This story is being adapted to a publishable version that is removing the Dungeons & Dragons trademarks and intellectual property. This is the original story and is being posted here for posterity. Of course, if Wizards of the Coast would rather I officially publish it under their brand, they are welcome to contact me at any time before the new version is published and we can chat about it.

Acknowledgements

No writer creates a story alone, and I have had more help than most. My thanks go out to:

The writers of Spelljammer, especially Jeff Grubb, who created it; Elaine Cunningham, who made the elves come alive; Roger E. Moore for taking the orcish viewpoint; and Bruce Nesmith, for giving us the scro.

The members of my D&D campaign for helping me spend many happy hours creating this story.

The members of the Spelljammer fan community, who have been supportive in my project and have served more than once as reference guides and a research team. In particular I thank: Adam "Night Druid" Miller, David "Big Mac" Shepherd, and Paul "GM" Westermeyer for their fantastic research and fan support; and also John "Paladine" Baxter and Steven "Silverblade the Enchanter" James for their inspirational (and often very technically accurate) art, without which this Universe would not live as vividly it does.

See you in the stars!

Quotations

Distorted history boasts of bellicose glory . . . and seduces the souls of boys to seek mystical bliss in bloodshed and in battles. ~ Alfred Adler

We shall not flag nor fail. We shall go on to the end. We shall fight . . . on the seas and oceans; we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air. We shall defend our island whatever the cost may be; we shall fight on beaches, landing grounds, in fields, in streets and on the hills. We shall never surrender. ~ Winston Churchill

In war, there are no unwounded soldiers. ~ Jose Narosky

Prologue

The Tel'Quessir are a people who produce few children. When a child is born to them, a whole community gathers to welcome the new life into the world. As a mother endures the pangs of birth, the members of her household gather about her, singing, massaging, encouraging. They drum, they play pipes. They are a people who revere nature as a sacred force of the gods themselves. There is, therefore, no holier occasion among them than the birth of a child. All Tel'Quessir share the same first memory, that of the moment when they are held up to the community of their birth, and they hear for the very first time the song of love and welcome. Shaundar Sunfall was no exception.

But the next memory he had was of holding his baby sister. The Song of Welcome, the drums and pipes were just as he remembered, but this time, he was one of the people singing. He remembered holding his mother's hand as she smiled at him with love and pride, her eyes alight, blue like a spring sky.

He was very young, only twenty. It was unusual for his family to be bringing a new child forth so soon after his own birth. He later learned that there had been some whispers that it was unnatural, the inevitable result of a mixed union, but most viewed it the way that his parents had, and still did; a great blessing.

Shaundar hadn't been too certain about it himself at the time. After all, with a new baby, he wouldn't be the baby anymore, and he wasn't at all sure what he thought of that. But his father had come home, which was uncommon in those days, and that made it all worth it. He remembered how his father smiled at him when he walked through the door in his glittering Naval uniform. His bright amber eyes were framed by the golden-red hair that marked his heritage, and they gleamed with love and pride. Most of all, he remembered the moment that his sister's dark head had first peeked into the world.

His father had eased her from her mother's body and as she began to greet the world with a glorious cry, he held her up for everyone to see. She had her mother's look to her – blue, blue eyes, fair silvery skin, and hair the colour of twilight. She was, for all intents and purposes, a moon elf. No sign of the mixed heritage she shared with Shaundar. Even then he felt a great sense of relief that this was so.

As the assembled elves sang their welcome, Shaundar's father laid his tiny sister in his arms. "You are the big brother now, Rualith," his father said, calling him by his childhood name "Little Star." He reached out and gently placed his hand under Shaundar's chin, tilting his face upward; until all Shaundar could see were his father's sharp golden eyes. "We will need you to help us protect her and take care of her. Can you do that, son?"

Shaundar looked down at the little bundle in his arms. His sister looked back at him with eyes as blue as his own. She had stopped crying and was gazing at him with the puzzled wonder of all newborn babies. Then her little mouth widened into a smile and she gurgled happily, waving little fists in the air. He had been overcome with love and a new feeling, one he had no words for then, a fierce protectiveness.

He looked back into his father's piercing gaze, which would so often as he grew up make him feel small and uncomfortable. Not then, not at all. "Yes, papa," he said. And that was the first time he had sworn an oath, even though he was far too young then for such things as solemn oaths. But that's what it was, and he had meant it solemnly, from the depths of his spirit and heart.