from the table. It was all Duncan could do to keep the injured feline from running away to hide. The cloak which had covered the cat – hastily donated by a concerned guard – flew to the floor. “Cringer!” he cried. “Cringer! I’m here. Shhhhh. It’s ok. I’ll stay with you.” The tiger began to whine pitifully, the pathetic sounds accompanied by shivers that shook him from whiskers to tail tip. Duncan pulled a silvery thermal field blanket from a cupboard and tucked it around the trembling tiger. Once the cat was tightly wrapped and reasonably warm, Duncan walked rapidly around the lab turning on all the lights – only cat in the world that’s afraid of the dark – and shutting off every project or machine that might make noise. Then he pulled a chair over to the table where Cringer lay, still shivering lightly.
“I’ll stay with you,” he assured the frightened cat. “You can stay with me, here in the lab or in my rooms until Adam’s better. I promise.” At the sound of his master’s name, the tiger howled piteously and covered his eyes with a paw. His tail, tip sticking out from under the blanket, twitched timorously. Duncan rubbed his head and ears, being sure to hit all the spots that the prince usually scratched when the cowardly tiger was frightened. Gradually, the tactile therapy worked and the cat shopped shivering.
“I know just how you feel, Cringer,” he said as the cat finally sank back into a troubled slumber. “I’m frightened too.”
When false dawn came, Cringer was at last in the depths of a true, dreamless sleep, and Duncan felt reasonably safe leaving his side. Getting up, he walked about the lab to stretch his aching muscles, pausing occasionally to sigh over the experiments he’d ruined for the sake of Cringer’s sleep. Finally, his steps brought him to the room’s largest window, the one that overlooked the enormous statues of the Elders, the king’s monument to the lost Hall of Wisdom. Duncan stared out at the figures, lit now by soft lights in this pre-dawn darkness. In his mind, though, he saw the pale, still body of a sixteen-year-old boy. All that weight on those young shoulders. What will I do, if he dies? Duncan wondered. What will Cringer do? What will Eternia do without its champion? What will any of us do without He-Man?
Prince Adam’s heart stopped twice during the night. Through heroic efforts, the healers were able to revive him each time, but he remained in a coma.
It was a somber group that gathered in the infirmary garden the next morning to hear this news. He died, Duncan thought. Twice. Duncan had not slept as he sat up with Cringer all night. With the coming of dawn, he’d hoped for positive news about the prince’s condition. Some sort of news he could use to reassure the anxious cat. Oh, Cringer, I’m sorry. Positive news… no. Only sixteen and he died. Duncan wondered if the king and queen had gotten any sleep at all. Other faces in the gathering certainly showed signs of a restless night. Teela had come in several times during those overlong, painful hours to check on Cringer. Once she’d almost walked in on Duncan while he was attempting, without notable success, to contact the Sorceress of Grayskull. After that near miss, he’d ordered her to go to her bed and stay there. To judge by the shadows under her eyes, she had probably spent the rest of the hours of darkness staring at her bedroom ceiling – or the window of Adam’s sickroom.
Duncan already knew that Ram-Man, Stratos and Man-E-Faces had spent the night patrolling the perimeter around the infirmary, acting as self-appointed guards to the wounded prince and his distracted parents. Buzz Off, Mekanek, Orko… they all looked weary. In truth, a pall had fallen over the entire palace. Everyone, from the members of the Guard to the kitchen helpers, was disheartened by the dearth of reassuring news. Everyone felt and looked rundown. Everyone, that is, except Adam’s mother. Queen Marlena, standing before the garden’s central fountain, certainly looked fresh and rested – cool and calm like the fountain. But after more than twenty years in her lord’s service, Duncan knew that Marlena could look cool and calm in the middle of burning building. But this was another kind of trial entirely.
Tired or not, the assembled Masters gave the queen their complete attention. “The healers tell us that Adam’s injuries are too…” When Marlena’s voice broke, they all winced. Teela rose from her perch on the edge of a stone planter as if she meant to go to the queen, perhaps lend support, but she subsided when Marlena continued as if nothing had happened. “His injuries are extensive and, quite simply, beyond their skill. Perhaps beyond anyone’s skill to heal.” Even after all they’d seen last night, Duncan could tell that the Masters were stunned by the queen’s words. When Marlena dropped her eyes to the paving stones and fell silent, Teela did run to her. The Captain of the Guard even forgot herself so far as to pull the queen into her arms. Marlena did not protest. Well, the queen is a sort of foster mother to Teela. Perhaps they can offer each other some kind of comfort. The Elders know we could all use some. The rest of the Masters, respectfully silent until now, began to talk at once. Questions. Denials. More questions. Don’t they know she’s not done? Don’t they see that there’s more she’s trying to find the courage to say? She’s not done yet.
