Miracle At Point Dread

By King Tamask and Medusa Moon

Naked, Into Etheria

Since before the Great Horde Wars and the Second Unification of the Eternian Kingdom

Through warring and hard-won peace, had Titus Duncan been Man-At-Arms at the Court of King Randor, ..and he knew times of enduring peace to be the most treacherous of the pair. It was in repose he’d seen fit warriors grow lazy and undisciplined. Soft! It was in times of peace and prosperity he’d seen strong kingdoms grow fat and weak, while enemies plotted beyond the gates. From the computer in a bronzium metal gauntlet on his wrist, he commanded a subsergeant to double the drills for the warriors at Fort Eodwar on the golden sands of the Harmonic Coasts.

If the Royal Guard went soft, it wouldn’t be on Titus Duncan’s watch.

Under moonlight, surveying the surrounding kingdom through the virtual binoculars projected from his silver helmet, man-At-Arms turned to a sound at his back ..and drew his bronzium mace to meet it!

“I must say, good Duncan,” Prince Adam groaned lazily, nursing a pitcher of ale, as he strolled onto Freenorn Castle’s ramparts in his pink under shorts, “—all’s been most peaceful for long weeks, since my return to Eternos, less than a fortnight ago! So peaceful that Orko, Ram-Man, Battle Cat and your own daughter, Teela, have gone off seeking adventure in the Golden Isles!”

“Aye, they have,” Duncan replied warily, securing his mace and ignoring the foolish boredom in He-Man’s voice. “Off they went, with Roboto, young Tom-Stone, Rio Blast and Moss Man sailing the Rakash! With my brother, Fisto and Stratos of Avion already a week in the jungles of Targa, hunting with King Gar-Gan and Queen Rana! Surely, the nocturnal conquests of the great He-Man haven’t left him lusting for more!”

“Wouldn't you?” the weary Vulnarian groaned, swilling back his ale. “I’m in love with a very jealous and strong-willed woman, who won’t rest, until I’m belled like a cat, ..no matter what I do or don’t do!”

“Thank the Ancients it hasn’t come to that!” chuckled Man-At-Arms, adjusting his binoculars. “We of Eternos’d never get any sleep from all the ringing, if it did!”

The big, golden-haired man threw his head back and laughed out loud! “Mock me all you like, old man! I’ve the strength and lust of a fifty-thousand man army coursing through me, and it’s not so easily tamed with parlor games and loveplay! I long for action, excitement—and I will find it!”

“Seems your longings have been answered, my friend,” replied Duncan distractedly, as the skies darkened overhead. “Aye—in ways we’d not imagined! To arms, He-Man!”

Lightning flashed in the clouds, ..such that night was turned to day!

Thunder shook the ramparts, and the Sorceress Teelana, in copper-scaled dragon’s hide and armor, stood before them. In one of the many gardens that surrounded the Royal Palace, He-Man and Man-At-Arms knelt before her in deference.

…Stand fast, heroes of Eternos! Gharycon, the Dragon of War and Oracle of Etheria has gone mad ..and now labors to bring his mistress, Ishteu’Ra, back to life! It now falls to He-Man, Last of the Vulnarians, to stop him at all costs…

In one hand, Mighty Teelana held out He-Man’s hoary Sword of Ancients, and bid him take it.

The half-naked prince raised the blade high overhead and called out to the mysterious masters of Castle Grayskull!


The whole of his Herculean physique seemed to explode with heat and light, and He-Man suddenly stood before her in the korodite harness, devilbeaver pelt and mystical armaments that made him nigh unbeatable in battle. “For eons, the Crystal Castle above the Caverns of Gharycon has been Eternia’s first defense against Infinitian invaders! For ages, have you and the other Warrior Ancients defended mankind from foes of and beyond the world of men! Do you now bid me bring low the Dragon God and his warriors, ..leaving the Benighted Kingdoms free to push into Eternia unchecked?”

“The ways of the gods are truly mysterious, He-Man,” Titus Duncan whispered, with a reassuring hand upon his friend’s shoulder. “You’ve only your heart to guide you, ..and a nobler heart than yours, I’ve not known. Trust that the Mighty Sorceress’s cause is wise and just, as always it’s been, ..and leave Eternia’s protection to me.”

Turning from Duncan, He-Man glared into the dark skies overhead. The wind whipping his golden hair into his face! “Heuay’s Man does not understand his mission, Mighty Teelana, ..but, he obeys! Send me to the Caverns of Gharycon ..with all haste!”

…Go, Avenger of Man! Let your outrage carry you across land and sea ..into the mountains of Etheria! Into the Caverns of the Dragon God! Go, ..lest a great evil thought long vanquished be returned to the world of men! Go…

The Sorceress raised her snake-headed Rod of Order, flaring with blinding, spectral light, ..and He-Man felt himself slammed against a stone wall! Shrugging off the impact, he found the gardens of the Royal Palace were nowhere to be found. Warily, he climbed to his booted feet and found himself in a large cavern, lit by many torches. The smell of burning metal was in the air, and he turned to the sound of whispers, nearby.

He saw Gharycon kneel before the tomb and the She-Ra unsheathe their broadswords. “No, daughters of Ishteu’Ra! For the Shame of Norgnaval, don’t do it! Don’t slay him!”

It is too late, He-Man of Grayskull!” the wizard replied. “The offering has been made! I will sacrifice my human form, and the Goddess of Honor will live again! Beloved daughters, take up thy swords ..and fulfill your destiny!”

“Friend Gharycon!” called the sword-slinging barbarian, rushing to stand, ..but finding himself trapped behind an invisible barrier. “Release me, Oracle of the Crystal Caverns! For reasons unknown to me, the Mighty Sorceress has forbid this!”

“My beloved Ishteu’Ra cries out from the Land of the Dead, He-Man ..for justice!” cried the sorcerer, as another flash of white lit the shadowy caverns. “Only a dragon’s power—my power—can bring her back to life, ..but, to be a dragon again, first, must I die as a mortal! Now, She-Ishteu’Ra, ..to your blades!”

