Santhoria and green Espeth
The Road So Far!
It all began at Jessaf Hold, in the protectorate of Madellon Weyr, for Santhoria – a young woman of 17 Turns, dreaming of becoming a green rider.
Santhoria was born to unusual privilege – a granddaughter of Winstone, Lord of mighty Jessaf Hold. Santhoria 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, Santhoria 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 Santhoria becoming a candidate – displeased that such a opportunity would ruin his plans for Santhoria's betrothal to a nephew of Lord Orfen's. But he grudgingly accepted that, as Santhoria had her majority, she had the right to accept Search. And with Winstone's admonition that she should remember her place as his granddaughter and not make a scene ringing in her ears, Santhoria left to begin her candidacy at Madellon Weyr.
As a candidate, Santhoria 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 Santhoria! Backed up by her crony Cedranne, Auciet became the thorn in Santhoria's side throughout the sevendays of candidacy.
The dragons' hum woke Erilde and Santhoria 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 Santhoria 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, Santhoria 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 Santhoria to find it. The quest took Santhoria 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, Santhoria encountered R'hren, a former Weyrleader of Madellon, now peacefully retired to potter among his beloved plants. R'hren asked Santhoria to help him track down the ingredients for a warming salve to help his elderly bronze, Staamath, with his arthritic forepaws. Santhoria 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, Santhoria offered it to old S'rius, who was equally appreciative of the gift. And while Kisha, the blind old green rider Santhoria encountered in the infirmary, would have nothing to do with one of R'hren's concoctions, she too grew to approve of Santhoria – especially after she solved all three of her fiendish riddles!
Santhoria 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 Santhoria 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 Santhoria some intelligence on the Southern seven, his advice was somewhat garbled! Nonetheless, Santhoria 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, Santhoria 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, Santhoria 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.
A rising problem
Santhoria 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. Santhoria'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 Santhoria 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 Santhoria 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 Santhoria 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 – Santhoria did!
A blue lady
Coming across T'gala, Pern's only female blue rider, bathing her Heppeth in the lake, Santhoria 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 Santhoria didn't want to pass up.
Seeking knowledge of Erilde's parentage, Santhoria visited the Weyr's Archives and sought advice from Weyrwoman Tarshe, the Weyrwoman Second. While Tarshe could find no evidence that Erilde's father had been a dragonrider, she suggested Santhoria might construct a story about a long-dead rider. Santhoria delved into Madellon's records and unearthed a brown rider, B'get, deceased some Turns ago, but of the right age to have fathered her friend. Bringing this plausible white lie to Erilde may have been a tad devious – but it had the desired effect on her belief that she could, in fact, possess the ability to Impress a dragon!
Mindful of the Weyrlingmaster's orders to be smart for the Hatching, Santhoria 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!
A Weyrleader's mercy
Early in the day, Santhoria 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 chance, she found a way onto the Hatching Ground – onto a very high ledge! Calling down for help was the only option, and a welcome – if embarrassing – lift down from Muzzanth himself returned Santhoria safely to ground level.
Realising that honesty was the best policy, Santhoria apologised to the Weyrleader for intruding – and was surprised to find T'gat remarkably sanguine about it, reminiscing about his own youthful journey through the passages. And a polite request granted Santhoria the Weyrleader's permission to approach the clutch. She touched one of the eggs, marvelling at its palpable vitality.
When it came to the Hatching, Santhoria had to wait for every other dragonet to Hatch and choose a rider before the rough-textured cloudy white egg Hatched to reveal the vivid grassy-green hatchling who would choose her, naming herself Espeth.
But Espeth was nearly beaten to Santhoria by another dragonet – an inquisitive teal-green hatchling who seemed torn between Santhoria and Erilde. Sensing that she wasn't the best match for her, Santhoria stepped aside to give Erilde precedence – resulting in her Impression of the little green, Shaldeth.
Whatever happened to Auciet?
Auciet didn't turn up for the pre-Hatching muster, and – Santhoria's own suspicions notwithstanding – L'stev guessed that she had probably got herself lost trying to sneak into the Hatching Ground through the dangerous ventilation tunnels. Fortunately – Santhoria supposed – Weyrlingmaster A'len located the missing candidate, but too late for Auciet, who having been found unconscious, was promptly invalided out of standing!
After the Hatching
"Espeth" by Emily Holland
The Weyrlingmaster was the first to congratulate Santhoria 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 Espeth's first meal. That was Santhoria's first opportunity to speak to Erilde, too, and they introduced each other, with considerable delight, to their respective dragonets, Espeth and Shaldeth.
It wasn't long before Espeth's personality started to become evident. The little grass-green dragonet, small for her colour, made up for her size with a fierce, aggressive personality – and very evident teeth!
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 Santhoria made along the way – a young Weyrbred candidate, Brithie, whom Santhoria had encountered in a sudden crisis of confidence directly before the Hatching – hailed Santhoria at the barracks – crediting her with her successful Impression of a tiny bottle-green dragonet, Epatanth!
Meeting the Weyrleader
As Santhoria and Erilde 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. Santhoria was proud to introduce Espeth to the Weyrleader – and to give him her full new name: Santhoria, rider of green Espeth!
Following their audience with the Weyrleader, and the application of oily rags to relieve Espeth's and Shaldeth's newborn itchiness, Santhoria and Erilde 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
Santhoria and Erilde soon went their separate ways to find family and friends. Many of the riders and Weyrfolk Santhoria 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, Santhoria's grandfather, was faint with his praise for his granddaughter's Impression of Espeth – suggesting that she should have waited for a chance at a queen. The Weyrleaders were swift to insist that Impressing any dragon was a great achievement!
The rest of the evening passed in a blur for Santhoria, 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, Santhoria 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 Santhoria'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 Santhoria 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 Espeth.
A close encounter
On her way back to the barracks , Santhoria 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 Santhoria 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, Santhoria decided, on balance, not to tell the Weyrlingmaster about the stranger.
Returning at last to Espeth – billeted between Erilde's Shaldeth and a very large green dragonet – Santhoria 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 – Santhoria 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?
Santhoria and Espeth'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
Espeth and I complement each other!
SUGAR AND SPICE
I've been a very nice person (so far)!
Espeth and I agreed on something quite important!
Espeth and I disagreed on something very important!