Saturday, October 29, 2011
"They're burning the village..."
She-Ra Princess of Power
Episode #29: The Price of Freedom
This haunting image is without a doubt one of my favorites, and is taken from probably the best episode of the entire She-Ra canon. She-Ra and He-Man gazing upon the Horde cruelty still gives me chills.
Saturday, October 22, 2011
The Hero vs. The Anti-Hero
Although no incarnation could ever replace the classic, Mike Young Productions created an amazing reboot that changed the way fans look at He-Man, and whilst I never really cared for the original character of Zodac, the updated version has become an all-time personal favorite of mine. Drop the "c," add the "k," and that is just the beginning of the Cosmic Enforcer's makeover because times they are a-changin'! No longer subject to the hurdles and red tape of ordinances that blocked Filmation, M.Y.P. not only enhanced the action and animation quality of the program, but also sought to make the characters more three dimensional than ever before. One of my favorite over-all character arcs from the series, was that of Zodak's want for revenge against King Hiss for devouring his brother. Forget all that you know, in terms of vengeance from the classic He-Man show because Evil-Lyn and Kothos got nothin' on Zodak! (See the original He-Man's "Revenge is Never Sweet" for reference.)
Upon the arrival of Evil-Lyn, Kobra Khan, and Rattlor, the audience really is not sure if the villains did indeed overpower the Cosmic Enforcer, or he allowed for his staff to be taken in order to open The Void. In true Evil-Lyn fashion, the witch sarcastically remarks about the "great" Zodak's defeat, but as his enemies depart, the Enforcer's eye are wide open. During the beginning of the second part, Stratos states, "Three mere warriors defeating the Cosmic Enforcer? Hard to believe," which makes it painfully obvious that Zodak intentionly conceded; thus, allowing King Hiss to be released upon Eternia. When he declares to He-Man: "My brother... My battle... My vengeance..." there is no turning back for the character. Disregarding the consequences of his actions as well as ignoring He-Man's pleas, Zodak can no longer be looked upon as a "hero." The irony of the whole situation is that He-Man himself, in this particular series, has only taken up the sword and mantle of Grayskull for a very brief time, and even he can see the pitfalls in his allie's path.
When we are introduced to Zodak, in "Snake Pit," the Cosmic Enforcer is very much a loner, and does not want the aid of the Masters, as Kobra Khan makes his first attempt at freeing his ancestral snake bretheren. In the end, Zodak realizes the error of his ways by not taking up his allies on their offer, but a disturbing dream that details his brother Zeelahr's final moments as well as a vision of the Snake Men conquering the planet, in "Rise of the Snake Men" Part 1, blindsides him. Obviously, the guilt of not being able to rescue his brother is what ultimately fuels Zodak's quest for vengeance, which keeps the story and the character very riveting because these are sentient emotions that everyone succumbs to.
Initially, his justification for his actions is to handle the snake men "forever," and although he defeats King Hiss twice, the price of the snake king's re-entry has been a costly one. Devastation and turmoil aside, the demise of a caligar, in "Rattle of the Snake," as well as the destruction and loss of lives in the village where He-Man first encounters Serpos, brings He-Man's final line, and that of the series, into question. When King Randor states that the entire kingdom should offer their gratitude to He-Man, the most powerful man in the universe replies with, "You should thank Zodak." The Cosmic Enforcer's thirst for revenge makes him somewhat responsible for the events that have transpired, and he should be held accountable for his actions. I love the internal conflict and struggle that arises in the anti-hero, but that last line is just totally inappropriate. This mis-interpretation is just one of the few qualms I have with M.Y.P.'s season two, and its a shame that they were not given the opportunity of an additional thirteen episodes because they would have definitely added the necessary depth to the character. All and all, Zodak remains one of the best characters to be explored throughout reboot, but he is not hero!
Thursday, October 20, 2011
The first episode of any storyline is always a bit tricky because the writer is tasked with the job of having to either introduce and/or re-introduce a whole new set of characters. Granted, you may know the He-Man and She-Ra of Filmation or M.Y.P., but the reader is not totally familiar with the writer's interpretation of these characters. The initial hope and intent was to make the cast more three dimensional by giving them real life problems, such as Man-At-Arms being in a wheel chair, or Mekaneck and Ram Man being deceased, which are all the harsh realities of war. A special note, even though a character has passed on that does not necessarily mean they won't pop up again, which is a lovely fail-safe when writing about a magical world!
Cast of Characters
Adora / She-Ra
Duncan / Man-At-Arms
Keldor / Skeletor
Oo-Larr, the Jungle He-Man
The Sorceress / Zoar / Teela'Na
- The Spidersaur appeared twice in the classic He-Man series, in "The Curse of the Spellstone" and "Double Edged Sword," but the initial inspiration to use the beast came from remembering it appearing in the background of the US - RCA/Columbia VHS from Vol. 1.
- The Crystal of Allanar was seen in another personal favorite of mine, "Origin of the Sorceress."
- The Creeping Horak was also used in "The Curse of the Spellstone," which is also one of my personal favorites.
- Duncan telling Teela he was turned into a Snake Man twice is a reference to the never produced, but infamous comic rendition of "Captured," which would have been episode 40 of the M.Y.P. reboot.
- Azrog and Spydra appeared in "The Return of Orko's Uncle," which admittingly isn't the best episode from the classic series, yet I've always loved those two particular characters.
- As a huge fan of Evil-Lyn, I always loathed how her final battle between Count Marzo ended in the 200x series episode "History," which inspired her line about "knowing her place."
- The Trollan that I never call by name is Squange, who appeared in "Orko's New Friend," and like the others, I just really enjoyed that episode because of the character Jawbreaker, which has absolutely nothing to do with the story.
- Modulok's gatemaker is of course a nod to a huge fan favorite, and one that I personally love, She-Ra's "Gateway to Trouble."
- Though not a favorite, I needed a plot device; thus, the use of the Moonstone from the She-Ra episode, "Glimmer's Story."
- The first half of the title from this episode is taken from Aldous Huxley's "Brave New World."
Wednesday, October 19, 2011
Vol. 1, Episode #1
Presently, the Royal Palace, though whole is anything but stirring, as the anxious calm has settled into the hearts of its people, including the King and Queen. Standing side by side, hands interlocked, awaiting the setting of the sun upon their balcony Randor beseeched the Queen who was too still, “Does something trouble you, my dear.”
“I just have a bad feeling.”
“No, but I do wish she were home with us. I rest easier when I know Adam is by her side aiding in her great cause, or when we are all together. You should be more proud of him, Randor.”
“It’s hard to believe that our son, Adam, has the ambition to fight, and when I’ve asked him of the threats he and Adora have faced, he quickly changes the subject or mentions He-Man. I doubt he even ventures any further than the nearest pond.”
“My son is no liar, and did you ever think it was because of your disbelief in him that he does risk his life to help his sister,” the Queen said in earnest.
“Adam has nothing to prove to me. Some men are just not destined to take up the sword, and I have accepted that of him. I pray his kind heart will be enough to rule Eternia after I am gone. Does this help your bad feeling?”
“My concern is not for our children, or your narrow perception of them. Something just doesn’t rest well with me. Things seem too quiet.”
“I never knew quiet to be an awful thing.”
“It’s a different kind of quiet, like the calm before the storm.”
“We’ve weathered many storms in the past, and what will make this one any different?”
