The eyes peer out from a face of silver, gray, and white. Fog doesn’t just curl around their legs, but becomes their legs and floats away from their tails. A large tuft of fur hangs in front of one of the beasts amber eyes and the other has a nick in its ear. Save these two traits, they’re identical.
“Tigers,” breaths MeaZea, amazed. If Panda Santa hadn’t already mentioned the twins, she would have believed them to be ghosts. They glide through the fog silently, moving closer to the group. Tails lashing, the two tigers split away from each other, circling MeaZea, WooFZee, and Panda Santa.
It’s unnerving, even with Panda Santa still smiling beside them. WooFZee can’t stop the low, concerned growl that he gives and the mermaid’s mouth twists down into a frown.
“Hello, Lea, Tea. A bit murky out here, isn’t it?” asks Panda Santa, with a laugh.
The tiger with the nick in her ear, Lea, grins. It’s all fangs and mist and gleaming eyes. “Panda Santa! I told you, Tea, I told you that he would come! He always does!”
“I never said he wouldn’t,” argues Tea, tail lashing. He bumps his shoulder into that of his twin. “You’re the one that was getting worried.”
“Of course I came,” says Panda Santa, moving to pat each tiger on the head. “Now, why don’t you show us to the Mirror Lake? My reindeer would love a drink and I think that your maze has made my companions nervous.”
Tea grins to match his sister, amber eyes resting on the mermaid and wolf. “The lake? Of course we can! But…we want something from you, too.”
“Like what?” asks WooFZee’s ears flick in irritation.
“A game,” says Tea.
Lea nods. “You have to ask us a question.”
MeaZea. She runs her fingers through WooFZee’s fur and leans forward, not sure whether or not to be excited over another game. “What sort of a question?”
“The same sort that all of the travelers have to ask,” answers Tea, with a tilt of his head. “Any question that can be answered ‘yes’ or ‘no’. Lea and I will both answer, but only one of us will tell the truth.”
Lea nods, happy to have someone aside from her brother to speak with. It can get lonely out among the fog. “If you figure out which one of us is lying, then we’ll take you to the lake.”
“And if we don’t?” questions MeaZea, already trying to think up the right sort of question to ask.
The fog is thicker now, the sky dark with night. The first few stars are just starting to twinkle to light, mixing with the silvers and grays of the tiger’s pelts. It’s eerie and beautiful all at once.
“Then we’ll bring Panda Santa back to the lake,” answers Tea and Lea at the same time. “The two of you will have to wait until tomorrow night. If you’re still in the maze by then, you can ask another question.”
Katelynn E Koontz – Author