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Samantha and green Mahalth

The Road So Far!

It all began at the Healer Hall at Blue Shale Hold, in the protectorate of Madellon Weyr, for Samantha – a young woman of 18 Turns, dreaming of becoming a green rider.

Samantha was born the daughter of two Master Healers at the Southern Healerhall, Blue Shale Hold. She was treating minor injuries even before she was formally apprenticed to the Craft. But frustration with the drudgery of the long apprenticeship made Samantha 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. Samantha was assigned to treat the minor condition. But P'lian's Sparth – despite his colour, a budding Search-sensitive dragon – insisted that Samantha was a likely sort for candidacy. And a sevenday later, Samantha arrived at Madellon Weyr, joining the candidate pool for senior queen Shimpath's first clutch by her new mate Muzzanth.

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

Hatching Day

The dragons' hum woke Erilde and Samantha 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 Samantha 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, Samantha 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 Samantha to find it. Despite Samantha '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, Samantha encountered R'hren, a former Weyrleader of Madellon, now peacefully retired to potter among his beloved plants. R'hren asked Samantha to help him track down the ingredients for a warming salve to help his elderly bronze, Staamath, with his arthritic forepaws. Samantha 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, Samantha offered it to old S'rius, who was equally appreciative of the gift. And while Kisha, the blind old green rider Samantha encountered in the infirmary, would have nothing to do with one of R'hren's concoctions, she too grew to approve of Samantha – especially after she solved all three of her fiendish riddles!

Hot stuff

Madellon's kitchen was the source of the hotfruit R'hren had sent Samantha 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.

A blue lady

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

Hair today

Mindful of the Weyrlingmaster's orders to be smart for the Hatching, Samantha 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!

The Hatching

When it came to the Hatching, Samantha had an excruciatingly long wait before the pearlescently pink egg Hatched to reveal the deep bottle-green dragonet who would choose her, naming herself Mahalth.

A friend bereft

But to Samantha '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?

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

After the Hatching

"Mahalth" by Chris S. Baily

The Weyrlingmaster was the first to congratulate Samantha on her 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 Mahalth's first meal. That was the first moment Samantha 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 Mahalth's personality started to become evident. The bottle-green dragonet – by some margin the smallest hatchling of the clutch – had a nervous and wary personality to match, startling at everything and everyone.

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 Samantha 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 to ask after their names. Samantha was proud to introduce Mahalth to the Weyrleader – and to give him her full new name: Samantha, rider of green Mahalth!

Following their audience with the Weyrleader, and the application of oily rags to relieve Mahalth's and Chanth's newborn itchiness, Samantha 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

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

Samantha's father, a loud man in normal times, was positively bellowing with pleasure at Samantha's Impression – albeit with a certain disappointment that his daughter wouldn't be continuing in the Healercraft. And he embarrassed both his daughter, and his long-suffering wife, still further when the Weyrleaders came to drink a toast to Samantha and Mahalth – remarking, very loudly, on the parentage of Valonna's soon-to-arrive first baby!

The rest of the evening passed in a blur for Samantha, 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, Samantha 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 Samantha'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 Samantha 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 Mahalth.

A close encounter

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

Returning at last to Mahalth – billeted between Arina's Chanth and a pretty blue-green dragonet – Samantha 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 – Samantha 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?

Samantha and Mahalth's story will continue in Dragonchoice: Weyrling, coming soon!

Samantha'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

Mahalth and I complement each other!

Achievement Unlocked:
EBONY AND IVORY

Mahalth and I agreed on something very important!

Achievement Unlocked:
BUM NOTE

Mahalth and I disagreed on something quite important!