Author's Note: I know there's absolutely no excuse for leaving this story so long without an update: all I can say is that it started with a car accident that left me in the hospital for weeks, and it all snowballed from there. My fics have slid further and further down my list of life priorities recently, and I'm ashamed to say that I've overshot my expected due dates on quite a few updates. However, what's done is done: I hereby present my new update of awesome-Raistlin-ness, and I will do my utmost to ensure such a delay does not happen again. And I do come bearing gifts! In addition to the one-shot of Raistlin/Dalamar that I posted on here, I've also uploaded the uncensored versions of these Call Of Arcane Lore chapters on my DeviantArt account at long last.
Sweet-Hearted Silver Ears: Wow, thanks so much! I have a penchant for going overboard on details sometimes: I'm borderline compulsive that way. Nice to know we're agreed on the matter of the Conclave - I hated Par-Salian with a passion ever since I first read about him. And really, when you think about it, Caramon really does love Raistlin, and Kit is just looking out for herself, and Tanis has known Raistlin for years - why would they all just suddenly turn on him? But Goldmoon was a right cow when they introduced her character, and Crysania's too holier-than-thou to listen to anyone's advice. I'm especially glad you like the flashbacks. I needed some way to show Raistlin and Dalamar's relationship without dragging the story out too long: good to know it's working!
JadeRose: Yeah, I figured it was time someone had these guys - Caramon especially - act instead of just react. I mean, Caramon did do a lot of growing up in War of the Twins: surely he wouldn't just fall back into old patterns. And for Paladine's sake, would someone please show a little loyalty here? In the canon, Raistlin got screwed over and over and over again - and just when he was on the brink of success he got screwed yet again. I hated Time of the Twins, just because it was so dreadfully unfair. Even if they didn't really like Raistlin, he did a hell of a lot for them, they should be more grateful.
demonic-blackbird: So glad I could brighten the horizon for another Dalamar/Raistlin fan! I noticed that there wasn't all that much activity in that pairing, and it really seemed a shame, because they really are the most awesome pair EVER. Yeah, Wishmaster does kind of have a slashy tone, doesn't it? I think most Dragonlance fans (including Tuomas) would at least be open to the idea, though: even in the canon, there were definitely some hints in that direction. Besides, they're just so PERFECT for each other! By the way - two Raistlins? My god, you are one lucky dark elf. On another note: believe me, my friend, your rambling has nothing on my rambling. I went some forty-eight hours without sleep a couple weeks ago, and one of my reviewers on my HP fic told me my Author's Note ramblings were as entertaining as the fic itself!
Tintti: Awe, thank you! Even when I don't specifically try, I always seem to end up focusing on the emotional aspect of romance fics: even the smut comes out sappy half the time. It's always good to run into another fangirl, though! (And don't worry, your English is just fine!)
WereBunny87: Ah, where would I be without you, my friend? If you want my advice, stick to any of the DL novels with Raistlin in them and anything by Richard Knaak: they're the cream of the crop. (And I personally can't stand most of the New Age books, but that's just me, who knows: you might like them... *shrugs* Each to their own!)
Chronomentrophobia: 157? Wow! Yeah, I can definitely sympathize - my IQ landed me a government job that has now DEVOURED MY LIFE. Oh well. At least it pays good!
To all concerned: my DeviantArt username is Mercuryshade999. I now have the uncensored chapters posted there, and will update that version as well when I finish the fourth chapter of this fic. Which will, of course, be a much quicker update than this last one. Provided I don't fall off a cliff or something. I don't think the Fates like me very much.
Chapter Soundtrack: Requiem for a Dream - the version from LOTR by Clint Mansell, Battlefield by Blind Guardian, and The Last Candle by Blind Guardian. (Man, I love all the bands that have written songs about Dragonlance! Blind Guardian, Nightwish, Dargaard, Dungeon, all of them!)
Chapter Three: His Eyes Were Cold As Ice...
Dalamar had never felt more alive. His nerves tingled with the rush of adrenaline, his heart was pounding with a combination of fear and exhilaration, his blood singing with the surge and flow of magic. His every sense seemed sharper, clearer, on high alert: he had never felt more energized, more keenly aware of the present moment. Perhaps this, then, was where he was meant to be all along. At his beloved's side, staring into the heart of a maelstrom of destruction as they faced down a raging goddess.
