Quest for the Golden Apples
Copyright © Dec. 3, 1997 by Nick Alimonos
Adam found Teela and Rain standing out on the terrace
overlooking the bronze domes and obelisks, and the many webs of
golden bridges, of Eternos. In the reddish-orange sky were two
moons, one green disc ruling one fourth of the horizon, and the
other, a violet coin. But what entranced them was a bird with
orange, blue, and white feathered wings spread six feet across,
circling the palace where they stood.
“Zoar!” Adam exclaimed, walking up behind Teela.
“The Sorceress,” she added.
“I will follow her. Perhaps, she can cure Mari’na’s illness.”
“Take my sky sled,” said Teela. “It’s fastest.”
Adam had removed his royal attire, and was now dressed
only in his brown fur underwear, his leather boots, and his sword’s
The wind played with his blonde hair as he turned the knob on the blue, bird shaped sled, racing over the red, dusty plain that was the surface of his kingdom. Soaring above him, all the while, was the great eagle, Zoar, leading him to the place he knew too well, the grim ruins of the skull-faced, limestone castle, Grayskull.
When they at last arrived, Adam landed Teela’s vehicle, as
the bird continued on, through the open window of the castle’s
highest tower, three hundred feet above the ground. He then
walked to the edge of the windy, bottomless pit surrounding the
castle, a pit from which a strange, white mist slowly rose into the
“Hello!” his voice echoed. With that, the mouth of the skull dropped with a chain-rattling sound, forming a bridge across the pit.
He-Man walked into the castle’s dark, shadowy chambers, chambers so dark he could only see the middle-aged woman come to greet him. She was dressed in the cowl of an eagle, with orange, blue, and white feathers, colors that did not match her stony countenance, or the light of the candle in her left hand, flickering in her gray eyes.
“Welcome, He-Man,” she said coldly.
“You have summoned me. Why?”
“I know that your wife is dying.”
“Can you help her?”
“No. Nothing can stop the disease in its late stage, nothing short of a god’s power.”
“Then why did you summon me?”
“I said, ‘nothing short of a god’s power.’”
“What do you mean?”
“If you want to save your wife, you must go on a quest. But it is a perilous quest.”
“You KNOW you have no need of telling me that! I will do anything for her! And I have risked my life for lesser causes.”
“Then let me tell you of Asgard and the golden apples.”
“On the isle of Asgard is a tree, the Tree of Life, from which grows golden apples. Any who eat of these apples are healed of all injuries, remedied of all sicknesses, and prolonged from aging by one year. In this way, one may maintain his life, and his youth, forever. It is, what man has sought since the beginning of time, the cure for death. But the tree is jealously guarded by those native to the island, those who would keep the secret of eternal life to themselves, and who have become immortal by way of it, the gods of Asgard.”
“I see. So, how is it that you came upon this knowledge?”
“Myths of Asgard abound. I have known of it for many decades, but only now do I possess the means to get there, the spell component to create a magic doorway.”
“And what is that?”
“Hairs from Fenris the Wolf,” she replied, lifting a small glass vial containing the long, gray strands.
“Fenris . . .!”
“Yes, do you remember him?”
“Remember him? I still have the scars to remind me. The Lord of Destruction summoned him to help invade the castle. The monster was a powerful adversary. But I thought he was killed, a long time ago, during our last battle here.”
“No, he was not killed, for Fenris is immortal. I had him imprisoned in the dungeons of Grayskull. It is there that he has remained all this time, until, late last night, as I was pouring over some ancient books of myths and legends, I came across the name of Fenris, and learned of his Asgardian ancestry.”
“So then I must go to Asgard. But what of the gods? You say they guard the apples jealously, and I cannot defeat a god, can I?”
“No, but you may win the gods’ favor. You must take Fenris to them. I have him put in a bag, bound by the golden hairs of a virgin maiden. It is, the only thing that will hold him. But beware, in his own world, Fenris will grow even stronger, and he may escape.”
“But . . . why would the Asgardian gods want their monster wolf returned?”
“They wouldn’t. But you must understand their culture, He-Man. The Asgardians value . . . the masculine virtues. You must remember this above all else! Do not show cowardice, pain, or any other sign of weakness, and if they approve of you, they just might let you have an apple.”
“I understand. If I bring Fenris, and let them believe that I captured him, they will hold me in high regard.”
“Yes. Whether they give you an apple, I cannot say. No mortal has ever eaten of the golden apples, though many have tried.”
“I will not fail,” said He-Man. “Where do we begin?”