“Quiet,” he said, but no one heard him.
Duncan took a long, deep breath.
Every head swiveled in Duncan’s direction, including Queen Marlena’s. Mekanek, looking sheepish, slowly retracted his neck. It had become more and more twisty as he’d argued with Ram-Man. Man-E-Monster changed back into Man-E-Faces and dropped cross-legged to the tiled walkway looking abashed. Buzz-Off didn’t halt the agitated thrumming of his wings, but he was plainly trying, so Duncan chose not to take him to task for it. “Please allow the Queen to continue.” Marlena, her arm still around Teela’s waist, didn’t look as if she wanted to go on, but she nodded and collected her serenity once again, wrapping it around her like a cloak – or a shield. Her eyes were noticeably brighter than they had been.
“Adam is… he is not expected to live through this night.” Duncan’s stomached clenched, and for several seconds he stopped breathing. I thought I was ready. I though I’d prepared myself for this, but I was so wrong… “Randor wanted… he would have come to tell you all himself, but… he wanted, he needed to stay with Adam.” Teela’s eyes brimmed with tears, and she hid her face against the queen’s shoulder. Motherly instincts engaged, Marlena rubbed her back soothingly. She shouldn’t be embarrassed to cry, Duncan thought. There’s not a dry eye in this garden. Well, maybe Buzz-Off. I don’t think Andrenids can cry. Surreptitiously wiping away his own tears, Duncan walked over and extracted his daughter from the queen’s arms. Teela willingly buried herself in her father’s embrace.
For the first time that morning, Marlena addressed Duncan directly. “I know that you and Teela are especially close to Adam. If you would… would like to come see him before… well…” She couldn’t finish. Shaking her head sorrowfully, the queen turned to go.
“Your highness!” Stratos leapt into the air and landed before her. Kneeling, the winged warrior took one of her hands and pressed it to his brow. “Is there nothing we can do?!” he pleaded. “Is there no hope?”
Marlena smiled heartbreakingly, still serene, and leaned down to kiss the Avion tenderly on the top of the head. “There is always hope, good Stratos. There is always hope.”
And with that, she was gone.
Oh my Goddess!!!
Poor Adam. Poor Teela.
You must finish this tonight! I command you!!
Um, what's a false sunrise??
Obey the whip!
Smile like you mean it.
omg I started to cry reading this. Finish NOW!!
I made someone cry!
OK, I have to know, what does ,"I can do clicks mean?"
hehe I'm an Irish dancer. In most of my jig and hornpipe steps I have to click my heels together in the air. It makes a nice loud "click" sound when done right. Seems easy enough, but it take a few years for some people to get it right, I got it within a year, AND I can make them nice and loud too.
It just sounds dirty. But I laughed, of course.
OK, on with the story!! For the past couple of days I've been able to read fan fic when I came home from work, lets keep this trend going. Hop to it!!
I hope I'll see a nice Adam /Teela moment. PLEASE.
Fan Girl when are you gonna write something?? Just wondering.
Obey the whip!
Smile like you mean it.
lol Diva, don't rush me! You know it'll be a nice sweet romantic one when it comes so just hush! haha. jk. Gimme like two weeks and I'll give you a fan fic.
I am, in my own moderate way, an Adam/Teela fan. There will moments that will rend you heart. Heh, heh, heh.Originally posted by divia
It just sounds dirty. But I laughed, of course.
I hope I'll see a nice Adam /Teela moment. PLEASE.
Oh my Goddess, I can't take it. Post more!!!
Obey the whip!
Smile like you mean it.
To all those saying finish this now, ahem, I wasn't kidding when I said this was novel length. You guys are in for a long, wild ride.
I'm modest, too.:o
“Where is He-Man? That’s what I want to know,” Buzz-Off demanded, vibrating furiously. “He always comes when King Randor’s in danger, so why isn’t he here?”
“Uh… but the king’s not the one in danger this time, is he?” Ram-Man said, scratching his head thoughtfully. “It’s Prince Adam who’s…”
“What you’re implying is—”
“There must be a—”
Teela stiffened in Duncan’s arms, but, surprisingly, she did not leap to the defense of Eternia’s hero. Duncan opened his mouth, prepared to offer some explanation for He-Man’s absence, but… what should he say? If… when… Adam dies… they’ll all know the truth soon enough.
