V'rian and bronze Haploth
The Road So Far!
It all began at the Healer Hall at Blue Shale Hold, in the protectorate of Madellon Weyr, for Valerian – a young boy of 15 Turns, dreaming of becoming a bronze rider.
Valerian 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 Valerian 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. Valerian was assigned to treat the minor condition. But P'lian's Sparth – despite his colour, a budding Search-sensitive dragon – insisted that Valerian was a likely sort for candidacy. And a sevenday later, Valerian arrived at Madellon Weyr, joining the candidate pool for senior queen Shimpath's first clutch by her new mate Muzzanth.
As a candidate, Valerian was assigned a bunkmate – Martom, a confident young Weyrbred lad, 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 – Gydeton, the blustering, entitled son of Lord Meturvian of Kellad – who took a firm disliking to Valerian! Backed up by his crony Varell, Gydeton became the thorn in Valerian's side throughout the sevendays of candidacy.
The dragons' hum woke Martom and Valerian on 102.03.17. Following a brief run-in with Gydeton, 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 Valerian left, Martom – keen to prove himself by Impressing on his first attempt – asked him for help procuring some additional confidence in the form of some alcohol.
The one-armed green rider and the thieving queen
Immediately on leaving the candidate barracks, Valerian 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 Valerian to find it. Despite Valerian's best efforts, though, he didn't manage to complete and return the jewellery set before the Hatching.
Respecting his elders
In the Weyr's kitchen gardens, Valerian encountered R'hren, a former Weyrleader of Madellon, now peacefully retired to potter among his beloved plants. R'hren asked Valerian to help him track down the ingredients for a warming salve to help his elderly bronze, Staamath, with his arthritic forepaws. Valerian 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, Valerian offered it to old S'rius, who was equally appreciative of the gift. And while Kisha, the blind old green rider Valerian encountered in the infirmary, would have nothing to do with one of R'hren's concoctions, she too grew to approve of Valerian – especially after he solved all three of her fiendish riddles!
Valerian 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 Valerian 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 Valerian some intelligence on the Southern seven, his advice was somewhat garbled! Nonetheless, Valerian 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, Valerian 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, Valerian 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. Valerian 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 Valerian a certain confidence in his own prospects!
A rising problem
Valerian 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. Valerian'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 Valerian did annoy Soleigh, who wasn't impressed with him for prolonging Maris' binge by bringing her more wine!
Valerian 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!
Madellon's kitchens – the heart of the Weyr, and domain of Headwoman Crauva – provided Valerian 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 Valerian 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 Valerian 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 – Valerian did!
A blue lady
Coming across T'gala, Pern's only female blue rider, bathing her Heppeth in the lake, Valerian offered his assistance – which T'gala gladly accepted.
Mindful of the Weyrlingmaster's orders to be smart for the Hatching, Valerian visited Madellon's resident barber, Z'fell, for a trim. But he 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 his expense!
A slithery customer
Early in the day, Valerian 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 a stroke of ill luck, Valerian strayed into tunnel snake territory! A huge, aggressive, and potently venomous female tunnel-snake guarded the exit to the Hatching ground. Valerian was lucky to avoid being bitten. But ultimately he evaded the snake, dodging past it and slipping out onto the Hatching Sands.
Having survived his encounter with the snake, Valerian crept closer to the clutch – close enough to touch an egg – before beating a hasty retreat from the Hatching Ground!
Disaster almost struck during the Hatching when Valerian – following some dubious advice about attempting to force a dragonet to choose him – put him self in the path of a less than receptive green hatchling. The green, clearly objecting to being crowded, lashed out at Valerian – slicing his arm. Luckily for Valerian, the mauling wasn't a fatal one – though it could have been, as an irate L'stev told him when patching up the injury on the spot. Even more luckily, the incident didn't deter another dragonet – the bronze who Hatched from the purple-speckled cream – from choosing Valerian and naming himself Haploth!
Whatever happened to Gydeton?
Gydeton's victimisation of Valerian had serious consequences – for Gydeton. Not everyone would have tattled on him the way Valerian did, but his complaints about the other boy, together with L'stev's already thin opinion of Gydeton, had the desired effect. Directly before the Hatching, L'stev ejected Gydeton from the candidate pool!
After the Hatching
"Haploth" by Emily Holland
The Weyrlingmaster was the first to congratulate Valerian 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 Haploth's first meal. That was the first moment Valerian had truly grasped that Martom wasn't going to be a weyrling alongside him – a truth that hit hard. In Martom's absence, Chiliam – the highborn lad from Kellad, who'd Impressed a dusty-brown dragonet, Destrath, and who now styled himself Ch'liam – was a welcome friendly face.
It wasn't long before Haploth'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.
Another friend Valerian made along the way – a young Holdbred candidate, Nichen, whom Valerian had encountered in a hopelessly dishevelled state directly before the Hatching – hailed Valerian at the barracks – crediting him with his successful Impression of a moon-blue dragonet, Yooth!
Meeting the Weyrleader
As Valerian and Ch'liam 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. Valerian was proud to introduce Haploth to the Weyrleader. And after a brief conference with Haploth, Valerian gave the Weyrleader his own new name: V'rian, rider of bronze Haploth!
Following their audience with the Weyrleader, and the application of oily rags to relieve Haploth's and Destrath's newborn itchiness, V'rian and Ch'liam 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
V'rian and Ch'liam soon went their separate ways to find family and friends. Many of the riders and Weyrfolk V'rian had helped during the day greeted him with warm congratulations as he hunted through the throng – but, at last, he found his family.
V'rian's father, a loud man in normal times, was positively bellowing with pleasure at V'rian'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 V'rian and Haploth – remarking, very loudly, on the parentage of Valonna's soon-to-arrive first baby!
The rest of the evening passed in a blur for V'rian, 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, V'rian 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 V'rian'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 V'rian 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 Haploth.
A close encounter
On his way back to the barracks (by way of the infirmary, as ordered by Tarshe), V'rian 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 V'rian 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, V'rian decided, on balance, not to tell the Weyrlingmaster about the stranger – though he did give L'stev his new name.
Returning at last to Haploth – billeted between Ch'liam's Destrath and a slender green dragonet – V'rian 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 – V'rian 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 V'rian's new name?
Find out more about Valerian's Impression here. V'rian and Haploth's story will continue in Dragonchoice: Weyrling, coming soon!
Find out more about Valerian's Impression here. V'rian and Haploth's story will continue in Dragonchoice: Weyrling, coming soon!
CARRY ON WAYWARD SON
I travelled The Road So Far!
OUR ROB, OR ROSS
I received a mysterious box!
I love the smell of elision in the morning!
I changed my name by choice!
CEASE AND DESIST
I prevented legal difficulties by changing my name!
ONE STEVE LIMIT
I avoided duplicating a Dragonchoice character's name!
THEY'RE DEAD, DAVE
I changed my name to respect the deceased!
BIRDS OF A FEATHER
Haploth and I make a very strong match!
SUGAR AND SPICE
I've been a very nice person (so far)!
PLEASE STATE THE NATURE OF THE MEDICAL EMERGENCY
I returned to the infirmary!
EBONY AND IVORY
Haploth and I agreed on something very important!
Haploth and I disagreed on something quite important!