Running from an unseen threat.
Tripping on an unseen obstacle.
Falling into an unseen hole.
Screaming as she fell into the murky blackness.
A butterfly landed on the girl’s nose, rousing her from her stupor. She groaned, slowly getting to her feet - only for her eyes to widen as she realized where she was.
She was in an unfamiliar cave, alone amidst the sounds of dripping water. Blue bricks made up the walls, which were punctuated by the occasional bit of plant life growing out of them. Shining down on her, a shaft of light led countless meters upwards, ending at the hole she must have fallen into.
The girl’s mind slowly attempted to process what had happened. Why was she here? For some reason, her memory seemed to be in a fog. Had she been running from something before she fell down here? What did she need to run from?
Then she looked down and gasped.
The floor wasn’t made of the same brick as the rest of the cave. It was some kind of mirror, radiating with minute particles of odd power. And staring back at her was a strange figure that almost resembled her - except it was completely black, save for a thin, flickering orange aura that outlined its form.
The girl tilted her head. The reflection did the same. She placed a hand on the floor. The reflection mirrored her action perfectly. She took a few steps forward. Ditto.
Yet, as she stared, she felt a nagging instinct in her mind. This reflection is a part of me. If anything happens to it...well, that’s the end.
Noticing a door in front of her, she hesitantly took echoing steps towards it. The instant she stepped off the mirror, her reflection vanished. That’s odd, but reasonable .
And, with growing curiosity, she stepped through the doorway.
As soon as she entered the room, she gasped as iron bars slammed behind her.
Barred windows let in slits of light that highlighted the array of vertical mirrors that now stood before her. Looking into the mirrors, her reflection appeared again. Hesitantly, the girl waved to it, her hunch proving correct as it mirrored the action.
Noticing a door on the other side of the room, the girl simply ran at the mirror and leapt, grabbing onto its top edge and pulling herself over. Running into the door, she glanced back at the mirror - only to see her reflection entering a door that wasn’t there.
In the next room, a massive mirror lay above her. Murky water surrounded numerous stony platforms, and with growing dread the girl realized that she didn’t know how to swim. Running a hand through the water, she flinched at how cold it was. Falling into that would incur death alarmingly fast.
As she stared up, she noticed a similar series of platforms jutting out of what should have been the “floor” on the mirrored side of the room. Her reflection, seemingly hovering in midair, stared back as if to prompt her.
Another jab of instinct. Me and this reflection seem to mirror each other’s moves exactly - even if it shouldn’t be possible.
She leapt up onto a platform and looked up. Sure enough, the reflection now stood on an invisible platform slightly closer to the mirror. The girl sighed in relief and jumped across the next couple of platforms. However, she was greeted by nothing more than a huge expanse of water before her. Looking up and spotting a platform on her reflection’s side of the mirror, she realized what she had to do. She backed up a couple steps, then took a leap of faith. Instead of falling into the water, she gasped and stumbled to a halt as she landed on a platform that wasn’t there. Above her, her reflection stood on solid ground.
This is...very, very disorienting.
Soon, however, she got accustomed to it. Switching between looking at her own platforms and her reflection’s, she eventually made it to a doorway and jumped in.
The girl hesitantly leapt up an invisible stairway, carefully watching where her reflection was on the solid one below her. She had found that if she focused hard enough, she could actually see a bit of what her mirror image was seeing - and it concerned her, considering that there were spikes large enough to impale her lining the stairs. Carefully climbing passages of normal and mirrored stairs, she managed to jump to the doorway.
The girl stared at the water before her. It was too far to jump across, and there were no mirrors that would allow her reflection to help her. After a bit of thinking, she realized that she was wearing a moderately large skirt. If she used her skirt to glide, then she could just drift across. As she did just that and walked into the doorway, she felt a twinge of embarrassment. Even though this was no time to be worrying about such things, she was still glad that she wore pants under her skirt.
What a silly thought.
