Morte D'Adam: Death At Castle Grayskull

By T. F. Stephens with Kirk Trigon

At the dawn of time, the Ancients say that the Master of the Universe engineered two celestial forces and charged them with the sacred task of ordering the affairs of Man.  The Holy Warrior Teela brought justice to the ancient world, and her brothers, the Mallori Enforcers, preserved order in the Space-Time Continuum.  When one of the Mallori, having stolen the collective strength of the others, attempted to bring Mighty Teela under his rule, the Warrior Goddess destroyed the mad enforcer and buried the shattered pieces of his nigh omnipotent power throughout Eternia!

From the fiery, green blood she buried in the mountains, came her sister, Heos the Divine Sorceress, whose body is Destiny and whose heart is Truth.  From the army of immortals who gathered at the Sorceress’s feet, came a powerful champion to guard the fallen enforcer’s lost secrets and to carry Heos’s hoary blade into war with her enemies!

 And with righteous, barbarous outrage, would her champion lay waste the Enemies of Man, who conspired in the skies and seas to pervert Man’s great destiny.

Outside Grayskull’s walls, the vast, golden country once known as Heos, at the center of which sat Zilora, the City of Truth, cracked open in great, serpentine fissures that drove away the warriors, priests and kings, who’d gathered around the castle!  Deep within, a great scream erupted from Zoardred’s throat, and in the shadow of the golden colossus’s outstretched arms, the ancient stone and mortar of Castle Grayskull shook apart, ..burying his savage foe under a pile of gray, moss-laced rubble!

“It took me many years to understand, wizard,” the half-naked Vulnarian confessed, poising his enchanted staff for another strike. “Just as the Divine Sorceress created herself from Mighty Teela’s blood, has the Sword of Power always been an avatar of the goddess’s Rod of Order! Did you think I didn’t know that, devil, ..or that the secrets of the Ancients were still beyond Man’s reach?”

From the serpent-headed weapon of Zoardred’s crouching, stalking foe, another mountain-shattering flash of outrage erupted, and the golden colossus was brought to his knees under its apocalyptic force.  What portion of the unleashed energies he could not dispel with magic, drove into his golden armor and the painted flesh underneath, so brutally that he felt himself impaled all over and at once! “You know nothing of the power you control, brute! You’re a man—a mindless savage playing with the tools of the gods! I am Destruction incarnate, ..and you are a jungle animal that must be shown its proper…”

King Adam thrust the silvery rod outward again, and from its head, styled like a hooded cobra’s, flared light and heat enough to turn night to day!  It was enough power to light a city ten times the size of Royal Eternos, and he saw Mighty Teela’s evil clone crumple behind it like paper before a hurricane wind.  “Nay, wizard! It is you, who went too long hidden from judgment to be shown your place, ..but, Father is here, poor Zoardred! As in the beginning, when Mighty Teela and the Mallori were engineered from the same celestial force, order will be wrought from chaos!”

The monster saw his golden-bearded foe thrust outward again, with the unleashed anguish of a father’s vengeance and the outrage of the gods, and Zoardred was hurled backwards through the sandstone walls behind him and into another monstrously expansive hall, ..twisted down upon his armored hands and knees, struggling for breath. “I feel Simyran’s spirit stirring within me, my king, ..calling out for the father, who abandoned him! Through his suffering, I will know Man’s heart as He-Man never will! Join me, Vulnarian! I will create another divine avatar, like my own, to house Prince Simyran’s young spirit, if you will, but kneel before me and betray mankind! Betray mankind, you’ve betrayed your sons!”

