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We assembled in Kyrnesti after several weeks apart pursuing our own agendas. Oskerr had apparently stayed in the forests of Kyrnesti for quite some time, mumbling about "familiar feelings," while pursuing the White Stag and the Forestmaster into the unknown heart of the land blessed by Branchala for the elves. From what I understand, he and Gwynnion set out together, upon what one might think of as a "ceremonial" hunt, although once he found the Forestmaster he did nothing other than, as they say in Palanthus's seedier districts, "hang out."

I had outfitted my vessel for the voyage, after making arrangements for our supplies for the long glacial trek. Gwynnion noted to me that she planned to make use of a powerful arcane ritual known commonly as Mordenkainen's magnificient mansion (named after a wizard from another realm, from what I know). The magnificient mansion creates an undetectable extradimensional "mansion," complete with warmth, food, and much more room than the simpler spells used for similar purposes (named after Leomund, yet another offworld mage). This would, at least, mean that some of my supply problems would be alleviated (I would need much less than the 850 pounds of "alchemical fire logs" Gwynnion had prepared, freeing up space for my companions and I).

As it was, Tomas brough along his gryphon, while Alexis arrived with her young silver dragon companion Swiftsilver (who had changed her shape, appearing as a very beautiful elven woman in rather skimpy clothing for the climate -- but then, as a silver dragon, the cold does not bother her) and her asperi (a magical horse of the winds, that can fly as fast and agile as the winds, while also resilient against the coldest environments). I bid Tarandian, my mount, farewell, after taking my leave of Kai'Alhana and the court.


I should backtrack somewhat and make mention of something I did during the weeks apart from my other companions. With some urgings from others (and from a nameless source within), I sought out magical scrolls of a spell commonly known as legend lore, while also taking advantage of Gwynnion's generosity and connection to Solinari (for she is, after all, the Voice of Solinari in Ansalon, and she is accordingly the "high priestess" of the god of White Magic, and a Master upon the Conclave's council). I also pursued some further research on my own, preparing a ritual that would allow me to scry into the Chaos realms.

You see, I had been curious as to something of the nature of Kasa'Anath, the aspect of Chaos tied to Galen Dracos. As I prepared the murky cauldron, the image that resolved before my eyes was none other than the spires of Istar...or at least a reflection or echo of them. It was at this point I acquired the scrolls of legend lore (normally a spell still outside of my ability to use easily). The results of my divinations were truly...disturbing. "What was the relationship between Galen Dracos and the last Kingpriest of Istar?" "As father to son." Not literally, of course. Somehow, Galen Dracos had, from Kasa'Anath, infiltrated the Kingpriest's life and influenced him along his path. Why? Why, so that the Kingpriest might draw one of the gods of light fully into this world, for you see...that had been what Galen Dracos had been planning on during the last Dragonwar. He sought to acquire enough power and further his schemes until ready to lure the Dark Queen on to Krynn fully, at which point he would presumably act in such a way to secure his own godhead. The fact that the Dark Queen realized his betrayal before hand, and that she had cursed and removed her blessings, insuring his fall against the forces arrayed against him (and the desertion of his own troops that were loyal to the Dark Queen more than he) had forced him to recoup and plan again.

Istar, as I am sure you are well aware, began its rise to power in the years after the last Dragonwar, for Istar had been relatively unscathed by Dracos's forces. Dracos, it seemed, from beyond the veils of existence, called out to the Kingpriest and twisted his ambitions and heart so that he pursued a mad dream of Law and Order. The gods of light, however, must have realized something was wrong, knowing that were they to step foot fully on to Krynn, Dracos would strike and cause more damage and death than what the Cataclysm did -- their (presumably) only alternative and the only means to stop the Kingpriest and delay Galen Dracos.

At this point, troubled by this revelation (confirmed to some degree by Gwynnion's communions with Solinari), I set in motion a plan to discern the "big picture" (as they say in Solanthus these days). If Galen Dracos had extended his hand from Kasa'Anath and cast Istar into madness, what was his Chaotic will trying to do now? I collected all of the records of troop movements, histories and geneaologies, catalogues and literature, maps and trends, and finally came to Palanthus again to visit Astinus's library. I made arrangements with the ascetic librarians to pore over the history of Ansalon since the Cataclysm. As I absorbed all of this information, allowing it to play in the back of my mind, I also began several arcane rituals. Several of my spells, which I have taken to referring to by the simple title Keleren's tales, which were an outgrowth of my experiments in strengthening my own aspects of Chaos and Tobril, were enacted, while taking advantage of Gwynnion's generosity in the use of several spells she had developed earlier in her career: life web and the path of white roses and unity of dreams (via her husband, the Red Robed Guardian Kalshann). Finally, when everything else was ready, I cast my mind and spirit along the patterns of information, spirit, and action via Gwynnion's spell of life web, seeking to get some idea of what forces were directing the influences in the world presently, especially in regards to Galen Dracos.