“I have arranged for everything. First, I would advise you wear your tunic. It is cold in Asgard,” and as soon as she finished her sentence, a fur tunic came and wrapped itself around his neck. “Also, you will need your armor,” and with that, a blue breast plate with a red, Eternian cross blazing in the center, covered his muscular, upper-torso. “And your shield,” she added, last of all, handing him, as if she had plucked it out of the air, a round, silver and gold shield. “Now you are ready.”
Past many rooms, corridors, and flights of steps,
He-Man followed the Sorceress, trusting in her uncanny sense of
direction, to a small room where a large, golden bag of very fine,
silky material, lay next to an open doorway emitting a blinding
For any other man, the golden bag would have been far too heavy, even to lift, but not for He-Man. He-Man carried it with ease. And so, with his sword in its scabbard, his shield in his hand, and the bag slung over his right shoulder, he covered his eyes, and with a brief farewell, stepped through the doorway into another world.
When He-Man’s eyes adjusted to the light, he saw a green
grassy field of rolling hills and river valleys, stretching out before
him to meet the pale blue sky, as well as a small figure approaching
Standing no more than three feet tall, the figure had a black, bushy beard, dark, round eyes, and many wrinkles from old age.
“I’m Durin,” he said.
“What are you?” He-Man asked, dropping the bag.
“Me!?” he said with a deep, craggy voice; “What am I? I’m a dwarf! What did you think I was?”
“I don’t know.”
“Well, I’m glad you’re here at last,” he said, folding his arms and tapping his foot. “I was getting tired waiting!”
“You know me?”
“Yes, the Sorceress said you’d come. You are He-Man, aren’t ya?” he asked, squinting.
“Yes. Is this Asgard?”
“No! By Odin’s beard! Didn’t she tell you? No mortals are allowed near Asgard.”
“Then, where am I?” he asked, looking around.
“You’re in Valhalla, home of those who die in battle. But, there is a bridge you can take to Asgard, the Rainbow Bridge.”
“Will it be difficult to cross? How far is it from here?”
“My, you ask many questions.”
“I don’t have much time, little man!” He-Man cried, lifting him up by his collar with one hand.
“Unhand me, human, or I won’t help you at all!” said the dwarf. He-Man let go of him then, and he fell on his butt with a thump. “By Odin’s beard! All the gold in the world isn’t worth this harassment!”
“I’m sorry. It’s just that, my wife is dying, and I don’t have much time. Please, will you help me?”
“All right, all right, I will take you to the Rainbow Bridge, as agreed. By the way, what’s in the bag? Whatever it is, it’s moving!”
“Oh, nothing,” He-Man said, turning to see that, indeed, the bag was bouncing and bulging. But after several swift kicks, it moved no more. “Let’s be off!”
He-Man and Durin walked to the edge of Valhalla.
There the land dropped off, hundreds of feet down a jagged wall of
granite, where a wooden ship with oars extended like a centipede’s
legs crashed against the rocky beach.
The Astral Sea spread infinitely outward, or so it seemed, and nothing but the sun’s rays upon the deep blue ripples of the water could be seen, shining like stars. But to the far left of them, they could just make out an arching band of many colors, and as they moved toward it, it became more clear that it was a rainbow jumping from the tip of Valhalla, up into the pale blue sky, vanishing from sight.
For hours they walked toward it, but the more they walked, the more it seemed they had to go; just when they thought it was in reach, it would be a little further off, and a little more. Then, right when they were about to give up and turn back, the Rainbow Bridge suddenly appeared, sprouting from a cloud hanging from the edge of the land.
“Here we are,” said Durin.
“And I was beginning to think you didn’t know how to get here!” grumbled He-Man, dropping the bag, for even he had tired, having carried Fenris all the way on his back.
“Well, I should leave you now, good luck.”
“Wait . . . this bridge takes me to Asgard?”
“You said no mortals are allowed near Asgard. What’s to stop me from going?”
“He is the god that guards the bridge. Good luck getting past him.”
“You never said anything about a guard!”
“Well, you didn’t ask.”
“I ought to throw you off this cliff!” cried He-Man.
“Well, you’re on your own, human, farewell!” And the little man ran off.
He-Man gritted his teeth and walked up to the rainbow reluctantly. It was about six feet wide, shimmering and slightly translucent. What unnerved him most was that it had no hand rail, and looking down at the water far below, he wondered, even, if it would hold him.
Ever so slowly, He-Man touched the tip of his boot to the shimmering bridge, and sure enough, he did not fall through it. Even still, it did not seem solid. Rather, it was like a shallow pond, for with his slightest touch, multicolored ripples formed in the rainbow.
