Standing on the edge of a hardened molten spire, an unusual humanoid figure takes a deep breath, as if preparing to dive into the vast chasm below. The sound of the wind ripping past him is enough to mask the sound of the heavy footsteps, racing to intercept him before he takes the plunge over the edge. Turning to catch the glimpse of a dark metallic boot as he breaks the dark earth, pushing closer with each quickening step. If it were an enemy approaching, they would be folly to engage him on such a precarious edge, for his ornamental armor more than ornamentation. He is Sy-Klone, son of Dy-Mex, and he is right at home on his chaotic perch.
The warrior turns to find a familiar face upon his. Their lips meet and for a moment, that ugly finger of rock which breaks up the beautiful horizon is a gentle, perfect place.
"What did you do that for?" surprised at the reception of such a kiss.
"Please, you don't have to do this." he pleads.
"Yes I do." he turns his back to the warm embrace of his lover, only to be pulled back by a large gloved hand.
"No, you do not, Duncan can send robotic scouts. You do not have to risk entering Skeletor's territory. Beast-Man's gargoyle spies patrol the skies. "
"I do not fear those simple beasts."
"You know it is not that simple. Skeletor's defenses have been beefed up since his last failure on Grayskull, and his attacks grown increasingly violent. Should you be taken, I fear that he would not settle to use you as a bargaining chip, should you be captured."
"I am merely doing what is required of me, it is my purpose, and my place."
"And you are the man I love, what is my purpose? To wait for you? Hoping that you return safely."
"My Perkaedo, please, I would not have you speak like that. This is merely a routine scouting mission. It is nothing out of the ordinary, and I am fully prepared to deal with anything Snake Mountain has to throw at me. Your fear is unfounded.”
“Do you trust me?”
“Yes, I do my love.” he extends his hand, and they grasp one another, fastening their heavy armored fingers together. Even with Eternium laced gloves. The strength of their bond makes Man-E-Faces heart beat just a little faster. Sy-Klone's dark, almond eyes are unflinching in the windstorm, for he is master of the gale, and summoner of the tempest. Man-E-Faces cannot help but be humbled by the power of his presence, yet this God-like being, is not without an ear to the open-hearted yearnings of a man. A man in love with him.
“Trust me when I say I have a bad feeling about this. I don’t want you to go. Please Sy-Klone, just this once, let Duncan utilize his storage of technological gadgets, and come home with me. Give me one more night in the bed that we have made. In the morning, if you still feel that the call to your duty deserves answer, I will release you to the wind, and pray to The Elders that my fears are indeed without cause.”
The mighty Sy-Klone pauses for a moment. He does not understand why Man-E-Faces is so unsettled. They have been in battle together before, and since they first shared a kiss underneath the Moon of Eternos. Why tonight is any different is beyond him. The conviction in his voice is matched only by the presence of fear. Perhaps his beast side has some sort of intuition that they are otherwise unaware of, a foul scent on the wind. Or perhaps the wondrous robotic sensors housed within his large metal cranium have detected an unusual activity, that he has yet to formulate into words. He must consider possibilities, for each of these men have spent the majority of their lives alone, one as an outcast, and the other a lone sentry. Since finding the love they now share, to lose that which is so precious, would be a tragedy neither of them is prepared to face.
“Your troubles weigh your heart Perkaedo, and make you vulnerable. You would not serve your king and countrymen in such a state." he speaks with a cool voice. To some it would seem almost void of emotion, but this is only a facade, much as his lover, the greatest actor in Eternia sometimes assumes other traits. This is not the first time he has chosen to mask his feelings under the wrappings of civic duty, however it is a path of reasoning that will grant his troubled lover one more night. He is new to expressing his feelings, and sometimes his commitment to his King and the people of Eternia seems to filter what he really means to say, yet still, he loves his champion no less for it. Hands clutched tightly, and heart ablaze, Sy-Klone cannot resist the desire for his beautiful, chiseled friend, and would only be dishonoring to himself and his lover, if he tried to make it seem otherwise. He has more respect for Perkaedo than that.
"I will delay my mission and suggest to Man-At-Arms that drone scouts would have more success. Together we will lift your weighted heart..."
