Author's Note: Well, as promised, first Dragonlance fic. Slash, what a shock. I've heard good things about my slash capabilities in other fandoms, so I think this should go over well. Hopefully. (Oops. That reminds me, the next chapter of my HP fic is due. I'm such a bad dragon, neglecting that in favor of dreaming about my lovely hourglass mage... ahem. Obsessed fangirl here.) I'm resigned to waiting weeks or even months for reviews, because my first fandom was the Coldfire Trilogy, which is even more obscure than this. That said... PLEASE, REVIEW! For the sake of my sanity, feed the dragon! I thrive on feedback, and every time I get a review I squeal with joy for several minutes at least.

Warnings: Slash, some violence, scheming ├╝ber-hot mages.

Disclaimer: I own nothing connected in any way to Dragonlance. I merely have a slightly unhealthy obsession with Raistlin Majere, and a deep-rooted hatred of Crysania Tarinius. Only the feeble plot of this fic belongs to me: everything else, including the italicized quote of Dalamar talking to Tanis, belongs to Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman and/or Wizards of the Coast. Also, all elven phrases are in the Grey Company's Elven, and all credit is due to them for their hard work on the elven language.

A.N.2: The title of this fic was taken from the Nightwish song 'Wishmaster', which was actually written in part about Dragonlance, also referencing the Lord of the Rings. The full line is: "If you hear the call of arcane lore/Your world shall rest on Earth no more". Definitely on the money, as far as these two mages go. Soundtrack for this fic: Sleeping Sun by Nightwish, and Play Minstrel Play by Blackmore's Night.

A.N.3: I hate Crysania for a very simple reason. She stole Raistlin from me. I can tolerate a few forms of Raistlin slash, especially Dalamar/Raistlin, simply because I'm a woman and wouldn't have a chance if Raistlin was gay (plus, NO ONE could compete with Dalamar). If Raistlin was going to fall in love with a woman, though... no way does Crysania deserve him. She's shallow, arrogant, and a total bitch. I, on the other hand, would make the perfect wife for an ambitious, power-hungry mage. I also have a very, very high IQ, so I think we'd get along just fine. (134, for anyone who cares. I think I could keep up with Raistlin, even when he starts in on quantum thaumaturgical physics.) I hereby dedicate this fic to every fangirl with a hopeless crush on Raistlin, for I am among their ranks. (Of course, being bi I kind of have a crush on Laurana too, but that's a story for another day.)

The Call of Arcane Lore...

Sunset's crimson light bathed the land, transforming all it touched. On the barren plains, inhabited only by roving tribes of barbarians, it turned the swirling dust into a hazy scarlet shroud, cloaking all in its folds. In the forests of the elves, it glowed through the emerald leaves and recalled terrible memories of that time, not so long ago, when the forest was twisted by nightmares and the rivers flowed red. In the Lordcity of Palanthas, jewel of the north, it played across the cobbled streets and stained the marble buildings as if with blood.

A single building stood untouched by the sunset's vibrant glow; the Tower of High Sorcery, home and stronghold of the Master of Past and Present. No light could ever mar the obsidian blackness of that dark and twisted edifice; girdled by the horrific Shoikan Grove, it stood as a monument to all that was evil, all that sought the downfall of the light.

In the study near the top of the tower, a slender figure robed in purest black stood at the floor-to-ceiling window, staring out at the sunset. Almond-shaped grey eyes narrowed slightly against the light, and a pale, slender hand reached up to brush back a lock of glossy black hair.

Any who saw Dalamar Argent at that moment would have assumed him to be relaxed and calm, enjoying the view of sunset and simply passing time. They would be correct on only one point; the dark elf was indeed passing time, but beneath a veneer of calmness he was taught as a bowstring. If his calculation were correct, his Shalafi would be returning soon, and that was cause enough to make any lesser mage grow pale with fear.

The name of Raistlin Majere had been legend for years now, ever since his pivotal role in the War of the Lance. Dalamar, though relatively obscure throughout most of Ansalon, was nearly as infamous as his Shalafi among the circles of magi - mostly because of his Shalafi. No one wanted to get on the bad side of the only mage that Raistlin had considered good enough to be his apprentice. Some were aware of his role as a spy for the Conclave: most believed that the stories of his power were exaggerations, that no dark elf could be that strong. No one but Raistlin and Dalamar himself knew the truth, but that was all about to change.

