Evil-Lyn's dreams had been turbulent ever since the Oracle's unexpected revelation about Skeletor's past. If her interpretation of the Oracle's words was correct, she had learned a secret that would have devastating consequences if it became widely known. She dared not speak of this to Skeletor, for he would not hesitate to kill her if she revealed this newly acquired knowledge. Scare Glow's insistence that she refrained from exploring Skeletor's past had added significance now, as did the words uttered by Hordak when he appeared suddenly inside Snake Mountain and challenged the Lord of Destruction. The leader of the Horde evidently knew well that the secret was a weapon that could be turned against Skeletor. Skeletor's desire to destroy Hordak was motivated by fear as much as his desire for power, and there was little that caused Skeletor to be fearful. Evil-Lyn considered that Skeletor's hatred of Randor had similar motivations. Long had she searched for the truth about Skeletor; now she had discovered the secret, she wished she had not been so curious. The information was dangerous, and she was uncertain if it were possible to turn it to her advantage.
She realised that she had unwittingly become the victim of a cruel paradox, for now she was at her most powerful, she was more vulnerable than ever before. The path ahead was now unclear and confused. Remaining at Snake Mountain under the suspicious observations of Scare Glow was perilous, for any hint of treachery would be reported to Skeletor, but the alternatives were equally frightening. She considered fleeing Skeletor's lair to join Hordak at the Fright Zone, but would Hordak entertain such an alliance, or would he kill her? For a time she had even contemplated approaching the king to request asylum. Yet Randor was unlikely to offer her sanctuary in any place other than Ynys'alar, even if she revealed Skeletor's secret to him. She had been his enemy for too long, and she knew her actions against his people would never be forgiven. Randor's morality was too strong to allow a murderess protection.
Yet it was not Skeletor's secret alone that made her dreams tempestuous. For some nights now, wordless voices had been whispering in her subconsciousness, preventing her from falling into a deep sleep. The sounds possessed an ophidian sibilance that chilled her blood. Images troubled her too, and in her mind's eye she saw flashes of colours that spoke of pain and death. Constant among the rapidly blurring visions was an image of an unblinking, serpentine eye, tormenting her with its stare. Each night the hissing voices seemed to grow louder, summoning her in a strange language that held her spellbound. The sensation had begun to follow her into her waking moments, and even when fully awake, she still heard the sounds and saw the flashes of colour within her mind.
The distraction gradually became too strong for even her disciplined presence of mind to subdue, and her days seemed surreal. Soon the voices became so loud that she did not know if the sounds were still within her head, or seeping through the walls of Snake Mountain and surrounding her. Then one afternoon, during a discussion with Scare Glow and Trap Jaw about the stronghold's defences, she stood suddenly and walked swiftly from the war chamber. She heard nothing besides the sibilant voices, and found herself striding along passages deeper into the mountain, drawn to the source of the mysterious awareness.
Oblivious to the direction she was headed, Evil-Lyn descended further than she had ever dared to venture before. The corridors hewn from the black rock were unknown to her, and she sensed that it had been many years since anyone had come this far into Snake Mountain. There were no sconces or burning torches here, so she invoked a spell that caused her wand to glow with an eerie blue light. All the while the serpentine voices called to her, and now their summons were more demanding and intense.
In the deepness of the subterranean caves below Skeletor's stronghold, the paths were treacherous, for ruptures in the rock underfoot revealed boiling lava beneath. Steam and smoke hissed through the gaps with a voice like those sibilant calls that enticed Evil-Lyn further into the caverns. Here the caves glowed with the flickering brightness of the molten rock, and there was sufficient light to pass unassisted.
Evil-Lyn found herself in a short, closed passage. She walked slowly towards the end of the tunnel, raising her wand to illuminate the way once again. There were lacerations and holes in the floor and walls of the passage, but the light that emanated from the gaps was lessened here by the steam that filled the narrow tunnel. Proceeding cautiously, she noticed a large symbol carved from the rock. She looked closer, and saw an inverted triangular shape with the semblance of a heraldic shield. Carved on the face of the escutcheon was a coiled serpent. Its maw was wide open, exposing fangs and forked tongue. Yet it was the eye that Evil-Lyn gazed at intently. As she stared at the glyptic eye, it altered in colour, changing from the blackness of the rock to an intense yellow. This was the eye that she had seen in her dreams; a living, hypnotizing eye that dissolved her willpower and resistance.
