Bayani agreed with him, though Peter did not seem interested in talking. He was staring down at the bathing pool, only half listening to them. He decided then that he was ready to get into the water. It took him only a split second to remove the rest of his clothing and slide in, and he found that it was much warmer than he had expected it to be. As he sank down, Peter was glad that the ripples in the water would make his bruises harder to see. He didn’t care that Nashtra wouldn’t tell anyone, or whether anyone else would judge his injuries; he simply did not want to feel so exposed.
Seeing that Peter was already in the bath, Bayani got in next to him. Nashtra soon followed, seeming very relieved that the boys had decided to stop wasting time and start getting clean. He gestured to one of the attendants, who hurried over, looking excited to see him. He ordered tea for everyone, and the boy was gone as quickly as he had come. By the time he came back, the elf had dunked his head underwater in order to get completely wet, and his hair stuck to his chest.
The young attendant set out the cups of milky tea, set the pot on a round tray (which seemed to be made of clay, a smart decision for a bath-house, since it could neither rust nor warp), and handed Nashtra a basket of herbs. These their guide sprinkled in the steaming water around them, which allowed them to very soon release their aromas. There was also a bottle of oil that smelled far more medicinal than the herbs, and small bars of soap.
“Do a lot of people use things like this in the bath?” Bayani asked, raising a brow. He glanced around, taking a closer look at the water.
“Some do,” Nashtra told him, “if they have been working hard all day, or on a long journey, like ourselves.”
Peter listened to their conversation, be remained his usual tight-lipped self, stoic yet also thoughtful.
“But at this hour… wouldn’t the bather be filled with these herbs and oils?”
Nashtra shook his head. “The water gets filtered,” he explained. “The engineering is fascinating, if you learn enough about it. The bathing pool has drains, firstly. Everything goes through them, and finds itself in the lower levels.”
“There is a basement here?”
The elf nodded. “You might describe it as such. Down there, the water goes through several filters. It is heated and cleaned. Then sent back here through the pipeworks.”
“Is that so?” Bayani asked, fascinated by how advanced the village was. It was more of a city, really, he told himself. He stared around the room, finally noticing the four fountains set up around the pool-like bath. When he had first seen them, he had assumed that they were mere statues, lovely decorations for the expansive hall.
He had been terrible mistaken. The statues– each one a different design– let the water down via several levels, much like the fancier fountains he sometimes saw back home. The water fell several feet before descending into the bath, and he imagined that it was warmer nearest those fountains.
“Can you imagine the water if it was just left to sit all day?” Nashtra asked, scrunching up his face in distaste. Then he took a sip of his tea. “I will tell you, though, that the bath houses only become nicer as we near the capital city.”
Bayani looked to him, surprised to hear that Summerlay could get any fancier than what he was already seeing. For a fantasy world, it seemed much more advanced than what the ancient Romans had, while also being far cleaner than what medieval Europe had once been like.