Dalamar noticed that his hands were shaking and swore softly in Silvanesti. Turning from the window, he gave in to his nervous energy and began pacing the study, his silken robes swishing softly in the quiet. Tonight, the plans of three years would come to fruition: tonight, the world would learn that Raistlin Majere and Dalamar Argent were a force to be reckoned with.

According to the populace of Krynn, Raistlin was cold, heartless, and utterly without attachment. Dalamar was one of only a handful of people who had any inkling that this was not true, and the only person on Krynn who knew just how untrue it was. For Dalamar Argent, exiled Silvanesti dark elf, had the dangerous honor of being Raistlin Majere's lover.

A faint smile flickered over the elf's handsome face as he thought of how that had come about. He had been assigned by the Conclave to act as a spy, reporting on Raistlin's activities: though such an assignment was close to a death sentence, Dalamar had accepted anyway. He had little to live for, and between his ambition and his long-standing fascination with the legendary human mage, he was willing to risk his life for a chance to study with Raistlin under any circumstances. The moment he arrived at the Tower, he knew that it wasn't going to be easy.

Dalamar had a reputation for being a ladies' man, having seduced countless beautiful women into his bed during his stay at the Tower of Wayreth. Few people, aside from his numerous conquests, were aware that he was equally predatory in his attitude toward his own gender. From the instant he set foot in the Palanthian Tower, Dalamar knew that he was falling hard for Raistlin. The gold-skinned human was unlike anyone Dalamar had ever met before - perhaps most notably in the fact that he seemed completely immune to the dark elf's charms. Intrigued by that resilience, and equally enchanted by the seductive fact that Raistlin was genuinely the most powerful mage on Krynn, Dalamar had never stood a chance of resisting.

Two years ago, Dalamar had decided that he could no longer live a lie; he could not keep feeding Raistlin's secrets to the Conclave. He had yet to tell them anything important, but they had begun pressuring him to get them critical information. He couldn't just tell the Conclave he was through spying for them, they might well kill him; instead, he did the only thing his lovestruck heart would allow. He confessed his crimes to Raistlin, despite his fear that should the human mage find out about Dalamar's feelings, he might well kill him just for that.

That night, two years ago:

Raistlin was in his study, reading a thick, musty tome that he had discovered in the Tower library when he arrived. It was a chronicle of the history of dragons on Krynn - what mortals knew of it, anyway. He knew that it could prove critical to his backup plans, should his primary plan go awry, and so was studying it thoroughly.

There was a hesitant knock on the studying door, and Raistlin looked up, surprised. Dalamar knew better than to interrupt Raistlin's work unless it was very important, and Raistlin had not summoned him. Perhaps, the mage mused, the Conclave's plan was finally going to be set in motion, and the dark elf was here to begin the process. He did not think that Dalamar was aware that he knew nearly everything about the dark elf's assignment - including the fact that Dalamar was feeding steady reports to Ladonna. Raistlin supposed he would have to do something to put a stop to that soon, but he was putting it off; Dalamar was very pleasant company, and although he hated to admit it Raistlin was more than a little attracted to the dark elf. He had always made an effort to prevent himself from being seriously interested in anyone - sexual attraction clouded the judgement and had been the undoing of more than one historical conquerer - but somehow the Silvanesti had slithered past all his defenses and not only caught his attention, but won his admiration.

He wasn't sure that Dalamar knew that, either.

Shaking off his thoughts, he rested his slender fingers on the dry pages of the book. "Enter."

The door opened slowly, and Dalamar stepped in. He was pale, far paler than usual; while his skin was normally alabaster-white, in the firelight he now appeared sickly pale, almost greenish. His face was a taught mask, revealing nothing, yet in that very concealment showing his tension. His grey eyes were dark and veiled as he bowed, his voice also tense and carefully controlled.

"Forgive me for interrupting, Shalafi, but I - there is something I must discuss with you, and I fear it cannot wait, or I may not be alive to discuss it at all."

In spite of his efforts to remain impassive, Raistlin raised one eyebrow. Though he had his faults, Dalamar wasn't overly given to melodrama. Raistlin gestured to the chair on the other side of the desk at which he was seated.

"In that case, sit down, apprentice. It must be serious if you feel your life is threatened, but I'm sure it can be dealt with."

Dalamar managed a smile, but it looked more like the grin of a skeleton. "Perhaps." he murmured, sinking into the chair and momentarily resting his head in his hands. "Perhaps I'm signing my own death warrant."

