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Chapter XIII: THE FORTRESS OF MYSTERY AND POWER

 

                The next morning Krygar was much better. The strong tiger healed fast with the aid of Fisto's medicine. He seemed to be already able to continue the journey, even if at a slow pace. They had a light meal, fare welled Fisto and went back to the road. The terrain was beginning to soften, and it was getting easier for their horses to travel by, specially after the long rest. Krygar was holding on well. The tiger showed no more signs of weakness.

                They traveled for three more days with no big surprises. Krygar was already able to hunt small game again, and was beginning to make his way slightly away from the party. He was a strong animal. They came to a halt when the vegetation got thicker and the great, green trees filled with vines were all their eyes could see.

                "Evergreen" - Adam stated - "Krygar, you're home! Soon we will be overwhelmed by the full splendor of this forest... and soon we will reach the legendary Castle Grayskull!"

                "Are we to enter the castle, Adam?" - Teela asked.

                "I don't know for sure, but I guess so. We are to wait for Zoar. She will come and lead our way. I believe Grayskull will be our destination, but I am not sure. The Sorceress was not much specific in that point."

                They walked on. The forest was a green, involving maze, filled with a fresh moss aroma which made all feel lighter. Though it was so immense and labyrinthian, it did not confuse or frighten them. They felt peace.

                A couple of hours later they heard the sound of wings. Faint, soft, but right above them. A few yards away, as soon as they reached a clearing, there she was, Zoar, waiting for them. The great falcon irradiated light and beauty, even surrounded by such amazing forest.

                "Adam." - the young man heard inside his mind, the deep voice of the Sorceress - "I can see you have accomplished your quest."

                "Yes", he answered. Everyone quickly figured the Sorceress was once more contacting the former prince of Eternos telepathically. "I wait for you guidance now, o wise one."

                "As settled. But it will be hard for Zoar to lead you in this forest. The treetops hide her from those who travel below. Although there is no other way. She will point you the way as best as she cans, and return from time to time to check if you’re still on the right track."

                "I can help!" - Everyone turned at Stratos, in astonishment.

                "Did you heard my conversation with the Sorceress? I thought..."

                "I didn't hear the Sorceress with whom you talk. It was the bird I spoke to."

                "His assistance is a great help, if he is able to follow Zoar. He can be the link between Zoar and you, since he can fly above and under the treetops easily." - Adam heard the Sorceress in his head.

                "I believe I can fly once more. The tiredness, the pain, is almost gone." - the birdman said, as if answering to the guardian of Grayskull. "I can follow Zoar, and then come back and lead you. I have less trouble than she in passing through the trees, for my wingspan is shorter."

                And so they did. Before Zoar and Stratos took off, however, Teela asked her flying friend: "Did Zoar spoke to you telepathically, the same way the Sorceress spoke to Adam?"

                "No," - he answered - "through expressions and gestures. It seems that, like we, birds from my world and yours, although different, speak one and the same language."

                And said this, the birdman opened his arms, and graciously left the ground. It was a beautiful sight, Stratos flying. He used his wings, the small collection of feathers in his arms, only for maneuvering proposes, so he would not beat them like a bird. He glided over the air as if he was weightless, moving with grace, first slowly, then aimed itself at the skies and swiftly took off. Finally they beheld how Stratos felt really comfortable and at home.

                They went on. Stratos would come back to them every once in a while, leading their way. The forest just got thicker and thicker, replete of vines and moss. The entire environment seemed to engulf them, and they had completely lost their sense of direction. Arriving at Grayskull by land was certainly not an easy task.

                It was only two days later that they finally arrived at their destination. Grayskull was right ahead.

                The castle was an immense gray stone structure, which time had turned green from all the moss covering its mighty walls. Four small windows opened in its twin towers, and save from the great wooden drawbridge, there wasn’t another single entry or breach in sight. Above the drawbridge, a great stone skull protected the castle’s entrance. Its enormous, marble fangs sprouted from the skull’s upper jaw and surrounded the door, like giant blades. It was a magnificent, imposing statue, and it was in its own way a guardian of the fortress.

                “Come.” - a female voice called them. “Grayskull invites Adam of Eternos and his allies inside.”

                Said this, the great drawbridge slowly lowered. All around the great door, teeth were planted, as if it was the great skull’s lower jaw, and in their entry, they would be swallowed by the castle itself. It was simultaneously scary and fascinating. Inside, the skull’s throat was dark as night.

                Adam took a deep breath. These could be his most important steps in his entire life. He marched on. His friends followed right after.

                As soon as all were in, the great door closed behind them. Then, light came. From the very castle walls, a phosphorescence illuminated the hall in which they were, and they could see how Grayskull looked like in the inside. The walls were much the same as in the outside, huge stones perfectly piled. The hall was a large square room, its roof more then twenty yards above them, an arching structure of stone and worked wood. Encircling the hall’s walls, pictograms were carved in the stones, pictograms whose meaning they did not understand. On both their sides, there were large double doors, sealed. In front of them, a great stairway, with certainly more than a hundred steps lead to an upper hall in which a great golden gate could be seen. At the top of the stairs, a woman, a tall and slim woman was watching them. She was dressed in white and light blue, and a feather cloak, like wings, was sewed to her dress, in its back and sleeves. In her head, she wore a tiara with the shape of a falcon’s head, its feathers falling down aside her neck and over her shoulders.

