This is my first He-Man and The Masters of The Universe story this millennium. It's the unholy love child of Dawn of Dragoon, an episode of the original series; Reap What You Sow, something I wrote long ago; and the new series.
Reap What You Sow was my first MOTU fanfic, and until now it was the only one. I wrote it in high school back when the original series was on. It was a sequel to Dawn of Dragoon, one scene of which I rewrote as a prologue to lead into my story. The only copy in existence now is on paper, and I have no urge to dig it out and type it in for all to read because it has some embarrassingly bad plot elements. (It got me an A in an independent study writing class, so it can't have been too bad, but still...) However, I was able to reuse elements of the story I liked, such as the kidnapping of Dree Elle for some unknown magical thingy Skeletor thinks she is carrying, the backdoor rescue during the battle, the idea that sorcerers are also healers, and the dragon bluff.
The Orko in this story is also something of a hybrid. To be honest, I don't like the Orko of the new show as much as I did the Filmation version. He looks cooler now, but he is all too often whiny, ineffectual, and downright annoying. He almost never lives up to his potential. So, I write Orko more as he appeared in the old episodes, and when he speaks I hear his original synth-y voice. I draw on both shows for character data. Information from the new show supersedes old info - Orko lost his wand, not his amulet, when he rescued Adam in the swamp - but I've also included all sorts of things from the old show such as other Trollan characters.
You may find in-jokes and references. I love ReBoot, Terry Pratchett's Discworld, and other things. If you notice the in-jokes, good. Means you probably have the same tastes in books and cartoons I do. :)
Over a year after releasing Lightning Strikes Twice, I finally got my butt in gear and continued this story. If you think that's a long delay, consider that I drew some of the pictures based on the Warlock's Wheel scene back in January '03, and I'm releasing this in September '04! By this time the TV series has finished, all the data is in, and I decided it'd be a lot easier to set the story after the end of the TV series rather than trying to shoehorn it into an already very busy continuity.
Larry Niven, author of Ringworld, The Mote in God's Eye, Lucifer's Hammer, and a ton of other books, has a lesser-known series based on a magical world. Or, rather, a world in which the magic is disappearing. In these stories mana, the power behind magic, is a finite resource. When it's all gone, dragons will die and their bones turn to stone, gods and other spirits will fade away, and sorcery will be no more. His view of magic - a very logical one, what one would expect of a writer of excellent "hard" science fiction - has shaped how I have treated it ever since reading The Magic Goes Away decades ago. The Warlock's Wheel was stolen directly from his short story Not Long Before The End.
D'Sparil's name and trident athame is a homage to the games Heretic and Hexen. Tengu was originally based on Snoob, a Trollan from the '80s series, but his personality had wandered far away by the time the story got written, and all that remained was his long nose. Poor guy. A "tengu" is a Japanese long-nosed goblin, by the way.
"Cantrip" and "cowan" are real words, albeit rarely used. A cantrip is, in this story, a very minor spell. Cowan literally means "one who does not practice The Craft" - a derogatory witch's term for a non-witch. Think "gaijin." "Not one of us, therefore an ignorant outsider" as used in this story.
Finally, the third story in the Trollan trilogy. I've been wanting to write this one for a while, in no small part because it's got Montork in it. When the series originally aired I didn't like Montork that much. I didn't dislike him either; he just didn't "click" with me. But when I got some DVDs of the old series, I found that I really liked the old guy. He's powerful but not showy; he has a sense of humor, and he's just plain got more sense than a lot of people. Skeletor tries to invade Grayskull by beating down the jawbridge or launching magical assaults, but when Montork had to get in he simply turned into a butterfly and flew in through a window. Good thing he's on our side, eh?
D'Sparil's face is based on "denatsates," beggars in Europe some hundreds of years back who would have their faces mutilated by having their noses, lips, and gums cut off, and their cheeks slit way back. The resulting skull-like visage was good for business, since the worse a beggar looked the more money people would give.
As usual, I've included homages to all sorts of other things in this story. (It's not a rip-off if I call it an homage. So there.) The idea of a magical creature trapped in a tattoo came from Larry Niven's Not Long Before The End. I lifted The Order of The Gash from Clive Barker's story The Hellbound Heart. (That story was made into the movie "Hellraiser." No, D'Sparil is not a Cenobite, he's just as ugly as one.) D'Sparil's Abomination is half Sephiroth from the end of Final Fantasy 7 - his final, winged form - and half mask demon from the Inu-Yasha episode Terror of the Ancient Noh Mask. There's also a bit of Proginoskes from Madeline L'Engle's A Wind In The Door. And, finally, the mirror game was lifted out of Andy Warhol's Blood for Dracula.
And, finally - yeah, I'm sorry about Tengu. Poor schmo.
Man, it can be a long time between stories. The funny thing is, each story I've written was supposedly the last one; I didn't have the next story in mind. And each time, little scenes and ideas snowballed into another story. It may take a year or three, but it keeps happening. (However, as I post this the next story is well under way...)