“Ever since those towers rose out of the ground, everything’s different. We got our daughter back; you rescued your father… Perhaps I am being paranoid from too many blessings, and not enough curses,” the Queen retreated.
“Blessings? Adora is lost to us as an infant, returns as a woman, but is forced to leave to fight the wars of her Eternian forefathers on a distant planet, and my father, who informed me that he is no longer ‘King’ just Miro, spends more time outside the palace walls, then in. The only blessing is that they are both safe and sound for now, but sometimes it feels like both of them never really came home at all,” the King eulogized. “Haven’t we earned this different quiet?”
The King and Queen looked on in unrequited gratitude, as the Captain of the Royal Guard, Teela, treaded in hot pursuit of her father, Duncan. “So that’s just it…” Teela fired off with a fury more scorching then her flame-like hair. Duncan did not reply, and kept moving. “Father. FATHER! Are you going to ignore me?”
“Teela, what more do you want from me?” Duncan answered in a hush lull.
“I want my father back! I’ve allowed you to mope and mourn for almost two years now, but life must go on.”
“When did I leave?” he regurgitated sardonically.
“About two years ago,” she fired back. When Duncan did not offer another rebuttal, Teela blasted off into what she thought would be encouraging words: “You always taught me to never give up, to keep fighting, and because of those values you believed in and instilled in me, I am respected as Captain of the Royal Guard, but you’re one of the most respected men throughout the entire planet. So why now do you want to give up, and throw it all away?”
“Teela, I am tired. Do you know how long I’ve been fighting? I thought The Great Unrest would be the last, and that was before you were even born. Then, I raised you, and although they were the happiest times of my life, some days, another war would’ve been easier. Then, it was Skeletor, then Hiss, who turned me into a snake man not once but twice. Oh and then, Hordak decides to invade Eternia again, and makes his previous predecessor’s efforts look like that of an amateur.”
“And…” Teela added with sarcasm rolling off her tongue.
“And this conversation is finished!” Man-At-Arms returned.
“Father, you lost the use of your legs, but not the use of your life,” Teela screamed, as Man-At-Arms moved his arms faster to manipulate the wheels that supported him. The Captain of the Royal Guard covered her face, forcing tears to retreat, as the King and Queen approached her. Startled, Teela quickly returned to her post. “Is something the matter your majesties?”
“We were about to ask you that same question,” King Randor replied.
“It’s just my father. I…” The Queen wrapped her arm around Teela maternally, as the brave warrior woman finished. “I miss him.”
“We all do, child, but we must be patient with him,” the Queen spoke.
“I guess I never realized how much I needed him in my life, and then I realized I almost lost him… I can’t even begin to wrap my head around the thought of a world without him. I also never realized how hard this job truly is without him guiding me.”
“Your father is probably the greatest man I have ever known, and I understand what you mean. I would not want to be king without him as my Man-At-Arms,” Randor said.
“Perhaps it is time we all learn to rely on our own strengths,” Marlena interjected, but Teela acted as if she never even spoke.
“He’s not even building new machines anymore. Father lived in his workshop, and I don’t think he’s even crossed its threshold since the accident. I caught Adam in there the other day working on a Windraider.”
“Adam?” the King questioned, which the Queen returned with a shot from her eyes and a gentle smirk.
“Yes! Adam,” the Captain replied just as anxious and questionable. “When Adam’s not too busy spending all of his time on Etheria…”
“Is there a problem with that?” the Queen interjected.
“No your majesty, but Adam is the closest thing I have to family next to you two, and I worry about him. He’s not a warrior, and if something ever happened to him…”
“Adam is more resilient than any of you give him credit for,” Marlena defended.
“Lucky, you mean,” Randor juxtaposed.
“Regardless, Adam seems to be the only one that can reach him, but morale has been low within our ranks for some time your majesties. The Horde’s siege upon Eternia depleted the faith the people had in our governing body. It seems like once a week one of my guards go AWOL, and father’s reluctance to even repair any of the damaged vehicles is just an added stress. At this rate, we will be lucky to survive a Skeletor attack,” Teela concluded.
“Do you two even hear yourselves? Trust in the heart of the Eternian, Captain, there are other brave warriors willing to take up the mantle of Master, we just have to find them,” the Queen said. “As for your father, imagine losing what he lost as well as the guilt he must be feeling? If time and patience were a sword and staff, then you would be the Master, Teela. Now is the time to offer your shoulder…”
“Marlena’s right, Teela,” the King replied.
“I will try, my Queen,” Teela conceded. “I just hope your both right for all of our sakes, and then may be our losses will not have been in vain,” Teela uttered, as she gazed upon marble renderings of both Ram Man and Mekaneck, which stood proud along the shore on the outskirts of the palace. The inscriptions chiseled in the base of the statues told of their heroic sacrifices in combat. Ram Man’s bore a golden plate that said, “Loyalty,” and Mekaneck’s read, “Proud Father.”
Elsewhere, if a storm cloud were to burst at any moment, then the first signs of rain, wind, and lightning would be produced within the throne room of Snake Mountain. The caverness walls were dark, but glowed in a yellowish-red tint that the light from the internal lava beds cast. The stench of dried blood and defeat riddled the air, as the Overlord of Evil himself buried his foot in every step that lead from his seat to the ground. The pale blue, claw-like hoof remained in sync with his Havoc Staff; a dreaded monument that coveted a hauntingly hollowed ram’s head. Perturbed by an intrusion just behind the bone-layered door that opened up to his main chamber, Skeletor waited for the disturbance to burst through.
The old, dwarf-like man ran closer and closer, but his short legs only took him so far. In the distance, a shadowy figure revealed itself in flashes of indigo and violet. The elongated crystal ball staff continued to glow, but the decrepit old man could not outrun the projectile bursts that escaped the glass. “You wretched little worm, I will eviscerate you before that tongue of yours is given the chance to wiggle,” the mistress of the night threatened. The midget knew better than to turn around, but his lust for the crimson-jeweled medallion the witch held in her hand reflected a glare into his eye. The dark sorceress giggled tritely, as the impulse of instinct forced her hand.
Let that which you covet,
Fill you once again--
Until the power is gone
And you’ve come to the end…
The amulet began to release all of its energy into the motely midget, which forced him to grow large, then shrink and then grow large again. His body went through several cycles of this transformation that forced him to burst through Skeletor’s doors, but when the talisman shattered, the process ceased. Catching his breath, the dwarf exhaustedly uttered, “Traitor,” and then, imploded leaving his entrails as trophies plastered to the wall.
“Dear Evil-Lyn, care to explain why it will take a week to get Count Marzo out of the carpet?” Skeletor inquired.
“He didn’t like my nails,” Evil-Lyn retorted condescendingly. As the witch drew closer to her master, a crimson flash passed through both of them until their eyes were illuminated in the same hue. Evil-Lyn shrieked in horror, as her worst fears became tangible. The vision revealed her at the cliffs that surround Castle Grayskull, as night slowly fell and the moons were aligned. The witch had forced four stalactites to curve inwards, as they sprung forth from the ground. Bound to the stone teeth were four individuals in the wrong place at the wrong time. The first of the litter was a pale blue skinned wizard with a coned-shaped head, large feet, and beady eyes. His accomplice was a light green skinned witch who adorned a wave of florescent hair that matched her exterior. The next in line was a meek, mild mannered Trollan whose hat over-lapped around his ears like that of an Earth air force pilot. The last of the four was Marzo, trapped in his peasant form. “You were right Marzo, a magician like me should know her place…and that is in a seat of ultimate power!” Evil-Lyn spat.