They had arrived at Godshome on a tide of magic, bloody but unbowed after their battle in the Abyss. Already the ground was beginning to shudder and rumble, as though it knew what was about to happen, as though the earth itself had sensed the approach of a cataclysmic battle: the skies were dark and storm-tossed, a rising wind beginning to howl through the valley. Raistlin held Dalamar close to his side as they materialized, the air humming with energy as he smiled at his dark elf, his golden eyes still glowing with power as he murmured, "Almost there, love. Almost there."
Dalamar returned his exhilarated smile, his grey eyes shining with a mixture of magic and longing as he whispered, "Lead the way, beloved."
Where the two mages had appeared in the valley, they were cloaked from view by the shadows of the high cliffs, there black robes easily camouflaging them against the unwary eye. As they started toward the center of the valley, where the obelisks ringed the bowl of glassy black stone, there was the unmistakeable shimmer of a transport spell in the air.
Justarius, Ladonna, and Par-Salian appeared out of the ether a few hundred yards away, their materialization accompanied by a sharp crack of energy. The two Black Robes paused, exchanging cruel smiles, then slipped unseen back into the shadows.
Justarius, Par-Salian, and Ladonna materialized at Godshome with defensive spells already hovering on their lips, hands poised to cast. Fortunately for them, Godshome seemed deserted: the sky overhead roiled furiously, flashes of lightning skittering across the clouds, trailed by crashing thunder, but there was no sign of Takhisis, Raistlin, or Dalamar.
Justarius was glaring at Par-Salian. "You don't think this is going a bit too far?" he asked, voice cold and bitter. "The Gods know I despise what the dark elf did to my daughter, but you've sent Half-Elven and the others to their deaths."
"In war, sacrifices must be made." Par-Salian said, his blue eyes dark with determination.
A chilling laugh swept through the valley, accompanied by a gust of cold wind and a crash of thunder. "Such a noble sentiment, Par-Salian." came a cold, sneering voice. "How unfortunate for you that you are about to become one of those sacrifices."
Raistlin and Dalamar appeared out of the shadows at the base of the cliff, haloed by dark energy, the lightning-crackles of magic dancing on their fingertips as the other mages whirled to face them. Dalamar, smirking, couldn't resist adding his own comment to Raistlin's. "Justarius, I'm surprised to see you here - shouldn't you be in Palanthas comforting your heartbroken daughter?"
"Don't you dare talk about Jenna, dark elf scum!" Justarius snarled. Raistlin gestured almost negligently, and a blast of fiery power struck the head of the Red Robes, sending him flying backward to crash into a boulder. The black-robed mage's eyes narrowed.
"I would advise you not to insult my lover, Justarius. You are already in enough jeopardy: don't make it even worse for yourself. Behave, and I might just let you live."
"We should have known you couldn't be trusted." Ladonna spat at Dalamar. The dark elf smiled sardonically.
"Yes, actually, you should have. Why in Nuitari's name would I retain my forced loyalty to you when I could have Raistlin at my side and the world at my feet? You of all people should know what it takes to be a true Black Robe, Ladonna. Power, and ambition. Which means that I was already strong enough to betray you, and would do so in a heartbeat, given the right incentive. Raistlin offered me a world, and an eternity at his side - what were your paltry promises of compensation worth compared to that?"
"We trusted you, Dalamar." Par-Salian said, his expression gravely disappointed. Raistlin laughed bitterly.
"Why don't you drop this masquerade of benevolence, Par-Salian? My poor gullible brother isn't present, we all know what you really are." The archmage's golden eyes drilled into the White Robe, his gaze burning with hatred. "I don't know why anyone is ever surprised to learn about your history with Ladonna, you have just as much blood on your hands as she does. You lie, and manipulate, and deceive whomever you see fit to further your own aims. Your piety is just as much an illusion as my supposed feelings for the Lady Crysania: she was a pawn, nothing more, and a tiresome one at that."
