Everything Is Fine (Third Touching)

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.

IT'S THAT TIME Y'ALL. Leirith is booming out an invitation to all, and the AWLM's are herding candidates back onto the sands. Guess who's there? Risali! And a D'lei, though both the Weyrwoman and the Weyrleader are back towards their dragons, shoulders pressed together as they talk softly and occasionally gesture towards the eggs. CUE THE RULES FROM THAT NICE LITTLE AWLM THERE: "No rough-housing! Be careful and be gentle around the eggs. Bow to the dam and the sire before you enter the sands, and we leave the moment those dragons tell us to go." GET IT? GOT IT? GOOD. Annnnd she lets those candidates loose. Go forth! Touch eggs!

Mathis was back for round three, but he looked much changed from the last two times he'd set foot on those hatching sands. How this came about is anyone's guess if they cared to notice, but there is no shortage of newfound confidence as he pauses to bow to the Dam and Sire before his eyes set on the Umbral Egg. A deep breath taken, he reaches out and touches it, at first with just his fingertips and then slides them forward until his whole hand ends up against the shell. One. Two. Three. Here we go again!

< Mathis touches egg 3 - Umbral Egg >

Rhodelia is like a good little duck in a row, doing the bow thing before awkwardly shuffling around the eggs. Seeing as others have already touched the shells and brought back stories, she's understandably a little apprehensive and still there's an undeniable force of attraction that pulls her to the vantablack surface of one of the eggs and one finger tentatively reaches out to touch the void.

< Rhodelia touches egg 1 - Nothing To See Here Egg >

Sylvarin is much more hesitant as he approaches the sands for a second time. He bows deeply to both dragons before a steely glint settles in his eyes. He may have examined the eggs carefully the first time, but this time around? He's almost painstakingly slow. There's a caution to his step that certainly wasn't there before. In fact, he's slow enough that he's certainly last of the candidates to touch one of the eggs. He sucks in a deep breathe, hissing it out through closed teeth as a hand brushes across the shell of Embrace the Memories Egg.

< Sylvarin touches egg 4 - Embrace the Memories Egg >

Meion approaches the sands in a bright mood, smiling and bowing to Leirith and Garouth, hanging back a moment and observing her fellow candidates for a moment before she advances toward the egg that appears scratched, kneeling down in front of it and clearing her mind before she reaches out. Fingers extend, pause before they reach the surface. She finds one of the claw-streaks - or are they merely streaks in the shell itself? - and traces her fingers curiously over it.

< Meion touches egg 6 - Scratches in the Night Egg >

< Rhodelia leaves egg 1 - Nothing To See Here Egg >

Sylvarin can't hide the suspicion in his features and his arms twitch just slightly where he is. There's confusion on his face and an intense distrust that seems to grow stronger with every second. Beads of sweat already begin to form on his forehead and there's a sudden exhale of breathe, as if the air was being squished out of him. It's…suffocating. He tries to breathe in again and does, but the movement is a shallow one. "Of course you do…" Words that could be innocent enough sound scathing and incredulous all at once somehow. But the baker seems determined to push past his discomfort and his hand remains on the egg shell.

Rhodelia shivers despite the heat of the sand and attempts to rub the goosebumps off her arms as she quickly pulls her hand back. The ever-dark surface is glared at for a moment before she slooooowly shuffles on to another egg, still occasionally glancing back at the first. After such a dark egg, she avoids the relatively bright reds and greens and instead shuffles over to the soft blues of Too Late for Goodbyes Egg. "You look gentle enough." Even so, she still reaches out like it might bite her.

< Rhodelia touches egg 5 - Too Late for Goodbyes Egg >

Meion leans in close, closer, almost straining to perceive some detail of the egg she's touching - until she jerks back, hands to her head as though someone attacked her. She shakes her head, sitting back on her heels, squeezing her hands into fists for a moment, then letting them relax again, taking a breath. She looks in at that scratch-marked surface, stretches both hands out. She inhales, exhales, inhales - and puts herself in contact again.