Golden-haired Temathys, commander of their shadowy sorority, looked down at the sword in her hand and, then, at her sisters. “Resist, sisters! By all that is sacred, resist him! The Great Dragon bewitches us through me ..and the power of this enchanted blade—Ishteu’Ra’s Sword of Protection! He bewitches us ..to slay him! We must ..resist…”

Struggling against his bonds, He-Man looked on, as Temathys and her sisters seized Gharycon, pressing him hard against the stonework of the sarcophagus’s edge, ..until a violent cry echoed throughout the cavern temple. Thrusting their blades deeply into him, the noble She-Ra cried out in outrage at what his magic compelled them to do and saw the wizard’s body going limp under their swords. Leaving only their master’s heart unscathed, the noble She-Ra fell, as one, down upon their knees!

Screaming out the names of the gods, they could barely hear the big Vulnarian’s warning. “It’s Temathys! Stop her! Take her sword!”

The final, ritual strike was left to she, who wielded the Ishteu’Ra’s blade, and, ..roused from their murder-spell, the poor She-Ra threw themselves at tall, broad-shouldered Captain Temathys in a desperate attempt to save their king. With the wild strength of a demon - with punches and bone-shattering kicks, the mindless amazon hurled the warrior-maids from her path and drove her golden sword through the Gharycon’s heart! Awakened from the murder-spell, fair Temathys staggered backwards and into the arms of her sisters, ..horrified at her dark work. “Noble Goddess, forgive me! Forgive us all!”

In the shadows, He-Man saw the limp, broken form of the wizard began to shape itself into something else!

From where Gharycon fell, a great beast with skin like the metal of a golden cup, stood upon all four clawed feet and well higher than ten men stacked scalp to heel! Gharycon turned to the open sarcophagus where his beloved warrior-queen, Ishteu’Ra, lie dead for millennia ..and saw the mummy there reduced to dust! “No! No—it cannot be! Beloved Ishteu’Ra, ..for long weeks, you’ve called out to me from realms beyond—from the grave! How have I failed you! What have I done?!”

At the center of the chamber, he saw that a piercing violet light flared.

Deep, throaty laughter filled the air, echoing throughout Ishteu’Ra’s cavern, such that tiny cracks formed in its walls, and the skull-faced Lord of the Wastes, of benighted lands beyond the Sands of Time and even Etheria, ..materialized before him.

To The Damned, A Queen

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 He-Man’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, ..is 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, He-Man!" 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 ..to 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, dark 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, He-Man 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, He-Man. 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.

Infinitians At The Gate

A nigh deafening boom shook the palace, upon He-Man’s return to the Royal City Eternos.

Abandoning his flying battle-ram on Castle Freenorn’s limestone ramparts, the big, golden-haired Vulnarian leapt down into the courtyard and bounded toward the Royal Palace on booted feet! Even as his mind raced with concern for King Randor of the Freenorns and wise, gentle Queen Marlena, the exotic colognes of the Far East, which were the King's alone, roused his jungle-trained senses and set him firmly on their owner's trail with all the speed of a leopard. All the while, his other senses told him the thunderous shock he'd heard above was nothing of nature's making.

The night itself bore a strange, scorched scent to him, as if the very fabric of the air had been singed, while He-Man raced over the palace grounds ..and the thunder of war raged all around him. He knew well, fatally well, what a dragon's fiery breath smelled like, ..and this was not it. Something powerful, a machine of some kind, was attacking the Royal Palace from the air once more, even as he ran toward the Royal Palace.

Another blast shook the ramparts, and behind him the Northeast Tower flew apart in a bright flash of flame and broken rock, but He-Man kept running - the Sword of Power gripped tightly in his fist. From the clouds overhead, soulless, red eyes followed him over the bailey of Castle Freenorn, and a black shape hurled downward into the courtyards at He-Man's back, forsaking all other prey for pursuit of him.

The Vulnarian's senses flared with awareness of the dreaded Talon Fighter - of its very mechanical essence. Its blackened, metal shell. The heat of its guns, as their ancient mechanisms whirred to life. The terror it left in its wake, as its crimson-tipped wings passed over battle-hardened soldiers, and six bursts of golden, cosmic fire cut through the darkness. Legs that have scaled cliff-sides and outrun lions beat through the air before their prey, ..and the ground before his feet exploded apart.

In a cloud of disintegrated rock, He-Man fell.

As if assured of its conquest, the Talon Fighter raced over its victim.

Rolling into a downward glide, its left wing tilting slightly, the Fighter sped down into the vast courtyard, ..toward its intended victim! Lower and lower it flew, until it was close enough to the ground to shear off the tops of small trees - to behead a man standing upright! Something sharp ripped into its blackened hull, and the metal there was heard to scream, as its undaunted, mortal foe rose from the dust, ..the Sword of Power firmly in hand. "Come ahead again, pigeon-face, ..if you dare!"

He-Man's blue-gray eyes followed the death-machine into the clouds, as the Talon Fighter's ancient engines roared overhead. All around him, he saw the Royal Guard lying dead and injured - their bodies littering the palace grounds, broken and burned like kindling. Gripping the blade of the Ancients with both hands, the Vulnarian searched the sky for shadows, ..but found nothing.

"Where are you, stoneless, murdering devil?!" the Vine Jungle warrior raved, glaring into the dark clouds. "I'm here, winged coward! Heuay's Man is here! I've wounded you, ..and I'll be waiting!"

Closing in on Randor's scent, He-Man bounded through an open window and into the King's study, where he found the aging, warrior-king with Telmat, the Archbishop of Eternos, ..a man, who held all Vulnarians in great contempt. "Thank the gods you're well, milord! We must rally the troops to repulse this attack!"

"Naked savage!" the Archbishop Telmat hissed, rushing toward He-Man with his scarlet and gold cloak. "This is not the sweltering, Vine Jungle brothel from which you crawled! You dare flaunt your pagan ways so boldly, ..even in the presence of your king!"

The priest rushed to throw his cloak around the half-naked intruder, but a broad, bronze hand snapped shut around one of the man's wrists, locking it in an inhumanly tight grip. When he raised his eyes to meet He-Man's, the rage in the Vulnarian's stare and the implied threat of his bared teeth sent shudders through him. "Now, it is you, who dare too much, Telmat."

"Release him, He-Man," commanded King Randor, calmly. "This ungrateful bigot’s only concern was for me, as is yours. Leave us, Telmat."

"It is a time for prayer, my king!" Loosed from He-Man's hold upon his wrist, the gaunt Archbishop hastily fled the room.

