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Thread: The Blood of Eternia

  1. #1
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    The Blood of Eternia

    Author's Note: This started life as an 'audiobook' spec script I wrote a few months back called 'No Hiding Place', but in the last few weeks I've expanded it into a longer story and produced it in prose format rather than script, so I'll be posting chapters here. The first few chapters will be "No Hiding Place" but will eventually give way to the new expansion

    The story takes place immediately after "The Problem With Power"

    Chapter One

    A violent storm stirred the Sorceress of Castle Grayskull from her deepest mediation. She looked outside of an open window to discover an extra tower had materialized before her, attached to the castle, a pulsating beat of pure energy at its' centre.

    "Grayskull tower, that can only mean but one thing, the three towers are in alignment once more, and I dread to think what Skeletor has to say were he to discover the same"

    ***
    Standing at the gates of the royal palace of Eternia, the sounds of a gathering crowd can be heard to stir as the royal guards caught sight of He-Man carrying his comrade and dearest friend Teela towards the great doors.

    "Is that...him?"

    "It must be...yes, it is He-Man, and Captain Teela too"

    The doors were opened and He-Man stepped through, passing through the amassing crowd as Teela clutched on to his broad shoulders, her head titled upwards, staring into the heavenly blue skies with a twinkle in her eye, enjoying a moment of crystal clear clarity, also soaking the adoration of the people, glad to see no harm had come to her after her near suicidal ordeal in the village of Zak.

    "I think you can put me down now He-Man"

    "You've been pretty insistent on repeating that all the way back here Teela, we might have to get that checked out first by the doctors"
    "No really, I'm fine"

    "I'll be the judge of that"

    Teela leaned towards his ear, and whispered words that would forever change where both stood with the other.

    "Put me down...Adam"

    "You'll have to speak up Teela, I swear you just called me 'Adam'"

    "Well, If you insist I speak louder" Teela said, clearing her throat with a cough and preparing to repeat herself at a higher pitch.

    "OK, Ok, have it your way" He-Man said, admitting defeat, and lowered Teela. Duncan, Man-At-Arms arrived on the scene, flanked by Teela's guards.

    "Teela, thank the Sorceress you are unharmed"

    "I've never been better father, thanks to He-Man. Now, I wonder where Adam's gotten to? I'd like to talk to him"

    "I'm sure he's nearby, I'll go fetch him" He-Man said, excusing himself voluntarily.

    "Splendid idea” Teela replied with enthusiasm, “He and I have a lot to catch up on"

    "Is anything the matter He-Man?" Duncan asked.

    "There just might be Man-At-Arms, but I'll let Adam do most of the talking, now, if you'll excuse me"

    He-Man walked off, leaving father and adopted daughter alone with one another. Duncan had some words regarding her more recent behaviour, which Teela was more than willing to absorb.

    "You took an awfully big chance heading off to confront Skeletor like that with that time bomb"

    "He-Man couldn't be reached at the time remember? The bomb was our only guarantee of destroying the dimensional gate before Skeletor could send the goblin armada through"

    "You could have asked for others to watch your back, the burden of responsibility should never fall on your own shoulders, there are those more than willing to carry it forward with you"

    "Something tells me I'm not the one who needs this lecture father" Teela insisted.

    "Really? And who would that be?"

    "Adam" Teela responded.
    ***
    Meanwhile, within the serpent lie structure known to those Eternians who tread near it with dread as Snake Mountain, the insidious wizard Skeletor sits in his private chambers, flanked by his usual assortment of freakish castaways, plotting once again the downfall of his nemesis He-Man, and reflecting on how close he had come to getting the better of him the last time.

    "My last plan worked almost too perfectly. I now see fragility in He-Man that I can now exploit"

    Beast Man contested this.

    "You talk about fragile things, when it is your plans that always shatter like glass Skeletor"

    "You fur-ridden friendless fool, must you be so quick to criticise?"

    "His insult is well founded Skeletor" noted Evil-Lyn "Convincing He-Man he had harmed a helpless bystander was your best bet at eroding the strength of his character, what else is there for you to tear away from him?"

    "You all have more than one fear my un-fairest lady" Skeletor responded, "Just because one subsides doesn't mean there aren't any others to deal with"

    "So what else does He-Man fear?" Beast Man asked.

    "In this case, the future, come with me" Skeletor instructed.

    "Where are we going?" Beast Man inquired.

    "To Viper Tower"

    Beast Man reacted with unpleasant shock.

    "You mean-the three towers have returned?"

    "Of course, don't you ever look out the window?" Skeletor remarked.

    "Viper Tower-the source of all Eternia's most concentrated evil? You're mad!" Evil-Lyn uttered.

    "But of course my dear, it is one of my more magnetic attributes, why else does evil find me so attractive?"

    Skeletor and his underlings made their way to the north end of Snake Mountain towards a looming tower attached to its sides. A cloud of murky mist blackened the very heavens above him, blotting out the brightest of moons.

    "A year has now passed. The veil between dimensions has all but diminished; this shall remain so for a limited period of time. I now reach out towards the evilest of spirits that dwell across such planes of reality, across all corners of space and time, those well versed in the powers of fear. I implore them to summon forth a champion whose will and skill I may test against that of my greatest enemy!"

    A fierce beam of black lightning shot out of the tower and pierced the murky skies above, opening up a portal to a vast and darkly lit dimension. The few stars suspended within what passed for some sector of space burning ever so briefly before they too faded to greyly shaded embers and meshing together to form an emerald green comet that flew down and struck the patch of soil where Skeletor stood. The clouds covered up the cluster of space, and the mists soon cleared.
    The radiant glow of the comet persisted, and soon arms and legs formed from it, those arms clutched themselves around its naked body as the cold climate threatened to snuff out its delicate light.

    "Beast Man, give it your cloak" he instructed.

    "But it's frigid out here in the open Skeletor" Beast Man spoke in protest.

    "Would you prefer me to put you on Ice Beast Brain? Do as I command!"

    As Beast Man wrapped the cloak around the naked apparition, Skeletor spoke to it.
    "Identity yourself!"

    "I am but a ghost of tomorrow, a shell for a greater cause, that of evil in its purest form"

    He frightens me Skeletor" Beast Man confessed.

    "Not the most remarkable feat, everything scares you"

    "There is a radiant glow all around him, it's like no evil I've ever witnessed before...and yet, his aura is familiar to me" Evil-Lyn observed.

    "Yes, he scares, he glows...Scare Glow, that sounds fitting" Skeletor remarked as he christened his new ally.

    "Call me by whatever name you deem to be proper, as long as I serve in the name of fear"

    "He takes after my own heart" Skeletor remarked.

    "I thought you didn't have one" Beast Man replied.

    "There was that festive phase..." Evil-Lyn reminisced.

    "We shall never speak of that again!" Skeletor bellowed.

    Scare Glow was not impressed with all the commotion.

    "Enough! I was not summoned just to trifle with a squabbling threesome. What do you wish of me?

    "I wish for you to bring out the worst fears in my enemy, the accursed do-gooder He-Man"

    "He-Man! Yes, I know of him, and his deeds, they are an eternal tale told across the aeons of peace I have spent tormented by, consider him dealt with" Scare Glow promised.

    "But how do we lure He-Man here?" Evil-Lyn asked.

    "The secrets of Viper Tower are well known to The Sorceress" Scare Glow explained, "The activity along the veil will be of great interest to her. We must prepare"

  2. #2
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    Chapter Two


    In the royal courtyard, Prince Adam was duelling with Teela, steel meshing with steel, both of them carrying on the awkward topic of conversation from earlier, each of them fixated on one-upping the other.

    "Well Adam? Are you going to confirm or deny it?"

    "You know me Teela, I give out so little you can't tell either way"

    "A little? That would imply there's a lot more you're not telling me"

    Teela's side of the duel intensified, feeling the need to pour her frustration out in a sporting fashion, but Adam was more than keen to meet her half-way, and valiantly defended himself, taking the fight right back to her

    "He-Man's concerned about you"

    That Adam was still concealing something from her, even in light of what she had told him, pushed Teela firmly back into the fight. She furiously lashed out with the sword, taking several mighty steps forward, making it harder for Adam to deflect her.

    "I won't hear another one of your excuses Adam. That experience earlier today got me thinking a lot lately about what I want in life and the one thing I keep coming back to is the truth"

    "The truth?"

    Teela threw her sword down, her face displaying more emotion and vulnerability.

    "About you, I've known for the longest time but I always suppressed it, almost on instinct"

    "Maybe your instincts were trying to tell you something Teela..."

    Teela suddenly smiled, she had successfully lulled Adam into a false sense of security, and her gambit would now pay off in jubilant, and juvenile, fashion. She swiftly tightened her grip on both of his hands and tossed him over her shoulders to the ground, placing one foot firmly on his chest.

    "Not quite a He-Man where it counts are you?"

    "Guess that means you won't pursue this any further..."

    "Think again"

    "But you saw how I was just there..."

    Teela rolled her eyes, and offered her hand to lift Adam up, as he takes her hand in his and pulls himself to his feet, their eyes lock for just an instant, a lifetime of friendship and love connecting through their stares, they stared upwards, their spirits lifted and enriched by the constellation of stars above before turning to one another again.

    "I was just teasing you Adam, I always teased you, even when we were kids"

    "Yeah, I remember. It could really hurt my feelings sometimes"

    "I never meant any real harm by it, I liked you, I just thought you needed a little more fire in your veins is all"

    "I think I need a glass of water, I hear that always helps put a fire out"

    Teela let out a laugh.

    "Again with the 'weak and timid' act? Adam, I thought I trained you to be far better than that. Are you going to tell me all that skill and strength as He-Man comes from somewhere else? Do you even need me?"

    A hint of dread washed over Teela as she contemplated the unthinkable.

    "You...don't need me do you?"

    Teela was now much tenser, wrapping her arms over her own shoulders, briefly shaking. He put both his hands on hers. This time, Teela made no sudden attempt to throw him to the floor again.

    "Is that what you're afraid of Teela?"

    "I-I don't know anymore Adam, everything I thought I was doesn't seem to make much sense realising what I do now about you"

    "Teela, I don't know what to say about all this"

    "Just say you're He-Man. You owe it to me, you owe it to yourself"

    Duncan, Man-At-Arms, soon approached the two, flanked by the Eternian court jester, Orko.

    "I hope we're not interrupting anything"

    "Not at all father, just a little game of truth or dare is all, and in this case, even a little bit of daring would mean a lot. Goodnight Adam"

    "Goodnight Teela"

    As Adam watched her leave, he felt only a light touch of relief that he need not deal any further with the burden for at least a little while, but then his thoughts drifted to the rise of the morning star at the turn of tomorrow, and the dread of what to do upon that appointed hour filled him with doubt and one other feelings, a pull towards a notion he should not try to consider. The need to give Teela the clarity she desired.

    "What am I going to do Cringer?"

    Cringer, his instincts in perfectly aligned synergy, said what was far too evident on Adam's mind.

    "Tell her the truth Adam"

    "If I do, we'd have to tell her everything, how do we know she's even ready to handle everything at once? Is it time?"

    "Consult the Sorceress, if anyone can tell what time it is, it's her" Orko suggested.

    "You can do it in person, that is why I came to fetch He-Man, The Sorceress is in need of his audience back at the palace"

    "The Sorceress is here? How? She can't leave Grayskull in her human form"

    "Let the lady explain herself eh?"

    "What about Teela?"

    "If Teela is gradually realizing these things on her own, there's little we can do to change her mind"

    "But we can, the Sorceress had a hand in altering what she knows about herself before, remember?" Adam reminded them.

    Adam, we can't keep messing with her memories" Cringer replied "It's not the responsible thing to do, she could turn out to be a worse person through all these alterations, do you really want to lose parts of her that could help forge her into a friend for the future?"

    "Your name may be Cringer, but you've always been brave enough to speak your mind on what ought to be done" Adam responded, giving Cringer a tight hug.

    "I hope you won't reward me in the usual fashion; a little peace and quiet is all I'll ever ask for"

    "They'll be time to settle down another day old buddy, we've got work to do"

    "Oh there's that word that fills me with greater dread than Skeletor, 'work'"

    Back at Snake Mountain, atop Viper Tower, Skeletor peered through a periscope, watching a plum of turgid smoke encircle the sky, ghostly disembodied spirits flying in and out of a swirling vortex high above him. Evil-Lyn expressed some concern.

