Nothing. After so many years of searching, so many sacrifices made and people lost, he was so sure that it'd be here. He fell to his knees as he scanned the room, the old silver key clattered to the floor beside him. A pit of despair welled in his stomach and threatened to overtake his body, and his knees hit the dust covered stone. He continued to scan the dimly lit room, desperate to find something, anything to help him find what he'd spend so long searching for.
The walls were cold, dark stone. He could smell the musty scent of mildew, and hear a faint dripping in the far corner, and he noticed that patches of the wall were wet, where water had seeped through. He put one fist on the floor and pushed himself to his feel, dusting his hands on his jeans as he made his way to the back wall. He pressed his palms against the cool stone, feeling the faint trickle of the water as it streamed slowly from the ceiling to the floor. He could smell something else now, something sweet. He kept his hands against the wall as he leaned close to the moisture. He recognised the scent. The water was saline. He knew the tunnels had been convoluted, but he never imagined they'd lead beneath the ocean floor.
He moved across the room, to where the wall was slightly drier, he pressed his palms to the wall and began to gently search with his fingertips. His hands reached out, searching for an unexplained irregularity, anything to suggest that there was more to this room than what he first saw. Just as he seemed to have exhausted the area of his search, his nails clipped over an unnaturally smooth ridge, deeper than the natural crevices of the stone. He moved to the patch of wall his fingers had found, and he traced the shape that had been carved into the stone.
The small symbol etched into the wall was a small leaf shape, with a circle through the line that ran from the top of the leaf to the bottom. It was almost a vertical eye, save for the line cutting it in half. He stared at the odd symbol before shifting his gaze upward. At first it seemed as though the ceiling were as unmarked as ever, it wasn't until he turned back towards the entrance that he spotted it. Just above the doorway, a stone slab was marked with the same curious symbol he'd just discovered. he approached the door and reached up to the slab, and to his delight, found that it moved in his grip.
He pulled the slab loose, and felt the hollow where it had been and found a thin triangular rod pushed back against the recess in the wall. He retrieved the rod, and placed the slab on the floor. Intrigued, he continued to look for any other signs of the strange symbol.
When he couldn't find anymore, he returned to the original engraving and pressed his hand on it, and to his surprise, he felt a little give, indicating that this stone was indeed loose as well. However the long slab was more tightly embedded into the surrounding blocks and he grappled with the edges, using his fingernails, for a long while, before managing to wriggle it forwards enough to wrap his hands around the end and pull it free from the wall. At the back of this recess, he found a second triangular rod. He had to reach deep into the wall, almost the length of his arm, to retrieve the small rod. It was then that he noticed the two triangle shaped holes in the floor. Once clearing them of the dirt and dust that had rimmed the cutouts, he didn't hesitate to insert the first rod in the small hole nearest the door, and then the second rod, in the remaining hole. He sat still on his knees as silence continued to fill the room around him.
It was so faint, he wasn't sure he heard it at first, then the rumbling grew louder as the floor began to vibrate beneath his feet. To his surprise, a long thin crack appeared in the concrete floor, and as it grew, it traced a perfect circle in the floor - just like the symbol.
As the crack met the beginning and completed the circle, it dropped 5 inches and swivelled into a crevice below the surface, to reveal a spiralling staircase, leading into the murky depths below. He stared at the hole in the floor, amazed, before steeling himself for the descent. He had come so far and had no wish to stop now, not when what he yearned for may be so close.
Do all things so that they're beautiful xx JP