“Kill me if you desire, but I will not be a part of unleashing Hordak upon this planet again. Eternia is mine to rule, and mine alone,” the impish gnome spat in a high-pitched squeal.
“Eternia is mine, you putrid little pip,” the pale blue skinned wizard rattled.
“Eternia belongs to me, Azrog,” the witch spoke.
“Does the Trollan care to partake in this ridiculous chortling?” Evil-Lyn said despondently.
“I have nothing to say to any of you except that you’ll all be sorry when Orko, the Great arrives,” the Trollan cried.
“If the jester is your savior, then the joke truly is upon you,” the witch uttered wickedly. “Speaking of fools, Marzo, I regret to inform you that you were gravely mistaken when you cast the last spell to free Hordak at the Well of Darkness. Ancient Zalesian texts have revealed to me what legend could not. Hordak and his minions fell shortly after The Ultimate Battleground, and the vortex that sent them to Despondos left its mark on the planet surrounding Castle Grayskull. This is where King Grayskull placed the lock upon the interdimensional door, and this is the only place that the barrier can be shattered.”
“Good luck getting the magic up and running to start the spell,” Marzo snarkily whispered.
“You irritating imp, I don’t need your body just your power.”
“Evil-Lyn, I beg of you not to cast the spell. If Hordak invades again, he will enslave us all, including you too,” the green-haired witch pleaded.
“You were always a slave, Spydra. You just couldn’t see the chains. To think you actually believed Azrog’s love for you is what brought him here. The heart is a traitor, Spydra.” The witch then continued on with her plan, “None of this matters because I’ll be long gone after the gate is opened.”
“Don’t you want to pledge your allegiance to Hordak, as you have Skeletor?” Azrog postulated.
“The only allegiance I will be pledging is to myself. Releasing the Horde will trigger a four-way war between them, the Masters, the Evil Warriors, and the Snake Men. When the smoke has cleared, and all the forces have either exhausted their resources and/or destroyed themselves, I alone will rise up and seize the planet.”
“Will there even be a planet left after all that?” the Trollan questioned.
“If not I will just be forced to redecorate. Unfortunately, you won’t be around to see it,” and with that Evil-Lyn withdrew a dagger from her belt, and proceeded to cut each of her prisoners until the dirt hole in the center of the pillars was filled. As her victims moaned and cried out in pain, the witch removed herself from the middle of the sacrifice, and used her talents of the magic to break off the piece of land that held her captives into a floating rock between herself and the castle. Utilizing the embodiment of Marzo’s power in his amulet, Evil-Lyn herself began to levitate off the ground and chant the incantation: “Despondos… Despondos… Despondos…” The blood in the center began to boil, as the witch aimed the talisman at her subjects, releasing a blast of sanguine energy that forced them to join in the rant. The floating rock shrine began to circle the castle, and as the magicians fell one by one, Evil-Lyn looked on as the air of Despondos began to fill the atmosphere. A red laser gate began to unravel like a spider’s web, as the rocks shattered, and the darkness consumed them all, but one…
“So that’s why you’ve been tracking Marzo for months, and unfortunately, you both failed,” Skeletor screamed, as the vision faded, and he released an enormous burst of yellow energy that sent the witch deep into the side of the mountain. “How ironic that the same amulet that saved him from being sacrificed to Hordak would also be his undoing.” Skeletor sank his heel into Evil-Lyn’s back when she tried to move, as he continued his tirade. “And I suppose the capture of Azrog and Spydra had nothing to do with my plans to utilize their talents for a new Council of Evil?” The Overlord sank deeper when the witch presented a slight struggle. “Oh, and pity about the Trollan,” Skeletor concluded, as he burst into a mad-fit of laughter. “Montork should trust the task of transporting convicted criminals across the universe to a more experienced officer. Speaking of experience in failure…”
The ground of the throne room began to rumble and shake, as the stone snake carving that descended from Skeletor’s seat of power came to life; first by releasing itself from the mountain, and then by opening its jaws. The dark figure grew closer and closer until it materialized from the serpent’s mouth. “Ahhh, if it isn’t my loyal partner, the noble King Hiss,” Skeletor spat with blinding sarcasm.
“What is disturbing my throne room? The mountain revealed that your witch was chasing after an imp, but I don’t see the Widget anywhere,” King Hiss dictated, as his eyes grew red and his scales appeared freshly polished.
“Your throne room?” Skeletor began, but quickly avoided a conflict. “It appears Marzo’s dying wish was to reveal that Evil-Lyn is the one responsible for Hordak’s second coming.”
“Traitorous, treacherous witch, I will enjoy devouring you, and sucking the marrow from your bones,” the snake King decreed, as he shed his human form, unveiling a snake head as well as four serpent tendrils in place of his arms.
“Ah-ha, let us not to be hasty in deciding the defectors end game,” the Overlord interjected.
“Hordak cost me the war and the crown of Eternia centuries ago when we constructed those ridiculous towers. A slow, painful, torture-filled death is the only sentence that could begin to do justice for allowing my ancient enemy re-entry.”
“As much as I would love to bear witness to such an event, Evil-Lyn’s destruction will put a hindrance upon our plan, which has been approximately two years in the making.”
“Yes, but can we trust her to help lead our troops?” Hiss inquired, as he silenced his primal form and returned to that of a human male.
“Evil-Lyn will take the front of the line with us following closely in the back; thus, putting her between our forces and that of those meddling Masters. She will have nowhere to flee, and if she tries I will gladly help you floss all five sets of your teeth with her helmet.”
“Agreed. Now is the only time that a full-scale assault on Grayskull will bring us victory, and after two years of attacks and raids that have drained Eternian’s of their faith in the governing body of Randor, failure is incalculable.”
“The vehicles Man-At-Arms built for you during his tenure here will be a testament to our greatness as well as the dissolution of the so-called Masters of the Universe.”
“Remember our bargain, Skeletor. After the conquest of Grayskull, and the annihilation of the Horde Empire, you will use its power to get me off of this accursed rock. The Nameless One has abandoned me, I tire of Eternia and I no longer wish to reside on a world with Elders, Cosmic Enforcers, and even worse He-Men. Plus, you have perverted my home.”
“How could I ever forget?” Skeletor concluded with a massive grin that exposed his fangs.
Millions of miles and light years away, the magical planet Etheria lies shrouded in the darkness that is the dimension of Despondos, which continues to be devastated by the ambitions and war machines of an empire that is as mystic as it is mechanistic. Night has fallen upon the lush forest known as the Whispering Woods that is blanketed in hues of teal and violet, but the trees beauty remains shadowed by the onslaught of glistening metallic surrounded by a red symbol resembling that of a bat. The robots, devoid of emotion and feeling, operate strictly off an instinct that is pure malice, and their current raid on Castle Bright Moon is no exception. The kingdom remains one of the few that were liberated from the tyrannical compass of their leader who awaits the final call of victory, at the army’s secret base, which is beneath the surface of the planet’s second moon. “Is everything in place?” the shadowy figure demanded.
“Yes, mighty Hordak! The gate makers are all in alignment with the three main rebel kingdoms. Once Shadow Weaver begins the spell, the shards of the Moonstone will activate the machines, not only creating a dimensional door for our troops, but also causing an eclipse that will weaken Queen Angella,” the missed-shapen, red figure spoke resembling that of a devil with four legs and two heads.
