The entrance to the castle crypts, as it turned out, was located behind a panel of shelving in the library tower. The shelves slid aside at Seoc’s touch, revealing a heavy oaken door, bolted shut from the outside with a set of menacing iron latches.
“This door,” said Seoc, “was installed before keys had been invented.”
“How did you find it?” Seymour asked as Seoc began to draw back the bolts.
“I spent a lot o’ time pokin’ aboot this library whenever we’d come ta Carviliet. One day, I jus’ happened across the trigger that moved the shelves, an’ there it was. I’m no’ sure even Uncle Alasdair knows aboot it.”
Seoc pulled back the last bolt and gave the door a shove. Slowly it swung open, revealing a dark, twisting tunnel, leading downward over steep earthen steps. The walls were lined with unlit torches, the nearest of which Seoc took down from its bracket and brought back into the bright, sunlit library.
“Has anyone any flint?”
Seymour dug in his pocket. “No, but I have a magnifying glass.”
Using the magnifier and a late autumn sunbeam, they lit the torch after several unsuccessful attempts. Seoc took the newly flaming torch into the dirt-walled passageway and used it to set alight the others that lined the tunnel at regular intervals.
“Come on. We dinna ha’ all day.”
Cautiously, they all followed him in. After a few steps, though, Seymour stopped in his tracks, causing Simon to walk into him.
“Shouldn’t someone stay by the entrance, so no one closes the door and locks us inside?”
Fiona volunteered to remain behind.
“Take Raif with you,” Simon suggested. “None of us should ever be alone.”
“We’ll be back within aboot thirty minutes,” said Seoc. “If we ha’ no’ returned after an hour, go for help.”
“I can keep in contact with Raif.”
“Let’s no’ rely on that, Simon.”
“You don’t believe me, do you?”
Seoc sighed. “If I let myself believe that you can communicate telepathically wi’ a dog, where do I draw the line? Noo let’s go. We’re wastin’ time.”
“Wait a sec, little fish.” Seymour placed a hand on Seoc’s shoulder to stop him, then turned to face the woman. “Fiona, are you armed?”
He unbuckled his sheathed sword from his belt and tossed it to her. “Take this. You never know what might come by, determined to kill.”
She caught it and fastened the leather strap about her waste. “Thanks.”