These weyrling barracks are fairly spartan. Couches line the walls at neat intervals, and all around are hung instructive yet decorative tapestries depicting various things; A weyrling feeding his dragonet, A dragon taking his first flight, Weyrlings oiling their dragons, and several different flight formations. In the middle of the Barracks, there is a large vat of oil and a barrel used to hold chunks of meat for feeding.
Elfarran is perched on the edge of Jenibeth's couch, working on oiling the now rather large dragonet. A hand pushes damp curls from her face, as she mutters aloud, "You know, dear. This takes a whole lot longer then when you first hatched."
L'tral strolls in from the commons carrying a pile of leather in his arms, nearly covering up his face as well, but he manages to make it to where the workbench sits and drops it all on one side of the bench before straightening up and popping his back. "Okay." He calls out. "Those of you who haven't been working on your riding straps, come here and pay attention! We have a few things to go over."
Elfarran finishes up the last bit of oiling with a fond smile to Jenibeth, who goes and finds herself a nice place to sun herself. The girl, on the other hand, hops down and strides over, pulling up into a salute, "Yes, sir."
L'tral looks back at Elfarran peculiarly for a brief moment but lets it pass as a few of the others approach. "All right, everyone. I've brought a goodly amount of leather with me today, since some of you have missed out on making your straps. I'm sure your dragons have begun to get a little antsy, seeing other dragons with straps on, and so we're going to go over some basic leatherworking. First of all, do any of you have any leatherworking experience?"
A shake of her head sends copper curls flying, "No, sir." Elfarran looks alert, however, "And yes, she's been getting a bit eager.
L'tral lets a few others get responses in before nodding and continuing. "Well, for some of you, this will be repeat information, but I expect you all to pay attention no matter what, alright?" He sternly reminds them. "Now then, there are some tools here on the workbench that you will all need to become familiar with, I'd suggest you look them over, I'll be making reference to them periodically." He lets that settle in while he pics up a piece of leather.
Elfarran slips between a couple of the taller weyrlings, trying to get a better view, especially at the tools.
L'tral waits for a few of the weyrlings to get a good look at the tools before continuing. "Stop me if you have any questions." He begins. "Leather has two sides: the grain side is the side where the hair used to be or the outside. The flesh side is the underneath side of the leather. This is very important to remember, as I'll refer to the leather by either side throughout the rest of the lesson." He gathers a piece of leather and takes it to a clear space on the workbench to demonstrate. "The key ingredients for cutting leather are a sharp knife and a firm, flat surface. You should examine the grain surface of the leather for scratches, holes, or uneven coloring and avoid these areas when overlaying your pattern. Keep the knife upright and cut through the leather by exerting firm, downwards pressure. Do not let the knife lean to one side as the edge won't be straight. Do not force the blade to go through the leather. Thicker hides may require two or more cuts into the same line before the leather is completely cut through."
Elfarran nods slowly, keeping her attention on the lesson. From her couch, Jenibeth watches curiously as well, though there is a somewhat sleepy air to her appearance.
Orilee silently nods from her position by Lornath, taking a good gander at the tools upon the workbench. Pulling a piece of her own writing hide from beneath her cot, she hurriedly scratches some notes upon it, stylus brought for from behind her ear. Lornath cocks her head, eyeing the knife and leather. She often glances about the room to see how the others of her kind are reacting to the lesson, noting Jeni's curiosity.
L'tral looks about to see who is and isn't paying attention, and finds a few in the back of the group. "You three! You'd best pay attention to this or you'll be making faulty straps and falling off of your dragon's back the moment he takes off! I catch you dozing off and its extra 'stone duty!" He returns his voice to normal and continues. "Now then, leather that is strong enough to hold you onto a dragon has to be thick and tough. Not necessarily stiff, but resilient. Leather is also a lot harder to sew than cloth, you cannot use a regular needle and thread. You also need a tool that looks something like a spike, a punching awl." He lifts said tool from the table for all to see, brandishing it about. "This 'punches' a small hole in the leather so that you can push or pull the needle and line through it."
