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The Krelm

Chapters 1, 2, & 3

The Krelm
Copyright © November 20, 1997 by Jennifer Thomas and Nick Alimonos


In a corner of the universe is a red star and around that star, Eternia, a fiery red orb of dust and steep, jagged mountains where lies a third of The Krelm. And there men fight to be Masters of the Universe . . .

Chapter 1

A dim candlelight flickered in the room as Prince Adam approached his dying father. The prince was a handsome, well-built man in his late forties. Few gray hairs blemished his smooth, blonde hair and beard, as now he looked out with pale blue eyes over the royal, four poster bed where his father lay unstirring. Kneeling there beside him, Adam wiped the phlegm from his father’s snowy white beard. Then, the king spoke, clasping his son in hand. “You know I don’t have much time . . .”
“I know, Father,” Adam replied, quietly.
The king coughed. It was a violent, hacking cough. “Damn this thing, won’t let me speak . . .”
“Sit up, Father, sit up,” said Adam, helping him do so.
“Thank you, my son.”
“Is there anything else I can do?”
“Please, Adam, listen to me. I believe your mother and I have raised you well and we are proud of you, you and your sister both. Please tell her I said so.”
“I will.”
“But do not concern yourself for me. I have suffered worse in my youth, much worse.” He coughed again. “It’s not this illness that’s killing me, it’s my age. I’m just old, my son, and it's time for me to go.”
“I understand, Father.”
“If you really care about me, forget King Randor the man, and . . .”
“But . . .”
“ . . . AND save King Randor the name: all that I have in my life worked for. Save my Kingdom. Save Eternia!” He sputtered more phlegm.
“I will.”
“Keep it peaceful,” he said in a horse whisper. “Keep it prosperous. Be just and kind.”
“I promise.”
“And . . .,” he struggled with each word.
“Yes, Father?” Adam said, placing his ear to his father’s lips.
“Promise me one thing . . .”
“What is it, Father?”
“I have faith that you will do all that I ask,” he whispered. “But I fear one thing.”
“What?”
“Your loyalty to the Sword is great. You must abandon it. War, poverty, injustice, these are your enemies now, these are the demons you must defeat. Promise me; never lift your sword in battle again.”
Adam hesitated, but only for a second. “I promise.” The king fell back on his pillow. His eyes looked peaceful, but heavy. “I'll let you rest now, Father.”
Adam left the room, only then letting his tears run.

Ram Man sat alone with his back against the enormous root of a tree, carefully picking the petals off an Eternian fire flower, carefully lest it explode. A dry wind brushed against his face, and he looked up, across the rocky red path that was the Endless Plain fading off into the Dead Zones, just a hint of the Misty Mountains beyond, and at the two moons, Infinity and Eon, Infinity, a green, pot marked circle adorning one quarter of the red, Eternian sky, and Eon, a violet coin above and to the right of Infinity. He then resumed his pondering.
Ram Man pondered many things and for this he was considered dumb. For when faced with a simple task or question, he would think on it deeply, slow to judge and never to assume, and he replied slowly and with a slur. But Ram Man was not dumb, though at times he thought himself so. After all, he had been hit many times in the head by his father, so much so that Ram Man had a habit of going into battle head first, ramming his enemies with the topmost part of the iron helm he wore. This also contributed to the perception of his being dumb, though his “ramming” tactic was quite effective.
But it was not of these things that Ram Man was pondering today. Ram Man was pondering his problem, the problem of never having known the love of any woman save for his mother. Not that finding a woman was easy. They were, in fact, a rarity on Eternia, and even more rare in the Royal Palace where he dwelled. Only the beautiful Teela, Captain of the Royal Guard, once there captured his fancy. He had offered her a fire flower and a poem he had written, for Ram Man spent much time dreaming up romantic things. She was quite flattered, but politely declined his favors. And then there was Adora, the warrior princess from Etheria, daughter of the king. Ram Man had taken quite a fancy to her too, doing what he could to win her heart. But she only gave him a peculiar smile before refusing him. So what was it about himself, he thought, that turned them away? Often they would say, “There goes Ram Man, what a kind and humble man, what a gentle, honest man!” So what was it? Did they think he was dumb, a romantic fool? Or was it quite simply that he was fat? Yes, Ram Man was fat, and he knew it well. He remembered his father, how he would say, “You’re too fat Rammy!” bashing him over the head with his wooden cudgel. “Howdya expect to be a fighter if you donna lose some weight!”
“Ram Man! Get up!”
Ram Man jolted out of his daze, noticing a white mustached man stooping over him. It was Duncan dressed in the attire of the men-at-arms: a blue helmet and an orange breast plate with a lowering face shield, complete with arm plates, leg plates, and boots, over a green, skin-tight body suit. A small mace was in his right hand, so Ram Man knew there was trouble. “Duh . . .what is it, Duncan?”
“Didn’t you know? There is trouble in the East! Follow me!”

Chapter 2

Out over his terrace, Adam could see his kingdom spreading below, a host of golden bronze domes, hexagons, and obelisks, all interconnected by an elaborate web of roads and bridges. Turning, he strolled back into the palace, down a corridor, and through an open archway labeled, “Hall of He-Man.”
This was an immense, brightly lit room filled with all kinds of fierce looking creatures encased in glass or hanging from the walls in frames. All these creatures were dead, but appeared quite lifelike. Some included the heads of dragons and other large, predatory reptiles. There was the giant, horned head of a brown and black spotted demon labeled, “Urthquake,” and the entire corpse of an eight foot, anthropoid beast with thick brown fur, yellow, soulless eyes, and long, saber-like teeth, a monster labeled, “Grizzlor.” Along with these was the head of a serpent twenty feet long in a frame, and a deep violet, vulture-like bird with wings six feet apart and razor sharp, hooked talons.
In the center of all this was a rectangular glass case and in it: a long, silver sword, beautifully crafted by what seemed to be a single piece of metal, standing upright, its pointed end embedded deep within a wooden fixture at the base of the casing. Even now, Adam could feel it pulsing with power, crashing against him in waves, making the hairs of his arms stand on end, drawing him closer. “He-Man no more,” he whispered, touching the smooth, cold surface of the glass.
“Adam! Come quick! You're needed in the Throne Room!”
Adam turned to see, not to his surprise, a floating red robe with a pointed, floppy, wide-brimmed hat and a purple scarf. On that red robe was a big black letter “O,” and peeking from behind that scarf were a pair of yellow, round eyes. Nothing else could be seen of the creature save for its blue hands and the pointy, blue ears sticking from its hat. “Orko!? Yes, I'm coming.”

Red, stone pillars flanked the six inch, thirty foot, double bronze doors left swung open at the head of the rectangular throne room. And massive, iron rings ran through the beaks of large birds that adorned those doors. Directly opposite was a raised dais and a set of red carpeted stairs leading to two thrones. One of them was empty. But on the other sat Adam, casually stroking the fine, green and yellow striped fur on the back of a giant tiger’s neck, a tiger sleeping lazily on the floor beside him. But all was not peaceful. Before him was a small assembly of men. Their clothes were tattered and bloody, and their armor hanged on them as if torn by the claws of some great multitude of beasts. Slowly they walked, dragging their boots, caked with red dust, behind them, their heads bowed low. One of them, Adam recognized as his good friend, Duncan. “I have just returned from the battle in the East, my Lord.”
“And where are the men?” Adam asked with a grim tone.
“We four are all that remain,” Duncan replied.
“No!" Adam leaned forward, gripping his armrest.
“Oh! It was terrible . . . !”
Adam cast out his hand. “Wait, I know you,” he said; “and Ram Man,” he added, turning to the fat man dressed in red, with green leggings, black boots, and a tremendous iron helm shielding both his head, shoulders, and upper body. Both men acknowledged one another with a nod. “But who are these other two? Let them come forward so that I may commend them on their bravery.”
“They are coming, my Lord,” answered Duncan. “The one is being . . . helped.”
Two men approached. The one, a tall, muscular black man, now stripped of his armor to the waist, could be seen carrying in the other man, a wounded soldier who, from the waist down, had no legs, but rather, a series of bandages wrapped about him soaked with blood.
Adam looked at them with alarm. “Take him to the infirmary!”
“No,” said the wounded soldier. “I can stay.”
“Are you sure?” asked Adam.
“Yes,” Duncan cut-in. “I have done all that I can for him, for now. But I will see if I can do more later.” Duncan was without a doubt the most intelligent and clever of the Royal Guard. Surely, if anything could be done to further help the man, Duncan would do it.
“Who are you?” asked Adam, turning to the black man.
“I am Turok,” he replied, “once king of the fabled city of Lamar, now known as Lost Lamar, east near the borders of the Dead Zones, before the armies of the Dark Side turned it to ruin.”
“A king,” Adam said, surprised. He then wished to inquire how Turok came to the Kingdom of Eternia, but he chose not to, for he had other, more pressing questions to ask.
“I am Oberon Harlok,” said the other man. “Just a simple man-at-arms.”
“No,” said Adam, standing. “You are no longer a simple man-at-arms. Nor are you, Turok of Lamar. You both have proven yourselves in battle. I now promote you to the level of hero, and you shall hence forth have heroic names. Turok, you shall be known as Clamp Champ. And you, Oberon Harlok, you shall be known as Rotar. Now tell me, Duncan, what happened?”

Chapter 3

“Of my story I will tell you now:

Near the border between the Endless Plain and the Dead Zones, there is a small village known to few called ‘Baartook.’ The people that inhabit there are Eternian, so they pay tribute to the Kingdom of Eternia.
One day, I know not when, the people of the village were attacked by an unknown force and put into slavery. I only learned of it myself when an escaped slave came to me and told me of it. He said that they had been made to dig throughout the ruins of a nearby Zodiakian city for a purpose he did not know. Little else was said to me but the name and location of the village, then he died of exhaustion. With Teela, my daughter, gone, I called the Royal Guard. I found Ram Man last, and with him, Turok, Oberon, and myself, as well as forty six other men, we set out to investigate.
We arrived in Baartook after a short, three day march, and there we found the village empty. But there was not a trace of any struggle. The people were simply, simply gone. And the strangeness of it prevented us from taking lodge there. So we camped outside, keeping tight watch during the hours of sleep, but nothing unusual happened.
After half a day’s march, we crossed into the Dead Zones and came upon the ruins of the city. All the land there, and everywhere around it, had been uprooted, and made way for a network of tunnels and pits. Some of the great towers had been leveled off and the debris cleared, and holes were punched into every wall. But we did not see any of the villagers. So we resolved to search the city ourselves, and came to the center of it where there was, what appeared to be, a temple or shrine of some sort. Half of it had collapsed in its great age, and led way to a high stone altar. Though we were as frightened here as in the village, we decided to rest by the temple so that when, or if, any villagers arrive, we would see them. Alas, how deeply I regret that decision, as you will now learn!
It was quiet and hot the day that we rested, for we were still on the Bright Side where there is no night. I was half sleeping with my back against a crumbling wall, my mace in hand, when a strange and unnatural darkness came over us. We became afraid, and those of us who were awake roused the others. Now I will tell you of the three terrors that befell us, each one worse than the last, and how the fifty of us came to being four.
First there came a horrid wailing as if by some ferocious beast, and I looked at the two moons, Eon and Infinity, and saw that a shadow had passed over them. Then there came upon us a great flock of moving things, and in the darkness we could not tell what they were, but their eyes glowed brightly and pierced through our hearts and we were struck down by fear. Then I heard the mad cries of someone dying, and the sound of his bones being torn from him, and more howling. I rushed with my mace into the fray, only to find myself struck down and lying on my back, looking at the two moons. But then I saw, to my horror, that the two, green, glowing spheres in my vision were not moons, but eyes, the eyes of a great, gray monster, a wolf like a twisted man, with bones protruding all through its body, and a monstrous, disproportionate head and teeth. He seemed almost unreal, like a dream, as if nature, with all her wild manifestations, never intended such a being to exist. And he was holding a bent, wooden staff in his hand, herding wolves like sheep, leading them to a feeding frenzy. For there in front of me were the bodies of my own men-at-arms screaming as they were being eaten alive! Some of the wolves came down, their skulls crushed by the maces of the men, or pierced through the heart by the men’s spears, but none of them came near the big wolf. Then Ram Man went charging at it with his ax! But where the ax would strike, did it pass through harmlessly, and it became like a mist, a white mist that circled us, at times molding itself into the semblance of a wolf, and then it was gone with a howling, and the other wolves too. I still did not know how many men were gone, but that was not the end of it. As I said before, worse was yet to come.
The next thing I knew, a great black shape was moving towards me, and I could not tell what it was until it folded its wings and stood inches away. It was a somewhat humanoid creature with thick, gray, leathery skin. And judging by my height, I guessed it to be about eleven feet tall. But it was terribly thin, much thinner than I, like a starving man stretched on a rack, with jutting ribs, thick, ample veins, and virtually no stomach. Its arms hanged almost down to its ankles, and its fingers were long and pointed like a spider’s legs. But most peculiar was its head. It looked tiny on its long body, and it was not human but bat-like, with a long and pointed snout, and very long ears. And he, it, had hair that ran to its middle-back, long, broken strands of black hair with streaks of silver. It was like the hair of a corpse . . . Then, he looked into me with his tiny, red pupils, and I could not move! With that, he thrust his fingers into my chest, and though he did not break the skin, his cold, icy hand passed through my armor, through my rib cage to my heart, and touched it. My whole being froze, not just my body, but all my being, as if he had hold on my very soul. And I could feel my joints stiffen, and my bones bend and become brittle. It was as if I were aging . . .
As I lay motionless on the arm of the gray creature, the third and final, most horrifying thing arrived. I thought him a man at first, a warrior with a black beard that fell to his waist, dressed in the skins of many animals, with an old, rusting helmet hiding his face and the pearl white horns of some great beast protruding from it. But as he came near, I knew him for what he was. Even at thirty paces distance, the smell of death was overpowering, forcing me to choke up my supper. And I saw that his flesh was diseased and eaten by worms and maggots. Then, a wooden stake like a tree grew beside him, flowering into a rusted, double-ax head. It was enormous and he held it with both hands, striking down my men with such savagery as I have never seen. The men . . . they were, they were, no, I will not describe it; I cannot! But I will say this to you, and may you never, try as you might, fully understand why I say this: he had no hesitancy in what he did, no remorse. Surely he would have killed his own mother if someone, some-thing, such as it, could have had one. And as the men charged at him, so did they pile up. For all about him was a circle of death, and all that he touched . . . died. But he, he did not die. Maces crushed his bones, and spears pierced his flesh and broke off at the tip, but he was not slowed. He did not even seem to feel pain.
There were only the four of us left, though I did not know it at the time. That is when Oberon charged him, and when, with one clean swipe, Oberon’s legs were lost. He fell down with the rest, and in that moment when the strange warrior lifted his ax to finish him, Turok rushed in and grabbed the ax! But even Turok’s great strength could not overcome the stranger, and the last of the men-at-arms still fighting dropped to his knees. Then, in a desperate attempt to save himself, Turok let go of the ax and pulled at the one horn of the warrior’s helmet. With that, the helmet fell off, and Turok saw his face, which I did not see, and ran screaming.

Surely, I thought, we would all die. And I wondered at myself, how it was that I still lived. Then, suddenly, I could feel the warmth of blood rushing through me, and realized that I could move, and clutched at the broken altar to lift myself when I saw Ram Man at my side, helping me; for he had pried me loose from the clutches of the gray being, though I knew not when or how. And as I stumbled there upon the altar, a sound like the grinding of two stones could be heard, and the altar split in half, and all was bathed in green light. I looked, amazed, at the source of the light within the open altar, and there I saw a strange stone artifact. What it was, I did not care, but was grateful. For upon its discovery, the evil minions recoiled and attacked us no more. And then I saw him. Standing upon a lofty hill was the Lord of Destruction himself. His inky blue flesh peered from the folds of his sorcerer’s ebony cloak. And in his right hand was the dreaded Havoc Staff, the ram’s-skull headed staff, sizzling the air around it and crackling like thunder as it was thrust into the ground. But I did not see his faceless face. It remained hidden beneath his hood. And there was another, a fifth, standing beside him, but I only saw his shape.
That is all I remember of that ordeal. Ram Man later explained to me how he had carried me off, with Turok by his side carrying Oberon. He explained to me how the four minions, and the Lord of Destruction, gathered around the altar, and were so preoccupied by the artifact that I had somehow unearthed, that they did not bother to follow after us. And so, after a weary four days march, we came here, too afraid even to look back, and never spoke a word of it until now. That, my prince, is my story.”



The Grayskull Library

Chapters 4 & 5


Chapters 4 & 5


Chapter 4

There was a long silence after Duncan’s story, a silence broken by the voice of Adam. “This is grim,” he said. “But I think the key to this is the artifact. Duncan, can you tell me what it looked like?”
“I can’t describe it in words, but I can draw it.” Duncan motioned for Ram Man to step aside, and when he did, an imprint of dried mud from Ram Man’s boots remained. Then, kneeling down with his finger extended, Duncan drew a strange symbol in the mud. The others gathered about him now, even Prince Adam, to see what it was that he had drawn.
“It looks . . . unholy,” said Adam.
“Yes,” Duncan replied. “But what does it mean?”
Adam turned to Ram Man. “Do you know anything about this?”
“Um . . . ah . . .”
“The Sorceress of Grayskull,” Duncan cut-in. “If anyone knows, it will be she.”

In all Eternia, only one man ever tamed a battle cat, and that man was Prince Adam. Not that such a thing was often attempted, for the size and strength of a battle cat was such as to tear most anyone to shreds, though battle cats were not known to attack humans, only the large blue oxen called “slotu.”
But the taming of the battle cat by Adam was unintentional, contrary to popular belief (that he wrestled the wild animal into submission with his hands). In truth, Adam's “pet” was found as a kitten by a man-at-arms patrolling the Widget Forest, and given to Adam, then a young boy, as a gift. The cat, the prince simply named, “Battle Cat,” and they grew together, and were inseparable. Hence, Battle Cat was tamed, though it remained fearsome to any who might try to harm its beloved master.
When Battle Cat grew into an adult, a tiger the size of a horse, Adam made for it a saddle, and rode it into battle. This, of course, captured the imagination of his people, and so they gave him a heroic name; they called him, “He-Man.”
And now, Adam felt like his heroic self again, riding atop his mighty beast, not the noble prince sitting haughtily on a throne, but He-Man, a handsome, bare-chested warrior, wearing nothing but his fur underwear, boots, and the scabbard on his back. And as he passed the cheering crowd, he wondered how it would be when his father would die, no longer to be He-Man, Eternia’s champion, no longer knowing the freedom on Battle Cat’s saddle, no longer riding off into the wild, uncharted regions of Eternia. Then his thoughts turned to still darker matters.
Adam had not thought much of Duncan’s story, for the memory of his father’s words endured, pushing out all other thoughts. But now, sitting on Battle Cat, racing towards Grayskull and to the Sorceress, the full realization of the horrors Duncan revealed, if true, settled on his mind. Perhaps, he thought, this will be my final adventure, whether we be successful, or we fail . . .

