Story concept: Eyas Stormwolf

Written by: Eyas Stormwolf

© Eyas Stormwolf

The foothills of the Dragonslayer Mountains looked no different from the last time the cloaked woman had seen them. The landscape this far north seemed to have remained unaffected by the terrible changes which had cast a deep shadow over much of Eternia. Skeletor had evidently chosen to ignore this beautiful corner of the land, probably because he had no need to conquer an area which offered little in the way of resources. There was no human population in this region - at least none large enough to warrant enslaving - and it was one of the most remote locations on the globe. Skeletor only took what he needed.

There was another reason for not sending troops to the Dragonslayer Mountains. They would probably die. The dragons - or at least one dragon - had caused significant disruption to Skeletor during the seven years of his reign. Ster'torr'awenek had allied himself with the rebels and inflicted great damage to Skeletor's forces. So far Skeletor had been unable to capture and slay the beast, but there was some small consolation in the fact that the dragon had ravaged Hordak's armies as much as his own. Although Hordak held many regions in the Dark Continent and represented a significant thorn in Skeletor's side, he had been unable to make much progress elsewhere. The few warriors who had remained loyal to Randor's memory were nothing more than an irritation.

It was a different world the woman had returned to. Her absence had been a regrettable necessity. For seven years she had remained inside Castle Grayskull, learning as much as she could from the Elders, and training her son. The mystical fortress had vanished from the plain upon which it stood the moment Skeletor had claimed the throne; shifting itself into a dimension beyond the reach of the monster king. The castle had protected itself because its defender had been slain and Skeletor had become too dangerous.

Time was needed to restore balance before Castle Grayskull would return permanently. Its brief reappearance, in order to allow Teela to set new plans in motion, would not be for long. When she returned, the castle would phase back into its timeless dimension, and would remain phantom-like and invisible until the threads of fate weaved a new tapestry. Until the seeds of the Elders' plans took root, the greatest protection Castle Grayskull could give the people of Eternia was to prevent Skeletor absorbing more power by not existing in his world.

They had asked her to complete her task as swiftly as possible, but Teela had refused to obey the Elders' demands. It was imperative, she had insisted, for her son to see something of the land that was his home. Furthermore, she could not risk using magic, for her presence on Eternia would be noticed. This necessity meant she could not simply appear at her destination; more traditional means of transport were necessary.

It had been a long journey from the Evergreen Forest to the foothills of the mountains. The roads were patrolled by Skeletor's underlings, and hundreds of checkpoints had been set up. Few citizens were allowed to travel outside the reservations, and only then under escort. Teela had taken secret routes north which she remembered from her days as a soldier in King Randor's army. She had been grateful to encounter old allies, for they had helped her to avoid trouble.

Aloran the elf had maintained a long battle against Skeletor in the Evergreen Forest. His people had been largely successful, although the human settlements had all fallen under the command of the conqueror. Aloran and Randor had been friends for many years, and after the king's death, the leader of the elves had been determined to help Randor's people as much as he could. Thanks to Aloran and his people, there was still sanctuary in parts of the forest.

Another former ally of Randor met Aloran and Teela at the northern edge of the forest. Orticus the lycanthrope had promised to guide Teela and her son through the Vile Marsh and Vine Jungle. These regions were potentially dangerous, for they were inhabited by many creatures loyal to Skeletor, but both Orticus and Teela had journeyed here many times before. Despite the danger, the risk of being caught was less here than if they had taken the easier journey along the west coast. It was impossible to travel the coastal route without encountering the enemy.

Orticus had left them at Gorthlindir; the ancient ruined jungle city. From there Teela and the boy had quickly reached the edge of the jungle, and they had plotted a course north-west. The land was more exposed but less harsh here, and it was fortunate that Skeletor had few troops posted in the region. Twice they had narrowly avoided being caught when small patrols had made unexpected appearances.

They had eventually reached the hills, and the landscape's ever-present beauty had given Teela some hope that all was not yet lost, despite seven years of Skeletor's rule. Knowing that they were safer here, Teela had relaxed for the first time since leaving Castle Grayskull. She and her boy set up camp in a small wood as twilight fell. They ate their meagre provisions and talked a little as they gazed into their campfire.

"Will we find him tomorrow?" Teela's son asked.

"Yes, he is nearby," she replied.

"I don't want to be apart from you."

