Disclaimer: Any complaints that WotC has with this will be printed out and made into toys for my pets to destroy. Besides, why would they be interested in my little alternate universe? Oh right, mine makes a better transition than theirs. :P

-)-

So we're trying to find this Sharnar?" Ricardt asked. "Who probably doesn't want to be found and can in all likelihood turn us all into bits of charcoal before we get three steps in."

Recently returned from consulting with the Evereskan High mages, Mir nodded glumly. "It gets better. His alterations stay if I can't get control of them and he has to be alive for me to do that."

"Usually at this point I'd say something about having faith to do the impossible, but it's looking like a pretty tall order," The paladin noted and sighed. "Well, if it has to be done it has to be done and complaining that it's too hard to succeed at all won't get anyone anywhere."

"Will unconsious do?" Heinfor snickered.

The scout's bravado belied the serious expressions of the others. Teilla uncharacteristically said nothing. Ricardt couldn't blame her. Battle has never been her strong suit, but we can use every last edge we can get. Filaesande and Nesterin had gone to help the older mages with the spell casting. Maresa needed to report back to Myth Drannor, leaving Heinfor, Ricardt, Teilla, Jorin and and Jassin to find the shadow elf and stop him. The Evereskan elf led the way towards where he had seen the disguised Chaulsinn hanging around recently.

"He's been going underground," The trap expert put in. "There are a couple of crypts he seems to like being around and I know they have a couple of connections to natural caverns that go deeper. Not sure what he's doing, but I'm pretty sure it qualifies as 'no good.'"

"Maybe there's an anchor for the mythal," Teilla ventured thoughtfully. "Maresa mentioned something about a 'mythal stone' when she was talking about their work to sabotage the Daemonfey."

"Stones make it easier to anchor magic," Mir nodded. "A stone for a mythal would be well hidden, guarded by the wards it anchors, wrapped in protective magic itself and patrolled any number of other things from golems to baelnorn. It should be difficult to access."

"But probably easier if you've got destructive magic no one's ever heard of from the Crown wars with you," the bard noted sourly.

"Or if one takes multiple trips down," Jassin added, "Getting a little farther each time, if they have anything resembling knowledge of their limits and knowing when to back off."

"Remind me to not volunteer for hopeless causes again," Jorin grumbled.

"There is no such thing as a hopeless cause," Ricardt told the half-elf ranger.

"Nope, just ones with very low odds of success," Teilla added. The paladin nodded in agreement.

"Well, even he got rid of most of the unpleasant surprises that we usually leave around for interlopers," the trapspringer cautioned, bringing their attention back to the task at hand. "There's every possibility that he left something behind to make things difficult for anyone following him."

"You didn't check?" Heinfor asked.

"I'm not crazy about going to face a shadow caster in the dark by myself," Jassin shuddered. "Particularly not a drow mage. And trust me, shadow casters are bad enough."

"We're going now, it will have to do," Mir forestalled any more debate. "If we find him, we take him down. If not, we wait and then take him down when he gets there."

As they kept a brisk pace to one of Jassin's crypt entrances, Ricardt surveyed their motley crew. Jassin and Jorin looked worried, but focused. Heinfor looked almost eager to do something useful and seemed to look forwards to scoring one against the shadow elf. Mirandaline had somehow assumed leadership of the expedition. Well that's a far cry from when we first met her in Whizban, Ricardt mused. And Teilla...

The paladin dropped back to walk along side the bard, who looked plainly scared. After a few moments of quiet, Teilla asked, "Think we have a chance of succeeding?"

"There's always a chance," Ricardt said gently. "Just because it's difficult and looks hopeless doesn't mean that it isn't worth it to try anyway."

"I know," She said softly. "I'm scared."

"Me too." When Teilla looked at him in surprise, he tried a smile. "I'd like to think that I'm not such a fool as to not be scared. Don't let the crunchy exterior mislead you." At her skeptical look he added, "All right, quite a few paladins seem to be idiots. Not all of them though."

"I know, you are all honeyed cream inside," Teilla managed a smile. "I just don't want to..."

