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Irissa and blue Ambarelth

The Road So Far!

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

Irissa was born the daughter of two Master Healers at the Southern Healerhall, Blue Shale Hold. She was treating minor injuries even before she was formally apprenticed to the Craft. But frustration with the drudgery of the long apprenticeship made Irissa 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. Irissa was assigned to treat the minor condition. But P'lian's Sparth – despite his colour, a budding Search-sensitive dragon – insisted that Irissa was a likely sort for candidacy. And a sevenday later, Irissa arrived at Madellon Weyr, joining the candidate pool for senior queen Shimpath's first clutch by her new mate Muzzanth.

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

Hatching Day

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

Southern comfort

Irissa 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 Irissa 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 Irissa some intelligence on the Southern seven, his advice was somewhat garbled! Nonetheless, Irissa unravelled Archidath's confusing suggestions and got the right packages to the right dragons – without being growled at!

A rising problem

Irissa 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. Irissa'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.

Kitchen diplomacy

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

A blue lady

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

Friend request

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

A breath of foul air

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

Setting aside her petty rivalry with Auciet in the face of a genuine emergency, Irissa set about making Auciet stable – glad for the Healer kit she always carried with her. 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.

Irissa woke in the infirmary, and while the Weyrleader and Weyrlingmaster questioned her sternly about her adventures, the fact that Irissa 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, Irissa had an excruciatingly long wait before the gleaming blue egg Hatched to reveal the bright indigo-blue dragonet who would choose her, naming himself Ambarelth.

A friend in me

And Irissa 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

"Ambarelth" by Emily Holland

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

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

Meeting the Weyrleader

As Irissa 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 Irissa's unusual Impression of a blue. T'gat further enquired if Irissa would like to elide her name, as T'gala had done, or not. Irissa elected not to elide her name – content to remain Irissa, rider of blue Ambarelth!

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

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

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

The rest of the evening passed in a blur for Irissa, 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, Irissa 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 Irissa's background with her – including much of what she had got up to on the morning of the Hatching – for good and ill. She cleared up an anomaly with her new name, too. She offered Irissa 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 Ambarelth.

A close encounter

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

Returning at last to Ambarelth – billeted between Erilde's Shaldeth and a pale green dragonet – Irissa 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 – Irissa 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 Irissa's new name?

Irissa and Ambarelth's story will continue in Dragonchoice: Weyrling, coming soon!

Irissa'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:
CEASE AND DESIST

I prevented legal difficulties by changing my name!

Achievement Unlocked:
ONE STEVE LIMIT

I avoided duplicating a Dragonchoice character's name!

Achievement Unlocked:
OPPOSITES ATTRACT

I make quite a strange match with Ambarelth!

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

Ambarelth and I agreed on something very important!

Achievement Unlocked:
IN TUNE

Ambarelth and I agreed on something quite important!

Achievement Unlocked:
BFFs

Ambarelth and Chanth made friends!