Masters of the Universe: Second Interlude

Sign Holder: Great. I'm back here again.

Hey, it was your choice. Nobody made you put that sword up in the air.

Sign Holder: Yeah, but I didn't stand a chance on my own. Especially not against someone who could knock all of us out at once and kidnap Lita. Why was I left behind, by the way?

I'm not at liberty to say.

Sign Holder: You don't know, do you?

I can neither confirm nor deny anything.

Sign Holder: Because you're just as clueless as I am.

I don't have to put up with this, ya know. I am the 'All-Powerful Narrator'! * insert thunder clap and crash of lightening here * Bwah-ha-ha-ha-ha! Bow to my will, puny kiwi!

Sign Holder: Hey! Who are you calling 'puny', you disembodied figment? And I'm actually tall for my age, I'll have you know. Besides, being a bit on the short side has worked to my advantage on more than one occasion.

I'll assume you don't mean that it gives you a cute and unsuspecting appearance.

Sign Holder: I don't do 'cute'. Not unless I absolutely have to. And don't underestimate the value of looking unsuspecting in my line of work. You live longer.

I thought you lived longer if you never witnessed anything.

Sign Holder: It's actually a pretty long list of do's and don'ts. And the more innocent you seem, the less people worry about you being around to pick up on certain conversations.

Too bad that being Ivan's ward guaranties that some people are on the look out for you.

Sign Holder: True. But Ivan also tends to use those people's inherent stupidity against them so that he can infiltrate a situation while I am off following a random pedestrian.

Fascinating. You know, all in all, you are a lot better company than Beak was. A few more minutes of him singing, 'If I had a BaNAna…' and I might have been up for assault and battery charges. People shouldn't be allowed to slaughter old classics like that.

Sign Holder: Transformed in the nick of time, then?

You have no idea.

Sign Holder: I just wish I knew what was going on.

Sorry. It's against the rules. And you don't want to make HER mad.

Sign Holder: So, do you think my will plan work? Will Beak be able to rescue Lita? I suppose it is a little much to hope for.

Look, I'm just the narrator. I get handed a script and read what's on it. I have no say in the editorial process.

Sign Holder: All-powerful narrator, my tail.

I am all-powerful! Cringe before my terrible glory!

Sign Holder: Ooh, I so scared. What do I look like? A green tiger?

How would you like to be and ex-kiwi?

Sign Holder: How would you win back all your money then?

Sign Holder: Got'cha there.

I knew I shouldn't have paid you so soon.

Sign Holder: Wanna play some blackjack to pass then time?

Fine. But no counting cards. And I'm dealing this time.

Sign Holder: What? Don't you trust lil' old me?

I would sooner trust D'Gal with the trigger of the Death Star pointed at Platyria.

Sign Holder: Wait, don't you have to narrate the next section?

Narrate- shmarrate. Here, take your cards.

Sign Holder: Twenty-one.

Damn it!!!

Part V
How Man-e-Faces Do You Have, Exactly?

The Sands of Fire

Beak blinked and looked around him. This was not the palace.

Beak: How did I get here? Where's Orko?

The oversized Beak was alone in enemy territory. He still had his sword, which was a good thing. But he had no memory of how he had gotten this close to Snake Mountain, or why there was a wrecked sky hawk a few feet away from him, which was very, very bad.

Beak: No Orko, no Battle Cat, and no other mode of transportation. I guess I am going to be walking to where I was going. If only I knew where it was I had been heading. This is all very confusing…

And with that, the brown kiwi plunked himself down on the ground to ponder his options. As you can see folks, this scene isn't going anywhere anytime soon. Though he might have the strength and witty repartee of Eternia's greatest hero, Beak is still…well, Beak. But rather than sit through several pages of the befuddled Magi trying to decide what course of action to take, Mercy decided to intervene in this dilemma and move the plot along.

Iiwi: He-man

Beak: * jumping to his feet * Sorceress! Is that you?

Iiwi: Yes, He-man. And your friends are in grave danger.

Beak: Where? Who? What's happened?

Iiwi: Skeletor captured Teela and Orko. He has taken them to Snake Mountain.

Beak: Are you sure?

Iiwi: Look down at the ground.

Sure enough, there was a message that had been scratched into the hard earth. It read, 'Dear He-man, Teela, Orko and Cringer have been captured and probably been taken to Snake Mountain. Find Man-at-Arms and go rescue them. Sorry about the sky hawk. It was Teela's fault. Sincerely, Prince Adam.'

