Fabien was once more bound to a bed – this time not by the strain of coarse ropes but by the heavy inevitably of his body’s own weakness. The blood loss had certainly taken a toll. His skin was wanner, his breath rattling looser in his throat, every motion apt to make him dizzy or startle up a sense of greasy nausea behind his eyelids.
But that could wait until he regained consciousness. For now he continued to sleep deep as a stone.
Tariq had taken up his accustomed positon as well. He reclined lazily in a nearby chair, his staff in his hand and his dull eyes unfocused. His long hair had been gathered at the nape of his neck but he otherwise appeared just as he had the night before, the sharp satisfaction that gathered in the corners of his mouth and bristled with every gesture included. He was silent save the occasional soft instruction to the girl who knelt at the youth’s side.
Colombe had to be pitied; she did not have a role to revert to, having been absent from their initial meeting, and so had been given the task of seeing to the boy’s wounds. She did not appear to enjoy the assignment. Her dark eyes were wide, nearly bulging as she worked. Her hands were sure despite the trembling that shivered through them like a sparrow’s wings. She was nearly finished with the dressing she had secured in place with a bandage that stretched underneath the boy’s arm and around his neck. When he lowered his arm it would place pressure on the bandage without interfering with his breathing. She had done an admirable job given both her unconscious patient and her palpable revulsion with her task.
The peculiar scent that had only lurked at the edges of the house had gathered on her. It was an aura that haunted her every move, a halo of clove-spice and green growth drawn from rich, dark soil.
The lights had been re-kindled, lending the room a warm, orange glow. Without the door open it was impossible to gauge what time it was, whether the sun still reigned over the sky or if the moon had assumed her silver crown.
On the nightstand an untouched glass of cool, clean water waited patiently for the unconscious boy. Alongside it were the former contents of his pockets, the stale crust of bread sitting quietly next to the carefully swathed bundle of pilfered coins.