Nistara and green Ocovanth
The Road So Far!
It all began at Jessaf Hold, in the protectorate of Madellon Weyr, for Nistara – a young woman of 17 Turns, dreaming of becoming a green rider.
Nistara was born to unusual privilege – a granddaughter of Winstone, Lord of mighty Jessaf Hold. Nistara 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, Nistara 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 Nistara becoming a candidate – displeased that such a opportunity would ruin his plans for Nistara's betrothal to a nephew of Lord Orfen's. But he grudgingly accepted that, as Nistara had her majority, she had the right to accept Search. And with Winstone's admonition that she should remember her place as his granddaughter and not make a scene ringing in her ears, Nistara left to begin her candidacy at Madellon Weyr.
As a candidate, Nistara was assigned a bunkmate – Erilde, a quiet young woman from the Lower Caverns fearing a second unsuccessful Hatching, 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 – Auciet, a snobby and superior Holdbred girl – who took a firm disliking to Nistara! Backed up by her crony Cedranne, Auciet became the thorn in Nistara's side throughout the sevendays of candidacy.
The dragons' hum woke Erilde and Nistara on 102.03.17. Following a brief run-in with Auciet, 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 Nistara left, Erilde asked her to make enquiries about any dragonrider heritage she herself might possess, to give her confidence a boost before the Hatching.
The one-armed green rider and the thieving queen
Immediately on leaving the candidate barracks, Nistara 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 Nistara to find it. The quest took Nistara all over Madellon, from kitchens to lake to infirmary – but in the end she succeeded in reuniting the Weyrwoman's jewellery set, to general acclaim.
Respecting her elders
In the Weyr's kitchen gardens, Nistara encountered R'hren, a former Weyrleader of Madellon, now peacefully retired to potter among his beloved plants. R'hren asked Nistara to help him track down the ingredients for a warming salve to help his elderly bronze, Staamath, with his arthritic forepaws. Nistara 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, Nistara offered it to old S'rius, who was equally appreciative of the gift. And while Kisha, the blind old green rider Nistara encountered in the infirmary, would have nothing to do with one of R'hren's concoctions, she too grew to approve of Nistara – especially after she solved all three of her fiendish riddles!
Nistara 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 Nistara 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 Nistara some intelligence on the Southern seven, his advice was somewhat garbled! Nonetheless, Nistara 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, Nistara 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, Nistara 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. Nistara even shared the largesse with Zielaph, who then introduced her to Fr'ton – who, having Impressed a bronze in spite of his less than boundless promise, gave Nistara a certain confidence in her own prospects!
A rising problem
Nistara 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. Nistara'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 Nistara did annoy Soleigh, who wasn't impressed with her for prolonging Maris' binge by bringing her more wine!
Nistara 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 Nistara with the opportunity to show off her 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 Nistara 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 Nistara 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. But with one thing and another, Nistara didn't bring it back – earning the Weyrwoman Second's ire!
A blue lady
Coming across T'gala, Pern's only female blue rider, bathing her Heppeth in the lake, Nistara offered her assistance – which T'gala gladly accepted. Getting some first-hand advice about what it took for T'gala to Impress a blue dragon was an opportunity Nistara didn't want to pass up.
Seeking knowledge of Erilde's parentage, Nistara visited the Weyr's Archives and sought advice from Weyrwoman Tarshe, the Weyrwoman Second. While Tarshe could find no evidence that Erilde's father had been a dragonrider, she suggested Nistara might construct a story about a long-dead rider. Nistara delved into Madellon's records and unearthed a brown rider, B'get, deceased some Turns ago, but of the right age to have fathered her friend. Bringing this plausible white lie to Erilde may have been a tad devious – but it had the desired effect on her belief that she could, in fact, possess the ability to Impress a dragon!
Mindful of the Weyrlingmaster's orders to be smart for the Hatching, Nistara visited Madellon's resident barber – green rider Z'fell – for a trim. Very conscious of her dignity, Nistara ensured she came away with a cut she actually liked.