Like a stone spider rising from the mists of a seemingly bottomless chasm was an eerie gray skull, whose mouth was a drawn bridge, and whose sides were flanked by four towers like minarets rising three hundred feet into the air. He-Man tugged on Battle Cat’s saddle, motioning for them to stop, for they had arrived.
Mysterious to all but few was the castle called “Grayskull.” And as He-Man approached the solemn relic, so did the drawn bridge strangely lower for him to cross the chasm into its dark chambers.
It was cold, stale, and lifeless within. And the light from the lantern was enough so that only the Sorceress could be seen. She stood like a beacon in the darkness, a stern, middle aged woman, pale and thin with unusually high cheek bones. And she was dressed in the guise of the zoar, a white, blue, and orange bird. Her cowl was the head, its wings her cape, its feathers her clothing. But her attire was but an ancient and forgotten tradition, a paradox to her actual self. For rather was she in her cold demeanor and monotone speech, a reflection of her residence, and like a prisoner behind its decrepit walls, seemed to have taken on the aspects of that grim abode.
Upon seeing her, He-Man wasted no time, for she was a woman of few words, and removed from his satchel a scroll that, upon unraveling it, revealed the same unholy symbol drawn by Duncan in the Throne Room of the palace. The Sorceress had nothing to say of this, but taking the scroll in hand, escaped into another chamber. He-Man followed her until coming to a wall. But when she hanged her lantern from a nail there, he could see many wooden shelves filled with books. It was the Library of Grayskull, and there was little knowledge that could not be found therein.
The Sorceress searched through the titles of the books until coming upon one, ancient looking tome, and removed it from its place. Then she sat at a nearby desk, carefully flipping through the yellow, tattered pages. At last, she came to a section of symbols, and here she placed the scroll against the book, comparing the one symbol with the others. When she found a match, she gasped quietly, and turned to He-Man with a look of urgency. “Where did you see this?” she asked. So He-Man related to her the story told to him by Duncan, and when he was finished, she merely replied; “Follow me.”

“I don’t think I’ve been in this part of Grayskull before,” said He-Man. “Where are we?”
“Here,” said the Sorceress. With that, an immense room was filled with light, a light from an unknown source. And there in the center of the room was a massive, golden door. He-Man guessed it to be fifty feet or more in height, fifteen feet in width, and one foot thick. “The Krelm is the key to this door,” she said.
“The what . . .?” He-Man asked, puzzled.
“The Krelm, that is what Duncan found, but not the whole Krelm, only a third of it. Look there upon the door, do you see it?”
He-Man examined the door more closely, finding in the very center of it, a one inch indentation of ornamental design. Then, tracing it with his finger, he could see where Duncan’s symbol would fit. “Yes, I see it. But it doesn’t look complete.”
“There are another two pieces. If put together with the piece Skeletor has, it could open the door. That must not happen.”
“But why?” asked He-Man. “This door stands by itself. I see nothing behind it but the other side!”
“Stop thinking three-dimensionally, Adam. The door leads to another plane of existence, another universe, if you will, not of our own. And that which is trapped, must not get out.”
“What is it? What must not get out?”
“Nameless Horrors.”
“What nameless horrors?”
“You cannot possibly understand. And even if you could, you would go mad. I can tell you no more.”
“But you must tell me, what will happen if the door opens!”
“It could be the end,” she answered softly.
“The end of what?”
“The end of everything.”
“Everything?”
“Please, this is difficult for me as it is, knowing what I know. Don't make me think about it.”
“I apologize. Tell me, what must I do?”
“It appears that Skeletor intends to open the door . . . If he knew what he were doing, he would not wish to do so.”
“What about . . . these new henchmen of his? It seems as if they cannot be killed. Who, what are they?”
“I do not know. But I suspect they are the ones who would have this door opened. I know nothing else of them, nor how to kill them, if they can be killed.”
“Then what of Skeletor? How do I stop him?”
“You must find the pieces of the Krelm before he does.”
“But Sorceress, even if he does find the three pieces, how will he get into Grayskull, to the door?”
“It doesn't matter. The danger is so great, that he cannot be allowed to obtain them, no matter how small his chances are of getting in here.”
“Then, where can I find the other pieces?”
“The Zodiakians who created the Krelm did so to banish the Nameless Horrors from this universe. But they were so afraid that anyone might open the door and release the Horrors, that they broke the Krelm into three and gave each piece to a Zodiakian high lord.”
“Why didn't they destroy it?”
“Because, if there was any chance of the Horrors returning, only the Krelm would have the power to banish them again. The Krelm is more than a key, it is the means by which they forced the Horrors out, and sealed their escape.”
“All right, then where is the second piece?”
The Sorceress reached into her cape, into a pocket there, and brought forth a handful of glittering sand. Then, with one graceful arch of her arm, the sand went up into the air, and before the eyes of Adam, a miniature of the cosmos formed, each floating grain of sand a star. “There,” she said, pointing to one tiny speck. “There is the Kingdom of Palutina.”
“I know of that place, Extendar is from there!”
“Yes, that is where the second piece is, buried beneath the palace they have built.”
“Why did the Zodiakians place one piece here, on Eternia, and another piece on another planet?”
“You forget, Adam, the Zodiakian civilization was great. It spanned this galaxy and beyond. They were . . . masters of the universe. And the Palutinians unknowingly built their palace over the ruins of a Zodiakian garrison, a garrison much like this castle.
“Remember to be kind to the Princess of Palutina, who is the ruler of that world, so that she may assist you.
“Now hurry, surely Skeletor will know of this. You must get there before him!”
“But how do we know he will go there? What if he goes after the third piece? Where is the third piece?”
“The Krelm must be put together in order. The third piece is worthless to him without the second. Now bring what heroes you may and go! When you return, I shall have a portal ready.”

***

“Now be still!”
“Please,” Oberon begged. “Make it so that I can fight again.”
“Why?” asked Duncan, “So that they can finish the rest of you?”
“No, because someone must avenge the deaths of my fellow men-at-arms.”
“Killing yourself will do them no justice.”
“But I have seen the horrors and lived to tell about it, what better man to stand by you, and the others, than I? Besides, I am a hero now.” Oberon forced a smile.
“All right,” said Duncan. “I’ll see what I can do!”
“If what I have heard of you is true, I know you can do it. Make me a warrior again, Duncan, for I would die otherwise.”

Meanwhile, in another part of the palace, the sounds of a man grunting could be heard, accompanied by that of crumbling earth. Ram Man followed the sound into the sparring room, where Turok, now known as Clamp Champ, could be seen, his half naked body glistening with sweat, his fists bleeding, and a pile of bricks at his feet, many of them broken.
Ram Man entered the room. “Hello . . . ?”
Clamp Champ turned suddenly around. “Oh, it is you.”
“Whodya think it was?” asked Ram Man.
“No one,” he replied.
“So . . . what’r you doin’?”
“It is something my people did, before going into battle.”
“I don’t think that’ll help,” said Ram Man.
“What do you mean?”
“I mean . . . I don’t think you can beat them like that.”
Turok turned away. “I was not . . . I was not thinking of, them.”
“Oh.”
“So what are you doing awake?” asked Clamp Champ.
“Haven’t slept in days. They . . . come in my dreams.”
“Are you afraid?”
“Yes. Are you?”
“No! I am Turok of Lost Lamar! I fear nothing!”
“Well, I wish I had your courage.”
“I am just . . . just . . .”
“What?”
“Preparing myself,” said Clamp Champ. “The Lord of Destruction, the one you call, Skeletor, it was he that destroyed Lamar, and murdered my people. When I find him, I will pull out his heart, and squeeze it in my fist!” he said, crushing a brick.
“You look tired, Turok, maybe you should sleep.”
“I cannot . . . I mean, I will not. I must do this.”
“All right,” said Ram Man. “I’m hungry. I’m gonna eat.”
“Go, and do not worry about me. I will be fine.”
When Clamp Champ was sure that Ram Man had left, he rubbed his eyes, then steadied himself against a wall. He turned to the bricks, examining them, seeing the dust and the crumbling bits of stone mixed with his own blood. But there was something else there, something Ram Man didn’t see. Clamp Champ rubbed his eyes again, but it was still there. And though his hands pulsed with pain, he screamed, and continued to punch the bricks.

***

It was dark. And in the main hall of the palace, a long hall flanked by arched passages, all was silent. Then, there was a voice carried by an echo, “Mother?”
“Yes,” a female voice whispered.
“You stayed up for me?”
“I always have,” she said, approaching him with a candle in her hand. And when he came into the light’s warm sphere, he could see her, an elderly woman with gray hair, wearing a simple, green robe, a gold chain around her neck, and a gold crown atop her head. To the people of Eternia, she was known as the wife of King Randor, Queen Marlena, but to Adam, she was known as Mother.
“Tell me, how is Father?”
“I just checked on him. He is fine. And he wanted me to tell you something.”
“What is it?”
“That he loves you.” There was a quiver in her voice.
“Did he . . . did he say that?”
“Yes. I know your father can be tough sometimes, but he does love you. He just has difficulty saying it.”
“You know, he wants me to quit fighting.”
“Yes,” she said. “I know.”
There was a short pause. “Tomorrow, I am going to Palutina.”
“When will you return?”
“I don't know.”
“Adam, perhaps, you should stay . . .” Queen Marlena’s eyes turned to the open doorway of the King’s bedroom.
Adam cupped her hands in his and kissed them. “Mother, I have to go. The men, they need me.”
“As always,” she sighed. “It’s just that . . . he is so feeble and, I have waited so long for the day that you would put away your sword, and, that day, is so close now. And you know how I worry.”
“Mother, please, I’ll come back. I always have.”
“I don’t know . . . I have a bad feeling about this one.”
Suddenly, a weary voice called from a distance, “Adam!”
“Your father!” cried Marlena, running. Adam was quick to follow.
By the time they arrived, the king was dead. They did not need to take a pulse; he had died with his eyes open. Seeing this, the Queen fell on him, weeping bitterly.
Adam placed his arm around her, and tried to comfort her. But what they did not see, in the open eyes of the dead king, was a strange light in the shape, of the Krelm.

Chapter 5

The five heroes: Adam, Duncan, Ram Man, Clamp Champ, and Rotar, stood before the majestic Palace of Palutina, breathless, where the Princess of Palutina resided. They had just come from a magic portal in Grayskull, ending up in this other, strange world. Before leaving, the Sorceress had explained to them why they should find the Krelm, what she knew of it, and how she could have, if they had so desired, transported them inside the palace, but she chose, instead, for them to appear just outside of it, so as not to alarm the residents therein.
Adam had come as king to gain the favor of the princess, wearing his princely white and pink vest, and the kingdom was turned over to his mother. The royal funeral for King Randor, and the coronation of the new king, would have to wait.
Oberon, now known as Rotar, was there also. Duncan had made for him a suit at the base of which was a single wheel. Two load stones on either end of the wheel enabled Rotar to balance himself, and by the quick turning of the wheel, was he able to spin rapidly hitting, if he chose, anything coming to the left or right of him, which, with two wheels, would have been impossible. Even still, it would take some time for him to master it.
Palutina was strange to the adventuresome Eternians. For the sun was small and yellow; there were no moons, and the sky was blue with small, wispy patches of white. The land below was a green, grassy sea of rolling hills with a faint outline of snowy, pointed mountains. And in the center of all this was the palace standing alone. A thick, green forest was by it, and a gentle river circled round it, so that only by a golden bridge could it be reached. As for the palace itself, it was truly magnificent, with its many ornate windows, its white, towering spires, and the blue cones toppling its many peaks.
The air was cool and calm, and only the chirping of the birds could be heard, which frightened the heroes, for they had never heard such a sound. Then, as they approached the golden bridge, the sound of birds blended with that of the rustling water below, and as they were crossing it, so did they hear the sound of galloping.
Come to greet them was a magnificent animal like a horse, but it was muscular, and from its ears to its hoofs, eight feet tall. The creature was also dressed in shining armor, and riding upon it was a man clad in shining steel and gold from head to foot, holding in his left hand a blue shield with the symbol of a red dragon, and in his other hand an eight foot lance. “Welcome to Palutina!” said he.
“Extendar!” Adam exclaimed.
“No, I am not he. He is in the palace, with the princess.”
“But you look the same!”
“Of course we do. We all look the same. We are the Twelve Knights Dragonslayers, protectors of the Palace of Palutina and of the princess. I am Sir Paladin. Sir Extendar is our champion, and the princess’ body guard. He cannot leave her side.”
“When he visited us, in Eternia, the princess was not with him,” Adam replied.
“Much has changed since then, my friend. Come, let me escort you to the palace!”
They followed the knight to the thirty foot, bronze gates of the palace, as a multitude of musicians announced their arrival with the blowing of many golden trumpets. And there at the gates was a guard with a halberd and a sword, less heavily armored than the knight, saying, “Give up your arms, you will not need them inside.”
The knight gave his lance, Duncan his mace, Ram Man his ax, Rotar his ax, ball and chain, and Clamp Champ, who had no weapons other than his fists, gave nothing. Then, when it came turn for Adam to give his weapon, he said that he had none. The others in his party gasped.
“Come now,” said Sir Paladin, “even I have heard of the legendary Sword of Power, the sword wielded by He-Man. Are you without it?”
“I am a king now,” Adam replied. “I have no need of a sword.”
“But Adam!” Duncan protested. “We need your skills! What of the . . .”
“Not now!” Adam said. “We will discuss that later.” Then, he turned to Sir Paladin. “If you would like to search me, proceed, but I have no weapon.”
“No,” Sir Paladin replied. “If the word of a king is no good, than what value have any words? Follow me!”

Spiraling down the center of the palace was a red carpeted stairwell and descending those steps were two figures side by side, a knight and a maiden. The maiden was a round, red, rosy cheeked girl, not as pretty as one might expect, but fair skinned and homely, with pointed, elvish ears, deep, blue eyes, and very long, wavy blond hair. About the waist she was small, wearing a white and blue gown embroidered with jewels, and she walked gracefully and with a light step.
The party of heroes bowed as she came to greet them, saying to Adam: “Please, stand. A king does not need to bow to a princess.”
“No, but this is your kingdom, and I am but a foreigner here,” he answered, taking her gloved hand in his and kissing it, gently.
“You know our customs,” she replied. “I am honored.”
“Yes, well, Extendar taught me little. Where is he?”
“He is here, standing next to me!” she said with a laugh.
“Extendar!” Adam cried, turning to the knight beside her.
The knight pressed his hand against Adam’s chest, as Adam did the same to him. “And I have not forgotten your customs, my friend.”
“I am glad to see it, Extendar,” Adam replied.
“Your father, he was a good man. You have my condolences.”
“Yes, how did you know?”
“Your Sorceress told us before you came,” answered the princess.
“So,” said Extendar. “What brings you to Palutina?”
“Urgent business!” Duncan interrupted.
“But first,” the princess cut in. “We must show our guests some hospitality!”

The chandeliers were of crystal and gold, hanging ten feet over the floor, and twenty feet down from the vaulted ceiling by golden chains, and were such so that a man could sit comfortably in them. There were four of them alone in the long, rectangular dining room. But they were not aflame, for sunlight beamed through the left wall, which was made of glass. Covering the right wall was a tapestry depicting a battle scene, an army of knights charging an angry red dragon. And in the center of the room was a long, rectangular, wooden table, topped with dishes for eighteen to feed heartily, and around it, eighteen chairs to sit and with room to spare.
First sat Princess Palutina at the far end of the table, then Sir Extendar beside her, and then the five guests. Sir Paladin was next, followed by ten more knights, making a total of twelve dressed the same.
Extendar removed his helmet and his gloves, placing them by his plate, and the other knights followed. “I would first like to make a toast!” said he, standing and lifting his wine goblet. “To King Adam, my friend and companion, may he be remembered, as his father was remembered!”
The room was filled with applause. Adam stood, red faced, lifting his own drink and bowing his head. “Thank you,” he said, and sat back down.
“And I would like to make a toast,” said the princess, smiling. “May the two kingdoms of Palutina and Eternia, always be at peace and in good friendship.”
More clapping. Adam stood again. “Thank you, thank you.”
“Can we eat now?” asked Ram Man. The knights turned to him, surprised, as Adam sank in his chair, covering his face with shame. But the princess merely laughed. “Of course!” she replied, dipping her spoon into her soup. And then they began to eat.
“This is good,” said Ram Man. “What is it?”
“It's treer,” replied the princess.
“What’s a treer?”
“It’s like a deer, but with bigger antlers.”
“What’s a deer?”
They all laughed, all but Ram Man, who looked quite perplexed.

When the food was gone, and they had all done eating and drinking, all but Ram Man, of course, Duncan stood, saying to them, “I think it is best, now that we are all here, to discuss the matter for which we have come.”
“Speak,” the princess replied, smiling. “But do not look so bleak! Be cheerful!”
“It is a grave and serious matter that I bring, your Highness,” he answered with a bitter tone. “Listen to me, all of you, and I will tell my tale, and how we came to be here.” He then proceeded to tell the story, adding what he had learned from the Sorceress, exact to every detail, as if it were memorized.
After a long quiet, Sir Paladin was the first to stand and speak. “And you say that this thing, is buried beneath this palace!?”
“Yes,” Duncan asserted.
“This is an outrage!” said another knight. “You come to us from another planet, and speak to us of our own history, and of our own palace which our forefathers built ages ago, as if you knew it better than ourselves!”
“Look,” Adam cut in. “There is no reason to be angry. We know as little of the Zodiakians as you. They were a mysterious race, and they vanished many thousands of years ago, long before your history began.”
“Nonsense!” cried Sir Paladin. “There is nothing beneath this palace but the dungeons we built!”
“What about what we saw?” asked Duncan. “Does not the death of my men warrant at least a quest to see if this thing, exists?”
“But you say that only you, and these three others, witnessed this fantastical event,” Sir Paladin replied. “What's to say it wasn't a dream, or a hallucination, or it isn't just a made up story!?”
“Why would I do that!?”
“I don't know!” Sir Paladin argued. “But you say this creature put his hand through your chest and touched your heart; how did you survive!?”
Suddenly, Clamp Champ stood, slamming his fist against the table. “Do not call him a liar! We saw what we saw, and I do not care what you believe! Once those demons come here, they, will, change, your, mind!”
“Enough!” the princess shouted, and with that, all voices but hers fell silent. “This palace has run in my family longer than any of yours, and by birth it is rightfully mine.” She strolled around the room, looking into the eyes of each man, and with her gentle voice she did soothe their hearts, and their fury left them, and they became passive like sheep. “I choose what is to be done.”
“But,” Sir Paladin protested, “They want to dig up . . .”
“Shh!” she went, and he was silent. “Let the Eternians search the palace, and the Twelve Knights aid them!”
“Thank you,” said Adam.
“Yes,” Duncan added. “You have no idea how much this means!”
“What about dessert?” Ram Man asked. “Don’t we get any dessert?”
They all laughed.