Both of Raistlin's eyebrows shot up that time. Signing his own death warrant? "Why don't you start at the beginning?" he suggested, as he leaned back in his chair and steepled his fingers. Dalamar drew a deep breath, then looked up and met Raistlin's eyes.

"A month before we met, I was approached by Ladonna. She knew that I had written to you, asking to become your apprentice, and she offered her support if - if I agreed to become a spy for the Conclave." Dalamar's voice nearly broke on the confession, and he looked toward the fireplace and hurried on, as though fearing that Raistlin might kill him on the spot. "I wasn't thinking clearly, and - she promised me that if I agreed, I would be the next head the Black Robes. I accepted her offer."

Dalamar paused for breath, then continued. "I honestly thought I could do it, that I could work it all out somehow, but I can't. Every day is torture now - I feel like I'm suffocating, constantly worried that you're going to find out what I'm doing. Worse, I didn't realize the loyalty that I would feel toward you, but it's there just the same. You're the most powerful mage ever to live, you don't let anything stand in your way - standing in front of the Conclave, all I can see is a bunch of meddling old fools who are trying to stop you out of jealousy."

For a moment, Dalamar's voice failed; he gulped and forged ahead, not even looking at Raistlin anymore, talking desperately. "Today I reported to the Conclave again. I haven't given them any really important information yet, nothing regarding your plans; I couldn't bring myself to go that far. Today, Ladonna said that - that the longer I stay here, the greater the risk that you'll find out, and that if that happens you might be able to get valuable information about the Conclave from me. She said that... if I didn't have anything solid to report soon, that they would have to consider that I have outlived my usefulness."

Finally he looked back at Raistlin, and the human could see the stark desperation in the elf's eyes. "If I don't come up with a plan soon, I'm dead. I can't go on like this, I can't survive when I'm being torn in two: I can't keep balancing my loyalties to you and to the Conclave. The Conclave's not going to help me out of this, I can never trust them again - I never thought I could in the first place. So, your move, Shalafi - turn me over to the Conclave, do whatever you want. My hand's played out."

Raistlin sat silently for a moment, just staring into his apprentice's desolate grey eyes. His face was inscrutable as always, but inside Raistlin's mind was churning. Granted, he knew about Dalamar's double loyalty - but he had had no idea of the magnitude of reward they have offered the young elf. Moreover, he had never dreamed that Dalamar would confess! Already his mind was racing, calculating ways this could be turned to his advantage. In seconds, he had evolved a full plan and determined to set it in motion.

He sat forward in the chair. The simple motion was enough to make Dalamar flinch, his silver-grey eyes widening in alarm. Raistlin waited a moment longer, then spoke in a steady, quiet voice. "I'm impressed, my apprentice. I didn't think you had this kind of courage."

Dalamar's eyes grew round as saucers. For a moment he sat silently, stunned. Then, hesitantly, he whispered, "You - you knew?"

Raistlin arched one eyebrow. "Oh, I knew that Ladonna had her claws in you - I didn't know the stakes though, I didn't expect that they'd offer you that great a reward. I suppose they feel threatened enough by me that they feel it's worth it. Or, more likely, they simply plan on killing you anyway, once you've done their dirty work for them."

Dalamar stared at him, dumbfounded. "But - if you knew - why didn't you say anything?"

Raistlin shrugged. "I didn't see the need. I knew you hadn't revealed anything important to them yet, and you are a more than adequate apprentice. I saw no reason to terminate your apprenticeship early. If and when you posed a serious threat... then I would have had to take action."

If anything, the elf grew a shade paler, swallowing hard and shifting in the chair. "And now?" he asked quietly, his voice strangely steady.

Raistlin stared at him, weighing him, then he said softly, "That depends on you, apprentice."

Dalamar was really squirming now, as Raistlin's golden eyes continued to bore into him. "I sense there's something else you're not telling me. It is true that you cannot trust the Conclave, but they are less likely to succeed in killing you than I am. If survival was your sole concern, I do not think you would have made this confession. What other reason is there?"

Apparently, the strain had become too much for the normally placid elf, who leapt out of his chair as if he had been burned, retreating from Raistlin. "Shalafi, please, don't ask me that. I assure you, the reason is nothing for you to be worried about."

Again, Raistlin was surprised. He had expected either total honesty, or a clever attempt at evasion, not this plaintive request. He had assumed the elf still had some sort of ambitious scheme up his sleeve, but it did not appear so now. That left only reasons more... personal.