                “Climb these stairs and follow me into the throne room, brave ones. There, truths you haven’t yet imagined will be revealed to you. Your destiny awaits you, Adam.”

                And so they did. Atop the stairs, and over the great golden gate, they entered an immense hall, all lit up by huge torches held by great stone gargoyles all over the walls. The floor was all made of large bright stones, which depicted drawings of planets and stars, and across it, a passageway of white and silver let to the throne, a great worked structure at the end of the room, with a great skull embracing it. A narrow, golden stairway descended directly from the throne, while two wider stairs sprang from its sides, and came downwards describing a half-circle and into a great blue, green and red circle at the end of the main passageway.

                The hall’s ceiling was dark as night, and in it, the night stars and Eternia’s two moons were depicted. The castle seemed so much wider from the inside than it did on the outside.

                The Sorceress climbed the narrow stairway and sat on the throne. “Come closer. Step into the circle of Eternia at the end of the path. There I can watch you closer.”

                They entered the circle and Adam got down on one knee. He beheld the Sorceress in wait.

                “Adam of Eternos. I have summoned you, and you have heeded the call. I offered you a challenge, and you accepted it and returned victorious. It is now time I reveal you the reasons of our meeting. It is now time for you to know why were you summoned by Grayskull.”

                Adam did not say a word. His companions stood still also, for their presence there seemed now to be completely ignored. Krygar went to his master’s side and stood there, quiet and serene.

                “A long time ago, in the ancient history of Eternia, this castle has built to protect our world from the demons of the shadows. It succeeded, yet its creators, the wise chosen ones, perished to save Eternia. Later on, Eternia would be conquered by another threat, the cruel snake-men from Veymous and their eternian leader King Hiss. Hiss tried over and over to conquer Grayskull but with no success. He was finally slain by the magic of the Book of Living Spells, in the hands of Eldor the great wise one. Eldor the druid was a man of great power and a descendant from the chosen ones, those whom the Gods had given the task to protect Eternia when they left our galaxy. Eldor passed on the Legacy of the Sorcerer, in which a disciple of the ancient ways would be trained to protect Grayskull from all harm, from generation to generation. Eldor also had great powers of foreseeing, and before his hour came, he has written his precognitions and passed them to his heir so that when the time of the prophecy would come, the guardian of Grayskull could follow his instructions so that Eternia may resist the darkness to come.”

                “And so are the words of the Prophecy of Eldor:”

                 "Forged in fire, a warrior's blade
               
Magic imbued in a weapon of flames
               
A sword of power and mystic supreme
               
A symbol of freedom where hope is unseen

                 "Twin second sword forged the same day
               
Same magic imbued in a distorted way
               
Both hold power beyond imagination
               
Both are opposites of the same creation


                "Kingdoms shall fall, new ones arise
               
And a darkness will take over the skies
               
One shall come both living and dead
               
The face of evil emerges and stands

                 "The fortress resists, its power defied
               
The sword calls, a champion is tried
               
His soul's pure his blood's divine
               
To hold the legacy with honor and pride

                 "The wise principle the ancients swore
               
Chanted, revived, the truth once more
               
Holder of power skeptic eyes to see
               
One with the sword the champion must be

                 "Born anew the venom's spawn
               
Comes to take what's never his own
               
Evil to evil, behold they meet
               
An evil to win an evil's defeat

                 "Legion of warriors again they march
               
Demon man overcomes the man of the past
               
With iron fist he rules now alone
               
Shading the light from his dark throne

                 "An ancient terror adds fear to come
               
Chaos of creation shaped into one
               
Death and pain, blood across the land
               
Fate is held in a demon's hand

                 "Spreading his minions, a deadly plot
               
The innocent suffers the damned's wrath
               
At the edge of Eternia's suffocation
               
Burning above shall come the salvation

                 "Of evil itself an evil supreme
               
So dark and intense, an angel to redeem
               
Twisting the shadows with a terminal pyre
               
A price to be paid, a martyr is sacrificed

                 "Light fades away deep within the dark
               
The sword of power becomes but a spark
               
Together held the twins they cry
               
Split apart both shall die."

                 “So are the words of Eldor. He created the sword of power so that when He-Man would come, it would become his weapon to protect Grayskull and Eternia. Do you bring the stone of the obelisk with you?”

                “Y-yes.”, Adam replied, and took it out from a leather purse on his belt. “Here it is, o wise one.”

                “Bring it next to the throne, and place it over the pedestal on the left side of the stairway. There is where the heart gem of Grayskull belongs.”

                Adam walked forward to the stairway and gently placed the stone in the marble pedestal. As soon as he left it, a great light came out of the gem, and all the firelights of the torches in the hall extinguished. The light of the stone was brighter than all the torches together, and it did not cast any shadows. All was clear.

                “You have succeeded in Eldor’s riddle, and afterwards, his soul reckoned you as the one from his vision, and trusted you the gem. Adam of Eternos, I hereby declare you as the sacred warrior of the gods, protector of Eternia, He-Man, the champion of castle Grayskull. Do you heed the call of Eldor and pledge your allegiance to the fortress of mystery and power?”

                Adam’s heart pounded like a thunderstorm, but he did not hesitate. “Certainly. I pledge my body and my soul to Grayskull and to the protection of Eternia.”

                “So be it.”

 

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