Chapters 1, 2, & 3

The Grayskull Library

Chapters 6 & 7


Chapters 6 & 7

Chapter 6

Late that night, when all were asleep in the palace, Rotar sharpened his combination ax, ball and chain, on a turning wheel. Then he balanced himself upright, rolling into the stables where a circle of four wooden benches had been set on their sides. Moving into the center of this circle, he eyed each bench with care, then started to spin rapidly like a top. He hit the first bench, splitting it in half. Then he moved, still spinning, to another bench, but he fell on his stomach before reaching it.
He pushed himself up again, throwing down the ax in despair. Try as he might, he could not fight the way Duncan had intended. The spinning was simply too, disorientating. And now, he hated what he had become, or what Duncan had made of him, not a whole man, but a cripple with hopeless dreams. “It’s no use,” he said to himself. “I am worthless.”
Part of him wished he had died that day. And only one thing stopped him from taking his own life: knowing he would see ‘them’ again. There would be no honor for him or to his family if he were to die by his own hand. But if he could die in battle, that would be an honorable death. “And that’s what I’ll do,” said he. “When you come again, demon from Hell, I’ll let nothing come between me, and your ax!”
Rotar’s misery was too great to bear. He could not eat, nor think, nor sleep. But sleep, through sheer exhaustion, did come at last.

Elsewhere in the palace, another Eternian sat awake, pondering the future. But his thoughts were not of monsters, nor of even, the Krelm, but of the shining stars and moon glowing brightly above him, outside on the terrace where he sat against a wall. And he thought of women, and how many there must be, in all the universe. Surely, he thought, with so many women out there, one of them would find an interest in him. Perhaps there existed a world where fat, slow speaking men were even thought, attractive? But would the Sorceress help make a magic portal for such a foolish, though romantic, endeavor? Just then, a female voice startled him. “Can’t sleep?”
Ram Man turned to see Princess Palutina standing next to him. “Um . . . uh, your Highness,” he began. “I thought you were sleeping.”
“Oh, I only pretended to be asleep. You see, I am guarded day and night by Sir Extendar, and though I appreciate his loyalty, it can be rather bothersome, like having a big, clanking shadow everywhere you go. So every night when he thinks I’m asleep, and goes to sleep too, I slip out the window and run around the palace by myself. Sometimes, I take a horse and go out for a ride!
“See!” she whispered, lifting up her dress and pointing to her feet; “I don’t wear any shoes, so they don’t hear me!
“And besides, tonight, I am afraid to sleep. After hearing what your friend, Duncan, said about those monsters . . . I can’t help but think what will happen if they come here! Surely, I will have nightmares!
“What about you? You were there. Don’t you have any nightmares? Is that why you’re up?”
Ram Man, overwhelmed by this flood of words, simply said, “No, haven’t had any nightmares lately.”
“Ram Man?”
“Yes, your Highness?”
“You won’t tell anyone about this, about me sneaking out at night, will you?”
“Eh . . . no, I won’t.”
Princess Palutina folded her dress behind her and sat down next to him, leaning back against the wall, which seemed very, unprincess-like. Ram Man was surprised, but did not speak. He just couldn't think of what it was he wanted to say. And so, he continued looking up at the stars, and the princess, seeing him, looked up as well. Then, Ram Man heard a small voice deep inside of him, telling him what to say, and the words escaped his lips, as if by accident. “I-It’s very beautiful here. The sky changes. You can see the stars.”
“You can’t see the stars where you’re from?” she asked.
“Yes, but, you have to go far. We don’t have night and day.”
“Tell me more. What is Eternia like? Is it beautiful?”
“Well . . . the sky is red, and we don’t have so many trees, it’s like a . . . a . . .”
“. . .a desert?”
“What’s a desert?” he asked, for there was no such word, with such a meaning, in the Eternian language.
She laughed.
“And we have two moons,” he added.
“Then it must be twice as romantic!”
“Yes,” he said, smiling. “Eternia is big, too. It’s so big, that nobody has ever mapped it. Its history, its people, most of it is a mystery. That’s what I like about it most, I think. But its a dangerous place too, and a man who doesn’t know it well, can die there. It’s a mysterious, dangerous place.
“And I have heard that Eternia is full of holes. Not just any holes, but holes that lead to other worlds, other planets. But I don’t know if I believe in that. I haven’t seen any.”
“You know, Ram Man, I was wrong about you.”
“How so?”
“Please don’t be offended, but, it seemed at first that you were, that you were dumb. It’s just that I never heard you speak at all, other than when you were wanting dessert!”
“Well,” he said softly. “There was never anyone to listen.”
“You’re not like other men,” she said.
“I’m not?”
“I don’t know. It seems, men, all they ever talk about is fighting, how many dragons they’ve slain, and the size of their swords. It’s all fine and dandy, but I find it awfully boring, at times.”
There was a moment of silence. Ram Man didn’t know what to say to this, and so he responded with a simple, “Mmm.”
“Can you move your neck?” she asked, suddenly.
“No,” he answered.
“So how do you look around?”
“I turn my whole body.”
“It must be painful, looking up with that helm. Do you wear it all the time? Is it heavy?”
“Not really. I mean, I am used to it.”
“Can you take it off?”
“Yes, but not by myself. I need help to do it.”
“I can help you, if you want me to.”
“All right.”
They heaved and struggled together for ten minutes, when finally, with a loud thud, the helm was removed and placed on the ground. Without it, the princess could see his broad shoulders, the rolls of fat under his chin, and his short cropped, dark hair. “Thank you,” said Ram Man.
“You’re welcome!” she said, panting. “I don’t think I've done that much work in ages! Goodness, I’m tired! I think I’ll sit down.”
So there they sat, together and alone, without speaking for what seemed like an eternity. And Ram Man looked enormous next to her, for he was so big, and she was so tiny. Then, not even knowing when, or how it happened, Ram Man noticed her tiny hand in his. “Y-Your Highness . . .?”
“Yes?”
“I . . . think we had best go to sleep, now.”
“Yes,” she said, getting to her feet and trotting off.
“Farewell,” he called after her.
“Oh yes,” she replied. “And goodnight to you, Ram Man.”

Princess Palutina returned to her bedroom. But before going to bed, she examined herself in her full length mirror, as she was accustomed to doing, smiling at her own loveliness. Then she noticed, through the mirror, a dark shape in the corner. She looked again, seeing that it was a human shape.
“Yes,” she called out. “Who is it?”
The figure stepped into the light, and she could see that it was a long bearded man dressed in furs, wearing a horned helmet, with many flies around him. She turned quickly from the mirror, looking back behind her, but there was no one there. Then she turned again to the mirror. A fly was crawling there, on its edge, and she could still see him, or his reflection, silent and unmoving. She backed away slowly, trembling. Then, the next thing she knew, shards of glass were flying towards her, as he came crashing through the mirror and into her bedroom. She tried to scream, but with his callous, muddied hand, he squeezed her neck, and threw her onto the bed. Then, as if from nowhere, he brought forth a large ax, and with it, silenced her screams, sinking the ax head into her chest.

Chapter 7

Adam tapped lightly on the door. “Princess,” he called. There was no answer. “Princess!” he called again, tapping louder. Still, there was no answer.
The door was slightly ajar, and so he peeked into her bedroom. All he could see were purple curtains pulled back and the morning sunlight cascading through the unopened window. He pushed the door gently. It creaked open. A full length mirror was in the corner, a dresser was on one wall, and a queen sized, four poster bed, with a wooden chest at its foot, dominated the room.
Finding the room empty, Adam turned to leave when he bumped into the dresser knocking over a gold ring, sending it rolling under the bed. He moved the wooden chest away, and reached under the bed to find it, but he found, instead, a small jewelry box or music box made of ivory, embroidered with gold. Small figures were carved into its edges: two demons grinning mischievously on one side, and two angels on the other, holding up the lid. Without even thinking, Adam went to open it, when suddenly, a manly voice called forth, “So there you are!” It was Extendar, and Princess Palutina gleaming behind him.
“I’m sorry,” said Adam, hiding the box under the bed before they could see. “I was just looking for the princess when I knocked over one of her rings. I think it went under the bed.”
“No matter!” said he, slapping him on the back. “We’ll find it later! Let us be off now! Did you sleep well?”
“No,” said Adam. “I had, strange dreams . . .”
“Oh!” said the princess. “I couldn’t sleep either. Nightmares,” she added.
“Do you remember them?” Adam asked.
“All I know is that they were horrible, something about, flies . . .”
“Alas!” said Extendar. “That I was not there to protect you!”
“You’re too good to me, Extendar,” she replied.
“Where are my companions?” asked Adam.
“They all left,” said the princess, “to explore the dungeon. I sent two of my knights with them, Sir Paladin and Sir Bard.”
“They will need me!” Adam burst forth.
“No,” said Extendar, gesturing for him to stop. “Are you forgetting? You are a king now, the dungeon is no place for you. And besides, they will be safe. I doubt they will find anything.”
“You will spend the day with us,” said the princess, smiling. “I have arranged a jousting tournament in your honor.”
“Jousting?” asked Adam, puzzled.

It was dark, and only by the light of Sir Paladin's lamp could the heroes see to walk three steps ahead. Ram Man, Clamp Champ, Duncan, and Rotar were there, though Clamp Champ had, at times, needed to carry Rotar on his back for Rotar could not walk down steps. There was another knight with them too, a knight and a minstrel known as Sir Bard, and with him was his lute. Sir Paladin and Sir Bard had led them downstairs to the base of the palace and below, to the dungeon underground. Here the air was cold and damp, and the age-worn bricks were covered with moss. It looked as though the dungeon had not been used in centuries.
The narrow passageway allowed for two to stand abreast, and so they walked in pairs, Sir Paladin and Duncan first, Sir Bard and Ram Man next, then Rotar and Clamp Champ last. And as they made their way, Sir Bard began to sing and play his lute, and this is how he went:

“In the days of old,
before chivalry
There was famine, war,
and misery
And here the cruel kings,
they would store
Their enemies that are,
here no more
For our fair princess does
the Kingdom bind
And in her dungeon is but captive
wine.”

The six heroes came upon a series of prison cells with rotted wooden doors and small windows with rusting, iron bars. Nothing remained in these cells but old manacles, most of them broken, the remains of the now dead residents, and large cock roaches nesting in the corners. In one cell, a skeleton with a piece of chalk marked the days of its life’s imprisonment, as a black widow spider ran across a web between its hand and its head. Turning down the hall, Sir Bard led them to the oldest part of the dungeon, or so it was the oldest part as he knew it. There the hall came to an end.
“As I said,” said Sir Paladin. “There is nothing here.”
“Wait,” Duncan protested, examining the wall. “Bring the lamp closer. I can see an inscription.”
“Oh, yes,” said he, casting the light against the wall.
A circle was etched into the surface there, as wide as the hallway itself, and in the center of that circle was a symbol. It was difficult to make out, for most of it was cracked, and moss grew in-between the cracks. “That is a decoration,” said Sir Paladin.
With the palm of his hand, Duncan cleared the years of grime and dust from the wall’s surface, and the symbol became more clear. It was like the head of an upright trident, but with the points flattened. “No!” Duncan cried. “This is a Zodiakian symbol!”
“Are you sure?” asked Sir Paladin.
“It cannot be mistaken!”
“What does this mean?” asked Sir Bard.
Duncan bent all his weight against the wall. “I don’t know,” he grunted. “But help me!”
“Here,” said Clamp Champ, elbowing his way to the front. “Let me try.” Then, with a tremendous heave, the large, muscle-bound Eternian pushed the circle inwardly, and it sank into the wall with a stone grinding echo.
An impression had been made, and Duncan examined it, and the space between the circle and the wall. This way he could tell; the wall was four fingers thick. “It looks as though you can turn it, like a wheel, into the wall.”
And Clamp Champ did so, finding a hidden passage.

Adam followed Extendar and the princess downstairs and out to the back side of the palace where there was a strip of land divided long-ways by a short barricade. Beside the forest and the trickling brook, knights on Palutinian horses sped towards each other with lance in hand, trying as they may, to knock the other off his horse. The lance and shield collided with a resounding CLANG, but there was no winner. “Here," said Extendar, handing him a wooden lance.
“But . . . I’ve never . . .,” Adam started.
“Oh, it really should be very easy, your Highness, if indeed the legends of your might be true!
“He-Man . . .,” Extendar continued, “Long have I waited to challenge someone such as yourself!”
“But, I really can’t fight.”
“This isn’t fighting! It’s just a game!” said Extendar.
“I’m sure you’ll do well,” said the princess to Adam, lifting herself up on her toes and with her lips, pecking him on the cheek.
One of the squires brought Adam his horse. It was a light brown horse with a pretty blonde mane, and the squire was brushing it gently. As Adam turned to it, another two squires ran up behind him, one with a breast plate in his arms, the other with a helmet.
“I don’t need armor,” said Adam.
“Are you sure?” Extendar asked. “All the knights wear armor! How could you not?”
“It is,” said Adam, removing his vest and shirt, “the Eternian way.”
“As you wish,” said Extendar, taking his lance from the arms of his squire. “But you will need a shield.”
Adam was already mounting his horse, but the animal was much bigger than what he was used to, his tiger, Battle Cat, and so he needed two squires, one each to hold his heels. Extendar, also, needed two squires, not for lack of skill, but due to his heavy full plate armor. Then the squires gave them their long shields. Adam’s was painted with the image of a crowned lion, and Extendar’s with that of a clawing green dragon breathing fire.
“I say!” Extendar called to him. “Would you like a different size lance?”
“How long is this?” asked Adam.
“Four cubits!” said Extendar. “But mine is nearly five and a half.”
“Does it make any difference?” asked Adam.
“It all depends on how you joust. To each man his own,” he added. “You should always have your own lance.”
“This will be fine!” Adam said, riding off unsteadily.

The bricks of the cylindrical tunnel were ultra-violet, almost blinding them. “What is this!?" said Sir Bard. “I never knew of this place!"
“Nothing here, eh, Sir Paladin?” Duncan quipped.
“All right, men!” Sir Paladin cried, ignoring him, then brandishing his gold and silver sword. “Stand ready behind my shield! We do not know what we may find.”
They started forward and continued on for some time, through a seemingly endless path, until coming upon a skeleton. By its clothes one could tell it had been an escaped prisoner, but most peculiar was a scrap of cloth clutched in its left hand. Duncan stooped low to pry the cloth loose, and with that, the fingers of the skeleton crumbled to dust.
“What does it say?” asked Sir Paladin.
On one side of the cloth was written, in a fine hand, a block of small, black letters, and most of these were smeared as if once soaked. On the other side, in a larger, less eloquent hand, were letters in red, and the last line of the last word trailed off to the bottom of the cloth, as if it had not been finished. “I can’t read any of it,” Duncan said.
“The red letters are old Palutinian,” said Sir Bard. “I can read it, but not well, for it is not well-written. It says:

“The ruins down below, and the relic, Are not for mortal eyes to see. Look upon this witness here. Dead is he. Dead is he.”

For a moment they considered going back, but as fearless heroes they all knew, without saying, they must go on. And so, they walked the length of the tunnel unto a vast, deep darkness. All they could see, by a faint light at the bottom, was a narrow, twisting flight of steps, without any handrail, descending many fathoms down.
“My God!” Sir Bard cried. “It would take a hundred years to reach the end of these steps!”
One by one, hand in hand, they slowly made their way down. It did not take, however, one hundred years, but rather, several hours, at the end of which, their legs were bent, and their calves cried out in pain.
Now the six adventurers came upon an elaborate system of man-made catacombs, as they could see, standing knee deep in a black river of cold, murky water. Stalactites had formed out of the unnatural ceiling, assuring them of its great antiquity, and they each wondered with awe at its age, and of what great, old culture could have built the place.
They pressed on, finding that the water deepened as they went, and every now and then, feeling strange, slimy things brush against their legs. Nothing else could be seen but their own shadows creeping across the walls and jumping from the hidden avenues. And all remained speechless with awe and weariness, until Duncan spoke. “Once there was an underground river here,” he said. “Then the waters receded, forming this underground cave.”
“And to think,” said Sir Bard. “All this rested beneath the palace for so many centuries, and we never knew.”

After a short time, the heroes came to a small wooden boat tethered to a stalagmite by a rotted chord. The boat could seat but two of them, and when putting his sword in the water ahead, Sir Paladin realized the floor of the cave dropped off a steep, underwater cliff. “For us to go on,” said Sir Paladin, “two of us must go, and four of us stay.”
“How do we know that boat will not sink?” asked Sir Bard. “It must be ancient, and worn.”
“I will go,” said Duncan.
“Then I will come with you,” said Sir Paladin.
“No,” said Duncan. “Better I go with Clamp Champ. With your armor, you would sink like a stone.”
“The princess instructed me to escort you, and escort you I shall!”
“Then take off your armor,” said Duncan.
“No! A Knight of Palutina never takes off his armor when there is danger afoot!”
“So be it!” said Duncan, throwing down his helmet and his orange breast plate.

Adam turned his horse to face Extendar, and Extendar, in turn, kicked his heels, galloping down the field towards him. Blood gushed through Adam’s veins as he picked up speed. He loved the blast of wind against his round, bare chest, blowing through his long, unknotted, blonde hair. And in that moment he was no longer Adam, Prince of Eternia, but He-Man, noble warrior, and at the same time, fierce and savage.
Sunlight played against Extendar’s shining armor as he lowered his lance, and a flash of light from the point of the lance almost blinded He-Man. Then the moment of impact was upon them. Grinding his teeth and squinting to see, He-Man thrust his lance forward with his best effort, gripping his shield with a sweaty palm, ready to endure the blow.
CLANG!
He-Man found himself lying in the dust with a dint in his shield and his lance broken. Extendar was sitting high upon his horse, laughing. But it was not over for the Eternian warrior. He-Man jumped to his feet, seized hold of Extendar’s lance, and threw him down. Extendar fell like a stack of dishes, but before he could get to his feet, He-Man was already upon him, grabbing him by the grill of his face plate, lifting him into the air with one hand, and slamming him into the ground. Then he pinned him down with his knees, delivering a chain of successive punches to the fallen knight’s armored chest.

The boat drifted slowly in the dark into a seemingly vast nothingness. And as time dragged on, Sir Paladin and Duncan felt the trickle of fear, of the unknown that awaited them, and their heart beats quickened. Then, at long last, the boat came to a sudden stop.
There they found a beach of scorched earth, and stepped from the boat, carefully, on to this new land. Before them, a little further ways, was an open archway ten feet high. And laying before it was the rusted full plate armor of a knight.
“Good God!” said Sir Paladin. “It's one of us! But, the style of his armor, it is old, as old as the palace itself! The first king of Palutina must have known of this place! Why do we not know of it?”
“Perhaps,” said Duncan. “They wished for you not to know.”
Sir Paladin examined the remains of the dead knight, finding a half buried backpack nearby. He opened the backpack, and removed a broken compass, some worn rope, and a complete scroll. He then unraveled the scroll, seeing that it was a map of many rooms and many openings. In the center of the map was a large square, and a red “X” was drawn through it.
“We can use this,” said Duncan, “to scour every last inch of this place, for these are the lost ruins of the Zodiakians, and here must be the Krelm! Let us bring the others.”