Orilee scratches down 'awl', glancing up toward L'tral. Fall off her dragon's back? "No..Lorn... don't worry..." she mumbles silently to herself, glancing back toward the green for a moment to shoot her a comforting smile. The hazels return to L'tral, and although she isn't a tanner or a weaver, she's quite interested in the subject. It's the prep for flying on Lorn! And that's one day she can't wait for.
Elfarran nods again, not taking notes, but just soaking it up into her mind. A smile ghosts across her lips at a thought, and from the glance she gives her lifemate, it was probably from her. Attention goes back to the front again.
L'tral waits for the three to settle down, which eventually they do, and he goes on, keeping a wary eye in that direction. "When choosing the leather, be sure to check it for signs of weakness, discolorations in the hide, stretch marks, or holes. An easy stress test would be to give a good tug on the hide and recheck the hide. Play tug-o-war with your dragon, if it tears, then the hide wasn't going to be strong enough to hold you on in case you fell off the dragon's back during flight. Pieces for the neck straps should not be less than 8 inches wide or else they may cut into the dragon's neck. Depending on the thickness of the hide, sometimes lengths of leather over 5 feet (if you can find a really big cow for it!) may tear in the middle when under stress, so shorter lengths of 3-4 feet are more manageable."
3-4 feet.... no less than 8 inches... Unlike Elfarran, the stylus of Orilee is quickly scratching across hide.
L'tral nods. "Yes, Elfarran?"
Elfarran's hand lowers as she speaks, projecting just a little to be heard clearly, "Can wherhide be used?"
L'tral shakes his head. "Wherhide, while resiliant and strong, isn't adviseable in this case. It makes good gear and such, like these boots," He taps them with the awl in hand. "and other leathers, but it is also somewhat stiff when cured. It has more potential to become brittle and requires more care to maintain. The activity you will be involved in during active threadfall and wing exercises requires not only strength and resiliency, it requires the ability to flex and expand as well as still be soft enough against your dragon's hide to not cut into it. There is little worse than strap-cuts in your dragon's neck, and severe ones can ground you for a time while your lifemate's neck heals. And it will be tender for a while, I guarantee."
Orilee nods softly, taking her stylus and quickly writing: Wherhide. Then placing a big X in it. There, that ought to do.
L'tral lets that sink in and then smiles for a moment. "Now I know that eventually you may want to have fancy and decorative straps, but right now, this is not at all advisable. While still a weyrling, it does not pay to invest in colorfully dyed and stitched riding straps as your dragon will grow out of the first several sets at a phenomenal rate. In fact, it would not be a bad idea to leave enough length on the ends of the straps to adjust for growth so that you'll have more time to work on the *next* set. And there *will* be several sets. In addition, dyed leather has a tendency to be stiffer or weaker than regular tanned leather, depending on the mordant or bleach used to produce the color."
Elfarran nods as she takes that information in, darting a look at her already large lifemate, then back, nodding again.
Orilee raises a hand, suddenly.
L'tral nods to Orilee and waves a hand for the small conversations erupting over that point to cease. "Yes, Orilee?"
Orilee grins, glancing over toward the rest of the group until the conversations cease. She then sits up a bit farther, and projects her voice. "Like... how many times would we have to make riding straps? I mean, about. 3 or 4? Or 6 or 7? Or... what? Or does it just matter for the dragon?"
L'tral motions about the barracks at the dragons of differing size. "It will vary, of course, depending on how fast your dragon grows, and how much room you leave for growth in the straps you make each time. I went through about 6 sets with Raucanth before he stopped growing. For thsoe of you with smaller dragons, it may not be as many times as it will be for the larger ones. Raucanth, being mid-sized, at 6 sets, is a good average." An agreeing rumble from outside can be heard as Raucanth adds his own to the conversation.
Elfarran smiles and nods, making a mental note.
Orilee nods, crossing her arms and glancing back at her green, who's growing just the right size for a green. Not too big, not too small, although quite a bit smaller than some of the other dragons.
