H'jkal and brown Kenneth
The Road So Far!
It all began at Jessaf Hold, in the protectorate of Madellon Weyr, for Hajkal – a young boy of 14 Turns, dreaming of becoming a brown rider.
Hajkal was born to unusual privilege – a grandson of Winstone, Lord of mighty Jessaf Hold. Hajkal 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, Hajkal 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 Hajkal 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, Hajkal left to begin his candidacy at Madellon Weyr.
As a candidate, Hajkal 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 Hajkal! Backed up by his crony Varell, Gydeton became the thorn in Hajkal's side throughout the sevendays of candidacy.
The dragons' hum woke Martom and Hajkal 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 Hajkal 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, Hajkal 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 Hajkal to find it. The quest took Hajkal 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, Hajkal encountered R'hren, a former Weyrleader of Madellon, now peacefully retired to potter among his beloved plants. R'hren asked Hajkal to help him track down the ingredients for a warming salve to help his elderly bronze, Staamath, with his arthritic forepaws. Hajkal 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, Hajkal offered it to old S'rius, who was equally appreciative of the gift. And while Kisha, the blind old green rider Hajkal encountered in the infirmary, would have nothing to do with one of R'hren's concoctions, she too grew to approve of Hajkal – especially after he solved all three of her fiendish riddles!
Hajkal 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 Hajkal 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 Hajkal some intelligence on the Southern seven, his advice was somewhat garbled! Nonetheless, Hajkal 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, Hajkal 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, Hajkal 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. Hajkal 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 Hajkal a certain confidence in his own prospects!
A rising problem
Hajkal 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. Hajkal'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 Hajkal did annoy Soleigh, who wasn't impressed with him for prolonging Maris' binge by bringing her more wine!
Hajkal 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!
Madellon's kitchens – the heart of the Weyr, and domain of Headwoman Crauva – provided Hajkal 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 Hajkal 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 Hajkal 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 – Hajkal did!
A shining example
Coming upon Santinoth – Madellon's biggest bronze – being bathed in the lake, Hajkal 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?
Mindful of the Weyrlingmaster's orders to be smart for the Hatching, Hajkal visited Madellon's resident barber – green rider Z'fell – for a trim. Very conscious of his dignity, Hajkal ensured he came away with a cut he actually liked.
Wherry bad behaviour
Hajkal'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. Hajkal chose the former, and the Weyrlingmaster sent him to do penance in the wherry hatchery – though Hajkal remained on probation, with one more slip promising to rule him out of standing!
A curious development
Early in the day, Hajkal 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 glowbaskets, he crawled into a confusing maze of passages.
Hajkal never made it to the Hatching ground – instead, encountering an unusually intelligent feline in the tunnels. Following it deeper into the ventilation shafts, Hajkal came across the most unexpected discovery – a hidden room, full of a very peculiar selection of individuals. But he had barely taken stock of his situation before Vanzanth, the Weyrlingmaster's brown, forced his way into the room – ordering Hajkal out, and commanding him never to speak of the encounter again!
When it came to the Hatching, Hajkal didn't have to wait too long for his date with destiny. The very large dark grey egg Hatched out a deep turned-earth brown dragonet who told Hajkal his name was Kenneth.
A friend bereft
But to Hajkal's dismay, Martom wasn't as fortunate. No dragonet showed an interest in him, and he was left among the candidates remaining unmatched at the end of the Hatching.
Whatever happened to Gydeton?
Quite simply, none of the dragonets seemed to want Gydeton – he was left standing. Although Hajkal did wonder if his own deep turned-earth brown Kenneth might have glanced, however briefly, in Gydeton's direction, and what might have been had he not chosen him...
After the Hatching
"Kenneth" by Emily Holland
The Weyrlingmaster was the first to congratulate Hajkal 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 Kenneth's first meal. That was the first moment Hajkal 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 Kenneth'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.
Meeting the Weyrleader
As Hajkal 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. Hajkal was proud to introduce Kenneth to the Weyrleader. And after a brief conference with Kenneth, Hajkal gave the Weyrleader his own new name: H'jkal, rider of brown Kenneth!
Following their audience with the Weyrleader, and the application of oily rags to relieve Kenneth's and Destrath's newborn itchiness, H'jkal 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
H'jkal and Ch'liam soon went their separate ways to find family and friends. Many of the riders and Weyrfolk H'jkal 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, H'jkal's grandfather, was grudgingly satisfied with Kenneth's colour, if clearly disappointed that his grandson hadn't managed to Impress a bronze – a criticism that the Weyrleaders were quick to cut short in their toast to H'jkal and Kenneth.
The rest of the evening passed in a blur for H'jkal, 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, H'jkal 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 H'jkal's background with him – including much of what he had got up to on the morning of the Hatching – for good and ill. She cleared up an anomaly with his new name, too. She offered H'jkal 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 Kenneth.
A close encounter
On his way back to the barracks , H'jkal 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 H'jkal 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, H'jkal decided, on balance, not to tell the Weyrlingmaster about the stranger – though he did give L'stev his new name.
Returning at last to Kenneth – billeted between Ch'liam's Destrath and a bright bronze dragonet – H'jkal 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 – H'jkal was struck with a deep sense of foreboding. Who was the mysterious dragonrider in the hooded cloak? What was the significance of the strange wooden box? And how had the stranger known H'jkal's new name?
Find out more about Hajkal's Impression here. H'jkal and Kenneth's story will continue in Dragonchoice: Weyrling, coming soon!
Find out more about Hajkal's Impression here. H'jkal and Kenneth'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!
I changed my name by choice!
THE YIN TO YOUR YANG
Kenneth and I complement each other!
INSULT TO INJURY
I Impressed the dragon that my rival coveted!
SNAKES AND SNAILS
I haven't been very nice!
EBONY AND IVORY
Kenneth and I agreed on something very important!
Kenneth and I agreed on something quite important!
Kenneth and Sespanath took against each other!