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Ar'dell and blue Strasburth

The Road So Far!

It all began at Madellon Weyr for Arstedell – a young man of 18 Turns, dreaming of becoming a dragonrider.

Arstedell was born the son of Nelya, a Headwoman's Second at Madellon Weyr. While he didn't have to be Searched, he was 'given the nod' as a likely dragonrider by the Weyr's most senior retired Search pair – S'rius and his elderly blue Padseth. Having been left standing at a Hatching once before, Arstedell struggled with both his modest upbringing as a Weyr child with no rider blood, and his fear that he wasn't dragonrider material.

As a candidate, Arstedell was assigned a bunkmate – Soburn, an anxious Weyrbred youth with one failed Hatching already haunting him, who would soon become his closest friend in the Weyr. He also got to know many of his fellow candidates, including the Weyrbred twins Leover and Leoguy; Zielaph, the nephew of a Madellon bronze rider; and Chiliam, a good-natured highborn lad from Kellad.

But he also made an enemy – Rielat, a self-important apprentice Weaver – who took a firm disliking to Arstedell! Backed up by his crony Kestor, Rielat became the thorn in Arstedell's side throughout the sevendays of candidacy.

Hatching Day

The dragons' hum woke Soburn and Arstedell on 102.03.17. Following a brief run-in with Rielat, 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 Arstedell left, Soburn asked him to find out if H'nar, the young Wingleader of the Betweenless Wing, might currently be seeing someone – or not.

The one-armed green rider and the thieving queen

Immediately on leaving the candidate barracks, Arstedell 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 Arstedell to find it. The quest took Arstedell all over Madellon, from kitchens to lake to infirmary – but in the end he succeeded in reuniting the Weyrwoman's jewellery set, to general acclaim.

Respecting his elders

In the Weyr's kitchen gardens, Arstedell encountered R'hren, a former Weyrleader of Madellon, now peacefully retired to potter among his beloved plants. R'hren asked Arstedell to help him track down the ingredients for a warming salve to help his elderly bronze, Staamath, with his arthritic forepaws. Arstedell 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, Arstedell offered it to old S'rius, who was equally appreciative of the gift. And while Kisha, the blind old green rider Arstedell encountered in the infirmary, would have nothing to do with one of R'hren's concoctions, she too grew to approve of Arstedell – especially after he solved all three of her fiendish riddles!

Southern comfort

Arstedell 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 Arstedell 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 Arstedell some intelligence on the Southern seven, his advice was somewhat garbled! Nonetheless, Arstedell unravelled Archidath's confusing suggestions and got the right packages to the right dragons – without being growled at!

A Masterful order

In the dining hall, Arstedell met his fellow candidate Zielaph, who'd been tasked by his somewhat dim uncle, bronze rider Fr'ton, with delivering a complicated drinks order to a group of Master Crafters. Zielaph had information about their names, beverages, crafts, and fire-lizards – but not in any sensible order!

Luckily for him, Arstedell solved the puzzle of Fr'ton's confusing notes adeptly, delivering the correct drinks to the correct Masters, and earning a handsome tip in the process. Arstedell even shared the largesse with Zielaph, who then introduced him to Fr'ton – who, having Impressed a bronze in spite of his less than boundless promise, gave Arstedell a certain confidence in his own prospects!

A rising problem

Arstedell 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. Arstedell'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.

Kitchen diplomacy

Madellon's kitchens – the heart of the Weyr, and domain of Headwoman Crauva – provided Arstedell with the opportunity to show off his 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 Arstedell 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 Arstedell expressed an interested in looking up some Weyr records, Tarshe offered him the loan of a glowbasket – on the proviso that he return it afterwards. But with one thing and another, Arstedell didn't bring it back – earning the Weyrwoman Second's ire!

A blue lady

Coming across T'gala, Pern's only female blue rider, bathing her Heppeth in the lake, Arstedell offered his assistance – which T'gala gladly accepted.

Friend request

Conscious of Soburn's bashfulness, Arstedell approached the object of his affections – H'nar, Wingleader of the Betweenless Wing – with some circumspection. Still, when questioned, H'nar insisted he had to know who was making enquiries of him. And when he learned the identity of his admirer, he told Arstedell that he wasn't interested in Soburn – or any other men, for that matter. But Arstedell's agile pivot in questioning revealed that a close friend of H'nar's – blue rider M'rany – might be a viable alternative. Thus encouraged, Soburn began to think more positively of life as a dragonrider – even if H'nar would end up being his Wingleader!

Hair today

Mindful of the Weyrlingmaster's orders to be smart for the Hatching, Arstedell visited Madellon's resident barber – green rider Z'fell – for a trim. Very conscious of his dignity, Arstedell ensured he came away with a cut he actually liked.

A slithery customer

Early in the day, Arstedell found out about a secret way into the Hatching Ground via storeroom that might allow him 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, he crawled into a confusing maze of passages.

By a stroke of ill luck, Arstedell strayed into tunnel snake territory! A huge, aggressive, and potently venomous female tunnel-snake guarded the exit to the Hatching ground. Arstedell was bitten – badly – and immediately felt the effects of the snake's paralysing venom. But ultimately he evaded the snake, dodging past it and slipping out onto the Hatching Sands.

