Hollow (Annex Egg Touching)

Xanadu Weyr - DragonHealer's Annex

An entrance way which would allow admittance to even the greatest of Queen Dragons leads into a chamber which would house half-a-dozen of the same size. To one side is a shallow pool which constantly clears itself of grime and is used is washing wounds. Nearby is a shelf with a generous supply of clean bandages and clean sheets upon stone shelves. The other side of the chamber is taken up by an alcove with multiple banks of computers to house medical records and help to diagnose illness and injury in the Dragons who come for aid. Within this alcove is a small medical laboratory where medicines and herbs can be prepared and experiments can take place. The far wall houses two dozen Dragon couches, each separated above by a rail which supports a thick curtain allowing the patients an option of privacy as they rest and recover.

Stretched out across the floor in an unused corner rests what is, essentially, a large metal sandbox. It is as wide as a human male is tall, and perhaps thrice as long, give or take. Its riveted sides rise halfway up the shin and are lined with wires of various hues that fuel each of the miniature units used to heat the artificial sands. Each cord has been secured to the side of the box, effectively keeping it out of the range of passersby. They all lead back to the Annex's main incubator, capable of leeching its power and technology, ready to heat the sands to some obscene temperature if needed. The metal box is filled with sand from the main hatching arena.

It's overdue, this gathering of candidates to touch the eggs. But then, nothing about this experience has been in the norm, really. The dragonhealers have been cautious, and rightly so, with these eggs and though not optimistic, they've reluctantly moved them from the incubator to the artificial sands so the candidates can spend some time with the eggs. Yumeth's eggs are positioned to the right side and Auspiraeth's to the left, with a little room to maneuver around each one. There's been a somewhat of a delay as both queens, hissing and growling at each other to keep back, took the opportunity to nose and fret over their own clutch. Long denied their normal clutching behavior of curling 'round their eggs and keeping them safe since they've been locked inside that incubator, this is almost torment for them, this little taste bliss. Finally though, things have calmed, the dragon's lifemates managing to get the pair to back off and let the candidates have access. They're not happy, and they haven't gone far, two pairs of yellow whirling eyes watching each and every move.

Off to one side stand the dragonhealers, watching and with them stands the Weyrwoman, concern etched on her face. The AWLMs have briefed the candidates to move slowly, not fool around and only touch an egg that if no one else is.

With wide eyes, Mikal casts a look to the worried mommas. He sketches a quick bow to them before moving cautiously to the eggs. "Wow." he whispers. "Never been this close to eggs before."

While she's spent many of her spare hours - not to mention her unspare ones - around the Annex, the sight of the eggs laid out on these sands and the two worried queens is still enough to make Soriana frown. This just doesn't feel right. Her bows are longer, and she makes one to each of the queens before advancing toward the eggs, catching up with Mikal. "Yeah. Me either." Today is definitely a strange day. The two of them are agreeing on things.

"Joss… are you sure they're not gonna eat us?" whispers one of the candidates in what turns out to be far too loud a voice. Whispers carry. Kenid's thirteen, small and wiry, and he shakes back the curly brown hair from his eyes as he peers anxiously at the queen dragons and to the bigger, more solid-looking boy beside him. All the briefings in the world have a hard time preparing a holder boy for this.

Idrissa wasn't that sure what the day has in store for the her or well the candidates. At the talk of getting to touch the eggs she wasn't sure what to expect. Her green firelizard Willow was left farfar away from this area, and guarding a little firelizard egg at that. Rissa glances around the room curiously, seeing where everyone is along with the queens themselves. She swallows slightly, looking rather nervous and hangs a bit at the back of the group of candidates. Her hands are tucked close to her and she takes in a soft breath. She looks back towards the artificial sands, and the eggs are the present, which she got to see close hand that night the sands went down, and then in the incubator's when she came to check in on Soriana. She catches sight of Sori and Mikal up closer to the front, but she isn't inching forward anymore. Hearing the whisper she looks over to Kenid whom isn't that far from her and leans a bit closer. "Naw… they won't eat us.. Just remember what everyone told us an it'll be alright." Who would have thunk it, Rissa trying to calm someone down as she isn't the one being all stressy and nervous it seems.

