Masters of the Universe: Part III

Over the River and Through the Woods to Castle Grayskull We Go…

The Medical Ward of the Eternian Palace

Lita: So…does that hurt? Can you feel the bones growing back together?

She watched with morbid fascination as a healer moved a metal object over Ivan's leg while it projected a soft yellow light.

Ivan: Not really. And it is a lot more convenient than having to use a cane for the next few weeks.

The healer gave them a perplexed look, but said nothing. When she finished, the healer politely bowed and moved on to another patient.

Ivan: * gingerly moving his leg * Nice. Good as new. Make sure to try and swipe a couple of those things before we leave. I might like to try a bit of reverse engineering on it.

Lita: I hate to point this out, but we probably wouldn't end up bring it home. It would just stay here with Teela when we switch back. If we can ever contact Newt, that is.

Ivan griped under his breath about laws of trans-dimensional reality hopping while he sat up to get off the bed. There were enough wounded soldiers he did not need to be taking space that someone else could be making better use of.

The crime boss paused mid-thought and considered what he was doing.

Ivan: You know, I think we may be in trouble.

Lita: Oh? Why's that?

Ivan shuffled her off into the hallway for a little privacy.

Lita: What's wrong, boss?

Ivan: I have a bad feeling that if we do not get out of here soon, we may wind up like the others, with no memory of who we really are. Think about it. You just can up with a reason not to steal something, and now I am more worried about the well being of the canon fodder than making sure my own leg is fully intact.

The dust bunny thought for a second about her previous statement.

Lita: Holy crap.

Ivan: My thoughts exactly

Lita: But why now? Why not when we first landed like the others?

Ivan: Best I can figure for now is this Man-at-Arms is a scientist and maybe he was doing something at the time of the switch that protected the three of us, but its effects may be starting to wear off.

Lita got a grim look on her face as he said this.

Lita: So, what, we stay here forever, fighting the forces of Evil in the name of Justice?

Ivan: I think I'll pass. Let's go. We need to find the kid before I have the sudden urge to retrofit something.

Lita: What could have happened to him?

Ivan: I don't know. Maybe Bobetta snagged him to keep him out of harms way.

Lita: I think I would rather face that endless horde of skeletons again.

And the two made their way back to the throne room in search of the royals, specifically the missing Sign Holder, so that they might regroup and try to find a way out of this mess before it was too late.

* * *

The Queen's Garden

Beak and Ferdie are with Cringer, discussing the strange behavior of the individuals they know as Man-at-Arms and Teela.

Ferdie: * high-pitched voice * And Man-at-Arms wouldn't come with you? That doesn't make any sense.

Beak: No more so than you saying I couldn't remember how to transform.

Ferdie: * high-pitched voice * And you don't remember actually transforming?

Beak: No. It was like I was stuck in a dreamless sleep, and when I woke up, the palace was under attack.

Cringer mewed and happily nuzzled Beak's side. The brown kiwi smiled and pat the tiger on the head.

Beak: I missed you, too.

Ferdie: * high-pitched voice * What happens when you change back into Adam?

Beak: I'm not sure. Maybe whatever happened to me has been reversed and I will be fine. But since I'm not certain why I lost my memory, there is no way of being sure that I won't just go back to being that way.

Ferdie: * high-pitched voice * I wish my magic was good enough to help you. * he suddenly has an idea * Hey! What about getting the Sorceress to help?

Beak: I already thought of that, and I am having trouble contacting her.

Ferdie: * high-pitched voice * Oh. Could she be on vacation?

Beak gave Ferdie a look that plainly said, 'I'll pretend you didn't just say that.'

Beak: The problem is I can't stay He-man forever. My father will be looking for me. I don't know what to do. I'm so use to being able to go to Man-at-Arms for help, but now it's like he has no clue who I am.

Ferdie: * high-pitched voice * Don't worry, Adam. You've always got me.

Beak fought the sarcastic responses that came to mind with Ferdie's reassurance, and just smiled instead.