“Our troops?” Hordak commented. “If your machines fail me again, Modulok, I will personally sever all of your limbs and serve them on a silver platter to the Snake Men.” Hordak used his talents of the magic to open a window of communication between him and his head witch who was stationed in her hollowed-out, centipede fortress known as Horror Hall. “Have the first wave of troops, Destructo Tanks, and Batmex been deployed?”
“Yes, great one. The Force Captain marches upon Bright Moon, whilst other forces descend upon the rest of the Rebel kingdoms, as we speak,” the smoky-voiced figure, cloaked in crimson spoke. “The spell will be cast after the first wave has completed their attacks,” her beady-yellow eyes flashed in excitement, and as the window faded Hordak’s eyes glowed too.
Inside the golden walls of Castle Bright Moon, the royal family discussed the intruders at their door. “Mother, will the moons’ power be enough?” the purpled haired princess beckoned.
“Have faith, daughter. Although the Moonstone has been stolen, the moons should sustain the castle’s defenses, but it is moments like this that are why The Great Rebellion exists. Hordak can take many things away from us, but there’s something he can never imprison or destroy,” Queen Angella uttered, as her gorgeous blonde locks complemented her crystalline blue eyes.
“Hope, Glimmer. Hope.”
“Bow and She-Ra are heading the front line…” Glimmer exclaimed.
“Join them, my child, and be safe. No matter what happens this night, know that I love you and am very very proud of you,” the Queen sobbed a bit.
“Mother, don’t talk like that. We’ve always driven the Horde back, and tonight’s no different,” Glimmer concluded hastily, as she rose in the air with a silver light emanating around her being, and in a flash, she was by her friends’ side. Angella closed her eyes, and prayed for the end to be near.
Glimmer’s eyes glowed in a bright, silver light, as she levitated mid-air between Bow, the charming brown-haired master marksmen with a moustache, and She-Ra, the most powerful woman in the universe who’s flowing blonde mane, accented the golden-winged crown that adorned her head. Both She-Ra and Bow were mounted atop their respective steeds—Swift Wind, a magical, winged unicorn; and Arrow, a tanned-skin, exotic-looking mare. “Where’s Adora?” Glimmer questioned.
“Adora is back at camp with Madame Razz preparing another line of defense, and judging by the number of Hordesmen out there, we’re going to need it. We haven’t seen this many in a while,” Bow said, commenting on the landscape filled with Hordesmen.
“Perhaps Hordak has finally grown restless with trying to wipe us off the map using small-scale offensives, or…” She-Ra stated, with a taste of sarcasm rolling off her tongue.
“Could this be the final battle for Etheria’s freedom?” Bow exclaimed.
“Have you two been talking to my mother? You all sound ridiculous. Besides, my father would be here if this were the end,” Glimmer yammered.
“Glimmer, we haven’t heard from King Micah in sometime, but we’ve never given up hope that…” the warrior woman tried to explain, but the princess was quick to cut her off.
“That he would return. Please, don’t be so defensive, Glimmer. I know Micah’s your father, and I understand that you are worried about him, but he has taken the same risk we are about to take right now. We are all warriors—we choose our swords first and our hearts second. There’s a possibility that we might not walk away from this, but we keep fighting just like your father, your mother, and all the other Rebels on Etheria,” She-Ra concluded.
“Then, one way or another, we shall be reunited,” Glimmer stated, as her light energy magnified, causing her to rise higher.
The Etherian sky was suddenly filled by several Horde air-assault vehicles that rested in a triangular formation above the impending armies. The lead ship, which bore the effigy of the terrible leader himself, Hordak, descended the first of the five black jet sleds that displayed the red bat symbol. Black jet sleds began dropping out from the bottom of the other four ships, which were Batmex—robot planes that manifested themselves in the shape of the red Horde bat symbol. The Force Captain stood atop the first sled, clutching her handle bars, as the remainder of her Force Squad accompanied her. The red mask with green eyes began to glisten, high atop the dark blue stream of hair that held it, as the Captain began to speak, “The Mighty Hordak has decreed that this will be his one and only offering of mercy towards the outlaw Rebellion. Fail to surrender, and the only cell you will be occupying is a grave.”
“I hope they don’t surrender,” the scorpion lady with haunting green eyes inquired, who hovered to the front left of the Force Captain.
“Yes, please don’t disappoint us with such cowardice,” the green skinned slug-man slurped, who was behind the scorpion lady. The beast-like man on the opposite side of the slug, with hollow, yellow eyes did not speak, yet he began to growl and snarl.
“Sounds like Grizzlor wishes to taste Rebel blood, too,” the bizarre, bug-shaped man with red skin and protruding yellow eyes, who was to the right of the Force Captain, released haughtily.
“Scorpia, Leech, and Mantenna, SILENCE! I can’t hear the Rebel’s begging for their useless lives,” the Force Captain demanded.
She-Ra unsheathed her sword from her back, and raised it towards the onslaught that awaited her as well as the small band of villagers and farmers, which made up the ranks of the Great Rebellion. “We will never surrender to you, Catra, or your master, Hordak,” the most powerful woman in the universe uttered gallantly.
“I will enjoy scratching the eyes out of that pretty face, Princess of Power,” Catra threatened, as she released claw-like nails from her fingertips. The Force Squad began to snicker, as the feminine feline continued her rant. “Make these fugitives wish they had received our mercy. ATTACK!” The cat woman smiled darkly, as her army began to ravage the mild-mannered minions of the light. The Princess of Power came directly for her, and Catra happily withdrew her blade, as the two warriors abandoned their respective modes of transportation, clashing and crossing swords long after their feet hit the ground. Grizzlor leapt from his sled, ripping apart every Rebel that came in his path, as Mantenna merried in the mayhem, releasing multiple projectile blasts from his elongated corneas. Leech and Scorpia plowed through one victim after another, with the slug-man draining the energy from his prey, as the scorpion lady chopped through the Rebel’s pitch forks, swords, and sad wooden staffs with her claw-like hands. Bow and Glimmer quickly dispensed with what troops presented themselves, but as the Force Squad started to close in on She-Ra, the Rebel heroes came to the aid of their friend.
The Princess of Power and the jealous beauty, Catra, almost entered a stale mate, but She-Ra’s superior sword technique allowed her to find a hole in her opponent’s style. Catra’s blade escaped her hand, and as it circled above the air, the warrior woman caught the weapon—crossing both swords against her nemesis’ neck. “Concede, Catra. This is the only mercy I will offer you!” With her back to Scorpia, She-Ra did not notice the scorpion lady’s tail closing in, as its poison flooded the tip of the stinger, secreting a venomous liquid that burnt the ground it graced.
“She-Ra, look out,” Glimmer cried, as the most powerful woman in the universe dropped the blades, and quickly grabbed hold of the scorpion’s tail, shoving it into to the brown patch of fur that suddenly emerged behind her. Grizzlor fell beneath Scorpia’s sting, whilst a kneeling Catra cleverly slipped her cat mask over her eyes. The mask evoked a change in the villainess, transmogrifying her shell from that of a woman to a feral, purple panther, and as the green and white energy escaped her body, the cunning cat pounced onto She-Ra’s back, knocking her enemy to the ground. Glimmer, noticing Leech attempting to take advantage of her friend’s weakened state, manifested her light energy into that of a giant fist that sent the slug-man soaring.