Beak: Uh, I don't remember writing that.

Iiwi: There is no time for explanations. Make your way to the lower tunnels of Skeletor's lair. I will have Man-at-Arms and Ram Man meet you there.

Beak: Are you sure about this? Man-at-Arms was acting kind of… funny.

Iiwi: Trust in your friends, He-man. Know that however strange their behavior, they are still your allies.

Beak: All right Sorceress. I'll go to Snake Mountain and wait for the Masters. But I'm doing it because I trust you.

Iiwi: I will contact Duncan and have him meet you as soon as possible.

* * *

Village of Stilia

Ivan: Hell, no!

Iiwi: But Beak is in desperate need of you assistance.

Ivan: I don't care! The banana wonder can go take a dip in a lava pit for all I care!

Drake: The others have abandoned us and this poor, evil kiwi has lost his mind. Oh, why do the gods taunt me with such a cruel fate?!?.

Ivan: Watch it, bub. Unless of course you want to find out what the outside of this mountain looks like the hard way.

Drake: I would expect such brutality from a criminal mastermind. Obviously you are the product of a very uncivil upbringing, which the only possible end result could have been a life devoted to unlawful behavior.

Ivan: And now he insults my family. * his eyes grow dark as he powers up his cannon. * Oh, you are one dead duck.

Drake: * taking a fearful step back * Now, now. No reason for unnecessary bloodshed.

Ivan: Who said it was unnecessary?

Drake: * desperate * You can't kill me! You would never get home!

Ivan: * powering down * A fact that is one of two reasons why I do not blast your ass into the next dimension.

Drake: What's the other?

Ivan: I have no desire to bring the ceiling down on the Kulataks' heads. Them I like.

Iiwi: Are you two quite finished?

Ivan: Crap, I thought you were gone.

Drake: I'm sitting right here. Where would I have gone?

Ivan: Would you shut up so I can hear the little voice in my head that is talking to me? And, yes… * glares at the duck before he can respond * I know exactly what I just said.

Iiwi: You are wasting time, Sir Ivan. Beak will need you help if he is to rescue your young wards.

Ivan: Well, maybe I don't want to save them. It would teach them a lesson about why it is bad to leave your boss to go joyriding. If I have to suffer, so should they.

Drake: 'They' who?

Iiwi: Your enemy is more powerful and dangerous than you know.

Ivan: Cry me a river, Redbird. Or whoever you are. I am not taking this dimwit into a battle against some powerful sorcerer who wants me dead. Man-at-Arms. Whoever. Not gonna happen.

Drake: 'Redbird'? Is that the Scarlet flier who was with us before? Who does she want us to fight? Hey! Did you just call me 'dimwit'?

Ivan: Not the bright star in the heavens, are we. Now, button it!

There was only silence in Ivan's head, but somehow he knew that he could not have won the argument so easily. The flier was too stubborn for that. Ivan waited for her to come back, trying to not dwell on the fact that Iiwi had somehow developed telepathic abilities.

Iiwi: I gave you a chance, Sir Ivan. Upon consulting with Iiwi, I have been instructed to tell you that if you do not cooperate, she will be forced to enlighten Bobetta as to what really occurred with the mulled cider last Christmas.

Ivan: She doesn't scare me.

Iiwi: And the mistletoe.

Ivan: She wouldn't.

Iiwi: And Prancer.

Ivan: All right, already! Geez! So what is it you want me to do?

Iiwi: Go to Snake Mountain and find Beak. You must get there before Skeletor harms anyone. It is as much in your interest as it is mine.

Ivan: And I suppose that is all the explanation I'm going to get from you.

Iiwi: For the time being, yes.

Ivan: I hate it when people are cryptic. * looking over at Drake * Okay, dimwit; it's time to go meet your master.

Drake: * starts to get up * Master? Do you mean Mallard? I could hardly call him my… * Drake takes a step and begins to loose control of his legs * Whoa-oa-oa- Aaahhh!!!

Ivan watched in horror as Drake suddenly catapulted himself through the wall near the door of the ice dungeon.

Ivan: * sighing and massaging his temples * And I thought that Zero was uncoordinated. * calling to the twitching heap that was Drake * Hey, are you still alive?

Drake: groan…

Ivan: Do me a favor. When we're sneaking around in the enemies' fortress, try to not do that too close to where I am standing. I don't feel like being captured today.