Ferdie: * high-pitched voice * Look, you change back, and I'll keep an eye on you if you have no memory again. Trollan honor.

Beak: Okay. But remember, until we get to the bottom of what is going on, don't say anything to Man-at-Arms. We don't know for certain whether or not he can be trusted.

Ferdie: * high-pitched voice * Okie-dokie. You can count on me!

And with that, Beak raised the sword up over his head.

* * *

The Throne Room

Ivan and Lita walked through the double doors, but found the large room deserted.

Ivan: Nobody here. I guess that shouldn't be too surprising.

Lita: Hmm, if I were a rich, prissy queen, where would I go? How 'bout the mall?

Ivan: If Bobetta were her normal, overbearing self, I would say that should be our first stop. But this Queen that she has taken the place of does not seem quite so…

Bobetta: Oh! Just look at what those horrible warriors have done to the castle. And with only days until the entourage from Avion arrives! This is awful! We're going to have to completely re-paint and find matching tapestries!

Ivan: I stand corrected.

Lita: I guess it was too much to hope that her entire personality was being repressed.

Bobetta enters the throne room with Bob, who is holding her arm and comforting her as they survey the damage.

Bob: I don't know, Duncan. Perhaps we should cancel the ceremony until we can be certain of Skeletor's intentions.

Ivan: * sighing but playing along * We might want to contact them and tell them to at least delay a day or so.

Bob: Lord Stratos will not be pleased. The ceremony is very important to the Avionians, now that their Scepter of Light has been found. Speaking of which, the Scepter did safely arrive here, didn't it, Duncan?

Ivan: Uh…

Lita: * whispering to herself * Hmm, a scepter. Wonder if it has any nice jewels in it?

Ivan elbowed her.

Lita: * hissing at him * What? I'm just trying to act more like myself.

Bobetta: Where's Adam? He wasn't hurt during the attack was he?

Lita: You mean he wasn't with you?

Bobetta: No, he and Orko went followed all of you down to the battle.

Bob: But we didn't see him there.

Bobetta: My poor baby!

Ivan: Don't say it, Teela.

Lita: * innocently * I swear, not a thought crossed my mind.

Ivan: Yeah, right.

Suddenly there was a loud crash out in the garden.

Bob: What in the name of the Elders was that?

Lita: Maybe Orko is defending the castle from rampaging weeds.

Bob: An attack from Evilseed is the last thing we need right now. Stay here, darling. Duncan and I shall deal with this new threat.

He charged off into the garden, sword drawn, to determine the source of the racket. Lita gave Ivan a bewildered look.

Ivan: * shrugging * Don't look at me. I'm a crime lord, not a gardener.

They set off after the King, only to stop dead when they came upon the scene of Orko holding a very dazed Sign Holder upright.

Ferdie: * high-pitched voice * I can explain.

Bob: Son! What happened to him?

Sign Holder: * weak voice * I smell colors…

Lita: I'm fairly certain that can't be normal, even for this place.

Bob: * aggravated tone * Orko…

Ferdie: * high-pitched voice * It's very simple. Adam went to fight Skeletor's men, there were explosions and stuff falling, Cringer got scared and went running, knocking into Adam. Adam fell down a flight of stairs, lost his sword and had to find it before he could fight, but Cringer was caught in the scabbard and ran with it up here to hide. We chased him, and got the sword back, but then another piece of building fell just now, and Cringer jumped on Adam's head.

Everyone looked at the green tiger.

Cringer: Mew?

Ferdie: * high-pitched voice * See? I'm sure if you give Adam a second, he'll be fine.

Ivan: You, on the other hand…

Lita walked over and knelt besides the Sign Holder. She gently pat him on the cheek.

Lita: Wakey, wakey. Come in, Prince Adam.

Sign Holder: Ooh…bunny.

Ivan: Yeah, he's just great.

Lita: But at least he's in one piece.

Ivan: * snarling * Would you stop being such a little ray of sunshine?

Lita: Well, excuse me. Orko, why don't you and I help Adam back to his room and leave the Dads to discuss more important matters.

