Adam pushed the Wind Raider to its limit as it streaked across the Eternian night sky. Below him the tree tops of the Evergreen Forest revealed the harmonic sounds of night. In the past five years this was a journey he'd become accustomed to making. The Sorceress, as Grayskull's guardian, was usually the first to alert him of any impending dangers, and it was his duty to stand as the first line of defense against all things that threatened Grayskull and Eternia.
Of all the upheaval that had entered his life the day he accepted those responsibilities, the emergence of a telepathic link between himself and the castle's guardian was by far the most benign. Initially Adam found himself wary of the castle's mysterious occupant but with time he became accustomed to her aloof nature. Yet after all these years he still found it hard not to become worried when her calls for assistance came, especially given the amount of distress her voice recently carried. It alarmed Adam how brief their connection had been and his imagination ran wild with ominous scenarios; each one more worrisome than the last. Adam tried for the third time to reach Man-at-Arms on the Raider's communicator but he was still unreachable. Adam's absence would become noticeable by morning and he would have liked for Duncan be aware of the situation before he was blindsided with inquiries about the Prince's whereabouts. Man-at-Arm's wisdom and guidance have always been invaluable. He would also have liked to have conferred with the older man about what he potentially could be getting himself into. Regardless, leaving a message, no matter how enigmatic it might be, would raise too many questions by the wrong people.
"It would be for the best that you don't speak about your time here with others, Prince Adam," the Sorceress had told him cryptically the day he returned victorious from his first confrontation with Skeletor.
In the beginning he wasn't quite sure how to react to news about the mysterious warrior who had seemed to appear out of nowhere, and it took him a while before he could strike a delicate balance between the awestruck adoration that ran rampant through the people and the suspicion that originated from some members of the military and the Eternian council. When Teela first questioned his indifference towards He-Man she took his response as jealousy and rebuked him for his seemingly uncharacteristic and petty behavior. That promptly told him that perhaps apathy wasn't the way to go when people praised the accomplishments of He-Man. It sent a poor message for a member of the Royal Family to be unconcerned with a man who had done so much in keeping his family safe. Man-at-Arms, having already established a relationship with the Sorceress, but that was still unknown to Adam at the time, was well aware that the Prince's lineage prophesized a great future that would even surpass that of his own father. According to Duncan exactly how it would come to pass had been unknown up until the moment he saw He-Man arrive in the midst of a battle like a beacon from the Elders. Man-at-Arms instantly saw his young protégé inside the commanding warrior but he also understood some of the apprehension that his arrival had caused. As someone who worked closely with He-Man, Man-at-Arm’s opinion of the warrior carried a lot of weight in the kingdom.
After years of inactivity Skeletor struck at the heart of Eternos and a battle between his father and the enigmatic sorcerer ended with the King abducted at the hands of one of Beastman's griffins. He-Man had helped win a decisive battle against Skeletor and rescued the King against impossible odds. Many, especially those who witnessed the events first hand, were accepting of their new ally. A few others were intimidated by his formidable presence and questioned his motives. They didn't appreciate He-Man's secretive and solitary nature. Where did he rest his head when not in combat? Did his loved ones reside within the kingdom? Did he even have any loved ones? Too many unanswered questions left those who always needed to know the answers to everything apprehensive.
On the other hand, just the opposite was the case with the majority of the people in Eternos and of the other kingdoms on Eternia. Speculation about He-Man's origins began to have a life of its own. Was he the last surviving member of a band of isolated barbarians, only now emerging out of Eternia's forests or mountains and looking to bring honor to his fallen kin by defending Eternia? Or perhaps he was a visitor from another planet, lost in the cosmos much like their beloved Queen? Whatever his origin, the people looked at He-Man, with his larger than life presence, with a sense of wonder and trust. It was the way people looked at his father, Man-at-Arms, or one the Defenders and now they were looking at him in that way. As He-Man Adam had been able to play a more active role in the safety of Eternia that wasn't centered solely around diplomatic negotiations. Prince Adam used his head to resolve issues of state and He-Man stepped in when threats like Skeletor were concerned. It should have been the perfect combination of the two but some days ran more smoothly than others. This mission, Adam could sense, was going to be a rough one.