Drake: * voice edged with pain * Gee, you're all heart.

* * *

Dungeons of Snake Mountain

Lita was still trying to find a way to escape.

Lita: Stupid cage! What kind of respectable bad guy would trap his prisoners in a cell with no lock on it? Or a door, for that matter. I mean really, what ever happened to tradition?

For the past several hours, Lita had tried digging under, squeezing through, bending, whacking, kicking, and pummeling the solid stone bars until she was so frustrated that she finally suggested that Ferdie try and use his magic on them. Two flash floods and a bee attack later, the trio was no closer to freedom than any of the other occupants of the dungeon. Lita felt like joining in their primal screams just so she would not end up killing her cellmates.

Lita: This is so wrong! I demand to see the management! Or at least a stupid jailer I can steal a set of keys off of!

Ferdia: Now why would you wish to leave? Especially after our Lord went to so much trouble to make you comfortable?

Lita tried not to visibly jump at the enchantress's entrance, but Ferdie had no qualms with diving behind Cringer. The huge tiger tensed up when Ferdia focused her attention on him.

Ferdia: Though why Skeletor thought those two would be useful, I'll never know. You, on the other hand… * turning back to Lita * I am certain that the Captain of the Guards shall make for a useful bargaining chip with the Masters.

Lita: Go find a prissy princess to poison, you old witch. Nobody is going to use me against the boss. Besides, his policy is, 'If you get into it, then you can dig yourself back out again.'

Ferdia: 'Boss'? You mean that buffoon Randor? As if he would ever abandon the daughter of his dear friend Duncan.

Lita: Was there a reason you came down here? We're fresh out of princes to enchant into frogs. Unless you we're looking for one to kiss you to break that ugly curse you having going…

Ferdie: * high-pitched whimpering * Please, don't make her mad!

Ferdia: * grating her beak * Why you little…

The bluebird raised her staff in the direction of the dust bunny, but before she could even begin the incantation of a spell, an energy blast stuck Ferdia from behind, causing her to crash down onto the floor.

Ferdia: * fuming with anger * Who dares attack me!?!

No, it's not Beak come to the rescue. Sorry. Instead, a large figure, draped in a black cloak and cowl, flowed down the stairs from where the shot originated.

Ferdia: * sharp intake of breath * M-my Lord. I did not see you.

Bowing deeply to hide her flustered face, Ferdia stamped down her rage that was telling her rip out his gut with her bare hands. Another time, perhaps, but now they were too close to ridding themselves of the Masters for good.

Lita: I guess we know who wears the pants in this relationship.

Ferdie: Pants? What pants?

If the Lord of Snake Mountain heard Lita's comment, he chose to disregard her flippancy. Instead, the dark figure inclined his head slightly in acknowledgement of his minion's piety, but with one hand dismissed her from his presence. Ferdia sniffed indignantly, but could not resist one final taunt at the captives.

Ferdia: I would be more careful with that sharp tongue of yours, Captain. Skeletor has little patience and you might suddenly find him tearing it out of your smart mouth.

The enchantress chuckled evilly to herself as she swept up the stairs, confident that Skeletor would give the brat what she deserved, and then some.

Lita: Ooh! I so scared! Hey pal, are you horribly scarred under that hood, or just too flamboyantly melodramatic for your own good?

Ferdie: * hugging Cringer * We're gonna die!

Cringer: * hugging Ferdie back * Mew!

Evil Commander Charles D'Gal/Skeletor, Lord of Evil: And here I thought I had taught you better than to spar with an enemy before you size them up, Farlane.

Lita: No way! D'Gal? Is that you?

D'Gal: In the feather. Of sorts.

Pulling back the cowl, D'Gal revealed his face, though Lita would have been hard pressed to recognize him under different circumstances. His normally coal black feathers had changed to a shade of pale blue, and he now had long black hair with a matching goatee.

Ferdie: Whoa! Skeletor has a face? How did that happen?

D'Gal smiled evilly, revealing sharp fangs.

D'Gal: Like this… * waving his hand in front of his face *

Ferdie: AAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

And with that, the bluebird fainted dead away while Cringer mewed in terror as he hid behind the dust bunny. Lita just stood in shock, staring at the now bony features of D'Gal's floating skull. She recovered quickly.

Lita: Sweet!!! How did you do that?

