Evermore: The Gathering

BY : Rosa_Tenebrum
Category: A through F > Dragonlance
Dragon prints: 6279
Disclaimer: I do not own the Dragonlance series, nor any of the characters from it. I do not make any money from the writing of this story.

 

A/N

1) WARNING: This fanfic portrays an abusive, unhealthy relationship between the two protagonists. It is just my interpretation of Raistlin and Crysania, but I have attempted to explore the two characters in ways that would, in my opinion, comply with their canonical representations in the original series.

2) Apart from Succubus In Rapture, this fic is completely separate from my other fics; what happens in, for example, "A Winter Night's Tale", will not have happened in "Evermore". And there is no twincest in this story.

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Two years have passed since the tragic events in the Abyss. Although blind and emotionally traumatised by her experience, Revered Daughter Crysania has bravely moved on with her life and is now preparing to finally take up her post as the leader of Paladine's church. But what she does not know is that the gods have allowed Raistlin to return to Krynn, and after losing his magic as penalty for his attempted godhood, the mage has but one goal: to take back the woman he considers his own. Ruthlessly taking advantage of the conspiracy brewing in the church against Crysania's inauguration, Raistlin takes Crysania out of the city to keep her from harm. Descending ever deeper into obsession, the pair's flight through Krynn evolves into a dangerous psychological game where the boundaries of love and hate, of pleasure and pain become more and more difficult to discern.
 

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EVERMORE: THE GATHERING

 

Inside a softly floating silver globe, a mother and son were standing, their eyes fixed expectantly upon the shimmering, curving doorway known as the gate of the souls. The woman was very tall and flawlessly beautiful; she was clad in sky blue robes, the hood of which she had drawn over her long silver-blonde hair. In one hand she held a long crystal staff with a glowing blue jewel on top, while with the other one she was pensively toying with the symbol of infinity which hung around her neck. The son, of whom she had been delivered aeons ago, was not as gorgeous and colourful in his simple attire of a footsoldier, but nevertheless he was a graceful figure. His finely featured face was as young as his mother's, but his eyes sparkled with deep wisdom and experience beyond his years.

"What if he won't come?" The son's voice was steady, but there was a current of worry underneath his words.

A brief smile touched the mother's lips - a smile, which the son thought was uncharacteristically cold for her. Without removing her eyes from the towering gate, she replied in a low voice, "He would be a fool to do that."

The son was not convinced. "We've seen him play the fool before."

"He'll come, or we'll make him come. It's his choice."

Her tone was so stern and final that the son fell quiet. The globe's harmonic song was like cooling water running through one's fingers; it created a cocoon of peace around them, a kingdom of light, which would soon be broken by the dark figure for whom they were waiting. The thought of seeing the man again, speaking and moving after two mortal years of inactive slumber, displeased and worried the son, to such an extent that he found himself unable to keep his peace in the face of what he considered a hasty decision. Thus he turned back to his mother. "But what about our own foolishness?" he asked cautiously. "Do we really think it wise, letting him go?"

The woman regarded him steadily with her bright blue eyes. With a sigh, she placed her hands on his sturdy shoulders, giving them a reassuring squeeze. "Kiri-Jolith my dearest, we've been through this already, have we not? He shall not go without a punishment. A grave punishment," she added, emphasising her words.

"But he will have his life back. What mortal would not see that as a reward?"

"He will have his life back, yes, but it will be a life without the one that drove him to his great transgression. A beast is no longer a beast without its claws and teeth, Kiri-Jolith. Without the magic, the wizard will have no means to attain power and glory unfit for a mortal. It will temper him. It will tame him." She looked at her son with a confident smile playing upon her lips. "Rest assured, my dear, he will never bother us again."

Kiri-Jolith frowned. "Perhaps you are right, but I'm still not sure I like it. He's an inventive and shrewd man. And I think you'll agree there is not much to be said for his trustworthiness."

"Oh, please try to understand," Mishakal pleaded. "First of all, we have no other choice. His presence is draining our energy. You cannot feel it, I know, but your father and Gilean can - even I can feel it now, as your father's substitute! But that is not the only reason. Everyone deserves a chance to learn and atone, and I do not see that happening if we keep him locked up in here in a dream until it is time for his twin to come. We cannot cheat him of his redemption, despite his terrible sins."

"Can there be a forgiveness, mother, for someone like him?"

