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V'rel and blue Gwencith

The Road So Far!

It all began at Madellon Weyr for Varel – a young boy of 14 Turns, dreaming of becoming a blue rider.

Varel 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. As a first-time candidate with no dragonrider blood, Varel looked forward to the Hatching with both excitement and trepidation – fearing he might not have what it takes to Impress, but hoping beyond hope that he would!

As a candidate, Varel 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 Varel! Backed up by his crony Varell, Gydeton became the thorn in Varel's side throughout the sevendays of candidacy.

Hatching Day

The dragons' hum woke Martom and Varel 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 Varel 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, Varel 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 Varel to find it. The quest took Varel 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, Varel encountered R'hren, a former Weyrleader of Madellon, now peacefully retired to potter among his beloved plants. R'hren asked Varel to help him track down the ingredients for a warming salve to help his elderly bronze, Staamath, with his arthritic forepaws. Varel duly located the components of R'hren's salve, winning the old bronze rider's approval in the process.

Southern comfort

Varel 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 Varel 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 Varel some intelligence on the Southern seven, his advice was somewhat garbled! Nonetheless, Varel 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, Varel 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, Varel 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. Varel 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 Varel a certain confidence in his own prospects!

A rising problem

Varel 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. Varel'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 Varel did annoy Soleigh, who wasn't impressed with him for prolonging Maris' binge by bringing her more wine!

Kitchen diplomacy

Madellon's kitchens – the heart of the Weyr, and domain of Headwoman Crauva – provided Varel 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 Varel 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 Varel 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 – Varel did!

A blue lady

Coming across T'gala, Pern's only female blue rider, bathing her Heppeth in the lake, Varel offered his assistance – which T'gala gladly accepted.

Friend request

Given Varel's age, finding some wine for Martom proved difficult – the Weyr Vintner, Master Saxton, refused to sell it to an underage candidate. His only other alternative was an illicit purchase from the shady figure of Grimes. And L'stev's warning about getting drunk before the Hatching held weight. The Vintner's offering of alcohol-free grape juice gave Varel an idea – and offering it to Martom, none the wiser for the substitution, still had the desired effect of boosting his confidence before the Hatching – without any unwanted side-effects!

Hair today

Mindful of the Weyrlingmaster's orders to be smart for the Hatching, Varel visited Madellon's resident barber – green rider Z'fell – for a trim. Very conscious of his dignity, Varel ensured he came away with a cut he actually liked.

A Weyrleader's mercy

Early in the day, Varel 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 chance, he found a way onto the Hatching Ground – onto a very high ledge! Calling down for help was the only option, and a welcome – if embarrassing – lift down from Muzzanth himself returned Varel safely to ground level.

Realising that honesty was the best policy, Varel apologised to the Weyrleader for intruding – and was surprised to find T'gat remarkably sanguine about it, reminiscing about his own youthful journey through the passages. And a polite request granted Varel the Weyrleader's permission to approach the clutch. He touched one of the eggs, marvelling at its palpable vitality.

The Hatching

When it came to the Hatching, Varel had to wait a little while before the yellow-green craggy-textured egg Hatched to reveal the light sky-blue dragonet who would choose him, naming himself Gwencith.

A friend in me

And Varel wasn't the only lucky one. To his delight, Martom also Impressed, becoming the rider of a bright golden-bronze hatchling, Kauth.

Whatever happened to Gydeton?

Gydeton's victimisation of Varel had serious consequences – for Gydeton. Not everyone would have tattled on him the way Varel did, but his complaints about the other boy, together with L'stev's already thin opinion of Gydeton, had the desired effect. Directly before the Hatching, L'stev ejected Gydeton from the candidate pool!

After the Hatching

"Gwencith" by Chris S. Baily

The Weyrlingmaster was the first to congratulate Varel 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 Gwencith's first meal. That was Varel's first opportunity to speak to Martom, too, and they introduced each other, with considerable delight, to their respective dragonets, Gwencith and Kauth. Martom also told Varel that his new name was to be – perhaps unsurprisingly – M'tom.

It wasn't long before Gwencith'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.

Big brother

Another friend Varel made along the way – a young Holdbred candidate, Nichen, whom Varel had encountered in a hopelessly dishevelled state directly before the Hatching – hailed Varel at the barracks – crediting him with his successful Impression of a moon-blue dragonet, Yooth!

Meeting the Weyrleader

As Varel and M'tom 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. Varel was proud to introduce Gwencith to the Weyrleader. And after a brief conference with Gwencith, Varel gave the Weyrleader his own new name: V'rel, rider of blue Gwencith!

Following their audience with the Weyrleader, and the application of oily rags to relieve Gwencith's and Kauth's newborn itchiness, V'rel and M'tom 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

V'rel and M'tom soon went their separate ways to find family and friends. Many of the riders and Weyrfolk V'rel had helped during the day greeted him with warm congratulations as he hunted through the throng – but, at last, he found his family.

V'rel's mother, Nelya, was thrilled by her son's Impression – though perhaps not quite as ecstatic as V'rel's younger siblings, Ashi and Halante. As the first dragonrider in the family, V'rel was keenly aware of what it meant to his brother and sister. And when the Weyrleaders came to drink a toast to V'rel and Gwencith, Valonna was particularly delighted for Nelya – one of her most trusted Headwoman Seconds.

The rest of the evening passed in a blur for V'rel, 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, V'rel 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 V'rel'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 V'rel 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 Gwencith.

A close encounter

On his way back to the barracks , V'rel 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 V'rel 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, V'rel decided, on balance, not to tell the Weyrlingmaster about the stranger.

Returning at last to Gwencith – billeted between M'tom's Kauth and a slender green dragonet – V'rel 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 – V'rel 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 Varel's Impression here. V'rel and Gwencith's story will continue in Dragonchoice: Weyrling, coming soon!

V'rel's achievements

Achievement Unlocked:
CARRY ON WAYWARD SON

I travelled The Road So Far!

Achievement Unlocked:
OUR ROB, OR ROSS

I received a mysterious box!

Achievement Unlocked:
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.

Achievement Unlocked:
BIRDS OF A FEATHER

Gwencith and I make a very strong match!

Achievement Unlocked:
SUGAR AND SPICE

I've been a very nice person (so far)!

Achievement Unlocked:
EBONY AND IVORY

Gwencith and I agreed on something very important!

Achievement Unlocked:
IN TUNE

Gwencith and I agreed on something quite important!