Sunny Skies

by Terry Spafford

Saroth stirred uneasily in his sleep. Through his affinity with the weather, he could 'feel' what the general mood of the weather was, and lately that mood was restlessness. Something was forcing the clouds to stay in the area for far longer than the clouds desired; they were anxious to get away, and they were passing those feelings on to Saroth.

Clouds loved to roam the sky, going where the wind blew them and seeing all the sights and wonders of the world. Since he had changed, Saroth often flew next to new clouds, 'listening' in as they used the wind to tell others what they had seen. He couldn't begin to understand what they were saying, but he could get the feelings of wonderment, of surprise and even an occasional burst of terror or anger that overlay whatever they were telling each other. Lately, though, all the clouds were expressing were feelings of boredom and restlessness, which worried Saroth. He knew that when clouds got bored with an area, it could be a long time before they willingly returned.

Saroth had tried to help with their restlessness, to restore the disrupted currents around the valley. He often flew up to the clouds and tried to use his powers to push them onwards. It was to no avail; Whatever was holding them in place was far stronger than his own power, even with the clouds cooperating with him. When he wasn't in the skies, he was in the Keep's libraries, studying other known weather manipulators, seeing who, or what, could be strong enough to resist the combined might of the weather's natural will and his own abilities. The list was short, and very disconcerting. Any one of them could blow him away in a tornado before he could twist up a dust devil.

Number one on the list was the Controller enchantments down south, but as quickly as it got on the list, he scratched it off. He had been around the wards long enough to recognize their feel from afar. Though he could sense them faintly, even in the Keep, their strongest effects were focused on the plateau and could not extend beyond it.

That meant the source was something... or someone else. The thought of dealing with any of the other major manipulators sent a chill down his long spine; He knew the Weather Wards and what they could and couldn't do, but the others major manipulators were a complete mystery to him. He didn't even recognize most of the names on his list, and wasn't eager to face them in this sort of circumstance.

Giving up on sleep, he uncurled his limbs from around his body and shifted from the full dragon to a slightly more human form. He yawned and stretched, walking out the large open door to his balcony. Looking down, He saw people moving around, doing normal Keep business, unaware of the drought conditions in the making that he was helpless to stop. He barely noted the Lightbringer moving out of the gates on her own business.

With a heavy sigh, he shifted back to full bronze dragon form and prepared himself to take off. He had been trying to get some rest before performing an experiment he had developed, but as long as the clouds were restless, so was he. Saroth took off and flew to the center of the stuck clouds. Once there he mentally tried to impress on them what he was going to try. The clouds gave off a sense of wary acceptance and he started his work.

Spreading his wings wider, he climbed to the tops of the cloud banks and got into position. He started a slow lazy spiral downwards, and focused on his other abilities. On the way downwards, he started mentally pushing against the clouds and judging the resistance he encountered, trying to get a sense on if the counter force was ground based or in the air, or something else.

He was just getting the feeling that the resistance came from below, when it suddenly disappeared. A wave of elation along with a brisk wind overcame him momentarily, and the clouds scattered across the sky. Saroth, overwhelmed by the sudden release, lost control of his flight for a moment and plummeted. With the trees rising up fast, he recovered and regained some altitude, then took a moment to regain his bearings.

He mentally nudged a couple of the slower moving clouds and looked downwards, wondering what had happened. Nothing had noticeably changed on the land, but the skies were definitely clearer. Part of him worried that the release hadn't been in time, but most of him just took in the scenery and anticipated a good night's rest.

Movement below him drew his attention to the Lightbringer making her way away from the stump of an old tree. He quickly put two and two together and got a good idea what had happened. Though he didn't know all the details, many of the entries on his list fell into realms the Lightbringers would normally handle. He dropped out of the sky and landed on the path a short distance ahead of her.

"Saroth! What are you doing here?" she asked, twitching in surprise at his sudden appearance.

{I was trying to find out what was keeping the clouds from leaving the area. I'm not sure what you did, but I can suspect a bit about what it was. On behalf of the clouds and myself, I wish to thank you for what you've done,} I sent to her, smiling gratefully.

"I was just doing my duty...." she started.

{Maybe, but that doesn't lessen the fact that you just prevented a disaster for the farmers and the Keep.... Would you like a lift back to the Keep? It's the least I could do for you. I'm afraid I left my riding harness back there, but I promise to go slow so that you don't fall off.}

She considered his offer for a moment before accepting it. Saroth bent low, and offered her his knee to use as a step up onto his back. She settled between his back ridges just ahead of his wings. {Ready?} he asked, twisting his neck to look back at her.

"Yes," she said, nodding her head.

{Hold on tight,} he sent, and waited until he felt her claws gripping into one of his ridges. Spreading his wings and crouching slightly, he leaped into the air and started flying back to the Keep.

Saroth circled once around the Keep, then landed in the main courtyard. He waited until she climbed down before shifting down to his closest human form. He still towered over her.

{Let me say it again. Thank you for what you did; those clouds were ecstatic to be on the move again.} he told her before needing to stifle a yawn. {If you don't mind, Lightbringer, I need to go get some sleep. This problem had been disturbing my sleep for days.}

She smiled. "Go on Saroth. And thank you for the ride back."

Giving her a quick wave goodbye, I shifted enough to fly and took off to my balcony in the tower room.