Poisoned By Nick Alimonos Copyright May 18th 1997

Adora Randor fled from the arms of the pirate captain down to the base of the sleeping volcano. Her tiny bare feet, and partly up to her ankles, were black with soot. The captain eyed her carefully. Ay, she was a sight to behold, draped in nothing but her flashing red hair. It fell like waves down the folds of her back, crashing against her bare buttocks.
Finding a smooth rounded piece of coal, Adora hailed him with a graceful arch of her hand. He raised his arms in defense, but the stone missed him. "Hey!" he cried. "Fight fair!"
She turned to him, revealing her hard, plump breasts, her dazzling blue eyes, and a radiant smile. He had seen her standing there that way if not a thousand times, yet never having grown immune to her charm and beauty. "Come on, sailor boy, I'm not such an easy catch!"
"Oh!" he grinned, "just wait till I get my hands on you!" And he continued after her with his hands raised as if to strangle her. She laughed, all the way down to where the waves of the red sea crashed against the land. A massive sailing ship peered through the mists. When he caught up with her, Adora found herself trapped, unless she was about to swim. He grabbed her arm and turned her. "All right," she said puffing, "you caught me. I guess I'm all yours. It's useless to resist now."
"Yes," he smirked, "might as well lay down and enjoy it."

"Yeah," she smiled, looking into his eyes. "After you!" and with a flip of her wrist, Sea Hawk found himself lying flat on his back, she standing over him.
"Adora, must we always play these games!" he grunted, cocking his head up.
"Yep!" she said, landing on his crotch with him between her legs like a horse, or better yet, a pegacorn.
"Oof!" he tried to sit up.
She pushed him back down. "Now sit back and relax."
"Er . . . ok, but play nice."
"I will," she said softly, ripping the buttons from his shirt. Then she dove into him like an eagle, brushing her nose against the hairs of his chest and up to his lips. "I love you," she whispered, kissing him.
"I love you too," he said, pulling her closer and tasting her again. He started to undo his belt.
She stopped him. "Wait," she said, looking around. "Are you sure it's safe?"
"Of course!" he said, "would I bring you here if I didn't think it was safe? And besides . . . what in all the world could She-Ra be afraid of? In the belly of a monster you wouldn't be afraid."
"I know . . . but," her lips trembled, she looked at the ship, "are the crewman away?"
"Adora, you know they are, you saw them leave yourself."
"O-Ok," she said.
"Come on," he said, pulling down his pants, "let's get on with it!" She punched him in the face, bloodying his nose. He pushed her off. She rolled to the ground in a lifeless heap. "What the Hell was that for!" he said, getting to his feet, his pants still hugging his ankles.
"Oh," she said, with all the love of a mother, "I . . . I'm so sorry!" She reached toward him on her knees, half of her skin, the other half black.
He carried his nose and stepped back. "That's the third time you've done that! What's wrong with you!?" he asked.
"Let me see it," she walked toward him.
"N-no, it's fine!" he cried. "Just get away from me."
"Please," she begged with shimmering eyes. "Forgive me; I don't know why I keep doing this!"
"I swear, Adora, every time we make love . . . you're either this crazed nympho, or sexphobic!"
"So what's gonna happen now?"
"I dunno," he mumbled, "let me think."
"Do you still want to . . .?"
"The question is, do you want to!"
"Of course I do! You know I love you!"
"So what's wrong? Don't you trust me?"
"Of course I trust you!" she said.
"So what's the matter? Adora, please, I'm trying my best here . . ."
A cold breeze blew in from the North. It made her shiver and she hugged herself. She turned from him, hiding a tear. "Sea Hawk, th-there are things you just don't . . . you don't . . . "
"What!?" he cried. "Tell me!"
"There are things you just don't know about m-me."
"Oh come on, I already know you're She-Ra, what bigger secret can you have? Wait, it's not another man is it?"
"No," she said flatly.
"Then what is it? Whatever it is, Adora, I swear, I'll understand. I'll love you no matter what."
"I . . .," she broke down. "I don't think so," she mumbled between sobs.
"Please?" he asked gently.
She turned to him, frightened, wiping away the tears. "All right, but it won't be easy. Sea Hawk, I . . ."
Suddenly, the two were surrounded by seven solemn figures dressed in red robes. Their hands were hidden beneath long hanging sleeves, their faces masked by the shadows of their hoods.
"Wh-who are you people!" cried Sea Hawk, glancing about.
Adora crashed to the ground and started digging.
One of the figures stepped from the circle, addressing him in a dark brooding voice, "We have come for you."
Adora found a sword buried beneath the dirt, she pulled it free. The figures did not seem to mind her.
"Me? Wh-what do you want with me?" he asked.
"I sense you wish to know who we are. Come, Sea Hawk, look into my face."
There was a strange rattling sound as Sea Hawk hypnotically approached. Gazing into the darkness there, what he did behold terrified him, and he screamed.
Adora found her boots, her golden brassier, her eagle feather headdress, gloves, belt, scabbard, and her white loin cloth. Soon she was dressed and ready for battle. But when she stood again to face the strangers, they were gone, and nothing but a statue of Sea Hawk remained with a terror stricken expression on its face. She touched its shoulder with her hand. "For the Honor of Grayskull!" she cried, "they have turned him to stone!"
So focused was she on her beloved, that she had neglected to see the portal they had left for her. It was a glowing, jade doorway. "It's a trap," she said to herself, "they want me. But I can't let them get away with this." She unsheathed her sword. Its sharp edge played a lovely tune. "They will pay for what they have done!"

