Truly Touching

Xanadu Weyr - Hatching Sands
A domed ceiling stretches high above the sands, enough open air for a queen and her mate to be comfortable with their clutch. Thin slits of windows around the edges let in a little light, though more of the illumination comes from electric lamps diffused off the dome. The sands are ringed by the dark blue seats of the observation level, the first third exposed to the sweltering heat of the sands but those in the back glassed off for the comfort of those watching.
The circle itself is filled with a mix of red and white sands, deep enough to cover the largest of dragon eggs with ease. To one side, a small door is visible, hidden away behind a platform meant to provide a place for the clutch parent's lifemates to stand during the on goings.

It's late evening, shortly after the dinner hour, when candidates are summoned to the sands. It's not the Glorious Mustard Terror that greets everyone's eyeballs, for once - Leirith has been given momentary reprieve from being sandsbound, with Xermiltoth serving to watch over the clutch in her stead. A pair of male riders are situated against the bronze's twice-baked hide, but it's the weyrlingmaster himself that guides candidates on the sand, his rough, dry voice delivering the typical rules. "No running, no fighting, and if you taste the eggs, on your own head be it," C'con concludes, brow lifting as though challenging anyone to protest their intent to mlem an egg. He's seen things, okay; nothing surprises him anymore. With a gesture that indicates the candidates should have at, he melds in with the rest of the weyrlingmasters to observe the candidates from afar.

There's a firm nod for C'con's words, with a quick salute tipped to the weyrlingmaster before she turns her attention to Xermiltoth. Ligeia bows to the bronze, of course, though her gaze is quick to shift to the eggs. And while there are two that seem to hold her regard longest, there are those that are untouched - and it's to one of those that she goes with a measured stride and a fearless fan of fingertips upon the shell. Arrow of Fire Egg, she chooses you! (Oh, wait, sorry, wrong fandom, but this is the society we're in now.)

< Ligeia touches egg 2 - Arrow of Fire Egg >

What's this? Ligeia tilts her head a little to one side, then the other, in a very canine kind of way. Listening, maybe? Or maybe it's to shift thoughts from one side to the other. Seriousness shifts to contemplativeness and the slow slide of tongue across the egg her lower lip. "I guess I could ask the same of you, hm?" Soft words, oh-so-soft, but still louder than she might have liked. Fingers move, framing different parts of the shell; she's done it before and she'll do it again, as if that somehow reframes the way the minds meet. She persists, though, leaning in a little more to better 'listen'.

Andalise isn't exactly dragging her feet, but there's enough reluctance to her steps that she's one of the last to enter the sand-filled cavern, lingering on the periphery for some moments long enough for a couple of the other candidates to glance back her way and exchange baffled looks before they proceed onward. But there's Xermiltoth, and perhaps that's enough to galvanize the young baker into lifting her chin and pressing forward to dip into a bow with enough of a smile to clear her heretofore uncertain expression. That ruddy egg is avoided with a hasty look away; instead, she's for one of the smaller eggs about, hesitating a breath longer before her fingertips inch forward to make contact.

< Andalise touches egg 3 - Lazing in the Sun Egg >

A soft, hummed note follows and Ligeia stirs again, moving around to another side before resuming contact. This time, she's crouched, hands spread wider across the shell. She's hunkered back through her heels for support; if she falls, it'll be backwards, not into the egg, so fret not clutchpapa! She's not here to be ghastly! Some words are shared but, this time, her voice is pitched too low to properly be heard from any distance. A faint smile emerges, there and gone in a matter of moments. And then, it's time to listen, eyes sliding shut while contact continues - at least for a little longer.

"Not again, " Andy half-whispers, shaking her head as if to clear it. The movement promptly turns into a wince, features puckering into a grimace. Most of her hand drops away so that her index finger is all that remains on the surface for a moment longer, dark eyes narrowing determinedly. Is that it?

[DTU/Bespeak] Andalise senses that Xermiltoth's mind arrives from afar, a weak rendition of its usual glory. « Andy, » is tepid as tea left to sit awhile, notably warm but only just, the barest of sparkler-flames touching the edges of his tenor. « It is good to see you. Mine says hello. » And, as swift as his mind arrived, it is withdrawn again, attention clearly straying elsewhere as she busies with eggs and their whims.

Andalise frowns at the little egg, snatching her hand back with pursed lips. "Oh-ho-ho, you really think you're something, don'tcha?" she whispers. She's mid-step toward another that she's yet to meet when she stills for a long moment, blinking with surprise written all over her face. "Hi, " she breathes aloud as if to herself while resuming her walk around the sands to get to that pink shell over there with a pattern that looks for all the world like finely-spun shirring. There's still something akin to wonder upon her expression by the time she gets close enough to lay a palm against the warm, pretty egg.

