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S'kia and blue Nympath

The Road So Far!

It all began at Jessaf Hold, in the protectorate of Madellon Weyr, for Sasskia – a young girl of 14 Turns, dreaming of becoming a blue rider.

Sasskia was born to unusual privilege – a granddaughter of Winstone, Lord of mighty Jessaf Hold. Sasskia 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, Sasskia 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 Sasskia 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, Sasskia left to begin her candidacy at Madellon Weyr.

As a candidate, Sasskia 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 Sasskia! Backed up by her crony Berrin, Thippia became the thorn in Sasskia's side throughout the sevendays of candidacy.

Hatching Day

The dragons' hum woke Jopha and Sasskia 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 Sasskia left, Jopha – whose Impression robe was sadly overlarge for her petite frame – recruited Sasskia'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, Sasskia 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 Sasskia to find it. Despite Sasskia's best efforts, though, she didn't manage to complete and return the jewellery set before the Hatching.

Respecting her elders

In the Weyr's kitchen gardens, Sasskia encountered R'hren, a former Weyrleader of Madellon, now peacefully retired to potter among his beloved plants. R'hren asked Sasskia to help him track down the ingredients for a warming salve to help his elderly bronze, Staamath, with his arthritic forepaws. Sasskia duly located the components of R'hren's salve, winning the old bronze rider's approval in the process.

A Masterful order

In the dining hall, Sasskia 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, Sasskia 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.

Kitchen diplomacy

Madellon's kitchens – the heart of the Weyr, and domain of Headwoman Crauva – provided Sasskia 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 Sasskia to find for his warming salve.

A blue lady

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

Friend request

Knowing of Jopha's chequered history with Shookana, mistress of the Weyr's mending room, Sasskia approached the task of having her robe adjusted with considerable caution. Realising that falsehood would be the wrong approach, Sasskia went to Shookana with the truth – and a gift of popcorn. And while Sasskia 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!

A slithery customer

Early in the day, Sasskia 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 a stroke of ill luck, Sasskia strayed into tunnel snake territory! A huge, aggressive, and potently venomous female tunnel-snake guarded the exit to the Hatching ground. Sasskia was lucky to avoid being bitten. But ultimately she evaded the snake, dodging past it and slipping out onto the Hatching Sands.

Having survived her encounter with the snake, Sasskia crept closer to the clutch – close enough to touch an egg – before beating a hasty retreat from the Hatching Ground! And something about the gleaming blue egg made her feel strangely certain that she would Impress later that day.

The Hatching

When it came to the Hatching, Sasskia had to wait for every other dragonet to Hatch and choose a rider before the gleaming blue egg Hatched to reveal the bright indigo-blue hatchling who would choose her, naming himself Nympath.

A friend in me

And Sasskia 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?

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

After the Hatching

"Nympath" by Emily Holland

The Weyrlingmaster was the first to congratulate Sasskia 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 Nympath's first meal. That was Sasskia's first opportunity to speak to Jopha, too, and they introduced each other, with considerable delight, to their respective dragonets, Nympath and Deimoth.

It wasn't long before Nympath'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.

Big sister

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

Meeting the Weyrleader

As Sasskia 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 Sasskia's unusual Impression of a blue. T'gat further enquired if Sasskia would like to elide her name, as T'gala had done, or not. Sasskia took up the opportunity to rename herself, and after a brief conference with Nympath, Sasskia gave the Weyrleader her new name – S'kia, rider of blue Nympath!

Following their audience with the Weyrleader, and the application of oily rags to relieve Nympath's and Deimoth's newborn itchiness, S'kia 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

S'kia and Jopha soon went their separate ways to find family and friends. Many of the riders and Weyrfolk S'kia 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, S'kia's grandfather, was outraged by his granddaughter's highly irregular Impression of a blue dragon – calling her aberrant. The Weyrleaders were quick to take S'kia's part, but the damage to her relationship with her grandfather was done.

The rest of the evening passed in a blur for S'kia, 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, S'kia 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 S'kia'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 S'kia 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 Nympath.

A close encounter

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

Returning at last to Nympath – billeted between Jopha's Deimoth and a pretty blue-green dragonet – S'kia 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 – S'kia 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?

S'kia and Nympath's story will continue in Dragonchoice: Weyrling, coming soon!

S'kia'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:
BIRDS OF A FEATHER

Nympath and I make a very strong match!

Achievement Unlocked:
THE PATH LESS TRAVELLED

I pre-Impressed Nympath by touching his egg before the Hatching!

Achievement Unlocked:
EBONY AND IVORY

Nympath and I agreed on something very important!

Achievement Unlocked:
IN TUNE

Nympath and I agreed on something quite important!