Zerox, the Sorcerers’ World — by any name on the ever-changing world named Zerox, few things could be counted on to remain the same except for the serenity that pervaded the educational facility for magic-users where the Teachers of Sorcerers’ World studied and taught. Their island remained the same, while all other geographical features of the mystical world shifted in the blink of an eye.
The fact that so much of the planet changed from one moment to another via some amazing natural geographical alchemy did nothing to attract visitors, and, in fact, only those visitors who were allowed to come could safely land on the mysterious planet.
However, for a pretty young woman who had spent many years on that mystical paradox, the constantly altering landscapes were the norm, and thus Mysa Nal, the White Witch, found herself troubled by a very striking and disturbing feature as she looked around at the home she had come to know so well. Mysa realized that the shifting geographic features were not truly changing.
“Why do you waste those pretty lips on such a frown, my dear? Why do you furrow that exquisite brow in such a way when there are those so near who cherish your every expression?” asked a dashing man in a blue cape with an elaborate and ornate pattern of glyphs woven into the fabric. He stroked a stylish mustache and caressed Mysa’s arm as they stood on Sorcerers’ Isle.
Mysa turned to face Grimoire of Nadir and briefly recalled how the young mage from an other-dimensional world with a medieval culture had bravely followed Mysa and her Legion of Super-Heroes allies to her own universe in order to learn more about wizardry and, as he insisted when they were alone, to be close to her.
She raised one dainty hand in one of her characteristically graceful gestures. Mysa moved with a silent beauty and charm that captivated all viewers. She shared this type of charisma with her sister Nura Nal, the Legion’s Dream Girl. Mysa’s pale white complexion, attractive features, and magically developed antennae combined to make a very lasting and vivid impression on any observer.
As they strolled through an exotic garden that grew around them with a symmetry that defied explanation, since no gardener had ever touched a leaf or twig in the area, Mysa said, “Something is very wrong here. I brought you to Zerox in order to introduce you to my teachers. I also wanted their guidance about certain personal matters. I lack Nura’s ability to see into the future, and so I merely viewed this trip and my homecoming with eager anticipation. However, the reality of arrival has fallen short of all I expected!”
Grimoire fingered her hand and said, “Mysa, darling, the way this wonderland changes from moment to moment would give pause to anyone! Why, old King Artros of Nadir would be beside himself at the very thought of a land he could not rigidly shape to fit his own stuffy preferences!”
Mysa shook her head. “My own studies, not to mention my personal experiences, have left me with a natural appreciation for change. Remember, I was born to one of Naltor’s most powerful seers, and my mother only differed from the rest of the natives of our planet by the degree to which she could foresee the future. On Naltor, the future was an open book in some ways. I alone could not see beyond the present moment. I was considered to be devoid of normal senses. That led me here after mother’s death. It eventually led me to more than one physical transformation. That taught me to value both change and uncertainty and to appreciate that which is different and to cherish those individuals who are equally unique and accepting like Blok.
“It is not change that disturbs me! It is the lack of change that I perceive! All around us trees, ponds, leaves, and views are altering as we walk, but I know that the changes are not natural. They are not flowing from the core of Zerox as before. The changes are artificial in nature. They are contrived as by an artist or a wizard, and they consist of a certain sameness or regularity in pattern. I fear the worst, and I must warn you that we are in peril!”
Grimoire drew her into his arms and said, “Mysa, you and I will see this through together. Do not fear. I will stand by your side against any and all threats!”
Mysa smiled demurely and said, “I believe you. I value your friendship greatly. In the past few months I have changed, so that where once only Nura and Blok were my confidants, I have grown to feel the same closeness to you!”
She led Grimoire down a twisting pathway into a pavilion in which she saw armed troops lining the walls. They wore heavy armor and carried swords or spears or battle maces. They gazed ahead with unblinking stares.
“Soldiers on Zerox?” Mysa said. “This is madness! The magic of the planet was always its only necessary defense! Guardsman, where are the Teachers? What goes on here?” she said in a demanding tone.
The burly soldier made no reply, and her ire grew with every moment. “I will have answers if I have to draw them forth by arcane force!” she cried.
She whispered a spell as her carefully prepared magical energies were channeled into a remarkable effect.
