Squirrel and green Puccith
The Road So Far!
It all began at the Healer Hall at Blue Shale Hold, in the protectorate of Madellon Weyr, for Squirrel – a young woman of 17 Turns, dreaming of becoming a blue rider.
Squirrel was born the daughter of two Master Healers at the Southern Healerhall, Blue Shale Hold. She was treating minor injuries even before she was formally apprenticed to the Craft. But frustration with the drudgery of the long apprenticeship made Squirrel an undistinguished crafter, lacking the focus or passion demanded by the Healerhall. And then, in early 102, brown rider P'lian came to the Healer Hall complaining of frostbitten fingers. Squirrel was assigned to treat the minor condition. But P'lian's Sparth – despite his colour, a budding Search-sensitive dragon – insisted that Squirrel was a likely sort for candidacy. And a sevenday later, Squirrel arrived at Madellon Weyr, joining the candidate pool for senior queen Shimpath's first clutch by her new mate Muzzanth.
As a candidate, Squirrel 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 Squirrel! Backed up by her crony Cedranne, Auciet became the thorn in Squirrel's side throughout the sevendays of candidacy.
The dragons' hum woke Erilde and Squirrel 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 Squirrel 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, Squirrel 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 Squirrel to find it. Despite Squirrel'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, Squirrel encountered R'hren, a former Weyrleader of Madellon, now peacefully retired to potter among his beloved plants. R'hren asked Squirrel to help him track down the ingredients for a warming salve to help his elderly bronze, Staamath, with his arthritic forepaws. Squirrel duly located the components of R'hren's salve, winning the old bronze rider's approval in the process.
Squirrel 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 Squirrel 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 Squirrel some intelligence on the Southern seven, his advice was somewhat garbled! Nonetheless, Squirrel 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, Squirrel met her 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, Squirrel 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. Squirrel even shared the largesse with Zielaph, who then introduced her to Fr'ton – who, having Impressed a bronze in spite of his less than boundless promise, gave Squirrel a certain confidence in her own prospects!
A rising problem
Squirrel 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. Squirrel'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 Squirrel with the opportunity to show off her 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 Squirrel 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 Squirrel 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 – Squirrel did!
Weyrbrat by name...
A run-in with a Weyrbrat – Terzon, whom Auciet had paid to cause Squirrel trouble – resulted in an unfortunate public incident. All too aware of being shaken down, Squirrel gave the kid a shove – in front of a number of witnesses – doing nothing for her reputation!
A blue lady
Coming across T'gala, Pern's only female blue rider, bathing her Heppeth in the lake, Squirrel 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 Squirrel didn't want to pass up.
Seeking knowledge of Erilde's parentage, Squirrel 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 Squirrel might construct a story about a long-dead rider. Squirrel 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!
When it came to the Hatching, Squirrel had to wait a little while before the long pale grey egg Hatched to reveal the light cloudy-green dragonet who would choose her, naming herself Puccith.
A friend in me
And Squirrel 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?
Sadly, there was at least one fly in the numbweed. Auciet Impressed an unusually aggressive grass-green hatchling, making them Squirrel and Puccith's new classmates. (On the bright side, at least Cedranne didn't Impress!)
After the Hatching
"Puccith" by Emily Holland
The Weyrlingmaster was the first to congratulate Squirrel on her Impression, but it was P'lian, ecstatic that Sparth's very first Search had yielded an Impression, who stepped in to help with the immediate matter of Puccith's first meal. That was Squirrel's first opportunity to speak to Erilde, too, and they introduced each other, with considerable delight, to their respective dragonets, Puccith and Shaldeth.
It wasn't long before Puccith's personality started to become evident. The cloudy-green dragonet, being a very forthright and direct character, spared no time in making it clear that she wouldn't take any nonsense from anyone – her new rider included!
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 Squirrel made along the way – a young Weyrbred candidate, Brithie, whom Squirrel had encountered in a sudden crisis of confidence directly before the Hatching – hailed Squirrel at the barracks – crediting her with her successful Impression of a tiny bottle-green dragonet, Epatanth!
Meeting the Weyrleader
As Squirrel 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 to ask after their names. Squirrel was proud to introduce Puccith to the Weyrleader – and to give him her full new name: Squirrel, rider of green Puccith!
Following their audience with the Weyrleader, and the application of oily rags to relieve Puccith's and Shaldeth's newborn itchiness, Squirrel 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
Squirrel and Erilde soon went their separate ways to find family and friends. Many of the riders and Weyrfolk Squirrel had helped during the day greeted her with warm congratulations as she hunted through the throng – but, at last, she found her family.
Squirrel's father, a loud man in normal times, was positively bellowing with pleasure at Squirrel's Impression – albeit with a certain disappointment that his daughter wouldn't be continuing in the Healercraft. And he embarrassed both his daughter, and his long-suffering wife, still further when the Weyrleaders came to drink a toast to Squirrel and Puccith – remarking, very loudly, on the parentage of Valonna's soon-to-arrive first baby!
The rest of the evening passed in a blur for Squirrel, 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, Squirrel 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 Squirrel'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 Squirrel 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 Puccith.
A close encounter
On her way back to the barracks , Squirrel 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 Squirrel 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, Squirrel decided, on balance, not to tell the Weyrlingmaster about the stranger.
Returning at last to Puccith – billeted between Erilde's Shaldeth and a very large green dragonet – Squirrel 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 green beside her – Squirrel 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?
Squirrel and Puccith'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
Puccith and I complement each other!
SUGAR AND SPICE
I've been a very nice person (so far)!
EBONY AND IVORY
Puccith and I agreed on something very important!
Puccith and I agreed on something quite important!