Mathis exhales out all at once, probably louder than he had intended to, it's fortunately that he's too busy to think of what anyone on the outside looking in might say about it or that that softer than soft sound that he makes shortly thereafter. Was it a whimper? It might have been, though he doesn't dwell on it longer than it takes to occur, sucking in another breath and shaking his head some back and forth, reconfirming his resolve. "It's a baby. It's a baby. It's a baby…" he repeats softly to himself, no louder than a whisper, and this seems to be enough to settle things. Eyes are closed momentarily, if only to open again, caressing both hands now over the shell in what might his way of trying to be comforting back. What stock he can put into how reassuring this would be is likely in the negatives, but he does so anyway if just for his own piece of mind. Still, he was looking tense over there, very nearly dancing on the tips of his toes, brows working their way into a rather prominent knot just above the bridge of his nose. "You're okay. You're okay. Nothing is going to hurt you." Hard to tell at this point if he meant the occupant of that egg, or himself.

"No." Sylvarin's voice is nothing short of harsh, though quiet enough those around won't raise eyebrows. Perhaps the touching from the other day influenced him /too/ much because his feelings are certainly carrying over to today. "There are other things, other /people/…" Again, his voice lacks any hint of gentleness and his fingers curl slightly against the eggs surface. For a moment he seems as if he's going to pull away completely but something makes him stay, just once more…he may have said no, but just /once/ more.

Rhodelia tenses up and squints her eyes closed even harder as she faces a barrage of bright. That quickly falls away and the bartender is left taking a deep breath before she tries to recoil again but she just can't seem to leave and reaches out to touch again.

< Sylvarin leaves egg 4 - Embrace the Memories Egg >

< Rhodelia leaves egg 5 - Too Late for Goodbyes Egg >

Rhodelia pulls back from the egg like she just touched something on fire. There's no more second glances for this egg and no, she's not crying, you're crying. That's just sand in her eyes that she's trying to wipe out. Walking with only one eye open probably isn't the best decision on the crowded Sands, but she does stop before running into the next egg, other hand reaching out to steady herself.

< Rhodelia touches egg 4 - Embrace the Memories Egg >

Sylvarin is preparing for the worst…but what he imagines is coming doesn't. Instead his brows pull together, nearly touching at the center of his forehead as he breathes out softly. "To give myself to you…?" A question that he can't answer now and won't. His hand pulls away and for a moment he stares down at it as silent words echo in his mind. The expression on his face is difficult to determine but he seems to steel himself further as other eggs are caught in his peripheral vision. It's with less deliberation that he now turns to The Other Side of the Mirror Egg and reaches for its surface.

< Sylvarin touches egg 2 - The Other Side of the Mirror Egg >

Meion pulls back sharply from the egg, eyes and jaw and fists clenched again in a visceral pain-reaction. She doesn't scream. She refuses to scream. Her refusal is written across her body for anyone looking her way to see, curled in on itself in a tight knot of refusal-to-give-in. She will not. She does not. She can do this much. It is a long moment before she is untwisting the knots of muscles, uncurling back and arms and fingers to straighten out from the fetal curl she found herself in through that press of resistance - but she did not scream; at least, not outside her head. Not where anyone else could hear. She really should re-compose herself before returning, but stubbornness wins. She doesn't steady her breath; she doesn't calm her mind. She just reaches out, palm first, hand directly onto shell as she barrels back into that mindspace with all her fear and pain and resistance and unwillingness to give in. She will meet the dragonling there on her terms, with her armor of self-certainty wrapped tight around her. Without meaning to - beneath her notice - that armor in her mind bears heraldry: a rose, gules, on sable field.