Adam's transformations into He-Man have always been like a bolt of lightning, particularly his first one. It was him but yet it wasn't. The sensations of him physically changing were indescribable. He was larger, stronger, and faster. But what exactly were his limits? Did he have any? Appearances could be deceiving even with the Sorceress proclaiming him the strongest man in the Universe. It caused Adam concern that all his acquired strength and agility might one day fail to be enough and innocent lives would suffer because of it. Those types of concerns remained with him, even when he shed his He-Man persona and carried on as Adam, Prince of Eternia. In actuality, they were magnified.
The people had such faith and trust in He-Man that at times Adam felt like his work as He-Man should take precedence over his needs as Adam. So preoccupied did he become with the importance of his duties as He-Man that his reputation as Adam went through some changes. Prince Adam was once an open book. Nowadays that has become tempered by a slightly more reclusive quality. Covert maneuvers became his specialty. It wasn't easy for the crowned prince, whose attention everybody wanted, to slip out of a room unnoticed. Courtiers found it mysterious, Teela headache inducing, and his father...well, he preferred that his son would stick around.
To Adam's relief Castle Grayskull appeared before him over a the ridge that marked the boundary between the Evergreen Forest and the land that surrounded the castle. A break in the cloud cover allowed the iridescent moonlight to illuminate the ancient structure. The giant skull facade, which at first sight could be both menacing and frightening, filled Adam with comfort. A sense of foreboding had settled into the pit of Adam's stomach since he'd left the Palace. He was grateful that he didn't find Grayskull besieged by Skeletor and his followers. Grayskull was more than just brick and mortar. It was a symbol of Eternia's mystical past and the resiliency of everything that was good in the world, even in the face of so much darkness. As long as Grayskull stood all was right with the Universe.
Adam brought the Wind Raider to a hover, allowing a cloud of dust to erupt from underneath the transport. He landed it discretely behind the few rock formations that could be found not far from the entrance of the castle. Inhospitable grounds protected it from the uninitiated and the curiosity seekers. The terrain outside of Grayskull was devoid of any life. Outgrowths of jagged rocks were scattered between the edge of the Evergreen Forest and the castle itself. With the lights of the Raider now off the only light came from the stars above and the two Eternian moons as they peeked through the ribbons of cloud cover. Adam's boots on the gravel created the only sound in the noiseless night.
The knot in Adam's stomach grew bigger. Unlike other instances, the castle drawbridge didn't lower at his approach. With no other alternative Adam pulled the Sword of Power from his scabbard and held it aloft, commanding the castle to lower its drawbridge. Lightning crackled in the night sky and the drawbridge of Castle Grayskull slowly made its way down. With one last look at the Wind Raider and to the distance towards Eternos, Adam entered Grayskull and the castle drawbridge began to retreat towards its initial position.
In the years since he became the champion of Grayskull Adam had been inside Grayskull on numerous occasions. Should an intruder actually make it inside, several safeguards were in place to keep them from going anywhere of actual importance. Adam was certainly no intruder but right now he had to navigate his way out of the castle's illusions. Multiple corridors provided him with several options and only one was the right one. The correct corridor would lead him to the main hall of Castle Grayskull. The others would not. In almost every single one of his previous visits the pathway to the main chambers had been lit with a series of torches. It was there that the Sorceress often awaited him. Tonight, however, those torches were extinguished and Adam was left to navigate the maze that was Grayskull on his own. And while it didn't try to hinder his progress, the castle didn't aid him either. Adam made his way through the darkened corridors on instinct alone until finally he saw it. A soft glow highlighted a hallway at the top of the stairs. Adam recognized it from his previous visits and he allowed himself to breathe a small sight of relief. He only hopeed that his difficulties have not adversely affected the Sorceress' well being.
The main chamber of Castle Grayskull was its centerpiece. Torches lined the vast chamber room, illuminating it in a soft light that danced as the flames flickered on their perches. The room was sparse. Statues of Eternia's Elders dwarfed all visitors and they peered down serenely from their positions along the columns that made their way to the throne. Adam looked towards the throne, which laid embedded in a skull similar to the castle's exterior, expecting to see the Sorceress awaiting him. Instead he found the throne empty.
Adam's heart rate began to increase. She wasn't here, which meant that she could be anywhere within the castle. Adam's eyes scanned the hall looking for anything that might indicate the Sorceress' whereabouts or give him some indication of the problem that had caused her distress. As he neared the foot of the throne Adam spotted something at its base and he ran up to it with concern when he realizes what it was. The Sorceress' staff, which never left her side, lay abandoned at the base of the stairs leading upwards towards her throne. Then he saw her, half hidden in shadows and slumped over on the castle floor; her expansive wings haphazardly lying around her.
