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Natalia and green Igeath

The Road So Far!

It all began at the Harperhall at Kellad Hold, in the protectorate of Madellon Weyr, for Natalia – a young girl of 15 Turns, dreaming of becoming a green rider.

Natalia was born the daughter of two Harpers at the Southern Harperhall, Kellad Hold. Surrounded by music, she was apprenticed to the Craft when she came of age. But she never excelled in any discipline, and it seemed as if an unremarkable career as a mid-level journeyman likely lay ahead for her. And then, in early 102, J'kel – a dragonrider of Madellon Weyr – came to Kellad Hold in search of candidates for the new clutch hardening on the Sands of Madellon Weyr. Natalia caught the attention of J'kel's blue Hozrath. And a sevenday later, Natalia arrived at Madellon Weyr, joining the candidate pool for senior queen Shimpath's first clutch by her new mate Muzzanth.

As a candidate, Natalia was assigned a bunkmate – Jopha, a mischievous young Weyrbred girl prone to getting herself into trouble, 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 – Thippia, a foul-mouthed girl from the Seacraft – who took a firm disliking to Natalia! Backed up by her crony Berrin, Thippia became the thorn in Natalia's side throughout the sevendays of candidacy.

Hatching Day

The dragons' hum woke Jopha and Natalia on 102.03.17. Following a brief run-in with Thippia, 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 Natalia left, Jopha – whose Impression robe was sadly overlarge for her petite frame – recruited Natalia's help in getting it adjusted by her nemesis Shookana in the mending room.

The one-armed green rider and the thieving queen

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

Respecting her elders

In the Weyr's kitchen gardens, Natalia encountered R'hren, a former Weyrleader of Madellon, now peacefully retired to potter among his beloved plants. R'hren asked Natalia to help him track down the ingredients for a warming salve to help his elderly bronze, Staamath, with his arthritic forepaws. Natalia duly located the components of R'hren's salve, winning the old bronze rider's approval in the process.

A rising problem

Natalia 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. Natalia'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.

A Harper born

Natalia's Harper training came in handy when Carleah, the Weyr Singer, asked her to play a set with her ensemble in the dining hall. They played to a rapturous reception that gave Natalia's confidence – and her mark purse – quite a boost!

Hot stuff

Madellon's kitchen was the source of the hotfruit R'hren had sent Natalia to find for his warming salve. Headwoman Crauva handed one over immediately she asked for it, pleased to be helping such an august figure as the old Weyrleader.

Eggs and baskets

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

Friend request

Knowing of Jopha's chequered history with Shookana, mistress of the Weyr's mending room, Natalia approached the task of having her robe adjusted with considerable caution. Realising that falsehood would be the wrong approach, Natalia went to Shookana with the truth – and a gift of popcorn. And while Natalia doubted if Shookana and Jopha will ever be friends, the restoration of her Hatching robe to a suitable length did a great deal for her self-confidence!

Hair today

Mindful of the Weyrlingmaster's orders to be smart for the Hatching, Natalia visited Madellon's resident barber, Z'fell, for a trim. But she fell foul of the green rider's perverse sense of humour, and came away with a curious cut – short on top, long at the back – that prompted quite a number of odd looks and laughs at her expense!

A slithery customer

Early in the day, Natalia found out about a secret way into the Hatching Ground via storeroom that might allow her 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, she crawled into a confusing maze of passages.

By a stroke of ill luck, Natalia strayed into tunnel snake territory! A huge, aggressive, and potently venomous female tunnel-snake guarded the exit to the Hatching ground. Natalia was lucky to avoid being bitten. But ultimately she evaded the snake, dodging past it and slipping out onto the Hatching Sands.

Having survived her encounter with the snake, Natalia 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, Natalia had to wait a little while before the grey-splashed beige egg Hatched to reveal the dark teal-green dragonet who would choose her, naming herself Igeath.

A friend in me

And Natalia wasn't the only lucky one. To her delight, Jopha also Impressed, becoming the rider of a big emerald-green hatchling, Deimoth.

Whatever happened to Thippia?

Thippia didn't turn up for the pre-Hatching muster, and – Natalia's own suspicions notwithstanding – L'stev guessed that she had probably got herself lost trying to sneak into the Hatching Ground through the dangerous ventilation tunnels. Fortunately – Natalia supposed – Weyrlingmaster A'len located the missing candidate, but too late for Thippia, who having been found unconscious, was promptly invalided out of standing!

After the Hatching

"Igeath" by Chris S. Baily

The Weyrlingmaster was the first to congratulate Natalia on her Impression, but it was J'kel, thrilled that Hozrath had finally found a successful candidate after so long without, who stepped in to help with the immediate matter of Igeath's first meal. That was Natalia's first opportunity to speak to Jopha, too, and they introduced each other, with considerable delight, to their respective dragonets, Igeath and Deimoth.

It wasn't long before Igeath's personality started to become evident. The teal-green dragonet, inquisitive about everything from the instant of her hatching, also proved to be an especially sweet-natured and kind character.

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 Natalia made along the way – a young Weyrbred candidate, Brithie, whom Natalia had encountered in a sudden crisis of confidence directly before the Hatching – hailed Natalia at the barracks – crediting her with her successful Impression of a tiny bottle-green dragonet, Epatanth!

Meeting the Weyrleader

As Natalia and Jopha wiped the worst of the blood and sand from their tired new dragonets, the Weyrleader, T'gat, came to inspect both girls' dragonets and to ask after their names. Natalia was proud to introduce Igeath to the Weyrleader – and to give him her full new name: Natalia, rider of green Igeath!

Following their audience with the Weyrleader, and the application of oily rags to relieve Igeath's and Deimoth's newborn itchiness, Natalia and Jopha 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

Natalia and Jopha soon went their separate ways to find family and friends. Many of the riders and Weyrfolk Natalia had helped during the day greeted her with warm congratulations as she hunted through the throng – but, at last, she found her family.

Natalia's Harper parents were absolutely delighted to find themselves the mother and father of a green rider and happier still to learn that Natalia had already brought her musical skills to the Weyr. And they were even more delighted to drink to Natalia and Igeath when the Weyrleaders arrived to toast them!

The rest of the evening passed in a blur for Natalia, 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, Natalia 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 Natalia'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 Natalia 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 Igeath.

A close encounter

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

Returning at last to Igeath – billeted between Jopha's Deimoth and a pale green dragonet – Natalia 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 green beside her – Natalia 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 Natalia's Impression here. Natalia and Igeath's story will continue in Dragonchoice: Weyrling, coming soon!

Natalia'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

Igeath and I complement each other!

Achievement Unlocked:
EBONY AND IVORY

Igeath and I agreed on something very important!

Achievement Unlocked:
IN TUNE

Igeath and I agreed on something quite important!