    "Skeletor, leaving the veil open goes against all conventional laws of magic on Eternia" Evil-Lyn protested.

    "Cease your constant whining fool, otherwise you'll break my concentration"

    "Concentration?"

    "I must maintain the illusion for as long as necessary, until Scare Glow is ready to spring my trap"

    "So, what we are seeing above-it isn't real?"

    "Of course it isn't you boob, even I know of the dire consequences that can come from keeping the veil open beyond its natural cycle...but if I can make it look like it is in some kind of danger, it will attract He-Man's attention before too long"

    "And what will happen when he arrives?"

    "He shall know a new kind of fear" Skeletor teased.

    Scare Glow appeared before the two.

    "Evil-Lyn, you have your instructions"

    "They will be carried out!" Evil-Lyn acknowledged.

    At the palace, Teela was walking through the many long corridors en route to the throne room, having been summoned by Randor, the king.

    She stopped half way along to reflect upon and admire a portrait of herself as a young girl, stoic, sword and shield in hand, an expression of grit and determination, but with room for a touch of the angelica with a bright smile. Next to her was another portrait of of her father, then a far more youthful and dashing man, and there was the family portrait, one of King Randor, Queen Marlena, with Adam and Cringer as a cub by their side.

    Marlena was nearby, also on her way per a summons from her husband, and stood beside Teela.

    "Reminiscing?"

    "Oh, your majesty, I'm sorry, are you on your way to the royal chambers too? We shouldn't keep the King waiting"

    "We have plenty of time Teela, no rush"

    "You can say that again, I feel I've only now just learned to slow down"

    "Tell me what troubles you"

    "The truth, it's only now I've realised just how little there is of it in my life, and I feel like it will swallow someone I care about whole if they're not careful"

    "Teela, people with secrets keep them to benefit those they do not wish to come to harm, to protect them"

    "But is there such a need for this secret? So much of Eternia could benefit from greater knowledge"

    "It depends on the sort of knowledge you crave...too much of it can be dangerous in the wrong hands. Skeletor is not the only source of evil you can find in Eternia...but I know you are of good heart and greater character, if anyone deserves to know more, it's you"

    "I...feel like I should tell you, that some of that truth is known to me, has almost always been known to me, and now what I want is to know what my place is going forward, what it is in all of this"

    Marlena put a hand on her shoulder.

    "Your place is where you've always been, at Adam's side, at He-Man's side, protecting the rights of all those who live with liberty in Eternia"

    "Then I should get right to work proving it" Teela replied.

    "I'm sure you will. Come, Randor will be wondering what is holding us up"

    Teela and Marleena entered the royal chambers to find He-Man, Man-At-Arms, King Randor, Orko, and The Sorceress.

    "Teela, you made it" The Sorceress replied.

    "Sorceress? This is a surprise, how can you be here in your regular form, away from Grayskull?"

    "It's due to the presence of the three towers of Eternia, or so she tells us" He-Man explained.

    "Correct He-Man, the three towers of Eternia, Viper and Grayskull combined create a dampening effect on the hold the great castle has over me, I can travel freely for as long as they are present, but it will only be for a short time, and time is most assuredly running out, for all of us"

    "What's happened?"

    "A great storm is brewing to the east of Snake Mountain, Skeletor has harnessed the evil contained within Viper Tower to open a bridge that will take his forces through the veil and towards other dimensions, which contain countless worlds" The Sorceress revealed.

    "And because there is no present barrier across time and space, Skeletor's hand could potentially reach out and prevent any kind of historical or evolutionary advances those worlds have taken" Man-At-Arms added.

    "Sounds like I'd best intercept Skeletor before he and his army can cross that bridge when they come to it" He-Man suggested.

    "The best way to seal the veil is to move one of the towers from its foundations, even by an inch, but you will need help along the way"

    "All of the Eternian guard is at your disposal He-Man, we'll hold off Skeletor's forces at the east while you make your way over to Viper Tower to carry out your task, Teela will accompany you" King Randor offered, "If only Adam could join you, where is that foolish boy?"

    "Adam is no fool, there's a lot about him you'd be surprised to learn" Teela replied, visibly angered.

    "Oh really? Pray tell, what exactly is it about him that I need to learn?" The King challenged.

    There was a tense pause in the room. Marlena looked on at He-Man, anxiously reading the response on his face. He-Man was unflinching, almost a little more confident than he was earlier in the day. Having taken Duncan and Cringer's advice to heart, he was more than willing to put the ball fully in Teela's court.

    Teela read the look on He-Man all too thoroughly, and as he silently nodded in acknowledgement of her choice, she gave her answer.

    "That he has the courage and conviction to lead this mission with me"

    "What say you He-Man?" Randor asked.

    "I think this is just what Adam needs"

    Teela's smiled warmed He-Man on the inside, and she headed off to make preparations.

    "Very well He-Man, I trust you will be on call at the appointed hour?"

    "You can count on me your highness" He-Man assured him.

    "If you wish, I will rendezvous with the palace guard so they will have some back-up of their own" Battle Cat suggested.

    He-Man waited until he and The Sorceress were alone, before the most powerful man sought clarity for his actions from Eternia's wisest woman.

    "Sorceress, before you return to Grayskull, I must ask this of you, Teela is showing signs that she knows more about Prince Adam than he even imagined, am I right in letting her have these insights?"

    "You have taken infant steps, but nothing ever takes off without a leap of faith, with both feet out of the nest, wings spread, ready to fly. Speak your truth, fly true, and your greatest fear will swiftly subside"

    The alert was swiftly raised, voices across the loudspeakers in all areas of the palace called those in service to the King to take arms and prepare for the great battle ahead.

    He-Man wished Battlecat the best of luck as he accompanied Roboto, Clamp Champ, and Fisto's party towards the east of the treacherous Snake Mountain, the champion of Grayskull then found a secluded corner of Man-At-Arms' workshop and returned to the form of Prince Adam. He caught up to Teela just as she was also preparing to depart.

    "Adam, you've come as yourself"

    "Well, I heard I got a glowing recommendation from the captain of the guard, how could I make her look the fool?"

    "You've had an awful lot of practice in that regard"

    Both of them laughed and climbed aboard a Wind Raider, which swiftly took flight and headed towards Viper tower.

    Their arrival, however, was keenly anticipated by Scare Glow, who was keenly waiting on another arrival. Suddenly, Captain Teela appeared before him.

    "Have you carried out my instructions?" Scare Glow asked.

    'Teela' changed her form into that of Evil-Lyn.

    "The Sorceress must be getting soft, my disguise was not detected. As per your instructions, I have ensured that Prince Adam is the one to accompany her en route to Viper Tower instead of He-Man"

    "And there is little chance He-Man will ever be able to catch up before I'm through" Scare Glow assured her with levels of malevolent menace in his voice.

    The Wind Raider landed close to the proximity of Snake Mountain, Adam and Teela disembarked and began making their way towards Viper Tower

    Peering behind a couple of rocks, the two friends witnessed the commotion in the gloomy skies above as the tear in reality's fabric that represented the diminished veil begin to gradually shrink.

    "If Skeletor's going to make his move, he'd best make it quick"

    Adam quickly noticed something.

    "Look, there, I think I see the dimensional bridge"

    "I'll alert the others"

    Teela contacted Fisto in the valleys, giving them their update, they turn gave their own.

    "We see a growth in number alongside this perimeter too Captain Teela, requesting permission to commence assault" Fisto requested.

    "Permission granted"

    Fisto gave the signal, Battle Cat roared and the battle was joined with the Skelecons, some of whom were riding Rotons that clashed in the air with Gliders and Wind Raiders.

    Some of the Skelecons without vehicles battle the brigade on foot, scoring critical hits with their knives and javelin spheres. Battlecat charged through them, with Roboto riding him, scooping several Skelecons into his mouth and spitting them out onto others, causing them to fall over into crumpled heaps. Roboto would then finish them off with carefully aimed precision laser blasts from his right arm.

    "It appears we have the advance party on the rocks" Roboto joked.

    "Stratos, what do you see up there?"

    Stratos flew overhead, catching a glimpse of the Skelecon armada approaching the dimensional bridge, only to constant stop and take one or two steps back, and then forwards again.

    "They appear to be indecisive, they take slow advances and then reverse course, it's almost as if they're lying in wait"

    Something suddenly caught his eye, an errant flicker.

    "By the Sorceress, the primary armada, they're illusions, even the bridge"

    "A trap!" Battle Cat realised.

    "We must alert Captain Teela at once" Stratos suggested.

    Fisto again contacted Teela, letting her know of the situation. Teela understood and instructed the party to stand by and await a summons. She turned back to Adam, she drew her sword and instructed him to draw his. He did so.

    "Seems Skeletor's been expecting our company after all...ready to do you? Teela joked.

    "Ready for anything" Adam replied

    "I meant the other you" Teela remarked.

    Adam was again hesitant.

    "I, Teela, it really would be for the best if you could brush past this fixation of thinking I'm anything like...him. I can be just as useful to you as I am"

    "Adam, I appreciate you coming as yourself, but these are higher stakes, the situation has escalated, now is the time. It's your choice, me and Eternia, or your secrets"

    Now Adam was even more visibly confused.

    "But weren't you the one who-"

    Adam suddenly found himself hoisted up from the scruff of the neck by someone from behind, he turned his head slightly but found his vision fairly blinded by an emerald and radiant green hue.

    He was in the grasp of Scare Glow.

    "Look at you, at the end of it all you're just a frightened little boy who can't answer a girl. How did I ever fear you?"

    Scare Glow tossed Adam aside, gas pouring out of every vapour of his body and enveloping the young Prince

    "And you, a place as captain of the guard, who doesn't truly know where she belongs any longer so long as no one is honest with her. Who are any of us truly without honour?"

    Teela angrily drew her sword; Scare Glow formed a scythe from his hands and did battle with her. Adam drew his own sword, but something held him back, a nagging doubt, a hint of dread obstructing a hopeful finish.

    Scare Glow backed Teela into a corner, his haunting visuals staring into it like a dagger, the face of not just fear, but possibly death itself.

    She was now where he wished her to be, he raised his scythe high in the air, and from it poured out spiritual devils that danced all around Teela's body, taking shape and becoming something much closer to her. Loved ones all.

    You've never believed in me Teela, only He-Man ever pushed me forward" said 'Adam'

    "No-no..." Teela uttered.

    'Man-At-Arms' was next.

    "You are a reckless, hot-tempered risk to the royal guard and all those you've sworn to protect and cherished, how could I ever be proud of you?"

    Scare Glow loomed over the pair of them.

    "Give in to your fear, renounce your chosen paths, surrender to my will and you will be spared your weakness, find strength in the purest evil! My evil!"

    Teela reached out to Adam, he himself was fraught with fear, trembling, struggling to even rise to his feet. His hands were visibly shaking; he found it difficult to maintain his grip on the sword of power.

    "Adam, don't listen to him, these voices, all of it is doubt, we must resist them as we've always done, all of Eternia is counting on us!" Teela pleaded.

    Adam looked at Teela, only to see, in his minds' eye, her face twist and reform into a jackal like figure, with sharp teeth and jagged glowing yellow eyes.

    "I will betray you Adam, your distrust of me runs deep, you cannot respect our friendship, or my intellect, all I've ever done is reach out to you, but all you do is push me away..."

    "Teela, that isn't true...you're my oldest, dearest friend..."

    Mists formed around the projection of 'Teela', forming others that represented twisted variations of Adam's loved ones, each preying on his great fear.

    "So weak and timid. A true son of mine has strength, conviction, and the courage to lead. What are you to me if nothing but deception and disappointment?"

    "Father...no, you don't know how proud I make you every day, will any of them be enough?"

    "Your secrets are your downfall Prince Adam. Try as you might, there is nowhere you can run to, so long as you carry your burden, there is no refuge, no hiding place"

    Adam was barely able to breath as the fear grips and choked him, yet somehow he still found some inner strength, enabling him to resist even to a minimal degree.

    "Never underestimate those who wield a power all their own" Adam said with defiance.

    He looked on at Teela, and concentrated, he cut through the projection cast upon him by Scare Glow's mighty power and saw the gentle and fairer faced Teela of old, his friend, and the woman with which he knew he could rely on for everything.