For the first time, Raistlin seriously considered that his attraction to his apprentice might well be mutual. Certainly, he was not blind to the way Dalamar had flirted with him in the past - he simply hadn't attached any significance to it, considering the way the dark elf flirted with anything attractive on two legs. If Dalamar wasn't willing to betray him, even for a shot at being the head of the Black Robes, yet wouldn't tell him why... perhaps there was more behind that subtle flirting than Raistlin had suspected.

If so, that was welcome news indeed. For the first time in his life, Raistlin was seriously tempted to forget his self-imposed celibacy and see where this attraction would lead. Deciding it was time to take matters into his own hands, Raistlin rose and moved around the desk, herding his terrified apprentice back toward the arched windows.

"If it is of no concern to me, why are you so afraid, my apprentice?"

Dalamar was backing further away, looking deeply unsettled. He shook his head, eyes pleading. "Shalafi, I..." seeing the determination in Raistlin's eyes, he dropped his gaze and whispered his second, far more personal confession of the night.

"I'm in love with you."

Raistlin's own eyes widened slightly. The elf was in love with him? That was a bit more than he had expected. Still, hearing it, he felt a soft thrill run through him. Perhaps he had underestimated his own feelings as well. Though Raistlin was accustomed to being completely in control of himself and all events concerning him, Dalamar seemed to have an uncanny ability to throw him off balance. Time to return the favor.

The elf was now backed against the stone wall of the study, almost pinned by Raistlin, though the human hadn't even touched him yet. In a swift movement, Raistlin reached out and caught Dalamar's chin in his hand, lifting his head so that their eyes met.

Dalamar's eyes burned like cold steel, shining with a welter of turbulent emotions. Fear, and dread, with a hint of anger at the Conclave, but predominantly desire. Seeing that look in his eyes, Raistlin let himself forget whatever carefully calculated statement he had been about to make, and simply kissed him.

For a moment, the elf seemed too stunned to react - then he responded. His lips moved against Raistlin's, his sleekly muscular body shifting forward to press against the human. Raistlin disregarded every reason he shouldn't be doing this, sliding his thin arms around his apprentice and pulling him closer.

Dalamar melted against him, slender fingers winding into Raistlin's white hair and pulling them closer still, drowning in the pleasure of their embrace...

Dalamar dragged himself back to the present, smiling to himself at the strength of the memory. He wasn't sure just who had seduced who that night, but it didn't matter. In matters of magic, Raistlin was the teacher and he the student; in all else, they were now equals. He knew the honor that had been afforded him, and he was more grateful than he could ever put into words.

He had spent each night since then with his Shalafi, utterly faithful to his mentor. His days of seducing random acquaintances were well and truly over, and he didn't miss it one bit. His former girlfriend, Jenna, was more than a little irritated at him, but then she had no idea just why he had broken off his relationship with her. She assumed he was back to picking up girls at bars in the shadier parts of Palanthas.

Oh, how wrong she was.

The memories rose again in his mind, cascading through him in a blur of color and sensation. That night... that night he had found out what ecstasy really was. Lying with Raistlin in the ocean of black silk that was the mage's bed, feeling the burning heat in Raistlin's skin pressed against his own, finally feeling those slender, expert fingers on his body... nothing he had ever felt before would ever compare to being with Raistlin. Somehow, even the magic seemed a little less wondrous in comparison.

For all his inexperience, Raistlin was a very talented lover. His minute observation to detail let him memorize everything that pleased Dalamar, and he'd had the dark elf writhing in ecstasy in moments. With anyone else, Dalamar would have been embarrassed at how quickly he'd succumbed - and for letting the other lead. With Raistlin, though... he simply didn't care. As long as he had the right to call the human mage his lover, he would do anything to make him happy.

Now, tonight - tonight all their dreams would finally come true. Ever since Dalamar had confessed his feelings for Raistlin he had been feeding the Conclave false information, while secretly working side by side with Raistlin to bring his schemes to fruition. Tonight, Raistlin would return to the Tower and use the Cleric of Paladine, Crysania Tarinius, to open the portal to the Abyss. He had spent considerable time and effort convincing the cleric that he loved her, and it had paid off; she was completely enamored of him, and convinced that he was not truly evil. Dalamar smirked to himself. Oh, if only she knew the truth!

His smirk widened as he thought back to earlier that day, his conversation in the Great Library with Elistan and Tanis Half-Elven. They had both been in a panic when they learned what they thought was the truth about Raistlin's plans. Dalamar remembered what he had said to Tanis:

"Lady Crysania was captivated by Raistlin. And, if the truth be told, he was attracted to her, I believe. Who can tell with him? Ice water is too hot to run in his veins."

