Ke'aki and blue Onagrath
The Road So Far!
It all began at the Healer Hall at Blue Shale Hold, in the protectorate of Madellon Weyr, for Kelaki – a young woman of 18 Turns, dreaming of becoming a blue rider.
Kelaki 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 Kelaki 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. Kelaki was assigned to treat the minor condition. But P'lian's Sparth – despite his colour, a budding Search-sensitive dragon – insisted that Kelaki was a likely sort for candidacy. And a sevenday later, Kelaki arrived at Madellon Weyr, joining the candidate pool for senior queen Shimpath's first clutch by her new mate Muzzanth.
As a candidate, Kelaki 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 Kelaki! Backed up by her crony Cedranne, Auciet became the thorn in Kelaki's side throughout the sevendays of candidacy.
The dragons' hum woke Erilde and Kelaki 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 Kelaki 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, Kelaki 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 Kelaki to find it. Despite Kelaki'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, Kelaki encountered R'hren, a former Weyrleader of Madellon, now peacefully retired to potter among his beloved plants. R'hren asked Kelaki to help him track down the ingredients for a warming salve to help his elderly bronze, Staamath, with his arthritic forepaws. Kelaki duly located the components of R'hren's salve, winning the old bronze rider's approval in the process.
A Masterful order
In the dining hall, Kelaki met her 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!
Luckily for him, Kelaki solved the puzzle of Fr'ton's confusing notes adeptly, delivering the correct drinks to the correct Masters, and earning a handsome tip in the process. Kelaki even shared the largesse with Zielaph, who then introduced her to Fr'ton – who, having Impressed a bronze in spite of his less than boundless promise, gave Kelaki a certain confidence in her own prospects!
A rising problem
Kelaki 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. And while Kelaki did manage to get G'tron excluded from the flight – not to mention another blue rider, G'pellas, who was needed in the Harper ensemble – she still ultimately failed to reconcile the star-crossed green riding lovers!
Madellon's kitchens – the heart of the Weyr, and domain of Headwoman Crauva – provided Kelaki 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 Kelaki to find for his warming salve.
Eggs and baskets
A visit to the Archives led to a meeting with Tarshe, Madellon's Weyrwoman Second. When Kelaki expressed an interested in looking up some Weyr records, Tarshe offered her the loan of a glowbasket – on the proviso that she return it afterwards. But with one thing and another, Kelaki didn't bring it back – earning the Weyrwoman Second's ire!
A blue lady
Coming across T'gala, Pern's only female blue rider, bathing her Heppeth in the lake, Kelaki 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 Kelaki didn't want to pass up.
Seeking knowledge of Erilde's parentage, Kelaki visited the Weyr's Archives and sought advice from Weyrwoman Tarshe, the Weyrwoman Second. While Tarshe could find no evidence that Erilde's father had been a dragonrider, she suggested Kelaki might construct a story about a long-dead rider. Kelaki delved into Madellon's records and unearthed a brown rider, B'get, deceased some Turns ago, but of the right age to have fathered her friend. Bringing this plausible white lie to Erilde may have been a tad devious – but it had the desired effect on her belief that she could, in fact, possess the ability to Impress a dragon!
A slithery customer
Early in the day, Kelaki found out about a secret way into the Hatching Ground via storeroom that might allow her a sneaky peek at the eggs before the Hatching. Successfully entering the combination to the lock on the storeroom door, and suitably equipped with a glowbasket, she crawled into a confusing maze of passages.
By a stroke of ill luck, Kelaki strayed into tunnel snake territory! A huge, aggressive, and potently venomous female tunnel-snake guarded the exit to the Hatching ground. Kelaki was bitten – badly – and immediately felt the effects of the snake's paralysing venom. But ultimately she evaded the snake, dodging past it and slipping out onto the Hatching Sands.
But the snake's venom had done its work, and Kelaki collapsed trying to reach the eggs, waking up in the infirmary.
But when it came to the Hatching, Kelaki had a less than ordinary experience. While trying to sneak into the Hatching Ground for a surreptitious look at the eggs, she disturbed an immense, highly venomous tunnel-snake. She survived the encounter, but not without a cost – she was bitten. Seeking immediate aid from the Weyr Healer, Isnan, saved her life – but got her invalided out of the Hatching and confined to the infirmary. But an earlier conversation with a veteran blue rider, S'rius, gave Kelaki the notion that she might still be able to Impress – if she could just reach the Sands in time. She staggered from her sickbed, across the Weyr, and onto the Sands – just in time to Impress the very last dragonet, a blue who named himself Onagrath.
Whatever happened to Auciet?
Sadly, there was at least one fly in the numbweed. Auciet Impressed an unusually aggressive grass-green hatchling, making them Kelaki and Onagrath's new classmates. (On the bright side, at least Cedranne didn't Impress!)
After the Hatching
"Onagrath" by Chris S. Baily
The Weyrlingmaster was the first to congratulate Kelaki 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 Onagrath's first meal. That was Kelaki's first opportunity to speak to Erilde, too, and they introduced each other, with considerable delight, to their respective dragonets, Onagrath and Shaldeth.
It wasn't long before Onagrath's personality started to become evident. The big midnight-blue dragonet showed an immediate desire to show off and preen – not surprising given his handsome colour and conformation!
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 Kelaki and Erilde 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 Kelaki's unusual Impression of a blue. T'gat further enquired if Kelaki would like to elide her name, as T'gala had done, or not. Kelaki took up the opportunity to rename herself, and after a brief conference with Onagrath, Kelaki gave the Weyrleader her new name – Ke'aki, rider of blue Onagrath!
Following their audience with the Weyrleader, and the application of oily rags to relieve Onagrath's and Shaldeth's newborn itchiness, Ke'aki and Erilde 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
Ke'aki and Erilde soon went their separate ways to find family and friends. Many of the riders and Weyrfolk Ke'aki had helped during the day greeted her with warm congratulations as she hunted through the throng – but, at last, she found her family.
Ke'aki's father, a loud man in normal times, was positively bellowing with pleasure at Ke'aki'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 Ke'aki and Onagrath – remarking, very loudly, on the parentage of Valonna's soon-to-arrive first baby!
The rest of the evening passed in a blur for Ke'aki, 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, Ke'aki 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 Ke'aki'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 Ke'aki some advice about paying attention to her new classmates and surroundings, lest she fall foul of the Weyrlingmaster's penchant for snap quizzes, advised her to report to Master Isnan before returning to the barracks to get her injuries checked again, and made some observations on Onagrath.
A close encounter
On her way back to the barracks (by way of the infirmary, as ordered by Tarshe), Ke'aki 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 Ke'aki 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, Ke'aki decided, on balance, not to tell the Weyrlingmaster about the stranger.
Returning at last to Onagrath – billeted between Erilde's Shaldeth and a pale green dragonet – Ke'aki 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 – Ke'aki 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 Kelaki's Impression here. Ke'aki and Onagrath's story will continue in Dragonchoice: Weyrling, coming soon!
Find out more about Kelaki's Impression here. Ke'aki and Onagrath'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.
I make quite a strange match with Onagrath!
SUGAR AND SPICE
I've been a very nice person (so far)!
PLEASE STATE THE NATURE OF THE MEDICAL EMERGENCY
I returned to the infirmary!
EBONY AND IVORY
Onagrath and I agreed on something very important!
Onagrath and I disagreed on something quite important!