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How the Companions Met

It all began with Flint. Flint Fireforge was a hill dwarf, born and raised in the wilds of the Kharolis Mountains. His grandfather, Reghar Fireforge, had been a powerful leader of the hill dwarves centuries before, taking them into battle against their mountain cousins in what came to known as the Dwarfgate War. Reghar did not survive this tragic war that took the lives of thousands of his dwarven kinsmen. He was survived solely by his second son, a young man of seventy-five at the time of his father's death, Reghar's eldest son having an untimely death of a hereditary heart condition. (Caramon's note: We since discovered that Flint knew he suffered from the same weakness. It is typical of the old dwarf that he did not mention it to any of his friends.)
Following the war, the mountain dwarves shut the gates of Thorbardin to the rest of the world, including their kinsmen. Flint grew up in the harsh wilderness amidst the bitter poverty of his people. His father died early in his son's life, leaving behind a wife and fourteen children. It is not to be wonderful that Flint left home as soon as he was capable of earning a living, knowing that one less mouth to feed would be a relief to his work worn mother. Having learned his father's trade of metalsmithing, Flint set out to find his fortune.
A loner, Flint traveled extensively throughout Ansalon. Eventually, as his fortunes improved, he bought a small house in the treetop village of Solace, establishing his base in this town that was a crossroads for travelers. (Caramon's note: Flint also had a fondness for Otik's ale!)
From Solace, Flint traveled widely, for his skills as a metalsmith were in great demand. When the Speaker of the Suns, the elven leader in Qualinesti, saw a sample of Flint's work, Flint became one of the few dwarves ever invited to that elven kingdom.
One of Flint's skills lay in making delightful and ingenious toys. Thus he was popular with children wherever he went, and elven children were no exception. They love to stand around, watching him work, teasing him about his long beard and short stature. Though the gruff old dwarf pretended to be highly annoyed at this and and would occasionally roar at them to "leave him be!", he actually enjoyed the children's affection-which the well knew. One of the youngsters who "hung around" watching Flint work was the Speaker's ward-a half-elf named Tanthalas.

Tanthalas, or Tanis, to use the shorter, human version of his elven name, was a lonely youngster. The boy never knew his human father. His elven mother, raped by some unknown warrior during one of the many battles between elves and humans during the unrest following the Catalysm, came home to her family to bear her child, dying shortly afterward. Tanis was taken into the family of the Speaker of the Suns, his mother having been a distant relative. Although he was raised with his distant cousins--Porthios and Gilthanas and their sister, Laurana--he was truly close only to Laurana, and even that closeness seemed to cause him great pain. Although the elves were kind to him, they made it clear that as a half-human bastard--Tanis would never belong among elven society. Feeling himself somewhat an outcast of his people as well, Flint understood the obvious unhappy boy, and the two spent many pleasant hours together whenever Flint came to the elven land.
As Tanis Half-Elven grew older, his inner conflict increased. The restless human half of his nature could not be content to settle down to a life of static, sedentary pursuits that were so dear to the long-lived elves. To make matters worse, Tanis's childhood friend, Laurana, had fallen in loco with him.While Tanis returned the elfmaid's affection, he did not feel that he knew himself well enough to make the type of commitment that Laurana obviously wanted. In addition, as daughter of the Speaker of the Suns, Laurana was considered a princess among her people. A marriage such as she proposed--between herself and a half-human orphan--would be bitterly rejected be her father and brothers. Tanis believed it would be better for everyone if he left his homeland. he knew only one person "in the world outside" and so, at the age of eighty (Still a young man be elven reckoning), he left Qualinesti in search of his friend, Flint.
Tanis soon arrived in Solace, where he was warmly welcomed by the old dwarf. Flint took Tanis with him on his business travels. The half-elf proved useful at bookkeeping, collecting past due accounts, and dragging the dwarf out of taverns. Tanis entertained wealthy customers with elven stories and songs. Because of Tanis, business improved, and Flint was pleased to make his friend a partner. Tanis bought his own house in the small community of Solace and for twenty years lived there in a kind of restless peace.

