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M'riga and blue Dillenith

The Road So Far!

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

Marrigan was born the daughter of a modest cotholder at Jessaf Hold, working alongside her widowed father to work their allotted land, and help bring up her young twin siblings, Albon and Gettie. And in early 102, when a green rider, N'jol, and his Kistrith came to Jessaf in search of candidates for Madellon Weyr's hardening clutch, Marrigan didn't even present herself as a hopeful. Yet it was Marrigan that Kistrith singled out among all those young people. She almost didn't accept Search – anxious not to abandon her father. But he insisted, revealing that his late wife, Marrigan's mother, had always dreamed of being a dragonrider – and gifting Marrigan with her blue feather pendant as a lucky charm.

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

Hatching Day

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

Southern comfort

Marrigan 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 Marrigan 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 Marrigan some intelligence on the Southern seven, his advice was somewhat garbled! Nonetheless, Marrigan 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, Marrigan 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, Marrigan 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. Marrigan even shared the largesse with Zielaph, who then introduced her to Fr'ton – who, having Impressed a bronze in spite of his less than boundless promise, gave Marrigan a certain confidence in her own prospects!

A rising problem

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

Kitchen diplomacy

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

A blue lady

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

Friend request

Seeking knowledge of Erilde's parentage, Marrigan 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 Marrigan might construct a story about a long-dead rider. Marrigan 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, Marrigan visited Madellon's resident barber – green rider Z'fell – for a trim. Very conscious of her dignity, Marrigan ensured she came away with a cut she actually liked.

A Weyrleader's mercy

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

Realising that honesty was the best policy, Marrigan 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 Marrigan 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, Marrigan 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 Dillenith.

A friend in me

And Marrigan wasn't the only lucky one. To her delight, Erilde also Impressed, becoming the rider of an inquisitive teal-green hatchling, Shaldeth.

Whatever happened to Auciet?

For Auciet, getting on Marrigan's bad side proved to be an exceptionally poor choice. Marrigan dosed Auciet's clean underfurs with hotfruit before the Hatching, and for once, the admonition to always put on clean underpants turned out to have very negative consequences. It took a little while for the hotfruit to take effect, but by the time the candidates reached the Hatching Sands, Auciet was in considerable distress. Unable to bear the burning sensation in her nether regions, she fled the Hatching Sands – squandering her chance at Impression!

After the Hatching

"Dillenith" by Chris S. Baily

The Weyrlingmaster was the first to congratulate Marrigan on her Impression, but it was N'jol, delighted that his most humble candidate had Impressed, who stepped in to help with the immediate matter of Dillenith's first meal. That was Marrigan's first opportunity to speak to Erilde, too, and they introduced each other, with considerable delight, to their respective dragonets, Dillenith and Shaldeth.

It wasn't long before Dillenith'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 Marrigan made along the way – a young Weyrbred candidate, Brithie, whom Marrigan had encountered in a sudden crisis of confidence directly before the Hatching – hailed Marrigan at the barracks – crediting her with her successful Impression of a tiny bottle-green dragonet, Epatanth!

Meeting the Weyrleader

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

Following their audience with the Weyrleader, and the application of oily rags to relieve Dillenith's and Shaldeth's newborn itchiness, M'riga 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

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

M'riga's father almost couldn't believe his daughter's good fortune, completely thrilled to be the father of a dragonrider. And he was even more starstruck when the Weyrleaders came to drink a toast to M'riga and Dillenith.

The rest of the evening passed in a blur for M'riga, 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, M'riga 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 M'riga'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 M'riga 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 Dillenith.

A close encounter

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

Returning at last to Dillenith – billeted between Erilde's Shaldeth and a very large green dragonet – M'riga 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 – M'riga 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?

M'riga and Dillenith's story will continue in Dragonchoice: Weyrling, coming soon!

M'riga'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

Dillenith and I complement each other!

Achievement Unlocked:
SUGAR AND SPICE

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

Achievement Unlocked:
EBONY AND IVORY

Dillenith and I agreed on something very important!

Achievement Unlocked:
BUM NOTE

Dillenith and I disagreed on something quite important!