Disclaimer: The Forgotten Realms are not mine. Some of the characters in this are though.
Kaeldin could feel the end coming and could barely work up the energy to care. The season before, he held Timiri's hand in his and told her that all would work out eventually. If the neighboring Vyshaantar Empire got too uppity again, they would have moved to Illefarn and continued to go in their own path as best they could.
That was before he came home late from an apprentice's relatively minor mishap at Kraanfhaor to find a bigger one at their home. His front door had been in shambles, scorch marks marred the floors and walls and two dead sun elf assassins lay sprawled n the wrecked study, all silent testament to his dead wife's skill with both blade and spell. Before he had found his beloved so still and cold with a knife in her back and her blood in a still dark pool around her. Before he had gathered Timiri up in his arms and cried.
Now, he squelched the wail that threatened to erupt from his throat and surveyed the oncoming magical storm with his magesight. To normal vision, it would appear as a great blood red thunderhead. Kaeldin could see the death magics and pestilences bound up in the oncoming storm. Any rain that fell promised a long, slow death to anyone caught out under it.
"High Mage Kaeldin?" called a soft discreet voice next to the numb sylvan elf. "The others are waiting in the vault."
Kaeldin turned to the figure standing behind him and saw through the surface form of a handsome, silver haired moon elf to the majestic dragon underneath. The mage felt comfortable around dweomers to augment one's sight but noted that having the effect on him all the time was starting to become more than a little disconcerting. He snorted softly. It was not likely that he would live long enough to get used to it.
The disguised silver dragon looked at him askance before turning and heading towards the library's great vault himself. Kaeldin shook his head and sighed. No one, including himself had expected the telmiirkara neshyrr, the rite of transformation, to work, let alone allow Grand Mage Corythin's plan to save some small part of Miyeritar from the coming disaster.
Point in fact, Kaeldin had volunteered to undergo the untested magical transformation because some part of him had wanted the ritual to fail, so he could join Timiri in Arvenardor. "Well," the high mage thought ruefully, "Some part of me is with her, literally. The eladrin saw to that..."
The wood elf's path of thought was interrupted by the arcane Maelstrom sparking against the outermost defenses of the mythal protecting the wizard academy and it's surrounding deserted town. "If only there were more of us," he thought bleakly. Timiri had not been the only Miyeritari mage killed in the past few months. Vyshaantar's assassins had been very busy and very messy in their tasks. Seven high mages, including Kaeldin, were left to guard Kraanfhoar's doors, a sad decline from the twenty four high arcanists from a year ago.
Kaeldin turned away from the oncoming storm of enemy high magic and started his way down into the bowels of the wizard school's main tower. The halls echoed too loudly with each step he took. The echoes should have been masked by the quiet murmur of apprentices, novices and lesser mages in the twilit halls of the citadel. All of them had been sent away, hopefully safe from the coming destruction, but no diviner had been able to see any sort of clear, safe path for anyone recently.
The vault of the main library sat deep underground but enchantments in the huge room's ceiling let starlight sparkle throughout the room. No moon showed in the illusory sky as a new moon hid from Toril on this night, the better to seal off Miyeritar high magic from the Vyshaanti invaders.
Kaeldin nodded to the assembled mages and dragons as he took his place and looked around. Through his new arcane sight, he could see the magical defenses woven about the chamber stretching up into the ceiling and into the stone of the tower above. More threads and auras emanated from the elves and dragons around him, creating little cocoons of magic around each one.
Lean and rangy on Kaeldin's left, Psittia looked as if this was just one more battle in an unending string of them. Her robes and light armor of soft pale green, set off her flame colored hair and copper skin. Next to the warmage, The diviner Sophon looked as pale as one with inky black skin could get. He looked as worn out as an overused dishrag as he sat at his appointed place rather than standing like the rest. His attempts at scrying another way out had ultimately failed, but this one, shrouded in darkness and waiting as it was, had a small glimmer of hope to it. They could hide the tower until the right apprentice came along and successfully got through the door, freeing the guardian from his task and reopening Miyeritar high magic to the elves.
