Searchriders are currently scouring the whole continent, not just Howling Weyr's traditional protectorate, for Candidates. The golden egg is, of course, a high priority, but there are 35 other eggs on the Hatching Grounds, and it is hoped that the presence of the golden egg marks a special clutch. Therefore, the Searchers are full of emotion. Which precise emotion depends on the Searcher. Some are jubilant; others are defiant, knowing how some commoners have hoped that dragonkind was slowly dying out and that that meant Thread was no more; still others are sharply defensive or fraught with anxiety. All are putting their all, dragon and rider alike, into finding the best possible Candidates.
The Searchriders will take anyone between the ages of 14 and 23 who the relevant Lord/Lady Holder or Craftmaster is willing to let go of, though people in their late teens are preferred. Apprentices and journeypeople are prized, as they retain their skills after Impression and can use them for the Weyr's benefit. However, ultimately, the Search riders depend on their dragons' instincts, and what the dragons are looking for has more to do with the heart and the soul. Search dragons respond most of all to active power, but also to latent power, and to people who have no power but who have very strong will and/or personality.
You do not have to roleplay out your character being Searched. You may place them at the Weyr in your application. The Weyr's goal is fifty candidates, but I hardly expect to get fifty Candidate characters. I'm hoping to get ten to twenty. We'll see what happens.
Slightly more males than females will be Searched, but only slightly. Unlike canon Pern, certain fighting colors prefer or demand female riders, so females on fighting dragons is not exotic or unusual. Which colors Impress which sexes is listed in the section On Dragons.
When applying for a Candidate character, you may note your top three color preferences for that character, or else say, "Surprise me." If you do not list any preferences, the moderator(s) will assume you want to be surprised. Color preferences will be considered when deciding who Impresses what, but will not necessarily be heeded. Just because you have a Candidate does not necessarily mean you will Impress, either. Those girls standing for the queen egg have a chance at some of the other dragons, too, but inevitably, several people are left standing. PCs may (or may not) be among those. It depends, again, on the moderator's decision.
If your Candidate does not Impress, you have the option of continuing them as a character at the Weyr to stand at the next Hatching (if they're still young enough) or, if you have your heart set on having a weyrling from *this* clutch, you may put your original character up for adoption and adopting one of the newly-created NPC dragonpairs in the brand-new weyrling class to replace it.
Candidates do not just wander around doing whatever they like all day. As a Weyr is a military organization, the Candidates are the equivalent of new recruits. As such, they have to go through basic training. Candidates are taught how to handle a baby dragon, how to appraise, sort, and bag firestone, and taught exercises to strengthen themselves for their eventual duties. Candidates also do errands for whoever wants errands done, whatever they're able to do. They are expected to obey just about everyone else in the Weyr except each other until they Impress, at which point they come under the jurisdiction of the Weyrlingmaster and the WLM's second.