Exvie is inspired by Terry Pratchett's book Small Gods. In that book, gods are beings fueled by the belief of their worshipers. Those whose followers truly believe with a passion are powerful, but their strength can wane as their followers lose interest or their churches become so focused on ritual and political power that they forget the actual god. What a neat way to explain all the various pantheons and how they have faded over time! That's where Exvie's role in the story came from, anyway. The character herself is a homage to Hexadecimal from ReBoot. Her name is a phoneticization of XVI, or 16 in Roman numerals. (Hexadecimal is base 16.) I have also snuck in my usual homages to various other things I like, the most blatant being Fullmetal Alchemist.
A "banoke" is a spirit of a place, the way "mononoke" (as in Princess Mononoke) is Japanese for "the spirit of a thing." I suppose it would be more correct to use "tokoronoke," but that's a long, unwieldy word.
Wye is and is not Yuckers, Dree Elle's little brother from the episode Dree Elle's Return. He was an obnoxious little brat, and if I had known that I'd show Dree's family one day I would never have let her mention him in Lightning Strikes Twice. However, in this story Wye is merely an energetic 10-year-old rather than a practical-joking little jerk. He does not own a joy buzzer.
This story started out with a joke. We know where the Snake Men are, so where are the Snake Women? I started drawing some Snake Women, which looked pretty much like Snake Men because reptiles don't have boobs or eyelashes. And I started thinking about the Snake Men. To be honest, they always seemed like a particularly goofy bunch of villains. If they're all the same species, why do some look like lizard people and others look like humans with snake characteristics? After turning over the idea in my head enough I came up with an explanation for that, and by that time I had to write the story to get it out of my head. I deliberately sent Orko and Dree on a vacation so they could get on with their lives without diverting attention from the real center of this story. Plus, after Souls they deserve a break, don't they?
The cultish elements were inspired by a former coworker of mine who I shall not name. He was a member of the uwaubiansNay (I'm Pig Latinning that out so it won't show up on a Google search) or whatever they are calling themselves this week. He brought much of that cultishness into the office, and I was just amazed at what outlandish, ridiculous, racist nonsense an otherwise intelligent man could believe. But believe it he did, because membership in that cult meant he was superior to everyone else 'cause God (or the cult leader, anyway) sez so. In fact, by comparison the cult of Serpos is downright pragmatic.
The joke about Orko & Dree's kids at the end was lifted from a real conversation. My mother's landlord was a very small man, and he married a woman the same size. My mother, being as big a smartass as I am, came up with the "infinitesimal" line.
Finally, I was not suffering from a bout of insanity when I wrote the first paragraph. I've always made a habit of starting stories with "It was a dark and stormy night" or some variation thereof. That comes from the beginning of "Paul Clifford," and the full first sentence from the original book reads: "It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents--except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the house-tops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness." Wow.
One of the best of the '80s He-Man episodes was The Problem With Power. It acknowledged the possibility of death, for one thing, and He-Man had to deal with his conscience after supposedly causing the death of an innocent bystander. This being a FCC-friendly show, they couldn't have it happen for real, although that was part of the original premise. Still for a MOTU show, this was deep stuff.
The 200X series echoed some of the old shows, retelling some worthy story lines such as Teela's origin and adoption by Man-at-Arms, and Orko's arrival in Eternia. I think that The Problem With Power is one episode that could have been brought forward, not to be re-told as it was, but the premise to be re-explored within the parameters of the 200X series. As that didn't happen, well, I decided to give it a try. Whether or not I did justice to the original episode is up to the reader.
I had a hard time titling this one. "History repeats itself" was the thought I wanted to get across, but that phrase doesn't make a good title, and I never did come up with something I was happy with. "Continuity," at least, has the flavor of "the more things change, the more things remain the same."
Queen Snake began as a character I created to be deliberately icky. She's like a queen termite, but instead of laying termite eggs she churns out Snake Man eggs. When I created her I had no intention of ever using her in a story. After all, she lived in the past and my series is set in the present. But then I realized how she could be alive in the present, and the idea stuck in my head.
Montork's past and fate were also ideas that I didn't intend to use, but which just stuck with me until they became indispensable to the story. I'm not happy about killing him off, believe me. I liked the old guy, and there are scenes with him that I'll never get to write now.
Lizard Man was a gecko-like good guy who appeared in a few '80s He-Man episodes. Some time ago it occurred to me that he could be an Ophidian, so when I needed an Ophidian guard, I dropped him in.
Sumi and his magical technique were inspired by the video game Okami. That celestial brush is just so neat!
In the episode The Power of Grayskull we saw where He-Man's power came from
- and it was as if the main characters in the present were cloned in the past.
He-Man was bigger and had long hair, The Sorceress had wings growing out of
her kidneys instead of her shoulders, Battle Cat was a lion instead of a tiger,
and Orko was
The Great and Powerful Oz The Oracle. The rest
I can understand, but Orko comes from another planet! What are the odds that
there would be a Trollan around every time a He-Man clone appeared? This story
was written to offer a connection between Orko and The Oracle, and suggest why
their voices are identical.