    "You, Teela, you have always had power, strength, cunning, I see all of you, I should never have pushed you away, my secrets have also been yours, and it's time I shared them"

    "You can't risk it Adam, if this creature learns of them, we'll all be in danger"

    "I already know his secret Captain Teela, and he shall never speak it again"

    "Oh yes he will"

    Teela, with a final burst of strength, and spurred on by Adam's defiance; Teela clutched her sword tight and made a dash for Scare Glow, feverishly slashing away at his Scythe as he raised it in defence. The weapons clashed, Scare Glow grabbed Teela's arm and violently tossed her across a cairn of rocks, she hit her head on one of them close to the ridge of a large canyon, with a moat beneath it.

    Scare Glow made a running charge towards her, but Teela was able to lift one leg and caught him from underneath, catapulting him into the air and sending him over the edge, hurtling into the moat below. Powerful plumes of smoke rose from the moat as he impacted the water.

    Teela saw him paddle frantically back to shore, she did not have long, she rushed over to Adam and helped him to his feet.

    "Are you alright?" she asked

    Adam was trembling, the fear still gripped him.

    "There's only one way I can relinquish this grip of fear, and that is to face it"

    "You have nothing to fear Adam, especially from me"

    "Then now is the time. Thank you Teela"

    Adam stared at his sword with focus and intent.

    He took the deepest breath and let it release.

    "...Both feet out of the nest..."

    Adam raised his sacred sword of power high aloft, and, finding raw strength in his voice, invoked the noblest name in Eternia.

    "BY THE POWER OF GRAYSKULL!"

    Before Teela's startled eyes, sword ignited into a blaze of furious energy, thunder struck down from the heavens and enveloped Adam, awash with electricity, his form slowly transmogrified into that of the most powerful man in the universe

    "I HAVE THE POWER!"

    Teela's face turned from relief to pure ecstatic joy, years of secrets, decades of friendship, a lifetime of love, all meant something to her again. She at last knew her place, at the side of the boy she could always depend on to become a man, whether he possessed the sword of power or not.

    From afar, to the east of them, the palace guard also bear witness to the event

    "That power surge, can it be...?"

    "Yes, He-Man has arrived, which means he'll need all the help we can get"

    "Onward, to the tower!" Stratos commanded.

  3. #3
    Heroic Warrior Neophron's Avatar
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    I must say that it's an interesting story, Cameron Samurai.
    Try to reach inside of me, try to drain my energy
    Let me show you just what I'm made of
    Simple curiosity trying to take a bite of me
    Let me show you just what I'm made of now...

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Neophron View Post
    I must say that it's an interesting story, Cameron Samurai.
    Thanks as always for your encouraging words

    Just you wait, big surprises to come

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    Chapter Three

    he fearless warriors charged forth, charging through the existing Skelecons en route to the tower.

    Meanwhile, Scare Glow had resurfaced, he projected not one, but two pairs of energy scythes and approached He-Man from behind, intending to skewer him from side to side with both.

    He-Man, however, had a second sight about him, and hastily turned around, his sword of power clashing with the scythes just as Scare Glow intended to strike.

    The battle was joined, Scare Glow threw more of his fearsome spirit bombs, several of the projections turned to solid stone, He-Man threw mighty punches and cracked open several of them, but it only produced more of them, which turned to vapour and tried to suffocate the Grayskull guardian.

    He-Man gripped his throat, panicked, Scare Glow tightened his fist, and the vapour upon this gesture's command choked the life out of He-Man further.

    Scare Glow was so distracted by his all consuming objective that he failed to spot Teela getting the drop on his right hand side with a running power charge.

    The distraction weakened his hold on the vapour and He-Man powered through it, pushing them out of his body with a bellowing whistle from his lips, right in the face of Scare Glow.

    He-Man charged at him again with the power sword, Scare Glow countered with his energy scythe and this time their duel took them far across the jagged cliff faces of Snake Mountain back to the very foundations of Viper Tower.

    The battle did not appear to be tiring either participant, but for Skeletor the evenly matched contest was becoming tiresome to sit through

    "Not one of them has an advantage over the other for very long, there's no sport in this"

    "Scare Glow requires reinforcements" Evil-Lyn replied.

    "Then he shall have it. Skelecons, to battle!"

    Skeletor's Skelecon minions poured out of Snake Mountain to confront He-Man and Teela, both warriors stood ready, back to back, swords raised.

    Two groups, made of a dozen each, tried their luck first, but their spheres were deflected by He-Man and Teela's weapons, He-Man slid his sword through the shoulders of three of them at once and used the stacked bodies as a battering ram, charging towards the others and pummelling them with it, he then turned back and engaged in wilder and frenetic sword play with the others that weren't accounted for in such a battle charge.

    Teela used her acrobatics to avoid jabs from the spheres; she used a technique she'd used on Adam during their sparring session earlier, grabbing a Skeloid by the neck and pulling him over her head, hitting the ground. She picked up his sphere and used it in tandem with her own sword, skewering the Skeloids approaching her on one side, and holding a more unnerved and frightened lot at bay on the other.

    Suddenly, the pair and Scare Glow found themselves shielded by an energy bubble.

    "No...not her!" Scare Glow spoke, showing even his own fear.

    Appearing within the fang-tipped entrance to Snake Mountain, looming over all, was The Sorceress, she leapt off of the gate and transformed into her eagle form, that of Zor, and entered the energy field.

    "Sorceress!"

    "It's almost time for the towers to fade from Eternia, shouldn't be based back at Grayskull?" He-Man inquired

    "I could not stand by while this evil was left to linger in Eternia, he poses a great danger to the present, and must be denied any further future in it"

    "Who is he Sorceress?" He-Man asked.

    "He is christened Scare Glow, but we have always known him by his true identity-Skeletor"

    "This creature is Skeletor? How?" Teela asked, most confused.

    "The future holds many surprises in store for us all, that is a story for another time. Skeletor has risked cutting the strands of the great temporal web bringing him here, and we must put it to right"

    "What do you intend to do with me you bothersome buzzard?" Scare Glow asked of her

    "You shall be locked within the prison vault of Grayskull tower, when they fade from Eternia and return through the veil, you will never threaten whatever shape tomorrow takes or what the past forges"

    The Sorceress took sharp aim at Scare Glow with her eyes, bolts of shimmering white light burst out of them and struck him where he stood, transporting him to the tower of Grayskull.

    Teela threw herself into He-Man's arms, relieved and proud of all their achievements today.

    "Adam, you did it!"

    "We did it Teela. You taught me there is nothing to fear, not even fear itself"

    "Teela, I am proud of what you have achieved today" The Sorceress spoke with high praise, "You have deduced on your own one of the many great secrets of Grayskull and proven that wisdom is too precious to be taken, it is yours to keep"

    "So there are other secrets to learn? Fascinating, I'm in no rush really, if Adam can trust me with this, I'll earn everything else"

    The Sorceress transported He-Man and Teela further along the east of Snake Mountain, before returning to Grayskull to watch the tower fade, taking Scare Glow with it

    He-Man and Teela watched as their allies caught up to them.

    "Late to the party aren't we?" Battle Cat remarked.

    "Oh don't worry my friend, something tells me they'll be plenty to celebrate back at the palace, right Captain?"

    He-Man winked at Teela, she tried to hide her blush.

    "Oh you can trust me on that one"

    ***

    Back at Snake Mountain, Skeletor sat isolated in his chamber, lost in deepest thought, staring intently at a crystal he held in his hand, a gift bestowed upon him by Scare Glow prior to disembarking. Evil-Lyn walked in and sat beside him.

    "Scare Glow failed you, and the towers have vanished, what is next for us?"

    "We have learned much from Scare Glow's visit Evil-Lyn, 'least you forget, he was an echo from the future, and with tomorrow comes great guarantees"

    "His aura, something was so familiar about it...now I believe I know why. It was yours. Scare Glow was you from another point in time"

    "Little wonder why he was so evenly matched with He-Man. A pace only I can truly master"

    "There was another thing...Scare Glow specifically instructed me to deceive the palace into sending Prince Adam to Viper Tower with Teela, little of that made sense to me, why make a target of the prince and not He-Man himself?"

    "Because, as he was so willing to share with me, there truly is nowhere He-Man can hide"

    Skeletor conjured forth in his crystal ball an image of Adam and Teela, hand in hand, admiring the flowers in the royal gardens.

    "Nowhere to hide indeed"

    And he who's face bore no semblance to man laughed endlessly into the night.
    Last edited by Cameron Samurai; November 17, 2021 at 03:35am.

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    Chapter Four

    ONE YEAR LATER

    Within the Tri-Solar galaxy, bathed in the moonlight of Enos and Nordor, are beautiful Primus and darkly-scarred Denebria, two worlds at war with one another.

    Captain Darius and Lt. Hydron, soldiers in servitude to the Galactic Guardians of Primus, are in the midst of fending off an attack from Denebrian forces on the space observatory Titus.

    “We cannot wait any longer Hydron, have the council finished their deliberations?”

    “Even in the face of approaching Armageddon, they still argue Captain”

    “Then we must take matters into our own hands, and approach the veil ourselves”

    “Doing so may prove too dangerous”

    “The danger is clear, and it is present. If we do not make our way over to the past, Primus will have no future to speak of”

    “You argument is fair my friend, let us fly true”

    Hydron and Darius fought their way through the observatory en route to its launch hanger, with fierce exchanges of firepower between them and their enemies.

    Reaching the bay, the pair found two Denebrian enforcers circling standing beside the entrance ramp of a small Starship.

    “Hydron, head to the left, I’ll handle the one on the right”

    “You’re always leaning right”

    “Because I’m always right”

    Hydron and Darius part company but for a moment. In that moment, they carefully set up positions behind some nearby apparatus.

    Darius turned to his right to see Hydron gesture with a hand signal, telling him to lower his head.

    Like two apex predators in some fervent jungle, they composed themselves, taking deep breaths, becoming one with the placidity of all around them, letting only the faintest noise of the guards’ footsteps dictate their timing.

    Each step back and forth from them proved a gamble for Darius and Hydron’s opportunity, as they would walk casually into shot only to stroll right back out of range again.

    The patter of hurrying feet towards the docking bay indicated time was not on the side of the two valiant guardians. As the Denebrians they had kept at bay were quickly recouping and remounting their advance. They had to time this just right in the moments still allocated to them.

    Finally, the two guards lingered in the right space long enough to act. Hyperion launched himself from his hiding position and took acute aim with his trident gun, targeting the piping a few meters above where the guards stood. He opened fire and the spear that launched from the weapon sliced through its target, bringing some of it crashing down on one of them, whilst Darius engaged in a brief laser skirmish with the other guard, eventually he succeeded in disabling him.

    Hydron and Darius surveyed their handiwork.

    “Told you” Darius spoke, highly confident of himself, while a heedful Hydron alerted him to impending arrivals.

    “Their back-up is on the way, we’d best fly now”

    The pair climbed into the ship and took off just as the remainder of the Denebrians pouring into the docking bay opened fire, their blasts only singeing the hull of the ship, leaving a couple of charred marks, but leaving no significant damage.

    The ship flew from the observatory and towards the sight of a breathtaking sight, a pulsating, swirling energy ribbon rippling across the stretch of the known galaxy, originating from what appeared to be a large white cosmic nexus.

    As the ship approached the ribbon, it became entangled in its flux, creating tumultuous buffeting.

    “Those shots back there didn’t cause much trouble for us, but the veil most certainly is. Try to hold the ship steady”

    “Captain, we must transmit our mayday while we still have time, Eternia must be alerted to our situation”

    “Agreed Hydron, path us through, hopefully their com systems can pick us up”

    “That’s assuming they have any”

    “The capital of Eternos always had a remarkable grasp of advanced technology even in its most basic timeline; one would know that if they’d studied a little more diligently”

    “War leaves no room for study Darius”

    “And you wonder why so many of us in the present repeat the mistakes of the past...”

    Hydron switched on the Starship’s primary communication channels, and began to broadcast the most urgent of messages.

    The energy ribbon fluctuated and changed sizes, often folding itself back in and threatening the molecular density of the ship’s entire hull. Hydron held the controls firm, aiming the vessel on direct collision course through the centre of the white hole, out the other end, and towards the world directly ahead of him.

    “Captain, I’m receiving a transmission, I must have succeeded”

    “Patch it through to the council on Primus, we must have proof of our progress or the council will only argue further and waste more time. They must be made to listen”

    Hydron did as instructed. The message was faint, the voice even sounding meek and near exasperated.