L'tral looks around for more questions, and seeing none, he moves on. "A padding of wool or other non-degradable matter like cotton, may be used to stuff the interior of the straps for more comfortable support. Or a layer of wool or fur may be sewn to the underside of the strap to prevent chaffing. Or if available, soft suede may be added (but not substituted!) as the bottom layer. Do not, I repeat, do *not* neglect this layer, as I've already mentioned the danger of chaffing and cutting into your lifemate's hide." He pauses a moment to put the awl down and pulls his riding belt out from his pile of supplies. "The riding belt is sometimes commissioned straight from the weaver and often comes with the riding leathers. However unless the weaver in question is a specialist in the differences between regular leather-ware and the heavy-duty gear a rider needs, it is wise to check the durability of the belt/harness yourself, or simply make your own belt."
Orilee returns to her notetaking, adding 'riding belt' to the hide before her.
Elfarran nods again, blinking as she tries to soak in all this new information.
L'tral sends a silent signal to his lifemate outside, who lumbers in with lazy excitement, taking a position where he can crane his neck down over the group. "Riding straps are supple, padded, and yet strong leather straps that are placed around your dragon's neck, like so." He points up to Raucanth, who is wearing a full set of thread-fighting straps. "They are positioned between the last neck ridge and the first back ridge. The rider wears a wide leather belt that has D-rings on it." He again lifts the riding belt up, pointing to the rings. "A thinner, but strong leather strap is clipped to a D-ring on the belt with the other end of the strap being clipped to a D-ring on the riding strap."
L'tral says "Because of the sudden changes in direction and speed required for fighting Thread, the fighting straps consist of two leather straps, such as these. The rider uses four of the smaller straps to secure himself to the riding straps. If more people are riding on the dragon, they too wear the wide leather belts and secure themselves to the other D-rings using the thinner straps. Some of you who were searched from outside of the Weyr may remember wearing these belts before."
Elfarran nods again, though her lifemate's attention is distracted by the arrival of the older dragon, which she regards, eyes still a nice blue, before returning to listening herself.
Orilee leans sideways, inspecting Raucanth's straps, and then directing sight toward the D-rings attached to the riding belt. After the note about wearing belts, she nods, remembering her little flight on the blue before them...
L'tral calls attention back to himself, Raucanth settling back once more into the background. "The first riding straps that you will make will consist of only one strap. That is because as a weyrling, you will not be fighting Thread and so the strength of two straps isn't needed. The single strap riding straps are also much easier for weyrlings to make and are more comfortable on the dragonets who are not used to have straps around their necks. You'll be securing yourself to the riding straps using only two of the smaller straps. More straps won't be required as the dragon will not be performing any fancy maneuvers at this stage. And I warn you, that once you begin flying, you will *not* be attemting anything fancy until we deem you ready. Understood?"
Orilee nods sharply.
Elfarran nods as well, though there is a slightly disgruntled sounding rumble from Jenibeth's direction.
Lornath joins Jenibeth with a soft grunt as well.
L'tral clears his throat, motioning to the leather in front of him. "Now then, all of you can practice selecting leather from that pile there, and some of the weyrlings who were around for the first strapmaking lesson can help you with any questions you may have. And they *will* help you." He turns his head to face those who aren't in this lecture and are sitting near their own lifemates, having made straps already.
This green is the hub of activity at the Weyr. The area extends along the base of a cavern-pocked cliff which rises southeast to northwest from here. The grubbed soil has been allowed to grow to a trampled turf, but hard stone walks bound it on all sides.
Weyrfolk and support staff move occasionally from the elevated, slate-topped infirmary complex that bridges the river on the eastern edge of the green to the open multiple decks of the sprawling, two-tiered Weyrhall to the north.
South and west of here, the cliff face looms high, with a wide opening leading into the Hatching cavern and a cut-stone path rising to several weyrs housing the Weyr's leaders. Emerging from the hatching opening, an oft-trod path skirts the cliff to an opening a bit to the west.