At about the same time Tanis arrived in Solace a thirteen-year-old girl left that town to find adventure on her own. This remarkable teenager was Kitiara.
Kitiara's father was a darkly handsome powerful warrior, who came from a noble family in Solamnia. (Caramon's note: His name was Gregor Uth Matar. We have reason to believe he was related to Lord Gunthar Uth Wistan. If so, all trace of him has been obliterated from the family records.) For reasons best known to himself, Gregor left Solamnia. Wandering around the continent, he made his living by selling his sword to any who could pay his price. Highly skilled with his weapon and totally fearless in battle, Gregor was much in demand. "The sword is power and the sword is truth," was a quotation of his that Kitiara often repeated.
He never returned to his homeland. Tumor had it that he had committed some terrible deed there. there is even a possibility that he could have been a Knight of Solamnia and fled their retribution, for their Order is a strict one. Gregor sometimes received sums of money from a mysterious source. Though he never said so, Kitiara always believed this came from his family.
Gregor toyed with women during his wanderings, but always avoided serious relationships until he had the misfortune to fall deeply and passionately in love with a fragile, delicate young daughter of a middle-class merchant of Haven. a dreamer, a seer, and a romantic, Rosamun fell easy victim to his charms. The dark, handsome warrior was everything which she had ever dreamed. If she had used her abilities as seer to look into her own future, she would have seen nothing but grief. But she was blinded by love and agreed to run away with him.
Gregor could have seduced and left Rosamun, but he was tired of the wandering life temporarily, at least--and so he married her. They settled in Solace and lived off his accumalated wealth. Their child, Kitiara, was born shortly after their wedding.
But Gregor's money couldn't last forever. Ordinary work being beneath him, he left home to find his fortune in war. The fire of passion soon cooled with absence. Other women came in to his left. He took no pains to hide these affairs from his wife, and Rosamun, realizing she was losing her husband's affection, began the slow descent into madness.
She had always been subject to trances, wandering around in a dazed state for hours at a time. These irrational periods become more frequent as she saw her marriage fall apart. Gregor stayed away from home as much as possible, returning only to see his daughter. It was obvious to him by this time that he would never have a son by his wife. He lavished all his attention therefore, on Kitiara.
Strong-willed, stubborn, and adventurous, Kitiara learned at an early age that her frail mother had no power over her. Kit had little respect or love for her mother, but she adored her father. Her only thought was to please him. when he brought a wooden sword as a gift from one of his expeditions, she showed such interest and skill that he took time to teach her properly. From that day on, Kitiara had no use for dolls or domestic chores.
Although Rosamun cried and protested, Gregor began giving his daughter formal training in the military arts. At the age of seven, Kitiara saw her first battle. Cutting her long black hair, Gregor sneaked Kit out of the house and took her with him, introducing her as his son. Kitiara's skill with a weapon, even at this early age, won her praise from the older warriors. She loved camp life. The sight of the battle--which she viewed from a hillside--filled her with excitement. As she sat watching the fray from astride her father's horse, Gregor impressed three things upon the young girl: 1) give no quarter, 2) win by any means, 3) the only really worthwhile possession in this fickle world is power.
When the two returned home, Rosamun flew into a rage. Unable to tolerate her anymore, Gregor decided to leave home for good. Before he left, however, he took his grieving daughter aside and, in secret, described a Solamnic crest to her. This was his family's crest, he said. If the girl was ever in need, she could travel to Solamnia and seek out her relations. (Caramon's not: Kitiara never told anyone what this crest looked like.) Gregor warned the child that his people might not react kindly to her, but the bonds of family were strong and they would not turn her away.
Kitiara swore in her soul that she would seek out her family only if she could show them that she was as good as they were. She bid her father good-bye calmly and with no tears. But from that day forth, she kept her dark, curly hair cut short in anticipation of the day when she would become a warrior. She made it clear to her mother that she would always despise her and would stay in her home only until she felt she had gained strength and skill to live by her own wits.
Rosamun soon remarried. This time she chose wisely--a kind, hardworking woodcutter. Gilon Majere was a simple man with the ability to see deeply into the heart. When Rosamun's trances grew more frequent, he took care of her and made life as easy for her as possible. They did not have much money, and this was a constant source of worry to him. He did not get along with his stepdaughter, but he had foreseen this from the beginning and was smart enough to know that the best he could do with Kitiara was to leave her alone.

