Weyrling Lesson 1: Dragon Anatomy

Xanadu Weyr - Weyrling Barracks

A long and roughly oblong cavern, about a third of the space is open, used for classes or chores as required. The rest of the space is filled with couches of varying sizes, all with plenty of space between them. Some couches are obviously intended for the very young weyrlings while the largest ones at the back are for the older weyrlings.

Alicia smiles at everyone as they come in to the class. "Hello, Hello … " She says to each weyrling as the enter.

Tylynn stands and moves to curl up with Yyrith as he lumbers in.

Irabeth ambles in, at the back of the pack… she was busy leaving a present for her lifemate to clean up after class. The softtoned gold moves to sit in /front/ of Leann, all the more curious as she watches the Weyrlingmaster.

A'iom chuckles Quielty. "Hello Cali."

Yyrith rumbles softly in his baby-dragon voice, laying his head in _his_ Lynn's lap.

Alicia giggles at the gold. "Welcome to your first official day of weyrling training. Now that you have your lifemates it would be nice to know how they look inside so you have a better understanding. Can anyone tell me how we have dragons today?" She takes a seat at the desk in the front of the class and waits for someone to answer the question.

Leann smirks at the wall of autumn gold before her and pushes up in her seat, leaning over the table to nudge her aside, "Please? I wanna see too.. " Irabeth shuffles to the side, but only to stand before yet another weyrling, only to be nudged on by his lifemate. Grumbling, the little queen lays down flat, her neck stretched so she can see without getting int he way.

A'iom knows the answe to this one, but isn't going to say. Nope No way.

Leann cranes about, trying to see if anyone knows the answer to the question, cause she sure don't.

Alicia smiles looking for /anyone/ to answer the question. "A'iom?"

L'nec raises my hand

A'iom looks startled and blushes. "Well..Umm." Seeing that L'nec hand is raised he sits back dowm.

Alicia giggles shaking her head in disappointment. "L'nec? Care to give the question a try?"

Leann chuckles at L'nec, glancing back at him. She too notes the raised hand, and turns about with interest. A gold head rises above the table, and she too watches, whirling eyes bright with curiosity.

Tylynn scritches Yyrith's eyeridges, half-listening and trying to answer the little blue's rapid-fire questions.

Calith moves about, from one place to another, After all he needs to be everywhere at once.

L'nec says "ummm we have dragons here today cause these beauties hatched about a month ago but they are desendants of dragons who faught thread from the earliest records"

Alicia nods. "Yes, that is true. Can you expand on that? How did dragons come to be? Did Pern /always/ have dragons?"

Leann and Irabeth shift their gaze back and forth between the questioning Weyrlingmaster and

L'nec, great heaps of interest piling up behind their eyes.

L'nec says "umm there is come contoversy about that some ppl say they were grown from flits others say they have always been herer i go for the flit theory"

A'iom shakes his head at his Lifemate. "Get over here Cali, he wispers."

L'nec smiles feeling the wonder in my ED's mind

Alicia smiles at the weyrling and nods. "Sort of. Kitty Ping ring a bell to any of you?"

Leann blinks as she looks back to Alicia, but shakes her head. The girl leans back in her chair, lacing her hands in her lap. The gold lowers herself again, giving her full and semi-undevided attention to the Weyrlingmaster.

Tylynn has to stifle a giggle as Yyrith looks up, interested by the name. No, she doesn't, but Yyrith suddenly wants to know.. BADLY.

Alicia explains with a little more detail. "The graceful flying creatures known as Dragonets, or Firelizards as they have come to be known as, were on Pern when the colonists landed. Dragonets resembled the dragons of Terran mythology with four limbs, two wings and the ability to breath-fire. Similar to a bat, their wings are tranlucent membranes stretched out over their arm, hand, and finger bones which are fairly durable. Constructed with boron crystalline their wings are very light despite their size iwth a thicker membrane where the bones attach to the muscels. Their feet have three toes that are real toes not claws. Their front limbs, used for hunting in the wild, are adiquitlty equiped with pincers and a single toe that folds back against two which are rigid claws. Leading from just behind the dragonets head knobs to their shoulders muscles of the wings is a line of ridges leads."

Leann's eyes widen, leaning to murmur to the nearby boy who sits stunned as well, "/That/ was a mouthful. She's so knowledgeable.. "

Alicia first looks around to make sure everyone is following what she is saying before she continues. "When a hatching was about to take place a fair of dragonets would begin humming surrounding the eggs with a ring of seaweed that was filled with small fish and crawling creatures as the hatchlings first meal. After the hatchlings had accepted their first meal they were self sufficient being able to fly and hunt. It was a discovered by a group of children that the firelizards bonded with the first firelizard or human that fed them. It was later learned that these creatures could also predict human births as well as animal births." Tylynn whistles softly. Quite the discovery!

