Part 1. Part 2.
Part 3. Part 4.
Part 5. Part 6.
Part 7. Part 8.
Part 9. Part 10.
Part 11. Part 12.
Part 13. Part 14.
Snake Mountain stood tall against the black night sky, an eerie, menacing silhouette. The demon faces carved in the ancient building cast their striking evil glare over the rock surroundings, and the rope bridge swayed and creaked in the wind. The stronghold of evil was silent as it concealed the evil forces that dwelt inside.
At long last, three gloomy figures approached the ancient mountain. The first one held two sharp, long swords at the ready, gleaming in the darkness. The shaven-headed, eye-patched swordsman called Blade made his way to the ancient fortress with no greater desire than to slash a living being to pieces with his weapons.
Alongside him was a figure clad from head to toe in shining armour, his long reptilian tail the only area of his skin that was visible. It was Saurod, the reptile mercenary, sparks shooting angrily from his mouthpiece as he made his way through the blackness.
Guiding them both back to their base was a strange looking figure with long, flowing white hair, and black armour heavily attached to his body. Where his right hand should been, there was only a hook attached to the armour. It was Karg, one of the evil army generals.
The three warriors reached the gates of their base. Karg ripped the gates open, and they entered, into the dark, deadly fortress.
They wordlessly ascended the spiral steps which led to their master's chamber. A large, wooden door barred the way into the large chamber where Skeletor, lord of destruction, spent so much time alone planning his next attempt to take control of Eternia.
Nervously, Karg tapped on the door with his hook.
"Who dares interrupt the thoughts of Skeletor?" came the deep voice of their master.
"It is us, master." replied Karg. "Karg, Blade, and Saurod."
"Enter." came the reply.
The three warriors entered Skeletor's chamber. Skeletor sat on his bone throne, with his staff at his side. His large, purple pet, Panthor, slept in a corner.
"Have you succeeded?" Skeletor asked his minions.
Karg fell to his knees before his master. Blade and Saurod then did the same.
"Master..." began Karg, "I am afraid that we failed to destroy the heroic warriors. We managed to hide around the palace, but when they discovered us... we were outnumbered. We had no choice but to retreat... and escape with our lives."
"You imbeciles!" shouted Skeletor. "I give you a small, easy task and you fail me! How can I expect to conquer Eternia with you on my side? This is a disgrace to you, Karg - you've always been so efficient in commanding my forces, but even you can't carry out the task I give you!" Skeletor's demonic eyes blazed an angry red. This had happened all too often, and he was getting sick of it.
"With a larger force we would have won easily!" hissed Saurod from behind his mask "Three warriors was not enough!"
"I don't understand how you thought we could succeed against that many warriors!" added Blade angrily.
"Silence, fools!" bellowed Skeletor. "Do not even attempt to criticise the lord of destruction. If I feel like doing anything right now, it is killing you three idiots! Giving you the fate you deserve for messing up so many of my schemes! But I will spare your lives this time, for the sole reason that you are three of my most gifted warriors. But get out of my sight! The next time you fail me this way, you will not be so lucky!"
Karg, Blade, and Saurod rose to their feet, turned away from Skeletor, and left the chamber. They sank back into the shadows of Snake Mountain, and sat to rest alongside its rocky walls.
"It's not our fault at all." said Blade. "Surely Skeletor should have realised that He-Man would spot us, and then get all his friends to fight us? We could never stand a chance against so many warriors."
"I really hate that musclebound idiot." added Saurod. "He's done me wrong so many times in the past. It was his lot that trapped my people in their caves back in my home dimension."
"How was that?" asked Karg.
"It was him and his stupid friend, Man-At-Arms, who were exploring my dimension. My people lived for centuries in those caves, and would only ever go leave them to pursue food occasionally. But on He-Man's expedition, they entered our caves hoping to find something of interest. We attacked them, as we hated ordinary humans invading our caves, and He-Man just deflected all our sparks back on us, before blasting shut the entrance to the caves. Since then, my people have had a much harder life, living permanently in the caves."
"How did you get out then?" asked Blade.
"I had been doing my best to fend the heroes off." replied Saurod. "And I escaped from the caves before they blasted them shut, and they didn't notice me. After they left, I knew I had to follow them to avenge my people - but I didn't know what planet they were from, so I just stole a space rocket from the humans, and blasted off to join Horde Prime. He fitted me with my mask and armour, recognised He-Man from my description, and sent me to join Skeletor. Since then I have had no greater desire than to destroy He-man. I would love to trap him underground, where he could never possibly survive!"
Blade nodded, in empathy with Saurod. He hated He-man just as much as Saurod did, if not more. Back in Blade's youth, on his homeworld, he had been taught swordsmanship by his father, but his thirst for blood and killing had led him to leave home at an early age. After several years of robbing and killing innocent people, he had been arrested, but had attempted to slash the lawmen to pieces as they were about to imprison him. But one man had turned one sword back on Blade, stabbing him in the eye and gouging it out. Blade could still recall the horror and pain he had felt when he suddenly lost sight in his left eye, the sight replaced by pain, and then seeing the eye being flicked onto the ground, oozing with blood. But after being imprisoned, he had ripped through the bars of his prison cell, his strength great enough for him to do this with ease, then he had recovered his swords and joined a group of intergalactic criminals, bent on wreaking havoc throughout the galaxies. After many killings, robberies, and battles, the evil power from the ship was interfered with as it travelled over Eternia. The Spirit of Castle Grayskull had sensed the ship, and was slowing it down, hoping to bring the criminals inside to justice. He-Man had been told of the ship, and he and his forces had voyaged into space to escort the criminals to Prison Star, the universe's largest intergalactic prison. But Blade had quickly manned an escape pod from the ship, and travelled down to Eternia where he could join Skeletor and wreak vengeance on He-Man for arresting his fellow criminals.
Karg, Saurod, and all the other warriors for that matter, knew Blade's story very well. They all knew of just how badly he hated He-Man.
"We could easily destroy He-man," said Blade, "if we had something that gave us unlimited power - like He-Man gets from his sword. But is there anything that could give us such power?"
Karg and Saurod pondered the thought. Then, all of a sudden, Karg jumped to his feet in excitement. "The doom crystal!" he exclaimed. "That could be just what we need!"
"What are you talking about Karg?" asked Blade. "What 'doom crystal'?"
"The one forged by my people, from deep underground, many years ago." replied Karg. "My people forged the crystal so they would be able to possess great power, to defend themselves against any attacks from humans above! So they could stand a chance if they ever got into battle with He-man and the heroic warriors! I do not know much about what the crystal actually does, as I left my underworld just as they were working on it - but if they would let us borrow it, since it was made for the specific purpose of standing against He-Man, it could be just what we need! Not only will it give us unlimited power, but we could also trap He-Man underground, like Saurod said!"
"Then what are we waiting for?!" asked Blade.
"What do you mean?" hissed Saurod.
"If this crystal is what we need, we mustn't just sit here talking about it! We must try to get it! Come on, Karg, we must tell Skeletor. This will force him to rethink his opinion of us - we must go to him now!"
Karg, Saurod and Blade made their way to the door of Skeletor's chamber,
and Karg tapped on the door with his hook.
"Yes, who is it?!" came Skeletor's angry voice. He clearly did not want to be interrupted after the villains' failure.
"It's us again, my Lord." answered Karg.
"Did you not hear me before? I told you to leave me alone! You'd better have a good reason for interrupting me!"
"I'm telling you master, we do! You must let us in!"
"Then get in!" Skeletor answered. "And if I am dissatisfied with your reason, you will suffer the consequences."
Karg entered the chamber, followed by Blade and Saurod. They saw that their master's eyes were blazing with anger, but they were not nervous- they were convinced that he would be satisfied by what they were to say.
"Speak, then!" commanded Skeletor. "And be quick with it!"
"I know of a source of power," began Karg, "that could enable us to finally defeat He-Man."
"And what is this `source'?"
"It is known as the doom crystal. It was forged by my people, the Skar-vins, in their underground world. Do you remember when you took me into your forces, Skeletor?"
"Yes, the time I saw you leading the band of aliens in another dimension."
"Precisely! I still lived with my people at the time, but was called occasionally to lead evil forces in other dimensions, as I am known throughout the universe for my leadership skills. It was after you asked me to join your forces that I left my underworld, and just then, my people were busy forging a crystal which would have unlimited power, strong enough to destroy He-Man if he ever entered their underground caverns. The crystal's power was drawn from Death Mountain, which they had ventured underneath to obtain power. I know not for sure how powerful this crystal is, but since it was created for the specific purpose of destroying He-Man, it could be just what we need!"
"Excellent!" replied Skeletor. "Why did you not tell me of this before?"
"Believe me, my memory of it had not been strong- it was only just then that it came to me! I'm sure we can use it!"
"Indeed so." replied the Lord of destruction. "And we should start to look for it right away!"
"But how?" asked Blade.
"Karg must lead you to into his underground world! Surely only he can persuade his people to let us use the crystal!"
"This is marvellous!" said Karg. "It will not only enable us to defeat He-Man- but I can also see my people again and visit my home! We must set off right away!"
"How will we get underground?" hissed Saurod.
"Go deep underneath Snake Mountain." replied Skeletor. "Find Whiplash. He should be able to smash his way through to your people's world."