Bow’s eyes fixated upon the panther, as the marksmen pulled back the tight string of his con-bow, with a spine-shattering arrow between his thumb, index, and middle fingers. From his retina’s, Bow noticed a sphere of yellow and black closing in on him, blocking his sight. When the brave, wonderful fool realized the distraction was coming from Mantenna, he knew he was too late. Preparing for the projectile, he closed his eyes, feeling the heat from the blast, but when he realized he was still standing, Bow noticed it was Mantenna on the ground, with Glimmer harnessing a light energy around him that acted as a shield. Nodding in gratitude, he returned the favor by releasing the arrow towards the slug-man, who was creeping behind Glimmer. The arrow did not fell the Hordemen, but its presence protruding out of his armor, allowed Glimmer enough time to form a purple staff with her magic that she used to flip her foe.
The Great Rebellion and the Horde each re-grouped their forces, but the outlaws were still outnumbered. The purple panther returned to its female form, retrieved her sword, and began to dish out orders. “Scorpia, fix that furry fool, and continue on to Mystacore. I will dispense with the rest of these Rebels.” Scorpia obeyed, plunging her tail back into Grizzlor, retrieving the poison that streaked through his veins. Upon completion, the two leapt back onto their jet sleds, and returned to the Batmex. “Ready for round two?” Catra inquired, staring down her enemies.
“Round two? Can I refill my quiver first?” Bow asked condescendingly.
“She-Ra, my light powers are fading. What are we going to do?” Glimmer postulated.
“The other Rebels were supposed to be here by now. Something must have happened to them, which means we have no choice. Bow, warn Queen Angella, and Glimmer, get into the woods until you recharge your powers a bit because we are going to need them. No evil will be able to touch you there, and I’ll do my best to hold them back. Swift Wind,” She-Ra commanded, as her magical flying steed swooped down to pick up the Princess of Power. Glimmer took to the sky, still encountering resistance from the herd of Horde Troopers, as Bow made his way for the castle. Running towards Bright Moon, Leech made one final attempt for the marksmen, but Bow was too fast and clever for the slug-man, pulling his last arrow from his opponent’s chest plate, as he climbed over him, kicking him in the back of his oblong head. Bow re-fired the dart to clip Mantenna in the neck, who was preparing to blast She-Ra out of the sky. The insidious insect’s beam struck down his own robot plane instead, which was firing at the most powerful woman in the universe.
As She-Ra took her sword of protection, and sliced down the middle of Catra’s ship, the Princess of Power noticed a figure emerge that heavily resembled the lead Horde witch, Shadow Weaver. The figure acted as though they were the only being residing on the battlefield, stretching out their arms, and revealing a fleshy green skin beneath the cloak. Long fingernails accompanied the arms, as they dug into the air, unveiling plumes of black smoke, whilst uttering an incantation.
Stone of Moon,
And Stone of Light—
Shroud this world in darkness,
And eternal night…
The three moons of Etheria began to shrink from the rising dark, as a massive red laser gate began untangling itself, releasing an even greater swarm of Hordesmen, yet the last sight the most powerful woman in the universe looked upon was a static barrier of the brightest light ever witnessed, passing through her.
TO BE CONTINUED…
Vol. 1, Episode #1
Dusk approaches, bringing with it an unsettling calm that has rested upon the surface of planet Eternia, like dust after a battle. The music of life and vibrancy that once filled the Evergreen Forest has been replaced by the death knell that is deafening silence—the caged bird without its song. In spite of the breath of life that fills it, the Mystic Mountains remain in suspended animation, like ghosts frozen in time, above the clouds. Not even the Sea of Rakash or the Ocean of Gnarl begs to offer a wave. Even the plumes of molten lava that permeate actively above the Dark Hemisphere have been quieted—the smoke without the sizzle—despite its high level of occupancy from Snake Mountain. The Royal Palace, nestled in the center of the city of Eternos, which is always booming with busy bodies, has retreated into itself. One particular place, Eternia’s most magical, continues to thrive. Always stirring, never stopping, and ever vigilant, the Castle Grayskull stands—clinging to the last of its murky lime exterior that the light offers.
Within the walls of this haunted stone edifice, its keeper patiently examines the living portraits, suspended in mid-air; pictures that record only the most significant events of the planet’s history. The breath-taking depictions are so life-like that they make the viewer feel as if they are a part of the memory—the ghost inside the film. Today, the Sorceress, in all of her ethereal grace, clings to these paintings like a sacred artist; however, admiration and pride have taken aback to miscalculations and trepidation. As the images and landscapes fight to come alive within the canvas, the Sorceress clasps both hands around her staff, bracing herself against it. The Sorceress listens intently, as she hears her own voice narrate this particular event, which is due to the fact that it occurred during her tenure as guardian of Grayskull.
Peace—however, brief, can only be appreciated during times of great sorrow…
As the Royal Family of Eternia welcomes its first heirs, fraternal twins, a boy and a girl, a vision of the great warriors of the Prophecy revealed itself. Unfortunately, I was not the only one who felt the significant importance of these births; thus, prompting me to reach out, for the first time, in my true form, to the greatest ally of the guardians of Grayskull throughout the ages…
“Congratulations, your majesties. They are…” before the youthful Duncan, known as Eternia’s Man-At-Arms, could finish his sentence, the Queen, elated, interjected.
“Just like you, my love,” the newly crowned King of Eternia added, gracing his wife’s forehead with a kiss, as she lie in bed, exhausted from labor, nestling the twins between her. Before the Queen could close her eyes to rest, the maternal instinct within forced her to question the security of the latest additions to her family.
“Duncan, are you sure that newly formed barrier you created will keep Keldor at bay?”
“Queen Marlena, all of the tests I’ve recently conducted have concluded that the wall is nearly impregnable. Even our largest photon canons failed to put a crack in it,” the Man-At-Arms reassured her.
“The wall’s durability truly speaks to your genius, my friend,” the King Randor complemented.
“With all due respect, your highness, a part of me cannot take full credit for the invention that created it. It’s as if the Elder’s themselves were guiding my hand, and the discovery of the rare minerals used to power the device was pure luck. The entire experience felt almost mystical,” Duncan concluded.
“Thank God you and your incredible mind is on our side,” Queen Marlena spoke with admiration and gratitude.
“God? As in only one, my dear,” Randor asked puzzled. The Queen looked upon her husband with an assuring nod accompanied by a smile. “I keep forgetting that your home world of Earth has many strange beliefs.”
Unscathed by her husband’s ignorance, Marlena stated “Home is wherever you, Adam and Adora reside.”
“Home is Eternia, now a place of peace, no longer burdened by unnecessary conflict like the Great Unrest. Nothing like that will ever tear my family a part, again. I swear it! By the house of my father…”
“But sire, you’re the father of your own house now,” Duncan added.
“Right you are, Duncan.”
“If your majesties need nothing else of me, I would like to post extra guards around the perimeter, so my Queen may rest a bit more comfortably.”
“Thank you, friend,” Randor said.
“Yes, thank you Duncan,” Marlena added.