Dalamar shook his head, amused. Raistlin would have been delighted at his acting skills, if he had witnessed that scene. The mixture of dread and scorn in Dalamar's voice had been more than enough to convince Tanis and Elistan of his sincerity: it was hard to tell, but even Astinus had not looked suspicious. Of course, the historian was forbidden from intervening, so he could not have risked alerting the other by looking skeptical anyway. Thinking of his performance, and the lingering memories of his first night with Raistlin, Dalamar felt suddenly far more relaxed. Raistlin's plans included every possible eventuality; nothing could truly catch him off guard. Everything would work out.

Sitting down on a couch near the fireplace, Dalamar settled in to wait the arrival of his Shalafi.

~DL~DL~DL~DL~DL~

When the winds of magic had settled around them, the time-travelers opened their eyes to find themselves in Raistlin's study. It was clearly the present day; a cheerful fire was burning in the fireplace, the place was spotlessly neat, and through the window the welcoming lights of Palanthas were clearly visible. Crysania sighed in relief, looking up at Raistlin with adoration in her eyes.

"Paladine be praised - we made it! When do we open the portal?"

Raistlin was only half-listening. The moment the euphoria of spell-casting faded his thoughts had turned, inevitably, to Dalamar. Though it had started as simple sexual attraction, his feelings for the dark elf had deepened and bloomed into something perilously close to love. Pragmatic as ever, Raistlin had given up fighting the feelings; if he couldn't get rid of them, he might as well enjoy them. He had no doubt that his apprentice was lurking in the shadows nearby, enjoying the show. Remembering the question, he turned back to his companions: Caramon was looking rather downcast, clearly unhappy that his attempts to dissuade his brother had not worked, and Tasslehoff was already looking about with bright interest. Crysania, on the other hand, was wearing an expression that resembled outright worship. Repressing the urge to roll his eyes, Raistlin pointed at Tasslehoff.

"Touch nothing. I will not be responsible for whatever hideous creature you manage to turn yourself into." Turning from the rather startled kender, he looked back at Crysania. "Stay here, rest, and commune with your god. We will enter the portal soon, but there is something I must attend to first." Ignoring Caramon entirely, Raistlin whispered a transport spell - one that, unbeknownst to his companions, landed him squarely in the spacious bedroom he shared with Dalamar.

The elven mage had obviously been expecting him, because Raistlin had scarcely touched the ground before his lover's arms were around his neck and he was being kissed to within an inch of his life. Startled but most definitely pleased, he wrapped an arm around Dalamar's slender waist and returned his kisses with equal fervor. Their lips molded together, tongues dueling for dominance, a contact fueled by a mixture of lust and something that ran far, far deeper.

When Dalamar finally let him breathe, Raistlin drew back a little and smiled at him, drinking in the familiar sight of his lover's face as he murmured, "I must be getting predictable."

Dalamar chuckled, grey eyes sparkling wickedly. "Or perhaps I'm starting to pick up tricks from you." he purred, taking advantage of Raistlin's amusement to press another kiss on his mouth. Raistlin let himself indulge for a few moments more, then he pulled away, shaking his head ruefully.

"It's a wonder I ever manage to focus, with you around. How have things been progressing in my absence?"

Dalamar smirked. "I had a talk with Tanis Half-Elven and that useless fool Elistan earlier today. They are both fully convinced that you're actually attracted to Crysania, and that you plan on seducing her and keeping her for yourself."

Raistlin laughed aloud, something that rarely happened and was invariably enough to scare bystanders when it did. "You must have put on quite the performance - I wish I could have seen it."

"Indeed." Dalamar said, moving to sit on the edge of the bed and pulling Raistlin down next to him. "I also managed to convince Half-Elven that I was having an affair with your sister." he murmured, trailing his fingers lightly down Raistlin's chest, relishing the familiar feeling of warmth that emanated from the frail-seeming human mage. Raistlin smirked.

"Believable enough. Kitiara would sleep with anything, so she would be more than happy to bed someone as handsome as you, despite your position as my apprentice." He tried half-heartedly to swat Dalamar's hands away as he spoke. "You do realize that we're planning on taking over the world later tonight, right?"

