By T. F. Cooper (Based on a story by Gary Cohn)
From the Dark Hemisphere, on orders
from their unholy master, Skeletor, the Priests of Infinitias moved quickly toward Eternos
to lay waste the
From the treacherous Gore Jungle, Beast Man, given the strength of ten of his kind by his benighted master, led the savage man-monsters of the bush to the golden plains and moors of Frenornia.
The Mer-Man's armies, bloodthirsty, amphibious hordes from the undersea realm of Moratain, snaked along the Harmonic Coasts, destroying city after city, casting their victims into the hungry ocean.
From the subterranean
The most ruthless of Skeletor's priests was Prince Tri-Klops
of Infinitias, at the center of whose kingdom,
As if possessed of a single will, the
servants of the Lord of Destruction attacked Eternia
and found His Majesty, King Randor, repaired to his
warrior ways, armed to the teeth and pitched into battle against them. Rallying
to war, the armies of his neighbors - the mountainous realms of Clampes and of Myzargard, the
All the while, the architect of this chaos, the Enemy of Man, sat motionless, as his bride danced through the Hall of War.
Around the circular chamber, Captain Teela danced, bare-breasted and chanting praises to the living winds of Oblivion, into whose power she had just committed her master's fiercest enemy. The spirits of this realm could not be dealt with carelessly. To bring discord to them could warp the very scape of reality or bring forth from the shadows of time an abomination, whose fury and ambition dwarfed even Dread Skeletor's. Delivering He-Man into their grip had left a great abscess in the physical world, and now, under Skeletor's watchful eye, she labored to fill that void with sound and fury. Her half-naked body, painted with mystic glyphs, arched and swayed with bizarre, seductive movements, while the Fangs of Dunamyr rolled in her hands, like charmed snakes.
Man-At-Arms, barely alive and fading in and out of consciousness, could not ascertain whether Teela's wailing was real or part of his delirium, but he recognized it to be called out in a tongue as old as Point Dread itself. He labored, as he lay in a heap at the Hall's entrance, to focus what remained of his will on the ancient, rocky floor beneath him, intending to force his tortured body up from the stones there and back into battle. The ritual yells of his mad daughter echoed in his ears and, just under them, another sound, much like that of his own name, sped Man-At-Arms toward insanity.
It called to him again - this time, striking his psyche like thunder against an oak! With it, golden light filled the old man's half-closed eyes, so bright that he winced before it, and a familiar pair of piercing, blue eyes peered into his own.
"Tis the Holy Beyonder's will, ..son," Duncan gasped. "But what of Eternos? Randor? The Queen?"
"Teela ..is of the
runes," He-Man whispered, as if he had not heard
With that, the lost warrior faded away as smoke.
Once again, the golden-haired boy he
had watched become a man was gone, and no grimmer time had Man-At-Arms known
since the Horde Wars. When the mists faded,
Zo jonjua e'renu shonda, one of the sets read. "The goddess ..grows stronger."
"A spell?" the old man thought.
But what good be a spell without a shaman to chant it?
And the Warrior Ancients, who built Point Dread, did not deal in spells and witchery, but mastered what might be called metatechnology or metaphysics. Man-At-Arms had learned as much from his travels abroad, as a cadet in the Berserker Legion, and from years of study. He knew that there were very mysterious, but finite, rules that permitted the Ancients to create the wonders they did in days long past, one of which was Point Dread and its flying sentinel, the Talon Fighter. If these runes were possessed of any power, it was a power set in motion eons ago that had the miraculous ability to renew itself ..or knew where to seek out the means for renewal.
"It would explain the need to
join with Grayskull every twenty years,"
Commands, in the form of equations.
Through his haze,
"Have my bride's chants roused you from death's beach, Man-At-Arms?" The Lord of the Wastes hissed, from his granite throne. "Or have the power of the runes delivered you back to the Rock of War .. to serve me?!"
Teela pushed her fingers into the bronzium armor and the orange metal crumpled beneath her grip. Effortlessly, she threw Man-At-Arms toward the center of the rocky chamber, where he tumbled onto his knees! "What do the runes tell you, father? To kneel before Grayskull's true goddess, mayhaps - to surrender?"
"Surrender is not our way, ..daughter," Man-At-Arms answered. "We are the last of the Berserkers - the last of the Fighters! Surrender, ..even in the face of death, is a coward's enterprise!"
"As death, in the face of impending defeat, is the fighter's," Teela hissed. "Damn your Berserker wisdom, old man! Take what honor you will from the edges of my blades, ..but delay our final embrace no longer!"
"Only the damned rush into
"But the damned rushes in on a
pale, bloodthirsty horse, old man, ..and its name is
Wrath!" Teela paused, twirling her twin weapons
into a defensive position. She was eight years old, when
"I leave you faith, my Teela,"
Three consecutive rounds of four missiles each cut along Point Dread's walls, destroying the runes carved therein, ..as Skeletor looked on.
