A Snake Mountain Christmas
by Zoar28 aka Telkan2 aka Brett King
In a blinding flash of crackling white energy, Skeletor, the self-proclaimed Lord of Destruction, reappeared in his mountain fortress, Snake Mountain. The sorcerer’s yellowed skull seemed to scowl, and burning red flames glowed in the depths of the blackness within his hollowed eye sockets. As Skeletor walked away from his horrific throne, the others in the room noticed the bulging muscles beneath his azure skin tensing. Once the demon magician was out of earshot, the ape-like creature known as Beastman snorted, Did you hear what happened? Yeah, gurgled the orange furred primate’s companion, the amphibious Merman. When Horde Prime showed up to abduct those two Earth-children, Alicia and Miguel, Skeletor turned on him. And in the process wound up saving the little brats! Merman sighed. Poor Skeletor’s just not as evil as he used to be, I guess. That’s fine with me it just means that it’ll be easier for us to usurp his powers! Throwing their heads back in rebellious laughter, the two wicked enforcers staggered out of the throne room. ***** Entering his torch-lit chamber alone, Skeletor rested himself on his uncomfortable bed. The frame was composed of dead animal bones, and the mattress was of hay; a torn, ratty gray-green blanket hung limply over the sides. What’s wrong with me? Skeletor wondered aloud. Why did I save those pathetic Earthlings? Because you’re weak with goodness, a voice snorted from a shadowy corner of the chamber. You’ve always been that way! The sorcerer arose angrily, and launched a volley of magical energy-spheres into the dark recesses; they exploded harmlessly. Who dares speak to Skeletor like that? I do, the voice replied, as its keeper stepped into the light it was Hordak, commander of the evil Horde’s Etherian faction, and one-time mentor to Skeletor. And might I add that that was a rather pitiful use of your powers. The cyborg warrior wore armor of black onyx, with a blood-red bat stretching its wings in terrible flight across his chest. In contrast to his bluish skin, Hordak’s metallic visage was a polished-white hue. His beady red eyes glowed like rubies. What was strange, however, was the pale blue aura that surrounded the man. Hordak! Skeletor shouted. How did you Silence! the cyborg commanded. You would do well to listen to me. Has Horde Prime sent you to teach me a lesson for turning on him? Fool, the other snickered. I am not the real Hordak! I am a spirit sent by the Council of Evil, and have merely taken a form that you would recognize. A spirit from the Council of Evil? But why? To show you the error of your heroic ways, Skeletor. On this night, three spirits like myself shall visit you. Pay attention to all they say, or else well, the consequences of ignoring their words is too terrifying for even me to mention; the last spirit will show you what I mean. Go to sleep now, bonehead, because they won’t come until later tonight. With that, the spectral Hordak vanished, leaving Skeletor alone once more within his dark chambers. Collapsing on his bed wearily, the sorcerer dismissed the vision as nothing more than a hallucination. It was nothing more than an undigested piece of Manticore-meat, I’m sure ***** And so, the wings of sleep embraced Skeletor with their soft black feathers. The hours ticked by, and his sleep was dreamless and restless until the sound of thunder rumbling awoke him. Ah! he screamed, bolting out of his bed at the sound. Then, chiding himself, the sorcerer shouted, Why am I such a fool? It was nothing more than the usual rumbling of thunder that always surrounds Snake Mountain Oh, that was no ordinary thunder, Skeletor! something behind him said. Skeletor turned around, recognizing the voice almost as quickly as he had recognized Hordak’s. Monteaque! That is the form I have assumed, yes, the tiny, toad-faced spirit replied. The same blue aura surrounded the short spirit that had the first. It is time that we begin you on the road to recovery, Skeletor it is time that we delved into your past, and relived those frightening days! But, even I don’t have the power of time-travel! You wretched excuse for a warlock! I am an emissary of the Council of Evil itself, and therefore the powers of time-travel are at my beck and call! Before Skeletor could retort, Monteaque spirited them both away, and into the past ***** They reappeared in Palace Eternia, nearly thirty years earlier. It was a place that Skeletor recognized instantly as the laboratory of his enemy Man-At-Arms but in those days it still belonged to Skeletor. He also recognized the sole person in the room. The young boy had short brown hair, and wore a body suit of azure and purple. An angry scowl rested upon his stony face as he mixed vials of bubbling liquids. That’s me! Skeletor shouted. Correction, Monteague replied, that was you, before you became like you are now back when you were known as Prince Keldor, son of Miro, and brother of Randor; he can neither see nor hear us, Skeletor.” “Yes, I remember those times…and I also remember this day!” “Do you, now?” “Quite well! Observe