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Library: Mirror, Mirror

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Author: Ryla
Date:Nov 2 1995

                                Mirror, Mirror
     
     I stand in the shadows and wait for my prey to come by.  It's been
so long since the last one and I'm so hungry.  I see a light coming my
way and coil as it gets closer.  It's here!  I pounce, claws cutting
only the air as my target is not where I expected it to be.  It gives
a high-pitched shriek and darts down the road, several feet above the
ground, taking its aura of light with it.  Damn sprites.  It wouldn't
have made much of a meal, anyway.  But maybe it would have at least taken
some of the edge off this agonizing hunger that gnaws at my insides.  I
slip back into the shadows to wait for another chance.
     I don't have long to wait as a young human approaches, making enough
noise that I hear him almost a block away; this one won't be small
enough or fast enough to get away easily.  I grin and give a low chuckle
as I take a step towards him.  He turns, his mouth open to give a friendly
greeting, and my razor sharp claws catch him right across the cheek,
narrowly missing an eye.  His greeting turns into a gasp of horror as he
scrambles backward, wanting nothing more than escape.  But my skill and
position make it impossible for him to get away.  I drive him back, step 
by step, with thrusts and slashes to the face, stomach, and chest.  He
groans and stumbles, and I dart forward to sink my teeth deep in his
shoulder.  As he sinks to one knee, I finish him with a thrust to the
throat.  I lick his blood from my teeth and look down on his body with
eager anticipation.  Now, I will feast.
     But as I kneel to begin feasting, a cold breeze blows, and standing
before me is Death, garbed entirely in black.  He chuckles and moves,
even faster than I, to gather the body in his arms.  As he begins to
fade from view, I slash at him with my claws, but they find no resistance
other than a numbing aura of cold.  I curse as he vanishes with my
meal.
     Death must hate me.  Or maybe he just hates all elves.  Well, I hate
him, too.  I idly think of what I'd do to him if I could touch him, as
I lick my claws clean.  The taste of the human's blood cramps my stomach
and reminds me of the meal that was taken from me.  I want food so badly.
Then I remember something and slowly smile.  If I can't hunt for food,
perhaps I can summon some friends to bring me some.
     I reach down to strum my lute and gasp as I discover that the
instrument, which I've had since I graduated the bardic college, the
instrument which is almost a part of me, is gone.  I shake with rage
and frustration and swear to destroy whomever's responsible.  Maybe it 
was Death.
     But revenge will have to wait, as I hear several sets of footsteps
approaching.  I step back in to the shadows to wait as an intense wave of 
hunger nearly doubles me over.  Four people come to my hiding place, and
I leap out, raking a claw across the side of one's face, eliciting a gasp
of pain and surprise.  I attack ferociously, using my anger to my advantage, 
and look to see what has stumbled into my net this time.
     The first two are big, and wearing enough armor that they seem almost
encased in metal.  But that won't be enough to save them; my claws can
punch through adamantium if I hit solidly.  The third one looks like a
cross between a human and a tree, and I wonder idly what it will taste
like and if I'll get splinters from its flesh.
     I look at the fourth and nearly pause in my attack from surprise.
The fourth figure is me, but a disgusting, obscene parody of me!  For
the most part, she seems a normal enough elf, but her mouth looks to be 
filled with rounded stones, and her hands end in masses of grotesque 
fleshy tentacles.  I glance at her patchwork armour and then notice
something that makes my previous rage seem like mild annoyance.  She is
wearing my lute!
     I leap at her, claws first, but the two in front manage to keep
their bodies between us and I bounce off their armor.  Fine.  If they
want a fight, they'll get one; nothing's going to keep me from the
imposter who's stolen my lute!  I throw myself at the two in front, 
a whirlwind of claws and teeth.  They're skilled; blood flies, coloring
the ground, and us, but none of the wounds are fatal, and not all of
the blood is theirs.  
     This is taking too long.  And they might just be a little too good.
I scream, 'Saughiiii!' and throw poison into one of them; he shudders
but continues to fight.  Then I catch his blade on my claw and while
he's off-balance, I lunge with a powerful thrust that punches through
his armor.  He looks like he's going to fall, but then the tree behind
him chants softly and several of his wounds heal.
     They cheat.  There's no way I can beat them all if they're going
to cheat like this.  I throw poison at the other one in front, but it
still fights on.  Why not, when you have a tree that can heal you as you
fight?  Maybe I should run, and catch the imposter when she's alone.
But before I can decide, I slip in a puddle of blood and fall to one
knee.  
     They move in quickly before I can regain my footing, as I knew they
would.  I can't defend myself well enough against two from this position;
it won't be long now.  I wonder if Death will come for me, too.  He'd
better not; if he tries, we'll see just how intangible he is to my claws
when I'm dead...
 
*****
     
     "Well, that wasn't so bad," I say with a grin.  The fighters just
glare at me as the cleric struggles to remove the poison before it kills
them.  I sigh and start playing another healing song, trying not to look
too closely at the body of the copy of me that we just fought.  
     "I wonder why they're so aggressive," I say.  "I mean, *I'm* usually
not that hostile."
     One of the fighters, in a better mood now that his poison has been
removed, shrugs and tosses me a can.  "Here, a souvenir.  Now you can eat
yourself," he says with a grin.  I silently catch the can and hope we
will walk past a trashcan soon.
 
*****
 
     I knew he wouldn't come for me.  I hate Death and Death hates me.
I float in the darkness, alone with my hunger.  I'll be back, I know that
much.  I have to go back--to ease this gnawing hunger, and to get back my
lute.  Oh, yes...we will be meeting again, my little imposter, and I look
forward to drinking your blood.  And taking my lute from your body and
placing it back around my neck.  Rest assured that next time the darkness
parts, we *will* be meeting again.


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