Stef and blue Tamarth
The Road So Far!
It all began at Jessaf Hold, in the protectorate of Madellon Weyr, for Stef – a young woman of 16 Turns, dreaming of becoming a blue rider.
Stef 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, Stef didn't even present herself as a hopeful. Yet it was Stef 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, Stef's mother, had always dreamed of being a dragonrider – and gifting Stef with her blue feather pendant as a lucky charm.
As a candidate, Stef 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 Stef! Backed up by her crony Cedranne, Auciet became the thorn in Stef's side throughout the sevendays of candidacy.
The dragons' hum woke Erilde and Stef 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 Stef 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, Stef 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 Stef to find it. The quest took Stef 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, Stef encountered R'hren, a former Weyrleader of Madellon, now peacefully retired to potter among his beloved plants. R'hren asked Stef to help him track down the ingredients for a warming salve to help his elderly bronze, Staamath, with his arthritic forepaws. Stef 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, Stef offered it to old S'rius, who was equally appreciative of the gift. And while Kisha, the blind old green rider Stef encountered in the infirmary, would have nothing to do with one of R'hren's concoctions, she too grew to approve of Stef – especially after she solved all three of her fiendish riddles!
Stef 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 Stef 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 Stef some intelligence on the Southern seven, his advice was somewhat garbled! Nonetheless, Stef 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, Stef 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, Stef 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
Stef 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. Stef'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 Stef did annoy Soleigh, who wasn't impressed with her for prolonging Maris' binge by bringing her more wine!
Stef 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 Stef 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 Stef to find for his warming salve.
Stef 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 Stef 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 – Stef did!
Weyrbrat by name...
A run-in with a Weyrbrat – Terzon, whom Auciet had paid to cause Stef trouble – resulted in an unfortunate public incident. All too aware of being shaken down, Stef 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, Stef 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 Stef didn't want to pass up.
Seeking knowledge of Erilde's parentage, Stef 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 Stef might construct a story about a long-dead rider. Stef 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!
Mindful of the Weyrlingmaster's orders to be smart for the Hatching, Stef visited Madellon's resident barber, Z'fell, for a trim. But she 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 her expense!
A slithery customer
Early in the day, Stef 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.
By a stroke of ill luck, Stef strayed into tunnel snake territory! A huge, aggressive, and potently venomous female tunnel-snake guarded the exit to the Hatching ground. Stef was lucky to avoid being bitten. But ultimately she evaded the snake, dodging past it and slipping out onto the Hatching Sands.
Having survived her encounter with the snake, Stef crept closer to the clutch – close enough to notice something very peculiar – an extra, twenty-first egg! Intrigued, she sneaked close enough to examine the strange, yellow, somewhat waxy-looking egg, before beating a hasty retreat from the Hatching Ground.
Disaster almost struck during the Hatching when Stef – following some dubious advice about attempting to force a dragonet to choose her – put her self in the path of a less than receptive green hatchling. The green, clearly objecting to being crowded, lashed out at Stef – slicing her arm. Luckily for Stef, the mauling wasn't a fatal one – though it could have been, as an irate L'stev told her when patching up the injury on the spot. Even more luckily, the incident didn't deter another dragonet – the blue who Hatched from the yellow-green craggy-textured – from choosing Stef and naming himself Tamarth!
Whatever happened to Auciet?
It turned out that making an enemy of Stef was a very poor choice on Auciet's part. For the low, low price of just three marks, Stef had Grimes, the shady fellow loitering near the Gather stalls, spread a series of nasty rumours about Auciet. By the time the Weyrlingmaster mustered the candidate cohort immediately before the Hatching, the damage to Auciet's reputation was done – and she was ejected from the candidate pool without ever setting foot on the Sands!
After the Hatching
"Tamarth" by Chris S. Baily
The Weyrlingmaster was the first to congratulate Stef 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 Tamarth's first meal. That was Stef's first opportunity to speak to Erilde, too, and they introduced each other, with considerable delight, to their respective dragonets, Tamarth and Shaldeth.
It wasn't long before Tamarth'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 Stef made along the way – a young Weyrbred candidate, Brithie, whom Stef had encountered in a sudden crisis of confidence directly before the Hatching – hailed Stef at the barracks – crediting her with her successful Impression of a tiny bottle-green dragonet, Epatanth!
Meeting the Weyrleader
As Stef 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 Stef's unusual Impression of a blue. T'gat further enquired if Stef would like to elide her name, as T'gala had done, or not. Stef elected not to elide her name – content to remain Stef, rider of blue Tamarth!
Following their audience with the Weyrleader, and the application of oily rags to relieve Tamarth's and Shaldeth's newborn itchiness, Stef 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
Stef and Erilde soon went their separate ways to find family and friends. Many of the riders and Weyrfolk Stef had helped during the day greeted her with warm congratulations as she hunted through the throng – but, at last, she found her family.
Stef'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 Stef and Tamarth.
The rest of the evening passed in a blur for Stef, 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, Stef 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 Stef'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 Stef 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 Tamarth.
A close encounter
On her way back to the barracks (by way of the infirmary, as ordered by Tarshe), Stef 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 Stef 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, Stef decided, on balance, not to tell the Weyrlingmaster about the stranger – though she did give L'stev her new name.
Returning at last to Tamarth – billeted between Erilde's Shaldeth and a very large green dragonet – Stef 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 – Stef 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 Stef's new name?
Stef and Tamarth'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
Tamarth and I make a very strong match!
...what did I just see?
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
Tamarth and I agreed on something very important!
Tamarth and I agreed on something quite important!