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Note: Palin, Caramon, Raistlin, Tasslehoff, Fistandantilus, Tika, Usha, Dougan, Laurana, and the rest of the Majere characters are all copyrighted by TSR. Characters mentioned in the story, such as Gnimsh, Tanis, Realgar, Astinus, Flint, and Crysania are also copyrighted by TSR. All other characters are copyrighted in 1996 by Adrienne Ginsburg.

HAPTER ONE

One day, Palin Majere and Tasslehoff Burrfoot were sitting outside the front of their house. It was two years after the Knights of Takhisis had tried to take over Krynn. All was well now and both were lazily watching the sun's trail through the sky. It was the summer but not the one like the summer two years ago. It was hot, but not as scorchingly hot as it had been.

Tas gave a huge sigh and said, "Gee, I'm bored." This statement was the same exact statement that he had given to Usha, whom he thought to be Palin's cousin, when they were in the Tower of High Sorcery two years back.

Palin raised his intelligent eyes to look at Tas. He then uttered, "Yeah, so am I, Uncle Tas." He then set his gaze to the horizon. The truth was that he was bored. He needed an adventure. When he met Usha, he felt magic. He thought she felt the same way, too. Then, she ended up falling for a Solamnic Knight. It turned out that she looked to him only as a brother or the cousin he thought himself to be to her. He then sighed again. He needed something more. She was beautiful, but maybe that was not enough for him. When he met her, he was in a vulnerable state as a result of the loss of his brothers. He didn't realize at that time that he needed more in a girl.

'One day,' he thought to himself. 'One day, maybe I'll find someone my type. Intelligent, strong, and maybe beautiful.' With that he let himself smile ... until he realized Tas had been trying to talk to him for three minutes straight.

"Palin! Palin? Are you okay?" Tas looked genuinely concerned.

"Oh sure, Uncle Tas." He smiled again. "I'm perfectly fine."

"Are you thinking about Usha again? Gee, she was a nice girl. Although, she confused me at times. But then, Raistlin always confused me. Like father, like daughter, I guess. Right, Palin?" Tas wasn't yet convinced that Usha wasn't Raistlin's daughter. But as far as Palin was concerned, she might as well have been with the way things had turned out.

"Right," Palin muttered, not entirely listening. Then he was mentally forced to listen when Tas stated, "It's a shame she had to part ways. I don't understand what she saw in that Garith person..."

Palin stared at him. "Sorry! I didn't mean it. Honest, it just came out of my mouth!" Tas exclaimed. He then murmured to himself, "Hmmm... boredom always seems to get me into trouble."

Palin put his hand on the kender's shoulder. "It's alright. We just need something to do."

Tas nodded. "I wish we could go into the Tower again. I loved looking at all of those items. I wish I could have looked at them further before we went into the Abyss."

That declaration struck another cord in Palin. He gathered his white robes closer to him. A breeze caused his auburn hair to float, which he had let grow long. The breeze gave him somewhat of an exhilarating sensation as he pondered his magical powers. Not only did he have the Staff of Magius now but he also had the books bound in blue lining as well as the plain black books, all of which were given to him from Raistlin. A few other things, including a gold and emerald ring, some scrolls tied in yellow ribbons, a few vials of various colored liquids and a small locked metal box were in his possession. The catch of course, was that Palin wasn't powerful enough to use the spellbooks and wouldn't be for a while. He had tried to open one of the black books, but when he did he felt the weight of the cover and had not enough strength to open it fully. With the books in blue lining, he had tried as well but upon opening one of them, his hand felt a burning sensation and he had to close it. The sensation lasted for several days. The books were obviously power-detected and Palin hadn't touched them since. He was not informed of the powers that the vials and scrolls contained and the box he did not venture to open.

Raistlin told him that he would have such ability to open the box and use the items when the time was right. Palin decided that he would try to figure out the powers of the ring, vials, and scrolls sometime soon. But when was he going to do it? Was he scared? He had actually tried to figure out with a magic sense skill what the items did, but his skill wasn't proficient enough. He could only ascertain their state of enchantment. But then, how could he have cast a spell that Magius himself couldn't have cast? Could it be that Raistlin helped him? Or did he believe in himself more than Magius did? Whatever the reasoning was, Palin was not aware of it and Raistlin did little to help him.