Bob: An amiable idea. Come along, Duncan.

When Bob's back was turned, Lita responded to Ivan's dark look by sticking out her tongue and then snickering as they walked away.

Ivan: Goody. More important matters. Say, your highness, lets talk some more about this Scepter of Light.

Bob: You would know more than me about it. You were the one who sent Ram Man to retrieve it from the Beserk Islands.

* * *

Prince Adam's Bedroom

Lita: Sweet. Silk as far as the eye can see. Good quality, too.

Ferdie: * high-pitched voice * Since when have you ever been interested in anything not combat related?

Lita: What? I can't have a multi-faceted personality?.

Sign Holder: Head…bad…

Lita: So seriously, Orko, what happened to him?

Ferdie: * high-pitched voice * Uh, what do you mean?

Lita: Don't play dumb with me. Maybe Dad and the King may have bought that story about the cat causing problems…

Cringer looked at her and swished his tail, but stuck close to the Sign Holders side.

Ferdie: * high-pitched voice * I…I…

Sign Holder: * sounding less groggy * Urg. Don't wanna go on that ride again.

Lita: Heya! Welcome back to the land of the living. How do you feel?

Sign Holder: Think I might hurl.

Ferdie: * high-pitched voice * I can make a bucket.

Lita: Stop trying to be helpful.

The Sign Holder still seemed a little loopy, but he was at least talking in complete sentences.

Lita: What happened to you?

Ferdie: * high-pitched voice * Like I said, Cringer…

Sign Holder: * bolting upright * Where I am? What happened? Weren't we under attack?

Lita: Don't you remember anything?

Sign Holder: Uh, I remember Ferdie…

Ferdie: * high-pitched voice * Who?

Sign Holder: Right. Orko pulled me out off the throne room…

Ferdie: * high-pitched voice * And Cringer knocked you down the stairs!

Sign Holder: What? No, you wanted me to use my sword…

Ferdie: * high-pitched voice * But you lost it before you could fight anybody!

Lita: Will you let him get a word in edgewise!

Ferdie: * high-pitched voice * Why don't you leave him alone? He's had a rough day!

Lita: Rough!?! Who was the one out there who almost got turned into a crispy critter?

Ferdie: * high-pitched voice * Not his fault.

As the two fought, the Sign Holder suddenly had an icy feeling shoot up his spine. His head felt fuzzy and there was a dull voice in his head.

Iiwi Redbird/ Sorceress of Castle Grayskull: Adam…

The Sign Holder watched Lita and Ferdie, realizing it was not either one of them he heard. He shook his head to try and clear the fog that currently enveloped his brain.

Sign Holder: I must be loosing it.

Iiwi: Adam

Ferdie: * high-pitched voice * What's wrong, Adam? You're all pale.

Lita: Hey! Don't change the subject. Just because that He-man guy came along…

Sign Holder: He-man? That's who Ferdie…

Lita: * growling impatiently * Orko, if you don't tell me what's going on…

Ferdie: * high-pitched voice * Adam, what are you doing?

Iiwi: Adam…

Sign Holder: Who the heck is talking in my head!?!

Lita: I swear, I am the only sane person in this room.

Cringer, who had taken cover under the bed when Lita and Ferdie had started to fight, poked his head out and looked at her mournfully.

Lita: Tell me about it. I may join you under there.

Sign Holder: I'm not kidding, Lita. I keep hearing a voice in my head, calling the name 'Adam.'

Iiwi: Adam, you must come to Castle Grayskull…

Sign Holder: And now the little voice is telling me to go to some castle.

Lita: We're in a castle.

Ferdie: * high-pitched voice * He probably means Castle Grayskull…

Ferdie suddenly stopped talking, got a horrified look on his face, and covered his mouth.

Lita: Grayskull, huh?

Ferdie: * high-pitched voice * Oops. I mean, no! I have no idea! I know nothing!

Lita: * to Sign Holder * Didn't you say he knew something about He-man?

