Cut Scene: Arjhani

Here is another cut scene from The Adversary. This one is a complete scene, and it’s gone for a couple of reasons. Again, space: seriously, you guys, I can’t be contained! But also, Arjhani is a character who only begins to become an aspect of the Brimstone Angels storyline in The Adversary, and getting a little more about him wasn’t going to make or break the story.

So a few things:

1. This is one of the visions Farideh sees in the Fountains of Memory. I didn’t bother italicizing it though.
2. It should have fallen between Chapters Eighteen and Nineteen.
3. Because it didn’t go there, consider this “slant-canon.” It’s not officially what happened. It might turn out that I need to undo it in Book 5, and I’d like that freedom. But for the moment, this is what I envisioned happening.

***

Farideh asks the waters to show her, bit, by bit, the scenes of her life that might have made a difference, the points where her fate might have been averted if only–if only–she’d chosen differently. If only she’d known what lay before her. The deal with Sairche, the choice to save Lorcan, the choice to go to Neverwinter, the choice to make the pact. The choice to take the path through Arush Vayem that meant she arrived home too late to stop Havilar from summoning Lorcan. How far back can she go, looking for the piece that shifted out of place, and made her world what it is today?

But as she hunts, she sees too that there are points where it’s not Farideh who made the world shift: Havilar summons Lorcan, Mehen makes some other decision, Criella singles Farideh out, and Arjhani decides to leave.

The dragonborn man watches Farideh and Havilar from a distance. They’re both small–its the summer before they turn seven years old. Farideh has a wooden sword, Havilar has a makeshift glaive, topped with a batted piece of wood. She is wild and uncoordinated, swinging at her sister who flinches and ducks, but gets in a few strikes of her own before being cracked solidly across the skull. Arjhani has been here for four monthcs. Tomorrow he’ll be gone, and neither Farideh nor Havilar nor even Mehen will see him again.

Child-Farideh is crying and clutching her head. Havilar is frantic, her beloved new weapon thrown aside. She spies Arjhani and cries to him to come and help. He hesitates, Farideh can see now. He already knows he’s going to be gone soon, that every heartbeat he spends here will make it that much harder on this family he’s inserted himself into.

“It slipped!” Havilar cries. “It slipped! What do I do?”

Arjhani smiles and sighs. He crosses the green to where Farideh is crouched and howling. He checks her head–no blood, just a bruise. Just a shock. It will be fine. “Remember,” he tells Havilar, and his voice sends a shiver through Farideh, “it extends you, the glaive. You have to imagine your arms are much, much longer. So you might be far enough for play, but the glaive is much closer.”

“I know,” Havilar protests. She pats Farideh’s purple-black hair. “I’m sorry.”

Farideh watches the waters, pretending to be impassive, but deep down, she’s still angry. She’s still remembering the look on Mehen’s face when he found Arjhani’s letter, the way Havilar had cried all night long, the way she’d wanted after that, so badly, to escape. To go find Arjhani and show him how skilled she’d gotten with her glaive. She remembered the midwife’s murmured worries, that Havilar might need to be separated from the weapon, for her own good, and Mehen’s cold reply: The glaive is hers. She wants it, she’ll learn it. It has nothing to do with him.

And now, all grown and watching the slim bronze dragonborn awkwardly tend to her childhood injury, watching Mehen beyond, his face lit with such happiness, such love, she is angry at what Arjhani did to Mehen.

And she’s angry at herself for repeating his mistakes.

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