Man-At-Arms nodded and removed himself from the Royal Family’s bed chamber, but as he began to make his way through the corridor to the guard station, something hauntingly familiar caught his eye. Perched in the sill of the window, still as a statue with a dead-pan stare, a creature of the Evergreen Forest appeared. The falcon was breath-taking in hues of blue, white, and orange, but the royal weapon’s master knew this winged-messenger of the forest. The bird was ever vigilant and most determined to help Duncan locate the rare resources needed to build the device, which would create the wall. At first, Man-At-Arms believed the aid of the beast to be divine intervention on behalf of the nature gods, such as the Moss Man, or the Elders themselves; however, a part of the heroic warrior felt connected intimately to this creature. Before he could give thanks to his feathered friend, the silhouette of a rare Eternian beauty appeared before Duncan. If Queen Marlena gazed upon her, she would think the woman to be an angel, based upon Earth standards, as she glowed, wrapped in wings adorned in a falcon head-dress. The angel spoke.
“Danger… Extra guards will not be enough. Bring the infants to…” but the winged-one was too late. The ghostly image vanished along with the falcon, as the Royal Palace began to shake from being bombarded by devastating blows. Trapped in a momentary state of confusion between the woman and the blast, Duncan stood still until another attack forced him to move. Racing towards the window where the falcon once sat, Man-At-Arms looked on in terror, as his worst fears became realized. There was no time for self-doubt, or to beat himself up with unanswerable questions of how or why and with what. The brief passing of time had yet to wipe the memory of their faces from Duncan’s mind, and though he could not see all of Keldor’s forces, he knew the villain brought more allies than just Evil-Lyn and Mer-Man.
Man-At-Arms placed his hand against the wall, to the left side of the window, revealing a monitor to read his heat signature. As the green light concluded its scan, the wall adjacent to the window revealed itself to be a complete weapon’s rack. Duncan gripped the double-photon blaster in both of his hands, and began to fire upon the interlopers, after signaling the entire Royal Guard. He ceased fire for only a second when a great shadow began to cast itself through the sill. A shuttering chill ran through his bones, as the two enormous, yellow-eyes peered back at him. As the crimson-skinned, snake-like creature with flailing tentacles began to exhale from its nostrils, Duncan quickly stepped back, turned, and ran. The beast burst through the wall, scaling after its prey.
“Mer-Man, I am impressed,” the mistress of night uttered sardonically. “I didn’t know you could control one that big.”
“The Spidersaur and I…”
Before the foul-fish could complete his line, Evil-Lyn cut him off with “…obviously met after you lost your undersea kingdom.” The witch began to chuckle, as Mer-Man drew his sword from his waist. Laughter turned to an earnest stare, as Evil-Lyn’s eyes began to glow in wicked hues of indigo and violet. As the two evil warriors prepared to face off, the royal guard abandoned their initial posts, and began to charge towards the vile ones, weapons in hand. “Let me show you real power, Mer-Man,” Evil-Lyn uttered despotically. The witch began to twirl her elongated crystal ball staff, and the air grew still, as the incantation ruminated from her dark lips.
By the power of darkness,
Let evil be done—
And see my face,
In the eyes of everyone…
The dark echo of the last line brought the spell to life, and the royal guards began fighting amongst themselves ruthlessly, believing they were combating the witch herself. Evil-Lyn and Mer-Man glided past the guards with ease, as the witch gloated about the perfection of her magic. “What a waste of a brilliant spell on such less-than-worthy adversaries. It’s too bad we don’t have the Defenders of Eternia to thrash…” Suddenly, Mer-Man was knocked to the ground, and just as Evil-Lyn turned around, the witch was greeted by a golden club, courtesy of Eternia’s own living periscope.
“Happy now,” Mer-Man bubbled, as he and his ally both lay sprawled across the dirt, gazing at one another.
Meanwhile, within the royal bed chamber, the newly formed Royal Family was greeted by something much worse than Evil-Lyn, Mer-Man, or a Spidersaur.
“Did you really think a Mystic Wall could contain me? But, I do give you credit for trying, Captain Randor,” the dark figure spoke, shrouded in a blue cloak whilst pointing his double-edged sword toward the Royal Family. Marlena stood by her husband’s side, as the twins, though safely nestled in their cradle, began to whimper softly.
“It’s King Randor now, Keldor” his royal majesty spoke, unsheathing his sword.
“King? KING?! Tell me, Captain, how does the second born heir to Miro’s throne bequeath himself such a luxurious title?” Keldor harkened.
“When the first born heir is a traitor to his own planet,” King Randor returned.
“Traitor? I… But it is of no consequence, see I too have a new title, and a new name,” Keldor raptured. “Behold! I am Skeletor! Overlord of Evil, and the last face you will ever bear witness to.” In that moment, Skeletor disrobed his cloak, revealing a hollowed-skull, which once was covered by flesh as well as a hulking new battle armor. Just as Skeletor prepared to strike, Man-At-Arms burst through the chamber doors, still being chased by the Spidersaur. Before Skeletor could react, Duncan leaped above his head, kicking the skull-face in the path of the creature’s elongated jaws, and without warning, the beast chomped down. The Spidersaur shook for a moment, as if digesting a Windraider.
“I hope Keldor will be enough to sate the beast,” the Queen uttered.
“He’s looking a little boney these days,” Duncan replied sarcastically.
Before victory could be claimed, or laughter for that matter, the creatures facial tics went from expressing digestion to disruption. The half blade of an axe as well as the tips of the double-edged sword began to reveal themselves past the head of the Spidersaur, and within seconds, Skeletor burst through the back of the beast, evoking a mad laughter. “No walls can contain Skeletor, mystic or otherwise,” and with that, the Overlord leapt towards his enemies with a fury never before seen. Man-At-Arms prepared to fire the double-photon blaster, but Skeletor was too fast, slicing through the weapon with his sword, which he allowed to fall, sticking into the ground, before Duncan’s feet. As the weapon’s master grabbed the sword of Skeletor, the dark lord charged a yellow energy around his battle axe, and swung; thus, shattering Duncan’s armor as well as knocking him through the palace wall. Randor readied his blade between his eyes, but before he could strike, Skeletor’s battle axe sliced down the middle of the metal.
Taking advantage of the fear-filled faces that accompanied the king and queen, Skeletor grappled them both, by their throats, squeezing, as he lifted them simultaneously off the ground. “Death would be too great a reward for the both of you. I’d rather you live with the killing pain of daily suffering,” Skeletor decreed. As the husband and wife remain in mid-air by his hand, Skeletor peered between the two bodies to discover the cradle.
“Do whatever you wish to us, Skeletor, but I beg you, leave the children in peace,” Queen Marlena released, barely breathing.
“They are innocent, Keldor. Br… please…” Skeletor’s grip tightened before the first word of the second sentence could escape Randor’s lips completely.
“The Royal Family of Eternia at the mercy of Skeletor. This is rich! You may proceed with your begging and pleading. How I do enjoy it. Oh King Randor, why so blue?” Skeletor quipped, tossing the nearly strangulated couple to his left. The two clenched their throats, coughing and inhaling as much oxygen as allocated. “The future heirs to the seat of Eternia are innocent, now. But, in time, they will grow, and probably be an even bigger nuisance to me than their father. In order to complete my conquest of this planet, all threats, present and future, must be eliminated!”
Realizing Skeletor would show no mercy to their children, King Randor and Queen Marlena stood ready to defend them, but the Overlord of Evil could not afford such distractions. Utilizing his talents of the magic, Skeletor animated the scattered weapons, both broken and still intact, to spin and swirl in mid-air ready to strike down the royal couple if need be. Skeletor then lifted the now screaming infants from their cradle, as a wave of water, rose up to the gaping hole Man-At-Arms created in the wall, carrying Mer-Man. Glancing over at his slain beast, Mer-Man lamented, “What happened?”