More directly west are more caverns and finally the swath widens in the northwest into the landing field used by visitors to the Weyr.
Briana watches the weyrlings assembling, leaning lightly against Zabrenevath's side as she does. "Come on, gather in close. We're not terribly formal here today."
Elfarran walks over, followed (very closely), by Jenibeth, who looks very interested. The girl smiles as she salutes, formality or not, then leans against her lifemate's side as well.
Orilee trots into the commons behind Elfarran's Jenibeth, exiting from the barracks. She glances up at the gold at first, and as she nears, focuses on Briana. Following the weyrwoman's orders, she approaches closer, producing a smile. Lornath also follows Lee, snuffing the air, but putting on her best draconic behavior for the golden.
Zabrenevath gives a quiet croon, quite complacent for her part in this whole 'lesson' thing.
Briana says "All right, let's get started. As one of the weyr's dragonhealers, I'm coming here to give you a general discussion on dragon anatomy and common ailments of weyrling dragons. Now, I realize some of you may have impressed firelizards. Some of the general concerns are the same, though on a much larger scale. Firelizards can also fly as soon as their wings dry. Dragons cannot." She fixes everyone with a stern look. "If I hear of anyone allowing their dragons to fly before they are cleared for it by L'tral, Zabrenevath will ground you. Then the weyrlingmasters get you. And then *I* get a hold of you."
Jenibeth tries to look very innocent, she's not been trying to convince her lifemate to let her fly, not at all. Elfarran, for her part, shoots a look at the young green that looks faintly smug, faintly amused and very patient.
Briana waits for a moment, looking around at the weyrlings, her gaze rather level. Orilee glances back at Lornath, smiling and pausing for a moment, and then turns back toward Briana. Lornath steps up beside Lee, snorting silently and pulling wings tightly against her back.
Elfarran smiles softly, "I won't let her, as much as she'd like to." A rather indignant snort from Jenibeth as she glances at Lornath and does much the same, wings folded down all nice and neat.
Briana says "Now, let's start from the outside and work our way in. First, a dragon has six limbs. Forelimbs for grabbing, hind limbs to take off and landing, and the wings. As you've noticed, they have 'hands' with five fingers - a trifle different from the firelizards who have only three. Both dragons and lizards rely on a modified ball and socket joint in their legs and hips to keep from dislocating a joint in takeoff and landing."
T'gan's late to join the others, and wiping oil-fouled hands along the thighs of his trous as he emerges to the commons from the barracks. No dragon follows him.
Briana taps Zabrenevath's flank to get her attention. The queen rumbles softly and crouches obligingly, allowing the observers to view the faint roll of muscle and play of bone under her hide.
Jenibeth cranes her neck to get a better look, eyes whirling blue with interest. Then a soft croon to the short red-head, whom is watching quietly from her side.
Briana says "Now, the forelimbs are used primarily for hunting and have sharp, retractable talons for rending their prey. In a few more months, they will begin to hunt for themselves, and you won't have to spend as much time cutting up meat for them. As you've also noticed, the forelimbs are extremely short compared to the hindlimbs. This is the main reason for that awkward 'hop-skip' they have when they're forced to walk everywhere." She smiles faintly, "Believe me, it doesn't get any more graceful the older they get."
Orilee leans softly upon Lorn's side, feeling her green's own muscle and bone, and then bringing up a finger to point out Zabrenevath's. Lornath leans her head forward, cocking it to the side and silently gazing at the golden queen. After Bri's latest statement, Orilee chuckles a bit, and Lornath lets out a deep, humming rumble, although eyes blaze blue.
T'gan skirts the edge of the gathering to watch from behind other weyrling pairs, and with arms folded over chest. Briana's remark pulls a crooked grin to his lips, but he keeps silent, keeps his presence inobtrusive.
Briana continues on, "A dragon's skeleton is lighter than their riders, though not as light and brittle as that of a wherry. Dragons must get considerably more bulk in the air, and their bones must be able to absorb the impact of this, both in takeoff and landing. Stiffer bones would also break in the wing spars. Which brings us to a discussion on the wings. But before we go there, any questions, or observations you'd like to share?" She looks out over the class, eyebrows raised.
