31: The Tour


Image: The Dark Mansion by Ravermore

As it turned out, there was a lot to see.

At first, Edmund tried to be upset at having left the books behind in the Study, but he simply couldn’t feel anything other than abject amazement. For eight years he had only ever lived in a house with seven rooms, and the whole house was always full of children. Now, he was being shown around a house with more than seventy rooms, and after leaving the study they had yet to see another living soul.

Mrs. Kippling showed Edmund a play room that looked like it hadn’t been used in decades, a giant sitting room to relax in, and the dining hall where he was expected to have most of his meals. She showed him the music room, the small study, the ballroom, the game room, the laundrette, the pantry, the art room, the small family room, the gallery, the terrace, the sun room, the elevator, the sitting room, the wine cellar, the other ballroom, the theatre, the smoking room, the large family room, the bathroom, the toilet, another study, the grand ball room, the visiting room, seventeen different bedrooms of all shapes and sizes, and then Mrs. Kippling suggested that, if he was feeling bored, they could move on to the east wing of the house.

After the thirtieth door Edmund was positive Mrs. Kippling was simply taking him down the same three corridors, back and forth, and showing him the same five doors again and again. They were all blending together in Edmund’s mind.

She warned him which rooms to stay away from (it’s not safe for little children), which to avoid (Matron doesn’t like anyone touching her things), and which to never go near (that door stays locked as long as I work here!). Every room was gigantic, and had a larger twin, somewhere in the maze of hallways and doors. Tapestries of every color filled the halls, broken up only by imposing statues, pillars that held ancient urns and plants in varying stages of life. The doors were all carved with beautiful pictures, sometimes animals or trees, other times ornate patterns and strange languages, even strong men in armor or military uniforms holding swords or guns. A few doors even had carvings that Mrs. Kippling wouldn’t let him see, and forced him to cover his eyes as they walked quickly past.

His brain was swirling with the gigantic new world he had just been thrust into. Desperate for some kind of anchor, Edmund was about to ask if he could return to his room when the floor began to quiver.

A thick ringing noise shook the entire mansion, almost knocking Edmund off his feet. It was quickly followed by another, and then another, until Edmund had to clutch at his jaw to keep his teeth from rattling in his skull. It sounded as if the largest bell of Brackenburg’s town hall, the bell whose ringing reached all the way up to Mrs. Mapleberry’s orphanage for Wayward Lads and Ladies, was sitting squarely on top of Moulde Hall. Edmund felt his lungs quiver, shifting back and forth in his chest like jelly.


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