By T. F. Stephens with Kirk Trigon
Ten years had not passed, since the death of Titus Duncan, Earl of Evermore and Man-At-Arms of the Eternian Kingdom, and the smallness one felt in shadow of his memorial statue, Duncan the Colossus, was inescapable, ..even by the king he had loved more than a son.
With his beloved Prince Simyran
lost in enchanted slumber and his fair Queen Glimevere
seeking help for him in faraway lands, King
Adam the Freenorn, golden-bearded ruler of Planet
Eternia, drove his flying battle-ram over the
chartreuse hills of Evermore, down toward the muddy banks of Dead Dragon Pond,
..and so hard that he was thrown from his machine and
into the meadows surrounding
King of Eternia, ..Lord of Vines, ..Mi'Cah of Brightmoon, ..He-Man of the Vulnarians!
How empty these titles sounded to him of the world-shaking power they were meant to evoke! Madness and despair seemed to creep into the parts of his mind, which strategy could not long occupy, and Adam felt deeply ashamed. Like a bird of prey in the clouds overhead, stalked gray-skinned Stratos, Duke of Avion, and he called out to him. “Among my long-dead Vulnarian masters, a man’s pity for himself was to be disdained, old friend, ..but, I pity, very much, poor Adam the Freenorn.”
With one dive, the Avioner soared downward, taking the ground before his weary king. "I’ve no pity for that so-called He-Man King of Eternia, who bleeds and despairs, as all men do. Speak, warrior, ..of milord’s grief upon finding Targa in ruins.”
Beside Dead Dragon Pond, in the brown devilbeaver loincloth of his tribesmen, Adam lay, and his weary mind drifted back to the horror he’d seen, earlier that day. “So terrible it stopped the blood in me as surely as might the witching of a demon or other unnatural attack upon this body. So terrible that it felt like the blade of an enemy ripping into my heart, such that no life or humanity stirred in me, ..and I fell upon knees hardened by forty-eight winters before it, like a stone rolling from a great hill! Fell upon these knees before it, staring in disbelief, weeping prayers of protest to the gods of my dead brothers’ ghosts, until even the skies cried out, enraged!”
"Did you think to hide the truth forever, King Adam?!” accused Stratos, imperiously. “I know that the Virgin Singer of Tahrin had a son, whom she entrusted to the priests in the Temple of the Hawk, at Targa! I know they raised him to manhood, before he left to wander Eternia as a thief, ..never knowing his father or his destiny! Why, my king?!"
Enraged, Stratos lunged at him, and the King seized the
birdman’s arm and hurled him, like a broken toy, into the sky, where he
disappeared into the silver-gray clouds overhead. “Celice’s
songs protected the
“I know what Beast Man did to Celice, before he killed her!” the Winged Avenger growled, rushing back to the ground! He attacked, slinging lasers from his gauntlets, ..only to see them turned to sparks against the silver of his old friend’s hoary blade. “I know that we weren’t there to save her, ..and I know that pitying you won’t bring her back!”
“When her screams had driven Yog mad, He-Man was already too late,” groaned golden-bearded Adam, falling to his knees, with tears in his eyes. “Half of Tahrin lay destroyed, before he laid Yog to rest. He could no longer bear to hear Celice's name spoken aloud. No longer felt worthy of her! Now, our son, impaled—painted in his own filth! My son is dead, Stratos!”
Rushing to King Adam’s side, the Duke of Avion cradled his friend’s head against his armored belly. “When my son, brave Delocles, was run through with a spear meant for you ..and died in battle on Val-Kun’s Mountain, I did not feel worthy even to bury him. Do not dishonor him in thinking he gave his life for an unworthy lord! Stand now, King Adam.”
“Thank you, Avioner.” The King stood and drew Stratos into his arms. “Let us honor noble Delocles’s sacrifice, as we'll now honor Lenon’s. With your wise counsel, I'll be worthy of our people, again. I'll stand before the gods, king of an Age of Men, ..after I’ve avenged my son.”
“My counsel is yours,” Stratos vowed, kissing his cheek. “May you rule wisely, King of Men, lest all Eternia perish.”
From the emerald hillside, lavender-haired Queen Glimevere found her king at the pond’s edge, as the Avioner bid him farewell and returned to the sky. “In all my years, the Virgin of Tahrin was the saddest creature I’d ever known. She grew up in a temple, only permitted to speak in whispers. The Yog priests decreed that no man born of Eternian woman could ever know her, ..but, I've always known that it was you, my wild Vulnarian, who saved her from loneliness. I’ve always known that Lenon the Strong of Targa was Celice's son ..and yours."
King Adam smiled, pulling Glimmer into his arms. "As I was born of an Earthwoman, we were free to love and to be mortal, ..and, though I would not know for many years, good Lenon was born of that freedom. Forgive these secrets, my Queen."
"When I think of that poor, noble warrior impaled so mercilessly at Targa..," Glimmer sighed mournfully, with her head upon Adam’s chest, "—and the love for him you’ve hidden all these years, I’ve loved you, ..my heart breaks for you, Adam! Now, the Eternian Kingdom is attacked by the Infinitians, after living so long in peace. Our Simyran is lost in a cursed sleep, and the Temple of the Sun offers no hope. Lay down your burdens, beloved, ..and be my husband, again. Hold me. Love me now, ..as once you loved Celice."
For many hours beside the pond, thereafter, no part of the Queen was left wanting for King Adam's wild attentions.