Upon walking through the gate, She-Ra found herself in another world. Sheer rock walls rising hundreds of feet flanked her on each side. She was standing in the middle of a dried river bed. She touched the walls. There had been no erosion for thousands of years. Where am I, she thought? Dark clouds raced across the sky hiding patches of sunlight. Though it appeared night, this was day. Behind those clouds were two discs, one a deep azure, the other, larger ultra-violet disc, masked one fourth of the sky. "Eon and Infinity," she addressed them as if old friends. "I am in the Dead Zones of . . . Eternia. And . . .," she looked up through the heavy cloud cover again. "Daylight, I am on the Bright Side."
A voice ushered forth from the shadows, "Only one from the Dark Side knows the true meaning of the word 'night.'" It was the red cloaked figure. Seven of his companions joined him forming a semicircle. She-Ra was in the middle backed against the wall. She released her sword. They moved in closer as if to suffocate her. She counted them over and over. "Ok," she said, "who dies first?"
"You do," the voice said calmly.
She watched them closely. Two of them broke formation and approached. She tightened her grip on her sword; the handle became slippery with sweat. She stared hard to penetrate the darkness, to catch a glimpse of their faces, but she could see only emptiness. It frightened her. It reminded her of another time, a time when she was without a sword, in the same darkness, backed against a rusted iron wall, where she could not move, when the thing that went bump in the night wasn't just a child's fanciful imagination. "I'm not afraid of you!" she screamed.
"Oh but you are," he said. A long, black, forked tongue slithered from one of their hoods. She spotted it. The figure who spoke raised his empty sleeves. "Get her!" he commanded. A red scaly hand with long black finger nails reached out from behind the robe. It crumpled to the ground. There was a man with red and yellow patches of skin, a long tail that rattled like a tambourine, a head like a serpent, small, soulless eyes, and puffy pink gums holding six inch fangs. The head lashed out to strike her. She stepped aside and swung with all her might. Blood washed over her. His decapitated body lay face down in the dirt. To her right came the second, blue and purple snake man, striking out with his long and venomous tongue. But she caught his tongue in her fist. It wrapped around her knuckles like a whip, and she lifted him above her head and smashed his skull in against the ground. "All right!" she spit, "whose next!"
The dark figure clapped, but she could not see his hands, if he had any. "Very good," he said. "Now . . . let me introduce you to my pet." The figure raised his arms in triumph. An eighteen foot, two-legged dinosaur with tiny, underdeveloped forearms stepped out of the shadows and tromping over the dark figure's head, lurching with its enormous mandibles to devour her. She-Ra leaped out of the way landing on her side, as the tremendous beast chomped down on vacant air. As she lay there on the ground, Adora put two fingers in her mouth and whistled. The sound of her whistle was followed by the sound of a neighing in the distance. The dark figure looked up to see a light blue, winged unicorn with wings of many colors. The mighty majestic steed swooped down from the heavens and grazed the dinosaur with its horn. She-Ra got to her feet waving her arms, "Swift Wind! Over here!" she called.
"I don't think so," said the dark one. And then there was a deafening screech. A pterodactyl like a hawk came down and snatched up the flying unicorn. It hooked its sharp talons into its prey and carried it to the ground where it began to peck at the already bleeding body with its pointed beak. "No!" screamed Adora, and with that the winds picked up and there was a flash of lightning.
The tyrannosaurus attacked again. She-Ra warded it off with her swinging blade but she could only nick at its hide. Seeing her efforts futile, she started to run but it was quick to follow. There was the boom that followed the lightning when She-Ra wedged her high heels between its bottom teeth and placed her hands to the roof of its mouth. The t-rex struggled to collapse its jaws around her but she forced them apart with all her immortal strength. The curved serrated edges of its teeth bit into the palms of her hands making them bleed, but she did not give in. Then, just when the dinosaur was to spit her out, its bottom tooth became loose and she lost her grip and fell in. The mouth closed and the reptilian beast thundered off contented. The dark figure laughed as the sky grumbled and the pterodactyl continued to feed on the dying animal.
Suddenly, the t-rex croaked, and fell over dead. Its tongue hanged lifelessly over the edge of its open mouth. And out from that dark cave came She-Ra, wet with saliva. "I guess I'm pretty hard to swallow."
The dark figure accosted her. "She-Ra!" he cried. "You will pay for this! Do you know how long it took me to raise him!"
"About as long as it took to potty train him?"
"Don't mock me wench!" He reached out his sleeve and instead of a hand coming out to grab her, came a snake. She fell in retreat hacking at it with her sword, but it jumped back into his robe. "What are you?" she asked.
"Allow me to introduce myself." He parted his robes and lowered his hood and peering from the darkness came many pairs of eyes, glowing like fireflies. He was nothing but snakes, writhing from waist up, five snake heads. Each snake spoke in the same single voice, "I am King Hiss of the Snake Men."
"Why did you turn my boyfriend to stone? Change him back or I'll kill you!"
"Ah, such harsh words from such pretty lips. Let me kiss them," and the five snakes attacked. The Sword of Protection danced in her hands fending off each head, until at last catching one in the mouth. The snake bit down on the blade and held it. She tried to pull it free when the central, larger snake sunk its fangs six inches into her waist, leaving two bloody holes in her six inches apart. Her face suddenly turned pale; she dropped the sword, and collapsed. It started to rain.
Another red robed figure joined them. This one spoke in a raspy yet female voice. "Is she dead?"
"No."
"The deal was, she dies. Finish her now."
King Hiss morphed into the guise of a handsome, middle aged man. "There is no need. None are bitten by King Hiss and live. And in all the universe there is no cure for my venom."
"I thought you said death was instantaneous?"
"It is. I carry within me five poisons. But I wished to make her suffer for killing my pet." He looked at her, twisted, contorted, vomiting. "Do you hear that, She-Ra? Now you will learn the meaning of pain. What you have in you now is a poison that will slowly make you die, one limb at a time. First you will feel your feet growing numb, then your legs, then your arms, perhaps. Each time a part of you dies, you will feel this that you feel now, only worse. And when finally on the morrow, your head dies, you will know the worst pain of all!"
Shadow Weaver picked up the sword. She cradled it in her arms like a newborn. "Ah, yes, I can study this. I can learn from its power."
Adora tried to stand but her feet would not obey her. "Wh-why?" she asked.
"Why did I do this? Simple, the Snake Men are interested in gold. We need it, you see, to build a space ship that will take us to our home world. There we shall revive our once great Empire, and proceed to take over the universe! And the Horde promised to contribute a huge sum of money to this little project if I were get rid of you. Speaking of which," he turned to Shadow Weaver. "Where is the money?"
"All right," she replied. "Follow me."
Adora reached up her hand, "Mother! Please, help me!"
"Sweet child," the old crone rasped. "I'm not your mother anymore." The rain picked up.

Meanwhile, a huge man by the name of Ontork walked into the tavern of a small village on the outskirts of the Endless Plains. There a storm was brewing, a storm that rattled the window panes. He had just come in out of the rain, stooping under the doorway to make his entrance, dressed only in the traditional fur underwear, leather boots, and gold bracelets. There was a green tattoo of a spider's web atop his bald scalp, and scars from many battles past all over him. He laid his double bladed battle ax against the counter and grinded his half missing teeth, sputtering, "I am Ontork the barbarian! I am looking for Fisto!"
The bartender greeted the man. "Welcome to the Zoar Falcon Inn, how may I help you?"
"I am only looking for Fisto. Where is the runt?"
"Please, good sir, we don't want any trouble. Take your fight elsewhere."
Ontork then proceeded to use the bartender's face to mop the scum from the table. The host of drunken men and women in the tavern hushed, averting their eyes from the scene.
"I am Fisto," a voice called out. It was a neatly trimmed brown bearded man dressed in purple and silver striped breast plate armor. He was standing at a small wooden table. Ontork grabbed a small three legged stool that was in use and sat. The man whose chair it had been did not complain, but rather, picked up his belongings and ran off. "So, you are Fisto, eh?"
Fisto returned to his seat. "Yes."
"Well then, take your long sword and meet me outside so that we may do battle!"
"Why?" asked Fisto.
"Why!? I challenge you! You, Mighty Fisto, Fearless Fisto, you cower from a fight? I had heard great things of you, that you were one step down from He-Man himself. If this is so, prove yourself, fight me!"
The storm cackled outside. "No, not now, it's raining," said Fisto calmly, drinking his beer.
Ontork snatched the beer from his hand and guzzled it down in one swig, spilling it over his lips and beard and on to the floor. Then, he crushed the copper mug in his hand, and slammed it on to the table. "Not later," he cried, "NOW!"
Fisto did not feel like wasting his time on this savage. Besides, he had made plans that evening to meet his beloved, Teela, at the palace. "I had rather not go out now, but if you truly wish to test your manhood, perhaps we could play a little game instead?"
"G-game?" he repeated. "What game?"
"Arm wrestling."
Ontork laughed, flexing his massive arms. "Very well!"
Fisto raised his right hand from beneath the table and there came a huge iron fist, the size of which must have been four or five times the size of a normal man's hand. Ontork's eyes popped at the sight of it. Fisto smiled. "Inn keeper," he called forth, "More ale!"

