Morwenna and blue Ailanth
The Road So Far!
It all began at Jessaf Hold, in the protectorate of Madellon Weyr, for Morwenna – a young girl of 14 Turns, dreaming of becoming a blue rider.
Morwenna was born to unusual privilege – a granddaughter of Winstone, Lord of mighty Jessaf Hold. Morwenna 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, Morwenna 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 Morwenna 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, Morwenna left to begin her candidacy at Madellon Weyr.
As a candidate, Morwenna 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 Morwenna! Backed up by her crony Berrin, Thippia became the thorn in Morwenna's side throughout the sevendays of candidacy.
The dragons' hum woke Jopha and Morwenna 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 Morwenna left, Jopha – whose Impression robe was sadly overlarge for her petite frame – recruited Morwenna'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, Morwenna 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 Morwenna to find it. The quest took Morwenna 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, Morwenna encountered R'hren, a former Weyrleader of Madellon, now peacefully retired to potter among his beloved plants. R'hren asked Morwenna to help him track down the ingredients for a warming salve to help his elderly bronze, Staamath, with his arthritic forepaws. Morwenna 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, Morwenna offered it to old S'rius, who was equally appreciative of the gift. And while Kisha, the blind old green rider Morwenna encountered in the infirmary, would have nothing to do with one of R'hren's concoctions, she too grew to approve of Morwenna – especially after she solved all three of her fiendish riddles!
Morwenna 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 Morwenna 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 Morwenna some intelligence on the Southern seven, his advice was somewhat garbled! Nonetheless, Morwenna 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, Morwenna 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, Morwenna 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. Morwenna 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 Morwenna a certain confidence in her own prospects!
A rising problem
Morwenna 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. Morwenna'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 Morwenna 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 Morwenna to find for his warming salve.
Weyrbrat by name...
A run-in with a Weyrbrat – Terzon, whom Thippia had paid to cause Morwenna trouble – resulted in an unfortunate public incident. All too aware of being shaken down, Morwenna gave the kid a shove – in front of a number of witnesses – doing nothing for her reputation!
A blue lady
Coming across T'gala, Pern's only female blue rider, bathing her Heppeth in the lake, Morwenna 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 Morwenna didn't want to pass up.
Knowing of Jopha's chequered history with Shookana, mistress of the Weyr's mending room, Morwenna approached the task of having her robe adjusted with considerable caution. Realising that falsehood would be the wrong approach, Morwenna went to Shookana with the truth – and a gift of popcorn. And while Morwenna 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, Morwenna visited Madellon's resident barber – green rider Z'fell – for a trim. Very conscious of her dignity, Morwenna ensured she came away with a cut she actually liked.
A breath of foul air
Early in the day, Morwenna 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. The route she chose turned out to be thick with choking toxic fumes from Madellon's volcanic foundation, and Morwenna soon found herself struggling for breath.
Undeterred, Morwenna pushed through the discomfort, and emerged shortly onto the Hatching Sands. But she wasn't quiet enough. Shimpath, dozing only very lightly, awoke, and she and Muzzanth chased Morwenna from the Sands!
When it came to the Hatching, Morwenna had an excruciatingly long wait before the gleaming blue egg Hatched to reveal the bright indigo-blue dragonet who would choose her, naming himself Ailanth.
A friend in me
And Morwenna wasn't the only lucky one. To her delight, Jopha also Impressed, becoming the rider of a big emerald-green hatchling, Deimoth.
Whatever happened to Thippia?
It turned out that making an enemy of Morwenna was a very poor choice on Thippia's part. For the low, low price of just three marks, Morwenna had Grimes, the shady fellow loitering near the Gather stalls, spread a series of nasty rumours about Thippia. By the time the Weyrlingmaster mustered the candidate cohort immediately before the Hatching, the damage to Thippia's reputation was done – and she was ejected from the candidate pool without ever setting foot on the Sands!
After the Hatching
"Ailanth" by Emily Holland
The Weyrlingmaster was the first to congratulate Morwenna 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 Ailanth's first meal. That was Morwenna's first opportunity to speak to Jopha, too, and they introduced each other, with considerable delight, to their respective dragonets, Ailanth and Deimoth.
It wasn't long before Ailanth'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.
Another friend Morwenna made along the way – a young Weyrbred candidate, Brithie, whom Morwenna had encountered in a sudden crisis of confidence directly before the Hatching – hailed Morwenna at the barracks – crediting her with her successful Impression of a tiny bottle-green dragonet, Epatanth!
Meeting the Weyrleader
As Morwenna 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 Morwenna's unusual Impression of a blue. T'gat further enquired if Morwenna would like to elide her name, as T'gala had done, or not. Morwenna elected not to elide her name – content to remain Morwenna, rider of blue Ailanth!
Following their audience with the Weyrleader, and the application of oily rags to relieve Ailanth's and Deimoth's newborn itchiness, Morwenna 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
Morwenna and Jopha soon went their separate ways to find family and friends. Many of the riders and Weyrfolk Morwenna 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, Morwenna's grandfather, was outraged by his granddaughter's highly irregular Impression of a blue dragon – calling her aberrant. The Weyrleaders were quick to take Morwenna's part, but the damage to her relationship with her grandfather was done.
The rest of the evening passed in a blur for Morwenna, 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, Morwenna 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 Morwenna'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 Morwenna 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 Ailanth.
A close encounter
On her way back to the barracks (by way of the infirmary, as ordered by Tarshe), Morwenna 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 Morwenna 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, Morwenna decided, on balance, not to tell the Weyrlingmaster about the stranger.
Returning at last to Ailanth – billeted between Jopha's Deimoth and a pretty blue-green dragonet – Morwenna 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 – Morwenna 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?
Morwenna and Ailanth'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
Ailanth and I complement each other!
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
Ailanth and I agreed on something very important!
Ailanth and I agreed on something quite important!