“Hold Adam!” Extendar cried. “I yield! I yield!”
Adam stopped suddenly, as if startled from a daze. “I’m sorry, Extendar. I don’t know what possessed me!”
“Clearly you are the winner!” said Princess Palutina coming up from behind.
“No,” said Adam. “I behaved horribly.”
“Quite all right my good friend,” said Extendar, slapping him on the back. “It’s all in good fun. And I’m all right. Luckily, I was wearing my armor!” And he laughed.
Adam forced a smile.

After many hours of searching, the dungeon explorers came upon the center of the ruins, where the red X had been drawn. There was a massive rotunda with a dome shaped ceiling, and a three hundred foot, decrepit tower in the very center of it, shaped somewhat like an eagle’s head. A single opening led them inside, where a four pointed star in a circle was on the floor. And in the center of that star was a stone box. It measured three by three feet, and there seemed to be ancient markings etched into its surface, most of which had long been weathered away.
“That’s it!” cried Duncan excitedly, “the altar from Baartook! It is the same!”
“But how does it open?” asked Sir Paladin.
“I don’t know,” said Duncan. “Last time it was by accident, and I don’t remember what I did.”
“I say each of us takes a turn, and whoever succeeds is the smartest of us all!” Sir Bard suggested merrily.
“That is a good idea,” said Duncan. “I will be first.”
Duncan probed the altar meticulously with his fingers, over every bump and crevice, pressing here and there, but the altar was unchanged. Sir Paladin tried prying it open with his sword, but his effort was futile. Sir Bard tried singing to it, though it was in jest, and of course, it didn’t work. Then Clamp Champ used his massive strength to lift it, though his strength failed him, and Rotar tried pushing it and turning it every which way, but still, nothing happened.
“Are you sure this thing is supposed to open?” asked Sir Paladin.
“Wait,” said Duncan. “Ram Man hasn’t tried.”
“Yes, Ram Man,” said Sir Paladin sarcastically, “See if the box will open.”
“OK,” said Ram Man. Then he bashed the altar in with his head, and with a stone grinding echo, the altar opened.
The six men rejoiced like small children. But their rejoicing was cut short, when Ram Man looked into the altar and saw that it was empty.

Night fell over the kingdom, and there was still no word from the heroes who had gone down into the dungeon early that morning. And so, as Adam and Extendar went looking for them, Princess Palutina sneaked into her bedroom and pulled from under her bed the large, ivory jewelry box she had hidden.
Upon opening the box, all in the room was bathed in a strange, green light. There was an unholy ornament connected to a gold chain there, and taking it in hand, Princess Palutina slipped it over her neck, and admired it in her full length mirror. “I’ll never give you up,” she said, placing one finger on the jade ornament. “Never.”



Chapters 4 & 5

The Grayskull Library

Chapter 8


Chapter 8

On the night of the next day, the Eternian heroes and the Knights of Palutina, returned from the dungeon, having turned every stone, searched every niche, and unearthed every spoonful of dirt. Duncan, again, related the story, to Adam, Extendar, and the princess, how he found a secret passage to the Zodiakian ruins, but could not find the Krelm. And so, not knowing what else to do, the heroes decided to rest, and the princess arranged for them a banquet.
The banquet was held in the ballroom, which, from the outside, could be viewed as the thickest and shortest of the palace towers, all arrayed with high glass windows. On the inside was a domed ceiling with a mural depicting cherubs frolicking in the clouds, plucking their golden bows and harps.
There was much merriment that night, with Sir Bard playing his lute and the others dancing. Even Ram Man was dressed for the occasion, having removed his iron helm for a neatly combed head of hair.
The princess was radiant as ever, with her waist-length, wavy, blonde hair, her long, flowing gown of crystal blue, the white gloves she wore up to her elbows, and her diamond tiara and necklace to match. All the men looked at her, for she was quite a marvel to look at, a portrait of loveliness, and the only woman with whom to dance. Being a king and the most handsome, the majority of them expected her to go to Adam. But she walked passed him and straightway to Ram Man, saying; “Why, Ram Man, you look dashing!”
“I do?” said he, blushing. Then she stared up at him, smiling, and he at her, dumbfounded.
Adam, who was standing next to Ram Man, nudged him in the ribs, whispering, though everyone could hear it; “Ask her to dance!”
“Um, er, would you like to dance?” he asked.
“Why, certainly!” she replied, as if the thought had never occurred to her.
The two of them danced the waltz, he, holding her around the waist with one hand, and she, placing her hands against his chest, for she could not reach around his neck. But their dance was cut short when a guard entered the room, walked up to the princess, and whispered in her ear.
“I’m sorry,” she said to Ram Man. “Wait here, I’ll be right back!” Then she trotted away following the guard.

The guard brought the princess to the front door of the palace, and there was another guard with a halberd in his hands, holding the door open, and standing in the doorway was a short, stout man with wrinkled skin and a wooden shepherd’s staff. He wore a cloak as black as night with a hood that partially concealed his face, and a silver chain-link belt around his waist with a ram’s head as its buckle.
“May I help you?” said the princess.
“Yes,” he said. “Forgive me for intruding. My name is Mordak. I am from the Witchwood Forest and I have lost my way. Could you please help a tired, old man? I need a place to sleep, just for the night, if it isn’t too much trouble. I could stay in your barn, if just to get in out of the rain.”
“But it isn’t raining,” said the princess. Suddenly, there was a flash of lightning, and she could see the silhouette of the old man standing there, his dark shape in the light unmoving.
“Oh, but it is,” said he, and then there was a clap of thunder, having rolled right off his tongue. And the guard standing there with the halberd looked up in amazement, as it began to pour.
“Well then, Mordak, please come in.” He stepped into the palace. The door closed behind them. “All are welcome to the Palace of Palutina,” she said, “rain or shine.”
“Thank you,” he said. “You are very kind. Can you show me to your barn?”
“Oh no!” she exclaimed. “You will stay upstairs, in our finest rooms!”
“I thank you again, your Highness.”
“Would you like something to eat and drink before I show you to your room?” she asked.
“Yes,” he said. “That would be nice.”
“Follow me,” she said, and he followed her to the dining room where the Twelve Knights Dragonslayers first ate with the Eternian heroes. But it was night now and the room was dark, and only the light from the storm cast an occasional shadow against the wall.

“There you are,” the princess said, placing a bowl of meat and potatoes in front of him. Her voice echoed within the immense hall.
He clutched the wooden spoon in his fist. “I cannot thank you enough!” he said, almost tearful.
“I must leave you now,” she said. “But I will be back. If you need anything, ask my cook. I have instructed him to give you anything you need.”
“Thank you again,” he replied, beginning to eat.
As she turned to leave, Extendar burst through the door. “Where have you been?” he asked.
“I was just helping this poor man,” she said.
“You know you shouldn’t be going places by yourself, especially with strangers!” he replied.
“Oh, Extendar, you are being foolish. He’s just a harmless old man!”
“It doesn’t matter, you shouldn’t . . .”
“I don’t like your tone,” she cut in. “Am I not the princess?”
“Yes, but-”
“Then I can do whatever I want.”
“But, princess, we have serva-”
“That’s enough! Escort me back to the ballroom.”
“As you wish, your Highness.”
The two walked off together, leaving the old man to dine alone. But to dine was not what he seemed intent upon. For as their footsteps trailed off to silence, so did the old man who called himself Mordak, snicker maniacally, reaching into his cloak, into a pocket there, drawing forth a small pewter figurine of an oddly shaped wolf.

In the ballroom, Ram Man had gone back to standing next to Adam, when the princess and Extendar entered the room. Having already danced with Ram Man, the men thought she would now choose someone else to dance with, but she immediately went to Ram Man again, and taking him by the hand, led him back to the dance floor.
“I’m sorry, Rammy,” she said. “Now, where were we?”
Ram Man swallowed hard. “Here, I guess . . . your Highness,” he said.
“Oh,” she smiled. “You don’t need to call me that.”
“What should I call you?”
“Call me, Tina.” Then she smiled at him, and it was a smile that pierced his heart.

As the night progressed, Ram Man and ‘Tina’ became better and better acquainted, as the others watched with wonder, at her seemingly sudden interest in Ram Man. But not all of them paid attention to Ram Man and the princess. Some had other things on their mind. For Adam, Duncan, Clamp Champ, and Rotar, it was a somber occasion. Adam’s thoughts turned to the memory of his father, to the last words he heard his father say, playing in his ears over and over again. Duncan’s mind was a perpetual battlefield; he thought of the Krelm, of everything he knew of it, its history, its purpose, every minutest detail, fighting within himself to come up with the answer as to where it could be found. Clamp Champ thought of his people and of his lost home, Lamar. And Rotar boiled with anger and jealousy, yearning for the days when he could walk, run, and dance.
Suddenly, the light went out. There were screams of panic. And all searched in vain to find the moon and the stars. But it was as if they had been engulfed, not by a cloud, for the outline of a cloud, even in the darkest of night, can still be seen, but rather, by a void, a blackness.
The Palutinian knights and the Eternian heroes, stumbled in the dark for a candle and a tinder box. It was Sir Bard who found them at last. But when the candle was lit, there was something else there, something that wasn’t there before. They all huddled around the dim candle light for fear. Moving towards them was a black shape, with teeth. Its breathing was like the snoring of a hundred warthogs. Then there was a growl, a screaming, and the candle went out.

At last, the knights came back with torches, and they lit every other hanging torch, and every candelabra stand, so that the room was bright again. Then Princess Palutina screamed, seeing what remains there were of Sir Bard, a mangled mesh of metal and flesh, smeared with blood and gashed by what looked like, claw and teeth marks. “What could have done this!” Extendar cried.
“It is happening again,” said Duncan, quietly.
“What is happening again!” cried Extendar.
“There is your proof!” Duncan replied, pointing. “These are the marks of the wolf!”
“A wolf did this?” asked Sir Paladin with a tone of disbelief.
“Not just a wolf,” Duncan answered, turning to face him, “a big wolf.”
“Oh, Sir Bard!” the princess lamented, burying her head in her hands.
“Quickly!” Extendar shouted. “If the palace is under attack, we must get to the front door!” And he ran out of the ballroom. The rest followed.
“Where is the Krelm!?” Duncan said to Extendar, running alongside him.
“We have no time for that now, Duncan!”
“Why do you think we are being attacked!” said the other. “They want the Krelm, and they KNOW you have it! It is here in the palace; admit it! ”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about!” Extendar protested.

Now they were in the main hall. The front door was before them, a massive chandelier was overhead, and the steps leading up was to the rear. “Grab any weapon you can find!” said Extendar, though he, himself, was weaponless. And the knights scattered about frantically.
An eerie gray mist seeped under the door, filling the room. “What is it!?” someone yelled.
The mist circled around them, coalescing into a single shape, and then, taking the form of an eleven foot tall creature, with leathery, gray skin, long, black, matted hair, and a tiny, bat-like head. Two knights ran towards it brandishing their two-handed swords. One of them swung at it, but his sword touched nothing, as if swinging at air. The second knight thrust at it with all his might, but he also failed to harm it, stumbling through the creature following his sword. The gray creature, then, turned to the knight on its left, and its fingers stretched to long points as if they were made of clay, and they sank into his armor as if the steel were turned to liquid, pulling out the knight’s still beating heart. And as he looked with horror at his own heart in the hand of a monster, so did the monster turn to the other knight, pulling out his heart as well, with its other hand. Soon after, both knights fell to the floor, dead.
Those remaining sat and watched, petrified with fear. Then, just when they thought the night couldn’t get any worse, screams of two men could be heard from behind the main door, followed by the sound of wood when it splinters. And the door arched inwardly.
“Bar the door!” Extendar cried, running towards it, but just as he was about to reach it, a huge, monstrous wolf jumped from the shadows, knocking him flat on his back.
Caked with the blood of Sir Bard, its teeth dripping with drool, the wolf made for Extendar’s armored breast, but Extendar, with his great strength, grabbed the wolf by the arms and held it at bay, as it snapped its enormous jaws inches from his face.
Just then, the door gave way to the man from the princess’ nightmares, the bearded warrior with his great ax. And in his hands were the heads of the palace guards, and from him came a foul stench. Seeing this, Clamp Champ went into a rage, running towards the ax wielding warrior, ducking under his blade, and knocking him backwards with a single punch to the head.
Meanwhile, Sir Paladin was already upon the gray creature, and Duncan with his mace followed close behind. The gray creature reached for Sir Paladin’s heart, but its fingers could not penetrate the knight’s shield. Then Duncan raised his mace, but before he could bring it down, the creature turned to him, and in a voice as cold as death, uttered; “You will not harm me!”
The words sent shock waves through Duncan’s body, and the gray creature’s eyes flared up to a red glow, and Duncan cried out, dropping his mace and clutching his arm. He looked at his hands. They were pink and wrinkled, and it hurt too much to clench his fists.
Ram Man, meanwhile, went to join the battle when he realized; he wasn’t wearing his helm. So he ran off quickly to where he had left it.
Suddenly, the dining room doors flew open and in came another two. One was a tall figure in a black cloak and hood, holding a long metal staff with the head of a ram’s skull. The other followed closely like a shadow, but nothing could be seen of his appearance, for he stayed in the darkness.
With each step they made toward the battle scene, so did the cloaked figure slam his staff upon the floor, making a loud, clanging sound. Then a ray of light from a candelabra stand unmasked the veil of shadow from his face. But there was no face to be seen, only a yellow stained skull, and a fire burning within the empty eye sockets. And he turned to the princess, speaking in a high, wavering voice, saying; “Thank you, your High-ness! The soup was excellent!” And he let out a baleful laugh. “Now I will feast on you!
“Get them my pets! Find the Krelm!”
“Skeletor!” Adam cried, itching for his sword.
Clamp Champ, meanwhile, jumped over the bearded warrior’s swinging ax, ten feet in the air, grabbing on to the hanging chandelier. Then he pulled the chandelier from the ceiling, rolling away from it as it exploded into a hundred pieces against the hard stone floor, crushing the blood thirsty warrior beneath its metal frame, a thousand sharp crystals, and its twenty foot chain. Clamp Champ suffered but minor cuts and bruises. But the other was not dead, as he could see, out of the corner of his eye, the warrior getting to his feet once more. And so, lifting the fallen chandelier chain, Clamp Champ wrapped one end around his fist, and the other end around the warrior’s neck, and pulled with all his might.
The warrior fought to free himself for several seconds, as Clamp Champ struggled to strangle him. But the foul being that he was, simply would not die, and unsheathing a wicked looking dagger from his boot, stabbed Clamp Champ in the side.
Clamp Champ fell to the ground, bleeding, and the warrior rose, lifting his ax overhead. Then, a voice cried out; “I’ll save you, Turok!” It was Rotar, and he came spinning towards the ax bearing warrior. And with one hefty swing, he chopped off the warrior’s leg from the knee. No blood was shed, but the warrior fell to the ground, as Rotar helped drag Clamp Champ away into the corner.
Rotar had planned to commit suicide. He was a hero instead.
Not much further away, Extendar was getting tired. He could no longer hold the wolf back. Its claws and teeth cut through his armor as if they were tipped with acid, and he could feel the burning of those gashes. Soon, he knew, he would be torn to pieces.
Sir Paladin was near to death also. He could no further endure the gray creature’s icy touch, and he could not raise his sword and shield anymore. Then, just when he thought his life was over, the gray creature turned from him, to Rotar, reaching for Rotar’s heart. But Rotar was spinning too fast. And so, the gray creature turned itself into twelve large bats, bats that swarmed about him, nipping at his flesh with their tiny fangs.
Meanwhile, the evil, mutilated warrior snatched his lost leg and reattached it, and stood back up as if nothing had happened. Then, he lifted his fallen ax from the floor, surveying the room to see what else was left to kill. Skeletor, standing twenty feet away, pointed his finger commanding him; “Get the girl! She must have the Krelm! Find it and bring it to me!”
The warrior turned to the princess, ax in hand, slowly moving towards her. Adam called out; “Run your Highness! Run!” But she wouldn’t. She simply stood there, watching the ax being raised over her head. Suddenly, Ram Man appeared with his ax and helm, taking the princess under his arm and bounding up the stairs. The warrior followed after them.
“Ram Man!” she said. “You saved my life.”
“Not yet,” he replied, running to her bedroom and tossing her in. “Lock the door and don’t come out!”
Ram Man, then, turned and hurled his ax, sending it spinning into the warrior’s brain. The warrior stumbled back a step, but kept on coming, not stopping even to remove the blade embedded in his skull.
Now weaponless, Ram Man could do nothing but block the door with his own body. But the other was not deterred. He merely swung his ax, knocking Ram Man ten feet away with a mighty chop to the head.
The princess screamed as the rusty blade of the warrior’s ax came smashing through the wooden door. Then, regaining her senses, she reached under the bed, opening her jewelry box and taking out the Krelm. The door burst apart, and the warrior stepped into the room. But the princess kept her calm, boldly jumping in front of him, dangling the Krelm by its chain, saying; “You want this, don’t you!?”
He stopped for a second, just long enough for Ram Man to ram him with his head. So tremendous was the blow, that the warrior dropped his ax, laying flat on his back with all four hundred pounds of Ram Man on top of him. Ram Man had been struck down by the warrior’s ax, but his mighty helm had saved him, and the ax blade left but a small cut on his scalp. And there the two wrestled on the floor, rolling up to the second story railing. But the wooden railing could not hold, and they smashed through it, falling over the edge, hand in hand, fifteen feet down to the first floor.
“Ram Man!” the princess cried, reaching over the rail.
“I’m all right!” he replied, still wrestling. “Just go! Don’t let them take the Krelm!”
Hearing this, the wolf leaped off Extendar’s body, and up to the second floor, as Adam watched and clenched his teeth, helpless, and Rotar fought the bats.
Princess Palutina dashed back into her room, as the wolf slipped on the red carpet, crashing into the china cabinet. She then removed her shoes, opened the window, and climbed out, with the Krelm hanging from her neck, and she, hanging over the ledge, as the storm rained down on her. But the wolf was in her room now, and it smelled where she was hiding, and so she began to climb, up the palace wall, and through the tower window.
Up the steps of the tower she ran, to the very top of the palace, and through the door to the balcony overlooking the river and the forest. And there she stood, the storm thundering behind her, with no place left to run.
Below her was another balcony. And there a bolt of lightning struck, and from the ash and smoke came Skeletor, tendrils of electricity jumping from his staff. “Give me the Krelm!” he said.
“You can’t have it!” she replied. “It is a family heirloom given to me by my father!”
“You will give me the Krelm!” he said. “Or I will destroy you!” A bolt of lightning streaked behind him.
Princess Palutina removed the necklace, dangling it off the tips of her fingers. “I’ll drop it in the river before I let you have it!”
“You won’t do that!”
“Yes, I will.”
“No!”
And then, she dropped it.
“Foolish woman, it is as good . . .”

