It's Nine in the Afternoon (Fourth 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! Leirith has, once more, put out the call to come and touch those eggs so good. Risali is there too, lingering in the back with D'lei, and Garouth, and that bombastic mustard-yellow queen as Assistant Weyrlingmasters lead people back to the edges of the sands. It's the usual set of instructions relayed: No hitting, no shoving, no pushing, no running. Don't do anything to make Leirouth eat you, and leave when dragons (or their riders) make it clear that it's time to go. And last, but certainly not least: remember to bow! How else, after all, is Leirith going to bow back? But with those age-old instructions given, everybody is unleashed! GO FORTH! TOUCH ALL THE EGGS!

Meion approaches the sands, with a dour-faced young man a few steps behind, wearing a healer's knot and settling himself in the frontmost seats of the observation level. He looks out at the hot sands with the sort of expression that seems to ask whether there isn't _some other_ way to manage this, with less possibility for heatstroke, or random exhaustion, or any of the hundred other ways a candidate might come to the sort of harm that inconveniences the healers. He is already inconvenienced. Meion, on the other hand, looks calm and well-rested - that latter by healer fiat. She walks out slowly onto the sands, pausing after the first few steps to bow to Leirith and Garouth, then to make momentary eye contact with their riders. One egg remains a mystery to her - so of course, she doesn't approach that egg at all.

< Meion touches egg 3 - Umbral Egg >

Elayne may have lingered before, waiting a good while for others to roam across the Sands and get closer to eggs while she watched and not-watched, but today she doesn't wait to be caught standing there, awkwardly, at the edge again. Her bow is more of a hybrid than anything, her feet sketching out the motions of a curtsey while her focus is fixed on getting to an egg without making her fool of herself so completely that she may well start out with it anyway. At least it's polite, either way, and the blush that touches her cheeks could just be the heat of the Sands. But off she goes, approaching the furthest from her, tentative fingers eventually reaching to skim shell.

Meion makes her slow meander among the eggs, pausing a moment before each to incline her head in momentary respect and whisper something far too softly to be heard. She stands a moment with each, touching none of them, until she comes at last to the black-blue-purple egg that shines so unlike its twin. Instead of the bow of head and whispered statement, she comes down to one knee, pausing there like a cartoon version of a proposal. She takes a breath - looks up to D'lei and Risali again, whether or not they look back - looks briefly to her scowling minder from the healers - and lets her hand stretch out, palm up, until the backs of fingers rest on that shining night-sky shell, and her eyes fall closed.

< Elayne touches egg 4 - Embrace the Memories Egg >

The room, this grand place, is something he's not yet seen. How could one with a white knot have not even come to stare at the eggs they intend to Stand before? Those ovoids that bare the makings of hopes, dreams, salvation, or whatever tangled threads of fate left un-cut have brought them this far? Kaellian hasn't. It has only been some time after the space adventures that he actually moved in with a modest amount of things, and now he's here. Standing at the edge of the sands, kohl-rimmed gaze swept over the dome above, then, eventually, down to the clutch parents. His bow as he steps onto the sands is a grand gesture as it always is, though perhaps a little less laced in sarcasm this time. A little less. His hand placed over his chest, his upper body dipped even if his eyes don't leave them. Not until, that is, he watches the other disperse out onto the eggs. He takes his time, as he always does. his wrapped hand lifted to his right, each of those rings pulled off one by one to make his hand bare. Free of the weight they usually hold, physical and mental. He flexes his hand, the foreign feeling almost as unsettling as this event itself. It doesn't take long for his attention to be taken by one egg in particular. One that has him furrowing his brow, abruptly focused on it. Perhaps focused too much on it, and the passing feeling that he must have made up that it gives so-briefly as he passes before it. That hand made bare alights on the shell of the Nothing to See Here Egg, fingers and palm flat to its surface.

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

Sylvarin has gained back a little confidence after his second time with the eggs went /much/ better than the first. He's not quite as hesitant as he walks onto the sands and bows this time. His gaze sweeps over the eggs, carefully ticking off the ones he's already touched in his mind. Two in particular get a blatant shudder from the baker before he finds his way moving to one of the few he's yet to meet. He stares hard at Scratches in the Night Egg before pressing his palm against the hardening surface, breathe held in anticipation (or fear).

