By T. F. Stephens with Kirk Trigon
Though Prince Simyran soon followed his lord and father to Eternos, his mother, Queen Glimevere would not.
As she had seen in a dream
the night before, such a powerful throng of Infinitians
surrounded Evermore that her Royal Guard and the fierce warriors of
And nothing had remained of the Queen, ..but, a strange and perpetually brilliant, lavender light.
From all over the Lighted
Realm, they came! From barbarous Clampesh, lusty Cirsaly, the Golden Isles, fierce and frozen Frigramyr and the
Grayskull’s great Jawbridge lay open like the maw of some long-dead monster of legend, and all, but the Sovereign and the comely Mira virgins, remained without its haunted, limestone walls of the ancient fortress. Beyond the shadowed, gargantuan atrium and the corridors that snaked away from it in every conceivable direction, in the flickering light of the temple braziers, with Zoardred watching over them, the women stripped the big, bearded Vulnarian naked and painted him in scented oils, anointing him as they would a priest of Miro, all while chanting, in soft, melodic whispers, the ritual prayers their master required.
And before his weary eyes, the magnificent ceiling of the Hall of Wisdom vanished to reveal dark clouds gathering over Castle Grayskull, ..and a truly bizarre scene began to unfold, therein.
Standing before an altar of white stone, the Archbishop Zoardred, painted in gold from head to foot, called forth the palest of the voluptuous, dark-haired virgins, naked, but, for an ornately jeweled thong, and commanded the red-haired maid to kneel at his side. Then, his face painted with the letters of long-dead tribes and glistening with fragrant oils and sparkling minerals, the young blond priest knelt before King Adam, holding out a devilbeaver fur of deep, opulent violet. “I drew this from the sands of Vulnar’s Valley, when only a boy. As you are the last heir to the king of Vulnaria, you must kneel before Miro in King Simyran’s pelt, Your Majesty.”
"Our king was separated from it, at the time our brothers were massacred," King Adam said, affixing the pelt to a leather cord about his own waist. "This has been lost to me for years, Zoardred. I am unequal to this honor, but will do as you ask."
Gently, Zoardred took the bearded barbarian's hand in his own and bowed his head. “In flesh, I call Miro to forgive this humble offering I make and to forgive the hand that will deliver it unto Him. In flesh, I call Miro to spare King Adam all the curses he brings upon his kingdom, his queen and the children of his house, by this offering. In flesh, I, the High Priest and Archbishop Zoardred, bless this hand and offer the life of this devoted virgin for Miro’s divine protection and intervention. In blood, let it be done!"
Overhead, the skies darkened as they did in Talos, when the vile Evil-Lyn's sorcery first woke the demon, Havok. Lightning flashed in the clouds, and King Adam glared into the dark sky, the wind whipping his golden hair into his scowling face. Then, at pale Prince Simyran, lost in endless, cursed sleep upon the altar! “Save your prayers, wizard! I won’t butcher this girl for your god—not even to save mine own son! Simyran would not have it! There must be another way, Zoardred!"
"There is only one other, He-Man King—the Spell of Second Birth," answered golden Zoardred, studying the shifting clouds overhead and lightning flashing between them, as he signaled the Mira virgin, with head bowed, to kneel before the bearded Vulnarian. “To lie with a Miro priestess upon his altar, offering her virginity as payment for Simyran’s return to the world of the living! Look at the skies, my king ..and ruin this virgin in Miro’s name! The God of Light must have blood, if Simyran will know his protection!”
Another flash of white lit the virgin priestess's face, and the King was startled at what he saw. “Teela?!”
"A clone of your beloved captain, milord," Zoardred replied, as another altar of white rock rose from the stonework of the floor. With a gesture from him, the green-eyed, fire-haired priestess knelt and folded her arms behind her head in a strange gesture of supplication. “The gods engineered her for your use, that the blood offering of her maidenhood might save Simyran’s soul! You've had three days, milord! Take her now, before it’s too late!"
Thunder shook Grayskull’s ancient, chartreuse walls, as King Adam circled
this naked and hauntingly beautiful facsimile of Lady Teela
Drawing the clone’s pale
body roughly against his own, Zoardred saw her young
eyes fill with terror at the cruelty of her fate, before turning back to
He-Man. In the wizard’s free hand, a golden sword took shape from the empty
air. “To save the
With the Archbishop’s golden blade jutting from her chest, and her sisters retreating to the gray walls in terror, the virgin priestess fell dead to the floor. Captain Teela’s pale, beautiful face stared up at Adam from her lifeless body, ..and in a wine-dark pool, was Miro, god of light, paid his blood.