Alicia smiles again as she looks around at the class. No one asking any questions she continues. "Dragonets were found very useful when thread first began to fall upon Pern. It was revealed that dragonets were capable of containing and mixing phospine-bearing rock with internal acids to produce flame in their second stomachs. Imagine what these dragonets could do if they were /bigger!" Her eyes light up as she gets in to the lesson and paces back and forth as she speaks.

A'iom smiles at awe with Alicias knowledge

Tylynn frowns at Yyrith and raises her hand. "How little were these dragonets? They don't look very small to me now.." Yyrith whuffles her as she asks, and watches Alicia intently with whorling eyes.

You say "They first dragons were the firelizards we have today." She smiles at Tylynn indicating their size with her hands stretched out. "Not very big at all so they could not really help in fighting thread. Kitty Ping imagined these creatures in a much bigger form with the same capabilites only much larger. Being a much bigger size she believed that they would aid in the fighting of thread. After several attempts at recreating these dragon in a labratory she finally had success and created the first dragons every to be on Pern. They were /much/ bigger then what we see today.""

Leann continues to listen, enthralled in the lesson. Irabeth quirks a headknob, her eyes whirling as she absorbs the strange information.

L'nec huggz Edkath "you will still be a big beautyful brown "

A'iom laughs "Calith wants to know if bronzes will ever be the size of greens?"

Yyrith looks at A'iom and Calith, startled. He can't get any smaller!

Alicia looks around again to make sure that the class is still awake. "Kitty recreate the dragonets in much the same was as the smaller version but there were differences that she believed would benefit in fighting thread. The endoskeleton, the inside bone structure, of the dragons are exceptionally strong and not easily broken. She structured them to withstand take offs and landings for creatures of their size so they /needed/ to be strong. On Pern dragons eat meat called Boron that keeps their skeletan structure strong. Their endoskeleton is very flexible allowing them to feel as comfortable on the ground as in the sky. Dragons also have the ability to sit/stand in an upright position." Looking at Calith she beings to laugh. "They could. With every hatching dragons are getting smaller in size. They may even level out to all be the same size."

Tylynn soothes her poor paniced blue, but looks at Alicia for the answer.

A'iom chuckles at Calith and scratches at his side. "Oh I see, cali." "Alicia, Cali wants to know if that would mean that the odds in flight would be better?"

Alicia pulls down pictures of the smaller firelizards in comparison to the dragons they were once created. She then tacks up more diagrams of the dragons bone structure. Using a pointer she points to the skeleton. "The skeleton itself is constructed of light flexible plates that glide over each over, a modified suspension, with a modified ball and socket joint in their hips to prevent their knees from dislocating on take-off and landings." Again she laughs. "I think the bronzes would have something to say about that but it is possible. Bronzes may be losing their size but their strength and stamina has not changed."

A'iom nods and chuckles at Clai. "Its it love."

Leann raises her hand.

Alicia still giggling she continues. "The ribcage of a dragon is comprised of a single piece and is surprisingly large. Despite being constructed from a single piece the ribcages rise and fall. Dragons chests can double in size upon full inflation, presumably to deal with working under pressure and at altitude." She looks at Leann and smiles encouragingly. "Yes Leann?"

Leann smiles at Irabeth when she looks back at her, wondering about the question. "Wouldn't the fact that the bronzes are growing smaller, and keeping the strength and stamina mean that the blues and browns will have an even harder time with keeping up? I mean, if bronzes had the agility and manuvering abilities of the smaller dragons, they'd be unbeatable. Wouldn't they?"

Yyrith looks a touch crestfalen.

Alicia says, "Apparently not. At the moment the blues are decreasing in size as well so the odds are staying even. If they did all become the same size I would have to agree with you. Until that happens, if it ever does, they will still have the same chances they had before." She giggles a little. "Besides, Bronzes usually are partcial to Golds and do not give chase to greens often. If they were to chase ever green on Pern they would never have time to do anything else.""

L'nec grins thinking how anything would get done

Leann chuckles, her eyes flashing, "Good point.. " Irabeth's hide flickers with brightness; pride seeping through. The girl gives the dragon a gentle nudge with her fingertip, trying to deflate the growing ego.

