Entered by: Shirl
Date: 2011-04-02 Relevant to: Arolos
The Hatching Caverns conjures both excitement and nervousness from a wide variety of people including riders, family, friends, the goldrider, other rankers, and of course Candidates. Located to the East of the lake and near the waterfall, it is a spot that generally only sees real use when there is gravid gold or clutch on the Sands. Barring that the Hatching Caverns are generally off limits without permission and permission is seldom given. Although a gold wher can *occasionally* be given permission to clutch there, it's rare. The resident brown wher is under command to let someone know if anyone tries to trespass and he's not beyond using some force to keep out intruders.
The Hatching Caverns have a 's' on the end for a reason. Contrary to what most people think of as the Hatching Cavern, there are actually two. Although the main cavern is technically large enough for two golds, if a tight and tense fit, there is a second cavern that is on a slightly higher level and used in the rare even that the main cavern is out of commission or that there are two golds on the Sands at once.
The two caverns are more or less the same except for size and location. There is an entrance from the outside sufficient in size enough for two dragons to fit through at once, but still able to be blocked more or less by one dragon standing across the entrance. There is also an entrance to the tunners to the Weyr itself. This is the tunnel that also leads to the Weyrling Barracks which are quite a distance, especially as Weyrlings will likely have to carry their new lifemates part of the way.
There is a place where the Candidates *literally* stand for the entirety of the Hatching. There are also two sections of tiered seating, one for anyone wishing to watch including Weyr denizens, visiting crafters, and friends and family who get ferried in. The other section is smaller and reserved for highly ranked characters, dignitaries, and a limited number of personal guests (first preference given to very highly ranked members of the Weyr).
Behind the Stands for the Rankers is the temporary Goldrider's Weyr. Once a gold becomes very gravid and starts preparing the Hatching Cavern she will spend increasingly more and more time there and thus her lifemate will be expected to stay with her and will remain there most of the time until the clutch finally Hatches. Although primarily designed for the goldrider, a weyrmate can join her if they don't mind the tight fit (and the gold doesn't mind, some might).
It's a major downgrade in luxury compared to the weyrs most normally live in with just the one room divided and a small bathing chamber. On one side there is a small table and charges, a small couch, and a place for a very bare kitchenette (though most of the time meals are brought to her). On the other side behind a curtain is a small bed and a small chest for clothes and other items. The bathing chamber is tiny and the bathing pool just large enough to be sufficient. There is of course room for other things needed to be used in there.
The feeding tables, near the entrance to the tunnels, rounds out the caverns. They are actually stored elsewhere and only retrieved once the Hatching is imminent, with the goldrider nearby to keep her gold from getting too grouchy.
The secondary caverns are just the same, just smaller. Both also have an opening in the roof to let in some sun and air, though more often than not the shutters that keep out the rain and Thread are closed. They've been reinforced since a major storm tore off the previous covers.
Of course given the lack of use, the Caverns can quickly become littered with debris and the Stands covered in dust. About once a sevenday (when the Sands aren't in use) a couple of support staff are allowed access to clean up any major debris and dust and clean the temporary weyr or fix anything that looks like it needs fixing. But every once in a while a complete cleaning is necessary and call goes out for anyone who wants to help (any egg shards they find they can keep). Usually the Candidates are the ones to accept the offer.
All references to worlds and characters based on Anne McCaffrey's fiction are copyrightę Anne McCaffrey 1967,2005, all rights reserved, and used by permission of the author.
The Dragonriders of Pern« is registered U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, by Anne McCaffrey, used here with permission. Use or reproduction without a license is strictly prohibited.