It is surreal, made even more so by the surroundings and the circumstances that led to this, the sight of those dragon eggs, their pale shells shimmering in the heat radiating from the artificial sands. Unlike many shells with riotous colors and patterns, Auspiraeth's egg are all white and smaller than Yumeth's. While the AWLMs strive for upbeat and have matter-of-fact tones, this is as much of a strain on them as it is the candidates. Their job is to reassure the teens that all is well and not to be nervous, just relax, etc, etc, etc. It's… probably not working regardless of their abilities to pull it off. Some of it has to do with those queens, of course, who chuff and moan-mutter as the candidates move in closer. Outside the annex, Seryth croons comfortingly, her rumble felt underfoot. The Weyrwoman is in a low-voiced conversation with Sorrin and one of the dragonhealers.

Mikal looks this way and that way, uncertain on which egg to approach first. Tentatively he approaches one of the all white ones. "I do hope these all hatch." worry tinges his words as he carefully lays his palm into the egg in question.

Soriana just frowns at Mikal's concern, nodding slightly. They're still agreeing. At least what she does next is different - she goes to one of Yumeth's eggs. Of course she does. She pauses in front of it, taking a deep breath, and then she reaches out her palm to lightly touch the curved surface, her expression one of listening. She's never done this before, but it should be like listening to a firelizard, right? …right? Her palm stays there for several minutes, and the only change to her expression is a slight increase in worried.

Joss thumps Kenid's shoulder, and jerks a thumb toward Idrissa. "See?" he says - though the gaze he casts on the queens is certainly not without concern, as he bows and pushes Kenid down to do the same. Kenid squeaks as he echoes the gesture, swallowing audibly as he rises. "O-okay," he murmurs, with a glance over to Idrissa followed by a squaring of his shoulders. He can't very well be scared of something a girl is doing, now can he? So - once Joss has started moving - he follows.

Idrissa peers back at Joss and Kenid, a slight shake of her head is seen while she slowly follows along. As if she would run off at this point, not like she can hide as easily as she use to. Her bright gaze drifts across the eggs, noting that they really are different when out in the open and next to one another. She ponders why while chewing on her lip a moment. With a few canadiates going here and there, she moves towards a short line over near the colorless eggs for now and pauses behind Mikal to tilt her head and peer over curious like as she watches.

As the candidates actually begin applying palm to shell, all three goldriders in the room zero their attention intently on the teens. Eyes sharp, they're all watching for those tell-tale nuances that come with the experienced sensation of sensing viable dragonets within: things like muttering and murmuring to themselves and blinking in surprise at those shells, shivering or smiling, frowns or giggles and even tears. The AWLMs, seeing that line forming, gently usher candidates around and into the sands - there are enough eggs that they don't have to wait and time is short.

It wasn't even noticed by Mikal that he and Soriana were actually agreeing. Of course this isn't any normal event so perhaps he's on his best behavior for once. Indeed he closes his eyes and simply stands with the egg he's chosen for the moment. Needing to be in constant movement his foot taps nervously on the ground. If he's feeling anything it's hard to tell from his expression.

Soriana lifts her palm away, with a little shake of her head, and steps over to the next colorful egg that seems free. It's the same story; a quiet touch, and not much reaction. Now Sori's glancing to the other candidates, trying to see if there's something they're doing that she isn't. If there is, she doesn't seem to figure it out, because her next touch - one of Auspiraeth's - happens the same as the others.

Kenid gives another glance to Idrissa as the boys get up to the front. She hasn't gone and fled, right? Okay, she hasn't, neither will he. He steps up and puts his hand to the nearest egg, his features doing a dance of 'no really, I'm calm, right? Right, me calm!' Joss hehs, then steps away while Kenid's occupied, going to a more distant egg that's free. When he puts his hand to the brightly colored shell, he blinks and jerks it back before taking a deep breath and slowly returning his palm to the surface.

