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Rays and blue Hyleath

The Road So Far!

It all began at Jessaf Hold, in the protectorate of Madellon Weyr, for Raystone – a young woman of 18 Turns, dreaming of becoming a blue rider.

Raystone was born to unusual privilege – a granddaughter of Winstone, Lord of mighty Jessaf Hold. Raystone didn't scramble for the attention of the young Search rider, Garlan, who came to Jessaf in early 102 seeking candidates for Madellon Weyr's latest clutch. But as a scion of the Hold, Raystone was among the party welcoming the green rider to Jessaf – and, in due course, became the focus of her dragon Hushith's attention. Lord Winstone wasn't enthusiastic about Raystone becoming a candidate – displeased that such a opportunity would ruin his plans for Raystone's betrothal to a nephew of Lord Orfen's. But he grudgingly accepted that, as Raystone had her majority, she had the right to accept Search. And with Winstone's admonition that she should remember her place as his granddaughter and not make a scene ringing in her ears, Raystone left to begin her candidacy at Madellon Weyr.

As a candidate, Raystone was assigned a bunkmate – Erilde, a quiet young woman from the Lower Caverns fearing a second unsuccessful Hatching, 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 – Auciet, a snobby and superior Holdbred girl – who took a firm disliking to Raystone! Backed up by her crony Cedranne, Auciet became the thorn in Raystone's side throughout the sevendays of candidacy.

Hatching Day

The dragons' hum woke Erilde and Raystone on 102.03.17. Following a brief run-in with Auciet, 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 Raystone left, Erilde asked her to make enquiries about any dragonrider heritage she herself might possess, to give her confidence a boost before the Hatching.

The one-armed green rider and the thieving queen

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

Southern comfort

Raystone 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 Raystone 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 Raystone some intelligence on the Southern seven, his advice was somewhat garbled! Nonetheless, Raystone 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, Raystone met her 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, Raystone 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. Raystone even shared the largesse with Zielaph, who then introduced her to Fr'ton – who, having Impressed a bronze in spite of his less than boundless promise, gave Raystone a certain confidence in her own prospects!

A rising problem

Raystone 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. Raystone'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 Raystone 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 Raystone 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 Raystone 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 – Raystone did!

A blue lady

Coming across T'gala, Pern's only female blue rider, bathing her Heppeth in the lake, Raystone 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 Raystone didn't want to pass up.

Friend request

Seeking knowledge of Erilde's parentage, Raystone visited the Weyr's Archives and sought advice from Weyrwoman Tarshe, the Weyrwoman Second. While Tarshe could find no evidence that Erilde's father had been a dragonrider, she suggested Raystone might construct a story about a long-dead rider. Raystone delved into Madellon's records and unearthed a brown rider, B'get, deceased some Turns ago, but of the right age to have fathered her friend. Bringing this plausible white lie to Erilde may have been a tad devious – but it had the desired effect on her belief that she could, in fact, possess the ability to Impress a dragon!

Hair today

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

A Weyrleader's mercy

Early in the day, Raystone 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 chance, she found a way onto the Hatching Ground – onto a very high ledge! Calling down for help was the only option, and a welcome – if embarrassing – lift down from Muzzanth himself returned Raystone safely to ground level.

Realising that honesty was the best policy, Raystone apologised to the Weyrleader for intruding – and was surprised to find T'gat remarkably sanguine about it, reminiscing about his own youthful journey through the passages. And a polite request granted Raystone the Weyrleader's permission to approach the clutch. She touched one of the eggs, marvelling at its palpable vitality.

The Hatching

When it came to the Hatching, Raystone had to wait for every other dragonet to Hatch and choose a rider before the pearl-green egg Hatched to reveal the deep midnight-blue hatchling who would choose her, naming himself Hyleath.

A friend in me

And Raystone wasn't the only lucky one. To her delight, Erilde also Impressed, becoming the rider of an inquisitive teal-green hatchling, Shaldeth.

Whatever happened to Auciet?

Sadly, there was at least one fly in the numbweed. Auciet Impressed an unusually aggressive grass-green hatchling, making them Raystone and Hyleath's new classmates. (On the bright side, at least Cedranne didn't Impress!)

After the Hatching

"Hyleath" by Chris S. Baily

The Weyrlingmaster was the first to congratulate Raystone on her Impression, but it was Garlan, delighted that her risky choice of Winstone's granddaughter had Impressed, who stepped in to help with the immediate matter of Hyleath's first meal. That was Raystone's first opportunity to speak to Erilde, too, and they introduced each other, with considerable delight, to their respective dragonets, Hyleath and Shaldeth.

It wasn't long before Hyleath'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.

Big sister

Another friend Raystone made along the way – a young Weyrbred candidate, Brithie, whom Raystone had encountered in a sudden crisis of confidence directly before the Hatching – hailed Raystone at the barracks – crediting her with her successful Impression of a tiny bottle-green dragonet, Epatanth!

Meeting the Weyrleader

As Raystone and Erilde 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 Raystone's unusual Impression of a blue. T'gat further enquired if Raystone would like to elide her name, as T'gala had done, or not. Raystone elected not to elide her name – content to remain Rays, rider of blue Hyleath!

Following their audience with the Weyrleader, and the application of oily rags to relieve Hyleath's and Shaldeth's newborn itchiness, Rays and Erilde 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

Rays and Erilde soon went their separate ways to find family and friends. Many of the riders and Weyrfolk Rays had helped during the day greeted her with warm congratulations as she hunted through the throng – but, at last, she found her family.

Lord Winstone, Rays's grandfather, was outraged by his granddaughter's highly irregular Impression of a blue dragon – calling her aberrant. The Weyrleaders were quick to take Rays's part, but the damage to her relationship with her grandfather was done.

The rest of the evening passed in a blur for Rays, 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, Rays 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 Rays's background with her – including much of what she had got up to on the morning of the Hatching – for good and ill. She cleared up an anomaly with her new name, too. She offered Rays 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 Hyleath.

A close encounter

On her way back to the barracks , Rays 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 Rays 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, Rays decided, on balance, not to tell the Weyrlingmaster about the stranger – though she did give L'stev her new name.

Returning at last to Hyleath – billeted between Erilde's Shaldeth and a pale green dragonet – Rays 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 – Rays was struck with a deep sense of foreboding. Who was the mysterious dragonrider in the hooded cloak? What was the significance of the strange wooden box? And how had the stranger known Rays's new name?

Find out more about Raystone's Impression here. Rays and Hyleath's story will continue in Dragonchoice: Weyrling, coming soon!

Rays'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:
DEED POLL

I changed my name by choice!

Achievement Unlocked:
THE YIN TO YOUR YANG

Hyleath and I complement each other!

Achievement Unlocked:
SUGAR AND SPICE

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

Achievement Unlocked:
EBONY AND IVORY

Hyleath and I agreed on something very important!

Achievement Unlocked:
IN TUNE

Hyleath and I agreed on something quite important!