"Then we will leave right away!" said Karg, and saluted his master with his hook. "We will not return without the crystal!"
The three warriors bowed before their master, then left the chamber, and made their way down through the deep tunnels of Snake Mountain, into the caverns beneath.
The caverns were unbelievably dark, with nothing to light their way. This was no problem for Saurod or Karg, who were both creatures specially adapted to see in darkness. Blade would occasionally stumble, but he stuck close to his companions so they could guide him.
Suddenly there was a loud crash, and several loud thuds and bangs as a shower of rocks fell from the roof.
"Be prepared!" ordered Karg. "It may be an enemy!"
A dark shape loomed out of the shadows and stepped toward them. It was a large creature, with green, scaly skin and black and purple armour. Coming from its back was a huge, long, thick and green tail. But this was no enemy. It was Whiplash, the very being they were looking for.
"Whiplash!" exclaimed Karg.
"Precisely!" replied the reptile. "What brings you down here? It's not often I see you overground dwellers down here."
"We have come here seeking your help." said Karg. "We must get through into my underworld, as we must obtain something from my people- but don't ask questions, as I'm not explaining again. We just need one swipe of your tail, and we're through!"
"Ah, yes, your people. The Skar-vins, I think? They allied with my old reptile clan occasionally. I should be able to get you through in no time- if I smash through those rocks there, it leads to some very deep caverns, and you should be able to find your way. So stand back, unless you want a heap of rocks in your face!"
Blade, Karg and Saurod stepped back. Whiplash went over to a rocky wall, then he turned his back to it, drew back his tail, then lashed back and smashed through the rocky wall. There was a large shower of rocks as the wall smashed, then the warriors stepped forward and looked down into the space where the rocks had been cleared. There was a long tunnel leading deep down, and Karg thought he saw the faint glimmer of a blue light at the end of it.
"Perfect!" he exclaimed. "I think I see a blue light- and the blue light is that generated by the various types of fungi which dwell in my people's caverns. We must make our way down at once!"
Karg thanked Whiplash, and led Blade and Saurod down through the tunnels, to the deep caverns where Karg's people guarded the Doom crystal.
In the royal palace of Eternos city, Man-At-Arms was pacing his
laboratory anxiously. His orange armour was getting rusty and dirty,
and he looked a mess, his face strained with lines of worry. He had
lost a new weapon he had put together a few days ago. He had looked all
through the laboratory, and it seemed to be nowhere. He could not rest
until this weapon was found- it was impossible for him to relax with the
knowledge that it was missing. But where could it be? He was sure he
remembered leaving it in the weapons cupboard, but now there was nothing
The worst thing was that it wasn't the only weapon to go missing in the last few days. Three other weapons had seemingly vanished without trace in the past week, along with the new working units he had made for the Road Ripper. Had he suddenly lost his mind, and started misplacing everything? Unlikely- he could have sworn he remembered where he put all these things, and Man-At-Arms had always had a good memory. Perhaps it was just Orko playing a practical joke on him? That was what he'd suspected all along, but he'd confronted Orko earlier about it and the Trollan magician had completely denied it. Man-At-Arms was sure that even Orko wouldn't take a joke this far, and if he'd accidentally made the weapons disappear with his magic, he should have confessed by now.
Just then, his beautiful, red-haired stepdaughter Teela entered the lab. She was concerned because she'd seen that her father was very worried.
"Anything wrong, Father?" she asked.
"There bloody well is." he replied. "Where are those weapons? And the working units? Everything in this lab seems to be vanishing without a trace! But how?"
"I've no idea, father. Are you sure you're not just misplacing them?"
"That's what everyone's asking me, and I know I'm not! I can remember clearly where I put these things- it's obvious that someone has been moving them. And I definitely haven't been forgetting to lock the lab either. Teela, you must be honest with me here- is it you that's stealing these things? You might have taken my key. If it is you, then please give them back now, as this has gone beyond a joke."
"It's not me father- I swear!" Teela replied. "Anyway, why would I do a thing like that? Do you think I'm that stupid?"
"No, Teela, it's just that there has to be some explanation for why these things keep disappearing! Someone must be sneaking into the lab and moving them- and I must know who it is!"
"I can tell you-" she replied, "it isn't me. I'll try and find who it is. Perhaps it's Adam. He might have got so bored with just lazing about all the time that he's taken up a new hobby- playing sick jokes!"
"Please Teela, don't go accusing Adam. He would never do anything of the sort. You underestimate him."
"Underestimate?! All he's done all day is laze about in the gardens! That was probably all he was doing yesterday, when those evil warriors attacked!"
"He isn't that bad, really Teela. Give Adam a break."
She changed the subject back to the missing weapons. She didn't want to have to argue about Adam when her father was already extremely tense. "Actually, I just thought of another possibility." She said. "Those evil warriors could have done it! They did hide around the palace, after all!"
"I would normally go along with that, but remember, that was only yesterday. I seriously doubt if they could have been sneaking into the palace this often without being seen. Anyway, the laboratory door was locked most of yesterday- they could never have done it."
"Then I've no idea." replied Teela. "I would help you look for it, but I have to do some training. I'll look out for the weapons."
She left his lab and went out into the royal gardens. She was just as confused as her father was about who could be stealing the weapons. Unless someone in the palace really was playing a sick joke (and she was fairly sure it could be Adam) it looked as though there really could be a thief sneaking into the palace to steal them. But who would do that? Skeletor perhaps, but why would he steal a few simple weapons and vehicle units? He would have no use for them. And how could the thief be breaking in? The lab was locked most of the time, even when Man-At-Arms was out. The only way they could sneak into the lab was through the window- and that would be very hard to do, with 24-hour guards being just outside, watching over the vehicle bay.
She walked out into the bright gardens of the Eternian palace. The sun shone, the trees bloomed, birds sang. For the moment, the place was free from evil. Lying under a tall tree, in the shade, was Prince Adam, looking almost fast asleep. Why does he spend so much time asleep?, thought Teela. He's got the night time for all that. Why could he never go out and do anything useful? He seemed to think that because he was the Prince, and was in such a secure position, that it meant he didn't have to go out and try to achieve anything. Does he have no ambition?, she thought.
Little did Teela know that the reason why Adam rested so much was because he was tired out after having to battle so much as He-Man. His rest was much more well-earned than Teela thought!
Teela approached Adam, and shouted "BOO!" Adam jerked up in shock.
"Ha! Bet I scared you there!" laughed Teela.
"You sure did!" said Adam, clutching his pounding heart. "Why did you do that?"
"Because I can't stand to see you lazing about when you could be doing something worthwhile!"
"Come on Teela_.. it's a lovely day, isn't that a good enough excuse?"
"Good excuse? That's a feeble excuse, and by the way, who is it that's stealing all those weapons and working units from my father's lab? Have any idea?" she glared at him suspiciously.
"Are you saying it's me?" asked Adam. "You're mistaken, Teela. Why would I steal anything?"
"It might be the best thing you can be bothered to do!" Teela exclaimed.
"No, Teela- not me. You're mistaken. Please go away if you're just going to rant again_.."
"Yes, I will go away!" she shouted. "But perhaps I should be harsher with you- I can't understand why my father is so patient! I've got better things to do than hang about with no-marks like you!"
She turned away from him, and made her way towards the guards' training unit. Behind her, she heard Adam mutter something about her, but ignored it. Then she heard Queen Marlena pass Adam by, and say "Don't worry Adam. I know you do more worthwhile than she thinks."
She stopped for a moment. Then she felt all guilty. Perhaps she was being too hard on him. Queen Marlena always seemed impressed with him_ and surely his mother must know him best? She really couldn't see exactly what he did, but she would go back and apologise later. For now, she would concentrate on her training. He-Man would be impressed to see her doing that.
In Man-At-Arms laboratory, its owner was getting increasingly bad-tempered. "Blast it, where are these damn things?!" he cried. "Who on Eternia is taking them?!!" There was no use in pacing about much longer- they definitely weren't in the room. And surely the only possibility was that someone was sneaking in? Yes, there was no use in searching the lab- someone else had them, and instead he must concentrate on finding the thief. The best way to do that would be to place a guard in the lab- and Roboto would be the best choice, since he never slept or grew tired, but unfortunately Roboto was out on a mission. Teela would have to do it, then. She was the finest warrior around at the present moment. Apart from He-Man, of course, but Man-At-Arms did not want to have to force Adam to transform- he'd had enough excitement as it was lately. Teela was the best choice, then. Man-At-Arms contacted the training unit, and called for Teela to come to his lab at once.
A few minutes later, Teela entered, dressed in her snake armour.
"You must guard my lab for the rest of the day- and maybe the night." he said. "When you see someone sneaking in, just attack them. It's the only way we can catch the thief."
"Do I have to, father?" complained Teela. "I want to do some more training."
"Yes, but for now you must guard the lab. It'll be good for your warrior skills. And do not contradict me, as you're the finest warrior around. I will leave now, as I need a REST."
He departed at once, without even letting her get another word in. Charming, she thought. But then, he was under a lot of stress at the moment. She would respect his wishes.