Caramon and Raistlin
When Kitiara was eight years old, her mother gave birth to twin sons. One, Caramon, was a strong and healthy baby. But the other, named Raistlin, very nearly died at birth. Rosamun was quite ill for months after her sons were born. Gilon was forced to work day and night to support hes family. Because of Rosamun's strange was, the neighbors had always avoided them. Consequently it fell to Kitiara to care for the babies particularly the weak one.
Kitiara's first real battle, therefore, was against death. Raistlin grew weaker every day. there were noo clerics in the world with healing skills at this time. The midwife who delivered the babes told Kitiara she was wasting time--to let the boy die. Kitiara was furious. She actually struck the woman and drove her from the house. Day and night, she tended the aby, forcing Raistlin to live, by the strength of her own will. In the end, she was victorious. Although never robust or healthy, the baby survived.
Rosamun recovered her health, but she never regained strength in either mind or body. She was content to let her daughter raise the boys. Kitiara enjoyed her role as surrogate mother. she hoped to raise two fighters who would be ideal lieutenants for her captainship. But she discovered that only one, Caramon, was strong enough to train as a warrior. Raistlin continued to be weak and sickly. A few tounds with his brother and Kit's old wooden sword left him gasping for breath. His twelve-year-old half-sister pondered long and hard about what skill she could teach her little brother that would compensate for his weakness. But it was Gilon who discovered the key that would unlock Raistlin's future.
One day, when the twins were almost five, Gilon took the children to the annual Red Moon Fair held annually in Solace. Performing that day was the local illusionists, Waylan. He was not very good, but he was adequate for the small-town circuit. He had several good sleight-of-hand tricks and even a few true magic spells. Caramon watched in open-mouthed wonder for a few moments, then soon lost interest and wandered away, joining his sister at the arena where mercenaries were exhibiting their skills at battering each other into the ground.
Raistlin sat in silence, never moving, totally absorbed in the performance. The child stayed near the illusionists all day, watching his show over and over. When the family returned home that evening, Gilon was astounded to see his small son perform every one of the illusionist's sleight of hand tricks perfectly.
Both Gilon and Kitiara immediately realized that magic was Raistlin's opportunity for seccess, thought they viewed it rather differently. Gilon saw magic as his son's key to survival. Kit saw it as her brother's key to power.
When Raistlin was six, Gilon took the child to a highly reputed Master Mage, who lived near Solace. This mannran a prestigious school for magic-an unusual thing in those days when magic was viewed with suspicion, and magicians (even the White Robes) were generally reviled.
The Master was not overly impressed withthe boy at first sight. Raistlin wa on of those children who made adults highly uncomfortable. He rarley spoke, but spent most of his time staring at people as if reading their minds. He had a phenomenal memory and could recite long, complicated stories and conversations after hearing them only once. He wwas quite good at math. all this the Master discovered through the preliminary tests he gave the child. The Master also found that Raistlin had inherited a great deal of his mother's magical abilities.
The Master was quick to point out to gilon that, thought the boy was obviously gifted, he mightn ot be suited to the exacting study of magic. His weak health was against him, for one thing. The Master diddnot particularly like Raistlin either, but he did not mention this to Gilon.
As the two were talking in the Mage's school room, Gilon and the Master suddenly realized that Raistlin was no longer with them. A search revealed the child sitting comfortably in the Master's library, a huge book resting on his knees.
The Master scowled. "That is a spellbook," he said, snatching it away. "You should not be playing with it!"
Raistlin looked up at him with his large, dark eyes that always seemed too big for his small pale face. "I'm not playing with it," the child said coolly. "I'm reading it."
The Master gasped. "That's impossible," he stated. It takes years of study to read magic."
The boy shrugged and began to read the arcane words aloud. "Stop!" the Master cried, having visions of the boy unwittingly conjuring a demon in his library.
And so Raistlin was accepted as a pupil.
Kitiara was now thirteen. she no longer had to worry about the future of her little brothers. Raistlin was learning skills that would benegit him in later life (and possibly benefit her) and Caramon, who was growing stronger and taller than the other boys his age, would undoubtedly develop into an excellent warrior. Kit decided that her responsibility for her brothers had ended. She packed her things and left home.

