This story has been in my head for quite a while now and I decided I couldn't wait any longer to write it. This will NOT be one of my monster fics. I am aiming for it to be finished in five chapters, give or take one or two. (My outline has five, so that's what I'm thinking at this point, but it's definitely going to wrap up right away.)
Anyway, I hope you enjoy it. Oh, and I do realize that Skeletor's aircraft is also called the "collector", but let's just make that a not-so-happy coincidence, okay? LOL
A man stood among the hills and stared at the life that surrounded him. The blue sky above him and the thick green vegetation were things that he had seen on many other planets. To the naked eye, there was nothing special about this place, but he had heard stories, many that had enticed him to seek the truth for himself. They had stated that science and magic collide on Eternia and if there was one place in the entire universe where he could go to continue his hobby, it would be this planet.
He smiled as he heard the familiar rumblings of something mechanical. Within moments, a vehicle of some sort appeared in the distance, heading in the opposite direction. He ran towards the object and tried to follow it just to see where it was going when he suddenly found himself in a clearing. In the distance, he could see a large, burgundy city resting on a massive eroded mountain.
"Eternos," he said to himself, grinning at the sight.
Prince Adam and Man-at-Arms arrived at the Royal Palace with only a few minutes to spare before court began. They had visited the Fertile Plains that morning, because they had heard reports of Skeletor's presence, but when they arrived everything had been calm and serene. There had been no indication that Skeletor or any of his followers were in the vicinity, so after a thorough exploration of the grounds, they had headed back to the palace.
"I'm actually glad it turned out to be nothing," Adam stated with a yawn as he stepped out of the AttakTrak. Despite the fact that the rumor had gotten him out of bed before the sun had even risen in the sky, he hadn't particularly wanted to go toe-to-toe with his nemesis on this day.
Duncan smiled briefly and replied, "Me, too. Who knows what your father would have thought if we had both missed court!"
Adam shrugged, unconcerned at the notion. "Actually, I think that would have turned out okay. If both of us were missing, he would have known there was a good reason. If I had been the only one missing, he would have believed I was up to no good again." The grimace that settled on his face made Man-at-Arms frown, but he couldn't help the expression. He had found himself with that same countenance again and again over recent months and all of it was a result of his secret life as He-Man. But, he wouldn't regret a second of it. He knew Eternia and its people were worth the hassles he went through on a regular basis, but that didn't also mean that he was impervious to the results his actions had on other people and their opinions of him. As usual, he would just continue to push through all of the negativity one day at a time.
Duncan didn't reply aside from a firm squeeze on the prince's shoulder to show his support. Most of the time that was all he needed, for Man-at-Arms, Orko, or Cringer to remind him that they were here with him every step of the way. That was enough; it had to be.
Without delay, they walked into the palace and made their way to the throne room.
The court proceedings of Eternos always seemed more like a ball than a gathering of government officials, but then again, as his father had explained to him when he was a teenager, a lot of frivolousness during this time actually commented on how good things truly were in the kingdom. After all, if there were no problems to address, that meant there were no problems. "'No news is good news,' as Mother likes to say," he thought to himself with a smile as he took in the individuals who were present.
Dukes, duchesses, royal guests, and soldiers were spread out across the room. The former three groups were dressed impeccably in colorful apparel that was made in the obvious attempt to be noticed. Prince Adam knew when it came to the females in attendance, his attention was the one they sought after most. After all, it was getting closer and closer to the time when the Prince of Eternia would have to select a bride. There were already rumblings from the citizens who were curious when King Randor would corner his bachelor son and insist that he choose a young woman to have at his side as princess. What all the ladies obviously didn't know was that when everyone had the same idea to catch his attention, it didn't quite have the desired result. Instead, it was the people who were not dressed so elegantly that he noticed.
Teela, who was in her everyday uniform, stood out like a beacon in the back of the room. Her white uniform and golden armor was in such contrast with the delicate lace and silk on all the other ladies that his eyes had gone to her without any effort whatsoever. Of course, she did have the advantage over the others with her radiant red hair that shined brightly in the sunlight that entered the room through a nearby window.
Without any meandering, he headed straight for Teela and ignored the sighs that he heard escape from various ladies' lips. He knew what their problem was: they had wanted to talk to him, to perhaps win his favor, but they knew they would never get the opportunity while he was near Teela. And, it wasn't that the people thought they were an item. No, everyone knew they had grown up together, so they were used to seeing them together. It's just that everyone knew his bodyguard was fiercely protective of him and she didn't like the possibility that women were after him simply for his crown. And, of course, the awkwardness was there when they sought him out because most of them were after him because of the crown he rarely wore…
As Adam reached Teela's side and flashed her one of his patented goofy lopsided grins, the festivities were interrupted by a group of guards entering the throne room. "King Randor," Lt. Marcus called out above the crowd's noise, "you have a visitor who wishes to speak with you."