"They will have to get through me first," Ricardt promised. He kept pace with her as they started through the upper levels of the elven crypts.

The stone work was carefully carved into reliefs that looked like trees and flowering shrubs. The overall effect was less one of maudlin grief and melancholy and more one of quiet repose and contemplation. Few of the crypts themselves were overly dusty and everything seemed like like it did get visitors in on occasions. One of the small alcoves even had fresh flowers in it. It was slightly disconcerting to the paladin although upon further reflection he supposed it made sense. If they're used to living for a long time, they don't need to feel rushed about anything, including dying. He reconsidered. Except for recently.

Jassin and Mirandaline lead the way looking for snares both magical and mundane. Heinfor followed close behind, presumably to deal with more physical threats. Jorin, Ricardt and Teilla brought up the rear. They made a few turns into the catacombs before th Psion and the moon elf found a hidden door. Mir ran her hands lightly over it and muttered, "Cold... slimy... makes me slightly ill... This way."

Jassin nodded and examined the door himself. "No traps." He found the catch and they kept going.

The half elven ranger muttered, "I don't like this."

Ricardt nodded. "It's too quiet."

Teilla grumbled. "You just know that Tymora is going to smack you for saying that."

They headed from a worked stone passageway to a more natural cave passage. Glowing patches of lichen dotted the walls and ceiling giving everything an eerie greenish glow and the entire place smelled of minerals and water. "We found a foot print," Jassin called softly. "Mir thinks that it's recent."

"In a cave?" Jorin snorted.

"Recent due to the shadow magic clinging to it," Mir countered. "I am somewhat worried by the fact that it's longer than my bow though."

"A golem." Heinfor asked looking at the wall carefully.

"Maybe. It's..." Mir stopped and Ricardt had an impression of the psion's green eyes widening. Without waiting, he shoved Teilla back the way they came, grabbed hold of Jorin's collar and hauled the ranger back. Mir and Jassin dodged forwards with Heinfor on their heels as a large shadowy form dropped from the ceiling. It took a swipe at Heinfor. The scout dodged back, drew his sword and slashed at the thing. Jorin joined in with his blades in hand and suddenly their attacker was wreathed in bright green flames. Mirandaline, Ricardt thought as the manikin shape's shadow stuff swallowed the green flames. "Teilla are...?"

The bard sang three high, clear notes and cracks appeared in the golem's shell. "I think the bastard knows we're coming!" she called above the noise of the rangers hacking at the thing.

The construct shifted and swiped at Jorin, who dodged back. Heinfor took the opportunity to try slipping his sword point into one of the seams in the thing's took a breath and pulled his own sword free of its scabbard, but Teilla cut in, "Ricardt find that Chaulsin and stop him. I can handle this."

The paladin risked a glance at his partner, got a good look at the resolved look on her face and quickly intoned a prayer instead of the protest that had immediately come to mind. "Tyr guide your spells and song!" He told her before clapping her on the shoulder, dodging around Jorin, Heinfor and the shadow manikin to catch up with Jassin and Mir. The trap springer fired off a few ineffectual arrows as the psion restrung her bow. Must be a snapped bowstring, the paladin thought as he nudged the pair further down the corridor. We have to be close to that shadow elf or the mages have already started their part of trying to repair the mythal and he's trying to counteract them. Mir turned and started running down the tunnel. Jassin and Ricardt followed on her heels.

"We'll come as soon as we can!" Heinfor called after them. The scout's voice echoed off the stone walls. "Save enough of the shadow loving squirrel brain for me to get a few cracks at him!"

Ricardt could see the quality of light change from green to pinkish as they came closer to a large chamber. Mir slowed and stalked closer, peeking around corners from a low crouch. Ricardt and Jassin hung back, trusting, the dark-wood elf to scout ahead. No time for regrets now, The paladin thought as as Mir held up one finger and then made an uneasy motion before holding up a second finger. One for sure, maybe another. Probably another of those manikins. He nodded. Jassin pulled a short sword from a sheath on his back and took a few deep breaths. "Tyr guide our blades," Ricardt prayed softly. And let me see Teilla again.