In general, he felt stuck. He was waiting for things to happen, time to progress. What WAS he doing? Wasn't it time that he ventured out on his own? Went on a trip? He finally decided for it and spoke aloud. "You know, Tas, maybe it's time we went out into the world. I know it sounds crazy but ..." He then turned around to look at his companion ... except he wasn't there!

"Tas!" he exclaimed and ran through the house. Palin found the kender in his room going through his wardrobe in the closet. "What are you doing?" he asked him.

The kender looked at the young mage. "I'm going on a trip." He then continued going through his clothes. The kender decided on a white tunic, blue pants, and a blue cloak to match. He gave a nod of approval and stepped down from the stool, which was lying against the closet. He plopped down on the floor and placed the clothes in a big sack.

"By yourself? Where?"

Tas moved over to a chest near his bed and opened it. He grabbed a handful of scrolls and laid them in a row in front of him. Tas then closed his eyes, mixed the scrolls, and picked one up. He opened his eyes and carefully unfolded the chosen scroll. He glimpsed at it and a second later, announced, "Cristyne! I'm going to Cristyne!"

"Cristyne?" Palin appeared stunned. "But that's so far away! How are you going to get there?" He peered at the map.

"I'll find a way. I was told by a fellow kender that a long time ago a cave in Cristyne held a chest of treasure. Many say that it's only legend and that the cave is dangerous because a great old and powerful monster was supposed to have lived there. A lizard, I think."

"I'd still like to know how we're going to get there!" Palin stood up and put his hands on his hips while beginning to ponder.

Tas gazed up at him. "You mean you're going to come with me? Great! We'll have so much fun! I'll take care of you and show you around... and we can split the treasure!"

Palin had to wonder at that. If anything, he thought that HE would have to keep an eye on TAS. He then shrugged to himself and murmured, "I'd better get packing myself." He then announced to Tas, "We'll make plans after we're both finished packing."

As he walked towards his room down the hall, he thought about how they were going to get to the island. Probably by ship, he concluded. Raistlin was at the Tower of High Sorcery for the time being. He would have encouraged this trip. But what would Caramon say? His father might not object to their trip being that peace was restored to Krynn. But one could never truly know. And what about his mother?

While he was pondering, his sisters Dezra and Laura bumped into him. "What are you doing, Palin?" Dezra asked. The two looked up at him with smiling faces. The girls looked more like their father with their brown hair, but they still retained the green eyes from their mother like Palin and his brothers had. Dezra was two years older than Laura and Laura stood a few inches taller than Tas.

Palin couldn't help but smile. "Nothing much, Dez. Where's Dad?"

"He's in the yard cutting up some wood. He wants to make a table so we can sit outside." Laura piped in.

"Okay, darling." He chuckled, brushing Laura's bangs out of her face. Maybe one day, he would have a daughter. This he mused as he went off into his room. Dezra tapped Laura on the shoulder and exclaimed, "Got you last!" Laura in return went to chase after her sister so they could continue their game of "tag".

Palin looked over his room and then went to packing. He knew the hardest thing to decide on what to bring would be his magical items. While going through some of the drawers, he came across a red cloth. It was Usha's. A token of friendship, she gave it to him when she said goodbye. Palin closed his eyes and sighed. He had told her that he loved her and she had said the same. But how long had they known each other? Not very long. Not long enough for true love to develop. Maybe he was foolish to start something too fast.

The two had both gone through a traumatic situation. Usha had lost her people and Palin his brothers. When the War against Chaos had ended, there were matters to be settled. Usha needed a place to stay. Palin couldn't have seen any reason for her not to stay at his home. But she felt awkward. She told him, "I need to get myself together. I was sheltered all my life and when I went through what I did, I realized I needed to learn more about life and myself. I need some time alone."

She then ventured off and thought about the knighthood. Palin didn't want her to go alone but she refused his help. He realized that he had to let her go like his father had let him go. Only Palin didn't realized that she wouldn't come back. A few months later, he received a letter explaining that she decided to join the knighthood. He was utterly surprised. Daughter of Raistlin or not, he never thought she would take to battling. 'I guess she never really possessed magical talent.' he acknowledged.

