Sh'the and blue Fodorth
The Road So Far!
It all began at Jessaf Hold, in the protectorate of Madellon Weyr, for Shaethe – a young woman of 18 Turns, dreaming of becoming a blue rider.
Shaethe was born the daughter of a modest cotholder at Jessaf Hold, working alongside her widowed father to work their allotted land, and help bring up her young twin siblings, Albon and Gettie. And in early 102, when a green rider, N'jol, and his Kistrith came to Jessaf in search of candidates for Madellon Weyr's hardening clutch, Shaethe didn't even present herself as a hopeful. Yet it was Shaethe that Kistrith singled out among all those young people. She almost didn't accept Search – anxious not to abandon her father. But he insisted, revealing that his late wife, Shaethe's mother, had always dreamed of being a dragonrider – and gifting Shaethe with her blue feather pendant as a lucky charm.
As a candidate, Shaethe 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 Shaethe! Backed up by her crony Cedranne, Auciet became the thorn in Shaethe's side throughout the sevendays of candidacy.
The dragons' hum woke Erilde and Shaethe 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 Shaethe 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, Shaethe 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 Shaethe to find it. The quest took Shaethe all over Madellon, from kitchens to lake to infirmary – but in the end she succeeded in reuniting the Weyrwoman's jewellery set, to general acclaim.
Respecting her elders
In the Weyr's kitchen gardens, Shaethe encountered R'hren, a former Weyrleader of Madellon, now peacefully retired to potter among his beloved plants. R'hren asked Shaethe to help him track down the ingredients for a warming salve to help his elderly bronze, Staamath, with his arthritic forepaws. Shaethe duly located the components of R'hren's salve, winning the old bronze rider's approval in the process.
Shaethe 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 Shaethe 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 Shaethe some intelligence on the Southern seven, his advice was somewhat garbled! Nonetheless, Shaethe 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, Shaethe 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, Shaethe 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. Shaethe 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 Shaethe a certain confidence in her own prospects!
A rising problem
Shaethe 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. Shaethe'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 Shaethe did annoy Soleigh, who wasn't impressed with her for prolonging Maris' binge by bringing her more wine!
Madellon's kitchens – the heart of the Weyr, and domain of Headwoman Crauva – provided Shaethe 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 Shaethe 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 Shaethe 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. Which – mindful of not offending such an important personage of the Weyr – Shaethe did!
Weyrbrat by name...
A run-in with a Weyrbrat – Terzon, whom Auciet had paid to cause Shaethe trouble – resulted in an unfortunate public incident. All too aware of being shaken down, Shaethe gave the kid a shove – in front of a number of witnesses – doing nothing for her reputation!
A blue lady
Coming across T'gala, Pern's only female blue rider, bathing her Heppeth in the lake, Shaethe 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 Shaethe didn't want to pass up.
Seeking knowledge of Erilde's parentage, Shaethe 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 Shaethe might construct a story about a long-dead rider. Shaethe 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!
Mindful of the Weyrlingmaster's orders to be smart for the Hatching, Shaethe visited Madellon's resident barber – green rider Z'fell – for a trim. Very conscious of her dignity, Shaethe ensured she came away with a cut she actually liked.
A slithery customer
Early in the day, Shaethe 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, Shaethe strayed into tunnel snake territory! A huge, aggressive, and potently venomous female tunnel-snake guarded the exit to the Hatching ground. Shaethe was lucky to avoid being bitten. But ultimately she evaded the snake, dodging past it and slipping out onto the Hatching Sands.
Having survived her encounter with the snake, Shaethe crept closer to the clutch – close enough to touch an egg – before beating a hasty retreat from the Hatching Ground!
When it came to the Hatching, Shaethe had an excruciatingly long wait before the green-clouded blue egg Hatched to reveal the dark steel-blue dragonet who would choose her, naming himself Fodorth.
A friend in me
And Shaethe wasn't the only lucky one. To her delight, Erilde also Impressed, becoming the rider of an inquisitive teal-green hatchling, Shaldeth.
Whatever happened to Auciet?
Auciet didn't turn up for the pre-Hatching muster, and – Shaethe's own suspicions notwithstanding – L'stev guessed that she had probably got herself lost trying to sneak into the Hatching Ground through the dangerous ventilation tunnels. Fortunately – Shaethe supposed – Weyrlingmaster A'len located the missing candidate, but too late for Auciet, who having been found unconscious, was promptly invalided out of standing!
After the Hatching
"Fodorth" by Emily Holland
The Weyrlingmaster was the first to congratulate Shaethe on her Impression, but it was N'jol, delighted that his most humble candidate had Impressed, who stepped in to help with the immediate matter of Fodorth's first meal. That was Shaethe's first opportunity to speak to Erilde, too, and they introduced each other, with considerable delight, to their respective dragonets, Fodorth and Shaldeth.
It wasn't long before Fodorth's personality started to become evident. The dark blue dragonet, among the smallest of his colour, turned out to be of an endearingly shy and modest character, rather requiring of encouragement.
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 Shaethe made along the way – a young Weyrbred candidate, Brithie, whom Shaethe had encountered in a sudden crisis of confidence directly before the Hatching – hailed Shaethe at the barracks – crediting her with her successful Impression of a tiny bottle-green dragonet, Epatanth!
Meeting the Weyrleader
As Shaethe 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 Shaethe's unusual Impression of a blue. T'gat further enquired if Shaethe would like to elide her name, as T'gala had done, or not. Shaethe took up the opportunity to rename herself, and after a brief conference with Fodorth, Shaethe gave the Weyrleader her new name – Sh'the, rider of blue Fodorth!
Following their audience with the Weyrleader, and the application of oily rags to relieve Fodorth's and Shaldeth's newborn itchiness, Sh'the 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
Sh'the and Erilde soon went their separate ways to find family and friends. Many of the riders and Weyrfolk Sh'the had helped during the day greeted her with warm congratulations as she hunted through the throng – but, at last, she found her family.
Sh'the's father almost couldn't believe his daughter's good fortune, completely thrilled to be the father of a dragonrider. And he was even more starstruck when the Weyrleaders came to drink a toast to Sh'the and Fodorth.
The rest of the evening passed in a blur for Sh'the, 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, Sh'the 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 Sh'the'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 Sh'the 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 Fodorth.
A close encounter
On her way back to the barracks , Sh'the 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 Sh'the 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, Sh'the decided, on balance, not to tell the Weyrlingmaster about the stranger.
Returning at last to Fodorth – billeted between Erilde's Shaldeth and a very large green dragonet – Sh'the 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 – Sh'the 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?
Sh'the and Fodorth'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.
THE YIN TO YOUR YANG
Fodorth and I complement each other!
SUGAR AND SPICE
I've been a very nice person (so far)!
EBONY AND IVORY
Fodorth and I agreed on something very important!
Fodorth and I disagreed on something quite important!