"Hold still, Wingbrother Moondance! I swear it will hardly hurt!" Firefall held a small mallet in one hand and a sharpened needle in the other, which he was trying to hold up to Moondance's ear.

Moondance was looking deeply unsure, clinging to Starwind's shoulder and unconsciously leaning away from Firefall.

Starwind gently pried him away, but remained close to him. "He is right. It will hurt, but only for an instant. Firefall and I both have it done multiple times." He turned his head to one side then the other, displaying the rings in his upper ears that Moondance had already been perfectly aware of – he'd recently gained a habit of playing with them with his tongue.

Moondance gave Firefall's needle a few furtive glances, before obediently holding still. Starwind kept a quieting hand on his forearm, and held his head still.

Firefall touched the end of the needle to Moondance's ear. "Are you prepared?"

Moondance let out a breath he hadn't known he was holding. "I supp-" the words turned into a sharp gasp as the needle was driven through his ear. Pain flared, and he heard the crunch of cartilage. In a moment, it was over. He instinctively put a hand up to his ear, but Starwind caught his wrist.

"Firefall has not put the ring on yet, ashke." Starwind said softly.

Moondance grimaced as he felt the needle being dragged through the raw hole in his ear. He was fine until he felt the needle leave the hole, and warm blood trickling down onto his neck. Since the night of his first suicide attempt, he had disliked blood. He felt tears prick his eyes, memories of that awful night surfacing in his mind.

"Gods of our fathers, Firefall, get the ring in quickly!" Starwind said, pressing a cloth to Moondance's neck to soak up the blood.

"I am trying." Firefall said, sounding irate. Moondance was too busy with his internal battle to shudder as the ring was forced through, though it was worse than the needle.

"The bleeding has nearly stopped, ashke." Starwind said, gently cleaning the blood away with his cloth. "And, it is done."

Moondance closed his eyes for a moment to clear his head, and smiled when he opened them. The pain in his ear had settled to a steady burning.

Firefall had his arms crossed over his chest, looking proud of his work. "Starwind says you desperately want to appear more Tayledras – this is the best we can do for you until your body itself begins to change."