A distressed whisper escaped Adam's lips, "No." In an instant he was by her side. Adam carefully turned the Sorceress over trying to be mindful of not jostling her too much.
"Sorceress?" He asked, unable to mask the concern in his voice.
Her eyelids fluttered as she fought to regain consciousness. When she did two large green eyes looked around unfocused and lightly hazed.
"Sorceress, are you all right? What happened?"
Despite being held by him her eyes continue to dart around, completely unaware of Adam's presence, but at the sound of his voice her eyes were sharply redirected towards him. On her face Adam now saw a mixture of worry and excitement. Given her recent unconscious state she grabbed his upper arm with a surprising vice grip and fiercely said, "She's alive Adam. You must find her."
Taken slightly aback by her words Adam barely responded in time to help the Sorceress lift herself off the floor. "Time is of the essence. She could be lost to us forever," she rambled on, with her wayward staff back in her possession. She quickly made her way to the foot of her throne. Gone was the weary woman Adam had found unconscious on the castle floor. In her place was the Sorceress of Grayskull like he'd always seen her--strong and clearly planning something.
"Sorceress you're not making any sense. Who's alive? How--"
Adam stopped short when he saw the look of surprise on the Sorceress' face. He followed her gaze to the far corner of the chamber. A long, stone pedestal stood half hidden in the shadows. He remembered that pedestal. Five years ago he stood before it unsure and a little frightened, with the Sorceress' words of encouragement in his head urging him to accept Grayskull and his alleged destiny.
He could still remember the emotions that ran through him the first time he held the Sword of Power in his hand. The sword was firm in his grip. He still doubted the Sorceresss' claims that he could protect Eternia against the reignited threats of Skeletor but he was certain that the moment felt right.
The groove that held the Sword of Power was empty, just as he'd left it all those years ago, only this time the pedestal held another sword and Adam was absolutely certain that hadn't been there before. The fire from the torches animated the jewel at the center of the sword. If it wasn't for that jewel it would be an exact duplicate of his own sword.
"Whose sword is that?" He asked hoarsely. When had his mouth gone dry?
"She-Ra's," the Sorceress said simply.
The similarity between the name and his own alter ego didn't escape Adam. "Who is She-Ra?"
"She is the light," she replied as she walked around the pedestal, effectively putting it between the two of them. "The Sword of Protection, they were always meant to work together. Two champions, cut from the same cloth."
"Two champions? Why is it that this is the first time I'm hearing of this?"
"Grayskull stands at the center of the Universe, Adam. There are many things that it sees but there are also things that it cannot. She was one of those things. A child of Grayskull, spirited away during dark times and thought to be lost forever. Take the Sword of Protection. Use it to find its rightful owner, Adam. Fully grown she is capable of wielding it. She is someone with the capacity for great goodness, much like yourself."
"How will I find her?" He asked still very much amazed with the revelation.
"Trust your instincts and do not doubt them. They will lead you to the one you seek."
"Sorceress I need more than that. You say she was a child but surely she's no longer that. Who is she? Why haven't I heard of this abduction before if she's so important?"
"Adam please you're wasting time," She said with rising urgency. "You have to find her now. I promise you that you'll get your answers."
"All right," Adam says with a sigh, "Let's get started." He had come to Grayskull expecting to see Skeletor at the castle's doorstep and instead he found himself on a quest for a missing person.
"Hold out your hands," the Sorceress commanded.
He did just that and with a wave of her hands the Sword of Protection disappeared from its groove and reappeared in his outstretched hands. The jewel in its center held his attention momentarily before he placed it in his scabbard with its twin.
Without a word the Sorceress turned and walked out of the main chamber and down a nearby hallway. Adam followed obediently until they reached one of the hallways housing several of Castle Grayskull's dimensional portals. Intricately carved wooden doors provided the only barrier between Eternia and worlds unknown.
"I don't know where this leads to but she will be there. Of that I'm certain."
A wave of the Sorceress' arms opened one set of double doors.
"Be careful Adam. She's at a crossroads...a point of no return. Only you can do this. And remember, what the eye sees and the heart knows can sometimes be two different things."
With apparently nothing left to be said and far less information than he would have hoped Adam bowed slightly in deference towards the Sorceress, walked through the strange doorway, and disappeared into parts unknown.