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 early. Early enough that the candidates are out of the barracks, eating breakfast, or getting started on their day. Averil is no different, having taken time for his morning run, he's made his way back to the barracks, clean clothes tucked carefully into both trunks at the foot of the merged cots, the dirty linens pulled off and bundled on the floor as he goes about the business of remaking the bed. He's humming under his breath as he works, fluffing pillows and smoothing the wrinkles out of sheets before reaching for the blankets and comforter.

Shiloh was up before the sun as well, off to take advantage of what good weather remains before winter sinks its teeth into Xanadu. There are runners to be worked, apprentices to teach, chores to be assigned. Which might make it concerning that he's back in the barracks so very early. But he is. And hurrying, with something akin to anxiety in his expression. He's still dressed for the stables (though, to be fair, that is pretty much how he always dresses), hurrying down the aisle and clutching a bag against his chest. He stops short at the sight of Avi, perhaps surprised to see him, before continuing on to their cots.

It's the sound of footsteps that brings Avi's head up, one hand raising to brush strands of gold out of his face as he flashes a smile at Shiloh. The expression, however, falters at the anxiety in the beastcrafter's face, his weight shifting as he scrambles off the bed and takes a few steps toward him. "What's wrong?" That something is wrong is clear in a glimpse, pale eyes flicking along the length of the beastcrafter's frame in search of visible injury. "..Did something happen?"

A shake of Shiloh's head seeks to banish that worry, even if he can't quite summon the words to say 'nothing' in return. He's a bit dirtier than usual, like maybe he's been digging around on the beach, or took a tumble, or both. But other than the sand sticking to clothes and skin (and undoubtedly left in a trail behind him) he appears unharmed. But the question has him hesitating, grimacing a moment later as he carefully pulls the strap over his head and moves to set the bag down. "Fell on the beach," he admits. "But I'm fine," he's quick to add, in an attempt to stave off concerns. "Really. But uh…" And here he hesitates again, eyeing Avi briefly before he continues. "I need your help with something."

Averil is quick to follow that trail of sand with his gaze, the worry growing although he's careful to keep in check. "Whatever you need," he breaths. And while a part of him wants to run for the first aide kit, another part of him is determined to stay right where he is until told otherwise. Still, thought of Shiloh falling, particularly from a runner, is not one he can wrap his head around. His gaze, however, is drawn to the care with which the bag is handled, a step closer taken as he glances from the container to Shiloh's face and back.

"Okay. Right. Okay…" Scatterbrained isn't usually a word that would be used to describe Shiloh, but right now it is quite fitting. The bag is very carefully set to the floor, leaned against the strapped together feet of their combined cots, which seems to give it some support against sagging. Shiloh goes to rake a hand through his hair, finds his hat instead, and quickly tosses it toward the bed so he can fuss without fumbling it. "I need something. A container," he explains. Crouching by the bag, he flips it open to show Averil the contents. Which is… a whole lotta sand. "Something clay, or metal… something that can hold heat."

Averil rests a hand on Shiloh's arm, the concern in his eyes a quiet thing as he seeks to offer some measure of comfort. Whatever is wrong is clearly serious enough that the beastcrafter is noticably out of sorts. Peering into the bag as Shiloh crouches, he nods quickly, his teeth catching his lip as he thinks for a moment. "I'll be right back." And while he moves to step away, he steps right back and firmly hugs Shiloh's shoulders before dashing off. When he returns, and it is not terribly long at all, he has a clay pot about the size of a casserole dish in his hands. "I grabbed the soap sand pot from the baths," he explains as he pads over and extends it, along with it's cover, to Shiloh. "I cleaned it out and dried it, though. It's even still warm."

