B'ran and blue Casuarith
The Road So Far!
It all began at Madellon Weyr for Benoran – a young man of 17 Turns, dreaming of becoming a dragonrider.
Benoran was born the son of Nelya, a Headwoman's Second at Madellon Weyr. While he didn't have to be Searched, he was 'given the nod' as a likely dragonrider by the Weyr's most senior retired Search pair – S'rius and his elderly blue Padseth. Having been left standing at a Hatching once before, Benoran struggled with both his modest upbringing as a Weyr child with no rider blood, and his fear that he wasn't dragonrider material.
As a candidate, Benoran was assigned a bunkmate – Soburn, an anxious Weyrbred youth with one failed Hatching already haunting him, who would soon become his closest friend in the Weyr. He also got to know many of his fellow candidates, including the Weyrbred twins Leover and Leoguy; Zielaph, the nephew of a Madellon bronze rider; and Chiliam, a good-natured highborn lad from Kellad.
But he also made an enemy – Rielat, a self-important apprentice Weaver – who took a firm disliking to Benoran! Backed up by his crony Kestor, Rielat became the thorn in Benoran's side throughout the sevendays of candidacy.
The dragons' hum woke Soburn and Benoran on 102.03.17. Following a brief run-in with Rielat, 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 Benoran left, Soburn asked him to find out if H'nar, the young Wingleader of the Betweenless Wing, might currently be seeing someone – or not.
The one-armed green rider and the thieving queen
Immediately on leaving the candidate barracks, Benoran 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 Benoran to find it. Despite Benoran's best efforts, though, he didn't manage to complete and return the jewellery set before the Hatching.
Respecting his elders
In the Weyr's kitchen gardens, Benoran encountered R'hren, a former Weyrleader of Madellon, now peacefully retired to potter among his beloved plants. R'hren asked Benoran to help him track down the ingredients for a warming salve to help his elderly bronze, Staamath, with his arthritic forepaws. Benoran duly located the components of R'hren's salve, winning the old bronze rider's approval in the process.
Benoran 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 Benoran 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 Benoran some intelligence on the Southern seven, his advice was somewhat garbled! Nonetheless, Benoran 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, Benoran met his 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, Benoran 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. Benoran even shared the largesse with Zielaph, who then introduced him to Fr'ton – who, having Impressed a bronze in spite of his less than boundless promise, gave Benoran a certain confidence in his own prospects!
A rising problem
Benoran 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. Benoran'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 Benoran with the opportunity to show off his 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 Benoran 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 Benoran expressed an interested in looking up some Weyr records, Tarshe offered him the loan of a glowbasket – on the proviso that he return it afterwards. Which – mindful of not offending such an important personage of the Weyr – Benoran did!
A blue lady
Coming across T'gala, Pern's only female blue rider, bathing her Heppeth in the lake, Benoran offered his assistance – which T'gala gladly accepted.
Conscious of Soburn's bashfulness, Benoran approached the object of his affections – H'nar, Wingleader of the Betweenless Wing – with some circumspection. Still, when questioned, H'nar insisted he had to know who was making enquiries of him. And when he learned the identity of his admirer, he told Benoran that he wasn't interested in Soburn – or any other men, for that matter. But Benoran's agile pivot in questioning revealed that a close friend of H'nar's – blue rider M'rany – might be a viable alternative. Thus encouraged, Soburn began to think more positively of life as a dragonrider – even if H'nar would end up being his Wingleader!
A Weyrleader's mercy
Early in the day, Benoran found out about a secret way into the Hatching Ground via storeroom that might allow him 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, he crawled into a confusing maze of passages. By chance, he 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 Benoran safely to ground level.
Realising that honesty was the best policy, Benoran 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 Benoran the Weyrleader's permission to approach the clutch. He touched one of the eggs, marvelling at its palpable vitality.
When it came to the Hatching, Benoran didn't have to wait at all for his date with destiny. The green-clouded blue egg that Hatched first produced a dark steel-blue hatchling who spared no time in choosing Benoran, naming himself Casuarith.
