The Tale Of Teela: Silence Of The Gods

By T. F. Cooper (Based on a story by Gary Cohn)

Upon hearing of trouble at the Court of King Randor, Adam of Vines, Last of the Vulnar tribesmen - He-Man - set out from the forest kingdom of Lorinth for the Royal Palace at Eternos, leaving behind a temple of very drunk and exhausted sacrificial virgins, who would all find themselves out of work, tomorrow.

In reddish brown, devilbeaver shorts, fur-topped, boar-hide boots and heavy bronze trinkets adorning his wrists, He-Man's native dress had made him something of an oddity on the streets of Lorinth. Yellowing textbooks painted the Vulnarians as dark-skinned, raven-haired giants with enormous endowments. Adam, while exceptionally tall and muscular, was of a pale bronze hue and was as blond, as any Ice Lander. Furthermore, the size of his endowments were no mystery to anyone, since, if asked respectfully, he took no shame in slipping them out of his devilbeavers for a curious stranger's inspection.

Under the shade of night, on the back of a heavily armored, giant tiger, whose name was known only to him, the Last Son of Vulnar made his way through the Arcadian Mountains. There, in a small clearing, he stopped to kneel at an ancient rock shrine, one of the many built by the wandering tribes of Preternia. Upon the altar, He-Man laid a fistful of terrahedrons, flowers sacred to the goddess Teela, and having annointed them with oil, he burned them in the ritual way required to seek the Goddess's wisdom. Their dense spice had filled his nostrils, and the sacred invocation had barely parted his lips, when the low roar of an engine from behind roused him from his meditations. With a hurricane-like swiftness the Sword of Power found his hand, and He-Man turned to find an elaborately decorated caravan of wind-sailers approaching.

These flying machines were the fairer sisters of the king's wind-raider assault landers, and the preferred transport of the high-born and well-appointed of the world. The caravan was dressed with the red flags and gold sashes of the Celestial Church and was manned by twenty four guards - a compliment of four men to each of its six ships. All armed with ceremonial brass spears of the variety, which the Eternian Royal Guard carried in parades, and not a fighting man among their ornate, emasculated number. From the sailer's coach, a gaudily attired, middleaged man in red robes and gold jewelry drew back a curtain to eye He-Man, suspiciously.

"You, ..savage!" The man in red called from the coach of the sailer. "Take your pagan ways elsewheres, lest you offend the Holy Warrior herself, before whose plains you commit this - this ..sacrilege!"

He-Man lifted one of the whale-sized stones high over his head, and the terror on the faces of the caravan guards was plain to see. "Is this Elsewheres very far, sir? This sacrilege is rather heavy, you see."

The old man leaned forward and nearly outside of the coach, gawking in shameless disbelief, before squirming back into his seat, and his face reddened under his densely jeweled, scarlet cap. He knew not what to make of the half-naked stranger's exhibition of strength, if indeed it was strength and not some circus trickery or even witchcraft, ..but was determined not to appear, in the least way, vexed by it. "You dare mock me, ..heathen! I am newly made the Archbishop of Eternos, ..the Royal City! I travel now to the Royal Palace of King Randor, ..whose guardsmen will blast this rockpile to bits, at my word!"

The giant green cat lunged forward, growling, but He-Man steadied him with a wave of his hand, even as the effeminate caravan guards gasped all at once. The Last Son of Vulnar stepped forward. "I am Adam of Vines, Your Eminence - last of the Valley of Vulnar! I, too, travel to Eternos to see a friend of mine, ..King Randor's Man-At-Arms!"

"O-ooh, ..a Vulnarian He-Man, have we?" scoffed the Archbishop, rolling his eyes in disdain. "And I suppose that blade is King Vulnar's Sword of Power! Would that, too, be so, ..barbarian?!"

"That's Lord Adam to you, stoneless dolt!" He-Man's giant tiger snarled, beneath his horned helmet. "Mayhaps, you'd find better manners in my belly!"

The old man leaned forward again, staring at the talking tiger.  His eyes farther from their sockets than ever they had been.

A shadow of rage colored He-Man's face. The haughty Archbishop did not know how close he was to getting firsthand proof of Lord Adam's brutal Vulnarian heritage. "Until their final, fatal battle, many months ago, my tribesmen honored our forefathers' covenant with Mighty Teela, through arcane rites and tournaments of will and strength, all of which I endured to become their champion. The last and least horrific of those trials won me the Sword of Power ..and the name, He-Man."

"I know not what base trickery you play upon me, strongman, but you are surely an impostor!" the Archbishop raved. "If truly you are He-Man, ..Swordbearer of the Holy Warrior, ..why do you kneel half-naked at this rock in the woods? What deity would grace such a pitiful, godless place?"

Now, He-Man's face reddened. "Call her Holy Warrior, Obatala, Hela or Athena - Mighty Teela is the Friend of Man, and I seek her will, ..Your Eminence! But this shrine, like the grand ones at Lorinth, has fallen strangely silent! Now, ..if you've no divine wisdom to impart, be off ..and leave me to my meditations!"

As He-Man looked on, the coach radiated with blinding emerald light.

