The Present

Now children, you have seen Adora's adventures in the Lands of Ice, and you know of Catra's mounting rebellion against the rule of Hordak, but what exactly are Adora's plans now?

Well, upon hearing of the legend of a magic talisman hidden somewhere in the Great Southern Sea, she decided to quest down there in hopes of finding a way to defeat the evil one, unaware of Catra's intent…

The Locket

            Adora, now referring to herself as 'She-Ra' wiped the sweat from her brow as her makeshift raft floated listlessly on the calm water.

"Three days and no sign of land!" she cursed, as she regretted not paying more attention to the maps hanging in Hordak's chambers.   

            The still waters, coupled with the constant heat that had been growing ever since she sailed into the southern waters, soon took their toll on the warrior. Leaning up against the mast, she soon closed her eyes and fell asleep.

But the seas can often be more dangerous than they appear, as an outline of a large vassal slowly crept into view. She-Ra's pitiful raft was dwarfed in comparison to the ship, especially considering that the other ship's main building material appeared to be the bones of what was in life a exceptionally large specimen of sea creature.

Now, not that She-Ra would likely know this, but this particular ship in question was a pirate ship.

Piracy, despite all of Hordak's attempts, still existed and therefore pirates were considered to be slightly trustworthier than the Rebels as they had actually managed to (usually at any rate) survive any attempts that the Horde made to curb them.

            This information was in a ways being discussed by the crew of said ship as the lookout spied the shape of She-Ra's craft adrift in the sea.

"Fetch the captain!" came the cry of the men as nearly the entire crew swarmed to one side in an effort to catch a glimpse of whatever was causing such commotion.

            "Right, what's all the bubble about?" came a slightly slurred voice from below deck. One of the older crewmen hastily saluted before the rest of the crew turned to face the new figure emerging from the hold.

He was tall, with a face that indicated that he spent an equal amount of time both in the sun and face down drunk. Shuffling his way towards the side, he groggily asked the closest crewman: "and just what, pray tell, is that?"

"A strange craft sir; but there is a woman aboard it"

This particular bit of news seemed to banish the demons of the night before away, or least enough for the captain to look semi-sober. "In that case send out boats; it would be rude to abandon such a fair creature to these cruel waters, would it not?"

The crew collectively smiled at the news, with assorted "yes sirs" being shouted as the ship prepared to bring on a new passenger.

The men quickly dashed to the awaiting boats, with visions of rewards of various types dancing through their heads as they dropped down into the ocean and rowed their way towards the raft.

She-Ra, who still possessed all of the training of the Horde, was aware of the pirates the second their boats touched the water. Keeping her eyes closed and her sword within reach, she readied herself for action as she heard splashing of the oars drawing nearer.

"Oy, Cenzo you think the captain will give us a reward for this birdie?" one of the younger men whispered as several pirates carefully stepped onto the raft.

Sadly for them, She-Ra's eyes snapped open and in one fluid movement she easily disarmed several of the closest pirates with her sword.

"Who are you and what business do you have here?" she demanded as she gripped her sword in both hands.

An older man, his large potbelly barely contained by his grimy shirt, quickly stepped in-between the two parties.

"Hold it lass, we're not looking for a fight." He begged, as the rest of the pirates wearily looked her over.

"Then what do you want?" she asked again. "Captain's orders miss; he didn't think it right to leave you alone, seeing as to how you look lost and all."

She-Ra slowly lowered her sword, but not her guard. "I am lost, and while I would be grateful to your captain for any assistance, I am not sure if I can trust any of you."

The older man shook his head and stepped back. "You can trust us as far as you can throw us, but we are offering an escort and it would be bad luck to turn it down."

She-Ra thought the man's words over carefully before sheathing her sword. "I have no faith in luck, but I will accompany you to your ship." She said finally.

While back on dry land…

            Catra gazed outside the tent with a satisfied look as she spied the men under her command. Closing the flap, she turned to gaze over her companion and current co-leader

"Scorpina"

The insect/humanoid being was busy devouring a large…something as Catra casually sat down in front of her.

            "You have to admit, we've managed to do something even those fools in the rebellion couldn't-we actually have a standing army that almost rivals the Horde!"