Nefelis, the only surviving evoker of the tower stood next in the circle with her black hair braided down her back, stray strands framing a face that might have been carved and sanded from cherry wood. Artemio the illusionist, world weary and spent, brushed his dark honey hair off his crestfallen face as he waited for the spellcasting to begin. Tiny Lilleen looked as serene as if she had already passed into Arvenardor, her fine, silvery hair gently pulled back from her dark face, hands folded in front of her dusty blue robes. She met Kaeldin's opalescent gaze evenly. Kaeldin and Lilleen had volunteered to undergo the telmiirkara neshyrr and had drawn straws to determine which of them would do so. Kaeldin ended up with the short straw. The abjurer and lore mistress nodded at him and turned her attention towards the last elf in the room.
Grand Mage Corythin somehow still managed to hold himself tall against the despair and hopelessness that the rest of Kraanfhaor's high mages felt. His dark chocolate skinned face still held the same resolute expression that he had adopted when this latest mess began, although his flaxen hair now sported streaks of grey and lived in a perpetual state of rumpled unkemptness. "Are we ready to begin?" the old elf called to the circle of high mages.
A silent collection of nods greeted the master high mage. Sophon got up and added his assent to the rest. The four dragons shifted into their true forms, filling in the outlines Kaeldin saw surrounding the much smaller elven forms they previously wore. The huge vault suddenly seemed much smaller as it became cluttered with wings, tails, necks and bodies of two gold, a silver and an emerald dragon. The biggest gold wyrm rumbled in a basso voice, "We are ready as well, Grand Mage."
"Then let us start." Corythin raised his hands and started to intone the long, complicated incantation that would set the traps, wards and tests that would hopefully keep all mages from Aryvandaar out of their tower and away from Miyeritar developments in high arcana. The rest of the mage circle did the same and started their own weavings. After a few moments, the dragons added their voices to the chorus.
At first, Kaeldin could see nothing come of their combined spellcasting. Then little streamers of light seemed to grow through each mage's hands, including his own. As they continued to cast, the strands from each elf wove together and tied themselves into knots to bind them tight. The dragons sprouted veritable geysers of magic that served as a framework for the elves' weavings.
The strands themselves started to grow brighter and disappear into the vaulted ceiling and into the surrounding tower. Kaeldin lost track of time as the spellcasting continued. The dragons and their framework of light strands melded into the structure the elves wove.
Kaeldin's voice grew hoarse and ragged as their combined weaving continued and his hands and arms began to tire. The dragons were gone, their final magics added to the wards in a powerful wave, absorbing the reptilian bodies and setting loose the souls to the platinum dragon's realm. Strands of light threaded through all of the high mages, binding them all tighter to the casting and the protective shell they wove. The elves began to look more and more transparent as the casting took more and more away from them.
Nefelis's form suddenly went completely transparent and twinkling like a captive star in the wizard's chest hovered her soul, now visible due to the nature of the spells the mages cast. Strands of light emanated from the soulstar and started to tie themselves into the weaving and anchor into the stone of the spellcasting vault. As the last strand of light left the high mage's hands, she regained solidity and the soullight flashed around her. Nefelis dropped to the floor, but the twinkling soulstar stayed where it was. It gave another strong flash and the evoker sent out her last good wishes to the circle before passing on to Arvenardor.
The sense of where the Citadel of Kraanfhaor sat started to shift and Kaeldin's sense of the passage of time started to disappear. The feeling became stronger as Sophon, Psittia and Artemio tied up their ends and left for Arvenardor. The new magical wards felt more secure and Kaeldin felt the magic bind him to the tower until he passed the lore on to a successor.
Lilleen soon made her own binding to the tower, swearing to serve as Kaeldin's eyes and ears to the outside world as a spirit. Then she too let the magic take her away to the Grey Havens, leaving Kaeldin and the grand mage as the only elves still standing.
Grand Mage Corythin laid the last of the bindings on Kaeldin then the two high mages finished tying off the weaving shielding Kraanfhaor. Corythin became fully transparent and his soul blazed like a captive sun before leaving the grand mage's mortal form for Arvenardor.
Kaeldin felt hot tears running down his face as he finished his own casting for the spell of hiding. Immediately into the echoing silence, the lone high mage cast transporting spells to lay the bodies of his fellow arcanists in the crypts they had prepared for themselves.
"Well," Kaeldin told the vault, "I hope Sophon's right about that apprentice coming eventually." He paused, "I hope Lilleen brings me a message or two from Timiri while I wait too."
Author's note: There will eventually be more to this story, but I want to finish off my other long tale before putting the axe to the grindstone on this one. Leave a review if you like