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Keevan was the smallest and youngest of the candidate dragonriders. He was often teased for being small. Keevan enters the Hatching Ground with the other candidates, the eggs nearing their hatching. Keevan hoped to Impress a dragon the first time he stood on the sands, though he did not expect to Impress a bronze. He figured the highest he could hope for was a Brown, more likely a blue or green, but any dragon would suit him just fine.
There were 40 eggs and 72 candidates. The candidates are encouraged to view the eggs, to touch them, to familiarize themselves with the Hatching Ground, and then it's back to their evening chores.
Keevan enters the dining room, overhearing a conversation between several dragonriders, about fighting Thread and other issues. L'vel, a bluerider who'd Impressed a dragon from Ramoth's first clutch, argues that only the older candidates should be allowed to stand on the Hatching Grounds, since during a Pass, it made no sense to waste several years of a dragon's life waiting for his rider to mature. K'last, Keevan's father, argues that all candidates old enough to stand should be permitted, as the Weyr was far from understrength.
Another bronzerider argued that those lads who'd been through several Impressions unsuccessfully should be dropped.
F'lar enters, and joins the debate, insisting there was nothing wrong with having a large number of candidates.
Lessa asks if there'd ever been a case where a dragonet didn't Impress. No one could remember a time.
The debate over dropping or not dropping - and if so, who - continued to rage throughout the evening, with no decision made, thought F'lar promissed to give the matter consideration.
The next morning, Keevan worried that he was going to be cut. His foster-mother, Mende, assures him that there's no need to worry. That same debate went on every Hatching, and nothing had ever changed.
Beterli, an older candidate, gets into a fight with him, after Beterli, teasing him, implies that he'd been removed from the Candidates' list. Beterli rams a shovel-handle into him, knocking him unconcious.
He is awoken by Mende and Lessa. Lessa, who had heard what happened from the other boys, tells him that Beterli had been cut from the list for his actions. Keevan would not be able to Impress that time, due to his injuries from the fight (broken leg and cracked skull), but he would be able to stand next time.
Keevan was still recuperating in bed when the Hatching began. Keevan hobbles out of bed, hastily putting on the candidate's white robe. He rushes, still hobbling, to the Hatching Ground.
By the time he gets a view of the Hatching Grounds, all the eggs had hatched, and Keevan slinks away. One dragonet had not Impressed, and was still looking around, which Lessa took as confirmation of her argument that if candidates were cut, they might end up with a dragonet not being able to find its partner.
The dragonet made its way to the entrance to the hatching ground, finding Keevan, Impressing him. Keevan, having initially been afraid of people seeing his failure, had sent confused signals to the dragonet - a bronze named Heth - making it think he didn't like her. Keevan - now K'van - assured him that he did. The two of them head off to feed Heth.