The First Long (LONG) Night

Xanadu Weyr - Candidate and Weyrling Barracks
Xanadu's barracks are a massive, L-shaped amalgamation of caverns and construction, squared on one end, rough-hewn and oblong on the other, with weyrlings and candidates separated from one another by a large communal area. Wood and stone floors meet in a clever spiral pattern that interlaces and spreads, creating harmony in a space meant for completion of chores, classes, and storage of both dragon supplies and bedding for humans. A singular wooden door leads into an office for the weyrlingstaff.

Windows stretch the length of the candidate barracks, a long, low-ceilinged room that opens off the training grounds. One wall is slightly curved, set against the outer wall of the hatching arena, with a locked door closing off a tunnel that leads onto the sands. Cots are set in two rows along the length of the room, each with its own small press at the foot for personal belongings. It's always warm here when there are eggs on the sands; candidates seldom need more than a light blanket, but a diminutive hearth is available for the warming of beverages or the occasional firelizard-surprise.

The weyrling half of the barracks have been burrowed back into stone. Close and dark when shutters to the outside world are drawn, the ample paths between dragon couches have been lit with dim strips of light. Smaller couches are obviously intended for the very young weyrlings, while the largest ones at the back are for those close to graduation. A second small hearth abuts a massive cavern opening that slopes gently down to the training grounds outside.

EVERYONE KNOWS THE SONG AND DANCE HERE, RIGHT? Well, fortunately, the weyrlingmaster staff does, if perhaps no one else. The candidates turned weyrlings can surely sort it out since everything they need has been laid out neatly for them to efficiently work through the self-service stations of buckets o' meat and rags for their various goo and blood and ichor and whatever else needs rags at this point (TEARS OF FRUSTRATION MAYBE? That's foreshadowing, y'all), the MORE RAGS where there's wash water (or good enough water, really) and then the oil of course for what inevitably comes next. It should be going smoothly. It should be simple. It should— well, it doesn't really matter what it should be because even though Tej was one of the first off the sands with her stick twisted-vine-pile-in-the-shape-of-a-dragon-and-not-currently-showing-more-intelligence-than-how-he-looks-to-be-honest, she's still struggling at the food. The dragon is cowering. It's whimpering. It's— trying to chew and repeatedly biting his own tongue, despite the number of times the redhead has patiently— then less patiently— explained. She's trying again. "This would be easier if you would talk to me," is not a particularly helpful huff since it just causes the pathetic smallest brown to make another little whimper. Surely the assistants have been checking on her, and often enough that it's now irritating and slightly offensive that anyone is still worried that it might be Tej scaring this dragon. For all her prickly edges, she is trying, and it seems to be the process of chewing that Eyistirth is afraid of. CLEARLY, SHE'S IN FOR A LONG NIGHT IF NOT EVEN EATING IS GOING WELL.

Last to be chosen, last off of the sands, last to make it to the necessity stations; Andy and the self-assured blue who precedes her into the barracks are both a mess, folks, if in very different ways. Sweat, snot and tears keep being wiped ineffectually with the back of a hand while she's all but steered into the cavern by the steadying hand of one of the assistants bringing up the rear, but at least she's pulled herself together enough to shakily reach for food to feed to the absolutely starving baby who is loudly bellyaching about the total inconvenience of his … bellyache. Qilaeth, unlike his fearful brother over there, masters chewing on his third attempt, thank-you-very-much, and is busily (and audibly) running through a mental litany of the many nuances of this brand-new experience — "How, " manages Andy at length while passing him bite after bite, "can you talk so much with your mouth full?" Tej isn't the only one in for a long night~

Nebulous are the details in Y'riel's last remaining shred of present-focus. He's aware in many ways and disconnected in a handful of others; they tend to swap at whim, seemingly as needed. Somewhere along those too-shattered moments, his chest and shoulder have been tended to, but he's too far gone dazed to even register the thought of 'need to change'. That will have to wait~ For now, he is going through the motions with enough ease to stave off the semblance of robotic — no, he is appearing to go about business as usual, even if he looks too pale, too drawn … and utterly lost in that pale and not-right brown settled close. They are progressing on feeding, however painstakingly slow, as both their attention wanders along the same paths. That is … until Bhalahhaith's hunger curiosity drifts more to Tej and Eyistirth and the whimpering and then onward to Andy and Qilaeth.

Given that Xulanth is reasonably cooperative about the eating thing, and Izobet has plenty of practice placing meat into elongated snoots, the big little brown has already mostly eaten his fill and slowed down enough to chew much more ponderously while Izo stares at him like she's still in some state of uncertain shock. Sure, she glances over at Eyistirth and then back at Xulanth, but that must only be because he's talking about or thinking about his skittish brother. "I think he's okay," she says, maybe a little louder than she'd meant to because this is a lot, okay?

