"Hello?" You call out, twitching your tail nervously. "Is anybody there?"
There is a tinkling splash of water a few paces to your left and something darts through one of the pools - some kind of fish? With a sick feeling in the pit of your belly, you approach the water, struggling to make sense of the flickering, ever-shifting motion within, the water rippling as if roused by a gentle breeze. The inhabitant of the pool cannot be made out for several long moments, but the water eventually becomes calmer and you start to see that there is nothing there at all, not even one lonely fish, mutated from time spent in near darkness. There is only your reflection.
But your reflection does not move with you.
The form of a sphinx dwindles and paces back and forth through the water, moving as if mirrored on the surface, which makes it difficult to make out any distinguishing features. As you look around, you see that similar images are appearing in every single one of the other pools, the sphinxes disturbing the water with their discontented pacing. Strangely enough, they do not seem to be threatening, nor do you feel anxious or threatened by their presence. It is comforting to have similar company, you think to yourself. Stepping back with a confused twitch of your tail, you freeze as every face turns towards you in perfect unison.
"Turn back!" They call, lips moving as one, their faces blurred by the moving water, unrecognisable.
Startled, you sit back on your haunches, tilting your head at the image in the water. Why would you turn back? You have come this far so there is no point in giving up now. And they speak?
"Turn back!" They say again, voices echoing strangely and sounding as if they are coming from very far away.
"Leave me alone!" You growl, dashing a paw at the patter to shatter the image, not intending to ‘turn back’ at all. "Where is the mirror? Tell me."
"Hidden!" They laugh, flashing in and out of sight, darting in and out of sight, though you suspect that each is trapped within its own pool. "Deep! Hidden!"
Oh...there’s no use with them, they’re not a threat, you think irritably, walking away with a derisive snort. Where can that damn mirror be?
There is one pool left dark and obtrusive in the midst of all the disapproving faces. It begs your attention. Ignoring the repeated cries to go away, to turn back and leave the caves, you step up to the pool, peering into the startlingly deep depths; it looks to be quite a swim to reach the bottom. But, right at the bottom, there is a glint of silver and a flash of something reflective... It can only be one thing and your heart pounds with excitement at the thought of completing the tasks at long last.
Written by Amethyst Mare on 16 July 2012