Late that night, Teela was still up, watching over the lab. The main light was turned off, so that anyone approaching would think no-one was in. She would surprise whoever was thieving from her father. Several times she thought she heard creaking sounds, but each time she looked, there was nobody there. It was probably just expansion and contraction. She stood there in the silence, waiting to surprise the thief. There was another small creaking sound, but she didn't react- it would be nothing.
Then a clawed hand emerged from the blackness, clamped itself over her mouth, and dragged her away, its red eyes shining into hers.
Karg, Blade and Saurod entered the giant underground caverns. This was
the deepest under Eternia that they had ever been. Karg instantly felt
at home. The caverns shone blue with the luminous fungus on the walls,
underground rivers trickled beneath them, and bats flapped from tunnel
"This is the first time I've been back home in ages." said Karg. "It feels so good to be back here again_.."
"Where are your people, Karg?" hissed Saurod.
"We could see one of them any minute now." replied Karg, gazing around the caverns and reminiscing about the many years he'd lived there.
"This whole underworld belongs to them_.. and they travel around the place. But most of them reside beneath the mystic mountains_.. and there are probably more now living under Death mountain, as that was where they obtained the crystal's energy."
"I think the Skar-vins will be able to help us greatly." said Blade, holding his swords at the ready should an enemy come across. "It should be no trouble persuading them to give us the crystal, when their long lost brother is asking for it."
"They will be more than glad to give it to me." answered Karg. "They told me to call them any time, after I departed to join Skeletor." He recalled how greatly his people had honoured him when he was chosen to help Skeletor. It hadn't been all that long ago, but after the many battles he had fought against the heroic warriors, it felt like ages since he had last been to his homeworld. He first emerged from the underworld after he had successfully lead his people against a team of archaeologists who had tried to extract various ores from their homes. In the attack, one archaeologist had turned a drill on Karg in order to fend him off, and had drilled through his arm, severing his hand. But Karg had only become more aggressive with them after this, and succeeded in turning them away. Horde Prime had witnessed this, and was impressed with Karg's leadership skills, so he had summoned Karg to lead a group of evil demons in another dimension. He also fitted Karg inside a tight, black metal suit, with a hook fixed to the arm to replace his hand. Karg had then travelled to the alien dimension, and after winning, he had become famous throughout the universe. He returned to his people, but was occasionally called upon to lead other alien forces, until one day when Skeletor had been spying on one of Karg's battles. Skeletor was instantly impressed by Karg's ability to control the warriors with his powerful commanding voice and the threats he issued, so once the battle was over, he had summoned him to Snake Mountain where he instantly gave him the position of a general in his army.
Since then, Karg had been one of Skeletor's most trusted warriors. Skeletor often relied on him to command the forces when they were sent out. Karg was also trusted to be left in charge of Snake Mountain whenever Skeletor and Evil-Lyn were away. Although Skeletor rarely praised his minions openly, Karg could see that the warlord was generally impressed with him, and he hoped for promotion to second-in-command. Perhaps he would actually get that, once he had obtained the doom crystal for Skeletor's use.
So the three evil warriors progressed on through the caverns, to find where the Skar-vins resided. There was no threat to their quest- soon their evil army would possess even greater power than He-Man.
In the morning at the Royal Palace, Man-At-Arms stepped into his laboratory, He would have thought that Teela would have woken him if she had caught the thief- but perhaps she just did not want to waken him when he had been feeling so tense. Or perhaps the thief just hadn't struck in the night. But no matter what the case was, Teela deserved to be congratulated for staying up all night to watch for the thief. He would allow her to rest for today.
He unlocked and opened his laboratory door. And he was faced with a laboratory devoid of human life. Where was Teela?
"Teela?" he called. "Are you here?"
There came no answer. In a state of panic, Man-At-Arms left the lab. He called to one of the King and Queen's maidservants.
"Did Teela leave my lab overnight?" he asked her.
"I did not see Teela once last night." replied the maidservant. "As far as I knew, she was guarding the lab."
Without another word, Man-At-Arms took the lift up to Teela's room. He knocked on the door anxiously, but there was no answer. He tried the handle, and the door was unlocked. It swung open_.. but Teela was not in her room. She was nowhere to be seen.
Prince Adam came out of the washroom nearby. He was soaking wet and wearing only a towel, having just showered. "What's wrong, Duncan?" he asked.
"Teela seems to be missing, Adam!" exclaimed Man-At-Arms. "I left her to guard my lab, but now she's nowhere to be seen! Not in the lab, or her room!"
"Hey, the palace is pretty big, Duncan." said Adam. "She could be anywhere!"
"I don't see why she would be anywhere else!" Man-At-Arms replied.
"Quickly Adam- get dressed and get everyone up. We must find Teela!"
Adam dressed and woke his parents, then all the maids and guards were alerted, then all the warriors inside the palace. They searched the whole building for Teela, but it quickly became clear that she was not in the building. She was nowhere to be seen.
"There's only one possibility." said Man-At-Arms. "She was abducted by the thief!"
"Then let's check your lab." replied Adam. "There may be some clues."
Adam and Man-At-Arms returned to the lab. Everything looked the same as it had been left, but when Man-At-Arms checked further, he noticed that a supply of metal that he had been using to build weapons had completely vanished.
"The thief has struck again!" he exclaimed. "And they've taken Teela! We must find her, Adam. She could be anywhere_ she could even be_.."
"Don't worry, Duncan." Adam interrupted. "Teela may be missing, but I know just the person to find her." He lifted the sword of power from the hidden sheath on his back, raised it high, and shouted:
"BY THE POWER OF GRAYSKULL_..
I HAVE THE POWER!"
In an instant, there was a flash of light and he was transformed into the mighty He-Man. Instantly, he rushed through to King Randor and Queen Marlena, who were distraught at Teela's sudden disappearance.
"Don't worry, your majesty." He-Man told Randor. "I will do my best to find Teela. I'm sure she will be okay- remember that she isn't helpless, and should be able to take care of herself."
Man-At-Arms followed through. "Prince Adam is also very shocked at what has happened." he told them. "He is resting to recover from the shock, and does not want to be disturbed."
"I won't disturb him," said Randor, "although I do wish he would do more to help in difficult situations. Still, with He-Man helping us, we stand a fair chance of finding where Teela has been taken. Good luck in your search, He-Man."
"I'm not yet sure where she has been taken," said He-Man, "but it seems likely that the thief came in through the window, since the door was completely locked."
"I'm afraid that's impossible." said Man-At-Arms. "I have asked the guards if they saw anything, and they say they watched that window the whole night and saw nothing sneak in. It seems therefore that the thief is teleporting into the lab."
"Maybe you should start by looking in Snake Mountain?" suggested Queen Marlena.
"I don't really see why Skeletor would want to steal simple weapons_.." said Man-At-Arms, "he has enough of them himself, and these weapons are only ordinary ones, no more powerful than Skeletor's. I have a feeling here that Skeletor is not responsible for once."
"Then there is only one place we can go to find out." said He-Man.
"Where's that?" asked Man-At-Arms.
"Castle Grayskull!" replied He-Man. "Come, Duncan- we will go and ask the Sorceress. Her magic should be able to sense where Teela is!"
So He-Man and Man-At-Arms boarded a two-man Wind Raider, and blasted off for Grayskull, eager to find the evil being who had taken Teela from them.
Eventually, He-Man and Man-At-Arms arrived at Grayskull, landed the Wind
Raider outside, then the drawbridge was lowered as the spirit sensed
their presence. The two warriors entered the ancient fortress of
Extendar was inside Grayskull, with the Sorceress. He had been doing some training in Grayskull's gym, and felt in perfect shape. Now he was having a rest, to recover from all the exercise, and was reading the books of the ancients. From these books, he learned a lot about the ages-old struggle on Eternia, which dated back to millions of years ago, when the Snakemen ruled Eternia. The books also contained a lot of wisdom about Grayskull and Eternia, but kept quiet about the supreme secrets which only the Sorceress knew.
It had been rather strange since Extendar had become a warrior_.. before he was captured by Hordak and made subject to fiendish experiments which had turned him into the super-powerful cyborg he was today, he had lead a very simple life as a middle-class Eternian athlete. After he had luckily managed to throw off Hordak's mind spell, regained his memory and joined the heroic warriors, he had almost instantly been treated as one of the most important and promising warriors. It was strange, because he had always thought he would be seen as inferior to the rest_.. but exactly the opposite had happened, and he had to admit, he was probably one of the most powerful, with his ability to extend his body to giant size. Why had he taken so long to realise just how powerful he was? He had already saved Eternia many times, and much preferred his new cyborg form. And he had Hordak to thank for this wonderful change in life, and the ensured safety of Eternia.
He felt extra special as a warrior by having been granted the knowledge that Prince Adam and He-Man were the same person. This was obviously a very great secret seeing as most of the heroic warriors didn't know it, not even Adam's parents. He felt honoured to know it. He had found out when Adam and himself had been trapped by King Hiss in a deep pit, with an avalanche of rocks coming down on them from a rocky hill. Extendar had been unable to get them out, having been seriously injured, and so Adam had had no choice but to transform into He-Man in front of Extendar. It had been quite a shock to see the prince, who wasn't even a warrior, turning into the great He-Man before his eyes. But once the secret had been explained, more of the great secrets of Grayskull had been revealed to Extendar, and this was an advantage as he could help cover up for Adam's secret identity. And He-Man obviously trusted him greatly for letting him keep this knowledge- if he had not trusted him the Sorceress would have been perfectly capable of wiping it all from his mind.
