The room was dark, and silent, and had been that way for more years than were countable. No moisture entered, no air escaped. It was perfectly sealed and utterly black. A prison like no other. And with an echoing crack, millennia of silence were broken by one man’s ill fated curiosity.
A large brick shifted in the wall of the prison in time with the crack, shifting in place and sending a thin film of dust drifting to the floor. Silence overcame the room once more, then a louder crack rang out, more forceful this time, but still as ineffective as the initial blow. The silence returned warily, and had almost settled completely again, when a sharp hum sounded through the wall, and suddenly a massive boom smashed into the wall, shattering mortar and sending stone blocks that hadn’t moved since they were placed tumbling to the floor of the prison and allowing streaks of torchlight to fall into the room, randomly checker-boarding the floor with reddish light. A shadow passed over one of the holes left by a missing stone, then a final boom resounded and the wall crumbled, falling inward in a cloud of dust, mortar, and stone chips that skittered across the floor like fleeing mice.
Pen covered his mouth with his sleeve and coughed forcefully into it, “Oh gods, hack, note to self, cough, old things are dusty. Bring a kerchief, wheeze, next time.” Before the dust completely settled from the air the adventuring bard lifted the torch held in one hand and poked it through the jagged hole he’d created in the wall, illuminating the interior with its fiery glow. He squinted furiously and squeezed inside, ducking his head and coughing again as he stepped onto the smooth, featureless floor.
While exploring the biographical archives, as he always did on Thursdays, Pen had found a dirty piece of velum with a short paragraph written on it. He’d laughed at the idea of it when he realized it was a note from a criminal in the dungeon fifteen years ago, complaining about his accommodations. As he read on though, his laughter ebbed. The criminal complained about the back wall in particular, creaking slightly whenever he slept in the bed bolted to it. And more sobering still, he complained of nightmares whenever he slept against that wall, and ONLY that wall. Doing a bit more digging on a whim, Pen discovered the inmate’s complaint had been ignored and he’d lived in that cell for two more years, slowly developing acute paranoia about the wall, and eventually dying of blood loss and infection when he tried to attack the wall with his bare hands, overpowering any guard that tried to stop him. He died sobbing, screaming about the dark world inside the wall.
His morbid curiosity piqued, Pen had found the cell, and indeed felt a faint magical essence leaking through the wall, though nothing to drive a man to madness. He knocked on the wall and felt nothing, but when he sat on the wooden bed attached to the wall to think he heard the unmistakable sound of settling stone, which should have been impossible since the dungeon was carved from the living bedrock. So, he did what any wizard worth his testosterone would do. He knocked that wall down darn it! Bringing him to his current situation.
As the dust settled, Pen opened his eyes fully and shamelessly gawked at the sight he beheld. The room was a nondescript cube, fifteen feet to a side, polished to a glossy, smooth blackness on every surface. The six flat planes were so smooth and glossy in fact that he could see his reflection in any one of them. In the center of the floor though, absorbing his attention, stood a simple mirror. It was eight feet tall and four wide, with a flat glass surface and a dark wooden frame. As he took in the sight of the room, Pen’s mind clicked away, making notes he would copy down into his notebook later. Focusing in on different details individually, it took him a woefully long time to notice one particular detail that made his jaw drop. Seeing his reflection in the floor was a normal enough thing. NOT seeing it in the mirror, was not.
“No,” He muttered, stepping toward the mirror, “That’s just not possible. A stationary illusion spell just can’t last as long as this place has been sitting here.” He stopped just two feet from the mirror, staring at the inky blackness inside it. He looked around the edges, trying to find… something, but then a light appeared in the middle of the mirror. Startled, Pen jumped a bit and watched as more squares of light appeared until they finally broke into a single jagged ring of light with a silhouette in the center. A familiar silhouette. In fact, as Pen glanced over his shoulder, he saw the same scene, only without the silhouette. The hole in the wall was the exact same shape, so the silhouette must be...
Pen’s eyes bulged and he whipped around. His reflection looked right back at him, looking exactly the same but for black hair instead of blonde. Other than that, it was a perfect reflection. The facial expression was the same, the background was the same, the torch was the same, the shirt and trousers were the same, even the tilt of his head was the same. If not for the man in the mirror’s black beard and hair, Pen would have sworn he had been hallucinating when he hadn’t seen himself before.
He closed an eye and the reflection copied him. Then he lifted a hand and waved and the mirror, well, mirrored him. Nothing strange besides the hair, and such a simple illusion spell could, if well powered when it was cast, last for quite a long time. Pen was reassuring himself this was a good idea, opening this tomb, but something nagged at the back of his head. The dark world inside the wall.
He glanced over his shoulder again, almost afraid he’d find the wall rebuilding itself as he stood there, but it still lay in rubble; a barrier meant to last forever that he had brought down. That thought, coupled with a sudden sense of doom, made him shudder as he turned back. And then true fear washed over him. His reflection no longer mimicked him. Instead, it just stared at him, grinning savagely like a predator. “What are you?” Pen whispered, staring at his own face contorted in evil joy. The visage seemed to point through the mirror at Pen’s chest, as if he meant to say “you,” but that was not the reflection’s intent at all.
All in an instant, the mirror bulged out in the shape of a hand and Pen tried to leap back, but it caught his hand and pulled. He tried to yell in terror, but as he hit the mirror’s surface, his eyes connecting with his reflection’s, everything went black and silent.
Pen jerked awake and leapt to his feet, looking around wildly. He was still in the vault, and had been sitting on the floor with his back to the mirror.
He spun around and saw himself looking back, still grinning evilly, then it slowly turned around, clearly laughing though Pen couldn’t hear him, and walked away, squeezing through the hole in the wall, and vanishing. Pen’s breathing was fast and hard, and he stared in confusion and terror for minutes, until he finally lost it and leaned over, retching like he’d swallowed torch oil.
What was happening!?
_ OOC: Well. So much for trying to shorten my intro post. Oh well! I wonder who will come looking for Pen (Mirror Pen, really, but they've got ours now. And remember, moralities are basically switched in the Mirror world, so if Pen tries to be a benevolent, good person in our world…)_