67: The Furnace

Edmund searched the skin of this metal beast until he found what looked like the a small hinged faceplate of a knight’s helmet with a knob on the side. He pulled at the knob, sliding the metal plate to the side and releasing a massive burst of white ash into the dim room.

The roaring grew louder, filling the dim basement with a deep vibrancy, as if the entire building was trying to wake up and surge down Haggard Hill to Brackenburg. The air didn’t seem any hotter, however, so Edmund pulled himself up on his toes and peeked into the gate. A dark red glow met his eyes as he saw a faint simmering ember squatting in the center of the furnace. There was no flame of any kind, and Edmund could feel that there was almost no heat either. Edmund stepped back on his heels and thought. Where was the roaring coming from, if not from a fire?

Edmund shut the small gate, and the sound subsided again. He glanced around the cellar, noticing the furniture he hadn’t before. All along the walls were rows of shelves, full with strange equipment. Large rolls of rubber sat next to circles of copper wire. A cluster of lanterns dominated one shelf, each with an oddly shaped crank on its side. Several metal rods lay leaning against one shelf, and a massive ball of thick twine sat next to them.

Edmund touched one of the cranks, turning it slowly. The metal resisted, but a faint ember glow flickered in the depths of the lantern. Edmund turned the crank for a while, watching the faint quivering light dance in the frosted glass. There was nothing else of interest, it seemed. He was about to return upstairs when the nearby slam of a wooden door made him jump.

He only had to walk a few steps before he saw Ung halfway down the hallway, wearing a gigantic pair of leather gardening over-alls and carrying a spade, rake, and two other strange implements that Edmund didn’t recognize. He only caught a glimpse of Ung’s face, but he could tell it was firmly set in concentration.

Dangerous curiosity blooming in his mind, Edmund decided to follow him. Prudent caution following suit, he decided to follow quietly.

Ung lumbered through the basement, moving down the hallways like a work-ox, only to vanish through another door. Edmund followed, keeping as close as he dared. Ung walked down a few more halls before opening a large servant’s door and stepping outside into the pouring black summer rain.

Edmund balked, torn between finding out what Ung was doing and staying dry and relatively warm. Finally, his curiosity overrode his caution and he carefully pushed through the door.

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