Caked with volcanic dirt, serpent blood, and dinosaur saliva, Adora lay in the fetal position at the bottom of the river gorge. Rain gushed over her in big watery globs. Blood from her snake bite streamed down her waist. The storm washed over her just so that more blood could seep through. Her pain had momentarily ceased, and she knew she would have to get help if she were to survive. In the distance she could make out the pterodactyl sitting on her flying unicorn, Swift Wind. She could feel that it was still alive, so she called to it with her mind, pleading for it to come. Somehow, the dying animal gained strength for the love of its dying master, and mustering all its remaining energy, thrust its unicorn's horn into the belly of the sleeping reptilian bird. Imbued with a magic fire, the spiraling pearl white horn stabbed right into the heart of the pterodactyl, and it died. Then, ever so slowly, Swift Wind got to its feet and limped to its beloved master. When it arrived, the majestic animal needed to nudge her awake for she had fallen asleep, so weary was she. Adora placed her hand against the pegacorn's side and its wounds closed up and disappeared, and Swift Wind leaped to life. Unfortunately, her healing touch could not undo the effects of her poisoning. "Swift Wind," she said, "I am much too weak to stand much less ride you. Quickly, you must get help!"

A crowd had gathered around the dueling two, making bets and throwing gold coins. He heaved and grunted, foaming at the mouth, shouting out obscenities, as sweat poured down his face. A single vein popped out of his forehead, and his neck shriveled up like a raisin. He leaned all his weight into it, but Fisto's arm would not budge. "Perhaps you should try both arms," suggested Fisto. Ontork had become so enraged, that he did just that. The wooden leg of his stool collapsed, and Ontork fell on his butt still holding on to Fisto's arm. "Give up?" asked Fisto.
"No!" cried Ontork, getting to his feet. "I will never give up!" He grabbed Fisto's arm again.
Fisto was feeling sleepy. He yawned, holding his head up with his free hand when something caught his eye. Looking out the window, out in the rain, was a winged horse. Fisto was quite amazed, for he had never seen a winged horse before. Yet, it looked somehow familiar. He slammed his iron fist down on the table breaking it in half and breaking Ontork's arm in three places, and stood. Ontork lay on the ground cursing, as the bartender walked up to Fisto. "You broke my table! Now who is going to pay for that?"
"Here," said one corpulent man, handing the bartender a handful of eternium pieces. He turned to Fisto. "I owe you. Tonight, you have made me a richer man!"

The door creaked open. In came Father. The night light gave just enough illumination to make him out. She sat up on her pillow. Father sat at the edge of the bed. "Have we been good today, Adora?"
"Yes, Father."
"Did you stay away from the restricted areas like I told you?"
"Yes, Father."
"Do you think you can hide things from me, Adora?"
"No, Father."
"Then what is this!" he cried, taking a small mirror from his pocket.
"I . . . I . . ."
"Don't lie to me, child!" He smashed the mirror on the floor. Pieces of it scattered across the room. "What do you think now, now that you have seen yourself?"
"I . . . I'm ugly, Father;" she buried her head in her lap sobbing.
"Wh-what?" he said, surprised.
"I don't look like you at all!"
It was true. His skin was white and scaly, like a fish, with fins instead of hair. His ears pointed like horns; his eyes were two red slits; his teeth came to sharp points, and there were holes where his nose would be. But to Adora, this was no monster; this was her loving Father, Daddy Hordak.
"Ah," he smiled, patting her head. "There now, didn't I tell you not to look in those things?" He wiped her eye lid with his glove. "Let's pretend the whole thing never happened, shall we?"
"Yes, Father."
"Do you love your Father, Adora?" It was the same question he asked every night. To her it meant, time for bed.
"Yes, Father."
"How much?"
"Very."
"More than Mother?"
"Yes, Father."
"Good girl! Show your father how much you love him; give Daddy a little kiss!"
She laughed. "Yes, Father!"

Fisto examined the winged unicorn. "Truly remarkable!" he said to himself. It seemed so gentle, almost as if it knew him, he thought. Then, he noticed its golden bridle. You are not a wild beast, are you? Where is your master?

Almost as if reading Fisto's thoughts, Swift Wind bit the fingers of his left hand and pulled him away from the inn.
"Ow!" he cried. "First you are gentle, then you bite me? What do you want?" Lightning struck again, and it dawned on him that someone might need his help. Fisto turned to the stables where his mechanical mare, Stridor, was stationed. He could follow the creature on his horse, but what of his lover, Teela, who waited for him? Perhaps, he thought, if he was quick and hurried back, he could apologize for being late and she would not be so angry. But what if he was late and she never forgave him? What if he was late and she thought him dead? He had never been late before. Then again, what if it was someone dying in the wilderness, desperately needing his help? Yes, he had to go. He would go. "Teela can wait," he said to himself. He looked at Swift Wind, then pointed to Stridor. "Yes, I will follow you! Let me get my horse!"

*drip*
Mother was right, though, Father had warned her many times, if she played in the infirmary she would be punished.
*drip*
The sound of iron grinding against iron could be heard echoing in the distance; someone was being put into the Pit. This was the only sound that could be heard from time to time, other than the incessant dripping of a leak from somewhere. Counting each second, it reminded her of the seeming eternity of her detention, of the infinite, impenetrable darkness.
*drip*
The darkness was cold . . . so cold, and damp. What would she give for a plate of food and some warm clothing? But she was not alone. Someone, or some thing, slept at her feet. It stirred in the corner.