"Nay, priest!" the bronze-skinned giant growled. "It is a time for war! Freenorn Palace is under siege, King Randor. Firebacked orcs advance from the north - I can smell them coming! The Talon Fighter attacks from the air--too high to be easily detected, but .."

"The second assault was from the ground, He-Man," Duncan interrupted, storming into Randor's study. "The Northeast Tower's been destroyed. Before it fell, its scanners detected a small fortification less than a mile off the North Wall! I've got two squadrons of wind-raiders in the air, securing a perimeter around and over the Royal City. Two more escorting the Queen to Point Manak in the Ice Lands! Six platoons of soldiers engage firebacked orcs beyond the North Wall, milord."

"Firebacked orcs are desert-dwellers, Duncan," Randor insisted, "--and you saw those giant ants! How could so many could have been moving upon Eternos without meeting some resistance from our allies, along the way? And how is a small mountain brought so close to Eternos without being detected? This must surely be the work of the Infinitians - of Skeletor!"

Duncan answered apprehensively. "The orcs could be a preliminary strike, King Randor--cannon fodder to wear down our defenses! Skeletor's done it before. Even now, they swarm to the offense, ..and their onslaught is fearsome indeed! At the time of the last transmission, our allies in the Mystic Mountains, coastal Harmonia, Vine Jungles and Golden Isles were all engaging fortifications like Dread, each cloaked by some kind of ancient, light refraction technology!"

"Space refraction, Man-At-Arms," said He-Man, glaring into the clouds. "With it, Point Dread can manifest projections of itself in the north, south, east and west--each projection waging war in different regions of the planet, ..and all at the same time! When the sun rises, it will be capable of more."

Titus Duncan sat down upon a limestone bench, his armored back against a cold wall. His typically ruddy face, a lifeless white. "The Royal City is in flames. Men, women and children in the surrounding provinces and throughout the Light Hemisphere are being tortured. Impaled. Burned alive. Worse. The outposts attacking us all over the world--they are all Point Dread."

"There, brothers! Behold!" the wild, golden-haired Vulnarian cried, pointing to the shifting clouds with his silvery blade. The enemy appeared, ..barely visible through the mists. A silent, black shape, winged like a bird. When it passed over the terrace, its shadow fell on Randor's face ..like a death shroud. "The Talon Fighter returns, ..but, what is it doing here? Who is controlling it?!"

A ghostly image, grotesque in its appearance, materialized in King Randor's study. The King drew back from it and unsheathed his sword. "Beast Man of Gorre!"

"See the power we command, Randor of Eternos, ..and tremble!" boasted the holographic image of Beast Man. "Our master has found means to secure Point Dread for his own purposes, once more! He has plucked the artifact from the clutches of Grayskull itself, ..and there is no power known to man that can long withstand it! Soon, he will use its secrets to strike from every corner of Eternia, until House Freenorn and its allies are ground to dust! He has bound the Fighter to his black will and is now its master--God of the Power of the Air! He is your god, humans! We Priest-kings of Infinitias have had enough of defeat! Let all Eternia fear our wrath and...!"

"Let all of Snake Mountain fear mine!" From He-Man's hand, a double-headed battleaxe buried itself in the stone wall, where Beast Man's phantasm vanished. Enraged, the big Vulnarian turned to King Randor. "That hologram proves the Infinitians have tracked us here, and that this study will be the Talon Fighter's next target. Your armory, King Randor--let's go!"

A great portion of the study's sandstone wall rolled aside with an unseen signal from the king, and the three men rushed down a long, dark stairwell, seemingly carved from solid rock. Through the pitch, they found a large, cavernous chamber with a domed ceiling, under which was gathered every weapon known to man! As He-Man and Man-At-Arms looked on, King Randor brushed his palm over a shield mounted at the foot of the stairwell and saw the mysterious chamber blaze alive with light from the lanterns upon its walls!

"So, it is Skeletor up there," King Randor growled, studying a massive, holographic globe of Eternia flickering at the room's center. His eyes wandered over the Fertile Plains and into the Evergreen Forests, fixing on a barren, uncharted area just beyond the Iron Mountains. "Once, the Goddess spirited Dread off to Castle Grayskull, merging it with the mystic stronghold. Now, the Master of Evil has found means to control it! How can this be? How?!"

"When Targa, the Fighter's hawk spirit, took my place in Oblivion, he left it without a soul ..and vulnerable to the crystal’s power! The Crystal of Gharycon," He-Man muttered, kneeling before a bust of Vulnar the Bold. "So long as Skeletor holds the Dragon King’s crystal heart, he controls both the Talon Fighter ..and Evil-Lyn! I must free the Fighter, my friends, ..even if my life is forfeit."

Duncan rested a hand on He-Man's shoulder. "Such a debt, even to your Hawk Spirit, cannot be repaid in blood, He-Man. In the Dread One's hands, the Fighter is a soulless, murdering machine--nothing more. You owe it nothing."

The big, golden-haired man stood up and raised the hoary Sword of Ancients before him, beholding it as one would a miracle. "There is more you must consider, my friends! At sunrise, these manifestations of Point Dread will become linked, enabling Skeletor to move his vast armies from east to west in the blink of an eye, ..or to direct forces from different parts of Eternia to any single region he chooses, until it is conquered or destroyed! Eternos will be his first target, and he won’t wait for the dawn! Evil-Lyn will turn nightfall to sunrise, and the Dread fortifications will be linked! We have no time!”

King Randor took a laser-pulse rifle from its mount on the wall and held it out before him, studying its metal in the light. He threw another to Man-At-Arms, and a pistol to He-Man. "House Freenorn will avenge its fallen! Duncan, you will continue to hold command of the palace's defenses in your daughter's place! He-Man, you and I will deal with the threat of Skeletor and that thing in the clouds! With the Firebacks advancing in such great numbers, we must act swiftly, or lose the Lighted Realms to Skeletor!"

"The Palace's force-field is programmed to perpetually change its deflector array, even as the Fighter attacks," Duncan grumbled distractedly, tapping a few buttons on his wrist-mounted computer, "--but, the Fighter is swiftly adapting its attack to overcome the speed with which the array is modified! When the field can no longer adapt quickly enough, the Palace will be vulnerable. We should go now. Your storm-raider, Valeria, is made for aerial combat in the upper atmosphere over vast distances, ..and it is at the ready, sire."

