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Sphinxes are humanoid creatures who have supreme magical powers which they use to guard the entrances to various hidden cities.
To achieve these powers they continuously practice certain physical exercises that humans would call yoga or contortion if they only could clearly see a sphinx.
The flexible poses they can do (and do most of the time) is often the reason why the rare people who get to see them often mistake them for half-animals, e.g. one with a lion body and a human head.
This is an optical illusion caused by their mimicry magic as well as their limberness and the fact that they're usually encountered by travellers at night when it's very dark and only their silhoettes could be seen. Humans see the bodily positions they cannot understand and end up using their own imagination to fantasize about the rest of the sphinx's body.
Physically, they're not much bigger than humans but can distort the perspective in the viewer's eye to make themselves appear as giants.
Sometimes two or three sphinxes may be set to guard a single hidden city. In these cases sphinxes fall in love with each other very easily and that's how new sphinxes are born.
Sphinxes don't have separate genders, that's why for example in Greece they say that sphinxes are women, while in Egypt they're seen to be men.
When the time comes they fertilize a partner and bear a child for several years without stopping their practices. The child gets involved in the physical and magical training almost since birth and within the range of 200-300 years becomes a very supple and fully accomplished sphinx.
Then the young sphinxes leave their parents and travel to the Sphinx Guild to seek for a job. Sphinxes are very well known in most countries of the world, from Philippines and Sri Lanka to Egypt and Greece.