He-Man started across the bridge, then, which seemed to rise up, all the while, staring through it to the sea far below, and looking back from time to time, as Valhalla shrank to no more but a hazy silhouette, and ultimately, to nothing at all.
At times, his mind would wander, even in this strange, fantastical world, to the royal bedroom where Mari’na lay. Reliving the times he shared with her, a thousand images of her lovely face flashed before him, and it pained him, and there was a tightness in his chest that would not go away. But his daydream was broken when he thought he saw something: strange shapes beneath the water like tentacles, or serpents bodies. It frightened him to wonder what they were, if anything, for how could he see such things so clearly from such a height, unless . . . He did not wish to think about it, what things lie waiting to swallow him if he were to fall. The very notion of it made him dizzy. And he pondered then over Heimdall, and what he would do when he would face him. A god he had never faced before. Would Heimdall throw him off the bridge?
“Halt!” a voice cried. “Where goest thou?”
He-Man dropped the bag, looking up to see a man with a long, red, round beard, wearing many furs and a horned helmet. And in his one hand he carried a short sword, and in the other, a trumpet.
“I am He-Man, and I am going to Asgard. Who are you?”
“I am Heimdall, guardian of the Rainbow Bridge. No mortals may pass into Asgard!”
“YOU?” said He-Man, surprised, “are Heimdall? You are a god?”
“Aye! Turn back lest ye witness my wrath!”
“You don’t look so impressive to me,” said He-Man. “Let me pass, my wife needs . . .,” then he remembered what the Sorceress had told him, and stopped.
“Go on, mortal!”
“Let me pass or I’ll go through you!” He-Man threatened, sliding his sword from its scabbard.
“So, ‘tis a battle ye crave, eh?” With that, Heimdall charged at him with his sword overhead.
He-Man parried several attacks, returning with ones of his own, but Heimdall was quick to block each one.
“Thou art the greatest mortal I have ever fought!” cried Heimdall. “But ye shall die nonetheless!”
He-Man stressed for a reply, but could think of nothing but his wife, and the fight.
The battle ensued for a great length of time, neither man nor god tiring, though Heimdall moved with greater confidence, knowing the boundaries of his bridge well. As for He-Man, he hesitated to move, many times fearing he would jump or step too far back and plunge into the vast sea below.
In past adventures, He-Man would charge into battle bare breasted, with nothing but his sword to protect him, and slay a thousand hard earned warriors before returning home unscathed. Now he fought a single other, with both his shield and his armor, and yet, this man, or god, pushed the very limits of his strength, and his heart.
At long last, Heimdall gored him in the cheek, and He-Man flew into a rage. Whipping his sword around in a semi-circle, the head of Heimdall dropped, rolling off the bridge, and lifting his body overhead, He-Man tossed the rest of him down. Head and body fell toward the sea, but before hitting the water, a gargantuan green serpent burst from beneath the waves and with one bite, devoured them both.
He-Man leaned on the hilt of his sword to catch his breath, examining the only remains of the late guardian of the Rainbow Bridge, a sword and a trumpet. The sword was of simple design, made of gold, but no dint could be seen on the blade’s edge. As for the trumpet, it was made of a ram’s horn.
Without thinking, He-Man put the horn to his lips, when a voice shouted; “Don’t do that!”
“What!?” He-Man cried, turning.
It was Durin. “You fool! Blow that, and all the gods will come running!”
“You!” cried He-Man, lowering the horn. “What are you still doing here? I thought you left.” “The Sorceress said you were tough. I just wasn’t sure how
tough, and I didn’t want to be around when Heimdall threw you into the sea.”
“You’ve been following me?”
“From afar, yes. Who else is gonna help you when you meet the gods? They don’t like strangers, ya know.”
He-Man looked at the sword, then at him. “Gods indeed!” he answered with a mocking tone.
“They have you all fooled, Durin. They’re just simple warriors, great warriors, for certain, but nothing more. They being gods is a myth, and what better way to scare off would-be invaders, than a good myth?” Then a shocking realization came to him: if the Asgardian gods were a myth, what of the golden apples? Were they a myth too? He hoped, he prayed, not.
“You will see when we reach Asgard!” Durin asserted.
As the two continued toward Asgard, they noticed that the
rainbow path made a gradual downward slope, the sea below grew
dark and tumultuous, and the further they pressed on, the colder the
air became, so that He-Man was glad to have his fur tunic. It also
seemed as if he had to strain more to carry the bag, and he
wondered whether it was actually getting heavier, or if it was
fatigue that made it seem that way.
