Raiders Of Point Dread: To The Damned, A Queen

By T. F. Cooper with Kirk Trigon (Based On "The Power of Point Dread" by Gary Cohn)

From the empty air around him, walked Skeletor’s Priests of Infinitias, and he raised his Havoc Staff before him!

On all fours, his great golden wings upraised, Mighty Gharycon charged the demon-king and vomited forth a wave of blue flame, battering the priest-kings to the ground, screaming for mercy.  Only mad Tri-Klops of Titanos, under a crown of dark green ore marked by three, jeweled eyes, dared to resist him.  From one of the eyes, sky-colored rays of death turned to sparks against the great monster’s golden skin!  Broadsword in hand, the Infinitian warlord launched his heavily armored body at the immortal dragon, striking him in the neck with blows that might level a tree, ..before Gharycon, with one hurricane-swift claw-swipe, smashed him against a cavern wall.

“Unholy One,” cried reptilian Mer-Man, lord of undersea Moratain. “Your loyal priests endure ..and beg for vengeance!”

“Aye, Lord Skeletor!” growled the Beast Man of Gorre, nursing a scorched shoulder. “Slay the Dragon God and be done with him! We Priest-kings of Infinitias demand your allegiance!”

“Demand, monster?!” the hooded, skull-masked demon hissed. “Stay your insolent tongue, if you would keep it, ..and behold the unleashed fires of the Void!”

Magicks honed in the fires of a thousand hells enveloped the Lord of the Wastes, bending the dragon’s flames around his body, while the rock beneath his booted heels was scorched. The hooded thing that was once Keld’Thor the King tumbled back onto its feet – the Sword of Chaos held out before him. Against a mortal enemy, his enchanted blade might have made him unbeatable, ..but, against a dragon, there’d been no quarter. Skeletor thrust his energy blade forward, and a great beam of violet light brought low the once infallible Dragon of War.

The Caverns of Gharycon shook, and great shards of it the size of horses broke of from the walls and crashed to the stony floor!

At Skeletor’s command, a hell-mouth opened, ..and the She-Ra warriors, weapons in hand, were swept into it! “Ishteu’Ra does not wait for you in the Beyond Realms, foolish She-Ra! I used the haunted, howling winds of Oblivion to make your dragon king believe she did, ..long enough to trick him into resuming his dragon form and power—dark power that will soon be mine!”

The secret of the Crystal Caverns is knowledge only the Ancients possessed. For many years, King Simyran and his Vulnarian brothers had taken great comfort in that. It was comfort the last son of their valley no longer shared. “You engineered the visions that drove Gharycon to sacrifice his humanity—visions of Ishteu’Ra?!”

The undead demon-king laughed, and the hall was filled with the stench of his rotting breath. From the folds of his black cloak, he slipped a large broadsword formed of black metal – the dark twin of Lord Adam’s own Sword of Ancients and eerily resembling it in every detail. "Yes, dog of Grayskull! Only in his dragon form can I cut out the talisman that is his heart ..and unleash from it, a power that is as ancient as it is beyond human reckoning! Living power, He-Man!"

From Skeletor's eyes, spectral light flared. The Temple of Ishteu'Ra shook!

In his upraised hands, Skeletor plunged his black blade of Chaos into Gharycon's side, and the great dragon, his wings drawn back and his claws frozen in a great lunge, roared and twisted against the arts that immobilized him! From the dragon's hide, a large red crystal, the size of a dog's head, emerged and drifted into the evil one's hand. "Behold, insects! The heart of the dragon god, the Crystal of Gharycon, now mine!"

The sound of sand shifting in the desert wind at his back, He-Man turned to see Ishteu'Ra's ashes twist into the air from the warrior-queen's tomb and assume a female shape. He saw the slender, mummified body engulfed in blinding violet light and eerily transfigured into something beautiful ..and alive. With Mighty Gharycon’s hold upon him broken, He-Man called out to the phantasm. "Queen Ishteu'Ra, ..speak to me in the tongue of Vulnar’s Valley, if truly you were ever its queen! "

"No, Adam!" Surrounded on every side by Skeletor's Priests of Infinitias, the Dragon of War struggled against the web of fire! From his maws, a broad flash of blue flame filled the air, ..and he saw his Infinitian enemies step slightly back. "Remember the walls of the temples in East Rakastan, my friend! In Titanos! In Helos and Harmonia! At Snake Mountain ..and buried in the Sands of Time! All over the world, is her image painted in sacrificial blood! That is not your Noble Ishteu'Ra!"

