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N'lar and brown Gesneth

The Road So Far!

It all began at Madellon Weyr for Nelar – a young man of 18 Turns, dreaming of becoming a brown rider.

Nelar was born the son of Nelya, a Headwoman's Second at Madellon Weyr. While he didn't have to be Searched, he was 'given the nod' as a likely dragonrider by the Weyr's most senior retired Search pair – S'rius and his elderly blue Padseth. Having been left standing at a Hatching once before, Nelar struggled with both his modest upbringing as a Weyr child with no rider blood, and his fear that he wasn't dragonrider material.

As a candidate, Nelar was assigned a bunkmate – Soburn, an anxious Weyrbred youth with one failed Hatching already haunting him, 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 – Rielat, a self-important apprentice Weaver – who took a firm disliking to Nelar! Backed up by his crony Kestor, Rielat became the thorn in Nelar's side throughout the sevendays of candidacy.

Hatching Day

The dragons' hum woke Soburn and Nelar on 102.03.17. Following a brief run-in with Rielat, 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 Nelar left, Soburn asked him to find out if H'nar, the young Wingleader of the Betweenless Wing, might currently be seeing someone – or not.

The one-armed green rider and the thieving queen

Immediately on leaving the candidate barracks, Nelar 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 Nelar to find it. The quest took Nelar all over Madellon, from kitchens to lake to infirmary – but in the end he succeeded in reuniting the Weyrwoman's jewellery set, to general acclaim.

Respecting his elders

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

Southern comfort

Nelar 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 Nelar 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 Nelar some intelligence on the Southern seven, his advice was somewhat garbled! Nonetheless, Nelar 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, Nelar met his 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!

Sadly, though, Fr'ton's garbled instructions proved too convoluted for even Nelar to follow, and the drinks order went rather wrong!

A rising problem

Nelar 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. Nelar'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. Even if Nelar did annoy Soleigh, who wasn't impressed with him for prolonging Maris' binge by bringing her more wine!

Kitchen diplomacy

Madellon's kitchens – the heart of the Weyr, and domain of Headwoman Crauva – provided Nelar with the opportunity to show off his 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 Nelar 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, Nelar offered his assistance – which T'gala gladly accepted.

Friend request

Conscious of Soburn's bashfulness, Nelar approached the object of his affections – H'nar, Wingleader of the Betweenless Wing – with some circumspection. Still, when questioned, H'nar insisted he had to know who was making enquiries of him. And when he learned the identity of his admirer, he told Nelar that he wasn't interested in Soburn – or any other men, for that matter. But Nelar's agile pivot in questioning revealed that a close friend of H'nar's – blue rider M'rany – might be a viable alternative. Thus encouraged, Soburn began to think more positively of life as a dragonrider – even if H'nar would end up being his Wingleader!

Hair today

Mindful of the Weyrlingmaster's orders to be smart for the Hatching, Nelar visited Madellon's resident barber – green rider Z'fell – for a trim. Very conscious of his dignity, Nelar ensured he came away with a cut he actually liked.

A breath of foul air

Setting aside his petty rivalry with Rielat in the face of a genuine emergency, Nelar set about getting Rielat to safety. And on crawling out onto the Hatching Ground, half suffocated himself, he raised the alarm with the Weyrleader before being overcome by the ordeal, and fainting there on the sand.

Nelar woke in the infirmary, and while the Weyrleader and Weyrlingmaster questioned him sternly about his adventures, the fact that Nelar had certainly saved Rielat's life counted in his favour, despite having disobeyed the order not to go meddling in the tunnels.

The Hatching

When it came to the Hatching, Nelar had to wait a little while before the unassuming grey-green egg Hatched to reveal the deep russet-brown dragonet who would choose him, naming himself Gesneth.

A friend in me

And Nelar wasn't the only lucky one. To his delight, Soburn also Impressed, becoming the rider of a slender olive-green hatchling, Aeranth.

After the Hatching

"Gesneth" by Emily Holland

The Weyrlingmaster was the first to congratulate Nelar on his Impression, but it was old S'rius, delighted to have found yet another weyrling, who stepped in to help with the immediate matter of Gesneth's first meal. That was Nelar's first opportunity to speak to Soburn, too, and they introduced each other, with considerable delight, to their respective dragonets, Gesneth and Aeranth. Soburn also told Nelar that his new name was to be – perhaps unsurprisingly – S'burn.

It wasn't long before Gesneth'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.

Big brother

Another friend Nelar made along the way – a young Holdbred candidate, Nichen, whom Nelar had encountered in a hopelessly dishevelled state directly before the Hatching – hailed Nelar at the barracks – crediting him with his successful Impression of a moon-blue dragonet, Yooth!

Meeting the Weyrleader

As Nelar and S'burn 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. Nelar was proud to introduce Gesneth to the Weyrleader. And after a brief conference with Gesneth, Nelar gave the Weyrleader his own new name: N'lar, rider of brown Gesneth!

Following their audience with the Weyrleader, and the application of oily rags to relieve Gesneth's and Aeranth's newborn itchiness, N'lar and S'burn 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

N'lar and S'burn soon went their separate ways to find family and friends. Many of the riders and Weyrfolk N'lar had helped during the day greeted him with warm congratulations as he hunted through the throng – but, at last, he found his family.

N'lar's mother, Nelya, was thrilled by her son's Impression – though perhaps not quite as ecstatic as N'lar's younger siblings, Ashi and Halante. As the first dragonrider in the family, N'lar was keenly aware of what it meant to his brother and sister. And when the Weyrleaders came to drink a toast to N'lar and Gesneth, Valonna was particularly delighted for Nelya – one of her most trusted Headwoman Seconds.

The rest of the evening passed in a blur for N'lar, 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, N'lar 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 N'lar'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 N'lar some advice about paying attention to his new classmates and surroundings, lest he fall foul of the Weyrlingmaster's penchant for snap quizzes, advised him to report to Master Isnan before returning to the barracks to get his injuries checked again, and made some observations on Gesneth.

A close encounter

On his way back to the barracks (by way of the infirmary, as ordered by Tarshe), N'lar 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 N'lar 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, N'lar decided, on balance, not to tell the Weyrlingmaster about the stranger.

Returning at last to Gesneth – billeted between S'burn's Aeranth and a mucky-looking brown dragonet – N'lar 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 – N'lar 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?

N'lar and Gesneth's story will continue in Dragonchoice: Weyrling, coming soon!

N'lar'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

Gesneth and I complement each other!

Achievement Unlocked:
SUGAR AND SPICE

I've been a very nice person (so far)!

Achievement Unlocked:
PLEASE STATE THE NATURE OF THE MEDICAL EMERGENCY

I returned to the infirmary!

Achievement Unlocked:
EBONY AND IVORY

Gesneth and I agreed on something very important!

Achievement Unlocked:
IN TUNE

Gesneth and I agreed on something quite important!

Achievement Unlocked:
BFFs

Gesneth and Destrath made friends!