"So?" Dalamar said, grinning, as he tugged the other mage down to lie on the bed. He pressed an open-mouthed kiss on the metallic skin of the other mage's neck, trailing his lips up to Raistlin's ear before he whispered, "We've got hours, the cleric's busy praying and your brother's too stupid to be suspicious. The portal is supposed to be opened at midnight; don't tell me you'd rather spend that time poring over some dusty old book than... with me?"

Raistlin had to laugh again at the blatant suggestion in his lover's voice. Mirroring the other's wicked grin, he rolled them over and pinned Dalamar under him, straddling the lithe dark elf. "Well, when you put it like that..."

~DL~DL~DL~DL~DL~

Nearly three hours later, Crysania and Caramon both looked around when the study door opened and Raistlin stepped in, eyes gleaming.

"It's time."

Crysania rose to her feet instantly, her blue-grey eyes shining with religious fervor. Raistlin took a moment to study her, pretending to admire her, while really he was busy making a mental list of her shortcomings.

To start with, she was female. Raistlin had only had a crush on a girl once, a redhead from Solace named Miranda - that infatuation had been mostly based on the fact that every other young man in Solace also wanted her, and had only lasted a few days because he'd caught her screwing like a rabbit with his brother. Once he and Caramon had gotten out into the real world and started traveling, it hadn't taken long for Raistlin to realize he actually preferred men. It wasn't all that forbidden; most formalized modern religions condemned it as a sin, but the general public didn't usually care. The elves were especially casual towards homosexuality - it was fear of Raistlin's reaction, not shame, that had kept Dalamar from confessing sooner. During his days as a mercenary, Raistlin had accidentally let slip a comment about his preferences one night after a battle, when he'd had a bit too much wine at the victory celebration. Caramon had been utterly shocked; the big warrior still wasn't very worldly, and had been astonished at the idea his brother was gay. Deciding to mitigate the damage, Raistlin had told Caramon that he liked men and women both, and the warrior had apparently thought it through and decided that it was just another of Raistlin's little quirks. Raistlin wasn't all that sure of his attitude toward women at first - he suspected he was completely gay, but he wasn't positive - but his suspicions had been more than confirmed when he first came face-to-face with Takhisis. The Queen of Darkness had mocked him viciously for his tastes, and had somehow managed to wriggle into his head and find out another embarrassing fact that the mage had been striving to keep hidden; when Tanis had jealously thought that Raistlin was shooting admiring looks at Laurana, it was actually Gilthanas that he'd been eyeing. At the time Raistlin prayed that Tanis hadn't figured that out; the half-elf rebelled against elven views at every opportunity, and probably would have been horrified to discover Raistlin was gay.

Gender aside, Crysania did fit his tastes fairly well. When they first met in the past and he saw her through non-cursed eyes, Raistlin had actually thought that she was moderately attractive; only now, fresh from Dalamar's arms, did the mage realize why. He had to school his features carefully to hide a sudden surge of amusement.

Crysania's skin was milky pale, her eyes a soft blue-grey, and her hair a glossy blue-black. Dalamar definitely fitted the bardic description of alabaster skin, his eyes shifted from a pale steely grey to the colour of storm clouds depending on his mood, and his hair was like distilled night. In nearly every way, Crysania was like a slightly less-breathtaking version of Dalamar in a female body. Raistlin shook his head mentally; he could already hear the cleric's traumatized screeches when she realized that he was in love with an elf who shared her general characteristics. A male elf, at that. While the teachings of Paladine supported love in every form, the Palanthian nobility thought of homosexuality as a blight on the world, and Crysania would scream bloody murder if she knew the truth about Raistlin. He sincerely hoped to reveal that truth to her tonight.

Completely fooled by the false admiration in his eyes, Crysania beamed at him and moved past him out into the hall. Raistlin turned to lead the way up the stairs, aware of Caramon following close behind, watching him intently. Though he was concerned for Crysania's welfare, Caramon actually supported the cleric's relationship with Raistlin, hoping that she could 'save' his wayward brother. Now, however, he seemed just a tad suspicious - of course, he would never figure it out in time. Raistlin smirked inwardly. Caramon, too, would be in for a shock.

When they entered his study, Raistlin flicked a quick glance through the room; the corners and much of the right side of the room was lost in shadow, and he could detect no movement. Despite this, he knew full well that Dalamar was there; he could feel his lover's presence, as only those truly in love can. He felt his skin tingle with excitement; this was their night. Nuitari was full tonight, and he could feel the dark god's power filling him, flowing through his veins. Soon...