Gently wresting away from her in the moonlight, her golden-bearded king awakened sweet Glimevere with a kiss. “Zoardred, the Archbishop of Eternos, has long been as a son to us, my love. He's a sorcerer without peer and nearly as powerful as was his mother, Mighty Teela! I will go to Eternos and enlist his aid in saving Simyran, ..but, first, I must hold the boy, again! I must go to our son!”
The stone-worked chamber in Donalglut Castle’s southwest tower, where Prince Simyran rested, was scarcely lit by two, lonely torches in ornate, dragon-faced sconces and looked to be one of many rooms kept for the guards, who lived there in times past. The eleven years old Prince lay, as if lifeless, on a bed at the room's center and, after sending his guards into the hall, Simyran's father knelt at his bedside.
"Simyran?" the King choked. "Boy, what have they done to you?"
Something shifted in the shadows near the drapes, which were a berry's color, and He-Man saw a pair of small, blue hands extend from them. Then blue, pointed ears. And between them, ..an entire hat, colored like the drapes and formed from the cloth, ..followed by a small, matching robe, marked by a single, black circle. Under the hat, two foreboding, yellow eyes opened, ..and, at this, the bearded He-Man King drew a dagger!
"No time for warrior's ways, King Adam," the little, blue gnome said, raising one hand dismissively before him, ..as He-Man felt the dagger slip into nothing from his fingers. "I'm here to help the boy - him only. I am Orko of Trolla."
He'd heard his father, King Randor, speak of the magician Orko, who’d aided him and Duncan in the Great Horde Wars. "You are a sorcerer, I've been told. If your magic cannot heal my son, ..then, be gone."
"I can only show you what ails this boy, King Adam," the blue gnome answered, pulling up Simyran's tunic. He waved his free hand over the young prince's bared stomach. "Look upon its face, ..if you dare!"
A golden face appeared there.
King Adam saw that it was a woman's face, ..painted in gold and framed about the forehead by a crown of black and silver. He had seen this face once before and frantically reached for his son, as if to pull him from the bed, ..but stopped before Orko's upraised hand. "It is Evil-Lyn, ..goddess of the slaughter."
“Over centuries of conquest,” the golden face hissed, “—have I inspired the strategies of Destruction, the demon Eternia called Skeletor, ..and his black-hearted muse continues a formidable opponent! The Prince is mine, Vulnarian, .. and through him, the souls of all men will be mine! I will be denied dominion over all, no longer!”
Prince Simyran groaned, as if in agony - his little eyes tightly shut, unable to see the tears in his father's eyes. Or to see the King reach out to his pale, sickly body, ..only to see it engulfed in flames.
"She will kill him here and now, if you dare more," Orko warned, as his king bared the avenging silver of his sword.
"The false fire of a false goddess," He-Man hissed, sheathing his blade with a glare. “If you've singed, but, a hair on him, I'll hound you into black Oblivion and pave her roads with your pain! What do you want, demoness? Ask what you will of the poor, great He-Man King.”
"Do not ask this, Son of Randor!" Orko warned.
"Simyran is my son, Orko!" He-Man glared at him. "I will do what I must to free him! His mother would do no less, ..and if you value your life, you'll have no more say in it!"
"You can offer me nothing," Evil-Lyn taunted, looking upon He-Man's grief-wrought face. "Civil war will yield a harvest of sweet, scarlet carnage, when Skeletor makes this boy king, ..and I will feast!"
"Skeletor is dead!" He-Man answered. "I'm king here - I offer you me! I will send Simyran and his mother away! I'll sit you next to me, in flesh or shadow, ..upon the throne of Eternia!"
"He-Man, please!" Orko protested, but was silenced by the desperate glare of the king.
And the threat he'd made.
"I have poisoned the
The golden face disappeared, and Orko turned to him. "He-Man, ..you cannot do this!"
"I’ll do whatever Fate wills I must to purchase his freedom!" King Adam growled, reaching for Simyran, ..but, the abrupt sound of hard metal cleaving the air turned him from his grief, and barely in time to save his life!
Her silver broadsword driven back by a powerful blow, the King’s attacker was tumbled over the cold, stone floor like dice, ..but leapt swiftly back to her heels. "I will not permit that, milord. I will slay you, myself, first!"
“Three years ago..,” King Adam recalled, sheathing his Sword of Power, “—when the Celestial Church had condemned Targa for worship of the Hawk God, I dubbed King Gar-Gan and Queen Rana’s tall, coltish daughter ‘Duchess of Targa’ to secure their kingdom’s position at court. I loved Targa, Commander Xarta, and I swear to you that your people will be avenged."
"Lenon loved Targa, my king," the raven-haired beauty answered,
with an accusing glare, ..and without lowering her
sword. "Your own son, whom I loved, died to free this world from forces
with which you now willingly conspire! Though you once liberated Targa from tyranny,
King Adam ..and called my father ‘brother’ in the
In his grief, King Adam was comforted in knowing Lenon had once loved this fearless, darkly beautiful creature, so like his once beloved Lady Teela the Duncan, and drew the son, whom he loved more than his own honor, into his arms. "Look at this boy, Lady Xarta! The same blood, which once flowed through Lenon’s veins, flows through his! I will lay down my life to save him ..and surrender anything within my power to free him from this torment! Will you not do the same?"
Bearded Adam looked down at his son with great dread and uncertainty. Once, he’d fearlessly pursued the demonking to all corners of Eternia! Now, hearing the skull-faced demon's name nearly unmanned him with worry for the life in his arms.
"Do not deny what you heard, my king," haunted Commander Xarta, sheathing her blade. "If we are to save your son, we will need powerful allies! The Lord of Destruction is once more at work in the world of men. Skeletor lives!"
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