Par-Salian's gaze hardened, and his lip curled slightly. "Fine." he said coldly, his blue eyes turning to chips of ice, sharp and flinty. "Perhaps I am not as pure as my reputation claims. That does not mean my cause is not just - and it does not affect the simple truth that you must be stopped, for the sake of all Krynn!"
Dalamar glanced at the sky, seeing the storm intensifying as he said softly, "We don't have time for this, melamin. We need to get these fools out of the way before our guest shows up."
Raistlin smirked, watching the fear dawn across the mages' faces. "Quite right, Dalamar. Would you care to do the honors?"
Most of the Conclave had assumed that Dalamar was not very powerful, an assumption reaffirmed by the fact that the elven mage almost never used magic in front of his fellows. In fact, though, he was exceptionally strong - not as strong as Raistlin, but very powerful nonetheless. With his magical abilities boosted a hundredfold by the bond that hummed between himself and his lover, Dalamar was easily strong enough to take on the unprepared mages of the Conclave: a few sharp words and a commanding gesture, and Justarius, Par-Salian, and Ladonna found themselves pinned to the rough stone of the cliff wall, utterly immobilized. Cursing, they fought to break free - but to their mingled shock and horror, they were unable to overpower the dark elf's spell.
Raistlin turned to his lover, smiling, golden eyes bright with power and anticipation. "Perfect, love." he murmured, stealing a swift kiss before the earth shuddred again and they separated, bracing themselves in readiness.
At that very moment, the sky overhead tore open like a shredded banner, and the Dragonqueen appeared above them in all her fearsome glory. Her rainbow-hued wings nearly blotted out the heavens as she reared above them, her five heads roaring triumph to the storm-tossed skies as she looked down at the mages and bared her fangs in a challenging smile. Exchanging last glances of love and promise, Raistlin and Dalamar gathered their power and struck.
The battle that was engaged then was like nothing ever seen before on the face of Krynn. Raw magic crackled through the air, hot and wild like sunlight chained to its caster's will, searing between mages and goddess. Lightning flared and struck, blasting craters in the earth as fire seared the stone with blackened scars: wind howled around them, laden with icy fog and clouds of burning acid, thick with smoke and the smell of scorched earth. The mages held their own, their dual attacks keeping Takhisis constantly on edge and turning between the two of them, the goddess unable to focus her full wrath on one target before the other would strike.
The battle wore on for what felt like an eternity, but both mages knew it was only a matter of time. Sure enough, Takhisis finally made a mistake: she turned too slow from Dalamar toward Raistlin, and as her wings swept wide to aid the turn, for a single moment she left her entire chest defenseless.
The two bolts of pure magical energy struck her at almost the same instant, Raistlin's just a heartbeat behind, finishing what Dalamar's blow had begun.
Takhisis's chest seemed to rupture from within, and a torrent of dark energy burst from behind her scales and poured forth like a frothing river of purple-black magic. The Dragonqueen reeled back with an earth-shattering scream, her five heads tossing in agony as her wings flared stiff and wide, her very essence pouring out in a unstoppable tide. The power swirled for a moment, directionless and raging - then it surged forward and slammed like a tsunami wave into Raistlin Majere.
The gold-skinned mage staggered slightly as the power swept over him, his skin searing with the strength of it, his blood still singing with his own magic. For a moment, the world vanished: all he could see was the coruscating light of the divine magic flooding his body, rending apart old barriers and shattering his old form... remaking him into something new, and far greater.
Some barrier in his mind seemed to shatter, and his awareness expanded a thousandfold: he could feel the tremors in the earth beneath his feet, the tossing of the oceans miles away, the storms brewing across Ansalon, unleashed by the surge of divine magic. He could feel the fear that radiated from the three Heads of the Conclave, the more distant terror of the people all across Ansalon who were witnessing the beginnings of a second Cataclysm - and, much closer and stronger, the fiercely radiant love and awe of a certain dark elf. Dalamar's love seemed to glow like a candle flame in the dark maelstrom of power, and Raistlin focused on that light, keeping himself anchored through the storm.
He heard Dalamar's voice, though whether the elf had spoken aloud or their minds had simply opened to one another, Raistlin had no idea.
We did it, love!