    “Please...we are in no state to help; the source of our power is under siege”

    “How can we assist you?” Darius asked.

    “Until the danger has passed, the power must be protected, is there any way of transferring the source to you directly?”

    “Darius, the ribbon can work like an energy conduit, all we have to do is divert the course of its path to the storage battery chamber on Primus”

    “I’ll do my best to contact the council and let them know of our intention; hopefully our long range communications are able to transmit this far from our home galaxy”

    Before they could continue, Darius requested further clarification.

    “Tell me friend, where is this source of great power located?”

    “Grayskull. Castle Grayskull

    ***
    On a balcony of the royal palace overlooking the gardens, a young boy dreamt of simpler days. So lost in thought was he that he did not detect the presence of a lifelong friend as she approached him.

    “How is she?” asked Teela.

    “Father says there’s not much time left”

    “I’m so sorry”

    “I don’t know if I have the strength to face what’s ahead” Adam admitted.

    Teela stared up at the bright, beautifully lit moon, and offered her dearest friend some advice.

    “Growing up, I always thought bottling up whatever feelings you had was a show of impenetrable fortitude, and now? I see it as proudly placing your heart on your sleeve, to show you have what it takes inside. To bleed the same as the people who serve you. To believe in the same things they do, and face the same fears as them. In the end, the dread of the unknown is cast aside by the assurances of reality”

    “Teela, this past year has seen a great change in you, and in me, the battle with Scare Glow made me realise so much needs to be shared, and confronted...perhaps I waited too long”

    “Noone knows for sure when the right time arrives to take responsibility for the lives of others, duty calls to us, all we can do is answer when summoned”

    “Then this truly will be the first for all of us to see just how strong our hearts and minds really are”

    “There may yet be a way to see everyone through this day Adam”

    “What do you mean?”

    The two were interrupted by the sudden arrival of a solemn King Randor.

    “Adam, she calls for us”

    “I understand father”

    “Teela, come along, this concerns you too” Randor insisted.

    The King led Adam and Teela to the chambers of Queen Marlena.

    There, Adam’s mother lay on the bed, in impoverished health, her hands wearily outstretched, beckoning both Adam and Teela to come closer. Adam’s faithful cat Cringer and Teela’s father Duncan, Man-At-Arms, were at her side.

    “How long was I out this time?” she said, wearily.

    “You shouldn’t be awake at all” Randor insisted, his voice raw with emotion.

    “Is that supposed to comfort me husband?” Marlena joked.

    “Father’s never been good with timing” Adam remarked. Marlena managed a faint smile.

    “You remind me of how I was when my own mother became sick, when I was so very young. I stayed awake in bed for hours waiting for her to climb upstairs and turn off the lights so I could go to sleep. I didn’t want to do it myself, I felt more assured when she did it. I climbed down the stairs, all on my own, and there she was. As still as can be. I feared death had taken hold of her, but there was a look of peace about her, and finally she stirred, telling me she was only resting. That’s how I view anyone close to the end, how I view myself, merely resting, anxiously awaiting in permanent slumber the next great adventure to come”

    “Don’t speak that way mom” Adam pleaded.

    “But I must, for nothing can be done” Marlena said, resigned to her fate.

    These words seemingly lit a fuse in Teela, and she would not stand for such a mountain of human strength wear herself down with such words so readily.

    “Yes, something can be done”

    “What do you have in mind Teela?”

    “Isn’t it obvious? We got to Grayskull, the Sorceress can help”

    “Duncan, talk some sense into your daughter” Randor replied.

    “Teela, the powers of the Sorceress cannot be called upon in this instance”

    “And why not father? We have always answered her call whenever Castle Grayskull is threatened, she owes us”

    “This is a natural occurrence Teela. The cycle of life often comes with hazards all its own, holding back the inevitable goes against the order of such things”

    “There was nothing natural about it. The Queen was poisoned”

    The royal court reacted in shock

    “Poisoned?” Adam uttered.

    “Do you have proof?” Randor asked.

    Teela produced a small elixir bottle and presented it to those gathered, in shock at the notion.

    “This is Razumtek; it instils in the body a faintly indictable form of bacteria that simulates commonly known symptoms of heart disease. It can only be found north of Snake Mountain. The guard found it discarded in the waste disposal of the kitchen that served the Queen her last regular meal a few days ago”

    “Bring me the chef at once” an angered Randor demanded, seeking both truth and retribution.

    “We already found him due west of the palace, tied up, he claimed a witch had disguised herself as him and taken his place”

    “Evil-Lyn!” Adam realised.

    “Oh there’s always one rotten apple in the cart” Cringer remarked in despair.

    “If what he claims is true, then we must consult the Sorceress your majesty” Duncan advised.

    “I shall make preparations for us all to travel to Grayskull” Randor announced, “Inform He-Man we are in need of his service, he and Teela will escort the royal guard as well as myself and the Queen. I will take no council against my decision”

    “Mom, is this what you want?” a concerned Adam asked of his mother.

    “I have found arguing with your father a lively, but ultimately a fruitless endeavour my son. If he feels so strongly about this, it is worth the risk if I am to see you in another sunrise”

    “To Grayskull then” Randor decreed.

    “Very well your majesty, I’ll alert He-Man” Duncan responded, only to be challenged by Teela.

    “No, leave that to me, you assemble the guards and the others”

    Randor and Duncan departed the chambers, leaving Adam, Teela and Cringer alone with Marlena.

    “Is there anything more that can be done Mom?”

    “I will rely on the strength of those around me, the faith in our people to stand by you should worse come to worse, but above all else, I need only know love and laughter to feel assured”

    From out of nowhere, the court magician Orko sprung forward, holding a watering can and a potted plant, he poured the water over the leafs, turning them into giant elephant trunks, which then spat water right back in his face

    “Looks like Orko will be all the medicine you need in regards to laughter mom, right Teela?” Adam said, winking.

    “I can think of worse things” Teela remarked.

    As Orko kept the Queen amused, Adam, Cringer and Teela stepped out of her chambers

    “Preparations may take a while; we should all get some rest in the meantime”

    “I will, and thank you Teela”

    “Don’t mention it”

    Adam departed for his chambers, leaving Teela alone with her thoughts, some of which were not her own to have.

    “My head feels so strange, I can’t believe it, but something is telling me I’ve done something unspeakably terrible...I need to lay down myself, it’s been a rough day for all of us”

    Teela removed her tiara and ran her fingers through her scarlet hair, letting it come loose all around her en route to her own quarters, but her inner conscious was right to tax her mind with suspicion, for unbeknownst to her, the forces of Snake Mountain had just finished putting the first step in their grandest scheme together.

    “The deed is done; the fools do not suspect our hand in arranging this fine day out for the royal court”

    “That was a close call, only now is she sensing that she had been manipulated” Trap Jaw replied.

    “There is something about this girl that goes beyond what one would normally presume”

    “So long as it does not intervene in Skeletor’s grand design, what concern is it of ours Evil Lyn?” Beast Man replied.

    “Beast Man is correct” said Tri-Clops, “We must prioritise our plan of attack”

    “Very well, prepare the Skelecons” Evil-Lyn instructed, “Nothing shall stand between Skeletor and his ultimate prize”

    ***

    Adam retired to his bedroom. Not bothering to change, he looked up at the light in his room, Cringer resting by his side on the carpet. Adam watched the ceiling lamp sway back and forth in an almost hypnotic state, lost in thoughts that ranged from helplessness to encouragement, thinking of ways on how to best deal with royal responsibilities in the event of something good or ill.

    The thoughts took the form of dreams as much needed sleep crept in, and from those dreams came a stark warning,

    “Adam, awaken, there is a great peril approaching”

    Adam awoke, sweating profusely. He stumbled out of bed; even the dreaming seemed to provide a great strain on his physical being, as if something had been pulled from his soul, something ripped away.

    “Get up Cringer, the Sorceress is in need of us”

    “Just when I was in need of a nap”

    Adam grabbed the sword of power and held it to the heavens, ready to call upon his source of strength

    “BY THE POWER OF GRAYSKULL!”

    The sword did not ignite in blazing, thunderous electrical fire; there was not even the slightest ignition of a spark. Instead there was silence.

    The power was gone.

    Teela entered the room, having heard the commotion.

    “Adam, what happened? I heard you scream”

    Adam couldn’t recall such a moment, but then, he didn’t count on awakening with a cold sweat either. Had the strain of the past few days events manifested in strange and perhaps spine-tingly ways?

    Nevertheless, he pressed forward and cleared the air with Teela on what was happening in the here and now.

    “The sorceress called to me. Grayskull’s in danger, I can no longer access its power”

    “The king must be told” Teela insisted.

    “No, if there’s a chance I can reclaim the power, my parents must be there at Grayskull to receive treatment. We’ll be alright, I assure you”

    “Are you sure Adam?”

    “Whatever comes our way next, it’ll have to be done without He-Man. This is what you were always preparing me for Teela, to face up to my responsibilities as regular old Adam, now it’s arrived”

    “And I have faith you will prove to be a greater man than the one you can no longer become. I love you Adam”

    These words from Teela were what Adam had longed to hear throughout their shared childhoods, they instilled within him a power he had never truly known, far greater than that which he had previously possessed. It renewed him, gave him a stronger will. The will to fight not just for his world, but, through her, his very universe.

    Cringer, finding too the courage to walk with his Prince, accompanied Adam out of the palace en route to Grayskull, leaving Teela concerned over how to break the news of Adam’s swift departure to his ever disapproving father.

    ***

    At the foot of the castle, beneath the orbiting Starship Eternia, Darius and Hydron’s contact on the planet, in possession of a crystal, breathed a secret sigh of relief as he felt his body begin to be pulled upwards by the ship’s transmit beam.

    Unbeknownst to Darius and Hydron, their passenger has nothing but ill intent in mind.

    His feet had barely levitated off of the soil when a defiant cry bellowed out.

    “End of the line Skeletor”

    Skeletor turned to see the rare sight of a care-free Prince and his occasionally fearless friend standing before him. He would be surprised on any other day but this one.

    “Noble Prince Adam, how expected”

    “The power of Grayskull is not yours to wield”

    “And without the power, you are nothing but an insignificant bug. Even I have no time to squash you”

    Adam took note of the item in his hand.

    “That crystal you possess, I’ve never seen the like of it”

    “It is a gift from an acquaintance known to both of us, Scare Glow. He bestowed it to me along other nuggets of knowledge about the future, specifically the role you and I are destined to play in it. He-Man.”

    Adam had already experienced true fear at Scare Glow’s hands, and would not be prone to the realisation of worse ones; this revelation would not faze him.

    “So now you know” he said

    “All this time, you were a little boy playing pretend; it’d be funny if it weren’t so pathetic”

    “I never did picture you as a joker Skeletor” Adam remarked.

    “This game we’ve played has been no laughing matter, I assure you. I have diced with matters of the heart, matters of mortality, a most serious gamble, and it has paid off. No miracle awaits you at Grayskull”

    “From jokes to riddles, what are you saying?”

    “All will become clear when I unlock the final secrets of the Sorceress’ stronghold, that, and the Great Crystal”

    Without fully understanding the magnitude of Skeletor’s plan, and, in the rhythm of a single solitary heartbeat, Adam ran towards Skeletor as he continued to slowly rise into the Eternian sky. He leapt the three meters that stood between Skeletor and Starship Eternia. Cringer could only stare in bewilderment as the dangling duo was carried skyward towards the belly of the orbiting ship.

  7. #7
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    Chapter Five

    Only a few short kilometres away, the Attak Trak carrying the royal family, flanked by a grand aerial and ground force, rolled along the great terrain of Eternia en route to an audience with The Sorceress.

    True to her word, Teela had kept silent on recent developments pertaining to The Sorceress, all she could try to do was quell Randor's disappointment at the thought of his son having seemingly, and soullessly, abandoned their family in their hour of greatest need.

    "How fares the Queen?" she asked as Randor tenderly clasped his right hand on hers, his face wrought with a pain far too naked to conceal with just the façade of strength.

    "I fear she may only have moments left to us" he replied.

    "You must have faith your highness" Teela nudged.

    "What of Adam? Have you heard anything from him?" an agitated Randor asked.