With a flurry of brutal gasps, Zoardred's words were cut off by nine, flaming arrows jutting from his chest, just as the wild amazon lumbering from the shadows fired another flight of arrows into his shoulders and upper arms, ..only to see them vanish, like cobwebs, before her eyes!  Lady Xarta glared up into the green eyes of the evil that murdered Lenon ..and unsheathed her blade. “Do not forget your oath, King Adam! On Randor’s hand, you swore to lead Eternia—to be her wisdom in dark times and to be her heart, when she needs courage, that she will never kneel before the agents of Terror! This thing is not your Holy Warrior! Whatever shred of Captain Teela it once was is lost to us, ..and, for Eternia, it must die!”

As the gaunt monster, calling itself ‘Destruction’, staggered backwards, Lady Xarta sent a flight of fourteen enchanted arrows into the dank air before her, ..and, pursuing with a primal growl, King Adam hurled the Rod of Order, like a spear, into Zoardred’s golden-armored chest.  “Then, by all that is holy, noble Xarta, ..may the gods forgive me! May the gods forgive it, all!”

Freed from imprisonment inside the mad god, Zoardred, in copper-scaled crown and aegis, the mighty Warrior Goddess groaned and stood.  Towering above their heads, this giant, whose fiery will once turned Time backwards and deep, blue oceans from their beds, now spoke. “Look deeply into the Fires of Destiny that made you, He-Man of the Vulnarians, and know the truth of what I now bid thee to do.  By the Powers of Grayskull, have I bound thee Avenger of Man and his Ancients. Honor thy bond! Take up thy Sword of Power ..and lay waste the last of the Enemies of Man!”

“No, King Adam! You cannot do this!” Tall, dark, beautiful Xarta begged him, rushing between her half-naked king and the warrior-goddess he loved, the Sword of Power took shape in one of his fists. “The child growing inside me will need the protection of Mighty Teela and the other gods!”

“You’ll be all the protection he needs, fair one,” the bearded monarch smiled, drawing the Targan princess into his embrace and marveling at how familiar the firm, uncompromising strength of her felt against his tired body.  So, like his fiery-haired captain, she was.  Softly, he kissed the young woman upon her forehead, as Lenon’s giant, blue wolf, Ro-Varr, sauntered lazily to Xarta’s side. “Go now, Lady Xarta. Prepare Lenon’s son to be a just and strong king. The age of gods, giants and supermen is soon to end, and I must clear its path to the Abyss.”

“He will rule wisely and in your name, King Adam,” the amazon answered sadly, kissing him. Though not quickly enough to hide her tears, the raven-haired maid climbed upon the armored wolf and vanished into the darkness. “Farewell, milord!”

In two hands, Adam of the Vulnarians held his hoary Sword of Ancients before him.  Through all the beheaded monsters and enemy bones cleaved through, had its metal remained a pristine and unscarred tableau of ancient outrage, and he beheld it with the wonder a young groom beholds his bride, ..before turning back to the armored goddess. “Is there another way, Holy Warrior?”

“There are only a few, sacred places in the world, where one might kill a god, He-Man of the Vulnarians, and I am no ordinary god. In my eons-long war with the forces of darkness, Mighty Teela’s legend has surpassed even the divine, as most eternals know it! Castle Grayskull, where a warrior-queen from the Vine Jungle became a legend, is the only place I can truly die, ..and you, my champion, are the only one powerful enough to deliver me most surely and finally unto Death. It is time Man’s stolen destiny was avenged, Adam, ..and the world of men was healed. Cured of the influence, for good or ill, of we gods.”

With a tortured battle-cry and a swift, violent leap at her armored bosom, ..He-Man of the Vulnarians beheaded Mighty Teela with one blow, before tumbling back to the castle floor!  As the goddess’s presence faded upon the empty air, and unbridled tears of longing for her filled the He-Man King’s blue-gray eyes, he knelt in silence.  “To a Vulnarian, Truth and Destiny are the World, Holy Warrior. In your death, let the shattered destiny of Man be healed, ..and the World be avenged!”

The Hall of Wisdom began to shake and crumble beneath him and the facade of pale, exotic marble, turquoise stonework and gold fixtures fell away from its walls to reveal the desolation around them.