With a gesture, he banished the curtains that framed the portal. The five dragonheads gleamed in the light of his staff, forever frozen in their silent hymn to the Dark Queen's triumph. A word of magic, and a soft glow suffused the portal, a strange shimmer beginning to stir within the archway. Raistlin gestured to Crysania.

Her eyes luminous with the light of her faith, Crysania moved to stand within the portal. From the shadows on the other side of the room, Dalamar watched scornfully as she began the prayer that would partially open the portal. She was beautiful, he conceded - in a washed-out, black-and-white manner. Moreover, he knew that Raistlin could not see her beauty; she aged and died before his enchanted eyes, whereas Dalamar did not. An elf still in the prime of his youth, his immortality kept him from aging at all before the gold-skinned mage's gaze, a blessing that both of them appreciated. Dalamar was constantly thankful that he had managed to bring even that small piece of normalcy and pleasure into the world of ashes and death that surrounded his Shalafi.

Dalamar watched as the portal opened at the cleric's touch, and listened in wonder and awe as Raistlin intoned the spells that finished the process. As the last command was pronounced and the final dragon's head breathed its magic into the archway, the portal opened at last; behind Crysania the landscape of the Abyss took shape, flat scarlet sand and dull crimson sky.

Crysania stepped away from the portal, her pale cheeks flushed with victory, and moved toward Raistlin. She caught hold of one of his hands, smiling up at him with pure adoration. "Nothing can stop us now, love."

The warmth in her eyes turned to confusion when, in a swift movement, Raistlin yanked his hand from hers and stepped past her toward the portal, turning back toward her a moment later with malicious triumph in his golden eyes.

"Correction. Nothing can stop me and my true beloved now. You, on the other hand, have served your purpose, Revered Daughter."

Caramon let out a strangled noise of shock as Crysania gasped, her blue-grey eyes widening in deep hurt. "But - Raistlin! I thought..."

"You thought I was in love with you." Raistlin sneered, his mask melting away to reveal an expression of utter cruelty. Dalamar shivered in delight; it was this side of Raistlin that drew him like no other, the side that frightened most others away. Raistlin continued, the dispassionate tone of his voice only making the blows more painful. "In that, Revered Daughter, you have proved yourself an utter fool. Did you really think that I could ever love one such as you?"

Crysania actually staggered back a little at that, tears welling up in her shining eyes. Caramon started forward, fury lighting his chocolate brown eyes, but Raistlin made an impatient gestured and the warrior was bound in place, silenced by magic. Out of common sense, Raistlin did the same to Tasslehoff, who had already startled prattling questions. Raistlin then continued as though there had been no interruption, eyes glinting viciously. "If so, you were dreadfully mistaken, my lady. In fact, I don't think I can even begin to explain just how wrong you were. Perhaps... Dalamar, do you think you could help with that?"

Dalamar suppressed his laughter, but he didn't bother to hide his vicious smirk as he stepped forward out of the shadows and walked to stand next to Raistlin. Crysania spun to face him, her face contorting in horror.

"What - what are you doing here?"

"Tch tch, such a dreadful lack of manners." Dalamar tutted, his silver eyes narrowing in malicious pleasure as he slipped an arm around Raistlin's slim waist and pulled the other mage close. Crysania's eyes widened, and her mouth fell open, but no sound emerged; she appeared to have been rendered speechless by shock and horror. Raistlin laughed coldly, a truly terrifying sound, and wrapped his own arm around Dalamar in return.

"Oh, dear. I do believe you've shattered her nice, rose-coloured bubble, melamin. Such a pity."

Caramon was still paralyzed and silenced, but his eyes betrayed his shock at Raistlin's tone. Neither Crysania nor the warrior spoke elven, and they had obviously missed the fact that Raistlin had addressed Dalamar as 'my love'. Before anyone could act, though, there came a crashing noise from below. Dalamar's smirk widened.

"Ah, that must be our guests. Right on time, as usual."

Raistlin smiled darkly. "Indeed. How kind of them to be so punctual."

Pounding footsteps approached, and the door burst open under the weight of two bodies. Tanis Half-Elven and Kitiara Uth-Matar fell into the room, closely followed by none other than Goldmoon. The Cleric of Mishakal was a surprise addition: both mages had thought she was at home rearing her and Riverwind's brats, but neither was dismayed. Her presence would not make a single bit of difference.

Kitiara was first back on her feet, and she froze, sword out and eyes wide. "Tanis, we have a problem!" she hissed swiftly, staring at the two mages and the dumbfounded cleric. Tanis scrambled to his feet and gaped, bewildered.

