The Legend of Lady MacLaoch

The Legend of Lady MacLaoch by Becky Banks Read Free Book Online

Book: The Legend of Lady MacLaoch by Becky Banks Read Free Book Online
Authors: Becky Banks
original stone of the castle. There was no way that that little chamber was a dungeon. Either the people of yesteryear Scotland were miniature or the MacLaochs didn’t have very many enemies. Neither seemed likely.
    I could see a plaque on the far wall, and could make out part of the first sentence: “In this room, Lady MacLaoch . . . ”
    I was joyous at finding another lead so soon. This place would be packed with visitors the next day. I wouldn’t have to go in very far. Just a few steps.
    The stone made the closet-dungeon—there was maybe room for five or six people to stand shoulder to shoulder—cooler than the hallway I stepped from. The plaque said:
In this room Lady MacLaoch’s power prevailed. Lady Abby MacLaoch, an astute historian of the nineteenth century, felt that to refurbish this room in the styling of her modern era would diffuse its historical significance. Thus this room has not changed since the day it was created and still stands as the entrance to the dungeons, which are through the hole below the iron grate in the floor. When the grate was placed over the thirteen-foot drop to the dungeon below, prisoners were forgotten. Forever.
    Oh, I thought, wrong Lady MacLaoch . And then: Hole? I looked down.
    I was standing on the lid to the dungeons. I stood frozen, looking into the dark pit below me, the first trickles of vertigo unbalancing the world and the walls suddenly feeling suffocatingly close.
    I should leave, I thought, only my feet didn’t move. Phobia took the driver’s seat while my rational mind took the back. The walls pushed in on my mind, shoving the oxygen out, along with my ability to reason. Then—before I could crawl, claw, walk, or jump—the light from the doorway went out, plunging me into darkness.
    The thrum of blood in my ears mimicked the sound of skin against stone, and I dove into the murky depths of my claustrophobia. The claustrophobia combined with the effects of hiking for miles, nearly falling from a cliff to my death, then getting soaked and chilled to the bone with torrential rain. It grabbed ahold of me and I succumbed to it as I never had before.
    I barely recognized the din of a human voice. Blackness surrounded me and I felt a hum of energy within me before I felt the pressure on my shoulder. Then I felt nothing more.

    I lay disoriented on a green velvet settee—surrounding me were books, loads of ancient books. It was obvious I was in some sort of library, but I couldn’t figure how on earth how I had gotten there.
    I made myself sit up, my body feeling used up and weak from the claustrophobia attack. Some of the books were tooled leather, others gilded with gold. None, though, had the glossy covers of the twenty-first-century books that line the shelves at modern-day bookstores. In the center of the room, a large reading table held a glowing lamp, despite the brightness of the late-afternoon sun through the window behind me.
    I rubbed my arms, hoping to get rid of some of the fatigue that was clawing at them, and it was then I saw him. My resident jerk was leaning against the doorjamb, slightly out of view next to a massive wooden bookshelf, observing me.
    “Diabetic or claustrophobic?” he said in greeting.
    I was too tired to banter with him. I managed, “Claustrophobic.”
    He nodded. “Did you just discover this?”
    “No,” I said softly, hoping that there was an exit other than the one he was currently taking up.
    The MacLaoch nodded again. “So ye say ye have had attacks before, and yet I found ye in the smallest, darkest room in the castle. Did someone push ye in there?”
    I could see where this was going and it wasn’t a warm washcloth across my head and a stiff drink in my hand, which were what I really needed. I said, “No, but I am persistent,” and stood, hoping my legs could and would carry me from the place.
    “Aye, I can see tha’. I’m just wondering why a woman who boldly claims herself to be a Minory descendant

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