Idrissa is poked onwards towards another egg. A slight glance is offered towards the queens a momen to make sure once more all is well over there. She follows suit like the others and slowly crouches down, her right hand slowly lifting out, fingers and arm shakey before she softly touches one of those white eggs. She eyes close and she swallows slightly as she stays put. So far nothing, not a twitch, save her own nervous quiver, so perhaps she is a wee bit more worried then she is letting on? Possible!

There seems to be a growing uneasiness to the stances of those goldriders as the minutes tick by and there's such an across-the-board lack of reaction out there on those artificial sands. The Weyrwoman is closest to Sorrin and Yumeth and so drifts that way to engage her in a low-voiced conversation. It's not long before Rwylann wanders over to join them and the three of them converse, all the while keeping their attention riveted to those candidates over there. If noticed by the teens, this can't be a very reassuring thing, now can it? The AWLMs appear placidly relaxed but even some of them have a bit of tightness to their eyes. Until There! That hand jerk of Joss’ have all eyes zeroing in on him and collective breaths held to watch intently, though no one speaks. The pin-drop silence is only broken once as Yumeth chuffs a short bark of a cry.

In between the stillness of the eggs, Soriana glances over to the goldriders, but only for a moment. Then it's back to more eggs, as she works her way through Auspiraeth's white-shelled clutch. Is this really how it's supposed to be? Not according to the stories, but… maybe there's just something she isn't getting. She looks up again at Yumeth's cry, looking to the gold dragon and around at the others. Her gaze settles on Joss for a moment, then lowers again as she steps to the next egg.

Joss doesn't notice that he's the new center of adult attention at first. His hand rests against the shell, and he has a distant look to his eyes… followed by a little laugh. It's just when he lifts his hand away that he notices the attention, and gives an awkward little cough. "Sorry," he mumbles to nobody in particular, and shuffles his way across the sands to square his shoulders and touch a white-shelled egg as Sori finishes with it. Nothing to see here. No more inappropriate reactions from him, he's just like the rest of these candidates now.

Finally abandoning the first egg that he approached, Mikal seems nearly oblivious to the adult's concern. that is until he's reached his third egg with little outward expression when he turns his head slightly to note the goldriders. With a shake of his head he quickly looks over towards Joss and watches, wideeyed. With that he stoutly walks up to one of Yumeth's eggs and traces it lightly with his fingertips only. Again his eyes close and after a minute he too flinches, eyes flying wide open.

Idrissa chews on her lip and peers at the egg, nothing?.. That isn't good.. Even she knows that! She glances around to others for anything and she soon inches onwards towards another egg. Perhaps something different from one of Yumeth's, wouldn't that be well good? Rissa moves onwards towards one of the more colorful eggs and once near one crouches down and goes through the process one again. Her hand softly rests upon the egg, her eyes closing as she hopes and hopes more that one of these eggs will do well.. what they are suppose to do! At first though nothing, not a 'peep' so to speak and her fingertips slowly start to slip back until there is something there. It's like a little itch at the back of her mind, a little spark of something and she slips still and is quiet for a few moments as if attempting to figure that out.

Oh the awkward joy that is egg touching! To be in the thrall that is a lively mind reaching out… to react instinctively and out of character and feel a touch foolish to be seen doing so in public. Not that anyone's been too bizarre in responding yet, but rumors have circulated prior to this that people can act downright addle-headed while touching eggs. None of the goldriders are speaking to that mumbled apology of Joss' though maybe one of the AWLMs, who makes an assurance that he's fine. No, the queen's riders and the Weyrwoman all have eyes only for that egg Joss just left.

A bit starry-eyed, Mikal seems to be doing the same thing that Idrissa is doing and that's simply figure out what he felt if anything. "I think I smell fresh pies baking. Just for a moment!" he murmurs, astounded. Hastily he looks around to see if anyone heard him before he quickly shuffles to another egg so that someone else may approach the one he's in front of.