The announcement immediately grabbed Adam's attention. It was not unusual that people would beg to have an audience with the king. It happened nearly every day and most of the time, the reasons weren't important. They could be handled by lower ranking officials and they usually were, so the fact that the guards had actually brought someone to his father and had interrupted court to do so, spoke volumes.
Teela must have been thinking along the same lines, because she walked beside him and mumbled, "Come on."
They made their way back towards the throne but kept their eyes on the guards. They were circled around the visitor, so no one had caught a glimpse of him or her, yet. This made the event all the more suspenseful.
A million questions floated in Adam's mind: Why were so many guards present? Were they guarding or restraining this visitor? How did this person convince Teela's guard to interrupt court? Who was this person truly?
He knew the answers could be anything, so he had to be prepared for any possibility. He glanced at Orko briefly and noticed that the little Trollan didn't seem overly concerned. He knew if his little buddy had felt magic in the room, he would have been at his side in a millisecond.
Finally, when the guardsmen reached the throne, they dispersed slightly to reveal a man standing in the middle of the group, and Adam immediately gasped. He knew why they had brought him right away. He was obviously not from around here.
He was a tall and lanky man, who stood around six feet high. He had long black hair that spilled past his shoulders. While these things weren't exactly common for normal citizens of Eternia, they were not the qualities that made him stand out. Instead, it was his skin color. His skin was so red that it was almost auburn. Whether that was his natural skin tone or the man had spent many, many years in the sun was not apparent. Also, his eyes were a bright red that almost seemed to be made of fire. All of this stood out greatly because of his clothes that were completely black from head to toe.
King Randor's voice stopped him from making any further observations of the visitor's appearance. "Who are you, stranger?" his father asked, standing from his seat.
The man turned his head from left to right and smiled.
The sight made Adam cringe, because the smile didn't seem to be friendly. Oh, the man was definitely amused, but the expression seemed almost sinister as he scrutinized the people around him. Eventually, his eyes settled on King Randor and he answered, "They call me The Collector."
"The Collector?" Man-at-Arms gasped.
Adam immediately glanced at his mentor and walked to his side hurriedly. "Duncan, who's The Collector?" he asked. He knew from the elder's response that Man-at-Arms had heard that name before and the soldier was obviously concerned.
Before Duncan could respond, the Collector glanced over at him and stated the very thoughts that had crossed Adam's mind. "I see you have heard that name, and clearly my reputation precedes me, but perhaps you would let me clarify why I am truly here."
King Randor stared at his man-at-arms and said, "Tell us what you know, Duncan."
Duncan turned to the king and replied, "I heard about someone called the Collector years ago when I was still training to be a soldier. It was said that he was a being who travels the universe looking for…the unique. He collects anything that is rare, anything that is one-of-a-kind."
The Collector bowed deeply, a little too dramatically. "You have heard correctly. I am that man and I'm here because I have heard of Eternia. I have heard…"
His words were interrupted by the sound of Teela's high-heeled boots crashing to the floor as she stomped over to her father. "I know men like you!" she snapped. "We have handled them before! You're here for Eternia's last unicorn, aren't you? Well, you can't have it! King Randor has made it a crime to hunt it, so if you think for one second…"
The Collector laughed loudly…horribly; there was no mirth or warmth in the sound. "Listen, girl, I do not want your unicorn. Unicorns may very well be a rare commodity on Eternia, but there are other planets with such a creature. Unless your unicorn is somehow unique compared to those, I do not desire to have it in the slightest."
He effectively silenced the captain, but luckily, her father took up the conversation. "Then, what do you want?"
The Collector smiled once more and said, "I do not know. I thought I would make my presence known, ask for a guide, and search the planet for anything worthwhile myself."
Adam could no longer remain silent. "What makes you think we're willing to let you have whatever it is that you discover? If it is rare to our planet and even the entire universe, why would we want you to take it away?"
"I would preserve it," The Collector explained. "I would bring that commodity to the attention of the universe. My collection is viewed by countless individuals who wish to be educated about the places I have been and the things I have seen. My collection is a gift to everyone, because the items I have will never be lost to time and death. Everyone can have the opportunity to enjoy them for years to come."
"What kind of things are in your collection?"
The Collector lifted a brow and said, "For someone in the presence of a king and queen, you do ask a lot of questions for them. Tell me, who are you?"
