M'rah and blue Talinath
The Road So Far!
It all began at the Harperhall at Kellad Hold, in the protectorate of Madellon Weyr, for Marah – a young girl of 14 Turns, dreaming of becoming a blue rider.
Marah was born the daughter of two Harpers at the Southern Harperhall, Kellad Hold. Surrounded by music, she was apprenticed to the Craft when she came of age. But she never excelled in any discipline, and it seemed as if an unremarkable career as a mid-level journeyman likely lay ahead for her. And then, in early 102, J'kel – a dragonrider of Madellon Weyr – came to Kellad Hold in search of candidates for the new clutch hardening on the Sands of Madellon Weyr. Marah caught the attention of J'kel's blue Hozrath. And a sevenday later, Marah arrived at Madellon Weyr, joining the candidate pool for senior queen Shimpath's first clutch by her new mate Muzzanth.
As a candidate, Marah was assigned a bunkmate – Jopha, a mischievous young Weyrbred girl prone to getting herself into trouble, who would soon become her closest friend in the Weyr. She also got to know many of her fellow candidates, including the Weyrbred twins Leover and Leoguy; Zielaph, the nephew of a Madellon bronze rider; and Arina, a level-headed young woman from Jessaf who'd stood at the previous Hatching.
But she also made an enemy – Thippia, a foul-mouthed girl from the Seacraft – who took a firm disliking to Marah! Backed up by her crony Berrin, Thippia became the thorn in Marah's side throughout the sevendays of candidacy.
The dragons' hum woke Jopha and Marah on 102.03.17. Following a brief run-in with Thippia, the pair joined the rest of the candidates for a morning lecture. The Weyrlingmaster, L'stev, gave the whole cohort – increased by three late Searchees to a total of thirty-five – strict instructions about pre-Hatching preparations, including eating, drinking, bathing – and in some cases, getting a decent haircut – and then turned the group loose for the morning. Before Marah left, Jopha – whose Impression robe was sadly overlarge for her petite frame – recruited Marah's help in getting it adjusted by her nemesis Shookana in the mending room.
The one-armed green rider and the thieving queen
Immediately on leaving the candidate barracks, Marah was flagged down by M'shen – a green rider with one arm, a fire-lizard queen – and a problem. His queen, Squiffy, had stolen several pieces of the Weyrwoman's jewellery, and hidden it around the Weyr. M'shen recruited Marah to find it. The quest took Marah all over Madellon, from kitchens to lake to infirmary – but in the end she succeeded in reuniting the Weyrwoman's jewellery set, to general acclaim.
Respecting her elders
In the Weyr's kitchen gardens, Marah encountered R'hren, a former Weyrleader of Madellon, now peacefully retired to potter among his beloved plants. R'hren asked Marah to help him track down the ingredients for a warming salve to help his elderly bronze, Staamath, with his arthritic forepaws. Marah duly located the components of R'hren's salve, winning the old bronze rider's approval in the process.
Gifted a small pot of the salve, Marah offered it to old S'rius, who was equally appreciative of the gift. And while Kisha, the blind old green rider Marah encountered in the infirmary, would have nothing to do with one of R'hren's concoctions, she too grew to approve of Marah – especially after she solved all three of her fiendish riddles!
Marah met G'kalte – a brown rider and Wingsecond, not to mention Weyrwoman Valonna's weyrmate – in the Bowl, and was quickly recruited by him to help with a diplomatic matter. G'kalte had been tasked with delivering two gifts from Valonna to her Southern counterpart Weyrwoman Karika – but he'd been summoned away to collect his own grandmother, Lady Coffleby, for the Hatching.
He asked Marah to figure out which of the seven Southern dragons visiting Madellon were the correct pair to hand over Karika's gifts. And while G'kalte's brown, Archidath, offered Marah some intelligence on the Southern seven, his advice was somewhat garbled! Nonetheless, Marah unravelled Archidath's confusing suggestions and got the right packages to the right dragons – without being growled at!
