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Maddox and green Acanth

The Road So Far!

It all began at the Harperhall at Kellad Hold, in the protectorate of Madellon Weyr, for Maddox – a young woman of 18 Turns, dreaming of becoming a blue rider.

Maddox 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. Maddox caught the attention of J'kel's blue Hozrath. And a sevenday later, Maddox arrived at Madellon Weyr, joining the candidate pool for senior queen Shimpath's first clutch by her new mate Muzzanth.

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

Hatching Day

The dragons' hum woke Erilde and Maddox 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 Maddox 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, Maddox 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 Maddox to find it. The quest took Maddox 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 infirmary, Maddox encountered Kisha – a blind old green rider giving the Weyr's Healers a difficult time about taking her medicine. Kisha challenged Maddox to answer three riddles before she would consent to behave. And Maddox rose to that challenge – answering all three correctly, and winning Kisha's grudging respect!

A Masterful order

In the dining hall, Maddox 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, Maddox 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. Maddox 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 Maddox a certain confidence in her own prospects!

Kitchen diplomacy

Madellon's kitchens – the heart of the Weyr, and domain of Headwoman Crauva – provided Maddox with the opportunity to show off her work ethic before the Hatching. A round of chores duly pleased Crauva.

Eggs and baskets

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

A blue lady

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

Friend request

Seeking knowledge of Erilde's parentage, Maddox 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 Maddox might construct a story about a long-dead rider. Maddox 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, Maddox visited Madellon's resident barber, Z'fell, for a trim. But she fell foul of the green rider's perverse sense of humour, and came away with a curious cut – short on top, long at the back – that prompted quite a number of odd looks and laughs at her expense!

A breath of foul air

Setting aside her petty rivalry with Auciet in the face of a genuine emergency, Maddox set about getting Auciet to safety. And on crawling out onto the Hatching Ground, half suffocated herself, she raised the alarm with the Weyrleader before being overcome by the ordeal, and fainting there on the sand.

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

The Hatching

When it came to the Hatching, Maddox didn't have to wait too long for her date with destiny. The spotted green and cream egg Hatched out a vivid sea-green dragonet who told Maddox her name was Acanth.

A friend in me

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

After the Hatching

"Acanth" by Emily Holland

The Weyrlingmaster was the first to congratulate Maddox 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 Acanth's first meal. That was Maddox's first opportunity to speak to Erilde, too, and they introduced each other, with considerable delight, to their respective dragonets, Acanth and Shaldeth.

It wasn't long before Acanth's personality started to become evident. The sea-green dragonet – ambiguously coloured at first glance, but unequivocally female when asked – proved to have a particularly playful and fun-loving outlook on life.

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

Meeting the Weyrleader

As Maddox 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 to ask after their names. Maddox was proud to introduce Acanth to the Weyrleader – and to give him her full new name: Maddox, rider of green Acanth!

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

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

Maddox's Harper parents were absolutely delighted to find themselves the mother and father of a green rider - even though it meant she would be leaving the Harpercraft for good. And they were even more delighted to drink to Maddox and Acanth when the Weyrleaders arrived to toast them!

The rest of the evening passed in a blur for Maddox, 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, Maddox 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 Maddox'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 Maddox some advice about paying attention to her new classmates and surroundings, lest she fall foul of the Weyrlingmaster's penchant for snap quizzes, advised her to report to Master Isnan before returning to the barracks to get her injuries checked again, and made some observations on Acanth.

A close encounter

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

Returning at last to Acanth – billeted between Erilde's Shaldeth and a pale green dragonet – Maddox 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 green beside her – Maddox 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?

Maddox and Acanth's story will continue in Dragonchoice: Weyrling, coming soon!

Maddox'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:
OPPOSITES ATTRACT

I make quite a strange match with Acanth!

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:
BUM NOTE

Acanth and I disagreed on something quite important!

Achievement Unlocked:
BROKEN STRINGS

Acanth and I disagreed on something very important!