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

Despite being Weyr-bred, Weyr-born, Weyr-raised until age twelve-or-so, Ajral has never been this close to dragon eggs before. It is her first time to be Standing on her own merit, and while she has looked upon the eggs from above, this is her first welcome onto the sands. And while she has a favorite, a true choice that caught her eye more than any other by how it looks aone, she is almost afraid to try it first. (Besides which, someone else has made that first contact with said egg; but even if they hadn't. She would not have gone to it first due to some fear of jinxing the process.) Her bow is elaborate and smooth and elegant without being campy, and her walk is gracefully light as she tip-toe-steps to what may be her second favorite or even third favorite or, well, there were at least two others besides: The Other Side of the Mirror.

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

"I…am not comfortable with this," Sylvarin's voice is quite serious as a frown appears on his lips. There's a twitch of the shoulders, as if trying to brush something off. For a brief moment the man seems as if he may give in to whatever this egg is showing him but then he straightens abruptly. He turns to look over his shoulder only to stop mid-movement and swivel his head to the other side. It isn't difficult to see the rise and fall of his chest quickening as the hairs on the back of his neck begin to stand up. The frown is now turning quickly into a scowl but before it's quite reached /peak/ unhappiness the baker steps away from the egg with a groan. His hands move to his ears, eyes squeezing shut for a few moments as if in pain. "FUuuuuu-" He's censoring himself and quickly his voice fades away. An accusatory glance is shot towards the egg but after a moment he reaches out again.

Elayne remains all tension as moments pass, only then she seems to relax, easing her shoulders back and closing her eyes in what turns out to be only a split-second of lowered guard and possible smile. In the next instant, her eyes flash open once more and she takes a half-step back, only she doesn't remember to take her hand with her, leaving her at arm's length from the Embrace the Memories Egg with her fingers still press to its shell as if she's inadvertently glued herself to it. She can't have, yet she makes no effort to prove it, nor to relent and step closer again, the distance kept between them, no matter how awkward and uncomfortable it might look. And be. Staring and the beginnings of a grimace define her, but she moves not.

There is an audible gasp from Ajral, and it's strangely accompanied by a giggle — that first sound from between her lips one of chilled surprise, followed by the sound of someone being tickled and not sure if she is disturbed or delighted by it. Yes, that's accurate: there's a feeling ther that is exhilarating and awful all at once, crawling up her spine and blowing through her hair in a way both frightening and beautifully intimate. Hello. "I don't," Ajral says softly but happily, tone laced with laughter, "like secrets either — " and then suddenly it's all gone, shaking her back to the Sands, hands in the air. That can't possibly be it, she knows there must be more (it is also what everyon else is doing, no one has yet run away after such a brief encounter, and Ajral will not be the first — but also — that nagging curiosity — ) and she places one hand back down on its shell.

Meion shifts in place with shut eyes and outstretched arm. She reaches out, brushing the other reassuringly over that shell, breathing evenly, levelly. She pets along the smooth surface like someone might calm a frightened child - like she herself wishes someone would do for her right now, but she's alone-adult-afraid. No one will save her. No one ever has. So she wills her breath to move in even counts of one-two-three-in, one-two-three-out, even as her heart batters, jitter-sharp at her ribs. Even as her face contorts in concentration and - is that pain? Fear? Enough to make her minder in the seats reach down and grip the edge of his chair, worried for what comes next - but she remains upright, and he remains seated. "There's nothing to be afraid of," she whispers, just audibly. A moment of focus; a bridge that links this dream to another, and she carries across the words she kept repeating last night as they carried her off the sands on a stretcher. "Everything is fine. Everything is fine. Everything is fine." The words repeat on her lips, measured out like her breaths, until the sounds start to lose meaning and there's just the power of repetition, of a shield of will and faith against the monsters in the night.