At first, in this trance vision, I saw the millions of sparks that were the souls of everyone alive in Ansalon today. I then discerned four primary factions of Order and Law: the Knights of Solamnia, whose fire was slowly waning; the Dragonarmies, who were intent upon breaking the will of Solamnia, and their heart; the Holy Order of Stars, the clerics of Ansalon since the return of the gods of light, as well as those of the dark gods who had continued to operate in secrecy after the Cataclysm; and finally, I noted strange..."symbol"...a figure with five heads, only stirring -- the bakali.

I cast my vision to the far left (in this Vision, at least) and I noted three primary forces of Chaos. The first, bearing the mark of a clawed fist holding a lightning bolt, caught my eye. Its influence was hidden and subtle, but slowly gathering strength and power. I would later learn that this was the mark of the Cult of Storms, a group of renegade mages and draconian magicians who had allied themselves with Chaos, and these were the individuals who had attacked Gwynnion's monestary and tower several times, who had endangered her and Kalshann's children, and who had attacked the Tower of High Sorcery in Daltigoth under the guise of the Dragonarmies. They sought to supplant and depose of the Conclave, to further their own sorcerous ends, and they had even conspired with the elven lich Zeloth, as well (although he did not seem to be a part of their organization).

Next, my vision saw Galen Dracos's faction within Chaos -- a five-headed figure surrounded by seven stars (although only four were bright or "full"). Dracos was waiting, seeking to recruit three new lieutenants, presumably since the demise of the fellow we cast into the void in Northern Ergoth over 15 years ago, and the apparent betrayal of Zeloth (who seemed to be pursuing his own ends now). Dracos seemed to be waiting for the Holy Order of the Stars to do something...and then I realized...where the Kingpriest had been stopped by the gods of light via the Cataclysm, Dracos hoped to succeed via the Dragonarmies and the priests of the Dark Queen, especially the Red Dragon Highlord Ariakus, the Nightlord of the Dark Queen. It had been known that Dracos's minions had been aiding either side as the war had progressed, working to insure that neither side gained too great an initial advantage. However, as the war continued, both sides would grow increasingly desperate. It seems that Dracos is slowly working towards forcing Ariakus to call upon the Dark Queen directly, so that she might enter the world, at which point Dracos's plan would be set.

Finally, I noted another force within Chaos, this one watching Dracos and waiting for him to act upon his plan. I cannot say for certain what it planned exactly, but it wanted Dracos to succeed long enough that it might take advantage of the chaos that would insue to achieve its own ends. Afterwards, in talking with Gwynnion, she noted to me that her Chaos-twin, Daniel, leads that faction of Chaos upon this world. While Galen Dracos's ambition leads him towards a godhead, this other faction may be interested in nothing more than overturning the Tobril and all of Krynn's existence...but it must wait and plan, for Dracos had absorbed so much of Chaos already, and the other faction must (presumably) support Dracos long enough for him to "succeed."

The vision concluded, my mind returned to its normal awareness, although the trance had sapped much of my strength, and I spent the next several days recovering. Once this had been accomplished, I set about to discern what I could about the fate of Dracos's other elven lieutenant, the renegade witch Sylvyana.

Sylvyana, Zeloth, and a third elven sorcerer had all served Galen Dracos during the last Dragonwar, and they had led an all elven force known as Hate's Heart. Zeloth had killed the other sorcerer out of jealousy over Sylvyanna, believing his fellow and Sylvyana had been having an affair (in truth, her affair had actually been with the human druid Waylorn Wyrvernsbane). Towards the end of the war, Sylvyana had escaped the wrath of the elves by casting herself -- with the unfinished Orb of Elvenkind -- into the River of Time, which would eventually return her to the world in a distant time. Wyvernsbane put himself in a magical slumber under a tower in Silvenesti, awaiting the day Sylvyana would return, so that he could rise up to stop her once again.

Given the reappearance of so many of Dracos's other minions, I suspect it will only be a matter of time (of course) until Sylvyana reappears in this world again. Supposedly Wyvernsbane would awaken when she appeared again, but his tower was untouched when I visited it not that long ago in Silvenesti.