Soriana pauses at the edge of the sands for a moment, looking the eggs over. She glances across, to where Mikal and Idissa are both investigating Yumeth-eggs, and frowns, watching from this distance as they seem to find reasons to react. Her gaze flicks briefly to Joss, then back again to the bright eggs. But she did touch those - those particular ones? Maybe. Another moment, and she starts across the sands again.

Kenid leans in to Joss, murmuring a question, and is brushed off with a shake of the taller boy's head and a shrug of the shoulders. He frowns, and leaves Joss to his stolid touches to scurry across and get in to the spot Mikal just left. His turn to try! His turn to have his eyes widen, though he keeps his hand in place, gaze darting around before settling on the egg as his mouth makes an 'O'.

Idrissa is quiet for a few moments more, an soon giggles.. Ya she totally giggled. Though after that she lets her fingers slide off the egg. She shifts a few paces while eyeing the egg she had just touched. Ya she looks a little confused, awkward indeed when it comes to egg touching! Though she makes sure to get out of the way so others can go about touching as well.

Well there's two eggs having given a visible sort of reaction, which sets the dragonhealers buzzing amongst themselves quietly. You'd think though, that the queens lifemates or the Weyrwoman would be looking somewhat relieved, but the fact of the matter is they're looking at those other eggs with increasing unease. Thea especially looking deeply concerned and trying not to let it show on her face as her sea-green gaze hovers thoughtfully on the Weyrling-hopefuls. Dark musings shadow her eyes and her mouth forms a flat, unhappy line until another croon from Seryth out there has her drawing a breath and visibly composing herself.

Moving from egg to egg, Mikal wanders a bit, simply letting his fingers trace a shell here or stop to put his palm to a shell there. Currently he's near Soriana so he stage-whispers, as if afraid to speak too loud. "Hey..what do you think so far of this whole thing??"

At Mikal's question, Soriana pauses, and her gaze darts out across the dragonhealers and goldriders before returning to this little artificial sandbox. "It's… I don't know." She gives her head a shake, her lips twisting for a moment. More burbles on the edge of her mind, but she doesn't say it. Instead, she repeats herself. "I don't know," and steps away from him abruptly toward the egg Idrissa's just left.

Kenid's fingers splay, and he gives the egg what's almost a pet, a little stroking motion before he draws his hand away, smiling. He glances around for Joss, and finds the other boy drifting between eggs. Off he goes to do the same, though Mikal gets a quick nod along the way.

Idrissa has drifted on through a few more and then has paused next to Soriana and Mikal. Well not she is just next to Mikal. She curiously watches her friend. There is a faint sad like look to her though while she looks over the eggs. Her head lowers a bit and she pays attention to her shoes, feeling really out of place, worried and nervous all at the same time. If the egg she touched that made her see the imagens, and well, 'ask'ed her something why not the others? There is plenty on her mind now..

One of the dragonhealers, a master by the knot on his shoulder, drifts unobtrusively amongst the eggs with an instrument that he's apparently testing the surface temperature of the shells with, waiting silently and politely for that brief moment when each egg is vacant. His face is unreadable as he carefully jots down each figure on his clipboard chart. Presently he steps out of the artificial sands, approaching that trio of goldriders, confers with them while running a finger down the column of readings. He's somber, motioning with a dip of his head to the sands, the incubator, then those two unhappy queens.

It's a consensus then; all three goldriders are nodding and then the Weyrwoman reaches a hand toward each of the other women to give a gently supportive squeeze to forearms. She turns and approaches the sands, speaking quietly but clearly to the candidates, "I know it wasn't enough time, but the dragonhealers want to get those eggs back into the incubator. We'll see if we can do this again tomorow."