The serpentine voices hissed in her mind again, and the glowing eye commanded her to draw closer. Leaning forward, she extended her arm and raised her wand towards the snake. A moment before touching the shield with her wand's sphere, she felt a sudden grip on her arm. In that instant, the voices in her mind vanished, and she suddenly became aware of where she was. She saw Scare Glow's taloned hand clamped around her forearm. He pulled her slowly away from the snake symbol. "What are you doing here, Evil-Lyn?" he questioned.
She stared back at the skeletal face, uncertain how to reply, for she did not understand herself. Behind Scare Glow stood Trap Jaw. They had evidently followed her here without her knowing. "Something exists down here, Scare Glow," she replied, her voice hushed. "It seeks liberation."
Scare Glow pulled her back from the rocky wall. "Hold her, Trap Jaw," he commanded. The steel-jawed cyborg took Evil-Lyn's arm with his single human hand, curiously watching as Scare Glow placed his hand on the snake carving. The phantom pushed his hand into the rock, his arm disappearing into the wall. Moments later, he withdrew his arm, and backed away. "Seal this passage, Trap Jaw!" he ordered.
As Scare Glow led Evil-Lyn away from the tunnel, Trap Jaw stood at the entranceway, and fired laser blasts from his mechanical limb at the ceiling. With a clamorous rumble, huge boulders crashed down to the floor, filling the passage with yards of immovable rock. Relieved by the absence of the sibilant voices in her head, Evil-Lyn allowed herself to be guided back through Snake Mountain's labyrinthine passages, yet somehow she knew that the yellow eye of the serpent shield was still gazing out into the blackness of the debris-strewn tunnel.
He-Man's flight on Battle Ram was a cold one in the chill of the wintry night, but he avoided snowfall. A great band of snow cloud was drifting northwards, but it was many leagues ahead of Battle Ram, and it had passed over the Mystic Mountains long before He-Man reached his destination. As he descended towards the foothills, He-Man noticed a small campfire burning. Soon He-Man had landed nearby, and as he dismounted, he waved to Man-At-Arms by the fire.
Seated on a large log, Man-At-Arms looked up and acknowledged He-Man's greeting. "It is late to be flying in the mountains, He-Man," he remarked. "Yet I suspect you have not come all this way to look at the stars."
"Alas, I have grave news," replied He-Man. "Scare Glow attacked the palace and abducted Teela. Now Skeletor holds her in Valmorlar."
"Then we must journey northwards without delay!" retorted Man-At-Arms, his face etched with anger.
"I trust Wind Raider is ready?" asked He-Man.
"Of course," replied Man-At-Arms with a thin smile. "I have tested some new systems with the help of the birdmen. I have made a few adjustments and repairs. Yet I fear it will not be Wind Raider or Battle Ram that struggles with the journey ahead. The clouds are heavy over Darkmoor and the Northern Reaches. The craft will make the flight, but we will be greatly hindered by the falling snow."
"Even if we have to fly blind, we shall not be turned back," stated He-Man confidently.
"The flight to Valmorlar is long, He-Man," said Man-At-Arms. "The ice city lies far to the north. We will need to..." Man-At-Arms suddenly paused and raised his hand. A scuffling sound could be heard from the trees nearby. He-Man swung his cloak over his shoulder and slid the Powersword from its scabbard. Man-At-Arms rushed into his cabin, and returned moments later with a hefty club. The two warriors pulled burning branches from the fire, and advanced towards the tree line.
With a sudden burst of speed, a bizarre six-legged creature scurried from the forest, and hurled itself directly at He-Man. Clawed hands grasped his sword arm before he could move his blade, and in the firelight He-Man saw that his assailant was unlike any being he had previously encountered. As he struggled to fight back against the four arms that struck out at him, Man-At-Arms rushed forward and swung his club into the torso of the creature. Momentarily stunned by the strike, the many-limbed beast released its grip on He-Man. Yet its body was protected by a segmented carapace, and it recovered quickly. It scampered back a short distance, and for the first time He-Man and Man-At-Arms were able to see the creature in detail. It had a humanoid torso rising from a crustacean body, but there the likeness ended, for it had four arms and two heads. It carried two short swords. The heads seemed to be capable of acting independently, for one stared directly at He-Man while the other focused on Man-At-Arms.
