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Zena and blue Tairth

The Road So Far!

It all began at Jessaf Hold, in the protectorate of Madellon Weyr, for Zena – a young woman of 16 Turns, dreaming of becoming a blue rider.

Zena was born to unusual privilege – a granddaughter of Winstone, Lord of mighty Jessaf Hold. Zena 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, Zena 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 Zena 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, Zena left to begin her candidacy at Madellon Weyr.

As a candidate, Zena was assigned a bunkmate – Erilde, a quiet young woman from the Lower Caverns fearing a second unsuccessful Hatching, 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 – Auciet, a snobby and superior Holdbred girl – who took a firm disliking to Zena! Backed up by her crony Cedranne, Auciet became the thorn in Zena's side throughout the sevendays of candidacy.

Hatching Day

The dragons' hum woke Erilde and Zena on 102.03.17. Following a brief run-in with Auciet, 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 Zena left, Erilde asked her to make enquiries about any dragonrider heritage she herself might possess, to give her confidence a boost before the Hatching.

The one-armed green rider and the thieving queen

Immediately on leaving the candidate barracks, Zena 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 Zena to find it. Despite Zena's best efforts, though, she didn't manage to complete and return the jewellery set before the Hatching.

A rising problem

Zena 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. Zena'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.

Eggs and baskets

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

A blue lady

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

Friend request

Seeking knowledge of Erilde's parentage, Zena visited the Weyr's Archives and sought advice from Weyrwoman Tarshe, the Weyrwoman Second. While Tarshe could find no evidence that Erilde's father had been a dragonrider, she suggested Zena might construct a story about a long-dead rider. Zena delved into Madellon's records and unearthed a brown rider, B'get, deceased some Turns ago, but of the right age to have fathered her friend. Bringing this plausible white lie to Erilde may have been a tad devious – but it had the desired effect on her belief that she could, in fact, possess the ability to Impress a dragon!

The Hatching

When it came to the Hatching, Zena 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 Tairth.

A friend in me

And Zena wasn't the only lucky one. To her delight, Erilde also Impressed, becoming the rider of an inquisitive teal-green hatchling, Shaldeth.

Whatever happened to Auciet?

Sadly, there was at least one fly in the numbweed. Auciet Impressed an unusually aggressive grass-green hatchling, making them Zena and Tairth's new classmates. (On the bright side, at least Cedranne didn't Impress!)

After the Hatching

"Tairth" by Emily Holland

The Weyrlingmaster was the first to congratulate Zena 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 Tairth's first meal. That was Zena's first opportunity to speak to Erilde, too, and they introduced each other, with considerable delight, to their respective dragonets, Tairth and Shaldeth.

It wasn't long before Tairth'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 Zena made along the way – a young Weyrbred candidate, Brithie, whom Zena had encountered in a sudden crisis of confidence directly before the Hatching – hailed Zena at the barracks – crediting her with her successful Impression of a tiny bottle-green dragonet, Epatanth!

Meeting the Weyrleader

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

Following their audience with the Weyrleader, and the application of oily rags to relieve Tairth's and Shaldeth's newborn itchiness, Zena and Erilde 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

Zena and Erilde soon went their separate ways to find family and friends. Many of the riders and Weyrfolk Zena 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, Zena's grandfather, was outraged by his granddaughter's highly irregular Impression of a blue dragon – calling her aberrant. The Weyrleaders were quick to take Zena's part, but the damage to her relationship with her grandfather was done.

The rest of the evening passed in a blur for Zena, 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, Zena 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 Zena'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 Zena 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 Tairth.

A close encounter

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

Returning at last to Tairth – billeted between Erilde's Shaldeth and a pale green dragonet – Zena 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 – Zena 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?

Zena and Tairth's story will continue in Dragonchoice: Weyrling, coming soon!

Zena'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

Tairth and I complement each other!

Achievement Unlocked:
EBONY AND IVORY

Tairth and I agreed on something very important!

Achievement Unlocked:
BUM NOTE

Tairth and I disagreed on something quite important!

Achievement Unlocked:
BFFs

Tairth and Chanth made friends!