Tylynn grins and sighs for Yyrith, scritching along a long blue neck.

Alicia tacks up a diagram of the dragons wing. "Two wingbones extend outward from the shoulder joint, running almost in series to each other, but separated by the 'elbow', the bones forming the 'lub'." She traces her finger along the structure. "These wingbones conclude in the finger joints, where the spar bone forms the outer edge of the wing. The mid-bone and inner-bone also extend outwards om the finger joint, jointed themselves several times, like the spar bone, to provide flexibility."

Leann gets up and moves about to the front of her desk, nuding Irabeth, "Open your wing, Love.. please?" The dragonet complies, her sails unfolding so the girl can follow along, her neck stretching now and again so she can see the diagram and compare.

Alicia tacks up another set of diagrams of their legs. "Dragons are very muscular and have a considerable amount of strength in their back legs for leaping in to the air during take off. In appearance the muscles glisten silver-grey in colour, with the grey becoming darker where the ichor, dragons blood, supply is richer."

Tylynn scoots around slightly to poke tenatively at Yyrith's hindleg. He repeats the action by whuffling her leg, tickling his lifemate.

Irabeth extends her own leg, giving it a good looking over as Alicia speaks. Leann settles on the ground, running her small fingers along the bonelines.

Alicia smiles approvingly as the weyrlings look over their own lifemates. "Dragon forelegs are much shorter than their rear limbs. The shortness lends them an ungaingly hop-skip movement when walking. Due to their structure dragons tend to relax in an upright, 'sitting' position. Firelizards limbs are more equal in length and musculature than dragons, which means they spend less time in an upright position."

L'nec grins watching Eddy sit attentavly

Alicia takes down a couple of the diagrams and replaces them with others. "Dragons are five fingered known as pentadactyl claws. They are jointed much like a human's hand to allow adequate purchase. They are equiped with long, sharp talons on their front limbs which are used for hunting. The rear limbs are softer but they are still much stronger than humans'."

Leann looks around for a firelizard that might be resting nearby, wishing to compare. Irabeth nudges her, and she turns, looking into the whirling eyes as they conversate. After a moment she laughs, shaking her head, "Of course they do not compare to you or your clutchmates, but /she/," the girl pokes a finger at the Weyrlingmaster, "Is talking comparisons."

Alicia takes out more diagrams, she never seems to run out. "Dragonhide is not metallic in nature at all, neither is it constructed of 'scales'. It is extremely resilent to most abrasive injuries, and is smooth, soft to the touch and hairless. Healthy hide is glossy, with no hint of grey underlying the main colour and needs to be constantly cleaned and oiled, otherwise dry, patchy spots may develop, which may crack on trips between and cause great pain. Dragonhide epidermis is known to be thick in construction, and, like human skin, is a barrier to infection, however absorption of topical substances is still possible. For example, numbweed will numb the outer area in around three seconds, though it takes a little longer to penetrate the epidermis to the germative layer and thus dissipate the pain. Female dragons often experience a change in colour tone before they rise to mate. They may even appear to glow. The colour change differs in golds and greens. In greens it can occur up to a full day before she rises, golds on the other hand rarely show a colour change until they are ready to mate. Male dragons do not generally experience a fluctuation in colour, although their hides may deepen in colour with age and become wisped with grey."

Tylynn gives Yyrith's hide a brisk scrub with one hand. Very true.

Twin heads, ok, not so twin, but Leann and Irabeth turn as if on the same puppet string, and peer at the hide diagrams, highly interested.

Alicia giggles. "We are not going to go to deep into mating flights tonight so don't get yourselves excited. Mating flights are a /much/ later topic."

Tylynn giggles behind her hands and Yyrith nuzzles her fondly. THERE's that sound.

Leann grins at all the giggling, shaking her head at the topic. "How long?" she questions, seemingly aprehensive.

Alicia places a diagram up of the dragons internal systems. "A dragons body temperture is only slight below that of a humans, theirs is thirty-five degrees and ours is thirty-seven. They /are/ warm bloosed but their blood is not red. Their blood is very dark green in color and known as Ichor. Ichor is based on metal like copper. This causes their flesh to have a green tinge to it instead of a pink like us people have. They have several hearts, unlike humans, which are placed under their ribcage and pump the inhor around their bodies."

Leann raises her hand, smiling sheepishly.

Alicia smiles at Leann. "Yes Leann?"

Leann's smile quivers, but she's just got to ask, Irabeth is urging with her gaze, "How come their hide glows? I mean.. you said it does, and how long, but not why?"

