Morte D'Adam: The Temple of Miro

By T. F. Stephens with Kirk Trigon

Of the Cosmic Enforcers, tasked with stewardship of Space and Time, one of the Mallori, mad with love for the Holy Warrior, abandoned his labors to pursue her to Eternia, creating such disarray that war and chaos spread throughout the Cosmos. 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. In the desert, she buried the rotting corpse that became Death, from which spring the agents of Destruction. In the mountains, she buried his fiery, green blood, which became Heoi, the Divine Sorceress, whose body is Destiny. In the sky and sea, she scattered the enforcer’s infinite knowledge, whom mortals worship as the wise, light-bringing god, Miro.

And from the fire of these beliefs, did man found the Celestial Church of Eternia.

Such was Eternia’s regard for Miro’s High Priest, Zoardred, Archbishop of the Celestial Temple at Eternos, that no continent went without influence of his wisdom, until only His Majesty King Adam stood above him. Of the He-Man King’s most loyal friends, he was the most powerful.

As the King himself had been raised from infancy by the immortal warriors of the Valley of Vulnar, deep in Eternia's treacherous Vine Jungles, so, too, had young Zoardred grown to manhood in that wondrous valley, ..where his mother, the inviolate Warrior Goddess Teela, once gathered the souls of Adam's long-dead tribesmen to school her son in all their unspeakably brutal rites.

Many years ago, long before Zoardred’s mother became one with the Goddess, young Lord Adam and Teela the Duncan became separated from King Randor’s armies and faced, back to back, the benighted forces of Snake Mountain, ..together, for the first time! Memory of falling to his knees, under the force of seven demon-arrows in his back and seeing fierce, beauteous Captain Teela standing over him with a sword, cutting down the godless Infinitian hordes, until they could make their escape, haunted him all the way to the Royal City.

Every pound as valiant as his mother, Teela’s golden-haired son had come to King Adam’s aid many times before his devotion to the God of Light, accompanying Queen Glimevere in her travels and protecting Her Majesty and Prince Simyran from all foes, with incantations that shattered mountains like pebbles and roused oceans from their beds! During Zoardred’s brief charge as Keeper of the Temple of the Sun, the King and his warriors had always been treated hospitably and given all the food, shelter and newly crafted weapons from the temple guard arsenals they could handle. Since that time, the young wizard's loyalty to him and his allies had never wavered, and with that confidence, did he now seek out his aid.

After leaving Donalglut Castle in the High Plains of Evermore, where Queen Glimevere and poor Prince Simyran waited with Tom-Stone and the Royal Guard, he traveled south to Eternos to seek out Zoardred's help in bringing his poor son, Simyran, out from his cursed sleep. On horseback, in nondescript black robe and hood, Adam navigated the bustling, dust-tossed streets of Eternos. Except for the myriad colors in the marketplaces and the pale bronze skins of the native plains-dwellers, the city he once called home seemed to be one bland, lifeless beige--so dulling to Adam's senses that he yawned out loud upon reaching the iron gates of the Celestial Temple.

The Archbishop Zoardred ruled over a house of women. Virgin women.

Everywhere Adam looked, his azure eyes were acquainted with lithe, lovely, scantily clad girls. These were the Wives of Miro, forbidden to ever know a mortal man's touch. Not even Zoardred, this tall, slender, golden-haired Adonis, was permitted to lie with them, as the rituals of Miro demanded he himself be a virgin. Whether the beautiful, young man desired to lie with them, Adam did not know, but from the little he had coaxed from the temple guards and servants, who waited on Zoardred, the young man was indeed untouched by woman--a true devotee of the God of Light.

In the company of temple guards, Adam was shown to the Hall of Miro, devoted to the God of Light for whom his own late grandfather had been named. There, he bowed graciously and was invited to sit with the young wizard on a small, golden stool. Near the terrace overlooking the sweltering city, he saw Zoardred led from a bath and dressed--outfitted by his nubile, young, copper-toned servant wenches, with the jeweled headdress, scarlet robes, golden bracelets and rings customary of an Archbishop of the Celestial Church.

"The Prince Simyran has fallen bewitched," the slender priest spoke, sitting down at a small table in front of the He-Man King. "Struck down by some dark and ancient magic conjured by Evil-Lyn, it appears."

"As surely as if he'd been felled by a poisoned arrow,” the Sovereign answered. In his mind, the force of seven enemy arrows slammed into his bronze flesh, over and over again, just as they had that first time he and Zoardred's mother had faced the evil Infinitians, together. "Evil-Lyn has bid me surrender Eternia to her, in exchange for Simyran's--where is my son, Zoardred?"

"The enchantment has left the Prince without a soul," Zoardred said with an upraised eyebrow. "Simyran's essence wanders lost beyond the physical plane. We must perform an ancient ritual to recover him."