    "Not as yet, but I know his character, he will have gone to Grayskull ahead of us if need be"

    "His place is here, with us" Randor insisted.

    The King looked away; Teela knew it was out of shame and heartbreak. For Adam, the walls were well and truly closing in.

    Was this what it was like to keep the secrets of He-Man guarded for so long? Teela thought.

    What wrenched at her heart the most, was that she somehow knew this was not the only secret of Grayskull that he kept locked away, and she also knew it had something to do with her.

    She could forgive him of course, everything he did was for the greater good of his family and his people, it was a trait she admired and loved about him.

    She finally understood where she needed to be, all she had to be was patient and, in time, he would let her in.

    "Here your highness let me check your temperature" Orko offered, producing from his sleeves a small thermostat, which then grew to gargantuan size and shot straight out the side of the Trak's hull.

    Marlena laughed, Orko blushed and patched up the hole with his magic.

    "Can this clown of the court ever pull the right trick out of his hat?"

    "The Queen seems to find it amusing" Teela observed.

    "If only I could laugh in the face of my fears" Randor replied, falling prey again to his own anguish.

    As the advancing procession approached the land where Grayskull stood, Duncan, leading the charge, called for an immediate halt as he found a seemingly frail and near lifeless body laying face down on the soil.

    He landed his Sky Sled and dashed over to the body, but no sooner did he try to lift the helpless peasant boy to his feet did he swiftly disintegrate in Duncan's arms, manifesting into a massive plume of dust that swept over the entire area.

    Watching on a nearby hill, mounted upon Skeletor's faithful cat Panthor, Evil-Lyn gave the signal to attack.

    Adam and Skeletor found themselves in the transporter room of the Starship Eternia, Darius and Hydron were left somewhat bewildered by the fact they had taken on not one but two passengers for their trouble.

    "Here, place this crystal in the centre of the transference module, quickly" Skeletor instructed, handing the crystal to Hydron, he carried it over to the primary energy prism from which the power of Grayskull was being transferred along the veil to the storage chambers Primus.

    Suddenly, the flow of energy began to instantaneously change colour, become more of a crystalline white.

    "This is most unexpected. Care to tell us what you know of this crystal and its properties?" Darius asked of his most peculiar friend.

    "Grayskull has a secret, one only the future knows, and which must now inform your past as well as the present" Skeletor replied.

    Adam was quick to protest.

    "You don't know what you're dealing with; you must halt the transfer and restore the power to Grayskull"

    "Hydron, restrain him" Darius ordered.

    "I am the guardian of Grayskull, and I can prove it" Adam pleaded. Hydron made a grab for him, Darius held out his hand, silently requesting that his friend give pause to an arrest.

    "How?" Darius asked.

    "The evidence lies here, within this ship" Adam continued, "What power is left here I can use as a conduit"

    "To do what?"

    Adam glanced at Skeletor, and smiled.

    "BY THE POWER OF GRAYSKULL!"

    Behind Adam, the flux of energy gathered from the prism burst forth and enveloped him, transforming him into Skeletor's nemesis, and the hope of all Eternia, He-Man.

    "I HAVE THE POWER!

    "Darius, he speaks the truth" Hydron uttered in astonishment.

    "Travellers, Skeletor has deceived you" He-Man warned.

    "The crystal. Hydron, remove it" Darius ordered.

    Skeletor took aim with his havoc staff and short forth an energy blast; He-Man leapt in front of the jolt and deflected it with his sword. Sword and staff then clashed as the foes collided in a fight for the fate of two worlds.

    "Give up Skeletor, you're beaten" He-Man exclaimed.

    "Not when the future is so clear to me He-Man"

    "More riddles Skeletor?"

    "Simply a matter of knowing the right time and place do-gooder. Thanks to Scare Glow's information, I knew precisely where to stand when I opened fire with the havoc staff, so that when you deflected the blast, the shot would ricochet and cause sufficient damage to the Prism controls"

    He-Man turned around and, true to Skeletor's words, looked on at horror at the extent of his accidental handiwork.

    "There is no way of cutting off the transfer now, and before long, your world will be left with neither the power of Grayskull nor the wisdom of Eternia"

    He-Man hated to be this much in the dark, something was being kept from him, some secret knowledge that Scare Glow had imparted on to Skeletor, and it had some secret ties to Grayskull.

    But whatever could it be?

    ***

    Beneath the mighty Starship, Skeletor's evil warriors had sprung their trap.

    Evil-Lyn clenched her fist and from a pale blue window behind her, emerged a series of emerald fists from another dimension, ploughing through the confused and lost guardsmen of remaining Masters, and scattering them in all direction.

    Trap Jaw tried to take a bite out of Fisto's metallic arm with his own jaw of mechanical teeth, but no sooner did the jaw sink into the arm, that Fisto used the one that was free to clobber Trap Jaw on the tip of his head, then used his strength to pry the grip of his jaws free from him, before casually brushing him aside.

    Fisto then twisted and turned like a human cyclone as Skelecons surrounded him, his powerful fists slamming into them, but the fog made it difficult to sustain such a co-ordinated attack for so long, and before long, the Skelecons began to overpower him.

    Suddenly, a giraffe like neck shot forward like a projectile from a great distance and bulldozed the minions as they swept over Fisto. The warrior was relieved to find Mekaneck had come to his rescue.

    Beast Man, mounting his Knightmare stallion, rode onto the battlefield, its weapon systems blazing electrical fire in all direction. Ram Man took a running charge, sprang forward and collided with the horse, throwing Beast Man to the ground.

    Beast Man rose to his feet, and attempted to match wits and skill against Mekaneck, creeping up on him and binding him in a vice grip with both of his long arms. He tried to apply a choke hold, but Beast Man's limited intellect did not factor in Mekaneck's natural abilities, as the Master would simply extend his neck to elevate Beast Man to a great height, making him an easy target for a Talon fighter as it took a shot and hit him in the back. Beast Man fell back down and landed in the arms of Ram Man, who knocked him out with a head butt.

    Tri-Clops led a charge of Skelecon-manned Rotons against the remaining Sky Sleds and Talon Fighters in the air, a ferocious aerial battle ensued, with casualties on both fronts as Sleds, Fighters, and Rotons were shot out of the air, all of them erupting in great balls of fire as they struck the soil.

    Inside the Attak Trak, Cringer, and Orko were observing the battles on several monitors. Marlena stirred, anxious to know of further developments in spite of her ailing health.

    "How goes the battle Teela?"

    "You needn't concern yourself, they will hold the line" Teela assured her.

    "My family, my people, are my greatest concern Teela, I cannot rest easy when they have it so hard"

    Teela couldn't help but admire Randor's prowess on the battlefield as he led from the front. She had offered to lead the charge herself but he was adamant he take up arms.

    "It's been so long since he picked up a sword" said Teela.

    "He never did find war all that attractive; he only embraces it now because this ambush provides him with the very opportunity he has sought"

    "And that would be?" Teela asked.

    "A chance to hold back the invitation of death" Marlena responded.

    Marlena's life signs suddenly became more erratic, her body began to convulse.

    "Quick, someone stabilise her" Cringer pleaded as the physicians scrambled to carry out such a request to the best of their ability.

    Panicking, Teela saw that the King was on his way back to the Attak Trak, she stepped outside to deliver the despairing news to him personally.

    Teela suddenly spotted a Rotor directly overhead; she leapt in front of the King and tackled him, shielding him from a direct blast that struck the Attak Trak, leaving a hole in its sides. A Talon Fighter then shot it out of the air before it could turn back around and do further damage.

    Fortunately, nobody inside the Attak Trak had been seriously harmed, and neither, more importantly, had Marlena, though the reality that Marlena would soon be lost to them if action wasn't taken now began to take hold.

    Randor patched himself through to the one true Duncan, who had fully recovered from the trap sprung earlier.

    "I need you regroup and provide sufficient cover fire, I will proceed on foot to Graykskull"

    Not giving Duncan any chance to assess the situation or to voice a protest, Randor cut off the com feed, fetched the fading Marlena and proceeded to make the arduous trek towards his destination with her in his arms. It was a journey fraught with risk.

    "Provide the King cover at all costs" Duncan commanded, having recovered from earlier, he commandeered a parked Talon Fighter and taking to the skies to fend off the remaining Rotons

    As the assortment of aerial assault fighters belong to both good and evil warriors Rotons did battle, the heroic and wicked Masters physically took one another to task on ground level, Through it all, Randor pressed forward, eventually reaching the gates of Grayskull, Marlena's life ebbing away.

    "Sorceress, hear me, we are in need of your aid!"

    Zoar, the Eagle, flew down from its perch and took the form of the wise enchantress who's sacred duty was to the castle.

    "Nothing can be done your majesty, this is the natural order.

    "My son, Sorceress, tell me...will he be safe?" Marlena asked.

    "Adam? What of him? Is he in danger?" Randor asked.

    "He has fought against Skeletor many times, even now, despite no other strength to call upon but his own, he fights for us all. You can rest proud" The Sorceress assured her.

    "Then that is enough for me" Marlena spoke, relieved. Her husband was in a state of confusion, feeling he had missed a great deal of conversation.

    He chose eventually to focus on the immediate here and now, and the loss he refused to face.

    "I shall not let this pass"

    "All things must" said The Sorceress.

    Teela chose to intervene, and this time, she would speak with her own mind.

    "Not everything Sorceress. Do you forget that Adam's mother is not a true blooded Eternian? She was born on another world, she is not beholden to Eternia's conception of natural order. Surely with this logic you can find some loophole? Suppose Skeletor's word was false and she had been poisoned? That too would have prompted your intervention, as you would be removing an alien element from her. Do so now, while you can. Spare us all heartbreak"

    The Sorceress smiled warmly. Her look was one of telling pride.

    "Your logic is strong, as is your heart. Very well, follow me if you may, we must fetch the key"

    "Key? What key?" Randor asked.

    "The key to Grayskull's greatest secret"

    Within the hallways of the Castle, The Sorceress took Teela, Cringer, Orko, Randor and the weakening Marlena to a cavern at the opposite side of her throne and stopped at a dead end.

    "Once all of this is known to you, there is no going back. You will be faced with a choice that will tip the balance for all of Eternia"

    "You can trust us with your knowledge Sorceress, we have taken more than our share of risks" Marlena assured her.

    The Sorceress pressed down on a small pebble slab in the top right corner of the wall, and a door slip open. Within was a chamber containing a beautifully rendered gold plated sword.

    "This weapon is the key?"

    "In the wrong hands Randor, anything can be fashioned into a weapon. For you and your wife, it is a lifeline"

    The Sorceress closed her eyes, a small tear ran down her face and shattered into a million fragments on the floor, as it did so, the structure of the entire castle changed, on the outside, towers became turbines, inside the various caverns became brightly lit corridors leading in and out of various engine, transport, and docking rooms, the latter containing several shuttle pods, the throne of the Sorceress becoming a five man bridge.

    At its centre, stood a sharply tipped pulsating energy crystal.

    "Randor, the castle, it's a starship" Marlena spoke, astonished.

    "Quickly, the sword must be inserted into the key slot at the lower tier end of the Crystal. We cannot leave ourselves this open for long"

    ***

    The Sorceress' concerns were well founded, for inside Starship Eternia, as the battle between good and evil raged on, Skeletor could sense his inevitable victory was nigh.

    "Yes, my bond to the crystal tells me the time is now to act"

    "You will commit no further act of villainy this day Skeletor" He-Man vowed, charging at Skeletor with his sword, Skeletor held up his staff to deflect a strike. He-Man swung relentlessly, pushing Skeletor back along the corner of the ship containing the Transmat chamber.

    Little did He-Man suspect that, while he was pinned down against the consoles, Skeletor's free hand was dancing across the controls punching in a few buttons.

    "You win He-Man, clearly my strength is no match for yours" Skeletor confessed, lowering his staff as well as his head in defeat.

    He-Man grabbed Skeletor's wrist. Little knowing that, with the other hand, Skeletor's fingers danced across the control console.

    Skeletor's eyes glowed a treacherous crimson as He-Man pulled him away from the controls

    "My cunning, though, that will always outmatch you"

    Skeletor pushed He-Man aside and headed for the transmat pad, with a well timed blast from his staff, he destroyed the console just as he was transported away so nobody could follow him down.

    "Blast it" He-Man exclaimed.

    "Track him Darius, find out where he's headed" Hydron requested.

