Once we had eaten, the head avian stood up, and again motioned for us to follow him. He led us to the edge of the building and hopped off. Looking after him, I saw him fly up and enter the side of the building through an open window.
"I hope he doesn't expect us to do the same," I said, but a moment later he reappeared from the opening and flew back up to our position, this time carrying a rope stretching out from the window. When he reached our elevation, he took the end of the rope which he carried, and tied it around the base of one of the potted trees. He then pointed over the edge with his wing.
"Shall we climb down?" asked Noriandara Remontar.
"I don't know how much more my arm can take," I said, attempting to reminder her both that I had a broken arm, and that it had been broken in service to her.
"You are treating it like a mother's mother's elder sister," she replied, which was an Amatharian expression something along the line of "babying it"-- literally, treating it as you would treat a frail old great aunt.
I sighed, resigned to the knowledge that I would get no sympathy on the subject. It seemed that the Princess was, in general, an unsympathetic person. She quite reminded me of her aunt in that respect. Grasping the rope firmly, I stepped over the edge of the building top, and repelled down the side, twenty feet or so, until I reached the open window and entered. Noriandara Remontar was close behind me.
I don't know what I expected-- perhaps a feather-lined nest, but I was pleasantly surprised by what turned out to be our accommodations during our stay with the flyers. The room was about fourteen feet wide, and about twenty-five feet long. It was clean, and it was empty with the exception of two large sleeping mats made of heaps of soft grasses covered with smooth white cloth. Before I had a chance to examine anything else, our friendly avian arrived, pointed to the beds with his wing, and then left. I didn't need to be told twice. I dropped down in the first of the beds and as usual had no trouble in dropping right off to sleep.
I suspect that I slept a long while, though as usual, I had no way to tell-- it was still noon when I woke. It was a very restful sleep though, and I felt much better. The Princess sat on her bed and cleaned her weapons.
"You sleep too much," she said.
"I have been told that," I replied. "I don't recall being a particularly heavy sleeper on my home world, but since I have been here in Ecos, I seem to require more sleep than anyone else around me."
"Mm," she replied.
"Do you suppose that my arm has healed yet?" I wondered. It was impossible to recall if it had been splinted for a week or six weeks.
"Probably." Noriandara Remontar rose and crossed the room. She removed the remaining bits of cloth holding the splint to my ulna, and tossed the makeshift splints aside.
"Can you move it?"
"I haven't stopped moving it since it was broken."
"It must not be that bad then," she replied unsympathetically.
I shrugged and started to clean my own weapons. The cleaning of one's swords, or if one is not a warrior, one's equipment in general, was a common Amatharian pass-time. It was a minor disgrace to have damaged or soiled equipment. It seemed that few Amatharians ever reached that state of disgrace, for Amatharian weapons needed little maintenance. Still the cleaning and maintaining of one's equipment was just what one did during periods of relaxation.
While we were still sitting upon our beds, a flapping noise alerted us to the arrival of the old flyer, who stepped into our room. He now had a sack, tied with string, slung over his neck. After peering at each of us intently, which I took as an avian form of greeting, he removed his burden and opened it up. Inside, he had a collection of fruit much like that which had been given to us on our arrival. We each selected one of the offerings for our breakfast, and the flyer watched us as we ate. When we had finished, he indicated that he should climb up the rope to the top of the building.
Once atop the skyscraper, Noriandara Remontar and I found ourselves in the company of a large group of flyers. It seemed the entire community had turned out to welcome, or at least to examine us. The flyers were divided up into two groups-- those who were brightly plumed and those who had relatively plain feathers. I still assumed that the brightly feathered ones were the males of the species. Several of these brightly colored individuals stepped forward and peered at us with what seemed to be a typical avian stare. One of these had a nasty cut across his chest. It had been stitched together with white thread.
"These must be the fellows who were fighting with the Kartags when we came along," I suggested.
"I was just thinking the same thing," replied my Amatharian companion.
The elder came forward again. He pointed at the two of us with his two extremities, and then made a sweeping motion toward his fellows.
"He is either welcoming us, or inviting us to join the tribe," I said.
"I don't suppose that there is much distinction," replied Noriandara Remontar, "I doubt that they have many casual visitors up here on this floating little world of theirs."