K'val and blue Lotaceth
The Road So Far!
It all began at the Healer Hall at Blue Shale Hold, in the protectorate of Madellon Weyr, for Kovalenko – a young girl of 15 Turns, dreaming of becoming a blue rider.
Kovalenko was born the daughter of two Master Healers at the Southern Healerhall, Blue Shale Hold. She was treating minor injuries even before she was formally apprenticed to the Craft. But frustration with the drudgery of the long apprenticeship made Kovalenko an undistinguished crafter, lacking the focus or passion demanded by the Healerhall. And then, in early 102, brown rider P'lian came to the Healer Hall complaining of frostbitten fingers. Kovalenko was assigned to treat the minor condition. But P'lian's Sparth – despite his colour, a budding Search-sensitive dragon – insisted that Kovalenko was a likely sort for candidacy. And a sevenday later, Kovalenko arrived at Madellon Weyr, joining the candidate pool for senior queen Shimpath's first clutch by her new mate Muzzanth.
As a candidate, Kovalenko 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 Kovalenko! Backed up by her crony Berrin, Thippia became the thorn in Kovalenko's side throughout the sevendays of candidacy.
The dragons' hum woke Jopha and Kovalenko 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 Kovalenko left, Jopha – whose Impression robe was sadly overlarge for her petite frame – recruited Kovalenko'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, Kovalenko 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 Kovalenko to find it. The quest took Kovalenko 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, Kovalenko encountered R'hren, a former Weyrleader of Madellon, now peacefully retired to potter among his beloved plants. R'hren asked Kovalenko to help him track down the ingredients for a warming salve to help his elderly bronze, Staamath, with his arthritic forepaws. Kovalenko 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, Kovalenko offered it to old S'rius, who was equally appreciative of the gift. And while Kisha, the blind old green rider Kovalenko encountered in the infirmary, would have nothing to do with one of R'hren's concoctions, she too grew to approve of Kovalenko – especially after she solved all three of her fiendish riddles!
Kovalenko 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 Kovalenko 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 Kovalenko some intelligence on the Southern seven, his advice was somewhat garbled! Nonetheless, Kovalenko 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, Kovalenko 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, Kovalenko 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. Kovalenko 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 Kovalenko a certain confidence in her own prospects!
A rising problem
Kovalenko 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. Kovalenko'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 Kovalenko did annoy Soleigh, who wasn't impressed with her for prolonging Maris' binge by bringing her more wine!
Madellon's kitchens – the heart of the Weyr, and domain of Headwoman Crauva – provided Kovalenko 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 Kovalenko 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 Kovalenko 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 – Kovalenko did!
Weyrbrat by name...
A run-in with a Weyrbrat – Terzon, whom Thippia had paid to cause Kovalenko trouble – resulted in an unfortunate public incident. All too aware of being shaken down, Kovalenko gave the kid a shove – in front of a number of witnesses – doing nothing for her reputation!
A shining example
Coming upon Santinoth – Madellon's biggest bronze – being bathed in the lake, Kovalenko was quick to offer assistance to his rider, T'rello. Perhaps Kovalenko was never going to Impress a bronze – but it couldn't hurt to have some hands-on experience!
Knowing of Jopha's chequered history with Shookana, mistress of the Weyr's mending room, Kovalenko approached the task of having her robe adjusted with considerable caution. Realising that falsehood would be the wrong approach, Kovalenko went to Shookana with the truth – and a gift of popcorn. And while Kovalenko doubted if Shookana and Jopha will ever be friends, the restoration of her Hatching robe to a suitable length did a great deal for her self-confidence!
Mindful of the Weyrlingmaster's orders to be smart for the Hatching, Kovalenko visited Madellon's resident barber – green rider Z'fell – for a trim. Very conscious of her dignity, Kovalenko ensured she came away with a cut she actually liked.
A slithery customer
Early in the day, Kovalenko 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, Kovalenko strayed into tunnel snake territory! A huge, aggressive, and potently venomous female tunnel-snake guarded the exit to the Hatching ground. Kovalenko was bitten – badly – and immediately felt the effects of the snake's paralysing venom. But ultimately she evaded the snake, dodging past it and slipping out onto the Hatching Sands.
