By T. F. Stephens with Kirk Trigon
Ancients say that, at the dawn of time, the Master of the Universe engineered
two celestial forces and charged them with the sacred task of ordering the
To end the ensuing disaster, the inviolate goddess split the renegade into three beings of indeterminate and nigh omniscient power and buried them in various parts of Eternia. From the rotting corpse she buried in the desert, came Death and the agents of Destruction, and through their conspiracy was the living Destiny of all mankind threatened.
And from the fires of the Havoc unleashed, did heroes come forth to save Man.
When word reached Rana, queen of the ancient turquoise and golden pyramids of Targa, that her nomadic Norngild allies were being slaughtered by their Infinitian enemies, she rushed to the tribe’s defense with the fiercest warriors in her service.
With Commander Xarta of the Warrior Corps upon his armored back, the giant blue wolf, Ro-Varr, led the Targans out into the vast and treacherous Sleeping Plains, where two giant, metal insects attacked a caravan of attak-traks crossing an ancient bridge. Circling above the bridge, the bizarrely crafted fright-fighters filled the air with the grinding, mechanical whir of their engines pumping bright, green flashes of death from their disintegrator weapons, down at the fleeing Norngild wretches!
Far below, a half-naked man, with long hair black as pitch, swung a colossal stone column, many times his size, into the paths of his flying enemies overhead, smashing them to fiery bits! Though their every deadly rush at the decaying bridge, cutting down the fleeing Norngild with their disintegrator beams, was met with swift, merciless annihilation, more fighter ships lay on to exterminate the nomads. “Hurry, friends! Move! Only seconds before the bridge collapses! Forget about me ..and get the Norngild to safety!”
“It’s Lenon the Strong!” roared Lady Xarta, in armored bra and devilbeaver skirt, to the armored men at her back, pounding the flying machines with blasts of blinding heat and light. Though she was a broad-shouldered, copper-skinned beauty with long, slender legs that inflamed her warriors with desire, she knew that her hatred of defeat inspired them more, ..and she drove them like axes into wood! “Keep firing, you war-dogs! Keep that fright-fighter clear of him, until the Norngilds are safely across! Hold your stations, Targa, ..or by Teela’s Holy Rod, you’ll face my wrath in hell!”
“Hawk of Targapaguay, ..look down
upon me!” the bare-chested giant, in skirt of black pteryges,
cried out to the heavens, wrestling the great column upon his nineteen years
old shoulders and into the path of another death-dealing fighter! Even as his heels sank deeper into the muddy
bank, the clouds parted, bathing his bronze skin in golden light, ..and the voices of his lost brothers, the massacred
priests of the
Flanked by Targan warriors blasting at the mechanical horrors hovering above them, cluster after huddled cluster of weary Norngild men, women and children, carrying little mementos of their simple past in the fertile, beautiful mountains of Rakastan, wept as they moved swiftly over the crumbling bridge ..to salvation.
When all were safely across, Lenon the Strong turned to the giant, metal insects! With an angry glare that might cow stars and comets from the sky, he pitched the gargantuan, marble pillar, like a stone missile, high over his head and into the remaining fright-fighter ships’ paths! They exploded in a fiery, golden flash of vengeance and none tumbled from the clouds to take their places. His dark eyes fixed upon the sky, savage Lenon took up his saber, but quickly lowered it, ..with a triumphant grin.
Sheathing his golden blade, he laughed, and a shriek of joy resounded throughout the hills from the grateful Norngilds.
“We was all half cross the bridge, when the Finishin’ flying machines started firing on us,” the Norngild chieftain sighed wearily, helping his young champion from the mud. He was a tall, gaunt warrior of some seventy or so winters, and he looked out over the his tribe with as much pride, as sadness, ..choking back his tears. “Threw ourselves onto our women and children, too far from either end to escape the slaughter, ..and we lost many to falling, when the bridge started giving way! If you and Queen Rana’s warriors hadn’t come, we—thank you, Lion of Targa! Thank you, both!”
The black-maned giant drew the old warrior into his arms, as a son might embrace his long-lost father. “Any attack on an ally of Targa is an attack on all of Targa! We'll soon route out the Infinitians and end their terror, my friend! Queen Rana will not rest, until we’ve avenged our dead and the dead of our allies, ..and neither will I!”
“Where are Targa’s allies, Lenon?!” Lady Xarta growled, climbing down from
Ro-Varr’s armored back. “As when last we warred with
the Infinitians, His Majesty King Adam’s Royal Guard is nowhere to be seen! The
“They are everywhere, Xarta,” groaned Lenon, lifting a small, red-haired girl into his arms. Pushing his way through the Norngilds, he hugged her tenderly, before sending her away with a kiss upon her cheek. “For five years, I wandered Eternia, and everywhere I went, the Enemies of Man grew in size, power and determination, ..until their threat lay at Man’s neck like a blade! Now, their number cannot be counted—their attacks, random and unpredictable! Against the Infinitians, even King Adam and his powerful allies must be overtaxed. It seems we now face the evil of the Dark Hemisphere, alone.”
“Of the free lands between the Sleeping
Plains and the
With a leap onto the back of his faithful giant wolf, Lenon looked out over all assembled. “After the fall of the Hawk Temple, and wild Havok slaughtering my brother-priests, I might’ve abandoned Targa, forever, ..but, this land is my home! I am done with wandering! I'll remain in these hills to scout the surrounding mountains for Infinitians and prepare for the war to come, ..when we'll bring the fire of vengeance down upon the heads of our Infinitian enemies!”