The same week Kitiara left Solave, a kender named Tasslehoff Burrfoot arrived in town. the kender had a pack full of maps and other various and sundry items too numerous to mention which he had "aquired" in his extensive travels about Ansalon.In addition, he carried a complete set of lock-picking tools, given to him by his proud father, and his hoopak sling. He also had a large collection of stories, his current favorite being one about a teleporting ring that had taken him strange places.
Tas arrived in Solace during the Spring Festival. The roads generally impassable during the winteer, were just opening and Flint was preparing for his upcoming journey to market his wares. The merchants of Solce frequently displayed their goods during the Spring Festival, and Flint wasno exception. His beautiful jewelery, fantastic toys and other more pratical items for household use were all arranged in a booth onthe fairgrounds. wandering past Flint's booth, the kender stopped ot admire the dwarf's merchandise. Like all kender, Tas knew good quality workmanship when he saw it.
A copper bracelet caught the kender's eye. It was truly exquisite. Tas was charmed and looked atound for someone who could tell him how much it was. (Caramon's note: That's what Tas always maintained he was doing. Flint said the kender was looking around to make certain no one was watching him!) There wasn't anyone around at persen. Tanis, who did not participate in the selling of the merchadise, was breakfasting at the Inn of the Last Home. Flint had gone into the rear of the tent ot refresh himself with some of Otik's fine ale.
Tas tried the bracelet on. It fir perfectly. Obviously it had been made for him. He turned his arm this way and that, admiring the way the bracelet captured the sunlight. He looked around once again for the owner of the booth, fully intending to ask the price. No one was there.
"Oh, well," said Tas to himself, "I'll just come back later."
Which he full intended to put the bracelet back where he had found it. Unfortunately, at that moment, a juggler began exhibiting his skills, and Tas (so he said) became intereested that he wandered off, still wearing (accidently) the bracelet.
The kender hadn't gone very far when he heard a shout behind him.
"Stop, thief!"
Tas glanced around, hoping to catch a glimpse of anyone so dastardly as to steal from his fellow men. there was no one in sight who looked sespicious except a very red-faced old dwarf who much to Tas's amusement--collared the kender and started shouting for the guards!
Returning from the Inn, Tanis saw a large crowd gathering around Flint's booth. It was not the type of crowd Tanis liked to see, everyone pointing and gawking. Then Tanis heard the dwarf roaring in anger and, with a sigh, broke into a run, wondreing what trouble Flint had gotten them into this time.
Shoving his way through the crowd, Tanis discovered the dwarf, beard quivering with rage, apparently trying to twist the arm off a kender, while still yelling for the guards.
"Thanks all the same. trouble taken care of. Sorry to bother you," Tanis said to the guards. Grabbing the dwarf with one hand and the kender with the other, Tanis dragged them apart. "What in the name of the Abyss is this all about?" he growled to Flint in an undertone.
The dwarf made a swipe at Tasslehoff who was looking at him in innocent wonder. "The thieving little--"
"Thief!' Tas cried indignantly taking a wild punch at Flint.
"--stole my bracelet!' Flint finished.
"I didn't steal anything!" Tas protested.
'He's wearing it!" Flint roared, stomping his feet in rage.
"Oh," said Tas, looking down at the bracelet on his arm, "This bracelet? Is it yours? Did you make it? I'm truly honored," the kender added sincerely, holding out his hand, "to meet someone of such obvious talent. But,' Tas continued, regarding the dwarf severely, "you really shouldn't go around leaving your wares out for just anyone to paw through. It was lucky I took charge of this. Someone might have walked off with it. But that's all right. I don't expect any thanks."
"Thanks?" Flint gaped.
"You're entirely welcome, " Tas said, beaming.
So angry that he was reduced to sputtering, Flint could only stare at the kender while Tanis, supressing a desire to roll on the ground with laughter, hauled both the dwarf and the kender to the back of the booth.
"My name is Tasslehoff Burrfoot,' said the kender, holding out his hand.
"Tanis Half-Elven," said Tanis, solemnly shaking hands with the kender and nudging Flint with his elbow.
"Flint Fireforge," grumbled the dwarf, extending his hand. "And give me my bracelet back!" he added, snatching the item away from the kender just as it was disappearing into one of Tas's pouches.
"That's an interesting-looking map you have there," Tanis said, picking up a scroll that had fallen from Tas's belt. 'I'be heard kender make fairly good maps of Ansalon. Mind if I look at it? We're heading south in a few days...."
"You'll need my map then!" Tas said, his face glowing with pleasure and pride. "Look. This is a new route that's just opended up to the south. In fact," the kender offered, "why not take the map and me with it?"
Ignoring Flint's roar of protest, Tanis bent over the map, the kender describing the route in detail. Before the dwarf quite knew what was happening, Tasslehoff Burrfoot had become a traveling companion. Not only that, but the kender also moved into Flint's house!

Brothers and Sister
Kitiara returned from her first journey in about two months. She was taller and stronger, her skin tanned. She said nothing about where she had been, but gave her stepfather money that would pay for her food and lodging as long as she chose to reemain in his house. She wore a sword no a real one. Caramon, inspecting it, was awed to find clotted blood near the handle.
Kitiara was pleased withthe progress her brothers had made during her absence. She had brought Caramon a real sword as a present, and noted his skill in handling it with pride. She was less pleased with the young man's character, however. Caramon had a most regrettable habit of helping an opponent back up once he had knocked him down. Raistlin was doing well with his magic studies. A quiet, secretive youth, Raistlin's nickname among his friends was "The Sly One." There were times, whenever Kit discussed power and ambition, that the brother and sister exchanged looks of perfect understanding. When she left Solace again, she was easy in her mind about her brothers, figuring that one twin's lack was the other's gain as the old proverb went..
As the years passed, Kitiara's mysterious journeys lasted longer, her returns became more infrequent. When she did come back, she brought steel and jewels and stories of war and glory.
When Caramon and Raistlin were sixteen, their father died in a tragic accident. Their strange mother, grief-stricken, went into on of her strange trances and never came out, dying at last of starvation.
Thanks to their mother's absentminded neglect, both boys were capable of living on their own. Raistlin was still in school, where he was doing quite well in his studies, less well in his social life. The young man was frequently bored in class and did not bother to conceal his yawns or his contempt for both pupils and instructor. Still weaki and frequently in ill health, he had nothing in common with his peers. This didn't bother him particularly. He knew himself to be far above others his age, both in intelligence and skill.
Unfortunately, Raistlin never lost the opportunity to remind everyone how much better he was. This, combined with his weakness, made him an easy target for bullies. On more than one occasion, Caramon was forced to wade in and rescue his brother from torment. (Caramon's note: These experiences undoubtedly gave weak and wretched outcasts of life, a sympathy he never totally lost.)
Raistlin also had a strong sense of justice, which went well with his twin's inherent sense of good. Anyone in trouble could count on help from the twins. Caramon's fists and Raistlin's skills in sleight-of-hand and minor magics could settle almost any problem.
The brothers soon gained respect and admiration among the inhabitants of Solace. Caramon, handsome and poopular, was a favorite among the young people his age (particularly the girls). Few liked Raistlinn, but respected his skills and tolerated him because of his brother. The two were rarely separated.
It was Raistlin's skills, however, that very nearly got the twins in serious trouble one day.