Tylynn tilts her head, also curious.

Alicia giggles. "I am not really sure Leann. I have never been told why they do it they just do. I have never questioned it before but now that you mention it I may try to find out and get back to you with the answer."

Leann brightens, "Thank you, Weyrlingmaster, it'd be interesting to find out the reason." Irabeth, disappointed, settles back on the ground.

Tylynn nods her agreement and tries to scoot a little away from Yyrith. The silly blue stonehead is crowding a bit too much, and giving her a cramp.

Alicia thinks about it a while longer and then shakes her head. "Sorry, I really don't know. I will try to find the answer for the next lesson." Yes, another diagram is tacked to the board. "Dragons can inflate their dorsally-placed lung sacs to approximately twice their normally inflated size. Presumably this is to aid respiration under pressure at altitude and additionally may have a role in sustaining a constant flame. Curiously, they also snore, despite reports from Riders that suggest otherwise. This tends to be particularly prevalent within weyrling dragons. Dragon's tongues are forked and their teeth are strong and therefore difficult to break. They are sharp at the front for hunting and more molar like at the back of the mouth for chewing firestone. When chewing firestone for the first chance weyrling dragons masticate the Firestone between their back teeth, before swallowing. It is necessary for dragons to concentrate on their second stomach whilst doing this since they have two stomachs, one being for food, the other specifically for the digestion of firestone. Once in the second stomach an acidic chemical reaction is initialised with the firestone, producing a number of flammable gases which are belched forth, igniting on contact with air. An experienced dragon can sustain a flame for well over a minute and flame range can be varied from around 6 to 2 metres. Golds do not ingest firestone, their Riders using Flamethrowers instead which have as much variation in flame range as a dragon. Dragons excrete the ash when they go between."

Leann is the one to look disappointed now, Irabeth just looks relieved. Yuck.

Tylynn eyes Yyrith and chuckles softly.

Alicia looks around at each weyrling. "What six senses to dragon have?"

Leann tries, calling out, "Scent, touch, sight, … " she balks and looks to Tylynn.

Tylynn thinks. "Touch, taste, sight, hearing, scent, um..?" Tylynn looks at Yyrith as he suggests something. "Mind-touch?"

Alicia writes on the board as the answers are called out. "Sight, sound, taste, touch and smell, and /telepathy/! This is how they communicate with you using your mind and not by talking. We will touch on that a little more in a bit. Dragons have no ears, their headknobs appearing to fulfil this function as they do react to noises that are not related to their sixth sense. Dragons do not have eyelashes, their eyes being protected both by prominent eyeridges and by three sets of lids: an inner transparent pair, and two increasingly thicker sets of membranes. Since their eyes protrude outwards from their eyesockets, dragons have peripheral vision that extends additionally to what is above them, a useful tool in Threadfall. Dragons are also known to occasionally 'use' their Riders eyes to observe what their Rider is seeing if they are not present themselves. Their eyes are multifaceted, and the whirling generally associated with emotion intensity is in fact an optical illusion caused by these facets. Eye colour reflects mood: green/blue signifies ontentment, yellow fear, red/orange anger, red hunger, danger white and purple signifies the mating urge and love. Whers are photophobic, and have poor focal length, but they can see even in total darkness. Smell is poorly developed within Dragons. They cannot smell anything distasteful in the stench of firestone, but can, however, smell well enough to detect 'strange' and unfamiliar scents. Sensitivity to touch seems to vary as it does in a human, with dragon bellies having been noted as ticklish. Dragon tongues are forked and their teeth are strong. Their front teeth are extremely sharp, ideal for hunting, whilst their back teeth are more molar-like, perfect for chewing firestone. Little is said about taste, however they are certainty able to discern between food and firestone to direct it to the correct stomach. Their sixth sense, that of telepathy, is highly developed, and they are able to bespeak any person should they choose to do so. Dragons also have an excellent spatial sense. This is particularly useful when emerging and going between and is the reason why they don't collide with others dragons when arriving into a crowded airspace."

Leann hears the ticklish part, and with a sly grin she reaches about and tests out the theroy. Irabeth startles and backs haistily away, looking scandalized.

Alicia smiles. "HATCHINGS!" She steps away from the desk. "When a hatching is about to take place the gold will emit a noise that other dragons can hear and understand. The dam will show external signs of joy, her chest and belly vibrating with the 'noise' she is emiting to the other dragons. When the other dragons of the weyr hear this 'noise' they all begin to hum. As you well know the other dragons humming is deafening. Dragonets hatch from their eggs complete and in urgent need of food, although they seek to impress to their lifemates first. They will circle the sands searching for their lifemate, screaming until they do so. Accidents where candidates get trampled by the dragonet eager to find his or her lifemate are common. You seen this first hand as well."

