N'ko and green Kranth
The Road So Far!
It all began at Madellon Weyr for Naoko – a young man of 18 Turns, dreaming of becoming a green rider.
Naoko 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. Having been left standing at a Hatching once before, Naoko struggled with both his modest upbringing as a Weyr child with no rider blood, and his fear that he wasn't dragonrider material.
As a candidate, Naoko 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 Naoko! Backed up by his crony Kestor, Rielat became the thorn in Naoko's side throughout the sevendays of candidacy.
The dragons' hum woke Soburn and Naoko 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 Naoko 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, Naoko 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 Naoko to find it. The quest took Naoko 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, Naoko encountered R'hren, a former Weyrleader of Madellon, now peacefully retired to potter among his beloved plants. R'hren asked Naoko to help him track down the ingredients for a warming salve to help his elderly bronze, Staamath, with his arthritic forepaws. Naoko 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, Naoko offered it to old S'rius, who was equally appreciative of the gift. And while Kisha, the blind old green rider Naoko encountered in the infirmary, would have nothing to do with one of R'hren's concoctions, she too grew to approve of Naoko – especially after he solved all three of her fiendish riddles!
Naoko 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 Naoko 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 Naoko some intelligence on the Southern seven, his advice was somewhat garbled! Nonetheless, Naoko 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, Naoko 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, Naoko 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. Naoko 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 Naoko a certain confidence in his own prospects!
A rising problem
Naoko 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. Naoko'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 Naoko 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 Naoko 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 Naoko 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 Naoko 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. But with one thing and another, Naoko didn't bring it back – earning the Weyrwoman Second's ire!
A shining example
Coming upon Santinoth – Madellon's biggest bronze – being bathed in the lake, Naoko was quick to offer assistance to his rider, T'rello. It couldn't hurt to have some close-up experience with a bronze, could it?
Conscious of Soburn's bashfulness, Naoko 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 Naoko that he wasn't interested in Soburn – or any other men, for that matter. But Naoko'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, Naoko visited Madellon's resident barber – green rider Z'fell – for a trim. Very conscious of his dignity, Naoko ensured he came away with a cut he actually liked.
When it came to the Hatching, Naoko didn't have to wait at all for his date with destiny. The grey-splashed beige egg that Hatched first produced a dark teal-green hatchling who spared no time in choosing Naoko, naming herself Kranth.
A friend in me
And Naoko 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 – Naoko'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 – Naoko 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
"Kranth" by Chris S. Baily
The Weyrlingmaster was the first to congratulate Naoko 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 Kranth's first meal. That was Naoko's first opportunity to speak to Soburn, too, and they introduced each other, with considerable delight, to their respective dragonets, Kranth and Aeranth. Soburn also told Naoko that his new name was to be – perhaps unsurprisingly – S'burn.
It wasn't long before Kranth's personality started to become evident. The teal-green dragonet, inquisitive about everything from the instant of her hatching, also proved to be an especially sweet-natured and kind 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 Naoko made along the way – a young Holdbred candidate, Nichen, whom Naoko had encountered in a hopelessly dishevelled state directly before the Hatching – hailed Naoko at the barracks – crediting him with his successful Impression of a moon-blue dragonet, Yooth!
Meeting the Weyrleader
As Naoko 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. Naoko was proud to introduce Kranth to the Weyrleader. And after a brief conference with Kranth, Naoko gave the Weyrleader his own new name: N'ko, rider of green Kranth!
Following their audience with the Weyrleader, and the application of oily rags to relieve Kranth's and Aeranth's newborn itchiness, N'ko 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
N'ko and S'burn soon went their separate ways to find family and friends. Many of the riders and Weyrfolk N'ko had helped during the day greeted him with warm congratulations as he hunted through the throng – but, at last, he found his family.
N'ko's mother, Nelya, was thrilled by her son's Impression – though perhaps not quite as ecstatic as N'ko's younger siblings, Ashi and Halante. As the first dragonrider in the family, N'ko was keenly aware of what it meant to his brother and sister. And when the Weyrleaders came to drink a toast to N'ko and Kranth, Valonna was particularly delighted for Nelya – one of her most trusted Headwoman Seconds.
The rest of the evening passed in a blur for N'ko, 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'ko 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'ko'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'ko 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 Kranth.
A close encounter
On his way back to the barracks , N'ko 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'ko 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'ko decided, on balance, not to tell the Weyrlingmaster about the stranger.
Returning at last to Kranth – billeted between S'burn's Aeranth and a mucky-looking brown dragonet – N'ko 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 green beside him – N'ko 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?
N'ko and Kranth'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
Kranth and I make a very strong match!
SUGAR AND SPICE
I've been a very nice person (so far)!
EBONY AND IVORY
Kranth and I agreed on something very important!
Kranth and I agreed on something quite important!