The ruin Grayskull had become. 

As spectral warriors in empty suits of armor took shape from the shadows, so did two apparitions appear at King Adam’s side. Once known as Lenon the Strong, the darker and sterner of the duo raised a bronze-korodite broadsword, much resembling He-Man’s Sword of Ancients, into an attack position.  Beside him, a tall, broad-shouldered likeness of King Adam with hair of pale gold, held fast to Glimevere's large, amethyst-headed, silver staff, and his father marveled at the sight before him.  “Time bends strangely here, my sons! Good Lenon is alive, ..and look at the man my Simyran has become! What have I done?!”

“What must be done, noble one,” black-maned Lenon answered assuredly, over his shoulder.  “Once, Grayskull was a wall that stood between mankind and his fear of death. Now, it’s a wall separating Man from his freedom, ..and it must fall!”

With a cold glare, violet-eyed Prince Simyran took measure of the ghostly army arrayed against them and poised his staff for fighting in close quarters. “It is all that stands between Eternia and her true destiny, father! Her future! An age without Fear!”

And from the shadows behind him, came Ogun, the Clamp-Champ of Clampesh, Lord Stratos of Avion, the Ram-Man of Talos, Fisto, Earl of Evermore, Buzz-Off of Kex and the Moss-Man of Vines!  From the shattered stonework of Grayskull’s Time Corridors, King Adam’s long-dead parents, King Randor and Queen Marlena of Eternos, and his valiant sister, Princess Adora, last of the She-Ra, ..unsheathed large broadswords, as the castle crumbled around them!  Sy-Klone, Mekanek and Tom-Stone of the Royal Guard followed, ..led by wild King Simyran of Vulnaria, who entered the lists astride a giant, armored tiger!  From the shards of Eternia’s past, present and future, weary warriors bearing bizarre shapes and strange weapons took the ground, beside their half-naked king, until he was surrounded by his fiercest and most trusted allies, ..both living and dead!

Thirty million years ago,” said Man-E-Faces of Heos, clutching his disintegrator gun in a large, gauntleted fist, “—my starborn race, Grayskull’s first rulers, subjected your kind to heinous scientific experiments in pursuit of the secrets of the cosmos, ..but, the human inheritors of those secrets inspired Eternia with a golden age of enlightenment and nobility! Now, it is time for Man to shape his destiny from the ruins of this age, old friend, ..that we may inspire worlds and legends, yet to be born!”

“And this fortress is the avatar of that past, Adam!” answered the King’s fallen Man-At-Arms, Titus the Duncan. In life, he’d known no better friend.  “Is eternal war with darkness all we leave the world to come? Haven’t we buried too many friends, fighting over this damned house of ghosts?”

From the magic of the Ancients that filled the surrounding darkness like fireflies, a harness of bluish-gray korodite metal took shape around the He-Man King’s broad shoulders and chest, as boarhide boots formed over his feet.  “Aye, we have, Duncan—that is why Castle Grayskull must be destroyed! Order of Heroic Warriors, Mighty Teela’s name and in the name of all good men, follow me!”

Into the fray, they rushed, scattering the empty helmets and breastplates of the Ancients with blasts of blinding light and broad swings of their enchanted blades, even as the stony backs and chests of the lumbering rock-hewn golems were shattered before their onslaught.  With an iron fist and the strength of fifty-thousand wild warriors, one battered the unleashed demons and giants down into the fiery, volcanic grave that awaited them, where Zilora, the City of Truth, once stood.

As the ancient stone of Grayskull’s walls and turrets ripped themselves apart, and the blue-white, cosmic fire of her otherworldly weapons was unleashed in a flash of power brighter than the sun, ..He-Man, with one final blow, hurled his body against the skull-like face, and the walls of the great, dead castle cracked apart, ..and Grayskull sank most terribly into the twisting fire of the Abyss beneath it.

Never to be seen again.

To Morte D’Adam

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