Scorpina swallowed before dropping her meal onto the table; it's death throes ignored as she harshly spoke. "Yes, but in terms of sheer firepower we are still outmatched. We need magic, we need weapons, and most importantly of all we need time!"

Catra simply waved her hands in an attempt to dismiss her ally's fears. "True, but surely you recall the events that lead us to form this group?"

"Yes, but what does that-"

Catra quickly cut her off with finger to the lips. "Mysticor my dear, Mysticor. It's ruler is weak and poorly defended. Not to that mention in a land of pure magic there must be treasure and bounty aplenty."

Realization quickly dawn on Scorpina's face. "Yes, we plunder them-"

"And take the power and use it against Hordak!" 

"Precisely"    

Back at sea

She-Ra waited in the quarters of the ship's captain as the crew made quite a few remarks about her. Even through the door she could hear them, and what she could hear was almost enough to make her draw her sword on the miscreants. Although she hadn't been searched, she had the feeling that getting on board might cost her dearly.

The door swinging open disrupted her thoughts. The noon sun cast a deep shadow around the figure, and it wasn't until the door was shut that She-Ra could see who was in the room with her.

A man, his face and facial red a deep red, strolled over to her. Bowing slightly, he spoke with a strange accent. "Hello, and welcome to my vessel. I am the Sea Hawk, and you?"

She-Ra was taken aback slightly at the question, but she quickly covered it up. "I am called She-Ra," she said, not quite sure if the name really fit.

The Sea Hawk blinked before chuckling. "Really? It's a rare treat indeed to have someone of your reputation onboard."

The mocking tone in his voice was enough; gripping her sword through her cloak she bite back the anger. "What do you mean by that?

His chuckling turning into full-blown laughter, the Sea Hawk simply sat down on a scratched up chair and pulled a mysterious colored bottle out from under it.

Talking as he opened it, he continued, "So you're She-Ra, eh? The Hero who will save the world, slayer of all that is evil and what not? And here it was I thought got around on a flying horse all decked out in pretty bows" he said as his laughter grew.

"I am She-Ra!" she growled, her fist clenching around the sword hilt hard enough to almost warp the metal.

"Sure, and I am really Horde Prime. But since you have provided me with ample amusement, I believe we can at least took you to the nearest port."

She-Ra, not quite sure if the offer was being made as an insult or not, narrowed her eyes at the drinking man. "That's very kind of you, but I know where I am going and it involves no port."

"Really then my pretty-pretty, then what pray tell could this magical place be?"

"I am seeking a place known as the Crystal Falls"

The mentioning of the name was enough to make the Sea Hawk almost choke on his booze.

"Tech's Bones woman, why would you want to go there?"

"I have my reasons"

"Then whatever they are I'll be dammed if my ship or crew will be apart of them."

            Standing up (or to be more accurate lurching around), the Sea Hawk made his to the door. "Mr. Swen will escort you to your quarters, where you will stay until we reach port."

Deciding that ripping his head off would simply cause her unwanted grief, She-Ra nodded curtly and followed an older looking sailor past the leering faces of the rest of the crew.

Back on land

            The blasted wastes stretching as far as the eye could see surrounded the group. Catra, standing on a pile of rocks, began to address the assembled barbarians.

"Beyond these rocks lies the land of Mysticor. It's wealth and secrets will all be ours for the taking!"

The assembled throngs cheered loudly at the promise of treasure and the prospect of conquest.

"Onward, to victory!" came the cry as Catra lead the way past the rocks and into the hidden realm of Mysticor…

Back at sea

            She-Ra unhooked her cloak and spread it out on the bone floor. The stench of dank puddles of seawater and rotten filled almost made her gag as she pulled out a small piece of parchment and unfurled it across the cloak.

Reading silently, she looked over the words. "To banish the darkness, one must go beneath where the Crystals are birthed and the mers sing. Only then will the dark give way to light and the air be free," she read silently as she rolled the parchment back up and hid it in her boot.

"I hope I translated that passage right." She prayed as she stretched out and prepared to sleep, her thoughts looming to the far off lands and the troubles that awaited her.