Teela shook her head and pulled the boy to her closely. "I know," she said, ruffling his dark hair. "But you are a young man now, and you have many things to discover. It is time for you to put all of your training to good use. We will see each other again, and that will be a special time."

"When?" the boy asked.

"I don't know," Teela replied, and she could not hide the sadness in her voice. "Soon, I hope."

"I don't understand what I have to do," the boy said.

Teela placed her hands on his cheeks and turned his head towards her gently so she could look into his eyes. "You have to save the world," she said softly.

They rose with the sun the next morning and packed up their camp before heading further into the hills. It was peaceful here, and the light of the early morning promised the rest of the day would be bathed in glorious autumnal sunlight. The conditions made travelling easy, and they made good progress as they ventured over hills and through valleys. Often they would pass through patches of woodland, and among the trees they occasionally noticed small cabins hidden in the landscape. Teela wondered if they would find the man they sought in one such cabin. She knew he was close.

After another hour's walk, they reached a patch of high ground in the shade of a semi-circle of fir trees. A broad log had been placed on its side and fashioned into a bench. A collection of pale stones encircled what remained of a campfire. Teela's years of survival experience told her the flames had been put out hastily moments ago. She took her son by the hand and pulled him towards the log. They sat down upon it in silence.

Eventually a man's voice called out from behind the trees. "You look... different," the voice said.

"You last saw me seven years ago," Teela replied.

"It's not that," the man said. "You seem... ageless."

"I hope you mean that as a compliment," Teela remarked. "Come and sit with us. You don't have to talk to the back of my head."

"Thank you for inviting me to join you at my own camp," the man replied. Teela did not turn to look as he approached, but her son did, and stared with amazement at the huge muscle-bound man who had three mechanical eyes set around a green visor.

Tri-Klops walked around them and sat upon a nearby boulder. He ignored the child but studied Teela closely. "Definitely different," he murmured.

"I am now the Sorceress of Grayskull and your old battlefield adversary," said Teela.

"So what happened to the last Sorceress?" asked Tri-Klops indifferently.

Teela did not reply to his question.

Suddenly Tri-Klops realised what she had meant. "You merged?" he asked incredulously.

"It is a long story," said Teela. "We co-exist; mother and daughter reunited as one entity."

"Interesting," remarked Tri-Klops. "So how did you find me? I disappeared from the world once my work with the Sabre Squads was complete. I thought I had spread sufficient lies about my untimely death."

"We noticed," Teela replied, "but the Elders do have a greater insight than most. As for finding you, well, that was easy. A tiny crystal was placed inside your visor before Orticus returned it when he recruited you. The crystal is from the castle, which means I always know where you are."

"Hmmmph!" grunted Tri-Klops. "You must be here for a reason."

"I am here to give you your next mission," Teela replied.

"I have retired," said Tri-Klops, and there was a hint of anger in his voice. "I fulfilled my part of the bargain, Teela. I intend to live out my days in solitude."

"I am not suggesting you failed to do what was asked of you," said Teela. "But I have to ask for your help. You are the only person I can entrust with this task."

"You shouldn't trust me," remarked Tri-Klops. "I helped Orticus because he offered me my freedom. No more, no less."

"Play the part of the old mercenary if you must, Tri-Klops, but I know there is a nobler side to your character," said Teela. "You took pride in training the Sabre Squads, and you protected them. The freedom you were given was more than an open cell door."

Tri-Klops shrugged. "So you know me better than I thought. It doesn't change things though. Here I can stay undetected - far from Skeletor's reach and influence. I have no intention of returning to that life."

"You do not yet know what I need you to do," Teela remarked.

"Nor do I care," replied Tri-Klops. "I cleaned my slate long ago."

"This isn't about your arrangement with Orticus," said Teela. "I'm asking for me."

Tri-Klops sighed. "You are the Sorceress of Grayskull now," he said. "You do not need the services of an old hunter."

"I do... and you owe me, Tri-Klops," Teela retorted.

"I... " Tri-Klops began, and then he paused. "Yes, you're right. I do owe you for saving my life. Often have I wondered why you rescued me from the Clan. You could have let them take me back to Snake Mountain."

"There were those who thought that was exactly what I should have done," said Teela. "And, if I am to be truly honest with you, I did consider doing so. But you gave yourself up in order to protect the men you were training - friends of mine - and that revealed your honour. That is why I know I can trust you now."

Tri-Klops looked at Teela closely. "You came all this way to find me without using your magic?"

