Her eyes are on him, looming like black stones. They flick to the floor, then to his widening gaze, and relieve themselves a little, turning a bit lavender around the edges as if to make up for something.
Too late, he thinks, applying the back of his mental hand to his mental face.
He feels his skin blanch despite himself, like a colander of overwashed celery.
“Celery? Oh god,” he murmurs, creeping his arms around the sides of the ladder poles, leaving himself a wide berth.
Then he is looking up again as he turns himself on the ladder rung to face outward and away. He cranes his neck though, to stare at the gold on the ceiling.
The glint fills his vision, forcing open his iris so softly he barely notices as he leaps from the ladder and cracks a marble tile in a one-foot landing.
His footsteps shatter the silence of another hallway as he runs from the madling white avalanche of a woman’s pursuing laughter.
His girlfriend. Ambition.
“Bitch!” he screams, trampling over a bit of pedestal here and there, a stone head, a half-eaten staircase as he throws his voice from every possible direction, creating a smokescreen of sound, “I know a place you can’t go, because she’s never been there!”
Then he reaches down, feeling his finger for the Rose Ring.
But it’s gone.
The seven Mirrors appear before him, summoned by the seven echoes he just created.
Because, after all, he created Them, too.
His woman’s footsteps fill the back of him, tromping slowly serial. They march, those footsteps, soft and comforting and red, clip-clop clip-clop, up to the middle of the hallway.