Hopefully no one in the baths will be missing that pot! Shiloh isn't about to question it, though. While Avi was gone, he'd taken a moment to try and knock the worst of the sand off his person (which means the floor is now a lot sandier. RIP the barracks floor) but otherwise hasn't really moved. The appearance of the artist with the pot is met with a quick little breath and a nod of his head. "Okay. Good. That's… perfect actually." He pats the floor beside him, indicating Avi should sit (or crouch, because honestly, the floor is not a very clean place right now) before turning back to the bag. "We need to get the sand into the pot…" is an explanation that probably explains nothing, yet. Poking his fingers gently into the bag, he sifts around a bit, searching. "Hold out your hands," comes as Shiloh seems to find what he's looking for. As soon as Avi complies, a little egg is placed in his palm before Shiloh goes right back to fishing in the sand.

Averil drops into a crouch when the pot is taken, sinking to his knees when the egg is produced from the sand. For a few long moments, he just stares at it, his palms moving together to provide a gentle nest for the little ovoid. It is Shiloh's searching that has him peering curiously at the bag for a moment before his gazes sweeps up to the beastcrafter's face. "There are more?" Even as he asks, though, he is shifting his weight, drawing his hands close to his stomach to provide it with the heat of his own body.

"Yeah," comes as another little egg is fished from the bag and carefully laid in Avi's palm. "A few more." Shiloh pokes around a bit more, concentrating on being careful while diligently searching the sand. Another egg or two makes it into the artist's hand before Shiloh is satisfied. "Should be all of them. Gonna put the sand in the pot now." And that's sure to be quite a mess, despite how carefully Shiloh does it. "Didn't think they laid eggs on the beach," he sighs, lifting the bag to try and 'pour' the sand into the pot. "Must've been one of the local queens."

Averil is stunned at the number of eggs nestled in his hands, his expression softening as his fingers curl to brush gently over the shells. "Thank goodness you found them," he whispers in the hushed tones one uses around sleeping babies. His attention, though, turns to Shiloh pouring the sand from the bag into the clay pot, not so much as a thought given to the sand on the floor. He'll sweep it later, he's not worried about the sand. "I've never seen wild eggs before," he whispers as he inches closer toward the sand and the beastcrafter. "I always assumed they mostly gotten eaten by predators."

"Might not be a wild queen," he admits. "Could've been local." But he's not particularly worried about who laid them, so much as he is about getting them settled in their new home. A total of five eggs have managed to make it into Averil's palm. Just five. Which may be concerning given the number of eggs a queen usually lays. There's a dart of Shiloh's eyes toward Avi when he mentions 'finding them', and a clearing of his throat as he puts himself back to the task of getting the sand out of his bag. A flick of his tongue across his lips and he fusses a bit with the bag before that's no longer a legitimate excuse. "Didn't really… Well." A wince and he decides to maybe delay the explanation for a moment. "Here," he says, shifting the topic back to the sand in the pot. He digs a little hole in the center and nods at Avi to put them in. "We can put it by the hearth."

Averil is torn between watching the eggs and watching Shiloh's face, the wince stirring a flicker of concern as he carefully transfers the eggs into the sand. And while he wants to ask what happened, he refrains, gently guiding the sand over the eggs before looking up at Shiloh's face. "Are you alright?" The concern is uttered with a gentle hand bracing on the beastcrafter's shoulder, his touch light enough to allow Shiloh to move in order to transfer the pot to the hearth.

No more words will come until Shiloh has settled the pot by the hearth. He's slow about standing, careful about carrying the pot, and meticulous about making sure it is the right distance from the heat so that the eggs are warm but not cooked. Returning, he starts stripping out of his soiled clothes, taking another moment to get his thoughts in order before attempting to explain. "I'm alright," he decides, in a belated answer to Averil's question. "I'm…" He's okay. He will be, at least. Reaching for the artist, he pulls Avi in against him, burying his face in his hair. "Forgive me," might be a concerning way to start this story, particularly since it's said so sincerely; with a true note of supplication to the words. A quick breath later and he's trying to explain. "I wouldn't've ridden there if I'd known. But I didn't. And then… I didn't see 'em but Nope must've. He tried to stop us. 'Least, that's what I think he was doing. Flying in my face and Red's. But she bolted the wrong way and…" There's a wince. "I saved what I could. The others were…" Well. Avi can probably imagine what happens to eggs under a runner's hooves.

