Orayth's and Dharryth's 1st Clutching

Hatching Sands
It's a large bubble of stone, captured and frozen in time from some volcanic activity way back in the ancient past. Now, the gentle heat from the long dormant volcano heats the dark glassy sands to a temperature just right for hardening eggs. Over the turns as clutches have hatched, tiny bits of shell have gotten mixed leaving the sands half glassy and half opaque.

Autumn has High Reaches firmly in its grip and the cold, wet weather outside a reminder of the harsher, colder winter months to come. Early afternoon has brought a light rain and gusts of wind along with it, at times so ferocious that only the bravest dare venture outside. It is in these conditions that Orayth deems it time for her to clutch her eggs, the young but large gold even larger in girth. Egg heavy, she quietly lumbers onto the sands and immediate begins nosing a few choice spots, rumbling in a near maternal hum as she goes calmly about her business.

Eodarin won't be far behind her queen. Having guessed Orayth would clutch soon, a small wooden platform was put together for the junior weyrwoman to have somewhere to rests and not be overly uncomfortable by the heat of the sands. It's there that she waits, trying not to fidget anxiously as she chews on the inside of her cheek, eyes carefully watching as the gold moves about.

Gruff as he may be, Dharryth isn't one to pass off paternal responsibility as a mere trifle. Orayth isn't long alone on the Sands - in terms of dragon company at least - before the massive dark bronze swoops through one of the higher flight entrances to the grounds, choosing a low perch to settle on and to allow Fl'zel to dismount. The Harper-bronzerider trots down through the galleries, pausing just at the edge of the Sands to watch for a moment… and to seek permission to come aboard. "Afternoon, Eodarin," he calls out to the goldrider, giving her a smart bob of his head and a salute. "May I join you?"

Eodarin startles, snapped out of her inner thoughts by the sound of another's voice nearby. When she recognizes whose voice it belongs to, she visibly relaxes and nods her head while making a quick gesture of her hand. "Of course! She's not finicky and neither am I." She may have entirely skipped formality too, something that could be frowned upon on a later time. Glancing to where Orayth continues to work on the first depressions in the sand, the young goldrider gives a nervous laugh. "Any bets?" she asks him, before looking up to where Dharryth is perched. "How is he? … err, how're you, too?" Awkward.
Orayth finally deems her work satisfactory before settling and in short order the first five eggs are laid, almost in quick succession. Without pause, she begins to gently burry them in the sand, pausing just long enough to send something close to an amused whuffle in Dharryth's direction. He can come down and help, he if wants? Or is he just going to watch?

Up on his ledge, Dharryth is tensed, watchful, eyes whirling orange as he watches Orayth's every move and surveys the surroundings. Why the need to watch the perimeter? Only he knows. Down on the Sands, Fl'zel skirts the edges to reach Eodarin's platform without risk of disturbing any of Orayth's arrangements. "Dharryth is good. His mind's awhir right now, excitement and anxiety… he's determined nothing will happen to the eggs. Not that anything would, of course, but he's adamant he'll be keeping watch." The bronzerider looks fondly up at his lifemate, brushing hair back from his eyes where it's been left to grow out a little more than usual. "I'm alright. We were just at the Harper Hall, and Dharryth insisted we come back immediately." He swings a rucksack around from his shoulder, letting it drop heavily to the platform. "Would you mind if I sorted through things while she lays? I only just had enough time to scoop everything up into the bag before Dharryth left :between: without me."

Orayth doesn't seem to mind Dharryth's need to watch and guard the perimeter. It's not questioned or even frowned upon, merely accepted and maybe even appreciated even if she can't fathom what sort of danger could possibly reach their eggs. Unless Thread suddenly gained sentience? "Noble of him. And welcomed… I think it keeps Orayth calm knowing he's doing that. Guarding them, I mean." Eodarin tries to explain, while she looks surprised. "You two went out in this weather? Or is Fort having better luck then us?" she muses and shakes her head, gesturing again with a dismissive wave of her hand. "Go ahead! I've no idea how long she will take at this. Her last clutch was—- well, so few." Regretfully. There's hope yet though, as Eodarin turns back just in time to see the gold burying the last of the first round of eggs. "Oh!" she exclaims, with barely masked excitement. "She's clutched five so far! And she tells me there's more!" How many more? Who knows. Not even Orayth herself. Just that she's not finished yet and hastily she sets back to the task as the minutes crawl on. The next two come swiftly, while the three that follow are increasingly more and more spaced out. Now there are ten eggs… all of which are immediately brooded upon by Orayth while she rests for the time being.

Each new egg arrival is greeted by a husky grunt from Dharryth; approval and pride practically radiating from the worn leather of his hide. And while the eggs are being laid, Fl'zel is trying, distractedly, to sort through the disarray of paperwork he's upturned from his bag onto the platform. He sits on the edge, eyes darting up to the eggs as they're laid, to Eodarin as she talks, and to, of course, the work at hand. "Ten," he says, followed by a whistle. "That's incredible. Does she believe there are more?" He holds up a stack of hides and taps them against his knee, straightening them up and getting them aligned before rolling and securing them. "Dharryth is quite proud of himself."

