C'har and brown Sematoth
The Road So Far!
It all began at the Healer Hall at Blue Shale Hold, in the protectorate of Madellon Weyr, for Citahar – a young boy of 15 Turns, dreaming of becoming a brown rider.
Citahar was born the son of two Master Healers at the Southern Healerhall, Blue Shale Hold. He was treating minor injuries even before he was formally apprenticed to the Craft. But frustration with the drudgery of the long apprenticeship made Citahar 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. Citahar was assigned to treat the minor condition. But P'lian's Sparth – despite his colour, a budding Search-sensitive dragon – insisted that Citahar was a likely sort for candidacy. And a sevenday later, Citahar arrived at Madellon Weyr, joining the candidate pool for senior queen Shimpath's first clutch by her new mate Muzzanth.
As a candidate, Citahar was assigned a bunkmate – Martom, a confident young Weyrbred lad, 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 – Gydeton, the blustering, entitled son of Lord Meturvian of Kellad – who took a firm disliking to Citahar! Backed up by his crony Varell, Gydeton became the thorn in Citahar's side throughout the sevendays of candidacy.
The dragons' hum woke Martom and Citahar on 102.03.17. Following a brief run-in with Gydeton, 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 Citahar left, Martom – keen to prove himself by Impressing on his first attempt – asked him for help procuring some additional confidence in the form of some alcohol.
The one-armed green rider and the thieving queen
Immediately on leaving the candidate barracks, Citahar 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 Citahar to find it. The quest took Citahar 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, Citahar encountered R'hren, a former Weyrleader of Madellon, now peacefully retired to potter among his beloved plants. R'hren asked Citahar to help him track down the ingredients for a warming salve to help his elderly bronze, Staamath, with his arthritic forepaws. Citahar 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, Citahar offered it to old S'rius, who was equally appreciative of the gift. And while Kisha, the blind old green rider Citahar encountered in the infirmary, would have nothing to do with one of R'hren's concoctions, she too grew to approve of Citahar – especially after he solved all three of her fiendish riddles!
Citahar 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 Citahar 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 Citahar some intelligence on the Southern seven, his advice was somewhat garbled! Nonetheless, Citahar 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, Citahar 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!
Luckily for him, Citahar 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. Citahar even shared the largesse with Zielaph, who then introduced him to Fr'ton – who, having Impressed a bronze in spite of his less than boundless promise, gave Citahar a certain confidence in his own prospects!
A rising problem
Citahar 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. Citahar'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.
Madellon's kitchens – the heart of the Weyr, and domain of Headwoman Crauva – provided Citahar 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 Citahar 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 Citahar expressed an interested in looking up some Weyr records, Tarshe offered him the loan of a glowbasket – on the proviso that he return it afterwards. Which – mindful of not offending such an important personage of the Weyr – Citahar did!
Weyrbrat by name...
A run-in with a Weyrbrat – Terzon, whom Gydeton had paid to cause Citahar trouble – resulted in an unfortunate public incident. All too aware of being shaken down, Citahar gave the kid a shove – in front of a number of witnesses – doing nothing for his reputation!
A blue lady
Coming across T'gala, Pern's only female blue rider, bathing her Heppeth in the lake, Citahar offered his assistance – which T'gala gladly accepted.
Given Citahar's age, finding some wine for Martom proved difficult – the Weyr Vintner, Master Saxton, refused to sell it to an underage candidate. His only other alternative was an illicit purchase from the shady figure of Grimes. And L'stev's warning about getting drunk before the Hatching held weight. The Vintner's offering of alcohol-free grape juice gave Citahar an idea – and offering it to Martom, none the wiser for the substitution, still had the desired effect of boosting his confidence before the Hatching – without any unwanted side-effects!
Mindful of the Weyrlingmaster's orders to be smart for the Hatching, Citahar visited Madellon's resident barber – green rider Z'fell – for a trim. Very conscious of his dignity, Citahar ensured he came away with a cut he actually liked.