“An unfortunate accident I’m afraid. You should better train these creatures from the deep, Mer-Man, and remind me to thank Hordak for the spell that created this armor. It not only allowed me to pierce that accursed Mystic Wall, but it also protected me from an unfortunate accident of my own,” Skeletor sarcastically slithered out. Bound by fear, the fallen sea king bowed his head. “Where is Evil-Lyn?” Skeletor demanded.
“Handling Ram Man and Mekaneck,” Mer-Man replied.
“Good. I am ready to go. Summon Beastman to the rendezvous point. We cannot afford any distractions,” Skeletor ordered. Placing the infants within the pool of water that coated the floor, singular waves raised up to carry them, and just before a massive wave would wash away the evil ones from the bed chamber, Skeletor retorted, “Before I bid the king and queen farewell, I leave you with a gift.” Skeletor produced a small metallic box from his belt, and struck it to the ground. “From one traitor to another, the punishment of all defectors to the dimension of Despondos, the Creeping Horak! The Horak will grow and grow until it consumes a thousand souls, and I’ve selected you two to be the first on its list. Enjoy!” As the Horak began to ooze forth from its container, Skeletor forced the weapons that kept Randor and Marlena at bay to fly, and thrust the royal couple against the wall.
Elsewhere, the Lord of Avion, Stratos, carries an injured, but resilient Man-At-Arms across the sky. “Thank the Elders you were just arriving as Keldor—I mean, Skeletor blasted me through that wall,” Duncan spoke with gratitude.
“Skeletor? Anytime Man-At-Arms, but are you sure we should be flying to the barrier you created? You’re hurt. Perhaps we should return to the Royal Palace and…” before Stratos could finish, the Eternian weapon’s master cut him off.
“There’s no time. The Palace has fallen, and the king and queen as well as the prince and princess may all be… But I can’t allow Skeletor’s reign to persist. I must take a stand, and drive him back beyond that wall, even if it means sacrificing my own life to do so.”
“Then, I have no choice but to make a stand with you friend.”
“No Stratos. As proud as I would be to have you fight by my side once again, I am not too proud to realize I am injured, and may not succeed; thus, I need you to return to the Palace, scrape together what heroic warriors are left, and prepare a second line. You will be Eternia’s last hope.”
“Though I do not wish to leave you, I will do as you ask.”
The unsung bravery of these heroic warriors broke my heart, and forced me to make a terrible decision…
“Forgive me Ancients and Elders, but I must break my promise to protect this castle, and all its secrets. The brief vision of peace has been shattered, and unforeseen events have forced my hand. Grayskull, reveal unto me a way to travel beyond these walls with my power!” The castle began to shake, as a crystal emerged from beneath its bowels. The castle then began to speak.
“Keep the Crystal of Alanar close to you, Teela’Na. The crystal is the only link to your power outside this castle, but only for a short while. As the crystal’s power fades, so shall your own, and if you do not return within the walls of Grayskull before the crystal’s power is gone, you too will fade and cease to exist.” With gratitude, the Sorceress accepted the terms of the arrangement, and took wings to aid Man-At-Arms.
At the far edge of the Evergreen Forest, a minor tear in what Skeletor called the Mystic Wall reveals itself as well as his minion, the Beastman. In the company of his Shadow Beasts, Beastman awaits the arrival of his master, but unbeknownst to him, an injured Man-At-Arms waits in the bushes nearby. Bracing his mace, preparing for the perfect opportunity to strike, Duncan’s focus is distracted by the re-appearance of the falcon above now perched on a branch. As the falcon descends, Man-At-Arms watches the bird transmogrify itself from creature to woman, but the female in question is one he has seen before.
“Greetings heroic Eternian weapon’s master, I am the Sorceress of Castle Grayskull…”
“You were the one that tried to warn me of Skeletor’s attack, and you also helped me locate the resources I needed to build the wall. Sorceress? Grayskull? Well, at least that explains it, but why have you come? Legends say the Sorceress cannot leave the castle,” Duncan questioned.
“The legends do not lie, but strange times allocate special exceptions. I’ve come to help you finish what we initially set out to do, and drive Skeletor back behind the wall. In order to accomplish this task, you need to be at your best,” and after she spoke, the Sorceress raised her hand, healing the wounds of the heroic warrior, and gave him new armor for protection.
“Thank you, Sorceress. Before we enter this battle please tell me…”
“The king and queen are safe. Mekaneck, Ram Man and Stratos have found them, but the Creeping Horak Skeletor unleashed upon them continues to devastate the Palace. That’s all I can see.”
“What of the twins?”
As the Sorceress began to unveil their fate, a quiet stream flowing through the forest began to rage like a flood, and materializing from the pool stood Skeletor accompanied by Evil-Lyn, Mer-Man as well as the twin infants. Skeletor began dishing out orders. “Mer-Man, return to Snake Mountain and ready the device to shatter the rest of this putrid wall. Evil-Lyn and I will prepare these insignificant infants for their journey, whilst Beastman stands guard here.”
“Why has Hordak taken such a special interest in these two tiny babies anyway Skeletor?” Evil-Lyn asked.
“Dear Evil-Lyn, when you are in the service of Hordak you do not ask why, you just obey, and as long as he enriches my power with his own I will ask no questions. Besides, knowing the pain and misery the twin’s absence will cause Randor is an added bonus, and as future ruler of Eternia, all interferences must be eliminated.”
“I wonder how Hordak feels about your ambitions to conquer the planet he himself desires?” Evil-Lyn riddled sardonically.
“Tempt his bat-ear, and I will send you to a place that makes Despondos look like a day at the Rakashian shore,” Skeletor threatened.
Suddenly, a falcon burst from the greenery, creating the perfect distraction for Man-At-Arms to grab the twins, who were now wrapped in Skeletor’s blue cloak. As Duncan began to run back into the forest, a purple blast from Evil-Lyn’s staff greeted his back, causing the master to toss the infants in the air. The falcon cleverly swooped down to retrieve the children, and placed them within an already assembled nest atop a tree. Diving back down in the woods, the bird returned to her human form, preparing to aid Duncan who was now surrounded by Shadow Beasts.
“Get those infants…” Skeletor commanded, as Evil-Lyn prepared to move through the shadows up the tree. The Sorceress observed the dark witch scowling the branches, and before she could aid her friend, she charged at Evil-Lyn, knocking the mistress of night onto the ground.
“I don’t know how you recovered so quickly Man-At-Arms, but I guarantee this time, you will regret these heroics,” Skeletor threatened.
“As long as good exists on Eternia, there will always be a Man-At-Arms to confront you, Skeletor” Duncan retorted heroically, in spite of the dire circumstances surrounding his present situation.
“Yes, I count on it. ATTACK!” Skeletor prompted, and his vile minion, the Beastman, released a hideous growl that commanded the creatures to finish the job. Saliva began slipping out the sides of the Shadow Beasts’ mouths, as they closed in, longing for the taste of blood. From the forest, without warning, Evil-Lyn emerged. Gliding backwards in the air, the witch broke the circle that surrounded Man-At-Arms, who quickly took the offensive, slamming his mace into everything that blocked his path to Skeletor. Beastman untethered his black whip, and retrieved Man-At-Arms mace, but the weapon’s master used equal and opposite pressure to flip the brute and take it back. Though the Sorceress feared a heavy spell would drain the crystal to half strength, she did not think twice, as beams of light began to burst from the ground beneath the clawed feet of the Shadow Beasts, causing them to circle mid-air, and then, crash concurrently into their master, forcing the small army to retreat.
