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Douglas Niles

Fistanadantilus Reborn

Prologue

The River of Time is eternal, flowing inexorably toward a mysterious destination along a channel gouged by the continuing history of Krynn. A tide broad and stately over the course of decades, centuries, and ages becomes torrential and violent through other stretches of lives, generations, and years. Languishing within murky depths or churning around the obstacles that periodically constrict the flow into an angry catarac the current progresses-and millions of individual beings entangle, each bringing a tale with its own beginning, middle, and conclusion. Yet each, as well, is a part of the great river, an often indistinguishable mote in the onward rush of time.

It is the historian's task to place these widely disparate truths into context, to illustrate how the mote of a single life must inevitably blend into the great flow. Be it a tale of light or darkness, of great men or small, the historian's pen must record honestly and impartially the perception of the truth that is viewed through said historian's eyes.

Most often the droplet of an individual's story is swept along by the greater flow, contributing its almost imperceptible weight in ways that even the astute chronicler must struggle to perceive. These are the teeming millions of the world, and despite the relative insignificance of each individual, it is their collective mass that gives majesty to the current and power to its flow.

Occasionally, however, a speck of a specific life will develop a momentum of its own, setting a course that will have impetus far beyond its own weight. Such an individual will twist the motes around it, perhaps swirling into a deep eddy, even pulling much of the river into an isolated and powerful orbit. Sometimes it will dip below the surface, vanishing by all appearances, yet in fact creating a powerful vortex, with currents rippling far downstream.

But even such mighty waters, these mortal cataracts and whirlpools, cannot escape the confines of the river. Ultimately they, too, are swept by the relentless, unstoppable current that is time, until even the ripples have faded away, vanished as if they had never been.

In a sense, the historian's task is to demonstrate otherwise. He must draw these rivulets up from the past and reproduce them to one who would study the river's channel, who would try to understand even a small segment of the overall course. The diligent chronicler pushes through the murky depths, identifies the key strains, and finds at the bed of the river the firmament that provides the proof.

Of historians who are perceptive and capable of recording the truth there are many, though one in particular comes to mind at present. Of tales worthy of the telling, the same may be said. Though the river is wide, this is a channel of the current that has always held great fascination to all who would hear the history of Krynn, perhaps because this tale concerns a mortal who strove constantly to hold the frailties of mortality at bay.

And he very nearly succeeded.

Now I find it fitting that this historian, and this tale, should come together. It is a story of life and death, though not necessarily in that order, and of a man who stirred the River of Time like no one else. His passing, when it became known, was celebrated by all who knew of his villainy and his might. His return to life, conversely, was conceived and executed in secret, and bore with it the seeds of overwhelming terror for the future of the world.

Yet I precede myself-or, rather, I precede the telling. Let it be noted that the river must at first be observed in portions upstream from the main channel of our story, segments of time that will place our story in context. Those glimpses, naturally, have been selected by the chronicling historian. He knows, as do I, that the story in fact begins much closer to the great stream's headwaters, and that its currents will ripple farther, into cataracts that remain to be revealed.

But herein lies the heart of the tale.

From the Chronicles of Astinus,

Lorekeeper of Krynn

CHAPTER 1

A Seed of Survival

In the Name of His Excellency Astinus, Lorekeeper ofKrynn Notes Pertaining to events 2 PC-1 PC Scribed this Fourth Misham, Deepkolt, 369 AC

One of the greatest challenges in recording the story of Fistandantilus arises from the fact that he-and the arch-mage Raistlin Majere-caused the River of Time to divide for a period into two parallel channels. There are two versions of history, and though in many respects they are identical, in some significant aspects the flowage takes a decidedly different appearance between the two tales.

The divergence occurred a short time before the Cataclysm. In one history, Fistandantilus made preparations for his journey to Istar, where he would forge an alliance with a white-robed priest and cast his mighty spell of time travel. In the other course of the channel, Fistandantilus was mastered by Raistlin Majere, who had traveled from the future for the confrontation. It became the younger man's destiny to escape the Cataclysm, to befriend a priest, and to follow in the steps that (he learned too late) were ordained by destiny.

In either case, one hundred years after the Cataclysm there occurred an epic battle of magical power and violence, and the Dwarfgate War culminated in the massive destruction of Dergoth. In one current of history, Fistandantilus was killed here. In the other, Raistlin was banished to the Abyss-but there, too, it seems likely that the remnant portion of Fistandantilus met a matching end.

I shall focus this consideration of my research upon the time leading up to the confrontation. Raistlin and Fistandantilus were two entities before the melding of their lives by the magic that would so stir the River of Time. While the gods of Krynn and the Kingpriest of Istar moved ever closer to their inevitable clash, the Tower of Wayreth became the center of magical mastery on Ansalon, and the archmage Fistandantilus rose to the highest pinnacle of his power.

The elder wizard was the black-robed archmage, Master of the Tower of Sorcery, and-subsequent to his creation of the time-travel spell-Master of Past and Present as well. He had existed for centuries and scribed spellbooks that unlocked arcane secrets no mage before- or since, with one exception-would ever be able to grasp. Already Fistandantilus was widely known to be an ancient being. Even a study of elven lore must progress to the earliest volumes to predate him. Certainly for a long time prior to the Cataclysm he was the undisputed lord of magic upon Ansalon.

Central to his longevity, we now know, was the parasitical consumption of young lives-specifically, the blood and souls of the most skilled among his apprentices, those who were strong and who bore the seeds of magic deep within them. He harvested them as coldly as any butcher might a hog. The frequency of these cruel and murderous episodes is hard to judge, but it seems likely that he claimed a new apprentice's life at least every couple of decades.

Yet still the young men came to him, perhaps not quite believing in the horror stories they surely must have heard. They were drawn by ambition, knowing that he was the only teacher who could show them the secrets of true magical power. Desperate for the keys to this knowledge and to its attendant might, they traveled from far and wide to seek the great wizard. And indeed, many a black-robed sorcerer emerged from that tutelage with his life, if not his soul, intact, progressing to a reign of greatness and high influence in the world.

But there were many who never came out, who gave their lives to the archmage's insatiable hunger for young, vital hearts. And ever did the ancient one remain vibrant with eternal health, vigorous youth, and the greatest magic that the world had ever known.

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