But the snake's venom had done its work, and Arstedell collapsed trying to reach the eggs, waking up in the infirmary.

The Hatching

But when it came to the Hatching, Arstedell had a less than ordinary experience. While trying to sneak into the Hatching Ground for a surreptitious look at the eggs, he disturbed an immense, highly venomous tunnel-snake. He survived the encounter, but not without a cost – he was bitten. Seeking immediate aid from the Weyr Healer, Isnan, saved his life – but got him invalided out of the Hatching and confined to the infirmary. But an earlier conversation with S'rius, gave Arstedell the notion that he might still be able to Impress – if he could just reach the Sands in time. He staggered from his sickbed, across the Weyr, and onto the Sands – just in time to Impress the very last dragonet, a blue who named himself Strasburth.

Whatever happened to Rielat?

Sadly, there was at least one fly in the numbweed. Rielat Impressed an impressively proportioned indigo-blue hatchling, making them Arstedell and Strasburth's new classmates. (On the bright side, at least Kestor didn't Impress!)

After the Hatching

"Strasburth" by Chris S. Baily

The Weyrlingmaster was the first to congratulate Arstedell on his Impression, but it was old S'rius, delighted to have found yet another weyrling, who stepped in to help with the immediate matter of Strasburth's first meal. That was Arstedell's first opportunity to speak to Soburn, too, and they introduced each other, with considerable delight, to their respective dragonets, Strasburth and Aeranth. Soburn also told Arstedell that his new name was to be – perhaps unsurprisingly – S'burn.

It wasn't long before Strasburth's personality started to become evident. The big midnight-blue dragonet showed an immediate desire to show off and preen – not surprising given his handsome colour and conformation!

With both dragonets full to bursting with fresh meat, the newly minted dragonpairs left the Hatching sands for their new home: the weyrling barracks.

Meeting the Weyrleader

As Arstedell and S'burn wiped the worst of the blood and sand from their tired new dragonets, the Weyrleader, T'gat, came to inspect both boys' dragonets, to ask after their names – and to ask the two new weyrlings how they should now be called. Arstedell was proud to introduce Strasburth to the Weyrleader. And after a brief conference with Strasburth, Arstedell gave the Weyrleader his own new name: Ar'dell, rider of blue Strasburth!

Following their audience with the Weyrleader, and the application of oily rags to relieve Strasburth's and Aeranth's newborn itchiness, Ar'dell and S'burn headed into the boys' 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

Ar'dell and S'burn soon went their separate ways to find family and friends. Many of the riders and Weyrfolk Ar'dell had helped during the day greeted him with warm congratulations as he hunted through the throng – but, at last, he found his family.

Ar'dell's mother, Nelya, was thrilled by her son's Impression – though perhaps not quite as ecstatic as Ar'dell's younger siblings, Ashi and Halante. As the first dragonrider in the family, Ar'dell was keenly aware of what it meant to his brother and sister. And when the Weyrleaders came to drink a toast to Ar'dell and Strasburth, Valonna was particularly delighted for Nelya – one of her most trusted Headwoman Seconds.

The rest of the evening passed in a blur for Ar'dell, 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, Ar'dell was flagged down by a Weyrbrat, Emry, bringing the message that Weyrwoman Second Tarshe wanted to see him in the Archives.

Setting the record straight

Tarshe, tasked by the Weyrwoman with converting candidate documentation into weyrling records, went through Ar'dell's background with him – including much of what he had got up to on the morning of the Hatching – for good and ill. She offered Ar'dell some advice about paying attention to his new classmates and surroundings, lest he fall foul of the Weyrlingmaster's penchant for snap quizzes, advised him to report to Master Isnan before returning to the barracks to get his injuries checked again, and made some observations on Strasburth.

A close encounter

On his way back to the barracks (by way of the infirmary, as ordered by Tarshe), Ar'dell 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 Ar'dell would later realise was firestone, who called him by name – and gave him a curious wooden box.

"The Watchful Queen" by Chris S. Baily

Back at the barracks, Ar'dell decided, on balance, not to tell the Weyrlingmaster about the stranger.

Returning at last to Strasburth – billeted between S'burn's Aeranth and a bright bronze dragonet – Ar'dell was too tired to examine the strange wooden box very closely, and put it in his clothes' chest for later examination. But even as he went to sleep – a dragonrider at last, his blue beside him – Ar'dell 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?

Find out more about Arstedell's Impression here. Ar'dell and Strasburth's story will continue in Dragonchoice: Weyrling, coming soon!

Ar'dell's achievements

Achievement Unlocked:
CARRY ON WAYWARD SON

I travelled The Road So Far!

Achievement Unlocked:
OUR ROB, OR ROSS

I received a mysterious box!

Achievement Unlocked:
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.

Achievement Unlocked:
THE YIN TO YOUR YANG

Strasburth and I complement each other!

Achievement Unlocked:
SUGAR AND SPICE

I've been a very nice person (so far)!

Achievement Unlocked:
PLEASE STATE THE NATURE OF THE MEDICAL EMERGENCY

I returned to the infirmary!

Achievement Unlocked:
EBONY AND IVORY

Strasburth and I agreed on something very important!

Achievement Unlocked:
IN TUNE

Strasburth and I agreed on something quite important!