Though the Princess Xarta longed to feel this wild god's lips melt upon hers, once more, she held her station. “Many died today, but, I fear the enemy was only toying with us, Lenon! It is Targa, and not the poor Norngild, that the Infinitians want destroyed! My place is here, at my mother’s side. Go now, my love, ..and may the gods protect you.”
A hearty whoop thundered from the chests of the weary Targans and the refugee Norngilds, and the pumping of wild Ro-Varr’s powerful legs carried Lenon into the vast, green valley of trees, rolling hills and streams, below. Nigh a month had passed there, when he found Queen Rana’s darkly beautiful daughter on a large, flat and mossy rock at the edge of the Great Nanoc River, stirring her long legs in the cool water ..and laughing, as he swam naked, nearby. With his loyal, armored wolf scouting the surrounding hills for Infinitian legions, he climbed upon the rock and made love to her, until his young heart turned to thunder inside his chest, ..and his lover cried out to the mad gods of Targa!
Stirring from sleep beside her to shadowed figures moving stealthily along the mountain peaks—the silhouettes of their strange armor chillingly familiar—brave Lenon’s heart filled with dread. “Xarta, beloved! The Infinitians attack!”
Before their eyes, the stony hillside
broke apart, and a rain of jagged rocks darkened the sky, like a plague of
locusts. With nothing more than his
courage to protect them, he pitched himself and the Targan
maiden into the
Again, he awoke to shadows surrounding him. To coarse voices growling insults from behind masks of metal! Invisible hands seized his broad shoulders and forearms, even as he shrugged them off, unable to find his beloved Xarta. Desperate to be free of their swelling throngs, wild Lenon hurled his fists at these spectral attackers, hearing their bones cracking beneath his savage blows! He heard screams rattling behind their metal masks and felt their armor crumple like paper beneath his fingers. As the dark bronze of setting dusk overtook them, he found he was far down-river from the sleeping valley, ..and his wild, blue wolf, nowhere to be seen.
Surrounded by the frantic shouting of men under attack, Lenon the Strong found a small army of heavily armored Norngild scattered at his feet. Some, groaning in pain and struggling to stand. Some, upon their bellies and backs, their bones shattered every which way ..and still others, quite dead. Their bodies twisted in horrific ways flesh and bone things could not be twisted. Such was his power to make war that none rose to engage him.
Their hooded leader looked on. From the shadows, where his eyes once blinked, a dull red glow flickered, and the fallen things rose. “Bind him, Norngild filth! Chain him now, while I give you the power to turn his strength against him!”
Though he fought like a demon to free himself, the naked brute went down upon his knees under the combined weight of the wakened dead. His head filled with their whooping cries of praise for their hooded master. Though he prayed to the gods of the Vulnarians and the Ancients of Grayskull, and though he felt their miraculous work stirring somewhere inside him, he could no longer feel their power awakened in the muscles of his broad back and tree-thick arms.
“It is true! The Evil One’s stolen his power!”
“Aye! Feel his magic bending the barbarian’s strength into our bodies!”
“Ha! He is nothing now! Broken like a wild horse! See how easily we hold him down!”
When Lenon was fully within their power, three, big, armored Targans seized him. The youngest of them, a general on Rana's high council, slammed his fist against Lenon’s jaw, jutted his knee into the man’s rib cage and laughed, as the grit of defiance faded from his naked captive’s face. “Now, Xarta and the throne will be mine! What’d you have us do with him, milord?”
From the pitch of his hood, Destruction turned to Lenon. “I’ve only to look at the uncertainty on the faces of these traitors to know the terror your power invokes. The threat of your otherworldly strength pervades the very air they breathe! What they saw you do to the others will haunt them for all Eternity! I admire that power, my friend, ..and soon, I will claim it for myself! You fool! Did you truly fancy yourself a god? That this would be the Age of Lenon, Lion of Targa? Lord of this land?”
“I am the protector of this land—its people," the big man groaned wearily, struggling to stand. “You’ve been here, all along. Hiding here in the hills and turning our allies against us. The fright-fighters ..just…”
“A diversion,” the hooded headman finished, knowingly. “Moving my undead warriors into position in the hills, while you and the Targans contended with those fighters, was effortless. If not for your interference, Lion of Targa, wiping the Norngild trash from Eternia’s boot-heel with one fright-fighter would have been child’s play, ..and it’s truly regrettable that more of them weren’t exterminated on that bridge. The legends must tell that none escaped Destruction’s wrath, or we will forget them! Don’t you agree?”
The battered warrior fell to his knees, as if a fire inside him had been extinguished. “Xarta—where ..is Xarta?”
The hooded monster carelessly cast a
glance over his shoulder at the ancient, golden pyramids of Targa
and the city in flames, beyond them.
“My warriors will pursue her for many days into the mountains of Graylot, where I’ve commanded my minions to
fall back, upon reaching the ruins of the City of
The hood fell away from the headman’s face, and, when Lenon looked upon it, all the pride, ambition and hope bled away from his wild, brave, young heart. He felt even the strength in his broad chest and big muscles, at once, drained away. “By all the gods of Vulnar’s Valley, ..no! No! For the love of my father—not you! It cannot be you!”
“In this, your final hour, you will know it could only have been me.” Looking down at the once mighty Lion of Targa struggling against his captors, the imperious lord motioned his Targan conspirators to come forward. When they did, metal vines snaked from the ground and twisted about Lenon's arms and legs. "Rape him. Then, take him to the temple ruins at the edge of Targa, where his father prays to the Hawk God of the Vulnarians, and impale him. I want King Adam to see the shame and agony frozen upon his lifeless face. I am the lord of this land,..the Emperor Destruction. There will be no Age of Lenon.”
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