A friend in me
And Benoran wasn't the only lucky one. To his delight, Soburn also Impressed, becoming the rider of a slender olive-green hatchling, Aeranth.
Whatever happened to Rielat?
Sadly, there was at least one fly in the numbweed. Rielat Impressed an impressively proportioned indigo-blue hatchling, making them Benoran and Casuarith's new classmates. (On the bright side, at least Kestor didn't Impress!)
After the Hatching
"Casuarith" by Emily Holland
The Weyrlingmaster was the first to congratulate Benoran on his Impression, but it was old S'rius, delighted to have found yet another weyrling, who stepped in to help with the immediate matter of Casuarith's first meal. That was Benoran's first opportunity to speak to Soburn, too, and they introduced each other, with considerable delight, to their respective dragonets, Casuarith and Aeranth. Soburn also told Benoran that his new name was to be – perhaps unsurprisingly – S'burn.
It wasn't long before Casuarith's personality started to become evident. The dark blue dragonet, among the smallest of his colour, turned out to be of an endearingly shy and modest character, rather requiring of encouragement.
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 Benoran made along the way – a young Holdbred candidate, Nichen, whom Benoran had encountered in a hopelessly dishevelled state directly before the Hatching – hailed Benoran at the barracks – crediting him with his successful Impression of a moon-blue dragonet, Yooth!
Meeting the Weyrleader
As Benoran and S'burn wiped the worst of the blood and sand from their tired new dragonets, the Weyrleader, T'gat, came to inspect both boys' dragonets, to ask after their names – and to ask the two new weyrlings how they should now be called. Benoran was proud to introduce Casuarith to the Weyrleader. And after a brief conference with Casuarith, Benoran gave the Weyrleader his own new name: B'ran, rider of blue Casuarith!
Following their audience with the Weyrleader, and the application of oily rags to relieve Casuarith's and Aeranth's newborn itchiness, B'ran and S'burn headed into the boys' 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
B'ran and S'burn soon went their separate ways to find family and friends. Many of the riders and Weyrfolk B'ran had helped during the day greeted him with warm congratulations as he hunted through the throng – but, at last, he found his family.
B'ran's mother, Nelya, was thrilled by her son's Impression – though perhaps not quite as ecstatic as B'ran's younger siblings, Ashi and Halante. As the first dragonrider in the family, B'ran was keenly aware of what it meant to his brother and sister. And when the Weyrleaders came to drink a toast to B'ran and Casuarith, Valonna was particularly delighted for Nelya – one of her most trusted Headwoman Seconds.
The rest of the evening passed in a blur for B'ran, 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, B'ran was flagged down by a Weyrbrat, Emry, bringing the message that Weyrwoman Second Tarshe wanted to see him in the Archives.
Setting the record straight
Tarshe, tasked by the Weyrwoman with converting candidate documentation into weyrling records, went through B'ran's background with him – including much of what he had got up to on the morning of the Hatching – for good and ill. She cleared up an anomaly with his new name, too. She offered B'ran some advice about paying attention to his new classmates and surroundings, lest he fall foul of the Weyrlingmaster's penchant for snap quizzes, and made some observations on Casuarith.
A close encounter
On his way back to the barracks , B'ran 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 B'ran would later realise was firestone, who called him by name – and gave him a curious wooden box.
"The Watchful Queen" by Chris S. Baily
Back at the barracks, B'ran decided, on balance, not to tell the Weyrlingmaster about the stranger – though he did give L'stev his new name.
Returning at last to Casuarith – billeted between S'burn's Aeranth and a mucky-looking brown dragonet – B'ran was too tired to examine the strange wooden box very closely, and put it in his clothes' chest for later examination. But even as he went to sleep – a dragonrider at last, his blue beside him – B'ran 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 B'ran's new name?
B'ran and Casuarith'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!
THE YIN TO YOUR YANG
Casuarith and I complement each other!
SUGAR AND SPICE
I've been a very nice person (so far)!
EBONY AND IVORY
Casuarith and I agreed on something very important!
Casuarith and I agreed on something quite important!