Once Seoc had copied the marble map (immaculately, of course), he gestured for Seymour to follow him out of the library, along a corridor, and down into the castle dungeons.
“Where are we going?” Seymour asked as Seoc led him down a dark, dank passageway , carrying a torch he had taken from a wall bracket.
“I need ta show you somethin’. Just in case.”
“In case of what?” Seymour wondered, a bit unsettled by Seoc’s tone.
Seoc glanced back at him, his face shadowy in the flickering torchlight. “In case it gets me an’ I go mad. I’d probably hide. This way, you’ll know where ta find me. My father used ta come ta Carviliet with us sometimes, an’ this is where I’d run if he came after me.”
“Down here in the lightless dungeons?”
He snorted. “Ironic, is it no’? An’ I was afeared o’ the dark, too. But nothin’ in it could frighten me as much as Tormod MacInnes did, an’ I knew he couldna find me here.”
They had come to a heavy, slightly rotten oaken door, which Seoc pushed open, letting them into a chilly, earthen tunnel. Seymour looked around by the light of the torch.
“By Rezyn, Seoc,” he breathed. “This is a crypt!”
“Catacombs,” Seoc corrected him. “They’re rather more extensive than this single chamber, and grow ta be a wee bit maze-like the further in you go.”
Seymour shuddered, slipping his hand instinctively into Seoc’s, and glanced warily at the ancient, carved sarcophagus that crouched before them. “You hid in here?”
“Weren’t you terrified?”
“I was,” Seoc replied, “but only o’ my father findin’ me. Never paid much mind ta my surroondings.”
Seymour squeezed his hand gently, brow furrowed in concern. He couldn’t imagine something so frightening that it made the skull-adorned walls seem trivial. “I’m…I’m sorry, little fish.”
“There’s nothin’ you need ta apologize for.”
He swallowed. “If you don’t mind my asking, what did he do to you?”
“I’d rather no’ talk aboot it,” Seoc mumbled, disconnecting his hand from Seymour’s, seating himself on the stone sarcophagus and bowing his head. Seymour knew that right thing to do would be to sit down beside him and offer some sort of comfort, but he was still somewhat wary of the tomb: he’d never been particularly superstitious, but after all this business with incarnate, vampirical queens of time and serpentine mind-parasites, he wouldn’t have been especially surprised if the ancient stone coffin had opened up and devoured them both. Instead, he approached Seoc (and the sarcophagus) slowly and knelt cautiously beside him, laying a hand on the young man’s thigh.
“Listen, Seoc,” he said quietly. “I didn’t mean to pry.”
“This place makes me nervous. Can we go now?”
Seoc smiled sardonically in the wavering orange firelight. “I rather like it here. There is a certain charm in the macabre.”
“Yesss,” a voice hissed from the shadows. “There is, isn’t there?”