"Why are you pretending to be me?" the impostor retorted, in exactly the same voice.
"You're the one that's pretending," Irena protested, desperately searching for something that would mark out the other girl as the impostor she was. She studied the face in front of her and saw nothing untoward there. It was exactly the same as the face she'd seen in the mirror before she left her rooms in the palace and all this trouble started.
"What's your name?" she asked suspiciously.
"Princess Irena Mariya Imaldi," the impostor promptly replied.
"But you CAN'T be..." Irena said, thumping her hand against the door in frustration. "That's ME. At least...it used to be," she said slowly, an idea coming to her that might catch the impostor out. "I'm just called Irena now, so you see, I'm really me and you, you're just a...just an old shadow." She was quite pleased with this reasoning, although she wouldn't have liked to explain it back to Books Mistress.
The shadow looked confused, then she made a face that Irena realised with a shock must be her 'trying not to cry' face. The girl crouched down on the ground, curling into herself. Irena almost felt sorry for her, and knelt down beside her. She wasn't quite sure what to do, especially now that the girl was sobbing quietly and trying not to show it. She thought of what Arkel had done when Gia had her nightmare, and awkwardly draped an arm over the shoulders of the other girl. "Um...there there. Don't cry. Stop it. Um...it'll all be another colour by the morning?" Whatever that meant.
The girl looked up, wiping tears from her cheeks with dirty fingers that left streaks. Irena felt the question before she asked it. "No, I dont know what it means either."
"But if I'm not Irena Mariya Imaldi then who am I?"
"You mean WHAT are you." Irena quickly corrected her, and almost felt sorry for it.
The girl looked as if she was about to cry again. "I am a person you know..."
"People can't just appear out of nowhere, therefore you're something -I don't know quite what yet- but you can't be a person." Irena reasoned in a clear-headed manner that Books Mistress would have been proud of. She thought she heard a noise out in the street and peered around the doorway to check. "Stop your crying a moment, I need to listen for Gia coming back..."
The street was empty. She turned back to see Arkel's head poking down through the gap between the door and the wall.
"Are you talking to yourself?" he asked, eyebrows raised.
"No, I'm..." Irena faltered, confused. She shifted her legs in the small space, and stood up, suddenly conscious that she almost missed the other girl who was not her.
"You're crazy." Arkel said cheerfully, before he was pulled away and replaced by Toban's furious face.
"Hush up, the pair of you, or I'll knock your heads together. This is serious business and the two of you sitting there clacking away like a pair of tea merchants."