Abilene and blue Zamjalth
The Road So Far!
It all began at the Healer Hall at Blue Shale Hold, in the protectorate of Madellon Weyr, for Abilene – a young girl of 15 Turns, dreaming of becoming a blue rider.
Abilene 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 Abilene 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. Abilene was assigned to treat the minor condition. But P'lian's Sparth – despite his colour, a budding Search-sensitive dragon – insisted that Abilene was a likely sort for candidacy. And a sevenday later, Abilene arrived at Madellon Weyr, joining the candidate pool for senior queen Shimpath's first clutch by her new mate Muzzanth.
As a candidate, Abilene 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 Abilene! Backed up by her crony Berrin, Thippia became the thorn in Abilene's side throughout the sevendays of candidacy.
The dragons' hum woke Jopha and Abilene 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 Abilene left, Jopha – whose Impression robe was sadly overlarge for her petite frame – recruited Abilene'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, Abilene 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 Abilene to find it. Despite Abilene's best efforts, though, she didn't manage to complete and return the jewellery set before the Hatching.
Disrespecting her elders
In the Weyr's kitchen gardens, Abilene encountered R'hren, a former Weyrleader of Madellon, now peacefully retired to potter among his beloved plants. But they got off to a poor start – Abilene had unwittingly taken a redfruit without permission – and furthermore lied about it when challenged by the old bronze rider. The scrumping alone might not have turned R'hren against Abilene – but the literal red-handed lie did!
Abilene 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 Abilene 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 Abilene some intelligence on the Southern seven, his advice was somewhat garbled! Nonetheless, Abilene 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, Abilene 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, Abilene 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
Abilene 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. And while Abilene did manage to get G'tron excluded from the flight – not to mention another blue rider, G'pellas, who was needed in the Harper ensemble – she still ultimately failed to reconcile the star-crossed green riding lovers!
Abilene perhaps overestimated her 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, she was lucky not to be booed off the stage!
Madellon's kitchens – the heart of the Weyr, and domain of Headwoman Crauva – provided Abilene with the opportunity to show off her work ethic before the Hatching. A round of chores duly pleased Crauva.
Overkeen to get her hands on the last bubbly pie in the dining hall, Abilene took it – forcibly – from a small child. Not the nicest thing to do – but mmm, pie...
Eggs and baskets
A visit to the Archives led to a meeting with Tarshe, Madellon's Weyrwoman Second. When Abilene 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 – Abilene did!
Weyrbrat by name...
A run-in with a Weyrbrat – Terzon, whom Thippia had paid to cause Abilene trouble – resulted in an unfortunate public incident. All too aware of being shaken down, Abilene gave the kid a shove – in front of a number of witnesses – doing nothing for her reputation!
A shining example
Coming upon Santinoth – Madellon's biggest bronze – being bathed in the lake, Abilene was quick to offer assistance to his rider, T'rello. Perhaps Abilene was never going to Impress a bronze – but it couldn't hurt to have some hands-on experience!
With friends like these...
But approaching Shookana, mistress of the mending room and Jopha's arch-enemy, with a less than honest approach resulted in disaster. When Abilene tried to conceal the true owner of the offending robe, Shookana caught her in the lie – and tore Jopha's robe beyond mending. Forced to admit to the Weyrlingmaster that she had no robe, Jopha found herself on the end of L'stev's bad temper – and with many black marks already against her name, barred from candidacy!
Mindful of the Weyrlingmaster's orders to be smart for the Hatching, Abilene visited Madellon's resident barber, Z'fell, for a trim. But she fell foul of the green rider's perverse sense of humour, and came away with a curious cut – short on top, long at the back – that prompted quite a number of odd looks and laughs at her expense!
Wherry bad behaviour
Abilene's assorted instances of bad behaviour finally caught up with her. L'stev collared her in the Bowl and gave her an ultimatum – buck up her ideas, or sit the Hatching out. Abilene chose the former, and the Weyrlingmaster sent her to do penance in the wherry hatchery – though Abilene remained on probation, with one more slip promising to rule her out of standing!
When it came to the Hatching, Abilene 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 Zamjalth.
Whatever happened to Thippia?
It turned out that making an enemy of Abilene was a very poor choice on Thippia's part. For the low, low price of just three marks, Abilene had Grimes, the shady fellow loitering near the Gather stalls, spread a series of nasty rumours about Thippia. By the time the Weyrlingmaster mustered the candidate cohort immediately before the Hatching, the damage to Thippia's reputation was done – and she was ejected from the candidate pool without ever setting foot on the Sands!
After the Hatching
"Zamjalth" by Emily Holland
The Weyrlingmaster was the first to congratulate Abilene 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 Zamjalth's first meal. That was the first moment Abilene had truly grasped that Jopha wasn't going to be a weyrling alongside her – a truth that hit hard. In Jopha's absence, Arina, who'd Impressed a cloudy-green dragonet, Chanth – was a welcome friendly face.
It wasn't long before Zamjalth'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 Abilene made along the way – a young Weyrbred candidate, Brithie, whom Abilene had encountered in a sudden crisis of confidence directly before the Hatching – hailed Abilene at the barracks – crediting her with her successful Impression of a tiny bottle-green dragonet, Epatanth!
Meeting the Weyrleader
As Abilene and Arina 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 Abilene's unusual Impression of a blue. T'gat further enquired if Abilene would like to elide her name, as T'gala had done, or not. Abilene elected not to elide her name – content to remain Abilene, rider of blue Zamjalth!
Following their audience with the Weyrleader, and the application of oily rags to relieve Zamjalth's and Chanth's newborn itchiness, Abilene and Arina 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
Abilene and Arina soon went their separate ways to find family and friends. Many of the riders and Weyrfolk Abilene had helped during the day greeted her with warm congratulations as she hunted through the throng – but, at last, she found her family.
Abilene's father, a loud man in normal times, was positively bellowing with pleasure at Abilene'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 Abilene and Zamjalth – remarking, very loudly, on the parentage of Valonna's soon-to-arrive first baby!
The rest of the evening passed in a blur for Abilene, 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, Abilene 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 Abilene'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 Abilene 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 Zamjalth.
A close encounter
On her way back to the barracks , Abilene 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 Abilene 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, Abilene decided, on balance, not to tell the Weyrlingmaster about the stranger.
Returning at last to Zamjalth – billeted between Arina's Chanth and a pretty blue-green dragonet – Abilene 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 – Abilene 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 Abilene's Impression here. Abilene and Zamjalth's story will continue in Dragonchoice: Weyrling, coming soon!
Find out more about Abilene's Impression here. Abilene and Zamjalth'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
Zamjalth and I complement each other!
SNAKES AND SNAILS
I haven't been very nice!
EBONY AND IVORY
Zamjalth and I agreed on something very important!
Zamjalth and I disagreed on something quite important!