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.

It's late, Rukbat has nearly set, but the barracks are still fairly empty though some were napping in their cots. One, a willowy tall young womane with long very dark brown hair that cascades to her hips, is awake though. She stands at one of the open windows, drinking deep of the autumn breeze. A black nightrobe fastens with a scarlet sash about her slender waist joins her loose hair in drifting gently in the breeze. She doesn't seem to be asleep…the chirp of an avian makes her cock her head momentarily…but she does seem to be half in a world far away from Pern. On her disturbed cot crouches a rotund brown firelizard, looking at her somewhat accusingly. A moment and the head turns back to look at the brown. "Sorry Rhapsody," comeos a soft alto voice. "I just cannnot sleep. You know I've tried."

There's the occasional trickle of young people in-and-out of the doorway as the very tail-end of the dinner service wraps up for the evening in the caverns. On the heels of a chatting group of contemporaries, Padjma manages to almost appear as if she belongs with the three who continue to talk more quietly amongst themselves once they're well into the barracks proper, save that they head for a cot off to the far side, and she's for one of the ones situated closer to the entrance. An unobtrusive barracks-mate, she's quiet, tidy (enough) and seems to be a person of relatively few words in this space. Still, whether due to that not-quite birdsong or having managed to catch a few of Zaira's words, she spares the other dark-haired girl a glance and a small flash of sympathetic smile. "It's hard to get settled lately, isn't it, between the traveling and the waiting."

Zairastarts slightly but soon catches herself. "Sorry, didn't see you," she replies with a small smile of her own. "Padjma I presume?" There is a hint of uncertainty of her identification. She turns to face the other girl, hair rippling about her fair form, looking with open, friendly eyes of dark, almost glowing silver rimmed with the finest golden hue. "I know. The camping trip wasn't so bad, other than having to sleep on the ground…I am glad to have returned to my cot. And the Hathching is so soon. Seven to ten days I would say but I won't put a wager on it. I don't gamble. You lose more than you gain at the tables."

Perhaps people rarely do; Padjma's chin dips, the briefly tense set of her shoulders at the sound of her name slackening as she busies herself with the motions of smoothing away a wrinkle here and there that's crept into the set of her cot's blanket since the morning. "And you're — Zafira?" she ventures at length, sounding equally doubtful once gray-green eyes lift again. The girl who seemed comfortable enough sleeping on the ground during their time away from the weyr permits herself a slightly amused, "No, it wasn't so very bad." Her expression sobers a little at the other candidate's reminder of how much closer the hatching is now, followed by the hint of a frown as she slides out of her shoes. "How do you know?" she wonders aloud while opening her clothespress to pull out a positively perfunctory sort of garment that could serve as a shapeless nightgown as easily as a candidate's robe were it the proper sort of color. "Have you — you know, done this before?"

Zaira smiles warmly. "Zaira. Close enough, doesn't bother me. The sleeping on the ground was bad…there was always a tree root or a stone that couldn't be moved to stick in my flanks." A gesture of steepling the fingers under her chin held for only a moment. "I haven't…but my father Stood three times before he got too old to Stand. He often talked of his adventures as a Candidate and a little about Hatchings so I sort of know what to expect."

"Zaira, " repeats Padjma carefully, gathering her plain nightwear into a bundle after shutting the lid of her press. The side-glance she aims toward her conversation-partner is curious; her bottom lip disappears momentarily between her teeth as she settles cross-legged onto her cot with ease. "Three times, wow." She shifts a little. "Do — that is, I assume his stories match pretty well with what they've been telling us in the classes? What does he say it's like?"

Zaira noods. "The stories are very similar to what we're experiencing. He said it's like a big Gather dance but everybody's dancing to their own tune and their own favorite dance and there are absolutly no holds barred. Whilst trying to avoid getting blooded by other things that run around between you and the other people."

Up creep Padjma's eyebrows, eyes widening a little as she takes in Zaira's (father's) description. "They never said anything about there being dancing involved, did they? I mean, moving and avoiding — that, yes." Blooded. She might even blanch a bit. "I haven't seen one yet, " she admits. "It certainly sounds a little overwhelming, especially knowing that so many people are going to be watching."

Zaira nods her head. "My father was a Harper, as I was until I took an 'extended leave of absecence' to focus on Candidacy and hopefully Weyrlinghood, so he always chose musical or musical things like dances when making comparisons. "No real dancing involved, just like they've been teaching us, move and avoid." She thinks for a moment. "That will a bit intimidating even for me, and I've had basic training in performing. Performed a little to small audiences yes…but nothing this big. I admit to suffering from a bit of stage fright in the matter."

"Oh, " says Padjma with a little nod, apparently accepting the offered explanation readily enough. There's an attempt at a smile for the mention of stage fright, although it looks more akin to a tiny grimace. "You're hoping to be chosen, then, " she guesses, and seems content to pass at least some of the remaining time before lights out engaged with similar topics around the event that's undoubtedly to remain at the forefront of the minds of many in the coming days.

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