T'rat and blue Alvarth
The Road So Far!
It all began at Jessaf Hold, in the protectorate of Madellon Weyr, for Torat – a young man of 16 Turns, dreaming of becoming a dragonrider.
Torat was born to unusual privilege – a grandson of Winstone, Lord of mighty Jessaf Hold. Torat 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, Torat 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 Torat 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, Torat left to begin his candidacy at Madellon Weyr.
As a candidate, Torat was assigned a bunkmate – Soburn, an anxious Weyrbred youth with one failed Hatching already haunting him, 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 – Rielat, a self-important apprentice Weaver – who took a firm disliking to Torat! Backed up by his crony Kestor, Rielat became the thorn in Torat's side throughout the sevendays of candidacy.
The dragons' hum woke Soburn and Torat on 102.03.17. Following a brief run-in with Rielat, 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 Torat left, Soburn asked him to find out if H'nar, the young Wingleader of the Betweenless Wing, might currently be seeing someone – or not.
The one-armed green rider and the thieving queen
Immediately on leaving the candidate barracks, Torat 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 Torat to find it. Despite Torat's best efforts, though, he didn't manage to complete and return the jewellery set before the Hatching.
Respecting his elders
In the Weyr's kitchen gardens, Torat encountered R'hren, a former Weyrleader of Madellon, now peacefully retired to potter among his beloved plants. R'hren asked Torat to help him track down the ingredients for a warming salve to help his elderly bronze, Staamath, with his arthritic forepaws. Torat 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, Torat offered it to old S'rius, who was equally appreciative of the gift. And while Kisha, the blind old green rider Torat encountered in the infirmary, would have nothing to do with one of R'hren's concoctions, she too grew to approve of Torat – especially after he solved all three of her fiendish riddles!
Torat 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 Torat 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 Torat some intelligence on the Southern seven, his advice was somewhat garbled! Nonetheless, Torat 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, Torat 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, Torat 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.
A rising problem
Torat 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. Torat'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.
Madellon's kitchens – the heart of the Weyr, and domain of Headwoman Crauva – provided Torat 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 Torat to find for his warming salve.
Overkeen to get his hands on the last bubbly pie in the dining hall, Torat took it – forcibly – from a small child. Not the nicest thing to do – but mmm, pie...
Weyrbrat by name...
A run-in with a Weyrbrat – Terzon, whom Rielat had paid to cause Torat trouble – resulted in an unfortunate public incident. All too aware of being shaken down, Torat 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, Torat offered his assistance – which T'gala gladly accepted.
With friends like these...
But handling Soburn's long-distance crush required a delicacy that Torat sadly didn't possess. Revealing too much to H'nar – and then failing to treat Soburn's bruised feelings with any sort of care – destroyed Torat pining friend's confidence. Having already failed to Impress once, and now crushed by the rejection of a rider who would certainly be his Wingleader should he ever Impress, Soburn decided to rule himself out of candidacy entirely.
Wherry bad behaviour
Torat'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. Torat chose the former, and the Weyrlingmaster sent him to do penance in the wherry hatchery – though Torat remained on probation, with one more slip promising to rule him out of standing!
When it came to the Hatching, Torat didn't have to wait too long for his date with destiny. The gleaming blue egg Hatched out a bright indigo-blue dragonet who told Torat his name was Alvarth.
Whatever happened to Rielat?
It turned out that making an enemy of Torat was a very poor choice on Rielat's part. For the low, low price of just three marks, Torat had Grimes, the shady fellow loitering near the Gather stalls, spread a series of nasty rumours about Rielat. By the time the Weyrlingmaster mustered the candidate cohort immediately before the Hatching, the damage to Rielat's reputation was done – and he was ejected from the candidate pool without ever setting foot on the Sands!
After the Hatching
"Alvarth" by Emily Holland
The Weyrlingmaster was the first to congratulate Torat 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 Alvarth's first meal. That was the first moment Torat had truly grasped that Soburn wasn't going to be a weyrling alongside him – a truth that hit hard. In Soburn'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 Alvarth's personality started to become evident. The big indigo-blue dragonet, the largest of his colour, showed his alert and serious nature from the beginning, demonstrating a high degree of focus for a blue.
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 Torat made along the way – a young Holdbred candidate, Nichen, whom Torat had encountered in a hopelessly dishevelled state directly before the Hatching – hailed Torat at the barracks – crediting him with his successful Impression of a moon-blue dragonet, Yooth!
Meeting the Weyrleader
As Torat 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. Torat was proud to introduce Alvarth to the Weyrleader. And after a brief conference with Alvarth, Torat gave the Weyrleader his own new name: T'rat, rider of blue Alvarth!
Following their audience with the Weyrleader, and the application of oily rags to relieve Alvarth's and Destrath's newborn itchiness, T'rat 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
T'rat and Ch'liam soon went their separate ways to find family and friends. Many of the riders and Weyrfolk T'rat 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, T'rat's grandfather, was highly displeased that his grandson had only managed to Impress a blue – against his strict warning that nothing less than a brown would suffice. The Weyrleaders were quick to step in on T'rat's behalf, but the damage to his relationship with his grandfather was done.
The rest of the evening passed in a blur for T'rat, 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, T'rat 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 T'rat'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 T'rat 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 Alvarth.
A close encounter
On his way back to the barracks , T'rat 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 T'rat 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, T'rat decided, on balance, not to tell the Weyrlingmaster about the stranger.
Returning at last to Alvarth – billeted between Ch'liam's Destrath and a slender green dragonet – T'rat 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 blue beside him – T'rat 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?
T'rat and Alvarth'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
Alvarth and I complement each other!
SNAKES AND SNAILS
I haven't been very nice!
EBONY AND IVORY
Alvarth and I agreed on something very important!
Alvarth and I agreed on something quite important!