The night before, at lights-out, Headwoman Nataly had instructed all of the Candidates to assemble outside her office after breakfast. Some minutes after breakfast ended, a drudge reporting on another task informed the Headwoman that all of the Candidates were assembled outside her office. After sending him on his way, she stepped out.
"Alright, we don't know exactly when the eggs will start Hatching, so you're all being assigned light tasks near the Sands. Make sure you stay in your assigned area so that we can find you quickly when the Hatching starts."
This is prolly going to be a pretty long, drawn-out Hatching, I'm afraid, mostly due to my posting schedule. >.< Feel free to post multiple times between my posts up until the eggs actually start Hatching.
1. Kitchen Duties - Same tasks as you perform for your chores, with additions for preparing a Gather feast. Candidate Group E
2. Gather Setup - Setting up tables, dance floor, Harper dias, etc. out in the Weyrbowl. Candidate Group B
3. Greeting Guests - Pretty self explanatory. Two groups, one up by the dragon entrance to greet riders and one down by the foot entrance. Candidate Group C
4. Room Setup - Cleaning/Preparing rooms for guests who will stay overnight after the Gather. Candidate Group D
5. Help the Weyrlingmaster - You'll be helping the Weyrlingmaster and his Assistants with preparing buckets of food, water, and oil for the hatchlings and their new lifemates. Candidate Group A
H'lee hated this part of being Weyrlingmaster. It was always so chaotic, and you had no idea how many eggs would hatch, what color and size they'd be, how much they'd eat, how much oil they'd need... Well, you get the picture. Fortunately, over his years of being a Weyrlingmaster, he'd gotten reasonably good at judging these things based on the size of the eggs. It wasn't a perfect science, more of an art, really, but it was good enough.
When his Candidate group, which included Kerso, Artemis, and Apollo, reported to him in the Great Hall, he chivied them out and down toward the livestock pens.
When they got there, he pointed to a pair of pens off to the side which led into a barn. "We'll be in there. Some of the lads here are helping to butcher the herdbeasts and wherries you see in those pens, but we're responsible for chopping up the meat and putting it in the buckets for hungry hatchlings."
He handed each of them a cleaver and pointed them to tables at the end of the barn opposite the two pens. "Consider this an advantage you'll have over your fellow weyrlings if you adopt: you'll already know what size of meat to give the dragons and how to chop it up. Don't worry too much about bits of bone in the meat, but try to keep them small. Fist-sized chunks now! Young dragons have a tendency to inhale rather than chew."
Then he picked up his own cleaver and went to work on a herdbeast quarter that one of the Herders had laid out on one table.
Kerso wasn't surprised at the differing routine for the day of the Hatching. Of course they had to be somewhere accessible in case the Hatching started early or late. He was rather aghast at the runnings-about of all the staff and noticed that even the riders were demonstrating an unusually high level of animation today. He was actually glad to be assigned to help the Weyrlingmaster, particularly when the man ushered them out of the main chaos of the Weyr.
That was, until he heard what they were going to be doing. Suddenly, he wished he was in the kitchens dealing with the meat that had already been chopped. He held the cleaver like a man who's never used one in his life (he had only minimal experience from his stints in the kitchens) and stared at the wherry carcass in front of him. It had been skinned to remove the feathers and looked even uglier than wherries normally did.
He looked helplessly at Apollo and Artemis, hoping one of them could shed some light on what to do - or would protest. He was afraid if he opened his mouth, he'd lose his breakfast.