"Tell me what I must do, Zoardred," demanded Adam. How he missed his golden-haired boy, the light of his and his mother's world. Just holding him--hearing him cry out for them from his tiny bed in the middle of the night. He feared what he might do to purchase Simyran's freedom. "I haven't much time. I have many enemies in the Beyond Realms and beyond even them, and my boy is in there with them! My boy, Zoardred! If his presence there is discovered..."

Zoardred's pale green eyes blazed with fire and indignation. Beautiful though he was, he was still a Vulnarian and, like Adam himself, did not take kindly to anyone doubting his ability as a warrior. The dark power of the Goddess, who created him, charged from his mind like a pack of rabid jackals! He could not call it back. Nor, did he wish to. "Do you think I would let them take him ..or you, who might have been mine own father, had you chosen to dishonor your betrothal to Glimevere of Myzargard? That these priests' robes and jeweled collars have made me less than I was? The Vulnarian I was?"

"No, of course not,” his sovereign insisted calmly, understanding his young friend's offense, as he saw the marble floor fall away, underfoot. He glared at Teela's golden son. "Set me down, priest, and tell me what must be done. I will do as you say."

"Forgive me, milord," Zoardred asked quietly. Wearily, he obeyed his king and willed him back to the floor. "There are prayers I must make--prayers to the old gods of the sands. I must be anointed by the virgin priestesses in my protection and confined to my quarters for three days to prepare. Leave me now, Adam."

"Three days?!" raged Adam. "There'll be nothing left of my son in three days, holy man! I will take the war to Evil-Lyn and her demons and destroy her, once and for all, and I'll not wait for the passage of three days in this temple to do it!"

"To wait is not the warrior's way," Zoardred answered softly, "--but warrior's ways ill serve you now, Adam. You will remain here for three days, while I am prepared for our rite. You will eat, bathe and reserve your strength, and you will not speak to servants or priestesses for the duration of that time. On the evening of the third day, you will come to me in the Hall of Eternity, and we will begin our quest."

Adam shook his head, loosing his gold and silver hair to fall over his huge shoulders, unable to believe the scope of the adventure before them. "If Simyran has truly slipped beyond this plane, he could be anywhere. What is it you're not telling me, wizard?"

There would be no secrets from this wild, blue-eyed barbarian king. This Vulnarian.

King Adam's eyes studied the young man's face, and Zoardred shivered, feeling naked before Adam and wanting to comfort him with an embrace, but, Zoardred knew that he could not long hide the truth from him, horrific as it was. "My sorcery tells me Prince Simyran is a prisoner of Evil-Lyn’s lover, the Predator God--he who rules the Nightmare Jungle."

The King rose abruptly from his stool. "Evil-Lyn and Havok, who forged Skeletor's staff, ..united against a boy? My boy?"

"Pray that it is Havok, barbarian," Zoardred snapped, tossing his long, blond hair over a bare shoulder. "He holds the souls of the restless and unrepentant dead in the Nightmare Jungle, until they are called to other dimensions. If he has drifted beyond the realm of nightmares, we may never get him back."

"If he's drifted beyond the Nightmare Jungle, I will find him,” the King vowed sharply, looking out over the streets and rooftops of Eternos. "Somehow, I will bring him back to life. Now, how do we free his soul from this monster?"

"Havok is an old god," the blond wizard said. "A god of fertility, death and rebirth--the soul, milord! His priesthood has disbanded, but its rituals are still powerful. This one awakens the life energies of the universe--energies that created Eternia--and asks the blood sacrifice of a virgin. As I am untouched by woman, I willingly give my life to save Simyran, ..who might have been my brother, once. Slay me, King Adam, and end Simyran's wandering in the realm of nightmares."

The old warrior grunted and slammed his fist on the table, recalling a time, when Skeletor, Lord of the Wastes, had marked Zoardred’s mother for sacrifice to the goddess Evil-Lyn. "I will not slay you to bring Simyran life! That is not the way of the Valley, Zoardred! It is not our way! The gods would not abide it, and neither will I!"

"He, who serves only himself, milord,.." Zoardred answered meekly, casting his emerald eyes downward, as he drifted out of his chair to stand before a large window, "—and who will not suffer for the good of others, can never truly serve the God of Light, as I do. To bring Simyran's light back to the world and back to you, my king, I will gladly die, Teela the Duncan died to become one with the Goddess of War!"

"Noble priest, there must be another way,” the golden-bearded king said desperately. He stood up from his stool and strode over to the young wizard's side. Cradling his beautiful face in large hands, grim Adam looked into the man's eyes. In them, he saw the spark of Mighty Teela's awesome power and tenderly kissed his golden cheek. "Though you are entirely your divine mother's creation, Zoardred, and not my heir, as we once believed, I have always loved you no less than a son. Your loyalty and devotion to Simyran will not be forgotten, but, I'll not see you lay down your life for him."

"Beloved He-Man King," Zoardred cried, embracing the big man. For fear the secrets of his heart be laid bare before him, he could not meet his king's gaze. "Go now. Rest and prepare for the rite. In three days, we go to the Hall of Wisdom, where we will call Miro into the world of men, Castle Grayskull."

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