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Merin and green Faolanth

The Road So Far!

It all began at Jessaf Hold, in the protectorate of Madellon Weyr, for Meredith – a young woman of 16 Turns, dreaming of becoming a green rider.

Meredith was born the daughter of a modest cotholder at Jessaf Hold, working alongside her widowed father to work their allotted land, and help bring up her 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, Meredith didn't even present herself as a hopeful. Yet it was Meredith that Kistrith singled out among all those young people. She almost didn't accept Search – anxious not to abandon her father. But he insisted, revealing that his late wife, Meredith's mother, had always dreamed of being a dragonrider – and gifting Meredith with her blue feather pendant as a lucky charm.

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

Hatching Day

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

Southern comfort

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

Kitchen diplomacy

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

A shining example

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

The Hatching

When it came to the Hatching, Meredith had an excruciatingly long wait before the pearlescently pink egg Hatched to reveal the deep bottle-green dragonet who would choose her, naming herself Faolanth.

A friend bereft

But to Meredith'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?

Sadly, there was at least one fly in the numbweed. Auciet Impressed an unusually aggressive grass-green hatchling, making them Meredith and Faolanth's new classmates. (On the bright side, at least Cedranne didn't Impress!)

After the Hatching

"Faolanth" by Chris S. Baily

The Weyrlingmaster was the first to congratulate Meredith on her Impression, but it was N'jol, delighted that his most humble candidate had Impressed, who stepped in to help with the immediate matter of Faolanth's first meal. That was the first moment Meredith 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 Faolanth's personality started to become evident. The bottle-green dragonet – by some margin the smallest hatchling of the clutch – had a nervous and wary personality to match, startling at everything and everyone.

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 Meredith 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. Meredith was proud to introduce Faolanth to the Weyrleader – and to give him her full new name: Merin, rider of green Faolanth!

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

Merin and Arina soon went their separate ways to find family and friends. Many of the riders and Weyrfolk Merin had helped during the day greeted her with warm congratulations as she hunted through the throng – but, at last, she found her family.

Merin's father almost couldn't believe his daughter'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 Merin and Faolanth.

The rest of the evening passed in a blur for Merin, 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, Merin 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 Merin'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 Merin 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 Faolanth.

A close encounter

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

Returning at last to Faolanth – billeted between Arina's Chanth and a pretty blue-green dragonet – Merin 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 – Merin 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 Merin's new name?

Merin and Faolanth's story will continue in Dragonchoice: Weyrling, coming soon!

Merin'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:
OPPOSITES ATTRACT

I make quite a strange match with Faolanth!

Achievement Unlocked:
SUGAR AND SPICE

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

Achievement Unlocked:
EBONY AND IVORY

Faolanth and I agreed on something very important!

Achievement Unlocked:
BUM NOTE

Faolanth and I disagreed on something quite important!