“We can’t let this happen! We’ve got to—”
“He’ll come! He’ll find a way to—”
“Yeah, but, what if he doesn’t want to—”
“Arrrggggg!” Every head turned toward Man-E who had resumed his monster form. “Listen to yourselves,” he growled, drowning them all out. “How can you doubt He-Man?” His features whirled and suddenly they were all looking at Man-E-Faces once more. “How can you doubt he’d help if he could? If he even knew?”
“Man-E’s right,” Ram-Man announced, glaring at Buzz-Off who glared right back at his fellow Master. “He-Man doesn’t know what’s happened. Somebody’s got to go find him. We’ve got to tell him. Then –”
“Then what?” Mekanek asked, twisting his neck around so he could get a good long look at each of them. He sighed, head drooping on the end of his extended neck apparatus. “Then what? He’s not a healer or a medic. What could He-Man possibly do?”
“Nothing, Mekanek,” Duncan stated, breaking the eerie silence that followed the Master’s question. “There’s nothing he could do for Prince Adam now.” Shifting his grip on Teela’s shoulders, Duncan led her out of the garden. Orko, hovering along behind them, was uncharacteristically silent. The argument continued as they left, echoing down the pathway and dogging their footsteps. Not that Orko has footsteps, precisely. I’m sure Adam could think of some appropriately sarcastic teenage way to describe this situation.
The three of them retreated to Duncan’s lab, where Orko made himself busy getting food and water ready for Cringer. The cat showed signs of waking soon, probably due to Orko’s fussing more than anything else. He’s taking this very hard, Duncan thought as he watched the jester flit from place to place in complete silence. I wonder if he’ll go back to Trolla. Another friend lost… Teela, also silent, stood and looked out the lab’s western-facing window. From that spot, you could almost see the practice field where she and Adam would joust. Not that they do that much anymore, now that He-Man has turned his life upside down.
After Orko drifted off, perhaps to be alone with his grief, Duncan guided Teela to a chair and sat down next to her. When she finally stopped staring at her lap, he looked into her anxious eyes and asked if she wanted to see Adam before he died. “He won’t know me, will he?” she asked, her words almost too quiet for him to understand.
“No, Teela. He won’t.” Duncan took her hands in his. “But that doesn’t mean you can’t tell him how you feel. I know I want to talk to him – one more time.”
“What would I say?” she asked, her voice very small and young. “What could I possibly say to a d-dying prince?”
“Teela,” Duncan squeezed her hands, “Adam is Prince of Eternia, and one day he will… he would... have been your king, but he’s also your friend. Forget the titles and make peace with your friend… or you’ll regret it someday. Believe me, I know.” Not that this is the time to mention him…
Teela bit her lower lip, and then began to talk very quickly. “I just can’t believe this is happening! Adam’s always haring off. He never gets hurt!” She pressed the heels of her palms to her forehead. “I just keep expecting to him to come running in with some lame excuse and another sarcastic quip. I…” Teela jumped up and began to pace, her arms folded across her stomach, her roan hair swinging violently. “I swear, I swear by the Elders, I’ll destroy Evil-Lyn for this! I will! Her and all Skeletor’s other lackeys!” Her back to him, Teela covered her face with her hands and began to sob.
Duncan stood hurriedly, prepared to calm her down, but then logic held him back. No, let her get it out of her system. Better here than someplace where the king and queen might hear. Hearing him rise, Teela whirled around with accusation writ plainly on her features.
“Why aren’t you blaming me?” she yelled.
Duncan’s jaw dropped open. He stared at her, startled beyond the ability to respond.
“I’m his bodyguard! The last line of defense; isn’t that what you always told me? Well, some defense I turned out to be.” Teela’s words diminished in volume. In a voice barely louder than a whisper, she continued. “Do you know where I was while Adam lay dying? I was with the Masters, celebrating, congratulating myself on being such a great warrior.” Teela pressed her fists against her temples. “Ram-Man asked where Prince Adam was, and do you know what I said?” Her voice rose again. “Do you?!”
This has gone on long enough. “Teela—”
“I said he was probably hiding. Father, he was dying!”
“I was laughing at him, and he was dying.” Teela dropped to her knees, seeming to fold in on herself in her self-loathing. Duncan wasn’t certain precisely when he began to move, but he dropped down beside her and pulled her into his arms. She sobbed out her grief and anger on his chest, there on the floor of the lab where she and Adam had played as children.
