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1 3941.04.16 - Mega-Hatching {LOCKED} on Sat Jan 10, 2015 4:45 pm


Admin / Weyrlingmaster
I've been itching to start writing this thread, but I'm not quite prepared for the actual roleplay to start yet (still working on dragon descriptions and stuff).  I'm starting threads for the Candidate lessons shortly to give folks something to do.

H'lee & Lery

H'lee was frantic.

They'd barely scraped together enough Candidates for all the eggs, and if any of them proved unsuitable, there wouldn't be very many options in the Stands.  They couldn't invite all and sundry to attend the Hatching like they used to, there would only be the Weyrfolk who had come forward and a few dozen people from Exile Hold to observe this...well, who was he fooling?  It was rather a momentous occasion.

The Weyrlingmaster was overseeing the frantic slaughter and butcher of herdbeasts and wherries to feed the hatchlings.  Not for the first time, he mentally praised his cousin's ability to determine the color of the hatchlings in the eggs, though he never said anything aloud; too many people enjoyed betting on the outcomes and he and Silv would just spoil it for the rest, but it made it much easier for him to estimate how much meat he'd need for each hatchling, since he had long ago learned how to estimate the size of a hatchling based on its egg size and what color Silv told him it would be.  Each new hatchling could put away at least half a bucket of meat (about 10 pounds), and the larger golds and bronzes could consume 2-3 buckets; they had precious few herdbeasts, which were harder to transport to the isolated Weyr, so only the fattest steer was put up for slaughter, and it produced enough for a little better than half of the hungry weyrlings.  Fortunately, there were plenty of wild wherries in the area, and while they were leaner than ones raised in captivity (it took three wild ones to fill two buckets, but only two domestic ones), they were abundant.  Of course, catching them was trickier; they'd only caught a baker's dozen, which meant they had to butcher six of their domestic ones to fill the rest of the buckets.  H'lee made a note to ask the holders for more herdbeasts; wherries wouldn't be enough to provide a single meal to a hungry, growing dragon for more than a month, maybe six weeks, and they'd be up to eating as much as half a herdbeast apiece in six months.

And then there was the Hatching Grounds.  They'd gotten enough sand brought in for the 38 eggs, but that was it.  There was enough room in the chamber for 3 golds to have their eggs simultaneously, but without a gold brooding over them, they'd been able to cluster all of the current eggs together at one end, leaving the other half of the chamber barren of sand.  There were no seats to speak of for the visitors to sit in yet; that had been a low priority for the handful of Stonemasons that they'd had available - weyrs and shoring up the Lower Caverns and providing sleeping areas for non-riders had come first.  So all the guests would have to stand in the un-sanded part of the dome.

And if that weren't bad enough, Thread was Falling.  Nowhere near them, thankfully, but it had been reported to the north.  The dragons were edgy and anxious to take to the skies, but that was one thing they didn't have yet: firestone.  Nor any flamethrowers, for that matter.  And so they were all supposed to hole up inside, which made the dragons cranky.

So H'lee busied himself first with getting the meat chopped, then with getting the small tables set up, each with a bucket of meat, two baskets of water (one with a scrub brush), and a small jar of oil (another unexpectedly-precious commodity).  With so few Weyrfolk, he was handling many of the tasks himself, something that he was unaccustomed to: usually, he had half a dozen weyrlings to order around.  And of course, it had been many years since he'd been one of those weyrlings.

Arranging the tables to his liking took exceptionally long because he was constantly pausing to argue with Seeth, whose desires alternated between haring off to fight Thread and hovering protectively over the eggs.  H'lee was quite glad he didn't have to wrangle the Candidates: he left that in Lery's capable hands (undoubtedly, she'd reassigned the task to someone else, perhaps Alina).

Once the tables were arranged, he went off in search of the available Healers to make sure they were prepared to handle injuries.  Inevitably, there were a handful of burns, minor scrapes and bruises, and the occasional gash, but with 38 eggs hatching simultaneously - or as near to it as nevermind - the Weyrlingmaster was honestly concerned about more severe injuries.  Firelizard hatchlings were known to seriously injure each other if food was hard to get at, and the spectators were going to be directly between the eggs and the tables H'lee had set up outside.  He wanted the Healers positioned in two groups, one between the spectators and the eggs, and one near the tables.

After making sure the Healers were getting along, he asked Seeth to convene all the riders: they were going to be crucial to keeping the hatchlings separated, not only from each other, but also from non-riders, particularly any family members who might accidentally intervene between a new weyrling pair and their destination outside.  He wanted the smaller blue and green dragons on the floor of the Hatching Grounds where they could physically interpose themselves between potential problems; in the meantime, all the riders would be forming a cordon between the two Healer positions, presenting a clear and straight path out of the Sands.

