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I was in Kai'Alhana's court when news of Lord Kaith's death at the age of 107 arrived via messenger from Solamnia. The aged High Clerist, granduncle to Samkin and Alexis, had died of natural causes, and his funeral was planned for the winter at the High Clerist Tower. I was invited to attend the funeral, as was Kai'Alhana and other members of her court.

We sailed aboard the recently refitted Kethnirin-tiral from Silvenesti towards Palanthus, a long and dangerous journey, skirting the minotaurs and Black Dragonarmy forces on the seas. Thankfully, my ship was designed for speed and maneuverability, and she was also fairly stout, as well. Certain sorceries I had prepared helped us evade the naval forces in the region, and we arrived in Palanthus without much trouble.

The Knights of Solamnia had set us up in a manor of our own. As I took stock of the other dignitaries, I noted the presence of Kai'Laurana of Qualinesti, younger sister to the current Speaker of the Sun, Ke'Porthios. I will admit that I have been doing my best to sabotage the impending engagement of Kai'Alhana and Ke'Porthios, if only because...well, to be honest, I rather quite fancy Kai'Alhana. I think she has come to see something of Silvenesti's problems as I have, judging her actions and convinction in dealing with exile from her homeland, the fate of her father and brother, establishing Kyrnesti as a haven for all elves, encouraging fair and enlightened treatment of our Kagonesti cousins, and in facing the Nightmare itself.

Also present for the funeral were Samkin and Alexis, as well as Oskerr, Tomas "the Charitible" of Palanthus, Gwynnion, the Master of the Tower of High Sorcery in Palanthus (the Black Robed Wizard Raistlin Majere), Thorn, the newly installed High Clerist, a host of Knights of Solamnia, and other dignitaries, including the High Priestess of Paladine, Crysania of Palanthus.

My former companions and I journeyed into Palanthus (to one of Tomas's taverns) for drinks and conversation, claiming a private room for ourselves easily (since the owner was in our party). As we supped and enjoyed the fare, we spoke of our seperate adventures these last 15 years and of what we had learned in the world. Alexis attempted to explain to Tomas and Samkin a convoluted tale of how she had, with Gwynnion's aid, discovered her own burial site on family lands, since she had died at the age of eight.

Let me tell you, one should never rely on Alexis to explain things. I did my best to elucidate the background to Samkin and Tomas, since it involved the Dark Heart (the dark spirit the Sincal had created in place of a "god," once the gods had turned away from the Sincal and Bakali) and various merin related issues. There was also much talk of strategy for dealing with Sancrist, which was allied with the Blue Dragonarmy, and whose queen, Alexiel, was one-half of three-halves of Alexis's soul and was actually the Dark Heart incarnated by accident thanks to Alexis's merin soul doing something convoluted.

I will try not to explain this here, in my journal, just now...I will leave that as a tale for another day.

Meanwhile, we learned from Samkin that his wife and unborn child had been abducted by a powerful elven lich and an ancient black dragon. The dragon had also apparently destroyed Samkin's estate (which Alexis had paid to rebuild, since Samkin had been content to sleep in inns otherwise). The elven lich, we discerned, was the same that had attacked the Tower of High Sorcery in Goodlund (under its Master, Ke'Lanthinel, Gwynnion's brother, who had aided the band of other Silvenesti that had drove away Cyan Bloodbane three years ago), and he was also a former lieutenant of Galen Dracos.

I should note that Samkin married the daughter of the Qualinesti village elder Koan, that had once been minor nobility until some shame during the Fourth Dragonwar that was stricken from the records. The same war in which Galen Dracos and company had sought to conquer the world. A divination of Alexis's confirmed the suspicion that Samkin's wife was a direct descendent of the lich -- especially after the rest of her family had sacrificed itself to avoid capture at the same lich's hands.

We had little information at first to work with, but Gwynnion contacted her brother magically and he quickly arrived. Ke'Lanthinel was only too eager to rant about this lich, named Zeloth. Apparently, Zeloth had once been one of Dracos's merin apprentices, but in becoming a lich, Zeloth had expended most of the spark that had made him merin. Lanthinel suspected that Zeloth wanted to use his descendents in some scheme to achieve life again, in the hopes of regaining his merin spark, while also becoming more powerful.