Something about closing his left hand around his rings that belong on his other sends a muted twinge of discomfort across his expression. And he's fumbling for a distracted few seconds with the pouch at his hip to deposit them there. However, Kaellian doesn't get that far in his efforts when something else borrows itself so deeply into the forefront of his thoughts. His wrapped hand is frozen there at his hip, as he focuses, frowns. That discomfort from his hand seems to have melted across the whole of him, drowned him. That frown reaches his eyes, something critical about them, colder, expecting of an explaination or at least more. Searching for something. Waiting, for something. The rest of the room he'd been somewhat entertained by has vanished as he focuses here, on this thing that had drawn him in so immediately, so personally. So familiar. His left finds movement, depositing the rest of his precious jewelry into that pouch on him. Then, there's a shift in his weight, a step forward to bring him just that much closer. His other hand joins the first, though that one isn't freed of its accessories. What flesh is bare to the world already is all that may make contact still with the Nothing to See Here Egg.

"I don't think I /want/ you to be here for me." Sylvarin seems to be growing increasingly unhappy with this egg and begins to snatch his hand away. But something stops him, as if holding him there. The very tip of one finger is all that keeps him connected and the unpleasantness on his features grows exponentially. "You don't get to take those from me…" But whatever its taking Sylv can't seem to stop them. Is that a hint of panic in his features? Panic for whatever he feels that he's lost? It only lasts for a split second before a loud groan is pulled from his lips unwillingly. Whereas earlier both hands went to his ears, now they move to his temples as if pressing against them may stop whatever pain he's in. He doubles over for a moment, sucking in deep breathes of air before turning a glare to the egg. "That's it, f— you." But he doesn't leave, instead he firmly presses a hand against the shell one last time. For whatever reason he's determined to get through this.

Ajral blinks — once, twice, a thousand times, her looks onto broken reflections that no other sees besides herself and the dragon forming inside the egg her one hand rests upon. Normally by now she would think to look at the others. Normally she would get a feel from what the rest are doing; she would be curious, never solely wrapped in herself, but now — the enthraller is enthralled. Her expression is still cool and collected but it is far from vacant, as behind her eyes there is a shiver and a pain, a tenuous thread of fear — and then another startle, a jump. A deep breath. A sigh, inhaling warm air and re-centering, and … being not quite done, as rather than jumping back she lets both hands rest upon the egg's shell for just another minute.

Elayne tilts her head the slightest fraction, a certain lack of comprehension claiming her features, though there's a softness to her gaze that betrays her being not entirely unsympathetic. That said, she still refuses to get any closer, rocking back on her heels a little, digging them into the sand as though to ensure that she will not change her mind and be drawn nearer. Though she remains, it's not without a sigh, a measure of frustration vented while she tries her best to do her duty to whatever it is that would have her stay longer - and do it on her terms. Given a few seconds, she manages to ease any trace of emotion from both her expression and the way in which she holds herself, only that arm still tethering her to the egg before her.

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

Sylvarin doesn't trust the egg for a second but he seems to be fighting a battle he just can't seem to win. There's a significant amount of effort given to furrowing those brows and scowling at the egg…but as time ticks on the expression fades into something more neutral, something more calm. He breathes in deeply, shoulders relaxing momentarily. But perhaps not all is right with the world because despite the rest of his body language one eyebrow seems to be twitching periodically. It's subtle, but present. "I…can't promise I will." A response to some question in his mind, but not an /entirely/ negative response. As he pulls away from the egg this time there's a fatigued sigh escaping his lips. And it seems it's time for a short break. He isn't leaving the hatching sands just yet, but he's moving over to lean against a wall for some support. He'll jump back in…soon…probably.

Oh, now this — this is something, and it's something almost no one should ever be in the circumstance to experience quite like this, but then again everyone knows unhatched dragons are scary, and — and Ajral, despite herself, sees a reflection she wants to see even in seeing things that aren't good things. It is this self-reflection amongst the egg's reflection; it is an egg that understands her. Allows her to perceive what she wishes should be perceived, though — it isn't her, it isn't that, it is that everyone — and then there is that jolt, again, setting her back where she was, still thinking — "Well." The egg gets a little pat. "Everyone should try that one. Wild." It is now that she looks at the other candidates to see if anyone else is affected in the way she was, or in other ways that are worth probing, prying … and it's pretty much everyone. That first-beloved egg is still occupied, but Ajral is not done experiencing: she finds her way to another with a glorious be-gardened shell, Too Late for Goodbyes.

