She hopped upon his shoulder, her tiny, golden beak a mere breath away from his feathered head.
"It is a little known fact, but there is a better defense against our poison than that cream you carry." She looked around as if worried they would be overheard. "As with many poisons, exposure in small doses can help one build a tolerance. The cream keeps this from happening, reacting with our poison before it can fully penetrate the skin. How long until her Twittering match?"
"At least six weeks. Perhaps more, if her injuries are slow to heal. She will need time to get her strength back after what Linos did to her."
"Then this is what we shall do. If you will trust me, I will prick her gently a little more each day. I can control the amount of poison I inject. This is also not known and you can imagine why we don't share the information lightly."
"Your secrets are all safe with me, Shen."
"I know, Deliss, or I wouldn't tell you." She chirped happily, dancing on his shoulder.
"Each day, a bit more," he prompted.
"Just so. She will build up tolerance to our poison. It is not full, nor complete, but it will help more than the cream. There can be gaps and inconsistencies in application. The immunity would protect against this."
"Thank you, Shen."
"The gods blessings on you and your future champion," she chirped.
"Many thanks, my colorful, little friend."
Deliss went back to his quarters feeling better about Mai's situation than he had an hour before. He was still worried about her recovery from the battle with Linos, but she seemed to be making good progress. Thanks to the exceptional care she received from Bramble's medical team, she should be back in fighting trim very soon.
Before going to bed, he spent some time in his family shrine, asking his ancestors for their help. "Though she is not one of us, she is like my own child. Guide her steps, bring her to glory. For in so doing, she honors you with her fame."
part 11: http://www.facebook.com/note.php?created&&suggest¬e_id=381430676178&id=98897574794
part 12: http://dellanioakes.wordpress.com/2010/03/28/there-shall-be-great-rejoicing-part-12/