“There!” said Durin at last, pointing. The misty outline of a tree’s branches could be seen rising up over the horizon.
“Could that be . . . the Tree of Life?” He-Man asked excitedly, a new hope growing in his heart.
“Yes!” said Durin. “I have only seen it in books, and all my life I wondered what it would be like to see it with my own eyes, and there it is!”
With the tree in sight, their pace quickened, and soon the whole oval head of the tree could be seen, followed by its trunk, its roots, and last of all, the island of Asgard itself. It was like a tiny island with an oak tree growing in the very center of it.
“Good lord!” He-Man exclaimed. “It must be over a thousand feet high!”
“More,” said Durin.
The Rainbow Bridge came to an end by a snowy bank, and
there He-Man and Durin stepped off of it, looking around.
All the island was a wrinkled blanket of snow, broken by a series of mountain ranges, and the Tree of Life rose high above them all.
“So this is Asgard!” He-Man shouted over the howling of the wind.
“Yes!” Durin shouted in reply.
“Is it always this cold?”
“Yes! The gods like it this way. Don’t ask me why.”
He-Man and Durin continued their trek, He-Man ankle deep
in snow, Durin almost up to his waist. Being shorter, Durin would
have moved much slower than his human companion, if it weren’t
for the large bag slung over He-Man’s shoulder.
“This bag is getting awfully heavy,” He-Man said.
“Why do you need to carry that thing around anyway? What’s in it?”
“You’ll find out when we get to . . . Where are we going?”
“The house of the gods. Look,” said Durin. “Over there is a rock. Let’s rest.”
“All right,” said He-Man, putting the bag down.
“It is said that we dwarves are pretty stout,” said Durin, sitting with his back against the rock. “But you . . . don’t you ever tire? You beat Heimdall and all . . . just who are you?”
“I am Adam Randor,” said He-Man, sitting by him, “King of Eternia.”
“Kings don’t go around beating gods up,” Durin replied.
“See this sword,” said He-Man, freeing it from its scabbard.
“It is a fine work,” said Durin, touching the blade. “And I should know. We dwarves are wise in the ways of weapons. We live in the furnaces of the earth, forging steel.”
“The sword is what gave me my strength,” he went on.
“Ah,” Durin sighed. “Magic.”
“It was given to me, when I was a young warrior.”
He-Man breathed in deeply. “It’s a long story.”
“Why do you seek the gods?”
“To get the golden apples.”
“So,” said Durin smiling, “you seek eternal life.”
“No, it’s not for me. It’s for my wife. She is . . . dying.”
“Wife, eh? Had six of ‘em, outlived them all.”
“No woman could take her place,” said He-Man bluntly.
“Tell me, what’s so special about this . . . woman?”
“I don’t know,” he said quietly. “She was a great warrior, once, a hero like me. I have never met another woman quite like her.”
“Tell you what,” said Durin, turning to face him. “I’ll help you get those golden apples, anyway I can.”
“Thanks, Durin. I think we had best get off this rock now, before we freeze to death.”
“Yes,” said he, hopping up. “We should be getting to-”
“Durin,” He-Man cut in. “Did you feel that?”
“My legs are numb,” he grumbled. “I can’t feel a thing.”
Suddenly, an avalanche of snow slid down the mountain. He-Man and Durin were far enough to make a good run, but what followed afterwards stunned them both to silence.
Stepping from behind the mountain fissure came a HUGE, stooping man. The black strands of his matted hair and beard, flecked with snow flakes, fell down over his face to his stomach; his skin was leathery and full of soot; his yellow stained teeth were mostly chipped or missing, and he wore but a few patches of furs from different animals crudely sewn together.
When He-Man gathered the power to speak, he muttered; “By the spirit of Grayskull! He must be thirty feet tall!”
“We are doomed!” Durin cried, balling up into the fetal position. “It is a giant!”
The giant laughed; “Little people!” Then, he cupped his hands to scoop them both up. But He-Man stood his ground, drawing forth his sword. “I have faced mightier than you!” he cried. “Come and get me!”
Before the giant could retort, a single bolt of lightning fell from the sky, so bright as to force them to turn away. Then there was a deafening BOOM! and when they dared look again, the giant’s head had broken to bits of bone and blood, and with another thundering crash, his body fell to its knees, slumping over, chest down in the snow.
“That was some lightning bolt!” He-Man exclaimed.
“That was no lightning bolt,” said Durin, clambering to his feet. “That was the hammer from the hand of Thor!”
“Thor?” He-Man repeated.
