As the Legion Cruiser sped through space toward Zerox the Sorcerers’ World, Star Boy, Dream Girl, Blok, Shadow Lass, Invisible Kid, and Quislet sat in an uneasy silence.
Blok brooded as he remembered his own parting with a loved one. Blok had long had a secret crush on Mysa Nal, the White Witch. He had formed a friendship with the delicate and dainty beauty from Naltor, and she had been very vocal in encouraging him to run for leader of the team. He had relished their growing closeness, and it had shaken the stolid rocky being when Mysa had suddenly introduced a new and, to Blok, disturbing presence in the city.
Grimoire of Nadir was a dashing and amiable young wizard from the lost world of Nadir. He had a fancy way of dressing and a quick wit. The handsome young mage had followed Nadir’s regal beauty Princess Elwinda from Nadir’s sealed dimension to Earth when she had abandoned her planet out of love for the Legion’s Chameleon Boy. (*) Grimoire had attached himself to Mysa, in a manner of speaking, and their shared interest in matters occult had led them to form a relationship that left Blok feeling alone and forgotten. He had brooded silently with regret hidden behind his impassive features. However, his friend Timber Wolf had figured out the source of Blok’s despair.
[(*) Editor’s note: See Legion of Super-Heroes: Faerie Tale.]
“Rocky, if you have a thing for the White Witch, you should tell her,” Timber Wolf had said. “She likes you. I’ve seen it in the way she smiles when you’re near. I almost lost Ayla because I couldn’t always find the right words to say. Don’t be a dope like me. Go to Mysa and speak your mind, or Grimoire will sweep her off her feet right before your eyes!”
Blok had remained silent, and he had watched Mysa as she showed the city to Grimoire and shared much of her own magical awareness with the dashing man. Grimoire had, in turn, been all too quick to teach the somewhat more demure Mysa certain skills like dancing that the studious and serious young woman had lacked.
Then Blok’s pain had grown when the pair departed from Earth for Mysa’s adopted planet Zerox, where she hoped to introduce Grimoire to her beloved mentors. Blok knew that Mysa had once brought him to that ever-changing world where magic dominated all, and only the wise scholars on Sorcerers’ Isle could safely control the strange environmental forces that left no corner of the misty globe unchanged for long.
Blok had wondered if the fact that she had invited Grimoire in his place for this current trip meant that she no longer cared for him. He thought he had gained many insights into human psychology since joining the Legion and becoming their archivist, but he now wondered if he had ever truly understood the charming and exotic White Witch. He also worried about her safety. She was very capable, and in her personal area of expertise, the White Witch had few, if any, true rivals. However, when faced with the possible threat of Mordru the Merciless, anyone would feel afraid.
He kept his fears to himself even when Star Boy said, “Grimoire was with Mysa. He is not in her league when it comes to magic, but he is a good man. He’ll protect her as much as possible when faced with someone like Mordru! None of us have ever really matched him in terms of raw power!”
“Grimoire has an attachment to Mysa,” agreed Blok. “However, you must remember he came from Elwinda’s world of Nadir and was only a novice in the mystic arts there. Before coming here when the dimensional barriers that separated Nadir from our universe returned to cut off that planet from contact with the worlds beyond, he had little experience of life in modern United Planets space! Nadir was as primitive as Avalon or our fellow Legionnaire Queen Projectra’s world of Orando. While Zerox lacks technology, it is still very unsettling in many ways, and Grimoire is new to the world.”
Invisible Kid turned to Shadow Lass and asked the comely woman what she knew about the threat to Mysa. “Tasmia, the Legion has barely managed to vanquish Darkseid and the Time Trapper, and you speak of Mordru as a being of equal power. If he is so mighty, then what interest can he have with finding a bride or mate, even one as special as the White Witch?”
Tasmia Mallor pushed a lock of her thick black hair out of her eyes and said, “Jacques, before you joined the team, we knew Mysa Nal as a pretty redhead with the same sultry style as her sister Nura. As you know, long practice of the mystical arts on Zerox altered her until she became the pale and rather unusual-looking woman we all know today. However, that change was not her first transformation.
“Years ago on Zerox, Mordru was just a seemingly humble scholar of the magical arts. However, he was determined to rule that world, and he eventually gained control of it and many other planets before the Legion stopped him by entombing him alive. Anyway, before he took over Zerox, he decided to get rid of Mysa, so he changed her into an old hag with his black magic. Eventually, Mysa was cured by Nura and returned to her studies on Zerox. (*) That was the first time Mordru showed some interest in or malice for Mysa. In another encounter Mordru had with the Legion, he expressed an attraction to the White Witch. I was told he said something like she embodied his dark essence once before and would perhaps someday carry his child!”
[(*) Editor’s note: See “The Forging,” Tales of the Legion of Super-Heroes v2 #315 (September, 1984) and “The Path Not Taken,” Tales of the Legion of Super-Heroes v2 #316 (October, 1984).]
Invisible Kid whistled softly. “No wonder Nura is so concerned!” said Jacques Foccart. “Surely it is Mysa that Mordru seeks as his bride! He must have some fascination with her dating back to their first meeting.”
Dream Girl whirled around in her chair and said, “That’s right, Jacques. I saw Mordru standing before a helpless crowd of witnesses in a dimly illuminated chamber. They were all robed, but I took them to be the captive natives of Zerox. They watched in silent horror while Mordru gloated before them and extended his hand to an elegantly gowned and veiled woman. She took his hand, and he declared her to be his bride!”