Turning their backs to the ominous fortress of molten stone, they leave the borderlands and return to the palace and more satisfying pursuits. Caught up in the moment, the warriors do not notice the glint from the telescopic lens of a hovering doomseeker. Even to the perceptive eyes of a trained survivalist, and keen robotic sensors, it would appear as little more than a dim star against the pitch of the dark hemisphere. The robotic eyes witness the exchange between the two, broadcasting the information back to the viewing globe contained within the overlord's throne room. Even through blackest night and thickest smoke, the lord of Snake Mountain's technological spies see every action that occurs in his scarred domain. Perched upon his throne of rock and bone, his fingers are clenched, and his eyeless sockets stare emotionless at the projection. A gesture of his hand causes the globe to flicker, engaging a mechanism contained within the technological and mystical hybrid nexus which runs throughout his fortress. Within moments, strange shadows move within the corridors leading into this chamber, as his minions answer his call to convene with their master.
"So the actor, and the wind warrior share an intimacy..." he says, stroking his fingers down the thick coat of his faithful pet. He had never known this side of his enemy, convinced that the powerful warrior who has been a thorn in his side since joining The Defenders was without flaw, and did not suffer the weakness of love. The bond between master and subservient beast is the closest thing to love the man once known as Keldor has known for some time, and it is a concept the thugs and creatures he surrounds himself with are even less familiar. Enjoying the gentle massage that he is accustomed to when his master is devising something malicious, Panthor purrs, as the minions snicker and jest amongst themselves, cackling at the thought of what trouncing one of the coupled heroes in battle may do to the other. He pays them no mind as he sets his scheme into motion, summoning his most trusted and powerful associate, the witch known as Evil-Lyn. It takes but a moment, and from the corridor she appears, standing in the mouth of the great stone serpent which clutches this throne room doors to grant him the respect of her presence before she slips into the shadows execute her ruse, and ensure the Defenders are not at the capacity to monitor his movements.
Though Skeletor's first visit to Anwat Gar ended in and loathsomely unsatisfying defeat and the loss of the powerful Legacy stones, he had not abandoned the campaign completely. He has been biding his time, waiting for the perfect moment to entrap Sky-Klone and use him to unlock the many other secrets of mystical island. "If the great sentinel of Anwat Gar is not without heart, perhaps I can strike at it from beneath his armor. The unseen blade cuts deepest... Beast-Man, summon the steeds. We are returning to the island of Anwat Gar."
Part 2 --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
As golden dawn comes to the rich farmland framing the territory, she arrives at her first target Palace. Appearing on the edge of the village, she pours the contents of a small vile into the earth. The effect of the vile compound is immediate. As the toxins spread outwards, the chemical sludge expands over the crop and decays it in seconds. A farmer witnessing the event runs to tavern to alert every soul in the village. “Its Evil-Lyn, the witch!” the man screams into the crowd. The tavern swells with noise and buzz, as some men bound into action, while others remain at their tables. The farmers of the tavern are not without their own zeal, and amongst the patrons of the bar are fighters from around Eternia. “Cousin Gailmus, what has happened?”
“Chromus is it you?” the farmer is shocked to see his relative in the tavern, as he is from the West, and has made a reputation for himself of being a hot head, and a brawler. Gailmus takes his hand in respect, and explains the horror he had just witnessed.
“Skeletor has sent his she-demon to plague us. My crop is dying, rotting in a black flood.” his plea for help quickly as the attention of the entire tavern.
The people of Eternia have long been fearful of the witch, though their fear is matched only by their growing frustrations of being victimized by the Overlord of evil and his clutch of villains and degenerates. Perhaps the combination of numbers and alcohol have given them courage, and dulled their senses. Chromus rallies the men, raising his sword. A large man who had been enjoying a drink in the back of the bar reaches into his armor and speaks into his communicator. “Duncan, Evil-Lyn has attacked the crop fields South of the Palace.”
He moves through the crowd, approaching the rallying mob. “Lower your sword my friend.” he speaks with a calm, clear voice. “I am not your friend stranger. Who are you?” snaps the hot headed man, brandishing his sword. “I am Perkaedo, but I am known as Man-E-Faces.” he says offering his hand. The brute bats it away.