"No, dragon—it is not," Skeletor hissed from a shadow. "She is Conquest ..and Murder! The darkness of the moon ..and of black magic! She will dare what your Ishteu'Ra could not, Vulnarian! She will live again, ..and man will be as dust before her!"

Answering the demon-king’s call, the naked, golden creature strode over the empty air as if it were firm ground – a sickly, white emptiness in her eyes, where the light of life and humanity had been. "Eons ago, there was war between the kingdoms of Gharycon the Dragon and of the Lyn, ..the twin moon goddesses of Infinitias! My sister fled the dragon's wrath, but, Gharycon devoured me entirely! Now, after countless millennia imprisoned in the crystal heart of the Dragon of War, Evil-Lyn is free again conquer the tribes of man! To slaughter him like cattle and bathe in his blood! Finally, to rule!"

A blinding flash of light filled the space between He-Man and the pale witch, and he was jolted backwards and off of his feet! As he labored to stand, another flash of light filled the temple hall, and a stream of violet energy erupted from the darkness where Evil-Lyn stood, striking Grayskull's champion in the chest. Pushing himself up from the cavern floor and onto his hands and knees, He-Man gasped, struggling to breathe.

"Strike, warrior goddess!" Skeletor growled. "Crush him, ..and the might of the Warrior Ancients will be ours to command!"

“Bitch of Infinitias!" He-Man growled, struggling back onto his feet, ..with the Sword of Ancients before him. “I slew your twin sister, and I will spare you nothing less than Oblivion!”

"You will do nothing!” Evil-Lyn laughed. Her black hair twisting in the air around her head, like serpents. “I live in the bones and flesh of Ishteu'Ra! Attack me now, and you defile the sacred body of she, who is daughter to your god, Vulnar, ..and sister to your dead, warrior race—a sacrilege in their eyes, punishable by damnation eternal in the fires of the Void! You cannot touch me, Heuay Man! You dare not!"

His heart pounding and gasping for breath, He-Man felt death's chill upon him.

The big man raised his sword to pitch like a spear into Evil-Lyn's heart, just as the goddess hurled another blinding bolt of magic from the darkness, and he was struck down once more. A broken thing now, scorched by hell-magic, He-Man groaned and rolled from his back to standing back upon his feet, as his enemies looked on with disbelief. Barely able to lift his hoary Sword of Ancients, he glared blankly into the faces of the black-hearted Priests of Infinitias—of Tri-Klops, Beast Man, Mer-Man and Trap-Jaw—who, with a primal cry of blood-lust, set themselves upon him with whip, blade and fist, until the big barbarian collapsed in a river of his own blood.

Worms! Filth of Infinitias!” roared Mighty Gharycon! Outraged, the dragon broke from the grip of the energy web and rushed at the demon-king’s servants, searing them with fiery waves of death, as they fled, ..but, found himself hurled backwards by a barrage of blinding, spectral light from Skeletor’s ram-headed Havoc Staff! So strong was the attack that the legendary monster struggled against it. As the primal fires of creation ignited inside him, and the cowardly Priests of Infinitias fell back to the cavern temple’s walls, .. Gharycon the Dragon vanished!

“Be praised, Priest-kings of Infinitias,” the Lord of Destruction hissed approvingly, as his evil warriors knelt before him. “The black sacrament of Evil-Lyn’s reincarnation is done, and, through her, the terrors of Grayskull will soon be mine to command! Rise, scum, ..and by your soulless hands, will Eternia be delivered, like a ram upon the altar, unto me!”

