Xenia and blue Darwelth
The Road So Far!
It all began at Jessaf Hold, in the protectorate of Madellon Weyr, for Xenia – a young girl of 13 Turns, dreaming of becoming a blue rider.
Xenia was born the daughter of a modest cotholder at Jessaf Hold, working alongside her widowed father to work their allotted land, and help bring up her young twin siblings, Albon and Gettie. And in early 102, when a green rider, N'jol, and his Kistrith came to Jessaf in search of candidates for Madellon Weyr's hardening clutch, Xenia didn't even present herself as a hopeful. Yet it was Xenia that Kistrith singled out among all those young people. She almost didn't accept Search – anxious not to abandon her father. But he insisted, revealing that his late wife, Xenia 's mother, had always dreamed of being a dragonrider – and gifting Xenia with her blue feather pendant as a lucky charm.
As a candidate, Xenia was assigned a bunkmate – Jopha, a mischievous young Weyrbred girl prone to getting herself into trouble, 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 – Thippia, a foul-mouthed girl from the Seacraft – who took a firm disliking to Xenia ! Backed up by her crony Berrin, Thippia became the thorn in Xenia 's side throughout the sevendays of candidacy.
The dragons' hum woke Jopha and Xenia on 102.03.17. Following a brief run-in with Thippia, 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 Xenia left, Jopha – whose Impression robe was sadly overlarge for her petite frame – recruited Xenia 's help in getting it adjusted by her nemesis Shookana in the mending room.
The one-armed green rider and the thieving queen
Immediately on leaving the candidate barracks, Xenia 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 Xenia to find it. The quest took Xenia 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, Xenia encountered R'hren, a former Weyrleader of Madellon, now peacefully retired to potter among his beloved plants. R'hren asked Xenia to help him track down the ingredients for a warming salve to help his elderly bronze, Staamath, with his arthritic forepaws. Xenia 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, Xenia offered it to old S'rius, who was equally appreciative of the gift. And while Kisha, the blind old green rider Xenia encountered in the infirmary, would have nothing to do with one of R'hren's concoctions, she too grew to approve of Xenia – especially after she solved all three of her fiendish riddles!
Xenia 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 Xenia 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 Xenia some intelligence on the Southern seven, his advice was somewhat garbled! Nonetheless, Xenia 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, Xenia 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, Xenia 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.
A rising problem
Xenia 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. Xenia '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 Xenia did annoy Soleigh, who wasn't impressed with her for prolonging Maris' binge by bringing her more wine!
Xenia perhaps overestimated her 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, she was lucky not to be booed off the stage!
Madellon's kitchens – the heart of the Weyr, and domain of Headwoman Crauva – provided Xenia with the opportunity to show off her work ethic before the Hatching. A round of chores duly pleased Crauva, and earned her a selection of goodies warm from the oven.. And the kitchen was also the source of the hotfruit R'hren had sent Xenia to find for his warming salve.
Xenia certainly indulged her 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 Xenia 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 – Xenia did!
Weyrbrat by name...
A run-in with a Weyrbrat – Terzon, whom Thippia had paid to cause Xenia trouble – resulted in an unfortunate public incident. All too aware of being shaken down, Xenia gave the kid a shove – in front of a number of witnesses – doing nothing for her reputation!
A blue lady
Coming across T'gala, Pern's only female blue rider, bathing her Heppeth in the lake, Xenia 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 Xenia didn't want to pass up.
Knowing of Jopha's chequered history with Shookana, mistress of the Weyr's mending room, Xenia approached the task of having her robe adjusted with considerable caution. Realising that falsehood would be the wrong approach, Xenia went to Shookana with the truth – and a gift of popcorn. And while Xenia doubted if Shookana and Jopha will ever be friends, the restoration of her Hatching robe to a suitable length did a great deal for her self-confidence!
Mindful of the Weyrlingmaster's orders to be smart for the Hatching, Xenia visited Madellon's resident barber – green rider Z'fell – for a trim. Very conscious of her dignity, Xenia ensured she came away with a cut she actually liked.
A breath of foul air
Early in the day, Xenia 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 Xenia soon found herself struggling for breath. And then she came across Thippia – having apparently followed Xenia into the passageways – lying unconscious and insensible in the fume-filled tunnel.
Perhaps it was the toxic air, or perhaps not – but when Xenia crawled out onto the Hatching sands, she didn't drag Thippia out with her – and nor did she tell the Weyrleader about her stricken fellow candidate. Overcome by the ordeal, Xenia fainted.
Xenia woke in the infirmary – only to be interrogated by a very grim Weyrleader T'gat and Weyrlingmaster L'stev. Thippia had been found – dead. And only some very quick talking on Xenia 's part spared her from being thrown out of the Weyr entirely.
When it came to the Hatching, Xenia had an excruciatingly long wait before the yellow-green craggy-textured egg Hatched to reveal the light sky-blue dragonet who would choose her, naming himself Darwelth.
A friend in me
And Xenia wasn't the only lucky one. To her delight, Jopha also Impressed, becoming the rider of a big emerald-green hatchling, Deimoth.
After the Hatching
"Darwelth" by Chris S. Baily
The Weyrlingmaster was the first to congratulate Xenia on her Impression, but it was N'jol, delighted that his most humble candidate had Impressed, who stepped in to help with the immediate matter of Darwelth's first meal. That was Xenia 's first opportunity to speak to Jopha, too, and they introduced each other, with considerable delight, to their respective dragonets, Darwelth and Deimoth.
It wasn't long before Darwelth'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.
Another friend Xenia made along the way – a young Weyrbred candidate, Brithie, whom Xenia had encountered in a sudden crisis of confidence directly before the Hatching – hailed Xenia at the barracks – crediting her with her successful Impression of a tiny bottle-green dragonet, Epatanth!
Meeting the Weyrleader
As Xenia and Jopha 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 Xenia 's unusual Impression of a blue. T'gat further enquired if Xenia would like to elide her name, as T'gala had done, or not. Xenia elected not to elide her name – content to remain Xenia, rider of blue Darwelth!
Following their audience with the Weyrleader, and the application of oily rags to relieve Darwelth's and Deimoth's newborn itchiness, Xenia and Jopha 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
Xenia and Jopha soon went their separate ways to find family and friends. Many of the riders and Weyrfolk Xenia had helped during the day greeted her with warm congratulations as she hunted through the throng – but, at last, she found her family.
Xenia's father almost couldn't believe his daughter's good fortune, completely thrilled to be the father of a dragonrider. And he was even more starstruck when the Weyrleaders came to drink a toast to Xenia and Darwelth.
The rest of the evening passed in a blur for Xenia, 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, Xenia 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 Xenia'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 Xenia 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 Darwelth.
A close encounter
On her way back to the barracks (by way of the infirmary, as ordered by Tarshe), Xenia 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 Xenia 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, Xenia decided, on balance, not to tell the Weyrlingmaster about the stranger – though she did give L'stev her new name.
Returning at last to Darwelth – billeted between Jopha's Deimoth and a pale green dragonet – Xenia 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 – Xenia 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 Xenia's new name?
Xenia and Darwelth'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 changed my name by choice!
ONE STEVE LIMIT
I avoided duplicating a Dragonchoice character's name!
COMPUTER SAYS NO
I changed my name from something unacceptable!
BIRDS OF A FEATHER
Darwelth 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
Darwelth and I agreed on something very important!
Darwelth and I agreed on something quite important!
OUT, DAMNED SPOT
I left Thippia to die, and I'll have to live with that secret, forever.