So up they went: Tom, Daphne, Angelica, Cloudius, Arnulf, lit wands in front and in back. After a hundred steps—they must by now be inside one of the hills, maybe near the top—the stair came to a small landing with a low door.
“Rok,” said Daphne.
“Aren’t you going to wait and find out what’s inside?” asked Tom. But Eva just went right through, and Daphne, with a grin, followed her.
Inside there was a small room with several big desks, all covered with papers and books. A little bald bespectacled ghost sat doing paperwork. He didn’t seem to notice them, especially after Eva jumped up on the ledger he was working on. He started petting her, and when Tom joined him and Eva got a four-handed pet, he looked at Tom and smiled, apparently thinking Tom was also a ghost.
Meanwhile Angelica, Arnulf, Cloudius and Daphne were looking at those books and papers, apparently unnoticed.
“Hey,” said Angelica, “check these. These symbols aren’t hieroglyphs, they’re not runes, and—!”
“Prehuman,” said Daphne. “Um, Pnakotic, I think. Yeah. That’s bad.”
“Can you read them?”
“Goddess no. You don’t want them read.”
“And this,” said Arnulf, unpiling papers off a book, “it’s bound in skin. Yeah, I do believe that’s human skin. That means this is a—!”
“Necronomicon,” said Cloudius.
“Mad Arab,” said Angelica.
“Abdul Alhazred. Yeah.” Cloudius bent down to look and absent-mindedly began mouthing the words, notwithstanding that they were Arabic and written in Greek letters. Then he stopped himself. He looked sideways at Angelica. “Gotta be careful what you read aloud.”
“What’s it say?”
“Um, this says, call not up what you can put not down. Yeah.”
“How do you know that?” she asked. He mouthed kla. “That works??” she replied.
“How about this,” said Daphne. “It’s a Phantasmagoria. And looky here, it’s bookmarked. Tom, keep petting that cat, keep that ghost occupied.”
Daphne opened the Phantasmagoria to the marked page. “Yes! English! Sort of.” She scanned the page, then the facing page, then stopped. “Moste recentlie foundd in ye Pitte beneathe that Ponde which lyeth amongst the hills beyonde the River Kennebecke…”
“Keep reading,” said Arnulf.
“Ye Shoggothes are without Forme untilll such Tyme as they are Taught Formme by their Mastres… yett some of them havve lernt howe to Forme them Selfs and no longer serve ye eville mastres whom they once did Serve, but rather Serve onlie them selfs, the whiche be no Betttter but in facte mucche ye Worse for ye Worlde!” She looked down the rest of the page and onto the next page. “Well, that’s plenty, don’t you think?”
“Pond that lyeth in the hills beyond the Kennebec,” said Arnulf. “That has to be this.”
“Shoggoths,” said Cloudius. “That doesn’t sound so good.”
“It’s not,” said Arnulf.
“Just wait,” said Daphne. She was a few pages on. “And in ye Pittt wherein ye Great Pig of Demonkind dwelleth, ye thinges grow and playe and waitte their Tyme when Foode shal be broucht unto them!”
“Food brought unto them?” Angelica repeated. “What??”
“Guarding as their kinde will, one boon ye lyke of which there be but Eleven in toto in ye entyre Worlde! Whoa, what could that be about?”
“Eleven,” said Tom, still petting, “got to be a segment.”
“Whatever,” said Angelica, “I don’t want to be Foode.”
“I don’t like Great Pig of Demonkind,” said Arnulf.
“There’s a lot I don’t like,” said Angelica. “Look at this little tome. It was face down next to that one, open to: let’s see. Latin. Medieval Latin.”
“Oh, too bad,” said Cloudius. “I got Arabic at home, but not Latin.”
“You got Arabic at home?” asked Arnulf.
“Some people stayed with us back in Philly, hiding from the Magick Law. Interesting people.”
“Well, I have Latin,” said Angelica. “And listen. Senices alieni, in terra antipodale, in quintessimis divisi… magistri Schoggothorum, qui…” She looked ahead a page or two, then back. “There were these elder things, old aliens or maybe foreign old guys. No, old aliens. In Antarctica, that has to be terra antipodale. They had fivefold symmetry and kind of spongy bodies. They looked like root beer barrels with five legs and arms and little starfish kind of heads. They were the masters of the shoggoths. But they got loose, the shoggoths did.” She looked at the old ghost. “What’s he think of all this?”
The old ghost smiled vaguely in her direction. “He knows you’re there but he can’t see you,” said Tom. “He can see me because of Eva. He’s just a keeper of books.”
“Can we take any of the books?” asked Cloudius.
“I wouldn’t want to,” said Arnulf. “Especially the, uh, N book.”
“Let’s try making an illusion of the elder things,” Cloudius suggested. “We might freak them out if we meet them. Then we’d be less likely to be Foode. Can you do it, Ange?”
“I can illusion anything,” said Ange. She waved her wand. “Poj!”
The ghost burst out laughing. Then the other kids did. Then Angelica did. The five-fold symmetry was right, but everything else looked exactly like Bozo the Clown.
“Okay, okay,” she said, flipping her wand backward and sucking back the Fivefold Bozo. She tried again: “Poj!!” Now a much scarier and more realistic fivefold alien appeared, a little taller than Daphne, waving claws around and making hissing, whistling sounds. “Good?” Ange asked.
“Great,” said Arnulf, Cloud and Tom. Even the ghost seemed worried. Eva was staring straight through the thing. Ange untwisted the spell and it dissipated.
“That’s a one word spell?” Arn asked.
“Yeah, so pay attention in Illusions from now on,” said Angelica. “Tom, we need to borrow one or two of these books. Can you ask—?”
“O Librarian,” said Tom, “may I introduce my friends, Angelica and Arnulf and Daphne and Cloudius? They’re Eva’s friends as well.”
“Ah,” said the ghost, “I knew more living were here than just you, little Tomkin. So, you like my library? You can’t have the Necronomicon, no you can’t!”
“We don’t want it,” said Angelica, “no offense. But it would be handy to have—!”
“This one,” said Arnulf.
“Yeah, and this one too,” said Daphne.
Angelica, Daphne and Arnulf decided on three books to ask the ghost for, and, truly a librarian, the ghost wrote them down on a page of one of his ledgers. They took leave of the ghost and headed back downstairs. The big room was still quiet, and the broken bones were still lying around. They started down the sloping ramp, which was wide enough to go two abreast: Tom and Daphne, then Ange and Cloud, then Arnulf in back.
Then they stopped. In front of them was a gate, a complex web of interesting metals. They could see through it that the hall sloped on down at least for a little way. In the middle was a half-spherical cup facing straight at them.
“It’s the exact shape of that blue gem,” said Tom.
“Great,” said Cloud and Arnulf.
“Are you saying we should pick it up?” asked Angelica. “I thought you said we shouldn’t.”
“I did,” said Tom. “I haven’t changed my mind at all.”
“So how—?” Tom and Arnulf just looked at each other and grinned.