    Darius checked the readings, finding Skeletor's previous position had been moved only a few macro kilometres from where they picked him up.

    "He's beamed himself into that Starship beneath us" Darius confirmed.

    "And that ship used to be Castle Grayskull" He-Man realised.

    "How did he know what co-ordinates to input?" Darius asked.

    "Scare Glow likely gave him the information during his visit from the future" He-Man theorized, "He's playing a very dangerous gamble with foreknowledge, even our brief skirmish in here may have played a part in its intent"

    "So we are all players in some kind of game?" Darius asked.

    "Our prophecies did not speak of this, this troubles me Darius"

    "Quite Hydron, Skeletor could unravel history as we know it"

    "Well, if he can change the rules, so can we, what else do your prophecies tell you?"

    "That a great warrior will deliver us from the bane of Denebria, imbued with the power of Grayskull and the wisdom of Eternia" Darius explained.

    Darius turned to Hydron for an update.

    "Hydron, why haven't you removed the crystal?"

    "I can't, it won't budge"

    "Skeletor's magic must be fixing it to its position" He-Man deduced.

    "Surely we can reverse the transfer of power then?" Darius suggested.

    "Do that, and we doom Primus" Hydron revealed.

    "It's your call He-Man. You are the protector of this great power; you have the right to determine what must be done with it" Darius spoke, putting the decision in He-Man's hands.

    "We can't disable the energy prism, the crystal can't be removed either, it's absorbing all the power. Why would Skeletor leave the ship?"

    "I don't think it is" Darius argued, "Look, the power is flowing around it, like it were a rock in the route of a great river, it must serve some other purpose"

    "Skeletor was no fool in leaving us here unopposed, every action we take is a no win scenario. Transfer the power to Primus, and our struggle against Skeletor here on Eternia is lost, cut the transfer and Primus is lost, if your prophecy speaks of a champion, I may have to leave with you, and in doing so, I leave my world vulnerable and helpless against further attack"

    He-Man pondered the problem, and made a decisive call, he would consult the Sorceress.

    His mind reached out, requesting an audience through psychic communion.

    "Sorceress, hear me"

    "I hear you He-Man"

    "The people of Primus are dependent on the power of Grayskull, a champion is required, but I cannot leave Eternia in this state of conflict, what am I to do?"

    "The wisdom of Eternia lies here, but it is its true power, its blood, that will deliver us all from the fury of the future"

    He-Man contemplated The Sorceress' words carefully, and came to a conclusion that startled his new friends.

    "Redirect the power Darius"

    "Is this madness you speak?" Darius asked.

    "On the contrary, I've never been saner" He-Man admitted.

  8. #8
    Heroic Warrior
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    Chapter Six


    Inside the castle, or rather what they had come to know as some sort of Starship citadel, Teela gazed upwards at the Great Crystal, lost in thought. Her father, Man-At-Arms, came into view beside her.

    "I got here as soon as I could. How fares the Queen?"

    "Not good, the Sorceress is trying her best with the medicines available to her, but with the power of Grayskull depleted, she too has grown increasingly weak, and the castle is vulnerable. You should be outside leading the royal guard against what remains of Skeletor's forces"

    "My men can take care of themselves. How can this crystal help us?"

    "The Sorceress says that once the key is inserted into the crystal, it will be instilled with the necessary formula required to produce anti-bodies so Marlena's earthly body can fend off the more otherworldly infections"

    "All fair's in love and germ warfare" Duncan remarked.

    Teela was not one for obfuscation.

    "That's something Orko would say, if he were a little meaner"

    "A little gallows humour never hurts anyone until their hour comes 'round at last daughter mine" Duncan assured her

    Teela could tell, whoever this truly was, wasn't even trying.

    "Say, that civilian you helped earlier before the ambush, did he recover?"

    "Nobody dies when a man with these kinds of arms is around" Duncan replied.

    "All I need to know" she said

    Teela elbowed Man-At-Arms in the waist and kicked him to the floor, she unsheathed her sword and pointed it at him.

    "Nice try, but I saw that 'civilian' reduced to dust, he was nothing but a shapeless empty decoy"

    "My dear, all that matters is that my plan takes shape"

    Duncan's form slowly morphed and shifted into that of Skeletor, the shaping staff firmly in hand.

    Teela swung her sword at him, Skeletor deflected it with his staff and found an opening with which to send it directly into her sternum, he grabbed her by the scruff of the neck and slammed her into the bed of a nearby wall, knocking her out cold.

    As she slipped into an unconscious state, Skeletor looked upon the immense crystal, mesmerised by its majesty.

    "All that is required now is the key"

    "That, demon, is something you will never possess"

    Skeletor turned to find Eternia's noble leader, the crystal key in hand, descending down a spiral stairwell.

    "Why Randor, it is good to see you up and about. I can't say the same for your wife"

    "You poison, hunt, and now mock my beloved, the heart that beats across all Eternia, you must dread each waking day knowing your actions will not assure you tomorrow"

    "I fear no future now that it is known to me, and yours is no exception. I have it on good authority that today is the last you will spend on Eternia"

    "Maybe so, but if my time has come, it shall be spent buying the others enough time to stop you"

    On board Starship Eternia, Darius was seated at the controls, setting some kind of sequence, as He-Man and Hydron watched on.

    "What exactly is he doing over there?" He-Man asked.

    "Beats me, sometimes he just keeps to himself, usually it's when things are at their worst"

    "Tell me more of Primus" He-Man requested.

    "We've been at war with our neighbouring world Denebria for years, its inhabitants are all mutates. They ruined their own planetary climate and sought to lay crops on our planet. At first we allowed them in, then slowly they tried to convert others to their customs without consent. Every time they were told to stop, they inferred we were violating their right to freedom of expression. We ultimately seized their lands back and kicked them off world, and we have been locked in conflict ever since. Nothing has been resolved"

    "It must be hard to tolerate a campaign that is not open to any sort of compromise"

    "It's not them I blame, it's their ideas. Nothing can kill an idea once you solidify it as the only means to your ends"

    "So, I suppose the real question is, do you have any better ideas?"

    Hydron chuckled.

    "You're the champion of Grayskull, you should have all the answers"

    "Nobody ever truly does my friend, we just have to make do by our day to day decisions"

    Darius completed his task and rejoined the others.

    "Well?" Hydron asked of him.

    "I may have a solution to our problem, I don't know what the deal with that crystal is, but there is one way we can dispose of it"

    "The sooner this is resolved, the quicker we can go home"

    "That's just it, we may not be able to get back. I've programmed the ship to self-destruct. Fortunately, He-Man's fight with Skeletor didn't do too much damage; it should be easy to redirect what's left of Grayskull's power"

    "This still feels all too easy, but we can't turn back now. I only hope my guess is enough to see us through this day" He-Man replied.

    "Hey guys, we're in luck, I've found Bold Jets, we can use these to get away" Hydron announced, having browsed the ship's inventory.

    A few moments passed, and the self-destruct finally kicked in, they had mere minutes to act.

    A grand battle had commenced within the Starship citadel. Randor, having taken a warrior's stance with the crystal key, was using it as the means to match Skeletor in armed combat.

    Skeletor placed his palm on Randor's chest, a small shockwave from it rippled forth, sending the King reeling backwards, colliding with a hard wall. Skeletor's entire form glowed a dark green hue as he levelled up and threw a triple-headed spirit blight at Randor, who hastily got to his feet and dashed across the hallways of the citadel, the blight in frantic pursuit.

    The hands of these most vile apparitions, capable of withering the human body at the slightest touch, would be denied their prize as the King ascended the spiral staircase and headed back towards the balcony, leading them into a trap as Orko held out his hat, which grew much larger, swallowing the triple headed Blight whole, and sending them into another dimension entirely.

    "Right trick, right time"

    Orko blushed, and popped his hat back on his head.

    "Now, time to complete what I set out to do"

    Randor, knowing he still had to deal with Skeletor and insert the key into the crystal, made his way down the staircase. Skeletor was waiting on him, his staff charged. More tricks doubtlessly up his sleeve.

    Skeletor detected a presence from behind him, Captain Teela had recovered and attempted what at first appeared to be a sneak attack. Skeletor would not be so easily surprised and fired a shot of molten flame from his staff at the young warrior, she ducked just in time.

    Randor, however, suspected Teela's strategy was not one of attack, but of diversion.

    Randor glanced to his left to find Marlena was approaching, struggling to stay on her feet, but determined to check in on her husband and to be there for the insertion of the key. She was assisted by the Sorceress, herself looking paler, her great powers ebbing away.

    With nothing left to lose, Randor made the wiser choice. As a warrior, he could use the key in this moment of momentary distraction to finish off Skeletor, but as a man whose heart personified him more, he chose to seek the wisdom required to heal what mattered most to him.

    But, as he approached the great Crystal with the key, Skeletor quickly caught on to his intent, and from his fingertips, a beam of blazing ice coated the floor, causing the King to slip and lose his balance. He hit the ground hard.

    As pain shot through the back of his head, Randor spotted that the key had been released from his grip. With what strength he had left, he made a grab for it, only for Skeletor to hoist up his havoc staff and bring it down on Randor, piercing his chest with it.

    Marlena screamed, blood poured from the King's wound, his eyes widened with horror at the face of fear before him.

    "And now, you fool, the key, and the day is mine"

    Skeletor picked up the key and swiftly embedded the havoc staff into the bed of the Great Crystal, planting it as if it were a flag marking his latest conquest.

    Marlena and Teela ran over to tend to the stricken King.

    "You monster" Teela exclaimed.

    "A monster my child? No, something greater" Skeletor pronounced.

    "Sorceress, what does he mean?" Marlena asked, but The Sorceress fell silent, and pointed upwards.

    Before the aghast eyes of all save herself and Skeletor, a spiralling storm of raw energy was thrown down from above, bathing the great crystal in the brightest of lights.

    "The power of Grayskull, or what's left of it" Cringer observed, recognising all too well

    "Alright, Adam's succeeded in restoring it, Skeletor's in for it now"

    Skeletor held the key firm in his grip, he approached the crystal.

    "Yes, this spells trouble, but this time not for I. For your champion has only brought about the best of both worlds directly into my waiting hands. With the power of Grayskull, the wisdom of Eternia, I will become far more than man, monster, or God"

    "Sorceress, break your silence, what madness does he speak of?" a gravely wounded Randor asked with as much strength as he could muster.

    The Sorceress solemnly turned to him and gave her answer.

    "Grayskull contains not one, but two great power sources. The power of Grayskull was set up as the vanguard, a force that could shield the truth from the threat of exposure or acquisition. By removing the power from the castle, this has now been achieved, and worse is to come"

    "How so?" Randor further queried.

    "Before we parted ways, I was handed a fragment of the Great Crystal by Scare Glow" Skeletor explained, "It carries within it knowledge in abundance, it tells of the power of the good, the way of the magic, the secrets of the unknowable, by placing it at the centre of the transference prism on the Starship Eternia, what contained within is fused with Grayskull's vigour. Now that it's been redirected by He-Man and his gullible and unintelligent little friends, both power sources have been fused into one, all who channel its power will become both the wisest, and most powerful, being in all of the universe"

    "Sorceress, tell us, the key, it's how he will channel this power correct?" Marlena asked.

    "Yes" The Sorceress replied, almost hesitantly.

    "Then I will do what I must"

    "Your majesty?" Teela spoke, curious as to what she was up to.

    "I must run, faster than I ever have before in my life"

    "Marlena, no, you're too weak" Teela cried, but her cries came too late.

    Using all that remained of her strength, Marlena swiftly sprinted towards Skeletor as he motioned to insert the key into its lock, and made a grab for his legs in a herculean tackle that caught him off guard and caused him to topple with a thud to the concrete.

    Marlena grabbed the sword and lunged at the keyhole. Just as the grip of death overtook her, she, with all her remaining strength, inserted the key and turned the lock. Skeletor leapt for his havoc staff just she did so.

    The great crystal, now swelling in abundance with energy, suddenly erupted in a blinding fury that enveloped Skeletor and bound Marlena's frail body with the grandeur of unspoken centuries both past, present, and beyond.

    Her illness was expeditiously done away with, her spirit was reinvigorated, no longer wrapped in death's shroud, she was fully imbued with the purpose and vitality of life.

    When the smoke cleared, so too did all doubt in anyone's mind, Marlena had the strength, and she had the power.