“Enough, Enemy of Man!” Evil-Lyn commanded, her eyes ablaze with otherworldly power. “Mine is the hand, which slaughtered the Dark Gods of Mount Molpisu, that the King of Snake Mountain might bathe in their divine blood! Grayskull will be yours, only when I’ve met my ancient nemesis, the Goddess of Order, Teela, ..and taken her head! Let us go now to Eternia ..and feast!”

With a hand, the mad witch gestured, and shadows from every corner of the room snaked around her bare breasts and hips! Lightning crackled, shaping the shadows into a suit of black armor, with breastplate and pteryges trimmed in steel! In a flash of light and power so great that the crystalline walls of the temple buckled and warped, the she-devil grew in height and girth, ..until she was as tall as three, big men stacked, scalp to heel, one atop the other!  Then, with a groan and a single swing of her scepter, the golden-skinned warrior-goddess smashed through the cavern wall and, in an explosion of light, streaked into the sky! As Skeletor looked on, the darkened skies overhead cried out, violated by Evil-Lyn's black presence! Thunder shook the ground! Lightning slashed at the dark clouds!

Below, in Etheria, the Swiftwind Sea, roused by the moon goddess’s power, rushed into the lower valleys, far faster than the poor peasants could escape. Evil-Lyn’s laughter echoed through the clouds, as thousands drowned below.

Holding the Crystal of Gharycon in one gauntleted hand, Skeletor raised his Havoc Staff in the other and looked down at where He-Man lay, senseless. "Mark and remember, child of the dust—nightfall will turn to dawn, and all of Eternia will fall before me! With the power of the warrior gods and the secrets of Grayskull, I will conquer the Universe, ..and you will watch!"

"You will pay for this, Skeletor!" Breath knocked from him, Lord Adam tumbled against a pillar and struggled back to his feet, when a cord of blinding energy slammed into him, cracking against his stomach muscles like a giant's hammer ..and sending him down upon his knees. As Skeletor and his scientist-priests faded before his weary eyes, the big, bronze-skinned Vulnarian felt the Dragon King's cavern temple begin to shake and crumble...

And, for a time not his to calculate, the world around He-Man turned completely to black.

"You will need allies, Vulnarian," hissed a mysterious voice from the darkness. "Against the Lord of Destruction and the all the forces of black Infinitias, you will need the She-Ishteu'Ra, ..if Eternia is to be saved."

On a rocky beach, He-Man awoke to find three, shadowed figures standing over him.  Behind and all around them, the Etherian Mountains, like jagged, rose, lavender and jade cathedrals, stretched into gray skies overhead, ..and the Crystal Castle was far above even them.

Sword of Power in hand, He-Man stood, amazed to find his wounds miraculously healed.  With a suspicious glare, he studied one of the armored women before him, and his mind flooded with memory. "When last I traveled the mountains of Etheria, my Vulnarian brothers discovered the alien despot Hordak, long believed dead after his defeat at King Randor's hands, was building an army here. His Force Captain was a comely, golden creature, who slaughtered men with a whore's lust in her eyes! You, Temathys!"

"Before Hordak threw me into the Valley of the Lost for conspiring with you, he was the only father I’d ever known." With a free hand, the golden-haired amazon signaled her companions to keep behind her. "The raging Swiftwind Sea, which passes through Etheria, once every nine thousand years, carried me into these mountains, where the Mysteries of Ishteu'Ra healed my body ..and turned my rage into wisdom! I am not hiding here, Prince Adam. If it’s revenge on the Horde you desire, take it from me, ..or join us, and we will avenge our fallen together!"

Climbing onto the flying battle-ram Tri-Klops left behind, the bronze-skinned giant lowered his blade, as Temathys looked on. "Simeyria, the mother of my king, once commanded the She-Ishteu’Ra—you’ve succeeded her well, Captain Temathys! Fought honorably and paid for your crimes! You are Eternia’s first line of defense against the Shadowed Lands, Guardians of the Crystal Castle—I am its last! Good journey, for now, ..and may the Ancients unite us in victory!"

Half-naked, with nothing but his sword ..and a mind addled with visions of King Randor’s city in ruins, He-Man flew his machine out into the Etherian Mountains and toward Eternos.

Into the dark.

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