In the main hall of the palace, the twelve bats fighting Rotar flew out the door.

“. . . as mine!”

The bats flew over the river, catching a green glowing object in their claws. Then they circled up the palace tower, dropping the Krelm into the hands of Skeletor.
“Mine!” Skeletor shouted with glee, “all mine!” And he reached into his cloak, pulling out another green glowing object, and he put the two green glowing objects together, and there was an explosion of green light, and green over the whole palace.
When the princess dared to look again, Skeletor was gone.



Chapters 6 & 7

The Grayskull Library

Chapter 9


Chapter 9

The Krelm
Copyright © November 20, 1997 by Jennifer Thomas and Nick Alimonos


Chapter 9

Adam was tired. He hadn’t slept all night, and now, he sat on the first step of the stairs in the main hall, gazing out the window at the morning fog blanketing the palace.
Duncan approached him with a leather bound book in his hands. His face was pale; his eyes were blood shot, and purple lines hung under them. “I have come to report, your Highness.”
“We’re friends, Duncan,” he replied. His voice showed his tiredness. “You can speak freely.”
“Thank you, Adam. I have come to report the casualties.”
“And . . .?”
“It appears that the Knights of Palutina are far mightier than the men-at-arms of Eternia. Three are dead, as opposed to our first encounter, when we lost nearly fifty.
“Sir Paladin is in bed, wrapped in warm blankets; he is, cold to the touch. And Extendar, he lost much blood. But they should live.
“Then there’s Turok. He is wounded badly, stabbed in the side with a dagger. I took the dagger out, cleaned and dressed the wound, but it seems to be infected. If we don’t return to Grayskull soon, he may die.
“And Rotar, he sustained many bites.”
“Bites?”
“From the bats.”
“Oh.”
“But he’ll be all right. As for Ram Man, he has a minor cut on his head.”
“What about you? What happened to you out there?”
“I don’t know,” he said. “It paralyzed me, just with its voice. But that doesn’t bother me so much as . . .
“As?”
“Why it didn’t kill me.”
“That bothers you?”
“Yes. This is the second time it let me live. Why the others, why not me?”
“You should consider yourself lucky.”
“No,” said Duncan. “I should have died. It should have killed me.”
“But it didn’t . . . be glad for that.”
“I can’t.”
“What is that?” asked Adam, motioning to the book.
“Oh, this, this is my log. I am keeping a record of everything that’s happened so far, regarding the Krelm. I am trying to learn as much as possible about it. I have spoken to everyone, even the cook.”
“The cook?”
“Yes, he said he saw Skeletor in the dining room last night, before the attack.”
“Well, this should make a great story someday, for our grandchildren to read.”
“If we live long enough to have grandchildren.” There was a brief pause between the two of them, before Duncan went on. “Adam, your Highness, may I speak freely?”
“I said you could.”
“Adam, I know you are now the king, but why didn’t you help us last night? It’s not like you to back down from a fight.”
Adam lowered his eyes. “There are reasons best left unspoken.”
“But we needed you, Adam! We needed He-Man! With you on our side, we might have not lost the Krelm.”
“Please, Duncan, believe me when I say: ‘I have my reasons.’ ”
“Does this mean you won’t be fighting, ever again?”
“I . . . I don’t know, Duncan. I just don’t know.” Adam pushed his hand across his face. “The Sorceress spoke to me today,” he said, changing the subject. “She spoke to me in my thoughts, and she knows what happened. We are returning to Eternia, soon. Is everyone assembled?” He looked around the room. “Where is Ram Man?”
“With the princess.”
“With the princess?”
“Yes, he has been seeing a lot of her, as of late.”

Princess Palutina led Ram Man to the gazebo outside; the fog was so thick they could hardly see it. And there they sat.
“Tina?”
“Yes, Ram Man?”
“Are you sure you’re all right?”
“Yes,” she said, smiling. “I’m fine, thanks to you.”
“Good. If somethin’ happened to you, I don’t know what I’d do.”
“Are you saying that because I’m the princess?”
“No, I don’t care about that. Even if you were a peasant, I would feel the same.”
“Ram Man,” she said, placing her hands in his. “Do you love me?”
Ram Man was quite taken aback by this, as if he had been struck by a stray arrow in the chest. It was a question that not even he, had asked of himself, though he found himself answering; “Yes, I do.” He didn’t even stop to think.
“Then stay here with me, please.”
“I . . . I can’t.”
“But why?”
“My friends . . . they need me.”
“Will you come back?”
“Of course!”
“You promise?”
“Yes, I promise.”
“Then take this mirror,” she said, and from her breast she produced a small, pink hand mirror in the shape of a heart.
“What’s this for?” he asked.
“Keep it with you always, to remember your promise to me. And don’t break it, that is seven years bad luck, on Palutina.”
“Funny,” he said. “It’s seven hundred years bad luck on Eternia. Things must take much longer there, I guess.”
“Better not break it then!” she said, smiling.
He took the mirror and slipped it under his belt. “I’ll treasure it always.”
“Oh, Ram Man, never in a thousand years did I ever think I would meet someone like you! And now, you are leaving! How I will miss you!” Then she lay down on the gazebo seat, her tiny bare feet propped up against the rail, her head resting on his stomach, and her long golden hair flowing down to his boots like a waterfall.
“You know, Tina, I think I’m the only one not worried about the Krelm.”
“Why?”
“Because I’ve met you. Would fate have brought us together, over such a great distance, to let us die at the hands of monsters?”
“You’re right, Ram Man,” she said, closing her eyes as if to dream the wonderful days to come. “Nothing bad can happen to us. Nothing.” But deep in her heart, she was afraid.

After a long goodbye with the princess, Sir Paladin, and Extendar, the Eternian heroes found themselves moving once more through the golden, shimmering opal of light, to the portal chamber of Castle Grayskull. Ram Man was the last to step through, turning back to see the princess one last time.
The Sorceress, dressed in bird feathers, greeted them on the other side of the portal. She was kind enough to cure Clamp Champ of his infectious wound. With a wave of her hand, the infection was gone. Then the heroes went on their way, back to the City of Eternos to rest, all but Adam. He remained at the request of the Sorceress.
“I’m sorry,” he said. “We failed.”
“It doesn’t matter,” she replied matter-of-factly. “As long as Skeletor doesn’t get the third piece, the other pieces will be useless to him.”
“Where is the third piece?”
The Sorceress cast out her hand, and a three-dimensional map of the universe appeared once more. She pointed her finger to one of the stars, and it became brilliant, brighter than the others. “Embliominimimi.”
“What?”
“The third piece of the Krelm is in the Crystal Mountain of the arctic planet of Embliominimimi.” She waved her hand across the map, lighting another two stars. “Notice how each of the three planets where the Zodiakians hid the Krelm, are equidistant to each other, forming a perfect triangle, and in the center of that triangle there are no stars. It is a point of absolute, cold space, of total darkness . . . total, chaos.”
“Chaos? What does all this mean?”
She turned from him. “You . . . you cannot understand.”
“It’s not like you, Sorceress, to say something without reason.”
“I know, Adam, and I’m sorry. Maybe someday, you will understand. But for right now, know there is nothing that the Zodiakians did by chance. Everything has its purpose.”
“We will be ready to go by tomorrow.”
“Good. There is, one more thing.”
“What is it?”
“Come with me,” she said, and she led him to the Grayskull Library.

Only by the light of a single candle could Adam see the ancient looking text on the Sorceress’ wooden desk, blotches of candle wax staining the page where she had left the book open.
“I learned some things when you were away,” she said, the light of the candle mirrored in her eyes. “I learned of Skeletor’s new allies.”
“Tell me!” he said, with eagerness in his voice.
“Look here,” she replied, pointing to the book.
There Adam could see a very faded, yellow picture, a line drawing made with black chalk of what looked like: Duncan, Ram Man, and Clamp Champ carrying Rotar. They were running and looking back, at a huddled group of creatures where lines were emanating, indicative of light. “When did you draw this?” Adam asked.
“I didn’t,” she said.
What appeared on the next page shocked him. It was a battle scene from inside some kind of room, a room with stairs and a chandelier. The artwork was incredibly detailed. There was a knight on the floor, fending off a large wolf, and another knight with a shield fighting a tall, thin creature, and a man with a large ax. And in the background was another man in a cloak holding a staff with a ram’s head. “Sorceress, how could you have known of this! I just told you but an hour ago!”
“This was made by a Zodiakian thousands of years ago, a Zodiakian who wrote about the future. No one’s known what his drawings meant, until now.”
“Amazing!” Adam said. “But if he knew of these past days events thousands of years ago, what does he say of the future of our quest? Will we succeed?”
“There is a little more here, of your journey to Embliominimimi. I cannot tell you of it for risk of changing the future. But I can say this, as to the success of your quest, there is nothing written.”
“Why?”
“The writer died mysteriously near the end, before he could finish the book. But there are some things here that can help you, for he has seen things that you have not seen, the actions of the other side.” She flipped a few pages back, and there was a picture of the wolf.
“His name is Fenris,” she said. “He is the essence of children’s nightmares. Skeletor summoned him in a dream, and with his dark magic, brought him into reality. Therefore, you cannot kill him, for he is not a physical being, not of nature. He is an idea, a thought taken form.”
She turned to the next page, to the gray creature. “This is Nosferatu. He was alive, once, hundreds of years ago. Now, he is the embodiment of death; he is, undeath. Skeletor summoned his spirit by digging up his grave.”
She turned to the next page. “And this, is Bloodax. Like Nosferatu, he was once a man, a mighty warrior. But he was cruel. He delighted in killing women and children, and torturing the men who were his enemies. For this reason, he was refused by Death in his old age, and his spirit remains forever trapped in his decaying body, suffering pain that no living man can endure, yet, ever living. He kills all things that breathe, now, to take revenge.”
It took several minutes for Adam to take all this in. But once his mind settled on the matter, he asked of the Sorceress; “If Bloodax is a physical being, why can’t he be destroyed? What if he is cremated?”
“That has been done. Skeletor found his ashes in a helmet. They were but the seeds of his rebirth, for upon touching the soil of the earth, the body of Bloodax regrew.”
“So, none of them can be killed?” he asked.
“No. And that is why Skeletor chose them. You see, no one would help Skeletor obtain the Krelm to release the Nameless Horrors, for ‘They’ mean the end of everything, even . . . Death itself.”
“Now I understand! Nosferatu and Bloodax, wish to release the Nameless Horrors, to put an end to their existence, to end their own misery!”
“And Fenris has no mind of his own, so it does not matter to him whether the universe ends.”
“But why does Skeletor want this?”
“I don’t know,” she said. “It could be that he doesn’t. It could be that they, are controlling him, and he may not even be aware of it.”
“All right,” he said, sighing, “so they cannot be killed. Can they be hurt?”
“I believe so,” she said. “If you call upon the power of Grayskull, and use your sword.”

***

“You can’t just stare at that thing forever,” she said.
“How long have you been in here?” he asked without turning.
“Oh, I don’t know, hours.”
“I didn’t notice you come in.”
“I know,” she said, walking towards him. “Please, Adam, get some rest.”
“I can’t, Mother. I have to make this decision,” he said, pressing his hand up against the glass, the power of the sword pulsing within, tingling his fingers, “. . . and I don’t know what to do.”
“I know whatever you do, it’ll be the right thing,” she replied, putting her arm around him.
“I made a promise to him,” he continued. “I cannot break that promise.”
“If you’re looking to me for answers, I cannot give them to you. You are the King of Eternia now, and you must learn to make decisions on your own. That is the most difficult, and most important job you have as king. And few men make good kings, my son.”
“Sometimes,” he added. “It’s harder than fighting the toughest monster.”
“It is, but I have faith in you.”
“How can you say that? How can I justify breaking a solemn vow I made to my own father on his death bed? I would rather die than betray him . . .”
“I know you would, but I also know your father, and I know he would have you do what’s best for Eternia.”
“I keep seeing those men,” he said, “dying before my eyes, and me, just standing there, doing nothing. I feel as if I killed them. If only I had jumped in, if only I had my sword . . .,” he turned to it, the long, smooth, single shining piece of metal, standing there, upright, embedded deep within its wooden casing, “they might still be alive today. But then, I see him, . . . I remember the way he looked at me with tired eyes, and I hear his voice, weak and worn with disease . . . and I just, just can’t decide!”
“I don’t know what to say,” Queen Marlena replied. “I wish I knew how all this would turn out. I wish I had the answer, but I don’t. I can’t help you.”
“You can’t, Mother.” Adam slipped and fell to one knee, running his fingers through his blonde hair; he was too tired even to stand.
“I won’t blame you,” she said. “Even if you do make the wrong decision.”
“If I make the wrong decision,” he said. “If I fight and die, and the kingdom falls without an heir, the people of Eternia will blame me. But if I don’t fight, and Skeletor wins, the universe will blame me.”
“Adam!” she blurted. “The weight of the universe is too much for one man to bear! Even for you, even for, He-Man . . .”
“But it has been put upon me,” he said. “And I must accept it.”
“No!” she cried. “You mustn’t!”
“Leave me,” he said. “I want to be alone.”
“Yes, my king,” she replied, turning and walking away.



Chapter 8

The Grayskull Library

Chapter 10


Chapter 10

The Krelm
Copyright © November 20, 1997 by Jennifer Thomas and Nick Alimonos


Chapter 10

Adam woke from his bed, pulling off his single white bed sheet. He then walked over to his dresser, slipping on his fur underwear, metal belt, white, skin-tight pants and shirt, his pink vest, and finally, his purple leather boots.
As he turned to leave the room, he noticed his father’s arm laying on the floor. That’s funny, he thought, what’s my father’s arm doing on the floor? He picked it up, examined it, then left it, strolling out the open doorway.
On his way to the stairs, Adam noticed his father’s leg on the rug. What’s this? Another body part? He walked past it and downstairs, when he noticed yet another arm on the steps, and another leg further down.
Following this strange trail of body parts, Adam came to the royal palace kitchen. There was Bloodax, fresh blood dripping from his ax, and his father’s mutilated body slumped over a chopping block. Next to Bloodax was Fenris, the wolf.
Bloodax was chopping the body up, and feeding the pieces to Fenris, like a master with his dog begging at the table.
Sitting at the kitchen counter was Skeletor, with a large, silver fork, and Nosferatu with an empty, porcelain plate, and a napkin wrapped around his neck.
“Join us for breakfast,” Skeletor said. “We’re having your father.”
“No thanks,” Adam replied, walking passed them to the middle of the room where a massive, golden door stood. Adam stared at the door, wondering. Then, there was a resounding click, and ever so slowly, the massive door opened.
Nothing but total blackness was within, and yet, it seemed to him a living blackness. An icy tinge of fear shot through him then, but an equally powerful curiosity pushed him on, to look into the blackness there, and through those doors came a lone figure. It was He-Man . . .

Adam woke screaming. His bed sheet was cold and wet. Kneeling beside him was Duncan. “Wake up, Adam! Wake up!”
“Duncan . . .,” he muttered, rubbing his forehead.
“Bad dream?” Duncan asked.
“Yes. It was so . . . strange.”
“Well, I don’t think I need to ask what it was about. Did you sleep well, otherwise?”
“Yes, I . . .” Before he could finish, Adam saw a long drip of blood fall from the corner of Duncan’s lips. Duncan noticed his horrific stare, and covered his mouth, saying, “Oh, don’t mind that, i-it’s nothing.”
“What . . .!” Adam started, then pausing, as Rotar walked casually passed his bedroom doorway. The next thing he knew, Duncan had grown fangs, and his eyes had a red glow, and his right hand was a giant, gray, furry claw. Then, growling like some strange beast, Duncan tore through his single bed sheet, ripping open his bare stomach.

Adam woke suddenly. His bed sheet was cold and wet. Duncan was beside him, shaking him. “Bad dream,” Duncan said.
“Yes. It was . . . so real,” he replied, rubbing his forehead.
“Well, I don’t think I need to ask what it was about. Did you sleep well, otherwise?”
“What time is it?”
“Eon is twenty degrees over the horizon.”
“Well, then, I only slept two hours. And I hadn’t slept in days.”
“Sorry to wake you, Adam, but I thought it best we start out early.”
“Quite all right, Duncan, I don’t want to sleep any more.”
“I’ve been using some herbs to keep from passing out myself,” Duncan replied. Then, as Adam pulled the bed sheet away, he noticed his fingers were wet with blood. “Adam, your fingers!” Duncan exclaimed.
Adam looked to where his hand had been moments before, on his stomach, seeing three bloody gashes there. “My dream,” he murmured.
“What?” asked Duncan.
“Oh, nothing, Duncan,” he said, walking over to his dresser mirror, examining his nude body and the gashes in his stomach, by his reflection. “I probably scratched myself, when I was asleep.”
“Yes, well, I think it’s time we discussed the plan. I say we take a thousand men this time, to that planet you told me of, Emblio-whatever.”
“No, Duncan,” Adam said, pulling on his pants. “It will just be the five of us, and Battle Cat.”
“But why? Surely, we will encounter Skeletor, if we’re not too late, and you know we can’t beat him with his new henchmen, unless we have more men.”
“That’s why we can’t take a thousand men, Duncan, because of his new henchmen. We haven’t been able to harm those creatures ourselves. Sending a thousand men against them, with no way to harm them, would be murder. And there is no way I’m sending men-at-arms into battle with no fighting chance.”
“But what chance do we have, otherwise?”
“No chance. I am hoping to find the Krelm before Skeletor arrives. If he and his minions do appear, and we fight, five men will die, not a thousand.”
“And one of those men will be the King of Eternia. Why don’t you stay here, Adam, and guard yourself?”
“No, not on a quest this important. And besides, I have a telepathic link with the Sorceress. Without me, you can’t return.”
“And Battle Cat?”
“He can carry supplies, sniff out the terrain; he’s useful in arctic weather,” Adam replied, slipping on the last of his boots.
“Well, then, let’s go.”

