Tayna directed him up the hallway towards the bathroom with instructions of where to go and where to find everything.
‘When you’re done, come back up to the top floor. There’s something I want to show you,’ she said, smiling before disappearing back into the commonroom.
The bathroom was laid out to be both communal and private, with a large pool of water in the main room, already teeming hot with a layer of steam drifting at his ankles. There were also private cubicles with baths built into the floor, every surface made from off-white marble freezing cold to the touch. He wondered if girls and boys shared this space, and whether they saw anything…
Shutting the door on one of the cubicles, Will sank down against it, cooling down on the damp floor, dirt already running off of him. He felt light-headed, a result of both the perfumed air and his sudden, unbelievable surroundings. It was his first chance for him to be alone and to think without interruption.
How am I here? he thought. Yesterday I was in Vincula, and now I’m in a castle. He still wondered if he could fall asleep and wake up back in the Outlawed East, and alone, he realised just how exhausted he was.
‘This is real,’ he said to himself, his voice bouncing from wall to wall, each time berating him with the truth of the matter.
Built into the wall were cubby holes of towels and lotions, and with these in hand, Will stripped out of his mud-ridden pyjamas and sank down into the water. Immediately, he felt his muscles loosen like they had been bolts wound too tight. The water had been shockingly hot, and had stung his skin for a minute before the sensation lessened into luxurious warmth. For a long time, he sat in the steaming water, a milky froth building on the surface after he’d poured in some of the lotion, alleviating the shaking that had built up in his nerves. Nonetheless, he felt anxious, as if somebody was constantly watching and judging him, looking through a secret door with hundreds of eyes.