A broad-shouldered, barefooted, youth, clad entirely in a crown of laurel leaves and his own jade skin, climbed out of the coach, carrying a lyre of purest gold. His hand extended, he studied the Vulnarian more closely. "How could you know about the shrines at Lorinth, when her priests there, at Frenornia and Elshimere are all confounded, sir, ..and the last Archbishop, driven mad by despair, has taken his own life? The Holy Warrior will not speak even to us, gods, ..and, without my divine senses, I could not be sure you were truly her champion! I am Eternos, the God of Time, ..and I doubt you no more!"

Beyond the Valley of Vulnar, it was a rare thing that gods should leave their time-lost Isle of Eldor to visit the world of men, but, the big warrior had certainly known his share and was no stranger to their wonders.  "Always expected the immortal Brother of the Plains would look older! Mighty Teela is your sister?"

“Aye, warrior – sister and commander!” His eyes cast down in despair, the youthful god tightened his grip on He-Man's hand. "Not long after the shrines fell silent, is said, amongst the gods, that Mighty Teela disappeared, has the Captain of King Randor’s Royal Guard! I fear you are needed most urgently in the Royal City Eternos, sir!"

"Teela the Duncan has disappeared? Speak, titan -- tell me the rest!" the big barbarian demanded, menacingly. “Speak of that, which even the Lord of Time, fears to tell!”

There was more than worry on the naked god's green face, as Eternos knelt to touch the soil and commune with the ancient spirits of the land. A great gouge took shape in the ground at his feet, and a howling wind from its depths played upon his all-seeing, golden lyre, bleak and sorrowful music, ..but, a deeper wound in the Time Master’s heart, one that shamed him to speak of, would remain hidden. “Your captain knows she is good Man-At-Arms’ daughter, but, of her mother, she knows nothing—nor, has her father ever breathed a word. Sometimes, this troubles her and haunts her dreams, making her vulnerable to influences even darker than her lust for battle! The true origin of your warrior-woman is even stranger than she suspects, she will soon learn! A great and unnatural silence beyond the mortal realm confounds me, Vulnarian, ..and more than this, I cannot see!”

Stepping back from the whirlwind as the crevice closed, the exhausted immortal collapsed in Lord Adam’s arms.

“In the Valley of Vulnar, we had an eons-long martial tradition,” He-Man recalled, helping Eternos to steady himself. “It was a covenant my brothers had honored in bloodshed and service to the Warrior Goddess - one we saw rewarded many times! During my clash with the Dragon of Oblivion, did she lift me from the very shores of Death, ..and I will do no less for her brother. Though watching over mankind from the Isle of Gods has long kept you from your sister's side on the battlefield, Lord Eternos, do not think you will meet her enemies alone!”

“Guilt of not being with her in this black hour nigh unmans me!” hissed Eternos. Standing up, as tears ran down his tender, chartreuse cheeks, his immortal eyes searched the skies for the answers he sought. “I fear a kinship of these horrors we face, Vulnarian - a dark thread weaving one Teela to the other, like the needlework of some apocalyptic tapestry - and I would give you the heart in my chest to know Mighty Teela is safe! Come with me to the Royal City, and we will rally the fiercest warriors of King Randor’s Court to our…"

"Not until the slaughter of mine own brothers, at the hands of a demon," He-Man told him, kneeling down to search the leather satchel at his feet, "- did I learn of the Goddess's connection to an ancient stronghold beyond the rain forests. It’s there, at Castle Grayskull, I will next seek my answers. Be at peace, my friend, ..and accept this humble gift."

The big, golden-haired man stood up and held out a handsome skirt of silver-studded, rhino-hide pteryges, and when Eternos wrapped them around his narrow loins, he laughed out loud.  “I know the Eternostines favor hiding under ugly costumes, but, these might go around me twice!”

“The gods must sometimes be merciful, Lord Eternos!” Draping a cloak over the youthful titan's shoulders, He-Man looked him over discerningly, recalling his first trip to the Royal City, as captain of King Simyran’s Praetorian Guard. “The thrill of rushing into adventure, clad only in blue sky and the weapon in your fist is too hearty for the vane, cowardly men of the cities! Pity them ..and save the baring of your manly nature for their women."

Brother Eternos embraced He-Man, as eagerly as a youth would welcome the father, who loved him, and the firmness of their bond seemed to still the grief in him. The power of Grayskull was mysterious indeed, and healing wounds of the spirit were not beyond its reach. Something in the immortal's youthful nature had been made as steel and, with a look in the wind-sailer's direction, he saw it transformed into a magnificent chariot of polished silver, carved with the greatest exploits of Eternia’s gods and heroes, ..and its attendants, turned into a team of horses that stretched most impossibly into the horizon!

"Behold the last of my divine magic, Lord Adam," the youth called to him, from the reins of his chariot, driving out over the Plains. "Good Journey! May the Master of this Universe keep you ..and honor your brothers in his kingdom!"

He-Man bid his eternally young friend farewell and, for a brief time, resumed his meditations at the rock altar, burning the terrahedrons, ..but Mighty Teela would not answer. Though it was not his nature to do so, he began to wonder if the Warrior Goddess had truly abandoned him.

Even as the dark red smoke of the terrahedrons pointed to the Royal City in the plains.

From a distance, he saw the awesome Teela of the Plains watching over sleeping Eternos, her solid corodite head held high above whatever trouble thrived in her shadow, one thousand, one hundred and fourteen feet below. The twinkling lights of the Royal City were still miles away, when Battle Cat roared, and the ground before them turned to thunder beneath his pounding claws!

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