Averil is worried, more worried then he can ever remember being as he watches Shiloh with the pot. Still, he remains by the bed, waiting until the beastcrafter returns and reaches for him. Immediately, his arms go around Shiloh, a low sound of concern spilling past his lips at the 'forgive me'. It's the rest that has him gasping, his head giving a mild shake of protest as he draws himself up to kneeling over Shiloh's lap, his hands moving to cup his face. "Oh, sweetheart," he whispers in gentle tones. "It was an accident." A horrible accident, admittedly, but an accident all the same. "You saved the rest of them," he assures as he nods toward the clay pot tucked so carefully on hearth. Trailing off, he wraps his arms around Shiloh's shoulders, hugging him against his body as one hand drifts over dark hair.

Shiloh's arms wind tight around Avi in a firm grasp. He's unsettled even if he's not quiet upset. "I tried," he agrees, though he'd rather bury his face against Averil than glance toward the hearth. "Hope they make it." Cause if not, this was a lot of effort for nothing. And a lot more guilt for the blunder. "They're hard 'nough to be near hatching I think. Dunno where the queen was." Probably scared off by the rampaging equine, even if Red wasn't really rampaging. She might have tried to take a chunk out of Nope's wing, though. Clearing his throat, Shiloh tips his head back, watching Avi for a moment. "We'll need to let the others know. I… don't want five more firelizards." So there better be a few other candidates taking 'em off his hands. "One's yours. If you want it."

"You did everything you possibly could," Averil whispers as he combs his fingers through Shiloh's hair. In the wake of the gesture, he's settling down next to the beastcrafter, his chin dipping in a quiet nod. "There are a lot of candidates here," he assures. "I'm sure all of the eggs will be find loving homes the moment that they hatch." It's the last that has his expression gentling, pale eyes soft and quietly adoring. "I do," he promises. "I want one of them." But, right now, his concern is Shiloh and Red and Nope. "Is Red alright? Nope?" While firelizards are exciting and he's looking forward to seeing them hatch? Right now, his concern is on the little family he already has.

The words are met with a grunt. Shiloh does not mean to be insensitive to the reassurance, but he does not want to entertain it for long. Not when it threatens to prick at sensitive things and spill those all-too-awkward emotions. Not here, at least. "They will or they won't," he agrees and, while he does not mean it to sound cold, there is an element of it in his voice. Survival is hard. He's done what he can. A deeper breath, and he lets his hold loosen so Avi can settle at his side, though Shiloh won't stay seated long. Quick enough he's up, moving around to dig through there things and find clean clothes to change into. "Red's fine," he promises. "Back in the stable and eating her breakfast." She might pin her ears the next time Nope is anywhere close, but he probably deserves it. "Nope is…" He flaps a hand into the air before giving a shrug. "Flew off in a huff. I'm sure he's fine, too." He'll come around later, no doubt, begging treats and cuddles from Avi.

Averil understands. While there was a time he might not have? Spending time on Shiloh's family's ranch and seeing the realities of life, and death, has gone a long way toward making Avi less sensitive then he had been before. That, and the fact that he knows Shiloh is more effected then he wants to let on has him nodding firmly. Survival is hard. With Shiloh up and moving, he scoots to the edge of the bed, his expression calm as he sets his feet on the floor. "We should get breakfast, too," he notes as he pushes to his feet and reaches for the bag that contains their clothes and linens to be laundered. And, as soon as Shiloh is changed and he's got his dirty clothes in the sack, he's falling into step with him. "I just want to make a quick stop at the laundry along the way." He's starving and right now, getting their minds on food rather then less pleasant things just feels smart.

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