Fisto raced under the stormy sky, against all the wind and rain, on his mighty steed, Stridor, looking up from time to time to catch a glimpse of the majestic winged mare soaring through the clouds, leading him onward. It is as I thought, thought Fisto, he is taking me to the Dead Zones. His master must be in great trouble. But I must hurry; if I do not get there before the storm is over, surely they will die in that unforgiving desert. Just then, Stridor and Fisto fell forward, as if hitting some invisible wall. What's this? "Go Stridor! Go!" he commanded. But the mechanical steed would not move. Swift Wind circled back. Fisto jumped off the horse, landing knee deep in a pit of black tar. "Oh no!" he cried. Stridor was knee deep in it too, but as much as it struggled, it could not free itself from the pit. "Damn you, Stridor!" he cursed, pushing the horse. "Get up!"
Fisto fought for five straight minutes. In the end, his hands were covered in tar and slippery, and he himself had sunk halfway. It seemed the more he pushed, the further down they went. Suddenly, something snaked up behind him, a green, slime-coated tentacle with teeth. It snapped at him and he jumped back screaming. Fisto leveraged himself up on to the horse, making it sink further, grabbing his long sword and backpack. He squatted, glancing around for the creature, swinging madly. Tar splashed up and stuck to his face and beard, but the creature was nowhere to be seen.
Fisto measured the length of the pit, but it was too dark to tell where the tar ended and solid ground began. He spotted Swift Wind hovering above him. Touching his fingers to his lips, he said, "Good-bye, fair horse, I will miss you!" as the head of the iron mare vanished in the tar. He was a bit saddened at the loss of his friend. It was a gift given to him long ago by Man-at-Arms, the father of Teela and Eternia's greatest inventor. At least, he thought, it was only a machine and not a real horse, though by Man-at-Arms' genius did it act no differently, and through the years had Fisto come to know it so. As these thoughts raced through his mind, Fisto reached over the back of the aerial mount, being careful to avoid its flapping wings, and ascended into the air leaving his friend behind.

*drip*
She tugged on her manacles; it was no use. She called for Mother for the thousandth time. "I'm sorry! Mommy . . . I'll never do it again; I promise!" She remembered her mother's parting words. They echoed in her mind like a church bell: "My dear sweet child, but it's for your own good. Remember, Mother knows best."
*drip*
The beast awakened. His eyes glowed like hot coals. They grew closer. Oh God, she thought, what terrible thing lies in wait for me! What was that odor, like some dead, wet animal, as to make her choke on the stench?
*DRIP*
She could feel his warmth brush against the hairs of her left cheek and down to her neck and bosom. What was that snorting, wheezing, gurgling sound, drowning out her screams, his breath?
*DRIP*
Oh what she would have given for that cold dampness now, for that peaceful darkness, for that comforting silence, loneliness. Please, go away. Leave me alone. Don't stare at me, don't stare.
*DRIP*
Did Mother know he was down here with her? Did Father? They couldn't have wanted this for her . . . they couldn't have, but they must know, she thought, they must.
*DRIP*

The clouds had moved on, and the blazing red sun turned the earth a crisp golden brown. Fisto had walked the rest of the way to the river gorge where Swift Wind had brought him, for he was a bit leery of flying. There he found the rotting remains of a tyrannosaurus rex and a pterodactyl. Between them was a small figure. He could just make it out, but it seemed to be a woman. It must be her, he thought! But how am I going to get down there? He looked in his backpack, but all he had were a few gold coins and a canteen. Swift Wind poked him in the ribs with its horn. "All right!" he cried, jumping on.
Fisto was much heavier than She-Ra, especially with his iron hand, so rather than fly, Swift Wind glided downward, landing gracefully next to Adora. Screech already picked at the carrion of the two dinosaurs. One of them waited patiently by her body. Fisto dismounted, chasing it off with his sword. "Get outta here, foul bird!" Then he turned to her. "Sh-she is beautiful!" he exclaimed. "What could have done this to her?"
Examining the snake bite in her waist, Fisto knelt down beside She- Ra's limp figure. He lifted his eyes, praying simply, "please." Ever so gently, he placed her wrist in his left hand and searched for a pulse. It was there, but faint. "Oh, thank the gods!" he exclaimed. He cradled her head in the palm of his massive, iron hand. Her lips were parched. Propping her mouth open, he poured some water into her from his canteen. Then, he searched to find some cloth, but there was none, none but her loin cloth. So he removed it. Save for her knee high boots, from waist down, Adora was nude. Fisto slapped himself, "Will power, man, will power! This is no time for that!" He then proceeded to wash the wound, and wrapping his lips around her slim abdomen, attempted to suck the venom out. His mouth filled with the taste of her blood, though he did not know whether there was any venom in it, or whether he was doing any good. He spit several times, and then tied the garment around her.
Fisto stood with She-Ra in his arms. Turning to Swift Wind, he said, "If she is to live, I must take her to the Sorceress of Grayskull." He knew the horse could not take them both. "You have served your master well. Now go on; find another who can help us!" Swift Wind understood and flew away.
The river stretched on for miles, but it leveled off, and Fisto knew, it led to Grayskull. He clutched Adora tightly. I will carry her, he thought; I will carry her all the way, or I will die trying!

The Throne Room was like a cathedral. A bridge spanning one hundred feet over a chasm of unknown depth, held two rows of fifty Horde troopers standing guard on each side. All light fell on the Emperor of the Horde, Hordak. The back of his chair was thirty feet high in itself, standing on a platform ten feet high. The dimensions of the room alone were unknown, as they were lost in the shadows. Hordak was never without his shiny black armor engraved with the symbol of his Empire, the fire bat of Etheria, or his regal, blood red cape. He was rotating a glass sphere in his hand when his mistress, Shadow Weaver, came in. "Great Hordak," she echoed. "The child has been thrown into the Pit, as you have ordered."
"Good." He continued to play with his ball.
"Are you aware, Great Hordak, that she is in there with . . ."
"Yes."
"She is female. Surely you should know that he will . . ."
Hordak stood, placing the sphere on the arm rests of his throne. He did not look at her.
"But even you cannot be so cruel . . ."

He turned his back to her.
"Sh-she calls your name. She calls out for her fa-ther."
"Why, Shadow Weaver, I would almost think that you have grown a heart," he scoffed.
"Allow me, at least, to move her to another cell."
Hordak looked at his gloved hand, admiring the fine craftsmanship. He liked how the light reflected off of it; how it could not penetrate the blackness. He closed his fingers into a fist, walking off into the darkness, his cape flowing behind him. "She will remain until I say so."
"As you wish." Shadow Weaver bowed, and disappeared.

