M'thew and brown Vanth
The Road So Far!
It all began at the Healer Hall at Blue Shale Hold, in the protectorate of Madellon Weyr, for Matthew – a young boy of 15 Turns, dreaming of becoming a brown rider.
Matthew 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 Matthew 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. Matthew was assigned to treat the minor condition. But P'lian's Sparth – despite his colour, a budding Search-sensitive dragon – insisted that Matthew was a likely sort for candidacy. And a sevenday later, Matthew arrived at Madellon Weyr, joining the candidate pool for senior queen Shimpath's first clutch by her new mate Muzzanth.
As a candidate, Matthew 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 Matthew! Backed up by his crony Varell, Gydeton became the thorn in Matthew's side throughout the sevendays of candidacy.
The dragons' hum woke Martom and Matthew 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 Matthew 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, Matthew 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 Matthew to find it. Despite Matthew's best efforts, though, he didn't manage to complete and return the jewellery set before the Hatching.
Respecting his elders
In the Weyr's kitchen gardens, Matthew encountered R'hren, a former Weyrleader of Madellon, now peacefully retired to potter among his beloved plants. R'hren asked Matthew to help him track down the ingredients for a warming salve to help his elderly bronze, Staamath, with his arthritic forepaws. Matthew duly located the components of R'hren's salve, winning the old bronze rider's approval in the process.
Madellon's kitchen was the source of the hotfruit R'hren had sent Matthew to find for his warming salve. Headwoman Crauva handed one over immediately he asked for it, pleased to be helping such an august figure as the old Weyrleader.
A shining example
Coming upon Santinoth – Madellon's biggest bronze – being bathed in the lake, Matthew 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?
Mindful of the Weyrlingmaster's orders to be smart for the Hatching, Matthew visited Madellon's resident barber, Z'fell, for a trim. But he 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 his expense!
When it came to the Hatching, Matthew didn't have to wait too long for his date with destiny. The unassuming grey-green egg Hatched out a deep russet-brown dragonet who told Matthew his name was Vanth.
A friend bereft
But to Matthew's dismay, Martom wasn't as fortunate. No dragonet showed an interest in him, and he was left among the candidates remaining unmatched at the end of the Hatching.
Whatever happened to Gydeton?
Gydeton's victimisation of Matthew had serious consequences – for Gydeton. Not everyone would have tattled on him the way Matthew did, but his complaints about the other boy, together with L'stev's already thin opinion of Gydeton, had the desired effect. Directly before the Hatching, L'stev ejected Gydeton from the candidate pool!
After the Hatching
"Vanth" by Emily Holland
The Weyrlingmaster was the first to congratulate Matthew 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 Vanth's first meal. That was the first moment Matthew 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 Vanth's personality started to become evident. The little russet-brown dragonet proved unusually quiet, speaking only seldom, and showing a strong preference for his own company – and his rider's.
With both dragonets full to bursting with fresh meat, the newly minted dragonpairs left the Hatching sands for their new home: the weyrling barracks.
Another friend Matthew made along the way – a young Holdbred candidate, Nichen, whom Matthew had encountered in a hopelessly dishevelled state directly before the Hatching – hailed Matthew at the barracks – crediting him with his successful Impression of a moon-blue dragonet, Yooth!
Meeting the Weyrleader
As Matthew 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. Matthew was proud to introduce Vanth to the Weyrleader. And after a brief conference with Vanth, Matthew gave the Weyrleader his own new name: M'thew, rider of brown Vanth!
Following their audience with the Weyrleader, and the application of oily rags to relieve Vanth's and Destrath's newborn itchiness, M'thew 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
M'thew and Ch'liam soon went their separate ways to find family and friends. Many of the riders and Weyrfolk M'thew had helped during the day greeted him with warm congratulations as he hunted through the throng – but, at last, he found his family.
M'thew's father, a loud man in normal times, was positively bellowing with pleasure at M'thew'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 M'thew and Vanth – remarking, very loudly, on the parentage of Valonna's soon-to-arrive first baby!
The rest of the evening passed in a blur for M'thew, 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, M'thew 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 M'thew'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 M'thew 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 Vanth.
A close encounter
On his way back to the barracks , M'thew 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 M'thew 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, M'thew decided, on balance, not to tell the Weyrlingmaster about the stranger.
Returning at last to Vanth – billeted between Ch'liam's Destrath and a bright bronze dragonet – M'thew 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 – M'thew 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?
M'thew and Vanth'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.
BIRDS OF A FEATHER
Vanth and I make a very strong match!
EBONY AND IVORY
Vanth and I agreed on something very important!
Vanth and I agreed on something quite important!