R'lax and bronze Ormistoth
The Road So Far!
It all began at Madellon Weyr for Ropillax – a young boy of 15 Turns, dreaming of becoming a blue rider.
Ropillax was born the son of Wingleader R'yeno and green rider Evie of Madellon Weyr. While he didn't have to be Searched, he was 'given the nod' as a likely dragonrider by the Weyr's most senior retired Search pair – S'rius and his elderly blue Padseth. As a first-time candidate, Ropillax looked forward to the Hatching with both excitement and trepidation – half convinced that he would be meeting his own dragon at last; half terrified of failing to meet the standards expected of a Wingleader's son!
As a candidate, Ropillax 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 Ropillax! Backed up by his crony Varell, Gydeton became the thorn in Ropillax's side throughout the sevendays of candidacy.
The dragons' hum woke Martom and Ropillax 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 Ropillax 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, Ropillax 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 Ropillax to find it. The quest took Ropillax 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, Ropillax encountered R'hren, a former Weyrleader of Madellon, now peacefully retired to potter among his beloved plants. R'hren asked Ropillax to help him track down the ingredients for a warming salve to help his elderly bronze, Staamath, with his arthritic forepaws. Ropillax duly located the components of R'hren's salve, winning the old bronze rider's approval in the process.
Ropillax 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 Ropillax 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 Ropillax some intelligence on the Southern seven, his advice was somewhat garbled! Nonetheless, Ropillax 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, Ropillax 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, Ropillax 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. Ropillax 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 Ropillax a certain confidence in his own prospects!
A rising problem
Ropillax 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. Ropillax'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 Ropillax did annoy Soleigh, who wasn't impressed with him for prolonging Maris' binge by bringing her more wine!
Madellon's kitchens – the heart of the Weyr, and domain of Headwoman Crauva – provided Ropillax with the opportunity to show off his work ethic before the Hatching. A round of chores duly pleased Crauva, albeit cut short, literally, by the slip of a knife that sent Ropillax to the infirmary with a slice to be stitched up. And the kitchen was also the source of the hotfruit R'hren had sent Ropillax 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 Ropillax 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 – Ropillax did!
Weyrbrat by name...
A run-in with a Weyrbrat – Terzon, whom Gydeton had paid to cause Ropillax trouble – resulted in an unfortunate public incident. All too aware of being shaken down, Ropillax gave the kid a shove – in front of a number of witnesses – doing nothing for his reputation!
A blue lady
Coming across T'gala, Pern's only female blue rider, bathing her Heppeth in the lake, Ropillax offered his assistance – which T'gala gladly accepted.
Mindful of the Weyrlingmaster's orders to be smart for the Hatching, Ropillax visited Madellon's resident barber – green rider Z'fell – for a trim. Very conscious of his dignity, Ropillax ensured he came away with a cut he actually liked.
A slithery customer
Early in the day, Ropillax 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, Ropillax strayed into tunnel snake territory! A huge, aggressive, and potently venomous female tunnel-snake guarded the exit to the Hatching ground. Ropillax 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, Ropillax 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, Ropillax had to wait a little while before the purple-speckled cream egg Hatched to reveal the bright golden-bronze dragonet who would choose him, naming himself Ormistoth.
With friends like these...
But Ropillax's Impression of Ormistoth came at a cost – to Martom. Ormistoth had looked like he was about to choose Martom before Ropillax 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 Ropillax was a very poor choice on Gydeton's part. For the low, low price of just three marks, Ropillax 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
"Ormistoth" by Emily Holland
The Weyrlingmaster was the first to congratulate Ropillax on his Impression, but it was old S'rius, delighted to have found yet another weyrling, who stepped in to help with the immediate matter of Ormistoth's first meal. That was the first moment Ropillax 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 Ormistoth'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.
Meeting the Weyrleader
As Ropillax 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. Ropillax was proud to introduce Ormistoth to the Weyrleader. And after a brief conference with Ormistoth, Ropillax gave the Weyrleader his own new name: R'lax, rider of bronze Ormistoth!
Following their audience with the Weyrleader, and the application of oily rags to relieve Ormistoth's and Destrath's newborn itchiness, R'lax 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'lax and Ch'liam soon went their separate ways to find family and friends. Many of the riders and Weyrfolk R'lax had helped during the day greeted him with warm congratulations as he hunted through the throng – but, at last, he found his family.
R'yeno and Evie couldn't have been happier to greet their son as a bronze rider for the first time – though R'yeno couldn't resist making a crack about the new competition for his own bronze. And when the Weyrleaders came to drink a toast to R'lax, R'yeno further embarassed his son by insinuating that Gryth would be stiffer competition to Muzzanth in Shimpath's next flight.
The rest of the evening passed in a blur for R'lax, 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'lax 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'lax'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 R'lax some advice about paying attention to his new classmates and surroundings, lest he fall foul of the Weyrlingmaster's penchant for snap quizzes, advised him to report to Master Isnan before returning to the barracks to get his injuries checked again, and made some observations on Ormistoth.
A close encounter
On his way back to the barracks (by way of the infirmary, as ordered by Tarshe), R'lax 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'lax 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'lax decided, on balance, not to tell the Weyrlingmaster about the stranger – though he did give L'stev his new name.
Returning at last to Ormistoth – billeted between Ch'liam's Destrath and a slender green dragonet – R'lax 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'lax 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 R'lax's new name?
R'lax and Ormistoth'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!
COMPUTER SAYS NO
I changed my name from something unacceptable!
THE YIN TO YOUR YANG
Ormistoth and I complement each other!
SUGAR AND SPICE
I've been a very nice person (so far)!
PLEASE STATE THE NATURE OF THE MEDICAL EMERGENCY
I returned to the infirmary!
EBONY AND IVORY
Ormistoth and I agreed on something very important!
Ormistoth and I disagreed on something quite important!