Chapter Five: "The Fate of Secrets"
Skeletor found it.
The scrap of paper had been wedged in between two thick books. It was yellowed and torn, but the image upon was still clear and itched in ink that stayed true even after all these years. The picture was of Castle Grayskull. When Skeletor was six – Keldor at the time – it was the first time he had seen any sort of image of Castle Grayskull. It stunned him, sparking curiosity and intense interest. He would beg his father to help him find it, but Miro would simply blow him off. Randor ignored him, Stephan laughed at him, and Johanna . . . Johanna patronized him.
They had all given up on their childhood holdings, but Keldor never lost interest. It led him further and further into the mystic arts.
More memories flowed through Skeletor's mind. The first time he looked upon Grayskull. Standing in the Hall of Secrets. His return to Grayskull as Skeletor, more powerful than ever. His taking of the power of the Great Eye. Witnessing the pure power of Grayskull crash upon Vipera.
His Orc heart thundered in a rapid beat of excitement with Skeletor's chest. The time had come . . . the time had come at last.
Skeletor stuffed the paper in this belt. He pulled on his battle armor. He hooked his Terror Claws and Discs of Doom to his belt. The Sword of Darkness was sheathed, his cloak hung down to his ankles, and the Havoc Staff was in his clutches.
Skeletor stepped in the throne room. General Tartaran, Rattlor, Kobra Kahn, Tri-Klops, Staghorn, Catra, President Marzo, Monteeg, Webstor, Beast-Man, Lodar, and General Cora sat around the table, joined by holograms of Mer-Man, a freed Haramesh, and Batros. They all stood, awaiting his words, awaiting his commands. Skeletor looked them all over, and then nodded.
"Load up the ships. Prepare for battle and war."
Duncan stood on the pavilion and watched as Teela walked out of the Palace doors, holding Addison by the hand. The sun was barely up from the horizon and a mist had settled over much of the land. He smiled at her, looking at the woman he had raised. Perhaps it was now, on the precipice of revealing to her the last truth, that he appreciated just how much Teela had grown up.
Her becoming a mother had calmed her, dampened that fiery impatience. Despite fighting a war, Teela had managed to become a great mother to Addison. She had matured – not meaning she wasn't mature when she was younger. While she had been mature as a young adult, Teela had now matured with experience. She was so stable, so together.
"Ready?" he asked her, handing her a thermos of coffee.
"Yes, thank you," she answered. "Addison, say hello to your grandpa."
"Good morning, Addison," Duncan replied and handed his grandson a doughnut. "You ready for a trip?"
Addison eyes went wide as he took the doughnut from his grandfather. Teela giggled a little. "He is now." The trio started to walk towards Wind Raider parked nearby. "What's this all about?"
Duncan grinned. "Can't spoil the surprise, sweetie, but trust me. This is important."
Teela shrugged. "All right."
The three of them leapt into the Wind-Raider. A moment later, the engines powered up and the airship took to the skies, heading north to Castle Grayskull. Teela's red hair flapped behind her in a ponytail. Addison continued to munch on his doughnut and Teela had to check back once or twice to make sure he wasn't getting it all over his face.
They discussed the battle strategy that would be implemented in two days. The attack against Snake Mountain. Teela didn't ask if this visit to Grayskull had anything to do about that, but she most definitely thought it.
"We'll be there shortly," Duncan said then, with a smile on his face and his heart beating quickly beneath his armor.
In less than an hour, the Wind-Raider came in for a landing. The air around them was still misty and Castle Grayskull was sticking eerily out from it, like some sort of monster rising from a bog. The Wind-Raider landed not far from the land bridge and three exited the vehicle.
"Here we go!" Duncan said excitedly to the other two. Teela gave her father an odd look and Addison giggled, finding amusement in his grandpop's tone.
The jawbridge clanged open. The Sorceress was standing in its mouth, watching as the three of them walked towards her. She was breathing quickly, eyes wide and alert, a smile on her face.
"Hello my dears," she greeted them and hoped that it was appropriate enough.
"Good morning, Sorceress," Teela replied.
"Hello Sorceresssy," Addison attempted.
"Hello to you too, Addison," the Sorceress returned. "Duncan, good morning."
Duncan bowed just a little.
"Okay, so what is going on here?" Teela practically demanded.
"You, Addison, and your father retreat to the northwest tower. I will be there shortly."
Teela rolled her eyes and the three of them walked into the familiar room. It was a room of revelations – so many conversations had been had here, so many decisions, and long, necessary talks. Teela took her place in an old comfy chair; Addison plopped down on a big throw pillow. Duncan sat in one of two identical chairs, facing Teela head on.
The Sorceress soon arrived, carrying both a tray of breakfast snacks and coffee and tea in one hand; and a crystal ball in another. The tray was set down on a table by the window. The Sorceress sat down in the chair next to Duncan's. Teela poured herself some tea while Addison got right into a bear claw.