Surveying the sky from his monitor screen, with his beloved Queen Marlena out of danger, King Randor prayed for the safety of his fighting men and women on the frontlines. Every flash of fire on the horizon, where he did not lead them into battle against the Infinitians, tormented him. "The storm-raider is made for running, Duncan. Freenorns do not run. The Valeria will remain here, as will we, ..until the last fighting Eternian, by death or cowardice, yields his ground! I want a proper wind-raider, Man-at-Arms! He-Man, you are with ..."

The troubled old king turned to face his son, but, He-Man of Grayskull was gone.

Death Sky, Come Ahead!

Nightfall will turn to dawn, and all of Eternia will kneel before me…

By the golden hand of a goddess, did dawn come to Planet Eternia ..and did the threat of her undead lord come to pass.

High over the Royal Palace of Eternia, and the walls of Freenorn Castle, which protected it, two bursts of light flashed from the wings of the Talon Fighter.

Followed by two more, ..which were, in turn, followed by even two more.

They rushed to the ground like things alive! Like comets!

And before the Royal Sky Guard, brave men and women from every quarter of Eternos and surrounding Frenornia, could mount the winds in their flying battle rams and heavily armored wind-raiders, ..ten thousand more blinding bursts of spectral light raced downward! Cutting through big, armored men and colossal machines surrounding Freenorn's walls like the flaming blades of angry angels! Fifty thousand upon ten hundred thousand upon ten million bursts of cosmic rage pounded the invisible force-shield over Freenorn Castle and the palace within, lighting up the night!

And all over the Eternian world, from the deserts of Rakastan to forested Myzargard in the Mystic Mountains, were the dark sisters of Point Dread awakened to power.

From hemisphere to hemisphere, shore to shore, and from the jungles to deserts, the skull-masked Lord of Destruction moved his forces like the pieces on a game board. Reinforcing his weak and devastated armies with forces taken from far away. Doubling them in size where needed, while controlling his captured lands with an iron grip. With the sunrise, were the Points Dread, like the heads of some great hydra that covered the entire world, linked, and all of Eternia fell to the Snake Mountain king.

In rapid, succession, blasts from the dark clouds above rocked the palace!

The Talon Fighter rolled and dove from the dark clouds gathered overhead, ..weaving in and out of Freenorn Castle's external force-shields, as though the shields weren't there. The inner force-shield array, that which shielded the palace alone, held, ..but buckled, sending violent shockwaves throughout the courtyard and cracking the palace walls! Flaming photon missiles launched from the sleek, deadly wings of blaster hawks and from towering gigan-traks hurdled past their target ..and into the stars! Those few strikes that actually penetrated the Fighter’s shields it burst into bouquets of blinding golden light, barely scratching its blackened metal hull.

On his battle-ram, golden-haired He-Man, He-Man of Grayskull, cut a wild and fiery path through the gathering storm clouds and invading Infinitian Fright Fighters. Before his eyes, the middle of the North Wall collapsed, and three wind-raiders plummeted into the courtyard, where the Royal Palace stood, as if some great bird of prey had ripped the life from them! The skies above the Royal City were red with discharged radiations and so thick with smoke the jungle-bred warrior found navigation was nearly impossible.

To hell with this flying battle ram!

And to hell with all machines, and the men, who make them!

He would not battle this Talon Fighter as a bird! A starling! A sparrow!

Not this savage! Not this Vulnarian!

He would engage this flying, metal enemy as a man! A man feeling the unforgiving stony ground beneath his two feet ..and the hard, cold metal of a broadsword in his hands!

"Come ahead, Lord of the Wastes!" the big Vulnarian roared into the gale-force winds and, bringing the battle ram close to the ground, he dove. He leapt from his flying machine like a panther after its prey and rolled into a defensive position, ..the Sword of Power held out before his broad chest! “Come ahead and taste the vengeance of man!”

The storm clouds parted again, and eyes like hot, red coals glared into his own.

Burning winds shrieked over and beneath its blackened wings, and a squadron of wind-raiders vanished in white flashes of death, as the Talon Fighter cut a swift path back to the ground! To the animal that had dared to wound it!

From its wings, four cannons hurled golden light into the bailey of Freenorn Castle, striking down the warriors gathering to the Royal Palace's defense. The barrage of cosmic fire battered He-Man backwards, even as he deflected the Talon Fighter's attack with his blade, ..when a fifth cannon, hanging lower than the rest, descended between the two guns mounted on the winged weapon's belly.

Its first strike hammered the korodite metal harness strapped over He-Man’s chest, sending the big man down upon his back, ..and with force sufficient to wrest the Sword of Ancients from his hand. The shadowed thing at the Fighter’s controls zeroed in on its dazed target ..and sent another five bolts of death toward the ground. Three wind-raiders would hurl themselves between the Fighter and his mortal quarry, only to be sent crashing into the courtyards below.

Worn down by concussive array of energy that might level mountain peaks - his legendary weapon far out of reach - He-Man of Grayskull glared skyward as death came for him, ..with no doubt that the next strike would be levied at his head. Before his stunned eyes, the wind began to shift, and the craft was pulled from its deadly course into a cyclone of sky-colored light. The weary soldiers all around looked on, as He-Man stood, and the monstrous cylinder of wind above him expanded in girth and power.

Blue and gold bands formed in its swelling walls, and a fiery explosion within followed. What cannons, attak-traks and wreckage were not incinerated in the flash were hurled skyward into the clouds on a pillar of fire.

The Talon Fighter and the demonking at its controls with them.

Recovering his Sword of Power, He-Man stood, rushing over to the smoking, blackened object that, only minutes ago, had been his synthetic ally, Sy-Klone. As soldiers gathered at his side, a black, winged shadow passed overhead, and the man-machine in armor of blue and gold metal raised his fist toward the sky. "Must ... Must ... Must ..."

"Rest now, Sy-Klone," He-Man whispered, kneeling next to the doomed android replica of the Vulnarian king, who raised him as a son. "Rest while my tribesmen prepare a place for you in realms beyond, ..where you will sit in their midst, boasting of how you drove the Enemy of Man from their little brother's throat ..and of how sweet-smelling was the last maiden you -- Sy-Klone? Father?"