Because he had fought him in the Tower of Goodlund (the lich had apparently tried to conquer and claim the Tower as his own), Lanthinel had personally seen the lich and used powerful magicks to discern his general location -- a desolate plane of ash that could only be reached via powerful sorcery. Lanthinel enthusiastically volunteered to take us to this other world, and to help fight the lich to recover Samkin's family. He also confirmed that Samkin's wife was also in the same location as the lich.

It would be several weeks before we could journey, however, for Ke'Lanthinel wanted to research several spells that would help insure our survival considering the ash plane's inimical environment. In the meantime, we prepared as well as we could, although Samkin supposedly spent the time fasting and conditioning himself in isolation in the mountains with an old Solamnic trainer.

The lich's assault on the Tower of Goodlund had, it seems, been by surprise with undead minions. The assault had only been repulsed through successful desperate measures that apparently included using a powerful holy artifact, one of the so-called talismans of pure good, as well as by Lanthinel shifting the Tower briefly into the otherworldly plane known as the Plane of Life, inimical to undead.

Eventually, we assembled in Palanthus and were greeted by Lanthinel, who teleported us en masse to Wayreth Forest. The plane of ash, it seems, reflected much of Ansalon's geography, and the lich's stronghold was in that world's Wayreth Forest, near where the Tower of Wayreth resides. The lich, it seems, appreciated irony.

After taking several precautionary steps, Lanthinel had us hold hands as he began to chime a tuning fork. I am only vaguely familiar with the spell in question, but if I remember correctly, the tuning fork shares a harmonic resonance with the plane of ash, and almost instantly we were transported to that desolate realm.

Bitter cold stabbed at us as a sky full of billowing ash swam around us. Instead of the sun, a black orb hung in the sky, which we were told was actually the Plane of Death, as seen from this world that was very near that dark plane. After taking stock of our immediate surroundings, Lanthinel cast another teleportation spell to put us within a fair march of the lich's stronghold. We then began our trek through the desolate wasteland that might have been Wayreth Forest on our own world.

After about an hour, we came across a ruined Qualinesti village populated only by long-dead skeletons. Tomas noted that several of the artifacts in the village were ancient and had come to this world from Krynn presumably. As we investigated the village, Lanthinel noted an ethereal presence watching us. I was about to prepare a spell upon my blade that would allow it to easily harm ghostly attackers when our watcher appeared.

At first glance, she was an attractive elven maiden with red hair, somewhat reminiscent of Samkin's elven bride. Oskerr held forth a gemstone blessed by Sirrion, illuminating the area around us. As the elf woman approached, the light caused her pain and revealed her true form -- the horribly decayed husk of an elven woman. Samkin, Tomas, and Lanthinel got sick at the sight even as the undead elf charged Oskerr, her spectral touch leaving black oozing sores upon her body, even as Lanthinel unleashed arcane bolts of energy into the thing. Samkin attacked the thing, as did I, and she was quickly overcome.

However, Samkin, Lanthinel, and Tomas were still quite ill from the experience, and Oskerr's wounds required time to heal. Lanthinel conjured a cottage out of thin air that would offer us sanctuary from the ash and cold, while he made preparations to rest. Tomas, meanwhile, headed forward to scout.

Lanthinel explained that he was going to create a zone in which time was accelerated for his rest, and he told the rest of us to not cross the boundary of the tempus fugit. He was quickly asleep, while the rest of us tried to get some rest and ate our rations. I do not know what horrors haunt Gwynnion's brother, but it was obvious that he was suffering from violent nightmares -- made all the more disturbing to us because he was responding to them physically six times faster than normal! His temporal spell accelerated the cessation of the telepathic bond he had forged among the party, so we lost contact for a time with Tomas. However, in under three hours, the wizard was awake and had prepared himself for the day. When we inquired about the nightmares and the need for the time spell, he merely said "My Test. Damn Par-Salain," in a soft voice.

