In my surprise I almost let go of my opponent’s hands. The person hiding under the hood was an incredibly beautiful girl with frightened eyes and charming long fangs. Her red eyes and equally red lips looked very pretty against the background of her white skin and the long dark hair scattered across the pillow. Did I say pretty? I’d never seen a more beautiful creature in my life.
“Er, this is first time this has happened to me,” I said with the most charming smile I could manage. “A girl climbs into my bed of her own free will without even bothering to introduce herself.”
I relaxed too soon, and almost got a knee in highly undesirable spot. Fortunately my defensive reflexes were fast enough for me to block the blow with my own knee.
“Aren’t you ashamed, girl?” I asked in the same sweet tone of voice. “I haven’t touched you and you fire your crossbow at me. By the way, you’ve ruined my favourite picture,” I added, spotting out of the corner of my eye that the bolt had stuck right in the centre of a picture of a beautiful boat sailing down a river past the green bank of one of the ancient gardens of the city. The bolt had hit the boat full on.
I was trying to use humour to conceal the confusion I was beginning to feel. If she was a real vampires, she could quite easily tie me in a knot … The mastery of the Art is in their blood, and no human can fight on equal terms with a hereditary vampire. But then, this was a strange kind of vampire. The only thing I could see in her eyes was fear …
“Calm down, I won’t do you any harm,” I said hastily, suddenly starting to feel guilty, “only promise to behave yourself,”
She nodded in agreement. That was when I noticed that the girl’s face was covered in scratches. Judging from her rapid breathing, she was very tired and could have been involved in a serious fight. That would explain why she was so weak …
“Then I’ll let you go, and we can have a quiet talk,” I said, vaulting off the bed in a beautiful reverse somersault. You have to show off for a girl.
The vampiress sat up on the bed, glancing in fright from me to the crossbow that I’d thrown into the far corner of the room.
“What are you doing here in my room?” I asked, breaking the silence.
“So it really is your room?” my guest asked in a surprisingly calm voice.
“It was mine this morning,” I said with a smile.
The girl clearly did not share my amusement.
“But why come in through the window?” she asked, moving gently across the bed in the direction of her weapon.
“I told you, I forgot my keys,” I replied, picking the crossbow up off the floor so that my visitor wouldn’t be tempted. “What were you doing here, honey pie?
My visitor bit her lip: with her fangs it looked rather frightening, and yet somehow defenceless at the same time …
“I was hiding,” she replied eventually.
I raised one eyebrow enquiringly.
“… My … my relatives were looking for me.”
“Aha, and you were fighting them off with a crossbow.”
She looked at me reproachfully.
“No, it’s just that it’s best for ... my kind not to leave home without a weapon. You know, we’re not very well liked.”
I had to agree with her there. Vampires and other nocturnal inhabitants of the city and its outskirts were anything but popular, quiet the opposite in fact. If anyone shot a vampire in the night, it wasn’t regarded as a crime. The vampires, faceless shadows and other creatures lived their own life, beside the life of the city, but separate from it. Everyone tried not to mention them, unless it was a matter of murder or other crimes. Then all the suspicion and accusations were directed at the poor outcasts. But then, were they really all that innocent and to be pitied?
“It’s just … I don’t want to be an outcast, like all the others!” she said with sudden
Marilyn Monroe, Ben Hecht