< Ajral leaves egg 2 - The Other Side of the Mirror Egg >
< Ajral touches egg 5 - Too Late for Goodbyes Egg >

There's an acute stillness that keeps Kaellian where he stands, both hands on that shell. The only thing that has moved is a few strands of hair have fallen forward where it comes to be evident he's leaned towards the egg, his head tipped so-slightly downwards. "Liar." Is mouthed with only the most faint of noise flecked in his drawled accent. He's speaking privately, maybe even just to himself and not the egg. He doesn't turn, doesn't look anywhere but there. Maybe inward. But seablues are riveted on deep black shell. Then, as if something touches him, his head jerks back just a little bit. A tension sits in his shoulders that wasn't there before, as if he's denying something. Refusing something. Outlasting the pressure to do anything else but leave his hands on the shell of Nothing to See Here.

Meion's fingers curl. Her back hunches in, her breath grows faster despite her focus on it. "Everythingisfine. Everythingisfine." The whispered mantra takes on a pleading tone; a bargain she makes with powers beyond her understanding. With Leirith and Garouth? With their riders? The weyr itself? With the sands, dark and oil-stained and covered over in her fear. She is melting into the sands as fear drives her down, her body hunching in on itself as that waiting batters at the reserves of her will. Everything is fine, but for how long? When will the end come? The not knowing - the threat of impending doom, the fear of what might be - it leaves the present dry and drained, always living in the shadow of what comes next. And that - that - It clicks into place like the last piece of a puzzle, and she lets it all in. The beating heart; the shallow, useless breath; the clench of every muscle in her body. It's all afraid of what-will-be, but everything IS fine. She invites the fear into this moment, into the presence of now, braced for the impact what some part of her knows cannot be worse than the fearing-it already is.

What uncanny doom void is this, which Ajral has found herself in and cannot separate herself from? Clearly it is made by Garouth and Leirith, clearly it is the form of a dragon, but why do dragons unhatched, not yet full-formed but hard enough to be met by candidates' hands and minds create such things? This one, this pretty shell is nothing but chill and fear and the desperate urge to breathe and find the sky the ground the walls the up-down-right-left-north-south, Ajral has lost her direction and lost herself and wants to know things and knows nothing. It wants to know but does not tell, and she may not answer in words but tries to answer in mental pictures even as she finds herself drowning in her mind. When she is returned from whence she came, she does not let go. She waits. She expects to be thrown into the deep end again and this time she is ready. She will look closer. There will be a shape to something. There must be.

< Elayne leaves egg 4 - Embrace the Memories Egg >

Elayne permits another sigh to escape, more deliberate this time and edged less with frustration and more with the sympathy of before. "It would never work," is what she tells the egg, matter of fact, whether the words are truly for its occupant or ultimately for herself, another half-step taken to create further distance, her hand breaking free with her this time. She swallows hard, squares her shoulders, and turns hr back on it, her path one that takes her away in such a manner as keeps it out of her sight completely. She will not look back. She will not be drawn in. Rather than gravitate back to the edge of the Sands, a long look directed there, she approaches The Other Side of the Mirror Egg instead and presses her left palm against its middle.

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

There is an immense poise and control about Ajral-as-person, her ability to appear unaffected on the outside a substantial part of her being, and only due to that would eyes looking upon her from the sands or galleries see nothing but a minute change in expression, a slight darkening and a squint to her closed eyes. But inside she is all chaos and fear and wonder, because this is terror and delight all at once. And mystery. Taunting, terrible mystery holding her hostage. Each time she gets close, even as she's afraid to push but pushes anyway, it's always back here — "To reality, idiot, this is reality," she whhispers to herself, but as she leaves her fingertips on that eggshell, surely reality cannot last.