But the snake's venom had done its work, and Kovalenko collapsed trying to reach the eggs, waking up in the infirmary.
But when it came to the Hatching, Kovalenko had a less than ordinary experience. While trying to sneak into the Hatching Ground for a surreptitious look at the eggs, she disturbed an immense, highly venomous tunnel-snake. She survived the encounter, but not without a cost – she was bitten. Seeking immediate aid from the Weyr Healer, Isnan, saved her life – but got her invalided out of the Hatching and confined to the infirmary. But an earlier conversation with a veteran blue rider, S'rius, gave Kovalenko the notion that she might still be able to Impress – if she could just reach the Sands in time. She staggered from her sickbed, across the Weyr, and onto the Sands – just in time to Impress the very last dragonet, a blue who named himself Lotaceth.
Whatever happened to Thippia?
Sadly, there was at least one fly in the numbweed. Thippia Impressed a very vocal mint-green hatchling, making them Kovalenko and Lotaceth's new classmates. (On the bright side, at least Berrin didn't Impress!)
After the Hatching
"Lotaceth" by Emily Holland
The Weyrlingmaster was the first to congratulate Kovalenko on her Impression, but it was P'lian, ecstatic that Sparth's very first Search had yielded an Impression, who stepped in to help with the immediate matter of Lotaceth's first meal. That was Kovalenko's first opportunity to speak to Jopha, too, and they introduced each other, with considerable delight, to their respective dragonets, Lotaceth and Deimoth.
It wasn't long before Lotaceth's personality started to become evident. The big indigo-blue dragonet, the largest of his colour, showed his alert and serious nature from the beginning, demonstrating a high degree of focus for a blue.
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 Kovalenko and Jopha 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 Kovalenko's unusual Impression of a blue. T'gat further enquired if Kovalenko would like to elide her name, as T'gala had done, or not. Kovalenko took up the opportunity to rename herself, and after a brief conference with Lotaceth, Kovalenko gave the Weyrleader her new name – K'val, rider of blue Lotaceth!
Following their audience with the Weyrleader, and the application of oily rags to relieve Lotaceth's and Deimoth's newborn itchiness, K'val and Jopha 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
K'val and Jopha soon went their separate ways to find family and friends. Many of the riders and Weyrfolk K'val had helped during the day greeted her with warm congratulations as she hunted through the throng – but, at last, she found her family.
K'val's father, a loud man in normal times, was positively bellowing with pleasure at K'val's Impression – albeit with a certain disappointment that his daughter wouldn't be continuing in the Healercraft. And he embarrassed both his daughter, and his long-suffering wife, still further when the Weyrleaders came to drink a toast to K'val and Lotaceth – remarking, very loudly, on the parentage of Valonna's soon-to-arrive first baby!
The rest of the evening passed in a blur for K'val, 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, K'val 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 K'val'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 K'val 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 Lotaceth.
A close encounter
On her way back to the barracks (by way of the infirmary, as ordered by Tarshe), K'val 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 K'val 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, K'val decided, on balance, not to tell the Weyrlingmaster about the stranger – though she did give L'stev her new name.
Returning at last to Lotaceth – billeted between Jopha's Deimoth and a pretty blue-green dragonet – K'val 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 – K'val 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 K'val's new name?
Find out more about Kovalenko's Impression here. K'val and Lotaceth's story will continue in Dragonchoice: Weyrling, coming soon!
Find out more about Kovalenko's Impression here. K'val and Lotaceth'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!
I changed my name by choice!
CEASE AND DESIST
I prevented legal difficulties by changing my name!
ONE STEVE LIMIT
I avoided duplicating a Dragonchoice character's name!
THEY'RE DEAD, DAVE
I changed my name to respect the deceased!
COMPUTER SAYS NO
I changed my name from something unacceptable!
I make quite a strange match with Lotaceth!
SUGAR AND SPICE
I've been a very nice person (so far)!
PLEASE STATE THE NATURE OF THE MEDICAL EMERGENCY
I returned to the infirmary!
EBONY AND IVORY
Lotaceth and I agreed on something very important!
Lotaceth and I disagreed on something quite important!