***

Neither the sun, nor any moons, could be seen in the sky over Embliominimimi. Nothing could be seen but a hazy, pale blue canopy of cold air.
The land below was a single glacier of pure white, ice and snow, and icy blue mountains jutting up from the surface, as far as the eye could see. There was nothing else to stir the senses but the downward drift of gentle snow flakes, the constant whistling of the wind, and the dry, piercing cold. And though the five heroes: Adam, Duncan, Ram Man, Clamp Champ, and Rotar, were well dressed in parkas made of pure, brown, Etherian grizzlor, they were already feeling numb. But they trudged on, knee deep in snow, the fierce, green and yellow striped tiger, Battle Cat, by their side, up the path known as “Whistling Way,” as told to them by the Sorceress, the path that led to the Crystal Mountain and, the Krelm.
Rotar had it the easiest. His legs did not push through that snow; his boots were not damp with icy water. Clamp Champ carried him on his back, for his wheel suit did not work here.
“Tell us again, Adam, why the Sorceress couldn’t have sent us inside this, Crystal Mountain?” Duncan asked.
Adam rubbed his hands to bring some feeling back into them. “I said, she doesn’t know this planet well. If she opened a portal too close to the mountain, we might end up frozen inside a block of ice.”
“I don’t think we’re far from that now,” said Rotar.
“Well, I hate fighting in cold weather,” commented Ram Man, breathing a cloud of warm, white air against his hands. “Hurts more when you get hit.”
“That’s if we see Skeletor,” Adam replied.
“He’ll show up,” Duncan said, “at the last moment. I pray we’re all prepared to fight,” he added, accenting the word “fight” as he turned to face Adam. “I pray we all have our weapons.”
“I do not need any weapon,” Clamp Champ cut in, cracking his knuckles. “And I am not cold.”
“Why is it that you don’t carry a sword, or an ax?” asked Rotar.
“Because, when I see Skeletor next,” answered the giant, black Eternian; “I want to feel his neck snap when I twist it with my bare hands.”

The heroes trekked upwards for many hours, until they were high above the earth, where it was much colder. And from a lofty peak there they could see for hundreds of miles, more hills of white. Adam, whose beard was white with snow, and cheeks red with wind burn, and lips blue with frost, lowered his parka’s hood to get a better view. Then, something caught his eye. It was a mountain made of ice crystals, and it had a green hue.
“Could it be?” asked Duncan, walking up behind him.
“Yes,” said Adam without turning. “I think it is.”
“The men are tired,” said Duncan. “Perhaps we should rest, a little.”
“No,” said Adam, gazing at the Mountain. “We go on.”
“I am not tired,” said Clamp Champ from a distance. “I will not stop here.”
“All right,” said Duncan. “You heard your king, let’s go!”

The mountain of crystal was immense. Crystals ranged from a few inches to hundreds of feet in length, sprouting from the ground like a leafy bush.
“It’s beautiful,” said Ram Man.
“Yes, and if it weren’t so cold, I might stop to appreciate it,” Duncan quipped.
The heroes found a cave-like entrance near the middle of the mountain and a tunnel of overlapping crystals inside. Here they were glad, for the roof of crystals, hanging precariously fifteen feet overhead, provided shelter from the falling snow, and the walls of crystals shielded them from the chilling wind. But it was still cold, cold enough for them to keep their parka’s fastened.
The tunnel was dim, but also, as Ram Man remarked, quite beautiful. All the light came from above. Looking up, they could see the many beams of sunshine filter down, split and refracted by the crystals, into the tunnel. And the five of them marveled at how the crystals played with the light.
As for the floor of the tunnel, it was also made of crystal, so the heroes could dry their feet by beating the snow from their boots, and by walking on dry, level ground. Even Rotar, who had been carried the whole time by Clamp Champ, was glad, for he could now wheel himself the rest of the way.

Moving deeper into the mountain, the heroes couldn’t help but touch the crystals. It was like nothing they had seen before. They were brittle, sticky, and cold to the touch. And they varied in hues, ranging from milky white to blue. Some were even, slightly transparent, and it was in these glassy crystals, embedded deep within the mountain, that there was a strange green hue. But when the smaller crystals were broken and examined up close, the green hue was lost.
Ram Man thought of keeping a crystal, as a gift for his princess. Then, he thought better on it, leaving the crystal where it was, not knowing what strange properties it might have.

As the five heroes neared the heart of the mountain, the green color in the crystals became more apparent, and the path gradually rose up, in an incline. Then, at long last, the path came to an end, where there was a foggy, circular clearing, sixty feet in diameter, bordered by crystals of ice rising up to the open sky. They could now see that the peak of the mountain was a giant crater, like the top of a dormant volcano, but instead of a layer of ash, there was a layer of thin ice over a lake. And in the very center of that lake was an island of ice in the shape of a giant head, a man-like head forty feet high, with tiny ears, large, circular eyes, and an unusually high forehead. As for the face, it was elderly, and it had a peaceful, blissful expression. It was the face of an enlightened being.
“Look!” Duncan cried. “It is the face of a Zodiakian!”
“Yes, and look at its forehead!” Adam said, pointing. For there, fixed into the center of that giant forehead was a green glowing object, its glow from which was reflected in every clear crystal, giving the mountain its green hue.
“I can’t believe it!” said Duncan, walking towards it. “All out in the open, for all these thousands of years!”
“Wait!” said Adam, holding him back. “Out in the open, yes, but there is a reason the Zodiakians left it so. Step one foot on that sheet of ice, and you will fall in.”
“But how do we cross it?”
“I don’t know.”
“Let me try,” said Rotar.
“Why?” Duncan asked.
“I have no legs, so, I am the lightest. And I can wheel myself across real quick, without putting much pressure on the ice.”
“This isn’t another death wish, is it, Rotar?” Duncan asked.
“No, it is not,” Clamp Champ interrupted. “Rotar will risk his life, but only if he has to.”
“Please,” Rotar begged. “Let me try.”
There was a silence of all but the whistling wind, and then, a growling came from Battle Cat. The giant tiger stood petrified, its legs bent as if ready to pounce on something, yet, staring off into seemingly empty space.
“What is it, Cat?” Adam asked, looking, but seeing nothing.
Some thing, four feet away, stirred in the rock face. And as the snow slowly drifted down, the face of a long snouted beast appeared, in patches of white, like an incomplete jigsaw puzzle, the gaps filling in as each flake fell. Fenris, the wolf, was there, invisible.
Then Battle Cat snarled in another direction. At first, it was the fog. But before the naked eye could see when or how, he was there, Nosferatu standing translucently in the fog unmoving, his tiny, bulbous, inky black eyes, transfixed on them.
The next thing they knew, Bloodax burst from the snow, and almost as quickly did the shaft of his ax sprout up like a tree, growing blades like fruit. Then, with a snap of that trunk, Bloodax held his great, double headed ax to wield.
“Once again!” a voice from the distance cackled, “the players are all on stage!” It was Skeletor, Lord of Destruction, on the opposite side of the frozen lake, above the fog on the outer rim of the Crystal Mountain peak. And behind him was another being, but they could see, only the shape of a man.
The battle began when Battle Cat leaped into the air, sinking its claws and teeth into the giant wolf’s invisible flesh. But the wolf returned with clawing and biting of his own, and there was a great, hideous sound of mixed roaring and howling, and blood smeared all over the both of them. And as the fight ensued, Fenris became more covered, in the blood of his enemy and in his own blood, so that in blood he was painted red, and made no longer invisible.
Rotar was next to act, crossing Bloodax’s path while crying, “Come and get me!” Bloodax swung his ax, bringing the cursed edge inches from Rotar’s head.
Rotar moved as fast as he could in the soft, wet snow, as Bloodax chased after him swinging his ax overhead. Then, Rotar reached the frozen lake. But that did not stop him, as he skated across it on his single, spinning wheel. Bloodax followed, but three steps on to the ice, and his dead weight proved too much. He was left stranded on a single piece of floating ice, as Rotar wheeled himself to a beach of nearby snow. Soon afterwards, Bloodax lost his balance and fell into the water, his heavy furs dragging him below.
Meanwhile, Duncan charged into the fog, towards Nosferatu, with his mace raised high. But before reaching him, the eleven foot, gray monster held out his long, spidery hands, and spoke one word, “STOP!”
Duncan fell face down into the snow, three feet from his opponent, his mace rolling out of his hand.
Adam, meanwhile, backed away as his eyes shifted from left to right, surveying the situation: Battle Cat and Fenris were locked in combat, Rotar was catching his breath and Bloodax was nowhere to be seen, Duncan was face down in the snow, Ram Man was moving to help him, and Clamp Champ was . . . By God, Adam thought to himself, where is Clamp Champ!?

Clamp Champ jumped from a crystal ledge high above Skeletor, and with his two hands joined into one fist, struck Skeletor down with a tremendous blow to his upper back. Clamp Champ, then, rolled off into the snow. But as he was getting to his feet, Skeletor was also. Seeing this, Clamp Champ lunged towards him again. But the evil Lord of Destruction pushed him back with the shaft of his metal ram staff. Clamp Champ took hold of the staff with both hands, to wrench it from Skeletor’s grasp. But even with his great strength, he could not steal it away. Then, Skeletor raised his head, and the chilling wind blew back the folds of his ebony hood, revealing his skinless, fleshless face, a living, decrepit, yellow skull, and Clamp Champ met his gaze, a black emptiness where his eyes should have been. And then, the floating jawbone, with its crooked teeth, moved, and words came from that dark cavity; “Why, if it isn’t Clamp Champ! Or should I say, Turok, King of Lamar!” Skeletor’s eye sockets burned, two, red, searing orbs. And with each word that came from between his teeth, the glowing of these orbs became more intense.
Clamp Champ gritted his teeth, staring back at him with a look of fierce determination, his fingers still wrapped tightly around the staff.
“I truly enjoyed destroying your puny kingdom!” Skeletor continued.
Clamp Champ felt a burning in his hands, and looking down, he could see the silver staff turning red, and getting brighter, as Skeletor’s orb eyes became brighter. Then, the pain was made more intense, but Clamp Champ held on. He promised himself he would not let go.
“And killing your wife and child too!” Skeletor cried. “Their screams were music to my ears!”
Clamp Champ screamed with rage. Skeletor laughed with delight. The red glow was almost blinding. And then, Clamp Champ’s screams of rage turned into screams of pain and defeat, as his hands caught on fire. He, then, fell on his knees, burying his hands in the snow.
Skeletor’s eye sockets turned cold and black, as he thrusted his staff vertically, into the ground next to Clamp Champ’s head.

Elsewhere, Battle Cat fell on its side in the snow, groaning, its fur marred with gashes and bite marks. Fenris, the wolf, stood over the lain beast, panting.
Meanwhile, Ram Man sprinted and jumped, hurling himself, head first, into Nosferatu. Ram Man sailed through the gray creature, however, crashing into the crystal wall behind him. Then Nosferatu turned, silently away from Duncan’s fallen body, to Ram Man, stretching his pointed fingers towards him, who sat against the crystal wall, dazed.
“No!” Adam cried, reaching one hand into his parka, and casting it off.
He now wore only his fur underwear and his sword’s leather scabbard, hitched to his back by a leather strap running up over his right shoulder, between his chest muscles, and back up around his left side. And in his right hand he held a long, silver sword. Then, dashing towards Nosferatu, he lifted his sword into the air, calling out, “BY THE POWER OF GRAYSKULL!”
The sword exploded with light, then, glowing with energy, its light surged into Adam’s hand, running down the length of his uplifted arm, engulfing his entire body. And it was in that moment that Adam jumped into the air, thrusting the sword deep into Nosferatu’s back.
“I HAVE THE POWER!”
The energy charged through the sword, into the gray monster, the light, seeping through his every pore. Bolts of electricity bounced from monster, to sword, to man, and back. Nosferatu cocked his head backward, thrashing his elongated arms, and shrieked. And as the last blue-white branches of light danced, popped, and fizzled, Nosferatu was turned to ash.
“He-Man?” Ram Man said, looking up.
“Yes,” he replied, lending his hand.
Rotar, meanwhile, wishing to save Adam’s dear pet, raced toward Fenris with his ax, ball and chain. But with a single blow, Fenris sent Rotar into the ground, bloodied.
Suddenly, He-Man jumped between them, hacking at the wolf with his Power Sword. Fenris took several blows to the head, spilling black blood, then lashed out, snapping at He-Man with a mouth that could easily bite-off the half of him. But the wolf only tasted steel, as He-Man thrust the sword into Fenris’ open mouth, then wrenched the sword away, slicing through his gums.
The battle that ensued was long and barbarous. He-Man fought with unbridled rage, matching Fenris in all his ferocity. More than once did He-Man feel the acid tipped claws of the beast tear through his chest and abdomen. Markings of the wolf, four red lines, garnished his entire, muscular body. And the snow beneath his feet was turned red. But when the battle was over, only one thing stood, and that one thing, was He-Man. With one final thrust to the head, Fenris was finished, turning into a cloud of smoke, a cloud loosely resembling, a wolf.
He-Man drove his sword down through a block of ice, leaning on the hilt, to catch his breath. He was losing blood, he realized, and much of it. And his vision was beginning to blur. Then, Bloodax broke through the lake.
He-Man turned in time to let his sword come before the falling ax head. The two blades collided with a resounding clang and a spark, with such force as to send He-Man sprawling to the snowy ground. Bloodax returned with another blow. This time, He-Man parried it on his knees, as waves of force cursed through his body, from his wrist to his feet, rattling his bones. Then, before he could even get to his feet, Bloodax attacked him yet again. With all his strength, He-Man halted the ax, nearly losing his footing. But on the fourth meeting of their weapons, He-Man grabbed the ax’s wooden shaft with his free hand, snapping it in two. The ax head fell to the snow, and Bloodax stumbled backward with nothing but the handle. Then, dropping the Power Sword, and clutching his helmet by the horns, He-Man twisted the metal plate from Bloodax’s face.
The face of Bloodax was scarcely human. His skin was rubbery and covered with boils, for he had been burned, and stains of blood remained where he had been cut. Nails, bones, and other things protruded through his bald head and face. And he had no lips, only rotting teeth and bleeding gums, bordered by the hair of his mustache and beard. As for his eyes, they were sewn shut with crude stitches, and worms burrowed through his stubby ears and nose. And yet, far more horrific than these things, was the expression on that face . . . it was an expression of utter, sadness. Then, in a raspy voice, Bloodax whispered; “H-Help . . . me.”
He-Man screamed and backed away. And with that, Bloodax grabbed him by the throat and squeezed. The foul odor of death assaulted him then, and all the while gasping for air, He-Man seized Bloodax by the forearms, and there was a joint popping sound, as he ripped the arms of Bloodax from the shoulder. Then, lifting Bloodax by the waist, He-Man hurled him ten feet over the crystal wall, and down the Crystal Mountain.

The three villains of Skeletor were defeated. But He-Man was weak. He was still losing blood, and if he didn’t stop it soon, he knew, he would die. And so, he leaped, head first, into the freezing water, and swam thirty feet to the island shore of the giant head. When he came out of the water, he was completely numb, and he knew his body would go into shock. At least, he thought, his wounds were frozen, so that he lost no more blood. Then, with his last bit of strength, he climbed up the face of the Zodiakian, finding his footing on the giant head’s lips and nose, and reaching up to its forehead, fell back down into the snow with the Krelm in his hand.
In that instant, Skeletor appeared in a bolt of lightning, slamming his staff down, next to He-Man’s face. “Such a pity,” said Skeletor. “You fought so hard to get it, and now I come to take it from you!”
“No!” said He-Man, trying to sit up, but his body was frozen stiff.
“Yes!” Skeletor cried, reaching for the Krelm, as He-Man tightened his grip around it.
Suddenly, behind He-Man appeared, a shimmering, golden opal of light, and through that light came a pair of woman’s feathered hands. Then, in a blinding flash, He-Man and the Krelm were gone.



Chapter 9

The Grayskull Library

Chapter 11


He-Man stood amidst leafy green trees and flower bushes, yellow, violet, and red, and the earth below his feet was green and brown in patches of grass, hay, and dirt. No white clouds blemished the light of the warm, golden sun, high in the blue horizon. And as he tromped through this beautiful garden aimlessly, he heard the sound of birds in the trees singing, and water running in a nearby brook, down a slope of smooth, moss covered stones.
Suddenly, there was a three foot gate and a fence of indefinite length, blocking his path. He-Man could see easily past the iron bars of the fence, to the steep, grassy hills of the garden beyond, and to the bushes of sunflowers where butterflies played. He reached for the gate and found a green key in his hand. But he hesitated.
From behind him came the sound of heavy footsteps, and He-Man turned to see Bloodax, wearing his helmet. Bloodax stopped, then, removed his helmet, and there was the face of Duncan. “Open the gate,” said he.
“But . . .,” He-Man started.
“You have the key. Open the gate!”
He-Man turned, almost hypnotically, to the gate, pushing the green key into the lock. Suddenly, a woman’s voice cried out, “NO! Adam, wake up!”
He turned back to see the Sorceress. “Wake up, Adam!” she said. With that, Duncan, or Bloodax, and the garden, faded away, and it became cold, damp, and dark. Nothing remained but the Sorceress, who was now shaking him.
“Sorceress,” he murmured. “What?”
“Let me take that from you,” she said, “just in case.” She then opened his hand. Where the green key was, was now the Krelm. “Look,” she said, turning him around.
He turned to the massive golden door, surprised to see that it was swelling, as if it were alive and ready to burst. “Oh my God, I almost, I almost opened it!”
“No,” she said. “But you did almost fit that piece of the Krelm in its place.”
“I was sleepwalking?” he asked.
“Yes.”
“But I never sleepwalk.”
“Even if you did, you would never have been able to find the door and come so close to putting the Krelm in, without some, outer influence.”
“What are you talking about? Skeletor’s magic has no power here.”
“Not Skeletor’s magic,” she said. “The magic, as you choose to call it, of the Nameless Horrors. They know what has been going on. They know of the war over the Krelm, and they are anxious to be freed from their dimension.”
“They can effect us, this far away!?”
“The distance between dimensions is relative, He-Man. In your dreams, you exist in a reality closer to theirs, so they have some control over what happens to you in your dreams, if they so choose. You see, theirs is a reality much like our dreams, a reality without cause and effect.”
“I don’t understand,” said He-Man.
“Let me explain it to you this way; their dream is our reality. All that we do, no matter where we go, they can see it, hear it. But they can do nothing to us. When we dream, however, we enter their waking reality, and there, they do effect us.”
“This is madness!”
“Madness, yes, but it has been said that the mad are merely, gifted with eyes to see into their world.”
“Is this true?”
“I don’t know. I don’t have all the answers. But I do know that, if this door opens, the gap between dimensions will disappear. Our worst nightmares will become reality, forever.”
“I never imagined . . .”
“Now you see why I didn’t want to tell you, and why the Zodiakians kept this a secret for so long.”
“Then we must destroy the Krelm!”
“No, He-Man, you are forgetting. Just as the Krelm has the power to free the Nameless Horrors, so does it have the power to imprison them. We cannot risk destroying it.”
“But we cannot risk Skeletor getting it!”
“I have decided that the best course of action, is that of the Ancients’. They were far wiser than us. So you must take the Krelm,” she said, wrapping it in a plain brown cloth, then handing it back to him, “to Eternos with you and hide it.”
“Why don’t you keep it here, in Grayskull?”
“No, the Krelm must be hidden as far from the door as possible. If Skeletor comes here with the other two pieces, the third piece would be here for the taking.”
“I understand.”
“And be forewarned! The Krelm has been known to have strange effects on people. Guard it well, but do not keep it too close.”
“Where are the others? Did they make it?”
“Yes, I went back for them. I sent them to Eternos, but kept you, to heal your wounds and talk to you.”
“Is Battle Cat . . .?”
“Yes, he’s fine, but much too weak to ride.”
“Then I will walk. But I must be discreet. Sorceress, do you have a brown robe?”

