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Z'rah and blue Balantith

The Road So Far!

It all began at the Harperhall at Kellad Hold, in the protectorate of Madellon Weyr, for Zorah – a young woman of 18 Turns, dreaming of becoming a blue rider.

Zorah 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. Zorah caught the attention of J'kel's blue Hozrath. And a sevenday later, Zorah arrived at Madellon Weyr, joining the candidate pool for senior queen Shimpath's first clutch by her new mate Muzzanth.

As a candidate, Zorah 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 Zorah! Backed up by her crony Cedranne, Auciet became the thorn in Zorah's side throughout the sevendays of candidacy.

Hatching Day

The dragons' hum woke Erilde and Zorah 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 Zorah 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, Zorah 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 Zorah to find it. Despite Zorah's best efforts, though, she didn't manage to complete and return the jewellery set before the Hatching.

A rising problem

Zorah 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. Zorah'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.

Hot stuff

Madellon's kitchen was the source of the hotfruit R'hren had sent Zorah 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. If only she'd known what other use Zorah had in mind for it...

A blue lady

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

The Hatching

When it came to the Hatching, Zorah had to wait for every other dragonet to Hatch and choose a rider before the green-clouded blue egg Hatched to reveal the dark steel-blue hatchling who would choose her, naming himself Balantith.

A friend bereft

But to Zorah's dismay, Erilde wasn't as fortunate. No dragonet showed an interest in her, and she was left among the candidates remaining unmatched at the end of the Hatching.

Whatever happened to Auciet?

For Auciet, getting on Zorah's bad side proved to be an exceptionally poor choice. Zorah dosed Auciet's clean underfurs with hotfruit before the Hatching, and for once, the admonition to always put on clean underpants turned out to have very negative consequences. It took a little while for the hotfruit to take effect, but by the time the candidates reached the Hatching Sands, Auciet was in considerable distress. Unable to bear the burning sensation in her nether regions, she fled the Hatching Sands – squandering her chance at Impression!

After the Hatching

"Balantith" by Emily Holland

The Weyrlingmaster was the first to congratulate Zorah 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 Balantith's first meal. That was the first moment Zorah had truly grasped that Erilde wasn't going to be a weyrling alongside her – a truth that hit hard. In Erilde's absence, Arina, who'd Impressed a cloudy-green dragonet, Chanth – was a welcome friendly face.

It wasn't long before Balantith's personality started to become evident. The dark blue dragonet, among the smallest of his colour, turned out to be of an endearingly shy and modest character, rather requiring of encouragement.

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 Zorah and Arina 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 Zorah's unusual Impression of a blue. T'gat further enquired if Zorah would like to elide her name, as T'gala had done, or not. Zorah took up the opportunity to rename herself, and after a brief conference with Balantith, Zorah gave the Weyrleader her new name – Z'rah, rider of blue Balantith!

Following their audience with the Weyrleader, and the application of oily rags to relieve Balantith's and Chanth's newborn itchiness, Z'rah and Arina 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

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

Z'rah's Harper parents were absolutely delighted to find themselves the mother and father of a blue rider - even though it meant she would be leaving the Harpercraft for good. And they were even more delighted to drink to Z'rah and Balantith when the Weyrleaders arrived to toast them!

The rest of the evening passed in a blur for Z'rah, 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, Z'rah 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 Z'rah'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 Z'rah 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 Balantith.

A close encounter

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

Returning at last to Balantith – billeted between Arina's Chanth and a pretty blue-green dragonet – Z'rah 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 – Z'rah 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 Zorah's Impression here. Z'rah and Balantith's story will continue in Dragonchoice: Weyrling, coming soon!

Z'rah'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:
BIRDS OF A FEATHER

Balantith and I make a very strong match!

Achievement Unlocked:
EBONY AND IVORY

Balantith and I agreed on something very important!

Achievement Unlocked:
IN TUNE

Balantith and I agreed on something quite important!