The situation then grew worse. He wanted to visit her. He begged his uncle to teleport him to the High Clerist's Tower. Raistlin reluctantly agreed and Palin was admitted to Usha's chamber. He was bedazzled. Her back was to him and she was exercising; doing arm lifts from a bar that hung over her bed. He saw her silver armor, shining on her bed and a sword sheathed lying next to it. He stood in the doorway, listening to her breaths as she worked. One other thing he noticed was that she cut her hair. It was still silver and shining like the color of her armor, but it tumbled down her shoulders and no farther.

"Usha." He whispered her name softly, but loud enough for her to hear. She turned her next, met his gaze, and jumped down. "Palin!" she exclaimed, her gold eyes bright with pleasure.

She ran to hug him but he gripped her arms. "Let me get a look at you." She relaxed a bit, her breaths slowed down from the moment of rest. She pushed the bangs out of her face.

"You cut your hair." he stated, glancing at her arms, which had become toned.

"Uh, yes." She looked down, uneasy. "I thought it would be less of a hindrance in battle." She waited for his response.

He finally answered, "You're still beautiful." She smiled and hugged him. He shivered, having grown unaccustomed to her nearness.

A moment later, they heard the sound of clanking armor and Usha jumped back. She sat down on her bed and Palin turned. A man a few inches shorter than Palin stood in the doorway. His build made up for his height, Palin apparently noticed. He was young but his armor was somewhat worn. He had shoulder-length dark brown hair and piercing blue eyes. They were cold to Palin, cold like a blue pool of ice. Despite the icy stare, the man had a smile on his face.

"Usha, lovely Usha. What are you up to this afternoon?" He said it with a shocking calm and Palin didn't quite like the way he used the word 'lovely'.

"Uh... Garith!" Usha slowly stood up. "This is my friend, Palin. We fought at the War against Chaos together." She smiled and walked over. "Palin, this is Garith."

If the word 'lovely' wasn't enough of a blow to Palin, the word 'friend' finished it off. Even though it was spoken with unintended disloyalty, it topped the icy stare by far for his despair. Before he knew it, Palin was shaking hands with Garith and reluctantly looking into those eyes again. And to make it worse, the man's strong grip made Palin's fingers ache. He wrenched his hand free and looked to Usha.

"Garith and I are supposed to go training in the afternoon." Usha explained. A little red appeared on her cheeks and Palin got the instinctive feeling that he was no longer wanted around. It certainly hurt. "I guess I'll leave you two then," he said emptily and headed for the door, his white robes hastily following.

When he was a few feet down the hall, he heard Usha running after him. "Wait, Palin. Before you go. I'm sorry that it had to come to this. I wanted to get to know you, but before I could do that, I had to get to know myself. I really love it here. I'm so sorry. I didn't mean to hurt you. I..."

Palin couldn't listen anymore. The rest of her words disappeared into the murkiness of his mind. He turned and ran off before the tears could come out of his eyes. Then he paused to catch his breath. He looked around the corner to see if she was still there. She was not. He crept back slowly towards the door. He had to know if she and Garith were involved. He edged back towards the door and peered inside. The two were holding each other close.

That was all Palin could bear to stand. He walked away in agony. He touched the teleport ring Raistlin gave him on his finger and materialized back in his house.

Palin folded the handkerchief and placed it back in the drawer after he was able to shake off the horrible memory. He thought about the teleport ring which he had in a pocket of his robes. He took out the ring and looked at it. He could have used it to teleport him and Tas to the island but the ring was useless if he had never actually been to the place or seen it before.

"Damn, if we could only get to Southern Ergoth," he muttered.

"Wait!" he then snapped his fingers. "If we go to Qualinesti, then maybe we could get Laurana to take us to Southern Ergoth!"

Just as the idea seeped into Palin's mind, a voice came from across the hall, getting closer and closer. "Southern Ergoth! Did you say Southern Ergoth?" Tas peered with his head in the door.

"Yes. Yes, Tas. I have an idea. It will get us at least halfway towards our goal."

"Great! When are we leaving?" Tas jumped up and down.

"Tomorrow morning, I supposed. I'll have to have a talk with Father first, though."

"Don't worry, Palin! We'll find a way to get him to let us go!" Tas straightened up and yawned. "Oh, my. My boredom is turning into tiredness. I'd better get some sleep. Good night!" with that, he skipped back down the hall.

Palin had to smile after witnessing Tas' cheerfulness. He then continued packing and dozed off to sleep.