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We arrived at the Tower of High Sorcery at Goodlund two days later, landing near the magical grove. Daniel and I led our companions through the grove, as Wizards of the White Robes, as we sought out an audence with the Master of the Tower, Ke'Lanthinel tr'Galien Devir, the self-proclaimed Master of Light and Dark.

Lanthinel met us in the grand hall on the ground floor of the Tower, and he was immediately surprised by the presence of Daniel and Alexis. Indeed, I think he might have unleashed some spell of attack upon Daniel -- for years before, he had encountered the Chaos-tainted Daniel in a tavern in Palanthus while awaiting the company of Zoe Advanti, Master of the Guardians of the Black Robes -- until he noted that this Daniel was by no means tainted. He spent a long moment looking at both of them, while Daniel greeted him as brother. He also eyed Alexis suspiciously, evoking the response of "Do you treat all nobility like this?", which only caused him to contemptously sneer at the lost Queen of Sancrist.

He inquired as to where his sister, Gwynnion, was, until I realized that I was the only one who had been with Samkin, Lord of Passage, at the very end, and had also been the last to see Gwynnion and Alexis. I quickly explained what I had seen and the events that had led up to that point. He began casting a spell of revelation, as he scanned each of us in turn.

The "Lord of Passage," it seems, had been rather spotty indeed. While indeed this was "our" Krynn (well, "mine"), not only did we have the wrong "Gwynnion" and "Alexis," but even Oskur was slightly off. We later learned that the Oskur with us came from a world so identical that the only divergence seemed to be that the Cataclysm came a day early in the scheme of things. The Master of the Tower began divining for the whereabouts of his sister and Alexis (and Oskur), after calling in Ethan, Master of the Guardians of the White Robes, and friend of the Master of Goodlund.

Daniel seemed surprised to see Ethan, and we later learned that in his world, Daniel had studied under Ethan. Ethan had apparently retired some ten years ago, confined to a wheelchair -- so it was rather shocking to see the face of his mentor again in his prime. Ethan, well, our Ethan, seemed nonplussed, having never seen Daniel before, for obvious reasons.

Lanthinel, after arranging for food and the chance to freshen up, revealed that apparently Gwynnion was currently on a world known as Sanctuary. Krynn, it seems, has two worlds relatively "near" to it, cosmologically speaking. Sanctuary, Lanthinel noted, tended to possess more sorcery, but is rather more primitive than Krynn, while the other, Gaia, lacked most of the vulgar elements of sorcery and was rather more advanced. I believe he also noted that Gaia was dominated much more by Law and Sanctuary by Chaos, but this was secondary at the moment. Alexis, meanwhile, was on some other much further afield world, which he referred to as Forcelia. Oskur, as far as he could tell, was on Gaia, but safe as far as he could tell.

Also, in Daniel -- this Daniel -- having been brought to this world, the disincarnate Chaos-tainted version of Gwynnion had also been drug to this world. Both the Chaos-tainted Daniel and Gwynnion were somewhere in and around Balifor, which seemed somewhat coincidental for our arrival.

We also learned, from Daniel, that in his world -- which seemed to mirror our own up until a point -- the Dark Queen, at the time of the Cataclysm, had brought the corrupt Temple of Istar into the Abyss. During the intervening years after the Cataclysm, when she began to awaken her powers upon the world in secret, she placed the accursed Temple in a location that was modern Neraka, where the Dragonarmies based themselves around the Temple to the Dark Queen there. However, a human named Berem -- the so-called "Everman" -- had somehow gotten the foundation stone of the temple (which straddled this world and the Dark Queen's infernal realm) stuck in his chest. Until he could be found and the stone recovered, the Dark Queen could not manifest in this world fully. After a point, the Dark Queen's minions had succeeded in finding him, the stone recovered, and Ariakus had summoned the Dark Queen into the world of Krynn.

At this point, this seemed to match Alexis's accounts of things. However, in Daniel's world, Galen Dracos had then succeeded in his plan, consuming the Dark Queen. The talismanic key to the flying citadel of Galen Dracos (the citadel currently under the nominal control of Kitiara of the Blue Dragonarmy) had been recovered and Dracos had escaped the Chamber of Orbs and had confronted and defeated the Dark Queen. With her power and connection to the Tobril now his, he quickly defeated Paladine and several other gods, until few if any remained, or the others had fled (one guesses that Hiddukel would not be too interested in hanging around to get eaten).

