I hadn’t stopped to get a look at the room I was now in. Having turned, I could now take in that it was a circular room with seven doors leading out of it and a large throne-like chair on a small podium in the centre. There was a person sat on the chair, a woman so beautiful that it had stunned me into stillness just looking at her.
She had brilliant milky blue orbs for eyes, staring out of a cream-white face framed by gently waving soft blonde hair that fell down her back. She must have been blind from the clouded eyes. She rose and descended from her seat, and I saw that she was wearing robes of the palest blue imaginable made from the lightest material I had ever seen. It shimmered softly as she stopped a few feet away from me. It seemed as if she glided, as if she had no feet to walk upon the ground under her flowing skirts. She was an elf, I could tell straight away from her ethereal presence and her porcelain beauty. The tips of her ears were delicately pointed, showing under the braids that twisted through her pale hair. Vampires had bloodshed, werewolves had brutality, the shape shifters had deception and centaurs had secrecy, but there was no doubt that elves held the most power out of any Immortal. I started to back away, then a blow shook the doors and resounded.
“Peace, child of the night!” the elf called in a raised voice. It was strong and commanding. “Would you desecrate the home of your brethren and friends?”
Instantly the vampire stopped trying to break through to get to me.
“Let me in,” her ominous voice came through gravelly and dangerous.
“You have to be invited in, do you not?” the elf called. “And for the moment I, nor your friend, have any desire to do so. Until your temper and blood fury have cooled you can wait on the steps of the Citadel.”
Vampires had to be invited in? I had never thought of that myth to be true. I had never seen an instance of it.
The elf turned her wise, all-seeing yet blind eyes on me.
“The places you have seen vampires, there is no person who lives there. They must be invited into the building by someone who calls it their home. In places where nobody lives any vampire is welcome to come in. This is why in old times the humans thought it safe to refuge from vampires in the homes of their families.”
I couldn’t speak. My tongue seemed to be fastened to the roof of my mouth. In a part of my mind, you learn something new everyday drifted across. The elf smiled. I caught on that she could read my mind, or at least my thoughts, so it didn’t matter if I didn’t speak.
“So. Ruby Skye Nox.”
I flinched as she spoke my full name which I had never even spoken aloud. Of course she had found it in some recess of my mind. What else had she discovered?
“You have been bitten by one of the Vampyri.”
I knew, of course, what - or who - she was talking about, but I didn’t recognise the old-fashioned name for vampires. It must be what the Immortals called the subspecies.
“This was against the Eternals’ wishes. You know of Eternal law, child, I presume?”
I seethed inside - I hated to be called a child. But I did know the Eternal Law. I had read it in the book that Willow had shown to me, that day which seemed years ago in the woods. In the modern age, human victims must be killed fully for feeding. Leaving a bitten human alive is against Eternal Law.
For a second I wondered about my sudden ability to remember things so precisely. It must be part of the change that was raging somewhere in my body, even if I couldn’t feel it now. Then my mind returned to the chilling issue at hand. Phoenix had ‘’created’’ a vampire illegally. That was me. Human victims must be killed fully for feeding. Yet he had not killed me. So, the Eternals couldn’t allow me to exist. For the second time, I saw the enormity of my mistake in coming to the place where the very people I was running from resided. However the people I was running to were also here. How complicated.
As if she was following along with my train of thoughts, the elf’s lips quirked into a smile. Well, of course she was.
Then, another memory flashed through my head, triggered by my annoyance at the elf’s powers.
‘’Elves have special gifts,” Meena’s voice said. “Some can tell the future.” And then there was the image that accompanied it, Meena and Willow glancing at each other and sharing a look as if they knew something that I did not. Then the same thing again when I glanced up from reading the battered vampire books, and the word I had managed to catch her mouthing - ‘’prepared’’. They wanted me to be prepared by making me read the books. They knew I was going to be transformed. How much had they known was going to happen? How much had an elf foreseen?
I looked up and met the elf’s eyes. They were like a tropical sea impossibly frosted over. Cold. Icy. She knew everything I knew, and much more.
Boy, was I in trouble now.