Red pin-points flashed in empty eye sockets as the skull eerily grinned.

D'Gal: Just a little trick. * waving his hand and his former façade reappears * I figured as long as I had magical powers, I wasn't going to walk around wondering if my head was going to topple off at any given moment. It's a bloody odd sensation, I tell you. * shrugging * Though a small price to pay in exchange for being one of the most powerful individuals on this world.

Lita: Rub it in, why don't ya. I tell you, I could make a lot better use of magic around here than some people. * indicating Ferdie * Hey, wait a minute. You know who you are.

D'Gal: Yes, I noticed the memory loss that is afflicting our comrades. * evil grin * Or should I say, my minions. I wasn't sure if anyone else was in the same condition.

Lita: Well, let's see. Bob thinks he's king and the pink priss is supposed to be his queen. Beak is huge and clueless, Ferdie is inept and equally oblivious, but the boss, kid and I were protected from having our memories scrambled. Oh, and Iiwi has developed a split personality. * pausing to count on her fingers * Yeah, I think that's everyone.

D'Gal: Hm, fate seems to be working against us on this one. We may be permanently stuck here, the way things are going. Not that I find that to be a huge problem, mind you.

Lita: You can say that because you have a cool fortress and a mindless army. * suddenly glaring at him * Which you set on the palace after we arrived! What was the big idea about that?

D'Gal: * shrugging * It was fun.

Lita: You could have killed us!

D'Gal: Details. You lived, didn't you? And I saw the recording of you repelling the attack in that glider. Don't tell me you weren't enjoying yourself.

Lita: Getting shot down is overrated, I assure you.

There was a groan behind Lita as Ferdie began to come to his senses.

Ferdie: * high-pitched voice * Oh, I had the worst nightmare. I was in Snake Mountain, stuck in a cage with Teela, who was yelling at… Aah!!! It wasn't a dream!

D'Gal: And on that note, I believe I should get back to my evil scheming.

Lita: What!?! You're leaving? Without letting me out? Even without him? * pointing at Ferdie *

Ferdie: * high-pitched voice * Like he's going to just let the Captain of the Eternian guard roam freely around here. * gulping as he looks around the dungeon * Not that you would want to, in a place like this. * indignant cry * Hey ! What do you mean 'Without him'?

D'Gal: Yes, I fear there might be creatures lurking in this place who could do you great harm.

Lita: Like I care about these overgrown boogie men.

D'Gal: Excellent. Then you should be quite content down here.

Lita: Oh, come on! What ever happened to honor among thieves? At least let me join sides with you. * batting her eyelashes * Pretty-please, with sugar on top?

Ferdie: What are you saying?!? You're a Master, Teela!

D'Gal: Good point. That probably means I shouldn't trust you. Sorry, rules and all.

Lita: At least tell me your ingenious plan to overthrow the kingdom! That's a rule too!

D'Gal: Only if I were leaving you to your doom, which I think I will delay until another time. I believe I have revealed enough plot exposition for one visit, don't you? Ta! Don't let the shadow beasts bite.

Pulling his cowl back over his head, D'Gal made his way back up the stairs. He waved casually before shutting the door to the dungeon, which engulfed the prison in looming shadows. Ferdie hoped he was imagining the burning fire in Lita's eyes.

Lita: O-KAY! Now I'm pissed.

Ferdie and Cringer decided it would be in their best interest to blend into the gloom for the rest of the night.

* * *

Snake Mountain

After flying through the night from the frozen north, Ivan and Drake had crossed into the Dark Hemisphere to find their allies. Currently, they were deep in a chasm at the base of the mountain, searching for a hidden entrance.

Drake: And you are certain that there is an opening here?

Ivan: For the fifth time, yes!

Drake: Because the little voice told you there was one?

Ivan: Look, I'm not questioning the fact that you have a split personality, am I?

Drake: I don't believe you.

Ivan: Hey, I'm just telling you what Redbird told me. I don't have any other explanation for you.

Drake: I meant about this whole… metamorphosis you claim to have seen me go through. I think I would have remembered being some sort of- of… brutish monster, terrorizing innocent people. I mean, those snow creatures bear a stronger resemble to this monster you describe, not to mention they are a very primitive people. They live in an ice mountain, for heaven sake!

Ivan: Really? And here I thought they were downright civil in spite of the fact that you had almost leveled their village by the time we left.