< Andalise leaves egg 3 - Lazing in the Sun Egg >
< Andalise touches egg 4 - Light as Air Egg >

"And now you're sounding a little like my father," is softly laughed, with Ligeia finally pushing to her feet with a shake of her head. "Thank you," because it's only polite for all the time that the egg's given her. A shaking out of hands follows and she takes a moment to draw and hold breath before her attention shifts to another egg - one recently vacated, in fact! A wiggle of fingers at Andalise eventually transmutes into a touch of fingers on Lazing in the Sun Egg. Will this one be effective? Egg-cellent, even? Time to find out!

< Ligeia leaves egg 2 - Arrow of Fire Egg >
< Ligeia touches egg 3 - Lazing in the Sun Egg >

Her tongue tucks itself into her cheek, but it does nothing to stall the curl of a smile. Ligeia huffs out a breath and shakes her head a little at something or another, a barely there gesture of negation. Fingers shift and move; frameworks are assembled in their own, strange way. Like looking at slivers of a familiar image and trying to figure out just what it is. This time, she's utterly silent, her breathing slow and steady despite the faint scrunch of her nose at something or another and the squinching of eyes just a little tighter when contact is renewed.

Maybe Andy's greeting is timed well enough that it could be in response to that friendly finger-wiggle from Ligeia in passing, but the moment passes in favor of her waving her free hand in front of her face once she's in contact with the rosy egg, as though seeking to part something she sees that isn't totally there. Chin ducking so that she can look down at her feet, she peeks back up again with a look of marked relief. That wasn't so bad! Not-bad enough that she'll even curiously keep her hand right where it is, for the moment.

She has to stifle a laugh in her shoulder - and, even then, it's not without an apology that the occupant within might not even hear (or acknowledge, quite frankly). Ligeia peels her hands away for a moment and shakes her head and smiles at the egg - and maybe she does that because it's not able to see it. Can it sense it? Probably. OH WELL. A tipped look is perfectly timed, if not intentionally so, to spot Andy's wave back; her smile ticks a little wider, and then it's right back to the egg that probably shouldn't be making her laugh, but there it goes. "Good thing you don't have talons to get sand between just yet," is low-murmured with a tilted grin and a shake of her head. Another side summons her to it, as if to find just the right spot to put her hands. Will it matter? Maybe. Maybe not. But she's not afraid of experimentation, even if that means getting caught in a trap.

Bewildered. That's the way Andalise stares at the shell, blinking at it as if seeing something totally new for the very first time. Her feet shift, a fidget that betrays as much discomfort as the way she has to roll her shoulders while her eyes squeeze shut. One eye cracks open to squint back at the cloud-like patterns, followed by a quiet, "Huh."

Fingers are slow to slip from the shell of this one, matching the lingering half-smile that claims the curve of her mouth. Ligeia's face might scrunch up some at something or another, but the smile? That's persistent. And with it, too, is half a thought that might not manifest as more than a shifting shadow across her visage, but one that has her checking her pockets just in case. But, there's nothing there and she exhales softly, apologetic in visage and sigh. Fingers skim over the shell a final time and then she withdraws in full with a murmured, "Thank you," and then she's stepping away and away, to catch her breath and regain her thoughts. Another bow to Xermiltoth and then she's headed out, hands in her pockets and eyes for the skies once she's outside.

< Ligeia leaves Egg 3 - Lazing in the Sun Egg >

"Oh, " sighs Andy, whose eyes close again so that she can tip her chin upward toward a breeze that never comes to pass. The softer expression stays with her as she recollects herself, hugging her midriff before drifting toward another dragon-yet-to-be. A considering look is spared for one of the other larger eggs she hasn't yet gone near, but perhaps something of her experience with its brethren sends her instead toward a different, far bluer one for the time being.

< Andalise leaves egg 4 - Light as Air Egg >
< Andalise touches egg 6 - Wild Tides Egg >

Andalise's expectant look at this next egg turns into one that's puzzled. She looks left, looks right, looks back at the colorful shell perplexed. Her hand withdraws, brushing against her trousers before she leans forward again, frowning. Maybe she just didn't do it right despite having already touched most of the clutch?

And there she stays until — "Hey!" That's Andy's startled yelp from over there, where the apprentice is suddenly clapping a hand over her mouth and ducking down a bit as if hoping that she can hide behind the egg of the moment without drawing too much attention to herself. Much more quietly, she hisses, "That really wasn't very nice, " while shuffling a step this way then that, fingers drifting toward the more violaceous splotches.

Too many life lessons, egg, for one baker to assimilate just now. But Andalise nonetheless has a thoughtful sort of air about her when she disengages from the blue-and-purple shell, meandering not for another being to touch but for the weyrlingmasters, the water, and eventually the relatively cooler space just outside. She might lean against the wall there before departing the arena entirely, undoubtedly having to process this second encounter in a way that's different if no less complex than her first.

Seasoned to such things, C'con seizes on a candidate lull, harassing those that are left to an orderly exit. An inquisitive brow is launched in the weyrleader's direction, but when it's clear neither riders nor Xermiltoth intend to leave, the greenrider ushers out the last of his charges and suspends sands exploration until next time.

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