He-Man now treated Extendar as one of his closest comrades, but the Sorceress tended to treat him with even more dignity. It had been her who told him he could stay at Grayskull any time he wanted, and she had revealed many secrets to him, such as telling him that she was Teela's real mother. It was really comforting to be with the Sorceress, because she always made him feel strong and important, and her presence was so warm and soothing. He loved staying at Grayskull partially because he loved being near her, and he could talk to her at any time because she was always so open to him. Even when he worried he was interrupting her at a bad time, her approach would always dismiss that worry straight away. It seemed like nothing could be a barrier between her and the other warriors. He adored spending time with her, and it was a thrilling sensation to feel the soft whisper of her voice, her gentle, delicate breath upon his face_..
His thoughts were interrupted when He-Man entered the room, with Man-At-Arms at his side.
"Hello, Extendar," He-Man greeted him, "how are things going?"
"Brilliantly." replied Extendar. "I've been training to improve my strength and agility, and I've also been learning a lot about Eternian history, and the many battles fought on this world in the past."
"You are proving to be an excellent warrior." said Man-At-Arms. "But I am afraid that it is not pleasant circumstances which bring us here today."
"Why, what's happened?" he asked. "Has Skeletor attacked."
"No_.. well, we don't know, actually." replied He-Man. "What's happened is that someone has been repeatedly stealing from Man-At-Arms' laboratory, so he left Teela to guard it last night, but the thief struck again and took Teela with him_ or her. We have absolutely no idea who the thief is, why they are stealing from us, or how they get in. The door is always locked at night, and the guards have seen no-one climbing through the window- so they seem to be teleporting inside. It is all a complete mystery, and we have no idea where they have taken Teela, so we have come here to see if the Sorceress can sense where she is."
"And I am able to help you." came a voice from behind them. They turned round, and saw the Sorceress entering the room, the wings on her long, feathered cape wrapped around her elegant body.
"If anyone has dared to take my daughter," she said, with a touch of anger in her soft, gentle voice, "I must find them and get Teela back." She closed her eyes, raised her arms and began to concentrate. "In my mind's eye, I should be able to see where Teela is."
She stood there still for a few minutes, and then she opened her eyes and said "I saw Teela! She was being kept in a dark prison, and she was shaking the bars in fury! I saw a dark figure standing guard outside, but could not make out its features!"
"Then we must find where this prison is!" said Extendar. "Where shall we look_.. Snake Mountain? Viper Tower?"
"I rather doubt those places in this case," said He-Man, "as I can think of no logical reason why Hiss, Skeletor, or even Hordak would want to steal ordinary weapons from Man-At-Arms. Therefore, the aggressors must be from the smaller, less threatening evil armies on Eternia."
"If it's just them, then once we've found them it'll be no trouble dealing with them."
"Maybe so." said Man-At-Arms. "But what might be difficult is finding exactly where they are."
"Then the Elders will help you!" said the Sorceress. "They will watch over you- and communicate through your sword. The sword will glow brighter as you get closer to Teela!"
He-Man drew his sword, and it began to glow with a very faint light.
"Then we shall begin our search!" he announced. "Come on, my friends- we must find Teela as quickly as possible!"
"I'm with you, He-Man!" said Extendar, and the Sorceress bade them farewell, then the three warriors left Grayskull to search for Teela and her captors.
Down in the caverns of the underworld, Karg, Blade and Saurod were
continuing their quest. They had snatched a few hours sleep from time
to time, and proceeded through the dark caverns, the path lit by the
blue fungus. They had not yet seen any of the Skar-vins.
"Do the Skar-vins still live here?" asked Blade. "We haven't seen a single one yet."
"Patience, Blade." said Karg. "They could be anywhere around us, watching us from the dark. Remember, they go all over the place. We will eventually find them- I know these parts very well, and we are not far from the most densely populated caverns. We will find them soon."
The three warriors continued their way. Eventually, they came to a tunnel with an exit blocked by a type of portcullis.
"Dead end." said Blade. "We'll have to turn back."
"This is no dead end!" said Karg. "It is merely a way of stopping enemies from entering! We are likely to find more of my people beyond this gate_ in fact, there should be someone guarding it! We must move onwards!"
They walked up to the gate, and all of a sudden, a strange-looking creature appeared behind it. The creature resembled Karg to some extent, with the same hairstyle, except it was black and slightly longer. His face was dark and greyish-brown, and he wore a long robe, and held a spear. They had met their first Skar-vin.
"Halt!" the guard said, in a deep, gruff voice. "Who dares enter our territory?" Then his eyes opened wide when he saw Karg, and he exclaimed "Do my eyes decieve me? Is this really you, Karg? Are you back at last?"
"Yes, it's me!" replied Karg, in strangely friendly tones, differing greatly from his usual harsh approach. "And it's good to see you again too!"
"No point in questioning you-" the guard replied, "you're one of us- and your friends can surely enter, as anyone who accompanies the great Karg is really someone to respect!"
Blade and Saurod felt a warming sense of pride when the guard said this. They had not expected to be welcomed this warmly by the Skar-vins, and they could see that Karg was obviously very well-respected here indeed! The guard raised the portcullis, and the three warriors entered.
"I really never thought you'd come back!" said the guard. "How you doing just now? Won against He-Man yet?"
"Our army gets more powerful," replied Karg, "but He-Man continues to beat us. All that shall change soon, however!"
Karg turned to Blade and Saurod to introduce them to his old friend. "This is Lador, he is the guard of my underworld and watches out for intruders. Lador, this is Blade and Saurod, other members of Skeletor's army."
"It's great to have you back here!" replied Lador. "Come through and meet the others_ your name is almost sacred here Karg, and they'll be ecstatic to see you back!"
Karg followed Lador further into the caverns, feeling proud and famous. It was strange how his people seemed to think of him as some sort of god just because he was a powerful warrior, but it sure was good for the ego. He really felt at home with his people underground, and he knew he would return permanently once He-Man was defeated. Even if Skeletor was killed and Karg had the chance of taking his place as ruler of Eternia, he would refuse the offer. He would much rather be emperor of the Skar-vins down here. He remembered when he had been treated as any ordinary Skar-vin in his childhood_ but things had changed a lot, and there wasn't a single Skar-vin who didn't covet Karg's position.
Lador led Karg, Saurod and Blade into a very large open cavern, with hundreds of Skar-vins passing through, like in a busy city. They had homes built into the rock, over the underground rivers below. Bats flew overhead, and water serpents slithered through the rivers below.
When the Skar-vins saw Karg, they stopped dead in their tracks. Then there followed a commotion, and shouts of "He's back!"
Karg ventured forth into the crowd of Skar-vins, and shook hands with several old friends. Although Karg was comfortable enough living in Snake Mountain, he knew his best home was with his people in their dark underground world.
There was a sudden silence as a very tall Skar-vin entered the cavern. Like Karg, he had thick, white hair, but he was dressed in elegant long robes, with a gold chain around his neck. He was obviously a very important person.
Karg recognised this being at once. It was the Skar-vins emperor, Varlon. Karg went forward and bowed to the emperor.
"Someone like you does not need to bow even to me." said Varlon, in a dignified, powerful voice. "Welcome back to our world, Karg. Please stay for a while. I wish to make your acquaintance at my home."
"I would be honoured to." replied Karg, and he followed Varlon, with Blade and Saurod at his side. Varlon led them to a large opening, cut in the rock. It was richly furnished, the golden chairs illuminated beautifully by the blue fungi.
"What brings you back to our world then, Karg?" Varlon asked. "And who are your companions?"
Karg introduced Blade and Saurod, then he explained "We have come here seeking the doom crystal. If I recall correctly, it was forged to defeat He-Man if he ever entered these caverns. Since Skeletor's desire to destroy He-Man multiplies daily, we felt it would be just what we need to cause He-Man's defeat."
"Precisely," replied Varlon, "and I am more than honoured to let you use the doom crystal. The Skar-vins are becoming a more powerful race, and the doom crystal is one of our greatest achievements. We have not used it yet, as we do not feel the time has yet come, but it is being guarded under Death Mountain. But we have since made many other achievements besides the doom crystal."
"What are these?"
"We continue to advance in technology, and we have our own vehicles down here. The metal we make them from comes from the various ores found in the rocks. But we have also made several other great achievements, and are progressing greatly. I will now lead you to the caverns underneath Death mountain, and as you accompany me, I will show you some of the great wonders of our underworld."
"I am eager to see!" said Karg. "Show us!"
Varlon lead the three warriors out of the cave, each of them knowing that the doom crystal- and the defeat of He-Man- was just within their grasp.
He-Man, Man-At-Arms and Extendar were travelling all over the place,
watching the glow from He-Man's power sword. It didn't seem to be
getting any brighter than it had been at first. They didn't seem to be
getting any closer to Teela.
"Where is she?" asked Extendar. "Surely she can't be that far away- but your sword doesn't seem to have got any brighter!"
"It is strange, Extendar." He-Man replied. "This is just as bright as it was back in Grayskull. We don't seem to have got any closer to Teela at all."
