Author's Note: This story takes place after the events of "Year One: Prelude." It ties into "Preludes and Beginnings," "The Elfsong of Eternia," "The Crossroads of Destiny," "Prophecy & Change," "Just Another Day," "Liberty and Valor," "Manifest Destiny," "Roots," "The Final Adventure," "A Winter's Heart," and "The Shroud of the Horde." These characters don't belong to me.
HE-MAN: YEAR ONE
"The Fall of He-Man"
It started out as any normal day for Prince Adam.
He walked along the cobblestone path in the gardens, eyes moving across the words the on the paper in his hands. All around him, spring was at its peek and summer was starting to look over the horizon. Birds sung into the early May air; flowers were open, beckoning the insects forward. It was going to be a beautiful day.
The Prince of Eternos stopped in his tracks, eyes rising from the paper to find the grim face of the Man-At-Arms Duncan.
"What is it?"
"Trouble. He-Man is needed immediately. The area is secure. I checked."
"Right." Adam drew his Sword of Power. "BY THE POWER OF GRAYSKULL . . ."
Fires roared and smoke billowed as explosions racked throughout the eastern Eternos village of Mentrose. Within the middle of the chaos stood Skeletor. Havoc Staff clutched in his hands, he unleashed massive bolts of energy that rendered buildings asunder. People fled before the skull-faced overlord of evil as he walked casually throughout the wrecked streets.
"Where is everyone going?" mocked Skeletor, sending a lightning bolt arching through the sky. It slammed into grocery stand. "Is this anyway to treat the man who is going to lead you?"
I would have been leading them now if not for that foolish old man, Skeletor thought briefly, but he cut himself from going any further. His hatred for King Miro stemmed from his time as Keldor. And that time was no longer.
He strode along the roads, people fleeing from his presence. Part of him was surprisingly hurt, but part of him really enjoyed being able to strike that kind of fear into people.
Ah, right on time . . .
Skeletor spun around and found He-Man a top Battle-Cat. By his side were his pathetic allies – Man-At-Arms, Teela, Man-E-Faces, Mekaneck, and Roboto.
"What are you doing here, Skeletor?" demanded He-Man, Sword of Power unsheathed. "Surrender and you'll be shown mercy."
Man-At-Arms paused. "Wait . . ." he whispered. "What is he doing here anyway?"
A power beam fired out from Skeletor's Havoc Staff. It scattered the group, sending them every which way. Man-At-Arms rolled along the ground and then was up on his feet instantly. He then watched as He-Man went charging forward on top of Battle-Cat.
"No . . . no!" Man-At-Arms yelled out, realizing what was going on. "He-Man! He-Man, it's trap!"
Alas, the mighty He-Man did not heed the words of his mentor as he charged forth. He-Man leapt from Battle-Cat and landed right in front of Skeletor.
Skeletor dodged a swipe of He-Man's Power Sword, then lifted up the Havoc Staff. "PHANTOMOMAS!" he shouted, the spell escaping his mouth with practiced ease.
He-Man's blue eyes went wide as the world started to spin around. It spun faster and faster, quickly becoming a blur of lights and sounds. He felt his body being lifted up and could sense a massive displacement as he was being teleported elsewhere.
He-Man then fell.
His body slammed against the ground hard and heavy. He stood up, Sword of Power drawn. His eyes went wide at what he saw.
He was standing in the Plains of Perpetua. For miles on end, it stretched out before him. Huge towers of dry grass sat intermittently on the barren land. The air was hot and humid, the sky a nondescript haze.
"Hello He-Man," came the voice of Evil Lynn.
He-Man looked at her and sterned up. She wasn't alone. Tri-Klops, Trap-Jaw, Mer-Man, Beast-Man, Webstor, Kobra Kahn, and Spikor stood with her. In addition, there were three more recruits: one with a golden right hand; another that was huge and lobster-like; and the third was black and white furred and wore orange armor.
"I'd like to introduce you to Jitsu, Clawful, and Stinkor," Evil Lynn said, hand waving to the new members of the Evil Warriors. "We'll be your executioners tonight. Your punishment for standing up against the great might of Skeletor."
He-Man summoned his battle armor. The harness on his upper body was suddenly replaced by the chest plate. The Shield of Grayskull and the battle-axe also arrived, the axe on his back and the shield on his left wrist.
"I'll give you this one chance to – "
He-Man didn't even get a chance to finish his sentence which Stinkor leapt forward and unleashed an ugly cloud of toxic stench against He-Man. He-Man put his hand over his nose and mouth, the stench awful. Stinkor laughed stupidly as the cloud continued to pour from his body.
