Nathaniel Cannon and the Secret of the Dutchman’s Cross No. 29

The others followed him across. Burr pointed her light down the tunnel. “Is that a door?”

Cannon took a step toward it. “It could—”

The floor beneath his foot shifted, and a click echoed down the hall. Instantly, Iseabail said, “Dinna move a muscle, cap’n.”

“Don’t have to tell me twice,” Cannon said, already standing stock still.

Iseabail took charge. “Aim tha’ light at the ground there, and dinna the rest of ye move either.” Standing in place, she leaned toward the campaign and shifted her light back and forth. Shadows danced across the floor, and she saw the outline of the plate Cannon had triggered. It ran across the whole hallway, and only a hair’s width separated it from the natural floor. It would have been nearly impossible to see even if they’d been more careful.

Fine workmanship, Isea thought, but not a useful place to look. Where did it connect? “Now, the mechanism must be rou’ed under the floor,” she mumbled, shining her torch on the plate, then the walls, then the ceiling. None of it struck her as out of the ordinary. “Alrigh’, what did ye do, ye crafty ancient gits…” Whatever she’d said earlier, there weren’t many ways she would count on to store power for millenia. Rocks, mainly, and gravity. That meant things high up, triggered by the plate somehow. Stepping on it lifted a support above a set point, perhaps, and removing pressure let it fall away, so that a heavy weight could turn on an axle. Surely something along those lines—otherwise, they would have set off the trap the moment the captain had blundered into it.

Iseabail spent a minute or two more before she expanded her inspection. Further down the hall, two yards past Cannon, was a suspicious-looking crack in the ceiling. It rain straight across, directly from wall to wall, and beyond it by a yard was its twin.

Iseabail turned her flashlight on the cave-in, but the angle was wrong to look at the ceiling. “Amelia, can ye see the edge where tha’ cave-in stops?”

Dutifully, Burr leaned over as far as she could and had a look. “What do you want to know?”

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