A Shell of Sound

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Once Kai had a spare of Tyson's boxers and sweats on (a slit cut beneath the band in the back for Kai's new tail to poke through), feathers toweled dried, and a large platter of chicken, rice, and cabbage in front of him, Ray and Tyson got cleaned up themselves. As they sat with Kai in the kitchen, they helped each other reapply their bandages over the deeper slashes they had received from Cain. Ray's left arm took the most time, and Kai was mildly surprised Ray hadn't popped a stitch in hauling Kai-turned-freak around.

"You're actually kinda light," said Ray. "Guess you're like Ayah now. Hollow bones."

Then Kai remembered. "You said she was in the pantry?" Without waiting for a reply, he heaved himself onto his shaking, but miraculously healed legs and made the few feet to the pantry door. He opened it to find the usual conglomeration of Granger household food goods, but on the floor, where there was usually braided rug, was a lifted trap door barely large enough for one person. There wasn't a ladder, just a small stone lined box deep enough for someone to crouch in. It was probably used for storing roots or pickling goods.

In the dip was a strange silver cocoon with smooth sides played with rainbows like that in a puddle of anti-freeze in the parking lot.

As Kai crouched down, Tyson squeezed in at his side.

"Oh! Oh! Check this out."

"Tyson," said Ray wearily. "Don't."

Ignoring him, Tyson reached passed Kai and rapped two knuckles on the cocoon. Two reverberating, metallic 'tings' echoed in the small space.

"It's like a steel drum. How cool is that?"

"Yeah. Stop." Kai pushed him back with a frown. "Did she get into this about the same time I did?"

Tyson shrugged. "She was like that when we came home. Gramps said he turned his back to teach kendo lessons and when he went back to my room, she was gone. I'm kind of surprised she knew this was even here."

Kai dropped back to his rear end, half-forced by the weight of his unfolded wings. He still didn't have the strength to fold them up properly on his back and was considering asking Tyson for a belt to belt them to him, just until he got the energy to start working them.

"Tala?" he asked.

"He's doing alright," said Ray. "Ayah did good healing up important bloodlines on all of us."

"The doctor's were soooo confused," added Tyson with a snort.

Kai felt a poke on one of his wings for the fifth time since he had gotten out of the bath and glared at Tyson.

"I'm not a petting zoo."

"They feel so real, though, it's still wigging me out."

"That's because they are real," said Ray dryly. "Can you finish tying my arm up please?"

"Oh yeah! Sorry 'bout that, buddy."

Tyson scrambled back up to help Ray, leaving Kai sitting in the doorway of the pantry, frowning down at the silver egg filling the small cellar.

"How are Max's parents?" he asked.

"Max's dad is out on the search with Gramps right now, something about driving a motor boat around the coordinates he jumped in. There's also some people combing the shore in case he got washed up there. We were actually thinking of helping them out when you punched a hole to daylight."

"Guess it's a good thing the pain meds made us sleep in," said Ray with a smile.

"Hn." Kai reached out to brush a finger on Ayah's cocoon. The surface felt smooth as glass and cool to the touch. He thought he could also feel a steady vibration, as though a low hum was coming from within.

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