Without hesitation, Adam said, "My name is Prince Adam. I'm son to King Randor and Queen Marlena." He gestured his head to the top of the throne.
"Ah, that explains it," he said with a nod. Then, a thoughtful expression crossed his face, one that sent chills down Adam's spine. The Collector looked almost…hopeful?
The visitor snapped his attention back to the king and queen and said excitedly, "Forgive me for my apparent rudeness, but I've heard about this planet and kingdom in my travels. Is it true, Queen Marlena?"
Marlena stood beside her husband and raised a quizzical eyebrow to the man. "Is what true?"
"Are you from Earth?"
Instantly, Randor slipped an arm around his queen and held her tightly to his side. "You cannot have my wife!" he stated with such a fury that his voice made the guards immediately draw their weapons. Even Man-at-Arms and Teela pointed their freeze rays at the man.
The Collector huffed at them with a roll of his eyes. "Earthlings are not a rare item. I have been to their planet and I daresay there are more Earthlings than there are Eternians in the universe, so you do not have to worry about my wanting your wife, King Randor."
The room was silent as the Collector turned to stare at the queen once more. Teela and Man-at-Arms did not lower their weapons and neither did the rest of the guard. Everyone could feel the tension in the room, even though no one knew exactly what to expect.
Finally, the queen answered his question. "Yes, I'm from Earth."
The stranger smiled intensely and looked to King Randor. "And, you're an Eternian." It wasn't a question; it was a statement.
Randor wrinkled his brow in confusion and said, "Of course I am."
The Collector grinned again and nodded his head slowly several times. He looked down at the floor as he chuckled, but then he turned his head slightly and stared directly at Prince Adam.
When their eyes met, Adam knew. "Me," he thought; "He wants me!"
Numerous people must have come to a similar conclusion, because within seconds, the room erupted into chaos. King Randor and Queen Marlena almost fell from the throne since they were running down the steps towards Adam as quickly as they could. Man-at-Arms and Teela ran to stand between the Collector and Adam, and the other court attendees gasped and moved back as the guards in the room circled around the stranger's back.
There could be no question in anyone's mind: Prince Adam was a rare commodity. He was the product of the union between an Earthling and an Eternian, and despite the fact that these species looked similar and were able to procreate with one another, there were differences in their physiology that Eternian scientists had noted throughout the years with the help of studies on Queen Marlena. Adam would be quite an addition to the collection. Adam had no doubt about that. Even though he did have a twin, both were still considered to be unique. After all, Adam was the only man and Adora was the only woman of this pairing.
"You cannot have my son, either, villain!" King Randor yelled as he finally reached his son and slipped an arm around his shoulders. Marlena wrapped her arm around her son's waist and leaned into him protectively. Both parents almost seemed to be trying to push Adam behind them, to shield him in case the visitor made a move towards him.
The Collector watched the scene undeterred and asked nonchalantly, "Will you provide me with a guide, so that I can travel the planet with some idea of where I am and what things are called here?"
Before King Randor or Queen Marlena could answer, Man-at-Arms spoke hostilely, "Of course not! Leave the city now while you still can!"
The Collector laughed again and said, "Well, can I at least drop by your library to get a book on Eternian anatomy? I already have one on Earthlings, and I think I'm going to find the similarities and differences quite interesting…" He let his words hang in the air for a moment.
The threat was understood by everyone in the room and King Randor wasn't going to stand for it.
"GUARD!" he yelled. "Take this man to the dungeon at once!"
Immediately, the man reached inside his coat pocket and pulled something out. He threw the item to the ground and instantly the room was engulfed in a thick smoke that made sight impossible. Everyone yelled and bumped into one another as they tried to seize the Collector as well as protect Prince Adam.
Adam wanted to run to turn into He-Man in all of this chaos, but it was impossible because his father and mother had a death grip on him. Instead, help arrived in the form of Orko:
"Billow, Willow, Pillow, Day, make that smog go away!"
Instantly, an intense wind developed in the throne room. Papers, hair pieces, and loose debris flew around as everyone tried to grab onto something to try to keep from falling. Of course, most people did fall because there was almost nothing to grab, but luckily, the smoke was now gone.
"ORKO!" Man-at-Arms cried as he fell on his butt.
As soon as Orko said another incantation to make the wind stop, everyone noticed that the Collector was no longer present. He got away and they all were wondering if he would be back and if he was truly after Prince Adam.
Like I said, this story is not going to be too long, but I would appreciate any feedback you have if you're interested in the plot and would like to see what happens next! Thanks! Oh, and yes, I know there are some unanswered questions in this chapter and they will be answered. Just so you know. LOL