However, all of these cosmic threats have distressed me. It seems, in the course of things, too much to do anything about. Dracos fights the gods, after a fashion, much as a weaker god (but still a god) would. I could try to explain what has happened to Ariakus, but the Red Dragon Highlord is infamous for his lack of control and his utter fanaticism to the Dark Queen. On the one hand, while the Dark Queen would probably be interested in destroying all that is left of Galen Dracos utterly, as a continuance of her wrath at his betrayal in the last Dragonwar, Ariakus is unlikely to view anything as a direct threat to his goddess. Still, I wonder if I should at least try -- if the Dark Queen is so invested and present about her high priest, then perhaps she will guide his path rather than any impetuousness on his part. One can perhaps hope.


The Southern Courrain Sea was icy and cold as we approach the glacial lands of the far south of Ansalon. On our third day out of Kyrnesti, a storm appeared, accompanied by three of the servants of Zeboim, the dark goddess of storms and the sea. These amphi dragons, with their turtle-like shells and breath of steam, knocked Alexis and Oskerr into the choppy waters. Alexis, in her Solamnic armor, would have sunk to the bottom of the sea had it not been for dome of force I cast over her just after she had fallen in, buoying her up on the surface. Samkin leapt in after Oskerr, and finally Tomas went in after both of them. Thankfully, all of them returned to the ship in time, with the aid of Tomas and Gwynnion. The dragons, meanwhile, had been slain by Samkin, Swiftsilver (who had assumed dragon form and dived into the waters to deal with the third and at the time unseen dragon), and myself with the aid of the ship's crew as we rammed the last dragon.

We finally came to the coast, wrenching our sleds and supplies to the cliffs' top from a good 200-feet below them. We had two sleds, pulled by a team of six hounds of somewhat monstrous size, while Tomas rode upon his gryphon and Alexis rode upon the winds on her asperi. Samkin and I rode on one sled while Gwynnion and Oskerr piloted the other.

One of those early mornings, as we were emerging from Gwynnion's magnificient mansion, several very large winter wolves attacked Oskerr, pulling him down to the ground, as Tomas tumbled past the lot of them to offer what aid he could. Samkin moved out to assault the lead wolf, only to be tripped and pulled down, as well. I readied my dragonlance, intending to take advantage of its long reach, using it as a longspear, while Alexis also hit the ground after trying to help the others.

Samkin was badly mauled and was almost drug away by the wolves out of our reach. Oskerr tried to use his ranger talents on the wolves, who seemed to be under some arcane compulsion -- for apparently they had lain invisible waiting outside the magnificient mansion all night...and they were also moving with magical quickness. Finally, the wolves retreated, although we felled three of their number -- including Gwynnion, who removed her scarf, whipped it out at one of the closest wolves from the door, removing its head with one fluid motion. Amazed at this display of either magical or martial prowess (one suspects magical), I continued my own assault, working to get to Samkin to save him, while also using the ring of honor, given to me by Kai'Alhana after helping free Silvenesti from Bloodbane, to alleviate some of the wounds he suffered.

Upon examination, Gwynnion determined that the winter wolves had been placed here magically by the Black Robed Wizard Dulok, who had been leading the Red Dragonarmy forces we had spied on our trek to Huma's Tomb, and which we had avoided in favor of dealing with the White Dragonarmy forces. Dulok is a capabable and dangerous wizard, and Gwynnion has alluded to the fact that he's considered the "Lanthinel of the Black Robes," at least in regards to his practices of spell-gunning and ability to duel other wizards magically. For whatever reason, Dulok had chosen to act against us here, and he had noted the presence and location of Gwynnion's magnificient mansion, which is normally invisible. I suspect that Dulok either hopes to deal with us as a threat against the Dragonarmies, or he is also seeking the stronghold of Galen Dracos located in the ancient Irda ruins of Kakartha.

After our first week or so, a massive blizzard -- a conjunction of several storm fronts -- struck, forcing us to remain in the magnificient mansion for several days. At one point, in a pique of somewhat sadistic humor, I dared Samkin to go outside for only a minute. Bored himself, Samkin agreed, and the door to the magnificient mansion was opened and he stepped outside, while we watched, shielded from the worst of the storm. After a moment, the winds in the vicinity simply stopped, and I became immediately suspicious, drawing my blade and readying my dragonshield. Suddenly, a beautiful and fey woman clad all in white with dark hair appeared, speaking mutely with Samkin, who could only gaze in rapt enchantment upon her features.