While back in Mysticor

"Crash!"

Castaspella shook as the large glass dome rolled off of the table and shattered on the floor. "An ill wind blows" she thought as she rushed to her quarters.

Back out at sea

            She-Ra was already up as Mr. Swen opened the door. "We're near land. You'll be getting off here." He said as she looked past him and spied the large contingent of men behind him.

"Alright, no need to be hasty boys" she said sweetly as she tossed her cloak over her shoulder and casually made her way into the corridor and up onto the main deck.

            Seeing the Sea Hawk standing up against the railing, she made her way over under the watchful eye of the crew. Looking around, she saw the distant outline of a shore far off in the distance. "Wait, I thought we were near land?" she asked as the Sea hawk gave her boozy grin. "Aye, and that is as near as we can get. We're all wanted men you know. If we sail any closer then the coastal defenders will be on us, and the Horde soon after that. Sorry my beautiful and delusional guest, but you're just not worth that much aggravation, savvy?"

            Holding her anger in check, she turned to the captain. "Alright then, how do you suggest I get over there?"

"How is not my problem, but viewing as to how you are who you say you are, why not simply summon a magic carpet or enchanted chair or something like that?" he said in a tone that left her wondering if he really meant what he said or if he was mocking her.

"Very well" she muttered as she took a flying leap off of the side of the ship and hit the water with a splash.

"Good bloody riddance" the captain was heard to mutter as the form of their passenger swam away from them.

Mysticor

            Castaspella's face paled when she looked into the large crystal ball before her. "So, she has returned" she thought to herself as the image of Catra and several dozen warriors marching into the countryside filled the ball.

"Mystic spirits help me, I don't know if I can do this," she thought as the problem of trying to both defend her home from the new threat and trying to keep it hidden from Hordak's forces at the same time both seemed to overwhelm her.

"I need a plan" she said aloud as she sat and down and began to write out complex spells on the parchment that had suddenly appeared before her.

Back at sea

            Swimming through the murky water, She-Ra made good time with her muscular legs pumping away. Before she knew it, she felt the sandy bottom of the ocean floor against her knees.

Standing up, she gave a quick look around before stepping onto the beach. Unfolding her cloak, she wrapped it around herself in order to mask herself. "No sense in attracting any unwanted attention while I'm here, and I can't risk changing back yet" she thought as she began walking towards a small village in the shadow of a decrepit looking lighthouse. 

Looking around, she couldn't but notice the heavy fog that had settled in. Despite the sun hanging high overhead, the fog still stayed. Bunching her cloak closer, She-Ra continued walking alone, all the while feeling as if there were other people on the road with her.

Seeing large wooden barricade surrounding the village, she ventured towards the heavy looking gate and knocked.

"Who goes there?" a surly voice cried from the other side.

Thinking about the Sea Hawk's reaction, She-Ra decided against telling the truth. "A simple traveler seeking shelter from the elements" she shouted back.

Apparently that was the right thing to say; as she was rewarded with the door creaking and slowly rising up.

"Then hurry inside and be quick about it" the man grunted as he hurriedly pulled a latch that sent the gate slamming back into place.

            Looking around, She-Ra could see that the barricade went all the way around the village, even blocking the ocean.

"Excuse me, but where might I find a guide?" she asked as the man guarding the gate quickly looked around before dashing down a side street without even answering her question.

"Strange…" she thought as she began to walk down the main thoroughfare, seeing the darkened houses and buildings made her uneasy.

Mysticor

            Castaspella rummaged through a large trunk before pulling out the object of her search.

"Here it is!" she cried in relief as she pulled the object closer. 

It looked like a large blue ball with mysterious runes inscribed over it.

"I hope I'm not too late" she whispered as she took the ball and placed it inside a circle that she had drawn on the floor…

Elsewhere

            Making her way through the ever-present fog, She-Ra caught a welcome sight: the familiar sounds of a tavern.

Smiling, she opened the door and entered. The sounds of the place died down a bit as she stepped over the threshold and into the place. Ignoring the suspicious stares, she mde her way to the bar.