Elfarran shakes her head slightly, though at the mention of wings she grimaces a little. Jenibeth's eyes flicker to a more yellow-orange for a moment, until the girl looks up at her and pats the forepaw reasuringly, where upon the eyes go back to blue.
A slow shake of his head is Teague's only answer: no questions, no remarks that he'll share *here*, *now*.
Orilee is the only one to share information. "5-fingers, like us, long legs like us, and shorter arms like us." She grins, and looks around, although a very pink blush suddenly begins to pinking her cheeks. "Y'know... they're a little bit like humans..." And she seals her mouth then, as snickers echo through the weyrlings, Lee attempting suddenly to hide behind Lornath.
Briana mms lightly at Orilee. "How so, Orilee?" Her expression contrary to the snickering, is encouraging.
Orilee points to her dragon's feet, then her own, then her dragon's forefeet, and her own hands. "They're set up like ours. Feet widened for walking, hands/feet for grasping." She pauses, smiling toward the weyrwoman. "I just thought it was interesting."
Elfarran smiles, listening and not at all snickering either. Jenibeth has in fact craned her head now to regard Orilee, with just as much interest.
T'gan's expression, if anything, turns that much more humorless.
Briana nods approvingly, "Actually, as we'll discuss in a few minutes, they're a bit more like humans even than that. But we'll get there in due time. First, let's talk about wing structure."
Briana says "Many consider the wing to be the most vital part of a dragon. It consists primarily of the main sail, the leading edge, and the trailing edge." She indicates each on the large wing Zabrenevath extends for her. "A dragon's wingspan typically runs 1 and 2/3 the length of the dragon; because the wings functions somewhat like sails, the terms used are quite similar." She gives a grin to a former seacrafter apprentice in the group. "These membranes are translucent in firelizards and nearly so with dragons, but thicker over the bones and where they attach to the muscles. They are much stronger than they appear; a dragon can still fly even should a full third of the wingsail be damaged."
Briana adds quietly, "Though there have been some that I've attended after fall that were not able to fly because of the weight of the scars. Wing damage is critical and if you think you might have so much as strained a wing, come find a weyrlingmaster, or myself or one of the assistants as soon as possible.
*Now* Teague puts in a question: "What sort of things can damage the wingsails?" Likely he's got a long list of reasoned guesses, and is seeking to measure them against reality.
Orilee beams for a moment at the approving glance, but as Briana goes into possible details, the girl's mouth and lips straighten to a line. She pats affectionately upon Lorn's back. She hopes dearly that nothing so horrible as a third of her dragon's wing tears, scars, or burns away. Such a horrid thought.
Elfarran nods, eyes wide, then turns to face T'gan, her actions mirrored by her very attentive lifemate, who seems very curious as to the lessons. Then, they both look back at Brianna, waiting for the answer.
Briana nods to T'gan, "Depends on the size of the dragon, sometimes. I've seen smaller dragons have strains and sometimes even tears along the trailing edge in extremely high winds. Mating flights can also be rough - strains, sprains and talon damage, depending, though that's usually only in gold flights, when the bronzes and browns start battling. The most common source of injury is threadscore, which we'll go over later."
Curiosity satisfied, T'gan falls silent anew, and even fishes a redfruit from a pocket.
Briana goes on, "About half the length of a dragonwing is supported by bones that are shaped similar to arms from the shoulder to the finger joint, including an elbow. The strength of the shoulder and upper arm muscles supply the power necessary for a "lift." The elbow has a slightly flexed position, and the leading edge of the wing is a membrane that stretches between the shoulder and the finger joint."
Elfarran tilts her head, then raises her hand, waiting to be noticed. A little bit of a blush is on her cheeks, so apparently the question is faintly embarressing, at least to her.
Jemai dashes through, zips over to Th'rok (who's on the Landing Field), smooches him soundly, and then shows back up quietly (for her) to stand in the back and listen.
