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Azuhara and green Toniath

The Road So Far!

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

Azura was born to unusual privilege – a granddaughter of Winstone, Lord of mighty Jessaf Hold. Azura 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, Azura 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 Azura becoming a candidate – displeased that such a opportunity would ruin his plans for Azura's betrothal to a nephew of Lord Orfen's. But he grudgingly accepted that, as Azura 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, Azura left to begin her candidacy at Madellon Weyr.

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

Hatching Day

The dragons' hum woke Erilde and Azura 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 Azura 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, Azura 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 Azura to find it. The quest took Azura 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, Azura encountered R'hren, a former Weyrleader of Madellon, now peacefully retired to potter among his beloved plants. R'hren asked Azura to help him track down the ingredients for a warming salve to help his elderly bronze, Staamath, with his arthritic forepaws. Azura duly located the components of R'hren's salve, winning the old bronze rider's approval in the process.

Southern comfort

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

A rising problem

Azura 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. Azura'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 Azura did annoy Soleigh, who wasn't impressed with her for prolonging Maris' binge by bringing her more wine!

Kitchen diplomacy

Madellon's kitchens – the heart of the Weyr, and domain of Headwoman Crauva – provided Azura 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 Azura 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 Azura 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 – Azura did!

A shining example

Coming upon Santinoth – Madellon's biggest bronze – being bathed in the lake, Azura was quick to offer assistance to his rider, T'rello. Perhaps Azura was never going to Impress a bronze – but it couldn't hurt to have some hands-on experience!

Hair today

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

A slithery customer

Early in the day, Azura 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, Azura strayed into tunnel snake territory! A huge, aggressive, and potently venomous female tunnel-snake guarded the exit to the Hatching ground. Azura 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, Azura crept closer to the clutch – close enough to touch an egg – before beating a hasty retreat from the Hatching Ground!

The Hatching

When it came to the Hatching, Azura had an excruciatingly long wait before the rough-textured cloudy white egg Hatched to reveal the vivid grassy-green dragonet who would choose her, naming herself Toniath.

A friend bereft

But to Azura's dismay, Erilde 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 Auciet?

It turned out that making an enemy of Azura was a very poor choice on Auciet's part. For the low, low price of just three marks, Azura had Grimes, the shady fellow loitering near the Gather stalls, spread a series of nasty rumours about Auciet. By the time the Weyrlingmaster mustered the candidate cohort immediately before the Hatching, the damage to Auciet's reputation was done – and she was ejected from the candidate pool without ever setting foot on the Sands!

After the Hatching

"Toniath" by Emily Holland

The Weyrlingmaster was the first to congratulate Azura 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 Toniath's first meal. That was the first moment Azura had truly grasped that Erilde wasn't going to be a weyrling alongside her – a truth that hit hard. In Erilde's absence, Arina, who'd Impressed a cloudy-green dragonet, Chanth – was a welcome friendly face.

It wasn't long before Toniath's personality started to become evident. The little grass-green dragonet, small for her colour, made up for her size with a fierce, aggressive personality – and very evident teeth!

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 Azura 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 to ask after their names. Azura was proud to introduce Toniath to the Weyrleader – and to give him her full new name: Azuhara, rider of green Toniath!

Following their audience with the Weyrleader, and the application of oily rags to relieve Toniath's and Chanth's newborn itchiness, Azuhara 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

Azuhara and Arina soon went their separate ways to find family and friends. Many of the riders and Weyrfolk Azuhara 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, Azuhara's grandfather, was faint with his praise for his granddaughter's Impression of Toniath – suggesting that she should have waited for a chance at a queen. The Weyrleaders were swift to insist that Impressing any dragon was a great achievement!

The rest of the evening passed in a blur for Azuhara, 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, Azuhara 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 Azuhara'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 Azuhara 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 Toniath.

A close encounter

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

Returning at last to Toniath – billeted between Arina's Chanth and a pretty blue-green dragonet – Azuhara 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 green beside her – Azuhara 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 Azuhara's new name?

Azuhara and Toniath's story will continue in Dragonchoice: Weyrling, coming soon!

Azuhara'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:
STRANGE BEDFELLOWS

I make a very odd match with Toniath!

Achievement Unlocked:
SUGAR AND SPICE

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

Achievement Unlocked:
EBONY AND IVORY

Toniath and I agreed on something very important!

Achievement Unlocked:
BUM NOTE

Toniath and I disagreed on something quite important!