"We . . ." Duncan began, but the words weren't quite coming out. He hadn't prepared for this, though he spent endless silent hours thinking of what to say for many years.
"There's something you must know, Teela," the Sorceress answered, glancing at Duncan. "Something kept secret. Something that had to be kept secret."
"Oh Ancients," she muttered. "What now?"
Addison glanced up, but returned his attention to the bear claw.
The Sorceress looked to Duncan for support.
Duncan leaned forward. "Look, Teela, there's no easy way - "
"I'm your mother," the Sorceress blurted.
Teela dropped the cup of tea onto the table, but didn't even notice. Her eyes went wide. Addison's head shot up and he looked at his mother, then at the Sorceress.
"Wha-what?!" Teela gasped. "What? What did you . . .?"
"I'm your mother, Teela."
"It's true, honey," Duncan confirmed.
"But . . . but . . . but . . ." Teela stammered, her hands half-raised to face. "No . . . it's . . . not possible . . . . Father, you told me she was dead."
Duncan looked to the floor. "I . . . I lied."
"You – you lied? You lied to me?" Teela questioned, just in pure shock. She looked to the Sorceress. "You're . . . you're my mother? My mother?"
The Sorceress nodded.
Teela's shock broke. Tears poured out of her eyes. Instinctively, she went to cover her face. "You lied to me," she muttered, and then looked up at her father. "YOU LIED TO ME!"
"Teela . . . please . . ."
"AGAIN! Father, how could you do this to me?! How could you - " She stopped in mid-sentence. "Addison, please wait outside the door, okay? Take another treat and sit outside the door. Don't wander, please."
"Mommy, what's wrong?"
"Just go, Addison! Please!"
Addison did as his mother ordered. He grabbed another doughnut and walked out in the hallway, shutting the door. Teela looked down at her lap, shaking her head.
"You have to understand . . ."
"Understand what, Dad?!" she yelped, eyes red. "Understand what?! You lied to me about Adam and now this!"
"He had to," the Sorceress answered. "He had to lie. Your father loved me very much and -"
The sudden thought that her father loved the Sorceress just exploded in her mind. It was so strange, so bizarre.
"How could you do this to me?" she asked. "HOW COULD YOU DO THIS ME?"
"We had to," the Sorceress replied. "We had to."
The Sorceress lifted up the crystal ball and handed it to Teela. Teela looked at it, then shook her head. "No."
"Please, Teela. You must. If you want to understand, you must."
"Maybe I don't want to understand!" she yelled out. "Maybe I'm tired of understanding about needing to lie to me! Maybe I'm tired of – Ancients, why did – how could – damn it all!" She started to sob and leapt to her feet.
"I was the Sorceress of Grayskull," said the Sorceress. "And I . . . fell in love. Your father rescued me from Keldor the very first time Keldor came into the Grayskull. We fell in love that day."
Teela lowered herself back into her seat, hand over her face.
"Your mother and I - "
Teela blinked hard at that phrase, a fresh tear appearing and rolling down her cheek.
"I was able to walk among mortals again, Teela, for a full year," the Sorceress proclaimed. "Your father and I began a relationship that we knew was doomed. You were unplanned, but it didn't matter. We accepted the facts."
"The Horde War was going on. We couldn't risk anyone finding out that the Sorceress of Grayskull was having a child. It would have put not only Grayskull in danger, but your life as well. We couldn't risk it. We had to fake her death and keep it a secret."
"Why now?" asked Teela. "I've been here so many times, why now?"
"Because of the battle," the Sorceress answered. "Because . . . I couldn't before. I was not permitted to. There is more to this, Teela. Because you are a female born to a Sorceress of Grayskull, that means you are a part of the Order of the Goddess. You are destined to take my place as Sorceress of Grayskull."
She looked up. "What?"
The Sorceress nodded slowly. Teela looked to her father.
"I . . . yes," Duncan said. "That's why."
"I don't want that. I don't want to be the Sorceress of Grayskull," Teela said defiantly.
"I understand that," Duncan replied.
"I have a son and I'm getting married. I don't want this destiny. I never wanted it. You can't do this to me, you can't," Teela began to ramble. "I'm . . . I don't want this destiny!"
The Collectors and Fright Fighters left first, but everything was timed perfectly. Skeletor walked out from Snake Mountain, the warm summer winds catching and waving his violet cloak. The Mothership sat waiting. Nearby, the last Troop Transport was lifting off into orbit.
At the top of the gangway, he looked back at Snake Mountain and took in its great evil majesty. He thought for a moment of the fist time he gazed at it and how just powerful and perfect it seemed back then. Yet, now, standing on the brink of ultimate success, he felt as though he had simply outgrown in.