Whilst Duncan dodged the battle axe Skeletor wielded, an intrigued Evil-Lyn observed her opponent display signs of weakening after the spell, and always the opportunist, she took advantage of the situation. “I did not know the Defenders had a magician in their ranks,” the witch remarked.
“There are many things you do not know, Evil-Lyn, but I will teach you,” and with that, the Sorceress produced a staff of her own, then lunged at the dark mage, overpowering her not just in magic, but might as well. As Skeletor shattered his mace, Man-At-Arms prepared for the next blow to pierce his chest again, but the Sorceress used her staff to block the attack. “You will never succeed, Skeletor.”
“Yes, I will!” Skeletor combated, but only after seeing out of the corner of his eye, Evil-Lyn emerge, and blast Man-At-Arms, then overpower the Sorceress from behind. Now, trapped and bound, Duncan to a tree, and the Sorceress entangled in a mystic web that drained her power, Skeletor began to postulate. “I’ve heard tales that the Castle Grayskull is guarded by the legendary falcon, Zoar, but you must be its counterpart. Tell me Sorceress, are the stories true? Does Grayskull possess a power that rivals the Elders?” The Sorceress refused to answer. “You’re silent tongue tells me everything I need to know. After I destroy the Hall of Wisdom, and wipe those wretched Elders off the face of the planet, I will be dropping by.” Evil-Lyn’s magic began to reach out, and bring the infants from the nest to her feet. “But just in case,” the dark one stretched out blue-skinned arm, and began preparing a spell.
From out of nowhere, a silver axe gliding through the air pierced the magical connection’s Skeletor and Evil-Lyn were invoking. As the nest began to fall, Evil-Lyn leapt with her arm out-stretched to gather the infants, but the witch was quickly kissed by a large fist that drove her back through the opening in the Mystic Wall. A muscular, bare-chested, brown haired brute emerged from the woods after placing the nest on the ground, as his axe returned to his hand. The brute spoke.
“Release the woman, and fight me you skull-faced coward.”
“With pleasure ape man, and after I conquer you I will allow Beastman to take you as a slave,” Skeletor replied.
“I am no beast. I am Oo-Larr, the He-Man, and I will crush your bones before I am a slave.” Oo-Larr and Skeletor began clashing battle axes, creating thunderous sounds. The Jungle He-Man eventually overpowered the Evil Lord of Destruction, by not only dismantling his axe, but destroying his battle armor. On Oo-Larr’s third strike, the vest shattered, and a gash in Skeletor’s meek blue skin presented itself. Beaten, Skeletor barely rose to his feet when the He-Man threw his most powerful punch, plunging the evil one back to the Dark Hemisphere. The Sorceress, immensely drained, was freed from her magical entanglements upon her captors exit. Oo-Larr broke the chain that bound Man-At-Arms, and before platitudes could be exchanged, the master of weapons raced over to the nest, and discovered two happy infants cooing.
“Thank you, Oo-Larr, for coming so quickly. I know you were a bit tired after battling with Gygor,” a voice from the sky spoke. Then, a green-skinned woman, wearing crimson snake armor, holding a cobra headed staff, descended.
“Goddess, thank you for the aid,” the Sorceress said.
“Goddess?” Duncan uttered puzzled. He then turned to Oo-Larr to thank him, but the brute walked on with little regard to Man-At-Arms.
“Goddess, if my duties are done, I would like to return to the jungle,” Oo-Larr beckoned.
“Of course, and as for you, Teela’Na, be thankful I do not beseech both councils as well as the Cosmic Enforcers to strip you of your powers and post.”
“I do not understand. Why are you angry with me?” the Sorceress questioned.
“Because of your little field trip outside the walls of Grayskull, Gygor, evil gorilla lord of the Vine Jungle, mounted an assault that almost costed us the castle. Oo-Larr and I could have aided this Man-At-Arms, as I and the He-Men have done for countless ages, but you do not think like a true guardian of Grayskull. Instead, you acted tempestuously, following the impulses of your fool-warrior heart. But, the prophecy has not been shattered, and that is the only factor that saves you now.” The Goddess’ words were stern, but true. She then extended her cobra-headed staff, releasing an orb of emerald, static energy that filled the gap Skeletor had left. Piece by piece, the shards of the Mystic Wall reassembled themselves until the last space filled revealed Evil-Lyn, smirking, as she cradled an infant to her bosom. The last shard clicked into place, and even the Goddess’ heart filled with remorse. The Sorceress looked on, but Duncan seemed at peace.
“Everything’s alright, Adam and Adora are safe. Look,” he cried out, revealing two infants within the nest. The Goddess stood next to the Sorceress, as they surrounded the cradle of sticks and twigs.
“That is not the child of the prophecy,” the Goddess said, as she raised the baby girl in her arms.
“That’s not Adora?” Man-At-Arms questioned, as the Sorceress retrieved the infant from the Goddess.
“This is what Skeletor meant…” the Sorceress whispered faintly, tears clouding her eyes.
“If this is not Adora, then…” Man-At-Arms raced to the wall, punching it as hard as he could, watching the shadow of Evil-Lyn grow smaller and smaller. “Open this wall NOW!” Duncan commanded to the Goddess.
“I cannot. If the Mystic Wall is breeched now, the prophecy will be shattered, and all of Eternia will be lost. I will not sacrifice the fate of an entire planet for one child, regardless of its birth right. The boy is our only hope now.”
“Skeletor sought the power of Grayskull, and what better way to ensure his victory, then having his own Sorceress at his disposal,” the guardian spoke.
“Are you saying he mystically impregnated you? How will I explain this to the king and queen?” Duncan spat.
“You will explain nothing. The king and queen can never know of the special destiny that awaits their son. As for the girl, give her this on her sixteenth birthday,” The Goddess handed Man-At-Arms her weapon, and explained. “The Staff of Ka will aid this one alongside the next He-Man. It will help her unlock her true potential, until the day destiny summons her to take your place, Teela’Na.”
“Yes,” the Goddess answered, before the Sorceress could soften the blow. “The Sorceress must protect the castle at all costs, especially to avoid another tragedy like today. Trust in my wisdom, Man-At-Arms. No other on this planet has the potential to father this child than you. Before I depart, Teela’Na, I have a job for you if you think you can handle it.” The Sorceress did not answer with words, but a slight nod, and in turn, the Goddess materialized a small, metallic box. “The Creeping Horak was just about to devour your new friends, but the situation was contained. I would banish the evil myself, but I have urgent business on Trolla.” Teela’Na held the container tight, as the Goddess vanished from plain sight. Remorseful, she turned to Duncan, who had already begun to make his way back to what’s left of the Royal Palace. He heard her cry out, but continued to traverse the Evergreen Forest.
“Duncan, please…” the Sorceress released, as she began to fade in and out of existence.
The Royal Palace of Eternia was barely recognizable, and all that remained among the ruins of pillars blanketed in smoke and fire, were the broken people that lie in its wake. With the moons aligned, the Overlord of Evil sought to carry out that which was already put in motion, and as long black, fingertips arose from the Well of Darkness, Evil-Lyn felt a chill go through her bones, as the wails of mothers of missing children filled the air. The Living Picture turned dark, and removed itself in place of another, as the Sorceress began to cry the same tears she did that day.