"YOU'RE my mother…" said Teela, still trying to take all of this in. She and The Sorceress of Grayskull were still standing among the ruins of Lal.
"That's correct," said The Sorceress.
"WHY?" Teela cried in anguish. "Why did you hide from me?" Teela paused. "After all these years…"
"I hid you … to protect you," The Sorceress replied calmly.
"PROTECT me," Teela queried. "From WHAT?"
"You know who I am … You know what I do," said The Sorceress. "You know the people I have to deal with … the Skeletors, the Beast Mans, the Evil-Lyns…"
"Why all the secrecy?" interjected Teela. "The pussyfooting around? The forbidden questions?"
The Sorceress gently touched her fingers to Teela's lips, bidding her silent. She then said, "If Skeletor and his minions ever knew about you … about US … they would strike at YOU … to get at ME." The Sorceress paused. "THAT'S the reason for the secrecy … the pussyfooting around … the 'forbidden questions', as you call them.
"What's more, you needed something … I could not provide," The Sorceress continued. "Safety … security … stability. A chance to grow up around other people … other children." The Sorceress paused. "Grayskull is a fortress. It's no place to raise children."
"If you don't mind my asking, why are you telling me this?" Teela asked.
"You have a right to know," said The Sorceress. "You always have." The Sorceress paused. "It was always my intention to tell you…"
"I never had the time," said The Sorceress. "And when I had the time, I could never find … the words." The Sorceress paused. "It's served its purpose…"
"What do you mean?" Teela asked.
"You were an infant then … young, helpless, defenseless," said The Sorceress.
The Sorceress smiled. "You've grown into a beautiful young woman," she said. "A warrior … a soldier. One of the greatest in Eternia."
"How do I know this isn't another smokescreen?" Teela asked.
"Teela, look at me," said The Sorceress, gently grasping Teela's jaw and turning her face around to meet her own. "Have I ever lied to you … in the past?"
Teela shook her head. "No," she said softly.
"…And I'm not going to start now," said The Sorceress.
She's telling the truth, Teela thought.
"For security reasons, there may be things … I may not tell you. Things … I may hold back," said The Sorceress. "But know this … " The Sorceress paused. "I would never, EVER, lie to you."
Teela turned away from the Sorceress and back towards the partially collapsed wall. "How could I have been so foolish?" Teela asked bitterly, addressing the question to no one in particular.
"You wanted to believe her … NEEDED to believe her," The Sorceress replied, putting a delicate hand on Teela's shoulder. "You were in pain … you've BEEN in pain … for years." The Sorceress paused. "I couldn't see it. I did not WISH to see it. I closed my eyes to it … to do my duty." The Sorceress paused again. "I couldn't see it before … but I see it now.
"There was a hole in your heart … an abscessed wound … that only she could fill," The Sorceress continued.
"I don't know WHAT to believe anymore," said Teela.
"Trust your instincts … trust your heart," said The Sorceress. "They've served you well."
"I came so CLOSE…" said Teela, her voice choked with emotion.
"And yet, you had the presence of mind to know the truth … and to hold onto it," said The Sorceress. "And for that, I'm proud of you," she added with a smile. It was then that her face suddenly fell.
"What's wrong?" Teela asked.
"I was just thinking," said The Sorceress with a rueful smile. "My little girl's all grown up … and I missed it." The Sorceress paused. "I can't be a parent … it's long past time for that."
"You've always been a good friend … and a mentor … to me," said Teela. "That's not something I want to change."
"Me, neither…" said The Sorceress with a smile.
"You're someone I have a great deal of respect for," said Teela.
"Thank you," said The Sorceress quietly.
All at once, Teela suddenly braced herself against the wall, gasping for breath. Not AGAIN, she thought.
"Teela, what's wrong?" The Sorceress asked, concerned.
"Dream…" Teela spat out between gasps.
"What dream?" The Sorceress inquired, putting a comforting hand on Teela's shoulder. "Tell me about this dream…"
"I can't…" Teela squeaked.
"Teela, tell me what's wrong…" The Sorceress said softly, her voice barely above a whisper.
"I'm here …at Lal…" said Teela.
"Go on…" The Sorceress urged.
"I'm a little kid … hiding behind this wall," said Teela, beads of sweat dripping down her face. "Me and Adam … we were playing hide-and-seek…"
"This big black snake … Viper … comes up behind me. Before I could do anything, this big orange blob comes swooping down from the sky. The blob picks up the snake and carries it away."
The Sorceress of Grayskull stood silently for the longest time, cradling her chin with her palm in thought.
"It's not a dream," said The Sorceress finally. "It's more of a … flashback."
"Wait … you're saying it actually HAPPENED?" Teela exclaimed, wide-eyed.
The Sorceress nodded her head … Yes. "You were a child then," she said.
"I guess that blob must've been a … bird or something," said Teela.
"Yes, it was a bird," said The Sorceress. "A falcon." The Sorceress paused for effect. "A falcon … named Zoar."
Teela turned around to face The Sorceress, all the color suddenly draining from her face. "That bird … was YOU," she said, stunned.
The Sorceress nodded … Yes. Zoar used to enjoy watching you and Adam play together as children, she thought.
"I owe you my LIFE!" Teela exclaimed.
"You owe me nothing," The Sorceress replied quietly.
"Did you eat it?" Teela asked. "The snake, I mean…"
The Sorceress cocked an eyebrow at Teela. "Now why would I eat a SNAKE?" she asked.
Teela blushed in embarrassment. "Sorry," she said. She put her hand over her mouth, trying to suppress a giggle. "I keep forgetting … there's a PERSON underneath those feathers."
"Perhaps my disguise … has worked a little TOO well," The Sorceress remarked, her face breaking out in a grin, her emerald eyes dancing with amusement.
Teela threw her arms around The Sorceress. "Thank you," she said, her voice barely above a whisper.
The Sorceress returned the embrace. "Do you believe me now?" she asked.
Teela looked up at The Sorceress. "If you're NOT my mother…" she said. "…Then you SHOULD be."
"Shhh … Rest, my child," The Sorceress murmured as she held Teela close, stroking her hair. "You've suffered enough." She then kissed the top of Teela's head and whispered, "I love you."
"You know, if you ever decide to give up being The Sorceress of Grayskull … you could always have a second career as a Royal Army Chaplain," said Teela with a smile. The same … electricity … in the air she felt around Captain Atreyu had returned. This time, though, she found it … strangely comforting.
The Sorceress smiled and held Teela close, saying nothing in reply. Don't let this end, she thought.