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Oskerr and Alexis were rather startled when they arrived in Palanthus again and saw the dragons Gwynnion and I had rescued from Sable and company's clutches. Samkin was still in the process of celebrating his reunion with his wife, while his plane-touched daughter was in the care of the priests of Paladine at the temple in Palanthus under Crysania, the Revered Daughter of Paladine.

The new High Clerist, who had been appointed to fill the position after the death of Lord Kaith, Lord Stormcrest, invited us to the High Clerist Tower to meet with him. It seems that Kaith had, in his will, asked the High Clerist that would follow him to invite us to discuss Solamnic strategy against the Dark Queen's forces, and to offer what suggestions we could. We journeyed, the four of us, to the High Clerist Tower. The Solamnics were considering one of two operations in specific. On the one hand, they could attack the hobgoblin nation of Throt, which was being used as a supply point for several Dragon Armies in the region. If the Solamnics could overcome the swamps, mountains, and hobgoblin fortifications and cripple the supply facilities, several Dragon Army contingents could be weakened for upwards of a year, weakening their offensive potential for a time so that perhaps the Solamnics could reopen a line of communication with Silvenesti, which stood alone on the other side of Ansalon.

The other possible strategy would be to lay siege to the cities of the island of Sancrist in the hopes of eventually liberating the Solamnic possession from those loyal to the Blue Lady and the Blue Dragonarmy. It would be a longer campaign, but it would allow Solamnia to reclaim part of its lands and insure that an enemy force was not located on its rear flank. Both operations would be costly and in doing one, the other front would suffer. Should Solamnia condemn Nordmaar, a long-time traditional Solamnic ally, or should Solamnia try to liberate one of its ancestral holdings, the island that once stood as the bastion of the Knights of the Rose and the location of the Whitestone Glade where Paladine, Habakuk, and Kiri-Jolith appeared to Vinas Solamnus so many centuries ago.

Ultimately, the High Clerist decided to advance upon Throt. My rationale for this strategy was that (1) it would be shorter operation, (2) it would buy Nordmaar time, (3) Solamnia would not have to immediately incur the costs of having to transport a besieging army across the western seas to Sancrist, and (4) the Blue Dragonarmy was interested in maintaining civilization in Sancrist and would rather avoid having to massacre the peoples of Sancrist, while the Red Dragonarmy would have no reason not to decimate the people of Nordmaar.

After this was decided, we made preparations to journey to the Dragon Isles to inform the good dragons of what had occurred in Ansalon (and especially the fate of the dragon eggs stolen by the evil dragons). Alexis, during our preparations, became friends with a young silver dragon named Swiftsilver (at least in the Common tongue), and the two became rider and mount. Once we were ready, we rode upon the contingent of dragons that were going to immediately return to the Isles, while the others chose to remain here in Ansalon to render whatever aid they could in the interim.

The trek to the Dragon Isles took perhaps a week upon the dragons' backs. After razing a Dragonarmy "port" (more a goblin-built and goblin-slave maintained waystation for sailing vessels), we finally came upon the Dragon Isles, passing beyond the veil that hid them from the eyes of others. The wyrms brought us to a grand, draconic-scale amphitheater, where we were greeted by the elders of the island. I began to tell them what I had told the Guardians of the Dragon Isles in Erstwilde, from the time of Huma, through Istar's ascendency and fall, the Cataclysm, Lord Soth's and the Kingpriest's falls, until I came to the matter of the draconians again. After warning them that what would come next would likely anger them, I broke the news of the Dark Queen's broken oath to the good dragons.

Whereas the Guardians had roared in loss and rage, the dragons here merely fell silent and morose. They asked us to pause for a time so that they could deliberate on this issue, and that I could continue my tale the next day, were I willing. Naturally, I was.

After the tale was complete, the good dragons told us that they would send some of their number to Ansalon to aid the forces of light against the Dark Queen and her minions. It was at this time, as we related what we knew of the Dragonarmies' numbers, that we discovered that apparently many more dragons existed -- on both sides -- than we had thought. Perhaps only a tenth of the chromatic dragons of Ansalon were actively engaged in the War, and the good dragons were curious how many of their number we wanted to journey back with us. The evil dragons had deliberately limited their total involvement for an important reason: were all the dragons to enter the war, Ansalon would be devastated for centuries as the destruction of the last twenty years would be magnified tenfold.

In the end, we settled upon something of a balanced (if somewhat advantaged) number, and we journeyed back to Ansalon with several hundred dragons of light.


At some point in our conversations with the dragons on the Dragon Isles, someone inquired of the Guardians as to who had captured them in the first place. They described a phenomenally powerful flaming red dragon, more powerful than the oldest red wyrms, that easily defeated a dozen good dragons at a time. My suspicions were confirmed later when one of the gold dragon elders stated that this dragon had been Galen Dracos in a special form, during the time he had still enjoyed the Dark Queen's blessings. Of course, Dracos would want and enjoy a powerful dragonform -- the two gods who led the gods of good and darkness were both dragons (Paladine and the Dark Queen).

Thankfully, however, even if he still exists today in some form, this draconic Galen Dracos no longer enjoys the boons of the Queen of Darkness, She of Many Colors. However, I suspect that when the time comes, he will have other tricks up his sleeve.


