Under The Sea
By Jeff Baker
“Shhhh…” Diaz said, finger to his lips, voice echoing in the damp, seaside cave. “I think this is it.”
“You’re sure?” Nehemiah asked. “Took us enough to get here. Let’s get what we came for and leave before the tide comes in.”
“Treasure better be worth it,” I said.
“It will be,” Diaz said. “Better than the lost gold of the Incas. Did you ever hear of the Library of Alexandria?”
“Yeah, but the Gulf of Tunis is nowhere near Alexandria.” The Gulf of Tunis was what would be lapping at our ankles if we stayed in the cave much longer.
“This is better than the Library of Alexandria,” Diaz said. “The Lost Library of the University at Dom-Daniel.”
“The what?” I said.
“The fabled college of sorcery in a cavern under the sea, just off the Tunisian coast,” Diaz said. “Started by wizards in the days of the Carthaginian Empire, and blessed by Astarte herself. Probably the legends of the Alexandrian Library started here.”
“Here?” Nehemiah said. “This cave?”
“It’s the doorway,” Diaz said. “Knowledge handed down in my family for over a thousand years. Along with this.”
He held up a circle of metal with a jagged, pointed edge at one side.
“Is that one of those things that slices vegetables and newspaper pages?” Nehemiah asked.
“No!” Diaz snapped. “It’s a key. The key, to the Library. My ancestor was a Necromancer. He studied at Dom-Daniel.”
“And it only cost him his soul. He’s still paying back the loans.” Nehemiah snarked.
“Very funny.” Diaz said. “My ancestor worked in the Library. I guess you’d say he was a proctor. He was one of the last and when the school shut down he kept the key.”
“So?” I said.
“They may have left things behind. Magical artifacts. Books….” Diaz said.
“Talking dragons…” Nehemiah said. Diaz ignored him.
“All I do is hold the key up to the wall,” he said walking along the wall, “…and maybe…yes!”
A small section of the cave wall was glowing a bright green. So was the key Diaz was holding.
“Here goes,” he said.
The key silently slipped into the green section of wall. A large doorway-sized part of the wall swung open like, well, like a door. We could see a blue glow on the other side. We ducked in and the door shut behind us.
The room had smooth stone walls. It was lit by the blue light and none of us could see where it came from. There were old, wooden bookshelves on one side of the wall. Empty shelves. The room wasn’t that big. Maybe nine or ten feet high and about twenty feet long in all directions. There was no other door. Most importantly, it was dry.
“This must be an outer chamber, or an office,” Diaz said. “They must have left something.”
“Over here,” I said. “Look.”
There was what looked like a large stalagmite sticking up out of the ground; a podium made of rock. The three of us searched it and found a cubbyhole on one side. In it was a large, leather bound book.
“Not the Necronomicon?” I asked.
“That’s made up.” Diaz said, laying the book on the flat top of the makeshift podium. “This is real.”
We couldn’t read the symbols on the pages and the printing inside was in various languages, much written in deep red ink.
“I found something,” Diaz said, reading through the book. “It confirms my theory. This is an antechamber to the main library. You don’t use a door to get in.” he looked up at us. “You use a spell.”
He took a deep breath and grabbed the book firmly with one hand, and grabbed my shoulder with the other.
“Guys, hang onto each other and grab the book.” We did. He took another deep breath and read from the page.
“Platypus, Grey Goose and Spaniel
All are going to Dom-Daniel.”
There was a burst of sparks and the room filled with foul-smelling black smoke. When it cleared, I was staring at a goose and a dog standing by the podium. I stared and turned around to survey myself.
I was a platypus.
“Well,” honked the goose in an approximation of Diaz’ voice. “Let’s try the next spell.”
The spaniel whimpered and rolled its eyes.
AUTHOR’S NOTE: I’d just done a column on T. H. White’s novel “The Sword in the Stone” https://queerscifi.com/jeff-baker-boogieman-in-lavender-of-dracula-and-dragons/ where Merlyn mentions Dom-Daniel. The legend dates back a few hundred years, so I decided to have some fun! —-jsb.