Amy stood up, and with a last grateful smile at Mat left her empty mug on the hearth and quietly took her leave from the kitchen. She felt much refreshed thanks to her brief sojourn somewhere that felt like reality and paused to arrange herself.
Her hair was a mass of frizz thanks to the rain and subsequent quick-dry of the fire. She did her best to tuck the wispy bits into her braids, knowing that she probably still looked like she'd just got out of bed. But what else could a gal do without a mirror? Her dress was obviously not meant to be dried via fire-blast and parts of it had shrunk a bit. The shoulders had become just barely too tight, and some of the folds in her skirts stuck out funny.
It was while rearranging some of the skirt folds that Amy discovered pockets! Why don't modern dresses have pockets?? she grumped. She stuck her hands into the slits at her sides, and found.. What? How? Ohhh...! she thought, Cal's handkerchief! She couldn't begin to imagine how it had got there, but the dear piece of home was folded neatly just as she'd left it. Oh, Cal, she thought, fingering the silvery fabric, where are you now? With a sigh she tucked the handkerchief back into her pocket and walked toward the door that led to the room where she'd left Irena sleeping.
Amy walked into the room where she'd left her charge and found Irena seated on the floor playing a game with a well-dressed man. Their backs were to the door, but Irena hopped up as soon as she heard Amy enter and ran toward her, "Oh Amy! I had a wonderful nap! I had a dream about music, and dancing! And then it all got washed away in the rain, like this!" She made an exaggerated whoosh motion with her hands.
"That sounds like an exciting dream!" Amy said, hiding her disconcerted feelings by focusing on straightening the girl's sleepy hair. "And what are you doing now?"
"My papa came to play with me! Didn't you, Papa?" She tugged Amy's hand, leading her toward the seated man. As they drew near Amy had a sense of things not being quite right. The scene was too perfect. Too... intentional. The man, and the game pieces, appeared to have been painted into the room. The man turned. Their eyes met and Amy saw, for just the briefest moment, a glimpse of white shine through. Here was the man in white, pretending to be Irena's father again.
Amy's stomach jumped into her throat and she clutched Irena's hand in her own.
It seemed there were only two options for action. Should she:
Remain and try to figure out what the man in white is doing with Irena,
or Grab Irena and RUN!