Elfarran's lips twitch back and forth before she speaks up, "Is there any danger of fights during a green flight?" She looks up at Jenibeth, who mostly seems to be looking at her lifemate curiously.
Orilee smiles suddenly, turning a head toward Elfarran. She may have had a similar question, yet kept it to herself. Crossing arms, she leans against Lornath, gazing up toward Briana for the answer to that oh-so-embarressing question. The green beside her gazes toward Jenibeth, and then raises her angular grassy green head, glancing in Briana's direction with whirling blue eyes, although their shade a slight darker than before.
Briana nods. "There can be, depending on the green, and the males trying to be the one to fly her. Overanxious males might find themselves getting raked by trying to capture her too early. Generally, though the," She pauses, seraching for the right word, "viciousness of green flights is less. Doesn't mean accidents and fights don't happen, though they seem to happen far more frequently in gold flights than greens. It's rare a green will find herself in the middle of a battling crowd of males, though. They're simple too agile for the most part."
Jenibeth senses Lornath hums higher-pitched, slightly curious, and a bit confused. << We have flights? Don't all dragons fly? >>
Elfarran nods, while overhead, Jenibeth looks frankly smug, as if there was never any doubt. "That's relief, though I'd hate to have pati..." an embarressed flush, "Nevermind, if Jenibeth rises, I certainly won't have any patients, injuries or not."
Wry humor works its way into T'gan's expression as Elfarran's question's asked and answered.
Briana nods slightly and plunges ahead. "The first two wing bones run almost together, as the bones form the outer spar portion of the lub; this is the term in Seacrafting applied to the support for a square sail. The remaining two wing bones fan out from the finger joint." She pauses and then continues, after a sip of juice to moisten her throat. Or is it wine? Whatever it is, the skin is hanging from Zabrenevath's straps. The sails are pointed out along queen's wing. "The inner bone is almost perpendicular to the spar bone, and ends about midway between the body and the forestay finger tip. From the dorsal spine and stretching to this inner bone is the primary mainsail I mentioned before, the largest of the three membranes, which supports most of the body's weight."
You sense that Lornath senses Jenibeth's mental voice is rather matter of fact, <>
Orilee smiles, and is inwardly quite glad. Who would want to deal with males injuring themselves? Leave that up to the golds. She glances toward T'gan, noting the humor upon his face. Hazels turn back upon Briana as the weyrwoman continues with her lecture.
Briana says "There are other 'sails' as well. The outermost, forestay, tip is able to function almost independently, giving it the term 'finger sail', while the secondary mainsail runs from the inner bone to the mid bone, and the spar mainsail runs from the mid bone to the spar bones. They are used in support as well, but also provide maneuverability. These are the sails that are most often strained or torn in the smaller blues and greens, because of their ability to turn on a tailtip. Cartilages provide additional support, extending from arm and finger joint to the leech or trailing edge." Briana says "Any questions before we move on?"
Jemai raises her hand, the smartyass.
Briana laughs, "Yes, Jemai? - Jemai, if you didn't know, gave me this very lecture when *I* was a weyrling," she adds to the weyrlings, her tone amused.
Jemai takes on the voice of a decidedly young, and decidedly stupid, weyrling. Probably male, just on the verge of his voice cracking. "But ma'am.... WHY do we have to know this?" And then she grins and looks out over the gathered weyrlings. To them she says, in her regular voice, "And don't tell me you weren't thinking it." Her eyes rest on some of those who'd looked the most bored with the lecture.
T'gan grasps for patience from above, here, and rolls his eyes skyward.
A soft giggle, rather merry, is heard from the general direction of Jenibeth. Those who've known Elfarran the longest probably recognize the sound, even if its been a good long while since it was last heard.
