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D'jan and green Ailanth

The Road So Far!

It all began at Jessaf Hold, in the protectorate of Madellon Weyr, for Jirdan – a young man of 18 Turns, dreaming of becoming a green rider.

Jirdan was born to unusual privilege – a grandson of Winstone, Lord of mighty Jessaf Hold. Jirdan 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, Jirdan 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 Jirdan becoming a candidate – displeased that such a opportunity would ruin his plans for Jirdan's betrothal to a niece of Lord Orfen's. But he grudgingly accepted that, as Jirdan had his majority, he had the right to accept Search. And with Winstone's admonition that he Impress a bronze – or a brown at the very least – ringing in his ears, Jirdan left to begin his candidacy at Madellon Weyr.

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

Hatching Day

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

A Masterful order

In the dining hall, Jirdan 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, Jirdan 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. Jirdan 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 Jirdan a certain confidence in his own prospects!

A rising problem

Jirdan 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. Jirdan'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 Jirdan 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 Jirdan to find for his warming salve.

Weyrbrat by name...

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

A shining example

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

Hair today

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

A Weyrleader's mercy

Early in the day, Jirdan 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 chance, he found a way onto the Hatching Ground – onto a very high ledge! Calling down for help was the only option, and a welcome – if embarrassing – lift down from Muzzanth himself returned Jirdan safely to ground level.

Realising that honesty was the best policy, Jirdan apologised to the Weyrleader for intruding – and was surprised to find T'gat remarkably sanguine about it, reminiscing about his own youthful journey through the passages. And a polite request granted Jirdan the Weyrleader's permission to approach the clutch. He touched one of the eggs, marvelling at its palpable vitality.

The Hatching

When it came to the Hatching, Jirdan had to wait for every other dragonet to Hatch and choose a rider before the long pale grey egg Hatched to reveal the light cloudy-green hatchling who would choose him, naming herself Ailanth.

A friend in me

And Jirdan 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?

Rielat didn't turn up for the pre-Hatching muster, and – Jirdan'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 – Jirdan supposed – Weyrlingmaster A'len located the missing candidate, but too late for Rielat, who having been found unconscious, was promptly invalided out of standing!

After the Hatching

"Ailanth" by Emily Holland

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

It wasn't long before Ailanth's personality started to become evident. The cloudy-green dragonet, being a very forthright and direct character, spared no time in making it clear that she wouldn't take any nonsense from anyone – her new rider included!

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

Meeting the Weyrleader

As Jirdan 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. Jirdan was proud to introduce Ailanth to the Weyrleader. And after a brief conference with Ailanth, Jirdan gave the Weyrleader his own new name: D'jan, rider of green Ailanth!

Following their audience with the Weyrleader, and the application of oily rags to relieve Ailanth's and Aeranth's newborn itchiness, D'jan 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

D'jan and S'burn soon went their separate ways to find family and friends. Many of the riders and Weyrfolk D'jan 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, D'jan's grandfather, was in a state of high dudgeon about his grandson's Impression of a green. A tense scene ensued, with the Weyrleaders obliged to step in to defend D'jan from his grandfather's fury – but the damage was already done.

The rest of the evening passed in a blur for D'jan, 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, D'jan 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 D'jan'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 D'jan 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 Ailanth.

A close encounter

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

Returning at last to Ailanth – billeted between S'burn's Aeranth and a bright bronze dragonet – D'jan 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 green beside him – D'jan 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?

D'jan and Ailanth's story will continue in Dragonchoice: Weyrling, coming soon!

D'jan'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

Ailanth and I complement each other!

Achievement Unlocked:
SUGAR AND SPICE

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

Achievement Unlocked:
EBONY AND IVORY

Ailanth and I agreed on something very important!

Achievement Unlocked:
BUM NOTE

Ailanth and I disagreed on something quite important!