"F-friend ..He-Man," sputtered Sy-Klone, touching his hand to He-Man's cheek. "It grows ..col-llldd, my son. Very ..c-cold. You ..m-must ..dress ..for battle."

A blinding glare flashed from the wasted android's glass eyes, and his twisted, metal arm fell lifeless to his side.

He-Man of Grayskull stood.

His golden hair hung before his face, masking his grief, ..and his bare shoulders trembled. Once.

As one, the armored soldiers backed away from their fallen comrade, as if his barbarian friend's outrage would crack open the ground beneath their feet, ..but no such display of anger was given. Only the youngest of the Guard, the slate gray-skinned warrior known throughout the ranks as Tom-Stone, knelt to pray at He-Man's side. "He saved our lives, Tomas, ..and all he ever hoped for was to be counted among us, ..as a friend. Here, lies the last vestige of he, who made me all that I am. Leave him here, for now, with the other ..."

With a roar, golden-scaled Gharycon the Dragon took shape in the air before the assembled warriors, and in the sapphire glow of his ancient eyes, He-Man felt the wounds in his aching flesh mended. “Gather, warriors of Eternos!”

“Great Dragon,” marveled He-Man, as the Royal Guard fell slightly back. “Lord-protector of Etheria, I saw you die—your crystal heart, ripped from you—yet, here you stand! Thank you for the gift of your strength ..and know that I will honor it in battle!”

“My heart is and always has been the Light Hope, He-Man,” the golden-scaled dragon answered. “The crystal within me only served to channel that force, as I saw willed ..and to whom I willed! Now, must the force of hope be shaped by the will and deeds of all mankind! Go, He-Man of Grayskull, and give no honor to me that you do not, first, give to man! Go ..and light the dark days to come with the wisdom of the Ancients!”

Before his bewildered eyes, He-Man saw his gargantuan, golden ally fade, once more, ..into nothingness.

The wind began to howl around the ground, where Sy-Klone lay, and, fearfuly, the soldiers moved back.

Just as it had before, the wind twisted into a broad column of golden and blue light! Colors once proudly worn by their fallen comrade.

"By the gods, what sorcery is this?" one of the Royal Guardsmen cried out, as one of the wrecked wind-raiders began to be lifted up from where it had crashed.

Before their stunned eyes, it twisted in a strange, cyclical dance, before being sucked into the tornado. From inside the cyclone, light flared, and the winds howled in tortured protest against what strange powers turned them. Then, the funnel cloud thinned to a wisp, and a new machine was revealed beyond them! Suspended above the ground was a magnificent new ship with two twisting golden columns for wings and much resembling a wind-raider! Lightning crackled over its blue and gold metal, and a familiar voice sounded from its unmanned controls!

"Brothers!" the voice thundered from within the machine. "By the Dragon King's magic, I live again ..in the metal shell of this strange Sy-Klone Raider! Come, brothers! Guide me, like an arrow, into the heart of war with Eternia's enemies! Let us ride!"

Like a jungle panther did the wild He-Man leap into the single chair behind its controls! Strange cables snaked from inside the machine, twisting themselves around his arms! His hands! His chest! Twisting around him, until the golden haired Vulnarian felt the aircraft respond to his every breath and thought, and he knew himself its total commander – that he and this mad machine were one!

"By the All-father!" He-Man roared. "Go, Sy-Klone Raider! Go!"

And the flying weapon hurled itself, like a blue and gold spear, into the dark skies above!

Battle In The Clouds

Far below the clouds where He-Man, in his Sy-Klone Raider, searched for the elusive Talon Fighter, word quickly traveled of the warriors, who lost their lives in battle with Skeletor’s forces. Fires flagged in the bravest hearts, and just when the enemy’s wild onslaught of bloodthirsty orcs, giant ants and bizarre machines seemed insurmountable, ..another army of mechanical monsters roared over the horizon.

From a cloud of dust, two gargantuan drills as thick as tree-trunks emerged, and a large, tank-like vehicle of grayish metal with huge treads and a turret styled like an elephant's head rumbled over the North Wall and into the fray beyond it! A great cannon, resembling an elephant's trunk, extended from the head of this metal monster, and its engine seemed to roar with the primal power of a prehistoric beast! Targeting one of the giant, mutant ants brought to life by Evil-Lyn’s magic, it sent a dozen bursts of sky-colored light, photon missiles, into the air over Eternos. As the proud fighting men of King Randor looked on, the gargantuan insect disappeared under a blinding explosion of heat and light, and they laughed out loud, ..as the fire-backed orcs marching beneath the big bug scattered for cover!

Ten thousand more of these weird tanks joined the fight, and among the King’s Royal Guard and the allied nations assembled at his command, the sight of Man-At-Arms’ monstrous inventions charging into war on every continent filled their souls with desperate hope!

From the clouds above, slipped silver and gold!

Aye, it was silver and gold ..and bronze flesh! Bared white teeth and a hunter's keen glare from steely, blue eyes! From realms beyond, in armor of shining metal, struck a golden-haired she-devil, who slaughtered her enemies with an angel's smile!

Using the Sy-Klone Raider’s strange telepathic link, He-Man willed his thoughts into the mind of the amazon ..and found himself filled with the wise dragon Gharycon’s wisdom. "The fire in your own Freenorn blood has guided you here, sister! That blue stone in your blade tells you so!”

“Not even Death itself could keep me from your side, now that I know the truth, Vulnarian!” Readying her lightning arrows, the wild She-Ra, once known as Temathys, leaned into the winds. “And you will call me, Adora!"

War had made this big Vulnarian’s heart as steel, until this moment, ..humbled by his newfound sister’s devotion! “Then, obey me, Adora, and lead your sisters back to Etheria! Take Randor and Marlena—save yourselves!"

"My sisters are dead!" the Princess Adora screamed over the howling winds, shrugging off the weird intrusion of her twin brother’s voice inside her head. "On our pegacorns, we charged the fort on the Harmonic Coasts, together, hoping to route out the Priest-kings of Infinitias, ..when another Point Dread appeared, and—I’m the last of the She-Ishteu’Ra! I’ll kill, until the blood of our enemies drowns the Sun itself! Lead on, ..or get out of my head!"

Spying the icy clouds for signs of the possessed Talon Fighter, He-Man guided his aircraft, painted in the blue, grey and yellow of a fallen ally’s standard, through the clouds. “Get as close to the Fighter, as you can, She-Ra! Disable its peripheral weaponry, if possible, ..and leave the rest to me! I have a plan!”