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

There comes a point where Meion loses herself. For just a moment, her will and the will in the egg are aligned, and she no longer knows where the line between is. Fear floods in - enough to overwhelm any resistance, but she offers none. She lets herself be washed along in the flood, carried by the current of the moment. In that moment, she doesn't need to turn around. In that moment the world turns itself around her, and she sees. It is what it is. There is nothing else it could be. There is nothing else she could be. Everything is what it is, and if she is afraid then she is afraid and that is simply what she is. And in that, she is not afraid. How could she be? It isn't what she is. If she is brave, then she is brave, and in saying so, she is brave. Dragonmind is brave. Meionmind is brave. And that does not make the fear go away, the trembling body, the way she is shaking on the sands like she might burst - but none of it matters, because it does not matter. The tautological simplicity of it is so elegant that it seems to encompass everything - and she sees, and she is brave, and she is what she is, shaking with silent tears and ragged breath and reaching out to stay with that black slick of an egg.

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

Kaellian presses maybe a little too-hard against the shell. Not enough to hurt it, mind, but there's certainly no softness left in him. Whatever he had pushed for comes crashing down upon him all-of-a-sudden, and there's a sharp breath intaken…. and not released. It's as if he has to take that one last breath, because that's all he'll get. As if there's no more air in this whole damn room. He's rigid, as if something holds him there. Prisons him there. Sweat has beaded across his skin- surely it's just the heat of the sands and not whatever has seemingly overtaken him. The frown that had touched his lips progresses to lines of pain. For a man who undoubtably faces the edge of a blade more than a few times a month, this is worse. This is something personal, direct, invasive. Man full of ego and authority, self-preservation and vengeance and brought down by this. Whatever it is lasts too long- but maybe that's only in his mind, because in the real world it's seconds. Seconds that stretch, and stretch… and stretch… until he gasps, stumbling back to force his palms off of that shell, gasping for a new breath where what he'd taken long ago had been stolen, and he'd been drowning. His right hand runs down along his left arm, as if searching for… anything left behind. The current-time becomes evident, the fact there's other people here forces everything present in his expression to be suppressed, for him to glance briefly at the weyrlingmasters, the gold and bronze upon the sands, and then reach for a different shell. To play along, even if in the interval he'd glanced back. This time, his bare hand reaches for Scratches in the Night Egg.

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

Ajral is fine. Fine. Everything is fine. There is no sign that she may not be okay. Everything is wonderful. This is a lie. One hand, shaking, moves backward from the eggshell even as the other one trembles and remains to perceive the rest of the hatchling's intended message. What kind of strange mystery is this, this darkness? Ajral finds she cannot find her breath, and even as she escapes the illusion — or more accurately, it discards her — she shakes a ragged breath forth, and coughs, and steps backward. No, onto something safer. Onto something rosier, as it were. Embrace the Memories Egg, nearby, is the hopeful solace of Ajral's trembling hand.

< Ajral touches egg 4 - Embrace the Memories Egg >
< Elayne leaves egg 2 - The Other Side of the Mirror Egg >

Elayne falls. She manages to keep her feet from sliding towards the egg and getting anywhere near too close, but she falls nonetheless, her efforts leaving her sprawled on her backside in the sand for the instant before she tips backwards and her head connects too. Stunned, she does nothing more than lie there as seconds tick by, except then the heat of the Sands begins to register and seep through fabric to skin, forcing her to scramble to her feet, sand scattered through her hair. Tears sting her eyes, yet they are not allowed to fall as she stalks her way from The Other Side of the Mirror Egg and to the edge of the Sands, trying to brush herself off with as much dignity as possible. She keeps her head held high, but no. That's enough for one day.

Solace, indeed: it is good that Ajral waited, for this egg she first delighted in to keep it for after a harrowing experience like that given by its sibling which she first thought just as beautiful. And maybe that dark recess of terror and death is beautiful in its way, but this is the sort of beauty in which Ajral thrive. Thrive she does — that microexpression becomes a smile almost big enough to see upon her mouth and in the position of her eyebrows, even as her eyes remain shut, lingering. However could she move away? (And yet part of her still wonders: where is the catch, when even the most eerie aspect of this one remains pleasant? Where is the darkness the others imparted? Will she shake that paranoia?)