"Dalamar?" he spluttered, utterly confused. "What the hell?"

"Ah, Tanis, as quick on the uptake as always." Raistlin said with a smirk, tightening his hold on his lover. "You never did think things through, did you? After all these years, you still fell right into my trap. Well," he amended, glancing at the elf in his arms, "Our trap."

Dalamar laughed at the stunned look on the three newcomer's faces. "I think you've lost them, love."

"LOVE?"

The shriek that burst from Crysania's mouth was close to ear-shattering. Dalamar winced, his sensitive hearing suddenly a drawback, as several glass beakers on the table cracked slightly. Goldmoon, her blue eyes clouded with confusion, quickly moved to put her arm around the distraught cleric of Paladine. Tanis, belying Raistlin's assessment, made a remarkably quick recovery.

"Hold on - Dalamar, I thought you were with Kit?"

"WHAT?" Kitiara stared at Tanis, dumbfounded. "I don't sleep with mages!"

Dalamar was shaking his head, his expression pitying. "Honestly, Tanis, I'm amazed that you swallowed that story in the first place. Why in the world would I sleep with a slut like Kitiara when I have Raistlin?" The dark elf turned and pressed a loving, slightly exaggerated kiss on the human's jaw.

There was another screech from Crysania, and the dark-haired woman finally shook herself out of her shock enough to launch into a blistering tirade about sin and vulgarity. Shoulders shaking slightly with repressed laughter, Raistlin retaliated by turning his head and kissing Dalamar squarely on the mouth. He held the contact, and things got rather heated after a moment.

When they finally separated, they were greeted with chaos. Kitiara was staring at them with a kind of revolted fascination lighting her brown eyes, Tanis had clamped his hands over his face and was muttering repeatedly, "I did not see that, I did not see that..." while Crysania was nearing hysteria and Goldmoon was trying to calm her. Just out of interest, Raistlin dissolved the spell on Caramon and Tasslehoff.

The kender immediately began jumping up and down, wildly excited. "Wow! Caramon, did you see that? All this time we thought Raistlin liked Crysania, and really he's in love with Dalamar! That's so sweet! We'll have to tell Tika she lost her bet that Raistlin and Crysania would be together; I guess she won't be very happy about that. Do you think she'll be mad enough to throw your armor at you again? Say, do you think Raistlin and Dalamar will be getting married?"

Caramon had been opening his mouth to make a comment when that last question slipped out of Tas's mouth, and the warrior choked on whatever he had meant to say. Raistlin watched in open amusement as his brother's face turned red, then purple, then rather green. After a moment of swallowing hard, Caramon said in a rather strangled voice, "I guess this means Tika won't be getting any nieces or nephews after all."

It was Dalamar's turn to choke. Raistlin just stared for a moment, then a slow smile curled his lips. "You never cease to amaze me, my brother."

Kitiara and Tanis were both starting forward now, eyes blazing and swords drawn, and Goldmoon was advancing while steadfastly denouncing their evil, perverted ways. Raistlin lifted an eyebrow, then spoke a simple command.

Silence fell once more, instantly. Raistlin shook his head. "Really, Goldmoon, I never thought of you as the prejudiced type. I suppose even I can be mistaken on occasion. Now, this is how events are going to proceed. Dalamar and I are entering the portal now, and we are going to defeat Takhisis and, essentially, take over the world. You are going to stand here and panic for a while, then you'll realize that you are defeated and go home to await the end of the world as you know it."

Dalamar smirked and added, "Oh, and kindly mention to Elistan that he really ought to screen his clerics for gullibility in the future - if he has a future."

Raistlin matched his smirk and kissed him swiftly. "Nice touch. Now, mela en coiamin*, let's go take over the world, shall we?"

Dalamar smiled into his lover's eyes, completing oblivious to the frozen witnesses present. "Why not? They do say that love conquers all..."

Sharing a last look of triumph and love, the two mages stepped into the portal and vanished in a swirl of rainbow light...

...

...

Heh heh, sorry about the cheesiness of that last bit there. I just couldn't resist. Besides, I like cheese. (gouda is my favorite, but edam is very nice too... damn! FOCUS!) In case anyone was wondering why the heck Goldmoon was there, the answer is 'because I felt like it'. I just thought someone needed to be there to restrain Crysania (Mwah hah hah!). Next chapter will be coming soon.

*Translates to 'love of my life'.