The girl leapt from platform to platform, staring intently at her mirror image. There were no dangers on her side of the world, but falling off one of her platforms would doom her reflection to a grisly demise at the carpet of spikes on their side. But the girl was learning quickly, and she made it across the platforms with haste.
Amidst the gentle crackling of torches, the girl slowly drifted through corridors lined with gigantic spikes. It wasn’t exceptionally hard, but she knew that one false move could be the end of her. Stumbling to a stop on solid ground, she quickly ran out of the room through the doorway before her. Don’t want to do that ever again!
As the door slammed behind her again, the girl scanned the room for threats. Walking up stairs and jumping onto a rock platform, she saw another mirror. But on the other side of the mirror, she spotted a peculiar creature. Resembling a small, red-outlined black cube with ribbon-like wings, it looked fairly benign. However, as she looked into its beady eyes, the girl’s mind suddenly filled with horrific images - images of madness likely not meant for a mind as fragile as her own. Crumpling to her knees and gasping for breath, a low droning filled her head as her heartbeat accelerated. In that moment, she knew that touching that thing would be tantamount to suicide.
Hesitantly walking closer to the creature, she sighed in relief as it seemed to pay her no heed. But as she walked under the mirror, and her reflection appeared, the creature suddenly turned around and gave chase to the reflection. Gasping in shock, she sprinted past the mirror, only for the creature to immediately give up as her reflection vanished. Realizing how the creature worked, she immediately scanned the area, then sprinted and leapt on mirrored platforms to the doorway lying above.
Taking a leap of faith, the girl glided onto a small brick lying in a small lake. Above her, her reflection stood beside the door that was on the ceiling of the room. She wasn’t sure what would happen if her reflection entered the door, but she felt herself being dragged through a mass of shadows before appearing in the corridor to the next room.
A pulsating red brick blocked the way between her and the door. Every now and then, the brick would slam down with a terrifying crash before slowly rising up again. Getting crushed by that brick would be messy, for sure. But there was also something about the red energy surrounding it that seemed malevolent. The girl simply opted not to touch the brick as she ducked underneath its rising form, running into the door before it slammed down on her.
Four mirrors were disorienting her, but the girl had already learned a lot about how to manipulate her reflection - and adding a couple more wouldn’t stop her. Using the platforms in both her world and the three mirror worlds, she nimbly jumped to the doorway and ran in - or, at least her reflection did.
The girl’s heart pounded as she raced across numerous platforms on both her side and her reflection’s side. The droning in her head meant that one of those phantoms was pursuing her reflection - and, judging from the looks of it, quite fast, too. Fortunately, she was faster - running into the door without looking back.
The girl gasped as she drifted through a narrow corridor of spikes, using numerous fans in the floor as propulsion to float across. It was incredibly stressful - by the time she made it across, she nearly cried in relief.
Turns out her reflection was still subject to the fans as well. The girl used this to hover where there was no wind, using her reflection to save her from a gruesome perforation at the hands of the spikes below her.
Small red blocks traveled along invisible rails, tracing the edges of the mirror that the girl stood on. They radiated with unstable energy, so the girl decided to avoid them as she had done with their larger counterparts. Nimbly leaping over the blocks and spikes that stood in her path, she guided both herself and her reflection to the exit.
As the girl noted the water surrounding her in the next room, she realized that she had forgotten what she actually looked like - what with her reflection being a dark shadow, which she was fairly sure she wasn’t . So, she took the opportunity to gaze into the water to see her true form.
The girl that stared back wasn’t her dark mirror counterpart. It was a small girl with skin as pale as snow. A white bow was fastened in her silver hair, and her shirt, skirt, and boots were also all monochrome - the same pure white as her bow. In fact, the only parts of the image in the water that weren’t some form of white were her grey pants and bright red cape. Inquisitive silver eyes stared back at the girl.
So...that’s what I really look like?
