N'tol and brown Abrusith
The Road So Far!
It all began at Madellon Weyr for Natol – a young boy of 15 Turns, dreaming of becoming a brown rider.
Natol was born the son of Nelya, a Headwoman's Second at 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. As a first-time candidate with no dragonrider blood, Natol looked forward to the Hatching with both excitement and trepidation – fearing he might not have what it takes to Impress, but hoping beyond hope that he would!
As a candidate, Natol 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 Natol! Backed up by his crony Varell, Gydeton became the thorn in Natol's side throughout the sevendays of candidacy.
The dragons' hum woke Martom and Natol 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 Natol 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, Natol 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 Natol to find it. The quest took Natol 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, Natol encountered R'hren, a former Weyrleader of Madellon, now peacefully retired to potter among his beloved plants. R'hren asked Natol to help him track down the ingredients for a warming salve to help his elderly bronze, Staamath, with his arthritic forepaws. Natol 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, Natol offered it to old S'rius, who was equally appreciative of the gift. And while Kisha, the blind old green rider Natol encountered in the infirmary, would have nothing to do with one of R'hren's concoctions, she too grew to approve of Natol – especially after he solved all three of her fiendish riddles!
Natol 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 Natol 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 Natol some intelligence on the Southern seven, his advice was somewhat garbled! Nonetheless, Natol 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, Natol 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, Natol 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. Natol 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 Natol a certain confidence in his own prospects!
A rising problem
Natol 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. Natol'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 Natol 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 Natol 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 Natol 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 Natol 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 – Natol did!
A blue lady
Coming across T'gala, Pern's only female blue rider, bathing her Heppeth in the lake, Natol offered his assistance – which T'gala gladly accepted.
Given Natol'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 Natol 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, Natol visited Madellon's resident barber – green rider Z'fell – for a trim. Very conscious of his dignity, Natol ensured he came away with a cut he actually liked.
A slithery customer
Early in the day, Natol 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, Natol strayed into tunnel snake territory! A huge, aggressive, and potently venomous female tunnel-snake guarded the exit to the Hatching ground. Natol was lucky to avoid being bitten. But ultimately he evaded the snake, dodging past it and slipping out onto the Hatching Sands.
Having survived his encounter with the tunnel-snake, Natol approached the clutch – but not stealthily enough! His presence woke Shimpath from her doze, and she and Muzzanth chased Natol off the sands!
When it came to the Hatching, Natol didn't have to wait at all for his date with destiny. The moonlike grey egg that Hatched first produced a warm milky-klah brown hatchling who spared no time in choosing Natol, naming himself Abrusith.
A friend in me
And Natol wasn't the only lucky one. To his delight, Martom also Impressed, becoming the rider of a bright golden-bronze hatchling, Kauth.
Whatever happened to Gydeton?
Gydeton didn't turn up for the pre-Hatching muster, and – Natol'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 – Natol supposed – Weyrlingmaster A'len located the missing candidate, but too late for Gydeton, who having been found unconscious, was promptly invalided out of standing!
After the Hatching
"Abrusith" by Chris S. Baily
The Weyrlingmaster was the first to congratulate Natol 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 Abrusith's first meal. That was Natol's first opportunity to speak to Martom, too, and they introduced each other, with considerable delight, to their respective dragonets, Abrusith and Kauth. Martom also told Natol that his new name was to be – perhaps unsurprisingly – M'tom.
It wasn't long before Abrusith's personality started to become evident. The little klah-coloured brown proved to be exceptionally friendly and forward from the very beginning, wanting nothing more than to introduce himself to everyone he met.
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 Natol made along the way – a young Holdbred candidate, Nichen, whom Natol had encountered in a hopelessly dishevelled state directly before the Hatching – hailed Natol at the barracks – crediting him with his successful Impression of a moon-blue dragonet, Yooth!
Meeting the Weyrleader
As Natol 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. Natol was proud to introduce Abrusith to the Weyrleader. And after a brief conference with Abrusith, Natol gave the Weyrleader his own new name: N'tol, rider of brown Abrusith!
Following their audience with the Weyrleader, and the application of oily rags to relieve Abrusith's and Kauth's newborn itchiness, N'tol 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
N'tol and M'tom soon went their separate ways to find family and friends. Many of the riders and Weyrfolk N'tol had helped during the day greeted him with warm congratulations as he hunted through the throng – but, at last, he found his family.
N'tol's mother, Nelya, was thrilled by her son's Impression – though perhaps not quite as ecstatic as N'tol's younger siblings, Ashi and Halante. As the first dragonrider in the family, N'tol was keenly aware of what it meant to his brother and sister. And when the Weyrleaders came to drink a toast to N'tol and Abrusith, Valonna was particularly delighted for Nelya – one of her most trusted Headwoman Seconds.
The rest of the evening passed in a blur for N'tol, 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, N'tol 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 N'tol'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 N'tol 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 Abrusith.
A close encounter
On his way back to the barracks , N'tol 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 N'tol 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, N'tol decided, on balance, not to tell the Weyrlingmaster about the stranger.
Returning at last to Abrusith – billeted between M'tom's Kauth and a slender green dragonet – N'tol 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 – N'tol 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 Natol's Impression here. N'tol and Abrusith's story will continue in Dragonchoice: Weyrling, coming soon!
Find out more about Natol's Impression here. N'tol and Abrusith'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
Abrusith and I complement each other!
SUGAR AND SPICE
I've been a very nice person (so far)!
EBONY AND IVORY
Abrusith and I agreed on something very important!
Abrusith and I agreed on something quite important!