Deet had gone off on her own, without a word, not long after they'd arrived at the Crystal Sea. Rian was curious about it, but gave her space until enough time passed that he decided it was reasonable for him to follow the direction she'd gone. They were in strange territory, after all.

He looked around, but didn't see her. Before he could call her name, he heard a voice from behind a bramble.


He walk over to it. "Deet?"

Deet peered out through the wiry branches.

"Oh. Hello."

He looked at her, a bit confused. "Do you need some help?"

"No, I'm fine, she said," standing up from her kneeling position. Her wings were out, but not up. One appeared torn.

Rian looked alarmed. "You're hurt."

"No, no," she said, touching her wing. "I mean, I did hurt myself, but it happened before I left Domrak."

"What happened?"

Deet paused. He looked genuinely concerned, and she wasn't sure how to take it.

"I had little fall. Well, a… a big fall."

"Deet, you need to have Naia look at that," Rian said.

"It's OK, really," she said. "Maudra Argot took care of it and gave me this salve." She held up the small pot in her hand. "It works wonders, but it's a little hard to put on."

Rian reached for the pot. "So you do need help," he said.

She shrugged sheepishly.

"I can do it," he said. "Unless you'd be more comfortable with Naia or Brea."

"No," she said quickly.

"You don't want me to?"

"No, I wouldn't be more comfortable with Naia or Brea."

He paused, smiling lightly as he opened the pot. "Ok, then."

She turned, wings facing him. "Do you see where it goes?"

He nodded as he got a good look at the wound. "Yeah. Ouch."

"You should have seen it when it happened," she said. "I thought I would never fly again."

He dipped a finger into the pot and applied a thin layer to the tear.

"Does that hurt?"

"No," she said. "It feels nice."

He swallowed nervously. "Is that enough?"

"I think so," she said, peering over her shoulder before looking up at him, her eyes soft and smiling.

"I'm surprised you didn't say anything about the smell," she said.

"I've smelled worse, believe me."

She laughed as he held the pot out to her. She took it, very aware of the brief touch of his hand as she did.

"Thank you," she said, dropping her gaze from his and looking down.

"Any time," he said, lowering his head to try and meet her eyes again. He went to touch her face --

"What are you doing?"

It was Gurjin.

Rian pulled back and gave him a look. "I was helping her put medicine on her wing," he said.

Gurjin laughed. "Oh, that's a new one."

Deet held up the salve. "But --"

"Don't mind him," Rian said. He looked at her. She looked more than a little embarrassed, and he felt guilty for causing it. The moment had been broken.

"I hope you feel better," he said before following Gurjin to the fire circle.