Fetish, by Christopher Hughes

Story name: Fetish
Author: Christopher Hughes

Date: late March, 706 CR (8 days)
Location: Metamor Keep, northeastern Metamor Valley, Raven's Lothanasi temple

Overview

A patrol is sent out to attack a Lutin camp, but Chris leaves with something more permanent.

Summary

Copernicus and Bryan have a meeting with Matthias, Christopher, and Landon. A large Lutin camp has been set up near the mountains, and they are to disband it. Since most of the guard is helping with the Easter Festival, Landon and Copernicus will be joining the mission. Christopher will provide magical support, and Bryan will scout for them. Matthias initally refuses to join, until Copernicus asks him to fight for Kimberly's sake. Christopher also objects to his inclusion; Bryan explains that he is more combat-ready than the other wizards.

After three days, they arrive at the Lutin camp, finding about fifty Lutins there. Christopher decides to split the nearby cliff to crush them. The other four charge the Lutins, Bryan attacking with his venom, the other three with swords. Matthias has to concentrate on Kimberly in order to go through with the attack. He notices a shaman lutin attacking Christopher. Terrified, he cracks the lutin's body in two, and tends to Christopher. A large black lump has landed on his shoulder, unable to be removed; within moments, Christopher changes into a non-morphic bear.

After the battle, Copernicus retrieves the shaman's staff and a pouch. After three days, they return to Metamor Keep and bring Christopher and the items to Raven at her temple. Raven studies the contents of the pouch. She deduces that the black marbles inside contain magic that strengthens the curse. She dismisses the others, and calls on Akkala for help.

Akkala tells Raven that this healing will carry a huge price, and asks if Christopher would be willing to pay it. Raven assures her that he will, and so Akkala sets her price: a young boy will soon come to the keep with physical and emotional scars. Christopher is to take this boy as his ward, and be their sole guardian. Raven agrees, and with the help of Raven's energy, Akkala replaces the black lump with her personal mark, taking the staff and pouch with her.

The healing has taken a full day, and Raven enlists both Copernicus and Jack to carry Christopher to his room. When he awakens, Raven tells her of the geas he owes Akkala. Christopher tells Raven that he owes her a debt as well, which visibly troubles her, but she leaves instead of explaining.

Characters

Main Characters:

  • Christopher: A tutor of the Keep. He uses his magical aid to bring a rockslide down on the lutin camp. He is transformed into a full bear by a shaman in the ensuing battle, and is restored to normal in exchange for an obligation to the goddess Akkala.
  • Raven: The Lightbringer. She calls on Akkala to restore Christopher.

Supporting:

  • Bryan: A scout and cobra morph. He is the discoverer of the Lutin camp and delivers the report.
  • Charles Matthias: A headmaster of the Writer's Guild. He is a pacifist, and does not usually go on patrols despite Thomas's order of mandatory service, but the incident in Facing Knight has prompted his inclusion in the patrol.
  • Copernicus: A lizard morph who often goes on guard duty. He leads the expedition. He apparently prefers to head out on first light.
  • Landon: A grey fox morph and a veteran of the Battle of the Three Gates who is trained in close combat.

Cameo:

  • Akkala: The Lothanasi goddess of light and healing. Her mark is a twinned spiral.

Mentioned:

  • Lord Thomas: The duke of Metamor Keep. He has a long-standing order that all able resident must actively defend the Keep.
  • Posti, Magus: Two sorcerors for the Keep, much more powerful than Christopher.
  • Kimberly: Matthias's beloved.
  • Mark: A child morph.
  • Princess Mal: A gender morph.
  • Brian: The Keep medic.
  • Jack: An armourer who assists Copernicus and Raven in carrying Christopher to his room.

Points of Interest

  • This story has two direct follow-ups: Ward, in which Christopher meets and fulfills his geas; and Attacking Cossack, which takes place immediately afterwards and follows Charles Matthias's reactions.
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