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.

Hatchings came, Hatchings went.

This was not a first, and it was not truly a moment of satisfaction or of disappointment. It just was.

Satisfaction came from seeing those she cared about with their lifemates, especially Rhodelia and that delightfully odd gold. Disappointment came from empathy; from those who were disappointed with their outcomes that made it obvious enough to her.

Though she'd still never seen anyone disappointed by their dragon, even if they had been paired with something — someone — completely other than their previously spoken desire. It was something she'd found as reliable as the tides: a bond between rider and dragon, and one that had so many potential uses.

While that was a lost opportunity — she would no longer be able to study dragon-aided therapies, if she didn't have one of her own to be able to truly understand the experience — it had never been her only opportunity.

There was much more to life than Hatchings. Than being a serial candidate. Than trying and trying at something that one couldn't really try at, only keep doing until it became a distraction to other things. There was no way to change the dragons' choices by behaviors during candidacy, except for behaving well enough to be on the sands in the first place.

Ajral was almost twenty-five.

And she was finished.

Tonight, celebrate the matches that were made.

Tomorrow, maybe sleep off the hangover.

Soon, Senior Journeyman. Eventually, Mastery.

Not just moving on, but moving up.

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