You Could 'Cause You Can So You Do (Sixth 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.

« MINIONS! WE AWAIT! » And await they do. Risali is - per the usual - there on the sands, having commandeered a chair to settle near Leirith while convincing the gold to extend a wing out-out-out as a means of shade. It probably expands over those eggs too, and those candidates, but neither the queen nor her rider seem inclined to make it stop. MAYBE THEY ARE JUST SETTING THE MOOD. Whatever it is, those Assistant Weyrlingmasters are corralling those lucky-to-be-nabbed candidates and pulling them onto the sands, giving their usual spiel of directions (bow, be gentle, be careful, leave when you're told), and then stepping aside so that they can do as they do. Leirith, for her part, is definitely dipping her head in a bow for all those who bow to her, giddy excitement thrumming through her and outwards. TOUCH THOSE EGGS SO GOOD.

The shady, creepy mood? Because that seems like it fits! Ajral is not one of the candidates who experienced one egg touching and then never came back, but a few of them actually were — there were a couple of younger ones, at least, who were very NOPE about the idea of coming back. One of them was coaxed back onto the sands by the gentle appeals of Ajral's easygoing natural encouragement skills, but only one. The others she had to give up on. Poor traumatized children! And yet she's taking the risk of touching the very eggs that freaked them out, merely because there are eggs on those sands she hasn't experienced yet. Rather than ive into the temptation to return to the one that had been her favorite for another hello, she tackles the Scariest Egg straight on. "I hear kids are petrified by you," she tells Scratches in the Night before offering it a confident palm.

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

How strange that the others had such a strong reaction to this egg, because it isn't bad at all! — ohwaithangonasec. Ajral was definitely lulled by the egg's false sense of security there. She believed it. It was so friendly and then kind of frightening and now it kind of feels like she is bruised. Thankfully though, no real bruises here; still standing, still on sand. As if trying to find the answer to how to make unhatched dragons LESS terrifying, Ajral swaps hands before touching it again.

Ajral falls for it again. The second time is as bad as the first — she's lured in, strangely comforted (VERY strangely, since from a human she would never go for these tricks) and then yeah, no, do not like that, do not want, do not pass Go, do not collect $200, she gets why everyone was freaking out. But it's still ineresting. She still wants to poke it, even if she's now using her free hand to press against her forehead because that hurt. Does it know? "Hey," she tells the hatchling, "that was painful," and swaps hands again.

The surprise of surprises: that seems to have actually WORKED. Ajral actually smiles a little, even if she's uncertain about that conclusion; she gives the egg a sort of sideways cross-eyed smile and, "That's better," along with a gentle pat. She is tired. It's tired. Everyone should take a nap, though if Leirith wants a nap, the candidates have to leave, so maybe not just yet … with a deep breath, she moves backward and to the next egg she hasn't yet made the acquaintance of.

< Ajral leaves egg 6 - Scratches in the Night Egg >
< Ajral touches egg 3 - Umbral Egg >

Whatever scared the others about Scratches in the Night might only have been headache inducing to Ajral, but there's clearly something about Umbral Egg that scares her more. It's gtten deep enough that her face actually looks frightened rather than stoic and utterly un-influenced except for the occasional eyeball motion or eyebrow twitch. She's still taking deep, measured breaths, but if anything they become more conscious and deliberate, like there's some concern about what would happen if she stopped focusing on her breath. Or who might hear the pattern of her breathing if it changed. Where she might end up. One hand starts a nervous drum against the shell with two fingers, but doesn't pull away.

Ajral's lips purse, pressing together, shoulders squared now as if she is readying herself for a fight. Protecting the creature insde the egg, or herself from it? Hard to say from the outside. But she's trying to make her mind open for it, and yettrying to close her physical wall off. To protect from whatever it is that — whatever — whoever — is afraid of. "Do you not like being touched?" she whispers to it, still not expecting a true answer, still not expecting that eggs are mature enough to make a whole lot of sense. Even if so far this whole clutch seems to like making the sense of being scary.

For a second the serious-face relaxes into a soft hint of smile, and Ajral's shoulders are less tense, more at ease. There's a nod in response to something she sees or senses, eyes closed but not pressed shut, sharing whatever adventure she's going on with this nborn creature. There are some things she is good at. Masks and walls and forcing things to be okay are things she's good at. She can keep doing this a little longer. So okay, scary thing: bring it.

Yes. See? This is better. Unexpectedly better — the way Ajral exhales is almost a breathy laugh, but not quite. She wouldn't judge a creature yet to see the sky or breathe air; youth is the excuse for so much, and for so many fears just due to lack of comprehension. The egg's reactions make Ajral sag a little, relief and tiredness (unhelped by the fact that due to a combination of infrmary work and PT, she is actually tired) but she squeezes her eyes shut and then opens them and moves on. One more, and then it's naptime.

< Ajral leaves egg 3 - Umbral Egg >
< Ajral touches egg 1 - Nothing To See Here Egg >

If the first egg hadn't given Ajral a headache, it's possible the third one would. Not that most of them hadn't the previous time she was on the sands either, but. Her head turns one way. Then the other way. It's almost as if she is too worn out to stop the physical reactions this time around. But even as she's encouraged to go, Ajral isn't convinced, and instead presses just a little harder against that shell. Is that it, Nothing to See Here? Is there really nothing, now that you've seen all you might want of her?

Ajral's issue with this egg might be that it's trying to be comforting and all of its siblings are eldrich horrors. Even the nice one that she adored was a little clingier than one could consider to be exactly safe. The other eggs made her aware of murderous impulses and frightening things behind her, and love and desire and comfort all the same, but this one is — it's very nice! It's pleasant! It's possibly trying a little too hard! Did — she hear something? "Are you sure?" comes out in a whisper, and: no. Sorry, egg. Ajral is still here.

See, Ajral KNEW there was something being hidden there, she can definitely sense trying too hard from a mile away, but she probably shouldn't have done that because okay no wonder this egg also messed people up. Or pleased and inspired the people who prefer their dragon eggs to be twisted and terrifying and not also made of something better all at once. Even if this one — this one seemed to be — it was trying to protect her — but from its own — Ajral's head hurts. Was the darkness in the egg, or was it only in her? Should she have listened? Are her eyes wet? She takes a couple steps backward, dazed; then tosses her head once, and sighs. Then presses on a smile, bows to Leirith and offers a slightly shaky, "Thank you again. I'm going to go sleep this off." And so she does, in the infirmary, so loud candidate barracks antics can't wake her.

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