If Kaellian is shaking slightly, that's only your imagination. Maybe he's calmed by the time this next feeling washes over him. The falsity of comfort being taken for as thin as what it is. Accepted for it too quickly, as if he needs that to find purchase after what had clearly been too much, even for him. What could possibly have that much affect? It doesn't matter now, for he's been swept up into this. Something where his attention is pulled deeper, farther, than the distraction he'd initially, unfairly, disrespectfully given it. His head turns to one side. Listening. Impatient in the mask of patience. It's not so much that he steps away from the egg, but that his hand removes itself. Cast away. But it's replaced shortly after on the Scratches in the Night Egg's shell, still stubborn, still pushing forwards despite whatever revulsion had pushed him away in the first place.

< Meion leaves egg 3 - Umbral Egg >

Meion's breath steadies. Her shaking slows, stops. She is kneeling on the sands in front of a slick black shadow of an egg, and she is unharmed. She is unharmed. A clarity of meaning is scattering at the edges of her mind, being replaced by all the ambiguity of the real world - all the past and present and future, memories and contingencies, hopes, dreams, fears. She cannot hold onto that singular self here, but she is clarity-touched nonetheless. She rises to her knees, deliberate and slow, and leans in to plant a soft kiss on the egg's sleeping shell, as if she might wake it with too much of a touch. And then she rises. And then she looks to Leirith, to Garouth, Risali, D'lei, just long enough to know that each has seen her seeing them, seen her smiling. And she walks off the sands under her own power, unbowed, tearless, in the exact opposite direction of her minder from the healers.

Did the egg know Ajral has the abandonment issues of someone who has never belonged to anyone? That pain that can only be part of someone who has never had anyone to be abandoned by, that feeling of having been left by everyone and no one all at once? How could it have — and yet how could she want anything other than its attentions when that raw part of her is played to so well? Even its overbearing fears are not going to push her away, even if maybe they should, even if she knows that eagerness could be far from positive. "I won't go," she whispers, voice feather-light on a single breath. And so she doesn't. So she stays.

Sylvarin takes a deep breathe, finally ready to head towards the last of the eggs he hasn't touched. There's a sidelong glance at the other candidates as he briefly wonders just how /they/ have been affected. A small part of him seems to be using it as an excuse to /not/ take that last plunge…but in the end he does. His long steps finally bring him in front of the Umbral Egg and he studies those dark shades for a moment. He's briefly lost in that surface before his hand finally presses against it.

< Sylvarin touches egg 3 - Umbral Egg >

The remnants of pain. Again. Kaellian reflexively clenches his left hand, holding it against his stomach as if that's what hurts, and not his mind. Not his head, not whatever rips through it savagely enough to make him again at war with himself. Not as much, not as badly, but there is something to be said of wounds already open and raw, with salt water poured upon them with such malicious energy. Like being scored by a blade and pushed off the plank to swim with the devils of the sea. "You can do nothing worse." Kaellian's challenge comes with the splay of his fingers as he pushes his hand against the Scratches in the Night's shell. Rough, calloused palm's pressure rivals demands made of him, ignores the urges invoked of him. Waits as if to face the monster within- and that may very well be not what grows within that egg.

Sylvarin's features twist into something unpleasant almost immediately as crawling sensations travel through his skin. There's a shudder from the baker and soon his emotions turn to pure disgust mixed with apprehension. "Don't. Touch." His words are a low hiss but just at the edge of alarm. He takes a step /towards/ the egg, suddenly glancing over his shoulders with wide eyes. Only in that moment, when he looks over his shoulder, does he snap back to the present and stare at….nothing. There is only the heat of the sands and the eggs and the candidates. He moves to reach to touch is own back, ascertaining that there's nothing there before attention shifts back to the ovoid once more.

