Dragon candidacy, like the infantry or cavalry, is a military position in the Sekkaian army. Typically it relies on volunteers from around the continent, but due to the prestige of potentially becoming a dragon rider it rarely lacks the required numbers. Potential candidates are either sent by their relatives or submit themselves for physical and mental health review before being accepted. There is an unusual amount of leniency when accepting volunteers into candidacy because it's generally accepted that a dragon would not choose a rider who was irrevocably evil, and Kazuko would not make a crystal for a vile soul.
Unlike the other segments of the military, candidates are not provided with a salary and must pay their own way, though they are given basic accommodation in the candidate's barracks. These accommodations are communal and usually cramped despite the gargantuan proportions of the Academy, largely due to the popularity of the position. There are a total of 100 cots in the barracks, one per candidate, and a maximum allowed stay of 5 years. Depending on the age of the candidate at the end of that period, they may choose to find other accommodation elsewhere in the Academy.
At full capacity the candidates are split into two groups to undergo basic informative tutoring. They are primarily taught to behave like soldiers so that if they fail to bond they can still be utilised as infantry. Signing up for candidacy automatically enlists one into the ground-forces. Candidates are also taught how to interact socially with dragons, who are primarily a thousand times their size. Strength and fitness is extremely important and candidates are run through extensive exercises to teach them how to navigate and fight upon a dragon's back in motion. Age restriction:
13-25 years.During the Hatching:
When there is a clutch due to hatch, Kazuko will announce the start of the event with a deep, resonating hum known as the dragon's song. The draconic inhabitants of the Academy usually all join in and this melody is what invites the audience to congregate inside the hatching cavern. The candidates are all gathered together and wait in a group on the sand before Kazuko. It is considered proper and respectful to bow to the Celestial matron, though she does not insist upon it. One by one, the Ghost of the Sands (as she is known) addresses each candidate and either bestows a crystal which she has personally crafted, or declines their request.
If declined, the candidate may try again at the next hatching. If accepted, the candidate may remain on the sands. The eggs hatch in no particular order and the newly-hatched dragons are given free reign to roam over the bowl and choose the rider who owns their matching crystal. It is futile and uncouth to try and coerce a bond with a dragon who is not matched to you. Dragons are hatched with a considerably developed intellect and know instinctively which human they are paired with.
The bonding itself is the defining moment of any rider's life. It is the merging of two souls into one, and the realisation that you now have a perfect partner for the rest of your long life. Someone who can share your grief, delight in your joy and help unravel any emotional conundrum. It is an enormous change for the human portion of the duo and not every rider will take the revelation favourably, but it is an irreversible process. From the moment dragon and rider meet for the first time, they exist in symbiosis.