A silvery craft lowered itself down and rested on Nura’s shoulder as its occupant, the odd little energy being known as Quislet, spoke in his high-pitched tone. “Don’t worry, pretty-pretty. Mysa will not be wed while Quislet is here!” he said. Dream Girl smiled thinly as the ever-attentive Quislet tried to comfort her.
“Mysa would never willingly become the wife of a monster like Mordru,” said Shadow Lass. “He must have placed her under some spell!”
“That’s what one would assume,” said Dream Girl. “However, Mysa is devoted to her teachers. If she had no choice but to become his wife or see him slay them all, I think she would bravely agree to marry him!”
Shadow Lass cried out, “We’ll soon know! Zerox is directly below!” They looked through the Cruiser’s portal to see the mystic world.
Star Boy expertly guided the craft down and thought, I’m not as good as Sun Boy is at handling the Cruisers, but even Dirk would be impressed with my landing. I hope he and his father are doing OK on Bismoll! He referred to the fact that his close friend Dirk Morgna, alias Sun Boy, and a few other Legionnaires had accompanied Dirk’s father Derek Morgna to Bismoll to deal with legal problems the industrialist was facing.
[(*) Editor’s note: See Legionnaires: Sun Boy: Burning Hatred, Epilogue: Graduation.]
Dream Girl glanced over at him and pouted as she thought anew about her dream in which her future separation from Star Boy was painfully evident. There are times when my gift is a curse! she thought. I love Thom! I know my heart, if not my future. Why are we going to break up? Is it due to something I will do, or is it going to be his fault? My very knowledge of the fate that awaits us could prompt me to unwittingly do the very thing that causes our relationship to fall apart! Maybe I should just focus on Mysa for now. I may be Naltor’s darling, but for once, I must let the future take care of itself!
Star Boy led the group out of the Cruiser, and they had mere moments to get used to the weird scenery when a squad of armored men charged at them from all sides. “We’re under attack!” yelled Star Boy. “Protect yourselves, Legionnaires!”
Dream Girl flew forward and posed dramatically in front of a pair of sword-carrying soldiers. She put her hands on her hips and smiled confidently as she faced them. “Why don’t you boys put down those swords?” she said with a laugh. “Surely you can find a better use for them! After all, to a girl who can glimpse the future, it is obvious you won’t use them with any success on me!”
She moved forward and spun around to kick both blades out of the hands of the startled guards, who had little expected such skillful fighting from a beauty like Nura Nal. She elbowed one guard in the face as she punched out at another. There is something to be said for living in the moment! she thought as she jumped away from a sword thrust.
As five other guards charged at the heroes, Quislet eagerly exited his little craft and used his bizarre-but-effective power to enter and animate their weapons. As a smiling face morphed into view on each inanimate object he entered, the weapons crumbled to dust in his wake.
“Sorry swords not last, but neither does plastoid fiber!” he chirped.
The soldiers found themselves unarmed even as Quislet entered a stone well and altered its form into a misshapen humanoid figure that lurched forward and slammed into them with stunning force before crumbling apart on top of them.
“Blok, Quislet your cousin?” he joked as the rocky construct he’d created fell apart.
Blok ignored him and moved steadily forward as guards broke swords and maces against his invulnerable hide. “This conflict is futile,” he said slowly. “We cannot be beaten by such primitive weapons. Take us to your leader!”
He knew that when last he had visited this planet, only benign wizards had been there to welcome him, and magic repelled any unwanted visitor. Now, armed troops sought to do the same thing, with little luck.
Invisible Kid had used his power to turn invisible to trip up several guards. As they fell, the clever youth knocked them out one by one with a heavy mace he had grabbed from a falling foe. One could build quite a physique from regular use of such a weapon! he thought. What would little Danielle think if she could see her brother playing the role of Space Barbarian from the holos she loves?
Dropping the mace, he flew into the air where he spotted a castle towering above a village of huts and cottages that dotted a steep slope. This is very strange! he thought. I appear to have flown out of the range of a spell of some type. This community and that castle above were not visible from the ground where we landed our ship! Magic is at work here, in more ways than one!
Meanwhile, his friends continued their battle as an increasing number of armed and armored warriors continued their assault on the heroes. Shadow Lass had brought many of them down by blanketing their path in darkness. She was surprised to see that her shadowy projections were more effective than usual. I thought they would merely be slowed down by being unable to see, but they are deathly afraid of the darkness I cast! she mused. They aren’t wizards, and I’ve seen nothing of Mysa’s real teachers, but these poor men are clearly petrified of someone with magical power, and I’m afraid that spells Mordru!
Shadow Lass darted forward and punched a guard in the nose before jumping into their midst and using a stolen sword to batter several of them down with skilled use of the flat of the blade. My people have always relied on swordsmanship for their combats, she thought. It is rather refreshing for this girl to be able to use the skills of her ancestors, for a change, on a Legion mission! She kicked a soldier in the chin and deftly deflected a sword thrust as she fought onward with increasing style and grace.
“Tasmia is a real demon with a blade!” said Dream Girl as she ducked a mace and flipped the user over her back.
Star Boy said nothing. He had been calmly concentrating for several moments while the others had been fighting. He was no coward, but he was as deliberate in his own way as the steady and thoughtful Blok. Thus, when he was ready, and the enemy had fallen into range, he used his powers to their greatest effect.
The troops wore heavy armor and carried equally cumbersome shields or swords, and under the influence of the carefully directed enhanced mass generated by the native of Xanthu, they all fell helplessly to the muddy ground as Star Boy increased the weight of all they carried. He smiled and said, “One army brought down. Now to find Mysa!”