Login | Register

M’rek and bronze Panralth

The Road So Far!

It all began at Jessaf Hold, in the protectorate of Madellon Weyr, for Merrick – a young man of 18 Turns, dreaming of becoming a bronze rider.

Merrick 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, Merrick didn't even present himself as a hopeful. Yet it was Merrick 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, Merrick's mother, had always dreamed of being a dragonrider – and gifting Merrick with her blue feather pendant as a lucky charm.

As a candidate, Merrick 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 Merrick! Backed up by his crony Kestor, Rielat became the thorn in Merrick's side throughout the sevendays of candidacy.

Hatching Day

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

Southern comfort

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

A rising problem

Merrick 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. Merrick'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 Merrick did annoy Soleigh, who wasn't impressed with him 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 Merrick with the opportunity to show off his work ethic before the Hatching. A round of chores duly pleased Crauva, albeit cut short, literally, by the slip of a knife that sent Merrick to the infirmary with a slice to be stitched up. And the kitchen was also the source of the hotfruit R'hren had sent Merrick 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 Merrick 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 – Merrick did!

Weyrbrat by name...

A run-in with a Weyrbrat – Terzon, whom Rielat had paid to cause Merrick trouble – resulted in an unfortunate public incident. All too aware of being shaken down, Merrick gave the kid a shove – in front of a number of witnesses – doing nothing for his reputation!

A shining example

Coming upon Santinoth – Madellon's biggest bronze – being bathed in the lake, Merrick 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?

Friend request

Conscious of Soburn's bashfulness, Merrick 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 Merrick that he wasn't interested in Soburn – or any other men, for that matter. But Merrick'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, Merrick visited Madellon's resident barber – green rider Z'fell – for a trim. Very conscious of his dignity, Merrick ensured he came away with a cut he actually liked.

A slithery customer

Early in the day, Merrick 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, Merrick strayed into tunnel snake territory! A huge, aggressive, and potently venomous female tunnel-snake guarded the exit to the Hatching ground. Merrick 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 snake, Merrick 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, Merrick 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 Merrick his name was Panralth.

A friend in me

And Merrick 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?

Rielat didn't turn up for the pre-Hatching muster, and – Merrick's own suspicions notwithstanding – L'stev guessed that he had probably got himself lost trying to sneak into the Hatching Ground through the dangerous ventilation tunnels. Fortunately – Merrick supposed – Weyrlingmaster A'len located the missing candidate, but too late for Rielat, who having been found unconscious, was promptly invalided out of standing!

After the Hatching

"Panralth" by Chris S. Baily

The Weyrlingmaster was the first to congratulate Merrick 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 Panralth's first meal. That was Merrick's first opportunity to speak to Soburn, too, and they introduced each other, with considerable delight, to their respective dragonets, Panralth and Aeranth. Soburn also told Merrick that his new name was to be – perhaps unsurprisingly – S'burn.

It wasn't long before Panralth'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.

Big brother

Another friend Merrick made along the way – a young Holdbred candidate, Nichen, whom Merrick had encountered in a hopelessly dishevelled state directly before the Hatching – hailed Merrick at the barracks – crediting him with his successful Impression of a moon-blue dragonet, Yooth!

Meeting the Weyrleader

As Merrick 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. Merrick was proud to introduce Panralth to the Weyrleader. And after a brief conference with Panralth, Merrick gave the Weyrleader his own new name: M’rek, rider of bronze Panralth!

Following their audience with the Weyrleader, and the application of oily rags to relieve Panralth's and Aeranth's newborn itchiness, M’rek 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

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

M’rek'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 M’rek and Panralth.

The rest of the evening passed in a blur for M’rek, 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, M’rek 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 M’rek's background with him – including much of what he had got up to on the morning of the Hatching – for good and ill. She cleared up an anomaly with his new name, too. She offered M’rek 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 Panralth.

A close encounter

On his way back to the barracks (by way of the infirmary, as ordered by Tarshe), M’rek 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 M’rek 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, M’rek decided, on balance, not to tell the Weyrlingmaster about the stranger – though he did give L'stev his new name.

Returning at last to Panralth – billeted between S'burn's Aeranth and a mucky-looking brown dragonet – M’rek 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 – M’rek 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 M’rek's new name?

M’rek and Panralth's story will continue in Dragonchoice: Weyrling, coming soon!

M’rek'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:
ONE STEVE LIMIT

I avoided duplicating a Dragonchoice character's name!

Achievement Unlocked:
THE YIN TO YOUR YANG

Panralth 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

Panralth and I agreed on something very important!

Achievement Unlocked:
IN TUNE

Panralth and I agreed on something quite important!