After a few moments, he tried another book.
A few seconds later, he tried another.
Edmund was heartbroken. They were books, yes, but they were all handwritten, full of personal musings, casual observances, and inane scribblings in the margins. What words were legible were long and disjointed. There were no mentions of science or poetry, no tales of knights or far off lands, just long and rambling nonsense.
Edmund tried another shelf. There were no books here, just binders and folders full of loose leafs of paper. They were full of rows and columns and numbers. What few words there were served only to provide obscure notations of ‘offered,’ ‘inherited,’ ‘gifted,’ or perhaps most ominous, ‘acquired.’
Edmund moved to another shelf where the thick and oddly titled books were stacked. They were no better — while they were not handwritten, they were full of names and lines and pictures of shields with strange words and symbols painted all over them.
The last shelf held little more of interest, save a large pile of ancient family almanacs stuffed full with loose pages of letters, family trees, ledgers, diagrams, and financial registers. Some of them were fairly straightforward and easy to understand. Others were thick and obtuse, and Edmund had to reread phrases several times to try and understand them. Some were in a simple hand, while others had so many loops and curls that each letter was almost as big as a word written plainly.
After trying to read them all, Edmund felt like his head had been filled with cotton balls. He had spread a collection of books and letters before him on the floor like a map of the Moulde family. It was a net of sniping correspondence, shifting allegiances, angry parents, and conniving children.
And the only link between them, rising above the entire sea of loathing like an ominous lighthouse, was Moulde Hall.
By eleven-o-clock, Edmund had checked every piece of paper in the study, and realized that there was nothing interesting in any of them. Disappointed, Edmund carefully replaced all of the books and papers, and left the study, his heart heavy.
Still, he thought hopefully as the mansion began to strike the hour, it was a very large mansion, and there were bound to be more books somewhere in it. He knew how to get to the Foyer and as long as he kept returning he was confident he wouldn’t get lost again.
Just as the eleventh chime was fading, Edmund turned the corner and almost ran into the giant still form of Ung. Edmund bit back a cry and stood as still as he could under Ung’s steady gaze.
“It is time, Master Edmund,” he said, his deep voice blending with the fading tone of the foyer clock. Slowly, Ung lifted his hand and pointed down the hall. Edmund nodded, and tried to recognize all the tapestries, busts, and other decorations as the huge man ushered Edmund back to his room.