            "Barkeep, I need a drink," she said as the patrons ignored her and went back to their business, "and some information."

The barkeep, a badly scarred man who seemed to be missing at least one of everything, turned a milky white eye to her.

"Information you say?" he lisped through half-chewed lips as he carefully placed a tankard of ale on the bar after She-Ra dropped a few coins. "Depends on good your manners are, and how much you want to pay. For this much" he said, as he ran a stump over the small pile of gold on the bar, "I could tell you which parts of me that I still have two of, of various sundry secrets, and of which bed has the least lice. Anything else you pay more."

            Sighing, but deciding that simply bashing the old fool through the bar wouldn't serve her needs, tossed some gold on the bar. "Enough?"

The barkeep smiled a nearly toothless grin as he scooped up the coins with his good hand. "What will you be needing?"

"Someone to guide me to the location of the Crystal Falls."

The name sent a shiver through the room. Even the fire seemed to dim in the presence of the name. "You seek the Falls? Then you're dammed or mad, and I won't be having you bring your ill luck here!" the barkeep shouted as several patrons stood up, fear and hate blazing in their eyes, and weapons in their hands.

"In that case, I'll take my leave, but not without my money."

"Why? If you intend on going there, you won't be needed it" the barkeep said as he reached down and pulled a heavy wooden club out from under the bar.

Before She-Ra could say anything else, one of the braver patrons of the bar smashed his wooden cup over her head.

The rank beer in her eyes and her temper flaring, She-Ra reached into her cloak and drew her sword.

"She has the forbidden metal!" one of the women shrieked as the entire group shrank back from her. "Alright, anyone else feeling brave?" she asked as she carefully eyed the bar.

The barkeep answered her question in his own way, as he swung his club at her head. Now She-Ra (or Adora, if one is feeling in a nitpicking mood) didn't become one of the higher ranked Horde captains simply because of her good looks. Without even changing her expression, she blocked the blow with her sword, then quickly spun around and neatly sliced the club in twain. "Anything else?" she asked.

"N-no" the barkeep said as he gently pushed the coins back towards her.

            Grabbing the coins and sheathing her sword in one motion, she hurriedly left the bar.

Mysticor

            Castaspella paled when she gazed out of her window and saw what had come through the portal. "Catra" she whispered as the former Horde woman and several armed men marched into her land.

"I must stop them!" she thought as she rushed from the room. Grabbing a staff near her throne, she softly spoke a spell and vanished in a flash of light.

            While near the portal, Catra began to issue orders to the men. "Alright, now just about everything here can kill you. Touch nothing without my say, understand?"

Several grumbled at the order, but Catra continued. "We only have to deal with one sorceress, but make no mistake she is capable of defending herself. We will only get one chance at victory!"

The speech may not have been great, but it served its purpose as the men cheered and rattled their shields. "Now, onward to victory!" came the cry as the rag-tag bunch began their march onto Castaspella's castle.

Back in the normal realm

            As She-Ra walked down the street, the feeling of being watched returned in full force.

"Well, aren't you the pretty young treat?" a strangely accented voice said behind her.

Spinning around, she caught sight of a…being (she was hesitant to refer to it by sex as it was covered head to tow in a rank garment) emerging from an alleyway. "Sorry, did I scare you?" it asked, it's tone a mixture of concern and mocking.

"If you had you'd be missing a head" She-Ra shot back as the feeling of her sword gave her comfort.

The stranger either chuckled at the remark or had a coughing fit. After the disturbing sounds ceased, the stranger spoke again. "It's getting to be dark, and you look lost. Why not come back to my home for a roaring fire and a feast?"

            "Thank you, but I'm not interested."

"I insist" the stranger said before tossing the cloak away to revel a face that made even She-Ra gag.

The flesh had a seen around it, giving it a hellish glow. While the eyes were large, bulging and spaced far too apart, giving off an alien appearance. Rows upon rows of jagged teeth clicked together in a display of some kind, although She-Ra couldn't quite tell what exactly. The creature's flesh was a deep bluish-green with what looked like wet blond hair almost perched onto of its hideous head.

