Crys flexed her mutilated arm. How could she have been that stupid? How could she have let Perry provoke her into a match? She knew he was aggravated because of his fight with one of his siblings. She herself was weak from a recent injury. And yet she had agreed to fight with him.
Usually she and Perry were fairly evenly matched. But during that match Perry’s anger made him stronger, while Crys’s injury made her weaker. She realized that the match had been a mistake after Perry had swung his sword for the first time. There had been a wild look in his eyes. He needed that match to work off some of his anger.
Crys had always been warned about opponents that were driven by anger. They were strong, but impulsive. If you a quick enough mind, they were easy to beat. But Crys knew that after her injury she was not quick enough to beat Perry. So she had deflected blow after blow knowing that eventually she would get too tired and Perry would win. She was too weak to take the offensive, and she knew that she could never win if she was always on the defensive.
The thought of losing didn’t really bother Crys. She and Perry had been sparing for years, and she had lost half of the fights. This would eventually become one of the fights they would laugh about over a bottle of beer.
It was only a few minutes into the match, that Perry struck a surprise blow. He brought his sword down, as if to strike at her knees and then brought it back up aiming for her head. It was the oldest trick in the book. Everyone knew it. Neither Crys nor Perry had ever fallen for it. But they always tried it, just in case their luck changed one day.
Apparently that day would have been Perry’s lucky day, because Crys had fallen for the ruse. Too late had she realized her mistake and tried to bring her sword up in time to block Perry’s blow. Too late had Perry realized that she had fallen for the trick. He could not stop the blow from falling; the moment was already carrying it forward. And then Perry’s sword hit Crys’s left arm, a few inches below the elbow.
The rest was a blur in Crys’s memory. She remembered staring at the bloody stump on her arm, where her hand was once attached. She remembered somebody ushering her to medical wing. She remembered the shocked and horrified look on Perry’s face as he stared dumbly at his blood covered sword. But worst of all was the memory of Nick holding her hand. She had had a crush on Nick ever since she met him a few months ago. And there was the irony of it. Nick was holding her hand, but it was not attached to the rest of her.
Her hand had looked like a glove in Nick’s arms. It was her hand, definitely. It had that small scar on her wrist which she had gotten as a child. It had the nails, which she had manicured only that morning. It had a small and delicate ring around the index finger. It had that freckle which Crys had seen every day of her life. But it still looked so fake. Even now almost a week later, Crys shuddered to think about it.
Aragon woke up gasping, next to him Arwen woke too. This time the dream had been only a flash. He had seen Arina, standing and staring at a bloody stump where her left arm should have been attached. He wrapped his arms around Arwen who was at this point sobbing.
These dreams had started about a week after Arina had disappeared. He had sent out scouts and spies and soldiers everywhere, but a week later he still had absolutely no idea where his daughter was or who killed Iris. And then he and Arwen had both had the same dream, of a gnarled old woman holding a child, Aragon was convinced was Arina.
Somehow, Aragon and Arwen had been blessed with the ability to see their daughter in their dreams. From the dreams, both parents had tried to figure out where their daughter was. But it had been hopeless. They never saw enough of the surroundings to give them any type of clue. So years passed, Aragon called off the army that had been searching for his daughter, and contended himself with the knowledge that she was alive.