Raining Cats and Dragons, by Terry Spafford

Story name: Raining Cats and Dragons
Author: Terry Spafford

Date: Spring 706 CR
Location: Metamor Valley, Metamor Keep

Overview

Saroth is wounded during his Lutin patrol. While he recovers, he discovers that Scratch could be one of his lifelong enemies.

Summary

Saroth flies back to his tower and prepares himself for his patrol. The guards at the North Gate tell him to check the plains along the northeastern side of the valley. After a few days of seeing signs of activity but no Lutins, he spots a small squad of Lutins and ambushes them. He concludes from their outfits that they are part of a raiding party, spread out to disguise their numbers. He relays the information to another Keep patrol, emphasizing one caravan in particular that he is expecting from the south.

A week into his patrol, he sees a colored smoke distress signal and begins flying towards it, when he is ambushed by a squad of five Lutins. Noticing Cerulean flying towards the distress scene, he turns his full attention to the Lutins. Killing three of them, he loses sight of the other two, who leap from a tree onto his back and hack through his hide with their swords. Unable to shake them off, Saroth desperately flies into the air and hurtles them off his back, but not before receiving several wounds in his back and neck and a huge tear along his wing. He limps back to the Keep and collapses in front of the gate.

Two weeks later, Saroth awakes to find Claudia, Brian Coe's assistant, spreading healing salve on his numbed wings. Claudia fetches Electra, who had just stepped out after staying by his side for days, and Coe, who tells him not to fly or shift back to morph form until his wing is fully healed. After Coe and Claudia break down the tent and leave, Electra tearfully hugs Saroth. With his telepathy spell, Saroth relives that moment her point-of-view, seeing him bloodied in a heap outside as Brian called out instructions and the guards led her away.

Over the next few days, Saroth relaxes in the courtyards and sleeps in the stables, too large to fit in his tower. One day as he is sunning himself, the newcomer Scratch asks if he can practice throwing some daggers in the courtyard, as the main training yards are full. Saroth acquiesces at first, but then recognizes the daggers as the same used by his enemy, the Thief's Guild. Saroth roars and pins him to the ground, ready to kill him. Electra runs up to stop him, but darkens upon seeing the dagger. Saroth explains to Scratch why he must kill him, and Scratch pleads for him to stop. At that moment, Raven rushes in, explaining that Scratch is far too young to have been responsible for Saroth's family's death, that he has left the Thief's Guild and is now under Akkala's protection, and that killing Scratch would make him no better than the murderers he claims to be against. Sensing the crowd being swayed to her side, Saroth throws him aside and storms off.

Electra stops him before he flies off, telling him to calm down. Saroth claims that everyone in the Keep has betrayed him, and Electra slaps him. Shocked, Saroth is angry that a mortal enemy is allowed to live at the Keep, especially when Electra herself was on his side. Electra protests that his telepathy spell was radiating so strongly, and she's glad that Raven arrived to stop the attack. She allows him to go for a flight to work off his temper, but asks that he return so that he can apologize to Raven.

Claudia is there when he returns, who is glad that the stitches have held, and tells him to see Brian the next day to be officially cleared for flight. Before he does, he goes to Raven and apologizes for his outburst. After Brian gives Saroth a tongue-lashing for his unauthorized flight, he finally allows him to go for short-distance flights, but no long-distance flights or shifting for at least another few days. Saroth guesses, from Scratch's absence, that Electra probably arranged him to go on patrol, which brings him some relief. Although he promises Electra that he won't kill Scratch on sight, he can't promise anything if they cross paths again.

Characters

Main characters:

  • Saroth: The Keep weather mage, a dragon morph. Years ago, members of the Thief's Guild killed his family; ever since, Saroth has sworn to kill every last member. He prefers going on patrol in his full dragon morph; he also has a fondness for diving off his tower and swooping away at the last moment, to Brian's consternation. He is injured during the story, but has mostly recovered by the time it ends.
  • Electra: Saroth's guardian and mentor. She empathizes with Saroth's mission, but her loyalties are foremost to the Keep. She believes Scratch deserves a second chance,
  • Scratch: A newcomer to the Keep, a tiger morph. He is 18 years old, but already talented in throwing knives. He used to be a member of the Thief's Guild, but escaped to the Keep and now lives in service to the Lothanasi god Akkala. He has proven his loyalty to the Keep since then.

Supporting:

  • Brian: The Keep physician. After Saroth's near-fatal injury, he is a constant presence around Saroth, chiding him to not shift or over-exert himself.
  • Raven: The Keep Lightbringer. Although Scratch is not under her care, she intercedes for him on Akkala's behalf.

Minor characters:

  • Cerulean: A natural-born dragon at the Keep.
  • Claudia: Brian's assistant nurse, an age-regress.
  • A male cat morph and a female scout who receive Saroth's warning.

Cameo:

  • Pascal: The Keep alchemist, who among other things makes a foul-smelling healing salve. She shows up with Raven during the incident with Scratch.
  • Jon: A Keep quartermaster, who led Electra away from the injured Saroth.
  • A rhino morph and elephant morph who disassemble the tent Saroth was staying in.

Mentioned:

  • Sean: A young mage from Magdalaine Island, and Saroth's friend. He is travelling by caravan to Metamor Keep, and hasn't arrived yet.

Referenced:

  • Akkala: The Lothanasi god of healing. Scratch is under her protection in exchange for his service.
  • Thomas: Duke of Metamor.
  • Nasoj: Mortal enemy of Metamor Keep.

Locations

  • Sorin: A city south of the Keep. The caravan from Magdalaine Island to Metamor was waylaid here for a bad storm.

Story Connections

  • Saroth notices a rockfall on an old Lutin campsite, the possible aftermath of the events in Fetish.
  • Saroth notices a colorful smoke signal that Cerulean is flying towards. If this is not a common occurrence, it might be the same smoke signal seen in Faith, Trust, and Hope.
    • The female scout and male catmorph encountered here could well be Jenny and John in that story.
  • Electra explains that Scratch has gained many people's trust for his actions. This refers to the events of From the Shadows, in which Scratch made his first appearance and fought several monsters among the Keep.
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