The creature's out stretched hands came towards her. The hands were the same basic shape as a human, except for the same color as its face. There was webbing in-between the fingers, as well as pieces of coral inlaid along the arm.

"You're coming with me!" the creature hissed as it clamped a cold and slimy hand on She-Ra's wrist.

"Not a chance, whatever you are!" she shouted back as she easily flipped the creature over with just the right use of leverage.

Drawing her sword, She-Ra stared down at the thing before her. "What are you?"

The thing looked up (it's eye rolled upwards while the head stayed down). "I am Mermista. That's all you need to hear land-walker!" it hissed as it quickly lashed out with its foot and struck She-Ra across her shin.

            Cursing and jumping back at the same time, She-Ra saw the thing leap up and move almost without a sound down the street. A distant splashing signaled the creature's escape.

Seconds after the thing's escape, She-Ra saw lights appearing in the windows and voices coming from inside. "She's dammed us all!" an old woman wailed as a small group of villagers quickly surrounded her. "Tie her up, if the mers catch her maybe they'll leave us alone!" one voice near the back suggested.

The villagers seemed swayed by that last statement then by her attempts to explain her actions.

            Just then a willowy figure parted the crowd. Gaunt and looking half starved, the man eyed She-Ra suspiciously. "Who are you?" he demanded.

Looking around carefully, she tightened the grip on her sword. "Just a passing traveler, nothing more. What was that thing?"

The man sighed and began to move back into the crowd. "We'll discuss in the town hall, come."

Moments later

Sitting before the fire, She-Ra sat as the man began to speak. "The thing you encountered was a mer. Despite out best efforts they still manage to sneak into our village and drag us off to eat us. Legend has it that a princess was forced to lay with a monster deep from within the ocean in order to amuse Hordak and that the first mer was the result of that mating. They are vile and without pity; and since you fought back their reprisal will be severe."

She-Ra sat in silence as she thought of what to say next. "Do you know where they are?"

"Oh course. They dwell within the Crystal Falls"

"So that's why I couldn't get anyone to lead me there!" she thought as an idea suddenly formed into her mind.

"Sir, do you know where the Falls are located?"

"Of course, one passageway is through a series of mines the Horde forced us to work until the land was tapped out. But you'll never make it" the man said with a resigned air.

"You'd be surprised at what I've lived through…" she said with a wink.

Mysticor

            Castaspella wiped the sweat off of her brow as she gripped her wand.

Standing on top on the parapet, she looked out over the land. Chanting in a tongue long forgotten by mortal man, she pointed her wand towards the advancing shape of the traitorous Catra's army.

C

            "March!" Catra yelled as the soldiers before her launched flaming arrows into the sky. Burning the grass, Catra successfully marched the troops past the sleep inducing grass and the other protecting defensives in the land.

"This land will burn before nightfall!" she smirked as a blue bolt of energy streaked off in the distance and headed towards them.

"Scatter!" she cried as the bolt expanded and crashed down, creating a deafening roar and a blinding light. Catra felt the heat around her as men from all sides screamed in agony, their flesh bubbling and boiling right off of the bone.

Stumbling blindly back, she screamed as she first heard her own skin burning then felt the pain as somehow the mystical fire trigged her transformation.

The fire quickly died as she felt the fur growing in and replacing the scorched flesh. The sound of her bones shifting didn't even register in her mind as she quickly turned back towards her intended goal as her uniform almost dissolved during the change.

Roaring as she charged, her humanity now faded from memory as the now gigantic panther leapt and bounded over the panicked men and raced towards the castle in the distance.

The site of the now enormous panther racing away towards the distant castle, a mad look in its yellow eyes and razor sharp teeth gleaming due to the still burning fires seemed to reenergize the men.

            The survivors of the attack gathered their weapons (dropped in their mad dash away from the fire) and with a hearty cry of battle, followed their leader.

In the castle

            Castaspella fell to the stony floor of the castle, her wand clattering uselessly on the cobbled stone walkway.

"Hopeless!" she moaned as the army advanced ever closer…

Normal realm

            "So, what you are saying then is that you, without any aid from us, will go forth into the mines and stop the attacks?" the town elder said at length.