Yes. Raistlin gathered his will into the fire-forged steel-strong force that he had mastered all those years ago, and reached out to the Dark Elf, drawing him closer and embracing him body and soul.
He felt the Dark Elf's surprise, and answered the unspoken question. I told you I wouldn't leave you, Dalamar. They fear to see a new dark God rise: let us see how they face the reality of two!
With a thought, Raistlin tore down the last barriers between himself and his beloved, letting the wild magic flow freely between them. Dalamar, too, mentally reeled as the tidal wave of energy crashed into him - but he withstood the storm, and exulted in the sensation of pure power flooding through his veins. He exulted, too, in the final proof of Raistlin's love: so many times they had pledged themselves to each other, yet there had remained the slightest shadow of doubt in the dark elf's mind. Raistlin might believe himself in love with Dalamar, but when the time of reckoning came, Dalamar still feared that the human mage might leave him behind in favor of attaining his goals. With godhood at stake, the elf couldn't even have blamed him - but it seemed that Raistlin was just as hopelessly in love with Dalamar as Dalamar was with him. Perhaps it was true after all: whether you willed it or not, love was stronger than any other force on Krynn.
The powers of a god couldn't hurt, though.
His body thrumming with more power than any mortal had ever tasted, alive with magic and love in the heart of a storm of creation and destruction, Dalamar laughed.
A short time ago in the Lordcity of Palanthas, near the Tower of High Sorcery...
"Whether or not we're going to fight him, we have to go to Godshome." Tanis insisted, his hand tightly gripping the hilt of his sheathed sword as he stared hard at Kitiara and Caramon. "What if Raistlin looses? Takhisis would be free in the world, with her full powers at hand and nothing to tether her in place. She could destroy us all without any true effort on her part: we have to be there to at least try and slow her down if something goes wrong."
Kitiara nodded. "Fair enough - even I will admit that Raistlin's not infallible by any means, the risk is still high that he won't be strong enough to actually kill the Dark Queen. But how in the names of the gods do we get to Godshome in time?"
Tanis faltered, his mind stalling - but Caramon solved their problem when he started, his eyes brightening as he looked past Tanis.
Startled, Tanis spun around: sure enough, there was Fizban hobbling swiftly toward them, the aged mage looking almost frantic as he approached them. "No time for chitchat! You three have a plan, yes?" he said urgently, his staff thunking rapidly along the cobbled street. Kitiara grimaced.
"Such as it is. We're not going to stop Raistlin, but we need to get to Godshome: if Raistlin and Dalamar fail, someone has to be on hand to try and stop Takhisis before she destroys the world herself."
Caramon stepped forward, his brown eyes bright with hope. "Can you take us there, Fizban? Par-Salian and the other mages from the Conclave are already there, but gods know what's happened to them: we need to get there, and fast."
Fizban hesitated, grimacing as he looked up at the near-hurricane brewing fast overhead, took in the ground that shuddered and danced beneath their feet. There was a tense moment, then the old wizard shook his head. "Alright. I'll take you there." he said finally, his words short and clipped, clearly reluctant. "I can't stay, though - I wouldn't stand a chance if I met Takhisis face to face under these circumstances. You three heroes are on your own."
He paused, glancing upward. "I'll take you there," he repeated, his expression uncharacteristically grim as he looked at the lightning-riddled sky. "But I cannot promise what you will find waiting for you."
Tanis understood perfectly. Avatar of Paladine or not, Fizban didn't have the full strength of the Platinum Dragon behind him: Paladine could no more fully manifest on this plane than Takhisis could have without Raistlin's intervention. If they had to face a raging Dragonqueen still smarting from her battle with a pair of hubristic mages, then the tattered remains of the former Companions of the Lance were going to stand alone.
The half-elf nodded. "We understand."
Fizban sighed and nodded, reaching out: quickly linking hands with Kitiara and Caramon, Tanis let Fizban chant his nonsense spell and whisk them away.
Meanwhile, at the mountain shrine of Godshome...
The storm of magic finally subsided, and Raistlin opened his eyes.