The paladin led the way into the chamber and found it occupied by one male elf facing a glowing pink stone, it's facets wreathed in visible strands of shadow stuff. He narrowed his eyes and headed directly for the strange elf, hoping to keep the element of surprise as long as he could. Failing that I can keep his attention on me and give Mir and Jassin a chance.

The elf must have heard Ricardt coming, because he turned before the paladin got halfway across the room. As soon as he saw the human, the elf made a curt gesture and Ricardt heard a whooshing noise some where behind him. He squelched the urge to look back and kept heading towards the strange elf. The strange elf swiftly wove shadows about his hands until a really big hand formed to swat at the paladin. Ricardt ducked rolled and found himself face to sculpted face with another shadow manikin. Swearing under his breath, he dodged and slashed at the construct.

Where are Jassin and... oh. He caught sight of the moon elf crumpled in a motionless heap near one of the chamber walls. He heard a sharp pop as the psion risked a teleport. The strange elf shouted something and the big shadowy hand swatted a few times at the dark wood elf. Ricardt had to focus on the manikin, but his heart felt like it fell out of his chest when he heard something connect like a slap twice in rapid succession. He danced back, away from the manikin and took a quick inventory of the room. Jassin had not moved and Mirandaline now slumped against the glowing stone, insensible.

Ricardt had just enough time to see the shadow elf make a cutting gesture through the air before his knees and sword side shoulder took heavy impacts more or less at once. Then the world went white with pain.

-)-

Sharnar looked over his handiwork of the past few minutes with a feeling of irritation. Damned surfacers. The human groaned quietly as the shadow infused automaton loomed over him. I am so very glad I installed those here though. It makes it worth the trouble of stealing them from that artificer in Balefire years ago.

Sighing with resignation, the dragon touched drow walked over to the human warrior and kicked the sword away from his limp hand and surveyed the damage. One, maybe both knees broken. The shoulder, definitely broken. "You can keep the shield for now surfacer," Sharnar said in his heavily accented Common. "I have other things to attend to." And I am far, far too close to my goal to delay my victory by killing you now.

He turned back to his spellcasting and felt the pull of the light elves against his. I don't know where they dug up that really powerful mage from, but it's too little, far, far too late. I have the leverage now.

He resumed his spell casting and felt the pull of the enemy mages surge against him, but Sharnar's earlier ground work and all the work he had put into it now paid its dues. He solidified his locks over the holes he had put in place and set them down tight against the straining weaving. With a sudden exhilarating rush he realized, I did it! I bound the mythal to uselessness against my people and now we can take it for ourselves!

The light elven mages continued to strain to regain their weaving. Sharnar maintained his touch on the shadow weave he had pulled up for the last sequences of spells. I want to feel them lose hope one by one. He smiled as he surveyed the room, And now I have prizes to play with down here.

The dark skinned elf slumped against the mythal stone began to shudder and mutter very softly to herself. As he cast a minor spell to wash the makeup from his face, Sharnar took a long look at her. That looks like the girl Gorruan was supposed to intercept... I suppose he's no longer a factor anymore. I guess that I'll have to figure out how to explain it to the patron fathers when I return to Chaulsinn. In any case, she is a pretty thing. Assuming I can control her, she would make an excellent start to a harem of my own...

A sharp gasp interrupted his thoughts. Sharnar looked up and saw a half human with a few scrapes on her standing in the chamber entrance in shock, a small sword hanging forgotten in her hand. Well, this looks like it can be easily dealt with...

He took a few quick strides to the human, who tried to slither out of reach. The shadow mage drew a long knife from his belt and held it to the dark haired human's throat. "I suggest you stay where you are, half blood," Sharnar ordered firmly.

The red head mongrel had moved a few steps towards him but stopped when she saw the knife resting on the warrior's throat. The shadow elf checked where the manikin was in relation to the female. It can reach her easily. He grinned. Oh, I am in such a good mood today...