The Sorceress pulled a lever, and with the clanking of moving chains, the wooden draw bridge of Castle Grayskull fell, over the bottomless pit surrounding the castle, so that He-Man, disguised in a beggar’s robe and hood, could return to his city, the capital of Eternia, Eternos.
With the Krelm in his hands, He-Man felt as if a great weight had been lifted from his shoulders, and for the first time in weeks he stopped to look at his world. His eyes stretched over the vast Endless Plain, more of a red, rocky desert, than a plain, to the silhouette of the limestone Misty Mountains beyond. And balanced on the tips of those mountains, he could see, the green moon, Infinity, claiming one fourth of the reddish sky, gently turning to orange the higher he looked, where Infinity’s small, violet companion, Eon, moved. The sun was a tiny, white dot in the sky, so this desert was cold, and no sound could he hear, but the fleeting of a dry wind. It’s good to be home, he thought, as the draw bridge grinded to a close behind him. Then, securing his sword and the Krelm, he began his long, twenty mile walk.

Eternos shined like a jewel as He-Man approached the hilly flanks at the base of the Misty Mountains. And when, after another ten miles, he came upon it, he surveyed the small, stone huts scattered about the center of the city, a cluster of large, bronze domes, polygons, and bridges, and continued unnoticed, past the street markets and the inns, to the city’s central structure.
Countless times He-Man had seen the round tower that was the Royal Palace of Eternos, three hundred and ninety three feet high (the number of days in an Eternian year), one hundred feet in diameter at the bottom, and ninety three feet at the top, joined to other, smaller towers, by four golden bridges running north, south, east, and west. In the middle of the tower was a flight of three hundred and ninety three steps, forming a right triangle, three hundred and ninety three feet in length on the long side, at the top of which was a platform and a double door made of solid bronze. Standing on that platform were two guards holding spears, wearing blue helmets, orange face shields, and orange, breast plate armor.
“Hold!” said the guard on the left, crossing spears with the guard on the right. “State your business here!”
He-Man lowered his hood, and the men fell to their knees. “Forgive us, your Highness, we did not know it was you!”
He-Man waved his hand, and they opened the thirty foot double doors, letting him in.
Two people stood waiting for him within the Royal Entrance Hall. One was his mother, Queen Marlena. The other, was a beautiful, bronze-skinned, blue-eyed girl, with reddish-brown hair bundled up on her head, who ran to embrace him.
“Teela!” he said. “You’ve returned!”
“Yes,” she said, smiling. Then, her expression changed to that of great sadness. “I heard about your father. I’m sorry.”
“She came for the funeral,” Queen Marlena cut in.
“You’ve arranged for it?” he asked.
“Yes. Duncan told me of your victory, and I thought it was time. Your sister, Adora, is coming from Etheria tomorrow, too.”
There was a short silence between them.
“Mother, you know that I . . . I . . .”
“I know you did what you had to,” she replied. “And it doesn’t matter. Tomorrow will be your coronation, as well as your father’s funeral, as is tradition. So don’t worry.”
He-Man ran his fingers through his hair. “I’m just so, tired.”
“Go rest now, my son, for come shadow hour [when the moon, Infinity, blocks the Eternian sun] we will have a banquet, to celebrate your victory.”

In the banquet hall of the Royal Palace, there was a long, rectangular, wooden table, where He-Man sat in the middle. To the left of him was Queen Marlena, and to the right of him was the Captain of the Guard, Teela. Left of Teela was the Eternian hero, Fisto, a large, brown bearded man with an immense, iron hand, and left of him was Teela’s father, Duncan. On the opposite end, to the right of Queen Marlena, was Ram Man, Clamp Champ, and Rotar. With them was also the little, blue, floating creature, the court jester, Orko, with his red, wide-brimmed hat, and his long, red robe.
Before the feasting began, Queen Marlena stood with her wine goblet raised, saying; “A toast to my son, the greatest hero who has ever been and will ever be, and the new king of Eternia!”
“All hail, Adam!” they shouted in unison, lifting their goblets.

They ate heartily of thorn bush salad, slotu soup, and roasted screech, and drank much red wine, though Fisto preferred ale. And when they were finished, they called for entertainment. With that, Orko floated into the center of the room, and pulling his sleeves up from his blue, four-fingered, stubby hands, he dazzled them with flashes of magical, colored lights.
“And now!” he said, with his boyish voice. “I would like to perform a new trick!”
Two clapped.
“But I will need a volunteer.”
“I’ll do it,” said Teela, jumping to her feet and trotting over to him. “What do I do?” she asked.
“Nothing. Just stand there, and I will make you disappear. Now let’s see . . . how did that spell go?”
Suddenly, in a flash of light, Orko was gone. Neither Teela, nor anyone else, was much surprised.
“Music!” called Fisto, emptying another mug of ale. A musician entered the room followed by the maid servants cleaning off the table. Then, sitting in the corner by the candelabra stand, he drummed the strings of his lute, as Teela, seduced by the music, and a little wine, proceeded to dance.

When it was late and the most of them had gone to their beds, Teela walked side by side with He-Man. “Adam,” she said. “I’ve been wanting to talk to you.”
“What is it, Teela?”
“My father, he doesn’t seem, himself.”
“He has been under a lot of stress. I’m sure he’ll be fine, now that we have the Krelm.”
“I . . .,” Teela started, but she was cut off when Duncan came running up to them. “Adam!” Duncan cried. “I must speak with you at once!”
“What is it, Duncan?” He-Man asked.
“Privately,” Duncan said, pulling him away to a dark corner of the hall. Teela looked at them oddly, and walked off.
“What is it, Duncan?” He-Man whispered.
Duncan looked frantic. His voice quivered. “I know this sounds as if I’m mad . . . but on my way to my room, I passed by the Royal Bed-chamber, when the greater moon eclipsed the sun, and there I saw your father!”
“What!?” He-Man cried.
“Shh!” Duncan went. “Not so loud. If this proves to be false, the others will think I’ve gone mad. Follow me to your father’s bedroom, to see if what I have seen is true.”

He-Man and Duncan ran to the top of the palace tower, to the Royal Bed-chamber. But He-Man hesitated to look into the open doorway, afraid to think what he might find. Then, gathering his courage, he quickly glanced into the room, but there was nothing but an empty bed and the moonlight shining through the open window.
“He was here!” Duncan said, circling the room. “He was sitting on this bed looking out this window!”
“Look, Duncan,” He-Man said, resting his hand on Duncan’s shoulder. “You’ve been through a great deal. Perhaps in your tiredness, and in the strange shadows of the moonlight, you thought you saw some-thing.”
“No!” Duncan protested. “It wasn’t a shadow! I saw him! I saw, even, his face, it was sad and . . .”
He-Man said nothing, but sat on the bed.
“Adam,” Duncan said, rubbing his hands against his face. “I’m not well.”
“It’s all right, Duncan. Go to sleep. I will tell no one about this.”
“Thank you, my Lord.” And he walked off.

He-Man remained on the bed thinking. It should be me seeing visions of my father, he thought, not Duncan. But Teela is right. He doesn’t seem himself . . .
Then there was a blinding light in the window. And there, standing before him, his royal dress, hair, and skin, all white as white, was the late King Randor.
Adam stumbled backward, losing his breath. He then closed his eyes to look again, and with quivering lips; he cried, “Father!?”
“Listen to me!” said the other. “I walk the Underworld with a heavy heart. For my own son has betrayed me.”
Adam fell on his knees, powerless to stand, looking up into the eyes of his father. “I . . . I did what I had to! My friends, they would have died if I hadn’t done something!”
“Better your friends than the King of Eternia. The people of this kingdom, this kingdom that so many men have fought and died for, this kingdom I have in all my life worked to build, needs you, a strong leader to unite them. Without you, my son, there would be division, war, anarchy! Once more, the land of Eternia would fall into ruin, as in the olden days, the days of barbarism.
“But you care not of these things. You throw away your life. You risk it for a meaningless cause. And you betray an oath to your own father!”
“Please forgive me, oh Father!”
King Randor looked down and scowled at him. “No!” he said. “I will NOT forgive you! You are undeserving of my forgiveness!”
“But I am your son!” Adam begged.
“No! You are NOT my son! AND I LOVE YOU NOT!”
Adam lost the strength to hold his head, and he laid it down on the floor, and wept bitterly.
“Good. Hide yourself. Hide your face in shame.”
“Is there no redemption for me?” he cried. “Is there nothing I can do?”
“There is . . . one thing.”
“What? Say it, and I will do it.”
“Do you swear?” the solemn specter asked.
“An oath, yes!”
“And to this oath you will be true!?”
“I swear it!”
The king reached out his hand, but said nothing.
“What is it? What do you want!?”
“I want,” said the king, “the Krelm.”
“The Kr . . . but why?”
“Give me the Krelm!” he demanded. With that, a compulsion came over Adam, to reach into his cloak pocket, unwrap the plain brown cloth therein, and hand over the green glowing relic. And as the fingers of King Randor closed upon the Krelm, his ghostly white skin became transparent, and Adam could see through him, a green glowing skeleton. His white cloak, then, became a deep purple, and in his other hand he held a long, looming scythe. But most terrifying was the ghost’s heart. For there, where his heart should have been, were the other two pieces of the Krelm, joined as one. And the third piece soon joined with them, and all in the room was bathed in blue light.
“Who are you!” Adam screamed.
“I am the ghost of Skeletor, the fourth servant of what you call, the Nameless Horrors. I am Scareglow.”
Adam lunged for the Krelm, but he fell back, trembling.
“I can see into you,” said Scareglow. “And bring out that which you most fear. I am the essence of fear.”
“No!” Adam cried, fighting to control himself.
“I can bend you to my will,” said he, waving the blade of his scythe over him. “The Krelm is complete. Skeletor will be pleased.” Then, the blue glowing being that called himself, Scareglow, walked through the wall and was seen no more.



Chapter 10

The Grayskull Library

Chapter 12



Chapter 12

Duncan stood alone outside the walls of Castle Grayskull. Under his right arm he held a book, and hanging from his belt was his mace. He called out to the Sorceress for a second time, and the jaw of the skull face of Grayskull fell, the ‘jaw bridge’ spanning the length of the bottomless pit.
“What brings you here, Duncan?” the Sorceress asked, greeting him at the open mouth.
“Please,” he said. “I must come in.”
She moved back to let him enter. His foot hovered momentarily between the light of the outside and the darkness of the shadowy chamber within. Then, he was inside, and the draw bridge slammed shut.
“What is it, Duncan? You don’t look well.”
“Thank God you’re real,” he said.
“What do you mean?” she asked.
“No time to explain. They are watching us. Is it . . . is it safe to talk?”
“Of course.”
“Good. I have come here to gather information. I need to learn all I can about the Krelm the Krelm the Krelm the Krelm.”
The Sorceress looked at him, horrified.
He opened his book, searching through the pages frantically. “I need to write this down!” he cried, taking out his pen.
“What are you writing!?” she asked, snatching the book from his hands five minutes after he had first opened it.
The first few pages were a detailed account of the adventure, including many sketches of the Krelm. But the last few pages, as she read through them quickly, were incomprehensible. Words were strung together in meaningless sentences, and in the pages following, the words themselves started to break apart, to scrambled letters, and finally, to long, scratches of ink.
Duncan could see her horrified look as she lifted her eyes from the book to him and back. “Help me, Sorceress,” he begged. “I need help. I can’t understand what I’m thinking anymore . . . and I’m scared.”
“By the Spirit of Grayskull!” she gasped. “What’s happened to you?”
“I’m scared!” he repeated. “I’ve what I might do. Please, stay away from me.”
She dropped the book and backed away. It fell to the floor with a thud.
“I can’t stop the voices!” he cried, covering his ears. “I can’t stop Them from telling me what to do!”
The Sorceress cupped her hands and closed her eyes, whispering; “He-Man, can you hear me? Come to Grayskull at once!”
“F-Forgive me,” he said, slowly lifting his mace, with tears in his eyes. “For what I’m about, t-to do.”
“No, Duncan!” she cried. But it was too late. He bloodied his mace with her head, and she fell to the ground unconscious, a final cry of “He-Man!” echoing through her mind. Then, dropping the mace, he stumbled over to a long metal lever, pulling it down. With that, the draw bridge of Castle Grayskull lowered, and there was Skeletor with his ram head staff in his right hand, and the Krelm in his left, standing on the other side of the pit with Fenris, Nosferatu, Bloodax, and Scareglow.
“Well done, Nosferatu!” said Skeletor, walking across the bridge. “Your mind control worked as planned.”
“I did nothing, Lord Skeletor,” the gray being replied in his deep, throaty voice, “but destroy his will. The Nameless Ones control him now. He is Their marionette.”
Duncan fell to his knees, groveling, his skin turning pale and shriveling, his mustache turning white.
“Shall I destroy him?” Skeletor asked.
“Oh please, Lord Skeletor, let me butcher him. I crave to kill,” moaned Bloodax.
“No!” said Fenris, his tongue dripping. “Let me eat him! I hunger.”
“Let him be,” Scareglow’s voice echoed, last of all. “His mind is mush, now. He can do nothing to stop us. Let us not spare him from the madness, when the Nameless come.”
“What of the woman?” asked Nosferatu.
“Take her,” commanded Skeletor. “The insides of Grayskull is a vast labyrinth. She will lead us to the door!”

***

Ram Man sat at the desk of his bedroom in the Royal Palace of Eternos writing a poem, to the princess for whom his thoughts never strayed.
Suddenly, there was a loud rapping at his door. “Ram Man!” He-Man’s voice could be heard. “Open the door!”
Ram Man put his pen in his desk drawer and folded the page of his poem in half, hiding it under the mattress of his bed. “It’s open,” he said.
He-Man burst into the room. “Where are Duncan and the others?”
“I don’t know. Why?”
“No time for them!” He-Man replied. “Quick! Grab your ax and meet me outside!” Then he bolted out the door.
Ram Man opened his closet and took his ax. He then opened his clothes drawer, slipping a small, pink, heart shaped mirror under his shirt, before leaving the room.

He-Man and Ram Man mounted Battle Cat and rode off to Grayskull, all the while, a woman’s screams of; “He-Man, can you hear me? Come to Grayskull at once!” echoing over and over again in He-Man’s mind.

When they at last reached the somber fortress, Battle Cat fell to its stomach, exhausted. He-Man, then, dismounted, walking to the edge of the misty, bottomless pit, shouting; “Sorceress! Lower the bridge!”
“You’re too late, He-Man!” an eerie voice resonated from above.
He-Man looked, three hundred feet up, to the tower balcony of the castle, and there stood Skeletor. “Grayskull is mine once again!” Skeletor said. “And the Nameless Ones will soon be free!” Just as he said that, a fire lit in his empty eye sockets. “Ha-ha-ha-ha!”
“Skeletor!” He-Man screamed, clenching his teeth. “No!” But the dark Lord of Destruction did not reply, for he had gone. “No . . .,” He-Man moaned, falling to his knees, watching the red dust whistle through his hands. “How are we going to get in now?”
“I don’t know,” Ram Man replied. “Maybe we could pull the bridge down with a grappling hook and some rope?”
“That wouldn’t work. And even if it did, we don’t have a grappling hook and rope.”
“Yes we do,” said Ram Man, reaching into one of Battle Cat’s satchels. “I packed some before goin’ to Embliominimimi. Thought we might’ve needed climbing gear.”
“The pit is twenty feet across,” He-Man said. “How long is the rope?”
“Fifty feet.”
“Give it to me!”
He-Man hurled the grappling hook to the other side of the pit, aiming for the metal bar running across the face of the closed bridge. But his aim was off and he failed many times, before hooking it successfully. Then, he pulled with all the strength of his great arms, legs, and back, heaving and sweating. And when Ram Man and Battle Cat saw his strained effort came to no end, they joined him in pulling. But with all their combined might, the bridge did not budge.
“It’s hopeless,” He-Man gasped, letting go of the rope. “For ages Skeletor has fought to get inside that castle. In these few minutes we have, before the end comes, we can’t succeed.”
“There must be a way,” said Ram Man.
Suddenly, and for no apparent reason, the mouth of Grayskull opened, allowing them safe passage across the pit. He-Man and Ram Man did not stop to ask questions, but rushed inside, finding Duncan laying at their feet and a bloody mace beside him.
“Good God!” He-Man exclaimed, lifting the mace. “What is he doing here? What’s happened to him?”
“Duncan looks a hundred years old,” said Ram Man.
“I know,” He-Man added with a tone of pain in his voice. “And there is no time to help him.”
Off in the distance, there was a faint sound. “Listen!” said He-Man.
It was a voice, a woman’s voice. “My life means nothing to me!” she said. “I’ll never lead you to the door.”

The two heroes searched through the dark passageways of Grayskull for the source of the Sorceress’ cries, until they came upon a torch light like a beacon, and the shadows of Skeletor and his minions. And there was another shadow, of a large bird with a woman’s legs, thrashing about as to be freed from the other shadows.
“Skeletor!” He-Man called, drawing his sword from its scabbard, jumping into the circle of light.
“He-Man!” Skeletor cried back, holding the Sorceress, bound by rope, in his left hand. “How did you get in here? No matter, you will not stop me! Get him, my pets!”
As all four monsters lunged towards him, Ram Man jumped in, hurling his ax at Skeletor’s head. But Skeletor ducked in time, and with a resounding CHING! the ax head stuck to the wall behind him. With that, the Sorceress snapped her fingers, and there was an explosion of light blinding them all.
He-Man and Ram Man felt a woman’s hand slip into theirs, leading them away from the battle scene into another corridor. “What happened?” He-Man asked. “I can’t see.”
“Curses!” Skeletor’s voice echoed in the distance.
“Be quiet and follow me,” the Sorceress whispered.

