My humble and heartfelt thanks to Kim of Cathair Fionabhainn for her help in creating images, to Silver Midnight of the Ring of Fire for her help in coloring images and writing impressions, to Lauryn of Quinalt Weyr for her help in writing impressions, to Quachir of Seiryuu Weyr for her willingness to lend me several of her sites to host the pickup pages, and to all of you for writing and sending so many fabulous candidates!
"There are at least eighty now." Tiyanni remarked, and the curious orange and black striped flit on her shoulder cheeped excitedly. Litayth rumbled approvingly. There are 82 candidates now. the silvering queen said. The final one came in with Minaeya last evening.
Tiyanni smiled. "And seven of them are dragons. Our Khal' has started quite a trend since last Flurry."
"Dragons have been bonding dragons for eons on other worlds, Mother." Jeyann said with a smile. "The guests will be arriving soon..." she hesitated a moment, as Mezireth spoke to her, "... correction, the guests are arriving now."
"Fabulous. We'll be down shortly - I must get a bit of oil for Toni so he's bearable for the duration." The tiger-striped flit chirped in agreement, and nuzzled against the retired weyrwoman's cheek. Tiyanni grinned. As if having her children back wasn't gift enough, her youngest son Jekyann - no, J'kyan - had brought her a beautiful firelizard egg.
* * *
Outside in the snow covered courtyard, myriad dragons touched down, dropping off passengers as the children and younger riders indulged in an all out snow fight. Some of the riders spontaneously took part as a mis-thrown slushy projectile splattered in their general direction. Jeyann and Ke'l looked resplendent in dark blue satin trimmed with silver, their cloaks held with pins shaped like golden and bronze dragons maintaining silver snowflakes, their eyes sparkling sapphires.
A familiar pair of Ryslen Night dragons landed gently in the snow that contrasted with their hides, and Jeyann happily waited the pair of Znorlians who had come to watch the Flurry hatching. Zarienne and Zanefar, now the DragonMistress and DragonMaster of the Zoorti Nebula. With them came Nyarthe, Rawn, Astrala and Cleora.
"We're glad to see you all!" Ke'l called over the hustle and bustle in Ryslen's Courtyard. "If you'd care to come into the Dining Hall to warm up and enjoy some refreshments before the hatching begins, please make yourselves comfortable."
* * *
The growing crowd began to meander towards the entrance, letting Tiyanni and her tiger flit to mix in without any fanfare. Everyone knew her, and this was a feat in itself. Dressed in a gauzy and yet icy colored skirt, Tiyanni looked rather young, and was indeed in bright spirits. She caught a glimpse of a gold and a rather large blue descending and a Ryslen-born brown as well, and hung back to greet them. Dorth and Delith landed casually, allowing their male riders to descend - the new HeadKnight G*non and Faris, of the late Shinoku Dragonstake.
Brown Hadarath landed just behind them, and G'ron leapt down and gave a whoop. "Ryslen sure has changed since you hatched, Haddie!"
G*non laughed softly at hid brother and then smirked at the bright, and not blizzard-winged flit on Tiyanni's shoulder. "Someone's been pawing through the eggs at Cy, I see."
"It's good to see you as well, HeadKnight G*non" Tiyanni said, noticing his slight discomfort at the new title yet. "Bad news travels fastest..." she said softly. "My son brought his egg to me when he and his siblings returned to Ryslen."
G*non blinked. "I didn't know Jeyann had siblings."
"It's a long story." A young woman dressed in riding leathers said as she strode purposefully out of the dining hall and towards a black dragon obviously of Opal Moon breeding. She looked ever so much like the new Ryslen Weyrwoman, but Jeyann she wasn't. "I'm Toshi." She said with a smirk. "I'll meet you by the hot cider in a few minutes if you'd like to hear the tale before the hatching begins..."
Tiyanni's eyes sparkled. "It's nice to meet you finally, Faris." Tiyanni said simply, and looked up to Delith. "You're always welcome at Ryslen, Delith."
Thank you, Tiyanni. the riderless gold replied, dipping her head. With a silent gesture to Dorth, the two dragons retreated from the courtyard, and went to find a perch for themselves in the Hatching Grounds.
"Please, make yourselves comfortable." Tiyanni said, and waved a hand in the general direction of the Hall where everyone was gathering.
* * *
Jeyann had shed her cloak into the waiting arms of a helpful young Rysling, and Ke'l was in the process of doing likewise when Meliva, rider of white Ziiareth led two well dressed personages into their presence.
"Weyrwoman Jeyann, Weyrleader Ke'l, may I present Azhria Sydne and Azhros D'rin of Tiyaza Citadel, riders of clouded-gold Daellanth and brown-bronze Hijseth respectively." The whiterider said in official capacity as this duo's assistant.
"A pleasure to make your aquaintence." Ke'l said, taking and politely kissing Sydne's hand. "I am certain Ryslen and Tiyaza will be in close contact in the future."
"That would be splendid indeed." D'rin said, greeting Jeyann politely.
"Would you care for some cider or perhaps some tea?" Jeyann asked, ever thoughtful.
"That would be nice after the trip." Sydne said, placing her hand on D'rin's arm and following after the Host Weyrwoman.
"Mind if we join you?" Weyrwoman Zearia of Morning Star said, walking up to them with two other Leaders in her wake.
"May I introduce Zearia, and Caerlord Casero with Lady Telanoma of Wild River Caer..." Meliva said, tagging along like a helpful and eager puppy.
"Ah! Casero! We've heard so many good things about your Caer..." Ke'l said, bringing the Alskyrians into the conversation.
* * *
"Ah... It's nice to see you again Tiyanni." Shard purred, with his darling Rue on his arm.