The world around him was changed almost beyond recognition. Colours shimmered and shifted before his eyes, flat tones of brown and grey changed to shimmering jewel-bright splashes of brilliance. All the damage done by his once-cursed eyesight was reversed, and then some: the world was breathtaking in its beauty, even in the harsh stone valley of Godshome.
Fascinated, Raistlin glanced down at himself - and his eyes widened, a mixture of wonder, delight, and triumph flooding his veins as he took in his altered appearance. Muscles he had not possessed before flexed, shifting his now-massive bulk on the cold stone: a vicious smile spread across his inhuman face as he realized just what magnificent form his transformation had gifted him with. Truly, it was an appropriate symbol, given the way he had risen to power.
At his side, Dalamar was stirring as well. The former elf dragged himself back to consciousness, shaking off the lingering dizziness as he opened his eyes: he froze for a moment, blinking, then looked down at himself. A low gasp escaped him before he looked back up, seeking out Raistlin's gaze, his silvery-grey eyes beginning to glow as he whispered, "Raistlin! We did it! We actually did it!"
Raistlin smiled and leaned forward, brushing the sleek coils of his new form along his lover's side as he breathed, "Yes we did, beloved. Together."
A short time later...
When Tanis and the others arrived at Godshome, courtesy of an increasingly edgy Fizban who had disappeared the moment they touched the ground, they found an eerie silence. From the chaos that ravaged the land around, they had expected to find a fierce conflict raging: instead, the holy place was perfectly, unnaturally silent and still. The high cliffs around them bore the marks of battle, though - the rock was scorched black and gouged as if by mighty claws, crumbled earth and jagged chunks of rock littering the once-smooth ground. A thick band of rubble was piled at the base of the cliffs, surrounding the valley like a rough-hewn iron chain, the heaped stone and earth casting strange shadows across the ravaged earth. The pillars which surrounded the smooth bowl of glassy rock in the valley's center, likewise, were marred by blackened scorch marks: a few of the obelisks even lay on their sides, or bore vicious cracks down their length. The silence in the valley seemed oppressive, the air thick and heavy with the smell of ozone and char. The sky overhead was dark and obscured, the clouds swirling sluggishly like a thick layer of smoke stirred by the fire's winds. After a long, wary moment, Tanis spoke.
"I don't understand." His voice, though low, seemed far too loud in the deadly quiet: swallowing hard, he dropped his voice still further, almost whispering. "Shouldn't there be some kind battle going on here? I mean... where is everyone?"
"Tanis." Kitiara's whisper carried a note of horrified awe. The two men turned to face her immediately, dread spiking through them: the blue-armored woman was crouched down, her gauntleted hand reaching out to pick up something from the scorched earth. Slowly, she rose to her feet and straightened: staring down at the object she held, she swallowed hard before she held out her hand palm-up, displaying it for her brother and ex-lover to see.
It was a fragment of a dragon's scale, thick and shimmering, blue at the center with radiating streaks of black. A faint dark glow lingered on it: the edges were jagged, and the thickest part of the scales was stained with thick red-black blood, as though it had been torn from the body of its bearer. They all stared at it for a moment, the questions in their minds too fearful to voice - then, finally, Kitiara spoke, her voice little more than a hushed breath.
"I think the battle's already over. I think the Dark Queen lost."
At that moment, one of the most chilling sounds the Companions had ever heard rolled through the valley. Laughter: cold as winter's breath, sharp as the blade of a silver knife. A grating rumble shook the ground, and a voice spoke from nowhere, echoing directly into their minds - and despite the power and certainty contained in those syllables, there was no mistaking the drawling, sarcastic tone or the soft, rasping voice itself.
Well done, dear sister. A pity for you, that you didn't take my offer - you would have made a fine Regent.
With a sound like a mountain shifting, movement stirred all around them. Tanis's sword seemed to leap to his hand, but as his heart clawed its way into his throat he knew it was already too late: the cliffs seemed to sway and bend, and dread hit the half-elf like a physical blow as he realized why.
