A'yeli and blue Mabonth
The Road So Far!
It all began at Jessaf Hold, in the protectorate of Madellon Weyr, for Arris – a young woman of 16 Turns, dreaming of becoming a blue rider.
Arris was born to unusual privilege – a granddaughter of Winstone, Lord of mighty Jessaf Hold. Arris didn't scramble for the attention of the young Search rider, Garlan, who came to Jessaf in early 102 seeking candidates for Madellon Weyr's latest clutch. But as a scion of the Hold, Arris was among the party welcoming the green rider to Jessaf – and, in due course, became the focus of her dragon Hushith's attention. Lord Winstone wasn't enthusiastic about Arris becoming a candidate – while conceding that he could spare a younger grandchild. And with Winstone's admonition that she should remember her place as his granddaughter and not make a scene ringing in her ears, Arris left to begin her candidacy at Madellon Weyr.
As a candidate, Arris 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 Arris! Backed up by her crony Cedranne, Auciet became the thorn in Arris's side throughout the sevendays of candidacy.
The dragons' hum woke Erilde and Arris 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 Arris 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, Arris 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 Arris to find it. Despite Arris'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, Arris encountered R'hren, a former Weyrleader of Madellon, now peacefully retired to potter among his beloved plants. R'hren asked Arris to help him track down the ingredients for a warming salve to help his elderly bronze, Staamath, with his arthritic forepaws. Arris duly located the components of R'hren's salve, winning the old bronze rider's approval in the process.
Arris 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 Arris 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 Arris some intelligence on the Southern seven, his advice was somewhat garbled! Nonetheless, Arris unravelled Archidath's confusing suggestions and got the right packages to the right dragons – without being growled at!
A rising problem
Arris 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. And while Arris did manage to get G'tron excluded from the flight – not to mention another blue rider, G'pellas, who was needed in the Harper ensemble – she still ultimately failed to reconcile the star-crossed green riding lovers!
Madellon's kitchens – the heart of the Weyr, and domain of Headwoman Crauva – provided Arris 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 Arris 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 Arris 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. But with one thing and another, Arris didn't bring it back – earning the Weyrwoman Second's ire!
A blue lady
Coming across T'gala, Pern's only female blue rider, bathing her Heppeth in the lake, Arris 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 Arris didn't want to pass up.
A breath of foul air
Early in the day, Arris 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 Arris soon found herself struggling for breath.
Undeterred, Arris 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 Arris from the Sands!
When it came to the Hatching, Arris had an excruciatingly long wait before the green-clouded blue egg Hatched to reveal the dark steel-blue dragonet who would choose her, naming himself Mabonth.
A friend bereft
But to Arris's dismay, Erilde wasn't as fortunate. No dragonet showed an interest in her, and she was left among the candidates remaining unmatched at the end of the Hatching.
Whatever happened to Auciet?
Sadly, there was at least one fly in the numbweed. Auciet Impressed an unusually aggressive grass-green hatchling, making them Arris and Mabonth's new classmates. (On the bright side, at least Cedranne didn't Impress!)
After the Hatching
"Mabonth" by Emily Holland
The Weyrlingmaster was the first to congratulate Arris on her Impression, but it was Garlan, delighted that her risky choice of Winstone's granddaughter had Impressed, who stepped in to help with the immediate matter of Mabonth's first meal. That was the first moment Arris had truly grasped that Erilde wasn't going to be a weyrling alongside her – a truth that hit hard. In Erilde's absence, Arina, who'd Impressed a cloudy-green dragonet, Chanth – was a welcome friendly face.
It wasn't long before Mabonth's personality started to become evident. The dark blue dragonet, among the smallest of his colour, turned out to be of an endearingly shy and modest character, rather requiring of encouragement.
With both dragonets full to bursting with fresh meat, the newly minted dragonpairs left the Hatching sands for their new home: the weyrling barracks.
Meeting the Weyrleader
As Arris and Arina 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 Arris's unusual Impression of a blue. T'gat further enquired if Arris would like to elide her name, as T'gala had done, or not. Arris took up the opportunity to rename herself, and after a brief conference with Mabonth, Arris gave the Weyrleader her new name – A'yeli, rider of blue Mabonth!
Following their audience with the Weyrleader, and the application of oily rags to relieve Mabonth's and Chanth's newborn itchiness, A'yeli and Arina 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
A'yeli and Arina soon went their separate ways to find family and friends. Many of the riders and Weyrfolk A'yeli had helped during the day greeted her with warm congratulations as she hunted through the throng – but, at last, she found her family.
Lord Winstone, A'yeli's grandfather, was outraged by his granddaughter's highly irregular Impression of a blue dragon – calling her aberrant. The Weyrleaders were quick to take A'yeli's part, but the damage to her relationship with her grandfather was done.
The rest of the evening passed in a blur for A'yeli, 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'yeli 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 A'yeli'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 A'yeli some advice about paying attention to her new classmates and surroundings, lest she fall foul of the Weyrlingmaster's penchant for snap quizzes, advised her to report to Master Isnan before returning to the barracks to get her injuries checked again, and made some observations on Mabonth.
A close encounter
On her way back to the barracks (by way of the infirmary, as ordered by Tarshe), A'yeli 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'yeli 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, A'yeli decided, on balance, not to tell the Weyrlingmaster about the stranger.
Returning at last to Mabonth – billeted between Arina's Chanth and a pretty blue-green dragonet – A'yeli 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 – A'yeli 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?
A'yeli and Mabonth'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.
I make quite a strange match with Mabonth!
PLEASE STATE THE NATURE OF THE MEDICAL EMERGENCY
I returned to the infirmary!
EBONY AND IVORY
Mabonth and I agreed on something very important!
Mabonth and I agreed on something quite important!