-)-

Teilla saw the strange elf hold the knife to Ricardt's throat and stopped her half thought out motion forward. Mir and Jassin as sources of help were clearly out of the question, if not dead. Ricardt would have gotten away if he could, she thought in despair. Corellon, Tyr help me!

The mage began to talk again, "I've had a really excellent day today. A few setbacks, true, but a rather satisfying day nevertheless. Your mages have failed."

Teilla rocked back on her heels. No... no... no...

"Incidentally it doesn't really matter to me if I kill you now or if you die slightly later," The disguised shadow elf continued in an oh-so-reasonable tone. "And since I'm in such a magnaminous mood today, I'm going to offer you a choice. Take your human and leave... Or watch him die just before you do."

The bard's mind stopped. After a few moments she asked, "What about the others?"

"They are not a part of this deal," The shadow elf said without concern. "The mongrel elf will make quite the prize all by herself. This is just for you and him. I've no plans that involve humans at the moment."

Teilla swayed on her feet uncertainly. Jorin and Heinfor were still trying to bash the construct like that one into submission when they told me to run ahead. I can't win against it on my own. Mir murmured something from the base of the stone. The shadow elf smirked like he knew what she was thinking. Ricardt caught her eyes. With the smallest of motions he shook his head, determination mixed with pain written plainly all over his face.

The bard felt some of the paralyzing fear lift. I could save us both, but he would never forgive me for it.

She tightened her hand on the short blade she used only rarely. Most of her spells had been used against the manikin outside. I couldn't stand knowing that he'd hate me forever if I failed everyone like this.

Teilla started to hum her wordless battle song as she stepped forwards to meet her fate head on.

-)-

Mirandaline drifted.

Voices drifted with her, like a school of small fish nibbling at her sense of self. One of them kept calling her name. She fell deeper into a black sea of oblivion and the erosion at her being continued. So did the voice calling to her, but it was lost in the myriad voices that continued to strip her away to nothingness.

Somewhere deep down a small flutter of panic stirred to life. It did not like the voices that nibbled. It moved more and more frantically, trying to scare off the things taking her away from herself until it burst forth in a shriek, breaking the surface of the waters of forgetful bliss like a whale breeching.

GET AWAY FROM ME!

The voices immediately backed off. Mir began to focus hard on pulling herself back together. The voices sorted themselves into presences, one of which, busily shooed the others away for a bit, before handing off the job to another. They were familiar. The medium she felt was simultaneously electrically stressed and resolute, joyous, sad and determined all at once. Yet there were strands of ice and slime laced through it. Some of it she could feel had congealed into clumps...

Mir? One of them asked.

Kaeldin? She asked back. He out maneuvered me, I tried...

He did not do as good a job as he thinks he did, Kaeldin came back with a tinge of smugness. Corellon must favor you. You hit the mythal stone.

We have to move quickly, someone the psion did not immediately recognize noted. We cannot keep this up forever.

The voices started to blur together again, but this time with her senses more or less in order, it stuck mostly to surface thoughts and feelings. Unbidden, she mentally giggled. I am so glad I am not usually a telepath.

I am sure the empathic receiving is more than enough, child, another voice, Kileontheal, gently broke in. To the task at hand...

Mir can you feel the shadow strands? Kaeldin asked.

Yes, she answered. They are pretty obvious to me. They feel different.

The less familiar voice broke in, Can you follow them back to their weaver?

Yes, but he has Ricardt. Jassin is hurt, I think. He feels fluttery...

The other mages began to press in and mingle with her mind to theirs. It became less important who thought what, including herself. It was far more important that the thought occur within the mage circle.

We will still need to wrest control of the shadow weaving

from the traitor elf. We might be able

to save the others. At least we can buy

them some time. Need power. Weave pulling

Is a great strain. Need speed to save

the others. We have it to spare. What do we want to

do with the shadow strands

once we have them? A counter weave,

like a double knot. Strengthen our own

weaving with it. Need to hurry else

the cost become higher

than it is. It is time to

GO.

Mir opened her eyes and the scene in front of her moved as if in a slow dream.