Once in Ansalon again, my companions decided that attacking Sancrist's major ports and shipping would be highly beneficial and immenently practical given the presence of the good dragons. One of the reasons the Knights wanted to retake Sancrist was to stop them from developing enough of a navy to land troops in Solamnia or Ergoth. Towards this end, at least, our goal was to set them back in regards to their naval capacity, to at least buy more time.

The initial assault went well upon the largest port, as the forces present had not been expecting a combined naval and aerial assault. The blue dragons in the area chose not to engage, preferring most likely to report our presence to others so that preparations could be made, and a report made to the Sancrist leadership and the Blue Lady and her lieutenants.

The second assault, upon the nearest of the smaller ports, went much worse. The dragons engaged us, as Alexis rode above with her dragonlance upon the young Swiftsilver, as Oskerr rode upon another (a bronze) wyrm. Gwynnion and I traveled aboard my frigate, Kethnirin-tiral, as I was certainly not experienced in riding dragons yet (not that Alexis and Oskerr were).

Several hundred archers behind fortified walls began peppering the small fleet with arrows, while a fierce battle raged in the skies above between the blue dragons and the good dragons we had brought with us. Gwynnion and I prepared to take the battle inland, and I finally used a dimension door magic to arrive in the midst of over 200 baaz draconian archers. Invisible, with several other spells prepared, I advanced through their ranks while singing a dark song in draconic as to how they were all about to die. I headed towards one of several command areas nearby, but the commanders (human soldiers) broke and ran in various directions. One of them, however, I had heard was heading to call in auraks, so I decided to follow him while still invisible.

Eventually, I came to the castle from which their siege weapons had been hammering the larger vessels in our fleet (which was busy trying to set the docks and ships in dock ablaze). Inside the courtyard, an ancient blue dragon lounged with a disinterested look, but I noted the Sancrist commander -- one of the so-called Knights of the True Order, one of the Knights of the Rose who had refuted the resurgence of religion in Solamnia and who chose power over Solamnic loyalty. Gwynnion appeared to offer me some support, casting half of the draconians and human soldiers high into the air with a spell, before she destroyed the auraks in the air with a rather bright and glittering casting of her death of obsidian butterflies. Meanwhile, I attacked the commander, engaging him and his guards in melee.

Suddenly, having learned of my position, Alexis and Swiftsilver flew through the open gates of the castle, hotly pursued by another ancient blue wyrm. She lanced the lounging dragon with her mounted lance and was attempting to power climb up and out of the castle when her pursuer tackled both Knight and dragon into a dogpile with the other dragon. Both wyrms showed signs of severe injury from her lance, and they were rather annoyed.

The lounging wyrm eventually grabbed the commander and took off, seeking to secure the commander and to deny me my prize. At this point, I feared for the young Swiftsilver's life and flew to her and Alexis's aid, trying to penetrate the other dragon's natural and arcane defenses. Alexis had jumped out of the dragon saddle and was trying to drive her sword, Devoted, into the wyrm's hide. Finally, Gwynnion offered what assistance she could, and ultimately the wyrm fell. Swiftsilver was badly mauled, but alive.

Several of the vessels in the fleet had been destroyed by the siege weapons, dragons, and other forces, but my frigate was only mildly damaged. The battle was won and Oskerr's barbarians began to loot what they could. Eventually, we pulled out before morning, licking our wounds and heading home.


Several weeks have passed. Gwynnion has retired for a time to perform a long ritual (lasting over five score days) to awaken the spirit of her mother in a family heirloom. She has also chosen to use a kind of magic developed by her brother, Ke'Lanthinel, that will cast her spirit into another world so that she might learn more how to "heal" her Chaos-twin, Daniel. Supposedly, this spell casts the mage's spirit into another world, as if in a dream, and the mage lives in that world for (in Gwynnion's case) twenty years, while sleeping in this world for less than a day.

Alexis has retired for a time to perform various religious purifications and rituals, and I have chosen to return to Silvenesti for a time to see Kai'Alhana again and to tend to business at home. Gwynnion's husband, Kalshann, aided me in the creation of a new suit of armor, as my scale mail has perhaps outlived its usefulness. I hope the new armor, a suit of ensorcelled mithril full plate, will serve me well.

Oskerr, meanwhile, has returned to Ergoth for a time. Presumably, he is dealing with affairs of state.

I have also chosen to take a familiar, the hawk Faron (elvish for "hunter"). My plan is to allow him to reside inside an arcane familiar pocket in my new cloak (which has been altered to be something much more fitting than that of the Red Dragonarmy in the time of Galen Dracos). I presented the good dragons dispatched to Silvenesti to Kai'Alhana, which did cause quite a stir, while also improving morale at this very visible good omen.

I have also been active in my experimentations with several "spells" designed to strengthen and purify both aspects of my soul (both Tobril and Chaos). I am glad I was somewhat paranoid of Law, since there are indications that Galen Dracos also sought to bend the Tobril to his will (and was certainly a capable caster of weaves, considering the summoning and binding of the spirit in the Erstwilde Mountain complex).

We have heard reports and rumours that the white dragon of Dracos, Cryonius, has been using one of Dracos's old strongholds in the far south for her own experiments. This site, located in an ancient ruined Irda city near the Icewall Glacier, is very isolated and in a very harsh environment. Perhaps, though, we should try to investigate this site; it is possible that more good dragons are imprisoned there for her experimentation -- or perhaps something worse has been allowed to fester there.

-- spring, 362 AC

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keleren

August 2006

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