135: The Tapestry

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Edmund couldn’t stop himself from laughing at his find. It was wonderful. Part of him wanted to walk up and down each shelf with his notebook, writing down the title of every book he could find so he could catalog everything he had to read. Another part of him wanted to yank out a book at random, start reading, and not stop until hunger or exhaustion made him collapse. And still another part wanted to leave now, keep exploring the mansion, and delay the pleasure of losing himself forever in the inky-black lettering.

Eventually, the heady air thinned in his blood and calmed his floating passion as his breathing slowed and he regained his ability to stand, the wonder of the library now merely awe-inspiring rather than incapacitating. He forced himself to walk slowly as he started to wander around the first floor of the library again, reading book spines and peeking into wrappings bound with string.

As he walked among the stacks on the ground floor, he found a tapestry that stretched to the bottom of the floor above. It was huge, brightly colored if a bit muted with age and dust, and crafted with such obvious care and skill that Edmund at first thought it was a painting. It’s patterns were large, looping, and intertwined like a bramble patch. Squarely in the center, a large raven spread its wings, soaring into the sky through a hole in the twisting lines and branches; a dark purple spot in a sea of greens, blues, and reds. It reminded Edmund of the door next to Matron’s room. He reached out to touch it gently, marveling at its beauty.

From somewhere deep in the walls, a dull groan began to echo through the room, as if the library were some giant, waking from a long slumber. Then, a rapid series of ticks ricocheted about the walls and a deep resonant bell sounded, striking the hour. Edmund listened to the beautiful tone as it reverberated though his body, making his bones shake in his skin. The metal tree statue joined in, the vibrations causing the metal leaves to brush against each other and chime happily along. The bell was just as strong in this room as the foyer–whatever mechanism caused the hall to ring like a clock must have been nearby–but instead of terrifying, now the tone was more potent than adrenaline and made him feel the most alive and happy he had been in some time.

As the ringing faded, this thought was tempered quickly by the realization that it was very late. The sonic adrenaline withdrawing like a tide, his body began to sag and he felt the curtains of sleep creeping towards him from the corners of the room. Reluctantly, he turned away from the great tapestry, lingering as long as his tiring body would let him to run his hands lovingly over the books, until he couldn’t bear it–he lay down on a short broad bench, blanketed in the smell of dust and paper. He kept his eyes open as long as he could, staring in rapt adoration at the books that rose like beautiful white cliffs around him.

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