Z'kon and blue Ceparth
The Road So Far!
It all began at the Harperhall at Kellad Hold, in the protectorate of Madellon Weyr, for Zaikon – a young boy of 15 Turns, dreaming of becoming a blue rider.
Zaikon was born the son of two Harpers at the Southern Harperhall, Kellad Hold. Surrounded by music, he was apprenticed to the Craft when he came of age. But he never excelled in any discipline, and it seemed as if an unremarkable career as a mid-level journeyman likely lay ahead for him. And then, in early 102, J'kel – a dragonrider of Madellon Weyr – came to Kellad Hold in search of candidates for the new clutch hardening on the Sands of Madellon Weyr. Zaikon caught the attention of J'kel's blue Hozrath. And a sevenday later, Zaikon arrived at Madellon Weyr, joining the candidate pool for senior queen Shimpath's first clutch by her new mate Muzzanth.
As a candidate, Zaikon 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 Zaikon! Backed up by his crony Varell, Gydeton became the thorn in Zaikon's side throughout the sevendays of candidacy.
The dragons' hum woke Martom and Zaikon 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 Zaikon 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, Zaikon 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 Zaikon to find it. The quest took Zaikon 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, Zaikon encountered R'hren, a former Weyrleader of Madellon, now peacefully retired to potter among his beloved plants. R'hren asked Zaikon to help him track down the ingredients for a warming salve to help his elderly bronze, Staamath, with his arthritic forepaws. Zaikon 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, Zaikon offered it to old S'rius, who was equally appreciative of the gift. And while Kisha, the blind old green rider Zaikon encountered in the infirmary, would have nothing to do with one of R'hren's concoctions, she too grew to approve of Zaikon – especially after he solved all three of her fiendish riddles!
Zaikon 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 Zaikon 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 Zaikon some intelligence on the Southern seven, his advice was somewhat garbled! Nonetheless, Zaikon 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, Zaikon 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, Zaikon 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. Zaikon 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 Zaikon a certain confidence in his own prospects!
A rising problem
Zaikon 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. Zaikon'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.
A Harper born
Zaikon's Harper training came in handy when Carleah, the Weyr Singer, asked him to play a set with her ensemble in the dining hall. They played to a rapturous reception that gave Zaikon's confidence – and his mark purse – quite a boost!
Madellon's kitchens – the heart of the Weyr, and domain of Headwoman Crauva – provided Zaikon 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 Zaikon 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, Zaikon offered his assistance – which T'gala gladly accepted.
With friends like these...
But seeking wine for Martom's consumption proved difficult – and illicit. Saxton, the Weyr Vintner, refused to sell alcohol to Zaikon – an underage candidate. An alternative presented itself in the form of Grimes, offering wine to anyone with the marks to pay for it. Zaikon duly purchased a murky looking vintage, and gave it to Martom. But Grimes' dubious wine would prove more bane than boon. Martom became quite intoxicated – and when L'stev discovered his condition, he immedately washed Zaikon's friend and bunkmate out of candidacy!
Mindful of the Weyrlingmaster's orders to be smart for the Hatching, Zaikon visited Madellon's resident barber – green rider Z'fell – for a trim. Very conscious of his dignity, Zaikon ensured he came away with a cut he actually liked.
A slithery customer
Early in the day, Zaikon 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 a stroke of ill luck, Zaikon strayed into tunnel snake territory! A huge, aggressive, and potently venomous female tunnel-snake guarded the exit to the Hatching ground. Zaikon was lucky to avoid being bitten. But ultimately he evaded the snake, dodging past it and slipping out onto the Hatching Sands.
Having survived his encounter with the snake, Zaikon 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, Zaikon didn't have to wait at all for his date with destiny. The green-clouded blue egg that Hatched first produced a dark steel-blue hatchling who spared no time in choosing Zaikon, naming himself Ceparth.
Whatever happened to Gydeton?
Sadly, there was at least one fly in the numbweed. Gydeton Impressed the biggest dragonet of the clutch, a hefty dark-brown hatchling, making them Zaikon and Ceparth's new classmates. (On the bright side, at least Varell didn't Impress!)
After the Hatching
"Ceparth" by Emily Holland
The Weyrlingmaster was the first to congratulate Zaikon on his Impression, but it was J'kel, thrilled that Hozrath had finally found a successful candidate after so long without, who stepped in to help with the immediate matter of Ceparth's first meal. That was the first moment Zaikon had truly grasped that Martom wasn't going to be a weyrling alongside him – a truth that hit hard. In Martom's absence, Chiliam – the highborn lad from Kellad, who'd Impressed a dusty-brown dragonet, Destrath, and who now styled himself Ch'liam – was a welcome friendly face.
It wasn't long before Ceparth'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 Zaikon made along the way – a young Holdbred candidate, Nichen, whom Zaikon had encountered in a hopelessly dishevelled state directly before the Hatching – hailed Zaikon at the barracks – crediting him with his successful Impression of a moon-blue dragonet, Yooth!
Meeting the Weyrleader
As Zaikon and Ch'liam 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. Zaikon was proud to introduce Ceparth to the Weyrleader. And after a brief conference with Ceparth, Zaikon gave the Weyrleader his own new name: Z'kon, rider of blue Ceparth!
Following their audience with the Weyrleader, and the application of oily rags to relieve Ceparth's and Destrath's newborn itchiness, Z'kon and Ch'liam 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
Z'kon and Ch'liam soon went their separate ways to find family and friends. Many of the riders and Weyrfolk Z'kon had helped during the day greeted him with warm congratulations as he hunted through the throng – but, at last, he found his family.
Z'kon's Harper parents were absolutely delighted to find themselves the mother and father of a blue rider and happier still to learn that Z'kon had already brought his musical skills to the Weyr. And they were even more delighted to drink to Z'kon and Ceparth when the Weyrleaders arrived to toast them!
The rest of the evening passed in a blur for Z'kon, 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, Z'kon 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 Z'kon'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 Z'kon 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 Ceparth.
A close encounter
On his way back to the barracks , Z'kon 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 Z'kon 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, Z'kon decided, on balance, not to tell the Weyrlingmaster about the stranger.
Returning at last to Ceparth – billeted between Ch'liam's Destrath and a bright bronze dragonet – Z'kon 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 blue beside him – Z'kon 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 Zaikon's Impression here. Z'kon and Ceparth's story will continue in Dragonchoice: Weyrling, coming soon!
Find out more about Zaikon's Impression here. Z'kon and Ceparth'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
Ceparth and I complement each other!
SUGAR AND SPICE
I've been a very nice person (so far)!
EBONY AND IVORY
Ceparth and I agreed on something very important!
Ceparth and I disagreed on something quite important!