Five minutes passed, and the three Eternians found themselves in the room with the massive, golden door, though it hardly looked like a door now, but rather, a golden, pulsating miasma.
“It looks ready to explode!” He-Man exclaimed.
“The Nameless Horrors are growing more restless,” the Sorceress replied, the feathers of her headdress still stained with blood. “I have been using my magic to slow them down, but I am powerless to control them any more.”
“Sorceress, why did you bring us here?”
“To buy time. With the wrong turn, Skeletor can be lost for hours. With the right turn, Skeletor can be here in minutes. I couldn’t risk that.”
“Buy time for what?”
“I must summon the others. The three of us cannot stop the five of them. There is only, one problem.”
“What!?”
“I have had no time to prepare. If I chant the wrong syllable, I might send Clamp Champ or Rotar to another planet, to the center of the earth, or, into the cold of space. Teleportation is a dangerous spell. I use it rarely.”
“What should we do?” asked He-Man.
“You are the King of Eternia. They are your men. You decide.”
He-Man turned to the pulsating door. “If the door opens, it won’t matter where they end up. Summon them now!”
The Sorceress closed her eyes, cupped her hands, and moved nothing but her lips. Seconds later, there was a flash of light, and Clamp Champ and Rotar were in the room.
“What? How? Where are we?” asked Clamp Champ.
“No time to explain,” said He-Man. “Skeletor is coming, and he has the Krelm, all of it.”
“Remember,” said the Sorceress, pointing to the golden, shape-shifting form. “Don’t let them get near the door.”
“That’s a door?” asked Rotar.
“I’ll try to lead them away from it,” she continued, “then one of you must get the Krelm from Skeletor.”
“We will wait for an ambush,” said He-Man, drawing his sword.
“Finally,” added Clamp Champ with a grim tone. “We ambush them.”
“Sounds good to me,” Ram Man said.
Suddenly, there came the screeching of bats. Then bats flooded into the room, thousands of them, blinding the heroes, nipping at their flesh with their tiny fangs and hooked claws. He-Man swatted at them with his Power Sword, until many lay dead at his feet, and so did the others.
In time, the bats retreated, circling around a single dark figure, the Lord of Destruction, Skeletor. His coming was heralded by the echoing of his pounding metal staff. Then the bats collected into their single, 11 foot form, a form with the name of Nosferatu. Next came Bloodax, stepping from behind Skeletor, charging with his ax, and lastly, Fenris the Wolf, leaping high over Skeletor’s head, sinking his claws into He-Man’s chest with a horrid snarl.
The other heroes jumped into the fray, then, beating Fenris down with their weapons, all except for the Sorceress. She was confronted by Bloodax. When he lifted his ax to strike her down, however, she raised her open hand in defense, saying; “Na gines pago!” With that, Bloodax was frozen solid. And with the clenching of her hand into a fist, and the words; “Na dialithees!” Bloodax shattered to bits of ice.
“Enough of this foolishness!” Skeletor cried, raising his Havoc Staff, and a bolt of lightning shot from it, bouncing off He-Man’s sword, arching over to Rotar, knocking him unconscious, leaping to Clamp Champ, laying him flat on his back, bending towards Ram Man, charring his chest hairs, and finally, stopping at the Sorceress, who snatched the lightning out of the air, and into the palm of her hand.
“Curse you and your sorcery, witch!” Skeletor cried. “Fenris, get her!”
Turning his demonic, green eyes from He-Man, the enormous, gray wolf, its teeth dripping with blood, dashed after the Sorceress. Though she had stood more than twenty feet away, and was now running, even with such a head start, the wolf was swiftly gaining on her. But she was not afraid. Seconds from the time the chase began, and inches before the wolf’s teeth could sink into her naked thighs, the Sorceress lifted her legs off the ground, spread her arms wide, and became an orange, white, and blue falcon.
The falcon swooped out of the room with Fenris following, all the while, Skeletor crying; “No! Stop! It’s a trick!”

As Clamp Champ struggled to get to his feet, and Ram Man shook the dizziness from his head, He-Man leaped at Skeletor with his sword ablaze.
“He-Man!” Skeletor shouted, backing away. “You have been a thorn in my side for too long! Now the thorn must be removed!” With that, Skeletor seemed to grow in size, and casting off his sorcerer’s cloak, he revealed his inky blue skin beneath, and his heavily muscled, chest and arms. Nothing remained of his old self but his dark hood, and his eerie, yellow, skull face. Then, his staff disappeared, and he unsheathed a long sword, the same in shape and size as He-Man’s Power Sword, from the scabbard at his waist.
“And I have waited a long time to rid Eternia of your tyranny!” He-Man replied, their swords clashing and crackling with magical power.

Meanwhile, the falcon that was the Sorceress led the wolf into a chamber with a throne and a large red carpet of ornate design. Upon reaching the throne, the falcon changed back into a woman, and there she sat calmly. But the wolf did not hesitate, lunging at her. She quickly turned her throne, then (for it was like a swivel chair); the red carpet dropped, and the wolf fell into a pit, howling all the way, one hundred feet down, onto the spikes of the very lowest level of Grayskull’s dungeon. Nothing was heard from Fenris again, but a dying whimper.

Elsewhere, He-Man and Skeletor continued to swing their blazing brands, dodging and parrying each other’s attacks. But at long last, He-Man proved the stronger, and Skeletor fell on his back, as He-Man knocked his weapon away with his own. Then, He-Man raised his sword overhead triumphantly, to bring it down through Skeletor’s skull. But he saw, a fiery gleam in the sorcerer’s empty eye sockets, before a cold finger stabbed through his heart. He dropped his sword, then, paralyzed. It fell to the floor with a resounding clang. And he looked behind him to see the dreaded gray being, Nosferatu.
Skeletor retrieved his sword and turned to He-Man. “Yes!” he cackled. “Now feel every year of your life drain from your body, as Nosferatu takes it from you, and feeds it to himself! You will die slowly by his hand, and quickly by mine!” With that, Skeletor raised his sword aloft.
Suddenly, King Randor, coming from nowhere, hurled himself at Nosferatu, pinning the gray creature to the ground. And as Skeletor arched his sword downward, He-Man, now freed from the monster’s icy grip, rolled out of the way, snatching up his fallen sword.
“Father!?” He-Man mouthed, getting to his feet and looking around. But both Nosferatu and King Randor were gone.
Skeletor, meanwhile, stepped in closer to stab at He-Man, but he was knocked down by both Ram Man and Clamp Champ.
“Give up, Skeletor!” Clamp Champ bellowed, gritting his teeth as he held on to Skeletor’s feet, and Ram Man held on to his arms. “You cannot win!”
“Fools!” Skeletor cried, his eyes lighting up with fire; “You have no idea the power I possess!” Then he tossed both Clamp Champ and Ram Man off of him, twenty feet across the room.
“You must still contend with me!” He-Man said.
“And me,” said the Sorceress, carrying a long white staff in her hands, topped with a white falcon spreading its wings, as she walked back into the room. “All your henchmen are defeated, Skeletor, and I have the Staff of Harmony,” she said. “Surrender the Krelm, or be sent to the White Void.”
“Your amateur spells are no threat to me!” he replied.
“So be it!” And from her white staff, she let out a ball of fire ten feet wide.
He-Man ran from the path of the ball. But Skeletor stood his ground, and no sooner than when he cast out his hand, did his staff jump back into his clutches, and with it, Skeletor turned the ball of fire into stone. Then, the massive concrete ball rolled backwards, towards the Sorceress. But it did no harm to her, as she shattered it with a word.
“Is that the best you can do?” Skeletor quipped.
The Sorceress started to cast another spell as to reply, when, without warning, Duncan grabbed her from behind, choking her with the shaft of his mace.
“Duncan!” He-Man cried. “What are you doing? No!”
“Yes, Duncan,” Skeletor said. “Do my bidding!”
“Stop this at once, Skeletor, or I’ll hack you in two!” He-Man threatened.
“Oh, I think not,” Skeletor replied. Then, the skeletal ghost known as, Scareglow, appeared before He-Man, and in the light of his green glow, the champion of Eternia fell paralyzed, trembling with fear. “Fear me . . . ” Scareglow echoed.
At that time, Clamp Champ bolted on to the scene, ready to smash his fists into the green glowing apparition, but Scareglow turned, casting his glow over the large black Eternian, and Clamp Champ stumbled back with fear. Then Scareglow proceeded to swing his scythe, gashing him across the chest.
“Not even you, He-Man, have the courage to resist that which you most fear,” said Skeletor. “And now, I could kill you. But I will not. No, you . . . all of you who have gathered here today, must live to witness the return of the Nameless Ones!”
“Skeletor . . .” He-Man groaned. “You don’t know what you’re doing. Opening the door will mean the end of everything, even you! Don’t you understand?”
“I do understand, He-Man, but I am bound by the will of the Nameless Ones. They shall be our new masters, the masters of the universe! Darkness and chaos will rule supreme once again, as once it did long long ago, long before the Zodiakians existed, long before the beginning of time. Or didn’t your Sorceress tell you? The Nameless Ones are the nothingness that was before light and life began!
“With life came organization, meaning, and this that you so preciously guard, became the disease that wiped out the Nameless Ones. The last remnants of what they were was wiped clean from the universe by the cruelest of things to ever inhabit the universe, your beloved race of Zodiakians! Their wisdom and philosophy, their discovery of the meaning of life, was the final blow to the Nameless Ones existence! For this!” said Skeletor, removing the blue glowing relic from his cloak, “is the innate symbol of the meaning of life! What you so deem unholy is the Zodiakians greatest discovery, but by fitting it back into its lock, I am undoing what they did. And the Nameless Ones shall rule again!”
“You’re mad!” He-Man shouted.
“And your pathetic struggle is madness to me,” said Skeletor, walking towards the door, that upon his approach, became solid and rectangular in shape. He, then, lifted the Krelm to the door, and it absorbed the Krelm, and the two became as one. Then, ever so slowly, the golden monolith inched its way outwardly, a blinding white light seeping from its sides.
“No!” He-Man boomed, grabbing Scareglow’s scythe and tossing him away.
“He-Man!” the Sorceress screamed, elbowing Duncan in the ribs and running. “You’ll go mad! Close your eyes! Don’t look at it!”
He-Man had never heard the Sorceress scream before, so he was sure to close his eyes, as he rammed his shoulder against the golden door, with all his might, pushing it back.
“For all that you love in this world,” said the Sorceress. “You must NOT let the door open!”
“I’m trying!” he grunted.
“With all your strength, with all the strength of your heart . . .” she continued.
“No, He-Man!” Skeletor cried in disbelief. “You can’t be strong enough to hold back the Nameless Ones!”
He-Man pushed with every fiber of enchanted muscle that he had. And for one brief moment, the door came to a halt.
“Get the Krelm!” the Sorceress hollered. “Take the Krelm from the door!”
Clamp Champ scurried to his feet, ran, and sinking his hand inside, yanked the Krelm from the door. But the door was still ajar, and He-Man continued to wrestle with the unseen horrors. Then Skeletor clutched the blue glowing relic, crying; “No! Give me the Krelm!”
As Skeletor and Clamp Champ fought between the crack of the opening dimension, Ram Man regained consciousness. Then, eyeing the evil one carefully, he sprinted and jumped, crashing head first into Skeletor’s chest.
Skeletor dropped to the floor unconscious, Clamp Champ went tripping backwards away from the door, and the Krelm went spinning, Ram Man flying behind it, into the white light. With that, He-Man expelled his final heave, slamming the golden door shut.
Duncan woke from his sleepwalk, then, and Scareglow faded away.
“We did it,” He-Man mumbled, laying on the floor, drenched in sweat. “We won.”
“Yes . . .” the Sorceress sighed. “But Ram Man is lost, lost forever . . . in a place far worse than death.”


Chapter 13

“What should we do with him?” He-Man asked, stooping low to examine the fallen, faceless sorcerer’s ebony cloak.
“For the countless lives he has taken, he deserves to die,” said the Sorceress. “The universe will be a safer place without him.”
“Yes, but he is unconscious. We can’t kill him now. It is not our way. He must die in battle.”
“I know,” the Sorceress replied, quietly.
“The bastard, he still breathes!”
“You sympathize,” said she, “even for him. I can feel it.”
“Look at this,” said He-Man, removing the wing of a bat from Skeletor’s cloak.
“Give it to me,” said the Sorceress.
“What is it?” he asked, handing it to her.
“It is a spell component. Skeletor used this to summon the spirit of Nosferatu. I will put it in a vault deep in the heart of Grayskull, so that no one can summon him again. Now look for the other spell components. There should be one for Bloodax and Fenris.”
“For whom could this be?” questioned He-Man, removing a dry, human heart from Skeletor’s cloak.
“It is the heart of Bloodax,” she replied.
“And this must be Fenris,” said He-Man, examining the small, pewter figurine of an oddly shaped wolf. “But I see nothing here of Scareglow.”
“No matter,” she said. “The most are accounted for.”
“What of Skeletor?”
“I will send him from where he can never return, the White Void, the prison place of the Ancients’ enemies. It is a dimension of nothingness, of neither time nor substance. The spell will take a while, so you had best gather the others, and go.”
“Sorceress . . ., before I do.”
“You want to know about your father.”
“Yes, I thought I saw him today, helping me.”
“Indeed, your father’s spirit was here. It never left, knowing what trouble was with you.”
“Is he . . . is he gone, now?”
“Yes. He stayed to fight the spirits we could not, both Nosferatu and Scareglow. And it was he that opened the drawbridge for you and Ram Man to enter. I sensed him then. But now, now that the final battle is over, he has gone to his new life.”
“I just wish I could . . . talk with him, one last time.”
“If you could, I know what he would say.”
“What?” Adam asked.
“He would say, that he is proud of you, of what you have become, and he knows that any decision you make, as king or as He-Man, is for the best.”
“You . . . you know that, don’t you?”
“Yes.”
He-Man stood then, calling out; “Duncan, Clamp Champ, Rotar, let’s go.”
“We can’t leave without Ram Man,” said Duncan, walking up to him and the Sorceress.
“I’m sorry, but there is nothing I can do,” said she.
“We can’t just leave him there, in that Hell!” Duncan cried.
“I’m sorry.”
“What if it were you in there!” he argued. “What if . . .”
“Duncan, please, even if we could save him,” said He-Man, “he wouldn’t be the same. After going to such a place, he would be mad, like you . . . were.”
“But what of his love . . .,” said Duncan quietly, “what of the princess? Isn’t it worth that, to go back?”
“It’s not worth risking the universe, no,” said the Sorceress matter-of-factly.
“He will be well remembered,” Clamp Champ cut in, turning to the tall, golden door. “He was a martyr for our cause, the true hero of us all.”
“Alas,” Rotar sighed. “There goes Ram Man, what a kind and humble man, what a gentle, honest man!”
“What a truly wise man,” Duncan added, removing his helmet.
Just then, a sound came from the golden door, the sound of a squeaking metal hinge. And the heroes looked to the source of the sound, as a white light beamed from it.
“He-Man!” the Sorceress cried. “It’s opening again!”
“What? How?” he muttered.
“The Krelm!” she said. “It fell inside, and the Nameless Horrors must have it! It must work both ways!”
He-Man ran toward the door. But Duncan pulled him back, his hand gripping He-Man’s shoulder. “Wait!” cried he. “It could be Ram Man!”
“No!” the Sorceress protested. “For his sake and ours, shut the door, He-Man!”
It’s your decision, a voice echoed in He-Man’s head. Then, he hesitated, as a tingle of fear shot through his nerves. “No,” he said at last; “What good is this, is any of this,” motioning as if to, the universe, “if we can’t risk ourselves to save one good man? Are we not heroes? Isn’t that what we do! Didn’t he, give his life for us?”
“And if you are wrong?” the Sorceress questioned in a cold hearted tone, as the door swung open wide.
“Than I would rather cease to exist,” he replied, “than live in such a world without heroes.”
“Look!” Duncan cried. And there where he pointed, was the silhouette of a wide man walking.
“He-Man, quick-” the Sorceress started.
There was an instant understanding between him and her, and before she could even finish her sentence, he ran toward the brilliant opening with his eyes closed, grabbed Ram Man by the wrist, pulling him through, and then, with his other hand, slammed the door shut.
All stood around Ram Man, now, staring.
“Uh . . . hi guys.”
“Ram Man?” Duncan asked. “Are you . . . feeling well?”
“Yeah,” he said, smiling.
“How did you . . . how did you survive!?” the Sorceress asked, furrowing her brow. Even she sounded, perplexed.
“Oh, it was horrible in there. I’m glad I’m here, now. After goin’ through the door, I was fallin’, fallin’ down a pit of some kind, but the pit was creepin’, and it was fleshy. Well, I can’t describe it, but it was horrible. Then I remembered what the Sorceress said, so I closed my eyes, and my ears too, because I was hearin’ some strange voices. But the voices, and the things around me, were too hard to keep out of my head, so I thought about Tina.”
“Tina!?” they all said in unison.
“Yes, I love her so. All I can do is think about her.”
“But how did you get out!” asked the Sorceress.
“Well, it was gettin’ harder and harder to keep the voices out, and then I thought to myself, if this thing is so ugly, it would probably scare itself, if it could see itself. I mean, I don’t like looking at myself in the mirror sometimes, naked . . . er, but anyway, I had this mirror, see,” and he pulled the small, heart shaped mirror from his belt, “and held it up in front of me.”
“And then?”
“It went away. When I got up the courage to open my eyes, I found the door right next to me, as if I hadn’t gone anywhere, and I found this lyin’ next to it,” and he pulled the Krelm from under his belt too, “so I opened the door . . .”
“Ram Man, you big oaf!” He-Man shouted with glee, clasping him in both arms.
“Thanks,” he said, blushing. And then, all the heroes laughed, taking turns shaking his hand. Even the Sorceress smiled.
“Ram Man,” said she, “for saving the universe from ultimate destruction, you should be rewarded. Anything my magic can provide, shall be yours.”
“Hmm . . .,” he went; “I could use a new helm.”
“Ram Man!” said Duncan. “I can build that for you.”
“I know. What I would really like . . . is to see my princess again. Send me to Palutina, please.”
“I shall create a portal for you, a special portal that will remain for as long as you wish to use it, so that you can come and go freely, between Palutina and Eternia.”
“What of the Krelm?” asked He-Man. “What shall we do with it?”
“I have been rethinking the issue,” she replied, clutching the blue glowing relic. “Though the Zodiakians did keep it, we do not possess their power or their wisdom. The Nameless Horrors have existed since the beginning of time, and since the beginning of time, there has been life in the universe. If that life could survive without the Krelm, so can we.
“Someday, we may become like the Zodiakians. Someday, we may create our own Krelm. But until that day, this must be destroyed.”

Epilogue:

A few days later, Adam attended his father’s funeral, ascending the throne as King of Eternia, though his adventures as He-Man continued. The Sorceress, meanwhile, prepared for Skeletor’s imprisonment, but his body, as did Scareglow, mysteriously disappeared. As for the Krelm, it was encased, with Duncan’s help, in a block of solid steel, and tossed into the bottomless pit surrounding Castle Grayskull.
The other heroes of the Krelm went their separate ways: Rotar returned to Eternos to become an avid blacksmith, Clamp Champ returned to Lost Lamar to rebuild the capital of his lost empire, where he remains still, and Duncan went on to finish his chronicle of the quest, a book bound in hard leather inscribed with the unholy symbol of the Krelm, the only copy of which resides in the Grayskull Library; he also went on to have a granddaughter (but that is another story). As for Ram Man, he returned to Palutina, finding the princess sitting at the gazebo where he first professed his love, and there they made love, and in that world his heart remains.



Chapter 12

The Grayskull Library