The shadow elf had shed his disguise and stood over a badly hurt Ricardt, knife just starting to move across the paladin's throat. Teilla moved towards the shadow spell caster with grim determination and small sword in hand. The spell caster's manikin moved towards Teilla. The bard would be intercepted before she could stop Ricardt's throat from being cut. Jassin was still insensible in the corner, alive but unsteady. The psion could feel Heinfor moving towards the chamber. Her path seemed as clear as air.

She let her wellspring of psionics open as wide as she could. The ferny smell her ability always left behind flooded the room and the distance between her and the traitor-elf disappeared. She now stood between the drow and the paladin. The blade had not yet bitten into Ricardt's neck when Mir let loose a burst of kinetic energy that knocked the dragon tinged drow back several feet. A second burst kicked the shadow touched manikin away from the bard, leaving the construct askew near the entrance to the chamber. Surprise just began to register in Teilla's face as Mir turned back to face the traitor-elf.

The unnatural acceleration began to wear off as she drew her heavy fighting knife in a reverse grip, the blunt edge snug against her forearm. She went after the shadow caster.

He registered her movement, but all of Mithias's persistent rough and tumble training allowed the psion to duck under his first knife slash and hit him across the face with her pommel. The drow staggered back a step and Mir swung her blunt edge at his exposed nape, using her momentum and leverage to force him to fall forwards. She fell with him and landed on the shadow mage's back. The air whooshed out of him and she scrambled to pin him down. A whisper of kinesis sent his knife skittering out of reach. She tossed her own blade aside. It would get in the way now.

Now for the tougher part. She found the shadow weavings easily enough. They felt awful. Even so, she wrapped her will and her hands around them and pulled with all of her will. He came to his senses enough to start to fight back, but her position was stronger than his. You will not find victory! Not today, outcast! She gave another hard yank and felt the shadow weave come tearing off him.

Young Mir! Hurry! Kileontheal called.

Jassin's fluttery sense had gotten stronger and slightly less confused. Heinfor was very close by. The manikin began to stir. The psion saw that Teilla had reached Ricardt. Everything was still uncertain. Hold on, please hold on! Mir thought as she teleported once more.

The circle was starting to tire.

-)-

Teilla saw a blur that resembled Mir suddenly appear in front of the shadow drow and blast him backwards. The bard heard A similar kinetic blast slam into the manikin as she took advantage the opportunity to check Ricardt. "Oh you are just a mess, aren't you?" She breathed in shock.

"Do me a favor and don't tell me how bad it looks," the paladin grunted and looked over her shoulder. "Looks like the plan is still on."

The bard risked a glance towards the psion as she wrestled with the mage. Dark shadow stuff flared up around Mir's hands and seemed to loop round them as she forcibly yanked the magic away from the drow. She shoved the mage away from her and for a moment Teilla did not recognize the dark wood elf as she breathed silvery steam and sent, Hold on, please hold on!

Then she was gone, leaving Teilla the only one capable of holding a weapon against the dazed drow mage or the stirring manikin. Oh, I was not the sharpest blade in the barrel today, was I? She thought nervously.

Ricardt moved a little and said, "Take the shield and think defensively?"

"Ever the optimist, aren't we?" The bard tested the weight of the kite shaped metal shield and decided against it. "Too heavy."

"Yah HAH!" A loud wild voice shouted. Half a moment later there was a crash followed by the sound of metal clashing against metal.

"I think Heinfor's got the manikin covered," Ricardt called.

Teilla barely heard him and instead stalked towards the dragon-touched drow. He looked up, glared at her and made a quick gesture. Teilla started a song to counter the spell but nothing resulted from his hasty casting except for a small shower of blue sparks. Teilla felt a little bit better and grinned with bravado, Mir must have stripped all the magic off of him.

The drow realized it too, for he made a quick movement towards what looked like Ricardt's discarded sword. Teilla followed after him, but skidded to a stop and retreated as soon as he had it in hand. He came after the bard with murderous intention. Belatedly she started to sing, trying to use anything and everything to keep that sword blade away from her and lead him away from the hurt paladin.