The line of guards was covered in shimmering magical energy, and the first man blinked in shock and started to look around the room with newly liberated eyes. “We’re free! By Voxv, I thought I’d never truly be myself again!” said the soldier. “I’m not staying here to fall under that enchantment again!” He hurled down a shield and sword that clattered noisily on the stone floor as he ran for the door.
Before he reached the exit, he screamed as his eyes widened, and something unseen by the others brought him to his knees in terror. “No! Spare me! I beg you! Have mercy!” he shrieked before collapsing.
“If freeing these men from the spell that so clearly numbed their minds and wills will only end in their own pain and deaths, then I will not continue,” said Mysa. The other guardsmen remained in their silent and unfeeling condition as she canceled her spell.
“Amazing!” said Grimoire. “He died from what I may only call fright itself!”
The White Witch started to chant in an ancient language, only to stop in mid-word as the remaining soldiers charged at her as one. She flew above them as they crashed into one another in their haste to grab her lithe and agile form. They are sluggish, or I would have fallen prey to them, such was their frantic need to harm me! she thought.
Grimoire drew his scimitar and scowled as he spun it around and cried, “I am no blade-master, but I will draw blood to preserve the woman I love!”
“That may not prove necessary!” said Mysa, gesturing rapidly, and brilliant light exploded through the room to drive back the soldiers as the glow struck them with a palpable force.
Mysa whirled around as her white cloak swept back to reveal her petite but healthy form. A hand of glowing energy erupted out of thin air to push the newest wave of soldiers down as they raced toward the pair.
“Bigby’s magic hand! I like that very much!” cried Grimoire as he waved his sword in the air.
Mysa swooped low and grabbed his arm as she tried to pull him skyward. “We have to retreat! I had prepared only these few offensive spells, since I expected nothing more than the sanctuary and welcome Zerox and its wise teachers had ever offered me! I am tiring rapidly!”
She then fell from the air and landed on her knees as a new figure appeared before her.
A menacing shadow loomed over her as an immense figure stepped out of what seemed to be empty air, and a shrouded figure was revealed.
Mysa drew back in shock and recognition as she shouted, “You?! What are you doing on Zerox?”
Laughter rang out as the giant being replied, “Who said this was Zerox, little witchling?”
Back on Earth in Legion Headquarters, a stunningly beautiful girl with platinum blonde hair tossed and turned fitfully before screaming and sitting up abruptly in her bed.
Nura Nal, the Legionnaire called Dream Girl, was used to the sensation of having startling visions, but unlike the nightmares most people had, Nura’s were often brief but vivid glimpses into the future. The precognitive native of Naltor owed her colorful Legionnaire name to more than her sultry good looks.
She calmed herself through practiced force of will and then spoke in a commanding tone in her empty room. “Computo, priority one danger alert!” she said.
The sentient computer system that controlled the day-to-day operations within the advanced complex that housed the United Planet’s greatest team of young heroes and heroines responded instantly to the Naltorian’s spoken command.
As a mechanical voice echoed the alert through the building, Nura added a second command. “Computo, locate Mysa as well!”
Instantly, the amazing sentient computer replied, “Mysa — designated the White Witch — cannot be found. Last known location: Zerox system!”
She hesitated for a moment and then slipped into a brief white costume with matching high-heeled boots. She headed for the door of her luxuriously decorated room and glanced once in one of her many mirrors before flying rapidly out of the chamber and down a hallway. There she met several other members of the heroic Legion of Super-Heroes as they assembled in response to her urgent summons.
A bearded youth with a weary look on his face pulled her into his arms and gently touched her face with one hand. “Nura, honey, what is it? I’ve never seen you so upset!” asked Star Boy, alias Thom Kallor of Xanthu, as he cradled the girl he loved in his arms and looked down into her piercing eyes.
Shadow Lass, alias Tasmia Mallor of Talok VIII, was an exotic blue-skinned beauty with a luxurious mane of dark hair and a brief black costume. She looked at Dream Girl with concern as she realized the originator of the summons. “Nura activated the alert? Don’t tell me she called a priority danger alert because she broke a nail or got a run in her sheerites!” she whispered in a catty manner.
The lumbering rocky native of Dryad known as Blok gazed down at the others and slowly replied in his normal ponderous manner, “Tasmia, while Nura often displays a deliberately shallow manner, it is partly a defensive façade and should in no way be taken to mean that she would truly place such a level of concern on a merely superficial cosmetic matter.”
