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N'lan and bronze Castilath

The Road So Far!

It all began at the Harperhall at Kellad Hold, in the protectorate of Madellon Weyr, for Nolan – a young boy of 14 Turns, dreaming of becoming a bronze rider.

Nolan 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. Nolan caught the attention of J'kel's blue Hozrath. And a sevenday later, Nolan arrived at Madellon Weyr, joining the candidate pool for senior queen Shimpath's first clutch by her new mate Muzzanth.

As a candidate, Nolan 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 Nolan! Backed up by his crony Varell, Gydeton became the thorn in Nolan's side throughout the sevendays of candidacy.

Hatching Day

The dragons' hum woke Martom and Nolan 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 Nolan 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, Nolan 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 Nolan to find it. The quest took Nolan all over Madellon, from kitchens to lake to infirmary – but in the end he succeeded in reuniting the Weyrwoman's jewellery set, to general acclaim.

Respecting his elders

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

Southern comfort

Nolan 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 Nolan 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 Nolan some intelligence on the Southern seven, his advice was somewhat garbled! Nonetheless, Nolan 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, Nolan 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, Nolan 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. Nolan 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 Nolan a certain confidence in his own prospects!

A rising problem

Nolan 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. Nolan'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.

A Harper born

Nolan'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 Nolan's confidence – and his mark purse – quite a boost!

Kitchen diplomacy

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

Weyrbrat by name...

A run-in with a Weyrbrat – Terzon, whom Gydeton had paid to cause Nolan trouble – resulted in an unfortunate public incident. All too aware of being shaken down, Nolan gave the kid a shove – in front of a number of witnesses – doing nothing for his reputation!

A blue lady

Coming across T'gala, Pern's only female blue rider, bathing her Heppeth in the lake, Nolan offered his assistance – which T'gala gladly accepted.

Hair today

Mindful of the Weyrlingmaster's orders to be smart for the Hatching, Nolan visited Madellon's resident barber – green rider Z'fell – for a trim. Very conscious of his dignity, Nolan ensured he came away with a cut he actually liked.

A slithery customer

Early in the day, Nolan 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, Nolan strayed into tunnel snake territory! A huge, aggressive, and potently venomous female tunnel-snake guarded the exit to the Hatching ground. Nolan 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 tunnel-snake, Nolan approached the clutch – but not stealthily enough! His presence woke Shimpath from her doze, and she and Muzzanth chased Nolan off the sands!

The Hatching

When it came to the Hatching, Nolan had an excruciatingly long wait before the purple-speckled cream egg Hatched to reveal the bright golden-bronze dragonet who would choose him, naming himself Castilath.

With friends like these...

But Nolan's Impression of Castilath came at a cost – to Martom. Castilath had looked like he was about to choose Martom before Nolan pushed in front of him – claiming the bronze for himself. It would turn out to be a critical blow to Martom's confidence. No other dragonet took an interest in him, and he was ultimately among the candidates left standing.

Whatever happened to Gydeton?

Gydeton didn't turn up for the pre-Hatching muster, and – Nolan's own suspicions notwithstanding – L'stev guessed that he had probably got himself lost trying to sneak into the Hatching Ground through the dangerous ventilation tunnels. Fortunately – Nolan supposed – Weyrlingmaster A'len located the missing candidate, but too late for Gydeton, who having been found unconscious, was promptly invalided out of standing!

After the Hatching

"Castilath" by Emily Holland

The Weyrlingmaster was the first to congratulate Nolan 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 Castilath's first meal. That was the first moment Nolan 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 Castilath'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.

Big brother

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

Meeting the Weyrleader

As Nolan 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. Nolan was proud to introduce Castilath to the Weyrleader. And after a brief conference with Castilath, Nolan gave the Weyrleader his own new name: N'lan, rider of bronze Castilath!

Following their audience with the Weyrleader, and the application of oily rags to relieve Castilath's and Destrath's newborn itchiness, N'lan 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

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

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

The rest of the evening passed in a blur for N'lan, 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, N'lan 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 N'lan'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 N'lan 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 Castilath.

A close encounter

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

Returning at last to Castilath – billeted between Ch'liam's Destrath and a slender green dragonet – N'lan 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 – N'lan 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 Nolan's Impression here. N'lan and Castilath's story will continue in Dragonchoice: Weyrling, coming soon!

N'lan'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:
THE YIN TO YOUR YANG

Castilath and I complement each other!

Achievement Unlocked:
SUGAR AND SPICE

I've been a very nice person (so far)!

Achievement Unlocked:
EBONY AND IVORY

Castilath and I agreed on something very important!

Achievement Unlocked:
BUM NOTE

Castilath and I disagreed on something quite important!