“I am Chromus, son of Zerus, warrior and weapons master, and you are standing in my way.” his brashness riles the men who would normally respect the words of a Defender. Man-E-Faces can see the unrest in the faces of the men.
“Citizens, Evil-Lyn is a force to be reckoned with, and for her to attack in such a way is not in her nature. I have contacted the Royal Guard. Please stay in the tavern, I do not wish for you to lose your lives this day.”
His words fall on deaf ears, as the large man is furious. “I want a piece of that witch! My cousin Gailmus has worked too hard for my cousin’s crop to be taken from him!”
Man-E-Faces stands his ground in the crowd, trying to remain calm and reasonable in the growing tension. “She is far more than some wolf which has wandered onto the territory to cause you grief. If you go out fighting her, there will be loss. I will go to the site of the disturbance, please keep your wits about you.”
Chromus turns to the block of a man he had been sharing drink with. A rough looking individual wearing a tattered tunic, tightly clutching a tall stein of ale.
“Tulmar, are you with me?” The man map slams down his drink and produces a dagger from his boot. They do not hesitate, and burst out of the bar in a flurry of cheer, with six other men joining them leaving the safety of the tavern, and there is nothing the hero can do to stop them, short of fighting them himself, and it is an option he had briefly considered it. A few men remain, looking eager to chase the mob. “Gailmus, keep the others here and wait for the royal guard.”
Gailmus is a good man, familiar to Man-E-Faces. They have shared many a conversation at the bar. “My cousin Chromus is a fighter Perkaedo, and the men want to fight. I’m sorry for causing this commotion.”
“Do not worry friend, just keep the men here, I have to go. Help is only a few leagues away, and will arrive shortly.”
The choice to attack the crops was an action Skeletor had been saving for another occasion, however it will serve its purpose today. Standing at the edge of the farmland, Evil-Lyn keeps the heavy wooden fence on the property that she has polluted between herself and the quickly approaching mob. She peppers the men with a few mystical bolts, chuckling to herself as they scatter, diving to the fence for cover. They are no more than an entertaining distraction.
“A gift for the people of Eternia.” she sounds, her voice carried across the field by magic. She does not retreat until she can see her target in the distance. Skeletor’s patient reconnaissance of Man-E-Faces habits have paid off. The witch turns her back and begins to cast her cloaking spell. Man-E-Faces encourage the men to stand down, as he manages to halt their advance within a few hundred yards of the deceptive sorceress. She has to encourage the hero to follow. Raising her clawed hands, she reaches outward, casting a violent spell which causes the fence stakes to rapidly expand. The resulting explosions fling wooden splinters and nails into the men, shredding their flesh, and crippling them. A cruel gesture from the wicked woman. They fall back in fear, bleeding from their open wounds.
“Evil Lyn! Leave the men be, your fight is with me.” Man-E-Faces charges forward, bounding over the destroyed fence. His unusual head gear which houses his multiple persona alters to his robotic visage.
He produces his wondrous blaster mace from his holster, targets the witch with his sensors and fires several energy bolts at the witch, which she effortlessly deflects. “Chromus, get these men back to safety, and give the guards my position of ten by seventeen, south of Gailmus farm. I am in pursuit of Evil-Lyn.”
The stubborn man listens, collects his friend and stumbles off to safety.
A voice crackles over his communicator. “Man-F-Faces, this is squad leader Jarron, we are approximately half a league away, and will join you shortly. Ram Man is with us.”
Man-E-Faces is not surprised to hear Jarron’s voice on the communicator instead of Ram Man. The lovable well meaning lummox cannot operate a communicate without unsuccessfully activating it, or simply crushing it. The hero pushes forward, firing bolts upon the witch as he scans the area for a potential trap. Lurking in the foliage high above them, Webstor, the arachnid assassin is perched in the thick leaves, virtually invisible. His cold blooded metabolism and dark exoskeleton makes him invisible to heat sensors. Sitting in the shadows of the canopy, he is ready to ensnare the unsuspecting hero. She holds her ground, enticing him closer as she prepares a spell of concealment. “I appreciate the interest in me Man-E-Faces. I was under the impression that your interest lay elsewhere... but I have other matters to attend to.” she laughs, vanishing from sight. Man-E-Faces is now alone.