    And for Skeletor, transformed himself, his countenance now resembling Scare Glow, the foe from the future, he...he would know her rage.

    He-Man, Darius, and Hydron soared through the air on their Bold Jets. As they breached the skies above where Grayskull had once stood, He-Man observed a Talon Fighter, manned by Duncan, under fire, pursued by a Rotor piloted by Tri-Clops. He-Man instructed both Darius and Hydron to focus their firepower on the enemy fighter, knocking it out of commission and forcing Tri-Clops to abandon it, using a jet pack.

    He-Man flew into the bird's eye view of Duncan, winking at him.

    "Going my way old friend?"

    On board the Starship Eternia, the fateful countdown ticked down its final few seconds, and the vessel erupted in a pillar of fire and a deafening roar that rivalled the sound of thunder. As it did so, everyone paused in recognition of the spectacle. Debris from the ship colliding with the citadel, puncturing its iron clad structure.

    The four warriors flew their vehicles through the freshly made hole and touched down, and were met with a most marvellous sight.

    A warrior, bold and strong, was holding her own quite sufficiently against Skeletor in combat.

    "Way to go Mom" He-Man spoke under his breath.

    "Your faith has been rewarded He-Man, but there is great cost yet to come" The Sorceress warned, pointing to the stricken King.

    He-Man looked on, horrified. He clenched his fist, all his rage built into it. He hoisted his sword high and joined his mother in a riotous assault on his age old enemy.

    Skeletor tried mystical means of despatching his foes, but every spell cast, every phantom summoned, every demon awoken, fell sway to the indispensible union of mother and son. Joined in might, grief, and love.

    Ram-Man was the next to arrive at the citadel; he knelt beside Teela as she grieved for the King.

    "I should never have suggested this journey to Grayskull" Teela said, wiping tears from her face.

    Ram Man, to everyone's surprise, let out a spine-chilling laugh.

    "You can't blame yourself for that Teela, you weren't of sound mind, you were of my mind"

    Ram Man spun around, a blackened shroud of raw cosmic power enveloped him, and when he finished spinning, he now took the form of Evil-Lyn.

    Cringer put himself between the witch and Teela, standing up for the person that had named him despite grave anxiety overtaking him. Orko attempted to cast a spell, but one glance from Evil Lyn, power blazing through her eyes, was enough to fold his body up like an accordion.

    "It was you I felt creep into my mind wasn't it?" Teela said, citing Evil-Lyn with the deed.

    "Not an easy feat I assure you, but what little resistance you provided wasn't enough, I was able to manipulate you into proposing a visit to Grayskull to the King, setting up an apt opportunity to thin the blood of Eternia"

    "Then it's only fair I pay your mind a little visit"

    "What are you doing?"

    Teela was as much in the dark as Evil-Lyn was. The words she had just spoken coming more from instinct than intent.

    Like with her intrusion earlier, this felt unnatural, not like her, but the feeling was more assuring. This was less like a break down and more of a break through.

    "Your mind, I can read it so clearly...every childhood trauma, every aspect of your past, all the doors you've closed I can now open, not just one at a time, but all at once"

    Without one sword being raised, Teela had wounded Evil-Lyn, bringing up her backstory, the sins of her past, her drive for power forsaking the need for all others. Family, friends, all those she betrayed. They stood there now, phantoms, pointing at her, judging her.

    Their voices and minds melded seamlessly into one damning verdict.

    Guilty.

    On all counts.

    Evil-Lyn tried to shut them out of her mind, her eyes blinked furiously, all she could see was the familiar sight of a soaring bird, its cry accompanying the chorus of a rhythm that bound the universe together.

    All of it was too much to take, she was not prepared for this bombardment.

    In defiance of this sense-shattering sensation, Evil Lyn spoke what would be her final words.

    "What are you?"

    And with that, her mind went blank and shut off, she collapsed to the floor, and in doing so, a vast pulse blast shot forth from her body, which resonated through the citadel and across the entire landscape, disabling much of the Skelecon army, several thousand Rotons were also caught in the shockwave and were depleted of all power, it's pilots helpless as they crashed.

    Orko stared at Teela, what ought to have been relief found itself replaced by the dread of the unknowable.

    "Teela, what did you do?"

    "Got my own back" Teela replied.

    He-Man and Marlena both glanced at one another and nodded in a show of equality and respect. Together, they threw their fists into Skeletor's featureless face, casually picked him up like he were nothing but an old coat, tossing him aside. Swords in hand, they circled their stricken foe as he slowly recovered.

    "Go, help the others, I can take care of Skeletor" Marlena spoke.

    "Yes Ma'am" He-Man, knowing it wasn't wise to question your elders.

    He-Man glanced over at Cringer, he covered his paws over his face, knowing what was to come.

    "Come along Cringer, you're well past due for your power walk"

    Cringer covered his face with his paws in anticipation of what was to come next.

    A blast ignited from He-Man's sword, bathing Cringer in the power, transforming him once more into the noble Battle Cat. He-Man mounted the valiant animal and, with a roar, Battle Cat charged out of the citadel and into the heat and heart of battle.

  9. #9
    Heroic Warrior
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    Chapter Seven


    He-Man, Darius, and Hydron soared through the air on their Bold Jets. As they breached the skies above where Grayskull had once stood, He-Man observed a Talon Fighter, manned by Duncan, under fire, pursued by a Rotor piloted by Tri-Clops. He-Man instructed both Darius and Hydron to focus their firepower on the enemy fighter, knocking it out of commission and forcing Tri-Clops to abandon it, using a jet pack.

    He-Man flew into the bird's eye view of Duncan, winking at him.

    "Going my way old friend?"

    On board the Starship Eternia, the fateful countdown ticked down its final few seconds, and the vessel erupted in a pillar of fire and a deafening roar that rivalled the sound of thunder. As it did so, everyone paused in recognition of the spectacle. Debris from the ship colliding with the citadel, puncturing its iron clad structure.

    The four warriors flew their vehicles through the freshly made hole and touched down, and were met with a most marvellous sight.

    A warrior, bold and strong, was holding her own quite sufficiently against Skeletor in combat.

    "Way to go Mom" He-Man spoke under his breath.

    "Your faith has been rewarded He-Man, but there is great cost yet to come" The Sorceress warned, pointing to the stricken King.

    He-Man looked on, horrified. He clenched his fist, all his rage built into it. He hoisted his sword high and joined his mother in a riotous assault on his age old enemy.

    Skeletor tried mystical means of despatching his foes, but every spell cast, every phantom summoned, every demon awoken, fell sway to the indispensable union of mother and son. Joined in might, grief, and love.

    Ram-Man was the next to arrive at the citadel; he knelt beside Teela as she grieved for the King.

    "I should never have suggested this journey to Grayskull" Teela said, wiping tears from her face.

    Ram Man, to everyone's surprise, let out a spine-chilling laugh.

    "You can't blame yourself for that Teela, you weren't of sound mind, you were of my mind"

    Ram Man spun around, a blackened shroud of raw cosmic power enveloped him, and when he finished spinning, he now took the form of Evil-Lyn.

    Cringer put himself between the witch and Teela, standing up for the person that had named him despite grave anxiety overtaking him. Orko attempted to cast a spell, but one glance from Evil Lyn, power blazing through her eyes, was enough to fold his body up like an accordion.

    "It was you I felt creep into my mind wasn't it?" Teela said, citing Evil-Lyn with the deed.

    "Not an easy feat I assure you, but what little resistance you provided wasn't enough, I was able to manipulate you into proposing a visit to Grayskull to the King, setting up an apt opportunity to thin the blood of Eternia"

    "Then it's only fair I pay your mind a little visit"

    "What are you doing?"

    Teela was as much in the dark as Evil-Lyn was. The words she had just spoken coming more from instinct than intent.

    Like with her intrusion earlier, this felt unnatural, not like her, but the feeling was more assuring. This was less like a break down and more of a break through.

    "Your mind, I can read it so clearly...every childhood trauma, every aspect of your past, all the doors you've closed I can now open, not just one at a time, but all at once"

    Without one sword being raised, Teela had wounded Evil-Lyn, bringing up her backstory, the sins of her past, her drive for power forsaking the need for all others. Family, friends, all those she betrayed. They stood there now, phantoms, pointing at her, judging her.

    Their voices and minds melded seamlessly into one damning verdict.

    Guilty.

    On all counts.

    Evil-Lyn tried to shut them out of her mind, her eyes blinked furiously, all she could see was the familiar sight of a soaring bird, its cry accompanying the chorus of a rhythm that bound the universe together.

    All of it was too much to take, she was not prepared for this bombardment.

    In defiance of this sense-shattering sensation, Evil Lyn spoke what would be her final words.

    "What are you?"

    And with that, her mind went blank and shut off, she collapsed to the floor, and in doing so, a vast pulse blast shot forth from her body, which resonated through the citadel and across the entire landscape, disabling much of the Skelecon army, several thousand Rotons were also caught in the shockwave and were depleted of all power, it's pilots helpless as they crashed.

    Orko stared at Teela, what ought to have been relief found itself replaced by the dread of the unknowable.

    "Teela, what did you do?"

    "Got my own back" Teela replied.

    He-Man and Marlena both glanced at one another and nodded in a show of equality and respect. Together, they threw their fists into Skeletor's featureless face, casually picked him up like he were nothing but an old coat, tossing him aside. Swords in hand, they circled their stricken foe as he slowly recovered.

    "Go, help the others, I can take care of Skeletor" Marlena spoke.

    "Yes Ma'am" He-Man, knowing it wasn't wise to question your elders.

    He-Man glanced over at Cringer, he covered his paws over his face, knowing what was to come.

    "Come along Cringer, you're well past due for your power walk"

    Cringer covered his face with his paws in anticipation of what was to come next.

    A blast ignited from He-Man's sword, bathing Cringer in the power, transforming him once more into the noble Battle Cat. He-Man mounted the valiant animal and, with a roar, Battle Cat charged out of the citadel and into the heat and heart of battle.

    Skeletor backed away slowly as the Queen pressed onwards, wielding the great key.

    "Surrender Skeletor, there is nowhere to run"

    "You fool, where I'm going, there is space for all"

    Realising he was running short of chances, Skeletor snapped off a piece of the great crystal from where he stood, created a smokescreen to cover his escape, and made a beeline for a corridor leading to the citadel's docking bay, where he clambered into a nearby shuttle craft and launched it into the stratosphere.

    Marlena and Teela cleared a path through the demon fog, only to find its maker was out of reach.

    "Let him go, it has not yet dawned on him that he has played his game far too well, he has served tomorrow, not hindered it" said The Sorceress.

    Outside, He-Man and the masters continued to match wits, skill, and strength with Skeletor's evil warriors.

    Beast Man, having mounted Panthor, and whip in hand, attempted to give He-Man a series of swift and brutal lacerations, He-Man grabbed one end of the whip and hoisted Beast Man into the air with a tight pull. Beast Man however, used his incredible agility to turn in mid-air, roll into a ball and smash into He-Man's frame with tremendous force, knocking him off Battle Cat.

    As Battle Cat became preoccupied with Panthor, Beast Man continued his assault on his partner, grabbing the whip and this time managing to inflict some damage on the warrior. He-Man attempted to rise, but Beast Man felled him with barbaric blows.

    "Yield He-Man, I am the better of us this day" proclaimed the bold and braggadocios Beast.

    "Yield to the likes of you? Only in fantasy" He-Man declared, and grabbed hold of Beast Man's hands, tightening his grip on putting pressure on them, the pain Beast Man felt was excruciating and he was driven to his knees as He-Man hoisted himself up, picked Beast Man up, and threw him into a party of advancing Skelecons.

    Meanwhile, Panthor tore into Battle Cat's furred skin with the tip of his fangs, drawing blood from the ferocious animal, Battle Cat returned the favour in kind, taking aim and gnawing at Panthor's back, their clawed paws tearing into any other portion of their bodies they could inflict their savagery onto.

    "This isn't what I would call child's play my friend" remarked He-Man.

    "Care to lend me a helping hand?" Battle Cat asked.

    "How about a head?" He-Man replied, and let out a whistle, summoning Ram Man, the real Ram Man, who leapt forward and charged at the cats, separating them as he made impact and scored a direct hit.

    Trap Jaw tried his hand next.