It was time to sleep. Adora lay in her bed. Hordak loomed over her.
"Please," he begged, "for me?"
"No."
"Don't you love me?"
"Y-Yes," she whimpered.
"So what's wrong?"
"I just don't want to."
"There was never a problem before," he pleaded.
"I just don't want to do . . . that . . . anymore," she whispered.
"But I'm asking you nicely." He leaned in closer.
"No!" she screamed. "Stop it!"
"Come on," he pushed, "let's get on with it!" All she could see was his horrible face. Then the face of Hordak melted into the face of Fisto.
"You're awake?"
She-Ra stirred. "Wh-where am I?"
"Don't worry, you're safe. I brought us into this cave so that we could rest. We are about twenty miles from the Dead Zones where I found you. You have been asleep for quite awhile; I have been carrying you."
"How did you find me?" she murmured.
"I believe your horse brought me to you."
"Swift Wind!" she exclaimed. "Now I remember."
"Yes, I sent him on to get help. How do you feel?"
"Ugh!" she groaned as she tried to move. "I can't feel my legs!" She looked toward her feet, noticing for the first time how Fisto had undressed her, and dressed her wound, how he had laid her across him, and sat with his back against the cave wall with her head resting on his lap. "Get a good look at me, did you?" she smirked.
Fisto averted his eyes. "N-No!" he said. "I didn't look."
"Sure you didn't." She smiled. "It's OK, I'm not shy."
"I am taking you to Castle Grayskull," he said, changing the subject, "to see the Sorceress."
"Grayskull, yes, I know of the place."
"You do? Who are you?"
"I am She-Ra, Princess of Etheria."
"So you are She-Ra! I have heard legends, but never thought to meet you, not in this way! So you are the sister of the King, He-Man?"
"Yep, he's my brother."
"He is my good friend!" said Fisto. "I can't believe it . . . of all people, She-Ra! Are you thirsty, She-Ra?" he asked, opening his canteen.
"Yes, thank you." She drank from it. "King Hiss said there is no cure for this poison."
"So, it was King Hiss who did this to you, that snake!"
"Do you really think the Sorceress can help me?"
"If she cannot, no one can."
"He said that I would die soon."
"No you won't!" cried Fisto. "I will get you there in time. I promise!"
"Th-thank you, for saving me. You really are quite heroic."
"You're welcome."
"So tell me, what is your name, stranger?"
"Fisto."
"Fisto?" she giggled. "That's a silly name! Why are you called Fisto?"
He raised his right arm. "See!"
She wrapped her whole hand around his index finger. "Oh my, is that a glove, or is it your hand?"
"No!" he chuckled. "It is my hand!"
"I'm sorry about what I said earlier. I didn't know," she said softly.
He laughed. "Don't be sorry! I'm not!"
"How did that happen, if you don't mind me asking?"
"Well, it's a long story, but I guess I'll tell it to you, since we have nothing else to do." When he spoke, Fisto liked to gesture with his hand, which was quite dangerous, for She-Ra feared that at any moment he would crush her, but she listened intently to his story anyway. "When I was a young, handsome man, I lived peacefully in the Forgotten Forest as a woodsman with my wife and child. Chopping down trees, I had become very strong. In fact, I was said to be blessed from birth with super-human strength. I showed off at festivals and by competing in arm wrestling tournaments. In all Eternia, I could find no man but He-Man, who could best me in arm wrestling. Some suggested that I use my great strength to aid the Eternian Royal Guard, but I was not a violent man and did not wish to enlist. Then, one day, a man by the name of Jitsu broke into my home. He murdered my wife and child before me, and cut off my hand."
"How awful!" she said.
"So distraught was I, that I went to Castle Grayskull to see the Sorceress. She searched the treasures of the Ancients to find a magic, solid iron hand to replace my own, and I joined the men-at-arms, learning to use my new limb as a great weapon."
"But is it the same? As a real hand, I mean?"
"No. Never again would I be whole. It doesn't seem like a great loss, still having my other hand. But, She-Ra . . ."
"Please," she said, "call me Adora."
"Adora, that is a pretty name. Well, Adora, never again could I write a simple letter. Never again would I know the feel a newborn infant in my arms. They are the simple things in life that I miss. And when I see my hand, that it is gone, I am forever reminded of the loss of my wife and child."
"I . . . I'm so sorry."
"I spent many years looking for Jitsu, so that I may take revenge, but when I found, fought, and defeated him, I could not bring myself to kill him. So I let him live with the agony of defeat, and a missing hand forever as a reminder of me."
Fisto looked at her sleeping peacefully on his lap. He could feel her pulse through his legs. She looked so beautiful, he wanted to kiss her. Only thoughts of her predicament, and of Teela, prevented him.

Fisto slung Adora over his left shoulder, holding on to her with his iron hand as he climbed over rocky hills and through arid plains. He stopped to rest when he could, in caves or beneath the shade of a tree, for the Eternian sun never set on the Bright Side. But with all his great strength, he was growing tired. He had not slept or eaten in over twenty Eternian hours, and only wet his lips with water, saving the most of it for her. His run had turned into a jog, his jog into a walk, and now his knees buckled and he had to stop. Gazing up at the two moons, Eon and Infinity, he could see that time was wearing thin, and he still had much to go.

*DRIP*
Oh God, I can feel it touching me. I wish I could just close my eyes and die . . . I wish I was somewhere else, someone else . . . I wish.
*DRIP*
Please, someone hear me; someone help me. Oh no, not there, don't go there!
*DRIP*
She was 14.

She-Ra awoke suddenly in a cold sweat. Her face had turned light green, her lips a deep violet; she panted as if giving birth. Fisto placed his left hand to her forehead. It was damp, burning. He laid her gently to the ground, kneeling beside her. "Adora!" he cried. "How do you feel?"
"N-Not too good." She tried to smile. "Oh Fisto, I can't feel anything. I can't move my arms!"
Fisto brought her to his chest, holding her tight. "Please, Adora, hang in there! You can make it!"
Thoughts raced through his mind, met, and battled for dominance. What would he do? She was so weak. Should he let her rest, or did they have time for that? If he tried to move her now, would she become more sick? His hands trembled with indecision. The only thing that mattered to him was her life. If she died, he did not know what he would do, he could not even imagine.
"Fisto," she said, "talk to me, please."
"What should I say?"
"Tell me more about your hand. Isn't it heavy? Don't you get tired carrying it around? What do you do when you sleep, take a shower, make love?" She was mumbling. He could tell she wanted to sleep, but that she was forcing herself awake.
"Well, the hand comes off. See," he said, and with a twist of his other hand, he removed it, his right arm now ending in a stump. "Adora . . . I don't usually show people this, only my closest friends. It makes me feel . . ."
"Embarrassed?"
"Y-Yes." His face turned red.
"I don't usually show people my vagina, either," she said with a smile.
He laughed. "How are you feeling now, my dear?"
"Better."
"Water?" he asked, bringing the canteen to her lips.
"No thanks, I don't think I could stomach it right now."
"Whatever you need, I am right here for you."
"Fisto . . ."
"Yes?"
"Hold me."
"I am holding you, Adora," he affirmed, staring into her eyes. "You know so much about me, tell me about yourself?"
"Well, let's see . . .," she started slowly. "When I was a baby, I was kidnapped by Hordak and taken to Etheria. There I was raised believing that he was my natural father and Shadow Weaver my mother. I was raised to be a great warrior.
When I was a grown woman, I met my brother, Adam, who was fighting against the Horde. The Sorceress recognized my true identity and helped him to reveal to me the truth, that I was not the daughter of the evil Emperor, but of King Randor and Queen Marlena of Eternia."
"It must have been quite a shock!" he exclaimed.
"Yes, it was. I lived half my life believing in a lie. Even now, it is difficult for me to have any real feelings for my true parents, though they have shown me nothing but love and kindness. When I think of father, the first thing that comes to mind is Hordak." She began to cry.
"D-Do you love him as a father?"
"No!" she screamed, shaking her head, for she could not move any other part of her body.
"He must have been pretty cruel."
"All I want is to see him lying dead with his blood on my sword. I have no other reason for living . . . other than Sea Hawk."
"Who is Sea Hawk?" he asked.
"My boyfriend, but he was turned to stone by King Hiss."
"Oh. D-Do you love him?"
"Yes, but you wouldn't want me. I am a disgusting whore."
"Wait!" cried Fisto. "I didn't mean anything by that! And i-if I did, why would you say such a thing, about yourself? I don't think you're disgusting. In fact, I think you're quite nice."
"You don't know too much about me, do you? But then again, no one does." She turned from him.
"Tell me, please. Whatever it is, I'll understand. I will think of you no less!"
"I . . .," and she began to convulse in his arms, spitting up blood. "Before I die, let all who are fighting the Horde know one thing, when I was 14, Hordak left me in the Pit with his monster, Grizzlor, to be raped." Her body did not stir. She closed her eyes as the last tears streamed down her face. King Hiss did not know the meaning of the word pain.