Tasslehoff to the Rescue
Tas was wandering through Solace one day, when he noticed a large crowd applauding a teenage boy performing remarkably good illusionist tricks for one of his age. Impressed, Tas stopped to watch and even managed to restrain himself from picking up more than one or two coins that were being tossed at the young man's feet. (Tas fully intended to give these to the young man, but the cions made their way into his pocket purely by mistake.)
The kender was enjoying the performance along with the rest of the crowd when it was suddenly interrupted by an irate, middle-aged wizard wearing expensive white robes, who shoved his way through the crowd and grabbed hold of the young conjurer.
"How date you exhibit your skills for money?" the wizard shouted, shaking the young man. "You will ruin the reputation of my school!"
"Why, how rude!" Tas said to himself, feeling sorry for the young man, who had a frail appearanve. "I think I'll go have a talk withthat person. I'm certain there's been a misunderstanding."
Going up to the wizard, who was still yelling at the flushed young man, Tas reached out to tug on the wizard's sleeve and found himself holding the mage's bag of spell components instead.
Feeling a tug on his belt, the wizard made a grab for the kender, and the conjurer took the opportunity to slip away.
"Throw it here!" cried out a husky young man standing on the edge of the crowd-a young man who bore a striking resemblance to the young conjurer.
"A game!" said the kender. "How delightful!" and tossed the bag to the husky young man. the wizard, now pratically foaming at the mouth, was leaping around, trying to catch the bag much to the enjoyment of the crowd. Tas was having a great time when the fun seddenly came to a halt. A tall youth witha serious face and stern expression snatched the bag from Tas, returing it to the wizard with an apology and a courteous bow. Grumbling, the wizard accepted the bag with a scowl and walked off.
"Blast, Sturm, you spoiled all the fun!" said the husky young man good-naturedly.
"Raistlin should not infuriate his Master so, Caramon," the youth replied. "He should treatt him with more respect."
Caramon shrugged. "Yeah, I guess. But Raist's only trying to earn some monet. Times are rough, and food's not cheap." he turned to Tas. "Thanks for your help, little fellow!"
"Caramon Majere. This is my twin, Raistlin," the husky young man said, introducing the young conjurer, who returned when the wizard left.
"Sturm Brightblade," said the youth, whom Tas guessed to be older than the twins, probably around twenty.
"Curiousity cured the cat," is an old kender proverb. Just as curious as the next kender, Tas studied the three young men intently, especially the twins, who appeared as different as day and night, Caramon with his handsmone, open, honest face, Raistlin with his eyes that seemed to eat through the kender. Then there was the older, solemn Sturm, who had an air of nobility about him. It was obvious that he did not come from the farming community of Solace.
Where did he come from? Tas wondered. Would Raistlin be able to teach me any of those tricks he does? Is Caramon really big enough to left a horse?
His head being filled withthese ans a hundred other questions, Tas promptly invited allthree young men home to dinner.
Tanis was away at this pppoint in time, visiting Qualinesti. The half-elf found himself drawn back to his elven home periodically, although he was always sorry he went once he got there. Laurana wwas curiously as much in love with him as ever, and he had the sneaking suspicion though no one ever said anything that her brothers, Gilthanas and Porthios had discovered their sister's infatuation for the bastard half-human. Life was very uncomfortable for Tanis in his homeland. He always left, vowing never to come back.
Flint missed his friend (though he would never submit it), and was secretly pleaased to meet new young people. He fed them all a good supper (though he was rather alarmed at the amount Caramon ate), and they sat around the fire late into the night, telling about themselves.

