Eyes big and frantic, Taja viewed this extreme world, her face split with expression, alert and desperate. She had expected to die. And instead, she had been slapped across the face and awoken. She groaned, keeping her strained body still upon the cold rock as she turned her head from side to side.
Where was all this water going? And from where was it coming? There was no end to it! It could have swallowed her whole and tossed her into the abyss as if she was only a soggy rag. She had never imagined such a powerful monster to be made of water. And yet her she was, clinging to the edge of its mighty neck, both her legs still immersed in the icy liquid.
But where was here? She looked to the stairs again. Could that light be the sun? No...she had fallen far beneath the surface. It was as if she had crawled down one of the volcanic veins, except where the lava ought to flow, there was only water. Perhaps the light was the glow of lava. It was too solid to be flame. And what else could it be?
Taja pulled at the rock with her arms, but she gasped with pain and shock as her arms turned to rubber, senseless except for the deep, dull ache. She did not have the energy to move. And yet, it was all she could do.
After an excrutiating amount of struggle and effort, she managed to find her feet beneath her and the stairs before her. She squinted sorely at the sight, if only to steady the spinning and swirling scene, to see the stairs as they were without bends and jumps of light, without blurry edges, without that peculiar blue flicker.
But though she focused all she had on seeing clearly, the blue flicker remained, dancing up and down the stairs from some unknown source. The closest comparison that Taja could recall was the shimmer that glanced from the scales of the dust lizards.
And there, at the top of the stairs, through the opening, the solid white glow continued. She began to step her way up, her shoulder into the wall and her arms swaying with the shift of her balance.
The relentless sucking of the water fell to a low rumble as she felt the gusts of moist air move mysteriously around her. Soon she was on the landing.
She knew not what propelled her, but curiosity was among the crowd of concerned thoughts. She moved with more grace now, across the landing, and through the perfect arch of rock. She had no energy to prepare herself for the unexpected, and so she moved with little hesitance, little thought, and less care.
And it was of little importance either way, for Taja could never have been prepared for what awaited her in the following cavern.
First, a globe of solid white light upon a ceiling polished smooth and silver, and then--a solid wall of transparent blue, deep and stretching, shimmering with distance. She stared in shock as she realized what was before her.
It was a solid wall of water. The water was light and glowing, and it did not flow forward, but what invisible barrier held it back, Taja did not know. And the most intriguing spectacle yet was what Taja then saw floating deep within this wall of water.
It was an animal such as she'd never seen before. It was moving and floating with more grace than a bird, and with more fluidity than a giant snake. And then, as Taja stared openly, a single giant eye turned to see her, and to her horror, the tremendous being swept her way with a single mighty flick of its tail.