Mishakal took Kiri-Jolith's hands in both of hers, carried away by her sense of justice. "Forgiveness is everything, my love. We must try to see things from his standpoint. Too much power was bestowed upon one mortal man, so much power that he could do whatever he wanted and fulfil his every whim, no matter how extreme. That is too much for a mortal to handle. He simply... broke under the weight."

Kiri-Jolith nodded gravely. "I do understand, mother. I do pity him. But still, a wounded beast is the most dangerous of all."

She brought his hand to her lips and kissed it gently. "You are your father's son, wise and perceptive. He made a choice not to be here today, but in his heart he knows just as well as I do that it is humane to make mistakes. What is divine is forgiveness."

"Mother." Kiri-Jolith took a humble bow. "Once again your wisdom and compassion serve as an example."

"Mishakal. Kiri-Jolith." An old man in a grey robe joined them. Kiri-Jolith bowed to him as well to show his respect for the leader of the Gods of Balance. Then he walked away and took his place in the semicircle formed by the Gods of Good and the Gods of Neutrality; his place was in the middle, according to his status.

"Shall we, Lady?" Mishakal accepted Gilean's hand and let him escort her to the centre of the globe. Once there, she cast an eye over the crowd, making sure everyone was there. Her sons Habbakuk and Kiri-Jolith and Solinari, then Majere, Branchala and Lunitari. On the other side, Chislev, Reorx, Shinare, Sirrion and finally Zivilyn. Everyone except her consort, Paladine. She was sad, but understood and accepted his decision.

"Look at them standing there," Gilean whispered to her, as if reading her thoughts. "The immortal ones gathered for him, dancing to his tune. He'll be thrilled." He gave a rueful shake of his head.

"You think he'd let us wait?" Mishakal asked from under her breath, glancing at the large hourglass standing before them in the middle of the globe. The golden sand was moving swiftly through its tight throat.

"He wouldn't dare..." Gilean paused, pursing his lips in distaste. "A correction," he uttered in a dry tone. "He most certainly would dare."

The two gods exchanged knowing looks.

They stood in silence for a while. Then Gilean said, giving a shrug, "He might just as well choose not to come, seeing it as a way to humiliate us, to show us that he doesn't give a damn about what we say or do. That he is his own master still."

Mishakal heaved a deep sigh. "Oh yes, I have seen the extent of his madness. We all have." Then she added, worriedly, "Kiri-Jolith is still in doubt. I wonder if..."

Gilean cut her off. "We must let him go, Mishakal, and you know it." He rubbed his bald temples with a weary expression. "His presence vexes me. His dreams vex me."

Mishakal looked at the other god with concern. "What did you see in them?"

"In his dreams? Nothing that should cause us personal worry. Nothing large scale. There was blood and war, yes, but it was a memory, a thing of the past." He fixed her gaze with his sharp brown eyes. "How about you, Bearer of Light? What did you see in the black wizard's dreams?"

"I saw..." Mishakal bit her lower lip, searching for a name for what she had seen. "I saw... desire."

"Desire?" Gilean retorted with an arched eyebrow. "For what? For whom?" Then his expression darkened. "Oh, no. Don't tell me."

Mishakal looked at her colleague, amused. As a supporter of free will, Gilean would not spell out an opinion, but she could see him struggle to maintain his neutral stance. She placed her hand on his arm with a smile. "Gilean my old friend, you will not say what you're thinking, but I can clearly see it on your face. Don't worry. You won't have to bother yourself with it. Leave it for me to handle."

Gilean frowned. "You'd think the man would have the decency to stay away after what he did to her."

"Like I said, leave it to me."

"With pleasure," the elder god said, rolling his eyes in a manner so genuinely mortal that Mishakal had to laugh. Gilean joined her, but fell serious all of a sudden. "Let me just point out to you, good sister," he said, "that there is still time to consider the other option."

Mishakal's smile vanished, and she glared at Gilean, aghast. "Don't even think it," she snapped. "Caramon Majere has a good life - finally a life that he deserves, one might say. His wife is expecting a child." She shook her head furiously. "No. His departure would bring great anguish and sorrow to too many. He and his loved ones cannot be punished for his brother's deeds."

"Easy, Mishakal. I see your point." A look of exasperation came over Gilean. "So help me, I hate twins. Always causing problems like this." Then, with an apologetic smile, he added, darting a look at Habbakuk and Kiri-Jolith, "Mortal twins, I mean."