"Perhaps she is in Snake Mountain after all?" suggested Man-At-Arms.
"I don't think so." said He-Man. "I tried the direction of Snake Mountain a few minutes ago, and the glow seemed to wane. I've no idea where she is."
"Well, we still can't give up." said Extendar. "However hard our quest is, as warriors we must not quit."
"Wise words, Extendar." said He-Man. "Let's move on!"
Down below Death Mountain, Varlon was leading Karg, Blade and Saurod through the tunnels.
"I can't wait to get my hands on the doom crystal!" said Saurod. "Then I can have my revenge on He-Man for trapping my people in the caves!"
"And I can pay him back for taking my companions to prison star!" added Blade.
"You must be extra careful with the doom crystal." said Varlon. "It is the most precious object we have down here- if it were dropped, it would be destroyed- and its energy would vanish with it."
"Don't worry, my Lord." said Karg. "I understand how precious it is. I will treat it with the utmost respect!"
"Then behold-" Varlon announced, stepping back against a wall as the warriors reached an archway- "The doom crystal!"
In the centre of the room, on a large round table, guarded by two very dangerous looking Skar-vin warriors with bright red eyes, was a large, bright crystal which shone in the darkness. The three evil warriors immediately detected the presence of strong, evil power- just the power they needed.
Varlon slowly walked up to the table, and gently picked the precious crystal up. Then he turned to Karg, Blade and Saurod, and Karg held out his hand.
Placing the crystal in Karg's hand, Varlon said "Keep this crystal by your side at all times- and do not mistreat it. It will be marvellous for the Skar-vins to know that He-Man can finally be destroyed by our precious crystal."
Karg opened up a small metal box attached to his belt, and put the crystal inside. Locking the box, he said "The crystal will be safe in here. He-Man won't even be able to see that we have it!"
"Shall we return to Snake Mountain now," said Blade, "and show Skeletor that we have succeeded?"
"Not yet!" answered Varlon. "One as honourable as Karg will stay for a short while. And besides, do you not want to see the wonders of the Skar-vin world? The many achievements we have made as our race becomes one of power?"
"Of course!" said Karg. "Show us!"
Varlon led the warriors back through the narrow tunnels of Death Mountain, then back into the open caverns, glowing with the blue fungus. He turned to a cavern on their right, and said "This way- follow me!"
Karg, Blade and Saurod followed him through to the cavern. In the cavern, they saw what looked like a type of prison. Trapped in side-caves behind bars were suffering humans, weak and starved, some collapsed on the ground. Some of the Skar-vin guards were feasting on flesh and blood from the dead humans, ripping through the flesh with their clawed hands.
"I don't believe it!" exclaimed Karg. "This wasn't here when I left! Where do these humans come from?"
"The Skar-vins are getting much better at sneaking aboveground," said Varlon, "and we capture these humans so we can feast on their flesh and steal their riches. But it is not just ordinary humans we catch, for recently we have captured someone very important!"
"Who is this?" asked Karg.
"Follow me." said Varlon. "I will show you!"
He led them past further cages, then spread out one arm as they turned a corner. Karg, Blade and Saurod looked round the corner- and saw Teela, He-Man's trusted warrior, trapped behind solid bars, shaking them in fury!
"Now this IS an achievement!" said Karg in excitement. "Teela is a very valuable source to the heroic warriors. Down here, she will never escape!"
"Don't you be so sure!" answered Teela, angrily. "It's your people who had the nerve to steal from my father! He-Man will be looking for you now- and once he finds you, all your new machines will be no more!"
"We have some surprises in store for He-Man." laughed Karg. Then he turned to Varlon, and asked What does she mean by machines?"
"Currently, the Skar-vins have been building their own machines. I told you earlier that we have our own methods of transport now- and also, we are making underground burrowing machines that will help us to expand our underground world. One of us recently found a tunnel which led underneath the Royal palace, and knowing that Man-At-Arms had equipment we could use, we secretly cut open the ground beneath his lab, and made a secret trapdoor. Through this trapdoor, we can enter his lab at any time, and we have stolen several weapons for defence, along with vehicle units for our burrowing machines!"
"This sounds excellent!" said Karg. "The Skar-vin empire is indeed improving! Soon we will be one of the most powerful races on the planet!"
"And it's not just our technology that's improving." added Varlon. "Soon we could possess great power. We plan to use our burrowing machine, which is currently being constructed, for an underground attack on Castle Grayskull! Then we can unlock its secrets and leave the drawbridge open for Skeletor!"
"Excellent!" exclaimed Karg.
"Just what we need!" added Blade.
"You shouldn't be so confident!" interrupted Teela. "I don't know how you can expect to get away with this when He-Man is around to stop you!"
"You seem to have a lot of faith in that musclebound idiot, don't you?" said Varlon. "Well, I think you'll find that in this case, He-Man has no chance."
"Oh, yes? And why's that?"
"Show her, Karg."
Karg unlocked his belt, took out the doom crystal, then held it in front of Teela's face through the bars. "This is the doom crystal!" he told her. "This has evil power which is capable of defeating He-Man, as it gives its possessor unlimited power! Especially when the crystal was forged to defeat He-Man, we are bound to win with its power!"
Teela gasped in horror, then sank back into her cage, her look of confidence vanishing and turning to one of worry. Varlon laughed, and said "We always knew we couldn't simply leave the crystal lying around when we could destroy He-Man with it! We had to put it to use- but we needed everything to be perfect first, which is why we decided to work on improving our technology! Karg and his friends will journey back to Snake Mountain to show Skeletor the crystal- then their army will have ultimate power. As we attack Grayskull, Skeletor can use the crystal to destroy Grayskull's heroic energy- making it a fortress of evil and doom. Then Skeletor can own the castle, and we can be his main minions! He-Man will become a thing of the past when he tries to stop us!"
He burst into manic, evil laughter, and Karg, Blade and Saurod raised their arms in triumph. Then they took another look at Teela in her cage. She was half-kneeling on the ground, one hand gripping a bar, and her eyes wide open with anger. "You'll never succeed." she said through gritted teeth. "He-Man will stop you!"
But deep inside, she wasn't really that sure. If this doom crystal really was so powerful, perhaps the evil forces really could defeat He-Man? She could not break through the bars, so she had no choice but to wait and hope that He-Man would come her way.
Above, on the surface, He-Man, Extendar and Man-At-Arms were continuing
"This doesn't make sense." said He-Man, watching the glow from his power sword. "We should have got closer to Teela by now."
"I suppose there's still plenty of places we haven't tried. Let's have a look around the mystic mountains. Teela could be being hidden there."
The three warriors made their way over in the direction of the mystic mountains. Before long, the snow-capped peaks of the mountains were towering above them, and the cold breeze blew around them. And in the distance, stood a large, black mountain, which looked so evil that it even made He-Man shudder.
"I've never seen that mountain before." said Extendar. "What is it? Why does it look so evil?"
"That's Death Mountain." replied He-Man. "Very few people dare venture there, as there have been reports of evil creatures around it. There have been many people who have gone near that mountain, and never returned. Although the mystic mountains are usually peaceful, Death Mountain is a highly feared place."
"Perhaps we should investigate it." said Extendar. "You never know, Teela could be held somewhere nearby."
"I don't think so, Extendar." said He-Man. "It is a dangerous place."
Extendar turned and looked at He-Man, confused. "Why should we not investigate it, just because it's dangerous? Have you lost your bravery, He-Man? We three are some of the most powerful warriors on Eternia- Death Mountain should pose no threat to us."
"I'm just concerned about you!" He-Man said. "We don't want you to rush into trouble!"
Extendar felt somewhat insulted by this comment. Had He-Man gone mad? Why should he worry about Extendar when he'd always treated him like he was so powerful?
"Why should you be so concerned about me?" he asked him. "I know how to take care of myself!" He said it somewhat aggressively- not that he wanted to appear rude towards He-Man, but he found what He-Man had said very unusual indeed.
"It's just_.. we don't want to lose such a powerful warrior." said He-Man slowly.
At least he probably meant that as a compliment, thought Extendar. But perhaps He-Man was just being affected by the terror that the mountain seemed to strike into their hearts. Even Extendar himself felt rather unsafe. But he knew that they could not leave without investigating the mountain- it could be the very place they were looking for.
"We should still investigate it." said Extendar. "Maybe Teela is being held there!"
"I'm_.. not sure." said He-Man. He wandered forth, through the snow. When he was out of hearing range, Extendar turned to Man-At-Arms.
"Why does He-Man seem so reluctant?" he asked him. "He's meant to be brave!"
"I've heard tales that Death Mountain is capable of injecting fear into the heart of anyone on the side of good." replied Man-At-Arms. "Our companion Stratos lives near here, and he tells me that he rarely dares fly over Death Mountain- and Stratos is no-one to run away from things. If I admit it myself, I feel rather nervous here." He crossed his arms across his chest and shuddered.
"Me too." added Extendar. "There's something I really don't like about that mountain."
They watched He-Man, moving forward slowly through the snow, watching his every step. He held out his sword towards Death Mountain, and at that very moment it began to glow with a huge, pulsating light. He-Man suddenly turned away and ran back to his companions.
