The relationship vibe between Rana and Yalaria was a bit challenging, and we had to edit out some dialogue that just didn’t fit that well with their established voices. As I said earlier, Yalaria comes off as not too bright even though she’s a capable guard and warrior, and that’s partly because she’s a chatterbox with a not-quite-right quality to much of her language. Rana comes off as smarter, but his tendency to use only as many words as necessary may lead us to overestimate him the way we underestimate her. Both of them are a bit lost in the world of the groundlings; sometimes the only things that make sense to them are each other and the sky.

Phil’s original climax here had Isidro giving up the Egg just so it could heal Rana, but it seemed to me that he wouldn’t relinquish his prize quite that easily, especially when there was the much more appealing option of healing Rana and then running away with the egg while Rana staggered back into consciousness. So we added the plague to the revised draft to give him a starker choice. Having now realized what the egg can do and having caught his breath enough to contemplate the implications, Isidro has realized that stealing it would be like stealing MRI machines from a third-world hospital that couldn’t hope to replace them.

This relatively benign encounter won’t match any other information that Rana and Yalaria get about humans until Chapter 44 or so, so in the end, it won’t inform their opinions much. That might seem a little cognitive-dissonance, but if you eat one mushroom that DOESN’T make you vomit and all the others do (and also imprison, separate, and execute you), you’ll still conclude shrooms are bad.