in a moment, when I lift the large beaker with the glowing green solution…” As Skeletor predicted, his former self reached across the table for the beaker. Keldor took it in his left hand, and examined the short, stout container in his other hand; a syrupy sanguine substance rested inside. “Careful, Keldor,” the boy muttered to himself. “If I get this potion right, then I shall finally have all of the power necessary to overthrow my weakling father, and his worthless armies, and take Eternia for my own. If I mix it incorrectly, though, it shall…have an undesired reaction.” Carefully, the angry young prince poured the bubbling green liquid into the container holding the sanguine syrup. The two chemicals began to swirl on their own, and mix together, forming an almost purple colored substance. “Oh, no!” Keldor shouted, much too late. The beaker in his hand exploded, sending the potion and shards of glass in every direction! It ate away at his unprotected face, melting away the fair skin upon it and the muscle beneath it; only a skull remained, dyed yellow as the potion’s magic wore down. The boy’s clothing vanished in a similar fashion, but the magical liquid did not continue through the rest of his skin. It did, however, dye it a dark blue hue. He shrieked, and a dozen royal guardsmen came rushing in. “What is it, Your High—” one of them began, before turning around and vomiting at the sight of Keldor as he now stood. “By the Ancients,” another muttered. “Someone summon the king...this demon must have destroyed the prince!” a third added. “As the memory unfolded before Skeletor and Monteague, the spirit smiled. “They merely thought that your concoction had stopped at skin level." “Yes, they did,” Skeletor agreed. “That was the day that all goodness in me died!” Monteague floated upwards, and smacked the back of Skeletor’s hooded head. “Have you already forgotten what happened today, with the two Earth children? Obviously, the forces of Goodness have not completely relinquished their hold on you!” Everything became black suddenly, and Skeletor demanded, “What is going on?” “I’m going to remind you of your first heroic deed following your transformation into your current self.…” ***** Years later, in another room of Palace Eternia. The young Skeletor lay in a heap upon the floor, the beige wall behind him cracked from the force of his collision with it. Dazed and disoriented, he looked up and saw Queen Marlena and Man-At-Arms. The real Skeletor could not help but ask, “Why do you show me this day, Monteague? The abduction of Princess Adora by Hordak was one of Eternia’s darkest hours, and I was a key player in it!” “True, but you were also a key player in helping the Royal Family almost recapture her!” Sobbing, the image of Queen Marlena demanded, “Tell us where Hordak has taken my daughter, Skeletor, or I’ll—” “Wait!” the young Skeletor replied. “I’ll tell you…but only so that you can catch that misbegotten maggot for abandoning me! He has taken Adora back to our secret base at Snake Mountain, where he intends to take her to a distant world; I don’t know what world, though, so you had better hurry if you ever intend to catch her!” “See!” the real Skeletor shouted. “My reasons for revealing Hordak’s plans were anything but noble! I just wanted revenge!” “Bah! Your excuse for doing so is as pathetic now as it was then. Deep down, you and I both know that you secretly hated the idea of your niece being raised by a tyrant like Hordak.” “I…” Skeletor sighed. “Perhaps you’re right…though it must have been buried very deeply inside of me, because I couldn’t have cared less about the little brat!” “Whatever. Come, now, for the hour grows late and you have yet two spirits to travel the roads of Time with!” ***** Thunder rumbled once again in the distance. “Where am I?” Skeletor asked confusedly. Looking down, the sorcerer could see that he was once again in his bed, within the safety of his personal chambers. “This storm must be the cause of my strange dreams.” “That’s hardly the case,” a voice boomed to his left. Skeletor jerked up once again, recognizing the voice as that of, “Horde Prime!” In a corner of the room, an enormous computer station, which had not been there ever before, and which was surrounded by the now-familiar blue aura, displayed an image of the Horde emperor upon its rectangular screen. As always, billows of thick, dirty black smoke kept his true appearance shrouded in mystery. Only the electronic glow of his blood-red eyes could be seen, accompanied by an occasional flash of phosphorus green light in the distance. “Have you come to take your revenge, Mighty Horde Prime?” An arc of lightening shot from the computer screen, striking Skeletor’s chest. “You twit! Just as my brother spirits came to you as a familiar face, so too do I! I am here to show you how your good deed is being viewed by those you hate most. Come!” ***** Once again, Skeletor found himself alongside a spirit of Evil at Palace Eternia. Within the spacious Banquet Hall, all of Skeletor’s enemies from Eternia and Etheria had gathered to celebrate the birthdays of Prince