Tomas returned with news, though. He had found his way to the lich's tower and had been able to bypass the wards outside, penetrating as far as an area where he believed Samkin's wife was kept. We set out again from the cottage and made our way to the wards Tomas had mentioned. Using the same trick he had discovered (one had to sing a strange Palanthian song in one's head in order to get the timing and rhythm down to not be affected by the ward's misdirection properties), we infiltrated Zeloth's keep.

Tomas and Oskerr scouted up ahead while Alexis guarded our rear. As we advanced, we noticed the inhabitants of the keep. Strange, emaciated humans, elves, and other creatures, many of whom had had their mouths stitched shut. Disturbed, although surprised by how easily we avoided and incapacitated them, we garbed ourselves in their heavy grey robes. We were heading up a spiral stair towards where Lanthinel's divinations and Tomas's snooping had indicated Samkin's wife was. However, one of the grey robed figures noted us heading up to a place where apparently those dressed as us weren't supposed to go. The figures in the library (for this was where the stairs were) started to leave, as if worried about what fate would befall any who were found in our impetuous company, but we easily subdued them so that they wouldn't be tempted to inform others of our present activities.

As we made our way up to the top of the stairs, we came to a room that resembled a small girl's doll house more than a bed chamber. Samkin's wife sat entranced upon a bed, dressed as a doll might be, while a dark robed figure sat in the far corner and a half-dragon woman rose to bar our way. Samkin rushed to his wife's side, but he was struck from behind as two golems animated at the intrusion, denting his metal armor savagely. The half-dragon, a priestess of Chemosh, the dark god of the undead, unleashed a torrent of flame at us, wounding me only slightly, while Alexis, Tomas, and Samkin felt the full force of the fire storm. Alexis presented her medallion of faith, however, and the half-dragon fled in terror through the wall, passing through it as if she were a ghost.

Suddenly, the golems stopped attacking, and the woman in the corner spoke up. We were in the presence, it seems, of Sable, one of the dragons created by Galen Dracos, and presumably "kin" of Cyan Bloodbane. Sable, it seems, had no interest in barring our way; she had no respect for Zeloth, who was only an elven lich and an "apprentice" of her "father," Galen Dracos. Samkin, however, seemed intent on irritating and engaging the wyrm, although eventually he seemed to acquire enough reason for negotiating with the wyrm. While this was going on, I, Lanthinel, and the rest of us prepared for further hostilities, casting spells and keeping an eye out for other trouble.

Samkin even managed to convince Sable to undo the magical trance his wife was under, and she would remain asleep until Samkin spoke the phrase to awake her again. Samkin seemed his wife's doll-like dress, and Lanthinel shrunk her to doll-size to facilitate her transport.

Ah! Oh yes, I forgot. Samkin's wife was pregnant with their child. However, she was no longer pregnant. The child had been born and was currently with the lich elsewhere in the keep. Sable seemed to not desire the lich success, for were he to achieve life and full possession of his merin soul again, he would become more dangerous and likely even more ambitious. I asked the black dragon a question, whether or not she and the other dragons Dracos had created, such as Bloodbane, were ever in contact. "Oh, always. Well, very often. Wouldn't you?"

During this time, a horde of spectral undead had appeared and were gathering in the walls of the room and behind us, held at bay by Oskerr's gem. As we pondered how to get past such a host of wraiths and shadows, Lanthinel opted for a simple solution. He opened a brief hole in the ceiling, through which we climbed (well, Lanthinel flew), and then he disintegrated another section of wall. We came to what we presumed was Zeloth's personal library, dominated by three particular tomes that were open on pedestals. Lanthinel secured the three special tomes for the Conclave, while Oskerr set the remainder afire before anyone else could object.

