Were it not for the nightmarish scream that Skeletor uttered, one would have thought he were a statue, frozen in an agonised stance with the Powersword wedged into his skull. Yet the sound gradually died in his throat as he drew his last breath, and his corpse began to shake violently. He-Man stepped back as three golden orbs burst out of the demon's chest. They began to rotate weakly and unevenly, before shattering into millions of tiny pieces. The particles were flung far across the battlefield before vanishing for eternity as the power of the orbs was finally destroyed. Skeletor's body fell to the ground, no longer supported by the mystical energy that he had absorbed.
Dramatic scenes unfolded across the moor, as the creatures that Skeletor had summoned found themselves unable to exist without the Orbs of Trath to sustain them. Their bodies combusted suddenly into raging balls of flame; the ferocity of the fires forcing the Eternian warriors to retreat. The demons imploded; forced back to their own dimensions as lifeless ashes. The tears in the sky began to shimmer and vibrate rapidly, expanding and diminishing as enormous energies convulsed in an uncontrollable and terrible manner, oscillating furiously over the Moor of Doom. Yet the dimensional rifts could not endure without the power of the orbs, and wounds in the sky snapped shut, and the barriers were restored. But the energies had to be released, and wild strings of raw elemental power began to flood rapidly across the landscape.
From the skies a new sight greeted He-Man's eyes. At first he knew not what he saw, for the shapes seemed like black shadows, and He-Man wondered with despair if this approaching swarm was the final part of Skeletor's plan to crush the king and all those who loved freedom. Yet as the shapes came closer, He-Man realised that his fears were unfounded, for these were the Eternian birdmen under the leadership of Stratos. The scores of red-winged warriors dropped rapidly from the air and pursued the remnants of Skeletor's army from the battlefield, determined to drive the survivors back to the holes whence they came. Relentlessly the birdmen attacked Skeletor's lackeys, who were unable to defend against an aerial assault. Fearing the winged warriors and the rapidly approaching mystic energy, the warriors dropped their weapons and raced away.
By now all combat had ended. The armies fled from the moor as quickly as they were able, not knowing what destructive power the unleashed energies might possess. He-Man looked around and saw the battle between Man-At-Arms and Tri-Klops had ceased, with both warriors reluctant to leave the duel unfinished. Yet it seemed that an unspoken agreement was reached between them, and they slowly backed away from each other. Tri-Klops turned and began to run from the battlefield. Man-At-Arms scabbarded his weapon and ran to He-Man, who was struggling to lift the injured king to his feet. With his arms about their shoulders, Man-At-Arms and He-Man helped Randor from the moor, hurrying awkwardly as the swirling energies raced over the land behind them.
They reached the edge of the moor, and turned back to see the battlefield aglow with a red mystic light. The flood seemed to have expanded as far as it were able, the last sparks of energy dancing around the warriors' feet like a surge of water drifting back and forth along the shoreline of a sandy beach. Further back they retreated, staring with incredulity at the unnatural light that now covered the Moor of Doom. Every rock and tor seemed to resonate with the unearthly energy, and the landscape had become a polluted, inhospitable place. As King Randor stared at the red mist, he realised that until the tide subsided and the energies dispersed, the bodies of his fallen warriors would not be recovered, and to know this filled him with a heart-rending sadness.
Slowly the surviving warriors regrouped. They had won a victory of sorts, but the cost had been a great one. Skeletor had been vanquished by He-Man, and the orbs destroyed, but even though Eternia was safe once more, the mood in the camp was sorrowful. There would be time for rejoicing, but at present, thoughts were turned to fallen comrades and the pain of war.
Gradually Randor's men prepared for the journey home. It was a slow moving and ragged line of warriors who marched from the Moor of Doom with Randor, He-Man and Man-At-Arms at the head of the column, but the warriors still bore themselves proudly with their heads high. The urgency of their mission was replaced now with a longing to return to the palace, and to be reunited with friends and families. They crossed the Great Wall, and realised that the ancient symbol was just as significant as it had been when it was built. Stratos flew ahead to take news of the victory to the Sorceress of Grayskull, while his men hounded the evil soldiers of Skeletor far beyond the moor and into the desert beyond.