Teela nodded. "I will not risk revealing your - or my - location."

"But as Sorceress of Grayskull, you don't really need me, do you?" asked Tri-Klops.

"I could do this another way," Teela admitted, "but that would not be the right way. So, yes, I do need you."

"What task would you have me complete?" asked Tri-Klops.

"Take my boy - my son and grandson - to Man-At-Arms. Keep him safe, and teach him your skills." Teela leaned forward, her expression intent. "Be his guardian, Tri-Klops. I must return to Castle Grayskull. I know I am asking so much..."

"I shall do as you ask," Tri-Klops interrupted. "You have stirred up my desire for adventure once again, damn you!" He turned to the boy, acknowledging his presence for the first time. "What is your name, lad?" he asked.

"Wun-Dar, sir," said the boy.

Tri-Klops turned back to Teela. "He has a hero's name," he remarked.

"He has a hero's blood too," she replied. "He-Man and I were married the evening before he was killed."

Tri-Klops nodded thoughtfully. "This isn't just about taking him to meet his grandfather, is it?"

"The fate of the world depends upon him," Teela replied softly.

The conversation paused briefly as Tri-Klops re-lit his campfire. He used a flint to ignite a handful of kindling, and carefully blew the wood shavings to cause the glow to become a flame. He placed the kindling within his circle of stones, and then stacked a small pile of dry twigs over it. As he worked, he thought about Teela's words, and her revelation about her son. If this boy was destined for greatness, he would have some monumental obstacles to overcome.

"He's barely into his seventh year, Teela," the blind warrior eventually remarked. "He's never set foot outside Castle Grayskull until now. I think your ambitions for him may be rather grand."

"He still has much to learn," Teela replied. "Eternia will not be rid of Skeletor overnight. But Wun-Dar is the catalyst which will bring the light back to this land."

"I'll take your word for it," retorted Tri-Klops. "Where is Man-At-Arms?"

"Valmorlar," replied Teela.

"Now that's ironic," said Tri-Klops as he thought back to his last confrontation with the old weapons master. "Why do you want me to go there with Wun-Dar? The boy would be better off staying in Grayskull rather than that tomb."

"Valmorlar is no longer as you remember it," said Teela. "King Randor had a vision whilst dreaming. He saw a need for Valmorlar to be restored; to become the great underground city it once was. After the renovation of the Giant's Pass garrison was completed, Randor sent his friend Draji to Valmorlar. The dwarfs have spent the last eight years rebuilding the city. They have not finished yet, but Valmorlar is no longer the ruin you remember."

"That place is enormous," murmured Tri-Klops. "If it has been restored to even half of its former glory..."

"It is nearly as it was in ancient times," said Teela. "Alas, I have not seen the city for myself - I can only view it in visions within Castle Grayskull - but it has become magnificent beyond words."

"Would I be correct in assuming that it is not Man-At-Arms alone who awaits us there?" asked Tri-Klops.

"You would be," replied Teela with a smile. "The city has become home to thousands of Eternians - those who were fortunate enough to avoid being rounded up and made to work in Skeletor's reservations. Furthermore, all of Randor's soldiers and warlords who escaped capture are now garrisoned there. They will fight back when the time is right. For now they seek to increase their numbers and prepare under the direction of Fisto and my father."

Tri-Klops could not prevent a broad grin from spreading over his face. "This is unexpected!" he exclaimed. "Not once have I heard a single rumour about Valmorlar!" Suddenly his expression became serious once more. "Skeletor will resist," he said.

"Certainly," replied Teela. "Hordak remains a threat too. But the seeds have been sown. It will take several years, but change will happen, and it will be Wun-Dar who leads the revolution."

"He'll need more than willing soldiers," said Tri-Klops. "He'll need luck on his side."

"Luck and several hundred sorcerers," Teela replied. "A former ally of yours has been training gifted children since before Wun-Dar was born."

"Evil-Lyn?" questioned Tri-Klops. "I thought she was dead."

"Undoubtedly she would be if Skeletor could find her," said Teela. "And these days she uses her original name - Evelyn. Skeletor kidnapped her as a child and slew her father. Evelyn's alliances are now very different."

"It would appear that this revolution is more advanced than I thought," said Tri-Klops.

"It is still not safe enough for Castle Grayskull to return," replied Teela. "The Eternian people continue to suffer at the hands of Skeletor. Your former master is incredibly powerful, and it will take a huge effort to defeat him."

