H'row and bronze Maarth
The Road So Far!
It all began at Jessaf Hold, in the protectorate of Madellon Weyr, for Helrow – a young man of 18 Turns, dreaming of becoming a bronze rider.
Helrow was born the son of a modest cotholder at Jessaf Hold, working alongside his widowed father to work their allotted land, and help bring up his young twin siblings, Albon and Gettie. And in early 102, when a green rider, N'jol, and his Kistrith came to Jessaf in search of candidates for Madellon Weyr's hardening clutch, Helrow didn't even present himself as a hopeful. Yet it was Helrow that Kistrith singled out among all those young people. He almost didn't accept Search – anxious not to abandon his father. But he insisted, revealing that his late wife, Helrow's mother, had always dreamed of being a dragonrider – and gifting Helrow with her blue feather pendant as a lucky charm.
As a candidate, Helrow 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 Helrow! Backed up by his crony Kestor, Rielat became the thorn in Helrow's side throughout the sevendays of candidacy.
The dragons' hum woke Soburn and Helrow 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 Helrow 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, Helrow 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 Helrow to find it. The quest took Helrow 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, Helrow encountered R'hren, a former Weyrleader of Madellon, now peacefully retired to potter among his beloved plants. R'hren asked Helrow to help him track down the ingredients for a warming salve to help his elderly bronze, Staamath, with his arthritic forepaws. Helrow 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, Helrow offered it to old S'rius, who was equally appreciative of the gift. And while Kisha, the blind old green rider Helrow encountered in the infirmary, would have nothing to do with one of R'hren's concoctions, she too grew to approve of Helrow – especially after he solved all three of her fiendish riddles!
Helrow 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 Helrow 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 Helrow some intelligence on the Southern seven, his advice was somewhat garbled! Nonetheless, Helrow 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, Helrow 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, Helrow 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. Helrow 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 Helrow a certain confidence in his own prospects!
A rising problem
Helrow 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. Helrow'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.
Madellon's kitchens – the heart of the Weyr, and domain of Headwoman Crauva – provided Helrow 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 Helrow 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 Helrow 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. Which – mindful of not offending such an important personage of the Weyr – Helrow did!
A shining example
Coming upon Santinoth – Madellon's biggest bronze – being bathed in the lake, Helrow was quick to offer assistance to his rider, T'rello. It couldn't hurt to have some close-up experience with a bronze, could it?
Conscious of Soburn's bashfulness, Helrow 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 Helrow that he wasn't interested in Soburn – or any other men, for that matter. But Helrow'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!
Mindful of the Weyrlingmaster's orders to be smart for the Hatching, Helrow visited Madellon's resident barber – green rider Z'fell – for a trim. Very conscious of his dignity, Helrow ensured he came away with a cut he actually liked.
A slithery customer
Early in the day, Helrow 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, Helrow strayed into tunnel snake territory! A huge, aggressive, and potently venomous female tunnel-snake guarded the exit to the Hatching ground. Helrow was lucky to avoid being bitten. But ultimately he evaded the snake, dodging past it and slipping out onto the Hatching Sands.
Having survived his encounter with the tunnel-snake, Helrow approached the clutch – but not stealthily enough! His presence woke Shimpath from her doze, and she and Muzzanth chased Helrow off the sands!
When it came to the Hatching, Helrow didn't have to wait too long for his date with destiny. The large greeny-grey egg Hatched out a pale greeny-bronze dragonet who told Helrow his name was Maarth.
A friend in me
And Helrow wasn't the only lucky one. To his delight, Soburn also Impressed, becoming the rider of a slender olive-green hatchling, Aeranth.
Whatever happened to Rielat?
Sadly, there was at least one fly in the numbweed. Rielat Impressed an impressively proportioned indigo-blue hatchling, making them Helrow and Maarth's new classmates. (On the bright side, at least Kestor didn't Impress!)
After the Hatching
"Maarth" by Chris S. Baily
The Weyrlingmaster was the first to congratulate Helrow on his Impression, but it was N'jol, delighted that his most humble candidate had Impressed, who stepped in to help with the immediate matter of Maarth's first meal. That was Helrow's first opportunity to speak to Soburn, too, and they introduced each other, with considerable delight, to their respective dragonets, Maarth and Aeranth. Soburn also told Helrow that his new name was to be – perhaps unsurprisingly – S'burn.
It wasn't long before Maarth's personality started to become evident. The pale bronze dragonet – the largest of the clutch, and the image of his father Muzzanth – proved to be a particular intelligent and perceptive character even minutes out of the egg.
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 Helrow 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. Helrow was proud to introduce Maarth to the Weyrleader. And after a brief conference with Maarth, Helrow gave the Weyrleader his own new name: H'row, rider of bronze Maarth!
Following their audience with the Weyrleader, and the application of oily rags to relieve Maarth's and Aeranth's newborn itchiness, H'row 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
H'row and S'burn soon went their separate ways to find family and friends. Many of the riders and Weyrfolk H'row had helped during the day greeted him with warm congratulations as he hunted through the throng – but, at last, he found his family.
H'row's father almost couldn't believe his son's good fortune, completely thrilled to be the father of a dragonrider. And he was even more starstruck when the Weyrleaders came to drink a toast to H'row and Maarth.
The rest of the evening passed in a blur for H'row, 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, H'row 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 H'row'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 H'row some advice about paying attention to his new classmates and surroundings, lest he fall foul of the Weyrlingmaster's penchant for snap quizzes, and made some observations on Maarth.
A close encounter
On his way back to the barracks , H'row 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 H'row 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, H'row decided, on balance, not to tell the Weyrlingmaster about the stranger.
Returning at last to Maarth – billeted between S'burn's Aeranth and a mucky-looking brown dragonet – H'row 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 bronze beside him – H'row 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?
H'row and Maarth'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.
THE YIN TO YOUR YANG
Maarth and I complement each other!
SUGAR AND SPICE
I've been a very nice person (so far)!
EBONY AND IVORY
Maarth and I agreed on something very important!
Maarth and I agreed on something quite important!