Oskerr tried to jar Samkin out of his enchantment with a snowball, and the fey woman tried to entreat Samkin to follow her away from us. The Knight of the Crown refused, having no idea what exactly this supernatural woman was (for her touch had been icy cold and painful to him). She seemed to furrow her brow and vanished, as the storm resumed its full strength. We pulled Samkin in, who was glad to warm up again, while Tomas, Alexis, and I pondered what the apparation had been.

After several minutes of discussion, it hit me. There had been legends of a beautiful spirit of the southern icy wilderness that often times aided travelers caught in blizzards, taking to them refuges from the cold. These "snow maidens" (loss-hiril in the elvish) were faerie creatures, creatures of Chaos much as the Huldre are (as opposed to those of Kasa'Anath, Dracos, or Daniel). Supposedly three of these snow maidens knew the way to the Palace of Ice, within which was, according to legend, a garden of delight and peace -- one of the Huldre courts upon Krynn!

Tomas, at once, seemed to quicken at the idea of finding such a wonderland, and I too had some interest in finding this place -- as it was, the snow maiden might be able to guide us to Kakartha without further trouble from the weather. Naturally, I was somewhat abashed at my paranoid behavior from earlier. Stepping out in to the storm, I invoked the voice of power and called out to the maiden in the language of the fey, apologizing and begging her pardon, while at the same time offering some means of introduction.

When she finally returned, somewhat cautiously, it became obvious that for some reason she was mute. Invoking what little magicks I possess in order to strengthen Gwynnion's, the curse was lifted. It seems that the maiden was the dominant spiritual presence for a tribe of frost giants known as the Tribe of White -- a tribe that had been befriended by Silvenesti's courts some two centuries before the Cataclysm. Indeed, two weeks previously, we had found several dead frost giants buried beneath the ice, which had been melted initially via some powerful arcane fire. We had discerned they had been of the Tribe of the White by the presence of a huge platinum crown of Silvenesti make, as well as a powerful magical cloak crafted by elven artisans, as well. I had used the magical lyre I had found along the path to Huma's Tomb to construct an impromptu crypt of ice for them, and the snow maiden referred to these giants as her "children." We explained what we had found, which noticably distressed her.

It seems that she had been cursed with silence by a powerful frost giantess sorcerer, who had been leading a faction of ensorcelled giants and humans to conquer the Tribe of the White. One of the refuges for those opposed to this renegade faction was under assault, and she implored us for our help to help save her children. Tomas almost immediately assented, offering his help -- and if Tomas decides to be charitible, one would seem wise to follow, as well.

We made our way to the vicinity of the refuge, spying on it from a distance. It was under siege by eight frost giants, led by three magical giantesses, as well as 80 human slaves in heavy winter clothing. Gwynnion noted that the three giantesses were actually possessed, or had been, as is known, "transpossessed," by infernal entities known as night hags -- hideous demonic "women" from the Abyss. The three were acting as a covey, combining their nigromantic powers towards greater ends.

Currently, we make ready to assault this besieging force, so that the defenders can be freed to help save a village (occupied primarily by women and children) elsewhere.

-- spring 362 AC


Instead of Ariakus, I have another idea. I shall travel towards Nightlund, the realm of the death knight Lord Soth, and I shall wait on its borders and see if I can gain his attention long enough for an audience. Civil war between the Red and Blue Dragonarmies would still be beneficial in delaying both the Dragonarmies' and Galen Dracos' plans, and the relationship between Lord Soth and the Blue Dragon Highlord, Kitiara, is well known (the death knight has specifically referred to her as the spirit of his dead wife reborn).

You see, I considered telling what I knew of Dracos's plans for Ariakus to Kitiara, but that presented difficulties -- the least of which being her presence within the flying citadel that had once been Dracos' primary stronghold). She may be somehow influenced by Dracos, or perhaps through the off-world renegade wizard "serving" her ... but such influences would doubtlessly hold much less sway over Lord Soth, who would remember Istar well (if by no means fondly), and who would also be interested in protecting Kitiara from outside influence, manipulation, and harm. If I can gain Soth's ear, and I can convince him I am not simply addled or seeking to offer him misinformation, Kitiara would doubtlessly listen to him, and may at that point work to keep Ariakus from making the biggest mistake since the Kingpriest at the time of the Cataclysm.

Besides, were the gods forced to resort to yet another Cataclysm to delay Galen Dracos again, the people of Krynn would doubtlessly never return to them again, and Dracos and the other faction of Chaos Daniel has allied himself with would likely be able to move much more freely and openly -- perhaps achieving some version of their aims without luring the Dark Queen to the world in the first place.

-- winter, 362 AC

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keleren

August 2006

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