“So, the prince really is mortally wounded,” Skeletor gloated, reclining in his throne. “And it’s all thanks to my plan. Why, I feel altogether inspired. What a pity that He-Man isn’t around to destroy.”
“You mean thanks to my earthquakes,” Evil-Lyn muttered.
“What was that?” he snapped. “Something to say, dear Evil-Lyn?”
“Why no, Skeletor. I am entirely in awe of your genius, and thus completely incapable of speech.”
“Not completely,” Trap Jaw grumbled to Beastman. Evil-Lyn’s eyes flashed lavender fire, but she restrained herself. Better to conserve power now and take unexpected revenge later. I wonder if he rusts? If I dipped him in the Sea of Rakash for ten years, I’m sure I’d find out. Ah well, slings and arrows, slings and arrows. It hardly mattered now. Let them pick at her. She was Skeletor’s lieutenant, and would remain so, for she had accomplished something that the rest of the moronic minions never could. Even Skeletor had never managed the feat. She had finally taken out a member of Randor’s inner circle.
“So the puerile prince will be dead by the next dawn, and Randor will be a broken wreck without an heir. Sometimes life is fair after all,” Skeletor said sounding horrifyingly cheerful for a man with a death’s head mask for a face. “Evil-Lyn, I am so pleased that I do believe I shall bestow upon you the reward I’ve been saving for the one who finally managed to kill He-Man.”
Evil-Lyn tensed and leaned toward the throne where the bone-headed monstrosity sat, holding court. He’d uttered the magic word and had her whole and unwavering attention. Reward? Reward. Oh… She could feel her blood pounding in her veins as Skeletor watched her, something frighteningly like genuine benevolence shone in those dark pits he called eyes.
“Reward?” she asked demurely. “Why, what reward do you mean, Skeletor?”
The other minions fell silent as the implications of her question dawned on them one by one, those with half-a-brain understanding before those with no brain at all. Tri-Klops, still intent on the image from his Doomseeker, nevertheless managed to watch her with the eye on the side of his head. Beastman skulked forward, perhaps hoping for some of Skeletor’s gracious generosity to lap over onto him. Over my dead and rotting body, Evil-Lyn thought smugly.
“Yes, dear Evil-Lyn, a reward. An artifact of power.”
“What?!” Evil-Lyn felt her eyes widen to the point of alarm as the throne room fell dead silent. The only noise to be heard was the bubbling of the lava in the reflecting pools spaced throughout the large complex. An artifact! But... no! Skeletor never… how… why?! For a moment, Evil-Lyn lost the ability even to see as her every thought focused inward. An artifact of power!
“An artifact?” she replied when she could see again. Skeletor was clearly enjoying her wonderment, but for once the fleshless freak didn’t torture her by dragging out his response to her query.
“The Wand of Willamdora,” he said.
Evil-Lyn stopped speaking, stopped breathing, stopped even thinking. The cosmos ground to a stunned and stupefying halt. The music of the spheres themselves was silent. Unfortunately, the meandering of the minions was not. When she regained her senses, Evil-Lyn heard the others asking Skeletor ignorant and insulting questions about the wand. Top of all their lists was why she got this – to judge by her awed reaction – extremely powerful and valuable artifact for eliminating one wimpy little prince.
“It just don’t seem fair, boss,” Trap Jaw complained.
“Yeah, Skeletor. It’s not like she even did it on purpose,” Clawful said. “It was just dumb luck.” How surprising perceptive of him to point that out. I shall remember his remarks, Evil-Lyn promised herself.
“I agree, Skeletor,” Beastman gruffed. “It’s wrong. Why does she get this wand thingy?”
With a blast of power that Skeletor easily blocked, she knocked them all off their feet and sent them flying to the recesses of the throne room. “Because, you fools,” she cried, “only a woman can use the Wand of Willamdora.” Evil-Lyn threw back her head and cackled rapturously. Then, spinning in place, she addressed the mighty lord of Snake Mountain.
“Skeletor,” she breathed at last, “your munificence is overwhelming. You are truly the wisest of overlords.”
Amused by her antics, and the others’ annoyance, Skeletor smiled tolerantly upon her. “You can have it,” he said, “when the sniveling puppy is gone from this world.”
“Why, of course, my lord and master.” Evil-Lyn bowed deeply. “Of course. I shall use it in your service all my life.” Or, at least, all of yours, she amended silently.
The prince is dead, she thought. Long live the king. For now…
Goddess you're good. After reading your stuff I'm like dude I suck. Can't wait for more.
Poor Teela So when is she going to declaire her undying love to Adam?
Obey the whip!
Smile like you mean it.