Drake: * not paying attention to Ivan * And instead of allowing me to begin my search for that black-hearted Vycerian, so that I might bring him to justice and end his foul reign of destruction, I am wandering through hostile territory in the middle of the night, with no backup except for one lone Magi kiwi, who you aren't even certain of his location!

Ivan: Look! I'm not crazy about this arrangement either! In fact, I would rather find a nice soft mattress to collapse upon and sleep away the next few years. But the fact of the matter is that we don't have a choice, not if we ever want to see home again. So buck up and keep searching!

Drake: All right, fine! * pause * But why did I have to be the one to come with yo-ou-ou-ou Aaaahhhh!!!! * CRASH *

A blur of red and green flew past Ivan and impacted with the nearby chasm wall.

Ivan: Will you stop doing that already!

Drake carefully sat up and shook his head, while trying to keep his legs as still a possible.

Drake: I can't help it! Something is definitely wrong with my legs!

Ivan: So you have been saying for the past hour and a half. And while it has been amusing to watch as you launch yourself into every sizable landmass in the Dark Hemisphere, it is just the tiniest bit counter productive to our end goal of sneaking into the bad guy's lair undetected.

Drake: Why do these things keep happening to me? Why do the gods allow such misfortune to befall good people?

Ivan: Because the universe is secretly run by a malicious sociopath who rewards the immoral and punishes the virtuous?

The gray kiwi grinned evilly in response to the duck's horrified expression.

Ivan: * shrugging * Just a theory.

Drake: And a vile one at that.

Ivan: No need to thank me. My reward is knowing you will be up at night wondering if a random anvil is about to plummet down on you.

Drake: I think all this time around that fiend D'Gal has been a bad influence on you.

Ivan: Oh, no. Trust me, I was this bad before becoming acquainted with your delightful nemesis. * begins to inspect the rock wall next to him * Now, if we could get back to the matter at hand. Namely, getting into this castle so I can find my wards and kill them.

Drake: I thought we needed to save them so they wouldn't be killed?

Ivan: * sighing * Just keep searching.

Drake: Some sort of landmark would be helpful.

Ivan: True, but somehow I don't think this Skeletor is the type of villain who puts up big, helpful signs that read, 'Secret Entrance Five Feet Ahead, Take First Right.'

Drake: I'm not that stupid, you know. * pausing * Why do you think his name is 'Skeletor'? Rather odd sounding, if you ask me.

Ivan: Maybe he likes to rip the faces off intruders.

Drake: That is repulsive.

Ivan: Yes, but he is a bad guy, after all. And, quite frankly, it might be amusing to watch him demonstrate on you.

Drake: I am a Commander in the Platyrian Navy and you have no right to treat me like this!

Ivan: But it is so much fun to watch you fly off the hinge. Almost as entertaining as tormenting Zero, except you don't have a snooty fiancé for me to harass. But I can see why D'Gal has made a hobby out of it.

Drake: I could leave you here.

Ivan: And go where, exactly?

Drake visibly deflated with the realization that he knew nothing of this world and, lacking the skill to control his lower appendages, was at a severe disadvantage were he to be attacked by hostile forces. So instead he just started to casually pick through broken rocks and crevasses for any sign of a door or tunnel.

Ivan: This is going to take forever.

Drake: Perhaps we could do something to pass the time. Like a game. Let's see, 'I spy with my little eye something beginning with “D”.'

Ivan: Would that be, 'Duck-entrails splattered across the landscape'?

Drake: No. And, 'Ew' for good measure. * thinking for a moment * How about singing a song?

Ivan: * shifting his gauntlet into a cannon * Just try it and see what happens.

Beak: Singing sounds like fun.

Ivan and Drake both jumped a foot in the air at the kiwi's sudden appearance. Unfortunately it was followed by a small landslide, as Drake landed and was immediately propelled into an unstable mound of boulders.

Ivan: * moving rocks in search of Drake's remains * Okay, how precisely… * grunt * did you… * grunt * sneak up on us… * grunt * like that? Wait, why am I shifting rocks when you are the strongest birdbrain in on the planet?

Beak got a wounded look on his face.

Ivan: * grumbling * All right, I'm sorry. Look, He-man, we need to get in to Snake Mountain fast. Could you please pull Ram-man out of this?

Beak: No problem.

And in a few quick gestures, Beak unburied the mangled duck, who lay twitching agony.

Ivan: Oo, now that's gotta sting.

Drake: eep… croak… gurgle.