IS HE OKAY, THO'? All can be grateful that in Eyistirth's case not having sorted out eating, communication is also a thing that has yet to be grappled with and so fortunately in his case, this actually means his pulses of intense anxiety, deep reservation and outright fretful fear are just that — pulses, things that sputter into being and out, possibly stronger to one or another of the dragons (or people, being honest) and that's got to be better than if it was a low key buzz of that all the time, right? IN ANY CASE, it honestly probably challenges Izobet's assertion that this spindly brown is okay. HE'S PRETTY SURE HE'S NOT OKAY, but he can't say so yet. He can't even clearly shape that feeling and press it into a form that's understandable. So instead, he's just staring at Tej with those unusually expressive eyes, possibly willing her to GRASP what he himself does not. And Tej? Tej is staring back, but has been at this a while and is probably getting the most direct touch of all of those feelings and— HONESTLY, what's a woman to do? Groan. That's what she does. "Look, try to watch the others." When her dragon doesn't move, doesn't blink, doesn't look as instructed she blows air through her nose and shifts putting a bloody hand over his headknobs and trying to use them to tuuuuurn his head to look at MASTERFUL EATER Qilaeth, to clearly competent Bhalahhaith, to ALSO DOING JUST FINE Xulanth. He turns but seems boggled by the movement, those expressive face muscles that should not be sort of giving the sense of disorientation and if Tej suddenly has to swallow and turn away herself to BREATHE A SECOND… well. At least she doesn't add to tonights disorder, disarray and disgust by losing anything left in her stomach. DOES ANYONE WANT TO TRADE DRAGONS?

Those pulses that Eyistirth creates are not overly strong but just enough to act as a lure to Bhalahhaith; there is a sudden flicker of desire to know more, to feel more in a way the brown can't quite parse (much to an underlying note of frustration — because Y'riel is NO HELP either) yet. He does not move from where he's sprawled himself, all comfortable and haughty settled, the picture of repose and grace despite being minutes (hours?) old. The next piece of meat is steadfastly ignored, leaving Y'riel to stare at his hand, perplexed and dazed as the rhythm is interrupted. It's just as Bhal's attention swings to Xulanth and Qilaeth once more too, eager to see if they have anything more to add to the buffet of experience, that Y'riel seems to pull some semblance of lone thought together. "Oil? There's oil…" That's next, isn't it? He can't remember. Bhalahhaith is appeased by this trade of new experience and leaves — well before the young man even realizes he should be too. Off the go! Wrapped up in their own bond, a little too hard, too fast and too deep; but that'll be the morning (or midday) problem to face.

« Well, of course he's not okay, » says Qilaeth on the tail end of Izobet's remark with all the nuance of an eyeroll in a way that's meant to be heard regardless of a baby's typical lack of telepathic boundaries in the hours-old stage. Andy gives an audible squeak, flushing in embarrassment. "I think I liked it better when you were focused on yourself, " she tells him as his rate of feeding starts to slow long before Eyistirth's first feeding seems remotely due to begin, which queues another monologue on the strange sensations that are starting to lightning bolt over his spine and how on Pern does anyone at all deal with things like this? Surely, the brunette might be forgiven for instinctively reaching up to press her hands to her ears — but no, most unfortunately, it doesn't block out a single word. There's an apologetic, terribly apologetic grimace for Tej and Izo and Y'riel while she fumbles about for oil and can only wait it out until the entity that is now her lifemate eventually stops railing about that stimulus and turns his temper onto the positively incomprehensible act of — falling asleep.

Look, if Izobet thinks that the scared guy is fine, even if he clearly isn't, Xulanth isn't going to argue about it. He'd much rather succumb to his growing sleepiness than deal with whatever's going on with Tej and Eyistirth right now. And Izo isn't going to dissuade him from that course of action. So with an apologetic grimace-smile, the younger weyrling refocuses her attention fully onto her own brown to work on this whole oil business before he's well and truly passed out.

HONESTLY, every one of these responses are exceptionally wise choices and one recommends they be the kind of choices that are remembered and repeated where Eyistirth and his inevitable, exhausting, perpetual cowardice unwillingness to put even a single vine out of his exceptionally small comfort zone are concerned. Certainly they're the sorts of choices Tej wishes she could be making now, judging by the way the older woman watches all those young people go off to progress with their lifemates (in a way they might not consider big, but by comparison… well, she'd absolutely take it). At least, even with all the emotions of the night, she resists the need to ask that one of them stay with her, to not leave her alone with this and all the confusion it— he breeds. Instead, she directs pale eyes to one of the assistants in a silent 'help me' plea which might eventually get answered, but not before she's sighing and flopping down next to the still whimpering Eyistirth. Welcome to the whole rest of your life, Tej~ WELCOME ALL~~

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