Kestrel sweat in the sticky atmosphere of his bedroom. Even as the hot, dense air of the Wetlands had settled in his room and threatened to suffocate him, he had tended to his rehab – leg lifts, toe points and flexions, crunches – and dipped into the small bottle of dark blue pills only a handful of times. Pain or no, heat or no, Kestrel was determined to get out of bed and walk through Swamp Castle by the end of the weekend.
The recovery had been difficult; his healing, slowed by his condition. To his surprise, the grey veins that had spidered outward from his kneecap had begun to retract. Perhaps Blackbird’s druidic magicks had acted as some sort of catalyst, and encouraged his body to knit his shattered bone back together. Despite the healing, it still hurt; it still throbbed. He had been effectively kneecapped, an act he had inflicted upon others, and now questioned whether or not he would ever do it again. If the goal was to extract information, probably, but if the person was just going to die anyway, it would probably be best to make it as quick and painless as possible.
And so he had laid in his room, alone with his thoughts and his pain, his scholarship and the knowledge that, yes, he was still dying, and, no – there was no other way to stop it other than what he and the vicar had determined last summer. Kestrel had wonderful medicinal crutches, to be sure, but nothing – short of divine aid – could avert imminent death.
Kestrel winced as he turned onto his left side. He started to raise and lower his right leg over several counts. Slow, easy breaths. He could feel his hip working in its joint, free and unfettered. He thought it may have been the only part of his body that did not hurt. The wondrous mechanism, the smooth elegance of organic movement: Kestrel relished in the way it worked, the way it felt. There was simply nothing more beautiful than a functional body.
After he had finished his repetitions, Kestrel stopped to savor the warmth of life, before he flipped over onto his belly and began to raise and lower the injured leg once again. He could not see Wren when she slid into his doorway and leaned against the jamb, though he could feel her and, what he had imagined to be, her ever present frown. Kestrel smiled to himself – it was nice to be supported, even in silence. At least he knew that he was not alone.