Beak: Do you think he'll be all right?

Ivan: I'm sure he'll bounce back.

Drake: not… funny.

Ivan: And now I'm making bad puns. Oye, we have got to get out of here. Now about that entrance…

* * *

Snake Mountain

The trio tread quietly, and carefully in Drake's case, through the lower portions of the fortress. There were few guards in these corridors, a fact that made Ivan uncomfortable. He felt that there should have been more than the occasional skeletal warrior doing security sweeps. He would have expressed as much to the others, had they not been otherwise distracted.

Beak: * whispering * Hm. How about, 'Murky tunnels'?

Drake: * whispering back * Nope. Not even close.

Beak: * whispering * Uh, 'Mucus-belching gargoyle heads?

Drake: * whispering back * Nuh-uh.

Ivan: Will you two shut up!?!

Drake and Beak:SHHH!!!

Ivan: Trust me, there is nothing on my scanners. Which is what's worrying me. We should have encountered resistance by now.

Drake: Probably this 'Skeletor' isn't expecting an assault from below. That passage wasn't secure. He may not even know of its existence.

Ivan: It doesn't add up. If this were my place, I would personally know every inch of it like the back of my hand. You don't get to be the most feared villain in the land by being sloppy. I don't like this one bit.

Drake: A trap, then?

Ivan: That was amazingly perceptive of you.

Beak: You don't have to assume the worst. Maybe Skeletor's having an off day.

D'Gal: * from the shadows * Or maybe I've been watching you this whole time for the sheer entertainment value of Dumb-ass's uncoordinated performance.

Ivan: * whacking his gauntlet * Stupid scanner.

Drake: That voice! You fiend! Come out and face us, coward! And it's pronounced 'Du-mas'!!!

D'Gal: Coward, eh? Very well then, if you insist.

He stepped out of the shadows in front of them, completely veiled in his black cloak.

Drake: How can we be certain it's you? That could be anyone under there.

Carefully marching forward, Drake reached out and pulled back the cowl hiding D'Gal's… em, face. The white duck's eyes became as large as dinner plates as the skull that was D'Gal's head was revealed, glowing red eyes and all.

D'Gal: Boo.

Drake: AAAAAAAAHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Drake stumbled backwards and his legs thrust him into a wall. The impact rattled the chamber they all stood in. Beak and Ivan had to dive for cover as large stalactites came crashing down around them. Ivan did notice, with no small amount of irritation, that D'Gal stood still, protected by a large energy shield being cast forth from the staff he held. When the room stopped vibrating, Drake warily got to his feet and gently staggered, trying to regain his balance.

Drake: * half conscious * did anyone ca-catch the reg-istry number of that st-starcruiser?

One final piece of rock let go at that moment and came crashing down on Drake's head. He flopped down face first on the floor. D'Gal merely chuckled as he waved a hand and his familiar face returned once more.

D'Gal: This is too amusing. I think I'm enjoying this even more than when he was my servant.

Ivan: Great. And in the mean time, he is going to kill us all by accidentally causing the mountain to crash down on us. I don't mean to be picky, but I do have a rather lucrative criminal empire I would like to get back to before it comes crashing down. Speaking of which, what the hell did you do with my wards?

Beak: You have an empire!?! Since when?!? What is going on here???

D'Gal: Excitable, isn't he.

Ivan: I choose to ignore him most of the time. Look, just between us, I get that this might seem like a pretty sweet deal here. Your own army, minions at your beck and call, and the only people standing in the way of world domination are a bunch of twerps.

Beak: B-but, Man-at-Arms, you're talking about the Masters!?! How could you say such a thing? How can you stand here and make casual conversation with Skeletor?

Ivan: Because, as of this moment, he is the only person who isn't making me want to throw my guts up. Hang Bob and his kingdom, just as long as Lita and the kid are in one piece.

Ivan fixed a sharp look on D'Gal, who tried to grin innocently back at him. The problem was, it is difficult to look innocent when you have sharp, gleaming fangs.

D'Gal: The dust bunny and the floating bluebird are safely tucked away in my dungeon with the tiger. Just as a precaution, should Lita decide to be curious and try snooping around. This castle is a very dangerous place, after all.

Ivan: Right. And you know as well as I do that she would beat the stuffing out of anything stupid enough to try and mess with her. You were her teacher for a while, after all. What about my Sign Holder?

