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Illyra and green Rhovith

The Road So Far!

It all began at Jessaf Hold, in the protectorate of Madellon Weyr, for Illyra – a young girl of 14 Turns, dreaming of becoming a green rider.

Illyra was born the daughter of a modest cotholder at Jessaf Hold, working alongside her widowed father to work their allotted land, and help bring up her young twin siblings, Albon and Gettie. And in early 102, when a green rider, N'jol, and his Kistrith came to Jessaf in search of candidates for Madellon Weyr's hardening clutch, Illyra didn't even present herself as a hopeful. Yet it was Illyra that Kistrith singled out among all those young people. She almost didn't accept Search – anxious not to abandon her father. But he insisted, revealing that his late wife, Illyra's mother, had always dreamed of being a dragonrider – and gifting Illyra with her blue feather pendant as a lucky charm.

As a candidate, Illyra was assigned a bunkmate – Jopha, a mischievous young Weyrbred girl prone to getting herself into trouble, 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 – Thippia, a foul-mouthed girl from the Seacraft – who took a firm disliking to Illyra! Backed up by her crony Berrin, Thippia became the thorn in Illyra's side throughout the sevendays of candidacy.

Hatching Day

The dragons' hum woke Jopha and Illyra on 102.03.17. Following a brief run-in with Thippia, 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 Illyra left, Jopha – whose Impression robe was sadly overlarge for her petite frame – recruited Illyra's help in getting it adjusted by her nemesis Shookana in the mending room.

The one-armed green rider and the thieving queen

Immediately on leaving the candidate barracks, Illyra 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 Illyra to find it. The quest took Illyra all over Madellon, from kitchens to lake to infirmary – but in the end she succeeded in reuniting the Weyrwoman's jewellery set, to general acclaim.

Respecting her elders

In the Weyr's kitchen gardens, Illyra encountered R'hren, a former Weyrleader of Madellon, now peacefully retired to potter among his beloved plants. R'hren asked Illyra to help him track down the ingredients for a warming salve to help his elderly bronze, Staamath, with his arthritic forepaws. Illyra 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, Illyra offered it to old S'rius, who was equally appreciative of the gift. And while Kisha, the blind old green rider Illyra encountered in the infirmary, would have nothing to do with one of R'hren's concoctions, she too grew to approve of Illyra – especially after she solved all three of her fiendish riddles!

Southern comfort

Illyra 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 Illyra 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 Illyra some intelligence on the Southern seven, his advice was somewhat garbled! Nonetheless, Illyra 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, Illyra met her 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, Illyra 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. Illyra even shared the largesse with Zielaph, who then introduced her to Fr'ton – who, having Impressed a bronze in spite of his less than boundless promise, gave Illyra a certain confidence in her own prospects!

A rising problem

Illyra 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. Illyra'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.

Kitchen diplomacy

Madellon's kitchens – the heart of the Weyr, and domain of Headwoman Crauva – provided Illyra 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 Illyra 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 Illyra 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. Which – mindful of not offending such an important personage of the Weyr – Illyra did!

A blue lady

Coming across T'gala, Pern's only female blue rider, bathing her Heppeth in the lake, Illyra 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 Illyra didn't want to pass up.

Friend request

Knowing of Jopha's chequered history with Shookana, mistress of the Weyr's mending room, Illyra approached the task of having her robe adjusted with considerable caution. Realising that falsehood would be the wrong approach, Illyra went to Shookana with the truth – and a gift of popcorn. And while Illyra doubted if Shookana and Jopha will ever be friends, the restoration of her Hatching robe to a suitable length did a great deal for her self-confidence!

Hair today

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

A breath of foul air

Early in the day, Illyra 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 Illyra soon found herself struggling for breath.

Undeterred, Illyra 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 Illyra from the Sands!

The Hatching

When it came to the Hatching, Illyra didn't have to wait too long for her date with destiny. The spotted green and cream egg Hatched out a vivid sea-green dragonet who told Illyra her name was Rhovith.

A friend in me

And Illyra wasn't the only lucky one. To her delight, Jopha also Impressed, becoming the rider of a big emerald-green hatchling, Deimoth.

Whatever happened to Thippia?

It turned out that making an enemy of Illyra was a very poor choice on Thippia's part. For the low, low price of just three marks, Illyra had Grimes, the shady fellow loitering near the Gather stalls, spread a series of nasty rumours about Thippia. By the time the Weyrlingmaster mustered the candidate cohort immediately before the Hatching, the damage to Thippia's reputation was done – and she was ejected from the candidate pool without ever setting foot on the Sands!

After the Hatching

"Rhovith" by Emily Holland

The Weyrlingmaster was the first to congratulate Illyra on her Impression, but it was N'jol, delighted that his most humble candidate had Impressed, who stepped in to help with the immediate matter of Rhovith's first meal. That was Illyra's first opportunity to speak to Jopha, too, and they introduced each other, with considerable delight, to their respective dragonets, Rhovith and Deimoth.

It wasn't long before Rhovith'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.

Big sister

Another friend Illyra made along the way – a young Weyrbred candidate, Brithie, whom Illyra had encountered in a sudden crisis of confidence directly before the Hatching – hailed Illyra at the barracks – crediting her with her successful Impression of a tiny bottle-green dragonet, Epatanth!

Meeting the Weyrleader

As Illyra and Jopha wiped the worst of the blood and sand from their tired new dragonets, the Weyrleader, T'gat, came to inspect both girls' dragonets and to ask after their names. Illyra was proud to introduce Rhovith to the Weyrleader – and to give him her full new name: Illyra, rider of green Rhovith!

Following their audience with the Weyrleader, and the application of oily rags to relieve Rhovith's and Deimoth's newborn itchiness, Illyra and Jopha 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

Illyra and Jopha soon went their separate ways to find family and friends. Many of the riders and Weyrfolk Illyra had helped during the day greeted her with warm congratulations as she hunted through the throng – but, at last, she found her family.

Illyra's father almost couldn't believe his daughter's good fortune, completely thrilled to be the father of a dragonrider. And he was even more starstruck when the Weyrleaders came to drink a toast to Illyra and Rhovith.

The rest of the evening passed in a blur for Illyra, 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, Illyra 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 Illyra'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 Illyra 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 Rhovith.

A close encounter

On her way back to the barracks (by way of the infirmary, as ordered by Tarshe), Illyra 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 Illyra 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, Illyra decided, on balance, not to tell the Weyrlingmaster about the stranger.

Returning at last to Rhovith – billeted between Jopha's Deimoth and a pretty blue-green dragonet – Illyra 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 green beside her – Illyra 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?

Illyra and Rhovith's story will continue in Dragonchoice: Weyrling, coming soon!

Illyra'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:
THE YIN TO YOUR YANG

Rhovith and I complement each other!

Achievement Unlocked:
SUGAR AND SPICE

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

Achievement Unlocked:
PLEASE STATE THE NATURE OF THE MEDICAL EMERGENCY

I returned to the infirmary!

Achievement Unlocked:
EBONY AND IVORY

Rhovith and I agreed on something very important!

Achievement Unlocked:
BUM NOTE

Rhovith and I disagreed on something quite important!