M'dem and bronze Zinth
The Road So Far!
It all began at Jessaf Hold, in the protectorate of Madellon Weyr, for Maldem – a young boy of 14 Turns, dreaming of becoming a bronze rider.
Maldem was born the son of a modest cotholder at Jessaf Hold, working alongside his widowed father to work their allotted land, and help bring up his young twin siblings, Albon and Gettie. And in early 102, when a green rider, N'jol, and his Kistrith came to Jessaf in search of candidates for Madellon Weyr's hardening clutch, Maldem didn't even present himself as a hopeful. Yet it was Maldem that Kistrith singled out among all those young people. He almost didn't accept Search – anxious not to abandon his father. But he insisted, revealing that his late wife, Maldem's mother, had always dreamed of being a dragonrider – and gifting Maldem with her blue feather pendant as a lucky charm.
As a candidate, Maldem 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 Maldem! Backed up by his crony Varell, Gydeton became the thorn in Maldem's side throughout the sevendays of candidacy.
The dragons' hum woke Martom and Maldem 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 Maldem 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, Maldem 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 Maldem to find it. The quest took Maldem 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, Maldem encountered R'hren, a former Weyrleader of Madellon, now peacefully retired to potter among his beloved plants. R'hren asked Maldem to help him track down the ingredients for a warming salve to help his elderly bronze, Staamath, with his arthritic forepaws. Maldem 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, Maldem offered it to old S'rius, who was equally appreciative of the gift. And while Kisha, the blind old green rider Maldem encountered in the infirmary, would have nothing to do with one of R'hren's concoctions, she too grew to approve of Maldem – especially after he solved all three of her fiendish riddles!
Maldem 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 Maldem 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 Maldem some intelligence on the Southern seven, his advice was somewhat garbled! Nonetheless, Maldem 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, Maldem 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, Maldem 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. Maldem 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 Maldem a certain confidence in his own prospects!
A rising problem
Maldem 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 Maldem 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 – he still ultimately failed to reconcile the star-crossed green riding lovers!
Maldem 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 Maldem with the opportunity to show off his work ethic before the Hatching. A round of chores duly pleased Crauva, and earned him a selection of goodies warm from the oven.. And the kitchen was also the source of the hotfruit R'hren had sent Maldem to find for his warming salve.
Maldem certainly indulged his sweet tooth before the Hatching – laying claim to not one, not two, but three different types of bubbly pie Albeit he stole one of them..
Eggs and baskets
A visit to the Archives led to a meeting with Tarshe, Madellon's Weyrwoman Second. When Maldem 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 – Maldem did!
Weyrbrat by name...
A run-in with a Weyrbrat – Terzon, whom Gydeton had paid to cause Maldem trouble – resulted in an unfortunate public incident. All too aware of being shaken down, Maldem gave the kid a shove – in front of a number of witnesses – doing nothing for his reputation!
Seeking an easy way to slip into the Hatching Ground for an early peek, Maldem 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 Maldem hadn't reckoned on H'nar's incorruptible nature. H'nar rejected the money with outrage, and word of Maldem'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, Maldem 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?
Given Maldem'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 Maldem 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, Maldem visited Madellon's resident barber – green rider Z'fell – for a trim. Very conscious of his dignity, Maldem ensured he came away with a cut he actually liked.
Wherry bad behaviour
Maldem'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. Maldem chose the former, and the Weyrlingmaster sent him to do penance in the wherry hatchery – though Maldem remained on probation, with one more slip promising to rule him out of standing!
When it came to the Hatching, Maldem had an excruciatingly long wait before the black-freckled grey egg Hatched to reveal the deep classic-bronze dragonet who would choose him, naming himself Zinth.
A friend in me
And Maldem 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?
Gydeton didn't turn up for the pre-Hatching muster, and – Maldem's own suspicions notwithstanding – L'stev guessed that he had probably got himself lost trying to sneak into the Hatching Ground through the dangerous ventilation tunnels. Fortunately – Maldem supposed – Weyrlingmaster A'len located the missing candidate, but too late for Gydeton, who having been found unconscious, was promptly invalided out of standing!
After the Hatching
"Zinth" by Chris S. Baily
The Weyrlingmaster was the first to congratulate Maldem on his Impression, but it was N'jol, delighted that his most humble candidate had Impressed, who stepped in to help with the immediate matter of Zinth's first meal. That was Maldem's first opportunity to speak to Martom, too, and they introduced each other, with considerable delight, to their respective dragonets, Zinth and Kauth. Martom also told Maldem that his new name was to be – perhaps unsurprisingly – M'tom.
It wasn't long before Zinth's personality started to become evident. The energetic bronze dragonet, the classic shade of his colour, was unusually forceful even for his colour – promising to be a handful for his rider!
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 Maldem made along the way – a young Holdbred candidate, Nichen, whom Maldem had encountered in a hopelessly dishevelled state directly before the Hatching – hailed Maldem at the barracks – crediting him with his successful Impression of a moon-blue dragonet, Yooth!
Meeting the Weyrleader
As Maldem 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. Maldem was proud to introduce Zinth to the Weyrleader. And after a brief conference with Zinth, Maldem gave the Weyrleader his own new name: M'dem, rider of bronze Zinth!
Following their audience with the Weyrleader, and the application of oily rags to relieve Zinth's and Kauth's newborn itchiness, M'dem 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
M'dem and M'tom soon went their separate ways to find family and friends. Many of the riders and Weyrfolk M'dem had helped during the day greeted him with warm congratulations as he hunted through the throng – but, at last, he found his family.
M'dem's father almost couldn't believe his son's good fortune, completely thrilled to be the father of a dragonrider. And he was even more starstruck when the Weyrleaders came to drink a toast to M'dem and Zinth.
The rest of the evening passed in a blur for M'dem, 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, M'dem 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 M'dem'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 M'dem 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 Zinth.
A close encounter
On his way back to the barracks , M'dem 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 M'dem 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, M'dem decided, on balance, not to tell the Weyrlingmaster about the stranger.
Returning at last to Zinth – billeted between M'tom's Kauth and a slender green dragonet – M'dem 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 – M'dem 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 Maldem's Impression here. M'dem and Zinth's story will continue in Dragonchoice: Weyrling, coming soon!
Find out more about Maldem's Impression here. M'dem and Zinth'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.
BIRDS OF A FEATHER
Zinth and I make a very strong match!
SNAKES AND SNAILS
I haven't been very nice!
EBONY AND IVORY
Zinth and I agreed on something very important!
Zinth and I agreed on something quite important!