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W'sel and bronze Sheeth

The Road So Far!

It all began at Jessaf Hold, in the protectorate of Madellon Weyr, for Wessel – a young man of 18 Turns, dreaming of becoming a bronze rider.

Wessel was born to unusual privilege – a grandson of Winstone, Lord of mighty Jessaf Hold. Wessel 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, Wessel 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 Wessel becoming a candidate – displeased that such a opportunity would ruin his plans for Wessel's betrothal to a niece of Lord Orfen's. But he grudgingly accepted that, as Wessel had his majority, he had the right to accept Search. And with Winstone's admonition that he Impress a bronze – or a brown at the very least – ringing in his ears, Wessel left to begin his candidacy at Madellon Weyr.

As a candidate, Wessel 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 Wessel! Backed up by his crony Kestor, Rielat became the thorn in Wessel's side throughout the sevendays of candidacy.

Hatching Day

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

Southern comfort

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

Wessel 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. Wessel'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.

Kitchen diplomacy

Madellon's kitchens – the heart of the Weyr, and domain of Headwoman Crauva – provided Wessel with the opportunity to show off his work ethic before the Hatching. A round of chores duly pleased Crauva, albeit cut short, literally, by the slip of a knife that sent Wessel to the infirmary with a slice to be stitched up. And the kitchen was also the source of the hotfruit R'hren had sent Wessel 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 Wessel 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 – Wessel did!

At the lake, T'rello – the rider of the biggest bronze at Madellon, Santinoth – asked for Wessel's help in bathing his gargantuan dragon. Wessel, reluctant to get wet, refused – earning T'rello's disdain, and a blot on his reputation!

Friend request

Conscious of Soburn's bashfulness, Wessel 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 Wessel that he wasn't interested in Soburn – or any other men, for that matter. But Wessel'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!

Wherry bad behaviour

Wessel's assorted instances of bad behaviour finally caught up with him. L'stev collared him in the Bowl and gave him an ultimatum – buck up his ideas, or sit the Hatching out. Wessel chose the former, and the Weyrlingmaster sent him to do penance in the wherry hatchery – though Wessel remained on probation, with one more slip promising to rule him out of standing!

A Weyrleader's mercy

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

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

The Hatching

When it came to the Hatching, Wessel had to wait for every other dragonet to Hatch and choose a rider before the purple-speckled cream egg Hatched to reveal the bright golden-bronze hatchling who would choose him, naming himself Sheeth.

A friend in me

And Wessel 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?

Rielat didn't turn up for the pre-Hatching muster, and – Wessel's own suspicions notwithstanding – L'stev guessed that he had probably got himself lost trying to sneak into the Hatching Ground through the dangerous ventilation tunnels. Fortunately – Wessel supposed – Weyrlingmaster A'len located the missing candidate, but too late for Rielat, who having been found unconscious, was promptly invalided out of standing!

After the Hatching

"Sheeth" by Emily Holland

The Weyrlingmaster was the first to congratulate Wessel on his Impression, but it was Garlan, delighted that her risky choice of Winstone's grandson had Impressed, who stepped in to help with the immediate matter of Sheeth's first meal. That was Wessel's first opportunity to speak to Soburn, too, and they introduced each other, with considerable delight, to their respective dragonets, Sheeth and Aeranth. Soburn also told Wessel that his new name was to be – perhaps unsurprisingly – S'burn.

It wasn't long before Sheeth's personality started to become evident. The bright-bronze dragonet, while the smallest of his colour, demonstrated an exceptional degree of self-possession and independent thought – not shy to push himself forward, or make his opinion heard.

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 brother

Another friend Wessel made along the way – a young Holdbred candidate, Nichen, whom Wessel had encountered in a hopelessly dishevelled state directly before the Hatching – hailed Wessel at the barracks – crediting him with his successful Impression of a moon-blue dragonet, Yooth!

Meeting the Weyrleader

As Wessel 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. Wessel was proud to introduce Sheeth to the Weyrleader. And after a brief conference with Sheeth, Wessel gave the Weyrleader his own new name: W'sel, rider of bronze Sheeth!

Following their audience with the Weyrleader, and the application of oily rags to relieve Sheeth's and Aeranth's newborn itchiness, W'sel 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

W'sel and S'burn soon went their separate ways to find family and friends. Many of the riders and Weyrfolk W'sel had helped during the day greeted him with warm congratulations as he hunted through the throng – but, at last, he found his family.

Lord Winstone, W'sel's grandfather, was very pleased indeed to be able to boast to all and sundry that his grandson had Impressed a bronze, although he still managed to find fault with Sheeth for failing to be the largest dragonet in the clutch – a criticism that the Weyrleaders were quick to cut short in their toast to W'sel and his bronze.

The rest of the evening passed in a blur for W'sel, 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, W'sel 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 W'sel's background with him – including much of what he had got up to on the morning of the Hatching – for good and ill. She offered W'sel some advice about paying attention to his new classmates and surroundings, lest he fall foul of the Weyrlingmaster's penchant for snap quizzes, advised him to report to Master Isnan before returning to the barracks to get his injuries checked again, and made some observations on Sheeth.

A close encounter

On his way back to the barracks (by way of the infirmary, as ordered by Tarshe), W'sel 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 W'sel 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, W'sel decided, on balance, not to tell the Weyrlingmaster about the stranger.

Returning at last to Sheeth – billeted between S'burn's Aeranth and a mucky-looking brown dragonet – W'sel 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 bronze beside him – W'sel 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 Wessel's Impression here. W'sel and Sheeth's story will continue in Dragonchoice: Weyrling, coming soon!

W'sel'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:
MIRROR IMAGE

Sheeth and I match perfectly!

Achievement Unlocked:
SNAKES AND SNAILS

I haven't been very nice!

Achievement Unlocked:
PLEASE STATE THE NATURE OF THE MEDICAL EMERGENCY

I returned to the infirmary!

Achievement Unlocked:
EBONY AND IVORY

Sheeth and I agreed on something very important!

Achievement Unlocked:
IN TUNE

Sheeth and I agreed on something quite important!