Mathis was trying to remember what Rinian had said, thinking that if he came out here still buzzing with the energy he'd gained their talk that this would have been way easier than it had been before. It was, honestly, but it was hard to look at things rationally when there was something whispering and frightened grabbing, but not grabbing his face. Something brings new tension to the boy, adjusting his grip (if one could call it that) by dancing his fingers against the shell and trying to find some place that felt comfortable to him. That wasn't going to happen, but it was worth trying anyway. On a particularly rough exhale, he nods, "Okay, go ahead…" Once more he was trying to force himself to relax and open up, but this time he was marginally more successful than he ever had been in the past. The shiver still comes, unavoidable, inevitable, and the roll of his spine joins the look of disgust that works its way into his face. He wanted to look over his shoulder, to confirm that nothing was there, his skin all but crawling away from the meager meat that clung to his bones. There is only the shake of his head and he presses on, fighting past the fear that he no longer could separate from his own. He was doing this, and so were you egg.

Rhodelia's eyes grow wider as she remains in contact with the egg. And that sand just won't get out of her eyes. She's fine, really she is. And even though she might be looking emotionally battered after just a few minutes with these eggs, she still can't quite bring herself to leave this one, not just yet, even as she holds her breath.

Sylvarin becomes lost in the quiet depths of this egg, his spine arching just the slightest as a shudder courses through his body. Chill begins to settle into his skin, the hairs on his arm rising. A sudden grimace crosses his features, displeased at whatever the being inside this egg is doing but not in complete contempt of its actions. He seems to freeze in time for a moment, anticipation written on his features. The end result of that brief wait? Sylvarin quite suddenly stumbling back from the egg, finally feeling the heat of the sands once more. He breathes in the hot air, letting it warm him from the inside before fingertips return to the ovoid.

Meion stands wary in her armor. Meion kneels, worn on the sand. Meion is a being of two worlds for a long moment: an avatar of her own integrity, permitting that intimate inspection as long as it respects the armor that holds her together; a worn, shaking woman on the sands, feeling broken-down beyond her own ability to express. She holds the contradiction, the mind and the body, self-assured as she is exposed to the soul, and utterly without regard for how she looks as she shakes and waves on the sand, undignified and falling apart. In real-space, in mind-space, with both halves at once, she looks up, planting a kiss on the air above and before her. She draws hands back, eyes still closes, slowly steadying, calming, settling into the worn feel of knees and the weary ache of muscles until she is a being of one world again. Only then, eyes open. Only then she rises, taking three steps backward with her eyes on the egg the whole time.

< Meion leaves egg 6 - Scratches in the Night Egg >

Rhodelia will NOT stay. That's not her thing. She finaly extricates herself from this latest egg looking like she's seen a ghost. She gives a wide berth to all the eggs, making sure to keep her hands very firmly to herself as she goes to find the nearest weyrlingmaster. Just from the look on her face, there's no need to say another word, although he does helpfully point out the exit is the other way, which Rhody quickly slips out.

< Rhodelia leaves egg 4 - Embrace the Memories Egg >

Sylvarin's face seems to almost wrinkle with concentration as he attempts to make sense of what he sees before him…or perhaps who? But before he can come to even the beginning of a conclusion whatever is being seen before him changes abruptly. The color once more drains from the baker's face again (how many times is this now??) and his expression becomes nothing short of terrified. It isn't hard to imagine what has the baker frozen in place like this, his entire body trembling as he stands there. His heart seems to beat wildly in his chest, the tips of his hands going numb as he's nearly sent into a panic attack…but isn't. Relief washes over his features as he's thrust back into the present and in the present he remains for a good several minutes. But then…he's again, with hesitation, looking to see what this egg will show him next.