It took only a few slashes her to realize that she was grossly out matched. Once she had enough room, Teilla broke her singing off to rattle off a spell of force darts. Two of them did not bite but the other two did. The drow winced and closed the distance, trying to gain enough ground to either get to the door or try to cut the bard down.

Ricardt's voiced called. "Hey, irinal!" The mage hesitated and Teilla saw one of the paladin's gauntlets smack the drow in the face. She took advantage of the distraction to try to stab at him. He stumbled away from her but ran into something that was not there a moment ago and fell over backwards.

The bard held her sword on the shadow elf but he did not move. I don't think he's breathing, she realized and felt like she could finally start breathing again herself.

Rolling the cooling body over, she found Jassin underneath and Mir's knife stuck in the dead drow's lower back. "Din ah get th' rig' lusin?" The moon elf slurred.

"Yes, you did," Teilla hauled the smaller elf to his feet.

He swayed forwards and nearly fell. It's almost as if he's really really drunk. Teilla thought worriedly as she looped an arm underneath him and guided him to sit next to the paladin.

Heinfor shouted from across the chamber, "Go DOWN you bleeding toy maker's reject!" Jorin had caught up and the pair of them seemed to have the shadow manikin well in hand.

Ricardt looked hard at the still reeling moon elf. "Teilla, what do his eyes look like?"

"Ummm..." She looked. Jassin started to slump forwards again. "One's almost entirely pupil and the other seems normal."

"That's a concussion," He confirmed resignedly. "I need a bonesetter, but I can probably heal him a little bit."

Ricardt quietly called up his faith and Teilla heard a loud crash as Jorin and Heinfor finally dismantled the construct enough to ensure it did not get up again. The half elven ranger looked them over and stated, "You look like a mess."

The wood elven scout swatted Jorin upside the head. "It's fixable. And you never tell the wounded how bad it looks." Heinfor looked around. "Mir took off?"

Teilla shrugged. She was starting to feel really tired and the fatigue just weighed on her like an overloaded backpack. "I think she had to go help her circle."

The tall wood elf looked at her carefully. "You look as tired as Ricardt there. Tell you what, the three of you get cozy stay warm and I'll go hunt down someone to haul you all out while Jorin here..." He clapped the ranger around the shoulders, "Jorin gets to keep an eye on you and do fetch and carry if you need it."

Without another word, the scout pulled his cloak off, tucked Ricardt and a now unconsious Jassin in it and started jogging out. The bard said quietly, "That drow was gloating when I got here. Mir woke up and literally tore the weave off him before disappearing. Do you think that they managed to undo the damage to the mythal?"

She received a ripple of tired shrugs in answer. "Have a little faith," Ricardt said gently. "There's not much we can do from here."

-)-

Kealdin felt Mirandaline wrest control from the traitor elf and felt a swell of pride rise and spread out to his fellow mages. He knew that time was beginning to run short for him. He took a deep breath and found the air tinged with a foresty aroma. With a little gust of air, Mirandaline arrived in the primary circle. Space was made for the young elf. With her hands wreathed in shadowy tendrils, Mir began to unravel the shadow drow's weavings. Kaeldin, Kileontheal and Graelim smoothed out the wrinkles in the original mythal as the strain on them relaxed and went away.

When Mir finished pulling the Shadow Weave's tendrils free of the mythal, she was wrapped in writhing shadows except for near her face, where her breath misted out silver and joined the shimmering pool of magical energy that collected between the inner circle of spellcasters. The psion borrowed power from the circle again and started to double weave what tendrils she could through the weaker sections of the mythal, making them stronger.

When she finished, Kaeldin realized that the time had come to make the final donation of engery. Graelim and Kileontheal began to gently withdraw their tenuous connections from his. He bound the lose ends on his side into the weaving with the intention of pulling it tight when he left. Except for one last thing...

Mir... Let go. The psion was exhausted beyond forming words, but her could feel the negative response clearly. You have to pull in the opposite direction for this to work properly, he reminded her gently.