The only exception to this rule were Silvara and Warrelith, as well as the three bronze riders.  The latter were stationed near the gold eggs, which had been purposefully situated in three separate locations, as far away from each other as they could be without being off the Sands.  It would be the bronzeriders' and their dragons' responsibilities to help keep the young golds in line long enough to get them fed and bedded down.  As for Silvara and Warrelith, H'lee asked that they perch on one of the few ledges where they had a crystal-clear view of the entire proceedings and act as director of activities, as it were: watching for problems and guiding dragons and/or riders into place before anything could get out of hand.  And, he hoped, she'd be able to quickly and powerfully intervene with any serious confrontations and quash any major problems.  He knew she didn't enjoy Hatchings because there were usually an overabundance of people, and in addition, emotions ran high during these events, but he desperately needed her there this time.

By this time, guests were arriving; not by traditional dragon conveyance - they were still hiding from the anti-Weyr factions - but by more simple boat and foot.  It was approaching lunchtime by now, and there wasn't even a hint of a hum from the dragons yet, so the guests were directed to the roughed-out Great Hall, where a light lunch consisting mostly of finger-sized bits of fruit and vegetables had been laid out.  Some had already eaten before coming and chose to lounge around in the spectator areas in the Grounds and bet on the eggs.  The Weyrlingmaster avoided them diligently and focused on all of the minutiae of preparing for the Hatching: checking the barracks, the tables, the Healers again, although he refrained from checking with the riders again; many of them were just as anxious as he was and his nagging would only serve to ignite the agenothree that was pumping through all their veins.

Finally, two hours after lunch, a curious warbling echoed through the Hatching Grounds and out into the Bowl, followed by a sort of hiccup and then the dragons' voices settled into a warm, happy hum.  Seeth's, It begins! was unnecessary, as every human not already in the Hatching Grounds picked up their feet and bolted for the entrance; all of the dragons were already inside, most had been there since early morning.  H'lee found he wasn't entirely certain where he should be: inside, watching the hatching and guiding the youngsters out, or outside, overseeing their feeding and scrubbing.  He greatly desired to watch the eggs hatch, but there was no one else to care for the hatchlings outside, and he realized that all of the other adult riders were already inside where they could protect the hatchlings as well, if not better, than he could alone.

But that didn't mean he couldn't watch the first eggs crack and the first Impression or two...

Lery was nearly as frantic.  With less than 200 people to feed for the Feast, there wasn't as much strain on the kitchens as there would normally be, but they also didn't have the resources that she was used to working with.  Many of their meat animals were being reserved for the hatchlings (both for today and for the next two years), although she'd managed to procure a steer to roast (which spit was currently being turned by whoever had a free moment) and a couple of wherries (which were in the ovens that were heating pots of boiling water for soups and stews).  Any Candidate with cooking experience, who hadn't chosen a Craft, or whose Craft was otherwise uninvolved with other preparations had been wrangled into helping: turning the spit, chopping vegetables, or washing the too-few pots and pans as they were emptied of their previous contents so they could be put right back into service for the next dish.

Lery had arranged first for the chopping of finger-sized portions of fruits and vegetables to be laid out with some dips as a luncheon for guests and Weyrfolk alike.  The light foods served three purposes: it didn't deplete their stores significantly, it would be less likely to make anyone feel ill while standing in the heat of the Hatching Grounds, and it meant fewer leftovers to deal with after the Feast because everyone would be quite hungry by dinnertime.

The other Candidates had been put in Alina's charge: there were many other things they needed - shoulder knots for the new weyrlings, sleeping arrangements for guests, curtains in the weyrling barracks to give them some semblance of privacy, setting up the Harper dais and a rudimentary dance floor, setting up and decorating tables for the Feast, and one new and entirely unexpected task: something called a "white flitter gift exchange" (where the name came from, no one knows anymore) - gifts wrapped in white paper had been brought by many of the guests, but with no particular name attached to them, and were to be laid out at a table and the successful Candidates could pick a random gift from the table at the Feast (any leftover gifts would belong to the Weyr itself).

At lunchtime, Lery sent a message to Alina to send all the Candidates to the bathing rooms and sent the ones she'd been wrangling all morning off to have a bath, as well.  She sent some trays of finger foods with them and told them to eat after they'd bathed and then rest in the Candidate barracks until the humming started.

The Headwoman started when the dragons warbled to announce the start of the Hatching, and then began to hum. Cursing under her breath, she dashed for the Candidate barracks and shepherded them to the Sands.  "Remember what I told you about keeping your distance and letting the hatchlings do their thing!  And if you Impress, head that way," she pointed toward the pathway the dragonriders were creating, "and keep your dragons separated!"  She watched anxiously as the Candidates filed out onto the Sands and took their places in front of the eggs.

Then she realized that H'lee would be manning the weyrling tables alone for the first few hatchlings, so she hurried around the edges of the Hatching Grounds and joined him to watch the first couple of Impressions and assist him in taking care of the first weyrlings off the Sands.  She smiled nervously at him and took one of his hands in hers as she turned to watch the Candidates: including their son and his older daughter whom Lery had adopted.

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