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Signa and blue Hedvith

The Road So Far!

It all began at Jessaf Hold, in the protectorate of Madellon Weyr, for Signa – a young girl of 15 Turns, dreaming of becoming a blue rider.

Signa was born to unusual privilege – a granddaughter of Winstone, Lord of mighty Jessaf Hold. Signa didn't scramble for the attention of the young Search rider, Garlan, who came to Jessaf in early 102 seeking candidates for Madellon Weyr's latest clutch. But as a scion of the Hold, Signa was among the party welcoming the green rider to Jessaf – and, in due course, became the focus of her dragon Hushith's attention. Lord Winstone wasn't enthusiastic about Signa becoming a candidate – while conceding that he could spare a younger grandchild. And with Winstone's admonition that she should remember her place as his granddaughter and not make a scene ringing in her ears, Signa left to begin her candidacy at Madellon Weyr.

As a candidate, Signa 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 Signa! Backed up by her crony Berrin, Thippia became the thorn in Signa's side throughout the sevendays of candidacy.

Hatching Day

The dragons' hum woke Jopha and Signa 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 Signa left, Jopha – whose Impression robe was sadly overlarge for her petite frame – recruited Signa'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, Signa 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 Signa to find it. The quest took Signa 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 infirmary, Signa encountered Kisha – a blind old green rider giving the Weyr's Healers a difficult time about taking her medicine. Kisha challenged Signa to answer three riddles before she would consent to behave. And Signa rose to that challenge – answering all three correctly, and winning Kisha's grudging respect!

A rising problem

Signa 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. Signa'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.

Kitchen diplomacy

Madellon's kitchens – the heart of the Weyr, and domain of Headwoman Crauva – provided Signa with the opportunity to show off her 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 her to find – although Signa had an alternative use in mind for it...

Eggs and baskets

A visit to the Archives led to a meeting with Tarshe, Madellon's Weyrwoman Second. When Signa 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 – Signa did!

A blue lady

Coming across T'gala, Pern's only female blue rider, bathing her Heppeth in the lake, Signa 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 Signa didn't want to pass up.

Hair today

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

The Hatching

When it came to the Hatching, Signa had to wait for every other dragonet to Hatch and choose a rider before the gleaming blue egg Hatched to reveal the bright indigo-blue hatchling who would choose her, naming himself Hedvith.

A friend bereft

But to Signa's dismay, Jopha wasn't as fortunate. No dragonet showed an interest in her, and she was left among the candidates remaining unmatched at the end of the Hatching.

Whatever happened to Thippia?

For Thippia, getting on Signa's bad side proved to be an exceptionally poor choice. Signa dosed Thippia's clean underfurs with hotfruit before the Hatching, and for once, the admonition to always put on clean underpants turned out to have very negative consequences. It took a little while for the hotfruit to take effect, but by the time the candidates reached the Hatching Sands, Thippia was in considerable distress. Unable to bear the burning sensation in her nether regions, she fled the Hatching Sands – squandering her chance at Impression!

After the Hatching

"Hedvith" by Emily Holland

The Weyrlingmaster was the first to congratulate Signa on her Impression, but it was Garlan, delighted that her risky choice of Winstone's granddaughter had Impressed, who stepped in to help with the immediate matter of Hedvith's first meal. That was the first moment Signa had truly grasped that Jopha wasn't going to be a weyrling alongside her – a truth that hit hard. In Jopha's absence, Arina, who'd Impressed a cloudy-green dragonet, Chanth – was a welcome friendly face.

It wasn't long before Hedvith's personality started to become evident. The big indigo-blue dragonet, the largest of his colour, showed his alert and serious nature from the beginning, demonstrating a high degree of focus for a blue.

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 sister

Another friend Signa made along the way – a young Weyrbred candidate, Brithie, whom Signa had encountered in a sudden crisis of confidence directly before the Hatching – hailed Signa at the barracks – crediting her with her successful Impression of a tiny bottle-green dragonet, Epatanth!

Meeting the Weyrleader

As Signa and Arina 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 Signa's unusual Impression of a blue. T'gat further enquired if Signa would like to elide her name, as T'gala had done, or not. Signa elected not to elide her name – content to remain Signa, rider of blue Hedvith!

Following their audience with the Weyrleader, and the application of oily rags to relieve Hedvith's and Chanth's newborn itchiness, Signa and Arina 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

Signa and Arina soon went their separate ways to find family and friends. Many of the riders and Weyrfolk Signa had helped during the day greeted her with warm congratulations as she hunted through the throng – but, at last, she found her family.

Lord Winstone, Signa's grandfather, was outraged by his granddaughter's highly irregular Impression of a blue dragon – calling her aberrant. The Weyrleaders were quick to take Signa's part, but the damage to her relationship with her grandfather was done.

The rest of the evening passed in a blur for Signa, 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, Signa 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 Signa's background with her – including much of what she had got up to on the morning of the Hatching – for good and ill. She offered Signa some advice about paying attention to her new classmates and surroundings, lest she fall foul of the Weyrlingmaster's penchant for snap quizzes, and made some observations on Hedvith.

A close encounter

On her way back to the barracks , Signa 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 Signa 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, Signa decided, on balance, not to tell the Weyrlingmaster about the stranger.

Returning at last to Hedvith – billeted between Arina's Chanth and a very large green dragonet – Signa 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 – Signa 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?

Signa and Hedvith's story will continue in Dragonchoice: Weyrling, coming soon!

Signa'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

Hedvith and I complement each other!

Achievement Unlocked:
SUGAR AND SPICE

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

Achievement Unlocked:
EBONY AND IVORY

Hedvith and I agreed on something very important!

Achievement Unlocked:
IN TUNE

Hedvith and I agreed on something quite important!