"You hate?" Mishakal said in a playful tone. "That's a first."

Gilean drew in a great breath of air. "The wizard drives me to extremities. I have to admit that sometimes, on a bad day, I even hope your spouse would have let Takhisis have her eternal torment with him, instead of granting him this... death that isn't death."

Anger flashed in Mishakal's blue eyes. "I never hope for that. Mercy is the light of the world. Without it we would be lost indeed."

"And yet Paladine is not here," Gilean observed, glancing over at the empty throne in the distance with a silver triangle glittering above it.

"Perhaps his mercy was not for the mage, Gilean," replied Mishakal. "Perhaps it was for the brother. So that he might have peace."

Gilean opened his mouth to answer, but right then the gate of souls began to ripple to make way for the human figure emerging from the emptiness beyond.

A deep silence fell among the gods. The last grains of the golden sand shuffled down the hourglass as the man began to walk towards them. He walked slowly, with a slight limp; his soft steps made no sound on the marble floor. His slender body was shrouded in a torn, tattered robe of black and silver, now almost grey from dust. Adding to the ghostly impression was his white hair, falling in tangled knots over his delicate shoulders. When he reached the centre, he stopped and, folding his hands in the sleeves of his robes, lifted his head to look at the gods with his cursed eyes.

Mishakal returned his unnerving gaze coldly, then rose her staff high in the air and brought it down onto the floor with a thundering echo. "Speak," she said, after the last reverberation had died away.

"Lady, I come to you..." the mage began.

"On your knees, mortal," Gilean snapped from Mishakal's side. "Eyes on the ground."

The mage bent his head slightly in a gesture of reverence and went softly down on his knees. Then he spoke again, his long-unused voice crumbling into a half whisper. "Gods of Krynn. I come to you today on account of the most gracious offer that has been shown to me in my sleep." His words were flat and emotionless - if he was thrilled at the prospect of returning to the world, not a trace of it showed through.

Mishakal looked at the kneeling man, feeling a shudder of anger in spite of herself. "If that be the case," she said tautly, "then I surmise you have made your decision. Have you?"

"Yes, Lady. I have made my decision."

"Pray tell - how rings that decision?"

"I'll go."

Mishakal's heart skipped a beat, although the mage's reply was not unexpected. "You'll go," she repeated blankly.

"Yes." As the goddess did not answer, the mage risked a glance up at her face. His eyes swept through the line. "I see that one is absent from your gathering," he said quietly.

"How very perceptive of you, human," Gilean chimed in coldly. "The Platinum Father accepts our decision by majority, but he certainly need not lend his holy presence to this abomination. We really cannot blame him for his view, now can we?"

The mage's eyes moved to Gilean, ignoring the god's earlier command to keep his gaze lowered. He looked the deity straight in the eye for a moment, then fixed his gaze into the distance with an arrogant air of detachment.

"I hope to interpret your silence as a sign of repentance," said Mishakal. "The crime you committed was horrendous, especially with regard to the Platinum Father, and the pain you inflicted on his holy servant. But my lord is kind. I have spoken to him and pleaded for his forgiveness on your behalf. Now," she said in a stern voice, "is there something you would like to say?"

"I am very grateful, Lady," the mage said after a while, his voice as emotionless as before, his face a blank mask.

"As you should be. We expect you are fully aware of the conditions."

"Yes, Lady."

"Remind us, then, so that we can be sure."

"I shall return to the world of the living on condition of a total removal of magic from my body. Either I go without the magic, or stay with the magic."

"Indeed," said Gilean in taunting tones. "The magic that you were supposed to control but which controlled you instead. All your life you bragged of how you mastered the Art like no one else, and look at yourself now. You. Controlled. Nothing."

At this, the mage blinked. The faint smile on his lips faltered, and a dark shot of anger appeared in his eyes for a split second. But he hid it quickly, resuming his impassive stance.

"Very well," Mishakal said quickly, hoping that Gilean would not try to aggravate the mage again. "Do you understand and do you accept the conditions?" she asked him.

"I do."

"Good. Make sure you won't forget."

