113: The Decor of Moulde Hall

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He started on the first floor of the east wing. He studied the carvings on every door, the wood, the stonework, even the fine metalwork on the handles. He tried to open every door as he made his way though the twisting hallways, and never took stairs if he still had somewhere else to go on the floor he was on.

He listened and peeked at keyholes, remembered carpet and wallpaper colors, and memorized tapestries, busts, statues, and all the bric-a-brac that covered the walls. As he did so, he let his hand wander over the surfaces of every hallway and every room, feeling for hidden latches and switches.

He found several other secret doors on the first floor; Some were obviously simple shortcuts between the different floors or nearby rooms, others looked like long stretches that crossed the Mansion, while others simply encircled a single room.

Each wing and floor had its own decor ranging from Medieval, with suits of armor holding sentry next to tapestries bearing coats of arms; to clusters of ancient weapons and tribal masks; to Grecian, with busts of dour looking men and women glowering at the opposing wall; to ancient Norse; to Modern; to everything in-between.

It took him the full day just to become comfortable with the first floor. He almost missed lunch, and apart from Ung, who stared at him as he ate, he didn’t see another soul.

He was beginning to become more comfortable with eating alone. It seemed to be the new normal for him. In fact, when the mansion began to strike six in the evening, Edmund was considering skipping dinner to keep exploring. He had paused only briefly to think about it, when Ung emerged from around a nearby corner and dragged Edmund back to his room to dress.

It was probably for the best, he decided. Matron had been very explicit about eating dinner at the same time every day; he didn’t want to tip his hand and have anyone think he wasn’t behaving according to expectations.

So he had dinner alone again, his bowl filled with a gritty gray soup that tasted like sour bread. He didn’t even bother reaching for his bowl when he had finished his soup, and instead hopped out of his chair and headed straight for the door, wanting to continue his exploration of this strange new house.

Bit by bit, as the month stretched on, Edmund began to get a feel for Moulde Hall on both sides of the walls. Piece by piece he began to remember what was where and how to get from place to place quickly. He lost track of where he was a few times, but he kept his head and kept walking, knowing he could never really be Lost.

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