Sturm Brightblade
The older youth startled both dwarf and kender by announcing gravely that he was the son of a famous Knight of Solamnia. Tas a Flint changed a knowing glance. Centuries ago, at thetime of the Cataclysm, the Knights had fallen into disgrace in their homeland of Solamina. Many had been murdered, many more driven into hiding or exile. This was obviously one of them.
Sturm, seeing and understanding their look, taised his head proudly. "My father is true Knight, one in whom the blood runs pure.He did not turn to thievery or outlawry as did some, " the young man said sternly. "When it grew too dangerous for us to remain in our own land, my father sent my mother and I south, where he knew we would be safe until matters had calmed down. I expect to hear from him any time now."
At this, Tas saw Caramon nudge his brother. Turning to the kender and the dwarf, Caramon said in a loud whisper, "He hasn't heard from his father in years!"
Frowning, Raistlin shook his head at his twin's rude remark. Sturm's face flushed. Looking into the fire, he bit his lip and, when he thoought no one was watching, brushed his hand across his eyes.
The kind-hearted dwarf was quick to change the subject, expecially as he saw the curious Tas about to ask Sturm another question.
"You both carry swords," the old dwarf said gruffly. "But do either of you lunkheads know how to use them?"
Both young men leaped up, pleased to show off their skill. A friendly tough and rumble contest with Flint ensued, resulting in overturned furniture and broken crockery. Tas talked Raistlin into showing him his magic tricks, and the evening ended in gaiety. The young men became regular visitors in the dwarf's hhouse.

Tanis to the Rescue
Returning home to Solace after a discouraging visit to Qualinesti, Tanis Half-Elven was stretche out on the ground in the wilderness one night, fast asleep, when he was awakened by a frightful cry. Hearing the sounds of battle and a female voice, he raced through the woods in the dark, searching for the source of trouble. He came upon a young waoman, apparently fighting for her lfe against a group of hobgoblins.
Instantly, Tanis leaped to the young man woman's rescue, dispatching the last bandit with his sword. Expecting the lovely young woman to fall upon his neck, sobbing in gratitude, Tanis was considerably astonished when the young woman fell upon his neck all right, but with the obvious intent of choking him.
"How date you spoil my fun?" she demanded furiously, with an oath that made even the seasoned warrior blush. "I had the situation well in hand. I was just toying with the wretches!"
"But I heard you screaming!" Tanis protested fending off the angry young woman as best he could.
"Me screaming?" she yelled in a rage, swinging her sword at the half-elf, who jumped backward, out of her reach. Stopping to catch her breath, she pointed at ta dead hogoblin pinned to a tree with a dagger. "You heard it screaming!"
In trying (not very hard) to escape, Tanis stumbled over a tree root and fell flat on his back. The young woman was on him in a flash. But her anger had changed to admiration for the handsome half-elf. As for Tanis, he was himself completely fascinated by this wild, darkly beautiful woman. Their combat turned into a friendly wrestling match among the leaves--a wrestling match that became very friendly indeed....

The Boat Trip
Flint, meanwhile, was still waiting for Tanis to return so that they could begin their annual travels. The dwarf had plenty to keep him busy, however. He had discovered that the young men who ahd become his firends were skilled with swords and magic, but they had no training at all in wilderness living. Flint and Tas, therefore, arranged a comping trip along the chores of Crystalmir Lake.
The trip was a great success. Flint taught Caramon and Sturm skills in hunting and tracking, for shich they were indebted to the dwarf the rest of their lives. Raistlin gathered herbs tto make his spell components. Things were going along smoothly when Tas proposed a boating expedition.
The kender having "found" a boat (leaving a party of fishermen stranded on the bank where they had been having lunch), he, the dwarf, and the oyoung mem all set out on the lake. Everyone was having a wonderful time intil Caramon becoming a bit over-excited tried to catch a fish by hand. Leaning out too fat, he tilted the boat, causing it to upset, plunging everyone into the water.
Raistlin, thinkin g quickly, bobbed up beneath the vessel and stayed there, quite safe in the air pocket formed by the overturned boat. Caramon, however, sank like a stone. Flint swam to his rescue while Sturm and Tas both excellent swimmers soon had the boat righted, discovering Raistlin in the process.
The three clambored back into the boat, warching eagerly for some signs of Flint and Caramon. There was a tremendous amount of splashing and gurgling. Then there was nothing but an ominous silence. Both Tas and Sturm jumped back in the water. Sturm hauled up Caramon, coughing and sputtering but otherwise unhurt. Tas found the dwarf half-drowned and in a state of panic. It took the combined efforts of all four to get Flint back into the boat. Caramon soon recovered and considered it a wonderful joke. But Flint lay shivering a the bottom of the boat, his teeth chattering with cold and terror. The only sound they could get out of him for hours after was a vow never to venture on water again as long as he lived.

