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Stephanie and blue Durioth

The Road So Far!

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

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

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

Hatching Day

The dragons' hum woke Erilde and Stephanie 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 Stephanie 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, Stephanie 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 Stephanie to find it. Despite Stephanie'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, Stephanie encountered R'hren, a former Weyrleader of Madellon, now peacefully retired to potter among his beloved plants. R'hren asked Stephanie to help him track down the ingredients for a warming salve to help his elderly bronze, Staamath, with his arthritic forepaws. Stephanie duly located the components of R'hren's salve, winning the old bronze rider's approval in the process.

A Harper born

Stephanie'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 Stephanie's confidence – and her mark purse – quite a boost!

Kitchen diplomacy

Madellon's kitchens – the heart of the Weyr, and domain of Headwoman Crauva – provided Stephanie 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 Stephanie to find for his warming salve.

A blue lady

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

Hair today

Mindful of the Weyrlingmaster's orders to be smart for the Hatching, Stephanie 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, Stephanie had an excruciatingly long wait before the yellow-green craggy-textured egg Hatched to reveal the light sky-blue dragonet who would choose her, naming himself Durioth.

A friend bereft

But to Stephanie'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?

Auciet's victimisation of Stephanie had serious consequences – for Auciet. Not everyone would have tattled on her the way Stephanie did, but her complaints about the other girl, together with L'stev's already thin opinion of Auciet, had the desired effect. Directly before the Hatching, L'stev ejected Auciet from the candidate pool!

After the Hatching

"Durioth" by Chris S. Baily

The Weyrlingmaster was the first to congratulate Stephanie 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 Durioth's first meal. That was the first moment Stephanie 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 Durioth's personality started to become evident. The big sky-blue dragonet demonstrated an enormous desire to please, making him an especially endearing 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 Stephanie made along the way – a young Weyrbred candidate, Brithie, whom Stephanie had encountered in a sudden crisis of confidence directly before the Hatching – hailed Stephanie at the barracks – crediting her with her successful Impression of a tiny bottle-green dragonet, Epatanth!

Meeting the Weyrleader

As Stephanie 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 Stephanie's unusual Impression of a blue. T'gat further enquired if Stephanie would like to elide her name, as T'gala had done, or not. Stephanie elected not to elide her name – content to remain Stephanie, rider of blue Durioth!

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

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

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

The rest of the evening passed in a blur for Stephanie, 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, Stephanie 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 Stephanie'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 Stephanie 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 Durioth.

A close encounter

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

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

Stephanie and Durioth's story will continue in Dragonchoice: Weyrling, coming soon!

Stephanie'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

Durioth and I make a very strong match!

Achievement Unlocked:
EBONY AND IVORY

Durioth and I agreed on something very important!

Achievement Unlocked:
BUM NOTE

Durioth and I disagreed on something quite important!