D'Gal: The little brown kiwi? I left him in the Sands of Fire for you to find.

Beak: What's a 'Sign Holder'?

Ivan: He means Prince Adam. Did you find him out there? * grabbing Beak by the shoulders and starts shaking him * Tell me you didn't come all this way and left the kid out there alone!

Beak: Um… er…

Ivan: Grrr… Where is my Sign Holder!?!

D'Gal: Now, now. No need to get you knickers in a twist.

Beak: Look, Man-at-Arms, I know where Prince Adam is, but I'll have to tell you later. Right now, I must defeat my sworn enemy!

Beak unsheathed his sword and brandished it at D'Gal. The fanged grin returned to the duck's face as he slowly drew a sword from beneath his cloak.

D'Gal: I seem to recall we were rudely interrupted the last time we crossed swords, kiwi. Round two, then?

Beak: You don't have the power to overcome me, Skeletor.

D'Gal: Actually, I probably do. * leans his Havoc staff against one wall. * But just for the hell of it, I won't use my staff. Just you, me, and two sharp blades.

With one swift motion, D'Gal separated the sword into two pieces and took up a fighting stance. He smiled malevolently at Beak.

D'Gal: Or three.

Beak: As if I would have trusted your word.

D'Gal: Perhaps I am under estimating you. No matter. Come and get me, if you dare.

Ivan: You guys are worse than Lita and the kid!

But it was too late. D'Gal leapt forward, twirling his twin blades at the Magi, who deflected the blows with ease. Though not the brightest of birds, Beak knew how to handle a sword, and he countered D'Gal's assault, leaving the villain no opening to take advantage of.

Meanwhile, Ivan was looking for the way to the dungeon. That was where D'Gal had put Lita, and he needed her help. There was no way he could interfere with the fight happening just a few feet away by himself; he did not have the power to step in between the two forces that seemed set on destroying one another.

And Drake was still unconscious on the floor. But that is beside the point.

What caught Ivan's immediate attention was the sound of approaching footsteps, no doubt some of D'Gal's minions drawn by the sounds of battle. Ivan readied himself and took cover behind an outcrop near the tunnel the sounds were echoing through.

Ivan: If that's you, Arcadia, be prepared for another tail kicking!

Lita: Do I look like an Arellian to you?

Ivan: Farlane!

Lita, Ferdie and Cringer charged into the chamber, though with the latter two it was more of a 'flee for you life' pace than anything more heroic. Lita stopped in her tracks when she saw the fight between Beak and D'Gal, but the other two were not as quick to react. Ferdie flew straight into her back, and as she lost her balance Cringer got tangled up in her feet, sending all three of them skidding across the floor. Lita barely had time to get out of the way of a sword thrust that Beak had accidentally deflected right at her.

Beak: Teela! Get out of here! It's too dangerous!

Lita: For who? You're the one crazy enough to fight D'Gal!

Beak had no time to respond as D'Gal aimed a slash at his head, followed immediately by a thrust to his sword arm. The black duck was good, and was keeping Beak on his toes as the kiwi made an effort to move the battle away from the others.

Ivan: Lita, we have got to find a way to stop them.

Lita: I doubt D'Gal would actually kill Beak; I think he's just playing. * uncertain laugh * I think.

Ivan: What we need is a distraction to separate them.

Lita: * impish grin * I think I may have just the thing.

For the first time Ivan focused in on the sack that Lita had strapped to her waist. Quickly undoing the tie, she reached inside and withdrew a long, golden wand with a large, glowing crystal attached to one end.

Lita: Did I mention that I had found the Scepter of Light?

Ivan: * broadly grinning * Why, you darling little thief. Who did you swipe that from?

Lita: One of the Three Blind Mice and the Wicked Witch of the West. They had it coming.

Ivan: You had better hope they don't remember it later.

Lita: I'll burn that bridge when I come to it. In the mean time… * standing up and waving the scepter above her head * Yoo-hoo! D'Gal! Look-ie what I found!

The duck paused mid swing at the sound of Lita's voice. He barely missed being sliced across the chest, and in retaliation D'Gal used his powers to throw Beak into a wall. He would deal with the kiwi later.

D'Gal: Now, how did you escape? I'm impressed. But, unfortunately, I'm afraid I'm going to have to ask you to give me back that little trinket.

Lita: You'll have to catch me first!