Around the glare of the energy pool centering the Rite of Complement, he saw Kileontheal take one of Mir's hands in hers. Reassurance flowed from the other mage. You will be all right, young guardian of Kraanfhoar.

Something very like a sob came thrumming through the connection, poigniant enough to bring tears to his eyes. Mir's mental voice, almost unrecognizable due to the strain she was under, whispered, I will miss you great-uncle.

He felt their primary connection loosen, not enough to release contact entirely but Kaeldin felt pretty sure his apprentice would not be following him into his next action. He channeled the entirety of the circle's energy pool into each and every strand of the mythal, strengthening as he pulled away from the other mages and what was left of his magic along with his considerable reservoir of life energy singing through the mythal. Pulling the last little bits snug as he let the magic carry him to where he most wanted to be.

-)-

Kileontheal held her end of the joint casting, careful on the release so that Graelim did not suffer any undue backlash. A look at the polished stone floor told her that the two other members of the spell circle had not been as fortunate. She knew without looking that Kaeldin was dead. He poured a lot of his own energies into ensuring that Mirandaline had the psionic reserves to pull off the stunt with the shadow weave.

Tried and succeeded at, the sun elf reminded herself. I could feel her touch running along the main lines of the mythal. But was she quick enough to let go before her own life burned out...

"The bitsy one lives," Graelim said softly. "She doesn't seem to want to wake up though."

"Exhaustion of the spirit," Kileontheal guessed. "We're older and thus better able to weather the effort."

"Little Mir is all right?" an accented soprano voice asked over the mages' shoulders.

Kileontheal turned and found the dark elven spirit standing over her worriedly. Lilleen, she remembered. I will have to ask Mirandaline about this later. "She appears to be all right, although it is traditional for a circle to follow their fallen out of the casting chamber."

"You might be able to shake her awake, but you will likely end up carrying her however far you end up walking," Lilleen shrugged. The sun elf opened her mouth to ask what brought the spirit there, but the dark elf added, "I promised Mir's family that I would check on her. Now if you will pardon me, I have a reunion to see to. Someone who will remain nameless managed to steal libations from somewhere and the rest of the Kraanfhoar circle have to dispose of the evidence. Now, you are going to take care of Kaeldin's apprentice, are you not? She needs a mentor."

"If she will accept either of us as such, we will, lady Lilleen," Graelim reassured the spirit.

"We will speak more of this later." Lilleen assured them and faded out.

I'm sure we will, Kileontheal sighed in resignation. "Graelim, if you could call for someone to carry our casualty?" The mage turned to the task of rousing the dark-wood elf.

It took a great deal of nudging and prodding, but the girl finally started to rouse. Almost immediately she started to cry very, very quietly. Kileontheal gathered the psion up and gently held her as some very confused guards wrapped Kaeldin up in a shroud and carried him out. The younger elf did manage to stem her tears when they had to walk forth from the casting chamber, although in Mirandaline's case it was less walking and more moving legs whilst being carried. Kileontheal had a firm hold of the girl's empty weapon belt but Mirandaline herself just could not stay upright.

"Hand her over," Graelim looped the fading psion's arms over his shoulders and scooped her up so that she rested draped over the moon elf's back. "Now if you can keep her from sliding off, we can do our respectful procession out."

"It's traditional to walk," Kileontheal sighed in resignation.

"Non-traditional apprentice," The moon elf reminded her. "One that managed to pull off not one, but two impossible tasks. Now if the little hawk here can keep awake, I think we can adhere to the spirit of the tradition and pay respects to our fallen."

"M' wake," Mir muttered into his back.

Kileontheal nodded and considered what this meant. An apprentice of the High Art whose teacher died in a ritual of High magic was generally taken under the wing of the one of the deceased's circle. Kaeldin was the last living member of his circle... Oh that sneaky bastard! Kileontheal suppressed a huff of irritation. He knew the whole time that Mir has to go somewhere and I think he decided on us to act as the replacement teachers.

This time she really did sigh. The fourth mess in less than fifty years among the High mages. Maybe Corellon is trying to tell us something.

-)-