In a mad dance through the winds, the wild Vulnarian in his Sy-Klone Raider and the last of the She-Ra hurdled past one another, ..and the shadow of the hawk-headed Talon Fighter fell upon their faces! For one shared moment, this marvel of the Ancients, its golden face blackened with cosmic ash, filled them with awe, ..and the ground below seemed a hundred miles away.

Death seemed much closer.

Black death with metal wings and the power of a god. The skull-faced Enemy of Man at its controls.

Cosmic fire rained from clouds above He-Man and his allies! Weaving in and out of the icy mist ..and between the bursts of golden energy, the warriors sped downward, driven faster and faster to the ground by the sheer ferocity of the Talon Fighter's attack. Caged by a successive deployment of deadly rays, He-Man struggled to free the Sy-Klone Raider, ..when two bursts of blue-white fire tumbled the metal monster down into the clouds below! To his astonishment, he looked over his shoulder to find the Mighty Sorceress’s red-feathered falcon flying at his port side.

“Perilous situation, He-Man,” the Warrior Bird observed, “—even with the She-Ra and I entering the lists!”

“We’re three against one, but, the Talon Fighter’s might can’t be denied!” growled the half-naked barbarian behind the bulky controls of this strange, living fighter-craft, ..a war-machine possessed by the spirit of his slain android ally. “Sy-Klone Raider has returned manual command to me! Thinking independently, while attacking the Fighter as one, may give us an advantage! Keep the Fighter off-balance! Keep wearing down its peripheral defenses, ..but, keep your distance and wait for my signal!”

Spurring fierce Swiftwind roughly forward, with her powerful arms holding firm to his reins, the She-Ra’s winged steed rushed over the winds and higher into the thick, icy clouds, overhead. “I’ll lead Zoar into the clouds and attack the Fighter from there, ..but, I won’t stand down, brother! Not against him! Not ever!”

At the hawk-faced Fighter’s controls and hurtling through the clouds at unmatched speeds, the Snake Mountain King kept deft pace with his speeding prey—his ancient mind measuring how quickly he might overtake him. “I control the wind-raider technology Sy-Klone foolishly plugged into your brain, He-Man, ..and, soon, I will control you!”

Bronze muscles trained in the deadliest jungles—coursing with the savage strength of fifty-thousand men—swelled and sprung, as the Vulnarian struggled to control the Raider’s flight, ..barely escaping flashes of fiery death pumped from the guns of the Talon Fighter. A sharp pain tore through He-Man’s skull, even as invading electrical impulses, like the sharpened heads of flying arrows, stabbed into his brain! He felt the Sy-Klone Raider lurch to the right, ..and then, down toward the Royal Palace at Eternos!

With a grunt and a shrug of intense concentration, He-Man regained control of the flying weapon. “Lord of the Wastes—Master of Nothing! The will of man is stronger than you know, ..and the Sy-Klone Raider still answers to mine!”

The ancient Talon Fighter tumbled through the air, locking into position behind the Sy-Klone Raider, as the Talon Fighter’s sleek, golden replicants filled the air above and behind him, such that their number blotted out the sun! In the shade of their swarm, the black-hooded Lord of the Wastes cackled aloud. “Space refraction, witless fool—the same I once used to clone the Warrior Sorceress Teelana! Look at the world below us and know that Skeletor will win this battle! Finally, in death, will the Most Powerful Man in the Universe kneel before me!”

The maniacal laughter of the Snake Mountain King rattling the clouds, powerful guns that fired stripped photons faster than the speed of sound clicked offline, ..Sy-Klone Raider rushed downward again, toward Eternia! Smaller and less powerful, it was more maneuverable than the deadly Talon Fighter, and the big Vulnarian would press that advantage to the edge. “Stoneless devil! Man fights here, in me, ..and I don’t need guns and machines to destroy you!”

With heaving chest and burning lungs therein, the silvery Sword of Ancients clutched in one vengeful fist, the big man pitched himself out into the wild howl of the winds all around him, ..and, struck with his hoary blade, the Talon Fighter’s right wing and the large gun mounted upon it came roughly off!

With heaving chest and burning lungs therein, the big man pitched himself out into the wild howl of the winds all around him, ..and, with his hoary Sword of Ancients, struck the Talon Fighter with a fierce and swift blow! Its ancient machinery bellowed and groaned, like an injured beast, as the right wing and the large gun mounted upon it came roughly off!

High over the battle-torn Fertile Plains, the golden-haired barbarian leapt back onto his flying machine. “Zoar, Adora—now!”

Red-feathered Zoar and the last of the She-Ra descended from the clouds, pounding the Talon Fighter with a deadly array of lightning arrows and demi-photon missiles, ..destroying the machine’s space refraction capabilities. As the Fighter’s guns whirred into position to repel the assault, the grotesque, rotting thing at its controls turned to the terrible chill at his back ..and the sound of screaming winds that filled his ancient heart with terror!

The two ships plummeted toward Eternia, as the dawn winds howled around them.

Below them, on every battlefield and deep into the shadowed bunkers, where they hid like rats, the Evil One’s outrage rattled the minds of his generals with the force of an earthquake! Beast Man of the Jungle Gorr, Tri-Klops of the Titanos Mountains, Trap-Jaw of subterranean Sybronn and the Mer-Man of undersea Moratain, as one, cried out to their undead master, as his cloned fleet of Talon Fighters vanished in a blinding wave of light and energy! These monsters, Skeletor’s four Priest-kings of Infinitias, offered him use of their bodies to house his ancient malevolence, ..but, their offers came too late.

From the benighted cage of the hawk-headed Talon Fighter, the Lord of Destruction, closer to claiming godhood eternal over humankind than ever before, locked his aircraft’s targeting systems on the fleeing Sy-Klone Raider one final time, ..even as he saw the ancient, stony surface of the Rock of War rushing up to meet them! “The full power of Point Dread, the ultimate weapon, is mine to command, He-Man! Grayskull will be next, ..when I’ve destroyed you!”