Gilean crossed his bony arms in front of his chest. "And while we're at it, you would do well to remember that you owe this... second chance, if you like, to your brother." As he spoke he began to pace slowly towards the hourglass, tapping his crossed arms with his fingers. "You look displeased, wizard. Did you not know that you shall leave the world together, just like you entered it? Your brother will live to have a long and rewarding life; the river of souls does not beckon for him yet, which means it will not receive you, either. And," he said, placing his arms behind his back now, studying the massive hourglass with a tilted head, "we simply cannot bear your, shall we say, fruitless presence here for fifty odd years."

"What we cannot do, brother Gilean," Mishakal interjected sharply, "is put to waste precious time which could be spent in productive learning. Paladine decrees that every life is sacred. Yours, mage," she said, turning her attention back to him, "is no different, despite your blameworthy actions. Thus we will not wrong you by keeping you here while you could be working to redeem yourself."

The mage remained quiet. Mishakal took a step closer to him. "Tell me, mage, do you see the madness of your bygone deeds?"

"Yes."

"And what about the pain and the suffering you caused to people too numerous to even mention? To innocent people! Have you felt that pain inside of yourself?"

"Yes."

Irritated by the mage's tone, Mishakal halted, wondering if it was worth the while to proceed. His answers were like pearls on a string: perfectly similar, pale and featureless. She gave a deliberately loud sigh, then said, "Do you understand that gods are called from the Beyond before time and space exist? A mortal man cannot become god by his own foolish decision."

The mage gave a benign nod. There were no signs of distress on his face, no red of shame nor pain of remorse.

Mishakal mouthed her final question. "Are you sorry for what you did?"

The mage's eyebrows rose ever so slightly. "Yes," he said, his lips hardly moving.

"Then the case is settled." Mishakal turned his back to the mage, facing the line of gods. "Are we unanimous?" she asked loudly, her voice echoing up the curving walls of the globe. Her eyes met Kiri-Jolith's, who had changed his form into that of a minotaur known as Emperor on the northeastern shores of the Blood Sea of Istar. He gave her an encouraging nod with his huge, horned head, confirming that he now fully supported his mother in spite of his earlier arguments.

From her son, Miskahal's eyes moved to Lunitari. The red-haired goddess of neutral magic looked crestfallen, and Mishakal could not blame her: it was only half a decade ago that Lunitari had lost the mage to her cousin Nuitari. Mishakal felt a sting of pity for her fellow goddess, but she also knew she needed everyone's support. Thus she repeated her question, staring sternly at Lunitari. "Gods of Krynn, are we unanimous?"

"We are unanimous," the gods answered in a choir, Lunitari included. But Mishakal noted that she kept her eyes lowered all the time, not even once glancing at her former follower.

Mishakal wheeled around, about to address the wizard for the final time. But it was him who spoke to her now. "Lady," he said, "there is one thing I would ask of you."

The gods hushed. "What trick is this?" Gilean snarled, but Mishakal silenced him with a gesture of her hand. "Let us hear," she said to the mage in a reserved yet kind voice.

"In humility and kindness, in every sincerity, I ask that you send me to the great city of Palanthas."

Mishakal smiled, pleased at what she was hearing. Focusing her thoughts, she commanded him without words to lift his gaze, and when he did, she locked eyes with him and entered his mind. I have seen your dreams, mortal. You have one chance. Make the best of it. These were the things she was trying to say but found she could not quite manage it: she was swimming in a freezing void with no lights, unlike anything she had experienced before. She could not push forward like she always did; instead it felt like she was the one being slammed back with force, and then there was a dizzying sensation of falling down, spiraling headlong into a dark, endless tunnel. She understood that what she had seen in the mage's dreams was not desire; desire was too soft a word for it. It was something raw and straighforward and obsessed, terrifying in its singleminded determination to possess. Her body went numb with fear. What if Kiri-Jolith had been right? What if, in all her overbrimming compassion, she was setting up a disaster? She stared into the mage's narrowed eyes; she was falling still, she could not get through, and suddenly she thought she would never get out again.

"Mother?" Solinari's warm voice came from behind her. Shaken, she tore her gaze away and turned to look, blinking in confusion. There was conviction in his son's eyes that unraveled the cold knot in the pit of her stomach. Behind Solinari, everyone stood in line, holding one another's hands, looking at her expectantly.

Mishakal slowly removed her hood. Her silver hair glittered in the divine light. Placing the palms of her hands together, she forced a smile and said, "Now, brethren - shall we proceed?"

 



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