"Yes"

"I think you're a wandering lunatic, but if the mers kill you then perhaps they will show some lenience in their treatment of us."

            As She-Ra stood to leave, she turned to the elder. "If the area is so horrid, why not take your people and leave?"

The elder gave a sardonic smile as he turned his attention towards the fire. "Hordak rules with an iron fist, and even the territories he has left alone are in worse shape than us."

            Deciding to simply get on with what brought her there in the first place, She-Ra said nothing as she drew her cloak around her and marched into the foggy night.

Mysticor

            Castaspella fought back the tears as she heard the pounding coming from the outside gate.

"Very well; if they want my land, then they will have to earn it!" she mumbled darkly. Waving her hands in patterns, she ignored the crashing noise outside as large flasks and beakers appeared out of thin air.

Casting one final glance at the palace's hall before stepping into a freshly drawn circle, she lowered her eyes as she whispered the spell. "Goodbye"

Outside

Catra, now in her panther form, raged against the castle gate. It buckled under her assault seconds before it caved in.

With a deafening roar she charged inwards, her men swarming right behind her. Their footsteps (and paw steps as well) echoed off of the highly arched walls as they began their looting.

"What's this?" one of the men shouted above the noisy din as he saw the floating containers inching towards them. "Free drinks?" one of the slower barbarians shouted back as one of the flasks bumped up against one of the dumbfounded men.

The flask exploded as the man tapped in with his sword, ripping him into pieces and sending the rest of the troops into a panic.

More of the deadly bottles floated into the hall, blocking the men from leaving. Some of the men, as the bottles floated ever closer, would have sworn that they heard a faint laughing before the explosion…

Normal realm

            As She-Ra climbed up the long abandoned path towards the mine entrance, she couldn't help but wonder if she was truly doing the right thing. "Plenty of time to be a philosopher later" she muttered under her breath as she spied the entrance before her.

The markings in the dirt around her suggested that perhaps the mine wasn't totally abandoned after all. Drawing her sword, she carefully entered.

            The stench was rank and instantly made her eyes water. Forcing herself not to gag, She-Ra continued down the rusted rails deeper into the mine.

Piles of tattered clothing (along with bits and pieces of the clothing's former wearers) were piled high along the sides of the shaft. The sight of such violence didn't bother her as much as she thought it would, but the sounds coming from further down did.

Chants in an inhuman voice echoed off of the slimy walls, giving She-Ra pause. Rounding a corner, she peered down into the blackness when she felt her foot land on something that clicked.

"Oh no!" she cursed as she quickly leapt to the side just in time to avoid being skewered by the barbed hooks that had swung down and chopped the dirt where she had been standing.

            Continuing forward, she found a long disused elevator shaft. "I wonder if this can be used?" she thought as she heard something coming up behind her.

Quickly turning around she had her sword at the ready when she found herself face to face with the same creature she had encountered back in the village. "So, you decided to accept my offer" it said with a grin that showed off rows upon rows of jagged teeth.

"Not likely" she countered as she thrust forward with her blade. The creature was faster though, and easily sidestepped the attack. Before She-Ra could swing her sword again the creature pressed it's slimy hands on her back. "What are you" She-Ra questioned before she felt her body lock up. "Just a simple shot of venom to paralyze you. You need not worry, the venom will keep you from feeling anything as our queen has you cooked." The creature said as it placed a bag over her head and slung her over its shoulder.

            After an uncertain amount of time

She-Ra had felt nothing since the moment that the bag had been placed on her. She was aware of the sounds around her, but she was unable to do anything about it.

She tried to blink when the bag was ripped off, exposing her open eyes to a blinding light. In her field of view was a woman, who by all account looked to be a normal human. Her hair was the color of the sea, and the only inhuman thing about her was the paleness of her skin and the webbing between her fingers. What really caught She-Ra's eyes thought was the large locket hanging off of a gold chain around her slim neck. The woman looked harmless, but given what she had seen and experienced in her life, She-Ra wasn't going to give the figure before her the benefit of a doubt.

            The being looked her over with a glance, the expression on her face unreadable. "I am Mermista, queen of the mer people." She said as she stepped out of her line of vision. She could hear the queen picking up something heavy though.

