A’rrax and blue Caricath
The Road So Far!
It all began at Madellon Weyr for Arrax – a young man of 16 Turns, dreaming of becoming a blue rider.
Arrax 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, Arrax 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, Arrax 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 Arrax! Backed up by his crony Kestor, Rielat became the thorn in Arrax's side throughout the sevendays of candidacy.
The dragons' hum woke Soburn and Arrax 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 Arrax 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, Arrax 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 Arrax to find it. The quest took Arrax 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 infirmary, Arrax encountered Kisha – a blind old green rider giving the Weyr's Healers a difficult time about taking her medicine. Kisha challenged Arrax to answer three riddles before she would consent to behave. And Arrax rose to that challenge – answering all three correctly, and winning Kisha's grudging respect!
A rising problem
Arrax 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. Arrax'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 Arrax 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 Arrax 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 him to find – although Arrax had an alternative use in mind for it...
Arrax certainly indulged his sweet tooth before the Hatching – laying claim to not one, not two, but three different types of bubbly pie Albeit he stole one of them..
Eggs and baskets
A visit to the Archives led to a meeting with Tarshe, Madellon's Weyrwoman Second. When Arrax 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 – Arrax did!
Weyrbrat by name...
A run-in with a Weyrbrat – Terzon, whom Rielat had paid to cause Arrax trouble – resulted in an unfortunate public incident. All too aware of being shaken down, Arrax gave the kid a shove – in front of a number of witnesses – doing nothing for his reputation!
A shining example
Coming upon Santinoth – Madellon's biggest bronze – being bathed in the lake, Arrax 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?
Mindful of the Weyrlingmaster's orders to be smart for the Hatching, Arrax visited Madellon's resident barber, Z'fell, for a trim. But he fell foul of the green rider's perverse sense of humour, and came away with a curious cut – short on top, long at the back – that prompted quite a number of odd looks and laughs at his expense!
A breath of foul air
Early in the day, Arrax 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. The route he chose turned out to be thick with choking toxic fumes from Madellon's volcanic foundation, and Arrax soon found himself struggling for breath.
Undeterred, Arrax pushed through the discomfort, and emerged shortly onto the Hatching Sands. But he wasn't quiet enough. Shimpath, dozing only very lightly, awoke, and she and Muzzanth chased Arrax from the Sands!
When it came to the Hatching, Arrax had an excruciatingly long wait before the yellow-green craggy-textured egg Hatched to reveal the light sky-blue dragonet who would choose him, naming himself Caricath.
A friend bereft
But to Arrax's dismay, Soburn 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 Rielat?
For Rielat, getting on Arrax's bad side proved to be an exceptionally poor choice. Arrax dosed Rielat's clean underfurs with hotfruit before the Hatching, and for once, the admonition to always put on clean underpants turned out to have very negative consequences. It took a little while for the hotfruit to take effect, but by the time the candidates reached the Hatching Sands, Rielat was in considerable distress. Unable to bear the burning sensation in his nether regions, he fled the Hatching Sands – squandering his chance at Impression!
After the Hatching
"Caricath" by Chris S. Baily
The Weyrlingmaster was the first to congratulate Arrax 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 Caricath's first meal. That was the first moment Arrax had truly grasped that Soburn wasn't going to be a weyrling alongside him – a truth that hit hard. In Soburn'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 Caricath'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 Arrax made along the way – a young Holdbred candidate, Nichen, whom Arrax had encountered in a hopelessly dishevelled state directly before the Hatching – hailed Arrax at the barracks – crediting him with his successful Impression of a moon-blue dragonet, Yooth!
Meeting the Weyrleader
As Arrax 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. Arrax was proud to introduce Caricath to the Weyrleader. And after a brief conference with Caricath, Arrax gave the Weyrleader his own new name: A’rrax, rider of blue Caricath!
Following their audience with the Weyrleader, and the application of oily rags to relieve Caricath's and Destrath's newborn itchiness, A’rrax 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
A’rrax and Ch'liam soon went their separate ways to find family and friends. Many of the riders and Weyrfolk A’rrax had helped during the day greeted him with warm congratulations as he hunted through the throng – but, at last, he found his family.
A’rrax's mother, Nelya, was thrilled by her son's Impression – though perhaps not quite as ecstatic as A’rrax's younger siblings, Ashi and Halante. As the first dragonrider in the family, A’rrax was keenly aware of what it meant to his brother and sister. And when the Weyrleaders came to drink a toast to A’rrax and Caricath, Valonna was particularly delighted for Nelya – one of her most trusted Headwoman Seconds.
The rest of the evening passed in a blur for A’rrax, 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, A’rrax 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 A’rrax's background with him – including much of what he had got up to on the morning of the Hatching – for good and ill. She cleared up an anomaly with his new name, too. She offered A’rrax 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 Caricath.
A close encounter
On his way back to the barracks , A’rrax 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 A’rrax 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, A’rrax decided, on balance, not to tell the Weyrlingmaster about the stranger – though he did give L'stev his new name.
Returning at last to Caricath – billeted between Ch'liam's Destrath and a bright bronze dragonet – A’rrax 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 blue beside him – A’rrax was struck with a deep sense of foreboding. Who was the mysterious dragonrider in the hooded cloak? What was the significance of the strange wooden box? And how had the stranger known A’rrax's new name?
A’rrax and Caricath'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!
COMPUTER SAYS NO
I changed my name from something unacceptable!
THE YIN TO YOUR YANG
Caricath and I complement each other!
SUGAR AND SPICE
I've been a very nice person (so far)!
EBONY AND IVORY
Caricath and I agreed on something very important!
Caricath and I disagreed on something quite important!