King Adam seized the Archbishop by the arm and throat and slammed him backward, against the stone altar, where Prince Simyran slept! Confounded by this madman, who might, once, have been his own son and sickened by the ruthless ambition inside him, he tightened his grip on Zoardred’s neck and raised his sword to slay him! “You’re no He-Man, murderer! You’re not even Teela’s true son—are you? You’re just a corrupt clone of the Warrior Goddess, from whose heart, Skeletor cloned your own mother! Where is my Simyran’s soul, Zoardred?”
“You and your damned Ancients abandoned your Holy Warrior,” hissed the young sorcerer, as he watched King Adam struggle against the invisible forces prying the big man’s hands away from his throat. “You left your goddess to be shattered into a million living pieces by the Lord of Destruction and the power of Point Dread, ..never to be whole again! I think the Warrior Goddess created me to do what her avatar, Captain Teela, could not—to destroy forever the corrupt illusion of humanity Grayskull has inflicted upon us!”
With a crimson flash from the wizard’s eyes, the King felt himself hurled, like so much mud, against the stone altar! There, sight of the charred remains of his and Glimevere’s son brought the bearded monarch, like a hammer’s blow, to his knees. “My boy, gone! You gutless, stoneless dog! You killed him to punish me! It wasn’t Havok or Evil-Lyn bewitching Simyran—all this time, it's been you! By the Four Grails, you’ll pay, Zoardred, ..for Lenon’s death and, now, for his brother’s!”
Painted in brazen gold, the mad avatar of the Warrior Goddess stood up, and the golden sword flew back into his waiting hand. “I killed them, both, to punish you all, He-Man King! I am the son you should have had! The throne of Eternia and He-Man’s power should have been mine, ..and, I gave you three, long days to lay it before me! Now, I’ve found a power darker and greater than you will ever know, and with it, I will tear this world apart and cast it adrift in the stars! I will destroy your world and remake Eternia in my own golden image!”
White flashed in the dark skies over the Hall of Wisdom, and the bearded Vulnarian lifted his sword in time to feel mad Zoardred’s own strike against it. With one blow, he drove the wizard backwards and down into the pool at their feet. “Then, by her hoary rod, if there is anything of the Holy Warrior left inside you, I’ll cut it out ..and avenge my sons!”
From the empty air around him, feathers of golden armor wove together over Zoardred’s flaxen hair and painted body, as he rose from the waters of the pool ..and gripped his golden broadsword in two gauntleted hands. Even as Zoardred’s slender fingers crawled around its hilt, was the sorcerer’s golden beauty twisted into a gaunt, ghoulish countenance, ..and before his king’s weary eyes, did every portion of the madman grow outward, until he stood as tall as two, big men stacked heel to scalp. “Since that fateful day at Point Dread, when Skeletor engineered Lady Teela’s birth, were the soul of Destruction and the Goddess of Order embodied in her, ..as they are now embodied in me! The Divine Sorceress, ..winged, hawk-headed Targa, ..Evil-Lyn, Skeletor and your Holy Warrior—they are all alive in me! Kneel before the Devourer of Gods and surrender Eternia to me, or I’ll take what is mine, by force!”
Pivoting his blade into a defensive position, the big Vulnarian could not remember the Sword of Ancients weighing heavier in his hands. In a flash of golden heat, was his sleek, silvery weapon transfigured into something cruder and charged with primordial power! “I am still Heuay’s Man, Zoardred, and the soul of Eternia still lives and fights to survive in me! I’ll surrender nothing to you, demon, ..and may the gods forgive me for what your impious ambitions compel me to do!”
With that, the King of Eternia brought swiftly Mighty Teela’s Rod of Order before his broad, bare chest and, from its head, struck his unholy enemy with a stream of incalculable heat and blinding spectral light, ..and the mad Archbishop Zoardred disappeared beneath it!
King Adam, Teela, Havok and all associated characters, names and images are registered copyrights and/or trademarks of CPI or other licensed copyright/trademark holders. All rights reserved.