“And this was the price I paid for my magic,” he said as he wiped
the blood from his lips. His voice was little more than a whisper. “They
shattered my body and gave me this accursed vision so that I see all dying before
my eyes. But it was worth it, worth it all! I don’t need them—any
“But this power is evil! Chrysania said, leaning forward in her chair and regarding Raistlin earnestly.
“Is it?” asked Raistlin suddenly. His voice was mild. “Is ambition evil ? Is the quest for power evil, for control over others evil? If so, then I fear, Lady Chrysania, you may as well exchange your white robes for black.”
“How dare you!” Chrysania cried, shocked. “I don’t—“
“Ah but you do,” Raistlin said with a shrug. “You would not have worked so hard to rise to the position you have within the church without having your share of ambition, of the desire for power.” Now it was his turn to lean forward. “Haven’t you always said to yourself—there is something great I am destined to do? My life will be different from the lives of others. I am not content to sit and watch the world pass by. I want to shape it, control it, mold it!”
Held fast by Raistlin’s burning gaze, Chrysania could not move, or utter a word. How could he know? She asked herself, terrified. Can he read the secrets of my heart?
“Is that evil, Lady Chrysania?” Raistlin repeated gently, insistently.
Slowly, Chrysania shook her head. Slowly, she raised her hands to her throbbing temples. No, it wasn’t evil. Not the way he spoke of it, but something wasn’t quite right. She couldn’t think. She was too confused. All that kept running through her head was: How alike we are, he and I!
He was silent, waiting for her to speak. She had to say something. Hurriedly, she took a gulp of wine, to give her time to collect her scattered thoughts.
“Perhaps I do have those desires,” she said, struggling to find the words, “but if so, my ambition is not for myself. I use it for the church—“
“The church!” Raistlin sneered.
Chrysania’s confusion vanished, replaced by cold anger. “Yes,” she replied, feeling herself on safe and secure ground, surrounded by the bastion of her faith. “It was the power of good, the power of Paladine, that drove away the evil in the world. It is that power I seek. That power that—“
“Drove away the evil?” Raistlin interrupted.
Chrysania blinked. Her thoughts had carried her forward. She hadn’t even been quite sure what she was saying. “Why, yes—“
“But evil and suffering still remain in the world,” Raistlin persisted.
“Because of such as you!” Chrysania cried passionately.
“Ah no, Revered Daughter,” Raistlin said. “Not through any act of mine. Look-“
“What will I see?” Chrysania whispered, curiosity and a strange fascination drawing her near his desk.
“Only what your eyes have seen and refused to look at.”
“Palanthas,” she said, startled. Floating on the mists of morning, she could see the entire city, gleaming like a pearl, spread out before her eyes. And then the city began to rush up at her, or perhaps she was falling into it. Now she was hovering over New City, now she was over the wall, now she was over Old City. The Temple of Paladine rose before her, the beautiful, sacred grounds peaceful and serene in the morning sunlight. Then, she was behind the Temple, looking over the high wall.
She caught her breath. “What is this?” she asked.
“Have you never seen it?” Raistlin replied. “This alley so near the sacred grounds?”
Chrysania shook her head. “N-no” she said, her voice breaking. “And yet, I must have. I have lived in Palanthas all my life. I know all of—“
“No, lady,” Raistlin said, his fingertips lightly caressing the crystalline surface. “No, you know very little.”
Chrysania could not answer. He spoke the truth, apparently, for she did not know this part of the city. Littered with refuse, the alley was dark and dismal. Morning’s sunlight did not find its way past the buildings that leaned over the street as if they had no more energy to stand upright. Chrysania recognized the buildings now. She had seen them from the front. They were used to store everything from grain to casks of wine and ale. But how much different they looked from the front! And who were these wretched people?
“They live there,” Raistlin answered her unspoken question.
“Where?” she asked in horror. “There, why!?”
“They live where they can. Burrowing into the heart of the heart of the city like maggots, they feed off its decay. As for why?” Raistlin shrugged. “They have nowhere else to go.”
“But this is terrible! I’ll tell Elistan! We’ll get them food, get them money-“
“He knows,” Raistlin said softly.
“He can’t! That’s impossible!”
“You knew, if not about this, about others in this fair city that are not so fair.”
“I didn’t—“and then she paused. Memories washed over her in waves. Her mother averting her eyes as they rode in the carriage through certain parts of town, her father quickly drawing the curtains in the windows of their carriage or leaning out to tell the driver to take a different road.
“We are not so different, you and I,” Raistlin interrupted her thoughts, he seemed to come from the flames in her mind. “I live in my tower, devoting myself to my studies, and you live in your tower devoting yourself to your faith. And the world turns around us.”
“And that is true evil,” Chrysania said to the flames. “To sit and do nothing.”
“Now you understand,” Raistlin said. “No longer am I content to sit and do nothing. I have studied long years for one reason, with one aim. And now it is within my grasp. I will change the world. That is my plan!”