The next morning the man who had been my guide the day before came to wake me up. He introduced himself as Merran, and seemed far more cheerful and talkative than when I met him earlier. He offered to take me to the law-men's bath-house, and I accepted.
He looked me up and down appraisingly and said: "We seem to be about the same height and build. These should fit you alright." He handed me a black uniform, similar to what he was wearing but without any insignia. I got dressed and followed him out.
We seemed to be leaving the building via a different route than how we had come in. He caught my questioning look and said: "We're out the front door now. You came in at the civilian side." Apparently Stillwater had a military section and a civilian one, separated by a wall as high and well-guarded as the city walls. The only way through was the back door to Lowanda's headquarters where we had come in the night before. Apparently she liked having the city where she could get to it in a hurry.
The military area turned out to be a largely open space with wooden barracks that could be altered or removed at short notice. It seemed deserted. Merran explained that most of the men had already left for the day, and that the others were at work in the building were Lowanda had her office.
We entered the bath-house and left our clothes in the antechambre. Merran noticed my burn marks and scars but said nothing. He had several scars of his own. I guess we all did.
We proceeded into the next room. Pipes with valves at the end were sitting above metal basins. Apart from those the wooden structure was bare. I went to one of the basins to wash. "Careful," Merran warned. "The water's piped in directly form the mountain and it's cold."
I opened the valve. Something warm and somehow thicker than water oozed over my hands. I just stood there, hearing Merran call my name from what seemed a very great distance. I stared at my hands. Blood was dripping from them into the metal basin. I managed to close the valve. Then Merran was at my side.
"Hey, did you cut yourself?"
He didn't wait for an answer but opened the valve and held my hands under it to rinse off the blood. This time the water was crystal clear and, indeed, ice-cold.
I inspected my hands for visible wounds. Nothing, of course. "Maybe some iron in the water," I said. "That can colour it pretty red." He agreed. We washed and went on to the next room.
The next room was another wooden structure, this one built over some hot springs. Merran told me that springs of this nature were common in the area, and that the civilian side had similar facilities. We got in and sank back in the hot water.
I was first to break the silence. "Have you been here long?"
"Three months," he said. "Before that I stayed at Jarvik's for two months. I guess I was pretty far gone when I came out. Jarvik tells me that they found me in a cornfield wandering around in circles. I was lucky."
On this page Transitional HTML 4.01 and CSS 1 are used. If you're seeing this text you either have CSS switched off in your browser, or you're using a browser that can't handle CSS. If you're using an older browser version, you might want to consider upgrading.