The girl gasped as ripples tore the reflection to shreds. Shortly afterwards, a gigantic, scarlet serpent burst out of the water. The creature was composed of numerous cubic segments held together by an unseen force, and its head had two beady eyes and a large, toothless maw that didn’t seem to have a throat. While the girl didn’t detect any real hostility from the serpent, its segments flickered with an unstable red light - which she had deduced meant “don’t touch”.
The droning filled her head again. Are these related to the phantoms?
The serpents weaved in and out of the water, but the girl began to see a pattern in their movements. After surveying the room and waiting for an opportune moment, she sprinted across the platforms to the door before the serpents could catch her.
The next few rooms were a maze of platforms, mirrors, spikes and walls. Hard enough to navigate them while taking her reflection into account, but now there was a phantom after her image as well. Through finesse and teamwork, both of them pulled through - although the girl was beginning to wonder how many near-heart attacks she could take before the real deal.
The girl sighed as she saw the downward-facing fans blowing onto the top side of the mirror above her. Looking at the expanse of water in front of her, she took a leap of faith, gliding across the water and letting her reflection float downwards. Sure enough, that resulted in her floating upwards where there was no wind, allowing her to float her way to the doorway.
The girl held her breath as she floated downwards through a vertical maze of spikes, while watching her reflection as she navigated it through the maze as well. While the two of them made it through, the girl wasn’t sure how many more “drifting spike mazes” she could tolerate.
Crimson serpents writhed through the maze of steel beams, giving the girl a massive sense of claustrophobia. But again, it was all about timing - after observing the serpents and trying to ignore the harsh noises echoing in her mind, she and her reflection dashed through the maze and into the exit.
The girl panted as she navigated down a grid of of spikes and blocks that weren’t actually there, her reflection doing the same with the actual maze on their side of the mirror. The phantom that chased them was fast, but the forces of gravity were faster. But afterwards, there came the hard part - she would have to climb the maze herself, all while evading the phantom chasing her image. But if she looked at the doorway, standing many, many meters above her, she could almost see...light?
Is...is this the end? Could it be?
The prospect of finally finding the end to this dungeon renewed her with new determination. How long had she been down here? She didn’t know, but it was probably too long. It was time to get out of here.
But before she attempted the final stretch, she stared into the mirror. Her image, predictably, stared back. Placing a hand on the mirror, she hoped that her reflection’s hand would give her some warmth, at least - but all the girl felt was the cold metal of the mirror. This is it. Please, if you’re even alive, wish me luck.
Was it just her, or did the reflection’s eyes show the tiniest bit of reassurance?
Taking a deep breath, she leapt at the first block, clawing her way on top of it. Seeing her reflection floating on their side of the mirror, the phantom immediately turned towards it and gave chase. Leaping from block to block, the girl was forced to make several turns in the maze in order to disorient the phantom. Yelping as she almost jumped onto a spike by accident, she jumped and jumped...only to stumble one block away from the exit.
The phantom was rapidly gaining on her mirror image as she struggled to her feet. Groaning in defiance and pain, she blindly leapt out at the last platform, landing flat on her face. She was scratched all over from her trials and tasted blood from her most recent fall, but she was now out of range of the phantom - and right before the door.
Walking through the corridor, the girl gasped as she was greeted by a magnificent sight. A staircase stood before her, leading up into a doorway that shone with radiant light. She didn’t have to be a rocket scientist to deduce that those stairs were her ticket out of this blasted dungeon.
Closing her eyes to stop the tears of relief, she knelt down and placed her hand on the mirror. Thank you so much, she silently told her reflection. We were in this together. I couldn’t have made it here without your help.
But when she opened her eyes again, the reflection wasn’t in front of her.
She turned around and saw that it had moved a couple steps towards the light. By itself.
The girl gasped, and the reflection mimicked the movement. Turning around by its own volition, the reflection backed up into the light from the outside world. The rays seemed to trigger a change in it, as it suddenly leapt through the mirror into the “real” side of the world.