Lurking over the mists as one approached it like some great, evil gargoyle, striking terror into the hearts of all who should stumble across it, there stood Castle Grayskull, a green, stone-brick relic in the midst of the jagged hills. Its four towers reached three hundred feet into the gloomy sky, its face like that of a human skull, its mouth the drawbridge. Empty eye sockets gazed out over all Eternia as they had for the past ten thousand years. What restless spirits remain buried therein? If the walls could talk, what tales could they tell?
Fisto banged his fist on the drawbridge. "Open up!" he cried. She-Ra lay unconscious next to him.
An ominous voice boomed, "WHO GOES THERE?"
"It is I, Fisto of the Eternian Royal Guard! Open up!" he screamed.
"TURN BACK!" said the voice. "NONE MAY ENTER HERE!"
"I seek council with the Sorceress! It is She-Ra! She is dying! She may already be dead . . ."
A great, orange and blue falcon swooped down from the tower window landing on a ledge next to him. He knew this to be the sacred Eternian bird, zoar, whose wingspan reached nine feet. Could this be the Zoar mage herself, the Sorceress of Grayskull, he thought? "Bring her!" the bird squawked.
Fisto lifted Adora in his arms and carried her back away from the door. The zoar transformed itself into a fair woman dressed in bird feathers, and raising her arm, said, "By the power of Grayskull, let the jawbridge open!" Her voice was smooth and calm yet full of power, so that it seemed if she would command a rock to move it would. Likewise, the castle obeyed her, and with a chain rattling, clanking sound, the entryway to the castle was barred no more. The three of them went inside.
"Quickly," she said, "follow me."
Fisto followed her into the darkness. The atmosphere was stale and thick with dust, enough to make him gasp for air. It seemed no one had lived here for centuries. He could make little of the castle's contents; all was shrouded in mystery: ancient book cases, bottles, trunks, statues, tapestries, old weapons and suits of armor. Though there was light enough to see, Fisto could not tell from where it came. They crossed through countless corridors, hallways, and rooms, before coming to a stone slab raised four feet off the ground with a star in a circle etched into its surface. The Sorceress motioned for him to place Adora on the slab. As soon as he did, she closed her eyes and waved her hand over the body. Stopping at the bandage, she said, "remove it." Fisto complied. The blood had soaked up into the cloth and was dry. The holes were partly closed, but it made no difference now. "What happened?" she asked.
"I found her this way in a river gorge in the Dead Zones. I spoke to her. She said she was poisoned by King Hiss."
The Sorceress placed both hands on the body. She chanted a few words into the air that had no meaning to Fisto, for they were of the Ancient Zodiakian tongue, and a white glow streamed forth from one woman to the other. The Sorceress' face was stern. She chanted more rapidly, her countenance growing more dismal, and yet there seemed no change to the ill- fated princess. At last, the Sorceress wailed. The glowing light burned out, and she fell back as if to faint. Fisto reached out to catch her, but she caught herself instead. "Wh-what is it, Sorceress! Is she dead?"
"No," she replied. "But she might as well be. I can do nothing for her."
"No!" cried Fisto, pounding his fist into the wall. Pieces of it flaked off and fell to the ground.
"Oh Adora," she wept, combing her fingers through her long red hair. "Believe me, Fisto, if there was something I could do, I would. Her body is besieged by this venom. I cannot remove it and there is no cure."
"I-Is she, is she going to wake up again?" His lips trembled.
"No," said the Sorceress.
"But . . . it's not fair! I didn't even, I didn't even get the chance to . . .," Fisto buried his head in his hand and ran off. He ran, lost in the endless passageways of the fortress, until somehow coming upon the jawbridge. It opened for him, and he stumbled out into the day. The light burned his pupils and made him squint. He collapsed to the ground, weary, shading himself with his massive hand. All his hope and all his strength was gone. At that moment, a stunning blue eyed brunette woman arrived carrying a wooden staff. "There you are!" she cried.
"Teela?" he asked. "Is that you?"
"Yes it's me! Did you forget all about me already?"
"No. What are you doing here?"
"Me! I should ask you the same question! I have been looking everywhere for you! I thought you were dead! Now I almost wish you were, you bastard!"
"Wait a second!" he cried. "I can explain . . . you see, She-Ra . . ."
"She-Ra!" she yelled. "What about She-Ra?"
"Well, you see, last night, I was with her and . . ."
"Aha! I thought so! Another woman, you bastard!" she said again, beating him with the head of her staff.
Fisto did nothing but try to keep from getting hit. When he looked up again, he found her mounted on her sky sled, ready to take off. "Wait!" he called, "did you come to see the Sorceress?"
She turned to him as she was leaving. "Yes, I came to ask her where I could find you!" With that, Teela was gone. Fisto felt horrible, knowing her fiery temperament, but it was no use running after her. He did not love her. He never did.

I failed, Fisto said to himself, just like I failed to save my wife. As he lay there wallowing in sorrow, the Sorceress burst forth, "Wait!"
"What?"
"There IS one person immune to King Hiss' poison!"
"Who?"
"King Hiss himself," she said.
"So," he asked, "what of it?"
"If you could bring me the head of King Hiss, I could use it to make an antidote."
"Can we assemble the Guard?"
"There is no time. You must go alone. Not even I can help, for I cannot leave this castle. I give you one hour. If you cannot return with the head of King Hiss in one hour, Adora will die."
"B-But, that's impossible! One bite and I will be dead just the same! Besides, how will we find him?"
"The sword of She-Ra is very valuable. Since you brought her to me with all but her sword, I believe that King Hiss has taken it, and if he has, I can use my magic to locate it, and hopefully, him. Fisto," she paused. "You don't have to go. There will be no dishonor. But if you so decide, I can make a portal to send you."
"Oh, I don't know!" he cried. "If She-Ra could not best him, how can I? Surely the sister of He-Man is a greater champion!"
The Sorceress placed her hand on his chest. "But you love her," she said gently.
"H-How did you know!"
"Why Fisto," she smiled. "I am the Sorceress; I can feel it. You love her very much."
"Yes!" he grabbed her as if she were Adora. "I didn't know it myself until now. It no longer matters what happens to me."