“Show yourself witch!” he shouts into the dimly light thicket. Cloaked in magic, she is is undetectable to his sensors, and with each step he moves into position. The hero is excited from the confrontation, and not thinking as tactically as he should be. Soon he finds himself stepping into a silken trap, and from her invisible position, no more than thirty feet from him, she watches as the lithe Webstor lifts Man-E-Faces from the earth on silken strings. The hero dangles like a marionette, and it would appear she won’t even have to get her hands dirty. Suddenly Man-E-Faces human visage disappears into his armored cranium, spinning to reveal his monster persona. A surge of adrenaline pulses through his body, and his muscles become engorged with blood, visibly expanding. He grasps the silk lines attached to his shoulders and back with one hand, and digs his metallic claws into the trunk of the tree, pinching the oak with his vice-leg legs. Once secured, he pulls downward with superhuman force. The steel-like webbing does not break, however it is too much for the sinister spider holding on the other end. Webstor does not have time to react as he is violently ripped from his concealment, and slammed into the ground. The bellows the most inhuman of high pitched, enraged that his prey could perform such a feat. He looks to Evil-Lyn to flank the hero, however the witch remains invisible.
He has no time to understand her strategy, as the heavily armored hero is standing over him. He reaches behind his back to draw his blaster, but Man-E-Faces is swift, and smashes it from his hand with a well timed swing of his mace. Launching himself forward, fangs at the ready, Webstor throws himself onto the hero, catching his wrists, and performing a predatory grasp with his four arachnid appendages, piercing the meat of Man-E-Faces biceps. He snaps with his jaws, attempting to deliver a painfully debilitating bite. The green faced monster cries out, but does not recoil. The pain seems to incite him even more.
The two wrestle for a moment, before separating. Mace in hand, Man-E-Faces advances on the spider and delivers a strike which connects with the villains torso. It is enough to stun the escapist, and the follow up connects with his head. His clawed buckles and curl up as he goes limp, dropping to the ground.
Man-E-Faces stands over the defeated creature, returning to his human visage. He is tired and the puncture wounds in his biceps are bleeding crimson onto his blue armor and the crushed clover flowers at his feet. He reaches for his communicator, hidden in a small slot in his armor, to call for assistance but finds his hands unable to move. A wave of mystical force envelops him, and he is chained in his place. As strong as iron, the animated tentacles move like a living smoke drifting towards him from an unseen fire. The dark ethereal shackles are swift to bind his wrists, and begin to tighten, wrenching his hands together behind his back. As they lock his arms in place, a strange purple light illuminates the shadow of the forest as the witch steps out from her concealment. The first blast from her mystical orb comes fast, striking him in the face. The second land on his exposed abdominals, followed by another, and another. He struggles with the smoky coils, attempting to shrug off the barrage of arcane bolts which batter his body.
Between blinding blasts of raw magical force, he can see the face of his enemy. She is cold, determined, and which each painful burst from her orb, she steps closer. He fights to stand, but it is too late. Though powerful enough to go toe to toe with the most feared of Skeletor’s evil minions. As hearty a warrior as the unusual hero is, he does not present much of a challenge to the awesome magic at her disposal, succumbing to the might of her dark arts. With one final attempt to close the gap between them, he lunges forward, fingers clenched into half closed fists, before going limp and falling to his knees in defeat. She has succeeded in her mission. Now Man-E-Faces is at her mercy. She could destroy him now, and have one less annoyance to worry about, or she could return with him to Snake Mountain as a bargaining chip, should Sy-Klone decide to interfere. The roar of Sky Sled engines can be heard, and the thundering steps of the armored juggernaut stampeding through the trees adjacent to them her increases the urgency of her wavering judgement. Help has arrived.
She places her crystalline orb against the heroes face, lifting his eyes to meet hers through the cloudy sphere. Approximately 100 years away from them, Webstor lay unconscious, knocked senseless from the mighty blow delivered by the hero’s mace, so there will be no witness to her next move. As she summons a mystical bolt to shatter Man-E-Faces armor, she lowers her orb.
“Skeletor is aware of your relationship with Sy-Klone, and plans to use this to his advantage.
If Sy-Klone returns with you to Anwat Gar, Skeletor will be prepared, and will stop at nothing to destroy him.”
