TOOO looked around the room, holding his breath from the rotting fumes. Like the rest of the complex, the former infirmary was lit by light globes.
With the exception of one pallet, all the beds had a decaying skeleton of a wingless Peria upon it. The missing one was obviously the one taken upstairs.
It was pretty much what they had expected.
Still, he didn't want to return empty-handed. There had to be something here. He checked under the pallets, and looked in the cabinets. But it was when he glanced at the floor that he saw the feather.
Picking up the feather, he thought, We should've realized.
Unable to hold his breath any longer, he rushed out and back up the stairs. Cannax saw him coming and grabbed him, and helped haul him upstairs. At the top of the stairs, they both sat down, panting. He showed her the feather.
"Well," she said, "they're Peria, they have feathers. So what?"
"Take another look," he told her. "This feather is too big to have come from a flightless Peria. This is a flight feather."
She examined the feather. "How can you be so sure?"
"When you hang around someone like The Spread Eagle," he replied, "you get to know your feathers. This is called a tertiary feather."
"So," she concluded, "you think flying Peria have been here?"
He nodded. "The mutated ones from the surface. They were probably the archaeologists who dragged the skeleton out. But why did they abandon the site?"
She stood. "We're not going to find out here."