Mikal leans in quickly to murmur to Soriana. "What are they…" he falls silent as suddenly the Weyrwomen speaks up. A long look of worry is cast to the eggs before he simply nods. "The eggs…they are going to be okay, right?"

Soriana touches that egg, and her head tilts sideways as her mouth moves silently. Oh, so - what? She blinks as Thea speaks, turning her head to look at the weyrwoman with her fingers still on the egg she's only barely touched. "Oh," she says, and glances back down to the egg before slowly taking her fingers away from it. Mikal gets a soft, "Checking temperatures." A final glance to the eggs, a dart of her eyes to the other candidates, and then she steps down off the sands and bows again to the queens… though if her gaze lingers, it's on her mother more than anyone else.

Kenid awws as the candidates are called off the sands. He was just starting to enjoy himself! He lingers behind, sneaking in another touch on a white-shelled egg before finally making his way off as one of the last candidates to do so. Joss is quicker to reply, shoving his hands in his pockets and staying towards the edge of the group with the brooding sort of expression that passes for deep in thought.

Idrissa is quiet as she watches, her gaze turns to Soriana and then over towards Sorrin, Thea and the other gold's rider. She frowns and shifts backwards a bit more and moves on towards the door to linger there. She listens to the others while her gaze has shifted out towards the sands and she seems at a loss of what to say or do at the moment. Plenty of worry running through her mind after all this.

Thea would like to sugar-coat her answer and reply to Mikal with a bright reassurance (lie) that yep, not-to-worry, everything will be just fine! But that's never been her way and so instead she meets his question with a clear-eyed gaze, making eye contact with first the boy and then each of the others - those who don't look down or away - one by one as she says softly, "That we don't know yet. Only time will tell." She draws a breath and tells them, "Sometimes, even with the best of circumstances, an egg or two will not hatch. It's nature's way and honestly? It's much better that way than if a weak dragon hatches, impresses and then dies. Or hatches and dies crying for someone it wants with all its being and will never have." From the look on her face, this too, has happened and the disturbing memories etch her face with grief before she shakes it off and says, "Chins up. We'll prepare for the worst, hope for the best and resolve to be strong. Together." Her tremulous smile pushes her own worries from her face and though it's not all that bracing, it's the best she can do.

Mikal quietly lets himself be shuffled off the sands though he casts one last long look to the eggs as they are being moved to the incubators. "There's more than one way to crack a shell." he mutters. "The dragons will triumph inside there." he tries to look confident as he looks over to Kendid. "No worries there!" he says top reassure!

Soriana meets Thea's gaze, and nods. She hangs back for a few moments, glancing to some of the dragonhealers - but she gets a shake of the head from one of them, and continues out with the rest of the candidates. "Maybe they will," she says to Mikal with a smile, but there's another glance back to the dragonhealers, and her lips move in a, "Maybe they won't," that she only barely gives voice to. After that, she's silent, carried along with the rest to whatever more the AWLMs have planned.

Kenid double-times to catch up with the rest, and grins to Mikal as they walk through the door. "It's neat, isn't it? I knew it." Never mind how terrified he was at the start of this, that's past and gone.

Idrissa hears what Thea says though she lets her gaze drift back towards where the eggs are watching them a few moments before she follows along after the others. Her hands are resting in her pockets, an a soft frown rests across her face. Ya so much for her attemping to think postitive, it went right out the door! Hearing Kenid she glances over at him a few moments. "Neat…?" An then she bites her tongue, yes it was neat when the one egg did talk to her, but she has more worry about the ones that didn't speak. What if they don't? Even if some don't always make it she hopes these do, though she has a feeling that it might not happen.

When the Weyrwoman has finished speaking and stepped back and the AWLMs have ushered the candidates from the sands and the Annex, the two golds are given some privacy for a few more precious moments of egg-cuddle time before the dragonhealers close in and begin transferring the eggs back to the isolation of that incubator. The sad bottom-line is, those eggs have had more cold, clinical dragonhealer handling than they have exposure to bright young, inquisitive and hopeful candidate minds.

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