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

It's a different sort of gift, the way this egg feels; its goodness in and of itself its darkness, the sense of need a positive rather than a chilling bite. And Ajral is sensitive to it as others may not be — or maybe they are. Maybe everyone reacts the same way. She won't think on that, though, but offer appreciation outward: she could, she will, she would be so happy to learn who you are and what you have to show her. To fill that emptiness, the same way that maybe the dragon inside could fill the cracked or emptty edges of her mind. She smiles as she steps back, offering an affectionate little lingering stroke as she moves away from the eggs and back to observation: it's definitely best to leave this sort of encounter on a high note, rare as those may seem.

< Ajral leaves egg 4 - Embrace the Memories Egg >

Sylvarin's attention snaps back to the egg fully and now concern drips into his features once more. Concern and /confusion/. Something it shows him causes him to pause, to take a deep breathe, to focus. But the longer he stares, lost in this word, the evidence of fear becomes abundantly clear. Goosebumps once again crawl across his flesh as he trembles just slightly. His knees bend just the slightest as if ready to run at any moment. But there he remains, frozen in place, frozen in fear. The pain in his chest is from overflowing anxiety and the shallow breathes he takes do't seem nearly enough. "What /is/ it?" His words are nothing but a hiss, almost inaudible with everything else going on. A part of him hopes he never gets an answer.

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

Sylvarin has gone through far more expressions during these touchings than he usually goes through in an entire sevenday. But there it is again, concern…but not only for him this time. "I'm fine…really." His words don't cary that edge of hostility from earlier, but still the fear dwells, just not as strong. Something seems to be pulling him upwards. His back straightens and his shoulders are thrown back. There's a slight jut of his chin, but still an imperceptible tremble to his fingers. But, "I'm ready." Or at least so he things. He leans forward, hand pressing more firmly against the egg as he seems to countdown with the being inside of it. And then…he /looks/.

Perhaps whatever comes next is more repulsing in light of what he'd felt before, what he expected.. What he wanted? No, what was deserved. "Leave it be." Words escape him in a breath, a response to whatever lingering question passed between surface and the contact made of it. Kaellian slowly lets his hand fall this time, raising to his head to rub roughly over his face, over his scruff, the sound relatively loud and grating to any close-by enough to hear it. His kohl-rimmed gaze searches the shells, a sense of apprehension foreign and bitter on his tongue. He can't help but glance back, watching the first egg he'd gone to. The one that still-has his tanned skin fushed, or what can be seen of it beyond the too-many-layers of clothes he wears. But he doesn't go back. He can't go back. Instead, he forces himself towards the other side of the laid eggs, where Too Late for Goodbyes sits, hesitating before letting his finger tips set just to the side of its crown.

< Sylvarin leaves egg 3 - Umbral Egg >

"Shells…" Sylvarin breathes out softly, the tension in his body leaving all at once as he seems to sag. But something is bothering him, something is turning in his mind. "I guess I'll stay…" But not for very long. Despite the relief in his features he doesn't seem as relaxed as whatever being is inside this egg. His fingers tap reassuringly agains the shell once before he steps away and proceeds to look across the entire clutch. As the wheels turn in his mind a thought seems to upset him even more. He doesn't say it out loud but there's one word echoing in his head: me. There's one last glance at the Umbral Egg before the baker candidate begins to make his way off the sands with a quick bow. It seems tonight he'll be awake, lost in his thoughts.

Confusion becomes his expression. Confusion taking the deep-set lines of frustration, irritation of being… lost? His head is bowed as it had been earlier, though there's no tension there. And he's not frozen. Rather, his wrapped hand rises to meet his other one, as if trying to reach something, anything. Hold onto it. Find what lies beyond.. Beyond whatever he's seeing there. Whatever's being shared. His head tips, even though his eyes are open, he's not looking at anything. That gaze looks past, beyond, squints. Then, back to the shell as if the answers lie within. They do, but maybe not in the egg. "I don't-" He can't finish that answer, for whatever question summons it. Can't. Won't. He's not sure which. This too is hushed, private, murmured rather than growled. Kaellian steps back, leaving this egg. Trying to re-orient himself to the here, now. That's enough. He takes another step back, a faint bow towards the dragons who watch over them, then turns on his heel towards the edge of the sands, merging behind another couple of candidates who have chosen to do the same.

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