Sign Holder: Yep.

Ferdie: * high-pitched voice * Um…help?

Cringer took one look at Lita's face and ducked back under the bed. Ferdie would have done the same, except Lita grabbed his scarf and dragged him back down before he could fly off.

Lita: Start talking, you blue weirdo.

* * *

Man-at-Arms's Lab

Bob: So, you're not sure what you did with the information about the Scepter having been found.

Ivan: It's been a bad day.

Bob looked around at the scorch marks on the walls, as well as a slag of charred metal that sat in the middle of the floor.

Bob: So it would seem. Duncan, look at this.

He directed Ivan's attention to a flashing light on one of the nearby consoles.

Bob: Someone was trying to contact you.

Ivan: Yeah. Hey, how about you play the message while I try and find those notes on the Scepter of Light.

Bob: * raising an eyebrow * Very well.

Ivan pretended to read some schematics while Bob worked the communicator. At first, there was a great deal of static, but after a few adjustment, the screen focused and a palace guard could be seen.

Bob: That looks like the commander who was sent to the Ice Mountains.

Ivan: * sarcastically * That would explain the vast amount of snow in the background.

Bob: The timeframes shows it was recorded about ten minutes ago.

They watched as the recording began to play, the commander in question addressing Man-at-Arms.

Random Escort Commander: …We fell under attack by Beastman…Ships were damaged beyond repair…Most of the Eternium was lost…Shot him down…All we found was Ram Man…Unconscious, but the Kulataks say he should recover soon…

The Commander stopped speaking when a large commotion erupted behind him. Kulataks could be heard howling and there was the sound of blasters being discharged. A voice of screen began to yell.

Random Escort Guard: Beastman! He's here! Someone stop…

The guard was cut off in a strangulated scream, and the commander left the communication open as he dashed off to help his men. Bob and Ivan could only watch the frenzied battle that ensued, and a large beast-like figure threw back the guards like rag-dolls. The last recorded image was of the oversized duck creature stomping up to the communication device and smashing it in a moment of rage.

Both Bob and Ivan looked disturbed, but for entirely different reasons.

Ivan: Swell. As if things weren't bad enough.

Bob: We must send reinforcements up to the Ice Mountains immediately. If Ram Man was that badly injured, he would not have been able to help them fight.

Ivan: It's probably too late. I thought you said Ram Man went to Berserk Island?

Bob: That's what I thought. If something had gone wrong, why wouldn't he have contacted us?

Ivan: We may have bigger things to worry about.

Bob: I agree. You should take He-man and go to the Ice Mountains. Help the Kulataks, if possible, but find out what is going on. If the Scepter of Light was lost…

Ivan: Don't tell me. It will be a declaration of war with Avion?

Bob: Stop kidding around, Duncan. Stratos would never lead his men against Eternia.

Ivan: * rolling his eye * Fine. I'll go find He-man. Teela and Adam can come too.

Bob: * raised an eyebrow and chuckled * Do you honestly think my son will be of any use on a mission like this?

* * *

Palace Hanger

Sign Holder: Explain to me again why we are stealing a ship? I could just ask for one. You know, being the prince and all.

Lita: That wouldn't be any fun. Really, where is your sense of adventure?

Sign Holder: I think I left it up in the throne room when I found out Bob and Bobetta were my parents.

Ferdie: * high-pitched voice * We shouldn't be doing this! I shouldn't have told you anything! Oh, I'm going to be banished for sure when Man-at-Arms finds out.

Lita: That's why we're not telling anyone one where we're going, duh.

Sign Holder: Ivan's going to get mad at us.

Lita jumped into a sky hawk and began to fumble with the controls. There was a mechanical whirl as the vehicle came to life.

Lita: Wouldn't be the first time. Hop in, your majesty. Let's see what this bird can do!

Ferdie: * high-pitched voice * Oh, they'll lock me in the dungeon for sure!

Lita: Would you stop having a coronary attack and just get in?

