Zena, queen of the Mobo, sat on the beach watching the shorebirds dart in to grab bugs and then dart out as the waves returned. She used to wonder why birds ever bothered to walk. Why walk anywhere at all when you could fly? The growth of her own wings had given her a bit more perspective. Flying was glorious but it was also exhausting. And it made you hungry.

When she first met Niddler she'd been amazed at how many minga melons he'd been able eat in one sitting. He had eaten more like a pig than a king. Now the situation had gone from amusing to disconcerting as the elders strove to find ways to increase the harvest so they could keep up with the clan's growing appetites.

The miracle of the wings was turning out to be a mixed blessing. The first thing she had had her people do (after they had stopped banging into huts and getting tangled up in tree branches) was to explore the previously out of reach areas of the island. All they found was more of the same.

She took off and for a moment forgot everything but the feel of the wind and the utter exhilaration of flying. Soaring above the treetops she found herself coming to rest on a familiar ledge—outside the cave that had belonged the Feryx.

The Mobo had regarded it as a monster, a menace, divine punishment but it had only been the guardian of the jewel. Someone had caught and enchanted a critter so that it breathed out noxious breath and preyed on the Mobo. So it could protect one of the treasures of Mer and keep it from falling into evil hands. The Feryx had helped to save the world. So where did the Mobo fit in?

She looked toward the beach again and wondered where the nearest island was and if she could fly to it. Maybe the Wraith would come back—she had some questions to ask.