Who Nyalle, Rulayn
What Nyalle comes across Rulayn in the bowl and treats her to a visit of the empty sands and a brief lesson on how they work.
When Winter, Turn 2711
Where Northeast Bowl, Hatching Sands, Fort Weyr

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Fort Weyr - Northeast Bowl
The northern end of the bowl can be an intimidating area, being that Fort is the largest weyr. The far north wall contains the gigantic opening to the hatching caverns, and to the west of that can be seen the sprawling ledges and carved stair cases that mark the way to the administration complex and the training grounds were candidates and weyrlings can often be found. The west cliff wall towers up, dotted here and there by darker openings that mark individual weyrs before it tapers to a point at Tooth Crag.

Winter is thick and heavy in Fort, with spring and fall both distant memories. The snow lays deep, drifts piled up against the walls and walkways carved by human and dragon alike. The snow is dirty and trampled, not like the pristine whiteness of elsewhere in the forests. Into this Kayeth lands, her autumnal hide gleaming against the dirty snow, while she crouches to let Nyalle down in a cleared, albeit slippery section of bare earth.

Coming up through the snow and dressed warmly in thick hide, Rulayn is looking rather pleased with herself. Although her stop had been the living caverns, the young woman was so caught up in her blissful thoughts that she'd not actually realised she was over shooting her mark. Head in the clouds, it's the sudden landing of a large Golden figure that stops the stable girl dead in her tracks. Whoops! She blinked a few times and then looked around, realising her error. With a glance back to the rider as she descended, Rulayn squinted. Was that Thys, again? No, it was the other Weyrwoman. Politely, Rulayn raised her hand in greeting. Perhaps Nyalle would remember her face from their last encounter?

Nyalle dismounts and brushes wind-blown snow from her cloak, before she pushes it back to let her hair fall loose around her shoulders. Turning, she strokes Kayeth's hide before sending the queen to the ledge, where straps will be removed by another rider - likely Mr'az - while Nyalle heads for the caverns. And, in doing so, spies Rulayn. "Good afternoon," there is a pause before the name, "Rulayn."

Rulayn hadn't been able to resist taking another long look at Kayeth as the beautiful Gold rose to the skies once more and soared off. What a beautiful sight, especially amongst all this snow! "Ma'am." Rulayn smiles and bows her head as before, maintaining a position of utmost respect to the Weyrwoman. "Enjoy your flight?" Is there something else hidden in that question? "I hear our Weyrleader continues his reign."

Nyalle tilts her head, wondering if she means 'flight' or 'Flight'. "Indeed," she murmurs, moving closer so there's no need to holler. "We like to get a lot of flying in before she's confined to the Sands. And I am as well." Perhaps it's more for Nyalle than the golden queen - it's hard to tell, with the pair linked so closely.

Rulayn nods and clasps her hands behind her back, her eyes briefly scanning the skies again. "All is well then, ma'am?" Rulayn asks, looking back to Nyalle. She gives an appreciative nod and can't help but inquire further. "Do you think she'll lay a big clutch this time?" Of course, word straight from the Weyrwoman's mouth makes for better gossip, but Rulayn is genuinely curious this time around.

Nyalle nods, gazing skyward again as Rulayn does. "Yes, all is well. Fort prospers under Th'ero's leadership." Then her brows lift, and her lips pull upwards in a smile. "I'm not sure, and there's really no way to tell. She's had large clutches and she's had small ones, and there's no pattern that I can discern."

"Well you know what they say. A longer Flight means a bigger clutch." Rubbing her hands together, Rulayn can't help but chuckle slightly at the prospect of a clutch in this weather. Which brings up another curious question from the stable girl. "How does she do it? Your dragon, I mean.. How does she keep her eggs warm when Fort's experiencing such cold weather?"

Nyalle shrugs a shoulder. "That's what they say…" But that hasn't always been her experience. She tips her head a bit at the question, and smiles kindly. "Would you like to see?"

Rulayn looks slightly baffled by the question suddenly thrown her way, but she's eager to see! "I'd love to, Ma'am." She responds cheerfully, wide-smiled and ready to see for herself. "Is it something at the Hatching Grounds itself? Something from the Techcraft?"