Likewise, Orayth welcomes each egg with maternal pride — of which she begins to include Dharryth in as well. Look what they've created! Aren't they fascinating? Aren't they incredible? Already she's beginning to show signs of protectiveness over the clutch and yet there's no sign of her being finished quite yet. Eodarin can't help it. She has to pace the platform a bit, careful not to disturb Fl'zel as she does. She'll give him a bright grin for his comment, a look of obvious relief in her eyes. "It is! And she does. She won't say how many exactly… but she's already outdone herself!" Given her first clutch was four eggs? Not a hard thing to do. "They should both be proud." she murmurs.

It will be another good fifteen minutes before Orayth gathers herself again and digs two new depressions in the sand. She labours for awhile over those two eggs, bringing the total up to twelve. Another span of time and the number moves to fifteen before she has to rest again.

"Oh, well, yes, he's proud of Orayth, too," Fl'zel adds, giving Eodarin a sheepish grin. "To answer your earlier question, by the way, I didn't put any bets on. I'm not really the gambling sort, but I'm beginning to wish I'd put a mark on 17. That was my gut feeling - a clutch of 17." While Orayth continues laying and Dharryth continues swelling with pride, Fl'zel manages to finish sorting all of his paperwork and returns it all neatly to the rucksack. The bag is then set down on the edge of the platform, and he stretches as he gets to his feet, standing out of the way of the goldrider's pacing space. "I met with my parents a seven or so ago. They wanted to know if I would be expecting a, haha, 'clutch'. Their joke. Not mine."

"Seventeen? I'd be ecstatic if that was the final number! I'd be happy if she even finished now with fifteen." Eodarin openly admits, not a shred of embarrassment to be seen. It's been no secret that she did not handle the let down of Orayth's first clutch well. Distractedly, she'll notice Fl'zel finish with his sorting and too late does she begin to wonder what would have sent the bronzerider to the Hall. Her pacing had resumed but comes to an abrupt halt at Fl'zel's 'joke' — or his parent's joke. "For Faranth's sake," she groans, not at all lady-like. "Not them too? Bad enough I've the Weyrwoman breathing down my neck about it… but it's very much a 'no' on that part." she bluntly states.

Orayth takes her time in recovering. Time will stretch out considerably again before the gold rouses herself. Longer still for her to chose a new spot on the sands, as though she's becoming more and more particular as to where the next eggs go. Nature won't let her dawdle for too long though and eventually she'll have to make do as another set of eggs are laid. Then a third… Fl'zel's seventeen! For awhile, she'll hover between rest and restless movement but in the end even the bronzerider will be proven wrong. Three more eggs grace the sands and Orayth, exhaustion beginning to show, settles again to recover with her current clutch of twenty. Is this the end?

Fl'zel can't really hide the relief when there's confirmation that Dharryth's the only sire out on the Sands. "Good, good. I'll write to them and let them know." From his pocket he pulls a small notebook and a pencil, which he uses to jot down a quick note to himself - in immaculate handwriting, if Eodarin happens to notice. "If it makes you feel better, I think they were just more keen on me providing them with a child, not necessarily you helping me with that. They just believed it was the 'done thing'-" he uses fingerquotes to emphasise that phrase -"when flights were involved. We're Holdbred." As if that explains it. And then there are 20 eggs - which has him shaking his head in disbelief. "Dear Faranth. We'll have a double dozen at this rate - does she have more in her?"

Eodarin rolls her eyes before she can catch herself, lips pursing into a thin line before her features slip into a more sheepish look. "Guess they can't really be blamed then," she admits, while giving Fl'zel a shrewd look. "You know that's not usually the case too, right? About flights and babies?" She makes herself sound so young, putting it that way. Not that it's far off the mark! Looking back out over the sands to Orayth, Eodarin beams. "She's done SO well!" she exclaims and as if to answer Fl'zel herself, the gold gets to her feet and starts up again. Only this time the young gold seems to struggle, uncomfortable and slightly irritable as things seem to stall. It will be worrisome several minutes before, at last, the final egg is laid and with a gusty sigh, Orayth settles and drifts immediately into an exhausted sleep. "Twenty one!" Eodarin confirms once she's recovered from the stressful moment.

"I know, they don't, or they would have stopped pestering after Dharryth caught his first green… not that they know about it every time he does that," Fl'zel smirks to himself. "But catching a gold is something else, of course. And who wouldn't like to say their grandchildren come from a weyrwoman mother?" He shrugs, as if such lineage isn't at all important to him. Fl'zel turns to watch Orayth as she has her struggling moments, and he breathes a sigh of relief when that last egg is safely delivered. "Twenty one," he repeats after the goldrider, shaking his head in disbelief and whistling, quietly. "That's incredible." Up in the galleries, Dharryth is playing proud papa, snakey-necked and arching as he looks down over the gold and her clutch.

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