M'kech and blue Rankilth
The Road So Far!
It all began at Jessaf Hold, in the protectorate of Madellon Weyr, for Manikech – a young girl of 15 Turns, dreaming of becoming a blue rider.
Manikech was born to unusual privilege – a granddaughter of Winstone, Lord of mighty Jessaf Hold. Manikech 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, Manikech 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 Manikech becoming a candidate – while conceding that he could spare a younger grandchild. And with Winstone's admonition that she should remember her place as his granddaughter and not make a scene ringing in her ears, Manikech left to begin her candidacy at Madellon Weyr.
As a candidate, Manikech was assigned a bunkmate – Jopha, a mischievous young Weyrbred girl prone to getting herself into trouble, 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 – Thippia, a foul-mouthed girl from the Seacraft – who took a firm disliking to Manikech! Backed up by her crony Berrin, Thippia became the thorn in Manikech's side throughout the sevendays of candidacy.
The dragons' hum woke Jopha and Manikech on 102.03.17. Following a brief run-in with Thippia, 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 Manikech left, Jopha – whose Impression robe was sadly overlarge for her petite frame – recruited Manikech's help in getting it adjusted by her nemesis Shookana in the mending room.
The one-armed green rider and the thieving queen
Immediately on leaving the candidate barracks, Manikech 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 Manikech to find it. Despite Manikech's best efforts, though, she didn't manage to complete and return the jewellery set before the Hatching.
Respecting her elders
In the Weyr's kitchen gardens, Manikech encountered R'hren, a former Weyrleader of Madellon, now peacefully retired to potter among his beloved plants. R'hren asked Manikech to help him track down the ingredients for a warming salve to help his elderly bronze, Staamath, with his arthritic forepaws. Manikech duly located the components of R'hren's salve, winning the old bronze rider's approval in the process.
Manikech 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 Manikech 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 Manikech some intelligence on the Southern seven, his advice was somewhat garbled! Nonetheless, Manikech 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, Manikech 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!
Sadly, though, Fr'ton's garbled instructions proved too convoluted for even Manikech to follow, and the drinks order went rather wrong!
Madellon's kitchens – the heart of the Weyr, and domain of Headwoman Crauva – provided Manikech 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 Manikech 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 Manikech 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 – Manikech did!
A blue lady
Coming across T'gala, Pern's only female blue rider, bathing her Heppeth in the lake, Manikech 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 Manikech didn't want to pass up.
Mindful of the Weyrlingmaster's orders to be smart for the Hatching, Manikech visited Madellon's resident barber, Z'fell, for a trim. But she fell foul of the green rider's perverse sense of humour, and came away with a curious cut – short on top, long at the back – that prompted quite a number of odd looks and laughs at her expense!
When it came to the Hatching, Manikech 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 Rankilth.
A friend bereft
But to Manikech's dismay, Jopha 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 Thippia?
Sadly, there was at least one fly in the numbweed. Thippia Impressed a very vocal mint-green hatchling, making them Manikech and Rankilth's new classmates. (On the bright side, at least Berrin didn't Impress!)
After the Hatching
"Rankilth" by Chris S. Baily
The Weyrlingmaster was the first to congratulate Manikech 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 Rankilth's first meal. That was the first moment Manikech had truly grasped that Jopha wasn't going to be a weyrling alongside her – a truth that hit hard. In Jopha's absence, Arina, who'd Impressed a cloudy-green dragonet, Chanth – was a welcome friendly face.
It wasn't long before Rankilth'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.
Another friend Manikech made along the way – a young Weyrbred candidate, Brithie, whom Manikech had encountered in a sudden crisis of confidence directly before the Hatching – hailed Manikech at the barracks – crediting her with her successful Impression of a tiny bottle-green dragonet, Epatanth!
Meeting the Weyrleader
As Manikech 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 in particular to remark upon Manikech's unusual Impression of a blue. T'gat further enquired if Manikech would like to elide her name, as T'gala had done, or not. Manikech took up the opportunity to rename herself, and after a brief conference with Rankilth, Manikech gave the Weyrleader her new name – M'kech, rider of blue Rankilth!
Following their audience with the Weyrleader, and the application of oily rags to relieve Rankilth's and Chanth's newborn itchiness, M'kech 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
M'kech and Arina soon went their separate ways to find family and friends. Many of the riders and Weyrfolk M'kech 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, M'kech's grandfather, was outraged by his granddaughter's highly irregular Impression of a blue dragon – calling her aberrant. The Weyrleaders were quick to take M'kech's part, but the damage to her relationship with her grandfather was done.
The rest of the evening passed in a blur for M'kech, 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'kech 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 M'kech'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 M'kech 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 Rankilth.
A close encounter
On her way back to the barracks , M'kech 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'kech 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, M'kech decided, on balance, not to tell the Weyrlingmaster about the stranger.
Returning at last to Rankilth – billeted between Arina's Chanth and a pretty blue-green dragonet – M'kech 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 – M'kech 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?
M'kech and Rankilth'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
Rankilth and I complement each other!
EBONY AND IVORY
Rankilth and I agreed on something very important!
Rankilth and I disagreed on something quite important!