“Why are you tellling me this?”
The witch casts her eyes from the hero’s battered face.
“There was a time when I was far more than an instrument employed to gain power, and discarded after each embarrassing defeat. Though brief, we shared what you now do with the wind warrior... and I have not forgiven him for taking that away from me. Go to Anwat Gar with He-Man and stop Skeletor from gaining that which he seeks...”
“What does he seek?”
She does not answer him. Her motivations only grant the hero so much leniency, as she still harbors enough resentment for the Defenders of Eternia to deprive them of any ease of task. She walks over to her defeated comrade, and places a hand on his back to summon them both away as two small rockets burst through the treeline from above, a last second effort by the circling Stratos to assist his friend. The projectiles take the witch by surprise, but their trajectory is thrown off by the thick branches above. She is unphased by the failed attempt, having made up her mind. Closing her eyes and concentrating her magic, they pair vanish in a swirl of magic just as Ram man splits the treeline with his mammoth bulk, accompanied by a squad of six Guardsmen.
He sees Man-E-Faces laying battered and offers his hand.
“What happened Man-E?” wide eyed and ready for battle, the giant is confused to see only a dissipating cloud of vapor where the witches magic had split the air and carried her and Webstor away. Man-E-faces coughs, holding his abdominals.
“It was Evil-Lyn and Webstor, they are gone now...”
“They just left?” Ram man scratches his head, surprised that Evil-Lyn would retreat from confrontation with Man-E-Face so clearly beaten. “Is this a trick?” he asks looking about the clearing as Stratos zips overhead, radioing Jarron to confirm that the thicket appears clear and that none of Skeletor’s minions appear to be laying in ambush.
“Are you Evil-Lyn in disguise?”
“No Ram Man, its me Man-E-Faces, but if I was Evil-Lyn, I probably would not reveal to you that I am your enemy.”
Though it hurts the injured warrior to smile, Ram Man manages to bring one out on his bruised face with his skepticism and amusing logic, or lack thereof. Man-E-Faces does not badger his simple minded friend, for what he lacks intellectually, he more than makes up for in power, courage and loyalty. The avian leader joins them on the ground, apologizing to Man-E-Face for not arriving sooner. The villains had chosen their position well as the area in which they lured Man-E-Faces was too thick for him to penetrate. “She succeeded in ruining the crops, and then simply left. You should return to the village and assist the wounded. Jarron, call for a medic.
I am returning to the Palace to speak with Man-At-Arms.”
The guard acknowledges the order and calls the Palace. The noble Stratos can see Man-E-Faces is putting up a brave front. He has always concealed his state of mind behind a cool head, or a steel robotic stare, but the evidence is clear, he is hurting, and his mind is weighted. With each step, he stumbles a little, still disoriented from the pummeling he suffered at the hands of the witch. “You are in no shape to operate a Sky Sled Man-E-Faces, I will fly you back to the Palace. Ram Man will stay with the guards in the village while the medics arrive.”
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- PART 3
Rising up like a great stone leviathan, the highest peak on the island of Anwat Gar breaks the horizon line as the swift Sea-Raider transports the party to the mysterious island. An uneasy feeling creeps into Perkaedo’s stomach at the site of the misty mountain, recalling Evil-Lyn’s confession. He was unable to convince Sy-Klone to relieve his duty. Sy-Klone’s knowledge of the island is invaluable, and with the strongest man in the universe as escort, there is little Skeletor can do to avoid an inevitable defeat.
The master of the skies scouts head, cutting through the wind currents like an arrow, propelled by the might of a howling tornado. He swoops around the North beach, leading up to the ancient Ceremonial Padoga of Gar. The oldest, highest structure in all of Anwat Gar will make a perfect vantage point in which to spot any disturbances in the terrain, even still he must exercise great caution. Skeletor has left no visible clues as to his arrival. He traveled silently by wing, leaving no exhaust trails to be detected by the keenest eyes or most sensitive of nose, and cloaked in magic to avoid mechanical detection on even the most advanced radar system. Cleverly he has commanded Beastman to move the Griffons a nearby island. At the moment, Sy-Klone is blind to his movements. There is simply no way of telling how long the dark sorcerer he has been on the island and what buried artifact he has unearthed.