< Meion touches egg 1 - Nothing To See Here Egg >

Meion turns over the experiences in her mind, thinking about what she's learned from each egg - from the not-yet-a-dragon within - from the scattered piles of memory that each sifted through, raised to the surface, inspected or discarded. She learned so much from each, but - Her eyes return to the first egg, with its deceptively plain surface. What did she learn? What didn't she know? She knows now, she was playing hide-and-seek, and she gave up before she found what she was looking for. This time, she knows what she needs to do. This time, she knows not to leave until she's been to the heart of the matter. This time, she expects it will hurt. She kneels before the black egg like before, braces herself, presses both palms close to it and lets the sands fall away.

Mathis shakes his head, breathing, though air isn't the only thing to push free of his mouth. There are soft reassurances in a soothing tone, nothing quite loud enough to be overheard, petting the shell of the egg before him and resisting the urge to hug it tight against his body rather successfully. Nope, still wasn't going to look over his shoulder, sorry. It didn't matter if something was there or not, no matter how tight the muscles were at the back of his neck or how many goosebumps he could feel. A righteous nod, born out of another round of new resolve, "That's right, I'm with you." Although Mathis says this, something in voice has cracked a bit, thankfully too involved right now to think anything of it or what anyone else might. As much as he would have liked to gather up courage and confidence, his hands were lifting from the egg until just his finger tips remained and barely at that. Rinian was responsible for talking him into doing this again, he was ready to call it quits at five, now starting to doubt the validity of her words to him. No. No. She was right, he could do this. Okay. He was ready. With that those drawn back hands are reapplied and he steels his shoulders, nodding once more.

« That Which Walks Behind seems to blink, basking in a long moment of stunned silence, as its rapid pulse slows audibly in your ears. Y-your shadow… It was your shadow all along… Relief floods you on the sensation of a laugh, pitchy, hysterical, but so, so relieved. It's so young… and it was so naive… it thought… Well, nevermind what it thought, all that matters is that it wasn't true. It wouldn't go so far as to say you were not haunted — something lingers in your mind that's cause enough for worry, it brushed up against it in its digging, and it knows — but at the very least you are not followed. Never has it been more grateful for a mistake made, nor more willing to recognize its own failures because it means you are safe. Wearied by this tumultuous pitch of emotions, it mentally sags against you, its mind curling childlike about yours, murmuring a final notion of how grateful it is that you're here and okay and won't you please stay until it falls asleep, pleaaase, before slowly, steadily, it fades away and leaves you back on the sands. »

< Sylvarin leaves egg 2 - The Other Side of the Mirror Egg >

Sylvarin certainly seems to be lost in this other world, as if a floating sensation is encasing his whole body. He's entrenched in the unseen environment drifting around him. His head turns to the side, as if to follow something he sees and there's a brief moment of success. But as things begin to move faster, that whirlpool of unseen memories moving quicker with each second the baker begins to lose balance. Just before it seems too much to handle everything stills and his eyes go wide at whatever image he's shown. He reaches out as if to touch something only to be thrown back into the present with an expression that can only be described as concern. Concern for who though? Him? Someone else? Something that happened? And with it is surprise, surprise at some new truth he's perhaps found. But as all of that fades, like a dream he can just barely remember, Sylv finds himself bowing towards the clutch parents. Apparently he isn't going to push his luck anymore today. Today he still has his dignity at least.

Meion gives voice to a scream, and doesn't pull away. Tears stream down her face and she doesn't pull away. She shakes with the effort, burns with pain and fear and hopelessness and Does. Not. Pull. Away. If there is one thing she can do now - one solitary thing that matters - it is to Look. It is to See. It is to witness what is hiding there and to turn the fear, the heart-pounding drive, the way that feet want to move, hands want to flinch - to turn it all into forward. Into presence. Into going there, to the heart of what is terrifying her. She is scourged by the memory of pain and the pain of memory. She is torn open by claws of her own making. She is confronted with the truth that she has failed she has failed she has failed. And somehow, through it all, she does not look away. And there, in her head, with words that don't need to be formed on teeth and tongue to be heard - there, she whispers: I see you. And the whisper echoes everywhere around her, and shakes the not-a-dream, and she is on the sands, she is whole, she is sound, she is safe and she is self. Alone in her head again, with tears and sweat streaming down tense-held cheeks. "I see you," she repeats, barely loud enough to be heard. "Everything is fine." She rises to stand, tense - and her legs give out, and she falls back to the hot sands, and she stares at the high ceiling above her as she wonders if she's going to lose consciousness again.