With Screech and Panthor by his side, Skeletor entered the Mothership. The gangway pulled and the doors shut and sealed. The Mothership roared out of the Valley of Storm, rising up through the clouds and into lower Eternian orbit. Every room of the ship was taken up by warriors and soldiers of some kind or another.
Skeletor walked to the bridge.
"ETA?" he asked of Optikk.
"Forty-five minutes," Optikk responded.
Skeletor cackled and lowered himself in a nearby chair. "Destiny," he muttered.
Teela was looking out the window, the sun just now fully rising over the horizon. It was only 8 Bells in the Morning, but already it felt like midnight to her. She had just been handed over the crystal ball and had the brief story of just how the Sorceress became the Sorceress. Teela was now standing up, digesting it all.
"I need to check on Addison," she told them both after a few minutes silence.
Teela stepped out of the room and saw Addison sitting next to the door, rocking impatiently.
"What's goin' on, Mommy?" he questioned her.
"I'm just having a fight with your grandpa."
"Is that really grandma in there?"
Teela paused and bit her bottom lip. Her eyes glanced to the door. "I . . . I think so."
"Why are you mad at grandma?"
Teela ran her hand over Addison head. "It's . . . it's a long story, sweetie. I'll tell you later."
"How much longer are we going to be here?"
"I'm not sure, honey. Not too much longer. Can you just stay here a little longer?"
He nodded. "Yes Mommy."
"Okay. I'll be right back, I promise."
Teela re-entered the room, having no idea what to say or how to even respond to them. Her parents. She looked at them both, who looked back her expectedly. Clearing her throat, she spoke clearly and from the heart.
"I . . . I guess I understand," she said to them, though she was at a loss as to whether or not she was speaking the truth. "But I need you to know that I will not become the next Sorceress. I refuse it. If it's my destiny, then I reject destiny."
The Sorceress nodded. "I do not blame you," she told her daughter and Teela could sense more to it than just that.
Teela started to turn towards the door. "I . . . I'd like to go home. Think this through. I can't . . . I can't talk to you right now. Either of you."
The Sorceress was about to respond . . . but instead, she cried out. She dropped the crystal ball to the floor and it shattered. Her hands went to her head.
"No . . . NO!" she yelled out.
"Teelana?" asked Duncan freely. Teela started at that, but saw that a bigger crisis than her paternity was at hand.
"It's happening, Duncan. We were too late."
Castle Grayskull began to shake lightly. The sunlight outside went dark. Addison came inside, looking deeply frightened.
The Sorceress looked straight up. "He's here."
High above but coming down from the sky came the Mothership. Skeletor was sitting in his chair, all thought and will being concentrated on the Sword of Darkness. He used it to blanket an invisible energy field over Castle Grayskull. It was difficult and magic that took him a long while to learn, but it was working.
"We are in firing position," Optikk reported.
The Mothership's weapons went to work. Five miles of woodland surrounding Castle Grayskull were incinerated. Within a minute, nothing but ash stood where once there were old trees.
"Commence landing," Skeletor ordered.
"I can not reach Adam or Adora," the Sorceress stated as the group rushed to throne room. "Skeletor is blocking my telepathy."
"The Wind-Raider?" questioned Teela.
Duncan looked out at it from the Space Mirror. A beam was fired from one of the Collectors at that precise moment. The Wind-Raider exploded.
"Nope," he said grimly.
Outside the walls of Castle Grayskull, the army of Snake Mountain was unleashed. Evilseed, Fang Man, Negator, President Marzo, the Evil Warriors, the Snake-Men Cadre, the Horde Elite, the Mutants Enforcers, and the renegade Meteorbs took a position at the land bridge.
Goblins, Snake-Men, Reptons, Orcs, Spiders, Shadow Beasts, Kobloids, Lobsterites, Mutant Troopers, Centurions, and Hover Robots all flowed from the vessels. Minutes later, the Mer-People, Ilkorts, and Bats came forth from the north. Eternos had been wrong. The Ilkorts weren't going to Snake Mountain; the Bats were coming to Castle Grayskull.
Sounds of thousands of voices filled the air. Roars from beasts and minions echoed out. The great stamping of feet shook the ground.
Skeletor took a position at the land bridge and lifted his Havoc Staff. The cloudless sky was soon engulfed in deep, dark, thick clouds. Horns blew, drums were struck, and shouts of excitement were released. Skeletor laughed madly, throwing his hands up to the darkened sky. 27,000 soldiers in his army responded by pumping their fists into the air.
As Teela, Addison, Duncan, and the Sorceress looked on, they all realized with terrible dread that the final battle had truly begun . . .
TO BE CONCLUDED IN "ENDINGS AND EPILOGUES – BOOK FOUR: POWER!"