She pulled the reluctant bluebird into the sky hawk and signaled for the sign holder to get on as well. Cringer jumped in next to the Sign Holder and refused to budge.

Sign Holder: Can Cringer come, too? I think he's growing on me. Kinda sweet, really.

He pat the tiger, who in turn purred happily at the attention.

Lita: Oh, fine. Let the kitty come. We can feed him to something if we need a distraction.

Ferdie: * high-pitched voice * Hey! Don't talk about Cringer like that!

Sign Holder: * reassuring the trembling tiger * I won't let her hurt you.

Lita: Whatever. Buckle up everyone. Castle Grayskull, here we come!

Sign Holder: No fancy flying. My stomach still hasn't recovered.

There was an indistinct mutter from the front as Lita lifted off and flew through the open bay doors. The ship lurched a little before Lita got use to the sensitivity of the controls, but once she got the hang of it, they were shooting above the cloud line, the Palace a shrinking dot in the distance.

Lita: Whoo-hoo! Let's see what this baby can do!

Sign Holder: LIIIITAAAA!!!

She pulled the sky hawk into a roll and then dove down toward the ground. Then, just when the passengers thought they were going to be ripped out of their seats, she pulled up and shot up towards the heavens at what was probably fast approaching mach three.

Ferdie: * high-pitched voice * AAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHH!!! SLOW DOWN!!!



Decelerating the sky hawk, Lita brought the ship to a more moderate pace. The Sign Holder was three shades of green and covering his beak, Ferdie was plastered against the seat, still holding on for dear life, and Cringer was passed out on the floor.

Ferdie: * high-pitched voice * Don't…ever…do…that…AGAIN!

Lita: Grow a backbone. That was great! I wonder how many loops I could do in a row?

Ferdie and the Sign Holder: NO!!!

Lita: Pair of weenies.

Deprived of the ability to try any more aerobatics, the rabbit looked down at the terrain and saw that they had passed from the lush plains of Eternia and into a desolate looking area. There was bare rock as far as the eye could see, and a little ways off, a large stone structure was sitting alone in the middle of a gorge. The centerpiece of the gothic-looking building was a huge skull that engulfed the drawbridge.

Lita: Hey, Orko. Shot in the dark, but is that Castle Grayskull?

Ferdie: * high-pitched voice * Of course. What else would it be?

Lita: Nice. Cozy, even.

Sign Holder: Can we go home now?

Lita: Sure! I could practice a few more stunts on the way back.

Sign Holder: On second thought, that place doesn't look that bad. And we should probably see this 'Sorceress' lady that Orko told us about. She might have some answers for us.

Lita: Only one way to find out.

The landing was a bit rough, as Lita was not use to having hydraulic landing gear. There was a bump, and they gently rebounded into the air before settling again, this time flatly on the rock cliff. The four got off and walked up to the castle.

Nothing happened.

Lita: Well, there's service for you. No red carpet, no fanfare. I ask you, is this anyway to greet distinguished guests?

Sign Holder: Stop fooling around. We don't want to make somebody mad, especially someone who can talk in your mind.

Ferdie: * high-pitched voice * Sorceress! We've come, just like you asked!

They heard a creak and had to run for cover as the drawbridge came crashing down.

Sign Holder: Okay, was that a 'welcome and come on in' or is she trying to squish us?

Lita: Come one. Let's go greet the Wizard of Oz.

Ferdie: * high-pitched voice * She's a Sorceress, not a wizard. You know that, Teela.

Lita: Eh, six of one, half a dozen of the other.

The four crossed into the castle, and, after a bit of arguing, they let Ferdie take the lead. Lita moped as they followed the long and twisting corridors; she would have rather explored the ancient structure. Places like this usually had hidden vaults and nifty torture chambers.

Sign Holder: Hel-loooooo! Anybody home?

A small globe of light flashed into being above their heads.

Sign Holder: Uh, Orko?

Iiwi: Follow the light…

Lita: Could we get anymore cryptic or mysterious?

Ferdie: * high-pitched voice * Please don't make her mad.

