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Beyond here lie dragons

The Secret Bookshelf

Jerry Stratton, May 12, 2013

You’re in your run-down school, and you get into a fight near the books. You’re pushed back into them—and the bookshelf slides back to reveal a secret passage! Sounds like the beginning of a fantasy book, but for Sarah Hoyt (author of, among many other things, A Few Good Men), it was real.

In today’s post she describes a scene from her childhood in Portugal, unruly kids going to school in a re-purposed earl’s palace:

However, in our exploits, while we were being little (or in my case big) monkeys, we shoved at this big cupboard that looked built in, and which was used for school supplies. Okay, there was a fist fight (me? I was more likely to kick. Honestly I don’t even remember if I was engaged, because what happened next wiped it all out of my head) and one or more people fell heavily against the cupboard, which swung away, creakily, on hinges and long-disused wheels, revealing… a passageway.

Did we go down it? Are you kidding? Wild horses couldn’t have stopped us. For one, they wouldn’t have fit into the passage.

We went into it, and found ourselves in this sort of box high up on the side of one of the most magnificent churches I’ve ever seen. I’m not sure what was the point of the secret passage, unless someone didn’t wish it known she prayed a lot.

The church was all in ruins, of course, and smelled strongly of mouse whee. In retrospect, I think that the people from the great glorious revolution—no, no, the anti-monarchist one—which was strongly anti-religion sealed all other accesses to the church so well that, barring a drawing of the building by an architect, no one suspected it was there.

Anyway, the church had been decorated in the baroque style (yes, RES, they were going for Baroque) which means that it had enough gold everything that even in a corroded and tarnished condition it looked like Donald Trump’s wet dream. It also means that the various saint statues were in positions of martyrdom and had expressions that could be either of extreme pain or orgasm, and it was best not to look too closely. Saint Sebastian, pierced by however many arrows might have seen heaven close, but the smile was still disquieting.

Anyway, to the right of the altar, directly facing the box we were in was the best statue of Senhora das dores that I’ve ever seen “Lady of the Pains” is the straight translation, but I think in the States she might be known as Madre Dolores, thereby giving rise to a number of women named Dolores. Her chest is pierced by seven swords, and she looks up to heaven with an ecstatic/painful expression.

Believe it or not, this is Hoyt’s Mother’s Day post. I can‘t imagine what I would have done finding a secret passage behind the ancient copy of Thunderball in our Catholic grade school. It’s like a real-world Scooby Doo. But with mouse pee.

Remember, when describing your dungeons, to include odors. The mountains labor, to produce… mouse pee!

  1. <- Uriel 666
  2. New Divine Lore ->