Invisible Kid, alias Jacques Foccart of Africa’s Ivory Coast, smiled in amusement and said, “Non, my friend. We do not seriously credit Nura’s alarm to a matter so trivial! Tasmia was merely expressing a bit of humor!”
Dream Girl fluffed her hair and snapped, “Shadow Lass was merely being her usual disapproving self where I am concerned! Oh, yes, Tasmia dear, my hearing is as flawless as the rest of me!”
“Sorry, Dream Girl,” said Shadow Lass. “I was out of line. What’s wrong?”
“I just had a dream, and it revealed, among other little things, that Mordru is free again!” said Dream Girl. “I think that threat in itself justifies my actions! I’m sure you’ll agree, Shady, since you let him out to begin with years ago after the Legion first trapped him!”
Shadow Lass arched one eyebrow and bit her lip as she listened to Nura’s story. She was not fond of Nura Nal. She concealed her feelings most of the time or only revealed them when she was in the company of her best friends, Phantom Girl and Lightning Lass, or her lover Mon-El. Still, as a young woman who had been given global responsibilities when she was barely more than a child and had accepted the role of champion of Talok VIII, Tasmia had little patience for the more pampered and luxury-loving Naltorian.
Blok spoke up. “Tasmia’s error was rectified when she and others bravely risked their lives to defeat the wizard by allowing his own dark power to backfire upon him and return him to a state of burial. (*) He has escaped several times since then, and nothing may be gained by placing blame on one another for past events.”
[(*) Editor’s note: See “Mordru the Merciless,” Adventure Comics #369 (June, 1968).]
“Mordru?” said Star Boy. “Wasn’t he trapped in a cocoon of rubble on the planet Zerox after losing much of his power? (*) That could mean Mysa is in peril, since she departed Earth for the world on which her magical teachers are based!”
[(*) Editor’s note: See “The Curse,” Legion of Super-Heroes v2 Annual #3 (1984).]
Dream Girl nodded and said, “Exactly, Thom. My sister the White Witch could be in extreme danger! I’ve already tried to contact her via my ring, and Computo can do nothing more than determine that she reached the Zerox system! Her flight ring is not registering. I tried to find her via Computo’s link as soon as I sent out the alert!”
“Mordru’s free!” said Invisible Kid. “I suppose we all knew he would eventually escape from the airless entrapment that robbed him of his dark powers.”
“Mysa and I were visiting Zerox when her teachers announced their intention to liberate the dark mage and attempt to purge him of his evil ways,” said Blok. “That ceremony was never started, since Legion duty called the White Witch away.” (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: See Legion of Super-Heroes: Monsters of the Heart and Mind, Chapter 1: Rampage on Rimbor.]
“Right!” said Dream Girl. “However, it is clear that my dream means Mordru has since escaped in one way or another. The vision showed him in all his dark splendor, and it showed something far more frightening as well!”
“Nura, what did your vision show?” asked Shadow Lass. “Don’t tell me Mordru conquered Earth again, or will do so in the future shown by your dream!”
“The conquest of the universe was not on his mind,” said Dream Girl. “That would have been something we could have dealt with, based on prior experience. My dream showed a freed Mordru at a perverse mystical ceremony of some type. For all I could tell, it appeared to be a wedding! Mordru’s planning to take a bride, and I know it is going to be Mysa!”
“We must go to Zerox at once,” said Blok. “As deputy leader I will attempt to summon some of the others before we depart!”
Star Boy, acting team leader, nodded in approval. He knew Blok was overstepping his authority, since Thom was indeed present, but he knew Blok cared deeply for Mysa, and he respected the bulky hero’s judgment as he cared for him as a friend. “We’ll head out for Zerox immediately,” said Thom. “Don’t fret, Nura. Mysa will be fine! You saw a wedding, not a funeral!”
Dream Girl nodded and wrapped her arms around her chest as she paced back and forth restlessly. Poor, stolid Thom! she thought. Ironic that he would use the word “funeral” when an earlier vision I had this morning showed a kind of death for us. Our relationship is going to die! Right now, I love him dearly, but my other dream made it painfully clear that Thom and I are going to break up soon, and I don’t see any sign of reconciliation this time!