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Melen and green Orobanth

The Road So Far!

It all began at the Healer Hall at Blue Shale Hold, in the protectorate of Madellon Weyr, for Melen – a young girl of 14 Turns, dreaming of becoming a null rider.

Melen 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 Melen 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. Melen was assigned to treat the minor condition. But P'lian's Sparth – despite his colour, a budding Search-sensitive dragon – insisted that Melen was a likely sort for candidacy. And a sevenday later, Melen arrived at Madellon Weyr, joining the candidate pool for senior queen Shimpath's first clutch by her new mate Muzzanth.

As a candidate, Melen was assigned a bunkmate – Jopha, a mischievous young Weyrbred girl prone to getting herself into trouble, 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 – Thippia, a foul-mouthed girl from the Seacraft – who took a firm disliking to Melen! Backed up by her crony Berrin, Thippia became the thorn in Melen's side throughout the sevendays of candidacy.

Hatching Day

The dragons' hum woke Jopha and Melen on 102.03.17. Following a brief run-in with Thippia, 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 Melen left, Jopha – whose Impression robe was sadly overlarge for her petite frame – recruited Melen's help in getting it adjusted by her nemesis Shookana in the mending room.

The one-armed green rider and the thieving queen

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

Southern comfort

Melen 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 Melen 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 Melen some intelligence on the Southern seven, his advice was somewhat garbled! Nonetheless, Melen 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, Melen 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, Melen 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. Melen 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 Melen a certain confidence in her own prospects!

A rising problem

Melen 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. Melen'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.

Kitchen diplomacy

Madellon's kitchens – the heart of the Weyr, and domain of Headwoman Crauva – provided Melen 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 Melen 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, Melen 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 Melen didn't want to pass up.

Friend request

Knowing of Jopha's chequered history with Shookana, mistress of the Weyr's mending room, Melen approached the task of having her robe adjusted with considerable caution. Realising that falsehood would be the wrong approach, Melen went to Shookana with the truth – and a gift of popcorn. And while Melen doubted if Shookana and Jopha will ever be friends, the restoration of her Hatching robe to a suitable length did a great deal for her self-confidence!

Hair today

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

A slithery customer

Early in the day, Melen 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, Melen strayed into tunnel snake territory! A huge, aggressive, and potently venomous female tunnel-snake guarded the exit to the Hatching ground. Melen 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, Melen crept closer to the clutch – close enough to touch an egg – before beating a hasty retreat from the Hatching Ground!

The Hatching

When it came to the Hatching, Melen didn't have to wait too long for her date with destiny. The grey-splashed beige egg Hatched out a dark teal-green dragonet who told Melen her name was Orobanth.

A friend in me

And Melen wasn't the only lucky one. To her delight, Jopha also Impressed, becoming the rider of a big emerald-green hatchling, Deimoth.

Whatever happened to Thippia?

Sadly, there was at least one fly in the numbweed. Thippia Impressed a very vocal mint-green hatchling, making them Melen and Orobanth's new classmates. (On the bright side, at least Berrin didn't Impress!)

After the Hatching

"Orobanth" by Chris S. Baily

The Weyrlingmaster was the first to congratulate Melen 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 Orobanth's first meal. That was Melen's first opportunity to speak to Jopha, too, and they introduced each other, with considerable delight, to their respective dragonets, Orobanth and Deimoth.

It wasn't long before Orobanth's personality started to become evident. The teal-green dragonet, inquisitive about everything from the instant of her hatching, also proved to be an especially sweet-natured and kind 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 Melen made along the way – a young Weyrbred candidate, Brithie, whom Melen had encountered in a sudden crisis of confidence directly before the Hatching – hailed Melen at the barracks – crediting her with her successful Impression of a tiny bottle-green dragonet, Epatanth!

Meeting the Weyrleader

As Melen and Jopha 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. Melen was proud to introduce Orobanth to the Weyrleader – and to give him her full new name: Melen, rider of green Orobanth!

Following their audience with the Weyrleader, and the application of oily rags to relieve Orobanth's and Deimoth's newborn itchiness, Melen and Jopha 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

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

Melen's father, a loud man in normal times, was positively bellowing with pleasure at Melen'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 Melen and Orobanth – remarking, very loudly, on the parentage of Valonna's soon-to-arrive first baby!

The rest of the evening passed in a blur for Melen, 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, Melen 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 Melen'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 Melen 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 Orobanth.

A close encounter

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

Returning at last to Orobanth – billeted between Jopha's Deimoth and a pale green dragonet – Melen 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 – Melen 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 Melen's Impression here. Melen and Orobanth's story will continue in Dragonchoice: Weyrling, coming soon!

Melen'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

Orobanth and I make a very strong match!

Achievement Unlocked:
SUGAR AND SPICE

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

Achievement Unlocked:
EBONY AND IVORY

Orobanth and I agreed on something very important!

Achievement Unlocked:
IN TUNE

Orobanth and I agreed on something quite important!