"She is in Death Mountain!" he exclaimed, shocked. "My sword senses it. Quickly, we must investigate!"
The three warriors ran as fast as they could through the snow, whilst taking the greatest care not to slip. They had hoped to Grayskull that Death Mountain was not where Teela was held- but fate had befallen them. Their task, which they had anticipated to be easy, was going to be much harder than they thought- but as warriors, they knew they had to face it.
They ran towards Death Mountain, and when they reached the dark, foreboding object, He-Man stopped running and motioned for his friends to stay back. Man-At-Arms and Extendar ground to a halt. He-Man held out his sword again, and it began to glow even brighter.
"My sword senses that she is actually inside the mountain!" said He-Man. "That means we have to find some way to break inside- and I could try to crack the mountain open with my sword- but we have no idea of what might spring out on us!"
"I think we'd better take a gamble." said Extendar. "Let's just choose a random position- it may be our only hope of rescuing Teela!"
He-Man nodded in favour, and gripped his sword with both hands. He raised it high, and was about to crash it down on the mountain's surface, when the warriors were suddenly distracted by a loud rumbling. They looked up, and saw a huge heap of snow rolling down towards them!
"Avalanche!" shouted He-Man, and he and his friends turned in panic and ran for their lives. But a mound of snow, rolling down the mountain, hit Man-At-Arms, and he was knocked off his feet and fell into He-Man, who in turn fell into Extendar. The three warriors rolled and tumbled violently down the mountainside, their bodies being subjected to the most terrible pain as they fell.
As they fell towards the bottom of the mountain, they were suddenly knocked down a deep, dark hole in the ground. They fell down, and each landed with a hard, violent thud. Man-At-Arms was knocked unconscious, He-Man and Extendar's powerful bodies prevented them from being that badly hurt, but they felt dazed and helpless.
He-Man just managed to lift his head, though it felt like a huge strain. He looked up, and saw a strange figure with long white hair, tight black armour, and a hook for a hand, looking down on him.
"Welcome!" said Karg.
He-Man stared up at the deadly form of Karg above him. He struggled to
speak, and just managed to utter "Karg_.. what have you_.. done with_..
"I have put Teela in great danger, He-Man!" Karg replied mockingly. "Perhaps we will kill her soon! And it's good to see you in such a helpless state, He-Man- as it means you can add to our prisoners!"
"You_.. fiend_" stammered He-Man, "I_.. will_ stop_.." he struggled to continue, but the effort he made to speak only weakened him more, and he collapsed, feeling almost completely helpless.
"Too right you'll stop, He-Man!" laughed Karg. "We'll soon put an end to your meddling with the destruction of this planet!"
He went over to Blade, Saurod and Varlon. "We have a most welcome visitor!" he announced, and led them into the cavern where He-Man had fallen.
"He-Man!" exclaimed Blade, his one eye lighting up. "Now, Karg, this is wonderful. I've always wanted to see my hated enemy in a state like this!" he lifted his swords. "Now let's destroy him!"
Karg reached out his hook, caught Blade's sword with it, and hurled it across the cavern. The sword hit the wall, and stuck there.
"Not yet, Blade." Karg said. "We may have He-Man fallen at our feet, but we must wait before destroying him. We need the doom crystal for that!" "Excellent idea!" added Saurod. "I will also be able to trap He-Man underground- like he did with my people!"
"We will all have our revenge then!" laughed Karg. Then he turned to Varlon. "If you give us a hand, we should be able to escort these fools into the prison cells!"
"I'm not sure." replied Varlon. "From what I know of He-Man's strength, he would be able to break through our bars in no time- and he'd release all the other prisoners. We do not yet have bars that are strong enough to hold He-Man. The other two should be fine in the jail- but He-Man would be straight out once he regained his strength!"
"Then let's find a better place for He-Man_.." hissed Karg, "We could trap him behind a rock wall or somewhere."
"Hmmm_.. I know what to do." said Varlon. "You three lift He-Man, and follow me. We'll return to the other two later."
Karg, Blade and Saurod bent down to lift the broken body of He-Man. They turned him over to his front, then Karg and Saurod took an arm each, and Blade took his legs. They carried him through the caverns, following Varlon, but they were slow and strained, as even with their combined strength they found it difficult to carry the great weight of He-Man. He-Man's body was covered with cuts and bruises. His eyes were half open, and he uttered several weak groans as he tried in vain to speak. If only Skeletor had the might to damage He-Man this badly!
Eventually, Varlon led them past the cave in which Teela was held.
"He-Man has come to see you, Teela." he taunted.
"Then he will put an end to your schemes, you fiend!" she replied.
Varlon laughed in mockery. "I don't think so_.." he said, and motioned for the warriors to come forth. They carried He-Man's body into the cavern. When Teela saw the battered, bruised body of He-Man, she gasped in horror and covered her face. This time it really looked as though He-Man had had it.
"Yes, this is what has become of your beloved `hero'." mocked Varlon. "And we have two of his other friends hurt too- a cyborg, and your father, whose body just didn't stand a chance against the fall that these warriors had. I wouldn't be surprised if he's dead by now."
Teela shrank back in her cage in terror. Was it really all over for Eternia? He-Man was now almost defeated, and would possibly die, and her father might even be dead already. And the evil warriors had hold of the doom crystal, which could destroy anything good in seconds, and the Skar-vins were planning an underground attack on Grayskull. This time, it really looked as though the conquest of Eternia was near. Teela knew that she had the strength to defeat these warriors, but here she was trapped in this cage, which she couldn't even break through. She couldn't even contact anyone.
The evil warriors laughed at Teela's terror, then carried the body of He-Man back through the dark caverns. Eventually, they passed over a bridge, below which ran an underground stream, trickling through the darkness.
Varlon pointed to the stream. "There." he said. "Throw He-Man down to the rocks just by the stream. It will take him ages to regain his strength- that's if he's strong enough to survive. If he regains it, he will not dare try to swim this stream as the waters are rough, and too many dangerous creatures lurk within. So he will remain on those rocks, ready to be destroyed by the doom crystal! We will drain his power!"
They threw He-Man down onto the rocks by the stream, and he landed with a heavy crash, scattering fragments of rocks into the stream. He was still conscious, as he began to struggle feebly, but he was clearly helpless. "Excellent!" said Karg. "Now let's deal with the other two!" They went back to the cavern where the fallen bodies of Man-At-Arms and Extendar lay.
Blade crouched down, and felt Man-At-Arms' pulse. It was still going, but he was clearly unconscious, and close to death.
"He'll be gone soon." said Blade. "How about Extendar?"
Extendar was not unconscious, as he struggled in vain to speak. But he was still seriously injured.
"We'll put these fools in the cages." said Varlon. "The cyborg should survive, but his body is not strong enough to break through the bars. Man-At-Arms will die before long. He has no chance. Let's get them to the prison."
Varlon and Saurod picked up Man-At-Arms, and Karg and Blade picked up Extendar. The evil warriors carried the injured masters through to the jail, then imprisoned them.
"Perfect." said Varlon. "Now we have He-Man and his friends out of our way."
"Shall we use the doom crystal on them now?" asked Saurod.
"Not yet." Varlon replied. "Let's allow them to suffer for now. We will let them see evil taking over the planet! Now, my friends, we begin our attack on Grayskull!"
Varlon led Karg, Saurod and Blade through the dark tunnels and caverns of
the underworld, their way lit by the blue fungus. Eventually, they reached
a cavern in which several Skar-vins were busy working on a large machine,
putting metal components together.
"This is our burrowing machine." declared Varlon, spreading his arms wide as he admired the creation. "It is made from metals found in the ores of our underworld, along with the machine units we stole from Man-At-Arms' laboratory. And we will be using it to attack Grayskull from underground!"
One of the Skar-vins approached Varlon. He was wearing a metal uniform, a bit like Man-At-Arms', except it was dark in colour. He had shorter hair than most of the Skar-vins, and wore a strange black pair of visors over his face. He looked much like a kind of scientist.
"Our machine is almost finished, sire." he said, in a deep, businesslike voice. "I can guarantee that it will do the job it is made for perfectly. Others of our recruits are currently busy mapping out the way we can reach Grayskull. They will advise us later on precautions we may need to take."
"Excellent work, Sakur." said Varlon. "I think it would be most fitting if Karg here were to lead the attack. After all, we all know how good a leader he makes."
"I would be honoured to!" said Karg. "Once we come from underground, the Sorceress will have no chance against us! The doom crystal will drain all her powers. Won't Skeletor be pleased when he finds this out!"
"Tell Skeletor that we are always at his service." said Varlon. "Even when we capture Grayskull and take it as our own, I nor any other Skar-vins have any desire to take over Eternia. We shall own Grayskull alongside Skeletor, and Skeletor can take the throne of Grayskull himself."
"I will contact Skeletor now!" said Karg, and he opened up his wrist-radio, and typed in Skeletor's code.
"You are through to the Lord of Destruction!" came Skeletor's powerful voice from the radio. "Who are you and what have you to say?"
"My Lord, this is Karg speaking." Karg replied, then he explained what they were up to in every detail, and their planned attack on Grayskull.