Briana says firmly, "Because, when some of you are careless enough, or unlucky enough to get yourselves injured in Fall, you'll be able to tell myself and the other dragonhealers just what to patch up on your sorry hide. And, because, we'll be moving on to all the illnesses that you lot will face as weyrlings, and without knowing the underlying anatomy you might just do something foolish, and cause the whole weyr to get into an uproar. Why do you think weyrlings are isolated, hm? It's not just because you're little. It's because you do not yet have the control that full riders have. And that includes paying attention in class." She eyes the ones who were looking bored.
One of the younger boys, his brown next to him, frowns and looks up at his dragon. "You will -not- get hurt. Not if I c'n help it." And he doesn't look bored at all anymore.
Orilee chuckles to herself, her eyes twinkling brightly. And she hears the giggle, not known by Lee, tilting her head toward Elfarran. Amusement of the laugh is picked up, and she chuckles louder, smiling and shaking her head at the other greenrider. After a bit, she clears her throat and glances up toward Briana, rolling lips in to force the chuckle to subside.
Briana meets Jemai's glance after a moment, wry amusement tinging her expression. "Now, moving on. Hide. You have to oil your dragons, and keep them oiled several times a day. At first, they will seem to outgrow their hide every night, and complain almost constantly of being itchy. As they get closer to their full growth, this will ease quite a bit. The amount of oiling will slow down as the dragons finish their growth, though this will more than be compensated by the block of time it takes to completely oil the bulk of a full-grown dragon, especially the larger bronzes and browns. This task is a lifetime job, and must continue all through you and your 'mate's life. If one goes between with a patchy dragon, the skin may slough off, which can then lead to all kinds of complications and infections.
Elfarran's giggling stops as she gets a much more serious expression. She's had to help patch up injured dragons, and its not a cheerful subject. Jenibeth actually bugles softly, her voice rather deep, though its much more a reassurring sort of sound, as she continues to listen raptly to the lecture.
Briana says "Dragon hide is smooth, soft to the touch, strong, and hairless. A healthy hide is glossy with no hint of gray. The female golds and greens often experience a change in tone before mating, the hide brightening; just before a flight they may even appear to glow. The male bronzes, browns, and blues generally do not experience this fluctuation in color, although their hides may gradually deepen with age."
T'gan flicks his own attention right back to Briana, this little side-lecture completed, and while he does polish the skin of his redfruit lightly against his sleeve -- his oil-fouled sleeve. Little doubt he's familiar with the considerable effort of oiling a monstrosity of a bronze. Another dance of attention to Elfarran and her green, his expression twisting briefly as if a vtol had flown too near, and then he's focusing on the lecture once more.
Briana says "Dragons have forked tails; in the fork is their sphincter. Dragons and firelizards will store up excreta for several days in their tails until they are able to go between and get rid of it there. Because you cannot yet fly or go between, you will need to muck out their couch." She grins. "And muck it and muck it and- as you already know." She looks bemused at some of the reactions through the group and continues, "The genitalia are concealed behind pouchlike flaps of skin under the junction of tail and body, and only revealed during mating. Please do us all a favor and don't attempt to look."
Briana goes on rather blithely, evidently that wasn't a joke. "Now, moving on: interals -- and I sincerely hope you never have to see any of these. Dragonkind have a large lung capacity, so that when they fully inflate their dorsally-placed lung sacs, their chest can swell to twice its normal size." She indicates the approximate location on her lifemate, who crouches to demonstrate. "They have two stomachs, one for food and the other for the digestion of firestone. Initially, weyrling dragons become hungry seven or eight times a day; by the end of their first turn, however, they will only be eating twice a sevenday, and are able to hunt their own food by then.
Elfarran turns bright red, right as her lifemate's head looks down to regard her. She doesn't seem to notice the looks from T'gan, she's trying too hard to maintain her composure.
Orilee scrunches her nose, gulping slightly at the thought of a dragon's skin... sloughing off. As Briana mentions the changes in color, Orilee rubs Lornath's backside, glancing over toward the already bright green and fondly imagining what the color could possibly brighten to during a flight. But she again scruntches her nose at the mention of mucking. She's--for some reason--had to do considerable lately. Perhaps Lorn is growing faster...