So, we were faced with a two-pronged problem. It would seem likely that the Everman existed in our world, somewhere, and the Dark Queen's forces were likely searching for him in a very secret manner, so as to not attract attention. The Dark Queen could not be allowed into the world -- it would mean dominion by the Dark Queen for an entire Age, if not longer. At the same time, the talismanic key to the flying citadel had to be recovered before it could be used to free Galen Dracos from the Chamber of Orbs.

Lanthinel, he noted, had been studying the problem of the key ever since he had learned what lay within the citadel. As far as he knew, an apprentice of Dracos', Voxx, had taken the key to Sanctuary to insure that it would be out of sight of the Holy Order of Stars and the Conclave until the time was right. At the same time, Gwynnion was on Sanctuary, and he seemed rather keen that we journey to Sanctuary first to gain the key and to rescue Gwynnion from whatever trouble she had landed into. Meanwhile, he would seek out Alexis and Oskur.

He transported Adam to Palanthus, so that the Knight of the Rose could report to the High Justice, Gunthar uth Wistan. Adam made sure to report what had been learned of the Everman, and uth Wistan made sure that the Knights and the Holy Order would begin seeking out the Everman -- while Lanthinel passed word along to Justarius, Master of the Conclave, so that the Red and White Robes could seek out the Everman, as well.

We chose, then, to journey to Sanctuary in the hopes of finding the key -- Lanthinel would open a gate to the location Voxx had first entered that world -- and we would have to proceed from there. Daniel and Alexis chose to accompany us, for Daniel was rather interested in meeting a Gwynnion that was not tainted, and Alexis seemed willing to help, so long as she could eventually return to her own world to continue fighting against the Dark Queen's forces.

I must remember to return as quickly as possible; my timeframe to meet with Lord Soth is rather...short...in the summer.

We also inquired of the new constellation, in the rough semblance of Galen Dracos's personal sigil. Lanthinel told us that it had appeared the night after our battle with Fistandantilus and Passage. Likely, Samkin, Lord of Passage, had entered the universe and the Tobril again. However, because of whatever sorceries Dracos had performed, that aspect of the Tobril effectively bore his personal mark, and this had been reflected by the appearance of the constellation in the sky. Or, he said, this seemed a likely explanation.

Prepared, the Master of Goodlund ripped open the road between worlds in the Tower, revealing a refugee camp beyond. Curious, we stepped through and on to Sanctuary.


The first person we saw on the other side of the gate seemed curious, but not surprised by our arrival. He seemed to be of a stock similar to Ergoth's folk, wearing traveler's and merchant's garb, clad in blues. He introduced himself as Warriv, a caravan-master who had lately been stuck in this camp after "all hell had broken loose" not too long ago. We inquired of him of what he meant, claiming that we had arrived from very far away and were new to the area.

It seems that we were in a land known as the Westmarch, which had been under the rule of the venerable King Leoric until some 15 years ago or so. In the town of Tristram, an ancient monestary had apparently contained some ancient demon prince he referred to only by its epithet, the Lord of Terror. The head of the monestary, a Bishop Lazarus (a queer name, but one cannot judge the names of other realms, I suppose), had fallen to corruption and had began working to free the demon prince. Leoric had fallen to the Bishop's dark wiles, and things seemed dark indeed until a powerful warrior ventured into the labyrinth under the monestary, apparently defeating the Bishop and dealing with the danger of the demon prince.

Or so it had seemed. Within a month of this apparent victory against dark forces, the town of Tristram was a gutted ruin, as monsters now swarmed over the countryside spreading murder and dark sorcery. The warrior had apparently been corrupted by the demon prince, and was possessed it seems. Clad only as a "dark wanderer," the warrior had ventured across Westmarch with an encroaching horde of monsters, disappearing through the mountain pass in the east. The monestary that guaded the pass, the headquarters for two orders of warriors (distinguished by gender into female scouts dubbed "rogues" and the male "warriors"), had been corrupted by the wanderer's passing, and only encampments such as this one existed in the Westmarch now.

I noted the rogues' presence upon the wooden ramparts and walls. They seemed to tend towards long red-hair, undoubtedly dyed in several cases, and this seemed to be the distinguishing feature of members of their order. Most were armed with various kinds of bows, although a few wielded spears and polearms. Otherwise, they preferred (or were limited to) leather armors and the like, and in general they were fairly attractive and athletic. In addition to these warders, Warriv mentioned that some of the barbarians of the Arreat Mountains in the north had come south to assist the people of the Westmarch against the evil now covering the land.