The rounded heaps of rubble that lined the bases of all the cliffs were shifting, stirring like some primordial beast awakened from slumber - and as the dust and shattered rock slid aside in crashing waterfalls, the reason was only too clear. A sleek, glistening black body writhed free of its place of concealment, scales gleaming like liquid night in the dim grey lighting: it was a serpent, easily over six hundred feet long, its muscular coils bigger around than the bodies of most dragons. The serpent's head, its jaws alone large enough to engulf a full-grown warhorse, rose from the shadows at the mouth of the valley. The head was horned and ridged, the gaping maw lined with razor fangs and a long forked tongue like something out of a nightmare, or the darkest depths of the Abyss - but there was no doubt as to the creature's identity, not after one look at those burning, molten-gold, hourglass eyes.
Tanis, Kitiara, and Caramon instinctively fell back, hands seeking weapons by instinct as they gaped as the spectacle before them, a flare of power overwhelming their senses and almost driving them to their knees. The serpent that had once been Raistlin Majere reared high over them, his jaws splitting in a blood-curdling smile as he gazed down at the humans. His voice was a low, mocking hiss.
So, the proud heroes return. Brother, sister... Tanis. I hate to shatter your illusions, but you've come too late - Takhisis is dead and gone.
Caramon opened his mouth to explain that they hadn't come to stop Raistlin, only to protect Krynn from Takhisis and to see the truth with their own eyes, but Tanis beat him to it. The half-elf's voice was hard, but there was a sharp edge of fear under the harshness. "I don't see Dalamar. Did you turn on him in the end after all?"
A sound rose from behind them, a strangely breathy vibrating sound like a hiss and a snarl rolled into one. They spun around - and came face-to-face with something none of them had ever thought to see.
A creature almost as big as a dragon had slunk from the shadows of the mountain pass behind them, its silvery eyes blazing as it prowled free of the shadows. The blunt-nosed frilled head of a massive serpent swayed on a long, graceful onyx-scaled neck, sharp fangs bared and a forked tongue flickering at the air. A powerful body followed, catlike form sleek and muscular under a coat of smoke-grey and black-splotched fur. Leathery wings unfolded against the storm-ridden sky, slender stays and almost translucent membranes stirring lazily in the air. A long tail lashed languidly behind the creature as it advanced on the stunned humans, mercury eyes glowing too bright as a familiar lilting voice slithered from between gleaming fangs.
So little faith, Half-Elven. The air around them crackled, thick with energy from the presence of two gods as the massive Glatisant drew closer, cloven hooves eerily light and sure on the ravaged ground. As if we would have come so far, only to turn on each other now.
Tanis bit back his instinctive retort and swallowed hard, heart thumping in his chest as the knowledge sank in that he was facing a god. Raistlin's laugher sounded behind them, low and silky and chilling. So, tell me, brother - why are you here? Crysania would have had me believe that you suffered a change of heart...
Caramon drew a steady breath, not flinching as Dalamar's burning gaze flashed to him, and he answered Raistlin without turning. "I realized that there were some things that didn't make sense, and that when it came down to it, I trusted you a hell of a lot more than I did Par-Salian. I haven't forgotten the Test - he says he acts for the greater good, but he's not - not a god. He doesn't always know what's right."
Excellent, Raistlin breathed, his tone thrumming with triumph. And you, sister?
"We had an arrangement, Raistlin." Kitiara said, keeping her gaze straight ahead. "I learned my lesson last time - I'm not stupid enough to double-cross you twice."
Indeed. And of course, Tanis, we know why you are here - to put your conscience at rest if Caramon was right, and make a valiant last stand if he was wrong. Consider yourself fortunate that we were victorious - the Queen would not have been so lenient.
Raistlin dove forward suddenly, in a surge of rippling movement, slithering around the valley so that he was facing the humans at Dalamar's side. He was far longer than the Glatisant, though Dalamar's body was slightly bigger around and looked larger with his wings spread. The new King of the Abyss regarded them for a moment, tongue flickering, then he smiled darkly.
Very well. Go, return to your homes: Dalamar and I have business with the Pantheon of Darkness, but rest assured, we will meet again.
As both gods prepared to depart, a sudden thought struck Tanis, and he called out, "What happened to Par-Salian and the other mages?"
Dalamar's smile was just as chilling as Raistlin's. Do not concern yourselves with them. They have been... dealt with. They will not make the mistake of defying us again.
