There you remain, until gradually, the air around you seems to become cooler. With the utmost caution, you open your eyes and gasp at the sight. Just ahead of you lies the opening of a small cave. You walk slowly towards it, each step a fluid movement, so that you seem to glide in a long, legato arc over the sand. Crouching down low, you squeeze through the opening of the cave, the bare skin of your shoulders unhurt by the rough surface of the rock. In front of you is a set of stone steps, each slightly different in depth. Like a groom at a wedding procession, these steps you descend, fluid and elegant, the soles of your bare feet feeling the pleasing sensation of the cool stone beneath them.
When you reach the bottom, all you can feel is relief. There below you, the rays of sunlight from the cave’s opening dancing in little rainbow patterns across the water, is a small stream. Euphoria envelops you as you rush forwards to greedily take a sip of the divine liquid, lying there, smooth and shimmering like silver, just waiting to be tasted. You take up a measure in your palms and watch the water shudder and sway there, perfect and serene. You want to savour this moment. But when you raise it to your lips to take a sip, it turns to tar in your fingers. You feel like crying out in plight or rage, but no sound escapes you.
You squat for a moment, your hands smeared with the sticky black liquid. And then it dawns on you: to drink the water you so crave you must prove that you are worthy of it. You must prove you deserve it.
Climbing nimbly into the small wooden boat, you take up the oars and begin steadily to paddle yourself through the water. Slowly and fluidly, you glide onwards into a tunnel in the rock. The sunlight glinting on the water, you can make out etchings on the walls in some ancient language. Something about them tells you to keep going. Before long, the sunlight is left behind and you are enveloped in darkness. Yet you keep rowing. Nothing else matters now. You must keep on striving to achieve your goal.