I should note that Warriv spoke to us in a heavily accented Solamnic tongue, and that as we looked into the sky -- for it was night when we arrived -- the constellations were wholly familiar to us. This was the sky of Krynn. At the same time, I also noted that Warriv seemed to avert his gaze from me, refusing to look directly at me. Unwilling to immediately confront him over this -- for he is a caravan master, and had been very helpful in telling us something of where we were, and I did not want to make him any more uncomfortable than he might already be -- I played to the moment as best as I could.

There was what was left of a tavern/inn in the camp, but it afforded little privacy. I told my companions that I would conjure more private lodgings, so that I and Daniel could scry for Gwynnion and the talisman in private. In the interim, they decided to investigate the camp and discover what else they could.

Once alone, I began scrying for Gwynnion, and I succeeded in finding her through whatever ward she was kept behind. She was unconscious, chained to a wall, but seemed relatively healthy if unconscious. I noted the presence of a warrior in ancient armor who tended to her briefly, but he did not seem to notice my presence. However, I could not discern where this cell was, for I had been lucky in finding her in this way. I tried then scanning for Puck, her tressym familiar, but had no luck. Then, I tried to scry for the talisman, Voxx, or perhaps one of the immortality stones Dracos's apprentices and minions had often used, but I still had no luck.


A group of the Arreat barbarians were in town, as I noted. These tended to be tall and well-built wilderness warriors, many of whom were covered in blue tattoos. Much of the camp seemed awe-struck and curious about me, or perhaps I should say "reverant." They seemed to believe I was an "Ancient," and apparently these Ancients had not been seen in ages (thus the title, of course). Alexis had arranged for a meeting with a local wise-woman named Alkara in the hopes she might be able to provide information of benefit to our current needs. I accompanied her, Adam, and Daniel to the meeting at the tavern.

Alkara seemed to have a similar reaction to my presence as the others, and she greeted me in a language I did not recognize. I tried to greet her, in turn, in Draconic, the language of dragons and magic, but this seemed as incomprehensible to her as her words had been to me. She switched to Solamnic and explained that she had been trying to demonstrate the proper respect for one of the Ancients, and I accepted this and explained I had tried to do something similar.

We began querying Alkara on a number of topics. I asked her if she had ever heard of a Galen Dracos, and she surprised me by saying that, yes, she had. Galen Dracos, she said, was one of the Lesser Evils of Hell, the Lord of Dragons, and that he had spurred many of his compatriots among the damned to rise up against the "Three," the "Prime Evils": Diablo, Lord of Terror; Bael, Lord of Destruction; and Mephisto, Lord of Hatred. The names meant little to me, so I explained a little of what Galen Dracos' intentions currently, and of how he sought to trick and consume the Dark Queen and achieve dominion over all.

She seemed to not understand what I meant in regards to the Dark Queen, so I pointed to the stars overhead and spoke of various names of the gods (focusing upon the gods of light). She recognized E'li, the Silvenesti name of Paladine, and the other elven forms of the gods of light. In ages past, the Ancients had come to their world and shared their wisdom, including their wisdom of these beings, whom she treated as "great spirits of good" than "god."

I suppose that perhaps the Ancients had been less interested in promoting worship of the gods of good, and had presented the early peoples of Sanctuary with more an understanding of their natures and wisdom. "God" perhaps implies that churches and worship are involved, while "spirit" can imply a more casual relationship, or at least a relationship that does not require the manner of devotion we are more familiar with on Krynn.

The Ancients had first appeared to the people of Arreat, who still had the closest connection to the gods of light on this world, and who guarded the "Worldstone" underneath Mount Arreat.

It does seem that Galen Dracos was rather active in Sanctuary in the past. Alkara made mention of the Sin War, in which Galen Dracos, Andariel (Maiden of Anguish), Duriel (Lord of Pain), Belial (Lord of Lies), and Azmodan (Lord of Sin) rose up against the Prime Evils, resulting in the exile of the Prime Evils upon Sanctuary. The various clans of wizards had allied together for a time as the Horadrim in order to stop the three demon princes, resulting in their binding in three locations: underneath Tristram (so it seems, in hindsight), the temple city of Kurast, and the lost tomb of the wizard Tal-Rasha in the region near the city Lut Ghulein. She estimated that all this happened some 1,000 years ago, 500 years after Dracos' defeat on our world...presuming time passes at the same rate.