Through the empty sockets beneath his black hood and golden, skull-like Mask of Oblivion, he watched the sleek Sy-Klone Raider twist abruptly, impossibly upwards ..and into the blue skies overhead! With armies on every shore, laying waste to all, who dared stand against him, he cursed the half-naked savage at the Raider’s controls…

“I am eternal, barbarian! By the Dark Gods, ..what have you done?!”

Before the craggy face of Point Dread eclipsed all else…

An Age Without Fear

The sapphire, ivory and gold of skies that, mere seconds ago, had stretched into a battle-weary horizon, disappeared ..and were replaced by the emerald glow of torches and the smell of burning incense. Awaking in the shadowy cave sanctum of the Goddess Heuay, He-Man sat up on an altar of alabaster rock, ..surrounded by glowing, ethereal figures in every costume known to Eternian man. “I am confused, gods of Eternia! Where is Zoar ..and the She-Ra, Adora?! W-where—where am I?!”

Naked, but, for a crown of laurel leaves and pale green from head to toe, youthful Eternos, God of Time and Brother of the Golden Plains, reclined on a large rock, ..laughing, as he carelessly played his golden lyre. “Your noble allies have returned to Eternia, Heathen Man, ..Slayer of Beavers! Now, it is time for you to stand and face the Council of Elder Gods!”

The big Vulnarian stood up and studied his ethereal company with a wary eye. “Then, for what new threat to Eternia am I called to commune with you now, ..and so soon after defeating the Enemy of Man?”

“Don’t be a fool, my champion!” the green-skinned goddess demanded. Dressed in a crown and aegis made from the copper-scaled hide of a giant serpent, fair Heuay was Mighty Teelana’s twin in every way. “As my sister has entrusted a portion of her power to her clone, Captain Teela of Eternos, ..so was the Sorceress Boa’Na, once, an avatar of mine! Do you think the Lord of Destruction, an evil more ancient than Eternia itself, has not also invested his power with such diversity?”

“Then, Skeletor still lives?” He-Man asked, with disbelief and no small share of outrage. “The deaths of my comrades—of Sy-Klone, Mekaneck, Snout-Spout, Extendar, Rokkon and the others—has changed nothing! The brave fighting men all over the world, who gave their lives defending the Lighted Realms have died for nothing!”

“Nothing, Lion of the Vulnarians?!” Long-suffering Procrustus, God of the Inner World, who supported Eternia’s crust upon his back and hands, folded his four, mighty arms across his broad chest. “Though the ancient evil that became Skeletor endures, his power to menace and seduce the tribes of man is greatly diminished, ..after eons of unraveling all we gods have created! Who are you to say this relief from his mischief, however fleeting it may be, is nothing?!

Golden-skinned, green-bearded Gnarlos, wise Master of the Oceans, threw back his head and laughed. “I am worshipped throughout the Golden Isles, as a dragon, He-Man! In the Mystic Mountains, fierce Heuay becomes the lusty Sun goddess, Hyperia, ..and I am the wild, white horse, who carries her off into the evening sea! Though the Evil One walks the world in as many forms, as we, you and your progeny will be there to defeat them all!”

“And you will not fight alone!” huffed Tytus, the Father of a Billion Giants, as he knelt before He-Man to examine him more closely. “Every year, my wife slaughters the fittest of our sons and pours from his blood, the most amazing elixir to inspire my work! The Master of the Forge and of Machines will stand beside House Freenorn, against all foes!”

God of Light and father of Gharycon the Dragon, Miro studied He-Man from a pile of books. “For millennia, the warlike tribes of the Ice Mountains have held me above all other gods, because the light of my wisdom has wrought order and justice from their dark savagery! Though I have I regarded House Freenorn’s children as mine own, since the birth of your grandfather, Miro the Wise, you must now be left, in peace, to chart your own paths, ..or your victory will mean nothing!”

Hawk-headed Targa, Lord of Predators, squatted on a large statue of Heuay. With the wings and talons of a giant bird and the body of a man, Avion’s golden-feathered son was one of the most feared of the Vine Jungle and Evergreen Forest spirits. “You’ll know no peace from me, Vulnarian, if Man cannot survive the Great Hunt that is his miserable existence! After eons’ imprisonment in the circuitry of the Talon Fighter, trust only that Targa will hunt again, ..and that you will be his prey!”

“I trust the weapon in my hand, Hawk God,” growled He-Man, pointing his sword at Targa. “So has it been since my days in Vulnar’s Valley—so, is it today! Leave mankind to make his own destiny for awhile, or you'll find it at your throats!”

“Lower thy blade and look upon our valley now, my son!” beckoned the King of the Vulnarians. In silver breastplate and devilbeaver pelt of royal violet, he embraced He-Man and led him out onto the hillside, ..where the merry ghosts of fifty-thousand warriors celebrated his victory in the wild, ancient land below. “Today, mankind has won the right to pursue his destiny, as boldly, as once did we! Let no gods interfere, who do not want an army of immortal Vulnarians, as enemies!”

His eyes swelled with grateful tears, He-Man turned to the men rejoicing in their time-lost valley and raised his right fist in salute. “Man will be worthy of our unwavering faith in him, my king, and the avenger of his own will, ..and we will journey fearlessly upon the path of truth and righteousness. I will miss you, my brothers.”

Not since Creation began, had the elder gods of Eternia known such true accord. There was, after millennia upon millennia of war, peace in the heavens, and the Ancients reveled in it!

Not since Creation began, had the elder gods of Eternia known such true accord. There was, after millennia upon millennia of war, peace in the heavens, and the Ancients reveled in it!

With a deep breath, He-Man of Grayskull found himself climbing to his boarhide-booted feet, amidst the smoldering ruins of King Randor’s palace at Eternos. Wandering into the Royal Gardens, he could remember nothing more of his brief commune with the gods, than the assurance of their good will to all men, ..when a terrible roar filled the air, so loud that it rattled the big warrior’s skull and bones, and the ground beneath him shook and cracked apart! Leaping onto a pile of rubble, he drew his mystical Sword of Ancients ..and prepared for battle!

A green-eyed, giant of crude black metal lumbered from the cloud of dust and debris, glowering at the world over silver tusks that jutted from its head like two monstrous sabers and the broad treads of a tank! Between them, a massive cannon was lowered toward the ground, ..and, from the dome of its skull and the controls inside it, climbed Eternia’s Man-At-Arms. “I’ve finally done it, He-Man—a modified, Infinitian Land-Shark, augmented with the Horde technology we recovered in the Etherian Mountains! It has a korodithium hull, two mining drills for subterranean invasion and a few other surprises! Meet Tank-O-Don One!”