Man-At-Arms' daughter fell to her knees. The twin Fangs of Dunamyr dropped from her hands, and Teela collapsed, like a puppet cut free of its strings. With the splintering apart of each rune string, Captain Teela's body flinched and convulsed - her mind flooding with memory!
"Master of the Universe," Man-At-Arms cried, looking into his daughter's fluttering eyes, "what have I done?!"
"It would seem your Universal Master has abandoned you, old wretch," Skeletor stood up from his granite throne. ""Now, 'tis just you and me."
"Aye, it is,"
"Can the drought know why it lays waste your harvests?" A laugh made of rotting, dead things and nightmares scraped the ancient stone-laden ceiling of the chamber. "Can the storm know why it scatters the blackened leaves of a dead forest, but leaves the village within, ..teeming with finite, meaningless, little lives unscathed? Can the father know why he betrays his daughter - for god? For king?"
"For Eternia, devil ..and for man!" Man-At-Arms grunted, returning to his feet, cautiously - his bronzium mace in hand. "In her spirit, Teela knows that I do what I must do .. for Eternia. She will endure, ..as will her mother."
"Mother?!" Mocked Skeletor. "The mother with whom you conspire to destroy her?!"
"I have no conspirator, but
"She will endure, old fool, .. to rule at my side! But, you will not live to see it!" Skeletor raised his ram-headed staff, but before the fiend could strike, Man-At-Arms seized the ebon-draped corpse that was his body and plunged a curved, silver dagger into his lifeless chest.
Pinning the demon under him,
"You'll find hell at my hand, demon," Man-At-Arms spat, as Skeletor's necromantic magics penetrated his internal organs, "before you make Teela your queen!"
Though Skeletor was a shadowed thing born of ancient man's fears, in a time, when Eternia was new, his Mask of Living Death bound him to the flesh and bone with which he worked in the world of men.
Man-At-Arms saw the stonework devastated by his demiphoton missiles ignite in violet flame ..and inexplicably repair itself. The techno-runes there were whole once more, awaiting their ancient power to be spoken into motion.
"Zo jonjua e'renu shonda," whispered the Lord of the Wastes, and Captain Teela's green eyes fluttered open. She stood, and the bloodied Fangs of Dunamyr flew back into her hands.
"Point Dread's power flows into the warrior-woman, ..as light through glass," growled Skeletor, between spastic breaths. Again, the crimson glow of the demon's eyes turned to violet, and Man-At-Arms found himself picked up, as if by a cyclone's force, and slammed against the stone-laden insides of Point Dread. "And once more, she is mine to command!"
Suspended far above the stony floor,
the old warrior felt the toll taken on his bronzium-armored
body. A haggard breath left him and blood trickled from his lips. "Resist him, ..Teela. He
..is the enemy ..of us all."
For a brief time, there was silence in the Hall of War.
abrupt separation from the techno-runes had restored something of her senses
and memory. She suddenly found herself torn between her mortal life and the
power pulsing inside her. "Dread and loving master,
..what is thy will?"
"Call forth our enemies, the Warrior Ancients!" Skeletor answered, returning to his stolen throne. "The Goddess is their commander in all things - they cannot refuse her! Call them - lure them here with her voice .. and DESTROY THEM!"
Teela turned to the Lord of Demons - her eyes wide and clear, as if awoken from her madness. "Kill the gods?"
"No, ..Teela," her father gasped from where he was suspended on the ceiling. "Warrior Ancients ... last hope ..for man. Don't ..."
Skeletor swept his Havoc Staff upwards, and Man-At-Arms screamed in torment, as lightning tore through the aging soldier's armor and the flesh beneath. When only groans of agony could be heard from his valiant victim, the Lord of Destruction leaned forward from his granite throne. "With He-Man gone, they are all that stand between you and your destiny, Great Teela! You are a goddess! Any, who stand against you, .. even he who would call himself your father, must face the absolute annihilation! Call forth the Ancients now, ..and Grayskull's secrets will be ours!"
Teela, naked to the waist and marked with the glyphs of the war gods, outstretched her arms and the floor beneath her was pushed away from her feet. As if upon invisible wings, she hovered over the center of the rocky chamber, where six bright flames, each as high as a small tree, burst from the floor. "Agatave bijonjumarza das Grayskull!"
Assemble, warrior gods of Grayskull.
"Lo sumonjava von Areopaguay!"
I call thee to the Rock of War.
And assemble, they did.
Bold, iron-thewed Vulnar, ..falcon-headed Zoar, ..dragon-winged Giro, ..Xango the Thundermaker, ..Koron the Armored Titan, ..and fiery, sword-wielding Heuay! For each, a great flame blazed in the Hall of War, signifying their presence.
His insides battered, and near death, Man-At-Arms watched from above as all, but one, of the flames extinguished themselves. The remaining one blazed brighter than all the rest, as if it had drawn the fiery fury of the others into its radiance, ..and its shape came to resemble that of a woman.
An apparition of bright, emerald flame.
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