We inquired of Voxx, and she noted that she had heard of a Voxx who appeared here some 15 or so years ago. He had become a servant and advisor to Bishop Lazarus, but nothing was known of him after the fall of Tristram.

Also, it seems that five individuals had arrived in the camp some five days before us. As we inquired, the descriptions offered sounded rather familiar, and I produced an illusion of Kitiara. It seems, as far as we could tell, that the five Dragon Highlords had come to this world, as well! They had apparently shown little interest in the "waypoints," whatever these were, and had left to the south several days ago. According to Oskur and Daniel, examining the several days-old tracks, they had went to the nearby crossroads, met up with a group of goblin-like creatures, and headed south towards the monestary guarding the pass.

Alkara mentioned that the best person to answer our questions would be the Horadric sage Deckard Cain, who had lived in retirement in Tristram, and who as far as she knew, was trapped there while the demons of the area tried to corrupt him (but he has, she assures us, remained resilient so far). Tristram was but a day away, she tells us, and this seemed a reasonable course of action to me. Adam, however, seemed rather keen to track down the Highlords in order to find out what they were doing, and if possible, to capture or defeat them while they were away from their armies and vulnerable. Eventually, we conceded to his suggestion, for it did seem too good an opportunity to pass up.

As we prepared to depart the rogue encampment, I brought out my magical lyre of building and began a song, reinforcing the rampants and defenses of the camp. This seemed to inspire even more awe among the refugees, and murmurs of "Ancient" spread. However, I felt it a right thing to do, since we had enjoyed their protection and hospitality so far, and it was the best way I could repay them.

After moving away from the camp, Adam, Alexis, Glorius, and Swiftsilver took to flight, while Daniel and Oskur moved on foot tracking, and I rode upon Tarandian (having brought him through the gate, as well), while Samkin rode on a phantom steed I conjured for his benefit. Several days passed, and we had several brief encounters with what seemed to be Chaos-corrupt rogues. Their skin was ashen-gray and they seemed to run and scream wildly across the countryside in packs, attacking whatever they found not of their kind. They were easily defeated by our band, and when they were slain their bodies collapsed as a pale white spirit rose up with a whispered scream until vanishing. It seems they bore talismans of some kind, which served as a focus for whatever Chaos-hell spirit to possess and control the bodies.

We eventually saw the monestary in the distance, and we approached under the cover of glamour entering through the poorly guarded section controlled by goblins. As we ventured through the catacombs, we came across what seemed to be one of the waypoints Warriv had mentioned. As we studied it, unsure of its properties, we noted the approach of three of the goblins. They fell rather easily to Adam's blade and my arrows, but when they died, they seemed to collapse into manikins of straw, twine, and garbage -- they were fetishes of some kind. Confused by this, a larger group arrived, led by one of their human-sized shamans. We were rather surprised when the shaman uttered some spell, restoring one of the fallen fetish-things to life as a "goblin" again.

The noise of our battle, although easly won, attracted the attention of a group of the corrupt rogues. Their tactics were better than those of the fetish and the shamans (who seemed human, if Chaos-tainted), but Samkin succeeded in capturing one. Daniel tied up the fallen rogue, and we began questioning her. She seemed to think Samkin as a member of the male order, and the Knight seemed content to let her think this. She told us she would tell us nothing, and Samkin seemed to be considering how to prove her wrong when I placed my hand on Ilrethil's pommel, channeling a spell of mind-reading.

I was briefly concerned about touching such a Chaos-tainted creature's mind, but I had plowed through the ancient memories of Sorrow's Thorn at Wayreth with little apparent effect. I bored through the thing's thoughts, and I quickly realized that whatever soul the original rogue once had, it had been devoured, cast out, or otherwise removed -- only the demonic Chaos-spirit, focused through the talisman around its neck, remained.

The fallen rogue had known that the five "wanderers" had come to the monestary and that they had an audience with her queen, the demon Andarial, Maiden of Anguish. The image that came to her mind for Andariel was certainly demonic -- a large nude humanoid woman with cloven feet and several pincers and spider-like legs growing out of her back. Andariel was terribly poisonous, and a terrible foe. She was the guiding will of the monsters of the monestary. The five seemed to be her guests, and the "smith" -- a loathsome, huge brute of a demon -- was forging for them five talismans. Most likely they were still here, somewhere, waiting for the talismans to be completed.

