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N'mer and brown Balantith

The Road So Far!

It all began at the Healer Hall at Blue Shale Hold, in the protectorate of Madellon Weyr, for Nenmer – a young boy of 13 Turns, dreaming of becoming a brown rider.

Nenmer was born the son of two Master Healers at the Southern Healerhall, Blue Shale Hold. He was treating minor injuries even before he was formally apprenticed to the Craft. But frustration with the drudgery of the long apprenticeship made Nenmer an undistinguished crafter, lacking the focus or passion demanded by the Healerhall. And then, in early 102, brown rider P'lian came to the Healer Hall complaining of frostbitten fingers. Nenmer was assigned to treat the minor condition. But P'lian's Sparth – despite his colour, a budding Search-sensitive dragon – insisted that Nenmer was a likely sort for candidacy. And a sevenday later, Nenmer arrived at Madellon Weyr, joining the candidate pool for senior queen Shimpath's first clutch by her new mate Muzzanth.

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

Hatching Day

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

A Masterful order

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

Kitchen diplomacy

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

Weyrbrat by name...

A run-in with a Weyrbrat – Terzon, whom Gydeton had paid to cause Nenmer trouble – resulted in an unfortunate public incident. All too aware of being shaken down, Nenmer 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, Nenmer 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?

With friends like these...

But seeking wine for Martom's consumption proved difficult – and illicit. Saxton, the Weyr Vintner, refused to sell alcohol to Nenmer – an underage candidate. An alternative presented itself in the form of Grimes, offering wine to anyone with the marks to pay for it. Nenmer duly purchased a murky looking vintage, and gave it to Martom. But Grimes' dubious wine would prove more bane than boon. Martom became quite intoxicated – and when L'stev discovered his condition, he immedately washed Nenmer's friend and bunkmate out of candidacy!

Hair today

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

The Hatching

When it came to the Hatching, Nenmer had to wait a little while before the moonlike grey egg Hatched to reveal the warm milky-klah brown dragonet who would choose him, naming himself Balantith.

Whatever happened to Gydeton?

Sadly, there was at least one fly in the numbweed. Gydeton Impressed the biggest dragonet of the clutch, a hefty dark-brown hatchling, making them Nenmer and Balantith's new classmates. (On the bright side, at least Varell didn't Impress!)

After the Hatching

"Balantith" by Chris S. Baily

The Weyrlingmaster was the first to congratulate Nenmer on his Impression, but it was P'lian, ecstatic that Sparth's very first Search had yielded an Impression, who stepped in to help with the immediate matter of Balantith's first meal. That was the first moment Nenmer 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 Balantith's personality started to become evident. The little klah-coloured brown proved to be exceptionally friendly and forward from the very beginning, wanting nothing more than to introduce himself to everyone he met.

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

Meeting the Weyrleader

As Nenmer 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. Nenmer was proud to introduce Balantith to the Weyrleader. And after a brief conference with Balantith, Nenmer gave the Weyrleader his own new name: N'mer, rider of brown Balantith!

Following their audience with the Weyrleader, and the application of oily rags to relieve Balantith's and Destrath's newborn itchiness, N'mer 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'mer and Ch'liam soon went their separate ways to find family and friends. Many of the riders and Weyrfolk N'mer had helped during the day greeted him with warm congratulations as he hunted through the throng – but, at last, he found his family.

N'mer's father, a loud man in normal times, was positively bellowing with pleasure at N'mer's Impression – albeit with a certain disappointment that his son wouldn't be continuing in the Healercraft. And he embarrassed both his son, and his long-suffering wife, still further when the Weyrleaders came to drink a toast to N'mer and Balantith – remarking, very loudly, on the parentage of Valonna's soon-to-arrive first baby!

The rest of the evening passed in a blur for N'mer, 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'mer 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'mer'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'mer 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 Balantith.

A close encounter

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

Returning at last to Balantith – billeted between Ch'liam's Destrath and a bright bronze dragonet – N'mer 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 – N'mer 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?

N'mer and Balantith's story will continue in Dragonchoice: Weyrling, coming soon!

N'mer'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

Balantith and I complement each other!

Achievement Unlocked:
SUGAR AND SPICE

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

Achievement Unlocked:
EBONY AND IVORY

Balantith and I agreed on something very important!

Achievement Unlocked:
BUM NOTE

Balantith and I disagreed on something quite important!