The two of them stood face-to-face. The girl, in shock, reached out to touch the being that now stood before her. It wasn’t an image. It felt like a living being, just like herself - except for the fact that it was cold, far too cold to be alive.
Then...what is this? Who is this?
The reflection didn’t say anything. But as the girl stared into its eyes, one thing became clear. Its eyes were filled with sorrow.
Its mouth moved as if to say: “I’m sorry.”
Then it turned and ran up the stairs into the light.
Panic set in. The girl turned to run after the shadowy entity, but the skirt that had helped her drift through so many challenges now snagged, causing her to trip right before the first step. Her face slammed into the floor as she tasted blood again, and as she looked up despairingly, the glowing doorway slammed shut with a final crash.
The girl managed her first word ever since her arrival: “No…”
Silence except for the intensified dripping of water onto the mirror’s surface.
Alone in the darkness, the girl sobbed at the unfairness of it all. She had gone through all of those challenges, only to have her own reflection betray her? All of her labours had been for nothing? But if the reflection wasn’t her own mirror image...then what was it?
Tears blurred her vision and formed puddles on the ground. This was too much. With a heart-wrenching wail, she slammed the mirror with her fist.
The sound echoed through the chamber, only to be replaced by a much more sinister sound. Filling the girl’s head was a growing drone much like the ones the phantoms caused, only...much more urgent.
The girl gasped as she felt an unseen force tugging her legs downwards. Then, her entire body started feeling it too. The force grew stronger and stronger, until she felt like it was going to crush her against the floor. As her body collapsed, her mind swam, and her vision spun. Just as she felt like she was going to break, she managed to let out one last sound.
And everything went black.
The girl woke in the exact same position she had been in before. On the opposite side of the mirror, a red cape fluttered to the ground.
She didn’t feel pain, or anything odd.
In fact...she didn’t feel anything at all.
Looking through the mirror, she realized that she was on the opposite side of the one she had been on before. The girl looked at her hands. They were pitch-black, with a pulsating orange aura outlining them. Just like her reflection.
Realization set in.
I...I’m the new reflection.
She felt like she was going to cry, but no tears came out. She tried to scream out, but her voice had vanished. In fact, she could barely feel any emotions through the constant fuzz that permeated her new body and soul.
But at the same time...it felt like her perception power had increased. All the tiny little things she had failed to notice about the room before now seemed so evident to her. Her reactions were fast enough to easily mirror any movements from tiny creatures on the other side of the mirror. Her hearing was fine enough to listen to every movement in the room at once.
...And the bloodcurling scream that followed.
The girl perked up. That scream seemed familiar!
Running in the direction of the sound, the girl ran back through all of the trials that she had gone through just before. All the phantoms and serpents had vanished, and the blocks no longer glowed with their eerie radiance. She ran and ran, until she was back at the room she had fallen into. And laying before her, on the other side of the mirror, was a familiar, unconscious girl.
That...that’s not possible.
It looked just like herself..or, at least what she used to look like.
The shadowy girl laid a hand on the mirror where the fallen girl was, but still couldn’t feel anything. Was it because of the mirror, or her current state? She didn’t know.
She sighed as she remembered her predicament. Then, she remembered what the previous one in her position had done - and she knew what she had to do. Normally, she would feel horrifically guilty for doing this, but the dark side of the mirror seemed to have numbed all of her emotions. If she had to do this to escape this place, then that’s what she would do.
But she still couldn’t help but feel the tiniest bit of sentiment for the newcomer.
Laying down on the mirror, she shifted her body around until it lay directly opposite to the girl on the other side. Then, she shifted some more until her pose was an exact copy of the girl opposite to her. Noticing she was a couple centimeters off, she scooted forward a bit.
Then, satisfied, she lay down and closed her eyes.
Seemingly no more than a reflection of the girl above her.
A butterfly landed on the girl’s nose, rousing her from her stupor.