The dust bunny sprinted off in the direction of the door, but D'Gal was faster. Calling his Havoc staff to hand, he leveled the ram head at the fleeing rabbit's form, preparing to fire. His eyes flashed with swelling power.

D'Gal: Nothing personal, Farlane.

Beak: Teela! NO!!!

At that moment, Beak did something very brave. And incredibly stupid. Because D'Gal was distracted with trying to stop Lita, he had forgotten about Beak and the fact that, as Eternia's greatest hero, the kiwi was obligated to try and save his friend, whatever the cost.

And so Beak hurled himself into the path of the blast that erupted from D'Gal's staff; he held the Sword of Power in front of him to deflect the blow, but the power was overwhelming. The collision resulted in a bright flash and Lita, who was momentarily blinded, felt something slam into her and she went flying into what, she assumed, was a wall. The Scepter of Light fell from her hand, but there was no way for the dust bunny to recover it until her vision returned.

And she was not the only one seeing spots.

Ivan: * interrogating a stone statue * Okay, was that really necessary?

D'Gal: Hey, there's no kill like overkill. And what an interesting turn of events.

Sign Holder: Why do I feel like I'm having Déjà vu'?

He was sitting on Lita's head.

Lita: I think this is where we came in. Nice to see you again. Well, it will be once the little dancing stars go away.

Ferdie: * high pitched voice * AAAHHH!!! I'm blind! Where am I going!?! * flies right into a wall * ouch.

Ferdie dropped to the floor unconscious, and a good thing to, because he probably would have had heart failure if he had seen what was sitting next t o him.

Drake: * back to Beastman * Grrr-ROAR!!!

Ivan: Not again! * shifting to his cannon * Lita! Don't let him get too close! Wait, where did the kid come from?

D'Gal: Ah, my minion. Excellent timing. Please do me a favor and dispose of these intruders, like a good chap.

Drake: Yes, master. * lumbers off towards Lita and the Sign Holder *

Lita: There's something I thought I would never hear.

Ivan: Lita, duck!

Lita: Yeah, I can see that! * she dodges as Ivan fires * Haven't we done this joke already?

Ivan's blasts hit Drake, but had little effect as Ivan had forgotten to take the setting off of medium stun. The white monster shook his head and resumed his charge at the other two.

Ferdie woke back up to find Drake-cum-Beastman rampaging towards his friends.

Ferdie: * high pitched voice * Trolly-molly! Hold on! * starts a spell * Alacazam, zippty-zat; trip up this Beast and make him fall flat!

Like someone had pulled an invisible cord, Drake miss stepped and fumbled over his own feet.

Ferdie: * high pitched voice * Whoo-hoo! Got him!

Lita: *
astonished * I'm amazed. He's three for three.

And while the audience pauses to figure out exactly what she meant by that statement, Lita vaulted over Drake's prone form and ran for Ivan, who had changed the setting on his gauntlet and was waiting for Drake to make another move. It was only after Lita had crossed the room and was out of Drakes path did she realize that she had not grabbed the Sign Holder.

Lita: Where's the kid?

Ivan: Running for that stupid sword. What is going on?

Lita: Long story. Fill you in later. Why did Drake sprout fur and fangs?

Ivan: Don't ask. Just shoot him. Gently.

From the look in Ivan's eyes, she wondered if he had said that last part for her benefit or his own.

Across the room, as mentioned before, the Sign Holder was struggling with his large sword as Drake lurched back to his feet. The dazed duck was none to happy and grabbed the closest thing to him so that he could use it to bash in the head of the young kiwi.

Drake: Gonna pay for that.

Without looking at what was in his clawed hand, Drake raised the Scepter of Light above his head and prepared to bring it crashing down. Ivan, Lita and D'Gal registered what was about to happen as the Sign Holder picked up his sword to repel the strike.

All Three: NOOO!!!

Simultaneously, Ivan and D'Gal let energy discharges loose at Drake, hoping to knock him down before he could clobber the Sign Holder. But it was too late. Just as the Scepter and Sword connected, the blasts flared in brilliant glory.

And the lower portion of Snake Mountain exploded.

Which probably is not a good thing.

So, quick math quiz. What do you get when you mix two objects harnessing the Power of the Elders, throw in a little Dark Magic and, just for giggles, add a splash of laser technology?

Give up? Me too. I guess we will all just have to wait and see what happens as this psychotic dramatist…

Death: A-HEM.

I mean this… genius literary scholar continues this saga in Part VI!!!

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