At this point, Adam wondered if perhaps the Highlords were trying to stop Galen Dracos themselves. As distasteful as it might sound, it might be advantageous to parley or ally with them for a time towards this end. Alexis tried to augur as to whether such a course of action would be wise, only to have the gods tell her that the Highlords were not on this world. Confused, we decided to withdraw for a time to consult further divinations, and we departed to a safe distance away out of the monestary. Meanwhile, Daniel skulked off, saying that he wanted to learn more of what talismans the smith was crafting for these people, who seemed to come from our world, even if they weren't the Highlords.

Indeed, it was Oskur who put it all together. It wasn't the Highlords -- but who would choose to disguise themselves as the Highlords? Galen Dracos' five draconic childer -- Sable, Cyan, Kryonisa, and the others. A further augury confirmed this, and we were all very glad we had chosen not to "parley" with the five wyrms. Daniel returned with the talismans, as well as the smith's enchanted hammer -- a monstrously large thing covered in runes. We returned to the rogue encampment at this point.

The camp's and the rogues' (who were actually the Sisters of the Sightless Eye, a semi-mystical order that had sought to develop an "inner-eye," which they used in combat and otherwise) smith, a woman named Charsi who had studied to be a rogue, but had chosen not to pursue that path (she was averse to the vow of chastity), was overjoyed that we had returned with the Horadric Malus, a relic of the order that had been lost when they had fled the monestary. Apparently, in gratitude, she plans to imbue an object of our choice with the weave magic of the hammer, in a curious process that ties our own true names with the true name of the object in question. Alexis and Adam are having "scepters" imbued -- a mace-like weapon apparently favored by the paladins of this world -- while Daniel is having arrows imbued. Puck, well, Daniel's Puck, is having a charm imbued, and Oskur has chosen to imbue a crown (he is, after all, the King of Ergoth). Samkin, of course, has opted for a great sword (he seems impatient, ever since he lost his Lupine Bane at sea, to acquire another of similar power, and has often gone on at length about what he wants Thorn to forge). Meanwhile, I have considered the matter and will ask her to imbue the dagger of my father that I found at the waystation along the route to Huma's tomb. It seems fitting.

We are preparing to venture to Tristram so that we can rescue Deckard Cain, and three other bands have also been assembled by Alkara to assist each other. They are a motley group: a dark-skinned paladin, a Khanduras warrior (for, it seems, that Westmarch is actually the nation to the west and we are properly within what is left of Khanduras), one of the Sisters, a blond warrior-woman from an island chain in the south, one of the Arreat barbarians, a very skeevy-looking necromancer, a dusky-skinned elemental sorceress, a swashbuckler, a curious unarmed fellow they call a "monk," a brightly-colored robed sorcerer, a black leather-clad woman with katars, and one of the shamans of the Arreat folk with his assembly of wolves and ravens. As I said, a motley band.


Curious, I glanced over the ancient elven text Adam had gifted to me (in thanks for helping capture Alecast) and thought over what I knew of literature and history, trying to discern what I could of the "Ancients." There are vague and highly ancient accounts of a group of elves who chose not to follow Sithas, who did not agree with the way of life he had envisioned for the elves, and they had left for another place. Of course, they had been branded dark elves after the fact (probably well after the fact, but I cannot be sure), but they might be the Ancients known to the people of Sanctuary.

If I can find the time, I want to try to find these Ancients, if they or their descendents still exist here. No one here knows of anyone in living memory that has ever seen an elf/Ancient, so likely if they still exist, they are isolated and hidden, or have moved on. I have been discussing the lore with the folk of Arreat, who in their tongue are the "Children of Bul-Kathos," an ancient king of theirs (although, the name is somewhat similar to the archaic style of many elves, such as Kithas, Sithas, Silvanos, and so forth). They have realized, they tell me, that I am not one of the Ancients, but that I am of their kind and are respected and venerated as such. They have offered to have one of their number join me as a companion in my travels, and I have told them that I would be honored.

Alkara, at least, has realized we are not from this world, but she seems to take it in stride. I can only assume so many stranger things have happened in the last 20 years that our circumstances are among the easiest of the lot to accept.

I think Charsi is trying to get Daniel into bed. Something about "three imbues for a roll in the hay." I think he's trying to pawn her off on Samkin right now.

I am curious what this Cain can tell us, and hopefully we can find the talisman and Gwynnion (and Puck) soon.

--presumably spring, 362 AC; 7th Day of Montaht, 1265 Anno Kehjistani
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keleren

August 2006

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