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Donalla and blue Venth

The Road So Far!

It all began at the Harperhall at Kellad Hold, in the protectorate of Madellon Weyr, for Donalla – a young woman of 16 Turns, dreaming of becoming a dragonrider.

Donalla was born the daughter of two Harpers at the Southern Harperhall, Kellad Hold. Surrounded by music, she was apprenticed to the Craft when she came of age. But she never excelled in any discipline, and it seemed as if an unremarkable career as a mid-level journeyman likely lay ahead for her. And then, in early 102, J'kel – a dragonrider of Madellon Weyr – came to Kellad Hold in search of candidates for the new clutch hardening on the Sands of Madellon Weyr. Donalla caught the attention of J'kel's blue Hozrath. And a sevenday later, Donalla arrived at Madellon Weyr, joining the candidate pool for senior queen Shimpath's first clutch by her new mate Muzzanth.

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

Hatching Day

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

Southern comfort

Donalla 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 Donalla 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 Donalla some intelligence on the Southern seven, his advice was somewhat garbled! Nonetheless, Donalla 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, Donalla 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, Donalla 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

Donalla 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. Donalla'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 Donalla did annoy Soleigh, who wasn't impressed with her for prolonging Maris' binge by bringing her more wine!

A Harper born

Donalla's Harper training came in handy when Carleah, the Weyr Singer, asked her to play a set with her ensemble in the dining hall. They played to a rapturous reception that gave Donalla's confidence – and her mark purse – quite a boost!

Kitchen diplomacy

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

A blue lady

Coming across T'gala, Pern's only female blue rider, bathing her Heppeth in the lake, Donalla 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 Donalla didn't want to pass up.

Friend request

Seeking knowledge of Erilde's parentage, Donalla 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 Donalla might construct a story about a long-dead rider. Donalla 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!

Hair today

Mindful of the Weyrlingmaster's orders to be smart for the Hatching, Donalla visited Madellon's resident barber – green rider Z'fell – for a trim. Very conscious of her dignity, Donalla ensured she came away with a cut she actually liked.

A Weyrleader's mercy

Early in the day, Donalla 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 Donalla safely to ground level.

Realising that honesty was the best policy, Donalla 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 Donalla the Weyrleader's permission to approach the clutch. She touched one of the eggs, marvelling at its palpable vitality.

The Hatching

When it came to the Hatching, Donalla had to wait for every other dragonet to Hatch and choose a rider before the yellow-green craggy-textured egg Hatched to reveal the light sky-blue hatchling who would choose her, naming himself Venth.

But Venth was nearly beaten to Donalla by another dragonet – an inquisitive teal-green hatchling who seemed torn between Donalla and Erilde. Sensing that she wasn't the best match for her, Donalla stepped aside to give Erilde precedence – resulting in her Impression of the little green, Shaldeth.

Whatever happened to Auciet?

Auciet's victimisation of Donalla had serious consequences – for Auciet. Not everyone would have tattled on her the way Donalla did, but her complaints about the other girl, together with L'stev's already thin opinion of Auciet, had the desired effect. Directly before the Hatching, L'stev ejected Auciet from the candidate pool!

After the Hatching

"Venth" by Chris S. Baily

The Weyrlingmaster was the first to congratulate Donalla on her Impression, but it was J'kel, thrilled that Hozrath had finally found a successful candidate after so long without, who stepped in to help with the immediate matter of Venth's first meal. That was Donalla's first opportunity to speak to Erilde, too, and they introduced each other, with considerable delight, to their respective dragonets, Venth and Shaldeth.

It wasn't long before Venth's personality started to become evident. The big sky-blue dragonet demonstrated an enormous desire to please, making him an especially endearing character.

With both dragonets full to bursting with fresh meat, the newly minted dragonpairs left the Hatching sands for their new home: the weyrling barracks.

Big sister

Another friend Donalla made along the way – a young Weyrbred candidate, Brithie, whom Donalla had encountered in a sudden crisis of confidence directly before the Hatching – hailed Donalla at the barracks – crediting her with her successful Impression of a tiny bottle-green dragonet, Epatanth!

Meeting the Weyrleader

As Donalla 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 in particular to remark upon Donalla's unusual Impression of a blue. T'gat further enquired if Donalla would like to elide her name, as T'gala had done, or not. Donalla elected not to elide her name – content to remain Donalla, rider of blue Venth!

Following their audience with the Weyrleader, and the application of oily rags to relieve Venth's and Shaldeth's newborn itchiness, Donalla 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

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

Donalla's Harper parents were absolutely delighted to find themselves the mother and father of a blue rider and happier still to learn that Donalla had already brought her musical skills to the Weyr. And they were even more delighted to drink to Donalla and Venth when the Weyrleaders arrived to toast them!

The rest of the evening passed in a blur for Donalla, 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, Donalla 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 Donalla'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 Donalla 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 Venth.

A close encounter

On her way back to the barracks , Donalla 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 Donalla 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, Donalla decided, on balance, not to tell the Weyrlingmaster about the stranger.

Returning at last to Venth – billeted between Erilde's Shaldeth and a very large green dragonet – Donalla 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 – Donalla 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?

Find out more about Donalla's Impression here. Donalla and Venth's story will continue in Dragonchoice: Weyrling, coming soon!

Donalla'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:
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.

Achievement Unlocked:
THE YIN TO YOUR YANG

Venth and I complement each other!

Achievement Unlocked:
SUGAR AND SPICE

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

Achievement Unlocked:
EBONY AND IVORY

Venth and I agreed on something very important!

Achievement Unlocked:
IN TUNE

Venth and I agreed on something quite important!