Will had vague memories of what had happened after they'd reached the surface. He remembered feeling blinded by the light of the new day, and the sudden clean air made him realise how difficult it had been to breathe in the cavern. He remembered being wrapped in blankets and comforted by an entourage of teachers, showing him that the entrance had been on the outskirts of the Sanctuary near the stadium. He'd led down on the grass, filled with exhaustion, the pain in his arm becoming so much that he'd fallen to sleep.
Now, he led in the infirmary, and it made him want to laugh. He tried to pull himself into a sitting position, but it was impossible with just one arm to hoist himself with, and was left slanted, propped against a few thick pillows. His other arm was bandaged tightly in a sling at his chest, a stain of blue blood seeping through. He felt fresh, the clothes that he'd worn for his meeting with Taksony were folded at the end of the bed, now he sat in just his underwear. He tried not to imagine who could have undressed him, looking up at the curtains where the silhouettes of nurses in their caps and long dresses swept past. He suddenly felt somebody beside him, he looked fearfully, but saw that it was Carmen.
She sat in a chair, leant over with her head resting on the edge of Will's bed, breathing lightly. She hadn't yet bathed, caked in mud and dust, standing out amongst the sanitized infirmary, but she wore a nurse's apron to hide the incision down her frilled dress. He looked past her, Karn'el led asleep in a bed in the same curtained section as Will, with a black eye and a bandaged head. He could see by the placement of Carmen's chair that she'd begun in between them both, undecided who to sit with, eventually growing too tired and falling asleep slanted in her chair. Will smiled - his sister - managing to divide her love equally between her siblings, the ones that she treasured most in the world.
He smoothed Carmen's tangled hair, falling out of its girly pigtails, she murmured slightly, but settled back down to sleep, turning so that he could see a slight smile on her lips.
Suddenly, the curtains were scraped aside and Matron walked in. She carried a basin of water, her mutton sleeves rolled up to reveal a tattoo of strange symbols on her forearm, translated by letters below as 'REIKI.'
'Lovely,' she smiled, her voice young and serene, not matching her intelligent eyes and grey hair, 'you're awake. There are many outside asking to see you, I hope you don't mind, I made it family only.'
Will smiled, 'that's fine, thank you.' A year ago, if that had been the policy, he would have had no visitors.
Matron glanced at his brother and sister as she set the bowl down on the table, kindly stroking Carmen's arm. 'They were with you from the moment you came in. We told them to rest and that you weren't injured severely, but they paid no attention to us.'
'Are they alright?'
'Your brother is fine,' she assured him. 'He had a bump to the head, and we put him in bed when he nearly collapsed from exhaustion. And your sister...' her face turned blank in puzzlement, 'we may have to run more tests. Physically, she's in perfect health, despite a little bit of malnutrition. We ran a quick test to see if her energies were unbalanced, and she appears to have a mental disturbance.'
'A what?' Will asked, worried by the sound of it.
'It's not as bad as it sounds. It means that somebody used magick to send some of her energy out of balance. In short, she may suffer from painful flashbacks, but recovery treatment and meditation will do away with that soon enough.' Matron squeezed his hand. 'You care for them a great deal, I can see this. But you need not worry, they're safe now.'
Her words calmed him surprisingly. He told himself that there was no more danger, he forgot the dangers of reality for those moments, concentrating on the happiness he felt. He was surrounded by friends, and now family, and was not just safe; he was home.