Kitiara and Tanis
Kit and Tanis returned to Solace together. Tanis was becoming increasingly fascinated with the lovely young woman, although at times her dreams of power and her delight in battle disturbed him. Whenever he tried to discuss this with her seriously, Kit always managed to lead the conversation into more pleasant subjects. At twenty-four, she had developed into a remarkable beauty. Her black hair, still worn shortt, curled around her face and far from appearing masculiine gave her a delicate feminine appearance that fooled all observers until they looked into her , dark eyes.
Kitiara had also developed in other ways becoming a fighter ever her father would have admired. She had acquired a knowledge of campaign tacticcs and strategy that Tanis found impressive.But where had she come by these skills? Where had she learned this knowledge? Whenever he asked her about her past, Kitiara's answers were always evasive. She had been in many parts of Ansalon, she said, fighting for various lords here and there.She waas returning to Solace, she said, to check up on her little brothers. Kitiara spoke about the young men to Tanis with an almost maternal pride that the half-elf thought quite charming.
As for Kitiara, she was more attracted to Tanis than to any other men she had met. Like her father, Kit was capable of falling in love with great passion. She had profited be her father's mistake, however, and waas able to control her passions, never allowing love to interfere with ambition.
For now, she was satisfied. Tanis was an intelligent and amusing companion by day, a passionate lover by night. Kit liked him because he was different from herself, admiring his quiet, introspective qualities, though she scoffed at his notions of commitment to some higher ideal and his search for a purpose in life. Kit often quoted her father "Power is the only truth."
When the two reached Solace, Tanis took Kitiara to meet Flint and Tas, having entertained her with numerous stories about the unlikely pair. They found Flint in bed with lumbago he had caught from the boating incident. They also found, to Kitiara's astonishment, her little brothers and their friend, Sturm.

An Idyllic Year
Flint was bedridden for months with his illness and could not make his annual trip. Nobady minded. Kitiara discovered that Solace was not as boring now as she had remembered. She and her brothers, Tanis, Sturm, and the irresponsible kender developed an unusual friendship.
The summer was filled with hunting and camping expeditions. Tanis told them stories about the elves, Kit talked about her experiences in battle, and Tas related far-fetched tales. Raistlin grew more adept in his art, Caramon and Sturm grew skilled with blade and shield, and Flint lay in bed, grumbling about missing all the fun.
With the coming of winter, the companions met daily in the Inn of the Last Home. Here they talked with travelers and shared tales of faraway places. By spring, Flint was well and began planning his summer trip.
There were rumors of growing trouble in the land. reports off bandits, ogres, goblins, and even worse creatures venturing into formerly civilized areas and attacking travelers came to the companions' attention. Tanis proposed that he and Flint take Kitiara and their friends with them as aded protection that summer. Flint agreed, and all began preparing for the journey.
The evening before they were supposed to leave, however, Raistlin and Caramon arrived at Tanis's home. caramoon's face waas downcast. He tried to speak, but he couldn't and finally left it to his brother to break thenews. In a cold, reserved voice, Raistlin told Tanis that Kitiara waas gone. She had left during the day, saying nothing about where she was going. She told her brothers to bid Tanis good-bye, saying she would see him in the fall.
The companions set out the nest day, starting what would be the first of many adventures. As they traveled through the land, they found more and more sign of growing unrest. Flase clerics who worshipped powerless gods were biking people out of monet with phony cures. Raistlin took a grim delight in exposing these charlatans, keeping Caramon and Sturm busy recuing him when irate fanatics occasionally attempted to burn the young conjurer at the stake or toss him into dungeons.
Kitiara returned in the fall as she ahd promised, greeting Ranis as though she had just left him yesterday. Although at first he was hurt and angry with the young woman, Tanis soon succumbed to her crooked smile and laughing eyes. after a while, he became accustomed to her sudden disappearances.

