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T'vand and brown Espath

The Road So Far!

It all began at Jessaf Hold, in the protectorate of Madellon Weyr, for Torvand – a young boy of 13 Turns, dreaming of becoming a brown rider.

Torvand was born to unusual privilege – a grandson of Winstone, Lord of mighty Jessaf Hold. Torvand 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, Torvand 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 Torvand becoming a candidate – while conceding that he could spare a younger grandchild. And with Winstone's admonition that he Impress a bronze – or a brown at the very least – ringing in his ears, Torvand left to begin his candidacy at Madellon Weyr.

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

Hatching Day

The dragons' hum woke Martom and Torvand 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 Torvand 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, Torvand 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 Torvand to find it. Despite Torvand'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, Torvand encountered R'hren, a former Weyrleader of Madellon, now peacefully retired to potter among his beloved plants. R'hren asked Torvand to help him track down the ingredients for a warming salve to help his elderly bronze, Staamath, with his arthritic forepaws. Torvand duly located the components of R'hren's salve, winning the old bronze rider's approval in the process.

A Masterful order

In the dining hall, Torvand 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, Torvand 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.

Hot stuff

Madellon's kitchen was the source of the hotfruit R'hren had sent Torvand 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.

Overkeen to get his hands on the last bubbly pie in the dining hall, Torvand took it – forcibly – from a small child. Not the nicest thing to do – but mmm, pie...

Eggs and baskets

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

A shining example

Coming upon Santinoth – Madellon's biggest bronze – being bathed in the lake, Torvand 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

Given Torvand's age, finding some wine for Martom proved difficult – the Weyr Vintner, Master Saxton, refused to sell it to an underage candidate. His only other alternative was an illicit purchase from the shady figure of Grimes. And L'stev's warning about getting drunk before the Hatching held weight. The Vintner's offering of alcohol-free grape juice gave Torvand an idea – and offering it to Martom, none the wiser for the substitution, still had the desired effect of boosting his confidence before the Hatching – without any unwanted side-effects!

A slithery customer

Early in the day, Torvand 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, Torvand strayed into tunnel snake territory! A huge, aggressive, and potently venomous female tunnel-snake guarded the exit to the Hatching ground. Torvand 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 snake, Torvand crept closer to the clutch – close enough to touch an egg – before beating a hasty retreat from the Hatching Ground!

The Hatching

When it came to the Hatching, Torvand had to wait a little while before the very large dark grey egg Hatched to reveal the deep turned-earth brown dragonet who would choose him, naming himself Espath.

A friend in me

And Torvand wasn't the only lucky one. To his delight, Martom also Impressed, becoming the rider of a bright golden-bronze hatchling, Kauth.

Whatever happened to Gydeton?

For Gydeton, getting on Torvand's bad side proved to be an exceptionally poor choice. Torvand dosed Gydeton'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, Gydeton was in considerable distress. Unable to bear the burning sensation in his nether regions, he fled the Hatching Sands – squandering his chance at Impression!

After the Hatching

"Espath" by Emily Holland

The Weyrlingmaster was the first to congratulate Torvand on his Impression, but it was Garlan, delighted that her risky choice of Winstone's grandson had Impressed, who stepped in to help with the immediate matter of Espath's first meal. That was Torvand's first opportunity to speak to Martom, too, and they introduced each other, with considerable delight, to their respective dragonets, Espath and Kauth. Martom also told Torvand that his new name was to be – perhaps unsurprisingly – M'tom.

It wasn't long before Espath's personality started to become evident. The substantial dark-brown dragonet – chunkier than any other hatchling – had a stolid, non-nonsense character to match, speaking his mind without hesitation or tact.

With both dragonets full to bursting with fresh meat, the newly minted dragonpairs left the Hatching sands for their new home: the weyrling barracks.

Meeting the Weyrleader

As Torvand and M'tom 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. Torvand was proud to introduce Espath to the Weyrleader. And after a brief conference with Espath, Torvand gave the Weyrleader his own new name: T'vand, rider of brown Espath!

Following their audience with the Weyrleader, and the application of oily rags to relieve Espath's and Kauth's newborn itchiness, T'vand and M'tom 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

T'vand and M'tom soon went their separate ways to find family and friends. Many of the riders and Weyrfolk T'vand had helped during the day greeted him with warm congratulations as he hunted through the throng – but, at last, he found his family.

Lord Winstone, T'vand's grandfather, was grudgingly satisfied with Espath's colour, if clearly disappointed that his grandson hadn't managed to Impress a bronze – a criticism that the Weyrleaders were quick to cut short in their toast to T'vand and Espath.

The rest of the evening passed in a blur for T'vand, 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, T'vand 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 T'vand'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 T'vand 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 Espath.

A close encounter

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

Returning at last to Espath – billeted between M'tom's Kauth and a slender green dragonet – T'vand 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 – T'vand 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?

T'vand and Espath's story will continue in Dragonchoice: Weyrling, coming soon!

T'vand'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

Espath and I make a very strong match!

Achievement Unlocked:
EBONY AND IVORY

Espath and I agreed on something very important!

Achievement Unlocked:
IN TUNE

Espath and I agreed on something quite important!