I stepped out into darkness. I recognized the dark shapes of shelves around me with the odd shapes of the artworks on them. Then a light flared and the room was illuminated. I was momentarily blinded – a dark figure came from behind the counter as my eyes adjusted. I recognized her.
“Amber!” I said, relieved. For a minute I had been expecting another evil vampire assassin.
She smiled at me. I realized by looking at the clock that it was almost five o’clock in the morning. What was she doing here?
Suddenly I noticed that there was something wrong with Amber’s eyes. The smile didn’t seem to have reached them. It looked wrong on her face. Her eyes were too cold, spaced, distant. She must have been waiting for me. Who had left the mirror there to be placed in this gallery? Had it been her?
Then, before my very eyes, she shifted. Her figure shimmered indistinctly and she was suddenly gone, replaced by a beautifully pure white, black striped snow tiger. Then it opened its mouth and snarled. Its eyes flashed a cruel black.
She was a shape shifter. All along my mother’s new help had been a shape shifter. Was she working for the Eternals? Had they put the mirror here?
Whoever had, there was no doubt that Amber had been waiting for me. And the tiger she had morphed into was no snarling, so obviously wanting to rip me into pieces.
I cussed. The danger is where you least expect it. Well, what do you know.
Then as the tiger – I couldn’t think of it as Amber – prepared to leap. It crouched onto its haunches and there was a whooshing sound behind me and then it sprang and I screamed and –
The creature roared as a flash of silver-white streaked across my vision and then the tiger was slumped on the ground at my feet, its pure as snow fur stained with red.
I turned to look for my saviour.
It was the vampire from the room.
For an instant our eyes met through his obscuring mask. The purple irises were very thin, his pupils large black holes.
Meena had attacked him because he would have helped the elf who had wanted to detain me, possibly kill me. So why had he followed me only to save my life? Or had he saved me so he could take me back for another death?
I broke the eye contact and bolted. With inhuman speed I fled through the gallery, pausing only to rip open the door and then I was running faster than I ever had through the dark early morning city.
Yet I wasn’t a match for this strange vampire fighter. I could feel his presence behind me chasing me down the streets. He wouldn’t give up before I did. Did vampires ever tire? Anyway, I couldn’t keep running forever.
I spun before stopping so I seemed to twirl a few metres. Then I was facing him. He stopped without slowing so he seemed to blur to a standstill.
“I didn’t come to hurt you,” he said cautiously, holding up both hands palms forward as if I was levelling a gun at his face. He had sheathed his sword again – I could see the hilt over his shoulder.
This reassured me a little. As long as he was trying to talk and not on the brink of attacking me and slashing me to very painful ribbons, I was willing to co-operate with him. I still took one stride back, as a precautionary measure. That I could do so without looking behind me without tripping was a sure sign that I wasn’t my human self anymore.