In the guise of a middle aged man, King Hiss, ruler of all Snake Men, sat upon his granite throne chiseled from a single stone block. He surveyed his surroundings, the bright, rectangular chamber lined by pillars and hieroglyphics, the obsidian bowls of flame burning to each side of him. From the open ceiling above came the light of the sun, the jungle vines crawling down the sloping walls, and the hanging palm trees.
"This," she rasped, "is a space ship?"
"Magnificent, isn't it! The new Emperor of the Snake Men should travel in style, don't you think?" He sipped the blood from his chalice, clutching his bejeweled, serpent entwined scepter in his other hand.
"No matter, the Horde has supplied you with all the materials you requested. I will take my leave now."
"Wait, Shadow Weaver, what of my trophy?"
"I had hoped I could present that to Hordak for his birthday."
"It is mine. I want it now."
"As you wish," she sighed. "Bring the statue!" Two figures clad in full plate carried a wooden crate marked fragile into the room. They set the crate down and pried it open with crow bars. The sides of the wooden crate fell flat and there stood the petrified Sea Hawk.
"Yesss," he mused. "I think I like it there. What say you, witch?" Suddenly, a large man with an iron fist appeared between them. "What!" cried King Hiss, getting to his feet.
Shadow Weaver looked at the man, then looked at the sword she pulled from her robes. "Cursed thing!" she hissed. With that, the old crone vanished, leaving the sword on the floor. "How dare you come into my chambers unannounced!" shouted the King, his long black tongue slipping in and out. "Who are you?"
"I am Fisto," said the man, pointing his long sword to the King's neck. "I have come for your head villain!"
"Fool!" cried King Hiss, his eyes becoming like swirling pools of fire, pulling Fisto inward, headlong into vertigo. Fisto held the sword unsteadily, then let go. It dropped to the floor with a clang. "Did you truly believe that you could barge in here and slay the most powerful being in the universe? I will not even call my guards; I will deal with you myself!" The serpent around his staff came alive, slithering its way up around his arm, opening its hood and rattling its tail, hissing and snapping its jaws. "Ah, my lovely pet," he said, stroking the cobra. Fisto remained mesmerized. Coiling it up into a ball, King Hiss hurled the snake at Fisto. It struck him square in the head, wrapping itself around him.
Freed of the sorcerer's charm, Fisto grabbed the cobra with his giant fingers, prying it off before it could strike. The snake writhed in his clenched fist, but its fangs could not penetrate his iron hand. He showed the snake to King Hiss, then squeezed the blood out of it like a ripe tomato, leaving its dried lifeless body for the flies to feast.
"You impudent ape!" cried the King, shedding his skin to reveal his horrendous, five-headed self, lunging at him.
Kneeling down to pick up his sword, the monster was already upon him.

Fisto reached out his extended arm to keep the venomous monarch away, but it was no use. King Hiss made his way up around his biceps, calves, hips, throat. Thrashing about uselessly, the lone hero could hear the slow popping of his muscles from his bones, feel the ever increasing pressure on his lungs by his collapsing ribs, the thumping of his heart.
Before killing and feeding on his victims, King Hiss liked to stare into their eyes, to see the fear and panic wrought by their impending death. Fisto grinded his teeth, a line of sweat streaking down to his beard, and stared back into those soulless black pupils, seeing nothing there but his own twisted reflection. "I have fought and killed better men than you! For two thousand years, I have led my nomadic people to the promised land; did you truly think you could stop me? No, I shall return to the land of my forefathers and reclaim my birthright as pharaoh. I am the thirty third descendent of the Great God Set and I shall not be denied!" King Hiss ranted on senselessly, as Fisto inched his left hand up to the middle head, and with all his remaining might, stabbed his fingers into the serpent's eyes.
Stumbling back, blinded and bleeding, the snake man regained his composure. Fisto eyed the monster carefully, another eight pairs of eyes looking back. As the gnawing poisonous mouths reached out to snare him, he backed down the stairs. They curved, danced, and spiraled about themselves to dizzy him; they hissed and rattled, but he averted his gaze from them to the middle head.
"You will pay for that!" the mouths wailed in unison. "I will inject you with the worst poison of all, so that you may suffer a slow, painful death!"
"Like She-Ra!" Fisto replied, angrily. King Hiss surged forward, tasting the cold iron of his blocking fist. "I have you now!" he said. But the middle head did not let go. It clamped down hard on his giant hand, and unlocking its jaw, stuffed half of it into its mouth, drawing him in. He tried to pull away, but it was no use; his fist was stuck. Soon, the smaller snakes would have him for dinner. "Come to me!" they beckoned. Then, Fisto had an idea. He jammed his fist down deeper into King Hiss' throat, and dislodged it from his arm. As the scaly sovereign strained to swallow, he snatched his long sword from the floor and lopped his head off.

With the main head gone, the body of the King crashed to its knees and collapsed, blood gushing from its open wound like a water hose, though the smaller heads still lived. Already Fisto could see a new head growing in place of the lost one. Peeling his prosthetic appendage from the King's dismembered part and reattaching it, he remembered the sword of She-Ra. He leaned over to pick it up when the statue caught his eye.
It must be Sea Hawk, he thought. I should take it to the Sorceress; she could undo the King's evil spell. But what if when Adora sees him, she forgets about me? She loves him, but he doesn't have to return . . . Fisto wrinkled his brow. What if King Hiss destroyed him? Yes, I could tell it to her gently. She would grieve for a while, but she would be mine . . . at least she would be . . . No, what am I saying! I can't do this. I don't even know what she feels for me. And if she chooses him, so be it; I am no murderer.
He lifted Sea Hawk on to his broad shoulders. "Oh how I wish I had never laid eyes on you," he muttered, carrying two swords, a snake's head, and a statue to a faintly shimmering place that was the portal.

Fisto arrived at Grayskull. The Sorceress put her finger to the statue, changing it back to living flesh and blood. "Adora run!" cried Sea Hawk.
"Hold!" said Fisto, grabbing him. "Much time has passed, my friend."
"Wh-where am I?" he cried.
"You are in Castle Grayskull."
"My God, where is Adora?"
The Sorceress took King Hiss' head and disappeared into another chamber. "Follow me," she said.

A look of agony fell on Sea Hawk's face when he found Adora lying on the stone slab unconscious. "What's happened to her!" he cried. "Is she all right?"
"Please," said the Sorceress, "I need to concentrate." Reaching into its mouth, she ripped the teeth and gums from the snake's head, and milking it like a cow, squeezed the venom into an already prepared vile. "This poison is lethal," she explained. "If you so much as taste it, you die." She grabbed a large bottle of green liquid. "There is an antibody produced in King Hiss' mouth making him immune to his own poison." She poured the vile into the bottle. "This will extract the antibody from the venom." Producing a second vile from thin air, the Sorceress funneled the green liquid into the other container, which now turned blue. Then, She-Ra was made to drink the blue liquid.
After a few minutes, Adora opened her eyes, propping up on the platform. She looked around, dazed at first, then spotted the captain. "Oh Sea Hawk!" she cried, falling into his embrace. "I thought I'd never see you again!"
"Are you all right my love?" he asked, still holding her.
"Oh yes, now that you're here!" she answered, pressing her lips against his. "Wait . . .," she said, looking around the room. "Sorceress, where is Fisto? I thought he was here. I didn't even get a chance to thank him."
"I don't know," she replied. "I think he left."

