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Va'rika and blue Polygoth

The Road So Far!

It all began at Madellon Weyr for Vamarika – a young woman of 17 Turns, dreaming of becoming a dragonrider.

Vamarika was born the daughter of Nelya, a Headwoman's Second at Madellon Weyr. While she didn't have to be Searched, she 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, Vamarika struggled with both her modest upbringing as a Weyr child with no rider blood, and her fear that she wasn't dragonrider material.

As a candidate, Vamarika 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 Vamarika! Backed up by her crony Cedranne, Auciet became the thorn in Vamarika's side throughout the sevendays of candidacy.

Hatching Day

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

Southern comfort

Vamarika 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 Vamarika 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 Vamarika some intelligence on the Southern seven, his advice was somewhat garbled! Nonetheless, Vamarika 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, Vamarika 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, Vamarika 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. Vamarika 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 Vamarika a certain confidence in her own prospects!

A rising problem

Vamarika 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. Vamarika'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 Vamarika 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 Vamarika 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 Vamarika 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 – Vamarika did!

Weyrbrat by name...

A run-in with a Weyrbrat – Terzon, whom Auciet had paid to cause Vamarika trouble – resulted in an unfortunate public incident. All too aware of being shaken down, Vamarika 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, Vamarika 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 Vamarika didn't want to pass up.

Friend request

Seeking knowledge of Erilde's parentage, Vamarika 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 Vamarika might construct a story about a long-dead rider. Vamarika 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, Vamarika visited Madellon's resident barber – green rider Z'fell – for a trim. Very conscious of her dignity, Vamarika ensured she came away with a cut she actually liked.

A breath of foul air

Setting aside her petty rivalry with Auciet in the face of a genuine emergency, Vamarika set about getting Auciet to safety. And on crawling out onto the Hatching Ground, half suffocated herself, she raised the alarm with the Weyrleader before being overcome by the ordeal, and fainting there on the sand.

Vamarika woke in the infirmary, and while the Weyrleader and Weyrlingmaster questioned her sternly about her adventures, the fact that Vamarika had certainly saved Auciet's life counted in her favour, despite having disobeyed the order not to go meddling in the tunnels.

The Hatching

When it came to the Hatching, Vamarika had an excruciatingly long wait before the grey-swirled silvery cream egg Hatched to reveal the very pale moon-blue dragonet who would choose her, naming himself Polygoth.

A friend in me

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

After the Hatching

"Polygoth" by Chris S. Baily

The Weyrlingmaster was the first to congratulate Vamarika on her Impression, but it was old S'rius, delighted to have found yet another weyrling, who stepped in to help with the immediate matter of Polygoth's first meal. That was Vamarika's first opportunity to speak to Erilde, too, and they introduced each other, with considerable delight, to their respective dragonets, Polygoth and Shaldeth.

It wasn't long before Polygoth'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.

Big sister

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

Meeting the Weyrleader

As Vamarika 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 Vamarika's unusual Impression of a blue. T'gat further enquired if Vamarika would like to elide her name, as T'gala had done, or not. Vamarika took up the opportunity to rename herself, and after a brief conference with Polygoth, Vamarika gave the Weyrleader her new name – Va'rika, rider of blue Polygoth!

Following their audience with the Weyrleader, and the application of oily rags to relieve Polygoth's and Shaldeth's newborn itchiness, Va'rika 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

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

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

The rest of the evening passed in a blur for Va'rika, 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, Va'rika 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 Va'rika'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 Va'rika some advice about paying attention to her new classmates and surroundings, lest she fall foul of the Weyrlingmaster's penchant for snap quizzes, advised her to report to Master Isnan before returning to the barracks to get her injuries checked again, and made some observations on Polygoth.

A close encounter

On her way back to the barracks (by way of the infirmary, as ordered by Tarshe), Va'rika 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 Va'rika 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, Va'rika decided, on balance, not to tell the Weyrlingmaster about the stranger.

Returning at last to Polygoth – billeted between Erilde's Shaldeth and a very large green dragonet – Va'rika 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 – Va'rika 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 Vamarika's Impression here. Va'rika and Polygoth's story will continue in Dragonchoice: Weyrling, coming soon!

Va'rika'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

Polygoth 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

Polygoth and I agreed on something very important!

Achievement Unlocked:
IN TUNE

Polygoth and I agreed on something quite important!