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Is this story from West of Loathing a reference to a real story?

A tale of a woman who finds a hidden staircase leading to a strange, undersea catacomb inhabited by hyperintelligent dogs.

Something about that story... You really lost yourself in it.

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The brief description of the plot makes me think of Hans Christian Andersen's "The Tinderbox", although the version I've read is in Philip Pullman's Grimm Tales.

In it, there is a soldier who encounters a witch who shows him a hidden staircase inside a tree. The staircase leads to a series of underground rooms, inside each of which a dog with large eyes guards some treasure.

Similarities:

  • woman (witch) with knowledge of hidden staircase

  • series of rooms (catacombs) underground

  • dogs (who understand complicated instructions)

Possible minus points:

  • dogs are not explicitly sentient (but their eyes are huge)

  • witch doesn’t go into the rooms (ie this would be a prequel!)

  • no mention of undersea (but Andersen also penned "The Little Mermaid")

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    Another minus point is that the dogs (at least in Andersen’s version) do not ‘inhabit’ the tree as such—they’re magical being that sort of live inside the tinderbox, but also guard the rooms in the tree. There are definite resemblances, but I think “a strange, undersea catacomb inhabited by hyperintelligent dogs” sounds too far from The Tinderbox for this to be right. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Jul 23 '18 at 21:04

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