"And you, Shard. Hello Rue." Tiyanni said brightly, then smiled at her friend the MasterHealer and rider of the daring golden-green Dulath. "Baeris! So glad you could make it!"
"Like I would miss a Flurry Hatching?" Baeris laughed, Striker being rather clingy with all the blizzard flits about the hall. "This is Qalam, of Caer Paniya."
Qalam, charming as always, took Tiyanni's hand and kissed it ever so politely. "Charmed..."
Tiyanni smirked. "I can hardly wait to introduce you to my daughter, the Weyrwoman Jeyann. I'm sure she'd love to hear all about Paniya."
Qalam smirked back in reply. Tiyanni almost wondered if he was related to Kalkin.
"That Ikara sure knows how to cater a party." Aaron said, eyeing the feast of fingerfoods as he sauntered up beside the small circle of Leaders.
"She certainly does." Tiyanni said with a knowing smirk. "Her grandchildren are going to be spoiled rotten."
"Which Ryslen children aren't?" R'lan said, laughing as he passed by. How true that was!
Mystic joined them momentarily, and Aaron turned slightly to include her in the discussion. "Where've you been?" He asked simply. "You missed the best snow fight."
Tiyanni looked up as an expectant tension filled the air. The other Leaders did likewise, even the newest aware of what this meant. A split second later, the snow-colored mothers raised their combined voices - the hatching was beginning.
A cool breeze rushed through the hall as the outside door opened, heralding another arrival. Sargon waltzed in, golden eyes bright and cheery.
"We're here now!" Kat announced, and with her Sky and Akinta entered the hall.
"Let's get a good seat, Tiyanners!" Sargon said, linking arms with Ryslen's retired Weyrwoman.
Tiyanni laughed as Toni's tail tickled her neck as the tiger flit leaned over to closer inspect the Rayllomian Leader. If Sargon ever acted his age, they'd all be in trouble.
He offered his other arm to Kat, his Lady, and they headed off towards the Hatching grounds, with Akinta and Sky in tow. Baeris and all followed suit, knowing that Tiyanni had a prime spot all picked out for them.
The excitement of the guests was contagious to a degree, as they moved closer towards the entrance to the hatching sands, their steps seemed more lively and eager than they had been even a few strides previously. Ke'l and Jeyann led them in, joining the riders of the draconic Flurry parents in the tiers in front of the central hatching circle.
Tiyanni, with her Rayllomian companions, lead around to the right side, to a place where the entire length of the sands was unobscured, save for when hatchlings and their new bonds were at the center of attention.
* * *
The eggs were beginning to shiver and shake as Naeodin slipped into an empty space a row below Tiyanni and J'kosh. "Is everybody ready?" the cheery former leader of Vella Crean said, smirking at her colleagues and friends. J'kosh watched as the Weyrwoman's Second from Firestone stalked after Searchrider J'lenn about a quarter of the way around the hatching grounds. It wasn't that J'lenn was antisocial, exactly, it was Kyohaku's wings that put him off. It was no surprise when he was practically tripped into the only empty seat within a few meters by a very round Raesa - the foxy Red rider of Duskannyranwalatath. Kyohaku grabbed a seat and crossing her arms, dared the people near her to complain about her wings with an icy sharp glare.
Magika unsurprisingly found a seat with Mystic and Aaron, and they all began to smile broader as the candidates began to make their way into the soft red sands. Each was clad in some sort of identifying garment - most choosing the sleeveless white 'vest' that ran to mid-calf on an average sized person and had the Ryslen crest embroidered in white on the back. Some preferred the more traditional long sleeved white robe that went to the knees or ankles and tied with a white rope belt. Someone had even convinced the dragon candidates to wear a sort of scarf with the Ryslen crest on the ends. It looked a bit silly on some, but it looked smashing on the furry mountain dragon Miyuki. Even her blizzard-winged friends seemed to like it.
Maramia and Vaero spotted Gem and her mate Red sitting within shouting range of Jeyann, and sat down with them. Maramia saw some new faces near Jeyann, and hopped up to quickly investigate.
"Hello! I'm Miramia of Vella Crean." She introduced herself efficiently.
"Greetings. I am Weyrwoman Naedda, and this is Councilwoman Mirireri." The woman said with a smile. It was surely interesting how hatchings brought people together.
"I'm Weyrwoman Lilia!" Lilia piped up. "From Starburst!"
Maramia smiled politely, and the dragons' humming increased in fervor, releasing her from any need for further small talk. "It's nice to meet you all. I'm sure we'll have time to chat at the feast..."
"I look forward to it." Naedda said with a smirk, and Maramia hopped back to the seat Vaero had protected for her.
The first row or two of seats were filled by riders of the dragon parents - some of whom were very likely to be temperamental about their eggs. Engell, Simon, and A'tyr sat back to watch, while Damari and Keylyn sat on the edge of their seats, toes in the soft red sands waiting for that first decisive crack. Akelei and Tov chatted amiably, one eye on the sands, while Ainea negotiated herself a front row seat so she could see. Being an elf barely three feet tall was not to her advantage in the midst of full sized humans. Lakhshmi and her silver Okiath had retreated to the nearest of the dragon ledges, perhaps even pleased to be out of the sand for once.
Angeoria, Weyrwoman of Abri worked her way up to sit near Jeyann. "And here I thought you were an only child..." she laughed as the others made room for her on the bench. Jeyann smirked, but could not reply before all of Ryslen gasped in relative unison - this combined with sudden and almost complete silence from the Flurry mothers drew everyone's attention to the first hatchling. The huge fair of multicolored flits scattered to whatever perch they could find when Senorith and faith bellowed at them for obscuring their view.