Evil Lynn then nodded towards Trap-Jaw and Tri-Klops. The three of them unleashed energy beams, striking the champion of Grayskull. As He-Man still struggled against the smell, the beams struck him hard and off-guard.
He-Man thrusted up his shield, but still received two of the blasts against his left leg. He was down. Stinkor cut off his attack then. He-Man was just starting to stand up, to gather his strength . . . when Clawful suddenly grabbed him by the neck, roaring and lifting him off the ground, pincer ready to snap
"I thought you said this was going to be hard," Clawful joked.
He-Man struggled, his breath rough as Clawful squeezed. Despite the near-invulnerability the Coridite gave off and the power of Grayskull gave him, it was a struggle to breathe normally. He forced himself to concentrate, despite the difficulty.
How could I be so stupid? he questioned himself. Don't think about that now. Focus. Concentrate.
He-Man swung his right hand back, sheathing the Sword of Power. He then reached forward and grabbed hold of Clawful's pincer. With shocking ease, he pulled them apart and dropped to the ground, Clawful roaring and yelling in pain.
"I'll get you for that!" he shouted, stepping forward.
He-Man dodged one lunge, then slammed his knee into Clawful's stomach. This was followed up by a punch to the face. Clawful went flying back.
Trap-Jaw and Tri-Klops went to work against He-Man once more, their energy beams striking with intense ferocity. He-Man's shield was at work, holding off the beams as much as possible. Beast-Man's whip, however, went was in motion.
It grabbed hold of He-Man's left arm and pulled it away. The beams struck He-Man square in the chest. Luckily, their impact was light thanks to the armor. As he pulled against Beast-Man's whip, the Sword of Power was blazing motion, striking the beams away as fast he could move it.
Kobra Kahn then jumped in, spraying acid from his face fins. The acid struck with amazing accuracy – the binds of the shield.
He-Man screamed as the acid ate a bit of skin – not too deep, but enough to burn. The shield fell. Beast-Man released his whip.
Trap-Jaw and Tri-Klops cut off their attack just as Spikor slammed his spiked fist across He-Man's face. He-Man swung his fist back, punching Spikor right back. But Beast-Man's hands grabbed hold of He-Man's head and pulled it back. Spikor slammed both spiked fists against He-Man's armor.
He-Man reached back, grabbed hold of Beast-Man, and flipped him over his body. Beast-Man was slammed into Spikor and He-Man leapt back. His battle-axe came out, now ready for anything.
But not really . . .
The ground beneath him exploded, thanks to Evil Lynn. He-Man jumped back. Webs suddenly overcame He-Man as Webstor attacked. He pulled them off as best he could, but Mer-Man was in motion.
The scaly villain moved fast and strong. His trident intercepted the handle of the battle-axe, sending it spinning out of his already damaged left hand. The battle-axe went spinning through the air and landed somewhere He-Man couldn't see.
Mer-Man then spun and slammed the trident into He-Man's right thigh. It barely broke the surface. He-Man's Sword of Power swept it, snapped the trident in half, then he punched Mer-Man in the face with his left fist.
He-Man barely had time to remove the spikes of the trident when huge bolts of lightning from Evil Lynn slammed into his armor. It rattled and shook at the intensity.
Tri-Klops was there then, his sword at the ready. He swung in. He-Man swung against, the blades striking each other. Tri-Klops went in for another jab, was blocked, jumped back, and fired with all his intensity at He-Man's armor.
In less than a second, Jitsu was at the scene. His golden hand formed into a fist and SLAMMED into the chest plate. It cracked and shattered. He then chopped onto He-Man's right wrist.
The Sword of Power dropped to the ground.
Jitsu struck at He-Man's chest plate again, then went right for the face. He-Man was staggering back, his face aching. Energy beams struck again, once more on his armor. This, in concert with Evil Lynn's lightning, spelled the end of the armor. It broke and fell in pieces on the ground.
He-Man reached for a chunk, but was blasted backwards by a laser cannon from Trap-Jaw.
Webstor then webbed up He-Man's feet, leaving them stuck to the ground. He-Man pulled his feet from his boots and stepped back. His mind was spinning in chaos, trying to grasp hold of something or someone and trying to formulate a plan.
A second blast of Stinkor's stench cloud was thrusted against him. This was accompanied by acidic burst from Kobra Kahn.
He-Man mind felt slow as he was one more blasted by Trap-Jaw and Tri-Klops. This time, their beams meant something. Without the field of invulnerability produced by the Coridite, the beams struck heavy and hard, bruising and burning his rippling midsection.
Spikor and Clawful then swung in again. Clawful held He-Man's arms as Spikor slammed his hands against He-Man's back. They dug in deep, producing blood. Spikor then drew them downward, all along his back. Blood poured from the long wounds.