A Weyrleader's mercy
Early in the day, Citahar found out about a secret way into the Hatching Ground via storeroom that might allow him 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, he crawled into a confusing maze of passages. By chance, he found a way onto the Hatching Ground – onto a very high ledge! Calling down for help was the only option, and a welcome – if embarrassing – lift down from Muzzanth himself returned Citahar safely to ground level.
Realising that honesty was the best policy, Citahar apologised to the Weyrleader for intruding – and was surprised to find T'gat remarkably sanguine about it, reminiscing about his own youthful journey through the passages. And a polite request granted Citahar the Weyrleader's permission to approach the clutch. He touched one of the eggs, marvelling at its palpable vitality.
When it came to the Hatching, Citahar had an excruciatingly long wait before the very large dark grey egg Hatched to reveal the deep turned-earth brown dragonet who would choose him, naming himself Sematoth.
A friend in me
And Citahar wasn't the only lucky one. To his delight, Martom also Impressed, becoming the rider of a bright golden-bronze hatchling, Kauth.
Whatever happened to Gydeton?
Quite simply, none of the dragonets seemed to want Gydeton – he was left standing. Although Citahar did wonder if his own deep turned-earth brown Sematoth might have glanced, however briefly, in Gydeton's direction, and what might have been had he not chosen him...
After the Hatching
"Sematoth" by Emily Holland
The Weyrlingmaster was the first to congratulate Citahar on his 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 Sematoth's first meal. That was Citahar's first opportunity to speak to Martom, too, and they introduced each other, with considerable delight, to their respective dragonets, Sematoth and Kauth. Martom also told Citahar that his new name was to be – perhaps unsurprisingly – M'tom.
It wasn't long before Sematoth's personality started to become evident. The substantial dark-brown dragonet – chunkier than any other hatchling – had a stolid, non-nonsense character to match, speaking his mind without hesitation or tact.
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 Citahar made along the way – a young Holdbred candidate, Nichen, whom Citahar had encountered in a hopelessly dishevelled state directly before the Hatching – hailed Citahar at the barracks – crediting him with his successful Impression of a moon-blue dragonet, Yooth!
Meeting the Weyrleader
As Citahar and M'tom 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. Citahar was proud to introduce Sematoth to the Weyrleader. And after a brief conference with Sematoth, Citahar gave the Weyrleader his own new name: C'har, rider of brown Sematoth!
Following their audience with the Weyrleader, and the application of oily rags to relieve Sematoth's and Kauth's newborn itchiness, C'har and M'tom 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
C'har and M'tom soon went their separate ways to find family and friends. Many of the riders and Weyrfolk C'har had helped during the day greeted him with warm congratulations as he hunted through the throng – but, at last, he found his family.
C'har's father, a loud man in normal times, was positively bellowing with pleasure at C'har's Impression – albeit with a certain disappointment that his son wouldn't be continuing in the Healercraft. And he embarrassed both his son, and his long-suffering wife, still further when the Weyrleaders came to drink a toast to C'har and Sematoth – remarking, very loudly, on the parentage of Valonna's soon-to-arrive first baby!
The rest of the evening passed in a blur for C'har, 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, C'har 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 C'har'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 C'har some advice about paying attention to his new classmates and surroundings, lest he fall foul of the Weyrlingmaster's penchant for snap quizzes, and made some observations on Sematoth.
A close encounter
On his way back to the barracks , C'har 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 C'har 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, C'har decided, on balance, not to tell the Weyrlingmaster about the stranger.
Returning at last to Sematoth – billeted between M'tom's Kauth and a slender green dragonet – C'har 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 – C'har 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?
C'har and Sematoth'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
Sematoth and I complement each other!
INSULT TO INJURY
I Impressed the dragon that my rival coveted!
SUGAR AND SPICE
I've been a very nice person (so far)!
EBONY AND IVORY
Sematoth and I agreed on something very important!
Sematoth and I agreed on something quite important!