A rising problem
Marah encountered both Soleigh, whose green Bristath was preparing to rise near the lake, and her weyrmate Maris, who was getting very drunk in the dining hall on account of her fears that Soleigh was having an affair with a blue rider, G'tron. Marah's intervention successfully got rid of G'tron, whose Imdoth was very sweet indeed on Bristath, from the mating flight – not to mention G'pellas, another blue rider, needed in the Harper ensemble – and reconciled the two green riders. Even if Marah did annoy Soleigh, who wasn't impressed with her for prolonging Maris' binge by bringing her more wine!
A Harper born
Marah's Harper training came in handy when Carleah, the Weyr Singer, asked her to play a set with her ensemble in the dining hall. They played to a rapturous reception that gave Marah's confidence – and her mark purse – quite a boost!
Madellon's kitchens – the heart of the Weyr, and domain of Headwoman Crauva – provided Marah with the opportunity to show off her work ethic before the Hatching. A round of chores duly pleased Crauva. And the kitchen was also the source of the hotfruit R'hren had sent Marah to find for his warming salve.
Eggs and baskets
A visit to the Archives led to a meeting with Tarshe, Madellon's Weyrwoman Second. When Marah expressed an interested in looking up some Weyr records, Tarshe offered her the loan of a glowbasket – on the proviso that she return it afterwards. Which – mindful of not offending such an important personage of the Weyr – Marah did!
Weyrbrat by name...
A run-in with a Weyrbrat – Terzon, whom Thippia had paid to cause Marah trouble – resulted in an unfortunate public incident. All too aware of being shaken down, Marah gave the kid a shove – in front of a number of witnesses – doing nothing for her reputation!
A blue lady
Coming across T'gala, Pern's only female blue rider, bathing her Heppeth in the lake, Marah offered her assistance – which T'gala gladly accepted. Getting some first-hand advice about what it took for T'gala to Impress a blue dragon was an opportunity Marah didn't want to pass up.
Mindful of the Weyrlingmaster's orders to be smart for the Hatching, Marah visited Madellon's resident barber – green rider Z'fell – for a trim. Very conscious of her dignity, Marah ensured she came away with a cut she actually liked.
A slithery customer
Early in the day, Marah found out about a secret way into the Hatching Ground via storeroom that might allow her a sneaky peek at the eggs before the Hatching. Successfully entering the combination to the lock on the storeroom door, and suitably equipped with a glowbasket, she crawled into a confusing maze of passages.
By a stroke of ill luck, Marah strayed into tunnel snake territory! A huge, aggressive, and potently venomous female tunnel-snake guarded the exit to the Hatching ground. Marah was lucky to avoid being bitten. But ultimately she evaded the snake, dodging past it and slipping out onto the Hatching Sands.
Having survived her encounter with the snake, Marah crept closer to the clutch – close enough to touch an egg – before beating a hasty retreat from the Hatching Ground!
When it came to the Hatching, Marah had to wait for every other dragonet to Hatch and choose a rider before the grey-swirled silvery cream egg Hatched to reveal the very pale moon-blue hatchling who would choose her, naming himself Talinath.
A friend bereft
But to Marah's dismay, Jopha wasn't as fortunate. No dragonet showed an interest in her, and she was left among the candidates remaining unmatched at the end of the Hatching.
Whatever happened to Thippia?
Thippia didn't turn up for the pre-Hatching muster, and – Marah's own suspicions notwithstanding – L'stev guessed that she had probably got herself lost trying to sneak into the Hatching Ground through the dangerous ventilation tunnels. Fortunately – Marah supposed – Weyrlingmaster A'len located the missing candidate, but too late for Thippia, who having been found unconscious, was promptly invalided out of standing!
After the Hatching
"Talinath" by Chris S. Baily
The Weyrlingmaster was the first to congratulate Marah on her Impression, but it was J'kel, thrilled that Hozrath had finally found a successful candidate after so long without, who stepped in to help with the immediate matter of Talinath's first meal. That was the first moment Marah had truly grasped that Jopha wasn't going to be a weyrling alongside her – a truth that hit hard. In Jopha's absence, Arina, who'd Impressed a cloudy-green dragonet, Chanth – was a welcome friendly face.
