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Ve'non and bronze Stiporth

The Road So Far!

It all began at Jessaf Hold, in the protectorate of Madellon Weyr, for Verenon – a young man of 17 Turns, dreaming of becoming a bronze rider.

Verenon was born to unusual privilege – a grandson of Winstone, Lord of mighty Jessaf Hold. Verenon 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, Verenon 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 Verenon becoming a candidate – displeased that such a opportunity would ruin his plans for Verenon's betrothal to a niece of Lord Orfen's. But he grudgingly accepted that, as Verenon 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, Verenon left to begin his candidacy at Madellon Weyr.

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

Hatching Day

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

Southern comfort

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

A rising problem

Verenon 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. Verenon'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 Verenon 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 Verenon 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 Verenon 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 – Verenon did!

Weyrbrat by name...

A run-in with a Weyrbrat – Terzon, whom Rielat had paid to cause Verenon trouble – resulted in an unfortunate public incident. All too aware of being shaken down, Verenon 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, Verenon offered his assistance – which T'gala gladly accepted.

With friends like these...

But handling Soburn's long-distance crush required a delicacy that Verenon sadly didn't possess. Revealing too much to H'nar – and then failing to treat Soburn's bruised feelings with any sort of care – destroyed Verenon pining friend's confidence. Having already failed to Impress once, and now crushed by the rejection of a rider who would certainly be his Wingleader should he ever Impress, Soburn decided to rule himself out of candidacy entirely.

The Hatching

When it came to the Hatching, Verenon had to wait a little while before the large greeny-grey egg Hatched to reveal the pale greeny-bronze dragonet who would choose him, naming himself Stiporth.

Whatever happened to Rielat?

Sadly, there was at least one fly in the numbweed. Rielat Impressed an impressively proportioned indigo-blue hatchling, making them Verenon and Stiporth's new classmates. (On the bright side, at least Kestor didn't Impress!)

After the Hatching

"Stiporth" by Chris S. Baily

The Weyrlingmaster was the first to congratulate Verenon 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 Stiporth's first meal. That was the first moment Verenon had truly grasped that Soburn wasn't going to be a weyrling alongside him – a truth that hit hard. In Soburn'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 Stiporth's personality started to become evident. The pale bronze dragonet – the largest of the clutch, and the image of his father Muzzanth – proved to be a particular intelligent and perceptive character even minutes out of the egg.

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

Meeting the Weyrleader

As Verenon 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. Verenon was proud to introduce Stiporth to the Weyrleader. And after a brief conference with Stiporth, Verenon gave the Weyrleader his own new name: Ve'non, rider of bronze Stiporth!

Following their audience with the Weyrleader, and the application of oily rags to relieve Stiporth's and Destrath's newborn itchiness, Ve'non 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

Ve'non and Ch'liam soon went their separate ways to find family and friends. Many of the riders and Weyrfolk Ve'non 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, Ve'non's grandfather, was very pleased indeed to be able to boast to all and sundry that his grandson had Impressed a bronze, although he still managed to find fault with Stiporth for failing to be the largest dragonet in the clutch – a criticism that the Weyrleaders were quick to cut short in their toast to Ve'non and his bronze.

The rest of the evening passed in a blur for Ve'non, 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, Ve'non 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 Ve'non'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 Ve'non 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 Stiporth.

A close encounter

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

Returning at last to Stiporth – billeted between Ch'liam's Destrath and a bright bronze dragonet – Ve'non 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 – Ve'non 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 Verenon's Impression here. Ve'non and Stiporth's story will continue in Dragonchoice: Weyrling, coming soon!

Ve'non'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

Stiporth and I complement each other!

Achievement Unlocked:
SUGAR AND SPICE

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

Achievement Unlocked:
EBONY AND IVORY

Stiporth and I agreed on something very important!

Achievement Unlocked:
IN TUNE

Stiporth and I agreed on something quite important!