A slithery customer
Early in the day, Nistara found out about a secret way into the Hatching Ground via storeroom that might allow her 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, she crawled into a confusing maze of passages.
By a stroke of ill luck, Nistara strayed into tunnel snake territory! A huge, aggressive, and potently venomous female tunnel-snake guarded the exit to the Hatching ground. Nistara was lucky to avoid being bitten. But ultimately she evaded the snake, dodging past it and slipping out onto the Hatching Sands.
Having survived her encounter with the tunnel-snake, Nistara approached the clutch – but not stealthily enough! Her presence woke Shimpath from her doze, and she and Muzzanth chased Nistara off the sands!
When it came to the Hatching, Nistara had to wait a little while before the blotchy pale turquoise egg Hatched to reveal the bright olive-green dragonet who would choose her, naming herself Ocovanth.
A friend in me
And Nistara wasn't the only lucky one. To her delight, Erilde also Impressed, becoming the rider of an inquisitive teal-green hatchling, Shaldeth.
Whatever happened to Auciet?
Auciet's victimisation of Nistara had serious consequences – for Auciet. Not everyone would have tattled on her the way Nistara did, but her complaints about the other girl, together with L'stev's already thin opinion of Auciet, had the desired effect. Directly before the Hatching, L'stev ejected Auciet from the candidate pool!
After the Hatching
"Ocovanth" by Emily Holland
The Weyrlingmaster was the first to congratulate Nistara on her Impression, but it was Garlan, delighted that her risky choice of Winstone's granddaughter had Impressed, who stepped in to help with the immediate matter of Ocovanth's first meal. That was Nistara's first opportunity to speak to Erilde, too, and they introduced each other, with considerable delight, to their respective dragonets, Ocovanth and Shaldeth.
It wasn't long before Ocovanth's personality started to become evident. The rather slender olive-green dragonet demonstrated an immediate haughty pride in herself – and in her 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 Nistara made along the way – a young Weyrbred candidate, Brithie, whom Nistara had encountered in a sudden crisis of confidence directly before the Hatching – hailed Nistara at the barracks – crediting her with her successful Impression of a tiny bottle-green dragonet, Epatanth!
Meeting the Weyrleader
As Nistara and Erilde wiped the worst of the blood and sand from their tired new dragonets, the Weyrleader, T'gat, came to inspect both girls' dragonets and to ask after their names. Nistara was proud to introduce Ocovanth to the Weyrleader – and to give him her full new name: Nistara, rider of green Ocovanth!
Following their audience with the Weyrleader, and the application of oily rags to relieve Ocovanth's and Shaldeth's newborn itchiness, Nistara and Erilde 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
Nistara and Erilde soon went their separate ways to find family and friends. Many of the riders and Weyrfolk Nistara had helped during the day greeted her with warm congratulations as she hunted through the throng – but, at last, she found her family.
Lord Winstone, Nistara's grandfather, was faint with his praise for his granddaughter's Impression of Ocovanth – suggesting that she should have waited for a chance at a queen. The Weyrleaders were swift to insist that Impressing any dragon was a great achievement!
The rest of the evening passed in a blur for Nistara, 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, Nistara 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 Nistara'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 Nistara 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 Ocovanth.
A close encounter
On her way back to the barracks , Nistara 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 Nistara 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, Nistara decided, on balance, not to tell the Weyrlingmaster about the stranger.
Returning at last to Ocovanth – billeted between Erilde's Shaldeth and a very large green dragonet – Nistara 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 green beside her – Nistara 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 Nistara's Impression here. Nistara and Ocovanth's story will continue in Dragonchoice: Weyrling, coming soon!
Find out more about Nistara's Impression here. Nistara and Ocovanth'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
Ocovanth and I complement each other!
SUGAR AND SPICE
I've been a very nice person (so far)!
EBONY AND IVORY
Ocovanth and I agreed on something very important!
Ocovanth and I disagreed on something quite important!