It wasn't long before Talinath's personality started to become evident. The moon-blue dragonet, while seemingly reluctant to even leave his egg, showed glimmers of a curiously perceptive and knowing mind beneath his apparent laziness.
With both dragonets full to bursting with fresh meat, the newly minted dragonpairs left the Hatching sands for their new home: the weyrling barracks.
Another friend Marah made along the way – a young Weyrbred candidate, Brithie, whom Marah had encountered in a sudden crisis of confidence directly before the Hatching – hailed Marah at the barracks – crediting her with her successful Impression of a tiny bottle-green dragonet, Epatanth!
Meeting the Weyrleader
As Marah and Arina wiped the worst of the blood and sand from their tired new dragonets, the Weyrleader, T'gat, came to inspect both girls' dragonets – and in particular to remark upon Marah's unusual Impression of a blue. T'gat further enquired if Marah would like to elide her name, as T'gala had done, or not. Marah took up the opportunity to rename herself, and after a brief conference with Talinath, Marah gave the Weyrleader her new name – M'rah, rider of blue Talinath!
Following their audience with the Weyrleader, and the application of oily rags to relieve Talinath's and Chanth's newborn itchiness, M'rah and Arina headed into the girls' barracks to claim the billets that would be theirs for the next Turn. Choosing adjacent cots, the two new weyrlings got their dragonets settled on the couches that they would take months to grow into. But there was no time for them to sit and admire their new dragons. The Weyrlingmaster soon came along to give them their new weyrling shoulder-knots, before chivvying them off to the Hatching feast!
The Hatching feast
M'rah and Arina soon went their separate ways to find family and friends. Many of the riders and Weyrfolk M'rah had helped during the day greeted her with warm congratulations as she hunted through the throng – but, at last, she found her family.
M'rah's Harper parents were absolutely delighted to find themselves the mother and father of a blue rider and happier still to learn that M'rah had already brought her musical skills to the Weyr. And they were even more delighted to drink to M'rah and Talinath when the Weyrleaders arrived to toast them!
The rest of the evening passed in a blur for M'rah, and it came as a relief when the Weyrlingmaster ordered all the new weyrlings back to the barracks for a good night's sleep. But en route to bed, M'rah was flagged down by a Weyrbrat, Emry, bringing the message that Weyrwoman Second Tarshe wanted to see her in the Archives.
Setting the record straight
Tarshe, tasked by the Weyrwoman with converting candidate documentation into weyrling records, went through M'rah's background with her – including much of what she had got up to on the morning of the Hatching – for good and ill. She offered M'rah some advice about paying attention to her new classmates and surroundings, lest she fall foul of the Weyrlingmaster's penchant for snap quizzes, and made some observations on Talinath.
A close encounter
On her way back to the barracks , M'rah had two peculiar encounters – first, with Tarshe's queen, Berzunth, who seemed quite agitated by one of the visiting dragons on the Rim; and then with a mysterious hooded figure, smelling strongly of what M'rah would later realise was firestone, who called her by name – and gave her a curious wooden box.
"The Watchful Queen" by Chris S. Baily
Back at the barracks, M'rah decided, on balance, not to tell the Weyrlingmaster about the stranger.
Returning at last to Talinath – billeted between Arina's Chanth and a pretty blue-green dragonet – M'rah was too tired to examine the strange wooden box very closely, and put it in her clothes' chest for later examination. But even as she went to sleep – a dragonrider at last, her blue beside her – M'rah was struck with a deep sense of foreboding. Who was the mysterious dragonrider in the hooded cloak? And what was the significance of the strange wooden box?
M'rah and Talinath's story will continue in Dragonchoice: Weyrling, coming soon!
CARRY ON WAYWARD SON
I travelled The Road So Far!
OUR ROB, OR ROSS
I received a mysterious box!
A HORSE WITH A NAME
I have a name and it's a good name and I don't need to fix my name. Probably.
BIRDS OF A FEATHER
Talinath and I make a very strong match!
SUGAR AND SPICE
I've been a very nice person (so far)!
EBONY AND IVORY
Talinath and I agreed on something very important!
Talinath and I agreed on something quite important!