Briana says "They also have several hearts, similarly placed to ours under their ribcages, which are one long continuous piece. Dragons are 'warm blooded', though slightly cooler than humans. They do not have red blood but, instead, a green ichor. Like human blood, ichor is based on metal; in this case, copper. Dragon flesh is therefore greenish instead of the pink associated with humans."
Briana says "As for the senses, a dragon's headknobs are more prominent than those of a firelizard and their noses more pointed. Dragonkind have no ears or eyelashes. Their headknobs appear to function as our ears do, for they react to noises that are not related to their sixth sense, that of telepathy. They rarely, if ever, speak to another human, though they can, if it suits them to." She gives a faint smile and then continues. "Dragons have an excellent spatial sense with reference to other dragons when emerging and going between; this is why dragons don't collide with others of their kind when arriving into crowded airspace."
Jenibeth senses Lornath humms slightly again, the pitch lower than before, but pointedly curiosity fills the voice, with a slight background of humor. << Orilee said it too... flight... >> A sudden concern overtakes the hum, and the magnetic voice speeds up. << What is wrong with *Elfarran*? She looks unwell! >>
Briana says "Dragon eyes. I'm sure you've all spent countless hours being hypnotized by those eyes. I know I did as a weyrling. You will have noticed that the eyes are protected by three sets of lids: an inner transparent pair and two increasingly thicker sets of membranes. Because their eyes protrude outwards from their set in the skull, dragons have peripheral vision that extends to what is above them, as well as to their sides and beyond. A dragon's eyes can see air currents, which is an aid to their skill in Fall. Additionally, dragons can occasionally "look through" their riders' eyes to see what their rider is seeing, if they are not themselves present. Though it takes considerable patience to hone this particular skill."
You sense that Lornath senses Jenibeth seems to be almost laughing, though its a curious one, <
Briana says "Dragon eyes are multifaceted and color reflects mood: green/blue signifies contentment, yellow, fear; red/orange, anger; red, hunger; danger, white; pain is gray, and purple signifies the mating urge, lust, and love. The quicker their eyes whirl, the more intense the emotion they feel is; the whirling is, however, supposedly an optical illusion caused by the eyes' facets. Their sense of smell isn't that well developed; to them, there is nothing distasteful in the stench of firestone. They can, however, smell well enough to detect "strange" or unfamiliar scents."
Briana says "The teeth are strong, sharp at the front for hunting and more molar-like at the back of the mouth for chewing firestone; dragonets hatch without their fanglike canines, which is yet another reason they must wait to hunt their own food. Their tongues are forked."
Briana says "As for temperament, I'm sure you are all aware now that each dragon is as different as his, or her, rider. And this is where we get back to Orilee's observation. Yet another characteristic that riders and dragons share. There are a few commonalties though. Draconic memories are proverbially short, their recall of specific events usually lasting between two and three days. They also infrequently offer unsolicited opinions." She grins then, "Unless their name happens to be Zabrenevath. Again, there are exceptions to the general rule. Don't worry if your lifemate seems to have a stronger opinion on some subjects than you do."
Briana says "Often, dragons have difficulty recalling names, and they'll frequently slur or compress syllables of names they do recall. This is likely the origin of the honorific most male riders take after impression. Dragons often have problems correlating cause and effect--just because they see their rider making new straps, it does not follow that they will identify this as meaning increased safety during Threadfall. Possessing an instinctual drive to battle Thread, dragons are very difficult to dissuade from doing so, even if they aren't stocked with firestone."
Briana takes a deep breath. "I know we rushed through that last a bit, but any last questions before we move this party inside to discuss illnesses?"
Elfarran shakes her head, still a bit pink cheeked from earlier.
Orilee quickly shakes her head, preparing to return to the barracks.
T'gan answers with a silent shrug and a quick shake of his head, and returns that redfruit to his pocket in preparation for returning to the barracks.
Briana nods. "All right then, if you could all head back inside, we'll finish up this discussion where we can be a little more comfortable."
Elfarran smiles and ambles back in.
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