Al'que and brown Amarath
The Road So Far!
It all began at Madellon Weyr for Albuque – a young man of 18 Turns, dreaming of becoming a dragonrider.
Albuque 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. Having been left standing at a Hatching once before, Albuque wrestled with the fear that he wouldn't live up to his rider parents' expectations a second time.
As a candidate, Albuque 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 Albuque! Backed up by his crony Kestor, Rielat became the thorn in Albuque's side throughout the sevendays of candidacy.
The dragons' hum woke Soburn and Albuque 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 Albuque 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, Albuque 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 Albuque to find it. The quest took Albuque 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, Albuque encountered R'hren, a former Weyrleader of Madellon, now peacefully retired to potter among his beloved plants. R'hren asked Albuque to help him track down the ingredients for a warming salve to help his elderly bronze, Staamath, with his arthritic forepaws. Albuque 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, Albuque offered it to old S'rius, who was equally appreciative of the gift. And while Kisha, the blind old green rider Albuque encountered in the infirmary, would have nothing to do with one of R'hren's concoctions, she too grew to approve of Albuque – especially after he solved all three of her fiendish riddles!
Albuque 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 Albuque 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 Albuque some intelligence on the Southern seven, his advice was somewhat garbled! Nonetheless, Albuque 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, Albuque 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, Albuque 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. Albuque 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 Albuque a certain confidence in his own prospects!
A rising problem
Albuque 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. Albuque'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 Albuque 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 Albuque 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 Albuque to the infirmary with a slice to be stitched up. And the kitchen was also the source of the hotfruit R'hren had sent Albuque 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 Albuque 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 – Albuque did!
A blue lady
Coming across T'gala, Pern's only female blue rider, bathing her Heppeth in the lake, Albuque offered his assistance – which T'gala gladly accepted.
Conscious of Soburn's bashfulness, Albuque approached the object of his affections – H'nar, Wingleader of the Betweenless Wing – with some circumspection. Still, when questioned, H'nar insisted he had to know who was making enquiries of him. And when he learned the identity of his admirer, he told Albuque that he wasn't interested in Soburn – or any other men, for that matter. But Albuque's agile pivot in questioning revealed that a close friend of H'nar's – blue rider M'rany – might be a viable alternative. Thus encouraged, Soburn began to think more positively of life as a dragonrider – even if H'nar would end up being his Wingleader!
Mindful of the Weyrlingmaster's orders to be smart for the Hatching, Albuque visited Madellon's resident barber – green rider Z'fell – for a trim. Very conscious of his dignity, Albuque ensured he came away with a cut he actually liked.
A slithery customer
Early in the day, Albuque 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, Albuque strayed into tunnel snake territory! A huge, aggressive, and potently venomous female tunnel-snake guarded the exit to the Hatching ground. Albuque was bitten – badly – and immediately felt the effects of the snake's paralysing venom. But ultimately he evaded the snake, dodging past it and slipping out onto the Hatching Sands.
Recognising the severity of his condition, Albuque decided not to risk approaching the clutch, and went instead directly to the infirmary to be treated with antivenin.
When it came to the Hatching, Albuque had to wait a little while before the grey-mottled tan egg Hatched to reveal the cool dusty-brown dragonet who would choose him, naming himself Amarath.
A friend in me
And Albuque wasn't the only lucky one. To his delight, Soburn also Impressed, becoming the rider of a slender olive-green hatchling, Aeranth.
Whatever happened to Rielat?
Rielat didn't turn up for the pre-Hatching muster, and – Albuque's own suspicions notwithstanding – L'stev guessed that he had probably got himself lost trying to sneak into the Hatching Ground through the dangerous ventilation tunnels. Fortunately – Albuque supposed – Weyrlingmaster A'len located the missing candidate, but too late for Rielat, who having been found unconscious, was promptly invalided out of standing!
After the Hatching
"Amarath" by Chris S. Baily
The Weyrlingmaster was the first to congratulate Albuque 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 Amarath's first meal. That was Albuque's first opportunity to speak to Soburn, too, and they introduced each other, with considerable delight, to their respective dragonets, Amarath and Aeranth. Soburn also told Albuque that his new name was to be – perhaps unsurprisingly – S'burn.
It wasn't long before Amarath'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 Albuque made along the way – a young Holdbred candidate, Nichen, whom Albuque had encountered in a hopelessly dishevelled state directly before the Hatching – hailed Albuque at the barracks – crediting him with his successful Impression of a moon-blue dragonet, Yooth!
Meeting the Weyrleader
As Albuque and S'burn 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. Albuque was proud to introduce Amarath to the Weyrleader. And after a brief conference with Amarath, Albuque gave the Weyrleader his own new name: Al'que, rider of brown Amarath!
Following their audience with the Weyrleader, and the application of oily rags to relieve Amarath's and Aeranth's newborn itchiness, Al'que and S'burn 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
Al'que and S'burn soon went their separate ways to find family and friends. Many of the riders and Weyrfolk Al'que 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 brown rider for the first time . And when the Weyrleaders came to drink a toast to Al'que and Amarath, R'yeno was delighted to embarrass 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 Al'que, 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, Al'que 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 Al'que'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 Al'que 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 Amarath.
A close encounter
On his way back to the barracks (by way of the infirmary, as ordered by Tarshe), Al'que 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 Al'que 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, Al'que decided, on balance, not to tell the Weyrlingmaster about the stranger.
Returning at last to Amarath – billeted between S'burn's Aeranth and a bright bronze dragonet – Al'que 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 – Al'que 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?
Al'que and Amarath'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
Amarath 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
Amarath and I agreed on something very important!
Amarath and I agreed on something quite important!