“Look!” Durin said pointing up into the air. Then there was a sound like rolling thunder, and from the clouds came a flying chariot pulled by two goats. Holding the reins of that chariot was a handsome, young looking man, with broad shoulders, a clean shaven, square-jaw, and long blonde hair that danced in the wind. Atop his head, he wore a shining, silver, feathered helmet; around his neck flapped a blood red cape, and beneath it was a suit of black, leather armor.
Once the chariot landed, He-Man could see a plain stone sledgehammer in the man’s right hand, and when he stepped off the chariot, he could see that the man stood seven feet tall, but with his boots and his winged helmet, he looked ever taller.
“Mortals?” said he. “How come ye to Asgard?”
For a moment, He-Man thought to fight the man, but remembering the giant and the lightning bolt, he decided otherwise. “I am He-Man and this is my companion, Durin. Forgive us for trespassing, but I have come here to give you a gift.”
“A gift?” he replied.
“Yes. It is right here, in this bag!”
Thor opened the bag and looked inside, then closed it again quickly.
“Is it to your liking?” He-Man asked.
“Aye!” he laughed, “come!” And he turned to his chariot.
He-Man and Durin followed, getting into the chariot with Thor. Then, Thor grabbed the reigns, crying; “Toothgnasher! Toothgrinder! Away!” With that, the chariot lifted into the air with them, up into the clouds.
(end of part 1)
The Grayskull Library
Quest for the Golden Apples
Copyright © Dec. 3, 1997 by Nick Alimonos
After an arduous, half hour chase, Thor and He-Man
cornered Fenris by the edge of a cliff, and leaping from the chariot,
the mighty thunder god delivered a series of hammerings to the
monster wolf’s skull like a madman, unearthing waves of snow with
each and every blow.
He-Man would have never believed the wolf still lived if his claw had not burst from the ground, tearing into Thor’s face and neck, knocking his helmet away.
“Now He-Man!” Thor shouted, pounding Fenris down again, his face and neck smeared with blood. “Thy maiden’s hair!”
He-Man ran up to them, seeing Fenris, half buried in snow from waist down. He then unraveled the hair, and holding Fenris by the arms, as Thor held him by the legs, he worked to wrap the hair around. As he was doing this, he could not help but wonder how something as fine as a hair could bind such a powerful creature, but as soon as the knot was tied, an impossible task, with Fenris thrashing about, if it had not been for the tassels, Fenris was, as if by some strange spell, incapable of standing.
He-Man and Thor stood, at last, having suffered but minor cuts and bruises, and laughed together. Then they fastened Fenris to the chariot, following the trail of blood back to the house, finding, on the way, He-Man’s sword.
“What are you going to do with him?” He-Man asked,
watching the very full bag swing gently from the ceiling.
“Who knows,” said Thor, grinning. “Weel ‘ang ‘im someplace. I question, what am I gonna do ‘bout Loki, the little runt!” he said, cracking his knuckles.
“I will surely remember this, you too, Durin.”
“And thou shalt fondly be remembered in all Asgard,” Thor replied.
“Now be gone with thee,” Odin cut in, “while ye still hath time!” And when he pointed to the hearth, the flames died, and to He-Man’s amazement, he could see, beyond the charred firewood of the hearth, his own bedroom, and Mari’na laying there with Teela and Rain by her side.
“Fare thee well!” said Thor, shaking his hand.
“Farewell!” said He-Man, turning and stepping through the hearth into his bedroom.
“Adam!” Teela shouted. “When did you get here?”
“Here,” said he, “Mari’na must eat this apple.”
“A golden apple?” she said. “Where did you find that?”
“It’s a long story.”
“But how can she eat an apple if she can’t even open her eyes?”
“Don’t worry,” he said, crushing the apple in his hand, letting the juices drip onto her lips. Teela helped, then, opening her mouth up with her fingers.
“Is that magic?” the little girl asked.
“Yes,” he said, kneeling by the bed, taking Mari’na’s hand in his. “Mari’na, open your eyes, please . . .”
“By Odin’s beard!” she replied, sitting up.
“Mari’na!” he exclaimed. “How . . . how do you feel!?”
“F-fine, yes, I feel wonderful!”
“Oh, thank the gods!” he said, pulling her towards him, kissing her gently on the lips.
“See!” said Teela, laughing. “Gods do care!”
“Yes,” he replied, never turning from his wife’s eyes, “and let’s hope we never need their help again!”
Teela looked at him oddly, wondering what he meant. But since he and his wife continued to kiss, she didn’t ask. She just took her daughter in hand, and let them be.
The Grayskull Library