"My aide said you were using this as a weapon" Mermista spoke as she held She-Ra's sword high above her head.

"Where did you get this?"

            She-Ra tried to answer, but her mouth barely budged. "Oh, I suppose the toxin hasn't worn off yet, has it?" the Queen asked as she gently placed the sword far away from She-Ra's fingers as she could. "No matter, but it's a shame we won't be able to talk before we have you at out feast." She said wistfully.

Sighing, the queen left.

            She-Ra forced open her mouth. "Let the Power return!" she slurred.

With a flash, She-Ra vanished. The uniform melted away to a simple tunic and pants, while the muscles shrank. The flowing blond tresses grew smaller as well, reshaping into a slightly longer buzz cut.

Sitting up, the ropes binding She-Ra now falling off of the smaller frame of Adora, she quickly dashed to the waiting sword. "Amazing, what affects me as She-Ra doesn't carry over!" Adora thought as she gripped the sword. But before she could utter the words to change her back into the Princess of Power, a thought hit her.

"Oh no, if I change back to her now, I'll still be paralyzed!" she cursed as she sheathed her sword and tried in vain to come up with a plan. 

Mysticor

            Catra slowly opened her eyes, although as soon as her head stopped ringing she wished she hadn't.

Standing among the devastation was the one being she had feared.

"Hordak" she whispered.

            He turned at the sound and did something that sent shivers up her spine.

He smiled

"Well Catra, I must admit you have…surprised me. I was planning on killing you for your betrayal, and yet you manage to conquer a land that had hidden itself from me. I" he paused as his expression changed. "No, the gateway has been closed!" he bellowed.

Turning back, Hordak began to converse with the newly arrived Shadow Weaver. Catra, the blood in her ears pumping madly, was unable to catch exactly what was being said, save for bits and pieces. "The connection to Greyskull has been closed!"

"Then we've lost!" Shadow Weaver moaned.

"Not quite, with the left over energies here I could easily find my errant child." She heard him say before the leader of the Horde turned to her. "Catra, I thank you for this wonderful gift. For your service to me, I will give you to Leach."

Catra barely had the strength to protest as the Horde Troopers came and dragged her away.

Normal Realm

            Adora quickly dashed through the door and down the hallway. The inhuman voices seemed to trail her as she went. "That locket around the queen's neck, could that be what I'm looking for?" she wondered as the sounds of footsteps made her stop.

            "Better hide," she thought as she dashed into the nearest open room she could find. Inside a simple room, with little more than a sunken hole dug out in the center of the room and large basin filled with water standing off to the side. The only other furniture in the room was a large cabinet

Adora opened the door on the odd furnishing and hide inside. Through the small crack of the door, she could see someone enter the room. Looking at the being from the back, the color of the flesh reveled that it was none other than Queen Mermista!

"Oh boy" Adora worriedly thought as the Queen emptied the basin into the hole. 

Through the keyhole she saw the queen removing her garments and carefully placing them next to the hole.

            Adora waited until the Queen had already slipped into the small pool before opening the cabinet. Mermista was unaware of her presence as she gently unhooked the locket from around her neck and placed it atop of her garments.

"Almost!" Adora thought as she edged closer to the prize before her. But as she reached out with her trembling hand, she quickly found her wrist caught in the iron grip of Mermista. "Who are you?" the mermaid said coolly.

"Someone of little concern" Adora spat through gritted teeth as she reached out with her other hand and snagged the locket.

"You mean a thief, in other words" Mermista angrily shouted as she pulled Adora into the pool.

            Gagging on the water, she hurriedly drew her sword and swung at the mermaid. Mermista snickered at the attack before giving pause. "Wait, that's the same sword that that other woman was carrying. Where did you get it?"

Adora kept quiet as she climbed her way out of the pool. As she inched back towards the locket, she was surprised to see Mermista dive under the water.

            The water in the pool suddenly became pitch black, obscuring the queen as Adora took the moment to grab the locket and head for the door.

