He groaned a little as he rolled over to receive his visitors. He had lost weight. Once a rosy-cheeked and hale man, here - in the hospital bed without his turban and jewel, without the monkey and audience, of which he was in such easy and total command - Ramanuja presented a pallid and weary visage. Nevertheless, he looked many times better than he had upon his last meeting with the erstwhile investigators. Most of all, Cati appreciated the fact that he was free of the tubes and ghastly equipment.
As he recognized the trio, his eyebrows lifted and his limp mouth pulled into a little smile. "Hello!" he cheered (as cheerily as one might expect). "Our saviors have come to visit! Kindly sit and rest. We were just listening to the birds sing." Outside the cracked window, a pair of pigeons cooed sweetly to one another.
His eyes were slightly red, and his lips were dry and cracked. Looking to the window, he pushed himself up in bed. His list of woes was short, as described by Doctor Cherry: minor lacerations on the eyes, mouth, ears, and at various joints; a few bruises; severe dehydradation. "He'll should be fine by now," he had explained, "really. He's been chit-chatting with the police all afternoon."
The swami did not look fine. Without pulling his gaze away from the pigeons, pushed his lips out, as if puckering for a kiss, and reached for the glass of water on his nightstand. "We think that you, sir," he said deliberately and seriously to Thelonius, "do very well as you are, testing Maya rather than seeing through it." It seemed that even now he couldn't resist making such comments. But his tone of voice was wholly different from his grandiose stage character, and his words rang with all the more sincerity for it. Maya, then - the illusionary world of experience per Eastern religion - what of it? (The line between religion and the occult blurred often enough that Thel had cultivated an acquaintance with a fair number of 'strictly religious' practices in his time, from Jainas to snake-handlers. Maya was one of these concepts.)
Ramanuja replaced his glass, and pulled his blanket up to his shoulders, binding himself. "And, you, madam, have risen to the occasion most admirably. We know, for you saw what sorry is'tate we were in." He nodded sullenly towards Cati. "As have you, sir" - it was Henri's turn - "for we think that you have the most questions of all. Is that not what you all have come for?"
"The men who killed Margaret are unknown to us. Margaret was our pupil, we were her swami. We were very close, but it is not as some have suspected. I am very sorry for the Whitcombe family." Wrapped in his blanket, he looked like no monk or mystic. If he were only to put on a button down shirt and a normal pair of trousers, he could disappear right into the city crowds. He turned his face towards the window again. After a moment the swami said, "You will be wanting to ask better questions this time."
(Thel passed an occult check.)