Fisto and Taranek, leading their warriors, met with the king on the Fields of Evermore. Under a clear sky, the armies camped there that night, before resuming their journeys in the morning. The task of clearing the battlefield had fallen to Fisto and Taranek, and they marched onwards to complete their unpleasant duties as their companions headed back to the palace. Their march took them once again into the Evergreen Forest and beyond to Castle Grayskull. He-Man wondered why the forest and the fortress seemed unchanged, and then wondered why he expected things to be different. It lifted his heart to realise that the landscape and the castle still stood in defiance of evil.
Of course, it would have been foolish to assume that Skeletor had been the embodiment of all evil on Eternia. There were many dark-hearted individuals in the land who would continue to represent threats, Skeletor's surviving underlings among their numbers, but the Lord of Destruction had been the greatest menace. Now he was gone, and He-Man saw the final moments of Skeletor's existence over and over in his mind. He had succeeded in his task, and slain the demon. He had avenged those who fell at Se'andar and Talu, and many other conflicts against the skeletal being, but instead of gladness, he felt a peculiar emptiness and uncertainty, and these emotions troubled him. Perhaps it was because he had known little else apart from battling Skeletor, and now he had to face a different future? Maybe the landscape had changed after all.
The days and weeks that followed saw the people of Eternos making their final farewells to the soldiers that had fallen. As was customary among the humans of Eternia, the parting ceremonies were conducted quietly at night under the stars. The bodies were cremated on funeral pyres, as family members read poetry, or simply sat in silence with their thoughts in the firelight. Yet in spite of the sadness and losses, there was a happiness too, for everyone knew how close they had come to losing their freedom to the evil of Skeletor. It soon became clear to the king that the people of the city wished to celebrate the success of He-Man and his allies, and the liberation of the land from the threat of the Lord of Destruction.
"My subjects wish to partake in festivities, Taranek," the king commented to his friend as they walked in the palace gardens one afternoon. "I share their gladness, but I wonder if the time is right."
"I understand your concerns, Randor, but why fight for freedom if it is not worth celebrating?" replied Taranek. "The poets and bards will compose songs to remember the fallen. Their names will not be forgotten, my friend."
Randor considered his companions words. "Did the poets compose songs after Blackmere?"
Taranek nodded. "Even today, the children of Eternia speak of the battle. The deeds of our companions are preserved in the memory of the people."
"Then we shall allow them to remember another great victory, Taranek," stated the king. "The festivities will go ahead."
"Good," retorted Taranek. "I trust you will organise an archery contest?"
Randor looked at his friend and laughed aloud. "Consider it organised!"
"Consider it won," replied his companion confidently.
Once the inhabitants of Eternos received word from the palace that the festivities were to go ahead, preparations were made at once, and little else occupied their minds. They were determined to make the celebrations a success, and every effort possible went into making costumes, flags and pennons. Numerous stands and platforms were built around the city's market square for the many performers that the king summoned from across the land.
On the morning of the chosen day, the Eternians rose early, and soon large crowds started forming in the square and the surrounding streets. Colourfully dressed entertainers jumped gracefully on to the stages, and made their audiences laugh and gasp at their juggling and acrobatic skills. Taranek's centaurs arrived early too, and graciously allowed the children of the city to ride upon their backs, which caused squeals of delight for most of the day.
Teela rode into the city on Battle Cat ahead of the royal party. Once inside the city walls, she dismounted, and walked beside the mighty Eternian tiger amongst the people. She enjoyed the opportunity to converse with the people, and she was particularly fond of the children. But it was Battle Cat who drew the most attention. Seldom did the Eternians have the chance to see the huge tiger close up, and those who had never seen the legendary steed were amazed by his huge size. The more daring among the population stroked Battle Cat's thick fur, and the animal seemed to enjoy the attention.
