Al'tross and bronze Ixonanth
The Road So Far!
It all began at Jessaf Hold, in the protectorate of Madellon Weyr, for Albatross – a young boy of 15 Turns, dreaming of becoming a bronze rider.
Albatross was born the son of a modest cotholder at Jessaf Hold, working alongside his widowed father to work their allotted land, and help bring up his young twin siblings, Albon and Gettie. And in early 102, when a green rider, N'jol, and his Kistrith came to Jessaf in search of candidates for Madellon Weyr's hardening clutch, Albatross didn't even present himself as a hopeful. Yet it was Albatross that Kistrith singled out among all those young people. He almost didn't accept Search – anxious not to abandon his father. But he insisted, revealing that his late wife, Albatross's mother, had always dreamed of being a dragonrider – and gifting Albatross with her blue feather pendant as a lucky charm.
As a candidate, Albatross 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 Albatross! Backed up by his crony Varell, Gydeton became the thorn in Albatross's side throughout the sevendays of candidacy.
The dragons' hum woke Martom and Albatross 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 Albatross 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, Albatross 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 Albatross to find it. The quest took Albatross 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, Albatross encountered R'hren, a former Weyrleader of Madellon, now peacefully retired to potter among his beloved plants. R'hren asked Albatross to help him track down the ingredients for a warming salve to help his elderly bronze, Staamath, with his arthritic forepaws. Albatross 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, Albatross offered it to old S'rius, who was equally appreciative of the gift. And while Kisha, the blind old green rider Albatross encountered in the infirmary, would have nothing to do with one of R'hren's concoctions, she too grew to approve of Albatross – especially after he solved all three of her fiendish riddles!
Albatross 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 Albatross 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 Albatross some intelligence on the Southern seven, his advice was somewhat garbled! Nonetheless, Albatross 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, Albatross 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, Albatross 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. Albatross 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 Albatross a certain confidence in his own prospects!
A rising problem
Albatross 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. Albatross'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 Albatross did annoy Soleigh, who wasn't impressed with him for prolonging Maris' binge by bringing her more wine!
Albatross perhaps overestimated his own competence when it came to a disastrous spell on the Harper dais in the dining hall. Accompanying Weyr Singer Carleah – badly – on the tambourine, he was lucky not to be booed off the stage!
Madellon's kitchens – the heart of the Weyr, and domain of Headwoman Crauva – provided Albatross with the opportunity to show off his work ethic before the Hatching. A round of chores duly pleased Crauva, and earned him a selection of goodies warm from the oven.. And the kitchen was also the source of the hotfruit R'hren had sent Albatross to find for his warming salve.
Albatross certainly indulged his sweet tooth before the Hatching – laying claim to not one, not two, but three different types of bubbly pie .
Eggs and baskets
A visit to the Archives led to a meeting with Tarshe, Madellon's Weyrwoman Second. When Albatross 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 – Albatross did!
Weyrbrat by name...
A run-in with a Weyrbrat – Terzon, whom Gydeton had paid to cause Albatross trouble – resulted in an unfortunate public incident. All too aware of being shaken down, Albatross 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, Albatross offered his assistance – which T'gala gladly accepted.
Mindful of the Weyrlingmaster's orders to be smart for the Hatching, Albatross visited Madellon's resident barber – green rider Z'fell – for a trim. Very conscious of his dignity, Albatross ensured he came away with a cut he actually liked.
A slithery customer
Early in the day, Albatross 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, Albatross strayed into tunnel snake territory! A huge, aggressive, and potently venomous female tunnel-snake guarded the exit to the Hatching ground. Albatross 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 snake, Albatross crept closer to the clutch – close enough to touch an egg – before beating a hasty retreat from the Hatching Ground! And something about the purple-speckled cream egg made him feel strangely certain that he would Impress later that day.
When it came to the Hatching, Albatross didn't have to wait at all for his date with destiny. The purple-speckled cream egg that Hatched first produced a bright golden-bronze hatchling who spared no time in choosing Albatross, naming himself Ixonanth.
A friend bereft
But to Albatross's dismay, Martom wasn't as fortunate. No dragonet showed an interest in him, and he was left among the candidates remaining unmatched at the end of the Hatching.
Whatever happened to Gydeton?
Gydeton didn't turn up for the pre-Hatching muster, and – Albatross'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 – Albatross 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
"Ixonanth" by Emily Holland
The Weyrlingmaster was the first to congratulate Albatross on his Impression, but it was N'jol, delighted that his most humble candidate had Impressed, who stepped in to help with the immediate matter of Ixonanth's first meal. That was the first moment Albatross had truly grasped that Martom wasn't going to be a weyrling alongside him – a truth that hit hard. In Martom'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 Ixonanth's personality started to become evident. The bright-bronze dragonet, while the smallest of his colour, demonstrated an exceptional degree of self-possession and independent thought – not shy to push himself forward, or make his opinion heard.
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 Albatross made along the way – a young Holdbred candidate, Nichen, whom Albatross had encountered in a hopelessly dishevelled state directly before the Hatching – hailed Albatross at the barracks – crediting him with his successful Impression of a moon-blue dragonet, Yooth!
Meeting the Weyrleader
As Albatross 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. Albatross was proud to introduce Ixonanth to the Weyrleader. And after a brief conference with Ixonanth, Albatross gave the Weyrleader his own new name: Al'tross, rider of bronze Ixonanth!
Following their audience with the Weyrleader, and the application of oily rags to relieve Ixonanth's and Destrath's newborn itchiness, Al'tross 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
Al'tross and Ch'liam soon went their separate ways to find family and friends. Many of the riders and Weyrfolk Al'tross had helped during the day greeted him with warm congratulations as he hunted through the throng – but, at last, he found his family.
Al'tross's father almost couldn't believe his son's good fortune, completely thrilled to be the father of a dragonrider. And he was even more starstruck when the Weyrleaders came to drink a toast to Al'tross and Ixonanth.
The rest of the evening passed in a blur for Al'tross, 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'tross 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'tross'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'tross 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 Ixonanth.
A close encounter
On his way back to the barracks , Al'tross 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'tross 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'tross decided, on balance, not to tell the Weyrlingmaster about the stranger.
Returning at last to Ixonanth – billeted between Ch'liam's Destrath and a slender green dragonet – Al'tross 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 bronze beside him – Al'tross 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 Albatross's Impression here. Al'tross and Ixonanth's story will continue in Dragonchoice: Weyrling, coming soon!
Find out more about Albatross's Impression here. Al'tross and Ixonanth'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
Ixonanth and I complement each other!
THE PATH LESS TRAVELLED
I pre-Impressed Ixonanth by touching his egg before the Hatching!
SUGAR AND SPICE
I've been a very nice person (so far)!
EBONY AND IVORY
Ixonanth and I agreed on something very important!
Ixonanth and I disagreed on something quite important!