Tri-Klops nodded. He turned to Wun-Dar. "It seems you have a lot of work to do."

Wun-Dar looked back and smiled. "Will you help me?" he asked.

"I shall help you, young warrior," replied Tri-Klops. "But first, we must catch some supper! We cannot travel on empty stomachs!"

They had stayed together in Tri-Klops' cabin for the night, and had risen with the dawn the next morning, eager to set out as soon as it was light. Tri-Klops had left Teela and Wun-Dar alone for some time so they could bid each other farewell. It had been a heart-breaking moment for them both, and Tri-Klops had no wish to intrude upon their sadness. Teela had then left, murmuring one last instruction to her former adversary to keep her boy safe. She had left swiftly, unwilling to prolong the moment. Tri-Klops and Wun-Dar had headed out soon afterwards in the opposite direction.

Their bearing was towards the east, and Tri-Klops knew that the land between the mountain ranges on either side of the continent was a mixture of meadowland, undulating hills and valleys, and broad swathes of forest. Traversing the region would not be difficult unless the weather took a turn for the worse. It was still early Autumn, but it was not unusual for rain and wind to set in even though the days still held the warmth of the recently departed Summer.

Wun-Dar did not speak for over an hour. He was thinking only of his mother, and it took him this long to be willing to speak to his new guardian. Eventually he broke his silence, and Tri-Klops was surprised at his chosen topic of conversation.

"I have a half-brother," Wun-Dar announced suddenly.

"Really?" replied Tri-Klops, unable to find a response that sounded less surprised.

"My father had a child before me," continued Wun-Dar. "His name is Bran."

"I did not know that," said Tri-Klops. "I assume you have never met him?"

"I haven't," Wun-Dar confirmed. "He is not much older than me. He lives in a place called the Bleydek Forest with his mother. She is called Alya. They're vampires."

"I have never been there," said Tri-Klops. "It is a remote place. What did your mother tell you about Bran and Alya?"

"I have to find them," replied Wun-Dar. "They are meant to come to Valmorlar. Bran and I must work together to help Eternia."

"Well, when we find your grandfather, perhaps he will arrange that," said Tri-Klops.

Wun-Dar nodded in agreement.

They continued to talk as they travelled, and they soon found themselves enjoying each other's company. Tri-Klops had never been one for forging friendships - he had never considered it a necessity - but he was curious about the boy and found him to have a likeable personality. He soon found himself talking about how Teela had rescued him from the Clan of the Skull, for the fact that she had entrusted him with Wun-Dar's life had brought the memory to the front of his thoughts.

Several hours into their journey, they found themselves on the edge of some farmland, and Tri-Klops noticed some horses in a field. Knowing their journey would be easier on horseback, Tri-Klops acquired one of the animals. He led the horse from the field, closing the gate behind him. The horse had no saddle but Tri-Klops was a skilled rider and did not need one. He found a coil of rope and hastily made reins from it. He mounted the steed and then reached down towards Wun-Dar. With one effortless movement, he lifted the boy and sat him in front of him on the horse.

As they rode, Tri-Klops decided to ask Wun-Dar about the sword he carried. Tri-Klops had not yet seen the weapon - it was wrapped completely in cloth - but it was obvious what it was. The weapon was far too big for the boy, and Tri-Klops wanted to know why young Wun-Dar was carrying it. Wun-Dar was happy to answer his questions.

"It's called the Blacksword," Wun-Dar told Tri-Klops. "My mother said it was very old and magical. It will help me fulfil my destiny."

"When you grow big enough, maybe," said Tri-Klops.

"I know how to use a sword," retorted Wun-Dar. "My mother has trained me. But my practice weapons were much smaller than this sword. For now I just have to keep it safe."

"Your father had a magic sword," said Tri-Klops. "It was called the Powersword."

"I know," replied Wun-Dar. "I saw it in Castle Grayskull. Apart from the colour, mine is just like it."

"Well, knowing how to use one sword is good," said Tri-Klops, "but knowing how to use two is better. Perhaps I shall teach you a new technique."

"My mother said you would offer to do that," said Wun-Dar.

Suddenly Tri-Klops took a sharp intake of breath. His visor rotated around his head, bringing his distance vision eye to the front.

"What's wrong?" asked Wun-Dar.

"Glorms," replied Tri-Klops. "This is wrong - they are never seen in this region. They're coming right towards us and they know we're here."