< Meion leaves egg 1 - Nothing To See Here Egg >

Mathis too, blinks. Peeking out of one eye, quite reluctantly he might add, he peers downwards at the very apex of the egg he'd placed before him. Well, he didn't place it there, that was impossible, it was rather big and to imagine it coming OUT of him? It wasn't just this passing thought that brings about a round of nervous laughter, sighing in absolute relief soon after. He'd been right to trust Rinian, he knew it. Mathis quickly comes to the realization that he felt exhausted all of a sudden, blowing out a soft puff of air, as he moved his body to ease some of the ache in his joints. This is what it must feel like to be an old man. He might have to take a look in a mirror to see how much these eggs had aged him, bringing his hands up into view and finding that they looked no older than they had before. A brow arches and Mathis cocks his head to one side, questioningly, like a puppy who's heard something it can't quite figure out. "Sorry, what was that?" The boy's back straightens and he's soon bent over the egg, softly pleading with it something or another, turning downright desperate in the end as the heat of the sands wafts back in and he hears something flopping over. "Eh?" Turning, he sees Meion on the ground and for once all those arms and legs don't fail him. Around the eggs he goes and he's on his knees beside her in no time at all. He can't even remember how he'd gotten from point a to point be. "Hey, you okay?" His head comes into view as he hovers over her, at a loss of what to do, calling over to the weyrlingmasters, "She needs help!"

< Mathis leaves egg 3 - Umbral Egg >

Meion blinks up at Mathis. "I'm.. I'm very tired." She smiles weakly. "But everything is fine."
The sands haven't exactly been silent, not for meetings these eggs, but… even so. D'lei and Risali's conversation is disrupted. The weyrling staff have their attention drawn. The dragons have their attention drawn. The nascent creatures within those shells? Perhaps even their attention is drawn. They see - and what they see is Meion stand up… and then fall down. "…shit," is what D'lei says in answer to that, and he starts toward her as weyrlingmasters do the same - though Mathis, already among the eggs, is far closer to hand. Garouth's gaze tinges orange, focused on the candidates, and he rumbles, low in his chest. That's the sign of time-to-go, presumably, even if Meion may not be in any state to do it under her own power.

"Y-you're tired?" Blink-blink. "This isn't the best place for a nap." One eye was on Garouth though and by now he knows the sign it was time to go, lending some urgency to which he fusses over the woman who was so nice to him when he needed it. He will help get Meion out of there as best he can, made a whole lot easier when there are grown ups and muscles involved, he had a difficult time with his bag most of the time. The second that she was in more than capable hands? He was out, scooting towards the exit with a peek back towards Meion but no more than that. He'd check on her later, but for now he had to tell Rinian she was right.

Meion never quite seems to pass out, though her body is cold and faraway. She just keeps smiling up at the unfocused space above her, accomplished, calm, in a state her body never should have permitted her to get to. She breathes. She sees. She hears. She just rests a little outside her own ability to influence any of those things; an observer in her body, along for the ride. She can hear those weyrlingmasters approach, can feel them carefully lifting, and she awaits the transport to the healers hall that she expects must come next.

And then… there are weyrlingmasters there to do triage and get Meion up off the sands before shock turns into heat exhaustion, and a healer not fair behind them with a pair of assistants to carry her on a stretcher once it's clear she can't leave under her own power. It's time for rest and juice… again. D'lei and Risali watch her go, with concern worn open in Risali's face and in the set almost frown on D'lei's. Garouth watches, silent, and Leirith… « TAKE A BADASS NAP! » …is Leirith.

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