            But as her hand gripped the latch, she heard the sound of the water being broken. Turning back around, she saw Mermista undergoing a startling transformation. Her legs had fused together into a long serpentine tail, while her webbed hands grew long black talons on her fingertips. Her pale flesh grew paler as her teeth grew and her jaw almost unhinged to make room.

            "Intruder, for the sin of trespassing in our holy domain and for stealing from us, you will suffer my divine wraith!" Mermista growled as she launched herself from the pool.

Adora jumped back from the door as Mermista slammed into it. She easily avoided the slashing claws, but unfortunately she could avoid the long tail behind her. Falling on her back, she tightened the grip on her sword. "I hope that venom has worn off by now" she thought as she raised the sword high over her head and cried out:

"For the Honor of Greyskull!"

Mermista shrieked in agony as the room was filled with a blinding flash. When the light had subsided, she marveled at the figure before her.

Gone was smaller woman, and in her place was the stranger from before.

            "She-Ra?" she asked, her eyes not quite believing what she was seeing.

She-Ra stood, her sword at ready. "Are you still prepared to wage battle with me?"

Mermista bowed low before the golden woman. "N-no! I had no idea you had returned!"

"You bow, and yet you would have had me devoured. Why the change? Aren't you the same one that attacked me before?"

Mermista rose and glided herself back into the pool. "Many years ago, it was written that you would come and take the Locket of Clarity away with you. We all take the name Mermista, in honor of where our line started."

            Sinking deeper into the pool, the mermaid vanished. Reappearing seconds later with a fist sized crystal, she humbly bowed before the astonished warrior.

"Do you accept this, so as you may remove the blight that fouls our waters?"

She-Ra reached towards the large glowing crystal, but stopped short of touching it. "What would happen if I were to refuse this gift?"

A look of pure panic spread across the mermaid's face. "But you must! If you refusr this, then we are all doomed!"

"Then I accept, on one condition"

"Name it, and my people will obey."

"It is my wish that you leave the people of the village below alone and no longer attack them in the night"

The panic on Mermista's face quickly gave way to anger. "Then you would damn us faster than the Horde! If we are unable to eat the humans who would pray on us, then what exactly are we suppose to do for food?"

Now it was She-Ra's turn to panic. "Perhaps a compromise? Your people are water based, why not move out deeper into the ocean?"

"Ah of course…the ocean. Where there is not a sole human around for miles. You think that is a plan?" she angrily spat.

Fighting back the urge to simply skewer the woman and take the crystal, She-Ra spoke slowly as she chose what to say next. "Those are my terms and they will not be changed."

Mermista roughly dropped the crystal into her hands. "Then you damn us all." She spat as she sank back into the murky depths of the pool.

"I'll do my best not to," she quietly said as she opened the door and made her back to the surface unmolested.

Mysticor

            Hordak stopped among the ruined remains of the palace. "Ah, yes, the gateway has been opened again! Shadow Weaver!" he cried as the spectral figure floated out of the shadows. "Yes my lord?"

"The connection has been remade. Find out where it is, and find it now." He said with a dark glow in his eyes.

As Shadow Weaver nervously nodded and floated away, Hordak began to laugh. "Soon…"

Normal realm

            As She-Ra stepped back out onto the old dirt path, the crystal suddenly flared to life. Dropping it, she gasped as the crystal suddenly began to float. Streaking off into the sky, it exploded like a rocket.

Slowly, the fog began to fade away and the still waters of the sea became clear again. "Amazing" she marveled at the sight.

Heading back into the town, she was not amazed however, to see that the villagers were busy arming themselves. "What's going on?"

The town elder looked at her with a mixture of pity and hope. "With the fog gone, the Horde will come back. It was the only thing keeping them from attack us, yet now. But perhaps you could lead us should they attack?"

She-Ra sighed as she sat down. "I've tried to help, and yet all I have done is make things worse. That blasted bit of jewelry didn't aide me at all." She cursed as she stood up.

"Yes, I'll help you. Together then we might be able to repel the attacks. The mers won't attack, so perhaps we can even work with them."

The villagers didn't seem to adapt to that idea, but none spoke up.

"Then it is agreed. But tell us stranger, what is your name?"

"My name…is She-Ra."

The end