Toma and blue Hemionth
The Road So Far!
It all began at Jessaf Hold, in the protectorate of Madellon Weyr, for Toma – a young woman of 16 Turns, dreaming of becoming a dragonrider.
Toma was born to unusual privilege – a granddaughter of Winstone, Lord of mighty Jessaf Hold. Toma 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, Toma 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 Toma becoming a candidate – while conceding that he could spare a younger grandchild. And with Winstone's admonition that she should remember her place as his granddaughter and not make a scene ringing in her ears, Toma left to begin her candidacy at Madellon Weyr.
As a candidate, Toma 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 Toma! Backed up by her crony Cedranne, Auciet became the thorn in Toma's side throughout the sevendays of candidacy.
The dragons' hum woke Erilde and Toma 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 Toma 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, Toma 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 Toma to find it. Despite Toma's best efforts, though, she didn't manage to complete and return the jewellery set before the Hatching.
Respecting her elders
In the Weyr's kitchen gardens, Toma encountered R'hren, a former Weyrleader of Madellon, now peacefully retired to potter among his beloved plants. R'hren asked Toma to help him track down the ingredients for a warming salve to help his elderly bronze, Staamath, with his arthritic forepaws. Toma 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, Toma offered it to old S'rius, who was equally appreciative of the gift. And while Kisha, the blind old green rider Toma encountered in the infirmary, would have nothing to do with one of R'hren's concoctions, she too grew to approve of Toma – especially after she solved all three of her fiendish riddles!
Toma 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 Toma 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 Toma some intelligence on the Southern seven, his advice was somewhat garbled! Nonetheless, Toma unravelled Archidath's confusing suggestions and got the right packages to the right dragons – without being growled at!
A rising problem
Toma 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. Toma'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 kitchen was the source of the hotfruit R'hren had sent Toma to find for his warming salve. Headwoman Crauva handed one over immediately she asked for it, pleased to be helping such an august figure as the old Weyrleader.
Eggs and baskets
A visit to the Archives led to a meeting with Tarshe, Madellon's Weyrwoman Second. When Toma 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. Which – mindful of not offending such an important personage of the Weyr – Toma did!
A blue lady
Coming across T'gala, Pern's only female blue rider, bathing her Heppeth in the lake, Toma 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 Toma didn't want to pass up.
Seeking knowledge of Erilde's parentage, Toma 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 Toma might construct a story about a long-dead rider. Toma 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!
A slithery customer
Early in the day, Toma 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, Toma strayed into tunnel snake territory! A huge, aggressive, and potently venomous female tunnel-snake guarded the exit to the Hatching ground. Toma 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 snake, Toma crept closer to the clutch – close enough to notice something very peculiar – an extra, twenty-first egg! Intrigued, she sneaked close enough to examine the strange, yellow, somewhat waxy-looking egg, before beating a hasty retreat from the Hatching Ground.
When it came to the Hatching, Toma had an excruciatingly long wait before the grey-swirled silvery cream egg Hatched to reveal the very pale moon-blue dragonet who would choose her, naming himself Hemionth.
A friend in me
And Toma 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 didn't turn up for the pre-Hatching muster, and – Toma's own suspicions notwithstanding – L'stev guessed that she had probably got herself lost trying to sneak into the Hatching Ground through the dangerous ventilation tunnels. Fortunately – Toma supposed – Weyrlingmaster A'len located the missing candidate, but too late for Auciet, who having been found unconscious, was promptly invalided out of standing!
After the Hatching
"Hemionth" by Chris S. Baily
The Weyrlingmaster was the first to congratulate Toma 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 Hemionth's first meal. That was Toma's first opportunity to speak to Erilde, too, and they introduced each other, with considerable delight, to their respective dragonets, Hemionth and Shaldeth.
It wasn't long before Hemionth's personality started to become evident. The moon-blue dragonet, while seemingly reluctant to even leave his egg, showed glimmers of a curiously perceptive and knowing mind beneath his apparent laziness.
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 Toma made along the way – a young Weyrbred candidate, Brithie, whom Toma had encountered in a sudden crisis of confidence directly before the Hatching – hailed Toma at the barracks – crediting her with her successful Impression of a tiny bottle-green dragonet, Epatanth!
Meeting the Weyrleader
As Toma 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 in particular to remark upon Toma's unusual Impression of a blue. T'gat further enquired if Toma would like to elide her name, as T'gala had done, or not. Toma elected not to elide her name – content to remain Toma, rider of blue Hemionth!
Following their audience with the Weyrleader, and the application of oily rags to relieve Hemionth's and Shaldeth's newborn itchiness, Toma 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
Toma and Erilde soon went their separate ways to find family and friends. Many of the riders and Weyrfolk Toma 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, Toma's grandfather, was outraged by his granddaughter's highly irregular Impression of a blue dragon – calling her aberrant. The Weyrleaders were quick to take Toma's part, but the damage to her relationship with her grandfather was done.
The rest of the evening passed in a blur for Toma, 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, Toma 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 Toma'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 Toma 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 Hemionth.
A close encounter
On her way back to the barracks , Toma 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 Toma 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, Toma decided, on balance, not to tell the Weyrlingmaster about the stranger.
Returning at last to Hemionth – billeted between Erilde's Shaldeth and a very large green dragonet – Toma 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 blue beside her – Toma 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 Toma's Impression here. Toma and Hemionth's story will continue in Dragonchoice: Weyrling, coming soon!
Find out more about Toma's Impression here. Toma and Hemionth'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
Hemionth and I make a very strong match!
...what did I just see?
SUGAR AND SPICE
I've been a very nice person (so far)!
EBONY AND IVORY
Hemionth and I agreed on something very important!
Hemionth and I agreed on something quite important!