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Excerpt from The Water Mirror by Kai Meyer, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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The Water Mirror

by Kai Meyer

The Water Mirror by Kai Meyer X
The Water Mirror by Kai Meyer
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  • First Published:
    Oct 2005, 256 pages

    Paperback:
    Aug 2006, 272 pages

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"Then perhaps it's a good thing if we get them out of here. Perhaps they're prisoners here."

"Do you think in the glass ball they aren't?"

Of course Junipa was right. But Merle wanted to get back into the real world as fast as possible, away from this glassy labyrinth. Arcimboldo would only be satisfied when they'd caught all the phantoms. She was afraid otherwise he'd send them right back into the mirror.

She no longer paid any attention to what Junipa was doing. Merle stretched out her arm with the ball, waved it in different directions, and called the magic word over and over: "Intorabiliuspeteris...intorabiliuspeteris...intorabiliuspeteris!"

The hissing and whistling became louder and sharper, and at the same time the ball filled with the swirling fog until it looked as if the glass were being steamed up on the inside. Once, in the orphanage, one of the attendants had blown cigar smoke into a wine glass, and the effect had been very similar: The layers of smoke had rotated behind the glass as though there were something living inside trying to get out.

What sort of creatures were these that infested Arcimboldo's magic mirrors like aphids in a vegetable garden? Merle would have loved to know more.

Junipa was grasping her ball so tightly in her fist that it suddenly cracked and shattered in her hand. Tiny splinters of glass rained onto the mirror floor, followed by dark drops of blood, as the sharp edges cut into Junipa's fingers.

"Junipa!" Merle stuffed her ball into her pocket, sprang to Junipa's side, and anxiously examined her hand. "Oh, Junipa..." She slipped out of her sweater and wrapped it around her friend's forearm. That made visible the upper edge of the hand mirror, stuck into her dress pocket.

Suddenly one of the phantoms whizzed in a narrow spiral around her upper body and disappeared into the surface of the water mirror.

"Oh, no," Junipa said tearfully, "that's all my fault."

Merle was more concerned about Junipa's well-being than about the mirror. "I think we've caught all of them anyway," she said, unable to take her eyes from the blood on the floor. Her face was mirrored in the drops, as if the blood had tiny eyes that were looking up at her. "Let's get out of here."

Junipa held her back. "Are you going to tell Arcimboldo one of them went -- "

Merle interrupted her. "No, he'd just take it away from me."

Stricken, Junipa nodded, and Merle reassuringly laid an arm around her shoulders. "Don't give it another thought."

She gently urged Junipa back to the door, a glittering rectangle not far from them. Arms tightly wrapped around one another, they walked out of the mirror into the storeroom.

"What happened?" asked Arcimboldo, when he saw the wrapping around Junipa's hand. Immediately he unwrapped it, discovered the cuts, and ran to the door. "Eft!" he bellowed out into the workroom. "Bring bandages. Quickly!"

Merle also appraised the cuts. Happily, none of them seemed to be really dangerous. Most of them weren't very deep, just red scratches on which very thin clots were already forming.

Junipa pointed to the blood spots on Merle's wadded-up sweater. "I'll wash that for you."

"Eft can take care of that," Arcimboldo interposed. "Instead, tell me how this happened!"

Merle told in a few words what had occurred. Only, she kept to herself the flight of the last phantom into her hand mirror. "I caught all the phantoms," she said, pulling the ball out of her pocket. The bright streaks in its interior were now rotating hectically.

Arcimboldo grasped the ball and held it up to the light. What he saw seemed to please him, for he nodded in satisfaction. "You did very well," he praised the two girls. Not a word about the broken ball.

Copyright 2001 by Kai Meyer.  All rights reserved. No part of this book maybe reproduced without written permission from the publisher.

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