Finally, we came to a door marked with a very powerful and very obvious warding magic. Next to it stood a teleportation arch that led to places unknown. The lich was beyond the door, but the only way past the ward was to destroy the door, which would unleash a potent necromantic spell upon whomever landed the final blow. Samkin volunteered, and he had been enlarged by Lanthinel, standing some 9 feet tall now. Samkin battered at the door ineffectually, the lich's wards resistant to his blows, but finally it gave and a dark spirit seemed to enter Samkin, leaving him pale and weakened.

Beyond the door, we discovered the lich, Zeloth, Samkin's infant child, and nine of the lich's most prominent apprentices. The columns of this strange,dark chamber erupted with bone golems, seeking to protect the lich and his charge. The lich sat upon a throne at an altar, upon which the child lay.

Tomas, couragously, leapt into the room and tumbled past the vassalliches and golems, only to be barred at the altar by a field of force. Thankfully, Lanthinel destroyed the barrier and Tomas grabbed the child. While the rest of us tried to penetrate the chamber and assist him, we could only watch as the child roamed through the air via arcane telekinesis, only to be caught by Tomas again and again, and almost dropped at one point after the lich blinded him and Lanthinel with a word.

The lich and his minions were struck by some radiant, holy chord of sound from Lanthinel, but the Master of Goodlund and Alexis were blocked off from us by a wall of ice. The ice disintegrated moments later, only to be replaced shortly after that with a wall of iron. Finally, as the rest of us fought our way through golems and vassalliches (Ilrethil cutting through their ranks easily), the child rested in the lich's arms -- only to vanish entirely to Zeloth's extreme irritance.

After bashing against one vassallich for several seconds with the silver dragonshield, for one of the liches had temporarily dispelled the magic of Ilrethil, we finally managed to assault the lich. At one point, Zeloth unleashed a powerful spell of darkness against us, stunning Tomas. Tomas recovered, however, and between his arrows and the rest of us, the lich's body crumbled under the assault.

(It seems that for however briefly, Tomas's lifeforce -- indeed, his very soul -- had been snuffed out by the lich's spell. Thankfully, Lanthinel had used another spell to undo the worst of the spell's effect, in a sense retroactively saving Tomas. Archmages. Geez.)

Tomas and Samkin rummaged around, searching for the lich's phylactery, but with (predictably) no luck. Alexis extended her own senses and noted that the lich had reformed elsewhere in the keep...and had quickly teleported away. Samkin was busy thrashing on the lich's remains when Lanthinel approached him and handed him his baby daughter, since Samkin had gotten a bit carried away at the lich's escape and forgotten her briefly. It seems the Master of Goodlund had spirited her away with the same spell he had used to save Tomas.

Once we were sure we were done here, and Alexis had destroyed the non-specific altar (although, she seemed to be rather peeved with Samkin, and muttered how some holy talisman he had worn had shattered for some choice he had made), we departed the keep and returned to Krynn, near the Tower of Goodlund. After arriving at the Tower and recuperating briefly, Lanthinel teleported away with Samkin, eventually leaving him in Palanthus at the Temple of Paladine, since he required holy assistance because of the ward spirit Samkin had released and suffered in shattering the door.

He returned and teleported Alexis back home to her lands, and took Tomas and myself to Palanthus, as well (since my ship is still in port there). I think Oskerr tried to get him to transport some supplies briefly to Tarsis, but I'm not sure.

The lich still survives, and Samkin's wife and daughter remain in danger. It seems obvious that the lich no longer enjoys the support and aid of Sable (and her own minions), and he will more than likely began scheming anew. Also, because Samkin's daughter was born in that plane of ash, she is a native of that realm...and not Ansalon. The plane of ash is Chemosh's realm, and what fate Samkin's daughter has is still unknown.

From here, I'm not sure what my companions plan next. There is Sancrist and other matters of the war campaign, but there is also the potential of seeking out the Dragon Isles so that perhaps we can convince the good dragons to return to Ansalon and fight against the Dark Queen's forces. In the meantime, I think I will prepare a missive to Kai'Alhana to tell her of this adventure beyond the world. Although, I think I hear Alexis giving Samkin a lecture on talking to dark gods. Or something.

-- Midwinter, 361 AC, Palanthus


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August 2006

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