The very faintest light shone in the distance, and Jill’s eyes, hungry for it, fixed on it as she crawled forward with the spool of thread in her hand. It could have been daylight reflected off the wall far ahead. Yes, Jill decided, it was daylight, and she would be coming out of this awful tunnel at last. Faster she scrambled over the rough stone as the light grew brighter and brighter in front of her. When she grew nearer she saw that the light seemed to flicker and dance, perhaps there were trees or bushes moving in the wind by the opening. It was taking so long for her to get there, to feel the open air again.
Now the end of the tunnel was near, and the light was still so pale Jill decided it must be night, and there was a moon making a silvery glow, but strangely the glow seemed to come from below, and what she first took for tree trunks were stone pillars, and for a dark landscape was only a wide cavern with a bright pool at the bottom.
Feeling more trapped than ever, Jill stood up, searching the cavern in hopes of seeing a way out. Stone above, stone, below, stone all around. High on the walls, a white coating showed where the water had been when this room was filled. It would have stretched high over her head, covering the opening to the tunnel where she had crawled in.
It was no moon making the light, but something in the pool. A glowing line, like a coiling rope that tangled and tumbled around itself. Curious, Jill crept closer, then jumped back when the line stirred. She held her breath until it stilled again. Was this water safe to drink? She hadn’t had a drink since she’d left home that morning, and this pool smelled so sweet and clean.
Jill reached out her finger to touch the surface of the water. Her fingertip glowed where it dipped beneath the surface.
Two bright orbs, like twin moons, flashed deep in the pool. Eyes, they were eyes, and now a terrible head came rushing up through the depths. It broke the surface, and opened wide a mouth filled with knife-like teeth. Sure of death, Jill threw up her arm to cover her face.
She waited, but nothing happened. She slowly lowered her arm.
The creature had closed its mouth, narrowed its eyes. Glowing white tendrils waved in the air around its face, as if stirred by a breeze only it could feel.
“You bear the mark of water,” the monster hissed. “I was told that you would come.”