“Well fought, Man-At-Arms!” laughed He-Man, as he sheathed his blade. Searching the clouds for his heroic allies, he found nothing. “Now, that you’ve overcome the invaders, what’re you still doing here, ..with all the taverns and wenching to be had in Eternos’s eastern quarter?!”

“Nay, my savage friend!” Duncan chuckled, watching a throng of fire-backed orcs being led to the Prison Mines. “As the fight went out of the orcs and Infinitians, once they saw their master fall, I can’t claim all the credit!”

“Amazed we escaped this ugly pile of scrap metal with our lives, Titus Duncan!” grumbled Randor, climbing from a chair behind Man-At-Arms. “How many more of these monsters did you make, old chum?”

“About forty thousand, I think!” laughed Queen Marlena. In her silvery, form-fitting astronaut’s uniform, the Earthwoman, once known as Molly Glenn, followed King Randor out into the courtyard. “Considered giving them to you as a birthday present, ..just before that strange, little magician from the Tar Swamps brought you a bucket of water snakes! And you both know damn well Duncan’s still around, because the taverns don’t open, this early!”

“Ho, Great Zoar!” called the King of Eternia to the dark red falcon flying overhead, pulling Marlena into his arms. “Our hearts sing to see you alive, ..but, where is the She-Ra, who fought so bravely at your side?!”

“Far and wide for her, I’ve searched, my friends, ..but found nothing!” spoke the falcon’s thoughts into the minds of his gathered allies. “I know only that Point Dread and the Talon Fighter are back atop Castle Grayskull. Pray that the Crystal of Gharycon is no longer in the Enemy of Man's possession, so that he can never again regain the control over them, he wielded today!”

"My brothers called Point Dread, Areopaguay, ..the Rock of War," He-Man began, climbing from a small mountain of smoldering rubble. "Once, it was a god, the offspring of Heuay and the God of the Inner World, ..the one you call Procrustus! But, it was deformed—ugly! The Many-handed One cast Areopaguay out of the ground, and, so that no other gods might claim it, Fierce Heuay cursed it ..and set it adrift in the sky!"

"But, Man claimed it, ..didn't we?" King Randor mused. "Only mankind could claim something so ugly, as War."

"Aye, milord," He-Man answered. "Foolishly, Man claims War and the fear that keeps it alive—the same fear that brought Skeletor to life from the legends of the ancient plainsfolk! The Evil One thought he could control Point Dread, but, no one truly can. Like him, War is an eternal thing that springs from the hearts of all, who would claim…"

The big Vulnarian’s words were stopped at the sight at what wandered over the midday horizon.

She was a tall, bronze-skinned creature in battle-scarred armor of silver and gold, ..and the Royal Guard, on high alert since first the Talon Fighter appeared, lowered their laser rifles before her. In her right hand, was a golden rod shaped like the treacherous hooded serpents of the desert ..and agleam with otherworldly power. Clutched in her left, was the bloody, smoldering head of a moon goddess. “Evil-Lyn is dead, milord, ..and the Crystal of the Caverns has been destroyed.”

Though their souls soared to see her alive, Eternia’s fighting men and women stepped back to allow King Randor to meet his heroic Captain of the Guard, when the ground before them cracked open and lightning flashed overhead. The warriors fell back from the ruins, until a great expanse between them was made, ..and from a warm, golden glow emanating from everywhere at once, lords far higher born than Eternia’s sovereign took shape.

“With the destruction of your enemy, you have balanced the scales of power,” said King Zoras, Father of the Gods, from beneath a white-feathered cloak and golden helmet adorned by falcon’s wings. At his side, stood his beloved queen, Avion, a Goddess of Victory, whose name meant ‘horizon’ in every tongue. The King of the Heavens held his silvery Staff of Living Light out before him, and the ground shook and cracked apart before his sandaled feet. “Mighty Teelana, Mighty Sorceress and Protectress of the Land, ..return unto the gods that which Man’s will wrest from us so long ago!”

Teela held up the golden head of Evil-Lyn and saw it vanish from her hand and reappear atop the titan-king’s staff. Grayskull endures, Great Zoras, and supreme power over Madness and over Conquest is once again in your keeping. With the creation of this cosmic accord, I will take my leave from the Council to live among mortals for a time, ..if it is your will.”

From a column of golden and sapphire light, the Skyfather bowed to his ancient emmissary. “Unburden thy path, Friend of Man ..and journey with the blessings of the Elder Gods…”

As Zoras and Avion vanished before their astonished eyes, Man-At-Arms tethered his mace and, followed by Prince Adam, rushed to Teela’s side. The emerald fire flickering behind his daughter’s tears filled the bronzium-armored hero with uncertainty, and he suspected he knew why. In his heart, the old soldier knew the Sorceress now invested a greater portion of her divine power in Teela, than before, ..and that the time came ever closer, when she would disappear into the Goddess forever. “By the Four Grails, Teela—your staff has turned to gold!”

Lifting Teela up into his arms, the big, golden-haired prince kissed her. “More than Grayskull endures here, woman, ..and more than a goddess’s power thrives within you. It is the heartbeat of a woman, noble Teela! You are whole, once more!”

The fire-haired amazon searched his broad face and smiled. “Aye, He-Man of Grayskull, ..and free to love as I choose!”

Looking on, King Randor took his brave and restless Queen Marlena’s hand in his own. “Come forward, then, both of you—it is time Truth reigned here ..and all was set right! Come ..and let us honor our champions, before all of Eternia!”

Overhead, they saw the Sun at play on their golden-haired daughter’s armor, before that last She-Ra, Princess Adora, drove her pegacorn steed, like a hurricane wind, for a Crystal Castle somewhere beyond the Sands of Time. Kissing his queen’s tear-stained face, King Randor rocked her gently in his strong arms. The grief between them so familiar and so great, that neither needed speak of it…

And it would be endured no longer.

As one, fierce Princesss Adora turned her wild, powerful steed back toward Eternos, ..and Prince Adam, with a heavy heart, knelt before his father and mother, and House Freenorn was made whole, once more.

(Based on The Power of Point Dread , by Gary Cohn)