The Seperation
By the year 346, times were growing dark in Ansalon. Few people traveled the roads; those that did went heavily armed. Business fell off. Soon it was not profitable for Flint to travel. he announced his intention of retiring. On that night, as the companions gathered at the Inn of the Last Home, they suddenly realized that it would be the last itme they would be together for many years.
Sturm, now twenty-four, announced his intention of traveling north to Solamnia to search for his heritage. Kitiara offered to travel with him, saying she was curious to see the north country. (Caramon's note" What happened between Kit and Sturm on this journey, we will probably never know. But it is almost certain that the noble, idealistic young man discovered the truth about Kitiara's dark soul. Tanis says that theere were times it seemed Sturm wanted to discuss this with hiim, but the strict Code of Honor of the Knights prevented the young man from meddling with another man's personal affairs.
As for Kitiara, her true reason for going north was likely to look for her father's family. She probably never found them. After leaving Sturm in Solamnia, Kit met Lord Ariakus, then a captain in the newly forming Dragonarmies. It was at this time that Kit hoined the ranks of the army that she would end up commanding.)
Kit invited her friends to travel with them, but, one by one, they refused.
Tanis said, somewhat abruptly, that he needed time by himself. The truth of the matter was that he was growing more deeply attracted to Kitiara. Love between a human and an elf could only end in tragedy, he knew for Kit would age and die while Tanis was still a relatively young man. He hoped that by leaving her and journering for a time by himself, he could come to terms with his heritage and perhaps even find the inner peace that had eluded him so long. (Caramon's note: To this day, Tanis will not say where he went those five years. Laurana has a theory that he never traveled anywhere at all, but went far up into the mountains, endeavoring to both find and loase himself in nature.)
Raistlin and Caramon also declined to accompany theirr sister. Almost twenty-one, Raistlin was a conjurer of great skill. Although still too young to attain a high degree of mastery, since he had yet to take the Test, he had a burning ambition to rise to the top of his profession, and now spent long hours in study.
"My brother and I have a long and perilous journey of our own to make," the young man told his friends, and that was all he would say on the matter.
Caramon shrugged, laughed, andsaid he was ready to go anywhere his brother had a mind to go, as long as he got to bash a few hobgoblin heads together once in a while. (Caramon's note: This, of course, was the trip Raistlin and I made to the Tower of High Sorcery where he took the Test that was to make such a dramatic change in our lives.)
Tasslehoff stated he was tired of seeing the same sights over and over. He'd been north, he said. He hinted that he'd be pleased to go with Caramon and Raistlin, but the young conjurer scowled so alarmingly at this that the kender dropped the subject quickly.
"I'll go see if I can find what became of my family," Tas said cheerfully. "Then I'll just go where my feet take me." (Caramon's note: Tas offerred us a detailed account of his travels for this book, including a wild tale about a wooly mammoth. Unfortunately, we haven't room to publish it. we have promised him that it will appear in print in the future, however.)
Flint grumbled that they were all abandoning him. He had heard rumors of problems in his homeland, and hi intended to check out the situation. When Tas laughingly accused the old dwarf of being homesick, Flint flew into a rage, upending a mug of ale over the kender's head. (Caramon's not: Flint did travel back to the hills, and captured by gully dwarves, an incident he vehemently refused to discuss. We have discovered a possible source for this tale, however, and hope to soon present it to those interested.)
The companion's conversation was interrupted by the antics of playful fourteen-year-old girl. Red-haired, skinny, with a face covered with freckles, she crept up behind Caramon and slyly slipped his dagger out of its sheath with a deft hand. Caramon saw everyone grinning, but couldn't figure out the joke until the girl betrayed herself with a giggle. Leaping to his feet, Caramon began chasing the girl around the Inn, falling over chairs and overturning tables. Finally Otik threatened to throw them both out. The girl flipped the knife back to its irate owner, nearly impaling him in the process, then canished back into the kitchen.
Caramon rejoined his friends, shaking his head. "That Tika's the ugliest kid I've ever seen," he stated. "Her father's gonna have a hard time marrying her off." (Tika's note: Caramon swears he never said this, but I was listening from behind the kitchen door and heard him.)
The companions laughed, but it was strained laughter, and soon they all fell silent. They knew that they had come to a parting of the ways. No matter what happened, the old days of carefree youth and fun were at an end.
It was Tanis who finally spoke. "Every year on this date," he said softly, "any of us who are in Solace will come to the Inn. That way, some of us may meet from time to time. But, I say we all vow that, five years from now, we will meet here again."
"Those of us who are still alive," Raistlin murmured, his eyes glittering.
"I'll take that vow. I will return in five years,' said Kitiara, placing her hand upon the table, her eyes on Tanis. "If not sooner,' she added, smiling her crooked smile.
"And I will return in five years," said Tanis, putting his hand over Kit's. "If not sooner."
"I vow on my honor as a Knight to return in five years," said Sturm, his hand covering Tanis's.
"I'll be here,' said Caramon cheerfully, his big hand engulfing everyone's.
"And I..." murmured his twin, Raistlin's slender fingers barely touching the back of his brother's hand.
"Don't forget me! I'll be here!" Tas cried, climbinng up on the table to add his small hand to the rest.
"Confound it, I may have more important things to do than come back to this place just to see your pasty faces," the old dwarf grumbled. But he reached out and took hold of the hands of his friends in both his gnarled palms. "Reorx be with you,' he said gruffly, "until we meet again."
"Now, if this nonsense is quite finished, we must be going," Raistlin said, rising to his feet abruptly.
"Yeah," Caramon muttered, swallowing a lump in his throat.
One by one, the companions all left the Inn until only Flint remained. Long into the night, the old dwarf sat at the table, sighing and shaking his head sadly.

This story was never intended for publication. Originally compiled by Tracy Hickman and Margaret Weis for use by themselves and the rest of the Dragonlance design team, The talee was first published in a Dragonlace Role-Playing Adventure Game Module, Dragons of Mystery, edited by Michael Dobson, since they were getting requests from players begging for character background information. Those of you who own DL5 will note that they have revised the material to update it and include additional information.

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