Alicia smiles certain they want to know all this stuff. "No one knows why dragons choose the lifemate they do. Once impression is made, they start to feel hungry. Impression is often described as the most wonderful experience by Riders and they will often get wistful if asked. The sensations overrunning the new Rider are complex and more than one has felt confused because suddenly they have two sets of emotions instead of one. A distressed and agitated hatchling can bespeak every rider in the locality if need be, and, even with a newly formed bond, dragonets are fiercely protective. They will, with provocation, attack a human that endangers their lifemate."

Alicia says, "Dragons are really intelligent but they have a short memory only consisting for two or three days. They seem to have particular problems in remembering specific events and names, frequently slurring or compressing syllables. In fact, this is the origin of the honorific. Some dragons are reported to chat incessantly, whilst others rarely speak except to express an opinion. Riders on the whole tend to be biased when their lifemate is under consideration and will often be close mouthed about what their dragon has said. Dragons rarely communicate directly with anyone but their Rider, but they do have the ability. Generally it is assumed that they do not usually feel the need to communicate with others, but when they do, it is usually only in short phrases. It seems that certain matters do interest them, since they can be highly intuitive about what affects them and their Riders, and in leading dragons their Wing or Weyr, with some dragons offering suggestions on problem solving. Dragons do seem to have some difficulty relating cause and effect. For example, if a dragon saw his rider making straps, the dragon wouldn't necessarily correlate that to his rider's increased safety during Threadfall. However, they do possess an instinctive inbred hatred and reaction to Thread and are difficult to dissuade from attacking even if they aren't stocked with firestone"

Alicia says, "Your dragons will feed six or seven times a day during their first month, but eventually this evens out to around twice a sevenday by the end of the first Turn when they are hunting for themselves. The new Riders are responsible for feeding their lifemates, although the first morning after impression a pail of meat is provided for the new pairs. After that, Riders are responsible for carving up the meat for their lifemates, chopping the morsels into small pieces. After feeding the dragonets sleep, and then generally need to be bathed and then oiled. By now you should all be experts at this.""

Alicia gives them a little tid bit of information they may also find interesting. "Your dragons /can/ fly from the minute they are hatched. They are discouraged from flight until their muscles have been developed sufficiently, usually at around 8 months. As a young dragon approaches maturity, the Weyrlingmaster will allow them to carry their Riders, briefly at first, but increasing to build muscle strength and allow them to fly. Similarly, young dragons are prevented from going between until their Riders mature and have achieved sufficient control over their emotions. This delay also ensures that the bond, partnership and reliability on each other has developed. Probably due to their short memories, dragons rely on the images given to them by their Riders, or other dragons. Without a clear visualisation, a dragon will risk never reappearing, and thus dragons are rarely permitted between on their own. Dragons also possess the capability of going between time, though inherent dangers are involved in this. Not only does a Rider risk meeting themselves, it also places a great strain on the Rider. Generally, a Weyrleader will not permit Riders to 'time it' and anyone suspected of such will be severely disciplined."

Leann raises a hand again.

Alicia smiles at Leann. "Yes?"

Tylynn blinks… Times?

Sheepish, Leann asks, "What if /I/ have a really bad memory? How do I deal with that?" She can just picture herself ending up coming between in a tree, or worse..

Alicia sees her frustration and explains in a little more. "Timing is going back in time. You will be /strongly/ disciplined for that."

Alicia giggles. "That is a good point but Leann. These are things you just remember because we drill them in to you so often it is really hard to forget."

Leann nods, simmering somewhat, relieved. "Ok.. thank you, Weyrlingmaster."

Alicia smiles. "That concludes todays class. I strongly urge all of you to go over what you have learned for next weeks quiz."

Leann blinks, straightening, "Quiz?"

Alicia smiles at Leann. "You don't think I am up here just talking for the sake of talking do you Leann? You have to /know/ this stuff and know it well."

Leann nods, her lips quirking with a grin.

Alicia gathers up all her diagrams and stuff going to the back of the class and putting them up. "Class is dismissed unless there are any questions."

Leann doesn't have questions, but lingers. There is a sleeping gold at her feet. Chuckling, the Weyrling whispers to a student that passes, "I guess Alicia put Irabeth to sleep."

Alicia smiles as she hears that. "Not the first time."

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