"This is excellent!" Skeletor replied in delight. "I thought we stood a decent chance with this doom crystal, but I never thought things would be this good! And how I would love to see He-Man in the state you described! He is finally out of our way. I will join you in your underworld once you are through to Grayskull. Then I will take Grayskull for myself, and then I shall be the one who causes He-Man's death!"
"Of course!" replied Karg. "After the trouble He-Man has caused you, it is appropriate that you have the final revenge on him. I will call you back once we enter Grayskull. Over and out."
"It is such an honour to know that my people have pleased Skeletor so much." said Varlon. "Soon he will take over Eternia_.. and it's all thanks to us. He may consider us his most important servants after that. And you will be his most important of all, Karg, as it was you who came up with the idea of using the doom crystal."
"Indeed!" replied Karg. "I look forward to being promoted in Skeletor' s army! I am now eager to start the attack!"
They stood and watched the Skar-vins at work on the drill. More working units were added to it, more pieces of metal, until eventually it was complete- a masterful, powerful-looking vehicle that looked more than capable of causing Grayskull's destruction.
"This is magnificent." exclaimed Varlon in admiration. "With this, and the doom crystal, the forces of evil stand more chance than they ever have before! Eternia will be reduced to a world of poverty, slavery, and suffering- and everyone will bow to Skeletor, while our underworld becomes the most famous place on the planet! I must announce this to our people!"
Varlon left Karg, Blade and Saurod to guard the burrowing machine, and went to his chamber. There, he picked up a large microphone, spoke into it, and his voice was heard through the whole of the underworld.
"My citizens." he began. "A new era is about to dawn on Eternia. Eternia will fall to the forces of evil, and it is the genius of we, the Skar-vins, which will cause its destruction. Our greatest scientists and inventors have constructed a super-powerful burrowing machine, which we will use to attack Castle Grayskull from underground. Not only that, but we also have the doom crystal, which has equal power to that of Grayskull, and will drain the good power from the castle in seconds! Then, we leave the way open for our lord Skeletor to enter. He will take Grayskull for himself, and will have more power than ever before! With this power, he will have no problem taking the throne of Eternia for himself. And before anyone suggests that He-Man may stop him, I can safely inform you that He-Man is here in our underworld, battered and bruised to a helpless state- maybe even close to death! We also have Man-At-Arms, who is dying fast, and the warrior woman Teela, imprisoned and unable to escape! To make things even better, we have a powerful cyborg warrior Extendar, in a state equal to He-Man's. So victory will come soon- and Eternia will suffer a worse defeat than its citizens ever would have imagined! Our home will become a place of great importance, and our roles as servants to Skeletor will be greatly increased. Our much-respected warrior Karg will control the burrowing machine as we advance on Grayskull! The attack begins soon, and soon we will be the masters of the universe!"
A commotion ran through the underworld, excited Skar-vins dashed from cavern to cavern, overjoyed at this news from their leader.
And in the cavern where the machine stood, Karg was just climbing into the cockpit. Blade, Saurod, and some other Skar-vins stepped in with him, armed with weapons stolen from Man-At-Arms' laboratory. A team of Skar-vins gave Karg the map of where he was to go. Then Karg started up the machine, and the drill on the front began to whirl.
Then it drilled violently through the rocks, and the whole machine propelled forward through the underworld. The fate of Grayskull was near!
The sound of the Skar-vins’ drilling machine shook the underworld as it
burrowed through the rocks on its way to Grayskull. There was an extreme
mood of excitement consuming the mind of every Skar-vin. They had never
been a particularly technologically advanced race, so it had come as a
sudden change when the machines had been built and the plans for invading
Grayskull were revealed. Now it was a major surprise to know that they were
to be the main cause of the downfall of Eternia, and would be considered
Skeletor’s most faithful servants. Every budding warrior began training in
the hope of reaching Karg’s skills.
But also in the underworld were four helpless, defeated figures. He-Man lay on the rocks by the underground lake, barely conscious, unaware of just how near the fate of his planet was. His muscular body had never suffered so many horrific injuries all at once, and he looked like a beaten wreck. Would he be powerful enough to overcome these injuries?
In the Skar-vins’ jail, Man-At-Arms lay in one cell, completely unconscious, his mind slipping away. Being only a normal human being with average strength, he had been unable to resist the force of the fall, and was almost bound to die within the next few hours. In the cell next to him lay Extendar, who was still conscious, and felt the shaking of the ground, but was in pain and felt too weak to cry out. He had felt so powerful since he had been given his cyborg attachments, but now he felt helpless and weak. In the nearby cell, Teela was being held. She was still conscious, but incapable of breaking through the bars. And she knew that as she was kept there, she could do nothing to put an end to the attack on Grayskull. Eternia looked very close indeed to falling prey to the forces of evil.
Meanwhile, Karg was burrowing furiously through the ground in the drilling vehicle. Blade, Saurod and several Skar-vin warriors were sat behind him. Each evil warrior knew that Grayskull would soon pay for the many defeats it had caused them.
Eventually, the rocks in front of them shattered to fragments, revealing a glimmer of light, and a rocky wall. It seem to lead into some pit. Karg stopped the vehicle’s engine.
"Where are we?" hissed Saurod.
"We are by the abyss of Grayskull." Karg replied. "We will be able to make it through- but you must hold on tight!"
Each evil warrior gripped their seats as tightly as possible, as Karg revved up the engine. Then Karg zoomed the machine straight through to the other side of the abyss, plunging it into the ground directly below Grayskull.
"We are almost there!" he declared in excitement. "Now we can burrow through!"
He quickly turned the vehicle upwards , and it burrowed straight up through the ground towards Grayskull.
Inside Castle Grayskull, the Sorceress sat in deep thought, praying for the safety of Teela. She knew that Teela must be safe, and she tried to communicate a message to her- something she had told her a long time ago- that the mind is as strong a weapon as the body. She hoped this would help Teela to escape from wherever she was being held. And she hoped that He-Man and his friends were having an easy journey as they sought out Teela. From what she knew so far, it seemed that the task would be quite easy- but she couldn’t help but feel there was more to it than it seemed…..
Then all of a sudden, her thoughts were interrupted as a huge electronic drilling machine burst up through the ground. Fragments of rock scattered violently about the room. The Sorceress leapt up to face the attacker. The drill ceased burrowing, the cockpit opened, and out stepped Karg, the evil hook-handed Skar-vin.
"Face destruction, Sorceress!" Karg bellowed.
"You fiend!" said the Sorceress angrily. "You alone are no match for the power of Grayskull!"
"Maybe not alone….." said Karg, "but with my comrades, you stand no chance against me!" Blade, Saurod, and the Skar-vins leapt out of the vehicle and stood in front of the Sorceress, fully armed.
"And with the doom crystal, we stand an even better chance!" laughed Karg, and he opened up his belt and took out the evil crystal, and held it in front of the Sorceress.
The Sorceress gasped in horror. This was the doom crystal- the deadly gem forged by the Skar-vins, with evil power almost equal to the power sword! She knew she had to face the great danger threatening Eternia….. but she also knew that this was the closest yet that the evil warriors had come to conquering Eternia. Was there any hope for her beloved planet?
In the Skar-vins’ prison, Teela was still held tightly behind the bars. She
was not unconscious, she was not even hurt. She did not even fear the
Skar-vins around her. But she wasn’t strong enough to break through the
bars. It was so annoying- this one minor thing preventing her from
escaping. She felt incredibly concerned for the safety of Eternia, and
distraught knowing that her father and maybe even He-Man could be dead. But
she still felt brave and strong, and she knew she could try her best to save
Eternia- if only she could get free from this damn cage!
It would be no problem for He-Man- with his strength, he would break through the bars with ease. If only she had that strength!
But then, she suddenly heard the soft, delicate voice of the Sorceress in her head. It was speaking some wise words that she had told her a long time ago….. "The mind is just as powerful a weapon as the body. Use your mind and you stand more of a chance of escape!" Teela knew the Sorceress spoke the truth….. perhaps there was some way Teela could use her mind to help her escape?
Then an excellent idea struck her, and she put it into action straight away.
"Help!" she called, purely to attract attention. "Somebody help me!" She looked through the bars. The first part of her plan had worked- a Skar-vin guard came bustling through.
"Don’t think anyone can hear your feeble cries!" the guard said. With He-Man defeated, and Grayskull being attacked, you can never escape from us!"
"I’m not too sure." she answered, sounding confident. "How about fighting me?" she taunted. "Of course, you could never win with your strength….. you couldn’t even hurt a fly!"
The Skar-vin guard’s eyes lit up red, and his face turned to an angry expression.
"How can you say that to me?!" he roared. "You actually believe you could defeat me?! I could never lose to a woman, with barely any strength. Yes, I will fight you- fight you to the death, to pay you back for attempting to insult me!"
He opened up the cage and stepped inside to join Teela. Then he switched into fighting pose.
"Okay, bitch!" he shouted. "Prepare to feel tremendous pain- you can never win!"
"Can I not? Well I’ll tell you something- I’m no-one to be messed with. I am Teela, the most powerful woman in the universe!" Then she flung her whole body through the air, and landed with a crash on his chest. He fell back against the bars of the cage, and they snapped and fell to the ground!
