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M'lar and bronze Maratith

The Road So Far!

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

Marluen was born to unusual privilege – a grandson of Winstone, Lord of mighty Jessaf Hold. Marluen 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, Marluen 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 Marluen becoming a candidate – displeased that such a opportunity would ruin his plans for Marluen's betrothal to a niece of Lord Orfen's. But he grudgingly accepted that, as Marluen 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, Marluen left to begin his candidacy at Madellon Weyr.

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

Hatching Day

The dragons' hum woke Soburn and Marluen 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 Marluen 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, Marluen 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 Marluen to find it. The quest took Marluen 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, Marluen encountered R'hren, a former Weyrleader of Madellon, now peacefully retired to potter among his beloved plants. R'hren asked Marluen to help him track down the ingredients for a warming salve to help his elderly bronze, Staamath, with his arthritic forepaws. Marluen 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, Marluen offered it to old S'rius, who was equally appreciative of the gift. And while Kisha, the blind old green rider Marluen encountered in the infirmary, would have nothing to do with one of R'hren's concoctions, she too grew to approve of Marluen – especially after he solved all three of her fiendish riddles!

A Masterful order

In the dining hall, Marluen 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, Marluen 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. Marluen 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 Marluen a certain confidence in his own prospects!

A rising problem

Marluen 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. And while Marluen did manage to get G'tron excluded from the flight – not to mention another blue rider, G'pellas, who was needed in the Harper ensemble – he still ultimately failed to reconcile the star-crossed green riding lovers!

Kitchen diplomacy

Madellon's kitchens – the heart of the Weyr, and domain of Headwoman Crauva – provided Marluen with the opportunity to show off his 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 Marluen 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 Marluen 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 – Marluen did!

A shining example

Coming upon Santinoth – Madellon's biggest bronze – being bathed in the lake, Marluen was quick to offer assistance to his rider, T'rello. It couldn't hurt to have some close-up experience with a bronze, could it?

Friend request

Conscious of Soburn's bashfulness, Marluen 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 Marluen that he wasn't interested in Soburn – or any other men, for that matter. But Marluen'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, Marluen visited Madellon's resident barber – green rider Z'fell – for a trim. Very conscious of his dignity, Marluen ensured he came away with a cut he actually liked.

A Weyrleader's mercy

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

Realising that honesty was the best policy, Marluen 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 Marluen 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, Marluen had an excruciatingly long wait before the purple-speckled cream egg Hatched to reveal the bright golden-bronze dragonet who would choose him, naming himself Maratith.

A friend in me

And Marluen 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 – Marluen'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 – Marluen 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

"Maratith" by Emily Holland

The Weyrlingmaster was the first to congratulate Marluen 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 Maratith's first meal. That was Marluen's first opportunity to speak to Soburn, too, and they introduced each other, with considerable delight, to their respective dragonets, Maratith and Aeranth. Soburn also told Marluen that his new name was to be – perhaps unsurprisingly – S'burn.

It wasn't long before Maratith'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 Marluen made along the way – a young Holdbred candidate, Nichen, whom Marluen had encountered in a hopelessly dishevelled state directly before the Hatching – hailed Marluen at the barracks – crediting him with his successful Impression of a moon-blue dragonet, Yooth!

Meeting the Weyrleader

As Marluen 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. Marluen was proud to introduce Maratith to the Weyrleader. And after a brief conference with Maratith, Marluen gave the Weyrleader his own new name: M'lar, rider of bronze Maratith!

Following their audience with the Weyrleader, and the application of oily rags to relieve Maratith's and Aeranth's newborn itchiness, M'lar 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

M'lar and S'burn soon went their separate ways to find family and friends. Many of the riders and Weyrfolk M'lar 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, M'lar'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 Maratith for failing to be the largest dragonet in the clutch – a criticism that the Weyrleaders were quick to cut short in their toast to M'lar and his bronze.

The rest of the evening passed in a blur for M'lar, 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'lar 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 M'lar'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 M'lar some advice about paying attention to his new classmates and surroundings, lest he fall foul of the Weyrlingmaster's penchant for snap quizzes, and made some observations on Maratith.

A close encounter

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

Returning at last to Maratith – billeted between S'burn's Aeranth and a mucky-looking brown dragonet – M'lar 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 – M'lar 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'lar and Maratith's story will continue in Dragonchoice: Weyrling, coming soon!

M'lar'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

Maratith and I make a very strong match!

Achievement Unlocked:
SUGAR AND SPICE

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

Achievement Unlocked:
EBONY AND IVORY

Maratith and I agreed on something very important!

Achievement Unlocked:
BUM NOTE

Maratith and I disagreed on something quite important!