Jay swore and ran out of the room.
He didn’t waste time with thinking.
He ran all the way back to his bedroom.
The mental image of her standing beside his bed spurred him to run faster.
Jay rounded both corners in record time.
His head hurt and buzzed.
His breath burned in his throat.
His legs couldn’t move fast enough. So, he pushed himself harder and harder. But his bedroom felt like it was three whole cities away.
His heart pounded.
I can go faster.
I can go faster.
He made it to his bedroom.
The door was already open.
Preyuna sat next to Isellta.
“GET AWAY FROM HIM!”
She rose from the bed. Her eyes turned white.
He marched over to her.
Breathing too hard and too fast.
“You. Stay away. From him.”
“Why should I? You clearly have not been taking care of him.”
“Look at his wings.”
“Do you see all of that disgusting gray crud?”
He nodded. “What is it?”
“Feather shaft rot.”
He shot a sharp look at her. “What? How? I thought. I.”
“Apparently, you got his feathers wet and you didn’t bother to dry them.” She shook her head in disgust. “Such a typical stupid, mindless human.”
Got his feathers wet…? When did I do that?
Jay’s face turned pale as he remembered Dave’s big “Let’s Toss Isellta Into The Bathtub That Should Wake Him Up” plan. “Oh. But I dried him off. I know I did.”
“Did you dry in between his feathers?”
Jay sat on the bed.
“That’s what I thought.”
“What are you even doing in here? Isellta’s still unconscious. He’s barely alive. What more can you do to him?”
She huffed out an annoyed breath. “You really are a mindless, nonsensical, unthinking human. Did it occur to you that I could help him?”
“Once. But you said you couldn’t do anything. You said he’s too far gone. You said—-”
“Do the world a favor and just stop talking. I meant, right now. I can help him with this feather rot problem. Or I could just leave it and we could sit back and watch the spectacle of his wings rotting off his back.”
“Help him. Please.”
“If I do, what will you give me?”
“No!” He stood. “Darn you!” He stomped into her space. “NO! I just had this stinkin’ conversation with freaking Mark Caten. You will do this for Isellta. For no hope of any gain. No games. No manipulation. Just help the poor kid.”
She put her hand on his chest and pushed him back. “Tell me why I should.”
“Preyuna. He’s dying. What other reason do you need?”
She returned to Isellta’s side and looked down at him.
“Please. I know you can’t save him I know you’ve tried. But please. If he has to die, let him die with some degree of dignity.” He shook his head. “Not like this.”
Preyuna ran a finger along Isellta’s right trec lun bone. “Not like this.” she repeated softly. She rubbed every individual feather between her thumb and index finger as she sang her healing song,
“Ha shi ma ni
Eh col ee sa.
Ha shi ma ni
Eh tol ee da.”
The gray rot disappeared with every touch, every note.
“Ha shi ma ni
Eh dol ee va.
Eh ta li de ehh
da li da.”
With every word, with every note, the deep black of Isellta’s feathers returned.
“Ha shi ma ni co zee
Ha shi va ehh ma cee
Ha shi oh se la nah.”
With every healed feather, Jay hoped. He quietly hoped for the unlikely.
“Eh tol ee
da li da.
Eh tol ee da
he na mi na.”
With that last verse, Preyuna finished her song. She finished healing Isellta’s feathers.
But Isellta remained unconscious.