Man-E-Faces as been silent for the journey, and he has yet to reveal as to how he obtained the information as to Skeletor’s whereabouts. Though he pleaded with Sy-Klone in private, he was assured nothing of Skeletor’s devising could separate them. With He-Man and Man-At-Arms, this will be little more than a familiar skirmish ending in the defeat of the villain, and perhaps with a little luck, it will be a lasting condition. The surf is calm as they ease onto the golden shore.
Sy-Klone’s voice crackles over the communicator that the coastline is clear and Skeletor has not taken Anwat Gar with an army.
“There is no sign of Skeletor or his goons Duncan, I’m going to take another look closer to the interior.”
Man-E-Faces silence breaks. “Tell him to wait for us.”
“What’s troubling you Man-E?”
“Its nothing, I just think we should be more cautious this time. There is much about Anwat Gar Sy-Klone does not know.”
“Man-E-Faces is right Sy-Klone, do not venture too far from communication range. The island could disrupt our signal, and we wouldn’t want Skeletor to gain advantage.”
“Consider your request under advisement. This is my home Man-At-Arms, and Skeletor is not welcome here.” his response is abrupt for his feelings have overcome him. His pride at the presence of Skeletor is a dangerous mix. Man-E-Faces looks on nervously as they edge closer to the shore. Man-At-Arms reduces the throttle and allows the Sea Raider to glide to shore.
Above them a lone Sea Swoop circles, probably having confused their ship with a fishing vessel, laden with scraps for a potential meal. It follows them for but a moment before it seems to realize its mistake and fly off back into the interior of the island. Keeping the lines of communication open, as Sy-Klone surveys the area. He-Man steps onto the sand. The last time his feet graced the island, he was locked in combat with his arch nemesis, empowered by the Legacy Stones. Man-At-Arms nearly lost his life that day at the hands of Beastman. His hand moves to his side at the thought, grazing his armor, which hides the scar beneath.
“Let’s not underestimate bone-head, if he’s been researching the island, he may know something we don’t.” he speaks with a caution that years of experience have given him, a caution lost on the younger more impetuous warriors surrounding him.
Now deep into the thick of the jungle, the leathery winged hunter disappears under the canopy of the lush trees, following a beam of light into the mouth of a small cave, one of many in the area. The scaly predator finds its perch on the thick arm of a crimson beast.
“They are here master... my Sea Swoop counted three in the boat, and one in the sky.”
“Excellent Beastman, your ability to enlist the help of creatures whose useful exceeds your own never ceases to amuse me.”
“Without me, its just another dumb animal...” he mutters, snarling at the sight of Tri-Klop’s smirk.
The savage beast within him wishes for nothing more than to open up that tin head, if the green armored warrior was not so valued by his master. Skeletor’s fixed expression leaves the monster to question his tongue, but he does not press the matter. His master’s patience is limited, especially outside of his throne room. Following the light of the hovering doomseeker deeper into the cavern. Tri-Klops keeps a keen eye on the virtual map on his control bracer, as Trap-Jaw keeps his blaster trained on the dark winding path ahead, just in case the cave is inhabited.
The jagged rock walls begin to transform with each step, revealing intricate symbols and tile laid with purpose. “Master, we are here, the chamber doors are exactly twenty two paces ahead.”
A hovering doomseeker lights the way, revealing the great golden doors of the lost chamber.
“Send the signal to my emissary to bring Sy-Klone to the cave.”
“You should have allowed me to send my doomseekers to aid him Skeletor, are you sure he can handle Sy-Klone alone?”
“Unlike your floating hunks of scrap metal which are only capable of performing the most rudimentary of tasks, he has yet to fail me Tri-Klops. Was it not I who created him?”
Tri-Klops does not retort, as losing favor in Skeletor’s eyes would not be wise given his track record of failed inventions. Beastman grunts a little chuckle at his deflated ego and commands the creature to deliver message to the dark servant, who has been waiting patiently in the shadows of the dense canopy, watching the wind warrior patrol the island. Traversing the final arc in the passage, they have arrived at the entrance to a long hidden temple, away from the main Pagodas, now all they need is the key.
Last edited by Sky Breaker; November 29, 2012 at 04:17pm.