Login | Register

R'kal and bronze Hyokath

The Road So Far!

It all began at Jessaf Hold, in the protectorate of Madellon Weyr, for Ruskal – a young boy of 13 Turns, dreaming of becoming a bronze rider.

Ruskal was born to unusual privilege – a grandson of Winstone, Lord of mighty Jessaf Hold. Ruskal didn't scramble for the attention of the young Search rider, Garlan, who came to Jessaf in early 102 seeking candidates for Madellon Weyr's latest clutch. But as a scion of the Hold, Ruskal was among the party welcoming the green rider to Jessaf – and, in due course, became the focus of her dragon Hushith's attention. Lord Winstone wasn't enthusiastic about Ruskal becoming a candidate – while conceding that he could spare a younger grandchild. And with Winstone's admonition that he Impress a bronze – or a brown at the very least – ringing in his ears, Ruskal left to begin his candidacy at Madellon Weyr.

As a candidate, Ruskal 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 Ruskal! Backed up by his crony Varell, Gydeton became the thorn in Ruskal's side throughout the sevendays of candidacy.

Hatching Day

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

Southern comfort

Ruskal 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 Ruskal 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 Ruskal some intelligence on the Southern seven, his advice was somewhat garbled! Nonetheless, Ruskal 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, Ruskal 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, Ruskal 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.

A rising problem

Ruskal 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. Ruskal'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 Ruskal did annoy Soleigh, who wasn't impressed with him for prolonging Maris' binge by bringing her more wine!

Harping on

Ruskal perhaps overestimated his own competence when it came to a disastrous spell on the Harper dais in the dining hall. Accompanying Weyr Singer Carleah – badly – on the tambourine, he was lucky not to be booed off the stage!

Kitchen diplomacy

Madellon's kitchens – the heart of the Weyr, and domain of Headwoman Crauva – provided Ruskal 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 Ruskal 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 Ruskal 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 – Ruskal did!

Weyrbrat by name...

A run-in with a Weyrbrat – Terzon, whom Gydeton had paid to cause Ruskal trouble – resulted in an unfortunate public incident. All too aware of being shaken down, Ruskal gave the kid a shove – in front of a number of witnesses – doing nothing for his reputation!

Backhander backfired

Seeking an easy way to slip into the Hatching Ground for an early peek, Ruskal encountered H'nar – Wingleader of the Betweenless Wing – on guard at the entrance. It may have seemed like a good idea to offer him a few marks for safe passage – but Ruskal hadn't reckoned on H'nar's incorruptible nature. H'nar rejected the money with outrage, and word of Ruskal's attempt to bribe him made its way back to the Weyrlingmaster!

A shining example

Coming upon Santinoth – Madellon's biggest bronze – being bathed in the lake, Ruskal was quick to offer assistance to his rider, T'rello. It couldn't hurt to have some close-up experience with a bronze, could it?

Hair today

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

Wherry bad behaviour

Ruskal's assorted instances of bad behaviour finally caught up with him. L'stev collared him in the Bowl and gave him an ultimatum – buck up his ideas, or sit the Hatching out. Ruskal chose the former, and the Weyrlingmaster sent him to do penance in the wherry hatchery – though Ruskal remained on probation, with one more slip promising to rule him out of standing!

The Hatching

When it came to the Hatching, Ruskal didn't have to wait too long for his date with destiny. The purple-speckled cream egg Hatched out a bright golden-bronze dragonet who told Ruskal his name was Hyokath.

With friends like these...

But Ruskal's Impression of Hyokath came at a cost – to Martom. Hyokath had looked like he was about to choose Martom before Ruskal pushed in front of him – claiming the bronze for himself. It would turn out to be a critical blow to Martom's confidence. No other dragonet took an interest in him, and he was ultimately among the candidates left standing.

Whatever happened to Gydeton?

It turned out that making an enemy of Ruskal was a very poor choice on Gydeton's part. For the low, low price of just three marks, Ruskal had Grimes, the shady fellow loitering near the Gather stalls, spread a series of nasty rumours about Gydeton. By the time the Weyrlingmaster mustered the candidate cohort immediately before the Hatching, the damage to Gydeton's reputation was done – and he was ejected from the candidate pool without ever setting foot on the Sands!

After the Hatching

"Hyokath" by Emily Holland

The Weyrlingmaster was the first to congratulate Ruskal on his Impression, but it was Garlan, delighted that her risky choice of Winstone's grandson had Impressed, who stepped in to help with the immediate matter of Hyokath's first meal. That was the first moment Ruskal 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 Hyokath's personality started to become evident. The bright-bronze dragonet, while the smallest of his colour, demonstrated an exceptional degree of self-possession and independent thought – not shy to push himself forward, or make his opinion heard.

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 brother

Another friend Ruskal made along the way – a young Holdbred candidate, Nichen, whom Ruskal had encountered in a hopelessly dishevelled state directly before the Hatching – hailed Ruskal at the barracks – crediting him with his successful Impression of a moon-blue dragonet, Yooth!

Meeting the Weyrleader

As Ruskal 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. Ruskal was proud to introduce Hyokath to the Weyrleader. And after a brief conference with Hyokath, Ruskal gave the Weyrleader his own new name: R'kal, rider of bronze Hyokath!

Following their audience with the Weyrleader, and the application of oily rags to relieve Hyokath's and Destrath's newborn itchiness, R'kal 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

R'kal and Ch'liam soon went their separate ways to find family and friends. Many of the riders and Weyrfolk R'kal had helped during the day greeted him with warm congratulations as he hunted through the throng – but, at last, he found his family.

Lord Winstone, R'kal's grandfather, was very pleased indeed to be able to boast to all and sundry that his grandson had Impressed a bronze, although he still managed to find fault with Hyokath for failing to be the largest dragonet in the clutch – a criticism that the Weyrleaders were quick to cut short in their toast to R'kal and his bronze.

The rest of the evening passed in a blur for R'kal, 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, R'kal 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 R'kal'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 R'kal 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 Hyokath.

A close encounter

On his way back to the barracks , R'kal 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 R'kal 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, R'kal decided, on balance, not to tell the Weyrlingmaster about the stranger.

Returning at last to Hyokath – billeted between Ch'liam's Destrath and a slender green dragonet – R'kal 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 bronze beside him – R'kal 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 Ruskal's Impression here. R'kal and Hyokath's story will continue in Dragonchoice: Weyrling, coming soon!

R'kal'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:
THE YIN TO YOUR YANG

Hyokath and I complement each other!

Achievement Unlocked:
SNAKES AND SNAILS

I haven't been very nice!

Achievement Unlocked:
EBONY AND IVORY

Hyokath and I agreed on something very important!

Achievement Unlocked:
BUM NOTE

Hyokath and I disagreed on something quite important!