Fisto's right cheek lay flat on the wooden table. His left arm rested next to it, still clasping a half drunk mug of beer. Twelve other empty mugs, some upright, others rolling on their bellies', littered the rest of the table top. He wasn't drunk. Not that he didn't want to be, but at close to three hundred pounds of solid muscle, and with much beer drinking experience, it wasn't easy. Fisto was moaning an old Eternian ballad when a meaty man passed by. Reaching out his giant hand, he halted him, saying, "Ho, good fellow, did I ever tell you about the time I lost two women and a horse all in one day?"
"Oh knock it off, Fisto. It's been weeks! Get over it, man! Clean yourself up!"
"I sure loved that horse," he mumbled.
The fat man patted him on the back. "Farewell, Fisto."
Suddenly, the tavern door burst open. In came a woman. "I am looking for Fisto!" she proclaimed.
"Please," said the bartender. "We want no trouble here."
She grabbed him by the collar lifting him off his feet with one hand. "Fisto, where is he?"
"Oh no, not again!"
That voice . . . it sounds so familiar, Fisto thought, wearily lifting his head. At first he didn't recognize her; she was simply radiant. All the redness had returned to her cheek bones. Her golden winged headdress and brassier was gleaming in the torch light, as were her soft, blue eyes. Last time he had seen her, she was caked with dirt, blood, and saliva. Now there was not a blemish. "Adora!" he exclaimed.
She turned to him, dropping the bartender. Once she was unable to stand. Now her firm, smooth stomach rattled her weapons belt as she strutted toward his table. Her tall, naked legs teased him with every step, rising up to meet her playful loin cloth. "Fisto!" she called. Moving the mugs to fit her elbows, her hair cascaded down the table.
"It's been a long time," he said in a stern voice.
She smiled, her expression betraying her words. "I challenge you to a fight!"
"Wh-what?"
"Get your sword!"
"But I don't want to fight you."
"Perhaps we could arm-wrestle, then?"
Next thing he knew, a crowd had gathered about them both. "I say," said the fat man, "that the girl beats him."
"Are you serious?" a skinny man replied.
"Hey!" said Fisto, pointing to the fat man. "I thought you left?"
"Well . . .?" she asked, her chin resting on her knuckles.
"I-I suppose," he said, raising his right arm by way of habit. She placed her tiny hand in his.
"Don't hurt me," she said.
"I won't." Then, Fisto found himself lying on his side, one half of the table next to him. "Hey!" yelled the bartender. "Who's going to pay for my table?"
"I'm sorry," said She-Ra. "I'll pay."
"No," said the fat man. "I'll pay. I made a lot of money off of you, my girl."
"I'm not your girl."
"Wait!" said Fisto. "I wasn't ready. I want a rematch!"
She hoisted him to his feet, looking deep into his eyes, saying, "I didn't come here to arm-wrestle."
"Why did you come?" he asked softly.

"Yes, tell us, why you came?" asked the fat man.
She-Ra drew her sword so quickly, she nearly gashed his beer belly. "Ok, all of you, get out! You too, bartender, out!"
"But this is my . . ."
"Out!" They all cleared the room. "Not you, Fisto. Take a seat." They both sat at another table, clearing the beer mugs and the corn chips. She placed a hand on his knee. "Fisto . . . I never got a chance to thank you, for saving my life. Thank you," she said sweetly. Adora had a strange way of being. One minute she could be an angry lion, the next, a harmless puppy.
"Y-You're welcome."
"And I'm sorry. I just didn't know."
"What?" he asked.
"How you felt."
"About what?"
"I didn't know that you love me."
Fisto wanted to cry, but the tears would not come out. "It's not an easy thing for me to say."
"The Sorceress told me, not too long ago."
"What happened with you and . . ."
"Sea Hawk?"
"Yes."
She lowered her eyes. "I told him." If ever there was a frail creature that walked the plane of Eternia, this was she. Gone was the warrior woman who burst into the room, throwing mighty Fisto to the floor and casting everyone out in fear of her. Here was this little, frightened child. "Oh, Fisto," she sobbed, quivering. "He said he didn't care. He said it didn't bother him. At first, I believed him. But things changed. I could feel it. He never looked at me the same way. He never t-touched me . . . the sa-." Fisto embraced her, not because he wanted to, though he did, but because she needed it. "Hold me, Fisto. Hold me."
"I am holding you, Adora."
"But you're different, aren't you," she said, looking up into his eyes for confirmation. "You fell in love with me, after you knew . . .," her voice trailed off.
"Yes," he said. "I did. Adora, I don't care about what you did or who you were. I only care about who you are."
"Do you still love me?" she asked.
He combed her hair gently. "I have never loved anyone but you. What about m-me?"
She stood up. "Gimme your hand." He lifted his right one. "No!" she laughed, wiping her tears. "Your other hand!"
"Oh."
She walked him outside. "There is a special place," she said, "I would like to take you."
"Ok," he said, "but I need to use the bathroom."

Fisto found himself in a lush, green paradise shaded by immense trees. The ground was soft and pleasant. A narrow brook ran along his feet. Birds chirping were the only sound. "This," she said, "is the Whispering Woods."
"Etheria is beautiful!" he exclaimed.
"Yes, and this is my favorite little glen. There is no one around for miles. I come here to be alone sometimes."
From behind a bush tromped a magnificent, blue and winged unicorn. "Swift Wind!" he said. "It has been a long time, my friend."
"Yes," she replied, petting his soft mane. "He was so glad to find me."
"He found you?"
"Yes," she giggled. "Run along now, Swifty."

"Do you want to be alone?" he asked.
She moved closer, only inches from him. "With you."
He blushed. "Yes," he remarked, examining the trees again. "It is a fine place!"
Touching him now, she blurted, "Would you like to kiss me, Fisto?"
"You sure are forward!" he said, straightening his beard.
"I don't waste time." Lifting herself slightly on her toes to meet her lips to his, she filled him deeply with her moist and longing tongue. He staggered momentarily. Then, seeing her smiling there, arms folding about arms, he searched her glittering eyes to find his own reflection, and kissed her again. They made love the whole day through and on to the morning after.

*DRIP*
Oh God, I can feel it touching me. I wish I could just close my eyes and die . . . I wish I was somewhere else, someone else . . . I wish.
*DRIP*
Please, someone hear me; someone help me.
*DRIP*
The huge beast bent closer, its ugly yellow-stained teeth hanging one foot from its gaping maw, its lustful, red pupils burning into her nakedness.
*DRIP*
One claw gripped her tiny waist, as she frightfully awaited the final, agonizing thrust, clenching her teeth and barring her mind from any realization of the terrible moment that was to come.
*DRIP*
Suddenly, the wall erupted into a heaping pile of bricks. The monster reared its ugly head. Standing there was Fisto. "I will save you!" he exclaimed. A horrible tearing, growling sound ensued as the two wrestled on the floor. Blood and hair spattered the walls, but when it was all over, Fisto wrenched his bloody sword from the monster's heart. He tore the manacles from her wrists and opened the prison gate where a beautiful, green glen awaited them. Adora could sleep peacefully now. The monster was dead.