Rusalka and green Gigareth
The Road So Far!
It all began at the Harperhall at Kellad Hold, in the protectorate of Madellon Weyr, for Rusalka – a young woman of 16 Turns, dreaming of becoming a green rider.
Rusalka 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. Rusalka caught the attention of J'kel's blue Hozrath. And a sevenday later, Rusalka arrived at Madellon Weyr, joining the candidate pool for senior queen Shimpath's first clutch by her new mate Muzzanth.
As a candidate, Rusalka 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 Rusalka! Backed up by her crony Cedranne, Auciet became the thorn in Rusalka's side throughout the sevendays of candidacy.
The dragons' hum woke Erilde and Rusalka 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 Rusalka 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, Rusalka 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 Rusalka to find it. The quest took Rusalka all over Madellon, from kitchens to lake to infirmary – but in the end she succeeded in reuniting the Weyrwoman's jewellery set, to general acclaim.
Respecting her elders
In the Weyr's kitchen gardens, Rusalka encountered R'hren, a former Weyrleader of Madellon, now peacefully retired to potter among his beloved plants. R'hren asked Rusalka to help him track down the ingredients for a warming salve to help his elderly bronze, Staamath, with his arthritic forepaws. Rusalka 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, Rusalka offered it to old S'rius, who was equally appreciative of the gift. And while Kisha, the blind old green rider Rusalka encountered in the infirmary, would have nothing to do with one of R'hren's concoctions, she too grew to approve of Rusalka – especially after she solved all three of her fiendish riddles!
Rusalka 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 Rusalka 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 Rusalka some intelligence on the Southern seven, his advice was somewhat garbled! Nonetheless, Rusalka 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, Rusalka met her 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, Rusalka 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. Rusalka even shared the largesse with Zielaph, who then introduced her to Fr'ton – who, having Impressed a bronze in spite of his less than boundless promise, gave Rusalka a certain confidence in her own prospects!
A rising problem
Rusalka 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. Rusalka'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
Rusalka'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 Rusalka's confidence – and her mark purse – quite a boost!
Madellon's kitchens – the heart of the Weyr, and domain of Headwoman Crauva – provided Rusalka with the opportunity to show off her 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 Rusalka 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 Rusalka 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 – Rusalka did!
A blue lady
Coming across T'gala, Pern's only female blue rider, bathing her Heppeth in the lake, Rusalka 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 Rusalka didn't want to pass up.
Seeking knowledge of Erilde's parentage, Rusalka 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 Rusalka might construct a story about a long-dead rider. Rusalka 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!
Mindful of the Weyrlingmaster's orders to be smart for the Hatching, Rusalka visited Madellon's resident barber – green rider Z'fell – for a trim. Very conscious of her dignity, Rusalka ensured she came away with a cut she actually liked.
A breath of foul air
Early in the day, Rusalka 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. The route she chose turned out to be thick with choking toxic fumes from Madellon's volcanic foundation, and Rusalka soon found herself struggling for breath.
Undeterred, Rusalka pushed through the discomfort, and emerged shortly onto the Hatching Sands. But she wasn't quiet enough. Shimpath, dozing only very lightly, awoke, and she and Muzzanth chased Rusalka from the Sands!
When it came to the Hatching, Rusalka didn't have to wait at all for her date with destiny. The spotted green and cream egg that Hatched first produced a vivid sea-green hatchling who spared no time in choosing Rusalka, naming herself Gigareth.
A friend in me
And Rusalka 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 Rusalka and Gigareth's new classmates. (On the bright side, at least Cedranne didn't Impress!)
After the Hatching
"Gigareth" by Emily Holland
The Weyrlingmaster was the first to congratulate Rusalka 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 Gigareth's first meal. That was Rusalka's first opportunity to speak to Erilde, too, and they introduced each other, with considerable delight, to their respective dragonets, Gigareth and Shaldeth.
It wasn't long before Gigareth's personality started to become evident. The sea-green dragonet – ambiguously coloured at first glance, but unequivocally female when asked – proved to have a particularly playful and fun-loving outlook on life.
With both dragonets full to bursting with fresh meat, the newly minted dragonpairs left the Hatching sands for their new home: the weyrling barracks.
Meeting the Weyrleader
As Rusalka 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 to ask after their names. Rusalka was proud to introduce Gigareth to the Weyrleader – and to give him her full new name: Rusalka, rider of green Gigareth!
Following their audience with the Weyrleader, and the application of oily rags to relieve Gigareth's and Shaldeth's newborn itchiness, Rusalka 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
Rusalka and Erilde soon went their separate ways to find family and friends. Many of the riders and Weyrfolk Rusalka had helped during the day greeted her with warm congratulations as she hunted through the throng – but, at last, she found her family.
Rusalka's Harper parents were absolutely delighted to find themselves the mother and father of a green rider and happier still to learn that Rusalka had already brought her musical skills to the Weyr. And they were even more delighted to drink to Rusalka and Gigareth when the Weyrleaders arrived to toast them!
The rest of the evening passed in a blur for Rusalka, 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, Rusalka 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 Rusalka'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 Rusalka some advice about paying attention to her new classmates and surroundings, lest she fall foul of the Weyrlingmaster's penchant for snap quizzes, advised her to report to Master Isnan before returning to the barracks to get her injuries checked again, and made some observations on Gigareth.
A close encounter
On her way back to the barracks (by way of the infirmary, as ordered by Tarshe), Rusalka 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 Rusalka 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, Rusalka decided, on balance, not to tell the Weyrlingmaster about the stranger.
Returning at last to Gigareth – billeted between Erilde's Shaldeth and a pale green dragonet – Rusalka 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 – Rusalka 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 Rusalka's Impression here. Rusalka and Gigareth's story will continue in Dragonchoice: Weyrling, coming soon!
Find out more about Rusalka's Impression here. Rusalka and Gigareth's story will continue in Dragonchoice: Weyrling, coming soon!
CARRY ON WAYWARD SON
I travelled The Road So Far!
OUR ROB, OR ROSS
I received a mysterious box!
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.
THE YIN TO YOUR YANG
Gigareth and I complement each other!
THE PATH LESS TRAVELLED
I pre-Impressed Gigareth by touching her egg before the Hatching!
SUGAR AND SPICE
I've been a very nice person (so far)!
PLEASE STATE THE NATURE OF THE MEDICAL EMERGENCY
I returned to the infirmary!
EBONY AND IVORY
Gigareth and I agreed on something very important!
Gigareth and I disagreed on something quite important!