    "Try my vicious claw on for size He-Man" he said, swinging his armed accessory at the temple of his foe's head, attempting to grind it into powder.

    "Still no contest" He-Man replied, using both of his arms to rip the claw from Trap Jaw's body. Despite the grievous pain he was in from this disarming; Trap Jaw willed himself to recover quickly and attached another weapon to his arm.

    "No matter" a wounded Trap Jaw exclaimed, "Have a blast with my laser beam"

    He-Man used precision speed to duck and dodge the various shots of firepower, before propelling Trap Jaw in the air with a well timed uppercut.

    "Even a one-armed army can't stop us when we work together" said He-Man as he remounted Battlecat and chased around a frightened Trap Jaw.

    "Now this is more like playtime" Battlecat remarked.

    Suddenly, a thunderous thunderclap could be heard and all on the battlefield watched on as an assortment of blazing colours danced and darted along the sky, a beautiful energy bridge began to fluctuate. First expanding, then shrinking.

    "The veil, it diminishes" Stratos revealed

    "Then we have no more time, Darius and Hydron must return to Primus before it closes" He-Man revealed.

    Eventually, the remaining evil warriors realised they were outnumbered and outmatched, and called for a long overdue and shameful retreat. The Masters, and the guard, had won the battle.

    Riding back into the damaged Citadel, He-Man, joined now by Duncan, disembarked from Battle Cat and rushed over to his new friends, as well as his Orko, his mother and Teela, both tending to the stricken Randor.

    "Duncan my friend" Randor spoke in recognition and relief of his faithful guardsman appearing in the flesh, and not as an avatar for pure evil incarnate.

    "I'm afraid the wounds are fatal" The Sorceress revealed.

    "He-Man, come closer..." Randor said, his voice beginning to trail off, but he would deny the maker his appointment with him just enough so he could speak once more.

    "I do not know what life beyond this one holds for me, but I am sure of one thing this day, pride. Pride for my wife, pride for my people, and for my son, I know he is of good character; it is my own hubris that is to blame for our disagreements. I had such confidence in my ability to administer a stricter hand that I refused to waver from it, and now at the end of my life I regret so much of that, if only he could hear my voice, if only I could clasp his hand in mine one last time"

    He-Man held up his sword, the right time, the right moment, however tragic, however unfair, had arrived.

    "Let the power return" he cried.

    Before the King's eyes, the man before reverted back to the boy he called son.

    Adam placed one hand on his father's chest, and put his hand in his.

    There were words exchanged, much of it reminiscing on childhoods spent together between father and son. Fishing, hunting, being the teacher and the student, sometimes they would even trade positions, an old way of seeing the world is given fresh eyes, and a new way of life is given over to seasoned ones. The memories are lively, as both reflected on what compelled them to live, to care, and how to be.

    The final words Adam spoke, the last he would ever share to his father, were what would stay in the hearts of all who bore witness to it for the remainder of their time spent on Eternia.

    "Your devotion to Eternia, showed me the strength and size my own heart needed to be in order to defend it"

    And Randor, now close to his last breath, gave this boy his much due glory.

    "You honour me my son" Randor replied with love in his eyes.

    He turned to gaze upon Marlena one last time, her beautiful red hair wild and untamed, her body that of a demigoddess, and yet, while there stood a giant, the same sunlit soul had surfaced, and it would set for him.

    With his final breath, King Randor closed his eyes, and passed on. Adam and Marlena huddled together, Teela joining in, all unified in loss and grief.

    Darius recited an old war prayer known on his home world. One that spoke of the spirits, the sky, and the countenance of a force that binds them all as one. He now saw it realized in this shared familial anguish.

    "I don't want to put pressure on anyone Darius, especially after loss of this scale, but we have to find some way of returning home, now those shuttles Skeletor found when escaping might be the ticket we need to punch for that" Hydron suggested.

    "This ship, looks so much like the one we took. There must be a connection of some kind" Darius wondered.

    "The council of Elders departed this world long ago through the veil to establish an order in the Tri-Solar galaxy" The Sorceress explained.

    "The council on Primus" Darius realised, "They must be descended from Eternia's council of Elders, this is why they were capable of diverting the flow of the veil, because they themselves created it, establishing a bridge to the past so they could benefit our future"

    "The power is theirs now, to do with as they will, where Grayskull goes, I must too" The Sorceress revealed.

    "I guess this is goodbye Adam" Teela said, swelling up with emotions, ill prepared to deal with the loss of a man she had come to love as more than a friend and a confidante.

    "No Adam is needed here, on Eternia. Another champion shall take his place on Primus. Are you prepared Marlena Glen?"

    "I am Sorceress"

    "By the power of the past and future joined, you are more than Grayskull, more than Marlena Glen of Earth, you are and will forever be The Eternian"

    "The Eternian? I like it" complimented Hydron.

    "As far as names go, it's one for the ages" Darius remarked.

    "Wow, you mean to tell me you're the champion of Primus" Orko remarked.

    "Is that so unexpected?" Marlena replied.

    "A surprise to be sure..." Darius admitted.

    "...But a welcome one?" Orko uttered, cutting in.

    "Orko!" Teela yelled, Orko looked away shyly, provoking a heartfelt laugh from the King.

    "Then we shall waste no further time" Darius said

    Darius shook Adam's hand in gratitude for all he has helped them achieve today

    "Thankyou Adam of Eternia, for everything"

    "The future is in your hands now Darius, make it a good one for the both of us" Adam spoke.

    Adam turned to his mother.

    "I suppose this is it Mom, hard to think you came here thinking it was the end of your journey, and now it's something else altogether" Adam said.

    "Rule Eternia well my son" Marlena replied, empowering Adam with her volume of confidence, "While it is usually the role of the child to leave the cradle, the duties of a King is to look over those that dwell within all the nests"

    After a long embrace was exchanged between the two, Marlena turned to Teela and gave her the same, whispering something in her ear.

    Marlena then gathered Randor in her arms, kissing his forehead gently, and led the way to the remaining shuttles.

    "My husband died so the people of another world see another sunrise, I will see to it that he is buried on that world, to take him out to the very stars that led me to Eternia. I will show the people of Primus that the one thing that binds all worlds together is what he carried so valiantly within himself...courage, conviction, and the ideal of hope"

    Before The Sorceress could join Marlena and the others, she felt a gentle soft tap on her shoulder; she turned and was met by Man-At-Arms.

    "I couldn't let you go without thanking you Sorceress, for everything you have bestowed upon Adam, and Teela too"

    "Their story is far from over Duncan, Grayskull and I are now bound to Primus, but while the slither that remains will be so very new and different, it will continue to serve both of them when summoned, they will still need your council, and your love"

    "They shall have it" said Duncan.

    The two, there and then, realised neither needed to exchange another word to express their gratitude to one another, they let one last lingering kiss speak for their mutual and eternal respect.

    Outside the citadel, Adam, Teela, Cringer, Duncan, Orko and the remaining Masters on the battlefield gathered to watch the shuttles depart and pass through what remained of the viel before it sealed firmly shut.

    "A chapter of Eternia's history has closed today, let the page turn on the time of Adam, the new King" Duncan declared.

    As the guards and his allies spoke his name in unison, Adam could not have been more distant. Marlena was very much still on his mind.

    "What did my mother say to you back there?" he asked Teela.

    "Something I'll take a while to process" Teela admitted, placing her hands on both sides of Adam's face.

    "Lucky for you and I, we have a whole lifetime to do so" she said, and, with light and love in both their eyes, they exchanged a kiss that would come to bind them in this life and the next great adventure beyond.

    Orko read the expression on Cringer's elated face all too clearly. A look that said all that was needed. And he could only agree with it.

    It was about time.

  10. #10
    Heroic Warrior
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    EPILOUGE

    Teela awoke from her slumber, the bright crisp morning light penetrating the glass windows of her chambers. Steadily, she rose, catching a yawn with an open hand and combing through her long soft red hair to scratch the back of her neck as she felt an itch that did little to quell the levels of spine-tingling excitement running volts down her arms and legs.

    It was a momentous day, the day she would be rewarded for years of devoted duty, to be bestowed the honour of a man-at-arms to the royal guard.

    She looked at her uniform, draped over the edge of the chair, before turning to the door leading to the castle balconies, where she would make contact with the clearest of skies and absorb the unified chorus of a thousand tiny birds.

    She would take in the fragrances of the palace gardens, and wave pleasantly at the gardeners, all having risen to greet the day so they could tend to the green.

    This was a simpler destiny, for a simpler time.

    Adam was spread outward on the bed, Cringer beside him. Teela threw off the bed sheets, pinching Adam's nose to get him to wake up.

    "Morning" she said, gently smiling, "I was thinking-the ceremony's not for another few hours, I figured we could spend that time playing our game"

    "Our game?" Adam asked, curious but somewhat suspecting what this was leading to.

    "You know the one" Teela said, getting up and raising an eyebrow.

    It finally dawned on Adam what she meant.

    "Teela, we haven't played something like that since the last birthday before your training" he replied.

    Out of the blue, Orko appeared, having been cloaked the whole time as a way of keeping tabs on Teela at the request of her father.

    "I love a good game, what sort of game is it?" he asked.

    "Something my mother taught us both to play when we were little, one of would count to ten while the other would go hide, and the person counting would then have to scour the palace looking everywhere for that person. Then, when they were found, it'd be that other person's turn"

    "I got a little bored of how it normally worked, so I suggested that the rules were tweaked a little, whoever caught the person would have to wrestle the other and drag them back to 'base', where the counting had started" Teela added.

    "It sure is timely to bring up your mom, now that a year's passed; I wonder how she's fairing on Primus as their champion?" Orko asked.

    "It's a strange old thing time, you never know how much of it you could have, until it runs out on those closest to you" Teela lamented.

    "We've been over this, my Father's death was not your fault" Adam insisted, having had this conversation with her several times over now.

    "I was the vessel; I carried out the intent of the guilty"

    "You were innocent in all of this Teela, you avenged the violation, Evil-Lyn hasn't been heard from since, you can let go, you can release, we're fine, we're good"

    Adam turned back to Orko, eager to change the subject, conversations like this could not take a day to finish, but he could try to hold it at bay as long as he could.

    "She suggested playing it a couple of more times when we were older too, but with Skeletor and his cronies up to no good, let's just say I got very good at hiding whenever it wasn't convenient for the both of us"

    "This is why I was determined to catch you early" Teela said, "At the dawn of the day, there might never be a time again where I get to feel this young, or this free, not with my responsibilities to Eternia increasing. What do you say Adam, up for some fun?"

    "Better to be up for a fun time, than be hidden away when the bad ones come calling" Adam replied. Teela playfully nudged him.

    "You're up first, I'll give you a thirty count start, but just remember Adam, I know every corner of this palace as much as you do, so there's little chance of hiding from me"

    "Boy it never gets old hearing that from you, especially since it used to be so easy" joked Adam.

    There was a swift knock at the door, Adam answered, and in came Duncan.

    "Orko ,did you not give them my message?" he asked.

    "Oh, sorry Man-At-Arms I got caught in a moment" a guilty Orko admitted.

    "What's the emergency father?" said Teela.

    "Tri-Clops and his cult have launched their assault early, they will be upon the capital at any moment" warned Duncan.

    Teela turned to Adam.

    "You'd best look the part. Nervous?"

    "I'm as nervous as I was on the first day" Adam said.

    "I wonder what you'll look like?"

    "I just realised, I never once considered what sort of changes Adora's gone through with the new powers"

    "That's a good point. You think the change will be for better or worse?" Teela asked.

    "So long as she doesn't frighten any of the clown fish in Etheria, I think she's got a chance" Adam replied.

    "Just the first day? You should try the rest of your life" Teela added.

    Adam gave Teela a kiss that would linger long in the memory, held the sword of power aloft, and summoned forth a new legacy.

    "BY THE POWER OF ETERNIA, I HAVE THE POWER"


    ***

    At the base of Snake Mountain, Webster and Beast Man tended to an insidious sleeping beutey. Precious doses of freshly acquired Eternium seeped into her bloodstream via a drip feed. Her life signs ranged from erratic to stable on any given hour.

    Patiently, both began waiting. It was all they could hope for.

    Waiting to see if their treatments would work.

    Waiting to see.

    To see whether or not Evil-Lyn's eyes would ever open.

    [B]
    NEVER THE END

  11. #11
    Heroic Warrior
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