Trainees and Wherlinghood

Rules

  1. Trainees must be at least 18 turns of age.
  2. Trainees may not drink to excess. Wherlings may not drink at all until their wher is a full turn old. Traditionally wherlings will have their first celebratory cup of wine at their First Turn celebration, and then after that may slowly re-introduce alcohol.
  3. A trainee who becomes pregnant will not be eligible for Impression until the child is fostered. Wherlings are strictly forbidden from sex until their wher's first mating Run.
  4. Because there is no upper age limit for wher Impression, trainees are expected to work in a craft and generally support themselves, with limited assistance from the Weyr.
  5. Trainees and wherlings must obey the 'master and 'master's assistant. The teachers are there to ensure everyone's safety.
  6. A wher which mauls a human will be culled. Wherlings MUST learn to control their bonded. Extremely rare exceptions will be made for clear-cut cases of self-defense, but no other time.

Trainees

No trainee younger than age eighteen will be considered for wher Impression. Period. A wher is a far more dangerous animal than a dragon; they lack the genetic programming that keeps dragons pacifistic and dependent upon their riders. A wher can survive perfectly well without its handler, and a sufficiently angry or ill-trained one can (and will) turn on humans. Trainees are not Searched; instead, the first step of their education is interviewing with an adult wherhandler to ensure that they have an appropriate temperament to be trusted with a young wher.

Because all trainees begin as adults, they do not live in a barracks like Candidates do, nor do they have mandatory chores. Trainees are expected to have a life of their own: either in a craft, or guard work, or some other occupation. They are compensated for time spent in mandatory lessons, but being a trainee is not all-consuming the way that being a Candidate is. As such, it is possible to be a Candidate and a trainee simultaneously… if somewhat difficult due to the conflicting schedules.

Wherlinghood

Sizes given are in percentage of adult size. Whers, being smaller overall, don't experience the same kind of explosive growth that dragons do. Their hides benefit from regular oiling but don't require it, and they maintain a more regular growth schedule throughout their wherlinghood. Wherlings graduate at 18 months.

Month Size Milestones
1 20% Wherlets are born without teeth, and are fed primarily on a kind of porridge mixed with blood. Infant wherlets communicate primarily with images and feelings rather than words. Lessons focus exclusively on rules and basic wher care.
2 25% Ground meats and pieces small enough to be swallowed whole are introduced to the wherlet's diet. Lessons on recognizing and treating common ailments.
3 30% Wherlets begin teething. Most of the month is devoted to caring for very grumpy babies.
4 35% Wherlets have full teeth, eating adult diet, socializing with clutchmates more. Using simple words and broken sentences in mindspeech.
5 40% Wherlings more active, more independent. Nightly runs to build up muscle and endurance.
6 45% Wherlings begin "practice pack" exercises with simple objectives: find a hidden object, follow a scent trail.
7 50% Wherlings have more or less reached adult levels of fluency with mindspeech.
8 55% Wherlings begin hunting for themselves outside the Weyr. More advanced "practice pack" exercises: group hunting, wilderness survival. Basic bitework begins for guard whers.
9 60% -
10 65% Wherlings old enough for short glides. Handlers begin visualization training for between.
11 70% Visualization practice continues, with handlers and whers practicing sending an image to an adult wher to check for clarity and accuracy.
12 75% First Turn celebration.
13 80% Whers go between under the wherlingmaster's supervision for the first time.
14 84% -
15 88% Firestone drills. With no Thread and firestone in limited supply, flaming is generally reserved for clearing brush or - in rare cases - for defense against wild animals. All whers are expected to know how to chew firestone for emergencies, however.
16 92% Mating Run etiquette lessons.
17 96% Whers begin socializing with existing packs to determine where they will best fit.
18 100% Whers at full adult size. First green mating runs begin.

Bear in mind that the above are only milestone lessons, linked to the growth patterns of the wher. Throughout their eighteen months of wherlinghood, handlers will also be receiving daily lessons in everything that they will have to know, including:

  • Self defense (armed and unarmed)
  • Ranged weapon training
  • Pack and solo tactics (theoretical first, then applied)
  • Hunting
  • Tracking
  • Wilderness survival
  • Pernese history and politics
  • Wherhandler etiquette and behavior
  • Basic first aid (human and wher)

The above list represents only the curriculum taught to Discovery Weyr's wherguards. Wherhandlers are a diverse group and handlers taught in different places may have very different specializations. For instance, mining wherhandlers might learn a great deal of geology and mine safety, but skip the wilderness survival.

In additional, ALL wherlings, regardless of specialty, will be constantly drilled starting from day one on wher behavior and pack dynamics. Wherlings will form "practice packs" to help their whers socialize, and to learn how to work as a cohesive unit. Ideally, a graduated wherhandler will be able to read even an unfamiliar wher's body language and nonverbal signals with confidence by the time they are graduated. This is a critical skill, as it may be the only thing standing between a handler and a potentially deadly wher fight.

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