Teela’s way was now unblocked. The guard lay on the ground, clutching his chest and screaming in pain. Teela kicked him in the head, and his body went spiralling along the ground, then she gripped him by the neck and smashed his head against the wall, knocking him unconscious.
Then she left his battered body, and ran through the jail. She saw Man-At-Arms lying close to death in his cage. She went up to the cage and looked upon his body with sorrow.
"I hope to Grayskull that you recover, father." she said softly. "But if you die, I will avenge your death. Eternia now has a spark of hope left now that I have broken free. I will do my best to save our world and put an end to this madness!"
She gazed one last time at her father’s dying form, then she turned and ran through the caverns ahead. She must find He-Man, and see if she could do her best to stop the attack on Grayskull. She would not let Eternia fall to Skeletor!
Teela raced through the dark caverns of the underworld. Several times she
was suddenly leapt upon by a Skar-vin, but each time she would just kick
them out of her way. She knew that one of Karg’s main skills had always
been to sneak up on people out of nowhere, and she could see now that that
was a common skill among the Skar-vins. But she had absolutely no fear of
the creatures around her. It would be a waste of time to fear creatures
like these when the fate of Eternia was at hand.
She eventually reached a large cavern, with no Skar-vins in sight. Teela gazed around the cavern. The blue light from the fungi on the walls shone on her skin. A large bat flew past. The only sound was the trickling of the underground river below her. There were the occasional ripples at the surface, from the strange creatures that lived underneath.
And lying bruised and beaten, on a small heap of rocks by the stream, was He-Man! His body was covered with deep cuts and bruises, as Teela had seen before. But he was still alive- his limbs were struggling weakly, though he looked only barely conscious. Could she save him? There was no way she could jump down there- she would probably only land in the stream, and the waters looked very rough.
"He-Man!" she called. "Are you alright? Can you hear me?"
He-Man’s head turned, and he tried to lift it, but could not manage.
"Teela....." he said weakly. Teela felt great relief to see that He-Man could hear her! But would she be able to save him? He was clearly too weak to escape himself. But if Teela just stood there it wouldn’t help. There was no-one around who could help them- the only hope was for Teela to jump into the stream and try to swim to He-Man. It sounded pretty hopeless, as the stream’s current would doubtlessly be strong enough to drown her, especially if she swam back carrying He-Man..... and she probably wouldn’t be strong enough to carry He-Man anyway. But she had to do her best to save the hero of Eternia. It would definitely be a refreshing change after the many times he’d had to save her.
She took a deep breath, and dived into the stream. The current was strong, and from time to time she thought she felt something slimy gripping round her leg..... but she swam as hard as she could, and was relieved when she reached the heap of rocks and dragged herself out of the water.
Soaking wet, she gazed down at the broken body of He-Man. If he ever was going to regain his strength, it would take some time. But she had to do something to help him..... so what was there that she could do?
He-Man was only barely aware of Teela’s presence. He felt weak and helpless, like he never had before in his life. It felt like a difficult struggle to move any part of his body, even to speak..... even to think. He was in a complete daze, and could not seem to make sense of anything in his mind.
Then he heard a voice in his head..... a familiar voice..... feminine..... soft, mysterious and comforting...... the Sorceress. She was saying "Use your power sword, He-Man. It’s your only chance..... I am being attacked..... you must use the sword..... and come to save Eternia..... the sword, He-Man..... use your sword."
He-Man could not seem to make sense of anything, but he made a great effort, and reached his arm behind his back, and writhed the sword out from its sheath. It felt unusually heavy, and he almost dropped it..... but he just managed to cling on to it, and slowly uttered "By..... the..... power..... of..... Grayskull."
Then there was a huge flash of light which shook the whole room, and He-Man leapt to his feet and shouted "I HAVE THE POWER!!!" He stood supremely, holding the sword aloft, his body unharmed, the cuts and bruises completely gone, and feeling stronger than he ever had before.
Teela stood before him in amazement. "He-Man!" she exclaimed. "You’re restored at last! This is excellent!"
"What has been happening?" He-Man asked. "I don’t remember anything clearly after the fall....."
Quickly Teela explained everything that had happened, and that they must get to Grayskull to stop Karg’s attack.
"This sounds like the closest Eternia has ever been to destruction!" said He-Man. "We must act quickly. If your father does die, we must make sure that his death is not in vain. Extendar should recover, so I will call for him when we need him! But now we must get to Grayskull before they defeat the Sorceress- and before Skeletor can come to claim the castle!"
He gripped his arms round Teela, then he leapt up, and his powerful legs propelled them both upwards to the bridge. It was quite a sensation for Teela, being held in He-Man’s arms..... even though he only did it because he had to.
"We must find the way they burrowed into Grayskull!" said He-Man. "We shall soon put an end to their madness!"
So He-Man and Teela darted off to find the way through to Grayskull, their minds filled with a great determination to put an end to the forces of evil’ s most threatening scheme yet.
In Castle Grayskull, The Sorceress had put up a powerful fight against Karg
and the other evil warriors, but there had been too many of them and she was
now held captive, in chains, with Blade standing in front of her brandishing
his swords right before her face.
"Don’t even try to move, you beauty." Blade said threateningly. "Though I personally have no objection if you do..... ‘cos I love the sight of blood on a beautiful woman. I’d bathe in your blood if you dared move."
The Sorceress kept silent. She knew that Blade was probably thinking she was too frightened, but she wasn’t scared in the least. She had overheard Karg saying that He-Man was close to death, his body battered and broken..... so she had sent a mind signal to He-Man, telling him to use his sword to regain his strength. Blade seemed to have forgotten about the power of her mind. By now, He-Man should have regained his strength, and would hopefully be on his way to rescue her.
Karg, Saurod, and the other Skar-vins were walking through the corridors, exploring the castle which was soon to become a stronghold of evil.
"The rooms seem to go on for ever....." hissed Saurod.
"There are many secret rooms in the castle." answered Karg, "and they contain the many secrets of Grayskull which even He-Man doesn’t know. Once Skeletor has arrived, we can use the doom crystal on the castle and unlock these secrets!"
Saurod looked around the corridor at the many doors, the ancient stone walls, the mysterious sculptures on the walls. "It’s good that we have finally won this place." he said. "You and I haven’t been in Skeletor’s army for that long, Karg..... but we sure have done well."
"All thanks to me bossing you about and scaring you!" laughed Karg, and nudged Saurod in friendship. This was very out of character for Karg, Saurod thought..... it wasn’t often that he was capable of having a laugh with the other warriors, he’d always seemed to boss them about and frighten them as though he was their great superior. Now Saurod could see why Karg made such a good commander.
"I must let Varlon and Skeletor know of our victory!" said Karg, and turned on his wrist-radio and punched in Varlon’s code.
"We have beaten the Sorceress," he told him, "and the castle is now defenceless. We are ready to claim it as our own."
"Excellent!" replied the voice of Varlon. "You must let Skeletor know! I will make my way to Grayskull through the underground passage you made..... and give Skeletor the best possible welcome!"
"I will do that, my Lord." said Karg. "Over and out."
Then he punched in Skeletor’s code.
"You are through to Skeletor, lord of destruction." came the warlord’s voice.
Karg quickly told his master what he had just told Varlon.
"Marvellous." Skeletor replied. "This is better than I ever hoped for! Once I have claimed Grayskull and sucked its power dry, I must see He-Man and get him to kneel at my feet before he dies! And after that, the Sorceress will be powerless and I will keep her as a slave..... to be highly abused. Yes, you have done well, Karg! The Skar-vins will become my most respected servants..... and you deserve promotion in my army."
"I am honoured, my Lord!" replied Karg. "Over and out."
He-Man and Teela anxiously made their way through the caverns of the underworld. They reached the cavern where the burrowing machine had been, and did not even have to fight the Skar-vins who were in it- they were scientists, not warriors, and the moment that He-Man and Teela brandished their swords, the Skar-vins fled from the cavern in terror. Ahead of He-Man and Teela was a dark, long tunnel.
"This must be the way that Karg burrowed into Grayskull!" exclaimed Teela. "We must get through!"
"And we will save the Sorceress, no matter what the cost!" added He-Man. He and Teela leapt into the tunnel, and made their way frantically but carefully through the rocky passages. Eventually they came to a huge hole, which looked out onto what looked like a rocky cliff edge with another huge hole in it.
"This is the abyss of Grayskull!" said He-Man. "We are almost there- and we must follow Karg’s trail into the castle!"
"I feel really angry about them attacking the Sorceress." said Teela, "I’ve always felt a great bond between me and her..... but I’ve never been able to explain it. Perhaps it’s just the way she is."
He-Man just nodded. He knew that someday Teela would know that the Sorceress was her mother, and realise the importance of her destiny. "Quickly, we must make our way through!" He-Man said.
Suddenly, they were interrupted by the deafening sound of sirens in the air above them. He-Man and Teela peered out of the hole and looked upwards. They saw a huge air vehicle, recognisable as Skeletor’s hover throne, and it was accompanied by a swarm of evil Rotons, emitting the deadly siren sound..... a warning that fate and destruction was close at hand for Eternia.
As He-Man and Teela watched the evil vehicles in horror, they heard a loud, deep and booming voice shouting:
"PEOPLE OF ETERNIA..... my victory is near!"
Click here for Parts 15-19.