Jitsu then came in again. He-Man managed to punch him, but not before He-Man received one heck of an uppercut.
He-Man fell to the ground . . . at the feet of Skeletor.
"Hello again, He-Man."
He-Man reached for Skeletor's ankle, but the overlord of evil jumped back.
"Resistant to the last, eh He-Man? I've got hand it to you." He looked over the approaching Evil Warriors. "Why, they're barely bruised! I must say, I expected more out of you!"
He-Man began to pull himself up. Skeletor blasted him hard, his entire body screaming out in terrible agony as the energy from the Havoc Staff went through him.
"That must have hurt, He-Man. I can't imagine what that felt like." Skeletor then sighed. "Get him on his feet."
Beast-Man and Clawful reached for He-Man and grabbed on his arms. He-Man pulled away from them and, with great struggle, stood up on his own. His legs ached from both the energy blasts and the trident attack; his chest and stomach were burned and bruised, the muscles in agony; his back bleed badly, hurting heavily; his wrists stung and his left arm was torn up; and his entire face was in agony.
The Sword of Power fell to his feet.
"Wha-what is this?"
Skeletor cackled. "Don't you know your history, He-Man? Are you not aware of the Second Age rite of the duel? For a champion of Grayskull, you're not very well-versed in the subject of honor."
The rest of the Evil Warriors laughed lightly, eyes on the two of them.
"Take your weapon," Skeletor said, Havoc Staff in hand.
He-Man reached down, his entire torso burning as he did. His fingers grasped the Sword of Power. Breathing heavily, He-Man stood at the ready.
Skeletor unleashed a bolt of green energy. He-Man swung the Sword of Power in and was able to deflect it. His limbs felt sluggish and slow, his instincts dull.
Skeletor struck again, producing even more energy blasts. He-Man could only handle one. The others slammed him hard, throwing the Sword of Power out of his hand. They impacted his body with unbound mercy, blasting him to the ground.
Barely conscious, He-Man once more struggled to stand.
"Don't bother," Skeletor replied. He then grabbed He-Man by the hair and held his face up. "You really thought you could stand against me? I have endured far worse then you have, He-Man. I have gone through agonies greater than any that you are experiencing right now. Now know that you are beaten and have fallen at the hands of my minions and I. Now know that I am truly worthy to claim the power of Grayskull. When I breach the walls of Grayskull, I expect to find you elsewhere. You are nothing to me. A speck in the wind. Know the pain you feel now . . . for it was only a taste of what is to come if you stand in my way again."
Skeletor slammed He-Man's face into ground. Then, he let loose a blast of power that surged through He-Man's body. He-Man passed out.
"Tie him up."
As thunder rolled and the wind picked up, He-Man was tied up in heavy bonds. The Evil Warriors went to work, He-Man being hung in webs from a slab of rock that jutted out from the barren land.
"Storm's coming," Tri-Klops noted, pointing to massive clouds on the horizon.
Skeletor nodded. Then, with one last parting blast at He-Man, he joined the others at the Collector. It blasted off from the Plains of Perpetuia, heading eastward to Snake Mountain.
"The Sword of Power?" asked Skeletor then. "Are you sure you couldn't find it?"
"The Sorceress must have teleported it back to Grayskull or something," Tri-Klops responded.
"Why aren't we heading to Castle Grayskull?" asked Trap-Jaw.
"It is not yet time," Skeletor stated. "After the defeats that we have already experienced, a new plan has been formed. This was only the first phase."
As soon as He-Man had vanished, search parties had been formed. While the Royal Soldiers and rescue teams dealt with the fires of Mentrose, Man-At-Arms assembled some of He-Man's allies to find He-Man. Man-At-Arms was all too aware that there was more than one problem to He-Man's disappearance. It also meant that Adam had disappeared as well.
Man-At-Arms had detected four energy spikes that matched up with the one that had appeared at the same time in Mentrose. Moss Man and Mekaneck investigated the one in the Evergreen Forest; Roboto and Man-E-Faces were checking out the one far south of Eternos; and Stratos and Buzz-Off were looking into the energy spike in the Mystic Mountains.
The last one was in the Plains of Perpetua, where he had sent Teela, Orko, and Battle-Cat.
He-Man awoke to the sound of thunder. His weary eyes looked forward and saw that above the Plains of Perpetua were massive, almost black thunderclouds. He felt a drop of rainfall on his face. This was followed by a second and third.
The fourth one ushered forth a downpour. It all fell upon his beaten body. Thunder rolled and cracked. Lightning – real lightning – fired off across the sky, dancing along the bleak, dark clouds. The rainwater ran across his sweat and bloodied body. It washed away the blood from his wounds and temporarily soothed his burns.
