Z'bran and brown Meeth
The Road So Far!
It all began at the Harperhall at Kellad Hold, in the protectorate of Madellon Weyr, for Zubran – a young boy of 13 Turns, dreaming of becoming a brown rider.
Zubran was born the son of two Harpers at the Southern Harperhall, Kellad Hold. Surrounded by music, he was apprenticed to the Craft when he came of age. But he never excelled in any discipline, and it seemed as if an unremarkable career as a mid-level journeyman likely lay ahead for him. And then, in early 102, J'kel – a dragonrider of Madellon Weyr – came to Kellad Hold in search of candidates for the new clutch hardening on the Sands of Madellon Weyr. Zubran caught the attention of J'kel's blue Hozrath. And a sevenday later, Zubran arrived at Madellon Weyr, joining the candidate pool for senior queen Shimpath's first clutch by her new mate Muzzanth.
As a candidate, Zubran 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 Zubran! Backed up by his crony Varell, Gydeton became the thorn in Zubran's side throughout the sevendays of candidacy.
The dragons' hum woke Martom and Zubran 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 Zubran 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, Zubran 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 Zubran to find it. The quest took Zubran 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, Zubran encountered R'hren, a former Weyrleader of Madellon, now peacefully retired to potter among his beloved plants. R'hren asked Zubran to help him track down the ingredients for a warming salve to help his elderly bronze, Staamath, with his arthritic forepaws. Zubran 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, Zubran offered it to old S'rius, who was equally appreciative of the gift. And while Kisha, the blind old green rider Zubran encountered in the infirmary, would have nothing to do with one of R'hren's concoctions, she too grew to approve of Zubran – especially after he solved all three of her fiendish riddles!
Zubran 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 Zubran 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 Zubran some intelligence on the Southern seven, his advice was somewhat garbled! Nonetheless, Zubran 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, Zubran 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, Zubran 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. Zubran 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 Zubran a certain confidence in his own prospects!
A rising problem
Zubran 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. Zubran'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 Zubran did annoy Soleigh, who wasn't impressed with him for prolonging Maris' binge by bringing her more wine!
A Harper born
Zubran's Harper training came in handy when Carleah, the Weyr Singer, asked him to play a set with her ensemble in the dining hall. They played to a rapturous reception that gave Zubran's confidence – and his mark purse – quite a boost!
Madellon's kitchens – the heart of the Weyr, and domain of Headwoman Crauva – provided Zubran 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 Zubran 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 Zubran 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 – Zubran did!
Weyrbrat by name...
A run-in with a Weyrbrat – Terzon, whom Gydeton had paid to cause Zubran trouble – resulted in an unfortunate public incident. All too aware of being shaken down, Zubran 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, Zubran offered his assistance – which T'gala gladly accepted.
Given Zubran'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 Zubran 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, Zubran visited Madellon's resident barber – green rider Z'fell – for a trim. Very conscious of his dignity, Zubran ensured he came away with a cut he actually liked.
A breath of foul air
Setting aside his petty rivalry with Gydeton in the face of a genuine emergency, Zubran set about getting Gydeton to safety. And on crawling out onto the Hatching Ground, half suffocated himself, he raised the alarm with the Weyrleader before being overcome by the ordeal, and fainting there on the sand.
Zubran woke in the infirmary, and while the Weyrleader and Weyrlingmaster questioned him sternly about his adventures, the fact that Zubran had certainly saved Gydeton's life counted in his favour, despite having disobeyed the order not to go meddling in the tunnels.
When it came to the Hatching, Zubran didn't have to wait at all for his date with destiny. The grey-mottled tan egg that Hatched first produced a cool dusty-brown hatchling who spared no time in choosing Zubran, naming himself Meeth.
A friend in me
And Zubran wasn't the only lucky one. To his delight, Martom also Impressed, becoming the rider of a bright golden-bronze hatchling, Kauth.
After the Hatching
"Meeth" by Chris S. Baily
The Weyrlingmaster was the first to congratulate Zubran on his Impression, but it was J'kel, thrilled that Hozrath had finally found a successful candidate after so long without, who stepped in to help with the immediate matter of Meeth's first meal. That was Zubran's first opportunity to speak to Martom, too, and they introduced each other, with considerable delight, to their respective dragonets, Meeth and Kauth. Martom also told Zubran that his new name was to be – perhaps unsurprisingly – M'tom.
It wasn't long before Meeth's personality started to become evident. The dusty-brown dragonet, while neither the largest nor the most handsome of his colour, proved to make up for both with his calm and helpful character immediately endearing him to all around.
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 Zubran made along the way – a young Holdbred candidate, Nichen, whom Zubran had encountered in a hopelessly dishevelled state directly before the Hatching – hailed Zubran at the barracks – crediting him with his successful Impression of a moon-blue dragonet, Yooth!
Meeting the Weyrleader
As Zubran 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. Zubran was proud to introduce Meeth to the Weyrleader. And after a brief conference with Meeth, Zubran gave the Weyrleader his own new name: Z'bran, rider of brown Meeth!
Following their audience with the Weyrleader, and the application of oily rags to relieve Meeth's and Kauth's newborn itchiness, Z'bran 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
Z'bran and M'tom soon went their separate ways to find family and friends. Many of the riders and Weyrfolk Z'bran had helped during the day greeted him with warm congratulations as he hunted through the throng – but, at last, he found his family.
Z'bran's Harper parents were absolutely delighted to find themselves the mother and father of a brown rider and happier still to learn that Z'bran had already brought his musical skills to the Weyr. And they were even more delighted to drink to Z'bran and Meeth when the Weyrleaders arrived to toast them!
The rest of the evening passed in a blur for Z'bran, 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, Z'bran 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 Z'bran'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 Z'bran 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 Meeth.
A close encounter
On his way back to the barracks (by way of the infirmary, as ordered by Tarshe), Z'bran 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 Z'bran 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, Z'bran decided, on balance, not to tell the Weyrlingmaster about the stranger.
Returning at last to Meeth – billeted between M'tom's Kauth and a slender green dragonet – Z'bran 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 – Z'bran 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 Zubran's Impression here. Z'bran and Meeth's story will continue in Dragonchoice: Weyrling, coming soon!
Find out more about Zubran's Impression here. Z'bran and Meeth'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
Meeth 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
Meeth and I agreed on something very important!
Meeth and I agreed on something quite important!
Meeth and Corienth took against each other!