Nyalle shakes her head. "No, no. It's ancient technology. And why the weyrs are in certain places on Pern, and nowhere else, even though there are other suitable mountains. Follow me."

Rulayn is like an eager puppy, following after Nyalle with a childish curiosity about her. She's been to the Hatching Grounds many times before for other clutches, but never escorted by a Weyrwoman!

Nyalle walks into the cavernous entrance, pointing upwards. "You can see where the dragons come to watch. Their riders sometimes stay up there, or come down here. Now, let's go onto the Sands. No one is here now, so we can. If there was a queen, then, of course, we'd only be allowed on by her permission."

Fort Weyr - Hatching Sands
The sands. The most prominant and possibly most important area for a weyr, this section of Fort is no exception to the rule. Completely enclosed from the outside elements by a high rounded ceiling, the golden white sand glitters under the streams of sunlight that manage to make their way in from the upper openings. Ledges abound in the upper areas of the dome, perfect for riders and their dragons to watch the action happening on the ground. At the back of the sands there appears to be a raised section of sand, built over generations by the golds who have laid clutches here, a couch of sorts for basking on while protecting their eggs. Slightly to one side of that, a small nook has been carved for the weyrwoman to take respite from the heat of the cavern.

Rulayn continues to follow Nyalle through to the Sands, eyes wide with admiration. She'd never seen them at this angle, of course, and everything seemed so much bigger! "It's really something." She remarks, nodding in appreciation to the sight. "To think these sands once held clutches of twenty, thirty or more! It's amazing." She chuckles.

Nyalle removes her cloak and drapes it over the stairway railing before they move further into the sands. "Oh, far larger than that," she says with a chuckle. "Far more, during times of Thread. It's hard to imagine, really."

Rulayn turns her attention upwards to the ceiling of the grounds, finally noticing the domed cover which shielded the area from the snow outside. "I guess it makes sense they built it to withstand the cold in the first place." Rulayn murmurs, taking a few steps out onto the sands. Still being dressed in thicker gear, the heat of the grounds is immediate, even if subdued during this time of the year. "It's like stepping into the bathing caverns here! Is it always kept so warm?" Perhaps this might be an ideal spot to de-frost during future winters.. Why didn't she think of that before?

Nyalle smiles, "It's always this warm. This was a volcano, and the sands are heated by the old volcano. Just like our bathing caverns. That's all natural."

Rulayn nodded, curious as she looked at the pristine sands. "All of it? I knew where the heat came from for the bathing pools, but I didn't expect it to.. Reach this far?" Rulayn falls silent as she dwells on it, then furrows her brows as another more worrying thought crosses her mind. "What would happen if the volcano went cold?"

Nyalle shrugs. "This is how it is. How it's always been. And why they built Fort here. Or, rather, carved it." She looks around, frowning as if Rulayn has just said something unspeakable. "We would either move, or find a way with technology…" But she shudders at that thought.

Rulayn nods at the brief 'history lesson' of sorts, taking another moment to admire the galleries from down here. It truly must be daunting to stand on these Sands when you have so many onlookers, both human and dragon! "Move?" That response wasn't quite anticipated by the young woman as she turns her head back to Nyalle. "Do you think it could happen? How would we be able to move the entire Weyr?"

Nyalle tilts her head. "We pack up and move elsewhere. Probbly to another weyr. But. That won't happen."

Thinking of the immense amount of work to move the entire Weyr was enough to make Rulayn sweat. Or maybe that was just the heat here? She slowly nods, hoping that Nyalle was right. "Well.. I suppose I best get back to the caverns before these clothes stick to me. I'm grateful you brought me." She smiles and yet again, bows to the Weyrwoman. "Ma'am."

Nyalle dips her head in a warm smile. "My pleasure, Rulayn. One should know as much as they can know about this weyr and its history. Have a good evening."

Rulayn bows again once more and then quietly excuses herself, not looking forwards to the snow she has to trudge back through again. Still, now she knows that if she ever gets too cold, the galleries will make the perfect napping spot!

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