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Z'lin and blue Cielth

The Road So Far!

It all began at the Healer Hall at Blue Shale Hold, in the protectorate of Madellon Weyr, for Zebulin – a young man of 17 Turns, dreaming of becoming a blue rider.

Zebulin was born the son of two Master Healers at the Southern Healerhall, Blue Shale Hold. He was treating minor injuries even before he was formally apprenticed to the Craft. But frustration with the drudgery of the long apprenticeship made Zebulin an undistinguished crafter, lacking the focus or passion demanded by the Healerhall. And then, in early 102, brown rider P'lian came to the Healer Hall complaining of frostbitten fingers. Zebulin was assigned to treat the minor condition. But P'lian's Sparth – despite his colour, a budding Search-sensitive dragon – insisted that Zebulin was a likely sort for candidacy. And a sevenday later, Zebulin arrived at Madellon Weyr, joining the candidate pool for senior queen Shimpath's first clutch by her new mate Muzzanth.

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

Hatching Day

The dragons' hum woke Soburn and Zebulin 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 Zebulin 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, Zebulin 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 Zebulin to find it. The quest took Zebulin all over Madellon, from kitchens to lake to infirmary – but in the end he succeeded in reuniting the Weyrwoman's jewellery set, to general acclaim.

Respecting his elders

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

Gifted a small pot of the salve, Zebulin offered it to old S'rius, who was equally appreciative of the gift. And while Kisha, the blind old green rider Zebulin encountered in the infirmary, would have nothing to do with one of R'hren's concoctions, she too grew to approve of Zebulin – especially after he solved all three of her fiendish riddles!

Southern comfort

Zebulin 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 Zebulin 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 Zebulin some intelligence on the Southern seven, his advice was somewhat garbled! Nonetheless, Zebulin 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, Zebulin 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, Zebulin 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. Zebulin 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 Zebulin a certain confidence in his own prospects!

A rising problem

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

Harping on

Zebulin perhaps overestimated his own competence when it came to a disastrous spell on the Harper dais in the dining hall. Accompanying Weyr Singer Carleah – badly – on the tambourine, he was lucky not to be booed off the stage!

Kitchen diplomacy

Madellon's kitchens – the heart of the Weyr, and domain of Headwoman Crauva – provided Zebulin with the opportunity to show off his work ethic before the Hatching. A round of chores duly pleased Crauva, and earned him a selection of goodies warm from the oven.. And the kitchen was also the source of the hotfruit R'hren had sent Zebulin to find for his warming salve.

Pie-more

Zebulin certainly indulged his sweet tooth before the Hatching – laying claim to not one, not two, but three different types of bubbly pie .

Eggs and baskets

A visit to the Archives led to a meeting with Tarshe, Madellon's Weyrwoman Second. When Zebulin 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 – Zebulin did!

Weyrbrat by name...

A run-in with a Weyrbrat – Terzon, whom Rielat had paid to cause Zebulin trouble – resulted in an unfortunate public incident. All too aware of being shaken down, Zebulin gave the kid a shove – in front of a number of witnesses – doing nothing for his reputation!

A blue lady

Coming across T'gala, Pern's only female blue rider, bathing her Heppeth in the lake, Zebulin offered his assistance – which T'gala gladly accepted.

Friend request

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

Hair today

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

A breath of foul air

Early in the day, Zebulin 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. The route he chose turned out to be thick with choking toxic fumes from Madellon's volcanic foundation, and Zebulin soon found himself struggling for breath. And then he came across Rielat – having apparently followed Zebulin into the passageways – lying unconscious and insensible in the fume-filled tunnel.

Setting aside his petty rivalry with Rielat in the face of a genuine emergency, Zebulin set about making Rielat stable – glad for the Healer kit he always carried with him. And on crawling out onto the Hatching Ground, half suffocated himself, he raised the alarm with the Weyrleader before being overcome by the ordeal, and fainting there on the sand.

Zebulin woke in the infirmary, and while the Weyrleader and Weyrlingmaster questioned him sternly about his adventures, the fact that Zebulin had certainly saved Rielat's life counted in his favour, despite having disobeyed the order not to go meddling in the tunnels.

The Hatching

When it came to the Hatching, Zebulin had to wait a little while before the yellow-green craggy-textured egg Hatched to reveal the light sky-blue dragonet who would choose him, naming himself Cielth.

A friend in me

And Zebulin wasn't the only lucky one. To his delight, Soburn also Impressed, becoming the rider of a slender olive-green hatchling, Aeranth.

After the Hatching

"Cielth" by Chris S. Baily

The Weyrlingmaster was the first to congratulate Zebulin on his Impression, but it was P'lian, ecstatic that Sparth's very first Search had yielded an Impression, who stepped in to help with the immediate matter of Cielth's first meal. That was Zebulin's first opportunity to speak to Soburn, too, and they introduced each other, with considerable delight, to their respective dragonets, Cielth and Aeranth. Soburn also told Zebulin that his new name was to be – perhaps unsurprisingly – S'burn.

It wasn't long before Cielth'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 brother

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

Meeting the Weyrleader

As Zebulin 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. Zebulin was proud to introduce Cielth to the Weyrleader. And after a brief conference with Cielth, Zebulin gave the Weyrleader his own new name: Z'lin, rider of blue Cielth!

Following their audience with the Weyrleader, and the application of oily rags to relieve Cielth's and Aeranth's newborn itchiness, Z'lin 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

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

Z'lin's father, a loud man in normal times, was positively bellowing with pleasure at Z'lin's Impression – albeit with a certain disappointment that his son wouldn't be continuing in the Healercraft. And he embarrassed both his son, and his long-suffering wife, still further when the Weyrleaders came to drink a toast to Z'lin and Cielth – remarking, very loudly, on the parentage of Valonna's soon-to-arrive first baby!

The rest of the evening passed in a blur for Z'lin, 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, Z'lin 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 Z'lin'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 Z'lin 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 Cielth.

A close encounter

On his way back to the barracks (by way of the infirmary, as ordered by Tarshe), Z'lin 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 Z'lin 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, Z'lin decided, on balance, not to tell the Weyrlingmaster about the stranger – though he did give L'stev his new name.

Returning at last to Cielth – billeted between S'burn's Aeranth and a mucky-looking brown dragonet – Z'lin 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 – Z'lin 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 Z'lin's new name?

Find out more about Zebulin's Impression here. Z'lin and Cielth's story will continue in Dragonchoice: Weyrling, coming soon!

Z'lin'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:
DEED POLL

I changed my name by choice!

Achievement Unlocked:
BIRDS OF A FEATHER

Cielth and I make a very strong match!

Achievement Unlocked:
SUGAR AND SPICE

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

Achievement Unlocked:
PLEASE STATE THE NATURE OF THE MEDICAL EMERGENCY

I returned to the infirmary!

Achievement Unlocked:
EBONY AND IVORY

Cielth and I agreed on something very important!

Achievement Unlocked:
IN TUNE

Cielth and I agreed on something quite important!