"You will never make it to Valmorlar!" uttered the creature, its two heads speaking simultaneously in echo of each other. "Modulok will see to that!"
"There are two of us, Modulok," retorted He-Man. "You cannot defeat both of us!"
"Then I shall even the odds!" retorted Modulok. He began to rapidly detach his limbs, and his carapace split into separate pieces. Swiftly reassembling himself, Modulok became not one creature but two. The final part of the transformation came as he pulled off a head and placed it on the second body. The two bodies of Modulok ran around the fire, and attacked the heroic warriors.
He-Man was prepared for the assault this time, and he began to parry and riposte rapidly against Modulok's sword strikes. For all his speed, Modulok did not possess the swordcraft of his opponent. With a mighty swing, He-Man sent Modulok's sword spinning from his hand. "Now let's see how easily those limbs detach!" He-Man roared. Carving arcs through the air with the Powersword, He-Man sliced off Modulok's right arm. It fell to the ground, and as Modulok hurried to pick it up and replace it, He-Man swung his sword once again, beheading the creature. Modulok's expression changed from shock to irritation as his severed head bounced on the snowy ground. The headless body rushed around blindly, scrambling for its missing parts.
Man-At-Arms found himself in an odd conflict with the other half of Modulok, for though this version had no torso, it had retained four of the six legs, and its speed was greater for it. The lack of an upper body meant that the arms had less mobility for sword attacks, but Man-At-Arms found it difficult to defend against strikes aimed at his legs. He kept the creature back by thrusting the flaming branch at its head. Realising he was no closer to defeating his adversary, Man-At-Arms decided to change his tactics. The next time Modulok came forward, he threw the branch aloft, inviting Modulok to grab hold of it. The creature fell for the ruse; his attention briefly distracted away from the heroic warrior. As Modulok's free hand closed around the wood, Man-At-Arms swung his club in a furious two-handed strike. The head of the club impacted with Modulok's sword arm, separating arm and weapon from the body. A back-strike with the club disconnected the arm that held the branch. Man-At-Arms dropped his club and threw himself at Modulok, trapping the creature in a headlock. Man-At-Arms wrested off Modulok's head, and hurled it into the trees.
The two bodies of Modulok remained in motion, scuttling about with no sense of direction. He-Man held the remaining head aloft, deliberately keeping its gaze away from the body segments. He realised that although Modulok could function whilst in pieces, he still needed his vision to do so effectively. Seeing that Man-At-Arms needed no help, He-Man stared at the demonic head that he held in his hands. "From which vile pit have you appeared, Modulok?" he questioned. "When will the servants of Skeletor understand they can never defeat me?"
"I am no slave of Skeletor!" hissed Modulok. "Hordak has sent me here to delay you! No secret evades the Fright Zone for long. Hordak knows Skeletor holds Teela at Valmorlar. Defeating me in combat is of no consequence, for Hordak will assimilate Teela's power and conquer Castle Grayskull!"
"Then you have done nothing save strengthen our resolve!" retorted He-Man.
"You will be too late, He-Man!" spat Modulok. "The Horde is rising!"
"Perhaps I should interrogate this foul creature," suggested Man-At-Arms, walking towards He-Man with his club over his shoulder. He-Man shrugged his broad shoulders, and tossed Modulok's head towards Man-At-Arms. With one fluid movement, Man-At-Arms took up a stance and swung his club into Modulok's head, propelling it rapidly through the air into the forest. "Perhaps not," he casually remarked.
Briefly taken aback by Man-At-Arms' action, He-Man's expression of surprise as he looked at his companion soon turned into a broad grin.
"Worry not, He-Man," said Man-At-Arms. "Modulok will pull himself together eventually."
"When he recovers from his headache, perhaps," replied He-Man. "Come, Man-At-Arms, we must leave for Valmorlar at once."
"Very well," agreed the older man. "Now I have the taste for combat."
"There will be no shortage of that at Valmorlar," remarked He-Man.
As Man-At-Arms collected weapons and blankets from his cabin, He-Man smothered the campfire. Their stay was short, for the urgency of their quest was pressing upon their minds. Soon they were soaring through the night sky, chasing the band of snow cloud northwards. Far below Wind Raider and Battle Ram, the damaged body parts of Modulok stumbled blindly towards the trees. Eventually the scattered pieces would reassemble, but by then He-Man and Man-At-Arms would be well on their way to the legendary ice city of Valmorlar.