Adam and Princess Adora. “Do you see?” Horde Prime’s voice asked through the computer station’s speakers. “Some are here celebrating the royal brats’ birthdays, but there are others who are celebrating for another reason as well.” Nearby, the little Etherian creature known as Loo-Kee was talking with his Eternian friend Orko. “Boy,” he squeaked, his rainbow colored tail swishing excitedly, “I wish I had been able to see Skeletor save those two kids!” “It was something, Loo-Kee! I think he’s getting soft in his old age!” Both began laughing hysterically. “Why those…” Skeletor muttered. “Wait until I get my hands on them!” “They’re not alone in their mocking, Skeletor. Even your own henchmen, Beastman and Merman, had something to say about your saving of the children!” “What did they say?” Skeletor demanded. “I would show you myself, but my time has already run out…curse that Monteaque for taking up so much time!” Everything went black, and the computer station upon which Horde Prime had been communicating to Skeletor from disappeared. “Hey!” the sorcerer shouted. “I demand that I be returned to Snake Mountain!” But then, a colossal column of flames shot down from nowhere. By the time the fire finally died down, the fourth spirit awaited Skeletor. This last one had assumed the shape and form of the Horde sorceress Shadow Weaver. “So far I have been shown my past and present…have you come to show me my future, Shadow Weaver?” Silence was her only answer. “Say something, blast it!” he shouted angrily. Still she said nothing. “If you’re not going to say anything, then hurry and show me what lays ahead!” Though her tongue remained still, the crimson-robed, enshrouded spirit parted the darkness with but a gesture. Skeletor gasped when he saw his future-self standing within the mystical walls of Castle Grayskull. “At last!” he shouted. “I will one day breach the walls of…No!” He saw who stood alongside him. It was his brother, Randor, and the castle’s guardian, the Sorceress. “I have done so many evil things,” the future-Skeletor apologized, “and in time I vow to make up for them all.” “In these last years, my friend,” the Sorceress replied, “you have undergone a wonderful change. You fight for justice and goodness now, which is why I hereby strip you of your dark powers, and return you to your former self!” The older Skeletor vanished in a fire of white flames…but from those flames emerged a normal man. He had long brown hair, and a genuine smile upon his lips; a body suit of blue covered his muscular frame.
“Thank you, Sorceress,” he said. “Though I have lost all of my magical powers, I hereby proclaim that I, Prince Keldor, shall forevermore aid the heroic warriors of Eternia in their battle against Evil!” “I’m glad to hear it…brother,” Randor said happily, embracing Keldor. “It can’t end like that!” Skeletor shouted at the spirit behind the Shadow Weaver guise. “I can’t become a…”—he shuddered visibly—“…hero! Please show me…no, I demand that you show me how to avert such a terrible, unspeakable fate!” Silence. “Show me!” he howled, as burning flames began to consume both him and everything around him. “Show me…show me…” ***** “…..Show me!” Skeletor sat up in bed for what seemed like the third time, his tattered sheets tangled around his arms and legs. Throwing them aside, and rushing out into the hallway, he came across the mechanically enhanced warrior known as Trap-Jaw. “What happened today, Trap-Jaw?” he asked eagerly, shaking the red-jawed cyborg hard. “Uhm,” the other stuttered, “you, uh, saved two Earth children from Horde Prime, M-m-master.” “Curses!” he replied, knocking Trap-Jaw to the floor. But then, he snapped his azure fingers. “It may be too late to do something about that, but I just remembered one thing I can do to prove that I’m back to my old self!” Skeletor marched down the corridor, searching for Beastman and Merman, and leaving a puzzled Trap-Jaw sprawled out on the floor. ***** The two evil warriors squatted on wooden stools, tearing pieces of brown meat from a large white bone. Slobbering, Beastman spit out, “I say we take the goody-two-shoes bonehead tonight, while he’s sleeping.” “No,” Merman replied, taking a sip of his drink, “we would do better to wait, and amass more support before trying to overthrow Skeletor.” “Is that so?” the demonic sorcerer asked curiously, barging angrily into the room; Beastman and Merman both fell from their perches upon seeing their hated leader. “I’m afraid there will be no challenging of my power…not by you dimwits, not ever!” Skeletor lifted his hands into the air, and the rock-hard black floor split open, swallowing the two animalistic creatures all the way up to their respective necks. “Why don’t you two stay here, and think about the error of your mutinous ways…not that you have much choice!” The sorcerer laughed cruelly all the way back to his chamber, leaving Beastman and Merman trapped up to the neck beneath the floor. “I guess his goodness-streak is over,” the orange-furred primate commented. “No more Mr. Nice Guy.” “Yeah, I think the evil Skeletor we all hate and fear is back to stay!”