The light began to drift around a corner and the group had to pick up the pace before they were lost. Right turn, then a left, the maze seemed to go on forever. And as Lita began to wonder if they were just being played with, they finally came upon a large archway that led into a huge room with a pyramid in the middle.

Lita: Culture clash. Very unexpected.

Iiwi: No more so than the predicament we now find ourselves in.

The group whirled around and saw a large red bird flapping in the air behind them

Sign Holder: Neat trick. I didn't even hear you come in.

Lita: Kind-of disappointing, though. I was expecting huge flames and a floating head.

Ferdie: * high-pitched voice * Sorceress! You have to do something! There is something very wrong with the two of them.

Iiwi: I know, Orko. I know a great deal more than you might imagine.

Sign Holder: Meaning…?

Iiwi: Meaning, if we do not correct this problem soon, there may be dire consequences. There is an unbalance in the powers that keep Evil at bay in this world. Your presence here is jeopardizing the future of this world.

Lita: 'Our presence?' Okay, who exactly do you think we are?

Iiwi: I know you are truly Lita Farlane, come from a distant world and trying to return home.

Sign Holder: Wait, you know who we really are? But you're not acting like Miss Iiwi.

Iiwi: True. Currently, I, the Sorceress, am acting as the dominant personality in order to maintain the power of Grayskull. But Iiwi is present in my mind and I can access her thoughts, young one.

Ferdie: * high-pitched voice * Uh, what exactly are you guys talking about?

Lita: So, we know who we are, you know who Iiwi is. Then what the heck is the matter with everyone else around here?

Iiwi: That, Lita, is a tale dealing with the very nature of the powers of Grayskull.

Sign Holder: Why do I get the feeling we should find a comfy place to sit down?

* * *

Snake Mountain

Ferdia is with Squeaks in his lab. They are watch images being projected by a doom seeker that recorded events in the Ice Mountains.

Ferdia: Then the fool was captured?

Squeaks: I am not certain of that. There is evidence that Beastman fell during the escape, but as you can see, the cold made a clear recording almost impossible.

The image of the large, furry duck plummeting was only partially visible through static.

Squeaks: If the device had not switched into return mode, it would have frozen up completely and we would not even know this much.

Ferdia: We know nothing more than what the rest of the forces reported upon their arrival.

Squeaks: On the contrary…

The mouse tapped several keys on the console in front of him and the image switched to another setting. Ferdia watched as infrared images moved across the screen.

Ferdia: The point of this?

Squeaks: This…* showing a still frame * …is Beastman plummeting down to the ground. Notice the high heat levels in his body and the distinct pattern of how that heat is conserved through his mass.

Ferdia: * disgusted tone * Fascinating. Just what I always wanted to know about that over-sized shag carpet.

Squeaks switched to another imaged.

Squeaks: From what I can tell, this is the Kulataks digging up what should have been Beastman. But look at the image.

Ferdia: Very different from before. It could be a coincidence…

Squeaks: Perhaps. But perhaps something is happening that we do not know of. Skeletor has been acting strange ever since he returned from Berserk Island.

Ferdia: True. He has been very subdued and withdrawn. And Beastman did go with him on that mission…

Squeaks: Something could have happened, something that they are trying to keep us in the dark about.

Ferdia: Indeed. And Skeletor is not one to share new powers if he can keep them for himself.

Squeaks: *
scoffing * You're one to talk.

Ferdia: * gives him a sharp look * Skeletor must have sent Beastman on that mission to the Ice Mountains to test some new magic. I think it's time we go and rescue our cerebrally challenged comrade.

Squeaks: Ech. I hate the cold.

Just what does Ferdia have in mind for Drake when she finds him? Will Ivan be able to get there first, or is he going to take apart the Eternian Palace looking for his wards? What secrets will Lita and the Sign Holder learn from the Sorceress? Or is she Iiwi? Are they both in one body, or is this some sort of trans-dimensional spirit channeling? I'm really not sure anymore.

For the answers to these questions (with any luck), stay tuned for Part IV!

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