Randor and Taranek passed through the city gates soon after, closely followed by Fisto and Man-At-Arms. The old friends walked among the loyal subjects, and talked freely with whomever wished to do so. Today all formalities were forgotten, and Randor became one of the people. Predictably, Taranek won the archery tournament with ease, and Fisto demonstrated his enormous strength by winning the wrestling competition. Elsewhere, the Eternians took part in events that tested agility and balance, and there were prizes for the most successful challengers.
In spectacular fashion, Stratos and his birdmen flew into Eternos. While some entertained the crowds with aerial acrobatics, others descended and offered to take the humans for flights over the city, and across the plains to the palace. Hundreds of people lined up for the ride, and the birdmen spent most of the day working. Two birdmen would fly together with their rider in between, holding on tightly with his or her arms around the shoulders of the winged men.
Walking among the throng was He-Man. Throughout the day, joyful Eternians clapped him on the back and shook his hands, delighted at being close to the hero who had saved their future and rid the land of Skeletor. He-Man found the praise a little overwhelming, but he accepted that today was a special occasion in the minds of the people, and he did his best to enjoy himself. Easing himself through the crowd, he searched for Teela. She had been looking for him too, and they almost stumbled into each other. They smiled as they met, and Teela suddenly threw herself at He-Man and hugged him warmly. At that moment music started, and the entire crowd let out a cry of delight as the musicians played. On a stage in the centre of the square they stood; five musicians in total, skilfully playing on mandolins and fiddles. The tune was an uplifting instrumental that soon had the Eternians dancing merrily. Teela and He-Man danced too, unaware that the Sorceress watched them from the city wall.
"You do not join the festivities, Sorceress," said Randor, walking slowly towards her. From their location, the entire market square could be seen, and Randor followed the Sorceress's gaze as she watched Teela and He-Man.
"Did you come up here to make that observation, Randor, or did you wish to avoid dancing?" she replied with a smile.
"Ah, I am too old for such things," Randor retorted heartily. "It is better suited to Teela and He-Man, and people of their years. And yet I do feel invigorated by the mood of the people. Perhaps I shall dance after all... when the music slows!"
"You hide your sadness well, Randor," the Sorceress observed quietly.
Randor paused momentarily. "I am the king," he replied solemnly. "It is my duty to inspire my subjects and to celebrate the beauty of the land we share. Yet a shadow fell across my heart when Keldor vanished, and it darkens every time an Eternian family loses a loved one."
"Perhaps that is why you are loved by your people, Randor. You understand their grief."
Randor could not find the words to reply, so in silence he watched the crowd below. Finally he spoke. "Have we won, Sorceress? Have we finally defeated evil in Eternia?"
Sadly, the Sorceress shook her head. "Evil cannot be vanquished, Randor, for it does not exist."
"I do not understand," replied the king. "I have seen evil on the face of my enemy many times."
"Do not mistake your enemy's desire for survival as malevolence, Randor. We all fight to protect or to profit. There will be further conflict. It is the way of life."
"Well, Sorceress, call his motivation what you will, but Skeletor is dead," stated Randor. "The greatest threat to the tranquillity of Eternia has been defeated. I do not doubt your wisdom and philosophy, but thanks to He-Man, the land is safe."
The Sorceress turned and faced the king, and her face seemed desperately sad, as if every sorrow in the world bore down upon her. "Enjoy the festivities, Randor," she murmured. "I must return to Castle Grayskull."
The king studied her face, but said nothing as he slowly walked away. There were times like this, when words simply could not be found to lift the Sorceress from the mire of generations of sadness. As Randor returned to the crowd, he turned and looked up at her, wishing that he could ease the burden of her melancholy.
The Sorceress cast her gaze over the merry throng below, and yet the music and the laughter stayed oddly distant from her. She had to return to the mystical fortress, for the great castle was summoning her, calling for her presence. Soon she would learn the truth of the new darkness that she had sensed after the battle on the Moor of Doom. At present, this darkness was more distant than the music, but it was drawing closer. It was terrifying in its blackness, and it filled her with dread. She hoped desperately that her intuition was wrong, but in her heart she knew that it was not. And as she used her magic to transport herself to Castle Grayskull, she was horrified to realise that the thickening darkness was familiar to her.