Before any of the three could ask anything further, there was a sudden blast of wind that stirred the dust to a swirling maelstrom and a sound like a thunderclap. When the wind died and they opened their eyes, blinking, both new gods had vanished.
In the Abyss, at the dark reflection of Neraka...
The Dark Pantheon were ranged about the scrying pool, their vaguely humanoid figures stock-still and stricken silent. When they gathered like this in council, they always used their human forms, if only to facilitate communication - at the moment, though, many of them were wishing they had taken their more fearsome creature forms, if only to make themselves feel a little less vulnerable.
Chemosh broke the silence in the end, his eyes wide with disbelief and his voice sounding slightly shaken. "I don't believe it. He did it. He finally took her down."
"Believe it." Sargonnas rasped, the bovine face of his favored form - that of a hulking minotaur - wearing a look of incredible grimness. "We had better prepare ourselves: those two will not be contented with Takhisis's raw power, they will undoubtedly try to seize her throne as well."
Zeboim looked up from the pool, her heavy-lidded eyes flashing in anger. "They do, and I'll shred them!" she spat, her fingers curling into claws. "I may have hated Takhisis's guts, but I won't stand for some young upstart giving me orders!"
"You have no choice, Zeboim."
Raistlin appeared in a swirl of shadowy power, his golden eyes burning and his black robes rippling in an ethereal breeze. Dalamar materialized at his side, silver eyes gleaming as he stood confidently at his lover's side. The Dark Pantheon stiffened as their two newest members approached, and Sargonnas stepped forward, a snarl forming on his lips.
"Back off, mages." he spat, his red eyes flashing in scorn. "You may have gotten lucky against Takhisis, but you can't take us all down."
"Can I not?" Raistlin asked softly, raising one eyebrow in disbelief. His gaze swept over the gathered gods, and his eyes hardened. His tone was low and silky with threat. "I am the Master of the Past and Present, and now a god as well. Cross me, and I will not hesitate to destroy you. However, unlike Takhisis, I can be merciful: if you acknowledge my rule and do not interfere with my plans, I will allow you to retain your former posts uncontested."
Before the words had even finished echoing in the air Chemosh was stepping forward and sinking into a low bow, his voice soft and smooth. "Ambitious I may be, but a fool I am not." He looked up, eyes glittering as he looked from Raistlin to Dalamar. "Consider me your loyal subject."
Raistlin and Dalamar both smirked: Sargonnas glared furiously at the God of Death. "Traitor." the minotaur spat. Chemosh merely shrugged.
Hiddukel stepped forward then, his trademark oily smile in place as he made a shallow bow. "I shall not oppose you, your Majesty. But tell me this: what place do you intend for your ally?"
Raistlin smiled darkly, wrapping an arm around Dalamar's waist as he said coolly, "Dalamar will be my Consort, of course - my equal in all things, and thus above you all as well. Anyone who protests that is welcome to match us in battle."
Dalamar smirked, lifting his head with no small amount of pride as he drawled, "Consider, too, that if you seek to turn us against each other, your efforts shall be in vain. We have faced too many challenges already to be parted now."
Slowly, one by one, the other gods bowed. They did it with stiff backs and blazing eyes, glowering looks and wounded pride - but bow they did, for they knew when they were defeated. Raistlin and Dalamar were powerful on their own, but together they made something that the Dark Pantheon had never faced before: a true partnership. Though Sargonnas had long been the Dragonqueen's Consort, their relationship had been one of lies and ambition and broken trust - Takhisis had never trusted her lover, never let down her watch against an axe aimed for her back. Raistlin and Dalamar, though, trusted each other completely: they could not be manipulated against each other, and in a battle their wrath would be focused completely on their foes, not divided between fighting their opponents and keeping an eye on each other. Older than the stars and wise enough to know when the odds were overwhelming, however reluctant they might be, the gods of Evil bowed to their new sovereign.
His arm tight around his lover's waist, watching the Dark Pantheon bow before him, Raistlin smiled.
Again, a thousand apologies for the delay in posting this. I'm planning on one more chapter, and possibly a short epilogue. Once more, the uncensored version is now posted on DeviantArt, under the name Mercuryshade999.