He-Man – Adam – never felt this bad before. This beaten before. Everything about his body ached and hurt. But it was more than that. Despite his tremendous strength, he had been outmatched. He may have had the power, but he had no training to match it. He would need better skills, even better than those Teela had been trying to teach him.
He-Man strained himself against his leather binds. They snapped. He yanked away the webs. He fell to the rain-soaked ground, strength sapped even after such a small feat. His eyes then turned up and He-Man found the Sword of Power sitting before him. Sitting right behind it was Zoar.
Help is on way, He-Man, said the Sorceress telepathically through Zoar.
"Thank you," he whispered.
He collapsed onto the ground. Laid on his back with the Sword of Power in one hand, he watched as raindrops fell onto his face and lightning flared out from the sky.
"HERE HE IS!"
She came over him, her face that of intense concern. He looked at her and saw such a beautiful, wonderful person. Her eyes, especially, looked pretty nice.
"ORKO! BATTLE-CAT! HURRY! HE'S BEEN HURT!"
He-Man lifted his hand up to her. She grasped it. "Teela . . ." he mustered.
"He-Man, rest. It's okay."
Thunder rumbled loudly above them. Lightning struck nearby.
Battle-Cat was there all of a sudden. Teela helped hoist He-Man onto Battle-Cat's saddle. Orko grabbed hold of the Sword of Power, the battle-axe, and the Shield of Grayskull.
They moved quickly into a nearby Talon Fighter and then laid He-Man down in the back seat. As soon as they took off, Teela on the comm-line with her father.
"Take him to Castle Grayskull, Teela. I'll meet you up there."
He-Man was loaded out the Talon Fighter and placed on a hoverbed.
"Thank you, Teela," Man-At-Arms replied, taking the weapons and the shield from Orko. "I want you and Orko to head back to Eternos and keep your eyes open for an attack by Skeletor. With He-Man out of commission for at least a little while, this would be a prime time for him to strike."
"What if you need me here?" she asked, though her voice conveyed a tone to the half-conscious He-Man that told him that she was looking hard for reason to remain. But why? Because of him?
"Those are my orders, Teela. I'll see you when I get back. I've already asked Prince Adam to come and keep an eye on the Castle."
Frustrated though she was, Teela nodded and turned away. As the jawbridge opened, the Talon Fighter blasted away.
He-Man awoke to the sounds of birds outside his window. Morning sunlight poured down against him. His body still ached and was quite sour, but it definitely felt better than it had yesterday. Battle-Cat slumbered in the corner. He was in Castle Grayskull and judging by the sight outside the window, in the southwestern tower.
"He-Man, you have awakened," the Sorceress said, entering. In her hands was a tray filled with various breakfast foods and juices. "Eat up. You must be quite hungry."
He-Man nodded and took a sip of the juice.
"Thank you," he said then, taking a bit out of a piece of buttered toast.
The Sorceress smiled a little. "When your father was fighting in the Horde War, he was gravely injured. Knowing that his children, that is, his child, was destined for great things, I saved him and brought him here. He laid in this very bed and ate the same meal as you are."
He-Man tried to smile, but it fell quite flat. "I didn't do such a great thing, Sorceress. I failed. I lost. I was outmatched and beaten. Skeletor left me there to die."
"He did it to intimidate you, He-Man," Duncan then said, entering the room as well. He-Man sat up in his bed. "He did it to scare you off. You can't let this defeat stop you."
"I wasn't good enough." He sighed. "For all the strength that I possess, it wasn't enough. I didn't have the skills nor the training to back it all up."
"You were outnumbered," the Sorceress offered. "But you are quite right. You are not ready."
He-Man lowered his head in dark defeat. "Then perhaps I'm unfit to be He-Man anymore. Duncan, perhaps it's more your place . . ."
"No," the Sorceress cut in. "You passed the test."
"So would Duncan."
"That's not what it's about," Duncan interjected. "This is your destiny, Adam." He had never called him 'Adam' in his He-Man form before. "This is what you have to do. Question yourself and that means Skeletor succeeded yesterday in truly defeating you."
He-Man nodded. "I . . . I understand."
Duncan handed He-Man a book then. 'Advanced Combat Training, Volume One.'
"This will help. Acting or not, I know you've picked up the basic training exercises from Teela. It's time for you to step up, but to do the training in secret. I'll do whatever I can to help you." Duncan stepped forward a little. "You may have lost in your battle yesterday, but we have learned a valuable lesson today. Let's not forget that."
With that, the Sorceress and Duncan left the room. He-Man opened up the book and began reading. The next time he faced off against Skeletor, he would be the winner. He would never be beaten so quickly or badly ever again.