Esme and blue Amalth
The Road So Far!
It all began at the Harperhall at Kellad Hold, in the protectorate of Madellon Weyr, for Esme – a young woman of 16 Turns, dreaming of becoming a blue rider.
Esme was born the daughter of two Harpers at the Southern Harperhall, Kellad Hold. Surrounded by music, she was apprenticed to the Craft when she came of age. But she never excelled in any discipline, and it seemed as if an unremarkable career as a mid-level journeyman likely lay ahead for her. And then, in early 102, J'kel – a dragonrider of Madellon Weyr – came to Kellad Hold in search of candidates for the new clutch hardening on the Sands of Madellon Weyr. Esme caught the attention of J'kel's blue Hozrath. And a sevenday later, Esme arrived at Madellon Weyr, joining the candidate pool for senior queen Shimpath's first clutch by her new mate Muzzanth.
As a candidate, Esme 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 Esme! Backed up by her crony Cedranne, Auciet became the thorn in Esme's side throughout the sevendays of candidacy.
The dragons' hum woke Erilde and Esme 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 Esme 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, Esme 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 Esme to find it. The quest took Esme all over Madellon, from kitchens to lake to infirmary – but in the end she succeeded in reuniting the Weyrwoman's jewellery set, to general acclaim.
Respecting her elders
In the Weyr's kitchen gardens, Esme encountered R'hren, a former Weyrleader of Madellon, now peacefully retired to potter among his beloved plants. R'hren asked Esme to help him track down the ingredients for a warming salve to help his elderly bronze, Staamath, with his arthritic forepaws. Esme 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, Esme offered it to old S'rius, who was equally appreciative of the gift. And while Kisha, the blind old green rider Esme encountered in the infirmary, would have nothing to do with one of R'hren's concoctions, she too grew to approve of Esme – especially after she solved all three of her fiendish riddles!
Esme 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 Esme 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 Esme some intelligence on the Southern seven, his advice was somewhat garbled! Nonetheless, Esme 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, Esme 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, Esme 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. Esme 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 Esme a certain confidence in her own prospects!
A rising problem
Esme 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. Esme'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.
A Harper born
Esme's Harper training came in handy when Carleah, the Weyr Singer, asked her to play a set with her ensemble in the dining hall. They played to a rapturous reception that gave Esme's confidence – and her mark purse – quite a boost!
Madellon's kitchens – the heart of the Weyr, and domain of Headwoman Crauva – provided Esme 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 Esme 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 Esme 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 – Esme did!
A blue lady
Coming across T'gala, Pern's only female blue rider, bathing her Heppeth in the lake, Esme 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 Esme didn't want to pass up.
Seeking knowledge of Erilde's parentage, Esme 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 Esme might construct a story about a long-dead rider. Esme 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!
Mindful of the Weyrlingmaster's orders to be smart for the Hatching, Esme visited Madellon's resident barber – green rider Z'fell – for a trim. Very conscious of her dignity, Esme ensured she came away with a cut she actually liked.
A breath of foul air
Early in the day, Esme 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. The route she chose turned out to be thick with choking toxic fumes from Madellon's volcanic foundation, and Esme soon found herself struggling for breath.
Undeterred, Esme pushed through the discomfort, and emerged shortly onto the Hatching Sands. But she wasn't quiet enough. Shimpath, dozing only very lightly, awoke, and she and Muzzanth chased Esme from the Sands!
When it came to the Hatching, Esme had an excruciatingly long wait before the yellow-green craggy-textured egg Hatched to reveal the light sky-blue dragonet who would choose her, naming himself Amalth.
A friend in me
And Esme 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 Esme and Amalth's new classmates. (On the bright side, at least Cedranne didn't Impress!)
After the Hatching
"Amalth" by Chris S. Baily
The Weyrlingmaster was the first to congratulate Esme on her Impression, but it was J'kel, thrilled that Hozrath had finally found a successful candidate after so long without, who stepped in to help with the immediate matter of Amalth's first meal. That was Esme's first opportunity to speak to Erilde, too, and they introduced each other, with considerable delight, to their respective dragonets, Amalth and Shaldeth.
It wasn't long before Amalth's personality started to become evident. The big sky-blue dragonet demonstrated an enormous desire to please, making him an especially endearing character.
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 Esme made along the way – a young Weyrbred candidate, Brithie, whom Esme had encountered in a sudden crisis of confidence directly before the Hatching – hailed Esme at the barracks – crediting her with her successful Impression of a tiny bottle-green dragonet, Epatanth!
Meeting the Weyrleader
As Esme 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 Esme's unusual Impression of a blue. T'gat further enquired if Esme would like to elide her name, as T'gala had done, or not. Esme elected not to elide her name – content to remain Esme, rider of blue Amalth!
Following their audience with the Weyrleader, and the application of oily rags to relieve Amalth's and Shaldeth's newborn itchiness, Esme 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
Esme and Erilde soon went their separate ways to find family and friends. Many of the riders and Weyrfolk Esme had helped during the day greeted her with warm congratulations as she hunted through the throng – but, at last, she found her family.
Esme's Harper parents were absolutely delighted to find themselves the mother and father of a blue rider and happier still to learn that Esme had already brought her musical skills to the Weyr. And they were even more delighted to drink to Esme and Amalth when the Weyrleaders arrived to toast them!
The rest of the evening passed in a blur for Esme, 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, Esme 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 Esme'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 Esme 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 Amalth.
A close encounter
On her way back to the barracks , Esme 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 Esme 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, Esme decided, on balance, not to tell the Weyrlingmaster about the stranger.
Returning at last to Amalth – billeted between Erilde's Shaldeth and a very large green dragonet – Esme 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 – Esme 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?
Esme and Amalth'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
Amalth and I make a very strong match!
SUGAR AND SPICE
I've been a very nice person (so far)!
EBONY AND IVORY
Amalth and I agreed on something very important!
Amalth and I agreed on something quite important!