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Z'ach and brown Exarth

The Road So Far!

It all began at the Harperhall at Kellad Hold, in the protectorate of Madellon Weyr, for Zachery – a young man of 16 Turns, dreaming of becoming a blue rider.

Zachery was born the son of two Harpers at the Southern Harperhall, Kellad Hold. Surrounded by music, he was apprenticed to the Craft when he came of age. But he never excelled in any discipline, and it seemed as if an unremarkable career as a mid-level journeyman likely lay ahead for him. 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. Zachery caught the attention of J'kel's blue Hozrath. And a sevenday later, Zachery arrived at Madellon Weyr, joining the candidate pool for senior queen Shimpath's first clutch by her new mate Muzzanth.

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

Hatching Day

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

Southern comfort

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

A Harper born

Zachery's Harper training came in handy when Carleah, the Weyr Singer, asked him to play a set with her ensemble in the dining hall. They played to a rapturous reception that gave Zachery's confidence – and his mark purse – quite a boost!

Hot stuff

Madellon's kitchen was the source of the hotfruit R'hren had sent Zachery to find for his warming salve. Headwoman Crauva handed one over immediately he asked for it, pleased to be helping such an august figure as the old Weyrleader.

A shining example

Coming upon Santinoth – Madellon's biggest bronze – being bathed in the lake, Zachery 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, Zachery 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 Zachery that he wasn't interested in Soburn – or any other men, for that matter. But Zachery'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!

The Hatching

When it came to the Hatching, Zachery had an excruciatingly long wait before the unassuming grey-green egg Hatched to reveal the deep russet-brown dragonet who would choose him, naming himself Exarth.

A friend in me

And Zachery 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?

Sadly, there was at least one fly in the numbweed. Rielat Impressed an impressively proportioned indigo-blue hatchling, making them Zachery and Exarth's new classmates. (On the bright side, at least Kestor didn't Impress!)

After the Hatching

"Exarth" by Emily Holland

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

It wasn't long before Exarth's personality started to become evident. The little russet-brown dragonet proved unusually quiet, speaking only seldom, and showing a strong preference for his own company – and his rider's.

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 Zachery made along the way – a young Holdbred candidate, Nichen, whom Zachery had encountered in a hopelessly dishevelled state directly before the Hatching – hailed Zachery at the barracks – crediting him with his successful Impression of a moon-blue dragonet, Yooth!

Meeting the Weyrleader

As Zachery 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. Zachery was proud to introduce Exarth to the Weyrleader. And after a brief conference with Exarth, Zachery gave the Weyrleader his own new name: Z'ach, rider of brown Exarth!

Following their audience with the Weyrleader, and the application of oily rags to relieve Exarth's and Aeranth's newborn itchiness, Z'ach 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

Z'ach and S'burn soon went their separate ways to find family and friends. Many of the riders and Weyrfolk Z'ach had helped during the day greeted him with warm congratulations as he hunted through the throng – but, at last, he found his family.

Z'ach's Harper parents were absolutely delighted to find themselves the mother and father of a brown rider and happier still to learn that Z'ach had already brought his musical skills to the Weyr. And they were even more delighted to drink to Z'ach and Exarth when the Weyrleaders arrived to toast them!

The rest of the evening passed in a blur for Z'ach, 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, Z'ach 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 Z'ach'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 Z'ach 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 Exarth.

A close encounter

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

Returning at last to Exarth – billeted between S'burn's Aeranth and a mucky-looking brown dragonet – Z'ach 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 brown beside him – Z'ach 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?

Find out more about Zachery's Impression here. Z'ach and Exarth's story will continue in Dragonchoice: Weyrling, coming soon!

Z'ach'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

Exarth 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

Exarth and I agreed on something very important!

Achievement Unlocked:
IN TUNE

Exarth and I agreed on something quite important!

Achievement Unlocked:
BFFs

Exarth and Destrath made friends!