Legend tells us that a long time ago in a desert land, two squabbling sisters led rival factions in the royal court. They were almost identical to look at save for one had jet black hair and the other red hair that glowed in the sun. Eventually, tired of their machinations and scheming, the court wizard cursed them both to take the form of sphinxes.
They retained some aspects of their original forms including their lions tail fur matching the sister’s original hair colours.
The curse further compelled them to act as a true sphinx and pose riddles to travellers. Should the travellers be unable to solve the riddles then the sisters would be compelled to slay the unfortunate traveller. The wizard decreed that the curse would only be lifted when the sisters worked together, and a traveller succeeded in passing by both of them.
Time passed, and the body count grew. Whilst some travellers would get past the first sister they all failed at the second (who had always been the trickier and more devious of the two).
Eventually the first sister (who many say was the brightest of the two) came up with a plan. They both knew riddles, that knowledge had come with their transformation, and they could solve each other’s riddles with ease. They were forbidden to directly answer each other’s riddles in front of a traveller, indeed they were forbidden to meet the same traveller at the same time, but the first sister had a plan.
Travelling by night they watched and waited for many days before they spotted a lone witch on the roads. Following her secretly they observed her performing powerful magic in the aid of fellow travellers that she encountered on the road.
The sisters put their plan into action and the second sister, the trickiest one, went on ahead to wait at the next mountain pass.
That evening, the first sister appeared before the travelling witch and challenged her to solve a riddle. She did so with ease but rather than passing on immediately she stayed with the sister for many hours. Passers-by reported seeing magic lights and sounds coming from the dell that the witch and the sister occupied.
Hours later, under a cold, clear, dessert sky the witch travelled on and encountered the second sister. The riddle was hard, almost impossibly so. Time passed, and the sister felt the rage coming on as she felt the witch was unable to answer. Then, with a smile, the witch lifted her head and gave the correct answer in a voice that sounded a little like the first sister. The curse was lifted, and the second sister felt herself transform back to her real self.
The witch stayed with her during the transformation and afterwards during the night. In the morning, the first sister walked into camp and the sisters were reconciled. The witch bade them well and continued on her way. It was at that point that the second sister noticed the unusual bracelet on the witch’s arm made of red braided hair which twinkled in the sunlight.
Made from sphinx main hair infused with magic this item typically takes the form of a braided bracelet. The braids often appear to shimmer and sparkle in the light.
More refined versions have been made into rings or metal bracelets with the hair inlaid in the metal.
It enables the wearer to, once per day, solve any one riddle or puzzle. When used the wearer often appears to be speaking in a voice that is not their own – almost as if they are channelling some unseen presence.
The riddle or puzzle does not have to be verbal, a practical puzzle or contraption (such as a mechanical trap) can also be solved. In that instance, the item enables the wearer to know how to solve the puzzle but it does not facilitate them physically overcoming it. That they need to do themselves!