I assumed that the beasts formed the basis of the scarier rumours and stories surrounding this place. They seemed restlessly active and I wondered if it was due to disturbance at our presence. There were a couple of crocodile sized creatures that weren’t actually crocodiles but an otherwise unheard of variety of large, dangerous-looking lizard, something like a komodo dragon. There were also several smaller ones that quickly dipped in and out of the water and which looked like a different species to the others but possibly were females. My companion was evidently nervous at the proximity of these dangerous-looking reptilians and although I wasn’t exactly over the moon myself, due to their imposing size and peculiar nature, I had no fear of the guardian lizards.
I was moving swiftly on but could not fail to attract the attention of the largest beast, which ran like lightening in my direction almost as soon as I laid eyes on it - now I really understood why they had wanted me to go first. I stopped to turn slightly as it approached and, when it reached my feet, I bent down instinctively to pat its head. I was very lucky indeed, because although my companion (but not my consciousness) had been unaware, it appeared that these animals were my friends. Perhaps this was because of the boots, for the creature had distinctly sniffed at them before scuttling back to its shadowy corner. Whatever the case may have been, the second success of the mission appeared to have been achieved and, as I looked ahead, I felt a leap of excitement – there was a partially open door to the other side clearly in view and not to far away.
I reached the exit quickly. It was a small wooden door, part of the panel of a larger one. It was quite similar in appearance to the pedestrian entrances of college buildings that were cut into the great old gates of my student days. This doorway in the ancient gate swung completely open as soon as I reached it and I saw clear signs of a fine summer day beyond the threshold. Bowing my head to get through the restricted entrance, I stepped over and out into the secret university.