R'tan and green Alinulath
The Road So Far!
It all began at Jessaf Hold, in the protectorate of Madellon Weyr, for Ranthoran – a young man of 18 Turns, dreaming of becoming a green rider.
Ranthoran was born to unusual privilege – a grandson of Winstone, Lord of mighty Jessaf Hold. Ranthoran 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, Ranthoran 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 Ranthoran becoming a candidate – displeased that such a opportunity would ruin his plans for Ranthoran's betrothal to a niece of Lord Orfen's. But he grudgingly accepted that, as Ranthoran had his majority, he had the right to accept Search. And with Winstone's admonition that he Impress a bronze – or a brown at the very least – ringing in his ears, Ranthoran left to begin his candidacy at Madellon Weyr.
As a candidate, Ranthoran 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 Ranthoran! Backed up by his crony Kestor, Rielat became the thorn in Ranthoran's side throughout the sevendays of candidacy.
The dragons' hum woke Soburn and Ranthoran 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 Ranthoran 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, Ranthoran 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 Ranthoran to find it. The quest took Ranthoran 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, Ranthoran encountered R'hren, a former Weyrleader of Madellon, now peacefully retired to potter among his beloved plants. R'hren asked Ranthoran to help him track down the ingredients for a warming salve to help his elderly bronze, Staamath, with his arthritic forepaws. Ranthoran 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, Ranthoran offered it to old S'rius, who was equally appreciative of the gift. And while Kisha, the blind old green rider Ranthoran encountered in the infirmary, would have nothing to do with one of R'hren's concoctions, she too grew to approve of Ranthoran – especially after he solved all three of her fiendish riddles!
Ranthoran 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 Ranthoran 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 Ranthoran some intelligence on the Southern seven, his advice was somewhat garbled! Nonetheless, Ranthoran 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, Ranthoran 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, Ranthoran 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. Ranthoran 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 Ranthoran a certain confidence in his own prospects!
A rising problem
Ranthoran 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. Ranthoran'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.
Ranthoran perhaps overestimated his own competence when it came to a disastrous spell on the Harper dais in the dining hall. Accompanying Weyr Singer Carleah – badly – on the tambourine, he was lucky not to be booed off the stage!
Madellon's kitchens – the heart of the Weyr, and domain of Headwoman Crauva – provided Ranthoran 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 Ranthoran 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 Ranthoran 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 – Ranthoran did!
Weyrbrat by name...
A run-in with a Weyrbrat – Terzon, whom Rielat had paid to cause Ranthoran trouble – resulted in an unfortunate public incident. All too aware of being shaken down, Ranthoran gave the kid a shove – in front of a number of witnesses – doing nothing for his reputation!
A blue lady
Coming across T'gala, Pern's only female blue rider, bathing her Heppeth in the lake, Ranthoran offered his assistance – which T'gala gladly accepted.
Conscious of Soburn's bashfulness, Ranthoran 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 Ranthoran that he wasn't interested in Soburn – or any other men, for that matter. But Ranthoran'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, Ranthoran visited Madellon's resident barber – green rider Z'fell – for a trim. Very conscious of his dignity, Ranthoran ensured he came away with a cut he actually liked.
A slithery customer
Early in the day, Ranthoran 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 a stroke of ill luck, Ranthoran strayed into tunnel snake territory! A huge, aggressive, and potently venomous female tunnel-snake guarded the exit to the Hatching ground. Ranthoran was lucky to avoid being bitten. But ultimately he evaded the snake, dodging past it and slipping out onto the Hatching Sands.
Having survived his encounter with the snake, Ranthoran crept closer to the clutch – close enough to touch an egg – before beating a hasty retreat from the Hatching Ground!
When it came to the Hatching, Ranthoran had an excruciatingly long wait before the spotted green and cream egg Hatched to reveal the vivid sea-green dragonet who would choose him, naming herself Alinulath.
But Alinulath was nearly beaten to Ranthoran by another dragonet – a slender olive-green hatchling who seemed torn between Ranthoran and Soburn. Sensing that she wasn't the best match for him, Ranthoran stepped aside to give his friend precedence – resulting in Soburn's Impression of the little green, Aeranth.
Whatever happened to Rielat?
Sadly, there was at least one fly in the numbweed. Rielat Impressed an impressively proportioned indigo-blue hatchling, making them Ranthoran and Alinulath's new classmates. (On the bright side, at least Kestor didn't Impress!)
After the Hatching
"Alinulath" by Emily Holland
The Weyrlingmaster was the first to congratulate Ranthoran on his Impression, but it was Garlan, delighted that her risky choice of Winstone's grandson had Impressed, who stepped in to help with the immediate matter of Alinulath's first meal. That was Ranthoran's first opportunity to speak to Soburn, too, and they introduced each other, with considerable delight, to their respective dragonets, Alinulath and Aeranth. Soburn also told Ranthoran that his new name was to be – perhaps unsurprisingly – S'burn.
It wasn't long before Alinulath's personality started to become evident. The sea-green dragonet – ambiguously coloured at first glance, but unequivocally female when asked – proved to have a particularly playful and fun-loving outlook on life.
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 Ranthoran made along the way – a young Holdbred candidate, Nichen, whom Ranthoran had encountered in a hopelessly dishevelled state directly before the Hatching – hailed Ranthoran at the barracks – crediting him with his successful Impression of a moon-blue dragonet, Yooth!
Meeting the Weyrleader
As Ranthoran 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. Ranthoran was proud to introduce Alinulath to the Weyrleader. And after a brief conference with Alinulath, Ranthoran gave the Weyrleader his own new name: R'tan, rider of green Alinulath!
Following their audience with the Weyrleader, and the application of oily rags to relieve Alinulath's and Aeranth's newborn itchiness, R'tan 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
R'tan and S'burn soon went their separate ways to find family and friends. Many of the riders and Weyrfolk R'tan had helped during the day greeted him with warm congratulations as he hunted through the throng – but, at last, he found his family.
Lord Winstone, R'tan's grandfather, was in a state of high dudgeon about his grandson's Impression of a green. A tense scene ensued, with the Weyrleaders obliged to step in to defend R'tan from his grandfather's fury – but the damage was already done.
The rest of the evening passed in a blur for R'tan, 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, R'tan 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 R'tan'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 R'tan 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 Alinulath.
A close encounter
On his way back to the barracks , R'tan 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 R'tan 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, R'tan decided, on balance, not to tell the Weyrlingmaster about the stranger.
Returning at last to Alinulath – billeted between S'burn's Aeranth and a bright bronze dragonet – R'tan 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 – R'tan 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?
R'tan and Alinulath'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.
THE YIN TO YOUR YANG
Alinulath and I complement each other!
SUGAR AND SPICE
I've been a very nice person (so far)!
EBONY AND IVORY
Alinulath and I agreed on something very important!
Alinulath and I disagreed on something quite important!