"How do you know?" asked Wun-Dar.

"They have smelled us - I can see them sniffing the air," answered Tri-Klops. "There are seven of them, but..." Tri-Klops shook his head. "I don't understand this. They have human captives."

Wun-Dar turned and looked up at Tri-Klops, his expression revealing he did not understand what he meant.

"Glorms don't take captives," Tri-Klops explained. "They just kill and eat."

"Can we ride away?" asked Wun-Dar.

"They can out-run a horse, lad," said Tri-Klops. "I'll have to give you a head-start. Alas, it looks like our journey together may be coming to an end sooner than I had hoped."

"You cannot fight seven glorms on your own!" said Wun-Dar.

"One will be hard enough," said Tri-Klops, "but I promised Teela I would protect you." Tri-Klops dismounted the horse and drew his sword. Suddenly the horse caught the smell of the glorms on the breeze, and it reared in panic. Wun-Dar fell from the animal's back as it bolted in the direction they had come from. Tri-Klops managed to catch Wun-Dar as he fell.

"I shall fight beside you," said the boy as he started to unwrap his cloth-covered sword.

Tri-Klops said nothing, knowing they were both about to die. He hoped the boy would be killed instantly.

They did not have to wait for long for the glorms to near them. Tri-Klops gripped his sword tightly as the creatures approached. He could not understand why the four men walking with the glorms were unharmed. Why aren't they charging? Tri-Klops wondered. The glorms and their captives drew closer, before coming to a halt ten paces away.

The fur-covered creature nearest to Tri-Klops snorted loudly. "You do not need your sword, warrior," the glorm said in the language of men.

Tri-Klops stared at the creature in disbelief. This must be an illusion.

"Your sword..." repeated the glorm, his voice echoing like a growl in his throat.

Tri-Klops lowered his sword and motioned to Wun-Dar to do the same. The boy was even more confused than Tri-Klops, but he did as he was told.

"This is not glorm territory," remarked Tri-Klops, uncertain what to say.

"We are far from home," agreed the four-armed beast. "We have come to meet the son of Gruurmarr."

"I don't..." began Tri-Klops.

"Glorms' bane," Wun-Dar interrupted. "That's what it means."

"You speak our words, little one?" questioned the glorm, and now his expression revealed surprise.

"I was taught many languages in Castle Grayskull," said Wun-Dar, "but I do not who Gruurmarr is."

"Are you not the son of the one men called He-Man?" asked the glorm.

"He was my father, but I did not know him," replied Wun-Dar.

"He killed many of our kind," stated the glorm. "We could not defeat him - and that is why he is known as Glormsbane in our tongue."

"And now you want revenge?" growled Tri-Klops.

"No," replied the glorm. "We want an alliance with Gruurmarr's son. Our soothsayer saw this moment long ago. The glorms of the Gwylvos Forest are to fight alongside Wun-Dar against our common enemy."

"You mean Skeletor?" said Wun-Dar.

"Yes," replied the glorm. "Your father was our enemy, but he was a noble opponent, fighting us only when we attacked what he defended. Skeletor threatens our entire race. He captures glorms and enslaves us by magic, making us obedient servants in his army. This has gone on for too long. When the soothsayer had her vision, I knew it was time to act." The glorm pointed towards one of the men in their group. "I found Solas and we became friends."

The man named Solas stepped forwards. "I taught Huurn and his companions our language," he said. "I was the teacher in my village. It has been an interesting time."

"Now I understand why Skeletor failed to conquer Gwylvos Forest when everywhere else was falling!" remarked Tri-Klops.

Huurn nodded. "We have managed to keep the demon's forces at bay. Now it is time for stronger measures."

Wun-Dar turned to Tri-Klops. "You're my guardian," he said with a smile. "What do you think?"

"Ha!" exclaimed Tri-Klops. "I have seen some odd things over the years, Wun-Dar, but this is perhaps the most extraordinary! A friendship between men and glorms? This is the strangest alliance since the days of fire and steel." Tri-Klops rubbed his chin. "Well as we're not dead, it seems fate has already decided!"

Wun-Dar walked towards Huurn and extended his arm. The glorm, towering above the boy, reached down and grasped Wun-Dar's hand.

"Will you travel with us to Valmorlar?" asked Wun-Dar.

Huurn considered his answer before speaking. "We will journey with you to the farthest edges of Eternia, Son of Glormsbane."