Neytiri opened her eyes and felt a strange emptiness in her stomach. She stared up at the ceiling and with her hand felt her wasit. It didn’t feel any different. So why did it feel like her insides were missing?
“Honey…” Neytiri looked to her left to seeGriffinsitting in a chair. “How are you feeling?” Her voice was tight, as though holding back tears. That was strange.Griffinnever cried. Not over anything.
“Yeah,” Neytiri said, starting to sit up. The pain in her stomach was so intense she lay back down with a gasp. “What’s going on?”
Griffinstood up and looked down at her, placing a hand on her right hand. “I’m sorry, Daughter. We should have told you before.” She took a deep breath and closed her eyes as though the thought of what she was about to say caused her great pain. “The onoraii, that is, you, Jay, Zendaya, and Rhea, they are present day incarnations of the most primeval beings. The first four onoraii created Kataka.”
“Why didn’t Zendaya go to find the crests with us? If she’s one of us, shouldn’t there be a crest for her as well?” Neytiri asked.
“You, Jay, and Rhea are not only onoraii, but also a part of the Prophecy of Three we mentioned to you earlier. Zendaya is not a part of that. Therefore she has no crest. But as an onoraii she was able to enhance the lockets’ power.”
Neytiri looked her mother in the eye. “So, what’s wrong with me? Why am I in pain?”
“That’s the part we should have told you all. Onoraii must give something up for the power they possess.”
Neytiri let this sink in. “What did I give up?”
Neytiri felt sick. Her insides? They were…gone? “How will my body function without them?”
Griffinsat down on the bed beside her and held her hand tightly. “The same way mine does.”
Neytiri’s eyes widened. By this time she had figuredGriffin, Drey, Berret, and Baramore were the last onoraii. But she could never have guessed what her mother had had to give up for what she was.
“Your body learns to adjust. Soon the pain will go away as well.” There was sadness in the wayGriffinspoke.
“But?” Neytiri prodded.
“But you will never be able to have children.”
Neytiri wans’t bothered by this, as children weren’t the first thing on her mind. What she wondered was… “Then, how did you…have me?”
Griffinsmiled. “Should have been expecting that question. You were born before I gave up my insides.”
Neytiri nodded. “Where are Jay and the others? What did they give up?”
“I don’t think I should tell you that. You should probably see them and find out for yourself.”Griffingot off the bed and rolled a wheelchair from a corner of the room. “I brought this in for you because walking will be difficult for a few days. You can roll it on your own by using these buttons.”Griffintaught Neytiri how to use the wheelchair and then helped her into it. Neytiri winced in pain as she was eased into the wheelchair. She thankedGriffinand then pressed a button and the wheels began to turn and rolled her through the door of her room.
“Jay’s on the left and Rhea and Zendaya are across the hallway,”Griffintold her as she walked out of the room behind her. “I’ll be up on the Hunter floor if you need anything.” With that,Griffinleft and Neytiri looked at the door leading to Jay’s room.
She couldn’t imagine going in there and seeing what he had sacrificed. Instead she turned her wheelchair toward Rhea’s room and knocked.
Berret opened the door and Neytiri rolled herself inside.
“How are you feeling?” Berret asked her.
“Fine, thank you,” Neytiri replied. “What did she give up?” she gestured at Rhea’s sleeping form with her head.
Berret looked down sadly. Her eyes twinkled with tears. “Her magic,” she whispered.
Neytiri’s eyes widened. “Her magic?” Neytiri couldn’t believe it. Without her magic, Rhea was hardly even a Shadow any more. “How could that even happen…”
Berret looked at her. “Anything can be taken.”
Neytiri locked gazes with her. “What was taken from you?”
Berret smiled. “You wouldn’t believe me if I told you.” She turned away and began folding the shirt and jeans Rhea had wornon their journey. “My eyesight.”
Neytiri looked at her back with a bewildered expression. Berret turned and smiled seemingly in response to neytiri’s look.
“How can you see my expression if you can’t see?” Neytiri asked.
“I can’t see your look. I’m imagining it.”
Neytiri shook her head with a smile. “I’m going to go see the others. I’ll come back when Rhea’s awake. Good-bye, Berret.” Neytiri turned and wheeled herself out of the room and into Zendaya’s.
Inside Zendaya’s room, Baramore sat sleeping in a chair beside the bed and Zendaya sat up in bed, looking around as though she had just woken up.
“Hello, Zendaya,” Neytiri greeted with a smile.
Zendaya smiled and opened her mouth to return the greeting. But when she moved her lips, no sound came out. She looked confused and her hand moved to her throat. She attempted to s peak again, but again no sound came out. Her worried gaze turned to Baramore, who had just woken up and was watching her intently.
“You can’t speak.” He said it as a statement, not a question. Neytiri sat quietly as Baramore explained to Zendaya how onoraii had to give something up. Zendaya’s worried expression calmed and she nodded in understanding.
Neytiri left the room quietly to let them talk. She turned and wheeled herself to Jay’s room. She stopped in front of the closed door and took a deep breath. She wasn’t sure if she was ready to find out what had been taken away from him.
She knocked on the door and Drey opened it with a lazy smile.
“Hey there, Neytiri,” he said. She rolled her eyes at him and wheeled into the room past him. She rolled over to Jay’s bedside table.
He was lying awake, blank eyes staring up at the ceiling.
“Hey, Tiri.” His voice was dull and devoid of emotion. Neytiri placed a hand on his.
“Hello, Jay. What…what was taken?” she asked, voice wavering, afraid to ask.
He turned his head and looked at her. For the first time she noticed his green eyes weren’t as…green as usual.
“My sight,” he said quietly. Tears came into his eyes and hishand clutched Neytiri’s tightly.
“Jay, I’m so sorry…” Neytiri leaned close and hugged him tightly, ignoring the pain in her stomach from leaning over.